Friday, 24 June 2011

125, Green Lantern

There are very few things in this world that annoy me.  Listed easily on one hand they include missing a Grand Prix, bad drivers, negative people, running out of wine and a bad superhero movie.

Oh Dear, Number 5 has struck.  

I so wanted this to come over as a great film.  Being a DC comic the Lantern fits in with Superman, Batman and a host of other lesser known characters that in my eyes are not on the same level as that of competitors Marvel, however with a cast including the brilliant Ryan Reynolds and one of my favourite Brit actors Mark Strong I was secretly hoping that this would be on par with the amazing re-vamp of the Batman movies and set itself apart from some of the others recently released.  Set itself apart it did - but sadly as one not to adorn my DVD cabinet.

I am sure that this will appeal to the die hard fans but it was just a little too "Buck Rogers" for me.  It started off over cheesy and way too sci-fi and I understand that with any 1st timer movie we have to spend time getting to know the character and them coming to reason with their new found powers however this was just too padded out and full of fluff to be captivating.  

I might be missing a trick - for those DC readers who have followed the Lantern this may be exactly what you were expecting and indeed wanting but a big nasty cloud with a face that swallows souls is just not my kind of villain and a ring of power is not really my kind of saviour.

For its faults though - Reynolds is still quite likeable and the supporting cast of Mark Strong and the voices of Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke-Duncan as more "alien" lanterns are mildly comedic and there are some mild chuckles throughout.  For me though it just lacked pace and style and is way off the mark of some of the recent Marvel adventures.  One high point though are the powers, being able to "will" anything you wish from the power of the ring from a Tommy gun to a race track was pretty impressive, albeit a little OTT but this is super hero movie - what else would you expect! 

I am left with just one thing.  Throughout the course of this blog, all 126 episodes I have fed back my thoughts  on the introduction and rise of 3D, or Real D as its mostly referred too and time after time I have been disappointed and let down.  So let me just make one thing completely clear.  This is the WORST one yet!  The glasses just made in uncomfortable and I failed to actually identify which parts were in 3D and those that weren’t.  Let down and almost to the point of demanding a £1.50 refund for the 0D effect I would have preferred to spend the cash on the bigger popcorn deal!

So - 3D or not 3D?  Well, Not! Go for the popcorn and coke combo instead!

See this if......................................Bad Hero movies float your boat.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

124, Bad Teacher

The trailers for this movie in my eyes made it one of my most anticipated comedies of the year. Diaz playing a badly behaved renegade teacher, abusing the kids and rocking up to work with a hangover and a sole intention to hook a rich hubby to take her away from the strife of everyday life.


Sadly, the trailer nailed all the best bits and what’s left is a pretty lifeless sub-comedy that focuses on Cameron's sole intentions to buy a new set of boobs and bed geeky heartthrob Timberlake who was uninspiring in this compared to his epic performance in Social Network.

I may have got it totally wrong – the surrounding audience certainly laughed a lot more than I did so maybe I went with the wrong intentions – The thing I love about school movies is the kid’s involvement. You can name loads of great examples that range from Kindergarten Cop to The Principle and I just was secretly hoping that they would act on this but it did lack the interaction I was hoping for. There was the pasty kid nicknamed “Twilight”, the fat kid nicknamed “chubbs” and all of the other stereotypical student groups were covered from the boffin with cookies for teacher at the front to the quiet reserved romantics at the back. There just should have been more of them!

Cameron Diaz took her normal turn at being the hottie with a carwash scene dressed in heels, hot pants and a “Daisy Duke” shirt while dads ogled on with awe. J.T plays the uber rich supply teacher who ends up the aim of Diaz’s antics with the quietly confident Gym Teacher Jason Segal playing a happy go lucky staff member, keen on Diaz but unprepared to put on any form of act to get what he wants. What’s great about this movie is how the relationship between these two grows throughout the movie – watching the playground antics of “hitting the girl you fancy” described by many a love struck teen as the best way to attract a female through to the realisation from Diaz that money does not always bring happiness.

The supporting “rest of the staff”, headed up by goodie two shoes teacher Miss Squirrel (Amy Punch) and the nervy confidence lacking Miss Davies (Phyllis Smith) bring a wry smile to the lips with Timberlake’s ginger haired, bespectacled character poking fun at himself with the worst song and dance routine ever conceived – bless!

The Kids deserved a greater standing in this but there is something slightly appealing about a foul mouthed, dirty minded Diaz that does make this movie tolerable so I will end on a positive.

It will get laughs and it will get praise – so for a minor giggle it’s worth a punt.

So and see this if…………………..You need a stop-gap in anticipation for HP7 & Transformers 3


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

123, Senna

Ayrton Senna was 34 years old when he tragically died at Imola in 1994.

At 34 years old myself I can only imagine what his family and close friends went through over this tragic weekend that also saw Rubens Barrichello luckily escape unscathed from an equally horrific accident and in Saturday qualifying, only 24 hours before Senna's accident the equally tragic death of Roland Ratzenberger (33) in what Murray Walker described as the blackest weekend in motor sport history.

Senna tracks the amazing story of the Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna from his induction to F1 in 1984 for the lower ranked Toleman team before moving to Lotus Renault. It was after joining Maclaren alongside then friend Alain Prost that one of motor sports greatest rivalries began.

10 years and 3 World Championship wins on, Ayrton joined Williams where he tragically lost his life entering the Tamburello curve at Imola, a race eventually won by a young Michael Schumacher but the sport had lost its greatest hero.

Growing up as a kid in the 80's and 90's my childhood was heavily influenced by Formula 1 Racing.  Remembering afternoons with my dad, glued to our TV, listening to Murray Walker and watching motoring legends like Mansell, Senna, Prost & Lauder risking life and limb in cars that bounced, skidded, sparked and sometimes flew around what seemed narrow and dangerous circuits.  The footage was unrecognisably grainy compared to the H.D world we now all live in and you forget how close the racing used to be, week after week.

They say you don't need to be an F1 fan to enjoy this movie but I would definitely say it helps - knowing who Ron Dennis is (almost unrecognisable with hair!), being able to spot young versions of some of today's most recognisable faces and most importantly, having an understanding of the rivalries is something that came across far deeper after watching this that I ever imagined.

What Senna does is open the doors to a world of politics, racing and money and all from the fully archived footage of a man who strived for perfection and success - no matter who he annoys to get there, even the FIA chairman! who comes across like a regular Mr Nasty!

There is no fluff, no acting, no narrative - its all real footage strung together with a haunting soundtrack and the result is a movie that EVERY sport fan should take the time to watch.

I consider myself quite a hardcore movie buff - For example, after watching Bambi I went for a venison burger! but this categorically put a lump in my throat that remained for the whole drive home.  The final footage at Imola not only shows Barrichello's accident and the devastating shots of Ratzenbergers limp body being battered around in his seat but the "on car" footage of Senna as his steering column broke and he careered into the side wall.  Without a broken bone in his body or a cut or bruise found anywhere it was a precise hit to the head from a suspension rod that was enough to end this motoring legends life.

Throughout Senna there is crash footage of some of the most devastating wrecks you would have ever seen - something that no longer happens in today racing championships.  Its meaningful, amazing and heart stopping from start to finish.

The biggest eye opener is the relationship between Senna & Prost.  Racing for McLaren side by side, what started as friendly banter soon turned into an almost hatred and loathing of each other to the point of purpose crash allegations, cheating and an unprecedented look at what went on behind closed doors when the TV cameras stopped but the archive feeds kept rolling.  What stands out here is the raw passion displayed by all the drivers, to a point - something that might of died out (to this level) at the same time as Senna himself.

It was the restrictions and safety procedures put in by Senna's friend and then F1 Doctor that has resulted in Senna & Ratzenbergers deaths being the last that F1 has seen on a track that has only ever claimed 2 lives, both in the same weekend.  10 other tracks have claimed 2 or more deaths - with Silverstone and Brands Hatch both claiming three.  Its easy to forget exactly how many lives the sport has claimed - but with the stats remaining at zero for the past 17, years F1 has managed to keep the glitz, glamour and drama of the big show - without the tragedy.

Is it a movie? Maybe not in the direct sense but as a cinematic masterpiece it cant be missed.

There is no "See this if.............." this time - its in a league of its own and unmatched in any of my other reviews.  A different class deserves a different ending, so........................

DON'T see this if................................................you have no concept of greatness.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

122, X-Men: First Class

Prequel time once more and this time we get the 5th movie from the X-Men (including the side story, Wolverine)

Stepping back in time, this story covers the making and rising of Professor X and Magneto from kids, understanding their powers through University and then, in the face of adversity meeting up to work hand in hand with the CIA as an elite Mutant Special Ops outfit against a sole ex Nazi / Mutant with his own band of unique beings.

Lets get my immediate issues out of the way - after watching this I went back and watched "Last Stand" on DVD and immediately noticed some poor inconsistencies from the end of "First Class" and the beginning of "Last Stand".  I wont spoil anything for you but First Class ends with some definitive story lines being set up which are kind of undermined by the 3rd installment.

Then there is Wolverine, Yes he appears and has the best 3 words in the whole movie which could easily have happen as at the end of Wolverine he loses all previous memories and Professor X arrives to save the rescued kids after he takes the bullet so no concerns there.

In First Class there is lifelong association between Raven (Mystique) and Charles X, something quite left out in the other 3 movies and whats good is that a number of characters of "older" age get their early beginnings fully explained, namely Beast & Mystique.  We also meet a few other mutants and the one that passed me by was a brilliant performance by Jason Flyming as Azazel - I would never have guessed!

The story is quite drawn out - its good, don't get me wrong but the movie itself is extremely wordy.  The action scenes are brilliantly done but as most of the movie is about self discovery and training they are staggered few and far between.

Kevin Bacon as the nasty Mr Shaw is quite spine chilling as the Nazi Dr and then later in the movie, reinvented as a dastardly warlord commands quite an on screen presence with his own band of Mutants setting up the scene nicely for Magneto to take over - after a few old grudges are laid to rest.

I was hoping for a bit more action, a few more battles and  bad guys with powers that would rock the multiplex and although there are there (in part) this movie is more an explanation to the battle lines being drawn between good and evil and it does so with script rather than punch.

That does not mean its not a good movie, if like me you are easily drawn into all Marvel & DC movies then as an X-Men fan you cant afford to miss it.  it does what it sets out to do brilliantly and you really get the feeling of where Eric & Charles are coming from and their aspirations behind their own definitions of whats right and wrong.  Like Batman reinvention with a darker, more mysterious and less jovial Batman taking to the screens this could easily set up for a new batch of X-Men remakes but the others are not that bad and a bit more continuity should have been thought through to make it really fit nicely in with 1,2 & 3.

That aside though - look out for Hugh Jackmans cameo and chuckle along as the rest of us did.

First Class?  Well, maybe not on the action stakes but if you want to know how the Beast became a blue hairball, Why Mystique chose not to cover up, how she came to side with Magneto and most importantly how Cerebro was conceived then this answers all your questions.

for Fans its a must and there is still another 40ish years to cover between this and X-Men 1 if they choose to do another prequel sequel?  if that makes sense.

See this if..............................................you want all your questions answered!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

121, Kung Fu Panda 2

Count them - its been 12 blogs, Yes 12! since I last covered a kids flick (Rio: 109) so with Half Term upon us it's only fair that I don the "dad" cap and take my two youngest out to watch Jack Black and what can only be described as "the rest of Hollywood!" laying it on thick for the little kiddie-winks.

What can I say! as with ALL of these movies you cant fault the animation, music, blah blah blah as they are all similar in presentation, look ,colour, kiddie friendly factor and likability.

Woe betide the studio that puts out a duff kids film that's all I can say - the bar is set way too high.

So what can we talk about.  Well the cast. It seems that no matter how successful, failing or trying you are as a Hollywood starlet you have to get your name into an animation.

In this one alone there is Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Victor Garber an EVEN, the Muscles from Brussels himself, Mr Jean Claude Van-Damme!

(Okay, given that maybe two or three of these names are unknown, Google them - they have very familiar faces)

Over half of these names have had recent(ish) leading roles so either they all took a huge pay cut to take part (just to get their name in lights) or the movie is set to break all box office records!!

What's the film like? (worlds shortest review coming up...)  Its okay.

Not as funny as Toy Story 3 but very few movies are - even the real action ones!  for half term its a definite must and one to get out of the way quickly before Cars 2 & Harry Potter take over our lives.

The kids will love it.  for the Adults watching, well two games to play - 1) Just picture Jolie as Tigress, smile and relax & 2) play the "Who's- who" game.  It keeps you guessing the entire movie - then hang around during the credits for the answers, only to realise it does not tell you in the credits!  so you end up checking on IMDB when you get home and go "Oh, I thought it was him!"

Yes readers, on the first day of summer I was once again inside a dimly lit auditorium with a few randoms on preview day - the movie is set for general release on the 10th but with most places having it on for a 4 day half term preview, don't wait until the 10th - there will be far better stuff out then to go and see anyway!

See this if........................................SKAAAADDOOOOOSSSHHH! 

120, The Hangover Part II

I can not describe how much I was looking forward to this movie - I loved the first one - a true blokes movie.  Stag-do, Booze, shenanigans and Mike Tyson - what was not to love.

The sequel however is a little darker.  The language has stepped up a level as has the graphic content and its lucky to get away with the 15 cert its been given.  Alan (Zach) is completely in a different from the start.  Yes, he was always "weird" but this time he is scarily so - quite protective of his beloved wolf pack yet quite sadistic in his methods of self preservation.  He actually starts out quite annoying in this and not the lovable muppet from the first outing but you quickly warm up to him.

As before, Justin Bartha (Doug) manages to miss the whole thing and the action is purely centered around Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis (Phil, Stu & Alan) with the brilliant Mr Chow back for second helpings as this time we are on his home soil.

Take out the heartthrob Cooper for a minute - this one is all about Stu.  This time its his stag-do, fresh from divorcing the awesome Heather Graham he has now found himself with another hottie, this time of oriental decent hence the abroad wedding and as before he also ends up with the brunt of the issues surrounding the "fabled" night out. What this guy gets up to in the space of a few hours would make the biggest party animals among us jealous (well, nearly all of it - there is one bit he can definitely keep to himself!) and he even admits at the end that his "demon within" sometimes needs to get out - and my goodness it does in this one!

The action is faster paced, the language and "items" on display are far more in your face and the debauchery is second to none - all I can say is that its one mental Bangkok ride.

Yes, Mike Tyson is in it again but more as a party piece than he was in the 1st movie - shame - he comes across a bit of a tit (Sorry Mike, If you're reading) and his role in Part 1 was far more required than it was in No.2.

Cooper swoons into the ladies hearts as before with the worlds most understanding wife and the only time he really lifts an eyebrow from the audience is the diner scene, with baby in tow he drops every ones favourite swear word (Yes readers, its back!) and a gasp is heard from the back of the cinema - then a chuckle then a realisation that the Hangover Part II is not going to hold anything back.

Great little cameo from Paul Giamatti but for me its Ken Jeong (Mr Chow) & Ed Helms (Stu) that deserve the credit for this one.

If there is ever a Part III then they will have to stop short of a full blown war to better the events of this night out!

See this if.................................you ever woke up thinking......What?, did I?..........NEVER!!!