Saturday, 30 July 2011

132, Captain America: The First Avenger

Okay, some of you may need a history lesson on this one.  The Avengers are a Marvel Creation.  A group of superheroes who band together to defeat evil.  The Avengers are made up of some familiar names including Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, Thor and a few others, led by Steve Rogers a.k.a Captain America.

Those more familiar with cinematic masterpieces would have noticed a few movie headliners themselves listed above which is a good thing as The Avengers movie set for release next year includes all of them!!!  Captain America is the last one we need an introduction too before they all return for one of the biggest anticipated Marvel Hero movies of all time.

Captain America is a genetically altered soldier from WWII.  Steve Rogers has all the heart and none of the muscle but becomes prime candidate for the experimental procedure which all goes to plan.  The main story takes place with C.A starting out as a War showpiece and jazz hands musical number, getting the soldiers of tomorrow interested in fighting for their country but its only when he starts to come face to face with the troops he so admires that he realises that the American Showman just gets laughed at.

On discovery one of his best mates has been taken captive, Rogers sets off against orders to find a captive troop of US Soldiers, taken against their will by rogue Nazi outfit, Hydra.  With the genetic modification that takes all your best attributes and makes them better, Rogers is like a one man armada who takes it directly to the masses and kicks some German ass!

On his success, Rogers get the accreditation he deserves and with the full backing of the Army sets out to defeat Hydra and its leader, The Red Skull once and for all.

The other marvel connections that set this movie up for the Avengers are continuous throughout - he is aided entirely in this movie by Stark Senior (Iron Mans Dad) and his marvelous weapon creations and I did wonder how a human soldier from the 40's could end up in modern day America fighting along side Iron Man (the son of the guy he once worked with) and a host of other modern day superheroes.  Well, luckily they cover this off at the end with the arrival of Nick Fury and everything becomes clear.

As far as special effects go, considering its set in the 40's there is only so much "space age" technology they could get away with but they have done it brilliantly.  Great ray guns for the baddies and some awesome "shield" action from the man himself.

I am a complete Super Hero nut.  I'm the sort of gut who liked Mystery Men, thought the first Hulk movie was okay and loves ALL the Batmans! So, The Avenger for me is like Christmas & Birthdays all rolled into one.

If the recent spate of movies is anything to go by with Iron Man and Thor being pretty cool then this definitely takes the cake and with the Spiderman remake on its way, Marvel is making a bit of a comeback to match the DC awesomeness of the Batman remakes.

Its a bit slower to get going than recent movies - being the first introduction to Captain America about 70% of the movie is the "getting to know you bit" which this time actually makes for quite an interesting watch but you are glad when it gets going and all this means is that when The Avengers makes it onto our screens it should be able to get stuck right in!

So, Loving Captain America, cant wait for Avengers and roll on all the other Hero moves that get thrown our way.

See this if......................................................Heroes Rock!

131, Cars 2

Its the Summer Holidays and I am sure this is the first of many kids movies I will be dragged along too.  To be fair, I don't mind most of them.  The animation keeps getting better and normally there are more famous names stepping up than you see on the Oscars carpet and the addition of Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard & Emily Mortimer made this one slightly more appealing than most.

For those of you who don't know the story, its pretty straight forward - in the first outing our hero Lightening McQueen stumbles across hick town, Radiator Springs and meets Mater, a tow truck who to be fair, is a little bit thick.  Blah Blah Blah and they become best friends and World Champions.  The end.

The sequel kicks off with the main story of a group of Spy's trying to find out who is taking over the worlds oil industry, Behind this is the back story with McQueen due home after his 4th title win.  After an invite ensues from an Italian F1 racer to the World Grand Prix he takes Mater along to keep him company.  At the inauguration party both Spy and Race cars meet up and Mater is identified (wrongly) as an American undercover agent.  you then get taken on a story of Spy vs. Villain, backed up by a buddy movie of self discovery.

So, I have probably taken the above a little too seriously.  But to be brutally honest....it did seem dull.  And long.  And dull.

Yes the animation if impressive, Yes the stars have come out again and loaned their vocal talents but it feels long.  Too long!  Its 14 minutes shy of 2hrs and you feel every minute of it.  I did go at 7pm with younger kids which was probably not the best idea.  The movie is 106 minutes.  The Ads are 30 minutes and before the feature there is a short 10 minute Toy Story sketch (which was quite good actually, all the original cast!).  In total - nearly 146 minutes of sitting still and quiet and although my 7yr old handled it pretty well, its a a little too long for some of the younger crowd - by 8.30pm 5yr old kids were running around, crying and running up to the screen, casting silhouettes across the auditorium so may be by then I was not in the best of moods.  Sorry.

I suppose the movie will attract great reviews.  Gain acclaim for its brilliant cast and the kids will certainly take on the rapture and awe of the World Grand Prix - but as Adults, we know better! (sometimes) and this just does not have the appeal of say Toy Story or Shrek.

Take the kids if they want to go but don't expect miracles.  There have definitely been better ones recently.

See this if..................................you are cornered!

130, Horrible Bosses


Well, The Whirlwind that is Harry Potter has now been and gone and finally some new(er) movies are starting to grace our local multiplexes so its time go get my head out of Hogwarts and back into some down to earth, good old fashioned movie going.

Which leads me to Horrible Bosses.

After the disappointing Hangover 2 and the absolutely brilliant Bridesmaids I was hoping for the latter to rear its head and this movie to offer up some hilarious goings on.  Lets start with the bosses.  Here the big hitters really come into their own with Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and by far the funniest, Colin Farrell.  Lets start in reverse order - Colin is brilliant with a character extremely reminiscent of Tom Cruise's epic Les Grossman.  Its the sleaze and the pure rudeness that get the giggles with this one.  Kevin Spacey plays the egotistical power hungry Sales Director and the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston is the sex crazy Dentist who still looks amazing (and demonstrates it to great effect).

Now the "employees".  The increasingly present Jason Bateman is probably the most recognisable with Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis backing him up.

So the story, We have 3 downtrodden employees whose lives are made miserable by their "Horrible Bosses".  After taking all they can they finally break out a plan to employ a "Murder Consultant" (Jamie Foxx) who turns out to be a costly misconception but never the less they plod on and what develops is quite a comedic roller coaster of a movie.

On the bosses side Aniston is Hot, Spacey is mean and Farrell is just plain ridiculous.  For the employees, Bateman is his normal, down to earth self, Sudeikis is the moral less hound dog and Day grabs all the chuckles.

The pure naivety of our 3 wannabe murderous being as normal as they possibly could gives me a slight insight to how I would probably behave if I hated by boss!  They try to act all bad-ass but in reality none of them have a bad bone in their body and this shows with hapless attempt after hapless attempt and in the end its a sweet turn of circumstance and the assistance of a generic Sat Nav assistant that wins the day.

This for me fits in with all those little comedy movies that pop up every now and again, well acted, well written and with jokes that you cant help laughing along too.

If you were too manly to sit through Bridesmaids and missed out on the best comedy of the year then this might take a little bit of that regret away.  Its by far better than Hangover 2 and you may even fall in love with Aniston - all over again!.

See this if................................................you need something different from Wizards!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

129, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Officially this all started 10 years ago but for the current installment, all you need to do is go back to Blog No. 72, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 if you need to catch up quickly.

There is a reason I waited until over a week after this movie was released to write about it, don't panic! No, I have not just seen it but I am going to talk about all of it, even the end so hopefully there is no spoiler alert needed as all of you have seen it.

Even if you rely on this blog as a "what to watch?" I am hoping that you don't need to be told to see this move, of COURSE you have seen it - who hasn't?

Lets be honest - Part 1 was a little slow - lots of Port keys around forests and the DVD actually sent me off to sleep but this is the one everyone is talking about - the Finale, the Climax, the ever looming ending that underlines a chapter in all of our lives.

And what a movie!!

Everything you want to happens happens - all the questions get answered, Snape shows his true colours, wizards snog, people die, new bonds are made and the one who cannot be named (well actually, he can now!) Voldemort, starts to show signs of weakness and you dont feel sorry for him one little bit.

The Dragons, the jokes, the magic and the treachery - this has got the lot.  I could not have wished for a more amazing finale to what has undoubtedly been the best run of movies since Police Academy. (bear with me - Mahony rules!) We have watched these actors grow into their characters and we have seen Hermione, Ron and Harry develop bonds that no evil lord can shatter.

But its not just the main three that rock, Snape plays a blinder in this, Malfoy proved once and for all he is as chicken as my last Sunday roast and who did not cheer when Mrs Weasley took to levelling the awesome Bellatrix.

Not a single minute of this movie went unnoticed from Ginny stepping up to protect her man to the passionate embrace when Hermione and Ron took out one of the remaining horcruxes.  We all gaped at how tall and lanky Neville has become and how forever young Maggie Smith continues to be.  We all hoped the final scene some years later would be captured with magnificence and it was, even down to a chubby Ron and a blow dried Ginny but nothing will replace the overpowering surge of emotion that comes over the entire audience when Voldemort realises his moment is up, especially as it happens soon after a full on mocking of the Hogwarts residents.

Yes the good guys win and yes you should all see this movie.  You don't need me to tell you that and if anyone reads this saying Harry who? Well this blog is not for you..........and none of the other 129 are either - go home!

I cant praise it more - 3D was awesome but it did not really need it.  The story carried it through with 10 years of anticipation and this movie it definitely lived up to the hype.

1 more DVD to add to the cabinet and when it does - a full 24hrs may be devoted to a start to finish HP session, anyone care to join me?

See this if..........................................you have a brain!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

128, Larry Crowne

I know I have been a bit late blogging this one - I had to postpone it for at least a week as there is noting new coming out AT ALL! until Friday when Harry Potter 7 (pt2) graces us with its presence but with that being the only new release I have quickly run out of movies to watch!!

Question? What happens when two of Hollywood's most famous faces get together?  Well, normally you could easily expect Box Office smashes from Hanks and Roberts and in their day, easily commanded some of the highest salaries around.  Sadly, this does not paint the same picture and feels a bit like Tom had nothing to do for a while so penned a movie, roped best buddy Julia in, gave a small bit part to the wife and hires Cedric the Entertainer for comedic value as well as a hapless bunch of classmates and thrown it all together in a weekend, just because they can!

This is a kind of "nothing" movie - I was hoping for a glowing review, mesmerised in the same capacity as The Blind Side that had me hooked from the opening scene but it just was not there.

I cant completely slate it though, its not that bad a movie.  The parts are played really well and Hanks goes from slightly awkward retail nerd to a pretty cool college grad by the end (with a little help obviously) and Roberts plays the "cant be bothered" lecturer with a marriage in the gutter and every determination not to attend work.    These performances paired with Cedric playing the nosey neighbour who's line of work revolves around a 24/7 yard sale and a gaggle of odd but amusing classmates does command some giggles throughout and there is a great "get your own back" moment which we could all do with at one time or another but apart from that, this movie just seemed to bubble along being innocent and slightly empty.

Is this the official end of an era?  Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts who have each made us smile, cheer, cry and fall in love over and over again.  Two actors from way before RealD, Two actors who each held the limelight both on stage and off it finally being replaced by the modern world of high drama, visual masterpieces and 3D?  Well, maybe.

Hanks last acting role was Angels and Demons in 2009, (not forgetting Woody in Toy Story 3 - 2010) and mostly his work in now producing which he gets far less credit for but overall, it was nice to see him back on the big screen.  Roberts is set to star as the Evil Queen in Snow White (coming 2012) and like Hanks, her last movie in 2010 (Eat, love, Pray) was not one of my favourites but she is forever the Pretty Woman and that's how she will stay.

Luckily, its not mind numbingly boring.  There are, as I mentioned a few glimmering moments and seeing as nothing else is due out for at least another week or two those regular movie goers will be hard pressed this week to see something new!  So, as a little time waster you cant go that wrong.  Just don't expect Oscar performances.

See this if..............................You've seen everything else!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

127, Transformers: Dark of the Moon

In the Summer of 2009, 3 months before this blog started one of my childhood dreams became reality.

Its important you know a few things about me.  Growing up as a small kid in the 80's with no Internet, mobile phones or sky TV to rely on, our enjoyment completely revolved around action figures and none had the impact as the Transformers.  I had the cartoons, the Videos, and some of the toys.  My first real childhood envy came from a friend of mine I have not seen in probably 25 years, Paul had every Transformer known to man and on every teatime visit all I cared for was spending hours playing with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Starscream, Shockwave and a host of many other's who sadly, my own parents budget could not extend to.  So here we are, many years on and Transformers was released and my dreams came true.

I loved the first two movies - not just the special effects and the awesome robots but also the smaller performances - being introduced to Megan ox and chuckling along with the worlds most embarrassing parents.  Realising shat Shia LaBeouf was pretty good as the human hero and John Turturro always seemed to want to be anywhere else but on set (and I even loved that!) So I could not wait to see the third installment.

Was it everything I hoped it would be?  Well, not entirely.  Sorry.

Firstly, no Megan fox.  I know!  It was never all about her anyway but thankfully she was written out completely as the "ex" girlfriend and not replaced (which would have been sacrilege!)  Her replacement, the UK actress Rosie Huntington-Whitely was good, definitely pretty but just lacked the kick-ass(ness) of Fox who I have to say, was sorely missed.  Then the Parents, they did appear but oh so briefly and in that short time the mum still managed to handle the funniest lines in the whole movie - I wanted more!!

So what was left?, well the Transformers obviously.  Now don't get me wrong.  This is more visually entertaining and costly than the other two probably were combined - Full on 3D and jaw dropping SFX at every turn made this a true visual masterpiece and they certainly did not hold back.  More Decepticons than you could shake a stick at squaring off against 9 Autobots always seemed a little too one sided this time around but some fancy NEST assistance and the return of our favourite heavy arms division of US military and it all seemed to work exactly as it should.  Hell Yeah the USA can defeat an alien robot race, who cares if their guns are bigger and their robots eat buildings - we have Josh Duhamel to save the day!!

Simple plot - Decepticons want to enslave earth.  Job done.  Moving on then............

Its long - 150 minutes long to be precise and it did seem a little stretched out - the final fight scenes in Chicago span nearly a whole hour and although its constant explosions and action pretty much from start to finish it just seemed too drawn out.

Its a fitting end to this awesome trilogy and yes, it will adorn the DVD cabinet with a space reserved snugly along side 1 & 2.  Spielberg made it epic, LaBeouf made it believable, Duhamel made it gritty and Fox - made it empty!  (sorry Rosie, but at least you're still cute)

A brilliant ending to the Saga? - Well, an ending it is, Brilliant is debatable but I have to say yes, although its not my favourite.

As a kid from the 80's its a dream realised.  As an adult in the 2010's its a moment savoured and as a Grandad in the 2030's it will be a story handed down.  I love the Transformers and always will.  Good or bad.

See this if.....................................Dreams were meant to come true! 

126, Bridesmaids

Every now and again a movie just comes out of nowhere that defies all possibility.  In a summer riddled with Blockbusters its always nice to discover a hidden gem that excites, tantalises and teases the senses with such precision that it just makes you step back and take a deep breath of disbelief.

Overshadowed by the "lads" equivalent, The Hangover II, I was expecting this to be a cheap imitation where the girls tried to play as loud and raucous as the boys.  But alas!! This time around - The girls definitely came out on top...

To say this is the funniest movie I have ever seen is a bold statement but lets define just what that means.  Did I laugh almost constantly throughout?...Yes.  Did I even laugh at the non-funny bits, just by thinking back to the funny ones?...Yes.  Did my ribs hurt so much at the end that I found it hard to draw breath?...Yes.  So, by definition of never having that experience with any other movie I have to hand on heart say that this IS the funnies movie I have ever seen.

But why?  What makes this stand out from the pack.  Well, the cast are amazing.  Kristen Wiig as the leading role is awesome.  Co-writer and heavily involved in production she owns almost every scene and handles the many awkward comedic moments with absolute brilliance.  Supporting Kristen are the other Bridesmaids, headed up by Karen (Rose Byrne) who plays the over indulgent new best friend of the Bride Lilian, played by Maya Rudolph.  For me though (and probably many others) its the "gross" out moments that get the biggest full blown belly laughs and they mostly come from the unbelievable antics of Megan, played by the brilliant Melissa McCarthy.

She manages to take you on a journey through this movie that involves straddling a sink (epic!) to puppy smuggling but with a true heart of gold, she is there to pick up the many pieces of peoples broken hearts and all you want to do at the end is say "Megan, be my best friend?"

The comedy comes in all shapes and sized from actual amazing one liners scattered throughout to the "trailer" wedding shop scene where food poisoning takes the lead role and the gaggle of girlie's find themselves in tears of pain (much to our amusement) and desperately trying to remain as lady like as possible - which they all obviously fail at!

Another small moment of genius is the very surprising appearance from Matt Lucas as the odd (does he do anything else better?) roommate of Annie's who along with his doppelganger sister (and owner of the worlds worst tattoo!).  They manage to take "awkward" to a whole another level.  Brilliant!

If you grew up in the 80's are are female then there are loads of lines here that will rekindle some amazing memories including the Wilson Pickett reunion at the wedding where the dancing involves acting out the song lyrics...come on, you all did it! (and this is acted out brilliantly from the Bride and her Matron of (Dis)-Honour, Annie).

Chris O'Dowd (The I.T Crowd, Gulliver's Travels) again turns in a stellar performance as the underwhelmed local copper and potential love interest of Annie who is the only one in this with his feet truly on the ground.

As for us guys - Do NOT let your women tell you this is a chick flick - I laughed almost as hard as my wife while watching this movie in a heavily "female" dominated cinema and I think us guys could easily miss out!  But don't.  This will have you rolling in the aisles from the opening scenes and sadly, puts the Hangover II completely to shame.

If that was the warm up then this is definitely the main course and you will be a fool to miss it.

Every ounce of this screams great comedy and I will be hard pressed to find a movie over the past decade that made me laugh as much as this did.

It will make you cringe, laugh, nearly cry and easily turn most peoples stomachs but, as a comedy - this year at least, its unrivalled and just goes to prove that boys don't have all the fun on Stag Do's - the girls easily put us to shame!!!

See this if...................................Girls rock!