Tuesday, 23 August 2011

137, Mr Poppers Penguins

2009 was the last time we saw Jim Carrey in an actual acting role (Christmas Carol aside) with "I Love you Phillip Morris" so this is a welcome return for an actor who enthralled me with Ace Ventura, Lloyd Christmas and Stanley Ipkiss.

Mr Poppers Penguins is an adaptation of yet another book I had never heard off about an extremely successful property sales guy who rarely sees his kids and ex-wife after his work takes full priority in his life, growing up with his own father constantly touring the world Popper has developed an understanding, finding himself in similar surrounding until his own father passes away and a "gift" arrives as part of the last will and testament. 6 Penguins, and that’s when the fun begins.  

The interaction between Carrey and his 6 flightless fancies is amazing. The cuts between the CGI and real birds are seamless and you feel the communication between them all, mostly headed up by Captain.

Named after the rejects from the Seven Dwarfs our rookerie of black and white trouble makers really get going once the atmosphere in Poppers apartment is more to their liking and with the adoration of his kids neatly tied in with a new found romantic interest of his ex wife, brilliantly contrasted by his annoying neighbour (Charlie Epps from Numbers) we have a riotous rabble of rare breeds who are as much wanted to be taken into captivity by the local zoo keeper as the kids wishes for them to remain free.

So, the story unfolds, can Carrey manage work, life, relationships as well as penguins? Please his bosses, his family and most importantly - the extremely demanding (and very old) Angela Lansbury in the process? Well, the kids are going to love this and if you leave your inhibitions at the door, so will you. Carrey not at his "Dumb and Dumber" best but definitely his best show in a while.

See this if....................................The name of the movie made you smile, the content will do better!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

136, The Devil's Double

Its was only 4 movie blogs ago that Dominic Cooper reared his head in Captain America, playing Stark (Senior) and already here I am again about to write about the same guy but in a very different role.  Infact, after appearances in Tamara Drew and Mamma Mia, playing Uday Hussein is quite a drastic alternation of previous performances.

But what a role!  Dominic plays both Uday (Saddam's oldest son) and Latif, the school aquaitance and now soldier picked personally by Uday to be his body double and relish in all the presidential glory that comes along with being the Son of Saddam.

Against his will, Latif is forced away from his family to take up a presidential life of sex, drugs and corruption and stand idly by a psychotic, self indulged playboy who drives his cars as fast as he takes his drugs and women.

Uday is portrayed as slightly comical nut case with a quirky high pitched laugh, gappy teeth and a very camp persuasion, until its time for him not to be so friendly and then the Devil really does shine through with quite horrific and devastating results.  Latif is the exact opposite.  Although challenged on many occasions this movie sees Latif stand for his true beliefs even when it means a beating or even his life threatened by Saddam's son but his morals shine though and you completely admire his bravery and dedication.

I loved this movie.  Cooper is completely riveting in both roles and its stitched together seamlessly.  The portrayal of Saddam himself is also unnervingly precise and you really do get a honest feel of what life could have been like.

Movies like this will only get made once.  They come and go in between huge blockbusters but they absolutely cannot be missed.  You fully believe that this actually went on and how traumatic it was for those involved.  We only see what the News broadcasts and journalists let us see with hearsay and judgement passed constantly but this opened my eyes to actual events, cut in with real archived footage and I fully believe it to be mesmerising.

1990 is the year and the backdrop to the story is America stepping in to fight Iraq after their invasion of Kuwait and this is, as above, fed back to you with real footage of both the US and Iraq Presidents standing their ground.

That's the story - you know the ending.  But its Dominic Coopers performance as Uday & Latif that make this one jaw dropping experience.


See this if........................................you want to see what happens, behind closed doors.

135, Super 8

Time after time the worlds population is defined into categories.  Male / Female, Gay / Straight etc etc so lets try one more type of categorisation.  This time into thirds and see where you fit in.

Type 1, Those who hate monster movies
Type 2, Those who like monster movies with suspense
Type 3, Those who like monster movies full on, start to finish.

Okay, chosen where you fit in, well with me its Type 3 and if you're anything like me then sadly this movies is not going to be for you.

Remember Jaws? 70ish minutes until the first full sighting?  Well, this is similar.  There are shady movements, darkened corner appearances, rustling in bushes but no real sighting until about ten minutes before the end so if you like your alien movies with non stop aliens then this is not for you.

As for the other two types well you will both be happy.  The lack of alien presence means you get a movie that ideally focuses on the characters and this is well worth your time.  They are brilliant.

This was summed up for me quite poignantly by someone who I chat with on Facebook.  Think of the Goonies or Stand by Me.  Kid buddy movies that focus on the relationships and the "growing together" of real friends and then you quickly realise that this movie has all the aspects of the two just mentioned and the alien part becomes inconsequential and becomes just a means to an end.

If you happen to like your Alien movies full of suspense however then this is also going to be for you - the constant bush rustling and sheer volume of whats happening on screen is enough to make you jump plenty of times throughout the film.

Due to JJ Abrams and Spielberg's involvement its got all the big budget action without having to show off.  The effects are quietly impressive but in contrast it has to be one of the loudest movies I have ever seen (unless the volume was accidentally cranked up a notch too high).

On review, its actually a lot better then I first thought it was but that was only because I went into the cinema hoping for an all out Alien fest that ended up not to be.

What happened was my eyes were opened to a great movie about the friendships of a group of American kids set back in the 80's that just had a bit of the Ahhh! factor thrown in with some bravery and camaraderie not seen on the screen for quite a while.

See this if....................................you're a Type 1 or 2.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

134, Rise of the Planet of the Apes

In 1968, Charlton Heston muttered the immortal words, "You Damn Dirty Ape!".  In 2001, Mark Wahlberg picked up the mantle and reprised one of movie history's most famous lines and in 2011, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) was the chosen character to spout it one last time - so where does this fit in with the other two movies?

Well, The '68 version sees Heston crash land on an alien planet where Apes have the brains as well as the brawn and have managed to keep Humans at bay with Heston having to lead the revolution to gain back authority.  In 2001 its pretty much a direct remake of the '68 original but in the latest turn of events we see Earth in its current state and how the Apes got to the point of executing their master plan to take over the globe. Simples!

This time we don't have Humans in Ape costumes - we moved onto to pretty impressive CGI, portrayed on screen using Andy Serkis in a ping pong ball covered jump suit, the "go to" guy for pretty much every planned, digitally created character since Gollum! The cast includes James Franco as the scientist responsible for creating the brain enhancing drug that gives the Apes (mainly Caesar) their advanced physiology and what starts out as a phenomenal advancement in science quickly turn into our greatest downfall.

John Lithgow plays the father brilliantly as the Alzheimer's sufferer who also (illegally) benefits from the brain drug but after a 5 year lapse its apparent the drug, although great for the primates among us does not bode so well for Humans.

The special effects are brilliant - there is no other explanation.  The baby Apes are cute and the adaption of the original story is brilliantly conceived, showing how our own advancements can easily transform to our most torrid time.

Yes it a tad far fetched but so was the original, there are some pretty sad moments as well as a few funny ones but in the main you do feel for the Apes.  You're heart goes out to them and you wish them all free.

Tom Felton is the first of the Potter clan to step out in a new role since Hallows pt 2 hit the screens only a few weeks ago and plays the evil Ape keeper pretty impressively.  Still nasty but great with it.  Franco is believable as the caring scientist and Lithgow as the dad is brilliant.

Brian Cox plays the sanctuary boss (and Felton's Dad) with the same air of nastiness and for the more keen eyed of you there is a great little role for Stargate Atlantis Star, David Hewlett.

As its only at "preview status" most of you wont have seen this yet although the trailer gives most of it away,  so I wont actually spoil the ending - but as for the Apes taking over the world, well stay through the end credits to see how they deal with that and make your own mind up if you feel a sequel is coming.

It does not feel that long winded either - quite a nice little time filler that trundles along at a pretty speedy pace.  I never felt "come on already!" which is a good sign.

There is no actual "stand out" performance to speak of (Unlike Paul Giamatti in the 2001 version) but all in all everyone is pretty good.  The effects are brilliant and the ending sums up everything pretty well.

All it needs now is for you lot to go and see it.

See this if.............................................You ever wondered how it all began!

133, The Smurfs

The year is 1981.  I was 5 years old and I distinctively recall one of my earliest childhood memories.......The tune stuck in my head for a further 30 years, La La La La La La, Sing a happy song, La La La La La La, Smurf the whole day long!  I was hooked.

I loved the Smurfs.  Back in the mid 80's I don't believe there was a kid that didn't!  In the times of 4 channels and Cartoons only after school and on a Saturday morning everyone tuned in.  The Legend of Papa Smurf, Clumsy, Brainy etc and always wondering why Smurfette was the only girl?  Gargamel and Azrael always trying to defeat our little intrepid blue heroes.  They have been immortalised in cartoon history and even today - you can find Stag Do's all across the world Smurfing it up for a laugh!

So, 2011 is upon us and finally, a 3D Live animation movie about one of the most beloved group of characters ever conceived is launched,  and what a Smurfing great movie it was!

The great thing about the smurfs is the language is god awful but camouflaged amazingly with the word "Smurf" included at just the right time to make it acceptable and completely innocent.  So, for Smurfs sake - pay attention to the following.

The story is pretty straight forward.  Clumsy Smurf Smurfs up quite royally and opens a Smurfing porthole to Central Park, New York where him and 5 other unlucky Smurfers end up gatecrashing life as we know it.  They bump into Neil Patrick Harris (The legend that was and always will be Doogie Howser MD) and him and his pregnant girlfriend reluctantly help them get back to Smurf village while being hunted down by the brilliant Hank Azaria (Most of the Simpson's voices) who plays the real life Gargamel.

Smurfing simple!

There is no denying that the Smurf animation in this is brilliant.  They are completely Smurfing adorable and the interaction between smurf and Human is brilliant.  Hank as Gargamel is also amazing and in my eyes steals the show but its going to take a real Smurfing hard case not to go doe eyed over Smurfette (Katy Perry) and the story behind her being the only lady Smurf in the village is covered off.  Nice!

They have kept to Peyo's cartoon origins almost exactly to the letter with the theme tune reprised throughout and there is even a little nod to the creator (Peyo) in an old spell book as well as some other lovely little appreciative set pieces that really do bring the closeness of the characters home to you.

The other surprise cast member was Sophia Vergara (Modern Family) who initially has the presence of a real slave driving boss but in the end seems to melt into loveliness.  Hmmmmmm.

So - Lets round this up quite simply.  This is a sweet, blue, funny and well written kids movie that your little Smurfing terrors will adore and for the parents over about 30ish - a real homecoming to what was arguable one of the best cartoons of yesteryear.

See this if...................................Just get your head out of your Smurf and go!