Monday, 27 February 2012

180, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

From the first time I saw this trailer I knew this would be my kind of movie.  Not an all out action fest as I so commonly admire but a quirky, beautifully shot and colourful romp through one of the most picturesque countries in the world.  Mix that in with some of the Uk's most prestigious talent including such screen legends as Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Tom Willkinson & Bill Nighy and you have a comedy that could'nt be anything but flawless. 

The aforementioned four actors hold up half of the leading roles in this with the slightly less recognisable Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup holding the rest.  Although when their credits alone include Calender Girls, Prince of Persia and Nanny McPhee then surely you would have come across all of them at some point.

This movie quickly identifies the viewer with 7 pensioners, each with their own back stories and each with a reason to want out of the UK,  We have a married couple who's concept of a retirement bungalow is more depressing that the 30 years as civil servants it took to afford it, a sweet old dear in need of a new hip on the cheap, a retired barrister who needs to re-find himself, a nan who refuses to stay at home with the knitting needles, a sex hungry playboy (maybe thats a bit too ambitious!) who wants one more night of passion and a widower who just wants people to listen.

Who plays what parts are quickly identified with early on and in my opinion they could have not found seven better actors to portray our leading adventurers.  All of them are stand out winners but everyone who sees this movie would agree that the star of the show without a doubt is Maggie Smith.  By far the oldest, she's in India for the 'new hip' more through desperation than choice and her hilarious lines early on are enough to set the tone for the whole movie.  From her disgust with the local people to her lack of eating anything she cant pronounce she is stereotypical of a majority of old school Brits, which although in some eyes comes across rude, its played out with an air of humour and a slight poke back at ourselves.  

Maybe its fitting then that she's an integral part of the plot and towards the end, its Maggie herself who seems to overcome the most personal hurdles and is instrumental to the success of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Add in that she's almost unrecognisable to that of her long running alter-ego, Professor McGonagall, its nice to see that at nearly 80 years young she can still out-act some of today's youngest and freshest talent.  The Essex girl shines through!

When in India, Its Dev Patel who plays the excitable and optimistic host to our band of retirees.  Being the youngest of three brothers with each of his older siblings having been a true successes in his mothers eyes Dev has to battle with his overbearing mum, dashing his hopes and dreams and more importantly, not accepting his girlfriend as a potential bride to be but there is no denying that although the facility needs some work - his personality it truly first class.

This movie captures the heart of the audience member as much of that of the Actors in it.  A beautiful country that comes alive with sounds and colours on the screen and all of it is well received by all but one of our magnificent seven who's own story also manages to end up win win for all concerned, although not how you initially expect it too.

This movie has the feel good quality of 'The Blind Side' mixed in with the British comedy element we all know and love that makes movies of this calibre stand strong among its bigger budgeted American cousins and I for one want them too keep making them.

If the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is open for new tenants in 2047 when I retire, sign me up!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

179, Safe House

You only have to look back over Denzel's credits to see that its hard to find a 'dud' movie the guys been in.  Time after time, Mr Washington continues to amaze from early outings in Malcolm X and the Pelican Brief to Philadelphia, Crimson Tide, The Siege & The Bone Collector.  Then there was the Oscar win with Training Day and more recent performances in Pelham 123, Book of Eli and Unstoppable have all been fantastic.

Knowing he provides this level of quality, surely everyone goes into a Denzel movie extremely expectant of seeing something awesome, and Safe House is no exception.

Denzel stars as rogue CIA agent Tobin Frost, forced into an American Embassy when he's cornered, carrying a laundry list of American and British corrupt government agents.  Intent of selling the list for a tidy profit to the highest bidder and after being on the run for 9 years for selling out his counties secrets, Frost is deemed on of the CIA's greatest enemies and an agent to be feared among his peers. 

On the flip site, Ryan Reynold plays a disgruntled Safe House operator.  Month after month manning a deserted safe house with no contact or idea of the big wide world around him.  That is until Frost is moved under CIA protection for interrogation to his humble abode but its not long before the goons arrive to capture Frost and its left to relatively inexperienced Reynold to keep Tobin and himself alive, deliver him back the CIA and secure the laundry list. 

So an action movie then?  Definitely.  It pretty much launches into the fray immediately and the pairing of Reynold and Washington is brilliant.  Its gritty, loud, fast and action packed with Washington proving at almost 60 years old he has what it takes to keep up with the much younger Reynolds, although its fair to say that when you compare him to the Alonzo Harris character from Training Day (which is unbelievably already 11 years old) his senior years are starting to gradually show through.

What I loved about this movie was it kept up with the hype.  The trailer is set to a heavy bass line and Denzel proves once again he has what it takes to captivate an audience, as the hero or enemy.  As for Reynolds, well this was probably my favourite movie he has been in so far and a welcome break after the disappointing Green Lantern.  

Other performances from Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga as the CIA insiders matched with Terminator 2's Robert Patrick as the CIA extraction Team Leader are played down in comparison to our main leads but all important.  To round it all off of course there's a twist - nothing says great thriller than a CIA mole and the culprit this time out should be relatively simple to work out but for those interested, no spoilers here!

So, once again Denzel has impressed but more than that, he's made Ryan Reynolds watchable again which cant be a bad thing. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

178, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Seeing as the first instalment of Ghost Rider was released pre-blog in 2007 I feel it only fair that a little explanation be required for what for me, is one of Marvels lesser known heroes.

My Marvel Chronicle Collectors book (sad..) shows Ghost Rider mentioned as far back as 1941 as The Blazing Skull who foreshadowed and was the idea behind Ghost Rider but it was further on in 1967 that the first carnation of the rider came long in the form of a horse backed western hero living in the nineteenth century, appearing as a vengeful spirit & gowned in a phosphorescent suit.  Soon after, this character was renamed The Pantom Rider because in 1972 Marvel recycled the Ghost Rider name for a modern day hero with Supernatural powers. 

Johny Blaze was a motorcycle stunt rider, adopted by Stunt show owner Crash Simpson as a child and ultimately fell in love with Crash's daughter, Roxanne.  When Crash was diagnosed with a lethal illness, Blaze struck a deal with the Devil (or more specifically, the Demon Mephisto) where to save Crash, Blaze would have his soul paired with another Demon, Zarathos, causing him to transform into a flaming skeleton with the power to launch hellfire from his hands, astride a blazing motorcycle.  Mephisto kept his end of the bargain, saving Crash from death by illness however managed to take his life anyway in a Cycle stunt go bad.  Blaze, tricked would then forever be destined to take the form of the Ghost Rider, seeking out the Devils work with the anonymity of being Johnny Blaze by day.

The first movie charts the above transition as Blaze (Nic Cage) comes to terms with being tricked by the Devil and learns the power of the Ghost Rider.  To be honest, I cant even remember if I enjoyed it or not.  What I can comment on however is the sequel, Spirit of Vengeance.  And its sadly not a positive.

I felt the above introduction necessary so you can each understand the story of Ghost Rider and form your own judgement of if is for you or not.  Receiving a significant following in its comic run from the 1970's, Ghost Rider quickly gathered momentum and as a Marvel favourite, the 2007 movie was necessary.  But for my money, they should have left it there.

Lets start on the negatives first.  The sound.  If this was a fault with the cinema then apologies but the level of music vs. dialogue was totally off set.  Heavy Rock guitars blasted out from the surround sound speakers throughout but the dialogue in comparison was almost whisper like, making it very hard to keep up with what was going on from the off. 

Then the plot, from what I gauged we have the Devils son being hunted on earth by Mephisto and the Rider is called into to find the boy first and save him from being taken below.  I may have this slightly wrong as I actually fell asleep in the middle bit - it was that dull! and when I woke up I was a little off point and tried my best to catch up. 

Then there was Cage.  He was just a little nuts.  I am sure that's all part of the act, with this demonic presence taking over him but he cackled and screeched like a banshee during most of the movie and I just thought it was all a bit of a joke.

If I could end on a high though there is one things that's worth sticking it out to the end.  The visuals of Cage as the Rider and the way the special effects are blended in with real time were pretty impressive.  The hellfire and brimstone, flung from the riders molten chains and the way the vehicles driven adopted a devilish persona were awesome and enough to make true fans see past the lame acting and focus on what the movie is about - The Ghost Rider. 

If you're a fan then you'll love it, regardless of my comments but if the Ghost Rider is new to you, save your cash for the Avengers - now that's going to be EPIC!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

177, The Muppets

The Muppet show as we know it only ran for 5 series.  4 years of fun and laughter between 1976 & 1980 is all it took to get the world hooked on Kermit, Piggy and the rest of Henson's marvellous creations.  I remember it vividly as the drums rolled, the curtain rose and a cute green frog introduced the Muppet Show.  On they marched, stacked symetrically in their tiered arches, Waldorf and Statler mocking from the box as The Great Gonzo was lowered down in the 'O' of ShOw with his trumpet held high and the lure of a celebrity host.  It was enough to make the toughest nut crack.

Well, 119 episodes had to end sometime and once the show closed its doors we were treated to some small offerings / movies between 1981 & 2005 but since then, nothing.

That is until Jason Segal came along.  Co-writing and producing the Muppet Movie that stands before us in 2012 he must have been one serious fan as this is a true labour of love and what he's done is tried do his best to bring back the original Muppet Show to a new audience but the real question is has he managed it?

Well, sadly only in part.  Yes there is no denying the Muppet's were great fun.  ALL the characters are back and aside from the ones you will easily remember there are the ones that you wont.  Beauregard the caretaker, Dr Teeth & Zoot to name a few.

As for the plot, we are introduced to Gary (Segal) and his brother Walter, who is a Muppet.  All quite normal as the Muppet's are obviously 'real' and the fact that Segal is related to one seems to raise no questions, so none are asked and its just 'accepted'.  As they grow older together their favourite show is the Muppet Show, every Saturday night they tune in and Walter soon becomes their biggest fan. 

Years go by and once adult, Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) set off to LA for their 10 year anniversary taking Walter along to see the famous Muppet Studio.  But, as in life, nothing good lasts forever and the Muppet Theatre is a run down scrapyard, the Muppet's all but forgotten.  Walter discovers a plot that wealthy Oil baron, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to flatten the Theatre and drill for oil unless Kermit and the Muppet's can raise $10mil to save the Theatre. 

Off we go on a trek to collect the now disbanded Muppet's from obscurity and bring them back for one final Muppet Telethon where people call to donate to save the once loved phenomenon (Doo do do doo do........sorry!)

That's the good bit. 

The bit that for me let it down were the impromptu musical numbers played out by Segal and Adams that would have made the cast of Glee cringe.  They were awful!  Thanks to this movie (and I'm being sarcastic here) I have been subject to random outbursts of "Am I a Man or a Muppet" since leaving the Theatre that I cant get out of my head and my daughters regular renditions of Camelia the Chickens 'Forget you' (Cee-Lo Green) are starting to drive me insane. 

Yes they are cheesy but it's then and only then that I remember that this is not specifically aimed at my 35 year old self, but more the 8 year old sitting next to me ...and she loved every minute of it.  And dont worry Amy, I'm sure you'll redeem yourself soon xoxo

Yes this is nostalgic.  When the final section of the movie arrives and Kermit launches the opening scenes to the Muppet Show and the fanfare blasts out and the Muppet's parade on in their rows upon rows of arches with Gonzo and his trumpet I suddenly digressed back to childhood where a Wii was something only done in the bathroom and TV only had 4 channels.

There are some redeeming features though that help claw back some sanity from Adams and Segal's tacky interludes and that's the number of celebs that have also signed up to help out.  Some with actual roles like the brilliant jibe at Devil Wears Prada, complete with bitchy Emily Blunt reprising her same role, Alan Arkin as the Tour guide to the now empty studios and Jack Black, playing himself as Animal's co-sponser in Re-hab but they are the easy ones to spot.  Keep an eye out for a number of far more hidden gems like Dave Grohl (Foo fighters) as Animool, the drummer from wannabe band the Moopets and Zach Galifianakis as Hobo Joe. 

Then there's Selena Gomez (Little 'Miss' Disney), Whoopi Goldberg (Legend), Doogie Howser (Don't know his real name), Ken Jeong (Hangover), Judd Hirsch (Numbers), The mexican kid from Modern Family (Duh! Modern Family!), Mickey Rooney (Old Man) and many more.

These were welcome little additions that made it more of a jovial romp through childhood and an ability to laugh at themselves just having fun - although fun is one thing, but Chris Coopers rap is something I would care never to see again as long as I live - shame on you!

There are moments that the adults will enjoy but there are just as many you wont but for your kids, the new audience to the Muppet's - well its got everything they want and more. 

Lets hope the show comes back on now as a result - Friday (or Saturday) nights have never really been the same since the A-Team, Street Hawk, Airwolf and The Muppets left the stage. 

Some blogs are over in a few lines but as this one took all of nearly 40 years in the making its worthy of a little more web-space.  Hope you didnt mind?

80's TV - we love you!  Long live the Muppets.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

176, This Means War

The Words 'Tom Hardy' and 'Comedy' go together like A Nun and a Knocking Shop and based on his previous turns in Tinker Tailor, Inception & TVs, The Take you would not gar far wrong believing Hardy was a one trick pony.  However this movie opens up a side not yet seen from Hardy and in my eyes, one he revels in from start to finish.

This Means War is a funny Spy flick, not spoofed in anyway as there is a genuine plot line of Mobsters intent on taking our two good looking Operatives but this is merely a background story upheld by a great cast of villains, equally moody and well deserved of being cast as actual villains in any M.I movie or even, a Bond?  This movie focuses mainly on a love triangle where both Chris Pine & Hardy fall for the same lady, Reese Witherspoon who after being single for a while manages to bump into each guy independently and finds it hard to make her mind up, so dates both! 

It does not take long for our CIA agents, who apart from partners are best buds to work out they are seeing the same girl and after deciding to both go for it and may the best man win does the movie embark on a hilarious comedy trip where each uses their cunning, ability and support from CIA Ops to bring the other down - nicely, obviously!

I was really impressed with the who ensemble cast in this one, Pine & Hardy where great together and when you see that names such as Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake & Seth Rogan where also in the running you have to hand it to them for winning over the on the casting couch.

Witherspoon adds a touch of class, looking no older than she did when in Cruel Intentions she is seeming to age very gracefully and at 35 has definitely still got 'it'.  Every comedy nowadays needs an element of Smut and Bad taste (something Bridesmaids opened our eyes to) and this is seamlessly delivered by Witherspoons sex starved friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler) who manages to pull slutty mom like no other, while remaining kind of parent-like throughout.

Hardy's British accent does him wonders in this and the jokes seem all that much funnier when he's in a room of Yanks but that's got to be the appeal and something Witherspoons character comments on early on.  with this and the upcoming portrayal of Bane in Chris Nolan's third and final Batman outing he has topped my favourite British Actors listing, replacing Mark Strong and fair play to him - the once 'C4 Big Breakfast' Model winner has come good.

I saw this in a Valentines pre-screen, before general release and I suppose its fitting as a date movie.  Its got the romantic comedy and 'boys' element your missus will love and for him, guns, gadgets, car's and Witherspoon in her pants - whats not to love,  surely a winner on all levels?

Great casting, great plot and even greater mischief as each try to outdo the other - definitely one of my top 5 so far this year.

Monday, 13 February 2012

175, The Woman in Black

Firstly, lets get one thing straight.  As a 12A I was expecting this to be quite a harmless little roll in the English dales with a few kiddie thrills and spills and my blog would reflect that of a quirky period Brit flick with the once Harry Potter finding it difficult to break his stereotyped image as the boy who lived.

Oh, how wrong can someone be!

Lets start with the Certificate.  In my eyes, at least a 15.  Its not gory, there is no stabbing or guns but its jumpy as hell.  A few brave parents bought their under 10's along but it was obvious they did not want to be there.  From about 15 minutes in the thrills start and its all edge of the seat stuff.  Suspense of who's behind the door, who's going to jump out at the window, what's going to creak, slam or groan.  Who's in the shadows, who's in the mist - when the haunted house scenes are on you literally fall over the spooky elements - they come thick and fast.

Now our star.  Mr Radcliffe.  I was worries he would fail on epic levels in anything other than Harry Potter but he comes across surprisingly well.  Fair enough, he currently doesn't come across as someone lined up for action or comedy roles stick him in a few of these spooky period dramas and his boyish charm and pale complexion may set him up perfectly.  That said, with no more releases due until 2013 he may already be taking his Potter money and retiring with a few movies just to keep the Bank Manager happy, although I'm sure that was covered a long time ago.

The story itself was relatively unknown to me.  Delivered to us by historic horror house, Hammer we step back to the early 1900's and a village troubled with the death of its kin to the once betrayed Woman in Black.  Radcliffe is the newbie Lawyer, dispatched from London after the death of his wife in childbirth to arrange sale of the far from humble abode and his welcome arrival rekindle a spate of deaths between the locals.  Radcliffe's mission, work out what the hells going on and end it before his own family fall foul of the mysterious woman.

What I love about these movies is watching them in a packed auditorium.  The screen I was in was almost full to burst and with that quantity of people you can be sure you're not going to be the most scared person in attendance.  The jumpy bits made me jolt but there's always one screamer and the whole place chuckled along to ourselves as we cowered and quaked.  Occasionally, on a really jumpy bit we got the screams from girls at the back which were always met with further chuckles of appreciation for making the atmosphere just that little more creepy.  Add that to the irregular wafts of air-con adding a chill to the air and it was a fantastic night.

I'm not a horror movie nut and in all honesty, period dramas make me more nervous than a Greek start up business but this was intensely captivating.  Daniel Radcliffe was brilliant and the cast of mainly recognisable Brit actors kept me on the edge of my seat.

Take the kids?  Well, not mine and I don't recommend yours either - under 13 that is.

A great surprise, good story - loads of jumpy bits and from not knowing the story in advance, a surprise at the end.  I cant tell you if its better or not than the stage play as I've not seen it too comment but it totally sucked me in so surely thats only a good thing?

If you're scared of movies like then thats great but in this case, man-up and get out there.  Don't wait until the DVD release - you need the full experience of air-con, screams and finally, the BIG SCREEN!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

174, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

It's sequel time once more and for those not quite up to date, this movie charts the 2nd adventure for Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) but unlike previously he's not accompanied by Uncle, Brendan Frasier but Step dad, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson who jumps in line to assist where he can in the search for Jules Verne's, Mysterious Island.

Thankfully there is no sign or indeed actual mention of Frasier's character which is by no means a bad thing.  Sean is older, a littler wiser and having been commended on his achievements previously to find the Centre of the Earth is looking for his next big adventure which makes itself known by a hidden message sent by Anderson's grandfather stating he has found the Mysterious Island. 

This time around we head to the Pacific Ocean and with a brilliantly cast Luis Guzman as the inept and slightly camp Chopper Pilot and his daughter, Vanessa Hudgens its not long until the fab foursome find themselves marooned on the lost City of Atlantis thanks to a freak hurricane and desperately need to find Anderson's Grandfather (Michael Caine) and escape the doomed island before it sinks beneath the ocean one last time.

The trailer focuses on the special effects of the movie and in all honesty there very well done.  I saw this in 2D but you can definitely tell where the 3D elements lie and I can only guess they come across as quite impressive.  With nature taking a u-turn on the Island with tiny elephants and giant insects its Bee's for planes and killer lizards and birds that pose a threat rather than your normal Lions and Tigers.

As for your kids, well for my daughter the spider count was luckily very low, in fact almost non existent with an Electric Eel and Lizard being responsible for a number of the jumpy moments but even so - in a cinema packed full of kids its only scary on a 'Disney; scale - so nothing to frightful.

Josh plays a pretty decent hero this time around - being a little older his acting has developed and Vanessa plays the cute islander with complete ease.  Michael Caine does come across a bit odd, playing a slightly eccentric adventurer and although the kids will love him for it, for me The Rock was overacting his part with an impromptu sing-a-long around the camp fire taking it one step too far.  Don't get me wrong though  - from a Disney 'kids' perspective its great, I just prefer him laying the Smack-down on Triple H rather than singing a rendition Wonderful World. 

The runaway star of this one for me though is Guzman.  His role as the doting single parent to Hudgens get all the laughs and if ever you wanted an embarrassing dad, he gets my vote every time.

The special effects are truly impressive with the island looking beautiful, the insects and animals seamless and its no spoiler that being a Disney movie there's a happy ending.  I wont tell you how they manage to escape, that would ruin the fun but its a fitting end to a pretty decent Half Term movie.  Catch it while you can.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

173, Underworld: Awakening

Here we are.  Underworld Number 4, or 'Awakening' for the avid fans.  Its been 9 years since Underworld 1 launched onto the big screen with its beautiful scenery shots and its cute 'Beckinnsdale in leather' shots made vampires sexy, way before Twilight ever made its mark. 

Sadly, I am ashamed to say I have not managed to keep up with the plot.  I don't actually recall watching parts 2 or 3 and in all honesty, part 1 doesn't actually ring any bells.  What I can say is that if there ever was a realistic plot behind these movies it was forgotten long ago with the point of this outing mainly focusing on blood, gore and Kate's cute ass.

That's a little harsh maybe, it does have some excellent redeeming features and this movie will easily be lost on anyone without a cinema scale sound system installed in their private theatre.  That's to say the sound track in this is the best thing about the entire movie.  Lycans, Vampires, Humans.  There all back but who or what their individual roles are I cant comment on, mainly as admitted earlier I've not kept up but what I can say is that if you want a movie experience that will make your stomach vibrate with bass so deep it makes you uncomfortable in your seat then this is the movie for you.

There is blood, there is death and Kate manages to pull of the sexy Vamp look with complete ease.  Mix that with one of the greatest bass lines I've ever heard and you have a cinema experience like no other.  

For those of you who have managed to stay tuned for the past 9 years the story is there if you look closely enough.  If you actually care then F.Y.I, Lycans are evolving in secret with the Vampires seeking solace underground away from the humans before Kate's return after a 12 year gap and she discovers she's mummy to a daughter, conceived while she was frozen and ends up being final reincarnation of Lycan meets Vamp and the key to the Lycans survival.  Hunted by Lycans its Kate who has to defend her kin while working out what happened to Michael (keep up) who is believed dead but as expected, we are again left open to Underworld 5 (not yet announced).

One thing is for certain, Beckinsdale's performance in this seems methodical, whereas my hope is that her role in the upcoming re-make of Arnie masterpiece Total Recall as Sharon Stone's character Lori is set to be awesome - for 80's movie fans like myself that is anyweay! (okay, so it was made in 1990 - forgive me 1 year?)

If Blood, Bass and Bums is your thing then you'll love it.  If you care for the other three then you'll love it.  If you couldn't care less, you could still love it.  As for me, well it passed the time.

172, Man on a Ledge

So lets talk about Sam Worthington.  He launched onto the big screen in 2009 with Terminator Salvation and Avatar after having a string of TV performances and then fell into 'expected' blockbuster Clash of the Titans which sadly seemed to have critics slating it from start to finish (although I loved it!).  

He followed this up with some meagre video game voice overs and movies that managed to avoid publicity and its taken three years for Worthington to make any form of sustainable comeback. 

In my eyes, Man on a Ledge is a welcome return for Worthington and with a far better looking and deeper 'Titans 2' completed and 'Avatar 2' announced for 2016 I am hoping his return will be long lived as he's  pleasure o watch on screen. 

So, without further ado - lets talk about this movie.

Well, whats great about this movie is the plot.  I loved it. 

Escaped convict seeks revenge against the man who set him up and with his brother and subsequent girlfriend in tow seek to pursue a brilliant jewellery heist while the world watches a faked suicide attempt completely had me from the first 5 minutes.

Worthington was never going to be the worlds greatest actor but in this, the relationship he builds with the negotiator cop, Lydia (Elizabeth Banks) as she tries to understand his motives is definitely one to watch.  For the remainder, the behind the scenes plot mostly played out by Jamie Bell & Genesis Rodriguez really manages to captivate the audience on more than one level. 

There are so many things going on.  The dodgy relationship between Lydia as a 'hexed' negotiator after losing a suicide cop off a bridge and her senior colleagues now forced into working with her is brilliant.  Match this with Bell and Rodriguez as the safe cracking couple where you constantly wonder how the once 'Billy Elliott' managed to bag such a 'hottie' makes you chuckle at their bickering while also managing to add some element of comedic interlude to the proceedings. 

Then there's the bell hop, who's way too familiar to just be a bell hop and that scenario all comes to light towards the end of the movie which is the main twist to the plot and one I'm not going to spoil.

There is nothing significantly 'stand out' about this movie but its definitely entertaining. 

Ed Harris plays a the ego-centrical villain with sheer class and you cant help but like every actor and the role they play.

I cant fault it.  Yes its a little predictable but that's never a bad thing.  If you want a righteous movie where truth prevails then you wont go far wrong with this one.

Well worth a punt.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

171, Chronicle

So the trailer gives a lot of this movie away, three high school kids discover an alien being and their contact results in them each obtaining telekinetic energy which they use firstly to cause a few pranks but as the movie progresses it gets a little darker and the impact, more significant until a resulting face off with the boys in blue and some pretty mind blowing effects.

What the trailer does not tell you is its all shot completely from video cameras, similar to Blair Witch or even Cloverfield.  some may like this but for me it was just jerky and off putting.

Luckily, it gets into the action relatively quickly but it then seems to take forever getting any further.  Don't get me wrong, the effects of the boys identifying with their powers is very well done and in some places quite comical but its the story of Andrew that takes the lead and his tragic existence to date.  Maybe tragic is a bit of a mean term.  He's unliked at school, unloved at home and with few friends to fall back on his powers come as a welcome break to his insignificant existence. 

We see Andrew, his cousin and the School hero become as thick as thieves and the movie tracks Andrews rise to popularity by expressing powers as potential 'magic' tricks but when his lust for more power takes over its his friends Matt and Steve who try to pull him back down to earth with a few terrible side effects.

The story is long winded and after a while the '1st person' view starts to get a bit annoying but then, luckily it all kicks off is about half hour from the end.  The special effects, action and story really ramp up to quite an impressive climax and although I'm not going to give it away - the end is pretty great.

As for the cast, relatively unknown with mostly TV actors taking the lead and this does allow you to focus on the characters more rather than say "I preferred him in this or that".

What is never explained though is the 'how' and the 'why'.  There is no identification with the Alien force or in deed how it ended up on Earth.  The movie ends quite openly, leaving room for a Sequel but I very much believe there wont ever be one.  I don't think there needs to be, this is about the three lads concerned and each of their stories are well and truly identified with. 

Being shot all by hand held video camera does bring you closer to the events taking place and it makes it far more personal than your normal Action / Alien movie but its jerkiness puts me off really being able to rave about this movie.  Its good but although it will hugely appeal to a large audience, it will annoy the rest.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

170, The Decendants

So, George Clooney in something that does not include the word 'Oceans' and hopefully is a huge improvement on the American.  Well, being Oscar nominated I was hoping it would vaguely catch my imagination and I would get swept up in what is being called one of the movies of the year.

Clooney stars as a Decendant of some of the original land owners of Hawaii and through generations his family has got rich off of the land they own.  Now, with all the money tied up in trust funds he is sole holder of the families millions.  Unlike his ancestors before him though, Clooney has chosen not to divulge the wealth straight away but instead, leaves it safely stashed away in a bid to auction it all off and ensure the huge collection of ever imposing cousins all get their share as he brokers his families legacy to the highest bidder. 

In the background - his wife is involved in a terrible boating accident and lies in a coma, with no hope of survival.  Its then that he discovers his wife was having an affair and with his daughter in tow sets out to discover the truth, without his wife being awake to answer for her mistakes.

As an Oscar nominated movie it has all the traits of abeing a potential winner.  Clooney heads a great cast including Matthew Lillard, Beau Bridges and Judy Greer with Clooney's stage daughters played by TV Actress Shailene Woodley (Alex) & Amara Miller (Scottie) in her debut role.

Both the girls are brilliant.  Loose lipped around their dad which makes for some great banter and you get a real sense of family as Alex (eldest daughter) stands by her Dad throughout, even with a rocky beginning but they soon get over it and its nice to see them get along so well towards the end.

As for the wrap up of the story - Clooney is sent into a tailspin when he discovers the truth about his wife and the repercussions the land sale will have for all those 'involved' but for those that go along to watch, dont panic.  I wont spoil it.

There is not really much else to say - its a definate story led movie this one rather than a guaranteed blockbuster and every now and again (normally to coincide with award season) we get them popping up to make actors and writers feel good about themselves. 

Being set in Hawaii there were no filming complaints although the movie does make a point of focussing on it being just another town, played down by the characters as 'home' rather than a paradise destination.

I still prefer Clooney as Danny Ocean (Oceans Twelve excluded) but for me, this far outweighs his last offering in the American which can ony be a good thing.

If you want a rollercoaster of action, guns and sex then avoid like the plague, you wont get any of that here - but for those in touch with their softer side, you'll probably love it.  An older, softer Clooney dons the big screen and one thing is for sure - the poor guy cant run to save his life! (you'll see what I mean!)