Monthly Archives: March 2012

In cinemas this week – 30th March

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

Another visually stunning production from Aardman Animation, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists sees Pirate Captainis and his crew do battle against fellow pirates Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz to clinch the Pirate of the Year Award. The adventure sees the pirates travel across land and sea, make an unlikely acquaintance in Charles Darwin and battle against pirate-hating Queen Victoria.

Aardman has a pretty spotless track record, aside from 2006’s largely ignored Flushed Away, so expect the usual flawless animation and humour that blurs the boundaries between adult and child. The voice talent on show it pretty spectacular too, with (deep breath) Hugh grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, Lenny Henry, Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen, Brian Blessed and Russel Tovey all along for the ride.

Wrath of the Titans

Clash of the Titans, out in 2010, was somewhat of a disappointment. Two dimensional characters and naff story didn’t live up to the promise showed by the fascinating origins of the mythology and Liam ‘release the Kraken’ Neeson. Wrath of the Titans is set ten years later and Perseus (Sam Worthington) is back with a new haircut and new bad guys to slay. So, how exactly do you ‘out-Kraken’ the Kraken? By throwing in a Chimera, a Minotaur and the biggest badass this side of the River Styx, the Titan Kronos.

When Zeus (Neeson) is taken hostage by Kronos, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez), demigod Perseus must venture into the Underworld to save him. Battling all sorts of unpleasant folks, Perseus enlists the help of Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) to help him rescue Zeus, defeat the Titans and save the world. Easy.

Streetdance 2

If you like dance films, you’ll probably like this. If you don’t like dance films, you probably won’t. For some reason stars Tom Conti.

Also out this week

There’s quite a lot else out this week, so what with the stuff that’s already out, you definitely won’t be stuck for what to see over Easter. There’s Babycall, in which Anna (Noomi Rapace) installs a baby monitor to ensure her child is safe whilst sleeping. However, when disturbing noises come through the monitor, she’s sure she witnesses the murder of a small child.

There are also a number of documentaries out this week – Into The Abyss, The Island President, and This is Not a Film, all of which look to be intriguing if nothing else. The award for most leftfield film of the week goes to Switch, in which Sophie finds herself in a murder/body switch conundrum. Sounds plausible, right? Oh yeah, Eric Cantona’s in it. Yep, Eric Cantona. Eric. Cantona.

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By the beard of Zeus! Ron Burgundy confirms Anchorman sequel

In a surprise appearance on Conan O’Brien’s chat show, Will Ferrell aka Ron ‘kind of a big deal’ Burgundy confirmed the existence of the sequel to the 2004 hit, Anchorman.

After playing some of his legendary jazz flute, Burgundy got audiences everywhere ready for a glut of new quotable lines with the news. The even better news is that many of the originals are already back on board, including director Adam McKay, producer Judd Apatow and cast members Paul Rudd (Brian Fantana), David Koechner (Champ Kind) and Steve Carell (Brick Tamland). See footage of Burgundy breaking the news below.

The sequel, which is yet to get an official title, is a long time in coming, probably due to the move from Dreamworks to Paramount. Whatever the reason, better late than never.

Welcome back Ron, stay classy.

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Film Review: 21 Jump Street

There are very few films that make me laugh out loud, so when it comes to comedy movies I’d say I’m pretty hard to impress. I’ve only watched a handful of truly funny flicks in my lifetime and, in my opinion, a good comedy is one I would watch again and again, such as Bridesmaids, The Hangover, Elf and 500 Days of Summer. So, would I add 21 Jump Street to that list? Yes.

It’s a surprisingly funny film for two reasons. One, I never thought Channing Tatum could have such comic timing. Two, it’s a format that been done time and time again – but this time it really worked.

So, without giving too much away, the story is simply about how two guys who hated each other in school become friends after graduation and are forced to go back to High School undercover. Fresh out of the Police Academy, the pressure is on for these two best friends to nab their first arrest, but they really don’t make it easy for themselves or their friendship.

Like most comedies, you know what’s coming but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable. The situations they find themselves in are undoubtedly over the top yet compelling, and the two leading men have great on-screen chemistry that’s kind of reminiscent of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon – except this film focuses more on the comedy than the action.

There was also a surprise cameo in there that I did not see coming, so if you haven’t already heard about it then you’ll probably be impressed that it features such a big Hollywood star.

So, if you are looking for a feel good movie to watch this weekend, then make it 21 Jump Street. It’s funny, it’s action packed and it’s got a good brother-from-another-Mother story.

Words: Lis King

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Mad Men is Back but the Women are Better – A 1st and 2nd Episode Review

Mad Men is back and classier than ever. Last night seen the launch of season 5 hit show on Sky Atlantic, which proved to be up to the same sophisticated standard that us ‘Mad Meniacs’ have come to expect, as it contained all the stunning fashions, fantastic one liners and sexual tension which make it truly one of a kind.

So, what’s different this season? Well, it’s now set in the 1960s for one thing, so it highlights the uprising of women and the demise of white supremacy. Therefore, the mood has shifted significantly as the men at Sterling Cooper are no longer the dominant force and the woman are undoubtedly running the show, with Peggy pitching big name ads and Joan making sure that her job is well and truly safe once she’s recovered from having her new baby.

If anything, the power shift has left the men a little weaker, with the workaholic Don Draper dropping everything for his new bride Megan. He’s also struggling to control her attention seeking ways, apart from in the bedroom – he has well and truly got that situation under control. Peggy is also bossing the men about and not afraid (not that she ever really was) to make sure that her voice is heard, even if it means insulting her boss.

The only thing I was really disappointed in was the fact that the first two episodes shown no sign of Don’s first wife, Betty. It’s not an episode of Mad Men if the all American blonde isn’t slapping kids or calling her ex a bad Father, and these two episodes definitely missed her ferocity.

If there was anything that these two episodes highlighted, it is that the advertising big shots are nothing without the women behind them.

Words: Lis King.

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Twilight: Breaking Dawn – part 2 teaser shows bella on the hunt

This is the moment that film fans have been waiting for – Twihards because we get to see Bella as a proper vampire (red eyes and all), and haters because it finally signals an end to the series. There have been few films series in recent memory that have divided opinion quite as much as Twilight, and it’s unlikely that the final part is going to make anyone change their mind, positive or negative.

So what does the new teaser trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 actually show us? Well, a lot more than the teaser trailer’s teaser trailer (this is getting ridiculous), but still not a huge amount. Granted, we get to see Bella in full-on vampire hunt mode stalking a poor little deer, but there’s precious little else. Still, it’s probably enough to get fans all misty-eyed and flocking to fan forums to use terms such as ‘ZOMG’. Let us know your thoughts.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 will conclude the series when it hits cinemas on November 12th.

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In Cinemas this week – 23rd March

The Hunger Games

Without a doubt the biggest film out this week, or maybe even the year so far, The Hunger Games is set to be ‘the next Twilight’. But don’t let that put you off; if the trilogy continues in this fashion, it’s going to easily surpass its vampire peer and make people wonder why they were so stupid to buy a ‘Team Jacob’ t-shirt in the first place (although coming out the other side of puberty will likely do the same).

The Hunger Games is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, and is set in a future version of North America (or America as it’s commonly known) where children are forced to fight to the death for entertainment. When her younger sister is chosen to take part in the games, 16 year old Katniss takes her place and must do what she can to survive.

Wild Bill

Wild Bill has slipped under the radar a little but it’s been getting pretty favourable reviews so far. Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles) has just got out of prison and is determined to get back on the straight and narrow (aren’t they all?). However, he finds this more difficult than anticipated, especially when he finds that his two children have been abandoned by their mother and are fending for themselves.

Act of Valor

Also pretty unknown, Act of Valor is the story of an elite group of Navy SEALS who are fighting to stop a planned terrorist attack on the US and recover a kidnapped CIA operative. The killer app in this though is that it features a cast of active-duty soldiers.

Also out this week

For those resisting the temptation of the above, there are a few other bits and pieces out, including Agent Vinod, The Kid With a Bike, and The Grind. The Kid With a Bike, in particular, looks to be an intriguing one, as a woman takes in a boy who was abandoned by his father when he was young. It’s unclear where exactly the bike comes into it though apart from that he seems to ride it a lot. And it’s in French, so if you don’t like to read your films, it’s probably best to steer clear.

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New Madagascar 3 trailer

What’s the natural thing to do when you make a sequel that doesn’t live up to the original? Make a third one of course. The first Madagascar was enjoyable enough, whilst the second, Escape 2 Africa, although watchable, felt as if it had already run out of ideas. The third film, subtitled Europe’s Most Wanted, sees the usual suspects – Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman (David Schwimmer) – attempt to find their way back to New York.

However, they somehow find themselves in Monte Carlo and on the run from the film’s villain, Captaine Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), before joining a travelling circus in need of some new performing animals – what a bizarre coincidence, and one that is bound to get animal rights getting on their high horse (or non animal alternative of a high horse). Oh, and the trailer features the obligatory annoying Madagascar song choices. Anyway, check the trailer below.

There’s still a bit of a wait for this one – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted doesn’t hit cinemas until October 19th. Can you wait that long?

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New Snow White and the Huntsman trailer

In a bizarre twist of fate/coincidence/poor scheduling and planning, there are two Snow White films out this year. The first is Mirror Mirror, which looks like it’s going to take a lighter look at the fairytale, whilst the second is Snow White and the Huntsman, a darker and more dramatic imagining, and the one we’ve got the latest trailer for.

We get to see how the infamous magic mirror will do its business and, most importantly, we see dwarves! Eight of the little fellas to be exact, played by big names such as Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane and Ray Winstone. We also see Kristin Stewart being a bit of a badass, pursued by Thor himself Chris Hemsworth as Eric, The Huntsman, all under the watch of Charlize Theron as evil Queen Ravenna.

Snow White and the Huntsman will be in cinemas from June 1st.

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Prometheus trailer brings the fear

It’s been a long time in coming but Prometheus is now just a couple of months away. Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel doesn’t actually deal with any of the characters from the original Alien story but focuses more on the origins of the foes that Ripley et al came up against. Whilst the trailer is jam packed full of action, details on the plot are still pretty scarce, although Alien fanatics could probably go through the trailer with a fine tooth comb and find a few hints.

What we do know is the crew of the Prometheus are drawn to an alien planet and discover signs of life. After that it all goes a bit bat-shit crazy and there’s lots of screaming and being scared. Will we see a fully formed Xenomorph? Will the Chestbuster make an appearance? Why is Michael Fassbender being a bit creepy at the end? Time will tell…

UPDATE!

A new UK trailer for Prometheus has surfaced, which is a little more story focused than the previous one. And is that a Facehugger we see just after the two minute mark?!

Prometheus finally (chest)bursts onto screens on June 1st.

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The Fighter vs Warrior

Let’s get ready to ruuuumbleeeeee!

Warrior and The Fighter are both out now on DVD and are undoubtedly excellent films, but which one is the knockout movie or will they both be saved by the bell?

Let’s weigh up the opponents …

In the Red Corner we have:

The Fighter

Release date: Dec 2010

Lead: Mark Wahlberg  (Micky Ward)

Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (Dickie Ward)

Awards: 6 Oscar nominations (2 wins)

In the Blue Corner we have:

Warrior

Release Date: Sept 2011

Lead: Tom Hardy (Tommy Conlon)

Supporting Actor: Joel Edgerton (Brendan Conlon)

Awards: 1 Oscar nomination

Round 1 – Introduction:

At the start of both films you instantly know that you’ll leave the cinema with a smile on your face. However, they both begin very differently. The Fighter simply opens with Dickie (Bale) training his brother Micky (Walhberg) for a forthcoming boxing match. However, in my opinion, the start is a little slower than I would have liked but its direction is simply stunning, and starts on a lighter note than its opponent.

Warrior throws you straight into the drama. In the first scene, we watch the relationship of a Father (the incredible Nick Nolte) happy to find his estranged son (Hardy) literally sitting on his doorstep. However, Tommy isn’t willing to forgive and forget his Father’s past, and it appears the only reason he’s came to visit him is to tell him how much he despises his old man. So, as Warrior definitely packs a punch from the beginning then it definitely wins the first round.

Round Two – The Emotional Journey:

Both characters have an emotional struggle that ultimately makes compelling viewing. In The Fighter, Micky is struggling to break free from his Mother and Brother’s continuous interference with his boxing matches until he meets Charlene (Amy Adams) who convinces him that he needs to fight for himself and not for his family.

In Warrior, Hardy is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his Mother has died and that his brother (Edgerton) refused to run away with them from his alcoholic Father. He then enters the biggest MMA match in the world to win the cash prize for the wife and child of his friend who was killed in combat.

So, the want and need is there for both characters, but the Warrior definitely offers the blow that will leave a mark the very next day.

Round Three – Family Dynamics:

Do you think your family is complicated? Well, you haven’t seen The Fighter or Warrior then. Try being Micky Ward for a day and having to deal with a brother who can’t get over the fact that he once sucker punched Sugar Ray Leonard. Also, Micky has to deal with his Dickie’s drug taking and overbearing, know-it-all attitude. As well as dealing with a controlling, money-grabbing Mother who tells him has to fight a boxer who is a division bigger than he is. I bet your family look like The Waltons now.

You can’t help but feel for Tommy Conlon in Warrior, though. He was basically left to raise himself after his Mother got cancer and then died. He also can’t forgive his Brother and Father for basically ruining his entire family. He also drives his Father back to drink when he will only view him as his trainer. Things also go from bad to worse when his brother enters the MMA competition and they’re left to battle out their differences in front of the whole world.

The fact that the brothers in Warrior only have about two scenes together in the whole film makes the atmosphere between them tenser, but it also forces you to root for one person more than the other. Therefore, if you’re looking for a film with some genuine brotherly love then you should pick up The Fighter as you see them go on a fantastic journey together.

Round Four – Action:

If you’re the type of person that loves the big fight scenes then Warrior is the film to watch. It’s non-stop action the whole way through. There’s always someone getting punched or those little training sequences which make films like these so appealing.

However, that’s not to say that The Fighter doesn’t have action, but you only really see it at the end. The biggest punches come in the form of the overall story.

Round Five – Acting:

Tom Hardy is undoubtedly one of the best actors in films right now. I don’t care if you disagree with me, it’s a fact. He plays the role of Tommy Conlon beautifully. He’s definitely believable as a silent-but-deadly character, and his role as the bitter, ex-marine draws you in from beginning to end.

Therefore, Mark Wahlberg is an unsatisfactory opponent in comparison. I personally felt that Wahlberg was incredibly wooden throughout the film with his one expression and half-hearted lines – and I’m not surprised that he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar like Bale and Leo.

However, maybe he was just overshadowed by supporting actor Christian Bale who played the role a drug addict magnificently. I doubt I’ve ever witnessed such a fantastic performance in another film, and he really did deserve the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as he stole every single scene that he was in.

The supporting actor in Warrior was also really good but was overshadowed by the lead. His story was compelling and he acted well, but his character wasn’t nearly as interesting as Hardy’s and is therefore instantly forgettable.

Round Six – The Parents:

The Father in Warrior, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), is definitely at the heart of the film and is ultimately what pushes away and brings together the brothers. His vulnerability is gripping and you cannot help but feel for him, even if he was a little bit of a bastard in the past. However, I would have loved to have seen a little bit more of him and know how his relationship with his Brendan panned out, but unfortunately this is a question that was left unanswered.

The Mother in The Fighter, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo), is so strong that I’m surprised she didn’t just knock Micky out the way and get in the ring herself. The fact that she refuses to believe that Dickie has a drug problem or that Micky will never be half the fighter his brother was only makes you love and hate her. You can’t help but loathe her when she’s strong but adore her when she’s weak, and I believe that makes her one of the most refreshing characters in film.

Round Seven – Believability:

The Fighter is based on a true story and therefore you become emotionally attached to the characters from the beginning. The life of Micky Ward is both fascinating and inspirational, and the film is without doubt a superb homage to the boxer’s rags to riches tale. Therefore, you believe in the story 110% and it really does give you that warm buzz I love so much once the end credits roll.

I honestly thought that Warrior was based on a true story at the end of the film, which I think shows that it’s an incredibly believable story and I almost wish it was real. Without giving too much away, the final shot in the film is visually stunning and extremely emotive. In fact, it would take someone without a heart to not feel moved. Maybe if Warrior was based on a real story then it would have received more critical acclaim.

Round Eight – Unanswered Questions:

The Fighter answered all my questions. It didn’t leave any big plot holes and everything was summed up pretty much perfectly.

Warrior, however, did leave a few frustrating questions, such as what happened to the dead marine’s wife and child? Why did Tommy visit his Father in the first place? Did Brendan form a relationship with his Father?

Round Nine – Overall Experience:

If you want to see a good drama that’s not too heavy then pick up The Fighter, but if you want a film with a  real punch then opt for Warrior.

And the Winner is …

WARRIOR!

So what if it leaves some unanswered questions. Who cares if it’s not based on a true story? This film is a good mix of emotion, action and brotherly love and will leave you reaching out for both the tissues and the punch bag.

Words: Lis King

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