Thursday, 20 June 2013

Getting into college has never been so....uncomfortable.

'Admission' Review
Director- Paul Weitz
Starring- Tina Fey
Paul Rudd
Nat Wolff

Yay, another romantic comedy with Tina Fey in a scenario where she has no real love life, has no children and has a well payed and respected job. I didn't know  anything about this film going in, I was meant to  go see 'Now you see me' but there were complications so instead of going out with my girlfriend to a club or maybe get a nice quiet drink and discuss 'The Wheel of Time' series since I recently finished the fifteen book saga I went to this  film, and here is my review.

We've never seen Tina Fey in this scenario before........
Portia Nathan, Tina Fey, loves her job as admissions officer, her ten year relationship with her boyfriend is just wonderful and soon she may be up for a big promotion. What more could a woman want, well it turns out a lot, within a few days of  each other she loses the boyfriend, who by the way is a terribly miscast Michael Sheen, and then finds out she has a son who is trying to get into Princeton, her college. Hilarity ensues.....

The Budget for the film wa not....high.
Is it Tina Fey, no. Is it Paul Rudd, no. Is it the interesting teen  actor who plays Tina Feys son? Yes, yes it  is. Nat Wolff is very engaging as young genius  Jeremiah Balakian, he comes off with a lovely charm and wit, which is only emphasized by the lack of charm that comes off of the rest of the  cast. 

Oh dear God there is so much wrong with this  film, let's start with the theme. It feels like a coming of age story for a forty year old woman mixed with a tacked on romantic comedy. There was no reason for  Tina Fey and Paul Rudds characters to get together in this film. I felt there was no spark  between the two, this really annoyed me, especially since these two  actors  have such  huge comedy chops. The supporting cast is filled with one dimensional characters who seemed to simply be there to fill the scene with background noise. Its not that its not funny, it's painfully unfunny. It pulls out every cliched trick, every awkward moment, every cringe worthy opportunity  to try and get a cheap laugh,  and then it  comes up with one of the most unrealistic endings to a film imaginable. 

It's like looking into an eerie mirror into the future.
I have never said this about a film, but I will say it now, I regretted seeing this film. 

The moral of the story is this, if Tina Fey didn't write it, it's going to be shit.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

'The Rock' vs 'Drugs'

'Snitch' Review
Director- Ric Roman Waugh
Starring- Dwayne Johnson
Jon Bernthal
Susan Sarandon

This is a very special review for me. A couple  of days ago I received an e-mail that informed me that I was invited to a press screening of 'Snitch'. This was it  for me, I had actually been invited without any contests or contacts. I was  excited also  because I was going to see this film in a cinema I had never been to so there was a lot of new things happening. 

Right so the plot  of  the film is simple, a muscular man called John, Dwayne Johnson, owns a construction company. He's rich, has a loving family and everything is going pretty well. Skip to his son, Jason, who is talking about  drugs with his best friend, because that's what all teenagers do. The kid then gets stung by the D.E.A and gets put away for thirty plus years, so John figures out a slightly ridiculous way to get his estranged son off the hook. 

I imagine he's just happy he's not running from zombies.
After coming out of  this film I had a very experience, I honestly didn't know what  to think about this film. It tried to be tense and real, while being dramatic and foreboding. If I  could say there was anything that actually stood out in this film it was Jon Bernthal, Shane from 'The Walking Dead', who gave a very interesting performance. I found that when the rest of the scenes were going on I just cared about getting back to his character Daniel. 
His hair went to his chin.
I found very few of the characters in this film compelling, three dimensional or even interesting. The acting at times was not great, this was mainly due to some bog standard acting by the majority of the cast. There is  action but it  never drew me in, I was  never thrilled, I found it pedestrian. I never thought I'd use that word, but  there it is. Apart from that the camera angles were repetitive and unusual. Always giving close ups of eyes and then moving to an obscure angle in the scene. It got annoying and took away from the film, and the "villain" of the piece was so cliched it hurt to watch his scenes.

That beard...
Not great, and that's a true story.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Secrets, secrets and some more secrets.

Special Screening.
Tonight I am going to a special secret screening for a film. I don't know anything about what's going on. What the film is about, who's in it, anything.
Check back here in a couple of days when I will have a special secret screening review. I hope it's good, made a bet with myself that if the first five minutes are shit then I'm walking out. It'll be a first for me.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Steel yourself for his return.

'Man of Steel' Review
Director; Zack Snyder
Starring; Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Michael  Shannon

75th Anniversary this year.
'Man of Steel' is finally here, it has been a very long time since I found out that this film was coming to a cinema near me, for some it's Jedi, for others it's Elves, for me it's Kryptonians. After finding out that I  had won tickets to the London premiere and that I would get to meet Henry Cavill I decided that 'Man of Steel'  deserved a very special review. A review with footage that fans would love, so that's what I set out to do and I hope  by the end of this  review you'll agree that I succeeded. Before I begin my review, I want to say this, I have seen this film three times in a row, the London Premiere, a media screening the next day and then when it was released in Ireland I  saw it a third and final time.  When it comes to the analysis I wanted to  be ready,  so I hope I am.

'Krypton' is doomed, it's a tale as  old as time, instead of their Sun exploding on them however the writers of 'Man of Steel' decided to go with an issue that is very close to home. The character of 'Superman' has evolved over the decades that  he has lived, however the people of 'Krypton' still lack any kind of foresight which has been a recurring theme throughout the long history of 'Superman'. They have drained their planet dry of all natural resources and their last ditch attempt to recover their future has failed them. 'Jor-El', an absolutely bad-ass Russell Crowe, takes it upon himself to save not only his child but also  all of 'Krypton', even if it makes him a heretic in the eyes of his people. He commits crimes against  the counsel of 'Krypton' and stands against 'General Zod' and his regime, all for his family, more importantly for his son, 'Kal-El' who he bequeaths all his hopes and dreams to,  no pressure, and so begins a journey for a child that will not only affect the people of Earth and 'Krypton' but the whole universe.

There has got to be an easier way to commute.
'Superman', I've missed him, with the darkness that seems to be the theme for this years films, including the comic book genre, it  was refreshing to  see that the main element of this  film was hope. Henry Cavill encapsulates this perfectly in his portrayal of 'Kal-El'. There is a subtle charm to him, while at the same time there is a vulnerability. This is a 'Superman' who has grown up in a very real world. There  is a real humanity to him  in this iteration, he's afraid of the world, and what could happen to those closest to him. I could really empathize with this 'Superman', the outsider, the saviour, and the destroyer, he was all these things but what he is not, is unrelatable. 
Michael Shannon was superb as 'General Zod', in this version 'Zod' comes off as a  loyalist, a man who is fighting for his people, for their way of life. In many ways he and 'Jor-El' are men of born of the same belief. 'Krypton' is run by men and women stuck in a cycle of conformity and men like 'Zod' and 'Jor' are put down as crackpots or are judged as criminals, you really feel that if things had been different, even sightly, these two great men could have worked together to save their people. 'Martha Kent' and 'Jonathan Kent' were given new life in the form of Diane Lane and Kevin Costner. Diane Lane was fantastic and she gave off such dry humour and gave the audience a new kind  of 'Martha Kent'. If Diane  Lane gave us a wonderful mother than Kevin Costner gave us the  symbol of the greatest father. 'Jor-El' may have bequeathed all his dreams to  'Kal-El' but it was 'Jonathan' who gave 'Clark' the tools to make all those hopes and dreams come true. I've never really liked  Kevin Costner, the only film I liked of  his was 'Field of Dreams' and yet I found myself really engaged with his scenes with Henry. In a film with building shattering fights I found his scenes impacted me the most. On that  note, the fights, if anyone says "We need a 'Dragonball Z' film" you  tell them to watch this film. The level of  destruction is  on a scale I haven't seen between two combatants outside of an anime, it  makes the fight between the 'Avengers' and the  'chitauri' army look like a schoolyard brawl. This is  a film that  you not only believe that a man can fly but that he can demolish all around him. 
Very cool.
With 'Man of Steel' I had to make sure I wasn't biased, so I went three times to see it. First for fun, second for clarification and third for  justification.  I will tell you now that in my opinion there is very little wrong with this film. The one thing that stands out for me was how  Amy Adams 'Lois Lane' was the weak link in this otherwise superb piece of cinema. It wasn't that she was terrible, it's just that everyone else was giving us  new and interesting portrayals of very much beloved characters, while 'Lois' came off as very by the numbers which was unfortunate because I really was looking forward to her in the film.

There is  no doom or gloom just wonder and hope.  

One of the greatest experiences of my life.
One final surprise for everyone who couldn't make it to the premiere, click the link below. I hope you've enjoyed my review. It was a labour of love.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

'Week of Steel'.

The day was Wednesday, the date was the 7th of June. I  had been trying , with little success, to get to  the London Premiere of  'Man of Steel'. I even tried to get the Irish Premiere too, but my luck was failing. I had swore to everyone that I  would be there and that I would meet Henry Cavill. I had put in for multiple competitions, tried getting in contact with anyone who could help out but it just wasn't working out. Back to last week, I  was told about a competition on 98fm with Ray Foley for a meet and greet with Henry Cavill as well as getting to walk  the red carpet and seeing the  London Premiere. I entered on that  very day and boom, I was in the draw.

Whoever won out in the draw would then go to  London, so I  waited  until Friday morning, then Friday came and I listened in tentatively. Hours passed and there was a call, I recognized the number and answered before the second ring. I was put on hold and my heart was beating through my chest. I was put on with Ray and he explained that  I hadn't won, I was disappointed but in the back of my mind I knew. Then Ray laughed and explained  that I did win and he was just messing,  my  heart skipped a beat.

With that competition won the amount of  times I would see 'Man of Steel' came to a nice round number, three, so I dubbed this week, the 'Week of Steel'.
I stayed at a four star hotel, walked the red carpet and I met Henry Cavill.
He is a real genuine man, and when I handed him the gift that I  designed for  him to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of 'Superman' and to congratulate him on his success he was  genuinely taken aback. It made my day and my  life  up  until this  point. 

I will give my review on 'Man of Steel' soon,which will include photos and videos of the whole day and my thoughts and experiences of my 'Week of  Steel'. Until then though I'll give you all this  little picture from the day.
He was surprised to say the least.

The Double Feature; 'Byzantium'

The Double  Feature Continued...
'The Hangover Part III'

From dog food eating Chinese men to people eating Vampires,  it's now time to talk about 'Byzantium'.

Directed by; Neil Jordan
Starring; Saoirse Ronan
Gemma Aterton

The  title will make  sense don't worry.
Ah, vampires and Neil Jordan, there's something that we haven't seen in awhile, the last time that occurred  we were given the absolute gem that is 'Interview with a Vampire', and we all know how that  turned out, one of  Tom Cruises best roles in his entire career in my opinion. That film defined vampires for a generation in the cinema knocking back a lot of pretenders to the crown for at least a decade, so  will lightning strike twice? Lets find out.

Eleanor Webb is a girl who is  sick of her life, she's bored, nothing thrills her,nothing excites her and she just wanders through life aimlessly. Her mother on the other hand, Clara loves life and loves being with her daughter. Its been going on this way for awhile now for the pair, about two hundred and nothing has changed for them, physically anyway since they're vampires. That was a little test, I wanted to see how long I could go into the plot before  I  had to say they  were vampires, it didn't last long.  Suffice to say they  are vampires on the run for the last two centuries.

There  is a lovely chemistry between Gemma Aterton and Saoirse Ronan, there is real love there. You really feel  that these two people have a real history  together, they have no home since they've been on the run for so long and Eleanor is really starting to get sick of it and the way Saoirse and Gemma portray the mother daughter relationship with heart and soul is fantastic. Saoirse brings such an awkward charm to Eleanor while Gemma gives Clara a seductive and powerful presence. This is as much a story  about outsiders and the feeling of isolation as it is  a film about vampires, and that is to the films credit. The way  someone becomes a vampire in this film is unique and absolutely fantastic. It  feels less like B movie monsters turning you into creatures of  the  night and more like being inducted into a new religion, albeit the Gods are far older. There is a sense that there is a world within a world in this film. That behind everything there is a darkness, but it is not  necessarily evil which is an interesting dynamic. Something is dark and sinister  yet noble at the same time, in my eyes it is a wonderful concept.

So innocent, not really.
Though the dynamic between mother and daughter is fantastic, there are some failings. The acting can at times be too dark and moody, and there is a constant trend of characters speaking in hushed voices giving off deeply  intense dialogue. What  I laughed at was that there is a theme that goes through each  Neil Jordan vampire film and it made me raise a question. Why do these vampires always need to tell their stories? I mean  come on, in 'Interview with a Vampire' Louis gave an interview telling his entire story. In this, Eleanor is constantly telling her story over the two centuries of her extended life. It's an element I believe is one of the weaker points of the film.

It's a flawed film but there is one definite upside, not a single vampire sparkles.
That  is  not strawberry jam.

Vampires, I wonder when it'll all be done.

The Double Feature; 'The Hangover Part III'

The Double  Feature.
'The Hangover Part III'

I thought I would take a break from my 'Studio  Ghibli'  season and do a new 'Double Feature'.
It's going to be a real clash of genre's. The macabre versus the malcontents, Neil Jordans  atmospheric vampire drama and Todd Phillips conclusion to the 'Godfather' of all comedies. 

'The Hangover Part III'
Directed  by; Todd Phillips
Starring; Zach Galifianakis 
Bradley Cooper
Ed Helms

The lads realizing what is about to happen.
Going into this film I really worried about whether or not it could stand up to the hype and legacy of its predecessors, well predecessor, the first one. The gang are all back, for this final send off to the characters we have all come to  adore. 

Alan has gotten worse, a lot worse, he has caused a lot of destruction in the first ten minutes of the film. This causes massive repercussions in his life and in the lives of all around him, so the guys, Phil, Stew and Doug decide  that it's best if Alan goes away for awhile. On the way chaos ensues as the lads get attacked by Marshall, John Goodman, a man with a huge grudge against them since they introduced a virus into his life, in the form of a tiny man called Chow.

I  like how they tied the first film with this one, the little connections that add up to what seems like a well put together world. The change in the structure of the film is  pretty interesting, no hangover and no running around trying to figure out what they did the previous night is  refreshing. There is still the same wonderful chemistry between the trio of lads, and Doug, who is still the fall guy. There are some fantastic set pieces and once again there are one or  two  cameos which really boost this film. I am really struggling to write this part of  the review, I need to get to the  next stage of the review or  I'm just going to go around in circles.

One of  the few funny scenes, if you're not a big animal fan.
The characterization of some characters has really changed, and not for the better. Alan off his medicine is a real jerk and not in a funny way. The chemistry  may still be there but with no good dialogue it  feels forced and dull and a lot  of the time uninteresting. I did laugh but it was hollow laughter, every time I laughed it petered out very quickly. Chow is the main selling point of this film but unlike in the other films where he was a welcome side element, in this he is  thrust  into the spotlight and it is not always for the best. It reminded me of how 'Pirates of the Caribbean' turned Jack Sparrow from a fantastically engaging side character to an awkward lead role. These great characters don't steer the ship, they  make the journey far more entertaining and engaging. I could go on and on about what is wrong with this film but I won't. 

This is the 'Godfather' of comedies on so many levels, all the good all the bad.
No, just no.
 It could have been so much more.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

'Studio Ghibli' season continues with...'Kiki's Delivery Service'

'Studio Ghibli' Season.

There's magic, there are airships and there is a talking cat. It can only mean one thing, I'm reviewing another 'Studio Ghibli' film. 

#7 'Kiki's Delivery Service'

She didn't cause that, don't worry.
Director- Hayao Miyazaki
Starring- Kirsten Dunst
Phil Hartman
Tress MacNeille

Young 'Kiki' is a witch who is hoping to make it big in Koriko, using her unusual abilities to help the people of the port city. She brings Jiji in tow, her black talking cat, yes that's right another 'Ghibli' with cats, if I ever meet Hayao Miyazaki I will ask him, what's with all the cats? I would love to know the answer. Anyway, Kiki is an adolescent girl, so as you can imagine the plot follows the usual steps that most coming of age films follow. Witch meets boy, Witch doesn't like boy, Witch talks to cat for advice, Witch hits a big problem with her powers and boy and that's all I'm telling.

This is the love interest, no really.
What I've really come to respect from 'Ghibli' films, is that they can take a concept that is tried and tested and some would say tired and they inject new life into it. With coming of age stories they do just that, they find a new twist, a new angle and I really respect them for that. With this film we are given wonderfully layered characters who are funny, genuine and at times frustrating, because you know, listening to teens talk about boys and oh my God! Does he like me, why doesn't he like me, I hate him for not liking me, can get annoying, but that is what drew me in, it was real, it was genuine and none of it felt forced. There was a great back and forth between Kiki, played by Kirsten Dunst and Tombo, played by Matthew Lawrence. Then there is Jiji, the cat, played by the late great Phil Hartman. Phil Hartman for those who don't know him played Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure in 'The Simpsons'. He brings such a dry humour to the role that he feels like, to me, the audience, watching Kiki make a fool of herself and give his very correct opinion about it.

If this wasn't a 'Ghibli' they would be plunging to their deaths.
As I stated before, this is a coming of age film, and as such it has all the trappings of one. Ghibli do their best to get out all the cliches but even they can't do it. There were times where I was wishing Kiki would get over Tombo and get her confidence back, because lets face it she is 13, does she honestly think it'll last? I was teased with the idea of magic in this film which I will say was the main draw for me to watch this film, not long into it I realized that the world of witches would never be explained, that their rite of passage would never be fully explored and that stung a little, but that's just me.

What do you mean I can't be in 'The Cat Returns'.
It's a teen drama with a witch and her black cat, Sabrina it is not however, take that as you will, I'm going to take it as a compliment to 'Ghibli'.

Teenagers with magic powers can be so silly.

'Studio Ghibli' season continues..with 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky'

'Studio Ghibli' Season.

I hope you all have been enjoying my film season so far, it's been a real pleasure to bring to you, the fans, my love and enthusiasm of the film collection,'Studio Ghibli'. Right so next up in the season I will discuss the first ever 'Studio Ghibli' feature, 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky'. This film was released in 1986 and it began the eco-important theme that has become somewhat of a mainstay in all 'Studio Ghibli' features, but not only that, it began a wonderful love affair Ghibli has with steampunk. Perhaps one of the most unique properties of this film however though is this, there are no cats, I think, there are cat-like animals, but they don't count, do they? Anyway, let's get started.

#6 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky'

Director- Hayao Miyazaki
Starring- Anna Paquin
James Van Der Beek
Mark Hamill

She is light as a fether......not really.
As the film opens we are introduced to Sheeta, a girl who is very much in demand, but feels trapped and alone. This is the most literal description I have ever given to an opening as well as a plot. You'll get the joke when you see the opening, I guarantee a giggle. After the opening credits, which are just superb,you get a real sense of wonder, it's fantastic, you feel like this is a real world with a multi-layered history. As the film really gets going you are introduced to Pazu, a young miner who has dreams of flying the sky's to search for Laputa, the castle in the sky.

She is scary, really scary.
The film is filled with all the mainstays that fans have come to love from the steampunk genre. Airships, a technology based world that has magic strewn throughout it.The design of the world is just fantastic, the stark contrast of the world in the sky and the world on the ground. It is all beauty and majesty up in the air and dirt and sweat on the ground. The characters are all really interesting, Sheeta is an enigma wrapped in a riddle voiced by an almost unrecognizable Anna Paquin. James Van Der Beek is cool, determined and naive as Pazu an orphan who is trying to "find" his father in the skies. It is a wonderful little metaphor that I thought was really well delivered. Then there is Mark Hamill, that's right, Mark Hamill is the bad guy. I don't need to say any more.

Laputa is absolutely stunning and breathtaking.
Some of the supporting characters are really lacking in any kind of depth. They are simply there to help move the story into its next stage. If you are not a fan of steampunk and the genre it represents then you will not have fun here. 

They just thought that Mark Hamill was a really neat guy.
With all that's going on in this film, between, flying castles, laser shooting robots and evil Mark Hamill, I came out with this simple message, a boy was searching for is father.

I love airships.