Saturday, 29 March 2014

Noah Movie Review

There have been many movies over the years which deal with biblical figures and event, The Passion of The Christ, The Prince Of Egypt, Life Of Brian, my personal favourite is The Prince Of Egypt, deep, meaningful and stunning animation. That brings me to Noah, Darren Aronofsky's take on the biblical tale with Russell Crowe as the titular figure, along with Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winston and Anthony Hopkins. Noah tells the story of Noah the descendant of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve and the journey he must take from simple father to biblical saviour. Along the way he'll converse with fallen angels, do battle with the descendant of Cain and his armies and deal with a teenager who is really hung up on sex.

Noah is an unusual take on the biblical tale as it deals with some unanswered questions some people might have. One such question is, how the hell did Noah build that ark for every conceivable creature on Earth? Well in this iteration he is helped by the "Watchers", a group of fallen angels on Earth who volunteer to help Noah build the ark after they realise that the "Creator" has chosen him to save the innocent, aka the animals. Which is an interesting storyline, the animals are the ones to be saved not humanity. Noah points it out several times that man has to be obliterated, humanity has to be destroyed so that Earth can go on with its innocence intact. It's a dark theme and the movie follows that theme well. With its brutal characters and at times disturbing imagery, one particular moment is when Noah goes into the enemy camp looking for wives for his two sons and he see's himself as a disgusting, evil scavenger feasting on a living feral dog, Noah will stick with you for a while after the credits roll. 

I am the storm.
The visuals also reflect the dark theme, there is nothing bright and colourful in this world, except when they show what the Garden of Eden looked like.The muted colours are clearly there to give an apocalyptic feel to the movie and it works well. The characters also add to this atmospheric world, for example Russell Crowe is superb as Noah. He is a believable father who tries to nurture his family the best way he knows how, all the while having to deal with the fact that he has to judge all of humanity. Emma Watson is great as Illa a young woman in love with Noah's eldest, Shem. She gives a wonderful performance throughout the entire movie and I thoroughly enjoyed her in Noah. The rest of the cast are okay,unfortunately they can be pretty forgettable.Some of them are simply spouting important information you need to know but apart from Ray Winston's Tubail-Cain the rest of the characters are as interesting as the animals Noah is saving.

The biggest problem I had with the movie in the end was the message and who it was directed towards. They show you how the "Creator" created everything and it is the oddest mish mash of beliefs I have ever seen and I still don't know how I feel about it. There is then the whole pc issue, this movie was made to please everyone, between the combined creation theory to the fact that God is never called God I just kind of felt like, make a statement. Pick a side. It irked me and I just couldn't get past it.

Visually stunning, biblically brutal reshaping of the story of Noah. A muddled execution at times doesn't stop Noah from giving you an epic story full of wonder, tragedy and boulder angels.
Rating; 3/5

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Captain America The Winter Soldier Film Review

Captain America The Winter Soldier is the sequel to Captain America The First Avenger and The Avengers. Captain America The Winter Soldier is the final film before The Avengers Age Of Ultron and after Thor The Dark World and Iron Man 3, it has a lot to live up to. Especially since some fans felt Captain America The First Avenger was the weakest of the Avenger films.Not only that a percentage of fans felt he was one of the less interesting characters in The Avengers. Well I've seen it and I'm here to let you know how Captain America The Winter Soldier fares against all those other superhero movies out there. Read on Agents.

The Winter Soldier, terrifying. 

It's been an undisclosed amount of time since The Avengers and Steve is still learning to acclimate to his new surroundings. He's taken up residence in Washington DC(bit on the nose don't you think) and he's now working for S.H.I.E.L.D as a full time agent. As missions go down he begins to question Nick Fury and what he is doing for S.H.I.E.L.D, as he questions everything around him and lamenting for everything he has lost, his friends, his world, his innocence. Then Nick gets attacked and Steve is implemented in the conspiracy around that whole attack so from that point on he is on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D with Black Widow and Falcon in tow to help him sift through all the conspiracy crap and to find out who the mysterious Winter Soldier is and what his connection is to Captain America.

With Captain America The Winter Soldier a lot of promises were made. We were given a storyline which involved a character that is a fan favourite to every Marvel comic book reader, the Winter Soldier and he is fantastic. Every scene that he is in is just elevated from your run of the mill action sequence to something deep, dark and visceral. He is legitimately threatening, at times depressing and an all round fantastic live action interpretation of the Winter Soldier. What is unfortunate is that, in my opinion, he is not in it enough and is also not given nearly enough lines. The dynamic between Steve and new guy Sam Wilson aka Falcon is handled well, both are men who have come back from war and don't know how to adjust to the "softer" side of life and there is a real sense of brotherhood here as Sam looks to Steve as both a symbol that needs to be protected and as a friend who needs help. Unfortunately this cannot be said for the "relationship" between Steve and Natasha, shoehorned into this budding friendship is a kind of weird attraction that just does not work because Scarlett Johansson is not great in this film. She is without a doubt one of the weaker elements of an almost perfect movie and on that note I'll mention the other weak link, Robert Redford who plays Alexander Pierce a character who is pretty forgettable. He is just there to put a face to the enemy and what dignified face it is but that's really it if you're looking for more interesting villains look elsewhere.

The story is pretty deep and raises so many interesting questions, for example I honestly don't know how Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D will go on now and I really like that. The ramifications of this movie will be felt throughout the entire series of films dare I say even more so than any other Marvel movie. With Stephen Strange mentioned, the status quo of the Marvel Universe up in the air and an end credits scene that sets up The Avengers Age Of Ultron perfectly this is my favourite Marvel sequel and in my opinion the best Marvel sequel. With intense, focused action and depth that wasn't in the last movie Captain America The Winter Soldier is a fantastic movie for everyone.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Labor Day Movie Review

Tons of fun with your kidnapper.

I was invited along to the press screening of Labor Day last Friday, from what I knew about the filmed it starred an unusual cast which was lead by Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. Among the cast was J.K Simmons, Clark Gregg and James Van Der Beek!? All the while this movie was narrated by ex Spider-Man Tobey Maguire. Labor Day has the premise of a Saturday Night Live sketch and I could not get past that. If you're still interesting read on Agents.

Our movie follows Henry, a boy who's mother Adelle has entered into a depression due to her husband leaving her for another woman. As Henry states it she gave up on love and becomes a nervous wreck, not being able to leave the house except for once a month when Henry and herself head to the local grocery store to restock on food, essentials etc. On the latest occasion Henry wanders around checking out comics and vogue when he bumps into Frank, a man on the run who kidnaps Henry and Adelle and holds them captive in their own home which is kind of ironic since they both are already prisoners due to the mother's crippling depression. Labor Day then goes on with the two leads as they learn to love each other. He learns to care for someone again and she learns to be a somewhat competent human being. I'm serious the characterisation in this movie is terrible, especially with Adelle.

What I had to keep reminding myself of was that Frank had kidnapped them, every now and then someone comes over just to remind the audience that he is a bad man then they leave and he becomes the ultimate domestic God that every woman fantasizes about.This movie feels like one of those Daniel Steele novels, a female character who can't do anything for herself gets kidnapped by a strong man who then falls in love with her and becomes a better person for her. What made this uncomfortable was the fact that a child is involved. There is a scene, I shit you not where Henry is listening in on Adelle and Frank having sex and it is super creepy. I suppose that is the main element here, a lot of this film is super creepy.

Only one or two of the characters are in anyway convincing as actual human beings. Clark Gregg and Josh Brolin give great performances, Clark coming off as a father who is just trying to do his best and Brolin's Frank is charming and broken and as you learn about him you actually begin to care unfortunately this is all bogged down with some of the most awkward acting I've seen in a long time. In Labor Day there are some interesting and moving scenes but they could have been more interesting movies by themselves than part of Labor Day. As well as that the confusing and frustrating ending which just infuriates me to no end. This movie insults women, men and small children with cliche upon cliche. Then there is that odd scene where Brolin bakes a pie with Winslet, weird.


Two great actors do not make a great film.

300 Rise Of An Empire Movie Review

In 2007 a film hit our screens that would change how we viewed visual effects. 300 was a Greek legend that was re-imagined into a comic book extravaganza by the legendary Frank Miller. It was then brought to us by director Zack Snyder. It was one of the smash hits of the year and brought Snyder up to elite status, as far as Hollywood directors go. Fast forward seven years, Warner Bros. brings us a sequel titled 300 Rise Of An Empire. The question is, did we really need a sequel?

300 Rise Of An Empire is set some time after the events of 300. Xerxes defeated Leonidas and all of Greece is about to be levelled by the God King. However the warriors of Athens believe that they can use Leonidas' sacrifice to rally all of Greece to combat this threat. A new cast of characters are introduced, plus a few surprise cameos. Leading the cast is Sullivan Stapleton as Athenian, leader Themistocles, and Eva Green as the primary villain, Artmeisia. There's also a supporting cast that includes many from the first film such as Lena Heady and David Wenham returning as Queen Gorgo and Dillios respectively.

300 Rise Of An Empire was an interesting experience in the fact that many wondered if the success of the previous film could be replicated again this time around. The limited plot and dialogue was all forgiven in the first film because it was masked by a visual awesomeness we had never seen before, but now we're four Zack Snyder movies in. We're used to his brand of visuals by now, so all attention is on how well everything else is executed.

First off I'd like to say there are a ton of returning elements, such as over-the-top violence, beautiful scenery both punctuated by slow motion. Slow motion scene after slow motion scene. You see where this is going. Why this worked in the first film was that Zach Snyder knew how to use it to its full potential. Noam Murro, who takes the director's chair in this film, uses this same technique seemingly just for the sake of having them. It makes for some awkward of moments. The dialogue is not only less punchy and dramatic but also feels a bit recycled at times. Different characters will spew the exact piece of inspiring dialogue that was used in 300. I suppose that is the whole problem with this film, everything that could really have been said well was already said.

300 Rise Of An Empire does have redeeming qualities in the shape of its two leads, Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton, who play their roles fantastically. Green especially was a fantastic villain; she brought so much to the role. Her back story (one of many) stands out the most, she easily has the best lines and some of the most memorable scenes in the entire film. Sullivan Stapleton is given the unenviable role of Leonidas 2.0, which he fills out very well and then some. Themistocles is his own man with unique and interesting skills, and I found him to be an interesting protagonist. Also, when the final battle kicks off at the end, I got chills. That's saying something when a movie is filled with nothing but battle after battle.

Rating; 3/5

Batman's 75th Anniversary: The Top Five Batmen

The 75th Anniversary of our favorite Dark Knight is coming up, and as a way to begin the celebration of this momentous occasion, we take a look at the top five Batmen throughout the DC multi-verse. We take a look at the comics, the cartoons and the many, many films about our favorite caped crusader. Batman has become a pop culture icon, rivalling that of Superman. 

5. Batman: The Brave and the Bold
The Brave and The Bold indeed.

A lot of you may be wondering what is this cartoon series doing in the hallowed list of favorite Batmans. This series was a true homage to every aspect of the Batman you'll ever find, namely from the Golden and Silver ages. Was it childish? It's a kids' show, you be the judge. Did it always hit the mark with jokes and story-lines? Again, it's a kids' show, there are usually spectacular hits and misses. The animation was top notch for what it was, the humor was, for the most part, brilliant, and the wide cast of characters was diverse enough to keep things interesting. The series knew how to balance every aspect of Batman's long career, from all the silly story-lines along to some of the deepest and darkest ones. Diedrich Bader brought the dry humour to the otherwise brooding vigilante, which was surprisingly fantastic. If you ever watch one episode watch "Chill Of The Night," you will be hooked.

4. Batman: Earth One
More man than bat.

DC Comics' Earth One graphic novel series is populated by a scant amount of superhuman beings. Superman has only made himself known for a few months, and...that's pretty much it. So far, there is no Wonder Woman, no Green Lantern, and no Green Arrow in Star City. Yet. Like Clark, this was a younger Bruce; however, this version was incredibly naive and filled with even more anger than any of Frank Miller's versions. That's kind of saying something... Either way, it was incredibly refreshing. This was a Bruce who made mistakes, who miscalculated and grew right in front of our eyes. This is also the first Batman in recent memory where you can see his pupils under the cowl. You wouldn't think so, but this actually makes a difference. We see the man behind the bat and it makes him so much more accessible. And what's Batman without his superb partner in crime, Alfred? Bruce's guardian and butler is a no nonsense ex-Royal Marine who trains Bruce so that he can be better at combating the villainy of Gotham. Then there are James Gordon and Harvey Bullock who both make for an interesting odd couple dynamic. Gary Frank's art on every page is a visual wonder, a great accompaniment to Geoff Johns. This is definitely a recommended read for any Batman fan.

3. Batman Beyond (Terry McGinnis)
A new Bat for a new generation.

Set several decades later in the DC Animated Universe, Batman Beyond features a retired and very aged Bruce Wayne. He is way past his prime, and has long hung up the cape and cowl. Batman was no more. That is, until Terry McGinnis loses his father, finds out Bruce is Batman, and then steals the high tech Batsuit for justice. After showing Bruce that he has potential to be Gotham's next Batman, Terry takes his place as Bruce's prot├ęge. The dynamic between the two is one of the more compelling reasons why we stayed on for as long as the network allowed. It was very reluctant teacher mentoring reluctant student. They bicker, they fight, they reconcile, and they become closer for it.

Terry's career as Batman had two notable events that secured him a place on our list. The first was when the Joker returned to exact his revenge on the world in Return of the Joker. The second was when we found out Terry's true parentage in Justice League Unlimited, "Epilogue."

2. Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson)
Grayson and Wayne.

Dick Grayson has had the most natural and fascinating development of any superhero in all of comic book history. His journey from wide eyed sidekick to taking up the mantle of Batman has not been an easy one, but when Bruce "died," the most natural and obvious choice to be the new Batman was Grayson. With a new Robin by his side, the brash and arrogant little tyke, Damian Wayne, Grayson took to Gotham and he was fantastic. His tenure as the Dark Knight was a memorable one. He had his own incredible roster of villains that included Professor Pyg and Mister Toad, two wonderfully twisted characters.

1. Batman: The Animated Series
A genre defining cartoon.

Of course we have to mention Bruce Timm's Batman The Animated Series. It's a 90s gem almost all of us grew up loving. Every aspect of it was seamless, every voice was chosen with care and love. Kevin Conroy could play the vulnerable Bruce Wayne who could charm all the ladies, and then switch to the denizen of the dark recesses of every nightmare of every criminal with a flip of the switch. He didn't need a gravel infused voice (we're looking at you Christian Bale) to make you believe he was two different men.

So there you have it. The top five Batmen. Do you have any favorites? Let us know in the comments section below!

Muppets Most Wanted Movie Review

The Muppets are back again with Muppets Most Wanted. Last time around we saw the gang get back together with a film full of everything that made the Muppets great, musical numbers, audacious celebrity cameos and top notch humour that hits every demographic. The Muppets came back in a big way, and naturally we asked the inevitable question, will there be a sequel? Chances certainly looked high. It was crazy successful in the box office, and it won Oscar for "Best Original Song." After all of that, my brain could only think, "God, I hope it's decent."

Muppets Most Wanted picks up directly after the previous film and brings up an excellent issue, what next? The gang is back together and they are once again successful (kind of). What's the next step? Enter Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), a promoter who wishes to "help" the Muppets get worldwide recognition with a world tour. Their first stop is the comedy central of the world, Berlin. There, Kermit is mistaken as the number one criminal in the world, Constantine. The real Constantine pulls the ol' switcheroo, takes his place with the Muppets, and poor Kermit gets placed in a Gulag in Siberia. The jail is run by Nadya (Tina Fey), a woman with incredible ambition, drive, and a little crush on Kermit.

Danny Trejo is annoyed at Kermit.

Muppets Most Wanted is an unusual film in that I felt I have seen this plot before. All the elements of previous Muppet films are there. Kermit is trying to keep the madness created by his friends focussed while he fends off the advances of Miss Piggy (didn't they marry two decades ago?). The Muppets themselves don't listen to Kermit until they realise they may not have him around any more. Also Walter (one of the main cast from the previous film) is relegated to supporting cast member and is barely given any material to work with -- an unfortunate outcome considering they made such a big deal about adding a new Muppet.

Thankfully, that is where my problems with Muppets Most Wanted end. If you can get past these little issues you will be in for a real treat. Tina Fey was absolutely hilarious, and her supporting cast was top notch. Ricky Gervais continues to impress as he brings a needed edge to this film. Ty Burrell partnered with Sam Eagle was non-stop laughs.

Muppets Most Wanted feels like an homage back to the days when song and dance was the norm in films and I loved it. It's not perfect but it brought me back to those evenings I'd stay up and watch The Muppet Show on television where I would just lose myself in their ridiculousness.

Rating: 4/5