Category Archives: Film Review

Reviews of the latest films I have seen; I am a huge lover of cinema so it’s good to show my love for certain films. I also think of myself as a bit of a cinema saviour when I warn people away from a rubbish film.

Beastly

Is that his good angle?

Is that his good angle?

UK Release Date:

Director: Daniel Barnz

Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris & Mary-Kate Olsen

REVIEW:

As sad as it is to see HMV going down the toilet once again, there is always something you can rely on when such a huge company pops its clogs and that my friends is: The Blue-Cross sale. With 25% off almost everything in a store as cool as HMV, its been really hard for me to resist not taking a peek inside and both times I have done so, I have walked out with so much stuff its unreal but hey, at least it was cheap, right? Anyway, this isn’t a piece about me gloating at the fact I’m making a killing off of the death of one of Britain’s most famous hight street names; it’s a review so now onto the film.

So to start, I picked up this film as part of a pair in a two for £10 shelf; it looked a little strange for a six foot four inches tall guy to be carrying around a total chick flick in his hands but when the other DVD in that pair was the BBC’s serial adaptation of Pride and Prejudice it wasn’t really that damning now was it? And even so, who was going to argue with me about it? Anyway, so I picked this up above everything else because of a few things: The first of these that it starred Alex Pettyfer, whom I quite like even as  a heterosexual man. He’s pretty cool and well, if I could swap lives with anyone for a day it would probably be him. The second reason is because I heard that it was basically a modern day retelling of Beauty and The Beast, which was one of my favourite Disney movies as a kid so, how bad could it be right?

So, the movie IS a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast focussing on High School Prince, Kyle [Alex Pettyfer] and his behaviour towards his fellow man, woman and child due to his vanity. Kyle has been led to believe that how people see him is directly proportional to what he looks like. Spoilt and shallow, Kyle is then transformed into something as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside after trying to humiliate a certain female student/ witch: Kendra [Mary-Kate Olsen]. Kyle now has one whole year to get someone to say those three magic words: “I love you” before the transformation becomes permanent.

Kyle and his anchorman father though have other ideas. Kyle is soon living a life of solitude within a lavish apartment with no one but his Jamaican housemaid and his newly appointed blind Tutor [Which surprising is Neil Patrick Harris] for company and time running short. His major breakthrough comes when a classmate of his, whom has been nothing but invisible most of her School life becomes the target of Kyle’s affections. Cue our Belle replacement, Lindy [Vanessa Hudgens] whom is soon living with Kyle, the Housemaid and Neil Patrick Harris as Kyle begins his miraculous transformation from self-loving jerk to most benevolent human being on the planet.

RATING: AAA

Although an interesting take on that good ol’ “Tale as Old as Time”, Beastly is missing some of the key magical elements that the original Beauty and the Beast has; maybe it’s the fact that they replaced the cool talking furniture characters with nothing but a housemaid and a blind man. Or maybe it’s because Beastly doesn’t quite rock the same amazing musical numbers as the original animated adventure did. I just don’t know but it just wasn’t as magical as The Beauty and The Beast that I grew up with as a child. Even though Pettyfer, Hudgens, Olsen and even NPH give some quite good performances; this film was if anything mediocre. It just goes to show that some classics don’t need that modern day retelling and that maybe, just maybe, that magic we’re all looking foir in films can be found by looking back rather than looking forward.

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Snow White and The Huntsman

Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who’s the most Badass of them all?

UK Release Date:  30th May 2012

Director:  Rupert Sanders

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, bobhoskins, Ian McShane, Nick Frost. Ray Winston and Eddie Marsan

Review:

So apart from the obvious casting mistake of Kristen Stewart apparently being hotter than Charlize Theron (whom by the way is beautiful just to get that out-of-the-way) and the notion that Chris Hemsworth could possibly play someone other than Thor; Snow White and the Huntsmen interested me for many different reasons.  I think it’s the whole ‘dark fairytale epic’ trend that’s going on in movies nowadays. They are all pretty interesting takes on classic stories and with the benchmark set by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland epic and how well it did, it’s obvious to see that this trend is something the movie going public are embracing. Films like Red Riding Hood, which was alright and soon to be released Jack the Giant Killer have all been given massive hype in their time and are hopping on the back of this trend. Snow White and the Huntsman has received no less acclaim and has been tipped as one of the years best movies. Maybe it’s the whole appeal of these darker fairytale  that attract both adult and child audiences; these tales have a more ‘realistic’ morale compass then the conventional that we’re used to. making them both a little more interesting and thought-provoking for older audiences.

I think it’s pretty what they did with the story honestly, it’s not the whole pure and wholesome image of Snow White we usually have where she can sing to birds and talk to animals. it’s a more gritty darker version of a character we know and love and her journey from prisoner to queen. The whole Joan of Arc image they gave Snow White in the film was quite refreshing; the strength she displays is cool and how the Witch isn’t overthrown as easily as kiss and still requires some amount of force is also something someone doesn’t consider when it comes to fairy tales, I think.  There are other aspects other than Snow White’s characteristic changes that were quite good and often left out of the original tales like that of the Evil Queen and her story. The introduction of this into the narrative and how she came to grow more powerful and what her powers do finally get us as an audience to understand her motives for doing what she does. In the original Snow White story, it just seems as though she’s not a big fan of Snow White because she’s more pretty than her but in this film there’s motive and rive to why she wants Snow White gone and as misdirected as it maybe; it makes for good drama.  The insertion of the character William Tell was also quite clever, the whole apple motif of Snow White fits into his story and that introduction and realisation made me feel really clever when I got it. I can be slow on those sort of things normally. So, when I do realise I have to point it out.

Although the story was cool and stuff, it’s nothing unless someone can bring it to life and with such a star-studded cast it was always going to have some blinding performances. I mean, Theron excelled herself as the evil Queen, brining me to goosebumps at sometimes with how eerily well she played the role and even the smaller parts played by the likes of Ray Winston and Ian Mccshane were pretty darn amazing. I can even go as far to say that Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart were pleasant surprises. Even when the two slipped into their more famous roles as Thor and Bella Swan they managed to pull it back  and seperate their current roles from them despite the similarities. I mean, the Huntsman was basically a more emotionally capable/ broken hearted version of Thor and there were many traits from Snow White which one could link to Bella Swan. Yet, the roles stood out on their own and didn’t seem as if they were type-cast.  Which is nice, I do hate to see someone play pretty much the same character in every single film unless they’re really good at it.

The story coupled with the acting was a pretty amazing combination. Yet there was still one thing the film did very, very well in order to pull off an amazing tri-attack of excellence and this was the visuals. The scenes and the sets and the visual effects were amazing giving life to a magical and deep world; whether it was the charge of many horses or the Dark Forest itself. Every single camera angle and every single detail seemed to have been thought out with a startling precision.   It all looked stunning which like already said, coupled with everything from the story and the actors brought to the screen it made the whole film well rounded and amazing. If ine oif these three things was off, it could have led to the film being a flop in my eyes because I mean if you have such amazing elements you need the rest of the elements to stack up with it or you as an audience member aren’t able to get passed the fact that, the one element that isn’t as good at the rest is bringing the film down.

RATING: AAAA

Even though it was good and I was pleasantly surprised by even Kristen Stewart, there was something in the film that just didn’t quite sit right with me. At some parts it was amazing and at some parts it just wasn’t, it was pretty average for a fantasy film.  And then with the brief flashes into characters that you’ve already seen the actors act out like Stewart with Bella and Hemsworth with Thor. It kind of distracted you from what film you were watching. What was also really annoying is that Kristen Stewart really can’t smile, which I always thought was kind of an acting essential. The film was great but with peers like Avengers; it has a high standard to follow.

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Rock Of Ages

UK Release Date:  13th June 2012

Director: Adam Shankman

UK Certificate: 

Cast: Juliaane Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Russel Brand, Catherine Zeta Jones

Review:

So, yeah I’m seriously beginning to question my sexuality and all with all the dance flicks and Jukebox musicals but I mean man, aren’t they great? So, Rock of Ages literally came out yesterday and I’ve been really excited for it actually, I don’t know what it was that drew me to it; maybe it was the list of wicked 80’s music that makes up the soundtrack or the fact that Tom Cruise was half naked in the trailer (See I’m telling you, there is a homosexual inside me that is desperate to get out). But I went to see it thanks to my massive thing for musicals and rock music on the plus side though, it also gives me something wicked to do with my girlfriend which is always nice.

So, Rock of Ages follows the story Sherrie. A small town girl living in a lonely world in 1987 San Francisco in order to seek fame and fortune and Rock and Roll partying. They crack out some awesome music numbers. They have high times and low times. And of course there’s always some sort of love story. This one was between Sherrie (Hough) and wannabe rocker Bow (Boneta).

However, the cast was probably one of the coolest thing about the whole show; I mean, Tom Cruise was actually pretty cool in it. I wasn’t expecting such a good performance from 50-year-old Tom Cruise being a Rock God. I mean, it’s just not something you expect him to do really is it? Sure, he can scale buildings and believe in aliens and stuff but Rock God? No I just didn’t see it happening, I didn’t even expect them to be able to auto tune his voice or whatever they did in order to make him sound pretty good. And his wasn’t the only solid performance within the film; there was some pretty blinding performances from the likes of Catherine Zeta Jones as a crazy Christian mother with a goal to take down the Sunset Strip. Russell Brand as the English Liverpudlian Rocker and then to Alek Baldwin as Rock and Roll’s very own Peter Pan; when you think about it, it would be kind of hard for any sort of new blood to muck in with Legends such as TC, AB and CZJ but I honestly believe that Hough and Boneta managed to pull off a blinding performance.

RATING: AAA

Even though Rock of Ages boasted a good cast and was a real feel good film. There was something about it that just didn’t quite sit right with me; I think my girlfriend managed to put it in the best way and said that: “They tried to make everything sound like Glee.” Which when you thought about it made sense and you soon came to realise that Rock of Ages had been on your TV screens for a couple of years now just not with all the big names and not with some of the wicked songs and humour. What’s more is that some of the songs that they did ‘Glee-ify’ really didn’t suit that style; which happens. It’s not a disaster. It was a good film, there are much worse things out there on DVD at the Moment: Troll Hunter being one of them. My thing was that I enjoyed myself, it was a good musical and musicals are always a sure win in my eyes, I love musicals and although it sounds like I’ve bashed Glee a little. I do like Glee. I’ve liked it for ages. It’s just the fact that Rock of Ages seems to be exactly the same as Glee at some points, which isn’t a good thing. Glee is Glee and Rock of Ages should be Rock of Ages.

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The Hunger Games

Theatrical Teaser Poster for "The Hunger Games"

UK Release Date:  23rd March 2012

Director: Gary Ross

UK Certificate: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Joshua Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Review:

The Hunger Games has the teenage world in a frenzy at the moment; like Twilight before it, this set of Teen Fiction books is being made into a film. The first, The Hunger Games is the opening and introductory film, to what i believe is going to be a trilogy if the books are to be believed. Now, I’m not very often a fan of book to film adaptations but it is safe to say that The Hunger Games was very, very impressive and was probably one of the first films that actually made me want to read the book it was based on. I went with my girlfriend on my Two Year Anniversary to see the film; needless to say it was a much better pick than Titanic in 3D.

Now, what is The Hunger Games about? The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian universe in which a group of ‘Districts’ surround ‘The Capitol’. After the Districts rebelled against The Capitol, a treaty was signed in their defeat which decreed that each district must surrender a teenage boy and girl in order to compete in a high-profile death match where there can be only one winner.  The plot reminds me a lot of the Japanese Manga/ Film: Battle Royale. Yet, the Hunger Games is a much more tame and Western version and to its credit (due to my immense love for Battle Royale) was more than able to step out of the shadow of its Eastern predecessor. Even with the links, the Hunger Games is able to stand out on its own, maybe not on par, but separate from the Battle Royale Franchise for a couple of reasons: The first, it is good in its own right and secondly, they are in a way totally different types of film.  Anyway, I digress.

One of the impressive things about the Hunger Games was the effects used in the film to render the strange dystopian sci-fi universe we as an audience found ourselves in.  We see whole cities built and look as though they are natural by CGI and I personally think that to be rather impressive in comparison to some films that use CGI poorly. I think that the director does deserve major props for the work he put in on looking at the images his animators created; even if it was a very high budget film, The Hunger Games excelled in building a rather complex and immersive world that we as onlookers could buy into. And the directing prowess does not stop there; The filming and angles and the scene cutting within the film are also very fluid and natural, not distorting the film or timeline at all but giving us the effect that what we are seeing on-screen is happening and is important and all dominoes into this one finale which a lot of the actions seem to do. The battles themselves were pretty amazing and the shots were just superb. Yet, even with all this good technical directing, this was not what I loved the most about the film; what I loved most about the film were in fact the actors and their characters and how well they seemed to suit.

For such young stars, the roles of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallark were never going to be easy to grasp; there were depths and idiosyncracies within them which would probably be lost to a lot of adult actors. Yet, Jennifer Lawrence and Joshua Hutchinson gave probably one of the strongest performances I had seen on-screen for a long time in mainstream film. The way they charmed the audience and applied their characters was nothing below flawless, dragging us as audience members to care and recognise all of the traits of their characters within ourselves. They did not just make us empathise but they made us reflect on how we as people act. There are thousands of Peetas (my personal favourite character) and Katnisses in modern-day life; the brave and the hopeful. Yet was this film just a reflection on people and the human condition? People surely are sadistic, taking pleasure in other people’s pain a hell of a lot in life; the Hunger Games just seems like an extreme version of Schadenfreude. Even a reflection on dictatorship as a whole, which is pretty impressive considering that the film is only two and a half hours long and is quite deep in its meanings and symbolism.

RATING: AAAAA

In short the Hunger Games was the film that had it all this season, a book to film adaptation which had such an amazing story that I cannot actually wait to read the book and with a strong leading cast that managed to pull of their characters beyond well. Whether it was the money or the fact the author of the Hunger Games books, Suzanne Collins, helped write the screenplay or that the effects were just amazing: I do not know. But one thing I am beyond sure about is the fact that I will own this film on DVD, I will recommend it to my friends and if you haven’t went and seen it yet get to your local silver screen, sit down, take a load off and watch because you will not be disappointed.

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