Friday, 26 April 2013

Iron Man 3 Review

The first Iron Man film did the origin story really well and it delivered Tony Stark's character brilliant. However, they were never very good action movies. Which is strange because Iron Man has a lot of excellent qualities for some fantastic action set pieces. This is where Iron Man 3 steps in.

If you've seen the trailers and think that Iron Man 3 is 'doing a Nolan' and making it a darker film, you've been misled much like I, and the rest of the cinema was after the film. This is no bad thing, however. What we do get is a bloody brilliant action film courtesy of Shane Black - the writer behind most of your favourite action films and the director of the outstanding Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

The film is set sometime after what happened in The Avengers, but Tony Stark is still heavily disturbed by the  events of New York. Meanwhile, a terrorist threat known as the Mandarin is attacking America, which also includes Stark's mansion. This is just the first third of the film. What occurs after this is...Weird to say the least. It's fairly minimal but why does every superhero film have to be plot heavy? The Avengers certainly wasn't and look at that.

What plays out after this is a simple story of redemption, but it plays out a little bit like an origin story - almost like a rebirth of Tony Stark once again. Don't worry, though, it's not a rehash of the first. It involves an awesome little kid.

Two thirds in, though, and I was a bit shocked at the minimal use of action especially for a Shane Black film, but boy was it worth the wait. What Black delivers for the final third of the film is just the some of the most incredible action set-pieces I've seen in a film and even a hint of a 'buddy cop' action film with Stark and Rhodey taking on what seems like the world. I really liked this because it was a little nudge into the direction of Lethal Weapon which Black wrote.

Credit has to go to Downey JR and the supporting cast for putting in another excellent performance. Every character seems to come into their own in this one. You've got Rhodey, who's now donning the Iron Patriot armour, who was excellent (although I still prefer Terrence Howard's take on Rhodey) to Gwyneth Paltrow's phenomenal Pepper Potts. They all seem to go that extra mile in this film, which just takes it up a notch. Credit has to go to the writing for that. Guy Pearce also puts in a fantastic villainous performance. He really feels like a threat to Tony Stark unlike Rourke and Bridges in the previous films.

It also keeps up the humour that's become synonymous with the franchise, but it never feels tacked on. Black  has got the balance right perfectly.

However, there's a fairly shocking twist about halfway through which kinda feels like a cop-out and is a tad cringey for my liking. I don't want to ruin it, but it just feels like I've been mis-sold a film. Although it certainly does pick up after the twist. There's also a fair amount of plot holes or little niggles that annoyed me about the film. Some of it just feels lazy and unprepared.

So, what we get is a much better film than Iron Man 2, but not as good as the first Iron Man. A very good start to 'Phase Two'. Thor 2, our eyes are on you...


Friday, 19 April 2013

Limitless Review

Most of the good films around are relatable to some degree. Limitless is no different. Let's be honest, who wouldn't want a pill that actually gives you motivation to do something or helps you out of that writers block? I, for one, would love it. Instead of procrastinated by writing this review, I might actually be revising for my exams that are coming up, but I digress.

Limitless has an excellent concept.  What would happen if you could take a pill (NZT) that would allow you to use 100% of your brain (instead of the standard 20%) and function on a level higher than you have ever functioned before? The possibilities for such a movie idea are well, limitless - pun intended, I apologise - but unfortunately, despite some great acting, especially by Bradley Cooper, the film stumbles through the middle and the final third of a film. Also, this movie doesn't exactly go deep with either the moral or thematic implications of super intelligence. Nor are the characters particularly well developed.

It's ending is poor too. This film had outstanding potential to really make the audience think about the ending and leave us with question to answer, but it just didn't. It was too self explanatory and once again, the film has treated us like we're stupid. 

However, I found myself somewhat drawn to this film. It engaged me from start to finish despite the loss of momentum halfway through the film. Yes, it's not a particularly clever film despite it's intelligent concept and it had the potential to be a science fiction classic, but it's an enjoyable thriller. 

It's also a technically sound film which really brings this film into it's own. The camerawork and editing goes hand in hand with the subject matter. This is also backed up by a very good soundtrack from Paul Leonard-Morgan. The cinematography and the music really helps establish and bring out the genre in the narrative. 

I must applause Bradley Cooper for his superb performance too. He was absolutely fantastic, which really surprised me as I saw him as a more comedic actor, but evidently not because he sold his drug addicted, yes successful character to a tee. 

It could have been so much better, but for what it was, it was pretty good. 


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines Review

It's always a tough after you've made an amazing debut film to then follow it with a second film. Some have done it - Guy Ritchie with Snatch and Quentin Tarantino with Pulp Fiction. Some guys haven't - Rian Johnson with The Brothers Bloom and Richard Kelly with Southland Tales. Fortunately, Derek Cianfrance takes his place alongside Ritchie and Tarantino. The Place Beyond The Pines is a remarkable well written and directed piece that Cianfrance deserves a lot of credit for.

His directing is wonderful. He can do it all. The way he sells dialogue through the camera is brilliant and to me, it heavily resembles Scorsese from films such as Casino and Goodfellas and his action scenes are some of the best I've ever seen. His directing of the car chases in this are just phenomenal.

Now I don't want to ruin too much, but what I will say is that the story is told in three sections. The first section is of Luke, a motorcycle stuntman, who quits his job after he finds out that Romina, played by Eva Mendes, his ex-girlfriend was pregnant and had his child. The trouble is, she married another man. Luke is torn between his new found love for his son, and his inability to hold a steady job. So, to take care of his 'family' Luke begins to rob banks, along with his friend, excellently portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn. Of course, this puts him on a collision course with Bradley Cooper's idealistic cop. This is all you can get from the trailer. What I will say, though, is that this is just the surface. What continues is a story of corruption, family and troubles growing up which is wonderfully told by actors that are just pure class. From Goslings Brando-esque solitary character, to Bradley Coopers up and coming cop to Eva Mendes' inexperienced Mum. It's a joy to watch. The story hits so many themes just perfectly. It's beautifully written. 

However, all of this is a slog. Like I said, it's told in three sections. It's almost told like it's a three part series. What this brings with it, though, is that it loses momentum with each new section and it has more endings than Return of the King - and that's saying something. But if you stick with it, it's the most rewarding and enjoyable film with so much depth too it. 


Saturday, 13 April 2013

Doctor Who: Cold War Review

What a wonderful episode. Mark Gattiss writes his sixth Who episode and brings back the Ice Warriors to devastating effect.  

The episode may be entitled 'Cold War' and be set in a submarine but this episode resembles Alien for me. Claustrophobic area? Check. Scary monster? Check. Tense atmosphere? Check. It ticks all the boxes and it brings Doctor Who back into semi-horror territory. Gattiss has also nailed the humour which we've come to love from Doctor Who. So we end up getting this awesome mixture between horror and comedy and it works out perfectly. 

The way Gattiss has brought back the Ice Warriors has to be credited too. The Ice Warriors have not aged at all well, but the changes made to them introduced them to a new audience without taking too much away from what made the Ice Warriors a good villain in the first place. 

David Warner was excellent in his role of the professor providing much of the humour. Also, Clara singing 'Hungry like the Wolf' by Duran Duran is worth watching the show on it's own.

The best episode so far.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Cena Doesn't Have To Turn Heel For Him To Become More Interesting

John Cena. You either love him or hate him. Which side am I on? Neither. I know right, what a rebel! I can appreciate John Cena as an entertainer and he's not a bad wrestler. I don't blame him from having the same character for yonks. It's not his fault. It's WWE's for playing too safe.

Many fans have been calling for Cena to turn heel for ages. They want change and frankly, I don't blame them. But I don't think he needs to turn heel for him to be an interesting character again. He just needs an edge to him, like he had when he first joined the company - even if it means going back to that rapping alter-ego.

Take his feud with Rock during the Q&A with the Hall of Famers on Raw. He showed signs of being less of a twelve year old. When he got in The Rock's faced and did he 'you can't see me' it just gave him a bit more depth than he usually has.

Another example was the cool spot at Mania when he went for The People’s Elbow and The Rock popped up and Cena held onto the ropes, taunted and ducked Rocks attack. That’s what I want to see! Cena doesn’t have to be a full on heel but surely he can have a bit more edge like that while still being a face. 

I like Cena. I think he's good for the business, I think he's the biggest star in WWE at the moment and I think he's fantastic on the mic, but he certainly needs to change in attitude and I hope WWE do that. 

Can't see it happening, though.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Doctor Who: The Rings of Akhaten Review

Ah, now that's more like it.

As readers of my blog will know, I didn't particularly enjoy The Bells of St John. However, I also stated that I was sure that it would get over that minor blip and return back to good form. It appears that I was right.

Neil Cross - the writer for the very impressive Luther - penned this very heartwarming and emotional episode. It was heartfelt in every sense of the word. From the start, where we learn more about Clara and her up bringing to seeing Clara deal with an upset little girl by telling her stories. Cross really nails the emotion that we've come to love from Doctor Who.

What I loved, though, is getting to know more about Clara's character. It's clear to me that she is a lot sweeter compared to Amy Pond's rough and ready companion - no bad thing. A very welcome change for me. However, she still has that little edge because of what has happened to her character before. We don't know how she's died previously which gives her that little bit of depth that makes for an even more enjoyable series. The back story that came with Clara was incredible too.

An emotional and lovely episode of Doctor Who that I throughout enjoyed. I look forward to the next episode.