Saturday, 29 June 2013

World War Z Review

I think the whole world and his dog heard about the problems that went on in the production of World War Z. Add on top of that the fact that Damon Lindelof wrote the last third of the movie and you could say that World War Z wasn't my most anticipated film of this year... 

Despite this, it's still managed to not even reach those heights. 

Seriously, this film is bad. Not quite Spiderman 3 bad (nothing is bad at that, HOW COULD YOU RUIN VENOM), but definitely Transformers 2 bad. Yes, I mean it. This film is everything that's wrong with Hollywood. It ticks all the boxes. 

My main gripe is the characters. There is not a single decent character. The film is filled with awful characters that make stupid decisions. The bad decisions are up there with Prometheus - it's that depressing. Brad Pitt throws a grenade whilst on a plane...THAT'S IN THE AIR. FLYING. 

The town of Jerusalem installs DOZENS of loudspeakers around the perimeter to which they decide to have a sing-along. Was the whole “sound+zombie" thing was too hard for them to grasp? 

The only memorable character is Brad Pitt and he still wasn't up to scratch. I mean, come on Brad, what's happened? Remember Fight Club and Twelve Monkeys? I wouldn't even mind if you went back to Snatch - anything but this. He's just so wooden and dead. Honestly, he'd  be better off playing one of the zombies.

This could be down to the fact that NONE of these characters have any sort of development. In fact, Brad and his family are almost just thrown into the apocalypse. Seriously, the only thing we learn about them is that Brad used to have a dangerous job but gave it up for his family. Oh, and that he likes to make pancakes for them... THAT'S IT. Are we supposed to care about these people now? Because I, for one, couldn't give a shit.

It had to be massively cut to pieces because a boy from a family that we saw for literally 5 minutes 'joined' the family and then we saw nothing of him for the rest of the film. I mean no writer can be that half-arsed can they? I only hope that it was cut.

It was also incredibly shallow and generic. They tried to get off this whole human theme to it, but it just fell flat on it's face. In actual fact, it was just a former UN employee hoping on a plane to talk to people about the apocalypse. However, it did turn around once Brad landed in Wales to go to a hospital. Here's where it comes into an actual zombie film. In this, there's lots of tension and suspense but it's all very Hollywood and generic. I've seen this a thousand times over, it doesn't bring anything new, but it's good to know that it can do something competently.

This then leads into a half-arsed ending which almost guarantees a sequel...SIGH. An awful film that carries the World War Z name. A shame to zombie films and Hollywood films in general.

Worst film of the year.


Monday, 24 June 2013

The Internship Review

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson proved to be a very good team in the surprisingly funny Wedding Crashers. Now, they team up in The Internship, a film about two salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital age who find their way into an internship at Google.

Product placement is something that audiences have begun to accept in the industry nowadays, but this film takes it way too far! This film is basically trying to be an advertisement for Google. I'd love to know how much Google paid them for this gesture. However, it was money wasted because, if anything, it made the company look a tad poor. All the characters who work there utter douchebags - it just makes you wonder why they would've ever let them go ahead with it. Even the top tier management are dicks. 

Despite this, you may think this sounds like a fresh and niche sub-genre in comedy, but honestly, don't hold your breath. This is not winning any originality awards. The story is predictable and the characters are incredibly cliche. Someone who has problems interacting with people? Check. A (British, surprise surprise) know-it-all douchebag? Check. A guy who likes a girl but has problems approaching her? Check. All of them nerdy? Check, check, check. We've seen it all before. 

However, it has some very funny jokes in it. I genuinely laughed out loud in parts. There's some very good referencing here which, in my opinion, makes for some very good comedy. There's an excellent X-Men joke followed by a very funny Harry Potter joke. There's also a funny running joke referencing Flashdance which made the audience laugh on frequent occassions. 

It's messy at times, but it's also very funny at times. Don't get me wrong, it's winning no comedy of the year awards. I probably wouldn't even watch it again, but it did make me laugh - so it did it's job. Not a must watch, but a decent comedy. 


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Man of Steel Review

"Whoever that man is, good character or bad, he's gonna change the world."

In my opinion, Superman has never been that cool. I mean come on, he's indestructible. He's not going to die, where's the suspense? So when I heard Nolan and David S Goyer were going writing a new Superman I was pretty excited. After all, look what they've done with the Batman franchise. 

And my god, they've done it again. 

They've really nailed the human aspect of Superman. I mean really nailed it. I cared about Clark and Superman. I was worried for Clark and Superman and I felt for both. This was evident from the opening scene - which was outstanding by the way - when we saw how Clark got to Earth. It was extremely emotional. It really was lump in your throat stuff and really set the tone for the first half of the film. 

The first half was, basically, an origins story. But Zack Snyder doesn't do it by the 'How to make Superhero origin stories' book. Instead, what he does do, is tell us Clark Kent's story through a series of flashbacks and montages. This is a stroke of genius. It's genuinely refreshing to watch and it should have been used to countless other superhero films (The Amazing Spider-Man, I'm looking at you). It really works because most know Superman and to those who don't it answers everything without wasting an entire half of the film (once again, The Amazing Spider-Man, I'm looking at you). It helps make Man of Steel stand out from the rest, which I like a lot. 

In the second half, though, it turns into full on, bonafide summer blockbuster. No bad thing of course and in fact, now that we care about Superman and everyone around him - due to the excellent first half - it makes it much more enjoyable and tense. I'm worried about what might happen to Perry White or Lois Lane, or even Superman himself. He's shown to have weaknesses which is a good thing because all good heroes should have a weakness that villains should try and exploit. In this case, it's Clark's love for his loved ones and Earth itself that Zod tries to exploit. It's tense to watch, I loved it. 

It helps that General Zod was a terrific villain too portrayed brilliantly by Michael Shannon. I loved Zod because he's such a complex character. I mean he's not necessarily a villain, he's just a general of his planet on a different planet. You could say that he's patriotic. So patriotic in fact, that he would be willing to kill an entire race for the sake of his own race. Add this to him fighting with one of his own race - Superman - and it makes dumb, outstanding battle scenes incredibly personal and deep. 

A nod has to be given to the other cast too. It seems like I'm saying it for every film now, but the entire ensemble is just fantastic. Amy Adams steals the show as Lois Lane. She is what makes Superman human. She's the link between Superman and the other humans and she nails Lois Lane to a tee. Henry Cavill is very good as Clark. He brings something quite Shakespearean to the role.

However, I thought there was too much action. Don't get me wrong, it was done well, but I just felt that some of the scenes could have been more dramatic if there had been less of it. By the end of it, I was kinda a bit meh about some of the action because I had seen it a lot already. 

Apart from that, it has to be said, that this film is very special, indeed. And, surprisingly, neither Kevin Costner nor Russell Crowe annoyed me in the entire film.


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Kill List Review

The Kill List is totally brilliant - and absolute rubbish. More specifically, the first 66% of the movie is fantastic - sharply written, wonderfully acted, supremely directed, and filled with tension and realism. 

And then it all goes wrong. 

Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump start by crafting a stunning examination of the family life of a suburban hit-man that makes The Sopranos look glitzy. Neil Maskell is unnerving as Jay, whose long hiatus from 'work' has led to constant fighting with his wife. Their son witnesses the discord, and the tension and humanity is palpable.

Wheatley layers the non-action with skill, and really knows how to ratchet up the intrigue. The three main characters are all very good, and even the smaller roles of the son and girlfriend are well played and brilliantly written. You get the feeling you are watching something very special unfold on screen, with no indication of how it will all be resolved. I am a hardened end-guesser and am often right, but with this movie I had no idea where it was going, which is exciting and rare. 

We're watching something that, to tell the truth, isn't the most interesting thing in the world, yet the writing and the directing make it totally engrossing and uncomfortable to watch. It's clever because it keeps you intrigued throughout. 

For the first two parts of the three act structure - which it follows intensely, so much so that it's almost 3 completely different films put together - it's a very accomplished film. A film that makes you want to see the ending due to all the hinting that this is not what it seems, yet when I got to the end I felt completely underwhelmed. This is definitely a case of writers not knowing how to finish a very clever concept and it's incredibly disappointing.

I think finding a genre proved tough for this film. Like I said above, the three acts were all different. The first two acts were drama and crime respectively and then the ending dipped into horror which stuck out like a sore thumb and didn't fit in with the piece. 

If Wheatley and Smart could just complete the ending this would have been a masterpiece in British film making. It had it all for two out of three parts. Fantastic acting, brilliant and unnerving cinematography and a very interesting, social-realistic concept that kept me going throughout.


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Iceman Review

It seems like every year a solid, stylish crime flick comes out and achieves a certain amount of praise. Last year, we had Killing Them Softly and this year we have biopic, The Iceman.

Starring Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer and family man who keeps both his family and his business separately, it tells the story of his life from the start of his contract killings to his arrest in 1986.

What I really enjoyed about this film, is the juxtaposition between Kuklinski's business and his family. They separated this to such a devastating effect. It worked terrifically well because it made you care about his family despite their ignorance in the situation. It was able to divulge us into the film despite us not liking the main character, Kuklinski. 

Kuklinski is portrayed amazingly well by Michael Shannon. He really brought the sadistic side of him out, it was harrowing to watch at times because he really was 'The Iceman'. He almost has no feelings. Shannon's face was completely blank despite the vulgar things he was doing. The fact he was so nonchalant about his murders just added depth to his characters. From his first kill to his last, he just didn't care. He had no remorse - he was just doing it to help his family. It was truly disgusting to watch and credit has to be given to Shannon for that. 

The supporting cast were just as good, bar one man in particular. David Schwimmer was cast as a gangster. SERIOUSLY? Ross from Friends?! He couldn't have pulled it off no matter what he did. At every word, every movement he was still comedic. The audience were laughing, despite the seriousness of the scene. It was truly awful casting. Despite this, Chris Evans puts in a great shift as Freezy - another contract killer that works with Kuklinski. His eccentric nature during his killings almost put Kuklinski to shame. He truly was a sick individual. Also, Winona Ryder puts in a good performance as Kuklinski's poor, ignorant wife. She's the main draw for me to this film. She makes us care about what's happening, because you don't want her to be hurt. 

Despite being a solid crime film, though, I just felt that it was slightly missing something to make it a classic. It didn't have the depth that comes with true crime greats such as Scarface and Goodfellas. 

It was a faithful biopic though and an enjoyable film. 


Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

People don't like to admit it, but film making is an art. It's a way of telling a story, sometimes beautifully, sometimes not so. Much like art, people connect to films in a way which reminds them of other important people in their life, happy memories and sad memories. The Perks of Being a Wallflower does all of these and more. 

Music is also an art and does the same thing. The music has a big part to play in this. It's a wonderfully chosen assortment of offbeat music that resonates with me and a lot of teenagers my age. From David Bowie, to Dexy's Midnight Runners, to The Samples - it's just out standing. I found that it brought out the characters. It gave us a little bit more information, as did the references and the mise-en-scene in the characters rooms. The Smiths posters in Sam's room showed us her personality - The Smiths have strong connotations of depression, intelligence and problems. It was a clever from Stephen Chbosky, you could tell that he too has passion for this music. 

Most importantly, this film brings home the truths of how hard it is growing up. Having to move schools, making friends, having issues at home...It's all portrayed perfectly from the director. "Welcome to the island of misfit toys." - When this line is spoken, we realize that most every high school kid has thought the same thing at some point. These are painful and difficult times and as Mr. Chbosky stated, we should encourage kids to fight through this stage and get on to the next and be able to find their true self. Clearly, the film made a strong impact on me.  The decision to release as a 12 certificate was wise. There is no excess of profanity or nudity to divert attention from what really matters - the characters. 

And the characters literally jumped out of the screen. Logan Lerman's performance blew me away. He did such an amazing job portraying the embodiment of Charlie through his expressions, his emotions, his movements, everything! He was wonderfully cast.  The last 10 minutes of the movie alone is awards worthy because it really shows how talented he really is. I fell in love with his performance. So perfect in every way.

Ezra Miller is also wonderful, yet again. He plays Patrick, a gay character who's not afraid of who he is and Ezra portrays him amazingly well. I've seen almost all of his work, and he's becoming a great actor who's very rare in the sense that he's brave and daring in contrast to the roles he has previously played. He steals every line and scene he's in, becoming the comic relief. But even so, Patrick has his own personal problems and seeing how he deals with these is heartbreaking. He brings this teenage boy to life, he makes him relatable despite being offbeat and crazy. This is where Ezra Miller proves once again just how great of an actor he is.

Having Chbosky adapt his own novel was a stroke of genius. You could not get anyone better to direct it other than the author himself because this is his book. This is his vision so he knows exactly how it goes in his head and we can see throughout the film, just how much his vision has truly come alive.  The dialogue is very honest and beautifully written. Not just the writing but the overall tone of the film reminds me a little bit of John Hughes' work.

This was not what I was expecting. I was expecting your usual "shy kid in high school learns to stick up for himself" sort of feel-good drama. This movie is so much more than that - I was truly blown away by the mature themes - mental illness, homosexuality, sexual abuse and suicide - and moving characters.  It's a film that looks at the emotional aspects of that point in life without being sentimental. I really cared about these three teens - Charlie, Sam, and Patrick - and their story never felt cheesy. Just real, and moving, and touching.

It's a fantastic film for teenagers and adults alike.