NEW TRAILER: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST #DofP

It’s here…

So that looks suitably epic then.

Anyone familiar with the #DOFP storyline will know that in the original it’s Kitty Pride that gets sent back in time. But in this version, it’s looking like our friend Wolverine will be the one making the jump back. If any of you stuck around for the post-credits scene after The Wolverine, you might already have an inkling about this already.

Whatever happens, this crossing of the streams of the two cinematic X-Men timelines is set to be pretty damn awesome and with original (and equally awesome) director, Bryan Singer, at the helm DOFP can’t come quick enough!

This is only the first trailer. Next time around we might get to see a sentinel in action…

Sentinels: COMING SOON

 

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Review: RUSH

VROOM!

Rush-2013-Film

I saw RUSH on a whim. On a last minute ‘I’m stood next to the cinema and I’ve got two hours to kill and I’ve got a free ticket to use and the doors opened five minutes ago’ decision. Before I knew it, it was the 1970s, and I had a front row seat* on the rivalry that help make Formula 1 the global phenomenon we know it as today.

Ron Howard is a dab hand at his historical recreations (see Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon) and I should’ve seen that much coming. But I didn’t. Instead I sat back and enjoyed a tale that I kind of half knew, but half didn’t (this all happened before I was born and I didn’t get into Formula 1 until my late teens), and what a tale it is.

For those of you that don’t know -

…the film is based on the true story of the great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error: if you make a mistake, you die.

Thank you, IMDb.

But what of the film? Three main performances stood out for me.

First, Chris Hemsworth does very well as the (over-)confident and care-free James Hunt. Wild enough to be worrying, and yet intense enough on the track to be inspiring. The man is out to prove something, and he won’t stop until he does it. Having got used to Hemsworth as the lightning-wielding god of thunder, THOR, it’s quite nice to see him flex his dramatic muscles in something other than the Marvel cinematic universe. Good job.

Next, Daniel Brühl is amazing. Admittedly, his is the character that arguably goes through the most dramatic of arc however, having since seen a documentary about the very same story (just a day after catching RUSH, great timing) it is unbelievable how much he completely nails it as Niki Lauda. Everything from the look, the voice, the mannerisms – all of it is just brilliant. While RUSH is billed as a two-hander (and Hemsworth does hold his own) this is very much Brühl’s film. I’m on the look out for more of his stuff as I type…

RUSH

Third and finally, Olivia Wilde, as Hunt’s main love interest, brings surprising depth to what could’ve easily been a one-note, blink and you’ll miss it character. I haven’t seen Wilde in much (I know her mainly from House and Tron: Legacy) however I’m looking forward to seeing more of her as I really thought, for someone who had very limited screen time, Olivia Wilde does very well indeed.

As I said before, Ron Howard excels at this kind of thing and RUSH is no exception. Everything is meticulously recreated and original footage/audio is used where it isn’t. Combined, this creates an atmosphere of just being there which, funnily enough, is exactly what you want in film. No, really.

In short: RUSH is really bloody great. I made a snap decision to see it and in the world where every decision you make matters, I’m glad I chose so well.

It’s still on general release and if you haven’t already, you should go.

Whatley out.

 

*Not literally. I haven’t done that since Django, and that was just mental.

 

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NEW TRAILER: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson, how I love thee…

You love Wes Anderson, or you don’t. I think it’s pretty simple.
Three words: Check. Me. In.

Grand Budapest Hotel

PS. Keep an eye on the aspect ratio (cheers Pete).

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Review: RIDDICK

This has been a long time coming… (No spoilers)

Review: RIDDICK

It’s been 13 years since we were first introduced to the murderous anti-hero, Richard P. Riddick and since 2000′s Pitch Black first hit our screens, we’ve had one animated short, in the shape of the oft-overlooked Dark Fury, and the universe expanding [proper] sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.

Pitch Black is just great (seek it out if you’re new to the Riddick franchise). A proper B-movie alien film, with morally questionable characters throughout (including Vin Diesel as aforementioned wanted convict) – it was sci-fi fun, with a solid cast to boot.

For 2004′s criminally underrated Chronicles, writer/director David Twohy courageously attempted to create a whole universes, (along with multiple races and religions, around our lead character and, with a couple of character nods to its predecessor, it arguably succeeded (with the Director’s Cut DVD proving vastly superior to the cinematic release, with more emphasis on the mythology and spirituality of what it means to be Furyan. Again, seek it out). If you’ve come this far, then you’re probably aware of the the events that close Chronicles – our man Richard found himself in a very interesting place indeed.

Which leads us to the third live action film in the series, the succinctly titled ‘RIDDICK’.

Riddick

A film of three acts, RIDDICK opens with its eponymous protagonist alone, injured, and in danger – deserted on a planet inhabited only by blood-thirsty killers creatures that live in the water, on the ground, and in the air. A walk in the park this will not be. But (and this is no spoiler) Riddick heals, Riddick gets bad ass, and Riddick gets a pet dog… This last part clearly a nod to the fans who wanted more of Riddick getting on with this kind of animal, if you remember the scaly felines from Crematoria in Chronicles, you’ll know what I mean.

Act two: two sets of bounty hunters arrive. One set wants his head (literally). And another wants him for something else.

Act three: Pitch Black: Redux.

There’s a quote that I’m going to lift from iO9 and it’s spot on:

There’s a standard sort of scene in these movies, which goes like: 1) Everybody underestimates Riddick. They think they’ve outsmarted or outnumbered him. 2) Riddick says something cryptic, like “don’t forget the anchovies,” and everybody laughs at him. 3) Something dramatic happens, the tables are turned, one or two mooks die. 4) Riddick says, “I told you not to forget the anchovies,” and suddenly everybody realizes that Riddick knew what was going to happen all along.

However, I’m willing to forgive it for this because Riddick is Furyan and – as far as we know – he’s the only one left. They might have this weird crazy super vision thing, or something. I don’t know.

Anyway – what of the actual film?

Well y’know what? I really liked it. I’m a fan of the Riddick films and think we need more interesting sci-fi like it. Vin Diesel is a compelling leading man (shh there at the back) and its actually a real treat to catch up with one of his more popular characters after all this time. Also, this is a very different flavoured film to those that have gone before. The opening 30mins is enough to tell you that. Twohy has taken revised his adventurous Chronicles thinking, stripped it back to Pitch Black bare bones, but has gone one step further than that and stripped its leading man back too.

A move that can only be applauded.

The supporting characters are a mix of good and forgetful. Katee Sackhoff is basically Starbuck from an alternative universe, but still manages to stand tall. And the rest are meat, with a few surprises.

Like I said, it’s very much a three act film. Act one almost gets a little too much, act two is amusing, the bounty-hunter team banter combined with the Riddick-is-just-messing-with-them to-and-fro proving to be genuinely funny in places. And when act three turns up the tension with the introduction of other, more murderous planetary inhabitants, all hell breaks loose.

I enjoyed it. If you’ve seen Pitch Black and you enjoyed Chronicles too (hell, even if you didn’t), you’ll definitely enjoy RIDDICK. I really like where they’re taking this character and, at the end of the film, you get a rough idea of where exactly that will be.

Riddick has scores to settle, but he also wants to go home.

On the strength of this latest outing, I’ll be first in line for tickets when that time comes around.

 

 

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Review: About Time

Just gorgeous.

About Time

About Time is an adorable Richard Curtis film that I didn’t know or realise was a Richard Curtis film until the credits rolled.

Although I do remember thinking throughout the film, ‘Oh, that’s a bit like that Richard Curtis film’ and ‘The writing is really good and it totally reminds me of the kind of stuff that Richard Curtis does’. So yay for me, I can spot good writing. But more on that shortly…

It should be worth mentioning at this point that, if you choose to go and see this film (and by the end of this review you should be in no doubt 0n what my opinion is on that), I whole-heartedly recommend you go and see it with your partner OR your father. Seeing About Time with one of those two people will not only help you get the best out of this film, but also re-affirm the relationship with said person you decided to have sat next to you.

In short: About Time deals with love, life, and everything that goes along with both. It is beautiful and it is nice – and it is traditional Richard Curtis. Not soppy like Love Actually and not over-played like The Boat that Rocked. This is back-to-basics Curtis – and About Time is a better film because of it.

The writing is amazing. Demonstrated, in the main, by the outstandingly good banter between the two leads which leaves you with no doubt that they are very much in love and indeed, meant to be. London looks pretty darn good too and, as an extra bonus (for me at least), it’s shot in and around north and central. Which is pretty much where I live and socialise – (an extended scene in Maida Vale station, which I pass through pretty much every day, particularly made me smile).

I could wax on about great Bill Nighy is, or even make a big deal about the wonderfully simple sci-fi central conceit (watch the trailer below, you’ll see) but none of it would do it justice. About Time is a brilliantly put together romantic comedy and if you’re thinking about wanting to see something lovely at the cinema this week, then you could do a lot worse then spend time with Richard Curtis’ latest contribution.

I laughed out loud, I gasped, and I cried.

You will too.

PS. I’ve stuck the trailer at the bottom because I said I would, but it really doesn’t sell the film that well – in my opinion at least. So don’t judge it on that alone.

 

 

 

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Review: Elysium

No spoilers.

Elysium

Elysium is the sophomore picture from director Neill Blomkamp, and if you’ve never seen his first film, District 9, and you’re about to go and see Elysium then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it a fair bit and you’ll have a great time. However, if you have seen District 9 and you’re about to go and see Elysium, then you might be a little bit disappointed. Not massively under-whelmed, but maybe just a little bit… oh. I mean, you might be left wanting a little bit more, that’s all.

District 9 is/was a gritty allegory on the apartheid regime in South Africa of recent history. Yes, it had aliens. But the message and story was clear; and it was a revelation. Elysium on the other hand also deals with segregation, of a sort. This time it’s the poor and lower classes that are dealt the bum hand with a lack of decent housing and – at the main crux of the film – medical care. Blomkamp shows us what could be our future. In some ways it already is (and he agrees).

Matt Damon plays Max, a blue-collar guy with an aggressive history and, after a rather grim work-place accident, a fairly short future. To get fixed, he needs to get the best medical care. The best medical care isn’t available on Earth, it can only be found on the orbiting space station for the upper classes – Elysium. Onboard, Jodie Foster rules with an iron first and she is not a fan of (amongst other things) unwanted visitors from Earth. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work what happens next but, nevertheless, it’s still quite fun watching how it plays out.

Sharlto Copley (star of D9, and also Howling Mad Murdoch in the A-Team film a while back) turns up, as a bad-ass sleeper agent, and really throws the cat amongst the pigeons. Creepy, dark, and murderous – Copley brings believability to what could be a one note and one dimensional bit part character.

But look, I know I started off saying that Elysium isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and I stand by that. On its own, Elysium is a fairly decent sci-fi flick that ticks a good few entertaining boxes while casting an interesting light over the discrepancies between the rich and the poor. The problem is: I can’t see Elysium as a film on its own. It is forever going to be in the shadow of District 9.

I mean, the opening shots, the scenery, the robotics, the cinematography – all of it, you may as well be watching District 9 again. Hell, they could even be set in the same universe – and that’s no bad thing. Except, when District 9 blew me away I hoped and hoped and hoped that Elysium would too. It didn’t.

I’m not in the habit of giving scores for films that I see but, if pressed, I’d give Elysium a 7/10. It’s not terrible. But if I had to see anything again at the weekend I’d probably pick something else.

 

 

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Review: The Way Way Back

A great great film.

the-way-way-back-poster-quad

I know I went nuts about Pacific Rim a while ago, but it really has to be said: The Way Way Back (TWWB) is one of my favourite films of the year.

It really is that good.

Following the (mis)adventures of a 14yr-old boy, Duncan (played brilliantly by one Liam James), TWWB tells the story of what happens when a geeky kid, who can’t take being around his mum and soon-to-be-stepdad’s jagged relationship much longer, sets off and tries to find his own way. This isn’t fantasy, this isn’t Pan’s Labyrinth levels of youth-based escapism – this is purely about one boy’s attempt to find some respite, and what he discovers along the way.

GAH! – SO GOOD.

Cast-wise, I’ve already mentioned Liam James, TWWB also features Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell and Toni Collette. Rockwell, as ever, kills it as the irresponsible water park manager that Duncan befriends; I laughed out loud a lot at his constant one liners (which I don’t doubt were result of much improv).

Toni Collete plays worrisome/stressed/straggled mum really quite well. Not as haunted as 6th Sense, and not as on edge as About A Boy – I’d put her performance somewhere in between with a smattering of broken-heartedness. In this context, it works.

Which brings us to Steve Carell.

Toni Collette, Steve Carell

I don’t know why but, I left the cinema thinking that TWWB could possibly be one of my favourite Steve Carell performances ever. Yeah, I know. Why? Because by the end of the film I ended up hating his character, Trent. Just absolutely despising him. Brilliantly under-played, Steve Carell brings a nuanced distrust to the film that is the cause of much stress and pain for more than just one or two characters. It’s just so darn subtle that you don’t even realise how much he’s effing things up until long after the film. Great work, Steve.

Oh! I nearly forgot Allison Janney! Remember CJ from The West Wing? Yes, her. Janney turns up in, I guess you could call it an extended cameo, and pretty much steals every she appears in. AMAZING.

TWWB reminded me, at times, of The Descendants. But this time, told from the kids’ perspective. It’s a beautiful summer town, there’s major stuff going on in the adults’ lives, but this time ’round we get to see what the young ones get up to, how they react and ultimately, how they grow. God this film is good. It’s an old school coming of age movie, that warms you to your bones.

If your’re missing the sunshine a little bit (and if you can find a cinema that’s still showing it) then go and see The Way Way Back. It’s a good end of summer movie that I thoroughly enjoyed It made me laugh, it made me sad, and it made reaffirmed my faith in the human race.

I think it’s one of those films that will be a little bit of a sleeper hit. It’ll do okay at the cinema but will eventually be amazing on home release and people talk about it and recommend it at parties – ‘Oh, did you see The Way Way Back? You have  to see this film’ – then everyone will see it and then everyone will realise that it’s full of the best of everything.

Go see it.

PS. Big love and thanks to Luc Pestille: without his recommendation, I doubt I would’ve gone to see this. Thanks bud.

 

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Trask Industries: Your Future

I am loving the X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser campaign -

Seven things you should know:

  1. This ‘viral’ is supporting material to the next installment in the X-Men franchise: Days of Future Past.
  2. The film picks up both after The Wolverine and X-Men: First Class (yes, there is time travel).
  3. All casts from both sets of films will be featured.
  4. This is awesome.
  5. The Sentinels are going to be awesome.
  6. At the end it says ‘Since 1973′ – which is exactly when the past part of the next X-Men film is taking place.
  7. Did I mention that this was awesome?

So yeah, Trask Industries, bring it on!

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