30 July 2012

THE LORAX- Review

There have been complaints about The Lorax from both ends of the political spectrum. To right-wingers, and particularly Fox News, this is an attempt to "green-wash" children's minds against big business, rather than the eco-conscious fable that Dr. Seuss intended. To left-wing and environmentally concerned sources, the environmental message is futile, in a market where this big, bright, colourful CG family feature has to be sold like a product, in conjunction with disposable nappies and even SUVs.

You didn't get these complaints about Ice Age 4, and for all of the howling indignation about this adaptation, which comes from Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind Despicable Me, I much preferred it to Fox's eco-disaster sequel. It takes place in the plastic town of Thneedville, where everything is manufactured and even fresh air is sold in plastic bottles. In a bid to impress a girl, young Ted ventures out into the devastated outside world and encounters the Once-ler, who tells him about trees, and the mystical creature who once protected them.

27 July 2012

BlogalongaBond- THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH Review

More than any of the other films I've reviewed in this series, The World Is Not Enough has real meaning to me. My dad snuck me in to see it at the cinema, at the tender age of 9, before any of this 12A nonsense had 5-year-olds enjoying the genital torture scenes in Casino Royale with their complacent parents. It was also my first big-screen Bond experience, and I loved it. Then again, I also loved Batman & Robin and Space Jam in my younger years.

So I didn't particularly expect this one to hold up to an older and wiser viewing, but I'm surprised to report that my younger self sometimes got it right. After the best of Brosnan's typically stonking opening sequences, the stage is set for an investigation into the assassination of Robert King, an oil baron and close friend of M's, right in the middle of MI6. Bond makes things personal, as he's been prone to do in the past, and vows to protect King's daughter, Elektra, from her father's murderer, a terrorist with a unique resistance to pain, who once held Elektra captive.

20 July 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES- Review

This review is SPOILER-FREE. There will be no plot spoilers here, but I'm going to write a more in-depth discussion of the movie sometime next week.

It is really, truly difficult to know where to begin with The Dark Knight Rises. Having recently revisited Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, this conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy feels simultaneously like an amalgam of the best parts of those two very different films, and yet another completely different film to round out the three. What we have here, is a complete storyline told over a trilogy of three very different films.

For one thing, I can say that in all my speculation about this finale, I hadn't anticipated that we'd find Bruce Wayne so mentally and physically withdrawn at its beginning. Eight years after Batman took the rap for district attorney Harvey Dent's killing spree, Gotham City has become somewhat safer, with the mob locked up in the wake of the legally dubious Dent Act. Batman hasn't been seen in all that time, but the arrival of Bane, a masked terrorist with sinister designs for Gotham, and mysterious cat burglar Selina Kyle, each serve to draw the Dark Knight out of retirement.

19 July 2012

Looking back at THE DARK KNIGHT

It's been four years since The Dark Knight took cinemas by storm around the world, and it's hard to think of a film that has been more extensively discussed, dissected and appreciated in online discourse in recent years. In the best way, the film is essentially a crime thriller that happens to have Batman in it, with noble district attorneys drawn into battle with dastardly mobsters and sociopathic killers.

Read the rest of the article, ta Den of Geek >>

18 July 2012

Looking back at BATMAN BEGINS

With his trilogy of Batman movies set to conclude with this week's release of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan is adamant that he never originally intended to make more than one. “We never had a specific trajectory,” he told journalists at this year's Produced By Conference. “I wanted to put everything into making one great film, I didn’t want to hold anything back.” In this article, I look back at the first instalment of what is about to become the Dark Knight trilogy- Batman Begins.

Read the rest of the article, at Den of Geek >>

17 July 2012

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD- Review

In retrospect, Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic idiot-fest is looking like a watershed moment. It's since then that we've seen a number of films that can be described as either "smaller" and/or "better" than the world-sploding spectacle seen in tentpole blockbusters. Melancholia and Another Earth took different, but dramatic views on massive, Earth-shattering events, and now Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World comes at armageddon from a more mumbly point of view.

When it's announced that NASA has failed in its efforts to destroy a massive asteroid called Matilda, its collision course with the Earth is unimpeded, and humanity has three weeks left before the end of days. Dodge is a middle-aged man, pining over the one that got away, and Penny is his young, exuberant English neighbour- circumstances push them together on one last road trip to be with their loved ones, as Matilda looms larger.

13 July 2012

MAGIC MIKE- Review

Having seen three new Steven Soderbergh movies in cinemas in the last year, I think it's safe to say that he's probably not as close to retirement as he might have you believe. They've all been markedly different films, so perhaps Soderbergh's hopping from genre to genre is what's keeping his career going. It's either that or the most unlikely ongoing actor-director collaboration to emerge in some time, with Channing Tatum.

Magic Mike is apparently based on aspects of Tatum's life, and his early career as a male stripper at the age of 19, and Soderbergh re-teams with one of his actors from Haywire to bring this to the screen. Mike is a dancer at a club called Xquisite, but it's his young protege Adam who becomes just as much the protagonist of the film. Mike takes Adam, a lazy, teenaged slacker, under his wing, and teaches him how to make money, chat up women and enjoy the lifestyle of a stripper. Meanwhile, 30-year-old Mike is desperate to get out and start a business, and his encouragement of Adam has consequences.

11 July 2012

KILLER JOE- Review

It's very gratifying to see that a scuzzy, nasty, little crime drama like Killer Joe is enjoying some success at the UK box office. During its two weeks of release, it's burrowed into the bottom of the list rather nicely, pulling some fairly impressive numbers for an arthouse release, albeit an arthouse release at the smaller end of a wide distribution, featuring a relatively big Hollywood star. In that time, I've mostly been trying to put my finger on whether or not I liked it.

I've seen it twice, and now that I can bring myself to eat chicken again, I can tell you that Joe Cooper, the killer of the title, is a detective who moonlights as a contract killer, charging $25,000 a hit. He's hired by Chris and his family, to kill Chris' alcoholic mother and cash the insurance in little sister Dottie's name. The trailer trash brood have trouble pulling the advance together, but a meeting between Joe and Dottie puts an idea in his head, and the family all too easily agrees to use Dottie as a retainer for Joe's services.

9 July 2012

ICE AGE 4- CONTINENTAL DRIFT- Review

If you go to see Ice Age: Continental Drift, you'll see The Longest Daycare, a silent short film featuring Maggie Simpson, before the main feature. In a return to the Ayn Rand School for Tots, a setting invented for the classic Simpsons episode, A Streetcar Named Marge, the short revisits an old gag and manages to be funny and cute with no dialogue whatsoever- it's the most fun I've had watching The Simpsons in a while.

The Simpsons has endured for so long that even its minor characters have become iconic, and so Maggie's adventure makes a nice little prelude to the latest in a series of films that is running solely on box office returns. Certainly, the gag of Scrat chasing his acorn has become very well worn, and yet it incites a seismic shift beneath the Earth that splits Panacea up into the continents. Manny the mammoth is separated from his family in the chaos, and he drifts across the ocean with Sid and Diego on a block of ice, hoping to get back home.

4 July 2012

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN- Review

A question- is there anyone out there who wouldn't rather have seen Spider-Man appear in The Avengers, than watch a reboot of the origin story that arrives in cinemas just ten years after the last widely-acclaimed, hugely successful attempt at that story? I'm happy to report that The Amazing Spider-Man is better than it has any right to be, given how it's an effort to keep the character from reverting to the stables of the newly-minted Hollywood powerhouse Marvel Studios, but less happy to say that I'd still rather have seen that happen.

In case you haven't been following the story, and somehow swerved Sam Raimi's variously well-received trilogy of movies about the web-slinger, Peter Parker goes from high-school outcast to superhero, after being bitten by a genetically altered spider. In this version, Peter is also battling with the secret of his parents' deaths, and finding his first love in a fellow student and science prodigy, Gwen Stacy. In a mishap that is not unprecedented for characters played by Andrew Garfield, his search for answers causes a biological mishap for Dr. Curt Connors. He's subsequently transformed into a giant, rampaging lizard, and only Spider-Man can stop him.

2 July 2012

STORAGE 24- Review

Noel Clarke has already given us the crowd-pleasing sports drama Fast Girls this month, and later this year, his romantic comedy, The Knot, will also arrive in UK cinemas. Now, he continues to show a keen commercial instinct outside of his urban dramas with another film that's slightly outside of his wheelhouse, the sci-fi horror flick Storage 24.

Clarke also has the starring role in this one, as Charlie, a guy who's just been dumped by his long-term girlfriend, Shelley. With his best mate Mark in tow, he goes to pick up his stuff from their shared locker in the titular storage facility, only to discover that Shelley has had the same idea.

When a military cargo plane crashes down to Earth in central London, its cargo, a vicious extraterrestrial, escapes into Storage 24. The place is maximum security, so after a malfunction with the front door and shutters, Charlie and Mark are trapped inside, along with Shelley and her friends Nikki and Chris, depending on one another to survive.

Read the rest of my review, over at Movie Reviews >>

Storage 24 is now showing in cinemas nationwide.