30 October 2013

THOR: THE DARK WORLD- Review

This is a spoiler-free review- I'll be posting a more in-depth look at this year's Marvel movies later in the year, but if you still don't want to know anything, then proceed with caution...

It's somewhat surprising to think that Thor has now appeared in three movies in as many years. It really wasn't that long since he was one of Marvel Comics' least well-known characters, and now it's the role that has made Chris Hemsworth a household name. And although it's ostensibly another solo movie, Thor: The Dark World is another, even bigger expansion of the Marvel cinematic universe, by virtue of mostly taking place in space.

As in Iron Man 3, the sequel is largely about the fallout from The Avengers, in which Thor's brother Loki caused most of the trouble. But a far darker threat than Loki has arisen- a force older than the universe has emerged from a very long time in hiding, with designs to put all of existence back the way it was when they left. Jane Foster becomes mixed up in this business while on an investigation, and is reunited with Thor as he fights against Malekith and his dark elves to keep the lights on in the universe.

29 October 2013

JACKASS PRESENTS BAD GRANDPA- Review

Warning: this is definitely a review. Whatever you and your dumb little buddies thought of Bad Grandpa, the latest film from the Jackass crew, it doesn't have a story, and yet it somehow dispenses with the critic-proof fence that the other Jackass movies had (but didn't actually need.)

The Dickhouse Productions troupe's first foray into narrative cinema is based around Johnny Knoxville's pervy old bloke character, 86-year-old Irving Zisman. Recently bereft of his wife, Irving is typically eager to get back in the saddle and find himself a new lady. However, when his estranged daughter gets a jail sentence, he's charged with delivering his 8-year-old grandson, Billy, across country to his dickhead father's custody.

28 October 2013

TURBO- Review

A few months after it splattered against the broad side of Despicable Me 2 at the US box office, Dreamworks' latest animation, Turbo, seems to have arrived in UK cinemas just in time to make Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 look slightly less conceptually berserk. Unfortunately, it also feels like the kind of film that the studio was making several years ago, before their recent upswing in quality.

The film is named for the nom de plume of a snail, Theo, who's fanatical about racing. He dreams of entering the Indianapolis 500-Mile race, undeterred by the fact that he can't drive, and that nature keeps him moving at around a millimetre per second. While his responsible older brother, Chet, insists that he grows up and gets to work, Theo keeps on keeping on, and sure enough, he winds up gaining super-speed from an accident with nitrous oxide that changes his DNA.

25 October 2013

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2- Review

Back in 2009, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller announced themselves with Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, one of the most pleasant surprises of the cinematic year. Loaded with great gags, memorable characters and the kind of self-effacing charm that comes naturally when proclaiming itself to be "a film by a lot of people", it stands as one of the best family comedies of recent years.

Inevitably, that means that Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 comes with much more expectation loaded upon it, but that's not to say that it doesn't measure up. Picking up seconds after the original left off, the inhabitants of Swallow Falls are evacuated from the island so that a company called Live Corp can clean up the mess made by inventor Flint Lockwood's food machine. Six months later, the company's CEO recruits Flint to go back to Swallow Falls, which is now its own edible ecosystem, packed with living food animals, to shut down his invention for good.

21 October 2013

ESCAPE PLAN- Review

It's not unfair or unkind to say that the first fully-fledged team-up movie between Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger is at least a decade too late. Also, while Escape Plan has an interesting premise, it's not the most unique vehicle that these two action icons could bring to the screen. Despite being a decade late and a dollar short, it's a question of whether or not the film coasts on actually being better than the trailers make it look.

There's still that premise though, which seems to have altered slightly since the project was first announced. Ray Breslin has spent most of his adult life in jail- not as a con, but as the world's best prison escape artist, testing prison security for the federal government. His skill set has made him a millionaire, but he's still tempted by a lucrative offer to test out a high-tech, privately-owned facility. It soon becomes clear that the company has no interest in seeing if Breslin can actually get out, and he finds himself trapped in the most impossible prison on the planet, with none of his usual resources available to help him escape.

17 October 2013

MACHETE KILLS- Review

I haven't gone looking for other reviews of Machete Kills yet, but it's tough to imagine a positive review that's more than just a list of cool things worth seeing in this movie. I'm sure there's one out there, but there's a temptation to just go, "Danny Trejo electrocutes a bad guy using himself as a conductor!" or "Ooh, and then they bazooka'd the guy in the wheelchair" to such an extent that you describe all the cool bits and leave out the more exhaustive aspects.

Such as it is, the plot of Robert Rodriguez's Mexploitation sequel finds everyone's favourite diminutive federale being recruited by US President Rathcock, (played by "newcomer" Carlos Estevez) to save the world from the apocalyptic plans of a madman called Mendez. He's threatening to start a nuclear world war, unless the United States invades Mexico and cleans up the drug problem. Sore from the recent loss of his partner, Machete goes on a bat-shit insane mission to prevent armageddon, fending off clones, bordello mistresses, and a clairvoyant industrialist named Voz along the way.

16 October 2013

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS- Review

Even if I wasn't a fan of Green Zone, a film that suffered for coming out so soon after The Hurt Locker, then I still have to concede that even watching a less-than-excellent Paul Greengrass film is still better than, say, not watching a Paul Greengrass film. In Captain Phillips, he works with Tom Hanks, and that makes him nigh-on unstoppable.

Based on the book by Richard Phillips and Stephen Tafty, "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea", this is Hanks and Greengrass telling the story of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama freighter, and the hostage crisis that ensued. Phillips is a family man who begrudgingly took his ship around the perilous Horn of Africa, when a group of impoverished Somali fishermen attacked and took over. The ordeal that followed found Phillips fighting for the lives of his crew, and then fighting for his own.

9 October 2013

Big Bottle Of Catch-Up

Heyy, how are you? Doing well? Really? OK, shut up, I don't really care, I'm back now. I know, I've been busy for the past few weeks. We're due another catch-up, especially as I've been reviewing movies elsewheres, on that pesky Den Of Geek. In varying amounts of detail, this post will cover my thoughts on Rush, White House Down, Prisoners, Sunshine On Leith and Runner Runner.

7 October 2013

FILTH- Review

It's tough to think of another recent movie that is as appropriately titled as Filth. Based on the Irvine Welsh novel, and released in the same week as feel-good Scottish musical Sunshine On Leith, this is an aggressively feel-bad movie, which goes to surprising lengths to keep James McAvoy's utterly foul anti-hero from coming out the other side as a better person.

McAvoy is detective sergeant Bruce Robertson, a policeman who wages psychological warfare upon his colleagues as he competes for a promotion to the post of DI at his Lothian constabulary. He has a shopping list of vices and prejudices, from racism to misogyny, all fueled by some pretty fearsome substance addiction. Somehow, he manages to be a big swinging dick in the force, but as the festive season rolls around, and his mental state begins to unravel, Bruce sinks lower and lower into depravity.

4 October 2013

BLUE JASMINE- Review

While I could definitely stand to see more Woody Allen films, especially some of the classics, but I don't feel particularly inclined to seek out critically drubbed fare like You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger or last year's From Rome With Love. By sticking to the breakthrough hits, like Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Midnight In Paris and now, Blue Jasmine, I'm getting a picture of a much less prolific, but consistently compelling director.

In his latest film, New York socialite Jasmine (nee. Jeanette) has gotten used to the finer things in life, but she's forced to move in with her sister, Ginger, in San Francisco after her husband is jailed for tax evasion, and the government re-possesses all of his ill-gotten gains. As the film progresses, we learn that Jasmine is recovering from a nervous breakdown, which only worsens her difficulty in acclimatising to her new life. Inevitably, the search for a new, rich husband becomes just as important as the search for a job, but there's more to Jasmine's recent past than she's letting on.