Monday, 31 October 2011

October Poll- Out of these 15 summer 'blockbusters', which one did you most enjoy?

I still can't quite believe 116 people voted on the poll! I forgot to vote myself as I was going to be one of the last but I didn't get a chance but still with 116 people I couldn't be more happy. So thank you very much to everyone who voted.

What a surprise! Everyone loved Harry Potter. Though I really am surprised at Thor coming second. I thought it was fantastic and know a lot of people loved it but I thought this year a lot of people would have preferred some of the 'funnier' films.
Top 5 that people enjoyed this Summer are; Harry Potter, Thor, X-Men, Captain America and Super 8.
No surprise Green Lantern got no votes and that Pirates and Cowboys and Aliens got only one vote each.

Though it's had it's flaws with a few films over the Summer, 2011 has been a good year with lots of action, superheros, sequels and lots of laughs.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 1 (0%)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes 6 (5%)
Cowboys & Aliens 1 (0%)
Captain America: The First Avenger 9 (7%)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon 4 (3%)
The Inbetweeners Movie 1 (0%)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 43 (37%)
Kung Fu Panda 2 2 (1%)
Super 8 7 (6%)
Bridesmaids 6 (5%)
Thor 18 (15%)
The Hangover Part II 5 (4%)
Cars 2 1 (0%)
Green Lantern 0 (0%)
X-Men: First Class 12 (10%)
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Monday, 24 October 2011

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

Running Time: 107 mins
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Mackensie Crook, Gad Elmaleh
Screenplay: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish
UK Release Date: 24th October 2011 - UK

Quick Plot: After young journalist Tintin buys a boat at a market he finds that it's a lot more special than he first thought. With his trusted dog Snowy, he embarks on a quest into the mystery of the Secret of the Unicorn.

Review: If a film has glowing signs saying 'Directed by Speilberg' and 'Proudced by Jackson'; you know full well that the film is going to be good. Then with a brilliant lead cast, you know it could be even better than that. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is a whirlwind ride of a film, with excitement persisting throughout, it's pretty much what you expect from those glowing words.
After a stunning title sequence which includes a nice little intro to the man himself and a funky 60s style soundtrack, it's obvious that the film is going to be nice to look at. Parts of the titles and other references in the film's first scene include some of Hergé's original Tintin art, which fans of the comic and TV shows will enjoy. Then, throughout the film I'm sure fans will notice other little references and easter eggs, which have no doubt flew right over my head, but the other people I saw the film with did touch upon it after the viewing. Beautiful 30s Paris is the first location of Tintin, which gives an even better introduction to our protagonist. Straight away I felt happy with Tintin's voice because if you exclude the TV series, Tintin is a mute character who's voice is practically your own or how to invent it to be. I admit I haven't read the comics, but from my experience with seeing images, I feel as if Bell is the perfect Tintin voice choice. Making him British, Tintin has charm in his voice but also sophistication and determination in his flow of words and then the words themselves which is from the minds of the screenplay. Craig's evil character, Ivanovich Sakharine, first features in Tintin earlier than you would think for the baddie of the film and again his voice is ideal. You can tell Craig worked on making Sakharine wicked; and it works. Pal duo Frost and Pegg make a great duo Thompson and Thomson, with a few funny scenes here and there they just about steal a quarter of the laughs. Both are one of the disappointments in the extravagant build up that Tintin has received but this is saved by one very special actor and character. Serkis can never seem to do wrong - I mean, playing one monkey and stealing the whole film is an accomplishment to some, but for Serkis it's just another day. The almost constantly drunk Captain Haddock, is single handily the best part of the film. In my own view, I feel as if the film is greatly casted, but Serkis more because of his obvious connection with Haddock. With the realistic feel the performance capture and 3D let through the screen, it's as if Serkis is fully on screen, being as indulgently fantastic as always. Having the rest of the laughs in the film he is the one character in the film everyone will love, even the kids. The chemistry between Bell and Serkis definitely bounces off one another in their voices and lines and thankfully this helps The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn have a likability factor.
Despite the very believable human feel the character in Tintin possess, it's Tintin's lovable side kick Snowy who will no doubt steal all the fun in the film for the kids and most probably the adults too. With no voice, his actions are enough to cause laughter for the audience. Not only does his very cute appearance attract attention, (the visual effects in film make him look ever so fluffy), but also the devotion to his master, which most of the time gets him out of trouble, makes him especially entertaining.
Even though the script writers are some of the best minds in Britain, I can't help but feel as if it was lacking in a heart warming family kind of way. Although Snowy and Tintin's friendship and Haddock and Tintin's growing friendship is charming, the rest of the film felt as if it was looking for more jokes than was needed
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed watching Tintin, I don't believe this is the ironically epic film of 2011 that everyone will have hoped for. But it's one of the best family, animation, adventure films in a long while and it's utterly exhilarating to watch.

At first glance, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is a different type of film for Speilberg and Jackson, but after seeing 10 minutes of it, you realise it's not that different. Fun, exciting and completely beautiful, Tintin is not the epic 2011 film people would have wished for, instead it is the first film of an anticipated trilogy.


The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn teaser
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Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Friend Catcher (2011)

By: lucycampbell
Synopsis: A surreal story about a lunchbox adventure.

Review: We often look back at our childhood exlaiming they were the best years of our lives because of the fun we had, the fact we didn't judge pre-judge people in our classes and the feeling we had of doing whatever we wanted. All this is true, but could we only behave this way when we were children? The Friend Catcher is an exquisite short film looking at one of the less obvious concepts of children- our mind. As kids, without knowing it, we could open our mind to whatever we wanted to, with no limits or boundaries- we had adventures. This is the beauty that The Friend Catcher portrays to us; how our minds worked as children.
The film starts as if it is an advert for Persil, kids rushing around, getting into trouble, lots of noise - we remember it like it was yesterday. As soon as the title appears, the soundtrack changes and you realise this film is going to be a lot more than that. Echoed is the squabble of kids voices, crashing of chairs and lunchboxes on tables which is realistic enough for anyone to relate to. It's lunchtime. Kids freedom in a school day.
After a sudden silence, as an audience member you feel alienated because of the big impact the muted soundtrack has and then with voices surrounding one particular school boy, you feel his fear as the rest of the hall turns and starts whispering to one another. The soundtrack includes the conversations and thoughts between all the school kids in a giant, vicious echo which is enough to drag the audience down into remembering the bad part of being a child.
This is where the team (lucycampbell) completely changes the grounds of The Friend Catcher and introduces the ingenious idea of the children's lunchboxes revealing the child's imagination. With fantastic use of 'dings', nature sounds, voices of angry adults in the audio effects and a great deal of creativity in the props such as a bandanna and a pet or two; it's bizarre that these scenes don't seem odd. In fact, it all feels quite natural and believable. Then as the main pupil looks around, more and more marvellous things are revealed from the children's lunchboxes. One decorated in space ships, another made out of grass and so on; it's simply glorious to see the young actors and actresses open their boxes to let loose the wonders that their mind holds. The range of different angles and shots, the camera conveys the random sense which is so apparent in the mind of the children.
The Friend Catcher then pushes deeper into the minds of the children, with the last part of the film entering a visual, new world. In only a matter of seconds, the children crowd round a particular lunchbox and the enter it. After the soundtrack of laughs and cheers has faded, you feel yourself smile at the thought of travelling with them into their imagination. In what a journey, The Friend Catcher is a sweet tale of fun and children's naivety- something we have all had once. Lucycampbell forces the audience to reminisce the 'good days' of being young with a group of very talented actors, beautifully mastered angles and a soundtrack that holds the film together.

I began this review saying that we could only open our mind to wonders as children. But that's not really true, is it?
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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Contagion (2011)

Running Time: 106 mins
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Ehle
Screenplay: Scott Z Burns
UK Release Date: 21st October 2011 - UK

Quick Plot: After a lethal virus outbreaks across the world, it's a race against time to find the source of the deadly disease and a vaccine to cure it.

Review: Like Real Steel, I got the chance to see a sequence from Contagion at the Big Screen event back in August but little did I know that it was in fact the opening scene. With an opening close up shot of Gwyneth Paltrow's character, quite like a documentary style shot, the audience already starts picking up on small details Soderbergh hasn't made obvious. Instead, he's very cleverly structured the length and angles of the first part of the film in a regular manner because you are automatically watching what everyone is touching, breathing onto, walking past, coming in contact with. Because you know what the film consists of (a virus) you're trying to out run it, even though it's fictional, you're doing it without realising. You're trying to work out who it's infected and who will die. Contagion is not your usual horror/sci fi, but to put it simply, it is. It's not a film where everything is made clear either, you're left with a few unanswered questions which is what makes the film so intriguing. As we are taken to the big and infected cities across the globe, the titles make clear the effect this virus is having on human kind. The more centralised characters, Damon, Cotillard and Winslet, each have their different roles in successfully causing us fear from having a member of the family die because of the virus to them self being infected and dying. The thrill of this horror is that people are continually dying and they are not miraculously coming back because they are 'one of the main characters'. It's unpredictable in a who dies sense, but as it's Soderbergh, you know the film isn't going to get pleasant.
With no blood, extreme language or sex, the film has a moderately low audience rating but that doesn't mean Contagion isn't one of the most frightening films of the year. With quotes from the film that were used in the fabulous trailer, 'Don't talk to anyone, don't touch anyone', 'it's figuring us out faster than we're figuring it out' and the not-so-scary-until-you-think-about-it 'the average person touches their face 3-5 times every waking minute...' this is not a completely fictional film. Then with the truly terrifying scenes of panic erupting across the globe, in supermarkets, pharmacies, burglaries, Contagion could easily be a news reel we see at home. The brilliant tag line 'No one is immune to fear' shows the society we live in today. As soon as a big impact on our every day occurs that cannot be explained, people panic, evidently worsening the effects.
There's no surprise that the all star cast show their full talent on screen and it could be argued at that with the number of big names and thought out concept of Contagion that there is never enough screen time for any of the actors. Arguing back, there is enough for the film to be great based on their acting. As a regular joe, Damon doesn't have to fight, run away or kill anyone just as Winslet doesn't have to jump off a boat, fall in love or anything to show the extent that their acting can reach. The whole cast have individual roles in the world as the virus spreads, so they are each having to show different emotions and the dramatic impacts the virus has caused them. All as great as always, Winslet especially portrays the horrific truth about the virus, but it's the elegant Cotillard who steals it for me. Again, not having enough time as you hope for on screen, her character pieces together through CCTV (for us, flashbacks) of where the virus started and how it has travelled. She gracefully opens up your mind into the seriousness of the panic that is the world later on in the film and it scares you. Law and Fishburne have interesting roles and again make you realise how it's not only the virus that spreads quick, it's the fear.

With an undeniable fantastic ensemble, thought out concept and sense of realism, Contagion is frightening and powerfully captivating.

Contagion trailer
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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Real Steel (2011)

Running Time: 127 mins
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lily, Dan Gilroy, John Gatins, Hope Davis, Anthony Mackie
Screenplay: John Gatins
UK Release Date: 14th October 2011 - UK

Quick Plot: It's 2020 and boxing as we know it today has been replaced by ginormous, steel robot's fights. Former human boxer, Charlie, hasn't got much going for him until he is reunited with his 11 year old son who he hasn't seen since birth. Now forced to spend time together, the pair find out they have a closer bond when they think after discovering a washed up robot.

Review: Back in August, I was lucky enough to attend a live Q&A with director Shawn Levy and was even more lucky to got a chance to see some, at the time, exclusive clips. Levy was absolutely lovely, funny and he definitely pushed me more towards seeing Real Steel. The film has done considerably well in the US box office and it's no surprise. Robot fights with Hugh Jackman? Sold.
But Real Steel is a lot more than that first appearance, it's a family drama and Levy has it right. He can quite obviously create a witty film (Date Night, Night At The Museum, etc..) which can be relatable to a wide range of audiences and Real Steel does that and more, with a hint of sci fi. Though the story seems to fall a bit with no emotion shown in the son's (Goyo) attitude considering his mother just died, the bond between him and his idiot father works well and that's probably down to the two incredible actors.
Jackman is as fierce, sexy and completely compelling as always. Even without seeing interviews or hearing any kind of press on Real Steel, you know full well he trained extremely hard for his character Charlie. Then, with seeing interviews (and the from the Q&A I saw a few months back) you can see Jackman and Levy got on extremely well in putting their everything into making this film.
Charming little12 year old Goyo is understandably the stand out of the family action film which is probably from him being the main target audience. He too must have had a lot of fun on the film, especially in the funniest and most mesmerizing robot dance sequence on screen in a long time. The filled out cinema was in fits of laughter and aww's at the sweet bond between Max and the main robot of the film, Atom. There is the perfect balance of friendship in Real Steel so the Max/Atom plot line doesn't go too silly or adrift from the main bond between father/son. Jackman and Goyo definitely had a lot of chemistry which helped the main family plot Levy was so desperate to achieve. First having the usual stubborn bickering and on typical 'I don't like that food' squabble, they soon pick up their relationship and the pair of actors have enough realistic talent to prove that. Anthony Mackie and Evangeline Lilly are sweet add ons to the film's ensemble, adding a little more reality in a friend and unfortunately a too focused relationship for Charlie.
Aside from the family drama, the robot scenes are exciting, fast and fun which makes Real Steel so great. They're loud and bright which will win over kids in an instant and the adults won't be far behind. The boxing action sequences are taken to an extreme by Levy and look completely real, as hard as it may be to believe. With human motions, the robots fights are captivating- just like they're meant to be in the world of Real Steel. Jackman's training with boxer Sugar Ray Leonard makes Charlie's commitment with the robot boxing apparent on screen. Even in the last scenes, which you can guess, the big, final boxing fight, you know it's cliché but you can't help but sit up, excited and enchanted by the robots. Because of the balance of family drama issues and amazing robotic fights, Real Steel is a great family film. Although it could be considered samey with the Transformers franchise, the family story line and gentle bonds bring the film back to a bit more originality.

Levy has raised his own mark here with a heart warming family film- with added robots It's funny, slick and extremely enjoyable.

Real Steel trailer

Shawn Levy and Chris Hewitt at the Empire Big Screen in August
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Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Three Musketeers (2011)

Running Time: 110 mins
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Matthew MacFadyen, Luke Evans, Logan Lerman,  Milla Jovovich, Juno Temple, Logan Lerman, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz, Freddie Fox
Screenplay: Alex Litvak, Andrew Davies,
UK Release Date: 12th October 2011 - UK

Quick Plot: When reckless and arrogant d'Artagnan travels to Paris to pursue his dream of meeting and becoming a member of the Three Musketeer's, he finds they aren't as legendary as he thought. But when a 'great cause' comes along, saving the French monarchy from being overthrown, the swash-buckling heroes find they just might be needed after all.

Review: The Three Musketeers is an absolute legend in films, so it's no surprise another film has been made; this film filmed in 3D too. Sadly I didn't see the 3D showing, but a few months back I saw one of the action scenes (possibly my favourite scene) at the Big Screen event in 3D which I quite enjoyed, but I am unsure whether or not the whole film would be worth it.
As the film started, I was engrossed by the introduction concept it began with as it was interesting, fun and quite vibrant to look at. Then you're planted right into a plot by the musketeers, with some great FX action, a nice thought out introductory of them and you're already won over. After this, you meet young d'Artagnan, showing off his combat skills and arrogant characteristics, he gets himself into a few personal troubles and soon the three musketeers and d'Artagnan are a pretty much pals. The first 15-20 minutes is overall very good. With a little too much humour and slow mos, plenty of fight scenes and a James Corden, The Three Musketeers starts off great. Oh how I wish the whole duration of the film continued like this way.
After quite an enjoyable first part, the middle of the film seems to drag, even though it's necessary for the plot line to advance, you are sitting there wondering why it has to. The comic relief humour in it from King Louis (Freddie Fox) keeps it together luckily, and when the musketeers are back on the screen everything seems somehow better again. Characters are all quite likable or easily unlikable with Watlz being his usual cunning self, it's Jovovich who stands out. Being so wickedly sexy, she holds some of the most interesting scenes, captivating the audience into somehow, possibly liking her character (and hoping she is brought back for the almost definite sequel). Another great essence of The Three Musketeers is that the leads themselves are cast quite perfectly and all have obvious chemistry with one another. MacFadyen, Stevenson and Evans all had their fair share of great moments and I can't really flaw their acting but Lerman is the one who stood out even more. He's a truly talented actor and has got quite a CV for his age, his d'Artagnan, though quite irritating, has the best fencing and fighting scenes, has a little bit of humour and he makes the film a whole lot better. You can tell that everyone had an absolute blast making the film and that's what the film wants the audience to do; have fun. Though it seems to go down a path similar to Pirates Of The Caribbean (I don't think I'm ever going to understand the floating ship), it's a fun and newly adapted version of The Three Mustkeers.
Yes, the script isn't the best, it feels dragged and (though I'm probably the only one to think it) the romance plot between d'Artagnan and the Queen's lady in waiting seemed overbearing, I don't think anyone ever expected the film to be incredible.

Maybe it's a lot of silly fun, but The Three Musketeers isn't half bad at all. If you go in with an open mind you'll have a bit of a laugh and find it quite entertaining, but if you hope for a lot you'll be disappointed.


The Three Musketeers trailer
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Saturday, 1 October 2011

Crazy, Stupid Love (2011)

Running Time: 118 mins
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Starring:  Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon
Screenplay: Dan Fogelman
UK Release Date: 23rd September - UK

Quick Plot: After the divorce of his wife of 25 years, forty something Cal doesn't believe he has a chance with women in today's love market. But when Jacob, the local womanizer, shows up, helps him get a make-over and teaches him to way to love Cal might be able to realise who his soul mate is.

Review: Since the very first trailer I saw, I knew Crazy Stupid Love was going to be something special. It didn't look like the typical rom com film and now, after seeing it, it's even more superior to the usual rom coms we get.
With most rom coms, you know you'll either love it or hate it within the first five minutes but with Crazy, Stupid Love, you don't realise how much you enjoyed it until it's finished. Though the first half runs well with the heartbreaking opening scenes for our main character Cal (Carell) and the updated transformation of him due to his new found friend Jacob (Gosling), the film doesn't get to it's prime until half way through. The first half is full of the laughs and Fogleman's ever so charming screenplay really enlightens you to adore the characters for all of their own reasons. Cal for his honesty and pitiful mistakes with his relationship, Jacob for being straight up and unaided (plus extremely hot) and Emily, even though you're meant to hate her for breaking Cal's heart, you can't help but like her. Then of course, Emma Stone's character who you love anyway because it's her, though her character Hannah is compassionate with the audience anyway. Even the younger cast, Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Bobo you like without even thinking. They're all the main factor in reeling you into the film, into their lives, into their way of thinking and after the first half the film really gets going. It's no surprise that Dan Fogelman has produced another cherishing story with his previous work being Tangled, Cars 2, Bolt and so on, you can see he has an act of making absolutely everything in a film seem sweet.
After the half way mark, the romantic side of Crazy Stupid Love is sharpened and suddenly, everything about the film feels like an 80s, 90s love story. The passion between the characters is more obvious, with all of the talents of the cast, and there is the perfect amount of humour into the script that makes it a pleasure to watch. It's not drained in laughs about sex or gender, it's appropriate laughs that really makes the film glow. With more turns in the narrative occurring than I thought would, it's a charming, modern day film about the power of love without being too cheesy.
Half of the enjoyment you have when watching is because of Carell and Gosling's hilarious and significant chemistry. It's not as predictable as you first think from the trailer, their bond in the film is a lot more realistic and captivating for a bromance. And all too believable too if I must say so. Moore and Stone are just as great, both with their own different love stories but still played as perfect as ever. Stone and Gosling's chemistry is apparent too, being overly cute, sexy and exciting they are ideal (with the set pictures of Gangster Squad appearing it's even more obvious they have a strong connection). It's definitely a special sort of rom com and one that you could watch with anyone. It's realistic enough to connect to you in some way or another and for a bonus, Gosling is topless.

Without even trying to, Crazy, Stupid Love rises above all other rom coms of the past decade. It's sweet, funny, totally romantic in a half cliché half original way and it's a delight to see such a great cast working alongside each other. It's something to go out of your way to see.


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