Captain Phillips

The director who gave us the superior sequels to the Bourne films Paul Greengrass teams up with Tom Hanks for his latest thriller. Based on a true story of a container ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates Greengrass’ film was nominated for several awards, but can it impress me?

Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is in command of the MV Maersk Alabama making its way to Mombasa when Somali pirates try to board his ship. Initially the pirates fail in their task but when they returned undeterred Captain Phillips will have to use all his wits to stop them taking his ship.

From his previous work we know Greengrass can make a good thriller, and Captain Phillips is no exception. The film starts off with a slow game of cat and mouse seeing both the crew of the Alabama ship and the Somali pirates start their journey and relay the mission to their crews. Despite the Somali pirates being in small skiffs they are still a threat to the much larger container ship as they prove as they approach the Alabama. Showing both sides of this story is key to why this film works. Captain Phillips and his crew are technically our protagonist but the Somalis are not the boo-hiss villains that they would normally be. We see Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) put together his crew of three and prepare for their journey. If they don’t their village will be in trouble with the local warlords. They are not just faceless criminals and seeing their efforts to get to the container ship is impressive. At times I felt torn between the two crews as I didn’t want the Alabama to get hijacked but at the same time it was exciting to see the smaller Skiff beat the odds to get to their goal.

A big part to bringing gravitas to the Somali pirates stories is newcomer Abdi. He brings depth and layers as the captain of his small crew. His desperation to succeed in his task matches Phillips’ determination to make sure he doesn’t. The problem is that only one of these men will win in the end and neither of them can afford to make a wrong move. It’s tough to put a newcomer against Hanks and feel as though he owns the scene as much as Hanks does but Abdi manages it. I’m not surprised Abdi won a Bafta for this intense role.

If there are faults to this movie it’s that while the movie is tense and exciting while watching the pirates trying to catch and board the ship, then hunting for the crew when they do get on board, some of the tension is lost when it Phillips is taken hostage on a lifeboat. Although there is a claustrophobic thrill to the scenes of the lifeboat, switching back and forth between the lifeboat and the scenes with the Navy attempting a rescue loses the momentum somewhat. It also a bit too long for me.

Still for a grown up and exhilarating thriller Captain Phillips is hard to beat.

Rating 4/5 – this is a smart and powerful movie for those with summer blockbuster fatigue

 

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Goodbye Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall

What a week it’s been. First on August 11 2014 the talented comedian and actor Robin Williams committed suicide aged 63. Then on August 12, screen legend Lauren Bacall died from a stoke at the age of 89.

Williams fetaured in so many memorbale films it would be difficult to mention them all. His role in Dead Poet’s Society brought me to tears, The Birdcage and Mrs Doubtfire made me laugh out loud and Insomnia brought out a new side to the actor in an unsual villian role. Then there’s all his roles in family friendly films such as Aladdin, Jumanji and Hook. Perhaps one of his most memorable movies for me is Good Will Hunting. As the therapist to Matt Damon’s character, he was given a great dramatic role that won him an Oscar (and on a personal note this was also the first film I saw in the cinema that was rated 15 and I was only 13 at the time-what a rebel!).

Bacall was one of the last living icons from Hollywood’s golden age. I was actually named after her (if it wasn’t for Lauren Bacall I would have been named Clementine). With fantastic roles in How To Marry a Millionaire and The Big Sleep she proved herself to be a Hollywood legend. Perhaps Bacall’s most iconic role was her debut in To Have and Have Not opposite her future husband Humphrey Bogart. Effortlessly cool and filled with more class in her little finger than most modern starlets have in their entire bodies, they don’t make actresses like Bacall anymore.

Whatever the circumstances of their deaths, the screen will be a sadder place without them and both will be greatly missed.

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Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: The Lady Vanishes (1938) – My Kind of Movie

lauren:

I took part in Zoe and Rob’s Alfred Hitchock Blogathon. Check out my review on The Lady Vanishes and have a look at the other entries in the Blogathon.

Originally posted on The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger:

hitchcock

Lauren from My Kind of Movie joins us today, thank you so much Lauren!the lady vanishes

Suspense! Intrigue! Espionage! Sounds like most of Alfred Hitchcock films, except the action takes place on a train!

Starting at a hotel set in the country of Bandrika, “one of Europe’s few undiscovered corners” (in other words completely made up), we are introduced to the main characters of the films, including main protagonist Iris (Margaret Lockwood), a snobby privilege girl. At the hotel she meets among others, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty), a former governess. Later after hitting her head at the train station, she is looked after again by Miss Froy and they strike up a friendship. However when Miss Froy later disappears, Iris desperately tries to find her, only to have the rest of the train tell her that Miss Froy never existed!

This comedy thriller based on the novel The Wheel Spins by…

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Delivery Man (2013)

Vince Vaughn hasn’t had a huge smash hit for a while. Can a remake of a Canadian comedy Starbucks, which in turn was inspired by a true story provide him with a huge hit?

David’s (Vince Vaughn) life is a mess. He’s an unreliable delivery man for his father’s butcher shop, his girlfriend reveals she’s pregnant and she doesn’t know if he will be there for her and he’s in debt to some men who want to break his legs if he doesn’t pay the money back. He then find outs from a sperm bank he donated to in his youth that he is the father of 533 children and that 142 of them are filing a lawsuit to find out the identity of their father. Although he wants to remain anonymous he can’t help but be interested about the children he fathered and slowly begins to seek them out without revealing his identity to them.

Delivery Man is by no means a perfect comedy. The failings of which I will go into later. But there are some moments in Delivery Man which are surprisingly sweet and yes, even funny.

The funniest bits in Delivery Man is Chris Pratt as David’s lawyer Brett. Uncensored in his opinions of fatherhood and David’s ability to be a father he has most of best lines and has a great comedic touch. This really is no surprise now considering he’s been a big part of the success of The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, both of which has Pratt using his humour in a leading role. In the supporting role he manages to stand out against leading man Vaughn. The young actors playing some of David’s children are also good, you empathise with their journey to know their father and see David be a better man through his interaction with them (although they don’t know who he is).

Delivery Man is easy watching and will provide some laughs but it doesn’t seem to know what kind of film it wants to be. Is it a laugh out loud comedy about a man with 533 children, or drama about a man who has fathered 533 children? It tries to be both but it feels like it tries to hard to balance the two parts. One of his children (Britt Robertson) has an overdose which seems like it will be a major plot later on but then is dropped without much follow-up or consequences of David’s actions. Although Vaughn is capable enough in the role it’s not really stretching him. The film follows the adult-child-learning-to-be-a-man-and-a-father cliché and doesn’t really offer anything new. Still at least Vaughn gets to show more sides of his character than poor Cobie Smulders as David’s put upon girlfriend Emma. She seems to be there just to look disappointed in David, annoyed at David and slightly less annoyed at David. Smulders looks like she’s counting down the days til she can back to the next Avengers movie. The ending also has everything wrapped up way too quickly whereas you would expect more of a backlash against David, and his money problems are so easily resolved you wonder why he didn’t do that in the first place.

Rating  3/5 – by no means perfect, but amusing enough and has a great supporting role from Chris Pratt

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Should Wesley Snipes star in Blade 4?

With The Expendables 3 coming out soon Wesley Snipes has been back in the spotlight, having been away from the big screens the past couple of years due to a spell in prison for tax evasion. With The Expendables 3 being Snipes’ comeback movie, the big question superhero fans want to know is will this led to staring in a possible Blade 4?

The Blade film series stalled somewhat after the disastrous Blade Trinity (although it is a guilty pleasure of mine cause it has the lovely Ryan Reynolds in it) which sidelined Blade for practically the whole of the movie. The movie rights reverted back to Marvel Studios in 2011 and there was supposedly a script in preparation in 2013. With Marvel movies storming the box office at the moment could they be prepared to make their own definitive version of Blade? And if so would they bring back Wesley Snipes for the lead role?

I could see the advantages to having a new lead for Blade. Hiring someone younger means they would have potential for several movie deals in their contract. They could hire someone without the negative publicity Snipes has had in recent years. Marvel has also been pretty spot on with their casting for their other franchises so I’d have faith that they would find someone suitable for the role.

But I think it would be a shame for Snipes to step down from the role. For me Blade is synonymous with Wesley Snipes. I know there’s some concern with his age (he’s 52) but I’d really like his version of Blade to end on a high. Maybe he could do one last film before passing the baton onto a newer Blade?

But what do I know. Tell me what you think. Should Wesley Snipes come back to play Blade or should he make way for a newer actor? Better yet tell me in the comments below who should play Blade if you do want it recast.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

So we’ve had Iron Man, Thor and co in their solo films and together in the mighty Avengers movie, now Marvel brings out the newcomers. But as one of their lesser-known properties can Marvel work their magic on this band of heroes.

Abducted from Earth as boy Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), otherwise known as Star-Lord was brought up among thieves. As an adult he finds himself in trouble when he steals a sphere shaped artifact with unknown powers, which everyone seems to want. He soon crosses the path of an array of aliens including Gamora (Zoe Saldana) a remorseful assassin, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) whose looking for revenge, Groot (Vin Diesel) a tree-like humanoid who can only say “I am Groot”, and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a genetically engineered talking raccoon. These strangers soon have to work together when an enemy bigger then themselves start looking for the artifact, hoping to use it to cause as much death and destruction as possible.

The basic plot may not be original-a ragtag bunch of misfits must overcome their differences to work together against a common enemy. It could basically be the Avengers-in space! But what marks out Guardians of the Galaxy is the sense of pure fun and weirdness that ensures that this superhero movie is anything but a bog standard adventure.

James Gunn was considered quite the risk as a director having directed mostly indie films such as the body-alien horror Slither. But just like Joss Whedon before him Marvel have proven that the risk has payed off. Gunn clearly enjoys the sense of anarchy and wackiness that is embodied in this film. When your main characters include a talking raccoon you must have a director that has the balls to run with the weirdness and make it into something that is funny, exciting and at times quite touching without diluting all the oddness that comes with it.

It helps that our guardians are all equally as engaging as each other. There is no weak link here and everyone has a chance to shine. Chris Pratt has had quite the year being the lead in the mega hit The Lego Movie (another film that was a lot better than everyone expected it to be), and as Peter he’s the everyman that the audience can identify with. He’s not a squeaky clean goodie-goodie and is all the better for it. Peter is funny, likeable and probably gone a bit mad having listen to the same music (Awesome Mixtape 1) for the past 26 years. Saldana gets a lot of excellent fight scenes as the remorseful Gamora and has good chemistry with Pratt. Burista is surprisingly funny and has a sad back story that drives his anger. Vin Diesel as Groot is sweet and conveys a lot for someone whose character has a limited vocabulary. Rocket will probably be a lot of people’s favourite character and Cooper manages to make this talking raccoon as twisted and hilarious as you imagine he would be but also more than just a one joke character that could have been very annoying.

As for the villains we get Lee Pace as the main baddie, the psychotic Ronan The Accuser, and former Doctor Who assistant Karen Gillian as Nebula his right hand woman. Between them they don’t make things easy for the Guardians and get lots of good fight scenes and plenty of boo-hiss moments to get you rooting for their comeuppance. Also one of my favourite bits of the movie is Ronan’s reaction to Peter’s interesting attempts at distraction. How Pace did not crack up during filming I don’t know.

It’s a movie which on paper probably looks mad, and it is but that doesn’t make Guardians any less enjoyable. In fact it’s to be commended for being a bit different to its other Marvel siblings. Plus any film that mentions the awesomeness of Footloose and Kevin Bacon has my vote.

Rating 4/5 – give the crazy lesser known heroes a try and I guarantee you’ll be hooked, and if nothing else it’s the best movie featuring a talking raccoon this year!

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Solstice (2008)

I swear since having Netflix I seem to spend more time watching bad movies than I ever used to. Even the Syfy channel gives me more amusing movies.  Solstice is an American supernatural horror that’s a remake of Danish thriller Midsummer and was also directed by Daniel Myrick the director of The Blair Witch Project.

A few months after Megan’s twin sister Sophie (both played by Elisabeth Harnois) commits suicide she goes to a Lake House with her friends to celebrate the Solstice. But Megan soon starts to notice weird things happening. Is her sister trying to contact her from the dead?

Sometimes a film can be so boring you don’t have much to say about it. It isn’t bad enough to be entertaining in the Sharknado-type-mould-at least that film is intentionally bad which makes it kind of good. Whereas this horror movie doesn’t even have the decency to suck really badly. It just goes through various horror tropes without any originality and practically nothing happens for the entire movie and when it does you barely care anymore.

On a personal note being a twin I was really annoyed by how this movie (and lots of films in general) portrays twins. It is really irritating hearing how twins are one half of the same soul or whatever bullshit (although my family likes to joke that I only have half a brain). I like to think I have my own soul thank you very much. Also the main character whines about how much she misses her dead twin and then goes and sleeps with said dead twin’s ex-boyfriend! Ew! I would definitely haunt my twin if she did that to me.

Unless you have some enjoyment from watching mildly recognisable stars of teen tv and films I’d leave this film well alone.

Rating 1/5 -unless you’re looking for a cure for insomnia stay well clear

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