Monthly Archives: August 2013

Bachelorette

Bachelorette is an American black comedy film. Three twenty-something friends  Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher) and Gena (Lizzy Caplan) are together for their school friend Becky’s (Rebel Wilson) wedding. Seething with resentment and jealousy the girls accidentally ruin Becky’s dress. Now they only have one night to fix the dress and turn up in time for Becky’s wedding.

The film is trying to cash in on the success of Bridesmaids. In theory there are some good ideas and characters here but the execution mostly falls flat. Unlike Bridesmaids the characters are not  likeable or funny enough to really root for.The main problem is the film is just not laugh our loud funny. There are parts that make you smile to yourself but not howling with laughter.

The actresses try their best in the roles. Dunst looks like she’s having a ball playing someone as bitchy and insecure as Regan, Fisher has the funniest moments as drugged up and ditzy Katie, while Caplan does show moments of vulnerability behind her character’s bitter and hard exterior. We see hints of what has made them the damaged individuals they are today but it feels wrapped up too quickly by the end and never explored fully enough. Also I can’t forgive a film which casts Rebel Wilson and then sidelines her as extensively as this. However the scenes she is in shows a soft, vulnerable side to her that we haven’t seen much of in her previous films.

The men is this film are also not that interesting. James Marsden looks like he’s having fun as the obnoxious Trevor but he really is a one note character. Kyle Borheimer is the most likeable of the guys as small time dealer Joe who has strong, protective feelings of Katie. The film is also unsure over whether Gena’s ex boyfriend Clyde is a nice guy who just made some bad choices in the past or a real douche that Gena should just forget about.

Bachelorette is not a terrible film, and does have its funny moments, mostly due to the talented cast it somehow assembled but its perhaps one that would be funnier on DVD rather than the cinema.

Rating 2/5-harmless enough but the cast deserve better than this

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We’re The Millers

Jennifer Aniston has been in plenty of so-so ‘comedies’ since she left friends nearly 10 years ago. Only The Good Girl really sticks in the mind as being a decent film (although she did a good villain role in Horrible Bosses). So how does her latest comedy add up?

David (Jason Sudeikis) is a small time marijuana drug dealer who through a series of mishaps owes a big amount of money to his boss-a drug lord. To clear his dept he needs to smuggle a big supply of marijuana from Mexico into the US. To evade suspicion he decides to enlist a fake family in a RV so hopefully no-one will look twice at him. So he gets his neighbour stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), geeky teen Kenny (Will Poulter), and runaway Casey (Emma Roberts) to pose as his wife and two children. What can go wrong? Plenty it seems.

At last Aniston is in a film that’s actually meant to be funny! Ok it may not be a comedy classic but We’re The Millers provides enough laugh out loud moments to pass the time amiably enough. Sudeikis and Aniston have great banter as the bickering neighbours who maybe have more affection for each other than they care to admit. Their scenes with a another camping family are great, especially during a misguided game of dictionary. Aniston looks like she’s having more fun in this film then she has in a dozen of her so-called rom-coms. Emma Roberts clearly also enjoys playing the bad girl role delivering her snappy one liners with relish.

Brit Will Poulter steals many scenes as the awkward but well-meaning teenager Kenny, whether its singing along to TLC’s Waterfalls or the scene where a spider bites his….well I won’t spoil the surprise. Its his performance you’ll remember when the film is over-and when a film has a heavily advertised Jennifer Aniston stripping scene you know you have a future star on your hands.

Ah the stripping scene, featured heavily in the film’s promotion and a reason, I suspect, many guys (and some girls) will happily watch this film. Well Jennifer Aniston does look great. Is it really needed in the film? That’s probably something to be discussed in a different post. At least I found it amusing the way they try to make Rose’s stripping an important plot point (cause you can’t have a character needlessly stripping, no its a way to save her ‘family’ of course!).

Rating 3.5/5- I’d happily go on another holiday with the Millers!

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The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman is back with the latest in the X-Men franchise and the second of his stand alone films. Surely it has to be better the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine? As it really can’t get much worse.

The Wolverine starts with our hero isolated and alone with only his dreams about his dead love Jean for company. Then he is approached by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant girl who can forsee people’s deaths. Logan once saved her employer Yashida’s life many years ago and wants to thank him on his death bed. Once in Japan Logan finds that Yashida wants to do more than thank him as he offers to take away Logan’s immortality and live a normal life. Things get more complicated when mysterious men try to kidnap Yahida’s grandaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto)  and her and Logan end up on the run.

First things first. Yes this movie is so much better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The story is base on the comic mini series Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller and the change of location to Japan helps rejuvinate the Wolverine. Logan is placed in a country where he relearns about respect and honour and finds his purpose again.

The Wolverine is more of a personal stand alone story. There is some references to Jean Grey and other parts of the X-Men franchise but  rather than the mutant overload in Origins, Wolverine  himself is the main focus of this story and doesn’t get overwhelmed by a mix of new characters.

Some audiences may want a bit less brooding and personal discovery and more action but I think this film does a good balance. There is a great chase scene through Japan’s streets and nail biting sequence on top of a train. It helps that this film feels like there is something at stake here. Logan has been made vulnerable due to Viper’s meddling so there is a sense of threat that hasn’t been there before, every wound he gets will slow him down which could have fatal consequences.

The supporting characters also feel like they have more of a purpose this time around. Rather than shoehorning in lots of characters from the X-Men comics the film is more selective. The female characters in this film are great. Mariko initally comes off rather passive and dull but she improves as the film continues and even kicks some ass as well. She also makes a good counterpoint to Logan. She is reserved and calm where Logan is full of anger and passion. She serves as a reminder that there are other things to live for in this world and of the good Logan can still do. Even better is Yukio, who manages to be a badass and be the fun sidekick to Logan’s surly hero. She also brings an emotional edge as her power is to forsee other people’s deaths.

Svetlana Khodchenkova as Villianess Viper is campy and fun, with a bit of a grusome body hrror when she starts peeling off her own skin. Although I liked Will Yun Lee as Kenuichio Harada, an old friend of Mariko and deadly with an arrow I felt he was underused and his character not explored enough.  

Considering it is so much better than Origins it would be easy to forget the film’s downsides but they can’t be forgotten. First off it’s eays to figure out who the villians are. The main twists of the film can also be worked out pretty quickly. Although the film’s climatic scenes are good they also go a bit over the top and jar a bit with the rest of the film.

However while it may not reach the heights of Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel, it is still a fun blockbuster with a great performance by Jackman. Japan seems to suit the Wolverine well so lets hope he manages to make more visits back East.

Rating 3.5/5-A vast improvement on Origins, which is all I could have hoped for.

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Monsters University

After 12 years  the characters we all loved from Monsters Inc are back! This time Pixar has given us a prequel to the previous film so we can see how Mike and Sulley became the monsters we know and love.

So Mike Wazowski (brilliantly voiced by Billy Crystal) is determined to get his dream job and become a scarer, however despite his intense studying he’s just not that scary. When he goes to Monsters University to studying scaring he comes into conflict with the naturally gifted but lazy and arrogant Sulley (John Goodman). Will the two be able to graduate and become friends or will they flunk out and never reach their dreams?

Well, this being a prequel we know how some aspects of this story will work out, so there isn’t much tension to be had. Nevertheless Monsters University is such fun you probably won’t linger on these small details.

Mike is as funny and loveable as he was in the first film, and Sully…well he’s a bit of a douche. Which is a shame as I wanted the more likeable Sully that we know and love. But this is all about character developement, so we get to see how his friendship with Mike changes the way he behaves and treat others.

There are so many fun characters in the film its impossible to have any favourites but theres plenty of monsters old and new to enjoy. Helen Mirren’s Professor Hardscrabble is appropriatly terrifying and stern, a great foil for our heros to contend with. And the Oozma Kappa team that Mike and Sully end up with are a thoroughly enjoyable bunch of losers who soon prove their worth. Its also good to see Randall (Steve Buscemi) showing up as Mike’s college roommate!

Monsters University is a good film, but its not a brilliant one like Pixar’s other films including Monsters Inc. Toy Story had amazing sequels whereas Cars 2 was just as boring as its predocessor. With Finding Dory on the way it doesn’t seem like spin-off features will be going anytime soon. But I miss the original stories Pixar gives us, and I hope they go back to them soon. However this film is closer in quality to Toy Story 2 and 3 rather than Cars 2. And the short film The Blue Umbrella is wonderful. So Pixar is still in my good books…for now.

Rating 3.5/5- Great viewing for both kids and adults although not quite Pixar at its best

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Side By Side

Side by Side is 2012 American documentary directed by Christopher Kenneally and produced by Keanu Reeves.

The documentary examines the history of photochemical film and digital filmmaking. It then goes into a debate of which format is superior with interviews from different sides of the filmmaking process.

I have to say the merits of film verses digital is something I have never thought about while watching a movie. What could have been a documentary with a potentially limited audience is actually an engaging debate that should be seen by anyone who enjoys watching movies (i.e. everyone).

I was worried I would not be technical enough to understand the subject but the documentary explains simply to the audience the history and the differences between the two while discussing the positive and negative virtues of each medium. The film is narrated by Keanu Reeves who also interviews the world’s best filmmakers and their teams on the subject. There are contributions from directors, cinematographers, editors, colorists etc who give their opinion on which format they prefer to use and why. It’s interesting to see which filmmakers prefer film to digital and vice verse (Christopher Nolan is for film, David Fincher for Digital). You also get to see their passion for all aspects of filmmaking and why they feel their side is right for filmaking.

As well as explaining the process of both film and digital creation, we go into the history of both and examine how they will both progress in the future. Filmakers may prefer one process over another but can their limitations and drawbacks be ignored for long?

The film constantly had me changing my opinions on which side I was on. At first I was on the side of film then switch to digital and found myself constantly gone back and forward between the two. In the end I agree with the movie’s final comment which states if a story is good it doesn’t matter which format it’s on. Although I’m sure that won’t stop any further arguments on the topic.

Rating 4/5-A fantastic documentary that gives the causal moviegoer an insight into the filmaking process

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The Conjuring

Saw director James Wan takes us back to the 70s in this supernatural horror.

I know a lot of horror films are based on a true story but the lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren have been widely reported (their most famous case being the one that inspired The Amityville Horror). The Warren’s are a happily married couple who are also paranormal investigators. We follow them as they receive a new case involving the Perron family who have just moved into a new house where creepy things start happening to them and their five daughters.

Before I get on to my review of the film I have to mention three peices of advise I would give to people if they encounter creepy/supernatural things:

1) If you have a creppy doll (as featured in an unrelated story at the beginning of the film) don’t allow a ghost possess it.

2)If your dog will not come into your house, even when manhandled maybe you should have second thoughts about moving in to your new house.

3) If someone has gone to the effort of boardering up a cellar perhaps you should leave well alone and not go in it!

But what would a horror film be without people doing stupid things?

Playing the supernaturally gifted Warren’s are Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson.  The actors play their parts well and do their best to ground these characters into reality, considering the world they surround themselves in. Whether you believe their gifts or not, their story is fascinating and Farmiga and Wilson make the Warrens seem likeable and relatively normal under the circumstances. Lesser actors would probably have hamed up the parts considerably more.

The Perron family are sympathatic and played by capable actors. The film also comes up with reaosns as to why they can’t simply move out of their house, both for economical and supernatural reasons.

The film is constantly scary, bearly letting up for you to have time to  breathe. There are quieter moments, such as seeing the Warren at home discussing their  lives, but for the most part every scene is a set up for scares. Most of these consisted of jump scares, but these are well timed and effectively done.

James Wan proves theres more to him than starting the Saw Franchise. He leaves behind the gore for more traditional scares and proves he doesn’t need dismembered body parts to scare an audience.  Just simple technqies like ringing bells, hands clapping and loud banging can do the trick just as well.

The Warren family have a room full of cursed objects in their house and if this film is a success I think we could be having another look at the Warren’s case files.

Rating 4/5- What it lacks in orginality it more than makes up for in genuine scares!

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The 12th Doctor

Finally after months of speculation Doctor Who has revealed its 12th Doctor as Peter Capaldi. Capaldi is best known from BBC’s The Thick of It (and it’s spin off film  In The Loop). Capaldi has also been part of the Whoniverse before in the Doctor Who episode The Fires of Pompei (alongside Karen Gillian before she was cast as the Doctor’s assistant Amy Pond) and Torchwood: Children of Earth.

So although its not a radical casting (will we ever get a black doctor or even a female doctor?), he is a different type of actor to Matt Smith. So what will 12th be like? First impressions seem to be that he won’t be as silly or phsyical as Smith’s, but he will strike you down with one look or a clever put down. For me he certianly has the claught to deal with the comedic and dramatic elements the role provides.

So what do you think? Was it the right choice? Who should have been the Doctor? What will his costume be like (no bow ties I hope)?

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