Tag Archives: James Franco

Your Highness

Crude, rude and probably made for teenage boys (or those who have minds like ones 😉 ), Your Highness is a comedy/fantasy film that was widely criticised on its release in 2011. Does it deserve its bad reputation?

The film follows  lazy and obnoxious Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride) who lives in the shadow of his brave and dashing brother Prince Fabious (James Franco). When Fabious’ bride Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux) Thadous joins his brother to rescue Belladonna. Can Thadous proves theres more to him than his cowardly personna?

The film tries to mix stoner comedy with The Princess Bride. However while that film is a classic fairytale comedy Your Highness  thinks throwing in swear words or dick jokes will get enough cheap laughs to make the audience happy. Unfortunatly the film’s greatest sin is not it’s  use of crude language to get laughs but that it’s jokes are just not funny.

The film’s greatest pull is the supporting actors. James Franco and Natalie Portman (as female warrior Isabel) play their roles straight and look like they are having a ball playing these characters. Its  a shame that the film focuses on Thadeous as its protagonist as he’s the least interesting character in the film. Its hard to care about a character so odious and annoying, and he’s not amusing enough for us to enjoy his exploits on the adventure.

I’m sure it was fun for the actors to film. If only I was having as much fun watching it.

Rating 1/5-avoid this film and watch The Princess Bride instead for a proper fantasy/comedy.

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Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers is a crime thriller drama about four college girls who do robberies to pay for their spring break vacation. It’s all booze, drugs and guys. Then they land in jail and have to be bailed out by wannabe rapper Alien (James Franco) who makes the girls an offer they should probably refuse. But where would the film be if this happened?

The four girls in question are former Disney teen queens Vanessa Hudgen and Selena Gomez, star of teen drama Pretty Little Liars Ashley Benson and the director’s wife Rachel Korine. Presumably they are all in this film so they can be seen as ‘edgy’ and ‘adult’. Are they successful? Partly. This film will open them up to different audiences who wouldn’t be seen dead watching their fluffier stuff, and who knows maybe they will be offered more roles off the back of this film.

So what’s my issue with it? I have no problems with the girls trying to throw off their good girl images to avoid being typecast but I wish the film had given them more to stretch their acting. It feels a lot more effort went into their bikinis than making them all three dimensional characters. To be fair Selena Gomez does well in her role as Faith, a good girl with a religious background (hence the name Faith-subtle) which is in direct conflict to the activities of her more adventurous friends Candy (Hudgen), Brit (Benson) and Cotty (Korine). The others don’t really have a personality between them, which is a shame as they all seem capable of more if they were given something to work with.

Lack of development for the girls is what stops this being a great film instead of an ok one. Spring Breakers is fun while you’re watching it. It’s easy to get swept up in the excess on screen and I didn’t feel my attention waver from the screen. Besides Gomez the other actor that stands out is James Franco, who looks like he’s having a ball as rapper/criminal Alien.

I just get the sense that the film thinks having former teen stars’ behaving badly is more shocking than it really is? Isn’t this just the route most former child stars/Disney actors go down once they grow up? The girls look fantastic in their bikinis and do good with what they are given, but I like to think that they will go on to bigger and better roles that will show us what they’re really capable of.

 Rating 3/5-a fun film filled with hot girls but don’t go looking for anything deeper or you’ll be disappointed

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Oz The Great and Powerful

I loved The Wizard of Oz film. The music. The colour. Judy Garland. The Wicked Witch of the West. It reminds me of childhood. The scenes where Dorothy leaves Kansas-signified in black and white- and steps out into the Technicolor world of Oz is one of my favourite cinematic moments ever.

So it’s fair to say that this prequel had a lot to live up to. Expectations are high all around and with a budget of 200 million dollars this film needs to entice the audience who holds The Wizard of Oz fiercely in their hearts.

The story revolves around a con man named Oscar (James Franco), who is a magician in a circus travelling through Kanas. While trying to escape from some people he has wronged he finds himself in a hot air balloon which-due to a tornado-takes him to Oz. There he is believed to be part of a prophecy he will be the powerful wizard who will rule the kingdom and defeat the evil witch. Can this selfish man become a hero? And which witch is the wicked witch?

At first Oscar is a difficult man to like, which is kind of the point. It does make it hard in the beginning to warm to the character or care about his journey in Oz. However Oscar (and Franco) soon won me round. This is in part due to Franco’s performance and the camaraderie he has with his new friends. He has good banter with flying monkey Finley (Zach Braff) and China Girl (Joey King).

As for the witches poor Mila Kunis is left with an underdeveloped role of Theodora. I didn’t buy her character’s transformation from naive but good hearted girl; to full on wickedness. She also isn’t scary like the original character was which is shame as Kunis is a capable actress and deserves more to work with.  The other two witches Glinda (Michelle Williams) and Endora (Rachel Weisz) fare better. Weisz seems to relish the chance to go full on evil, while Williams manages to ground a character that is basically pure goodness personified. She comes across noble and brave without crossing over into bland or boring. She also has a nice, gentle chemistry with Franco.

There are some nice nods to the original film (such as having Kanas shot in black and white). It’s a treat for fans to spot the references without getting distracted from the plot. It may not be at the same level as the original film and (like most films these days) feels too long and drags in some scenes.

Rating 3/5-It may not be a classic but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable prequel. Which is more than I could have hoped for.

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