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10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane Pic

When a new trailer for a film titled 10 Cloverfield Lane was dropped unexpectedly a few months ago, audiences were left wondering if this was a sequel to 2008 found footage monster movie Cloverfield, or just a marketing ploy to get people to see the movie? Either way what really matters is whether it’s any good?

After being hit in a car accident Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up to find herself in an bunker with a man named Howard (John Goodman) telling her that a nuclear attack has destroyed the outside world and the air is filled with radiation. So they must stay inside the bunker. Can she trust what he says or is the real danger inside the bunker?

This is one of those movies where you have to be careful what you say in order to avoid spoilers. But what I will say is that 10 Cloverfield Lane is a tightly constructed thriller that makes good use of its limited sets and cast. The enclosed space of the bunker makes the action even more claustrophobic and tense.

With three principal cast members in the bunker the tension derives from the dynamics of the characters. Mary Elizabeth Winestead makes for a capable and resourceful heroine while John Goodman switches from creepy to funny effortlessly. While John Gallagher Jr provides some light relief as the easy going Emmett.

The film is less a direct sequel to Cloverfield and more of a spiritual successor. This may disappoint some people who were hoping for more a follow up to the previous movie. At times the Cloverfield connection does feels tacked on (probably as a result of the original script having no connection with Cloverfield at all). And while I liked the ending I think it may prove divisive with audiences.

Rating 3.5/5 – an exciting and thrilling enclosed space mystery

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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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The Hangover Part 3

The Wolfpack return for part three of the world’s longest hangover. Strangely enough the film doesn’t revolve around an actual hangover. Probably to avoid the same criticisms as the second film did, which repeated several plot points of the original.

The third outing starts with the Wolfpack trying to help Alan (Zach Galifianakis) cope with the death of his father. He’s off his meds and acting more strange than usual. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) conduct an intervention and concince Alan to go to a centre to recover. Along the way Doug is kidnapped by man named Marshall (John Goodman) so that the remaining Wolfpack can track down Chow (who it seems only Alan can reach) to track down the gold Chow stole from Marshall. If they fail, Doug dies.

The film starts off slow with Alan’s antics becoming more irratating than amusing. However the film picks up once the gang meets up with Chow. Ken Jeong (Senor Chang from the excellent  US TV series Community) is hilarious and steals many of the scenes he’s in.

Besides our heroes there are some familiar faces from the first film back again and a few memorable new ones. Goodman is great as the villian Marshall but it’s Melisa McCarthy’s cameo that’ll have most people talking. Her interactions with Alan are side splitting and also allows us to see a new, suave side to Alan (well sauve for Alan).

The film is given an extra boost when the the characters return to Las Vegas. It seems to help regenerate the characters giving them a new lease of life that was missing earlier in the film. Vegas looks awesome and the film uses it’s setting to their advantage, with a nailbiting scene featuring Alan and Phil on the roof of Caeser’s Palace.

The third part of the trilogy may not be quite as funny as the first film, and probably won’t make as much money as the second, but it drives the franchise to a natural conclusion and gives us a fond- hopefully final- farewell to the Wolfpack.

Rating 3/5

Stay in your seats for for the end credits for a scene which is both hysterical and wrong in so many ways.

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