Daily archives "July 5, 2011"

Rio ***

Running time: 95 mins  Certificate: U

Synopsis: A neurotic macaw, Blu(Eisenberg) moves from the comfort of his Minnesota home to Brazil in order to find a mate and save his species. But things go badly wrong when he and his new adventurous girlfriend Jewel (Hathaway) are stolen.

 

Yet another computer animated movie hits our screens this time from the team who brought us Ice Age, Blue Sky Studios. While it may not be of Pixar standard, the animators have created a fun, colourful and enjoyable movie.

There is nothing really special or original going on in this film. The story in itself is very generic and also very predictable. We have had several different incarnations of a protagonist not being able to do what they should be able to do , in this case a bird who cannot fly. It is a tried and tested formula that has worked before, so we can’t really blame the animators for playing it safe.

Where the film excels is in the voice-casting, the use of colour and the spectacular use of 3-D. The flying scenes especially are exhilarating and what the 3-D format is really made for. While Jesse Eisenberg is a really good choice for playing a talkative nervy freak. Anne Hathaway brings life to the dominant headstrong female macaw. But it is really Nigel, the smuggler’s evil cockatoo, played by Flight of the Conchord’s Jemaine Clement that steals the show. He has the best song and some cracking one liners.

Both kids and adults will enjoy this musical spectacle. While it may not have a strong story or as much of an emotional journey as other films in this genre, it is still delightful fun for all the family.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Sucker Punch **

Running time: 110 mins  Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: Babydoll (Browning) is sent to a mental institute for young women after attacking her evil stepfather with a gun and accidentally killing her younger sister in the process. She and four inmates plans to escape via the power of her imagination.

 

Zack Snyder returns with another visually stunning piece, it is a shame that there is no substance behind the striking images. This time he has conceived an original story, which was one described as Alice in Wonderland meets One Flew of the Cuckoo’s Nest. But not even Lewis Carroll himself could make sense of this nonsense.

The plot revolves around three aspects, the first being reality inside the institution. The next revolves around an alternate reality where the patients are now Burlesque dancers, while the chief guard is the one who owns the club. The final piece is based on fantasy elements, where the girls fight robots, zombies and dragons. In these elements there are many different genres  established ( War, Sci Fi, Western, Kung Fu).

This is where the problem lies, there are too many different things going on, with no real characterisation. Apart from the central character, there is nothing to differentiate the other girls. It feels that Snyder has nothing really to tell, as we go from one set piece to another. The clunky dialogue also does not help matters.

The soundtrack is full of different takes of popular songs, which works reasonably well with the action set-pieces. 

It is difficult to believe that something that looks striking can be so incredibly dull and lifeless. But all in all this basically is an overlong music video that outstays it’s welcome.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Source Code ****

Running time: 93 mins  Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: A former helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) is drafted as a test subject for a scientific experiment in time travel. Stevens repeatedly lives through the last eight minutes of the life of a passenger on a train which has just been destroyed by a terrorist bomb.

 

The last time Duncan Jones (aka Zowie Bowie) graced our screens was with his terrific debut Moon. The son of David returns with this clever and complex science fiction tale.

The story will be familiar to anyone who has watched Groundhog Day, Frequency or Deja Vu. The structure replays the same eight minutes before the train explodes. It also has elements of the classic 90’s series Quantum Leap, as Gyllenhaal’s character inhabits a complete stranger in order to complete his mission. Not to mention the cracking cameo that plays a pivotal part of the story.

While on the outside the structure of the script appears to have been cobbled together from different pieces of other films. However, the mechanics inside have been assembled with clever twists and turns that may need multiple views in order to fit the puzzle together. 

Jake Gyllenhaal has never had much luck in breaking out into the mainstream. Hopefully this movie will change things for him, as he gives passionate, powerful sympathetic performance to someone who knows just as much as the audience does. While his female co-stars Vera Farmiga  and Michelle Monaghan may have been given a limited amount of screen time, they are just as memorable giving extra depth to the character of Colter Stevens. But, Jeffrey Wright’s character seems a bit one dimensional and more of a bond villain than an quantum physicist. 

 Fun, exciting and intellectually stimulating. Why can’t all Hollywood blockbusters be like this?

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 

Hop ***

Running time: 94 mins  Certificate: U

Synopsis: Rebellious teen rabbit E.B. (Russell Brand) ditches Easter Island & goes to Hollywood to become a drummer. That is until he’s injured and unable to hop after being hit by a car driven by Fred (Marsden). Will the unlikely pair become friends and save Easter?


Over the years, movie goers have been ini-dated with Christmas movies. For some reason (only known to the studios), there have been very few Easter films, that may change with this live action feature mixed with animation.

These films can either succeed (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) or fail miserably (Yogi Bear). This one is almost successful and at times ingenious. The plot is pretty unoriginal and appears to have been lifted directly from The Santa Clause movies. In that Fred is someone who lacks commitment, until an alternative and unusual job choice comes up. Even the villain, goes the same route by trying to take over Easter Island. 

What brings this movie up to scratch is the voice-work and the animation. The characters are well designed and are very impressive, especially when reacting to real life objects. 

Brand is clearly having fun by making E.B. a wisecracking rabbit, that is more Bugs than Thumper. While Hank Azaria’s hilariously evil Easter chick Carlos almost steals the show with his performance. That is until The Hoff shows up. Unfortunately Marsden is given little to do, but to look extremely goofy.

Some of the gags are hit and miss, but how can anyone not laugh at a protagonist that craps candy. Crude some might say, but incredibly funny at the same time. There is enough here to keep both Adults and Kids entertained throughout.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Hall Pass **

Running time: 105 mins  Certificate: 15

Synopsis: Rick (Wilson) and Fred (Sudeikis) are granted a week’s hall pass from marriage by their wives. With the pass they set out to live out their sexual dreams.But will their marriages arrange this strange arrangement?

 

After delivering comedic gold with the movies Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary, the Farrelly Brothers were looking like the new Zucker brothers. Then came the misfires of Me, Myself & Irene, Shallow Hal and The Heartbreak Kid. Films which had a few good ideas, but outstayed their welcome. 

Unfortunately the Farrelly Brothers return to the big screen is just more of the same half baked ideas. The actual premise initially sounded quite promising and original. The problem is not really the idea, but more the actual script which seems to loose interest in the supporting characters which are almost forgotten about. Especially the wife characters feel very underdeveloped, when they should be essential to the plot.

The other problem is that the lead characters are not sympathetic or likeable enough. Jason Sudeikis is mildly amusing, while Owen Wilson is just plain annoying with his one tone delivery of the dialogue. Even Stephen Merchant role is treated as a mere cameo with no real purpose to the story.

With any Farrelly movie comes the gross out humour, which on the whole is quite funny. But there are not enough jokes adequate enough to stretch to the films over welcome running time. 

Sadly this was not the return to form, that audiences were all hoping for. Hopefully with the Farrelly’s version of The Three Stooges they can return to their former glories.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

The Adjustment Bureau ****

Running time: 106 mins  Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: Politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets dancer Elise (Emily Blunt) on election night. Months later, he encounters her again, but mysterious men in hats appear to want to keep them apart.

 

Yet another attempt into making a Philip K Dick short story into a movie. But for every Blade Runner or Total Recall, cinema audiences have had to endure the terrible adaptations of Impostor and Paycheck. It is a relief that this is one of the best since Minority Report to make it to the big screen.

The film is generally a romantic tale with a science fiction subplot. The story is quite slow too start off until it kicks into the second act in which the film becomes something entirely different and similar to last year’s Inception. Although unlike that film there are some gaping plot holes into the rules of The Adjustment Bureau’s world. It brings up more questions than answers.

The action is compelling and exciting. The chase scenes using doors as gateways to different locations in particular are very cleverly engineered. Almost like a real world version of Monsters Inc. The overall look of the film is very stylised and slick noir feel to the movie.

Both Damon and Blunt have excellent chemistry together and It is easy to believe that they are head over heels in love with each other. The dialogue is sharp and witty and drives the story. While John Slattery, Anthony Mackie and Terrance Stamp roles as the mysterious men of The Adjustment Bureau are intriguing. As each member of the Bureau has a different personality, which makes it easier to remember them by.

While there may be some issues with narrative, it is a fun, surreal and sci-fi flick. The reason why the film works is due to the relationship between the central characters which is engaging and charming. 

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Paul ***

Running time: 103 mins  Certificate: 15

Synopsis: Graeme (Pegg) & Clive (Frost) are two sci-fi geeks on a road trip of the US. They pick up an unexpected companion – an alien called Paul (Rogen), who asks the friends to help him on his way back home. But Government agents are soon on their trail.

 

After Edgar Wright showed the world he could make a brilliant if not financially successful film in America, it is now the turn of his old mates Frost and Pegg.

While Scott Pilgrim feels like a creative movie without studio interference, this has the opposite effect in that it appears to be very safe and audience friendly. There are no creative camera moves or obscure actors making cameos. This film has static shots and a who’s who of old and new American comedy stars making appearances.

The effects are good, especially the CGI of the main character, which could have gone horribly wrong. The choice of Rogen as Paul seems an inspired choice and fits well with the character 

The plot while fun and amusing feels very formulaic. It is in essence basically another movie where an alien is trying to get back home before the authorities capture them. Except with a few more crude jokes. Although, The jokes never seem to hit the highs that we have become accustomed to in the duo’s previous films.

Frost and Pegg have basically made a wet dream to Spielberg with a road movie that is heavily influenced by the great Beard’s earlier works. But, at the end of the day this movie could have been so much more. Instead of being something hysterically funny with an original plot, it has sadly ended up being an entertaining amusing comedy.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Rango ****


Running time: 107 mins  Certificate: PG

Synopsis: A pet lizard (Johnny Depp) falls out of a car in the desert, and becomes a sheriff in the town of Dirt. Dirt’s water-supply is controlled by a turtle mayor (Ned Beatty) and his gang. Rango must uncover the conspiracy, before the community will be destroyed forever.

 

Gore Verbinski has re-teamed with his old Pirate pal to make a CGI animated movie like no other. But unlike previous efforts this is definitely more aimed at an adult audience. In fact it could easily be described as Pixar on acid.

The animation developed and brought to life by effects house ILM is absolutely breathtaking. They have even managed to bring on veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins as a consultant for the lighting. 

The composition is made up from motion capture performances by the actors. It is quite ironic that after years of Depp giving chameleon like turns, he actually gets to become one. This may also be his best performance in years giving lots of emotion and expression to a rather odd looking character.

The story appears to have been lifted from the classic movie Chinatown. Even the mayor character is a deliberate reference to John Huston’s character in the same picture.

The film is full of film references mainly old Western movies. The Spirt of the West is clearly Clint Eastwood in The Man With N Name role, while Bill Nighy’s villain Rattlesnake Jake is based on a mixture of Lee Van Cleef and Jack Palance.  Even Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo make an appearance are the start. 

Mix all these ingredients with a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Los Lobos and the end result is one of the best CGI animated films ever made. While the story may not be original, the look of the characters and the overall visual images make this something very special.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

True Grit *****

Running time: 110 mins  Certificate: 15

Synopsis: After a hired hand Tom Chaney (Brolin) kills her father and flees, 14 year-old Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) hires a one-eyed, tough, heavy-drinking U.S. Marshall, Reuben J. ˜Rooster” Cogburn (Bridges). They are joined by La Boeuf (Damon), a Texas Ranger on their manhunt.

 

When the Coen Bros. announced that they would be tackling another remake, there was a fear that the end result would turn out to be another Ladykillers. By attempting something that is widely regarded, it was a big gamble. But thankfully it has paid off in many ways.

John Wayne’s memorable performance of Rooster was always going to be intimidating for any actor to try to live up to. But Bridges has made the role his own, even giving more expression to what was let’s be honest a one dimensional performance from the Duke himself. 

Damon also excels, but this would not be hard given his role was last performed by the wooden Country singer, Glen Campbell. While Hailey Steinfeld is just astonishing, it is hard to think not only that it is her movie debut, but that she is only fourteen years old. The supporting roles from the fantastic Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper should also be mentioned as the main villains of the film.

The scenery is breathtakingly shot by Roger Deakins who blends the landscapes with a mixture of blacks, browns and greens, very little colour is presented. While Carter Burwell’s gospel influenced soundtrack will keep audiences tapping their feet throughout.

The script is witty, dramatic, powerful and oozes with delicious dialogue that only the auteurs can write. 

The Coens’ have done it again with another masterpiece. In fact they may have outdone themselves this time. By sticking with Charles Portis’, they have made a remake that is far superior to the original in every way. This is as close any cinemagoer can wish for in terms of perfection.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Neds ****

Running time: 124 mins  Certificate: 18

Synopsis: A clever Glaswegian teenager John (Conor McCarron) has to grows up in the shadow of his thug of an older brother and an alcoholic father. It is not long before he swaps the classroom for violent streets of the city.

It has been a long time since Peter Mullan made the gripping Magdalene Sisters and his latest effort does not disappoint.

The Scottish director turned star has made a gripping, tense dramatic piece, that is far more violent than his previous film or Orphans. It captures the setting of the 70’s perfectly, with bright colours, bold fashions and Glam Rock. But it is in the acting the film really excels.

Everyone in the film is exceptional, impressive since most of the actors are amateurs and have never even been in front of a camera. It is raw naturalistic acting at it’s finest. Everyone plays their part and is equally memorable. McCarron’s powerful portrayal of a teenager who has lost his way is one of the best debut performances in recent years.

The suffers a little due to it’s length, the ending especially feels like a last minute decision made by the director even although it is an intriguing way to finish a film.

In a perfect world, it would be this British effort that would be sweeping the award ceremonies instead of a damp Royal effort. Hopefully in time, this will become more praised. 

Reviewed by Paul Logan