Monthly archives "March 2014"

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: *****

Captain-America-2-Scarlet-Johansson-Black-Widow-Chris-EvansRun Time: 136 mins         Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Steve Rogers (Evans) uncovers a conspiracy involving S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap must race against time in order to save the world.

 

The weakest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe returns and ends up being the biggest surprise of the franchise so far.

 

Community Directors Joe and Anthony Russo’s have concocted an interesting premise for a superhero movie. One part tense 1970s influenced political thriller and one part overblown effect filled fantasy blockbuster. It should not work but somehow it does.

 

The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is clearly influenced by political films including Three Days of the Condor or All the Presidents Men. Three Days of the Condor. The story is more character based than previous superhero movies.

 

By doing this Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, are given far more to do this time around and are not just action piece set ups. Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon is a welcome addition and provides many of the more humorous moments.

 

While Robert Redford is clearly having fun in his role. Where the film is letdown is by the one dimensional and forgettable bad guy The Winter Soldier. Evans is also far more likeable and not as annoying as he was in The First Avenger.

 

The action scenes are gripping and tense with thrilling car chases, well choreographed fight sequences.

 

If this is what Marvel has planned for future movies, then we can all look forward to more intelligent superhero movies for years to come.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Muppets Most Wanted: ****

Muppets-Most-Wanted-3Run Time: 113 mins         Cert: U

 

Synopsis: The Muppets go on a European tour with agent Dominic Badguy (Gervais). As soon as they arrive Kermit has been kidnapped and replaced with  criminal mastermind , Constantine who looks like, but does not act like our favourite green amphibian. 

After a fantastic comeback, the Muppets are back again for a sequel, although as Dr Bunsen Honeydew states that “technically our seventh”.

 

Similar to The Muppets, the screenwriters have used a tried and tested idea. While the last film was saving the theatre, this one uses a plot similar to the best muppet film The Great Muppet Caper by using a jewel heist storyline. They have also added an additional character in a Kermit the frog doppelgänger Constantine, who has all the best lines and is incredibly funny.
The script does suffer a little from being crammed with too may ideas and plot-lines that it is sometimes difficult to follow what is going on. There are also many famous or in some cases not so famous faces making cameos that it takes away some of the Muppet magic. Saying that the Christoph Waltz sequence is inspired.

 

The Human characters are a mixed bag. Tina Fey’s silly prison guard, Nadya feels very underused and unnecessary within the story. Ty Burrell has really great chemistry with Sam the Eagle and have some great gags. While Ricky Gervais surprises with an energetic fun performance as constantine’s sidekick Dominic Badguy. He is clearly having the time of his life singing and dancing with Muppets and it feels infectious.

 

Songwriter Bret McKenzie returns with more toe tapping songs with ‘We’re Doing a Sequel’ and ‘Cockatoo in Malibu’ being the highlights. Not all the songs are as memorable as the ones from the last feature, but they are good nevertheless.

 

Director James Bobin throws everything at the screen in terms of gags and visuals and anyone who is a muppet fan will not be disappointed. It may not be as good as The Muppets, but it is by no means a disaster.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Under the Skin: *****

under-the-skinRun Time: 108mins         Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: A beautiful mysterious  woman (Johansson) drifts across Scotland, seeking men for dark encounters, before questioning the purpose of her existence.

 

Odd, disturbing, bizarre, captivating, experimental and totally hypnotic. Jonathan Glazer’s long anticipated adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel is a unique piece of filmmaking and is unlike anything that has been seen in the past few years.

 

Johansson is bewitching in the lead role which is completely improvised. Her performance entails wearing a black wig and red lipstick, while driving a van rigged with hidden cameras in which she approaches real members of the public. It has hard to think of an actress of her calibre and appearance that would approach a role and project like this.

 

The narrative focuses only on the point of view from this outsider, which makes the viewer feel like their the alien as we find it hard to understand what compels this creature to do what she does. It is only when she starts to question her existence and her own sense of humanity that we start to understand this complex individual.

 

Glazer appears to be heavily influenced by The Man Who Fell to Earth, not only in imagery but also in the whole composition with high pictured string siren like sounds and pale toned colourisation.

 

Anyone expecting a Hollywood science fiction thriller will be disappointed. The film is an amazing piece of filmmaking that will make the audience think and decipher for a long time to come, which makes this a rewarding unmissable masterpiece.
 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Sarah’s Room: ****

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Run Time: 94mins                  Cert: N/A
 

Synopsis: When Joe (O’Brien) returns home after being away, he finds that his wife (Colquhoun) has taken in a mysterious lodger( Stanbridge). Is this stranger playing tricks on him or is he slowly going mad.

 

After spending over 10 years in the camera department on movies such as Cloud Atlas, World War & Under the Skin, Grant McPhee makes a giant leap into making his directing debut. Originally entitled ‘To Here Knows When’ this psychedelic ambient drama was filmed over five days at the cost of £4,000.

 

The first thing to notice in this remarkable film is the stunning cinematography. With blinding flashes and quick cuts, the film has a classic 70’s feel to each frame. In fact the piece has the look that is reminiscent of Donald Cammell, Dario Argento and Nice Roeg.

 

The performances of the stellar cast bring extra life to the film. After a fantastic turn in the horror Outcast Hannah Stanbridge shows that she is one of Scotland’s unique talents. Not to be outdone both newcomers Patrick O’Brien gives a powerful and sympathetic performance as Joe, while Colquhoun gives an emotional and compelling performance as his wife who is stuck in the middle of both sides of the situation.

 

The narrative of the story is complex and has many elements going on within the story. None of which are ever fully explained or revealed to the audience. Sadly this is where the film is letdown. While many movies from the 70’s followed this rule, they at least detailed one of story strands. There is nothing wrong with making a narrative ambiguous, but it just takes too many turns making the journey far too confusing to an audience.

 

Overall McPhee’s debut is a stunning piece of filmmaking, with memorable performances. It is hard to believe that a film of this calibre was made with such a small budget and in such a short amount of time. Everyone involved in this production should be incredibly proud of their achievements.

Reviewed by Paul Logan