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Newsreel (W/e 17 February 2013)

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Sandra Bullock will voice the villain in Illumination Entertainment’s Minions, to be released on Friday, Dec 19, 2014.

 

Amanda Seyfried joins the cast of Seth MacFarlane’s western comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West.

 

Robert Downey Jnr. has picked up the rights to adapt an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, The Entire History Of You.

 

Ahmet Zappa set to reinterpret Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist into a new movie called Dodge & Twist.

 

Albert Brooks is set to return to voice Marlin in the sequel to Finding Nemo.

 

Hugh Laurie is in talks to play the villain in Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland.

 

Chris Hemsworth and Michael Mann are teaming up for a new untitled thriller.

 

Terence Stamp may star in Anchorman: The Legend Continues.

 

Rumour has it that Harrison Ford is returning as Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode VII.

 

A Good Day To Die Hard at the top of the U.S. box-office..

Newsreel (W/e 10th February 2013)

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Johnny Depp is to star in crime thriller Black Mass as Boston’s most notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger & directed by Barry Levinson.

 

Star Trek Into Darkness will open on 3D IMAX screens two days before its May 17 wide release.

 

Marvel are planning more Hulk movies for phase 3.

 

Kristen Wiig joins the cast for Anchorman: The Legend Continues.

 

Parks & Recreation & Zero Dark Thirty star Chris Pratt will play Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

 

Sean Bean is set to join the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending.

 

Stacy Keach is the main villain in Sin City: A Dame to Kill.

 

Christopher McQuarrie set to be the director of MISSION: Impossible 5.

 

Twentieth Century Fox Film is rebooting Hitman with Paul Walker in a movie to be titled Agent 47.

 

Michael Keaton joins the cast of DreamWorks’ video game adaptation, Need for Speed.

 

Death of a President director Gabriel Range is to direct Lust For Life, a biopic about the creative partnership of David Bowie & Iggy Pop.

 

Pete Docter’s new Pixar animated movie to be called Inside Out.

 

Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis is looking to be in the remake of Annie.

 

Simon Pegg & Nick Frost join the cast of the stop-motion animated movie The Boxtrolls.

 

The Identity Thief has no problems stealing the No 1 position at the U.S. box-office.

Lincoln ****

Lincoln

Running Time: 150 mins Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: An account of Abraham Lincoln’s (Day-Lewis) plan to sway the House Of Representatives and pass the 13th Amendment, which will outlaw slavery, but will it have reprecussions on his mission to end the war.

 

Spielberg revisits the theme of freedom and slavery after the disjointed and disappointing Amistad, with an epic film that is more rewarding. But do expect another War Horse or Saving Private Ryan as there are very few battle scenes with most of the carnage and destruction being displayed long after the civil war battles have ended.

 

The message is clear from the outset that nothing good comes out of wars, but ultimately talking can be more powerful than a gun. In a funny way this is what both the director have done for this movie with a though provoking ambitious drama with great dialogue. The discussions are never boring and are mostly enlightening.

 

This partly the problem with the biopic is the script is too dense and is full of detail, which at times feels a little confusing and hard to follow. Multiple characters are constantly established only to be forgotten. Tony Kushner’s script seems like it would have been better suited for the stage than the screen.

 

The acting is sublime with James Spader and John Hawkes bring much needed comedy to the proceedings. Tommy Lee Jones plays the likeable, but gruff opponent to Lincoln. Sally Field tries her best with an underwritten part, but she is ultimately forgettable.

 

But the scene stealer is the man himself. After a few minutes it is hard to believe that the person on screen is not Lincoln. Day Lewis absorbs the role like a chameleon, with his slow southern drawl and stooped posture.

 

Spielberg has made thought provoking epic with stunning photography, beautifully written dialogue and outstanding performances. It may be a bit talky for some, but given a chance audiences will find a hidden gem of a movie.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 

Newsreel (W/e 3 February 2013)

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Brad Bird’s 1952 is now unveiled as Disney’s Tomorrowland starring George Clooney.

 

Paul Giamatti in talks to play Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

 

Lucasfilm cancels 3D re-releases of both Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones & Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

 

Eva Green has joined the cast of Sin City: A Dame To Kill For to play Ava Lord, the deadly muse from Frank Miller’s graphic novel.

 

Entourage is now officially headed to the big screen.

 

Matt Kindt’s comic book series Mind MGMT is headed to the big screen with Ridley Scott producing.

 

Gore Verbinski is to direct an adaptation of the graphic novel Pyongyang.

 

Muppets’ sequel titled The Muppets…Again!

 

Duncan Jones is set to direct an upcoming movie based on the World of Warcraft game.

 

Charlize Theron is in talks to star in A Million Ways to Die in the West, the upcoming Seth MacFarlane comedy.

 

Kenneth Branagh in talks to direct Disney’s Cinderella.

 

Warm Bodies heats up at the top of the U.S. box-office, while Bullet in the Head is shot dead.

Flight ****

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Run Time: 138 Mins         Cert: 15

Synopsis: When a plane falls apart in the sky, its pilot (Denzel Washington) performs an emergency landing that saves most of its passengers. Following the incident, the events prior to it come back to haunt him.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future, Forrest Gump), “Flight” tells the story of William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington), a pilot who spends most of his time high on alcohol and drugs. He has a volatile relationship with his ex-wife and teenage son and is in a relationship with a flight attendant at the start of the film. On a short flight from Florida to Georgia, the plane he is flying malfunctions and Whip has to use extreme manoeuvres to land the plane.

The flight sequence is spectacular from the rainstorm to the mechanical problems that lead to the plane being expertly crash landed by Whip. After the flight at the start, the film becomes very character-driven and focuses on the moral question raised by these events: should Whip be recognised for his heroics or be condemned for his irresponsible behaviour? It also explores the issue of people’s trust in those who are responsible for their lives.

One thing that becomes clear throughout the film is that Whip is not a likeable character. As the story progresses, the audience sees him continue to engage in behaviours that destroy his life and have negative effects on others. This makes it difficult to wish for a good outcome despite having seen him save 100 people. At first it isn’t clear what Nicole’s (Kelly Reilly) role in the story is but her performance is good and the character is likeable. At first Whip appears to be the stronger of the two, but as time goes on it becomes obvious Nicole is the strong one.

Despite Whip’s destructive behaviour, he has support from his friend and union representative Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) and lawyer Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle). Both remain loyal and fight his case, which makes for good performances from both actors. Although John Goodman only appears for two scenes, his performance in the role of Whip’s drug dealer is entertaining and comic.

While it could have been predictable, the story unfolds in a way that leaves viewers unsure of the outcome until the very end. These twists and turns combined with a high standard of acting and a surprise ending make it a great movie and a must see for anyone that likes a mixture of action and character-driven drama.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Wreck-It Ralph *****

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Run Time: 108 mins      Rating: PG

Synopsis: Video game villain Ralph (John C Reilly) decides he wants to be a good guy after 3 decades of being the bad guy in his arcade game, sending him on a tour of other games with some unexpected twists and turns.

Due to be released in the UK on 8th February 2013, “Wreck-It Ralph” is Disney’s 52nd movie. The film is set in a games arcade and focuses on a group of video game characters.

In terms of animation, “Wreck-It Ralph” looks great in 3D. The colours are very sharp and at times it feels like the viewer could just walk into the screen. During Ralph’s journey between games, the audience will be taken from a very simple world in which a house is wrecked and rebuilt, to a complex shooting game to a beautifully crafted world of sweets and child car racers. The way in which the world has been crafted is also nothing short of genius, complete with a power strip that acts as a train station and trains that transport characters between games.

While the story follows a formula somewhat typical of Disney films, there are a few unexpected twists. The characters’ journey between the beginning and end of the film contains several surprises and a number of things in the game world are not as they first seem.

The characters are the main driver of the story and are top class. Ralph himself is a well-rounded character who wants to change things and will do anything to achieve this, even if it causes havoc for others in the game world. His desire to be loved and accepted is something the viewer can identify with and his relationship with game glitch Vannelope (Sarah Silverman) is one that is enjoyable to watch as they fight together for what they want. It becomes similar to a father-daughter relationship in which Ralph wants to help the child achieve her dream but also wishes to protect her from the consequences. There is also good support from Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer), Ralph’s main source of competition and from Jane Lynch as the shooting game heroine that steals Felix’s heart.

In addition to well-crafted main characters “Wreck It Ralph” does well in utilising those from retro games including Pac-Man, Sonic, Frogger and Q-Bert. While they don’t have a huge part in the story, they make the game world Disney has created more believable to the audience.  On the occasions where retro game characters make appearances, Disney attempts to mimic the originals by making the characters move in a similar way and using sounds similar to those used in classic games. This adds to the idea that some games have been in the arcade for a long time while others are new and more up-to-date.

With an enjoyable story, likeable characters, great animation and a bouncy soundtrack, “Wreck It Ralph” is a must see for viewers of all ages.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Newsreel (W/e 27 January 2013)

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Bruce Willis has been confirmed to be returning to Sin City by director Robert Rodriguez.

 

Ron Howard is in talks to direct the adaptation of The Graveyard Book.

 

Beverly Hills Cop has been given a pilot order by CBS Television.

 

James Franco is set to adapt James Ellroy’s American Tabloid.

 

HBO plans a Bored to Death movie.

 

Ray Liotta is to join the cast of Walt Disney Pictures’ sequel to The Muppets.

 

Marvel is allegedly interested in Jim Carrey & Adam Sandler for Guardians Of The Galaxy.

 

David Fincher is in talks to direct Gone Girl based on the novel by Gillian Flynn.

 

A sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to start filming in May.

 

Anna Paquin, Ellen Page & Shawn Ashmore are returning for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

 

J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII for Walt Disney Pictures & Lucasfilm.

 

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters does battle with the U.S. box-office & wins.

Les Miserables ***

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Running Time: 158 minutes       Cert: 12A

Synopsis: In 19th century France, an ex-convict breaks parole and sets out to change his life. Along the way, he agrees to bring up the child of a factory worker turned prostitute who has died and she becomes his priority. 

 

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, the film begins in the early 19th century as prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is being released having served his time. Finding he is unable to find work or be accepted due to his history, a chance encounter with a bishop prompts him to destroy his documents and break parole. For the next few years, he is hunted by policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) who eventually tracks him down as the mayor of a town in France where he is well respected and employs a large number of workers. One of his workers, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is removed from the factory in which she is employed when it is discovered she has a child whom she is sending money to. Unable to support herself or her child, the young woman resorts to measures that eventually lead to her being arrested by Javert (Crowe) but saved by Valjean (Jackman) when he realises he was partly responsible for her situation.

 

Les Miserables is first and foremost a musical so the viewer expects music to be a huge part of the film. While some of the songs featured are enjoyable, others are sub-standard and seem like they don’t know when to end.  Russell Crowe in particular is an awful singer in this film. While some of his musical work is good, he’s a rock singer and doesn’t adapt his voice to fit the situation. Although some may argue this can’t be done, performances by other actors elsewhere suggest it can be. The problem with Crowe is he lacks adaptability and isn’t able to sing any other way.

 

The story is very drawn out. At 158 minutes the film is a lot longer than necessary and there are sections that could easily be cut from it. There are also a number of plot holes that leave the viewer with questions about why a particular event happened or what caused a character’s death. There is also the question of why a large majority of the cast talk like they’re straight out of Eastenders. Considering the story is set in France, this doesn’t make sense. The viewer can accept that French accents might not be easy for an English speaking audience to understand, but the Eastenders-style accents give the film a rather cheesy feel.

 

In terms of performance by the actors, Anne Hathaway stands out as Fantine, a single mother forced into prostitution. Despite only being in the film for a short period, the character is believable and her performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” is one of the better ones in the film. While Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide comic relief as the rather dodgy Thenardiers, Helena Bonham Carter acts in a similar manner to previous roles. The similarity between Madame Thenardier and her character in Sweeney Todd means her performance doesn’t particularly stand out in the film.

 

While Hugh Jackman does a reasonably good job in the role of the main character, he doesn’t particularly stand out and seems slightly miscast while Russell Crowe seems rather bland throughout the film. Both are strong actors, but their performances raise the question of whether they were cast appropriately. Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) also gives a very average performance as does Eddie Redmayne as Marius. While the love at first sight theme is necessary for the story, the viewer can’t help but question why Marius chooses Cosette rather than Eponine (Samantha Barks), an attractive girl who loves him unconditionally.

 

Overall, Les Miserables was disappointing. The story had too many plot holes, the acting was sub-standard and the movie was simply too long. While this running time works for some films, Les Miserables dragged on and felt like 6 hours as opposed to almost 3.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Sessions ****

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Running Time: 95 mins            Certificate: 15

Synopsis: In this true story Mark O’Brien, a polio survivor with an iron lung (John Hawkes) employs the services of a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) in order to lose his virginity. 

 

Virginity seems to be a recurring theme in movies – whether it’s losing it, keeping it or dealing with inner conflicts surrounding it. However The Sessions, based on a true story, provides a unique take on the subject through the eyes of polio survivor Mark O’Brien. 38 years old, confined to a gurney and connected to an iron lung for most of his day, Mark decides he wants to lose his virginity. With the help of his carers and priest, he seeks out a sex therapist who recommends he use a sex surrogate.

 

The film is very moving. While the subject matter had the potential to be rather clinical and preachy, the development of the characters and use of comedy adds a warmth to it. Mark is a character the audience can empathise with. While he is severely disabled, he is shown dealing with an issue that is universal: discovering his sexuality and learning to act on it. The situations he encounters along the way are real, from his initial awkwardness and embarrassment to his idealistic expectations of what the experience will be like.

 

Cheryl Cohen-Green (Helen Hunt) is a great character. During her sessions with Mark, her patience and good humour as well as her lack of shyness about her body allow Mark to explore things and eventually lose his virginity. Helen Hunt plays the character well, however John Hawkes is the actor that really stands out in this movie. Despite his character being confined to a gurney and unable to move, Hawkes’ portrayal of Mark is such that the audience will be rooting for him throughout the film.  The supporting cast also add to the viewing experience. Moon Bloodgood is entertaining and enjoyable to watch as Mark’s carer Vera, while William H Macy provides a lot of comic but heartfelt moments as Father Brendan, the supportive priest who encourages Mark to explore his sexuality despite being of a faith that would normally be against this.

 

Overall The Sessions was a great film to watch. Sex and disability don’t normally go hand in hand in the media so it was nice to see this dealt with in a sensitive but quirky way. A must see for anyone who likes films with “the human edge”.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

 

Newsreel (W/e 21 January 2013)

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Emma Stone may join director Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak.

 

Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity will be released October 4, 2013 in 3D and IMAX.

 

A big-screen adaptation of The Book of Mormon is being developed.

 

Walt Disney Studios announces dates for 2014: The Muppets 2 March, Captain America 2 April, Maleficent July, Guardians of the Galaxy August,Brad Bird’s 1952 Dec.While Pirates 5 to be released in July 2015. But The Little Mermaid 3D no longer being released theatrically.

 

Machete Kills is set to open in US cinemas on September 13, 2013.

 

Al Pacino is set to star in a Brian De Palma directed biopic of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, called Happy Valley.

 

Warner Bros. plans to bring back Gremlins.

 

Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier have been hired to write a script for the next Terminator movie.

 

Ray Liotta, Juno Temple & Jeremy Piven join the cast of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

 

Ron Howard is in talks to direct a remake of Israeli TV movie Kol Ma She’Yesh Li (All I’ve Got).

 

Mark Wahlberg will appear with Ted at this year’s Academy Awards.

 

Mama tops the U.S. box-office, while Arnie’s return stumbles.