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Suicide Squad (2016)
A jumbled mess with a good cast
6 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I am writing this review as someone who very much enjoyed Batman Vs Superman. The Ultimate Edition was far superior to the theatrical version, and while both are flawed I did see what DC were going for and I find it a very entertaining movie. To be honest I thought Suicide Squad was a sure- fire success. The trailers and marketing has been excellent, the idea sounded original and it seemed like DC was going to learn from its mistakes. Unfortunately I could not have been more wrong, Suicide Squad is close to being a disaster on the same level of Fantastic Four, the only thing redeeming it from this level is the fact that the cast all seemed excellent and there were a couple of good scenes dotted in the movie somewhere.

Let's get the good out of the way first. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney and Viola Davis are all excellent. I was concerned that it may end up being the Will Smith show, but he works well in an ensemble and he seems to be having a blast as Headshot. Margot Robbie is perfect as Harley Quinn, could not fault her performance (even if she has been sexualised quite a lot in this movie, this is a fault for nearly all the female characters). Jared Leto may not be present a lot and is not a patch on Heath Ledger, however he does something different with the role of the Joker. I did like his performance and would enjoy seeing him in a standalone Batman movie. Jai Courtney was a pleasant surprise and Viola Davis sells a role that could come across as one dimensional in lesser hands. The cast all work well together, seem to be having fun and have a couple of good group scenes that have been seen in the trailers.

Now onto the bad. I am intrigued to find out what was going on behind the scenes, as it is very evident from an early stage that studio and director seem to be making two different movies. This is where I quite happily make the Fantastic Four comparison, there was interference with that movie and it clearly showed. While Suicide Squad is nowhere near as clear cut as the divide with that movie, you can see on one hand there is a dark movie being made and on the other a silly group movie more along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy. Both would work fine as a movie, but DC should have picked one and stuck with it. The editing is appalling, there appears to be multiple openings to the movie and introductions to the same character. Flashbacks spring up out of nowhere, some adding interesting backstory (such as The Joker and Harley's scenes) some just being downright pointless (Katana I am looking at you). The poor editing may have been forgivable with a decent story and villain, unfortunately this is where Suicide Squad falls flat on its face. The villain (The Enchantress) is downright terrible and spends the third act doing a weird sort of dance in front of a portal. Cara Delevingne may be a good actress, I wouldn't know as she has nothing to do in this movie and is terribly overdubbed in some scenes.

In conclusion it gets 4 stars based on the charisma of the cast alone. I can't say I was bored as I was spending most of the time gazing at the car crash of the story. It really emphasises the fact that DC are panicking with their properties at the moment. Had this been the original movie that it set out to be I am sure it may have been fine. Unfortunately someone has stepped in somewhere and made changes in a blind panic. It shows and stinks of studio interference. It is worth watching obviously to make your mind up, some people seem to have loved it. I am glad they have, I wish I had certainly enjoyed it. But even those rampantly defending it must be aware of its glaring faults. I would be interested in a sequel, there is a good film to be made with this cast. But there has to be a solid story, even a solid cast cannot polish a turd.
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The best since the original Pirates
20 May 2011
I would like to begin by saying that I very rarely review films anymore, but after reading many reviews for this film by various critics I felt compelled to give my own verdict. Purely because every review I have read has been unnecessarily venomous, and simply seemed to trash the film and its two predecessors at every given opportunity. I am a fan of the Pirates trilogy, the original is by far the best, and three may have some problems with its convoluted storyline, but there is nothing wrong with Dead Man's Chest and as a trilogy they all worked very well. This fourth instalment like the others is great fun, the storyline may not be Oscar worthy stuff but neither was the storyline in the others. It is an entertaining fantasy flick that you can sit back, relax and enjoy. The idea that Johnny Depp has become bored of the character of Jack Sparrow and plays him in this film as a shadow of his former self, is simply ludicrous. Depp is on top form in this movie, brilliant for me considering following the awful performance in Alice in Wonderland I had begun doubting him somewhat. On Stranger Tides is easily the best movie since the original, and I would be more than happy to sit through another two films.

Now onto the performances. As previously mentioned Depp is simply outstanding as Jack Sparrow. By putting him to the forefront means we get to spend more time with him, though thankfully the writers hold back on having him on screen too much. His one liners, especially one involving a Spanish Convent had me in stitches. His relationship with Angelica (Penelope Cruz) really adds that extra bit of spice to the film. It also helps that Cruz and Depp have outstanding chemistry together. While the character of Angelica can be a bit complicated at times, her motives are vague at best, this can be overshadowed by the fact Cruz plays her with some real gusto. Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa for me really stole the show, and it seems the writers gave him quite a bit more storyline this time as well. The idea of moving him to the kings navy really played off, and his scenes for me were definitely a highlight of the film. Ian McShane is a great villain, while not as good as Davey Jones or Barbossa for that matter, he still has a great storyline and some really menacing moments to make him a worthy adversary.

My one major issue with this movie would be the storyline of the missionary and the mermaid. While thankfully it isn't given enough screen time to be a really annoyance, I do question its point in the first place. Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom are not remotely missed, so why try a romance replacement which just isn't that good. The mermaid action scene however is a thing to behold. As said the storyline is not amazing, the quest for the fountain of youth is entertaining and it has less betrayals than the far too long At World's End, but it isn't a story that will be winning awards. Nevertheless it maintains your interest and never feels like an excuse to get to the next action scene as it was in something like Transformers 2. The fact it is a one story arc is also a nice breath of fresh air following the second and third movies. Overall this is a great Summer movie, the kids will love it, and if you're a pirates fan you will also love it. The trashing of this film to me is slightly irritating as this is genuinely a very good film that deserves recognition. I will stand by the Pirates films until I genuinely see one that is rubbish, this film is a great Summer blockbuster and anyone that looks at it otherwise must either be deluded or trashing on it because they no longer see Pirates as "cool". I cannot recommend this film quite enough, just go out, watch it and have a great laugh, I know I did.
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And the trailer looked so good
21 March 2011
When I first saw the trailer for Battle: Los Angeles I was surprised at how excited I got about it. I'd heard nothing about it until I saw the trailer, and from then onwards the film became on my must see list. Working at a cinema meant I was able to see odd snippets of the film from doing screen checks, every scene I saw looked action packed and exciting so I got even more excited, Yesterday I sat down to watch the film, and after two hours I felt numb. Sure the film is action packed but in essence this is the biggest problem with the film. It's a continuous action scene that just bores you half to death by the time the credits roll. There really is no story, aliens come, try to colonise earth, humanity fights back, that really is it. Independence Day may not be a masterpiece but at least it tried to get you invested in the characters and featured some sort of plot running through it. Battle: Los Angeles is closer to a two hour video game trailer, sure I'd play the game, but watching it be played is just dull.

The performances in the film are not necessarily bad. I had to keep wondering quite way Aaron Eckhart signed up for the movie when his character has such a bland storyline. The term cliché is the best way to describe every character, when one convenient character suddenly announced she is a veterinarian you have to stifle back snickering. Anyway, Eckhart is the best thing about the movie, in one scene talking about his lost men from a previous tour in Iraq, the film actually seems to be getting somewhere in terms of character development. It's the one scene that perked my interest and then I was thrown back into the endless gunfire. Michelle Rodriguez gets to repeat her role in Avatar, though with much less enthusiasm this time. Once again it's not necessarily a bad performance, but you can't help but feel she is as bored as the audience is by this point.

The movie does feature some impressive set pieces, but unfortunately they all seem to merge with one another, by the time the finale comes about you've seen it all before. My friend who saw this actually never got bored in the movie, so maybe that means I was just in a funny mood, but I was genuinely on the verge of falling asleep at various points in the film. The CGI has its good moments at times, but the aliens themselves are a huge disappointment, and not once did I genuinely believe this alien invasion was actually happening. It's a huge shame as the trailer seemed to promise an almost realistic invasion movie, one that was on the same lines of Cloverfield but possibly more epic. What we get instead is a film I would even go as far to say is worse than Skyline. Skyline was by no means a good movie, and the ending of that film is still one of the worst I have ever seen, but Battle: Los Angeles just has nothing new, nothing interesting and nothing worth watching.

Overall this film was a huge disappointment to me, I even doubt it will get hyperactive teenagers interested by the end. If Eckhart was not in it I would have lost all interest in the film in the first fifteen minutes, luckily he makes the film that little bit better. But by no means is this a good movie, and if you want a good alien movie watch Starship Troopers or even Independence Day, not this.
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Cyrus (I) (2010)
Great acting, but average movie
15 September 2010
Cyrus was one of the very rare movies that I go to see without having seen the trailer, not knowing anything about the plot, and just generally having little knowledge of its existence. I knew John C Reilly was in it, and that Jonah Hill would also be in it. But that really was the extent of my knowledge. In a sense I am glad I knew little about it, because what few laughs were to be found in this movie I am sure would have been used in the advertisement campaign, leaving the film feeling even more tired than it does. Cyrus is an odd movie, its not a laugh out loud comedy, nor is it a straight up drama, its an odd blend, an indie movie that seems confused where its loyalty should lie. I have no problems with a movie blending comedy and drama, nor was I saddened this wasn't an Apatow comedy as I expected, but what does irritate me is when there is such a good cast, playing their parts very well, yet the script and the movie seem to not have the balls to do an awful lot with them. It aims for an almost "real" feel, and with this comes the consequence that the movie just is that little bit dull.

Okay, enough of the criticising of what the movie is not, as despite what this review may sound like I did in someway enjoy the movie. John C Reilly is one of my favourite actors at the moment, even bringing life to the dull Cirque Du Freak. He can handle his comedy and his drama both very well, and here he seems in his element. But the real star of this movie, and almost a revelation, has to be Jonah Hill. Yes I've found him funny in films, but I've also felt he's a one dimensional actor, he will make a career playing one character over and over again. He seems to have proved me very wrong. Here is does have the best lines, but he's also very toned down, and the realism of the story comes fully rounded in his character. Come the ending you have a much deeper understanding of the character, and Hill is definitely the reason for this. Marisa Tomei, whom was robbed of an Oscar for The Wrestler, does equally as good a job.

Cyrus also delivers towards the ending, I won't spoil it but everything gets nicely rounded off, and not in a sickeningly slushy way that comedies of recent like to do. Here it allows the actors to shine and deliver a nicely concluded movie. Its a shame then that the movie takes such a plodding route to get there, the beginning is as slow as ever and never has as much bite as it seems to think it does. The introduction to Cyrus is done well, and as things progress with the character the movie does pick up speed. Yet when Cyrus is actually off screen the movie starts to struggle, and the unnecessary background story of John meeting his ex-wife for advice just seems downright pointless.

Overall the movie is decent but ultimately something very forgettable.
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Not for me, but why is it actually for anyone?
3 August 2010
Let's get this out of the way first, the Twilight saga is not my cup of tea. Sure I like vampire movies, but this is not a vampire series, nor a werewolf one. Its a series full of long, tedious pauses padding off as "sexual tension", and actors whom hormonal teenage girls can pander over. With that in mind I question why I still continue to see this dross. I have now seen all three currently released on the cinemas, the first being a complete and utter waste of my time, the second being mildly diverting in the final half hour, and then now there is this one. This one bemuses perhaps the most of the series as I had gone in after reading quite decent reviews. While I didn't expect miracles I at least hoped to see some improvement. Sadly I'd argue this was just as bad as the first one, all the mild improvement made in the first one now being put behind us. The three leads do their roles with some decency, Taylor Lautner by far being the best of the mediocre bunch. But the story is still where I get frustrated. I swear in this movies absolutely nothing happens, the promise of a wedding at the second one does not even come close to being fulfilled here. And the action comes in such short supply most male minds will have switched off far earlier.

Robert Pattinson is still the weak link for me in this series, quite why he's screamed at over is beyond me. His scenes are just painful, he pouts, he acts far too emotional and he has long pauses. It is a terribly written role for a terrible character. Kristen Stewart at least has got over the whiny stage of the second movie, and here she has livened up, but still she gets the bulk of the horrific lines involving souls and whatnot that make your eyes role. So like the sequel it is left to Taylor Lautner to add some energy into the movie. Sure once again he is the eye candy, I mean does he really need to be shirtless that often? But at least he's got a spark of charisma, something I can see coming out when he has much better roles. The rest of the cast are the usual cardboard cutouts. The vamps and werewolves so underwritten you wonder why they're there. And as for the recasting of Bryce Dallas Howard, why bother?

Story wise this feels like a short story at best painfully dragged to feature length movie. Once again the pace is slow, the action few and far between and special effects ranging from average to downright awful, I still despise the vampire running sequences. I will be fair and say for fans of the Twilight saga this will no doubt be a hoot for them. I don;t understand why that is at all, but I have just chosen to accept it for now. Sadly we have another two parts still to come, and as cliffhangers go, well its not exactly something that makes me want to go running back to the theatre when Breaking Dawn arrives. The final action scene is admittedly fairly decent, not too keen on the vampire death effect though. But its the closest the series has come to even trying to entertain the male audience, so for that it has my slightest gratitude. But without the gravitas of Michael Sheen like its predecessor, this movie sadly is just another overlong piece of tripe pandering to fans who seem almost blinded at how terrible this series truly is. So strictly for fans, or for those like me that have got this far ans in a sick way just go to see if it can possibly get any worse.
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Hopefully the final destination...
29 August 2009
The Final Destination is hardly known for its subtlety. Like the Saw series the movies storyline eventually became slightly irrelevant, OK by Final Destination 2 the story was pointless, as least the Saw series tries to keep its storyline sort of cohesive. Final Destination just kept the same formula every movie, huge death scene, turns out to be prediction, they survive, get picked off one by one, ending that tries to be a twist yet not really. While its not original, and the acting was often awful, the movies kind of worked. They were fun, and the death were generally quite well done. It also helped the movies were very tongue in cheek. So the latest should be a success, I mean keeping the same formula and adding 3d sound an ingenious idea, right? After the impressive, if way too CGI filled opening, the movie proves that just adding 3d (and not very good 3d I must add) does not make it a good movie. Nor a scary one, actually not even really a funny one (well I laughed at it, not with it). Instead the movie is actually verging on quite lame, sure the deaths are smirksom (a incident with a truck and fire was pretty funny), but the dialogue, acting and storyline more than drag the movie down. In fact come the ending, which I think the writers thought was going to clever, I was just rolling my eyes.

I would talk about the acting at this part of my review, but I actually won't go in-depth. Its terrible, nobody is good at all. A scene where one victim talks about how he accidentally killed his wife and child aimed to be moving, it failed dramatically, it felt forced, lame and just random. The main guy, don't know his name, don't really care, was by far the worst. He just made me laugh every time he saw a prediction, his version of acting appeared to be open eyes wide and look slightly constipated. Anyway the actors do not matter, what does matter are their deaths. I mean that's what everybody goes to see a Final Destination movie for. I won't lie the deaths can be fun in this movie. The big opening, while nowhere near as good as the one in the second movie, is very fun. The following deaths are very gory, but they looked very fake. One man appears to be made of butter in one death, and a pool death just left me confused what had happened at first. But the priceless moment of the movie, the car wash scene, I am pretty sure that would do nothing, so why the girl screams as her face could potentially get whipped a little bit is just beyond me.

As I mentioned earlier the 3D effects of the movie are actually quite shoddy. A shame as the opening 3D is actually kind of decent, also the 3D credits worked quite well. Matters didn't help that the film followed the 3D avatar trailer, which actually does look impressive in 3D. However by the time flying plasters and embers come out at the audience, and a champagne cork flies into audience you just feel you're watching the cheap, tacky 3D that dominated the cinemas in the days of Jaws 3D. I thought it had moved on from that, 3D being used to give depth, not lame jumpy moments. Oh speaking of jumpy moments, I must point out this movie is not scary at all. So why it's listed as horror is just confusing.

The Final Destination really is hopefully the final of the series. It stinks of desperation, and the 3D does really nothing for the movie. Come the terrible finale that lacks any originality you will want the extra money you forked to watch this in 3D back.
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Brüno (2009)
Better than Borat
1 July 2009
I got free tickets to an exclusive screening of Bruno last night, I went in expecting to find it funny, but the memories of Borat, and the catchphrases that haunted me months after the movie came out still lingered. Yes I loved Borat on first viewing, yes it was shocking, it was original, but it was brilliant. Sadly it became way, way too popular, and sadly the joke wore very thin by the millionth time I had heard many of the lines from the film. When Bruno was first announced I had no interest in the film. The character was good, but in my opinion also very one note and lacking the comedic potential that Borat had. Yet I can safely say after watching it, that it is by far one of the funniest movies in ages, narrowly just above The Hangover I would say. Bruno is a hugely risky comedy, and will offend many people. Yet it doesn't seem as offencive as Borat, and as a result possibly funnier. This isn't to say Bruno is tame, far from it. A scene with a talking penis more than sees to that (also the funniest scene I have seen in many a year). But credit has to go to Sacha Baron Cohen, is really is the modern day Peter Sellers. Like Sellers he has perfect comedic timing, has a vast array of characters to play with, and truly seems to inhabit his roles. At no point in this movie did I question that Bruno didn't exist, thats how brilliantly he plays the role. Sure Bruno may grate to some viewers, but he is actually a decent character. The short run time, while questionably too short (possibly the missing Latoya Jackson interview might have made up for this), makes sure the film never outstays its welcome.

Cohen truly is perfect in the movie, and also a very incredibly brave man. While I question whether some scene weren't actually staged, the man does seem to put himself in very risky situations. An interview with a terrorist being frighteningly realistic, and the crowds reaction at the end basically coming across that he could be murdered at any second. But the key to this type of humour is the public's reactions, and some members react absolutely brilliantly. The most horrifying and shocking for me being an interview with parents who want their children in show business. What they are willing to do is absolutely horrifying. I question Paula Abdul's interview not being staged, but it is funny all the same. Bruno's assistant, Lutz, played by Gustaf Hammarsten, is amusing though not as great as Borat's manager. The pair do have some great scene, especially when they're locked together in a rather sexual way, that is pretty damned funny.

Bruno will either drive you into hysterics, as it did me and everyone in the audience. Or will horrify and shock you, yet as I just said it didn't appear to do so in my audience, in fact unlike Borat (where at least 10 people walked), nobody left Bruno at all. The comedy is brilliant, and while it is shocking you cannot help but laugh. It balances wincing with embarrassment with shock humour to perfection. It's an incredibly funny movie with so many memorable lines (that possibly I may hate in a month because of the movies inevitable popularity), and scenes that are just hilarious. My only gripe with it is the length I guess, which is both a blessing and a curse for the movie. It just seems lacking a bit more, ten/fifteen more minutes would have been perfect in my mines just to make the movie flow that bit better. But when a movie is this funny, how can you really criticise it for not falling into many comedies traps? Just running on far too long, yes 40 Year Old Virgin as much as I love you I am looking at you.

Overall Bruno is a must see of this summer, which so far seems to be lacking in many quality movies. Anyway if you want a short, sharp, shock, but a funny shock, of a movie then Bruno is definitely for you. Just don't go with your parents!
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More angelic than demonic
15 May 2009
The Da Vinci Code movie was received with a mixture of enthusiasm and disappointment when it first arrived. The fans of the book couldn't wait for it, the Catholic church were going mad about it being released, and the average person was being shepherded to see a movie that they just wanted to know what all the media attention was about. I'll be the first to put my hands up and admit I was looking forward to it. I loved the book and wanted to see a great adaptation. I admit I enjoyed the movie, though a lot really didn't, but I will admit its slow moving, a bit tedious and way, way too faithful to the book. However I had read Dan Brown's other Langdon novel before Da Vinci Code, and I always found Angels and Demons the far superior story. And so here is the inevitable adaptation, and much like the books I prefer Angels and Demons. Demons is a fast paced, beautifully shot and brilliantly acted piece of popcorn entertainment. Yes it has its flaws, the story is still a bit all over the place, and various changes from the novel are not very welcome in my eyes. But for the most part this is a piece of superior entertainment, and after the disaster of Wolverine it is nice to see a sequel with a bit of thought behind it.

So onto the acting. First off is Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. First things first, the hair has been improved, I know that was a huge distraction for a lot of people in its predecessor. Hanks is pretty good here, I'm not going to lie and say he's incredible, as sadly Langdon isn't the greatest character ever. His motivations are vague at best. Still for the material he is given he makes the most of it. Ewan McGregor gets a great role in this movie, he was always the character that intrigued me most in the novel and McGregor does him justice. I won't spoil about him, but you understand after the halfway mark why such a famous actor was cast in the seemingly unimportant role. Ayelet Zurer does a great job as Vittoria Vetra, but the lack of screen time she gets in comparison to how much she is in the book really did frustrate me. Stellan Skarsgård is a bit wasted and I'm not too sure why he signed on for it all. Armin Mueller-Stahl is my personal favourite, have never really encountered the actor before, but his performance definitely is a highlight.

The key to Angels and Demons superiority is in the pacing. Da Vinci Code had very sluggish moments and too many endings for its own good. Here the movie is set over a night, and it works all the better for it. The plot zips along, and all the talky dialogue is usually done while driving or running to the next location to prevent a murder. The murders themselves are shot superbly, although the Air murder is nowhere near as gory as depicted in the novel. The Fire and Water murders are superb though. I liked the execution of the twist for the most part, and I don't think it was as blatantly obvious as I feared, considering it completely threw me when I read the book. The helicopter bit from the novel however is still ludicrous, and the whole antimatter scenario is a OTT for its own good. But these are the flaws of the novel, and at least the ridiculous divine intervention garbage has been scrapped.

Overall Angels and Demons is a fun thrill ride for the summer. Its a superior movie to Da Vinci Code, and I just hope The Lost Symbol (the upcoming Dan Brown novel) is good enough to warrant Ron Howard and Tom Hanks to sign on for yet another one.
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Watchmen (2009)
As close an adaptation we could ever get
8 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Watchmen has often been referred to as the "unfilmable text", the comic so complex, so full of ideas and so intricately written that it could never realistically be filmed. To some extent I did agree with this, I only read the graphic novel last Novemember, but immediately I fell in love with it, and questioned how they could ever do the story justice. Well when I left the cinema last night, and for most of today, I have been questioning the film. When I left I acknowledged how amazing a movie it was, but I needed time to think on it. How the cuts of the novel worked, how the slight changes worked, and how the storyline flowed as a whole. It's literally only in the past hour that I have come to love the movie version as much as I do at the moment. Watchmen the movie is the closest adaptation we could ever hope for, realistically it could never be done to perfection, but to have something so close just shows how special a movie this is. I'm not saying this is as good as The Dark Knight, personally I will be amazed if I ever regard it to be as good, but what it is is the best superhero movie bar Dark Knight. Overlong it may be, slow it may be, but I wouldn't want it changed for the world, and I cannot wait to see the extended cut and watch this numerous times in the cinema.

Let me go onto the acting, as Watchmen in my eyes has always been a group effort in terms of characters. I will start with the best by far, Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, whom was always my favourite character in the novel. Haley is perfect, there is no other word for it, I'm talking Ledger as Joker levels of perfection, arguably more so. He simply is Rorschach, both in and out of the mask. In fact his scenes in prison are probably some of my highlights. The voice is how I always imagined it, but the emotion in the character is something I never expected. I don't come close to crying in cinemas very often, but his very final scene, goddamn it had me damned close. Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl was pretty brilliant, never liked the character too much though to be honest. Malin Akerman is awful as Silk Spectre, no other way to put it. I dislike the character, but she's not a good actress. Matthew Goode is the biggest surprise for me, he looks nothing like Ozymandias, and really shouldn't work in the role (though they make his involvement too obvious), but the voice and his monologuing scenes are actually perfect. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is good, but amazing, as Eddie Blake, though he does feature in one of the best scenes. Billy Crudup is incredible as Manhattan, I'm not sure how much was effects, and how much was the actor doing motion capture, but the voice itself was brilliant for the character.

Now Watchmen is bigger than the characters, its all about the ideas and story in my eyes. The action is very much left to the background, that isn't to say there isn't any, in fact my slight moan is that they have amped some action up a tad too much. I disliked the Comedian's death at the beginning, the fight went on far too long and felt unnecessary. Some quick inter-cutting flashes of what happened would have more than sufficed. Thankfully the ideas still survive in the movie, and this of course brings me onto the ending. Here I forewarn you that there will be SPOILERS. Still reading? I'll assume you either want it spoiled or have seen the movie. Well there is no squid, not a bad move in my opinion as I always feared it would seem to bizarre for the average viewer. No instead we get an explanation of Manhattan being the alleged cause, which actually really works. In fact I loved the ending a lot, especially the aftermath, until we have one scene with Nite Owl and Ozymandias, which I absolutely hated. I mean I pretty much sat there screaming at the screen I hated it so much. But considering that was the one scene that really annoyed me I was pretty impressed with how they did the ending.

Any scene with Rorschach truly is a highlight of the movie, his final scene as I said it truly amazing how it is done, and his line "You're trapped in here with me" still remains my firm favourite of both the comic and the movie. Manhattan's scenes on Mars are truly beautiful, especially his final speech with Laura "turning air into gold". But arguably my favourite sequence in the entire movie happens in the first ten minutes. In fact it's the opening credits, done to Bob Dylan's "The Times are A Changin". For non-fans it might be meaningless, but for fans it will basically give them a geek-gasm.

Overall Watchmen is simply incredible, it does have issues, but I need to watch it over and over again to see how noticeable they really are. If you loved the novel you should love this, and if you don't then you need to understand that the novel can never be truly filmed scene for scene. This is the closest thing to the perfect Watchmen movie we will ever get, much as The Dark Knight is the closest thing to a perfect Batman movie we will ever get. This is a smart movie, and one that requires thinking and patience, if you can do that then prepare to be truly amazed.
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A different kind of Bond
31 October 2008
When Casino Royale arrived two years ago I was a very happy person. I was one of what feels like the few people that actually wanted Craig to do well as Bond. I wasn't moaning about him being blonde, I wasn't moaning about the lack of gadgets, I was just happy to see one of my favourite fictional characters back on screen. As many people know I am a huge Bond fan, I have all the movies, I love them all in their unique way, and even if Casino Royale had been a disaster I would have found some enjoyment out of it. Thankfully it wasn't a disaster, it was actually one of the best Bond movies made. Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel of Royale, and so I once again had high expectations of it. Perhaps even more so than with Royale, as now I knew Craig is a superb Bond, and I wanted the story to evolve more. Let me start off by saying Solace is not as good as Royale, and for many people that will be a problem, as so many people were expecting an even better movie. While it is an extremely good movie, and a brilliant Bond movie, its just not one of the best and does have a few problems. Still as a Bond fan I still absolutely loved nearly every minute of the movie. It isn't overlong and outstays its welcome like Royale, but neither is it rushed as I feared. The performances are incredibly strong once again and there are some thrilling action sequences thrown in as well.

Daniel Craig once again is very strong as Bond, and unlike what a lot of critics have said, is actually good fun. He can deliver a pun quite well, and he also does the dramatic and seriousness of Bond to perfection. In short he is definitely up there in terms of quality with Sean Connery. He feels a bit more comfortable as Bond this time around, he doesn't have to say the famous line which sadly felt a tad forced at the end of Royale. Instead he does get his fair share of brooding, although his verbal sparring with Gemma Arterton is pretty brilliant. The lead Bond girl this time is played by Olga Kurylenko, who I last saw in the dismal Hit-man movie. Thankfully here she plays a very interesting, although different Bond girl. She doesn't appear much for the first half, and her first sequence seemed more random than interesting. However she does develop quite nicely and by the end she is definitely one of the better Bond girls. Lead villain duties go to Mathieu Amalric. I have to say he was a bit of a disappointment after the brilliant Lechiffre in Royale. Amalric is a slimy villain, and he does put in a good performance, but his villain just isn't all that menacing, and I can see him being one of the easily forgettable Bond baddies. Judi Dench gets an awful lot more screen time this time round, and its all the better for it. M has been rewritten as a superb character, and gets some nice bit of swearing to do. Finally Gemma Arterton is fairly decent as a wasted Bond girl. She has way too little screen time, and far too little to do, however she does shine through, and features in one of the more memorable moments of the movie.

Quantum of Solace story wise is perhaps where the problems begin to slip in. Royale's story was simple and very easy to follow, while Quantum is nowhere near as confusing as people are making it out to be, the movie is a bit overcomplicated for its own good. The villains plan is nowhere near as diabolical as it really could be, and I feel I need to watch the movie again just to get the intricate details of the movie. However as most Bond fans know story is not always a Bond movies strong point, just look at Live and Let Die, Die Another Day. So long as it manages to entertain I am quite happy. Solace thankfully is a brilliantly entertaining movie for the majority. I will admit, the pre-credit sequence is a very big disappointment. I know the stunts were good, and it should have been thrilling, but I felt so oddly bored by it. However once the credits sequence began, to a song I am steadily coming to like, the movie kicked off. The rest of the action sequences were particularly well done, my personal favourite being a bit in an opera house, extremely well edited. Drama wise the movie is very solid, there are some lighter moments to keep people happy, and some amusing one liners, but the movie for the most part is pretty down to earth.

Quantum of Solace as I've said is a great movie, and no doubt many people will love it, although some will be a bit disappointed by it. Either way Craig is still a great Bond, and I cannot wait to see more adventures with him as the lead. Although we could do with a more interesting villain next time round please.
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Saw V (2008)
Disappointing ending, but good movie
24 October 2008
How much you enjoy Saw 5 really depends on how much you enjoyed the other Saw movies. If, like me, you love the past Saw movies, enjoy their inventive twists, their clever story lines and the great traps, then you will enjoy Saw 5 a great deal (well maybe be a bit disappointed with the ending, more on that later). If you feel sick at the very idea of the traps then Saw 5 is clearly not for you. Saw 5 sticks to a very solid formula. In many ways this is the most original of the Saws. Yes it has the usual amounts of gore, yes Tobin Bell shows up as Jigsaw, despite the fact he is dead. However the movie itself just seems a lot more story focused, seems much more of your average thriller than intent on getting the next person into a violent scenario. This isn't to say the movie is tame, by no means is it tame. Two scenes in the movie are some of the nastiest in the Saw series to date. Two of the traps are very disappointing, nothing really inventive happens with them, but they are still quite clever and never lose your interest. So overall Saw 5 is once again another good entry into a series I really enjoy. However as I said the ending, well it won't impress an awful lot of people. If anything its just a set up for Saw 6, which now has to be made so some answers are given!

Cast wise once again this is your typical Saw movie, however this time lead duties have changed hands. No longer is Tobin Bell setting up the traps, instead he is actually dead and relegated to flashbacks. Instead taking reigns as the Jigsaw is Detective Hoffman played by Costas Mandylor. While Mandylor does not have the presence of Bell, he is actually a very good actor. Hoffman is made out to be very multi-layered, and one of his flashback scenes where the pendulum trap takes place, shows what an intriguing character he is. Tobin Bell is amazing once again in his flashback scenes. The scenes he shares with Mandylor are by far the highlights of the movie, especially the scene where Jigsaw converts Hoffman. Scott Patterson gets a lot more screen time this time around, a huge surprise for me who assumed he'd be bumped off in the first five minutes. Patterson's character Strahm is much more interesting this time around, and has a couple of very good sequences. However the rest of the cast are the usual. We get the usually bunch of screamers who just have to die, and the people who enter the traps are as pretty two-dimensional as normal. Hell but I don't care, they die in a nasty fashion, they serve their purpose.

Saw 5's storyline is perhaps its highlight, and I know an awful lot of people will disagree. Story wise this is actually quite simple, hence the noticeable lack of any big revelation at the end. Still the storyline sucks you in, much more so than Saw 3 or 4 ever did. In fact for once I found I would have enjoyed the movie to be a bit longer, the storyline just seemed to want to be fleshed out a bit more. Not necessarily with violence, but some more talking, and especially some more Hoffman flashbacks that really interested me. The gore factor is both amped up and lowered a bit with this entry. The opening pendulum trap I have to say is downright nasty to watch. Some of the middle traps, an electricity one especially, do not live up to what they could have been. But the final traps, especially a particularly nasty one with saws, is really inventive yet really nasty as well. Still ending wise I did feel a bit blank, and this is definitely a movie I will have to revisit. The ending itself has a semi-twist, its interesting, and could develop out quite nicely in later films. But in comparison to the legendary twist from the original Saw you do feel a bit disappointed.

Overall Saw 5 is probably my middle favourite of the Saw movies. It nowhere near up to the standard of Saw 2 and the original, but it is a lot better than Saw 3, and probably on about the same level as Saw 4. As I've said not everyone will like Saw 5, but I personally found it great entertainment.
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City of Ember (2008)
Burns quite brightly
11 October 2008
City of Ember is a movie I fear that is destined not to do very well. When I saw it today there was a grand total of five people in my screen, three of which were me and my friends. Neither of my friends had ever heard of the movie, none of my family had a clue what it was about, and the only person that appeared to know anything about it had said the trailer looked a pile of garbage. So I wasn't expecting all that much from the movie, however City of Ember is not by any means a bad movie. In fact it verges on being a very good one, but the ending kicks the audience in the teeth and then makes it just a slightly above average one. The movie works very well for the majority of the film, the cast is extremely strong and the movie is by no means ever dull. Unfortunately the plot is the problem, while it is intriguing, an underground city that reaches the end of its life, unfortunately the writer doesn't seem to go very far with it. The sense of menace is never really there, while the sudden blackouts add a bit of oomph to the movie, apart from that, and a very big mole (don't ask) there never seems a sense of urgency to escaping. Still this is bound to entertain kids, and for once the kid actors don't grate at all, in fact its some of the adult members that I found much more annoying. Anyway its Half Term fodder, and while it isn't Potter or Narnia standards this will entertain kids.

So onto the cast. Well the headlining star from all the publicity I have seen, would have to be Bill Murray, despite the fact he isn't in it all that much. Murray actually isn't all that bad here, if I'm honest I expected him to phone in another performance much like he did for Garfield. Instead he does seem to be having a bit of fun, and his character is interesting and develops more towards the end. Still there isn't an awful lot to say about him as he has roughly twenty minutes screen time in total. The main kids are played by Harry Treadway and Saoirise Ronan (from Atonement), both of whom are very good. Treadway is particularly good, while his character is basically the usual stereotype, a boy who feels he is more than what he really is, who wants to make a difference, goes on a grand adventure. He has fantasy lead written all over it, all he needed was to be a farm boy and we might as well have called him Skywalker. Anyway Treadway makes him a very interesting and layered character. He also has considerable chemistry with Ronan, who delivers an equally as impressive performance. Her American accent is pitch perfect, and while she isn't as good as she was in Atonement, she still gets the job done. Tim Robbins shows up in a relatively pointless role as Doon's father. Martin Landau is great as Doon's mentor in the pipeworks, and in my opinion deserves the most praise in the movie. Finally Mackenzie Cook also is pretty damned brilliant, once again putting on an American accent that sounds very legitimate.

City of Ember might have a strong cast, but as I have said the storyline is at times questionable. The start of the movie is perfectly fine, we're given a lot of back-story about how Ember came to be, and how a box was passed down from generation of mayor to the next (very well filmed scene). The storyline in fact works perfectly fine until after the kids decide to do something. Once they get their hands on the box and go on their quest not an awful lot seems to happen. In fact the instructions they receive are so damned simple it makes you wonder whether that part really deserves as much screen time as it does? Also everything seems a tad to convenient, one scene towards the end made me roll my eyes in annoyance because I could not believe nobody had turned a certain wheel for over 200 years. The ending as well is god awful. I accept happy endings, I have no problem with them, but the ending here made me want to vomit. Anyway this is nitpicking, mostly the storyline is engrossing, even though the inclusion of the mole is really questionable. The action isn't half bad, although the CGI for a bit in a boat is pretty poor. But the set designs are the real star, not since Del Toro have I seen sets to beautiful.

Overall City of Ember is a movie that I did really enjoy, and would happily watch again. But the storyline must be taken with a pinch of salt, and be prepared for an ending that most people will just be a bit dumbstruck by.
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Good news, its better than Meet the Spartans. Bad news its still a pile of garbage
15 September 2008
Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Superhero Movie, three movies with two things in common. They were all made by somebody with something or other to do with Scary Movie, you know those reasonably amusing spoofs that were good fun before they exhausted the franchised long ago. And the fact that all three of them are steaming piles of garbage with out a giggle, a smirk or even a roll of the eye obviously funny between them. To be fair Superhero Movie wasn't horrendous, it was just bland and uninspired, however Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans are the two worst movies I have ever seen. Spartans particularly being so bad that I really did almost walk out. The first trailers for Disaster Movie looked worse than Spartans, in fact when I first saw the trailer I was horrified. Then it got released, destroyed by the critics and I assumed I would never have to watch it. Alas my friends forced me to see it, and now I sit before you about to say something I never thought I would say. Disaster Movie is not the worst movie ever made! In fact in terms of quality its at least three times as good as Spartans. A shame to say a lump of dog poop is three times better than Spartans, so we aren't exactly talking quality. Disaster Movie is better than Spartans because its spoofs at times can be reasonably smirksome, nothing will make you laugh, but there are a few clever quotes here and there. Still it really is a bad movie, the jokes most of them time are just obvious references, most introductions of a spoof begin with the line "look its (insert celebrity name here)", and then we get to watch that celebrity either get hit, fall over or get poo wiped on there face, in some circumstances all three at once. The jokes are hardly inspired either, the Sex and the City joke just being a disaster (no pun intended), and why bother doing the exact same foot scene from Zohan when it was a lot funnier in Zohan? Thankfully the Alvin sequence sort of redeems it a bit, and a bit spoofing Jumper and Prince Caspian ending in a great line, "it's the guy who ruined Star Wars."

So onto the acting. Spartans was a horrible movie to watch, and one of the major reasons for this was that not a single damned actor deserves to live after that movie. When Carmen Elektra comes out as the best actress in the movie you realise there is something horribly wrong. Disaster Movie to be fare works a tiny bit better because the actors don't make you want to slit your wrists repeatedly. They're by no means good, most of the main cast seemingly having wandered off the streets just to do random spoof lines. Matt Lanter, as I suppose the lead, is vaguely charismatic, although I unfortunately spent half the movie trying to figure out where I had seen him in before, he's in Heroes for those who care. He seems like he could deliver a pun if given the right material anyway. Crista Flanagan is probably the best, doing a half decent Juno impression and featuring the best scene in the movie where she gets to say overly smart things for random sake. Carman Elektra makes her rudimentary appearance, yes she still looks nice, no she still can't act, and no her brief Wanted spoof is not funny. The rest of the cast don't really matter. The woman playing the princess from Enchanted works occasionally, and then doesn't at other times.

So what is funny about the movie? Well you can count what is funny on one hand. The Alvin sketch is funny for a brief time, its way too overdone and very annoying come the end. The Juno talking bit is relatively funny. The line about Star Wars made me smirk a bit too smugly for my own good. The final song, god only knows why, was relatively smirksome, and to be honest that's really it. So what really isn't funny at all? The Michael Jackson sketch, god only knows why we're still doing Michael Jackson sketches now, any scene with a random pop celebrity, whether it be Amy Winehouse or Hannah Montana, any scene with a superhero getting hit, any scene with anybody getting hit, any scene featuring poo, any scene featuring high school musical dances. So in general the rest of the movie. Thankfully the movie is better made than the others. The score at times not being half bad, and the sets being half decent.

Anyway now to stop justifying the movies existence. Its rubbish, for the love of god do not go and watch it. I'm just being polite because its better than I expected. But do something more fun with your time, like poking yourself in the eye repeatedly.
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The Wackness (2008)
Focus on the Dopeness, not the Wackness
4 September 2008
The Wackness is one of those rare movies that I go into the cinema not knowing next to anything about. Apart from a relatively unimpressive TV Spot I had seen I really didn't know what to expect. In fact it wasn't until the day before I was going to see it that I actually had any interest in seeing it. So I entered the cinema knowing Josh Peck (from that dreadful Drake and Josh show) and Ben Kingsley were starring. That was the extent of my knowledge. Two hours later I left the cinema feeling extraordinarily happy, in fact this movie made me smile more than most other movies have made me this year. While it isn't the funniest movie ever the movie does make you feel good about life. Perhaps the negative things that happen to the characters and how they overcome them that made me feel so good, or maybe it was the brilliant direction and script, or maybe, just maybe this is one of those rare movies that can be classed as a masterpiece. Anyway the fact is at the moment that this is my current second favourite movie of the year, behind The Dark Knight of course. The performances here are extremely top notch, I have no idea why I ever doubted Josh Peck in the role. I suppose Drake and Josh had destroyed all my images of him ever being a serious actor, which is stupid because I remember how brilliant he was in the highly under-watched Mean Creek. But this movie belongs to Sir Ben Kingsley as Peck's psychiatrist/friend/man he sells dope to. Kingsley is hilarious yet also oddly touching in a role not many actors could pull off. His story arc is played through extremely well, and whenever he is on screen the movie is a true revelation. But extra credit must go to the director, who has made an unoriginal tale seem so vivid and original its extraordinary.

Anyway as I said Josh Peck was an extremely pleasant surprise as Luke. Peck really proves himself as an actor in this movie, in fact to the extent that I believe he could potentially gain an Oscar nomination in future years, not for this movie though, he's good not that good. Peck delivers some pretty amusing lines pretty easily, but where he really shines through is the more dramatic sequences. A scene at the beach towards the end sees him deliver a killer of a performance. It also helps that he has considerable chemistry with Sir Ben Kingsley. Seriously I would love to see them in a movie together after this performance. Anyway Sir Ben Kingsley. I admit to not being much of a fan of him. Despite him delivering a good performance in Gandhi, which I have always regarded as overlong, tedious and way overrated, nothing else really stood out in my eyes. It also doesn't help his performance in Thunderbirds still haunts me to this day. However I honestly want him to get an Oscar nomination for his performance here. He is brilliant. This is the only movie you will probably see him kissing an Olsen, using a bong, and getting high a lot. His storyline is the best thing in the movie, and whenever he is on screen the movie goes from very good, to incredible. Olivia Thirlby delivers almost an equally as impressive performance as Peck. She makes a potential two dimensional character quite possibly more than three dimensional! Her character is never dull, not a stereotype, and her very final scene with Peck really is one of the films many highlights. Famek Janssen seems to have drawn the short straw in this movie, unfortunately she gets barely any screen time. A shame since her character does actually get very interesting in the middle of the movie, yet she seems a bit wasted, despite an above average performance.

The true power of The Wackness however comes from the way it is written, and also the direction. I was four in 1994, so am probably not the best person to talk about the time the movie is set, at this time I was still running around in my Power Rangers pyjamas! Anyway the music and the way people talk in the movie seem pretty accurate by my accounts, and also there are moments the feel of the movie seems pretty right. Anyway enough about that, the script here is the key. As I have said before the storyline isn't exactly original, in fact when it all boils down to it the movie is a simple coming of age tale. Still the script here makes the storyline seem refreshing. Peck is made to be extremely sympathetic, even when he is at his mopiest. Kingsley's character gets all the best lines of course, but his more dramatic moments once again show the level of thought gone into the character. The movie doesn't start off in the best way though, the first ten minutes are admittedly not what I really expected and left me a bit dumbstruck. Most namely a dance on the subway, which the more I think about the more I like. Anyway by the end you do feel genuinely happy and also impressed. There were seven people in my cinema screen, only me and my friend really laughed in it, but this is still a movie I urge people to see.

The Wackness is probably the biggest surprise for me of the year and one I cannot wait to buy on DVD. It won't make mega bucks at the cinema, but this really deserves to be watched more than it has been so far.
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Get Smart (2008)
Smarter than I expected
21 August 2008
A few years ago a similar spy comedy arrived in the form of Johnny English. I remember getting stupidly excited about Johnny English, not only do I love Rowan Atkinson's work, I love spy movies, and I generally love spy spoofs. However what I also remember as I watched that movie was just how disappointed I was by it. While it was funny at times it was puerile, it was boring and it sadly wasn't half the movie it could have been. Now when I saw the trailers for Get Smart unfortunately I was bracing myself for another Johnny English. I've never seen the television series, but all I kept seeing was an American version of Johnny English, only with Steve Carell (whose work I also love). So what a great surprise it is to say I really enjoyed Get Smart, probably more than I really should have done as it is puerile at times as well. But its also genuinely funny, Steve Carell does a great job, the cast are hilarious, and there are also some pretty decent action sequences in there as well. Admiteddly, much like Zohan, Get Smart is a bit too long for its own good, and there are some jokes that fall flat. Still this is a comedy well worth seeing, and definitely one of the more successful comedies in recent years. Oh and of course its worth seeing for Alan Arkin diving at a man in a meeting, priceless.

Performance wise this delivers really well. Steve Carell delivers a very good performances here, most namely because he plays it mostly straight. Sure he does his usual shouting bit here and there, but generally he plays a pretty straight role, hell Maxwell Smart is a lot more intelligent than I ever expected him to be. To be fair that's part of the joy in the movie, Smart is not a complete idiot, he's sometimes a bit foolish, and he's not the best spy in the world, but he does have his moments. Ann Hathaway delivers yet another established comedy performance, showing that she has come a long way since The Princess Diaries. She has great chemistry with Carell and the pair have great moments. Alan Arkin steals most of the movie as the Chief of Control. While he isn't in it for a lot of the time, the scenes he does have are great. And he also gets involved in the action towards the end! Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson once again shows he does have a pretty good sense of humour. The staple moment from the trailer being just as funny in the film. Terence Stamp is a hilarious villain and his line about snoring while awake made me laugh the most in the movie. And I haven't even begun to talk about Bill Murray in a tree, actually not as funny as it sounds really.

Comedy wise Get Smart has both moments of brilliance, and moments that don't work as well. Steve Carell's shouting in "the cone of silence" not being half as funny as apparently the rest of the cinema thought it was, and Terence Stamp's dry one liners, and a priceless meeting being definitely the best moments of the film. Yet the biggest surprise is that as an action film it does hold up quite well. The final scenes in Los Angeles actually being almost edge of your seat stuff, and a mi-air fight (which is a complete rip-off of Moonraker I have to add) being quite well made and funny at the same time. Still the movie isn't always perfect. By the time the movie is finally drawing to a close you do feel as if you've spent to long with Smart. The final gag as well really is a pretty limp way to send the film off. Still Get Smart is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, and the great theme tune will be stuck in your head for hours.

Overall Get Smart is a good, fun movie, that while flawed is still well worth watching. A lot better than Johnny English, and up there with the best of Austin Powers, its funny, well written and has a great cast.
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Average TV episode, very poor movie
15 August 2008
The very worst moment of Star Wars: The Clone Wars occurs in the very first five minutes. You see I was aware that John Williams' Star Wars theme tune was not going to be used, so I was prepared for it in some degree. The music they do use is bad, but it didn't throw me too much. No what did throw me, to the extent I actually wanted to walk out there and then, was the god-awful voice over that explained what was going on afterwards! Thankfully the movie improves after that, but throughout this movie I guarantee most audiences will think exactly the same thing, "well what exactly is the point of it?" This was intended for television originally, and admittedly I think on television this might have worked. However as a movie the poor story, the terrible voice acting and kiddie humour is just all too much. I am a huge Star Wars fan, hell I even liked the prequels, they weren't perfect but Episode III had an emotional impact I never expected. Clone Wars is just shoddy, its not so much reassuring Star Wars fans that Star Wars has a future, its sticking a middle finger up to them and reaping in the money. Anyway it isn't all bad, once the story gets going and the brilliant action sequences begin then you do get a bit distracted. But whenever the action stops boredom really kicks in, I was bored after half an hour and was horrified to realise I still had an hour to go.

So onto the voice acting. Most noticeable is the missing actors from the Star Wars prequels. Surprisingly though the voice of Anakin, Matt Lanter, is arguably better than Hayden Christenson. While he is irritating at times, he at least has a sense of fun about the voice. A shame then that James Arnold Taylor sound positively bored as Obi-Wan. The character is just so dull and pointless in this movie, any scene where he and Anakin gets to talk is just dull because his voice bores you to tears. The new characters of the movie includes Anakin apprentice, Ahsoka, voiced by Ashley Eckstein. Ahsoka is not a bad character to be honest, and her banter with Anakin, well some of it (more on the bad stuff later) has the sense of fun from the original Star Wars movies. Christopher Lee unfortunately is wasted as Dooku, Dooku is essentially relegated to repeating what is going on in the story, and repeatedly talking about his plan, that's all really. Samuel L Jackson shouldn't have bothered making the effort, he has four lines I think, and none of them memorable. Oh and the new voice of Yoda, Tom Kane, deserves to be repeatedly punched in the face, he was god-awful.

But the really big problem with the Clone Wars is that it constantly feels like a television episode. I know it was originally three episodes, and they made it into one big movie, but it feels so cheap and uninspired. I don't get why Lucas would ever imagine this deserves a big screen release as it really doesn't. At best its a good episode of the past Clone Wars series, at worst its a shoddy Saturday morning cartoon with big bangs to catch the kids attentions. The humour here is almost unbearable at times, the droids get such stupid moments I cringed. Jabba's son is an interesting creation and done quite well, but did we really need a movie revolving around him? And do not get me started on Ziro the Hutt, Jar Jar has a run for his money as worst Star Wars character ever. The script makes the romance scenes from Episode II now look positively Oscar worthy. The dire-logue just makes it all the more apparent it is really a TV series. Ahsoka however does get the worst of the lines. While at times she is fun, unfortunately she gets to call Skywalker by the name "Skyguy". When I heard this I nearly choked my coke I was drinking. For the love of god never let her say that in the real TV series! Still it isn't all bad, the fight between Dooku and Anakin is suitably epic enough, and some of the big fights do look impressive. Also the animation, while not realistic, does oddly work and impresses.

So Clone Wars is a pretty huge disappointment if I'm honest. I was willing to give it a chance, and the trailers did raise my hopes. But unfortunately this is as bad as the Star Wars series can get in my eyes. It'll no doubt please the kids, and I will watch the TV series in a hope it might get better, but why oh why is it being classed as a movie?
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Best movie of all time
14 August 2008
There is a reason I have waited quite a long time to finally post this review in actual fact I saw this movie (on Imax) a few weeks back, and since then I have seen it again on a regular cinema screen. You see I have been waiting three years for The Dark Knight, followed it from the very first signs of post production, and got caught up in the huge amount of hype surrounding the movie from very early on. The tragic death of Heath Ledger added tonnes more interest to the movie and has no doubt helped increase the huge box office the movie has been receiving, to date in the USA alone it has over $400 million and looks set to overtake Star Wars as the second highest grossing movie of all time. So the big question really is, does the Dark Knight live up to expectations. Good god yes! I would go as far to say now it is my favourite movie of all time. The Dark Knight is pitch perfect. Christian Bale once again is amazing as Bruce Wayne and Batman (although I still do at times question his voice for Batman), but this movie does truly belong to two actors. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, and of course Heath Ledger as the infamous Joker. This is a very smart and brave movie, while there is a lot of action it doesn't take centre stage. At the very centre of the movie there is a pivotal story revolving around three men, Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent, three men who want to do good in a very bad city. And then of course The Joker comes along to mess things up, because its just so much fun! The story is extremely grand and uses the most of its two and half hour run time, in fact any shorter and the movie might fail, it really needs its length and is involving throughout.

So onto the performances. Christian Bale is not getting half as much press he deserves for this movie. Bale really is perfect as Wayne and Batman, he is the definitive Batman of our time and makes him extremely believable. I'll confess I prefer him playing Bruce Wayne to Batman, I just find the Batman voice a bit odd every time I hear it for the first five minutes. Still he does no wrong for the most part. However as I have said the movie belongs to two people. Heather Ledger and Aaran Eckhart. Ledger to be honest deserves the Oscar for next year, he really does. The Joker is completely insane, there is no other word for it. He's funny, manic, but also downright scary. The scene where he tortures a cop on video camera is downright scary because of Ledger's voice in the background, just hear him growl "Look at me" and feel the shivers go up your spine. Also he is never overused. That was always one of my biggest gripes with Nicholson's Joker in the original Batman, while he was a laugh, he was also used way too much. His best scene by far involves a brilliant pencil trick, that is truly priceless. Aaran Eckhart is the other shining light of the movie. I have never seen Eckhart in anything before, but here he is pitch perfect. For the none-Batman fans among us I will not spoil what happens to Dent, but let me say it is brilliant how it is done. His best scene has to be the speech to the public regarding "the dawn", once again chills went up my spine. The rest of the cast do equally as well. Gary Oldman once again shows his talent as Jim Gordon, his character gets a hell of a lot to do this time and it made me appreciate the character all the more. Maggie Gylenhaal does a better job than Katie Holmes as Racherl, once again will not spoil the story surrounding her, but it gives her character much better moments than she ever had in Batman Begins. Morgan Freeman does well in his all too limited screen time, and Michael Caine provides excellent comic relief once again as Alfred.

Of course the key to The Dark Knight, as it was with Batman Begins, is brilliant storytelling and direction. Christopher Nolan really ups the ante with this movie, in my mind this is by far Nolan's best movie and I will be amazed if he ever tops it. The story here is extremely compelling and I love the fact The Joker is never really explained, he comes onto our screens fully formed and its a breath of fresh air. Its nice not to have his madness truly explained, he's a mad dog unleashed on the world and he's brilliant. There are several surprises to be had in the movie, not least of all a scene involving a hell of a lot of cans of gasoline, which I cannot spoil, it shocked me to the core and left me on edge for the rest of the movie. The action is mighty impressive here, the bike sequence is thrilling and by far my favourite of the action sequences, a hospital scene is brilliant but also funny as anything, and the big final fight, while not the best choreographed has a huge amount of tension surrounding it. I highly recommend people watch this on Imax if they can, it was my first Imax experience and it didn't disappoint, the opening shot especially is a stunner.

So as you might have gathered I liked the movie, a lot, and I cannot wait to see it again. Really if you want the best Blockbuster in many, many years then you have to see this movie. Hell its by far the best superhero movie ever, and so much more. Dark, violent, but brilliant. The Dark Knight really is the definitive movie experience of my time.
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Raised from the dead
7 August 2008
I'm going to risk a lot of my very tiny amount of credibility by praising this movie. I'm aware straight off I am in the very small minority of people that actually enjoyed this movie, I realise I'm also in the even smaller minority of people who would like to see a fourth Mummy movie as a result of this, but the truth is, as naff and as flawed as this movie truly is, I haven't had as much fun watching a movie for a long time. The Mummy series was very hit and miss, the first movie being brilliant and a definite hit, The Mummy Returns being fun but ridiculous and the ending destroyed the film, The Scorpion King (not really part of the series) was a disaster and I would rather have my eyes gouged out that watch it again. But this latest effort, despite the high criticisms, I found to be the second best entry in the series. The movie is fast paced, has some good action sequences and its also very entertaining. Sure the lack of Rachel Weisz is noticeable, while Maria Bello does a half decent job she just doesn't replace Weisz. The movie also has a huge tendency to go very over the top, yetis anyone (yes you read that), but then again lets face it this series has never been one for being subtle. While its as stupid as can be I really enjoyed the movie and am willing to be scaved as a result of enjoying it.

So onto the performances. First off is Brendan Fraser returning on leading man duties. Fraser in my eyes is a very competent and fun leading man. He was one of the highlights of Journey to the Centre of the Earth (once again another surprisingly good movie, also in the minority for liking it here), and he stole the show in the past two Mummy movies. In this third outing he admittedly is not as good as he was in the original movie, yet he is still an interesting character. Fraser delivers his usual, generally quite funny puns, has some great action moments, and just seems so likable. Maria Bello is the one getting the most criticism out of this movie, really its quite obvious why. Everyone misses Rachel Weisz, hell I did, and Bello just doesn't live up to her. Still once you get over that, it only bugged me for the first half hour, you realise despite a slightly dodgy English accent Bello is more than competent enough to pull it off. Her and Fraser have chemistry together, not as much as Weisz had though, and they make the scenes more fun when they are together. Jet Li does a competent job on lead villain duties, while his Mummy is nowhere near as menacing as Arnold Vosloo's Imhotep he still manages to do a good job. Michelle Yeoh is brilliant in her all to brief screen time, but her scenes in the prologue really are superb. John Hannah returns as Jonathan, and once again has some very funny stuff, although his scene with a vomiting yak are questionable at best. I suppose the one weak link of the cast has to be Luke Ford as Alex, the little kid from the second movie. While he isn't as bad and annoying as the kid from the second movie, the grown up Alex is lacking a personality to be blunt. He's alright, but I'd have preferred he'd have been left out of the movie.

The third Mummy has left Egypt and gone off to China, when I first heard this I was horrified. While I still do prefer the Mummy movies being set in Egypt, the setting of China did surprisingly work and the whole Teracotta army being the Mummy's is actually a decent idea. As I've previously mentioned this movie does get a tad silly. The yetis are the most questionable aspect in my eyes. While they are not as bad as I feared, I just cannot make my mind up about them. They have a cool action sequence, and to some extent their point in the movie is explained, but seriously yetis? A three headed dragon appears at some point as well, as well as a big wolf/dog monster thingie which I can't explain, they're pretty cool though and they are explained. The action is undeniably cool in this movie, a chase through Shanghai being my personal favourite, and the clash of two undead armies being a close second. The one fight that does fall flat on its face is between Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li, while it gets set up quite epically, when it actually happens the fight is pretty bland. Just an average sword fight that quickly ends. The script is about average, but Mummy movies have never been known for good scripts really, just the action and entertainment value.

So overall The Mummy 3 in my eyes is a good action movie that I will quite happily watch again. While its nowhere near as good as the original movie, it is a hundred times better than the second movie and The Scorpion King. Rob Cohen does a decent job of resurrecting a dead series, but then again as I've said I'm in the minority here, so whether we get a fourth movie or not is very questionable.
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Big, dumb, Summer Fun
12 July 2008
I first saw the trailer for Journey to the Centre of the Earth last Christmas when I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-d. I also remember clearly thinking what a load of rubbish it looked like. It appeared to be a gigantic gimmick, cashing in on the latest 3-d technology. The various TV spots and images I saw of the movie in the past few months has done absolutely nothing to dispel this notion. However this past week something happened I didn't really expect, the critics were giving it quite decent reviews, most praising it as ridiculously good fun. I was still sceptical, but also in some way intrigued, perhaps the trailers were just poorly done. So I went to see the movie today, of course in 3-d (more on that later) and was absolutely amazed at how entertaining the movie really is. While the movie does feel like a gimmick at times, do we really need that yo-yo scene, the movie also does seem quite well made. The performances too were good for a movie that really could just have been a cash in, Brendan Fraser is surprisingly likable and good in the movie, and Josh Hutcherson continues to deliver performances that all Hollywood kids should be delivering as good as. But most importantly its so much fun, the action sequences looks incredible in 3-d, and the landscapes of the actual Centre of the Earth do look beautiful. This is a 3-d movie, and make no mistakes by thinking it is worth watching in 2-d, it really isn't. The movie is a kids movie, and so we get an all too happy ending, but there is a brief moment of darkness before the end, and that too makes the movie all the better for adults.

So onto the performances. Brendan Fraser as I have said delivers a decent performance here. He seemed to have disappeared in recent years, but with both this and The Mummy 3 arriving in cinemas this year I am sure we might be seeing some more of him over the next few years. While he does have to deal with a lot of clichéd lines in the movie, he does also ooze charisma and seems a genuinely nice bloke. He also does a great double act alongside Josh Hutcherson as his nephew. Hutcherson really is an A-lister in the making in my opinion, while his performance here doesn't match what he did Bridge to Terabithia, he still makes a potentially average brat into a likable characters with genuine motivations. His characters transformation neither feels forced nor corny, and one moment with Fraser in front of a sunset is one of the many highlights of the movie. Anita Briem is also surprisingly good as the "Best mountain climber in the world." Once again this could be a run of the mill plot device character, yet she makes it a much more interesting one. The script gives her some good moments and she does have considerable chemistry with Fraser.

But of course the main attraction of the movie has to be its effects and of course the 3-d. The early part of the movie does feature the most gimmicks of the 3-d, we get the yo-yo scene, the spitting scene, etc. While they get the kids excited they're not the most exciting things to watch in the world and certainly don't make a good movie. Its when the trio go up to a mountain the 3-d really does work. Not only does the scenery look beautiful, but it feels alive as it pops out of the screen at you. Nightmare Before Christmas didn't do the 3-d too well, but Centre of the Earth really does it brilliantly. A mine cart chase is the cinematic equivalent of a roller coaster ride and really does get the adrenaline pumping. The much promised T-Rex sequence does not disappoint, and a surprisingly tense magnetic rock sequence (don't ask) looks all the better for the 3-d. The script is also much better than it really should be, in fact it actually works better than your average blockbuster to be honest. But as I keep saying do not waste your money on the 2-d version. I understand why they're releasing it in 2-d, the producers do need their money back, but it really will not be the same thing. Having seen Beowulf in 3-d and 2-d I know how much a disappointment the 2-d version can be after seeing the beauty of the 3-d.

Overall Journey to the Centre of the Earth may very well be the biggest surprise of the summer, and quite possibly the year. While it won't win awards it does entertaining, and the hundreds of kids who were in my screen today seemed just as impressed and entertained as I was. Also the promise of a potential sequel at the end of the movie didn't horrify me, in fact I'm ashamed to admit I'd quite happily watch another one if its delivered with the same quality.
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Meet Dave (2008)
Mediocre Comedy with a Good Lead
12 July 2008
Eddie Murphy's career has been steadily going downhill, in some critics opinions he hit rock bottom last year with Norbit, which I found bad but semi-funny at the same time. It was ironic really that arguably his worst movie came out after one of his best performances in Dreamgirls, a performance that to this day I still say deserved the Oscar. Anyway from the trailers I was not looking forward to Meet Dave at all, there are funny, odd movies and there are odd movies, Meet Dave just looked downright odd. The premise, while I suppose original, didn't really look like prime comedy in the making. Still I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of it today and so I took it. Surprisingly the first half hour of the movie I actually really enjoyed, had the movie kept up with that level of consistency I would have quite given it an 8/10. Eddie Murphy does some great physical comedy as the actual robot (or spaceship depending what way you look at it) Dave, and a decent performance as the actual captain of the ship. While it wasn't hilarious it was amusing, and did make me laugh. Unfortunately after the half way mark the sentimentality just gets thrown in our faces and eventually drags the movie down. Still the moral is relatively well done and there are moments here to make this an above average movie. A shame though as the earlier scenes showed potential for a great movie.

So onto the performances. True to form Eddie Murphy takes on multiple roles in this movie, however unlike The Nutty Professor and Norbit he looks and sounds like Eddie Murphy in both roles. The main role I suppose has to Murphy as the Captain of the ship, in this role he does seem to be having fun at first. He seems a bit like a captain of the Star Trek Enterprise, obsessed with the mission, constantly requesting "diagnostics reports". However Murphy excels in the actual role of Dave. His first scenes require no speaking, just a lot of physical comedy, and it is these moments that the movie really works. His sequence where he learns how to smile is priceless, and his first few scenes wondering round New York too do really work. Its when he seems to practically be a human the movie does falter. The rest of the performances are relatively mixed. Elizabeth Banks does well in a very limited role, as does the sadly wasted Scott Caan in a sub-plot that never really achieves anything. The kid is your average Hollywood kid, he might as well have stereotype slapped right across his forehead. Ed Helms is a laugh as Number 2 in command and comes into his own near the end, but Gabrielle Union as Number 3 is pretty pointless.

Meet Dave is a mixed bag when it comes to the comedy. As I keep saying the opening physical comedy does really work, and unlike in the trailers the scenes shown do work when put in context. But after the half way mark the movie just seems to be trying to shove its message in your face way too hard. There is a well executed moment where a hobo shares a blanket with Dave, that delivers the moral quite well, but later scenes just do not work and verge on excruciating. The movie also doesn't seem sure what to do with itself after a certain point. We get some back story surrounding some ball thing that can save the Captain's planet, the story is all a bit vague and just an excuse for Eddie Murphy to do some funny stuff. The ending is a bit bland although relatively funny and much better than the middle section of the movie. The direction isn't bad neither is the script, I think the main problem really is the story of the whole thing. What I did notice was that many people in the screen got bored, most namely kids, suggesting this isn't as main stream a movie as it first might seem. This also seems to imply that this won't do all too well as the box office.

Overall Meet Dave is relatively light entertainment which does give Eddie Murphy something to do between Shrek movies. Its not revolutionary, and I doubt many people will remember it the following day, but the first half hour does really work and shows what could have been a much better movie.
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Mamma Mia! (2008)
Mamma Mia! It is really good!
10 July 2008
The musical is a genre that I have to confess I do quite enjoy. The older musicals such as Sound of Music, Grease, Annie don't interest me in the slightest, but then again my mum killed Sound of Music with endless repeats many years ago. However the more recent musicals have really been quite brilliant. Starting off with Moulin Rouge really, sure it wasn't a stage show before hand, sure it was odd, but my god it was brilliant. Chicago followed suit, although this time being adapted from a screen show. And in the past year two of my all time favourite musicals, Hairspray and Sweeney Todd, have all been made and been amazing. However two previously stage show musicals that did not do so well had to be The Producers (enjoyable but uninspired), and the dismal Phantom of the Opera that had me crawling at the walls. So I was unsure how good Mamma Mia would be, take out the songs would it be lame and uninspired, or would the story hold together. Thankfully Mamma Mia is a truly brilliant musicals and also the feel good film of the summer! The film features an extremely strong cast, brilliant songs, and a story which while unoriginal does hold together and works quite well. But what makes the movie work so damned well has to be the certain level of charm, you can't help but smile for some reason. Perhaps it is ABBA's infectious songs, perhaps its Meryl Streep giving a superb performance, either way it still makes for a brilliant movie.

So onto the cast and of course their singing voice. When Meryl Streep was announced as the lead Donna I was unsure how she would work, but after seeing the movie I have no idea why I doubted her. Her performance here reinforces the fact that she really is one of the greatest actresses of our time. And by god does she have a good singing voice as well. Its her brilliant rendition of Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen that really livens the film up. Right up until then the movie does seem to drag a tiny bit. Amanda Seyfried is surprisingly brilliant as Amanda, the girl the wedding all revolves around. We'll hopefully be seeing a lot more of her after this movie. Pierce Brosnan does well in the talking moments, yet not so well in the singing department. He starts off terribly but does seem to improve. Colin Firth is pretty good and much like St Trinian's proves he doesn't take himself too seriously. Stellen Skarsgard is decent in a pretty limited role to be honest. Julie Walters is a hoot as the brilliant aunt, her final scene being truly priceless.

Mamma Mia of course is mostly all about the songs, and while a few of the songs weren't as recognisable to me as others, the main songs, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, Money, Money, Money etc, are all there and are all done to absolutely perfection. But the very best song comes courtesy of Meryle Streep on top of a mountain singing The Winner Takes It All, its the emotional height of the movie and it is just amazing. Definitely one of the best scenes of the year so far. But thankfully the story does work very well. You're kept guessing right up to the very end who the actual father is, and there are a few twists and turns along the way as well that make the movie a more interesting ride. The direction and script are also done pretty well. The only reason this fall short of being as good as Hairspray to be honest is the movie does hit a snag ten minutes in and roughly twenty minutes before the end. The movie doesn't have as many songs and it seems a tiny bit dull without them. Still the minute the songs start up again the movie is great and lively.

Overall Mamma Mia isn't the best scripted, directed movie of all time, but its something light, fluffy and downright entertaining. If you don't like ABBA then avoid this like the plague, but if you find the songs infectious (even if you don't like to admit it as I do) the movie is quite brilliant and worth seeing for Meryl Streep mighty impressive performance alone.
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Hancock (2008)
Misunderstood or just Misguided?
3 July 2008
Negative buzz has been surrounding Hancock for quite some time, yet not in my life it hasn't. Ever since I saw the first trailer for the movie I got excited about it, it looked genuinely funny, inventive and it starred Will Smith, a sure fire success then right? Will Smith is a great actor and I love nearly every movie he has ever been in, even I Am Legend had its great moments. Yet there is one Will Smith I cannot stand, that being Wild Wild West, which for the sake of space and time I won't even begin criticising. So does Hancock live up to his greats, or deserves to be dead and buried like Wild Wild West? Well it's a mixture of both to be honest. Obviously I didn't hate it, hence the 6/10 rating, but it was also dull and boring in some sections, only livened by Smith's electric presence. Let me start by saying the start of the movie is priceless, funny and witty as hell. Smith gives his funniest performance in years and the movie is brilliant. Unfortunately once we hit the jail scenes onwards the movie hits a snag, while it does have its dark humour streak but Will Smith's sharp tongue alone cannot gloss over the fact the movie is going absolutely nowhere at an incredibly slow pace. As the movie goes on it just descends into almost madness with loads of waffle about immortals and a twist so obvious that I rolled my eyes when it happened. Still the movie does have its share of action and the comedy is pretty inventive, yet its not the movie it really could have been and is certainly nowhere near Smith's best.

So onto the acting. As I've previously said Will Smith is truly brilliant in the role, when we first meet him he's a drunken slob who is hated by everyone. He makes out he doesn't care that he's hated but deep down he really does, still these scenes give Smith the opportunity to come out with some classic lines. The best by far being his response to a fat person, I won't spoil it but it made me cry with laughter. Even as the plot gets more and more silly Smith still does a good performance. Admittedly he does become too nice a superhero towards the end, and you do wish his darker streak would return. Charlize Theron does a good job in a role that starts off unimportant but gradually shows importance later. By the end she delivers a pretty impressive performance, and she also seems to be having some fun. Still her opening scenes are pretty painful and bland to watch. Jason Bateman is pretty good for the first half of the movie, being funny and interesting at the same time. Unfortunately he pretty much becomes pointless near the end, in fact its his absence towards the end that really impacts on the movie. The focus on Hancock's relationship with him at the beginning if the best parts of the movie, take that away and it loses its sheen a bit. And then we go onto the lead villain duties, played by Eddie Marsan. To say the character is garbage is an understatement, I doubt I'd class him as a villain, he's more of an after thought that anything else. Its an average performance for a poor character.

So do the successes of Hancock outweigh its mediocrity? Thankfully it just about does. The first third of the movie is a solid 9/10 movie, no question about it. The second third is a 3/10 movie, and the final third just about gets a 6/10, so on average the movie is a 6/10 movie. The script itself is pretty sharp for the most part, only losing its focus near the muddled conclusion. The directing is solid for the most part, although the constant usage of hand-held cameras does start to get annoying in your average talky bit, I just wanted to scream at the director to keep still! The action and special effects are extremely good, the final third takes pride in its big brawls and they do really thrill. The opening bits with Hancock flying are equally impressive. However its the odd indecision of whether the movie is serious or a comedy that really proves the movies down point. Its three movies in one, only one being the movie it really should have been. Still it is a bit of moderate summer fare, and I suspect kids and easily pleased adults will find much to enjoy with Hancock. Its also highly forgettable as well, a shame as with a sharper focus this could have been one of the best movies of the year.

Overall Hancock is the big average movie of the summer, while funny and witty, the movie is also dull and sluggish. Will Smith just about rises this above mediocrity, but I'm afraid it's destined to be forgotten pretty quickly.
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The Happening (2008)
First Lady in the Water, and now this?
27 June 2008
M.Night Shyamalan caused a lot of controversy amongst cinema goers nowadays. What started as a hugely promising career (with The Sixth Sense) has rapidly gone downhill, his last movie Lady in the Water being loathed by the majority, and loved by a very small minority. I'll confess to being unsure what to make of his movies. The Sixth Sense in my opinion was overrated, Unbreakable was a classic and his best, Signs had moments of brilliance but a bad ending, The Village was so focused on its twists it got dull quick, and then there was Lady. Lady was something I watched five times and each time changed my opinion. I hated it first time, loved it second time, was confused by it third, and the past two times I've just been left a bit blank by it. Its a misconceived movie for sure, but its very well made. And now we get onto The Happening, something that I was dreading seeing. The critics have slaughtered the movie and the early screenings were full of negativity. Still I went into the cinema two days ago, only after being turned away for seeing Wanted, and watched it. Now I expected it to be bad, I never expected it to be this bad. I did enjoy myself while watching the movie, but unfortunately it was because I was laughing at how bad it was. The Happening is simply a disaster on every level. The script, acting and directing is just terrible. The movie is easily one of the worst films I have ever seen and bare in mind I have seen Meet the Spartans. Mark Wahlberg is diabolical, Zooey Deschanel seems bored and confused by the experience, the storyline just seems confused, the ending stinks of anticlimax, and there are so many scenes that aim for serious but are stupidly funny because of it.

As I previously said the acting was horrendous. But was this really the actors fault? I am unsure as of yet, the script is horrendous but I am sure the actors could have made a bit more effort. Mark Wahlberg is very lucky to have any credibility left after this movie. If he hadn't have delivered a killer of a performance in The Departed I would avoid all future movies with him in. He is just terrible. Miscast and terrible. A scene where a companion shoots themselves sees Wahleberg response being "Oh no". I burst out laughing there and then. A later scene where he talks to a plant, yes you are reading that correct, just left me gob smacked. Zooey Deschanel at first is even worse than Wahlberg. Her opening scene is horrendous, in fact I was worried for Deschanel as it seemed like she had forgotten completely how to act. She does get better towards the end, but the script drags her down and her final scenes just annoyed me. The always reliable John Leguizamo does a decent job in his all too few scenes and his final sequence is one of the very, very few highlights. Yet he is in the movie for about half an hour, it annoys me as if Shyamalan had sense he would have realised Leguizamo had a better character and the audience would have been more interested in watching his story. Oh and the worst person in the movie, has to be the random crazy old lady played by Betty Buckley. Had the script and storyline allowed she could have had a decent character here, but she is just absurd and has the worst scenes in the movie by far. That and her and Wahlberg have the worst scene of the year, which basically ends in Wahlberg uttering in false amazement, "What? No."

The Happening has so many more problems than the actors though. The first problems begin when we actually see the people begin killing themselves, while on paper standing still and uttering mad things then killing yourself might sound decent. The way it is done on screen is laughable. A scene where people jump of building sites aims for horrifying, but just ends up ludicrous, I found that scene funny as did the majority of people in the cinema. The storyline itself just gets worse and worse, when we find out what the actual "happening" is you just roll your eyes in disappointment. Not only is the "happening" never properly explained, but it seems to change constantly, one moments it involves small groups of people, the next that idea is thrown out the window and we have them running away from the wind. I really had no idea what was really going on near the end, it wasn't confusing just misconceived. The movie has next to no thrills, the running away from wind sequence is laughable and the suicide scenes gradually get repetitive. And then we get to the ending. There is one scene near the end featuring Wahlberg and Deschanel walking towards each other in the wind, I won't spoil it, but that one scene actually gave me hope. Had what I though was going to happen actually happened the movie might have had a tiny bit of redemption. It looked like the movie was actually taking a risk. Alas it doesn't and we end up with an ending miles worse than Signs could ever offer. The movie is a giant anticlimax, and the very final scene just amplifies this all the more.

Based on The Happening I would actually argue Shyamalan should consider another career path, or at least realise he cannot write a decent script and stop writing them. All involved in this movie should just move on quickly and pretend it never happened. This is the first true failure of the summer, and what a huge failure it is. I recommend you watch it, but only to see one of the greatest failures of recent years.
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Hulk smashes to success
12 June 2008
Ang Lee's movie Hulk received an extremely mixed reception upon its release in 2003. While it did deliver as a drama, and the performances were pretty good, as a Hulk movie it kind of left out the Hulk, we barely saw the big green giant, and for a comic book that took pride in Hulk smashing it really didn't feature an awful lot of it. I suppose it's no surprise that Ang Lee's version has almost been ignored, it wasn't a commercial movie, and while I appreciated moments of it the movie just really wasn't a Hulk movie. So The Incredible Hulk is rebooting the entire series, while its not a complete start over like Batman Begins it just seems like a fresh new break. And what a fresh break it is, The Incredible Hulk basically smooths over every flaw the original movie had yet maintains the quality drama from the first movie. But most importantly of all, Hulk finally smashes! The final fight sequence is pretty much one of the highlights of this year so far, it is truly incredible. The performances are also an improvement, Edward Norton being a much more accurate interpretation of Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler being superb as Betty Ross and Tim Roth, well just being downright brilliant on lead villain duties. Sure the movie essentially is a big dumb popcorn flick, but its also an extremely well made one. In fact I actually preferred it to Iron Man, although both are still some of the best superhero movies to date and both show a great improvement in terms of Marvel adaptations.

So let me go more in-depth with the performances. Edward Norton really hit the core of Bruce Banner. I had nothing wrong with Eric Bana's portrayal in the original movie, but he just didn't suit the character as well as Norton does. Norton seems more the geeky scientist desperate for a cure, a man desperate to stop his inner self. The scenes at the beginning where he tries to control himself show a great performance from Norton, and the scenes he shares with Liv Tyler are touching. That leads me onto Tyler's performance, and I'd go as far to say she delivers the best performance in the movie. The scene where she finally sees Bruce again is brilliantly done, its done in a subtle way, but Tyler's performance just makes it all the better. A later scene in a helicopter with the pair is the highlight of their chemistry and one of the highlights of the movie. William Hurt is a great general in the movie, both villain and victim to an extent, Hurt really characterises a possibly two-dimensional character. And then there is Tim Roth, the caged animal of an actor who does villains like no other. He is brilliant, snarling constantly and wanting to more than he could ever be. The scenes before he literally turns into an "Abomination" show a brilliant performance from him, and makes it all the more apparent how the original movie lacked a suitable villain for the Hulk.

But the main thing people want to know is how good is the actual Hulk in the movie. The CGI I thought was great, sure its not the best CGI in the world, but I began to believe he was there and the transformation sequences were extremely well done. But what Hulk does best in this movie is smash his way around. The three key fight sequences all being noteworthy, but the final just being stunning. The best scene in the movie, two words, "Hulk Smash!" I literally had a chill up my spine when I saw the scene and finally made me realise how happy I was to see the big green hero in all his glory in the big screen, and done well. The drama side of the movie is also done extremely well, in some ways it was done even better than Ang Lee's movie. The relationship between Bruce and Betty being vital to the movie, there scenes together are so well written and believable it really hits the heart. The movie also has a sense of humour, the best being Banner trying to keep calm in a New York cab. I suppose the biggest surprise of the movie is the fact the Hulk doesn't have to be on-screen to keep our attention, and that makes this the brilliant film that it is. Like Iron Man, Batman Begins and Spiderman 2 there are superb moments where we don't see the hero or the villain, there are moments that are small, subtle, yet brilliant. This makes this one of the best comic book adaptations to date, and one of the bigger surprises of the Summer.

Overall The Incredible Hulk is a truly incredible reboot for a series I wasn't convinced could survive after Lee's movie. However this movie is stunning in almost every way. Its one of the best movies of the summer I have seen so far and definitely one of the largest surprises I have seen so far. I urge you to watch it, and prepare to see a proper Hulk movie.
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Prom Night (I) (2008)
Funnier than your average comedy, not in a good way
8 June 2008
Prom Night is the sort of horror movie you go into expecting nothing more than a cheap scare, sure in the long run it's likely to be forgettable, but so long as it makes you jump, gives you a laugh and lets you leave the cinema feeling entertained. Prom Night is your average slasher really, no big creepy set piece, nothing really out of the horror movie cliché, its just a piece of average horror junk. Its a shame then that its also a poorly made, acted, and delivered piece of horror junk that not only fails to entertain you, it fails to even slightly chill the bone, it fails to even make you jump! I'd have accepted this a tiny bit more if there was at least some gore to make the movie a tad more interesting, the gore is beyond tame, how this got a 15 is completely beyond me. Adding insult to injury the movie is also stupidly boring, its the same scene pretty much repeated over and over again, its only in the last half hour we get a tiny bit of change, and yet that features so many stupidly pointless scenes its hard to wonder what the hell the point in the movie is. Oh and did I mentioned its funny, stupidly funny. Hell I was crying with laughter in one bit, its a shame its completely unintentional, and the bit I am on about is a bit when a man gets killed. The stupidly poor reaction just sent me into hysterics. Prom Night is a thriller basically devoid of any thrills, the only reason it actually gets a 2 is because of the fact I laughed in it, and I think my brain has numbed the experience making me forget it almost instantly.

So onto the acting, or well the cardboard cut-outs. First there is Brittany Snow, who I noticed had a distractingly hairy face, anyway she was stupidly poor. Her acting experience ranging from startled expression to make random crying noises via trying not to scream. The opening sequence with her is just ridiculous, and one of the final scenes, which conveniently enough is repeated (yes the scene is literally a copy scene for scene) just shows you've had enough of the actress. The actual killer himself, played by Johnathon Schaech just has little to do. The biggest failure with the character is that we see him too often, he's just not scary as we know exactly where he is in every scene. The acting itself is tolerable, but then again he doesn't have to do much but look evil and stab people. Dana Davis (of Heroes fame) is just about tolerable, although once again she has little to do. She features in the best scene in the movie (trust me that isn't a compliment) as well as the very worst scene (random pigeons, good god). The rest of the cast really are that pointless/forgettable. Essentially they're there just to die, or go through the whole prom motions, or try and catch a killer, they're basically living breathing stereotypes running round.

So that gets me onto the horror side of the movie, or the extreme lack of it. As I have previously mentioned the movie fails because we see the killer to often. Its just so annoying. Scenes that start to become tense are ruined because we just see the killer calmly walk in, scenes that look like they may make you jump abruptly end when we see the killer just standing somewhere in a corner. Tense chase scenes are ruined by stupid random damned pigeons appearing out of nowhere! As you can imagine I really disliked the pigeon sequence. The film being unintentionally funny just stomps the final nail in the coffin really, the porter death scene is something that I want to see again just for a laugh really. The poor dialogue is just embarrassing, the script is once again embarrassing, and the ending so damned predictable you might as well have not bothered to even see the movie. The movie does admittedly improve as it goes on, the first forty minutes being almost unbearable. Once the killing starts you no longer want to slit your wrists, but you still have to cope with an incredible amount of stupidity.

Overall Prom Night is boring, stupid and just a lazy attempt at a horror movie. People who nearly die when watching the tamest horror movie could watch this, it just isn't scary, doesn't make you jump and doesn't even attempt to creep you out. Save your money, go rent the original Halloween if you want a good slasher.
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