Archive for February, 2012


NEW Avengers Trailer!

There isn’t really anything more to say after… WOW!

The trailer starts with a lot of images we’ve seen before, from promotional campaigns and from the end of the Captain America movie but soon we see the heroes being brought in and put together as the Avengers Initiative begins.

Great fight scenes by the looks of it, including one between Iron Man and Thor, perhaps one of them under Loki’s control or is Thor having second thoughts about aligning himself against his brother? The Hulk looks absolutely incredible and the special effects are going to leave audiences with a lot to be in awe of.

And the end reveals another big villain of the film other than Loki. A giant mechanical flying monster which we can only assume to be Fin Fang Foom, an Iron Man villain from the comics.

Only one thing is certain about this film. It will be amazing.

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In the hours following the announcement of Whitney Houston’s death, Apple put up the prices of the late singer’s albums. Apple was then branded as ‘sick’ by angry fans and the general public and were accused of cashing on on the death of Whitney Houston. This price hike was branded a mistake by Sony and iTunes put the prices back to how they were.

Now, less than three weeks after the legendary singer’s passing it seems as though Hollywood are cashing in on the death of Houston. Since her death plans have emerged to remake The Bodyguard which gave Whitney Houston her platform to shoot to superstardom. More recently, plans for a Whitney Houston biopic have also been announced. For some reason, though, nobody seems to care that Hollywood are planning to make money from Houston’s death.

Houston had reportedly already had meetings with her manager about the idea of turning her life into a biopic and now, after her death, Hollywood are moving forward with the plans. They will be immortalising her in film but with, no doubt, a lot of profit for the people in charge and it is disgusting that people in Hollywood are planning to make money from such a tragic event so soon after it has happened.

Rihanna, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson: Is one of these women the new Whitney Houston?

Making her acting debut in Battleship later this year Rihanna is currently the favourite to appear in the remake of The Bodyguard and is being touted around to play Houston in the biopic. Whitney Houston features in a new film released this year entitled Sparkle in which Jordin Sparks plays Houston’s character’s daughter, hence why her name is in the hat. Jennifer Hudson could be a strong contender; she can definitely sing and she already has an Oscar under her belt for Best Supporting Actress in Dreamgirls.

However, Meagan Good has claimed she was already in talks with Whitney Houston about playing her in a biopic of her life before the singer’s death.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Upon release in 2009, Up in the Air was subject to huge critical acclaim. It was named in many critics’ top 10 list of films for that year and nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (x2) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Unfortunately, it failed to win in any of those categories.

*** WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

The film centres around Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer who flies around the United States firing people for a living. We travel with Ryan and learn of his isolated life and his philosophies until his company threatens to ruin the happy life he leads by putting him on the ground.

Firstly, George Clooney is incredible. He has won one Best Actor Oscar (Syriana) and been nominated for three more (including Up in the Air) but I think that Up in the Air is the best I have ever seen him; he brings the character to life and allows the audience to feel how he feels. The supporting cast is just as good; Vera Farmiga (pictured) is great as is Ryan Bingham’s protege, if you like, Anna Kendrick. Then there are smaller, but still brilliant, appearances from Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, J.K. Simmons and Danny McBride to complete a superb acting cast.

Up in the Air is directed by Jason Reitman who is no stranger to critical acclaim with Thank You for Smoking and Juno both under his belt. I wasn’t a big fan of Juno but Reitman has won me round with this masterpiece.

The story is fantastic; it has a strong structure and a complete story arc. The characters really do develop and it is clear to see the three main characters changing over the course of the film. The character development of Ryan Bingham in particular is really good and he is up there with some of my favourite characters from movies ever. The writing of the character, the acting, the story just makes him seem ‘real’ and he’s a man you can sympathise with and empathise with. Although not really likeable at first, after being on the journey with him you come to know him and see sides of him that nobody else sees which is really well done by the film makers.

Although the film prioritises the drama aspect of the film and it is about Ryan’s job the comedy really shines in Up in the Air. Their are lots of funny moments, not necessarily jokes but things which can make the audience chuckle and laugh out loud. It really manages to mix the drama and comedy perfectly.

The ending was perfect and ambiguous which is really enjoyable. It can be read as a happy ending or a sad ending depending on your interpretation of the film and your feelings towards the characters but by this time Ryan’s development has become clear and you see what a nice guy he is. I’ve watched a few films recently where the ending has seemed like a bit of a cop out, but this was not one of them. Fantastic.

I fail to think of any negative point I saw in Up in the Air. Perhaps the only thing was that it didn’t last longer. I was more than satisfied with the running length, it didn’t drag, it didn’t rush but I could happily watch George Clooney as Ryan Bingham for hours. I’ll definitely be re-watching this a lot in future.

My Rating: 9/10

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

When the trailer was first released for Horrible Bosses it seemed to promise so much but upon watching it seems that those promises could not be kept. Whilst not terrible, it wasn’t quite as good as it could have been.

Horrible Bosses revolves around three friends (played by Jason Bateman, Chris Day and Jason Sudeikis) who decide that their bosses are getting in the way of their happiness. They then decide that the only possible solution to their problem is to kill their bosses.

The three main actors, particularly Chris Day, each play their parts well providing some great character interaction and the friendship between the three is entirely believable. Colin Farrell, as Kurt’s (Sudeikis) cocaine addicted boss, is not in the film as much as I would have liked but when he is featured he plays his part and provides some laughs. Kevin Spacey particularly impressed in this and is completely believable as the villain of the piece; he doesn’t provide many laughs but he adds some much needed drama. Even Jennifer Aniston, who is completely over rated by every female on the planet, is tolerable in this and puts in her best performance post-Friends as a sex crazed dentist. Oh, and Jamie Foxx is completely rubbish in this.

The pacing, story, action and character interaction in the first two acts is really good. The first act is a great introduction to the three main characters, the dynamic of their friendship and the wholly unreasonable situations that their bosses put them in. It sets up the film with the story and a few laughs but by the end of the third act you feel like the film never really fulfilled it’s potential.

Some of the scenes seemed slightly too long and were filled out with a lot of dialogue that wasn’t really that humorous unfortunately. Although, this could be down the directing of the piece; there were a lot of long takes which made a few scenes seem to drag and I think that this comes down to inexperience. Horrible Bosses is Seth Gordon’s third feature length film as director; his most recent was Four Christmases and his debut was a film called Squirt which holds a 1.7 rating on IMDB so read what you like into that.

The end is really what lets the film down. Where the first and second acts do all they can to build the audience up for what should be a really good climax, the third act seems to go out of it’s way to ruin any hopes and expectations that the audience may have. It just seems a little too convenient, even for a comedy film where similar things can be forgiven. The ending I refer to is being given the all clear by the police thanks to Kurt’s car’s navigation system operator. The actual tying up of the film afterwards with each of the three main characters returning to work actually felt pretty nice.

I would watch this film again and who knows, maybe it will be better upon second viewing.

My Rating: 6.5/10

UK Release Date: 16th March 2012

Based on a true story, We Bought a Zoo is the tale of Benjamin Mee; a recently widowed father struggling to cope with looking after his two children by himself. Benjamin moves his young family to the countryside when he buys a large house with a zoo at the back. There, Benjamin meets Kelly and with her help him and his family attempt to renovate the zoo and reopen it to the public.

Now, apparently, the main rules of show business are never work with animals or children. This is something that Matt Damon clearly didn’t acknowledge as he takes on the role of Benjamin Mee and, in the trailer at least, it looks as though he was right to do so as it seems as though his performance will be a highlight of the film. The supporting cast looks very strong too including Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church and Elle Fanning.

We Bought a Zoo is predominantly a drama although it does contain elements of comedy which come through in the trailer which is funnier than a lot of trailers for so called comedies that I have seen in the past. You can tell that there is a complete story arc to the film and that the characters do develop which is always a good thing. Before the Oscar nominations were announced there was a lot of buzz around this film receiving a few nominations which it didn’t end up getting, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be worth a watch.

And the Oscar goes to…

The Artist took home five golden statues

So that’s that. Last night the awards season came to an end with the 84th Academy Awards. Despite winning the award in three of the big five categories The Artist will have to share the honour of most Oscars won this year with Hugo; both films received five Oscars each. The only real controversy came from an obvious source, Sacha Baron Cohen, but ultimately the show was well received and Billy Crystal did an infinitely better performance as host than James Franco and Anne Hathaway last year.

There were no real surprises on the night in terms of winners; The Artist has been a huge success and has won awards wherever it has been. At the Oscars it took home Best Film, Best Original Score and Best Costume Design whilst Michel Hazanavicius won Best Director and Jean Dujardin won Best Actor for their efforts on the film. Meryl Streep unsurprisingly won the Best Actress Oscar for The Iron Lady and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Octavia Spencer (The Help) took home the awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

It was nice to see Rango win Best Animated Film although the competition in that category looked very weak compared to the 2011 awards which included Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. The Muppets returned to the cinema this year and took home the Best Original Song award for their ‘Man or Muppet’ number. Perhaps the only surprise on the night, if you’re really looking for one, is that neither Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II or Rise of the Planet of the Apes took home the award for Best Visual Effects with Hugo winning instead.

Below is a full list of winners of the 84th Academy Awards:

Best Picture – The Artist

Best Director – Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)

Best Actor – Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Best Actress – Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

Best Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Best Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Original Screenplay – Midnight In Paris

Adapted Screenplay – The Descendants

Best Animated Feature – Rango

Best Foreign Language Film – A Separation

Best Original Score – The Artist

Best Original Song – The Muppets

Best Sound Editing – Hugo

Best Sound Mixing – Hugo

Best Art Direction – Hugo

Best Cinematography – Hugo

Best Make Up – The Iron Lady

Best Costume Design – The Artist

Best Film Editing – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Visual Effects – Hugo

2012 Razzie Nominees Announced

What on Earth has happened to Adam Sandler?

With the Oscars just around the corner everbody in the movie industry has their eyes on the Academy Awards. However, this awards season, I am more bothered about the Golden Raspberries or the Razzies, as they are better known, which acknowledge the actors and films that are deemed the worst of the year. This year Adam Sandler has set a record at the Razzies with ELEVEN nominations. Here is the full list of nominations in the main categories and my predictions for the winners (or losers, however you see fit).

Worst Picture

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Jack and Jill

New Year’s Eve

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I

Whilst I would love to see Transformers or Twilight go home with the Worst Picture award as I cannot stand either of the two franchises I think Jack and Jill seems nailed on to win this, but it could face tough competition from Bucky Larson which managed to acheive an incredible 0% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

Worst Actor

Russel Brand (Arthur)

Nicholas Cage (Drive Angry, Trespass and Season of the Witch)

Taylor Lautner (Abduction and Twilight)

Adam Sandler (Jack and Jill and Just Go With It)

Nick Swardson (Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star)

I can’t say I’m surprised to see any of these actors on the nominees shortlist but with all the negativity surrounding Adam Sandler over the past year it would be daft to put your money on anyone else.

Worst Actress

Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House: Like Father, Like Son)

Sarah Palin (Sarah Palin: The Undefeated)

Sarah Jessica Parker (I Don’t Know How She Does It and New Year’s Eve)

Adam Sandler (Jack and Jill)

Kristen Stewart (Twilight)

In true spirit of the Razzies two men are up for the worst actress award and one politician. It would not be unheard of for one of the men to win it but Kristen Stewart does seem to be a favourite of the Razzies making the nominees every year so I’m backing Kristen Stewart to win this one.

Worst Supporting Actor

Patrick Dempsey (Transformers: Dark of the Moon)

James Franco (Your Highness)

Ken Jeong (Big Momma’s House, Hangover Part 2, Transformers and Zookeeper)

Al Pacino (Jack and Jill)

Nick Swardson (Jack and Jill and Just Go With It)

There are a couple of big name actors on this list which is a shock. With all the horrible performances he has put in over the past year Ken Jeong seems nailed on to win this award. His main competition will be Al Pacino who’s cameo in Jack and Jill was critically panned. Although how Orlando Bloom managed to escape being nominated is beyond me.

Worst Supporting Actress

Katie Holmes (Jack and Jill)

Brandon T. Jackson (Big Momma’s House 3)

Nicole Kidman (Just Go With It)

David Spade (Jack and Jill)

Rosie Huntington-Whitely (Transformers 3)

I think this one will be going to Katie Holmes who is real Razzie bait. Unfortunately, I can see Rosie Huntington-Whitely being awarded with this too which I think would be unfair because she cannot have done any worse than the ‘actress’ she replaced, Megan Fox.

Worst Screen Ensemble

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Jack and Jill

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

New Year’s Eve

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

Unfortunately, whilst I would be delighted to see Twilight take this award I think it is clear from the nominations in the other category that Jack and Jill will be taking this home. It looks as though Adam Sandler will have a lot of Razzies to throw away in a couple of months.

Worst Director

Michael Bay (Transformers: Dark of the Moon)

Tom Brady (Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star)

Bill Condon (Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn)

Dennis Dugan (Jack and Jill and Just Go With It)

Gerry Marshall (New Year’s Eve)

I will not be happy until Michael Bay wins a Worst Director award. Blowing things up a lot does not make for good directing. Quit. Seriously.

 

Whilst the Academy Awards attracts all the stars of Hollywood, the Razzies does not usually attract the big names. After all, who would want to accept an award which pans their performance? Sometimes, though, celebrities do turn up and in 2004 Halle Berry turned up to accept her award for Worst Actress for her performace in Catwoman. The speech was hilarious and Halle Berry gave a performance infinitely better than her acting in the film.

Enjoy.

 

One for the Money Review

One for the Money is a ‘comedy’ in which Katherine Heigl stars as Stephanie Plum, an unemployed and newly divorced woman who lands a job at her cousin’s bail bond business working as a bounty hunter. Her first assignment puts her on the trail of a cop turned criminal who has a romantic link to her past.

It’s hard to see why anybody at all would think that this film would be a good idea. It’s not surprising that the only recognisable name in the film is Katherine Heigl as she still continues to try and establish herself as a leading lady in Hollywood but any actor worth their salt would have stayed away from this terrible film.

It’s a shame for Heigl that this film is so bad really, because she actually doesn’t do too bad a job herself. She plays the part well, she looks great and her narration throughout the film adds to her performance as narration can sometimes be delivered boring and lacklusture but Heigl does a semi-good job with hers. Where Heigl puts in an above average performance it’s safe to say her co-stars are a little below average.

Being a comedy film you wouldn’t be blamed for expecting One for the Money to actually be funny, but the amount of jokes it contains can probably be counted on one hand and the amount of funny jokes in the film is zero. The grandmother character is added for comic effect (I think?) but she does nothing more than be annoying.

The writing is atrocious. Surely after reading this through they would have realised that it was horrible and thrown it away but clearly not. The dialogue seems really forced and is included just to unleash so much information on the audience in a very blunt manner. The inclusion of a narrator makes it forgivable and understandable that they are giving the audience information but when the characters are telling other characters things they already know it’s just assuming that the audience are stupid.

Watching One for the Money was a complete waste of two hours of my life. Hopefully this won’t damage Katherine Heigl’s career too much but this is certainly not the proudest moment of her career and one that, if she has any sense, will never talk about again.

My Rating: 3/10

In 2009, J.. Abrams introduced Star Trek to a whole new generation of fans with a fantastic reboot of the series. Next year he will be hoping to follow that up with the, as yet untitled, sequel to the blockbuster that was a critical and commercial success.

Not a lot is known about the sequel so far other than the fact that everybody from the crew of the original film will be reprising their roles. Benicio Del Toro reportedly turned down the role of villain which was then passed on to the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch although it has not yet been announced who he will be playing. When that character is revealed we might be able to guess a little about the story.

These first pictures show Spock with the villain in the Vulcan nerve pinch. The villain, by the way, in a Starfleet uniform which is very interesting. The second shows Uhura and the villain after he escapes Spock’s pinch. Hopefully more pictures will be released soon and get anticipation high before a trailer hits, fingers crossed, before the end of the year.

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

 

No matter what they do, it seems as though Dreamworks will always be working in the shadows of Pixar in terms of animation, film quality and story but their 2012 effort, How to Train Your Dragon, is a fantastic outing from them which is just as enjoyable as most Pixar films.

How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of Hiccup Haddock III (Jay Baruchel), the son of the Viking leader (voiced by Gerard Butler) who aspires to be just like his father and learn to kill dragons with him. That is until a meeting with one of the most feared dragons of the time, a Night Fury, leads to the forming of an unlikely friendship where Hiccup learns that there is more to the fearsome creatures than meets the eye.

This is not a typical children’s film when it comes to story; the focus of the film does not lie within it’s morality of good versus evil, in fact the villain does not really appear until more than halfway through the film. Instead, How to Train Your Dragon prides itself upon it’s character and it’s spirit. It is a story that blurs the line between interpretations of good and evil respective to the dragons in particular and shows true triumph in it’s portrayal of family values and the real meaning of friendship.

The character’s really come to life and the friendship between Hiccup and Toothelss, as the Night Fury is named, is very believable and at times incredibly touching. The voice acting is pretty standard although why the Vikings tend to have Scottish accents rather than Scandanavian accents is baffling.

Dreamworks’ animation is top notch and it is clear they took a lot of time in making the film look aesthetically pleasing. Visually, the film is perfect. In particular, the final act where the young vikings are riding the dragons makes you realise how much effort has gone into the animation. There are clues all through the film about the final act and the dragons in the final act all resemble their riders. This is something that I did not realise until late on but was really impressed with.

Unfortunately, there are some scenes where the action or dialogue is below par and at times it seems to drag a little and on occassion I did become bored. There are some silences as Toothless does not talk and at times the silence is effective and you get a lot of information just from eye movement and body language but when used too much it makes the film boring.

Overall, How to Train Your Dragon is a fun film with a good heart but it idn’t quite have enough to sustain my interest 100% over the hour and a half which it lasts. Saying that, though, I would definitely watch it again.

My Rating: 7/10