Archive for February, 2012


UK Release Date: 6th April 2012

The Cold Light of Day centres on a young American, Will Shaw, on vacation with his family in Spain. After a trip into the town Will returns to an empty boat and finds out that his family have been kidnapped. Will soon uncovers a conspiracy and must rush to give the bad guys what they want or risk his family being killed.

Henry Cavill takes the lead role in this film. He will be largely unknown to movie audiences at the minute but soon will be world famous when he takes over the mantle of Superman in next years Man of Steel. Also starring in the film are the very talented Sigourney Weaver and one of the most famous action stars of modern cinema, Bruce Willis.

I liked the premise of the film but unfortunately, the trailer didn’t do too much to peak my interest. Henry Cavill has all the looks of a leading action hero but there is soemthing missing from the trailer that I can’t quite put my finger on. It seems like your typical American action film; a family with hidden secrets, betrayal of a large organisation, a trade of ransom for his family’s life. We’ve seen it all before and whilst this film might be an enjoyable popcorn flick it will not be adding anything new to our understanding of the genre.

With the 2012 Academy Awards just around the corner I thought I would take a look at five actors that do not have an Oscar but should.

Ed Norton.

Ed Norton is one of the best actors of his generation, consistently turning in top performances in all of his movies. Even when the script is not great (The Italian Job for example) you can still count on Norton to be fantastic. Nominated twice; best leading actor for American History X and best supporting actor for Primal Fear. Yet most surprising to me is that his work on Fight Club did not even gain him a nomination!

Johnny Depp.

Depp is one of the most famous men on the planet and even though today he is mainly thought of as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise he is undoubtedly one of the most versatile actors of his generation. Johnny Depp has been nominated three times, each in the leading actor category; Sweeney Todd, Finding Neverland and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Surely it is only a matter of time before Depp collects the Oscar that he deserves.

Steve Buscemi.

In recent years Steve Buscemi’s film career does seem to have tailed off into cameo slots and altogether not so great films and with him now working on television it is unlikely that we will see him picking up an Oscar anytime soon. However, the fact that he does not have one already is very surprising! He has given unforgettable performances in Fargo, Con Air and of course as the brilliant Mr Pink in Reservoir Dogs but the Academy has not even recognised him with a nomination.

Leonardo DiCaprio.

Nominated for three Oscars in his time: best leading actor for Blood Diamond and The Aviator and best supporting actor for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. It is surprising to me that he does not have an Oscar yet and that he doesn’t have more nominations for The Departed, Shutter Island or Inception. DiCaprio started out as the heart throb of Hollywood but with a little help from Martin Scorsese and choosing his films carefully he has transformed into one of the best leading men working in Hollywood today. An Oscar is nothing more than he deserves.

Gary Oldman.

The 2012 Oscars have finally recognised this man’s talent with a nomination in the best leading actor category for British film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Gary Oldman has been ever brilliant throughout his career. Best known to younger audiences as Commissioner Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series or as Sirius Black in Harry Potter but he has been a magnificent actor for so much longer, you just need to watch Sid and Nancy or JFK to see that. Good luck to him at the Oscars.

The Muppets Review

 

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

 

There isn’t a lot to say about The Muppets that hasn’t already been said a hundred times before. This new release is an attempt to introduce and make appealing some of the most famous television and film characters to a new audience and it definitely triumphs in doing so. It’s a film that will make sure you leave the cinema happy.

The story is pretty simple. The Muppets have been on hiatus for a number of years and when they learn of an oil tycoon’s plans to knock down their old studio they must reunite and put on a show that earns the ten million dollars they need to rescue their home.

The (human) cast is led by Jason Segel, who also co-wrote the film, and the wonderful Amy Adams who was nominated for an Oscar at last years ceremony. Both of these actors do as good a job as they need to; they play their parts convincingly but in all honesty it’s not them you’re going to see this film for. Kermit and Miss Piggy, Animal and Fozzie Bear, The Muppets are the stars of the show and it’s like they never went away. The humour is top class, the film is filled with gags and great references to the fact that they are just in a movie.

It seems like a whole host of celebrities were lining up to be in this film and nearly all of the cameo appearances were brilliant and are sure to draw laughs from audiences, Jim Parsons’ cameo in particular is a highlight of the film.

In a time where most high grossing films are fuelled by the use of CGI and computer effects it is refreshing to still see the hand held puppets of The Muppets on the big screen. Despite not being real you really do feel for their characters and their stories. The musical element has always been a huge part of The Muppets success and this new version mixes in some old classics with some great new songs too even being nominated for the ‘best original song’ award at the 2012 Oscars.

The Muppets has been a success both critically and commercially and Disney have ultimately triumphed in bringing The Muppets back to the big screen. I don’t think it will be long before we see another outing from Kermit and his friends, hopefully with Jason Segel and Amy Adams both still featured.

My Rating: 8/10

The Raven Trailer

UK Release Date: 9th March 2012.

The Raven tells a fictitious account of Edgar Allen Poe’s last days. The poet is called in to assist the police when there are a series of murders that mirror the Poe’s stories.

Edgar Allen Poe is being played by John Cusack who I am a big fan of. Some of his recent films, Hot Tub Time Machine and 2012 for example, haven’t been that great but he has been good to watch despite the film itself being below average. Luke Evans plays secondary character, Detective Emmett Fields. Evans is a young and relatively new actor who has been very prolific in the last couple of years with his credits including Robin Hood, Clash of the Titans, Immortals and The Three Musketeers.

The trailer, I think, looks really good. There seem to be similarities between this film and Guy Ritchie’s reboot of Sherlock Holmes. The Raven looks very promising and could provide some very tense moments. Being Hollywood there is bound to be a twist in this crime thriller and will keep audiences guessing which of the characters is the killer right from the off.

Do not panic! This has absolutely nothing to do with being a reboot of the Michael Caine classic of 1964 of the same name.

It has been announced that Orlando Bloom and Djimon Hounsou are set to lead a film adaptation of Caryl Ferey’s critically acclaimed crime novel Zulu. The film is to be directed by Jerome Salle who is perhaps best known for writing Anthony Zimmer.

The story centres around two police officers (Bloom and Hounsou) in South Africa who are investigating the murder of the teenage daughter of a championship Springbok rugby player. It is a crime thriller and the premise does sound interesting, but it depends on how well the novel is adapted to film as it has been proven that good novels do not always make great films.

It is great to hear that Djimon Hounsou will be in something else after the collapse of Paradise Lost, where he was set to star with Bradley Cooper. Hounsou is a fantastic actor and has shown time and time again with his performances in Blood Diamond and Gladiator that, with two Oscar nominations under his belt already, he is a sure fire Oscar winner in the making.

Orlando Bloom, on the other hand, should not even be allowed in the same room as a replica of the famous golden statuettes. He is not a good actor, it is that simple! I can’t knock him as an elf, he makes a great elf and will be portraying Legolas again come the end of the year in the first part of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. But put him in any other part, be it pirate or milkman turned boxer and he will show you that he really can not act.

The premise of the film sounds exciting and the fact that Hounsou has been cast is terrific news. Hopefully Orlando Bloom will be good enough not to drag this film down too much.

 

UK Release Date: 20th April 2012.

You can’t change your family, but can you change your destiny?

Jeff is a thirty year old man still living with his mother, in her basement. His brother, Pat, is struggling with his wife to hold his marriage together. When sent on an errand by his mother, Jeff may finally discover his destiny as he spends the day with his brother tracking his adulterous wife which, in doing so, helps the brothers to rediscover their family bond.

Jeff Who Lives At Home is an indie comedy led by the brilliant Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Ed Helms (The Hangover) with their mother being played by Susan Sarandon. The film has been an official selection at many of the top film festivals across America and has gone down well with critics and fans alike.

The trailer pretty much makes the film look like your typical, run of the mill, happy ending indie flick. But it is not the story that is important with this film; it is the journey the brother’s go on together and the family relationships that will keep the audience interested. The trailer is not so much laugh out loud funny and I doubt the film will be either but it will have it’s moments where everyone watching will be chuckling to themselves. It will be a film that everyone can enjoy, together.

“Does it really mean anything if [Ryan] Seacrest can have a star?” – Howard Stern, 2006.

Paul McCartney was finally given his star on the Hollywood walk of fame recently and it has been announced that this week Jennifer Aniston will be receiving her star. One cannot help but notice the HUGE difference in the effect that these two entertainers have had on popular culture. This isn’t just being written to criticise Jennifer Aniston (or Ryan Seacrest) but Paul McCartney was a member of the most iconic band in history and remains today one of the most talented entertainers in the music industry, whilst Jennifer Aniston starred in Friends (which I cannot criticise at all) and inspired a haircut (which I can criticise), does her Friends status make her worthy of a star in itself when the rest of her career is full of excrement?

E.M. Stuart is credited with the creation of the walk of fame, citing it as a means to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners or the world”. The first eight stars were unveiled in 1958 and the famous walk is now home to over 2400 people, or groups, within the entertainment industry. On average, twenty new additions are made to the famous tourist attraction each year; each new addition is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. With so many people being inducted into the walk is it as exclusive as Stuart hoped it would be when he first had the idea?

Every new addition has to have a nomination sent in to the Chamber of Commerce and the nominee has to agree to be nominated. If the nomination is approved the nominee themselves, or the group/person who did the nominating will have to pay for it out of their own pocket; essentially that person is buying their way into this ‘prestigious’ walk. This surely negates some of the validity of such a commemoration.

Over the years there have been actors, directors, musicians and producers added to Hollywood’s walk of fame but alongside these there have also been some fictional characters; Mickey Mouse, Woody Woodpecker and the Rugrats all have their own stars. Do animated characters really deserve a star? Surely, as fictional beings they do not contribute anything real to life. On the other hand, however, is this simply recognition for the creative team behind the character, as a star for each mind behind the creation (voice artist, animator, creator etc.) may not be plausible?

But really, think about this: is it right that Hollywood’s most honourable gift has been bestowed upon the likes of Ryan Seacrest, Woody Woodpecker and Jennifer Aniston when it has not respected Clint Eastwood, Jane Fonda or Robert Redford, all Hollywood legends in their own right. A star on the Hollywood walk of fame should be something that only the pinnacle of human talent is recognised with; nowadays the announcements do not seem to carry as much significance as perhaps they should.

UK Release Date: 20th April 2012.

Today was the first time I had heard about this film: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. It has been doing the rounds at international film festivals but is publicly released this year in a couple of months time.

The film is based upon the novel of the same name, written by Paul Torday. It is a romantic drama with elements of comedy featured within it and the story focusses on a fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) who is approached by a consultant (Emily Blunt) to help realise a Sheikh’s vision of bringing Salmon fishing to the Yemen. Together they embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to make the impossible happen.

Whilst the plot doesn’t sound enough to make people interested the trailer does. We have comedy, we have the characters, we have what seems to be a fantastic couple in the form of McGregor and Blunt’s characters’ and it looks as though it could be a heart warming film for everyone to enjoy driven by character development and the story. It has been received very positively at various film festivals and it won’t be expecting to gross anything spectacular I hope it will do well in cinemas.

Hollywood currently seems to have a thing for rebooting fairy tales. In 2011 we saw Red Riding Hood released to, at very best, mixed reviews. In the pipeline are Hansel and Gretel and Beauty and the Beast, but this year we are being treated (sort of) to two versions of possibly the most famous fairytale of them all: Snow White. Snow White has been adapted many times since the birth of film and television, even being incorporated into an episode of Supernatural. For many people it will be difficult to forget Disney’s romanticisation of the classic story but Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror will be hoping to achieve this, but which is more likely to do so?

Snow White and the Huntsman: Released 1st June 2012.

Snow White and the Huntsman is an action adventure film. It is a twist to the classic fairytale where the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White to the forest to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the evil queen.

Kristen Stewart takes up the role of Snow White in this adaptation with the evil queen being portrayed by Charlize Theron, a very talented actress. Chris Hesworth, of Thor fame, plays the Huntsman and many people will be anticipating his performance as he was recently nominated for the Rising Star award at the BAFTA’s.  Snow White and the Huntsman even manages to pack in the stars to play the dwarves, who have only been seen in set pictures so far, and famous names such as Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins and Ian McShane all take up the short mantle of being a dwarf. This film sees Rupert Sanders make his feature length debut as director, being known mainly for his work in commercials and short films so there is a heavy weight upon his shoulders as this is one of the most anticipated films of 2012.

The trailer really sets a dark theme for the movie with its beginning looking more like a fantasy war epic than an adaptation of a fairytale, which is good due to the original darkness of the Grimm brothers’ story. We are treated to the evil Queen’s narration and her conversation with the Magic Mirror really giving the storyline to the audience (needlessly perhaps as the story is very well known). The Huntsman looks particularly good and strong and we see him wielding his axes and maybe shown why he will help Snow White as he is bullied by the Queen. There is no hint at a love story in the trailer but we will have to wait and see what comes of that. There is a shot of a fantasy monster confronting Snow White which is interesting; do these creatures exist in this world? Or is it a manifestation of one of the Queen’s spells?

The trailer really focusses more on the Queen than on Snow White and this helps to give a strong indication of how evil the Queen really is. We see her torturing and sucking the life out of her subjects and her power when the Huntsman at first shows slight refusal of what she demands of him. It has been said many times that films are remembered by how well their villain is portrayed and Charlize Theron’s version of the evil Queen could be one of the best characters of the year.

 

Mirror Mirror – The Untold Adventures of Snow White: Released 2nd April 2012.

Mirror Mirror is an adventure comedy movie. An evil Queen steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

Julia Roberts is the biggest name attached to this film and she leads the cast as the evil Queen. However, before meeting the director of Mirror Mirror Roberts stated that she thought the film was a terrible idea and was a thousand per cent against it (let’s hope it’s not as bad as she thought it would be). Where Snow White and the Huntsman went for recognisable names among their cast Mirror Mirror went for more upcoming stars with Lily Collins portraying Snow White and Armie Hammer playing the Prince, who will have a more prominent role in this movie. Tarsem Singh will be directing; he split critics with his 2006 film The Fall but has failed to impress really with his last attempt Immortals receiving negative reviews from critics. This is his fourth outing as director.

From very early on in the trailer you can see this is a lighter adaptation than Snow White and the Huntsman. It gives the audience a taste of the comedy featured within the film, mainly from Julia Roberts’ character who seems, to me at least, a little more weird rather than evil. Some of the comedy in the trailer comes across as poorly written and forced at times (the ‘puppy love’ potion a fine example of poor comedy) but no doubt it will pick up a few laughs and people will find this sort of thing funny. The trailer really gets going when we get to see Snow White and the dwarves. Lily Collins looks fantastic as the young princess and looks as though she was built to play this part, so fingers crossed the film does that justice. We do get to see the dwarves in this trailer and it looks as though they will be there for comedy relief in places but their kinship and relationship with Snow White looks as though it will be worth watching for.

 

 

Whilst there is a couple of months separating the two films so that they are not in direct competition with one another it seems unlikely that most movie goers will take two trips to see what is, in essence, the same story so it will be interesting to see which film comes out on top. Will audiences choose the comedic elements of Mirror Mirror or the more action driven Snow White and the Huntsman. Either way, the successes or failures of both films will have an effect on the future of Hollywood’s fairytale adaptations.

This week it was announced that Transformers 4 had been given the go ahead. It is not yet clear for certain whether this is a sequel or a reboot but either way it will certainly be something we have seen before. This can be said for other films hitting the screens this summer: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, G.I. Joe and at the end of last year we had Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Mission Impossible 4. In the pipeline we have more Bond, a reboot of The Fantastic Four and the two sequels to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So many of Hollywood’s products nowadays comes from comic books, novels or foreign films that it seems like Hollywood has lost it’s originality.

Sure, everyone loves a sequel to one of their favourite films, getting to see their favourite characters on another adventure (if it is done correctly) and there is no doubt that the big wigs in Hollywood know this. But don’t we, as paying members of the audience, deserve something new and refreshing for a change? Okay, so not every film being brought out is based on something else but the big ones that are really pushed by studios are and at the minute the trend seems to be comic book films.

You could argue that turning a novel or a comic book into a film really opens up the audience for that product, but it is not original! If someone has come up with the original story for the novel in question then why is it so difficult for a writer hired by some big Hollywood studio to come up with an equally original idea? And why remake films that have already been made? There has recently been a rise of international films being remade in Hollywood that only saw release a couple of years before: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Internal Affairs (which Hollywood turned into The Departed) are a couple of examples. Yes, both of these films turned out to be huge successes but was there really any need for them? Have movie audiences really become too lazy to deal with subtitles?

Maybe it is not a case of Hollywood running out of ideas, though. It could be that Hollywood studios are just happy to cash in on products they KNOW will earn money. It has become clear to studio executives that if something contains the name ‘X-Men’, ‘Bourne’ or ‘Bond’ that audiences will go and see that film, they would argue they are giving the public what they want. But with the ever increasing amount of movies being made based on other works, is originality dying out?

Let’s hope not.