Archive for June, 2012


Michael Fassbender is one of the hottest properties in Hollywood right now and over the last few years he has really shot to the forefront of the movie industry. With his choice of films he has really shown that he has a fantastic range of skills and is a very versatile actor. The short answer to the question ‘Is Michael Fassbender really that good?’ is simply Yes; but feel free to continue reading if you want the longer answer.

Fassbender first rose to prominence on television where one of his first main roles was on the Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced mini series Band of Brothers which received hugely positive reviews and brought plenty of publicity for the cast. Fassbender continued to work in television with another critically acclaimed television series, this time British: Murphy’s Law.

The first big film that Michael Fassbender featured in and set the sparks in motion of the fire that Michael Fassbender was soon to light Hollywood up with was 300, a fantasy action film directed by one of my favourite directors Zack Snyder. It’s not a film that many people would instantly think of when trying to list Michael Fassbender’s movies but it started off something big in the movie industry. Fassbender won over critics at the Cannes film festival in 2008 with Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen.

But it was thanks to Quentin Tarantino that people were really forced to sit up and take notice of Michael Fassbender. Inglorious Basterds is one of Tarantino’s best films and Fassbender features in one of the best scenes in the movie in my opinion. This film came out in 2009 and overshadowed the small British film that Michael Fassbender also featured in in the same year: Fish Tank. Fish Tank is the story of a rebellious teenage girl growing up on a run down council estate living with her alcoholic mother and tearaway younger sister. Michael Fassbender is the creepy love interest of the mother and manages to pull off a kind of safe but sinister paedophilic character scarily well. To this day this is my favourite role I have seen Fassbender in although it is one of his least well known but the performance he puts in is nothing short of sensational.

If 2009 was one of Michael Fassbender’s best years in films then 2010 was definitely one of his worst. Perhaps high on the success of Inglorious Basterds Fassbender made some rather, well… questionable choices. He appeared in Centurion and the horribly tragic comic book adaptation of Jonah Hex, both films making a loss. Probably a year that Fassbender wouldn’t like to dwell on anytime soon. But these failures didn’t put him off or seem to put him out of favour with movie big wigs.

2011 brought several Michael Fassbender films to the forefront without making people sick of him. Fassbender took up the part of Edward Rochester in an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre (one of the greatest stories ever written, end of story) for which he received a lot of praise. Another comic book movie, with a lot better fate than his last one, gave Fassbender huge success and stability as it comes with a several movie contract. X-Men First Class is the movie and Magneto is the character; although at times Fassbender seemed to get complacent and his accent slipped back to Irish it was overall a great performance and Fassbender proved yet again how good he is at playing a conflicted and bad natured character. This movie reunited Fassbender with his old Band of Brothers co star James McAvoy.

A Dangerous Method followed starring Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley which was about the relationship between psychologists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Fassbender then reunited with director Steve McQueen for Shame, which is probably his most critically successful film and role which won Fassbender a number of awards at film festivals and awards ceremonies and picked him up even more nominations. He then returned to mainstream cinema with Haywire which saw him co-star with names like Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas.

This year, 2012, Michael Fassbender only has one film slated for release after a busy twelve months. This comes in the form of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. After recently seeing this I was not a huge fan of the film but as a fan already of Michael Fassbender I was excited for his performance and I was not left disappointed by him. Fassbender, for me, is the stand out performer of the cast and the only really memorable character or performance from the cast. There is no doubt that Fassbender is set for a huge and successful career in my opinion and he deserves it.

Is Michael Fassbender really that good? Yes.

Prometheus Reviewed

***Minor Spoilers Ahead***

 

“Prometheus, are you seeing this?” asks Noomi Rapace’s character scientist Elizabeth Shaw and yes I saw it, but there is a huge difference between seeing something and enjoying it.

Prometheus is an indirect prequel to the Alien series. This film focuses on a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth that leads them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. Sounds interesting.

As mentioned, Noomi Rapace leads this cast that really manages to pack in the noticeable names: Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Rafe Spall and even a small part for Patrick Wilson. With so many experienced cast members being directed by the hugely acclaimed (although in my opinion drastically over rated) director Ridley Scott big things were expected from everyone, especially taking into consideration the success of the Alien film directed by Scott himself.

The film opens with a series of long, wide and very scenic landscape shots and this is a theme that the film will follow throughout and every time we see a large shot of the planet that our heroes find themselves on it looks fantastic; the directing and camerawork means that Prometheus is incredibly pleasing on the eye with some of the best environmental shots I’ve ever seen. The special effects follow suit and are so real that it doesn’t matter how far in the future the crew of Prometheus (the ship which the film is named after) are, it feels and looks as though it could happen today, the effects are believable.

Unfortunately Prometheus has one huge flaw and one that I can not look past: every single one of those characters lacked any kind of personal motivation; their actions seemed uninspired. Noomi Rapace’s character, the main character, spends the first half of the film doing not a lot at all and then spends the second half running away from things and holding her stomach all the time. And this is who you are supposed to empathise with and support, not really your traditional hero. I couldn’t have cared less about her partner, whoever he was and Charlize Theron’s character was ridiculously under used to the point where it seemed like if you took her out of the film no difference would have been made.

In fact, the only character that I felt was worth watching, partly because of the portrayal of the actor, was David, the non human member of the crew portrayed eerily well by Michael Fassbender. Another good performer among the cast was Idris Elba, relatively new to big budget films after carving his career out on television but deserves all the success that comes his way, although killing off his character just seemed like something to do rather than having any impetus behind it.

A stand out scene is when Shaw gives birth to an alien life form and while the rest of the film around that moment seems rather boring this scene is anything but! She doesn’t have a lot to do everywhere else but here Noomi Rapace earns her salary hands down; the trauma and pain her character is going through comes across excellently on screen. Sometimes, poor films or films you don’t enjoy have one glimpse of brilliance and this is Prometheus’. I would go so far as to say this is one of the best scenes I have ever seen in the cinema.

Does Prometheus live up to expectations? Not really.

Is Prometheus an enjoyable sci-fi film? Ish.

Would I watch it again? Not for a while.

My Rating: 5/10.

I really wanted to give it a higher rating but I just couldn’t justify it.

UK Release Date: 25th January 2013.

Stars: Robert Zemeckis (director), Denzel Washington, James Badge Dale, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood.

Plot: An airline pilot saves a flight from crashing, but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals something troubling.

From the director of the all time classic Back to the Future trilogy, Flight is Denzel Washington’s latest offering and sees him return to a more drama centred piece after recent films Safe House, Unstoppable and The Book of Eli. This is a great decision by Denzel Washington in my opinion because I think he is at his best in dramatic roles rather than the more action engineered roles he likes to take.

Denzel Washington plays the pilot of a place forced to crash land in the middle of nowhere. He instantly becomes a national celebrity and hero as he lands successfully and saves passengers’ lives. However all is not what it seems and upon doing tests alcohol is found in the pilot’s system which seems to be a reason as to why the plane may have took a dive in the first place. Washington’s character has two sides to him and is something that he could really get into and have fun with, I anticipate a fantastic performance from the ever consistent Washington.

Unfortunately though, the trailer gets a little lost and seems confused about what it is actually advertising. At times I feel like it chops and changes from a crime drama to light hearted drama to courtroom piece then to a thriller; if the people advertising don’t know what kind of film it is then how are we supposed to know? It seems like Flight is suffering from a slight identitiy crisis which really needs to be sorted before its release especially since Denzel Washington, although his films still make a profit, does not have the box office appeal that was once bestowed upon him.

UK Release Date: 11th July 2012.

Plot: A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.

Magic Mike is a comedy drama which has pulled a pretty mismatched cast together to be directed by Steven Soderbergh, the man who was at the helm of the Ocean’s trilogy. In the lead role is Channing Tatum; pretty boy turned actor, supporting him is Alex Pettyfer; teenage superspy Alex Rider from Stormbreaker; the wonderful Matt Bomer; charming con artist from the brilliant television series White Collar and finally all round bad actor Matthew McConaughey.

No doubt this is probably a film for the female audience to enjoy but I think that it could turn out be a great laugh for all audiences. I think that the trailer picks up on some pretty good points (the opening scene in the trailer of the strippers arriving at the party was pretty amusing) and there is no doubt that Steven Soderbergh can inject humour into his films as he did with Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Thirteen (the less said about Ocean’s Twelve the better).

It feels as if this role will suit Channing Tatum perfectly; he used to be a model, he has a big female fan base and he showed his comedy credentials earlier this year in 21 Jump Street. He should be able to excel in the title role and I think he could have some fun with the role because I highly doubt this is going to be a film that takes itself 100% seriously.

I think its a film that could go either way but it does have a lot of positives going for it and hopefully it will be a great laugh for everyone.

If you hadn’t heard already the Kristen Stewart helmed film Snow White and the Huntsman has come under criticism from a dwarf theatre group in Los Angeles (Beacher’s Madhouse) and dwarf group The Little People of America for casting famous regular size actors in the role of the

Huntsman and the ‘dwarves’

dwarves in the recent fairy tale adaptation. Before this row emerged I, and I expect the large majority of people, hadn’t given this a second thought; I saw the casting of people like Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and Ian McShane and though “oh, cool”. Since the fallout though I have pondered the situation and I do believe that these groups, who are also supporting a protest march over what has happened, make some very good points indeed.

Earlier in the year Mirror Mirror, another retelling of the Snow White story, was released and in the roles of the seven dwarves were cast shorter actors. However, the Rupert Sanders’ directed Snow White and the Huntsman opted for famous regular height stars. Why? No doubt it was for box office attention; but with Kristen Stewart of Twilight, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth coming off the back of the success of The Avengers, was more box office draw really needed?

Mirror Mirror does it best.

The dwarves in Snow White and the Huntsman were barely even on screen that much and featured very little as the focus was on Snow White and the Huntsman as you would expect from the title of the film so what harm would it have done to cast dwarf actors in these roles. In Mirror Mirror the dwarves played a much larger and more important role in the overall story arc and yet were played by shorter actors.

There isn’t exactly a lack of talent in dwarf actors; in Mirror Mirror they all did a very fine job. Peter Dinklage, one of the most famous dwarf actors, even won an Emmy and a Golden Globe award for his role in the very successful television show Game of Thrones and yet he wasn’t even considered for a role here. The dwarves are written to be just that, dwarves and as such you should be casting dwarf actors to play the parts; the same way in which a male written part is played by a man and a female part is played by a woman, there is no difference.

Davis described the casting of the dwarves in Snow White and the Huntsman as ‘inexcusable’

Warwrick Davis, dwarf actor who has appeared in two of the most successful movie franchises ever: Star Wars and Harry Potter, perhaps says it best when he told E! News “It is not acceptable to ‘black up’ as a white actor, so why should it be acceptable to ‘shrink’ an actor to play a dwarf?”. There would be outrage if a white actor ‘blacked up’ as there was with Tropic Thunder when Robert Downey Jr. did so (even though his character in the film was doing it and not the actor himself there was still complaints surrounding it) so why is there not that same outrage with average height actors ‘shrinking’ with camera angles and special effects.

I think that Mirror Mirror went the right way about casting the seven dwarves because they used actors that were suitable for the parts and, even though it was the better film, Snow White and the Huntsman should have done the same. A huge insult has been shot at the dwarf community with Snow White and the Huntsman and there can not be a suitable reason as to why dwarf actors were not cast. Parts written as dwarves should be played by dwarf actors. End of story.

Snow White and the Huntsman is the second incarnation of the classic fairy tale to hit the big screen this year after Mirror Mirror earlier in 2012. In this fantasy action adventure take on the world renown classic the Huntsman ordered to kill Snow White ends up becoming a friend, protector and mentor in her quest to vanquish the evil Queen.

The film opens with a narration and a series of flashbacks in order to provide the audience with some of the back story. It feels as though the film makers tried to just feed us information that we didn’t really need and it sets a very slow pace for what is to follow. The narration also wasn’t filled with any kind of emotion and played quite tediously through the speakers. What follows is a lot of the Queen and Snow White doing pretty much nothing at all which forces the first act of the film to trudge along slowly.

Charlize Theron plays the evil Queen and a lot of the attention in the run up to release was focussed on her and her portrayal of the character, however I was left pretty disappointed by her performance; it wasn’t exactly bad but it wasn’t anything to shout about either. There were points of the film where we hadn’t seen the Queen for so long that I had genuinely forgotten she was a part of the film and as an actor that is not something you want the audience to forget. Kristen Stewart becomes the famous princess and does a sturdy job, again though there is something lacking from her performance, she doesn’t exactly ooze charisma on the screen and I’m not sure she does enough to justify the title role in a film expected to be as huge as this.

This take on the fairy tale bases as much emphasis on Snow White as it does the Huntsman and when the Huntsman arrives it is as if the movie shifts up a gear; played by Chris Hemsworth the Huntsman injects some much needed pace and emotion into the film. It seems as though the Huntsman is the only character the writers decided to take their time on, giving him a very emotive back story and motives, something which other characters (particularly the evil Queen) are lacking. You get a real connection with the Huntsman because of Hemsworth’s performance as he continues to make a name for himself following up three great movies: Thor, Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers.

The majority of scenes without the Huntsman aren’t really worth watching but one in particular is worthy of any fantasy film ever. The first time we meet the adult William is when he ambushes a royal carriage and the fight scene that follows is fantastic; the fight scenes throughout the entire movie are actually a joy to behold. William is played by Englishman Sam Claflin who is relatively new to the acting world but previously appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Based on this performance though, is Claflin doesn’t get more high profile acting work then a terrible injustice has been done in the acting world.

Snow White and the Huntsman is a real treat for the eyes. Everything about it just looks fantastic: the landscape, the costumes, the special effects. It all just looks so perfect and Rupert Sanders, the director, creates this incredible fantasy world so well. You never want to take your eyes off the screen.

In my opinion, this is a much better film than the earlier Snow White retelling Mirror Mirror. Whilst some of the characters aren’t as well developed as others the visuals and the Huntsman and William themselves are worth watching this film for alone. As the film goes along it gets stronger and stronger and climaxes very well. It’s definitely worth a watch.

My Rating: 7/10.

As it is Johnny Depp’s birthday (can you actually believe he is 49!?) I have decided to compile a list of what I think are his greatest ever movie roles. Depp has been acting since 1984 but I have decided to limit my choices to just five.

 

5. George Jung in Blow.

Johnny Depp plays George Jung in the biopic drama of the man who established the American cocaine market in the 1970s. As well as I can remember this is the first movie that I actually saw Johnny Depp in and since then I have been a fan of his. His portrayal as the drug smuggler here is an excellent one and I think Blow is often forgotten in favour for some of his more commercial work.

 

4. John Dillinger in Public Enemies.

This is another biopic where Johnny Depp plays the star; this time he portrays the notorious bank robber during his final years whilst being pursued by the FBI. The performance by Depp is something new entirely, he doesn’t try to recreate gangsters that have been seen on the screen before him as so many actors in modern gangster films try to do. Instead, Depp brings his own voice, walk and character to Dillinger; he plays him as a fact, as the cold hearted gangster and bank robber that history writes him as. Fantastic performance in yet another under rated film.

 

3. Rango in Rango.

Johnny Depp has only done voice acting twice in movies; The Corpse Bride and Rango. This was something relatively different for him. People are used to being able to look at Johnny Depp on the big screen when they go to see his movies, it’s what draws in probably half of the audience. Fortunately though, Depp gives a fantastic, colourful and vibrant performance as the ‘cowboy chameleon’ in a very enjoyable film.

 

2. Edward Scissorhands in Edward Scissorhands.

Released in 1990, this was one of Depp’s first major film roles and to this day remains one of his most iconic. We see Depp here create the character of Edward Scissorhands as a victim and his performance really helps the audience to feel for his character. I think that this is one of Johnny Depp’s most personal performances and it comes in a fantastic film. It also began the long working relationship between Depp and director Tim Burton.

 

1. Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Curse of the Black Pearl is something very special and is probably up there with my most enjoyable films; Dead Man’s Chest is good and very watchable; At World’s End is mind-numbingly dull and very confusing and who even cares that they made a fourth? As the quality of the movies in the Pirates franchise has declined Depp’s performance remains a staple in popular culture. This is probably his best and most iconic role of all time. Depp excels himself when he puts on the costume for Jack Sparrow and loses himself in the character, he creates a fantastic persona and it is a character that, given the right film, is one of the best characters ever created on film. Depp also loves playing Jack Sparrow and is the only character that he has ever portrayed on more than one occasion (perhaps proving that he should stick to playing characters just the once). But even if the films are not that good anymore people will still see them for Johnny Depp in his finest performances as Captain Jack Sparrow.

With so many movies made it is inevitable that nobody will enjoy all of them. There are also some movies that are frequently named as the best movies ever made and whilst I think that some of them live up to the hype (The Departed, Back to the Future, Toy Story) there are some classic films that I do not like despite the majority of people thinking they are absolutely perfect. Here are a few of my controversial choices:

Pulp Fiction is ranked at number five on IMDB’s list of Top 250 films and is commonly referred to as one of the best films ever made and Tarantino’s best. I don’t think this is Tarantino’s best work, in fact of all the films I have seen of his this is my least favourite, I much preferred Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill. I was expecting to be blown away by Pulp Fiction when I finally got round to watching it because of the way people spoke so highly of it, yet I was left bored and unentertained. I think the storyline is very weak and the dialogue is dull and unnecessary; it lacks the punch that Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds packs. And the way fans of the film bang on about it being a non-linear structure you would think it would be the only film to ever have done that and it doesn’t even add anything to the story by editing it in this way.

Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring Robert De Niro in an Oscar winning performance, is another film that left me feeling like I had missed something. As I have mentioned in  previous post I do really enjoy the first half of Taxi Driver, the way that the character is created and we get insight into this person and his life is very very good drama indeed. But then the gear changes in the film and the wheels seem to come off; I know some people like it but I just feel like it makes no sense, it becomes boring and where it tries to become exciting it fails. I would definitely place Taxi Driver up there with one of the worst gunfights in movie history for its climatic action scene.

Star Wars is undoubtedly one of the most iconic films in history. Many of the characters have become staples in popular culture: Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca, Han Solo. Everybody knows Star Wars, that much is true. But I don’t see what all the fuss was about. I am a fan of science fiction so that’s not the problem here; I like Star Trek and Back to the Future but I failed to see the hype surrounding this massive franchise. I felt very underwhelmed and very bored, Han Solo who is supposedly one of the coolest characters around disappointed me as did many of the others. I really wanted to like Star Wars but found it impossible.

UK Release Date: 18th January 2013.

Plot: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Stars: Quentin Tarantino (director), Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington.

Some directors have a very distinct style, Tarantino’s being more distinct than others and watching this trailer it could not be more obvious that this was a Tarantino film. The soundtrack, the visuals, the dialogue, everything screams of trademarks of Tarantino and this could easily become another classic from the acclaimed film maker.

The trailer itself focusses on Django and King Schultz (Waltz) and the beginning of their partnership. King Schultz seems like a very similar character to the one Waltz played in Inglourious Basterds (also Tarantino) for which he won an Oscar so nothing short of perfection will be expected form him here. Will Smith was first choice for Django but had to drop out because he didn’t have time despite being very impressed with the script and so Foxx has the task of being brilliant in the leading role.

We don’t get to see too much of Leonardo DiCaprio as the villainous Calvin Candie which is a shame but I am sure as more trailers get to be released his character will be focussed on. Early footage that was screened at Cannes film festival received very positive reviews, especially regarding DiCaprio’s performance.

Django Unchained has to be another classic from Tarantino.

Before you quickly skip straight to the answer being ‘no’ at least give it some thought.

There is a thought process that goes through many people’s heads when they see Channing Tatum; he is a former model, he made his name really in more romantically engineered films geared towards the female audience and his looks and body are used to attract said female audience members to his films. Therefore he is seen by many to be a pretty boy with no talent and just looks; a stereotypical jock in all honesty. But this is something that may be about to change in Hollywood over the next year or so.

I can’t talk about Channing Tatum without mentioning his first piece of work even though it has no bearing at all in what I am writing about but it might be good for you to know, or give you a little chuckle. But the first time Channing Tatum appeared professionally on film was in the music video for ‘She Bangs’ by Latino pop sensation Ricky Martin. Funny, no?

Anyway, I digress. Channing Tatum first got audience attention when he appeared alongside Amanda Bynes in She’s The Man, probably because of his looks. He also starred in Step Up and its sequel Step Up 2: the Streets as well as moving into a more drama based film with Battle in Seattle which received mixed reviews but showed that Tatum was more than just a pretty face.

But who cares about his early career anymore? Move forward a few years and Tatum is having a very successful time. Haywire received mainly positive reviews, The Vow, where Tatum partnered the beautiful Rachel McAdams, was a surprise box office hit to me as I don’t think it looked very good but its romantic premise and timing of release (Valentine’s week) surely gave it a hand; but it was 21 Jump Street that was Tatum’s biggest hit this year so far. The comedy film is an absolutely hilarious watch and Tatum himself puts in a very good performance. These successes make the point that Tatum does have some box office pull for both genders of the audience.

The interesting thing is that I don’t seem to be the only one that sees this happening. Channing Tatum’s next release is scheduled to be G.I. Joe: Retaliation which will see him reprise the role he played in 2009’s critical lamb to the slaughter G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, making Tatum one of the few cast members to actually reprise his role. This time he will appear alongside action stars Bruce Willis and, more importantly, Dwayne Johnson!

What an absolute star!… Oh, and Channing Tatum is there as well.

So, to the point: G.I. Joe: Retaliation saw its release delayed by a few months because of reshoots with the reason for these shoots kept tightly under wraps. Now, rumours have surfaced that Channing Tatum is the reason behind the delay because it appears as though his character was set to be killed off. Now, after Tatum’s recent successes and new pulling power they have had a rewrite and decided that he needs a bigger part in the film and may not be killed off after all. Since the first film went down so badly they will not want the same to happen here and are trying to capitalise on Tatum’s new found stardom.

Coming up Tatum has Magic Mike, a hotly anticipated stripper comedy alongside Alex Pettyfer (Stormbreaker) and Matt Bomer (White Collar), Steven Soderbergh directed thriller The Bitter Pill and drama Foxcatcher alongside Mark Ruffalo. Tatum looks set to dip his toe in the pool of different genres and may soon be a name on all Hollywood producers’ lips if he continues to reel off the hits!