Archive for April, 2013


‘The Iceman’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 7th June 2013.

Stars: Ariel Vroman (director), Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, James Franco, Stephen Dorff

Plot: The true story of Richard Kuklinski, the notorious contract killer and family man. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters have any clue about his real profession.

Fortunately, this isn’t an X-Men spin off in the same vein as Wolverine but about the useless Bobby Drake; it’s very different and much better than that. In a summer that’s going to be packed full of blockbusters like Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness and Pacific Rim, The Iceman is going to be a film that sneaks under the radar.

The Iceman is a thriller that has been well received at film festivals and features a pretty good cast. Other than the fact that Chris Evans looks like the creepiest ice-cream man ever to walk the planet, everything looks great!

Despite being a contract killer, you are clearly going to care about Richard Kuklinski; just from the trailer you can tell this is going to be a great character. I can’t wait to see this one.

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Byzantium Trailer

UK Release Date: 31st May 2013.

Stars: Neil Jordan (director), Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, Caleb Landry Jones, Sam Riley, Daniel Mays, Warren Brown.

Plot: Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

This British attempt at cashing in on the popular vampire series at the minute seems to be a bit of a cross between Dracula and Interview With a Vampire. Will it be as successful as either of those? Probably not, even if it is directed by the same person as the latter.

I don’t really get it. Sometimes it’s set in the present, sometimes it’s in the past? Flashbacks I could understand but the fact Ronan is on the beach with loads of people from the eighteenth century, what’s going on there?

I’m sure all will be revealed, the action scenes look pretty decent and I’m sure the story will all be explained throughout the film. Gemma Arterton is a great actress and I enjoy most of the things she is in (Prince of Persia was poor though by anyone’s standard) so this might be worth a watch.

While it seems pretty difficult to write about Iron Man Three without giving away some huge spoilers I will do my best.

Iron Man Three sees Shane Black take on directing and writing (along with Drew Pearce) duties for Robert Downey Jr’s third solo outing as Iron Man. We pick up with Tony suffering from post traumatic stress after the events of New York. He has retreated into himself, he can’t sleep, and as such has taken to working more and more on his machines, evidenced by the fact that the one he wears so much in this movie is Mark XLII. However, Stark is thrust back into the limelight and back into action when new threat The Mandarin becomes a serious terrorist threat along with the return of a few people from Stark’s past; Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen who have some secrets of their own. Without his team of super-powered friends, how will Tony Stark fare?

So let’s start with the obvious. Robert Downey Jr is every bit as wonderful as you would expect in the hands on a Shane Black script. The man IS Tony Stark. But Iron Man Three takes stark to a new level, a more personal level. One that’s actually scared for the people he cares about most, one that is suffering internally and doesn’t know how to deal with it. I thought this aspect of Stark’s life made for very interesting viewing and it was good to see that The Avengers didn’t just stop and let Tony go back to normal. It’s great to see that the film makers at Marvel are really nurturing their characters. Stark’s relationships with Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes and Ty Simpkins’ Harley especially provide really great moments of comedy that Downey delivers perfectly.

Rhodey is re-branded as Iron Patriot – a name that Stark less than approves of

There are some incredible set pieces in the film as there have been in the previous two Iron Man films: the cave break-out in Iron Man and the race track fight in Iron Man 2, but Iron Man Three takes things to new heights. The action scenes are just as big, if not bigger, as those in The Avengers. The mansion being blown apart like we’ve seen in the trailers is just an extraordinary scene that really comes from nowhere. There’s a scene where Stark is being held captive and has to break out which provides more great action and the final battle, with so many suits fighting against The Mandarin’s henchmen is really great. It’s refreshing to see Stark take someone on who is not just another man in a suit but poses just as great a threat. This time Stark not only has to use the strength and the powers that his suit gives him but he has to use his intelligence and strategy which is something that has been pushed to the back burner in past films.

Iron Man Three brings lots of surprises to the forefront. There are a lot of moments that seem to just come out of nowhere which makes the effects more dramatic. Pepper Potts has a more vital role in this installment and wasn’t even as annoying or useless as she has been in the past. Guy Pearce excels himself in his role. Seriously, Pearce is absolutely incredible. Him and Ben Kingsley steal every scene in which they are in, it’s just a shame that the two don’t have more on screen time with one another.

It is great to see Iron Man Three tell a story about Tony Stark more than of Iron Man but still keep plenty of suits in sight to keep everyone happy. Marvel’s films are known for having great action as well as big laughs and that’s never been better placed than here in Iron Man Three. There was one tiny little bit I didn’t like but I can’t say because that would ruin a pretty big part of the film.

Tony Stark will be back. Will Robert Downey Jr? We’ve got to hope so!

My Rating: 9/10.

UK Release Date: 30th October 2013.

Stars: Alan Taylor (director), Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander, Christopher Eccleston, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard

Plot: Thor battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness.

This is the first action packed trailer for Thor: The Dark World, which sees the Norse God return to Earth, as promised, to see Jane Foster and whisk her back to Asgard with him. The trailer doesn’t really give too much away and leaves a lot of questions to be answered but it sets the seeds for a great story.

I’m pretty interested to see why Thor just decides to take Jane with him to Asgard rather than let her stay on Earth, presumably Asgard is the only safe place in the Nine Realms, despite the fact she seems to get captured later. However, I get the impression I’m really gonna hate Natalie Portman in this. In the first film she was a pretty smart woman, a scientist who was so good in her field that SHIELD wanted to contain her. Now she seems to have transgressed to ‘damsel in distress’.

I am looking forward to see the relationship between Jane and Lady Sif which should be interesting. Sif didn’t look too pleased that Jane was hanging around with Thor. Also, we didn’t get to see too much of Christopher Eccleston but what we do see looks extremely positive.

Marvel’s success continues.

A couple of days ago I posted The Best Actors Over the Age of 65. It was a list that put together eight of the most talented older actors still working in movies together. However, there were a few people that I didn’t have room for. A lot of wonderful readers reacted positively and wanted a sequel so I thought… if it’s good enough for Hollywood, then it’s good enough for me! Here comes the second part…

Michael Douglas – Born: 25th September, 1944 – 68 years old.

Douglas appeared to slow down in terms of his acting at the turn of the 21st century but in the past twelve months and in the coming year he looks to be speeding up once more. Most famously known for his role as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, a role he recently took on again for the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. In the past few years he has continued to star in relatively good films such as The Sentinel and Haywire.

Al Pacino – Born: 25th April, 1940 – 72 years old.

Along with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino is synonymous with the crime genre. Appearances in The Godfather trilogy, a legendary role in Scarface and alongside the former in Heat have cemented his place as an acting legend. However, his two Oscar nominations have come for two of his most dramatic roles in Glengarry Glen Ross and Scent of a Woman (for which he won the Oscar). Recently he did his reputation a lot of harm and became a target for many jokes after a cameo in the disaster that was Jack & Jill but he looks set to get his reputation back playing the lead in King Lear.

Sir Patrick Stewart – Born: 13th July, 1940 – 72 years old.

One of the finest thespians ever seen. Patrick Stewart seems like an icon of maturity and has a voice as smooth as Morgan Freeman – a voice he has lent to American Dad which shows off his light hearted side too. He’s the man who was made in the mould exactly to fit the role of Professor X and it has become his most iconic role of recent times. Although he does more voice work these days he is returning to the wheelchair for Days of Future Past next year.

Martin Sheen – Born: 3rd August, 1940 – 72 years old.

Martin Sheen proved he still had the acting chops to cut it with the young’uns in The Amazing Spider-Man, in which he put in the best performance of the film as loveable Uncle Ben, contributing to one of the saddest/mood effecting scenes of summer 2012. He’s no stranger to brilliant films either, appearing in Catch Me If You Can and The Departed as well as, earlier in his career, Wall Street and Gandhi.

Dustin Hoffman – Born: 8th August, 1937 – 75 years old.

Hoffman is a really incredible actor. I don’t think that has ever been in doubt since he made his name in 1967 in The Graduate. He has had a career of terrific films right from the get go: Straw Dogs, All The President’s Men, Kramer vs. Kramer, Rain Man are just a few. In recent years he took a little move to comedy for Meet the Fockers but continues to do voice work for DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda series.

Burt Reynolds – Born: 11th February, 1936 – 77 years old.

Burt Reynolds’ film career has taken a bit of a back seat over the past few years with him focussing more on television roles, but his acting talent is still obvious. He was nominated for an Oscar back in 1998 for his supporting role in Boogie Nights and appeared in Adam Sandler’s last (probably ever) good film The Longest Yard. He’s been acting since the 1950s and has given no indication that he is ready to stop just yet.

Clint Eastwood – Born: 31st May, 1930 – 82 years old.

A list like this wouldn’t be complete without Clint Eastwood. He is one of the most popular movie legends of all tine thanks to his roles in Westerns such as A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and his role as Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry and its sequels. Although he has now given up acting to focus more on directing he did return for Trouble With the Curve last year to remind everyone what they were missing.

Sir Christopher Lee – Born: 27th May, 1922 – 90 years old.

At 90 years old Christopher Lee is an actor who is just as great to watch now as he was at the beginning of his career. Incredibly, Lee has been acting since the 1940s, meaning this is the seventh decade that we will have seen him on screen for. If any young actors are looking for inspiration then this man has to be at the top of the list. He helped to make British horror films popular with his role as Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films and he went on to star in two of the most popular franchises of all time: The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit) and Star Wars.

The entertainment industry is an incredibly fickle one; one bad movie can see you go from the top of your game to the discard pile as quick as a flash. So it takes incredible determination, talent and motivation to continue on acting for so many years. 65 is usually the age of retirement over here in Britain but here are a few actors who show no signs of slowing down as they get older, just continuing to get better with age.

Robert De Niro – Born: August 17, 1943 – 69 years old.

This man really does need very little introduction. He’s been acting since the 1960’s but really made his name in the 70s with performances in The Godfather trilogy and of course his iconic performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. He’s become associated largely with gangster films but in the last decade or two he’s been slightly less picky with his roles and has taken fun roles rather than the intense ones he used to, as witnessed in Stardust and Meet the Parents. Five releases are slated for this year with more coming in 2014.

Sir Ben Kingsley – Born: 31st December, 1943 – 69 years old.

It’s actually unbelievable that Sir Ben Kingsley was once in English soap opera Coronation Street. Kingsley is often forgotten by mainstream audiences but he is clearly one of the best actors that England have ever produced. He won an Oscar for his role in Ghandi and continues to show his versatility with recent roles in Hugo, Shutter Island and Sexy Beast. Kingsley can now be seen playing Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

Sir Ian McKellen – Born: 25th May, 1939 – 73 years old.

McKellen is a true thespian. It took until the late 80s/early 90s really until McKellen became a certified film star and his career continues to thrive; really, since the turn of the century McKellen has become an actor that all different types of audiences want to see. He has shown off his talents in two iconic roles in particular, Magneto in X-Men and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings (a role he has reprised for The Hobbit trilogy), while at the same time continuing to do short films and television work as well.

Jack Nicholson – Born: 22nd April, 1937 – 75 years old.

What is there left to say about Jack Nicholson that hasn’t been said before? He is undoubtedly one of the best actors that has ever worked. That’s just a simple fact of life. He’s been acting since the 1950s and although he is taking longer breaks between work at the minute that doesn’t mean he is getting any worse. Over the years Nicholson has won three (THREE!) Oscars for his work and turned out great performances in the likes of The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman and The Departed. That’s a career well spent.

Morgan Freeman – Born: 1st June, 1937 – 75 years old.

He’s probably the only man in the world that people could just listen to every single day and never get bored. Has Morgan Freeman really ever been young? A lot of Freeman’s work up until the 90s was largely television work but what a decade the 90s became for him: Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption and Se7en saw Freeman in quite an incredible rise to fame. One that continues thanks to his role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

Robert Redford – Born: 18th August, 1936 – 76 years old.

Redford has slowed down in recent years but he is not only an acclaimed actor but also has been nominated for Oscars for his directing as well (and won). This is a man who starred in some of the most famous films of all time: The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He’s made something of a return to acting in the last couple of years with The Company You Keep (2012), All is Lost (2013) and he is set to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).

Sir Michael Caine – Born: 14th March, 1933 – 80 years old.

This year, the great actor turned eighty years old. Unbelievable considering the energy and the emotion that he still brings to all of his characters. Michael Caine has a filmography to rival anybody, he really has reached the top of his game and been there for decades as well now! The Italian Job, Zulu, Alfie, Get Carter, Hannah and Her Sisters and of course more recently he has become a regular collaborator with Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige and Inception. A true legend of the acting world.

Christopher Plummer – Born: 13th December, 1929 – 83 years old.

Remember The Sound of Music? One of the most iconic films of all time? Released in 1965? Well Christopher Plummer was in that. And his career is one that seems to have really got better with age and has, in fact, flourished since the beginning of the 21st century. He has recently had roles in A Beautiful Mind, Nicholas Nickleby, National Treasure, Syriana, Up, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and finally won an Oscar in 2012 for his role in Beginners.

These actors are true legends of their profession.

Stars: Robert Schwentke (director), Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Robert Knepper, Mary-Louise Parker, Marisa Miller.

Plot: A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

I read the plot and I thought that it sounded like a pretty good idea. The casting I’m not a fan of; anything with Ryan Reynolds in (other than 2 Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place) is usually just pretty annoying and below average. And you’d think after two unsuccessful attempts at a comic book movie he would have stayed away from a third, but anyway…

So it looks as though R.I.P.D is just a Men in Black replacement that we don’t really need or want. I haven’t read the graphic novel but this could have made for some good drama, but instead is filling a need for popcorn action. Sure, the special effects look good but anything that could have made this a good film has been thrown out the window in place for the stupid.

And speaking of stupid… the fact that Reynolds and Bridges actually look like other people? What’s seriously the point of that being in the film? To add in a few really awful jokes? I can’t see how that would be a good device to use in this film.

So yeah, all in all, a pretty poor trailer… I think I smell a flop.

UK Release Date: 22nd November 2013

Stars: Francis Lawrence (director), Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone

Plot: Katniss and Peeta are dethroned from their respective victory riches and are put back into the arena for the most climatic and menacing of the Hunger Games, known as the Quarter Quell.

Last year, The Hunger Games was one of the most anticipated releases as the best selling series of books were inevitably adapted for the big screen. It went on to gross just short of $700,000,000 worldwide and, despite positive reviews, I forgot that the sequel was even out this years. It’s safe to say I haven’t exactly been waiting for it.

I actually found The Hunger Games to be a bit slow paced and a tad boring at times. But Catching Fire looks to take the action to a whole new level and the trailer here is a terrific one. It’s going to build the excitement for anyone who saw the first film and fans of the books are going to wet themselves at just how good this will be.

The storyline does feel a little like clutching at straws, just putting the characters back in the arena again. But hey, that’s coming from the source material and that sold millions so who am I to tell them to do any different.

UK Release Date: 13th September 2013

Stars: Ron Howard (director), Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Dormer, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, Christian McKay.

Plot: A biographical drama of Formula 1 champion driver Niki Lauda and the 1976 crash that almost claimed his life. Mere weeks after the accident, he got behind the wheel to challenge his rival, James Hunt.

Rush looks like it is going to be a wonderful story of two rivals with a lot of respect for one another that will toy with the emotions of audiences all over the world. Although this is basically Niki Lauda’s story, a lot of the publicity so far has come from Chris Hemsworth being involved in a supporting role. This isn’t his fault, he’s become a huge star over the last couple of years, but that may take some of the gloss off the film.

The trailer sets up the story and rivalry brilliantly. It’s not an action packed trailer showing off all the race scenes which it could easily have been to appease action hungry mainstream audiences. Instead Rush plays on the dramatic rivalry between the two incredible racers; this is the best thing to do.

We get a small glimpse of the crash which could have ruined Lauda’s career and expect this to be a central piece of the film as we see Lauda’s recovery and jealousy as Hunt dominates races he enters. It looks as though the two main performances are going to be really strong.

At risk of putting the kiss of death to Rush, this could be an outside bet for a few Oscar nominations next awards season.

The Appeal of Emma Stone

Born Emily Jean Stone the young actress took on the name Emma when registering with the Screen Actors Guild due to there already being an Emily Stone registered. That’s a nice little fact not many people will be too aware of. Anyway, Emma Stone is just one of a new wave of actresses who are currently winning critics over and gaining fans with every performance they put in. In this category I place Stone with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan among others. But there is something different that sets Emma Stone apart from the rest; she has a very distinct and intriguing appeal.

Emma Stone got her first leading role in 2010’s Easy A, a film which focusses on the novel A Scarlet Letter and parallels that with the main character’s life: Olive, played by Emma Stone. I believe that Stone’s performance here is a clear example of just what a wonderful actress she is to watch. Olive is caught up in a web of lies after just trying to shut her friend up by telling her that she has lost her virginity, when in fact she has not. All of this gets out of hand and pretty much ruins Olive’s life. But the way the story is told is from Olive’s first person perspective, already giving us Stone’s narration. As well as this the film uses the narrative device of Stone talking into her webcam (which becomes the screen). This makes Stone’s performance just seem incredibly relaxed and natural and allowing the audience to see her in this way brings us a lot closer to the character and, in effect, Emma Stone herself. Her performance is full of vibrancy and sarcastic humour, outshone only by the frankly quite incredible Stanley Tucci.

Before Stone’s Golden Globe nominated performance in Easy A she was already making a name for herself in the comedy genre. Stone’s first film role was in Superbad, a film that began a new era of comedy films. After Superbad she appeared in a few, shall we say interesting films: The Rocker, The House Bunny and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (but let’s not judge her) before getting back on the right track with Zombieland. Also worth noting, Stone actually auditioned for the role of Claire Bennett in Heroes but obviously lost out to Hayden Panettiere who really impressed casting directors: I would have much preferred to have seen Stone in the role though. But anyway…

Emma Stone’s career has continued to go from strength to strength and she has proven that she is not just a one trick pony, despite being more than comfortable and one of the funniest women in comedy film at the minute. She had supporting roles in Friends With Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love (where she would work with Ryan Gosling for the first of quite a few times over the next couple of years) before joining The Help. The Help features an ensemble cast of actresses, not one of whom puts a foot wrong in terms of their performance here. Stone joins the likes of Jessica Chastain (another relatively new actress who is just exceptional at her craft), Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Viola Davis. Stone’s performance helped The Help win many nomination and awards for it’s cast’s performances.

With The Amazing Spider-Man, Emma Stone became the latest actress to join the superhero film genre. However, unlike the latest incarnations of Pepper Potts, Lois Lane and Rachel Dawes we have seen, Stone’s Gwen Stacy was not the typical damsel in distress as she could more than hold her own; standing up to Flash, being incredible stubborn in an attempt to save New York that could have seen her killed as well as smacking The Lizard over the head during a fight with Spider-Man. Then Stone joined a much more testosterone fuelled ensemble in Gangster Squad, joining Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie. She recently lent her voice to the prehistoric animation film from DreamWorks: The Croods.

I think you would have to go a long way to find any young actress working today with the combination of talent and on screen charisma that Emma Stone has. She has a wonderful presence on screen with a beautiful charm about her and her career shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Next year will see her reprise her role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while Birdman (from the director of 21 Grams and Babel) is in pre-production. She is also signed on to star in Guillermo Del Toro’s exciting Crimson Peak which is snapping up a superb cast in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain.

Hopefully we will get to see Emma Stone taking the lead in more and more films over the next few years but for now I am happy enough seeing her play supporting roles if she continues to be as good as she is right now!