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UK Release Date: 22nd November 2013

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

Plot: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

Arguably the most anticipated film of the rest of the year, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer has just debuted at San Diego Comic Con and it looks fantastic! The original star studded cast has been improved and got even bigger than before for a film that is all but guaranteed to break a few records upon release later this year.

While The Hunger Games went down very well people have argued that the action moved at a pretty slow pace. As a follow up, this is unlikely to be the case again. Since Katniss and the incredibly annoying, never-going-to-be-good-enough-for-Katniss Everdeen, Peeta triumphed in the battle to the death, an uprising has begun around the Districts and the Capitol wish to put an end to any hope that might have stirred by making an example of the two heroes.

I’m sure that a reason will be established as to why all the previous victors don’t just kill the leaders of Capitol and really bring things home but despite that, there is a lot to be excited for and it won’t just be a rehash of the events of the first film (although a few parts seem familiar). There seems to be more drama, more action in the Districts, more Liam Hemsworth, and a lot more action. A real sense of human revolt can be felt and the trailer does an excellent job of exceeding all expectations.

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UK Release Date: 6th December 2013

Stars: Spike Lee (director), Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Lance Reddick, Michael Imperioli, Max Casella.

Plot: An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.

Remakes happen. In the past few years of cinema it’s very hard to find a film that is not a remake or a sequel or an adaptation of something. But there are some things that should be left alone. And you can’t help but think that this Korean CLASSIC should have been left alone. But apparently it needed to be remade for an audience that can not be bothered with subtitles.

Saying that though, the material seems to be in very strong hands. The trailer looks fantastic, heightening expectations and building anticipation. The cast that has been brought together is pretty strong and Spike Lee clearly knows what he is doing. There are a lot of things in the trailer that fans of the original will be glad are still here: the hammer scene, the video-game-esque fight scene.

However, the most worrying thing for me is the content change. One of the best parts of the Korean Oldboy was the theme of incest. But of course that has to be dropped because an American audience couldn’t possible be confronted with such a taboo theme in the mainstream of pop culture. This means that elements do have to be shifted somewhat largely from the original and it does become more about the revenge rather than the relationships between characters. Hopefully Oldboy does not become just a generic action film (albeit a brilliant one) but I long for it to remain as a wonderful piece of cinema, like the Korean version.

Slated for an October release in the UK, Seventh Son becomes the latest book series to be adapted into a film. However, you will probably not recognise the name of Joseph Delaney or his series The Wardstone Chronicles. This series of books is not as famous as the Harry Potter series, Twilight or even Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider saga, so it may be a bit of a risk choosing to adapt these books (for more than just this one reason which I will go into later). Even with a best seller you’re not guaranteed success, the failure of Stormbreaker put to bed any ideas that Point Blanc or the other Alex Rider stories may get the big film treatment no matter how much I hope and pray for it to happen… anyway, tangent ended, back to Seventh Son. Here’s the trailer:

Set in the 18th Century, the story revolves around young Thomas (Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame), the seventh son of a seventh son which in this world grants Tom with the ability to see things that others can not: boggarts, ghosts and other fantasy beings. Tom finds himself apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight against the evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

As you can see, in the trailer you get the carefully worded “inspired by the acclaimed series” rather than “based on…” which suggests Seventh Son is not going to be a straight adaptation. Although this decision has already angered some fans (but you always get the few who can’t stand to see any change to source material), I believe this is actually a smart choice: The Wardstone Chronicles does not carry the same fan base other book series’ do so this is an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. The story of a boy being trained in his craft has been done (Harry Potter, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Percy Jackson) and to attempt to place another origin story into a saturated market would make no sense at all, therefore, taking elements from other books in the series as well will help speed along the story. Hopefully it won’t be a case of too many ingredients just thrown in with no time given to story or character development.

The Wardstone Chronicles

The other promising factor for Seventh Son is the acting talent attached to the project. Of course, Ben Barnes is relatively new but making steady progress in his career, however he is supported by Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, four time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and two time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou just for good measure. The director is Sergei Bodrov who is a Russian filmmaker who has twice had his features nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Prisoner of the Mountains, Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan). At one time Jennifer Lawrence was also attached to star, meaning that the script must have some merit to it. Now this is not to say that I think Seventh Son is going to clean up at the Oscars, far from it, but I do believe that with this talent on board there is definitely potential and it has more chance of being a good film than a bad one.

So it’s based on an acclaimed book series, has huge talent starring and directing, the trailer is action packed and exciting. So why would it be a surprise hit? Well first of all: it’s fantasy. And unless you happen to be bringing out a new Harry Potter film or The Hobbit then fantasy is a no go genre, that’s been proven time and time again. The trailer brings back memories to me of Black Death and Solomon Kane, two films I actually very much enjoyed but both fared poorly at the box office and with critics; when making fantasy you have to KNOW you have a hit, otherwise it’s all been a waste of time.

Other problems involve the dreaded moving of the release date. While it doesn’t sound like much the moving of a release date can be a sure fire signifier of a flop. In this case Seventh Son has been pushed back all the way from February this year to January next in the USA, I’m still skeptic that we’ll even get it in October in the UK. This move has been due to post production needing finishing, the same reason that The Lone Ranger is currently flopping on it’s stomach in the States (one of MANY reasons if early reviews are to be believed). This is not always the case, The Great Gatsby became a hit despite the moving of that release date but that has Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, Seventh Son does not.

Problems continue when you look further below the surface and see that the script has gone through a couple of rewrites. Again, never a good thing as when a script gets re-written you can see that the film has been dragged in several different directions by people who come on board with a separate view for the story and no respect for the work done by their predecessor (the most recent example of this being World War Z where the ending was rehashed). Even worse, Rhythm and Hues Studios who provide the visual effects for Seventh Son actually went bankrupt while working on the film; Legendary Pictures agreed to give $5million to the company to help them finish their work so this may or may not have hindered the project.

As you can see, Seventh Son is not without it’s problems. But upon it’s release people won’t be looking behind the screen at the difficulties the film has had getting there; they will be looking at the quality that is being presented to them. Ever since I first heard about this film I have been silently excited; the story, the genre and the theme is right up my street and something of a geeky pleasure for myself. I have been excited by the trailer and think that there is clearly plenty of potential here. To release on a quieter week in summer may have been a risk but it is one that could have paid off. Now, however, I can only see this being a flop and it pains me so much to say that.

UK Release Date: 4th July 2013

Stars: Dean DeBlois (director), Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kit Harington, America Ferrera.

Plot: Five years after the events of the first film, the once land locked Vikings are now on the backs of dragons and their world has become bigger. As Hiccup’s curiosity grows the map expands and the Vikings come across new people and new dragons, discovering a larger conflict between mankind and dragonkind which Hiccup is inevitably at the centre of.

With sequels to animated films being all the rage these days with the likes of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 it should come as no surprise that the universally adored How to Train Your Dragon is getting the sequel treatment (trilogy treatment really with a third installment slated for 2016 release). Out of the three original films (HTTYD, Monsters Inc. and Despicable Me) I felt that HTTYD was the weakest, but with the most potential for more stories to be told, leaving me with the feeling that this could be the best animated sequel since the Toy Story films.

However, the teaser trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2 doesn’t give a lot away. As has become something of a trend recently, this is just one sequence from the film put into two minutes just to give the audience a peek at their old friends.

As we can see Toothless and Hiccup are still working together and Hiccup is clearly advancing Viking technology at a great pace. A glimpse at the new teenage Hiccup is something for fans to get excited about as the changed between when the original film took place and this one should be an interesting point. I look forward to seeing more beautiful footage and finding out more plot details.

Monsters University Review

With Monsters University, Pixar attempts to take back the crown as the best animation studio out there, a title that seems to be swaying towards Illumination Entertainment after the success of Despicable Me and its recent sequel. To prove they have not lost their magic touch, Pixar have brought back a winning pair, second only in animation to Pixar’s own Woody and Buzz, Mike and Sulley. University looks at the events that forced the two loveable monsters together and what made them the record breaking team that we first met in Monsters Inc more than ten years ago.

“I’m gonna be a scarer!”

Returning characters Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), Sulley (John Goodman) and Randy (Steve Buscemi) are all back, joined by a host of new talent. The primary new characters are mature student Don (Joel Murray), Squishy (Peter Sohn), two headed monster Terri and Terry (Sean Hayes, Dave Foley) and the unpredictable Art (Charlie Day). These new monsters make up the fraternity Oozma Kappa, the fraternity that Mike and Sulley are forced to join in order to compete in Dean Hardscrabble’s (Helen Mirren) Scare Games to prove they have what it takes to be the best scarers on campus and win their place back in the University as a scaring major. But with personal rivalries and an overall lack of scariness about their new friends, will Mike and Sulley have what it takes? The answer seems almost predictable what with this being a prequel, but what’s important is the journey.

 

While Monsters Inc was arguably Sulley’s moment in the spotlight, University is all about Mike Wazowski. We’re introduced to the adorable one eyed monster as a child on a field trip to Monsters Incorporated where he gets his first glimpse at the scare floor and realises his ambition in life is to be working there in the future. This short opening sequence opens up a whole load of strings to Mike’s bow; he has an ambition, he has a background, he has room to grow and learn right from the off, and by the end of the film Mike Wazowski comes out on top as one of Pixar’s considerably best characters to date.

“I can’t go back to jail”

Sulley, however, does not come off that well: arrogant, cocksure and generally that guy in class who seems really big headed who nobody really likes. Saying that, though, watching Sulley and Mike’s friendship blossom over the course of the (near two hour) movie is something very enjoyable, even though at times it feels like Sulley doesn’t really deserve Mike’s friendship. It is not until the final sequence that he really earns any respect or likeability, but more on that sequence later.

 

Monsters University isn’t really any different to any other college movies, using tropes and plot points to move the story along in the expected fashion. But then occassionaly it veers off the path into the realm of the unknown. It would have been very easy to head straight towards the beginning of Monsters Inc but that’s not what Pixar went with; it would have been even easier to end with Oozma Kappa winning the Scare Games and everything having a happy ending but that’s not where they went either and credit has to go to Pixar for their wonderful storytelling.

“I’m going to wipe the floor with that little know-it-all”

The animation is wonderful. Everything is turned up by ten on the colour scales and the creativity to come up with so many different monsters is really unparallelled. If nothing else, this is beautiful to watch. Things take a darker (both in tone and aesthetics) turn when Mike and Sulley risk their lives journeying to the human world. This wonderful sequence brings the two characters together in a really heartfelt exchange of words and shows great comradery between the two as they work so well with one another to get the better of the humans, playing to each other strengths: highlighting the ups and downs of friendship being worth all that hassle if at the end the two parties come out stronger as one than they were on their own.

 

There seems to be an unwritten rule that if you laugh out loud five or more times at a comedy then it’s definitely worth recommending to someone else. I can’t remember a moment when I stopped laughing while watching Monsters University; there was joke after joke, all aimed at a midway between child and adult so that everyone could share in the joy. There were fantastic set pieces, big laughs and really tru touching moments of a bond forming between lifelong friends.

“You’re just not scary”

It seems unlikely that we’ll get another Monsters prequel and it’s probably best if we don’t get a sequel. Monsters Univeristy never quite matches the original but it compliments it wonderfully.

 

My Rating: 8/10

Now You See Me Review

A star studded cast embark on a game of cat and mouse as the FBI and Interpol attempt to catch four magicians who use the disguise of their magic show to conduct bank heists and give the stolen money to their audiences. This band of magicians are known as The Four Horsemen and are each solo artists brought together by a mysterious hooded figure and a series of tarot cards. When together the group pull off these bank heists as a way of being allowed entry to an exclusive group of magicians known as ‘The Eye’.

“The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see”

The film opens every bit as you might expect: introducing the four characters separately, allowing for the audience to quickly get to know them and acknowledge their traits before they are put into the group dynamic. Up first is street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) whose opening trick is cleverly conducted to work on the audience as well; then comes Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist who uses his ‘gift’ to find out dirty secrets about people and extort them of their money. The only female member of the group is Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), an escapologist and former assistant to J. Daniel Atlas. These three are joined by the only one of the magicians whose actual tarot card links to the Four Horsemen of mythology: Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) who seems to be more like a con artist than magician. These opening scenes are every bit as exciting as you would hope and introduce our heroes as being likeable characters, so much so that it has you gripped form the very beginning.

Jump one year later. Now we’re in Las Vegas watching the Four Horsemen put on a show under the watchful eye of benefactor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and magician defrauder Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Here it is that the magicians pull off the bank heist that gets them noticed by the FBI. However, what the audience will notice is just how long this scene drags out and unfortunately it isn’t the only one. As with the case with real life magic shows, the magicians tend to lengthen things out, giving long speeches and explaining what they’re going to do before they do something completely different. While this may be all fine and well at real magic shows, when you have less than two hours on a cinema screen some of the waffle has to be cut down.

“These guys, they’re tricky”

But then that’s why Jesse Eisenberg impresses the most. If it wasn’t for Eisenberg’s charisma then perhaps Now You See Me would run the risk of being slightly dull, but every time Eisenberg appears on screen he hastens up the pace (if not only for his fast talking) but he inhabits the character; it feels like Eisenberg is the only one who has done his research and knows about magicians… which isn’t really surprising considering he was the first name attached to the project.

The other horsemen each have their own moments of glory (although arguably Isla Fisher’s comes at the beginning and never really rears it’s head again) with Harrelson providing a few sporadic laughs throughout, while Dave Franco provides one of the most exciting sequences of the piece in a fight scene with FBI agent Mark Ruffalo where trick mirrors, slight of hand and playing cards all come into use. It really stands out as one of the best action scenes of the summer which is remarkable considering the strength and special effects of the other blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness.

“Want to know how they did it? Just say the magic word”

While each individual actor gets their moment in the limelight at one point or another, it is a slight downfall that the four central characters seem to have very little chemistry with one another. The conversations at times seem jarred and the jokes not as free flowing as you would expect. Perhaps the worst part of the film is the completely unbelievable relationship between Mark Ruffalo’s character and the Interpol agent played by Melanie Laurent. Even the two actors don’t seem invested in that storyline.

Throughout the film there are (almost too many) hints towards the fact that there is going to be a twist so part of the fun comes from guessing what that twist is going to be. There is a little foreshadowing throughout but the reveal should still come as a surprise. It’s a great idea, but arguably poorly executed which is where it is going to be let down. However, this is just a small problem compared to the plot holes scattered throughout the plot and the pointlessness of Michael Caine’s character.

“First rule of magic: always be the smartest guy in the room”

Had it been released at any other time of the year Now You See Me could have very easily run the risk of bombing in the box office. But this is summer and people expect certain things from a summer blockbuster: they want to laugh, be entertained, see great action sequences, wonderful set pieces and big budget effects. And that’s what Now You See Me can deliver. It has it’s flaws but all in all is a thoroughly enjoyable film that can be filed under ‘hit’ for director Louis Leterrier.

My Rating: 6/10

This is the End Review

The biggest, brightest and the most prolific stars of modern comedy films play half-real/half-fictional versions of themselves for the Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen directed This is the End. The major characters here are Rogen himself, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride who all attend a party at James Franco’s house. However, during the star studded party, the apocalypse hits and these actors must find a way to survive until they are granted their passage to Heaven.

“I don’t wanna die at James Franco’s house”

The film opens with the self-deprecating humour that will soon become familiar as Seth Rogen is asked about his performances in films and begged to do the ‘annoying’ Rogen laugh. This quickly becomes a theme after the apocalypse arrives as there are many jokes thrown around about some of the casts less successful outings such as Green Hornet, Spider-Man 3 and Your Highness, while also paying tribute to higher points in their careers with the mentions of Moneyball and 127 Hours. Right from the off it becomes clear that this cast has been put together to have fun, they’re not afraid to be themselves or heap criticism on themselves: a very self aware project that reaps the benefits.

 

For the opening act the show completely belongs to one person: Michael Cera. Although he usually plays himself in pretty much every film, Cera takes a step outside of his comfort zone to actually play ‘himself’ and shines as the source of laughter. His new bum slapping, coke fuelled personality is the major highlight of This is the End and Cera really digs in and let loose. This is just one of a number of cameos: Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Watson, David Krumholtz, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd and Channing Tatum (particularly surprising and hilarious) all included.

“We should make a sequel to Pineapple Express

What becomes clear is that this is not a film that is made for everyone. If you have no knowledge of Rogen’s or Franco’s career and friendship in particular, then this is not the film for you. One of the more frequent points in the film is this friendship and Franco’s love for Seth Rogen. And if you don’t like Pineapple Express (which everyone really should) then you are not going to reap the benefits of the hilarious ‘Pineapple Express 2‘ homemade sequel.

 

Every major character has their time in the spotlight, each being allowed to let loose, have fun and provide laughs. Jonah Hill, however, perhaps has the most stand out points which you can look at even out of the context of the whole film and enjoy: the Milky Bar scene, the exorcism and the incredibly camp gun scene. Everything he does is fantastic.

“Dear God, it’s me, Jonah Hill… from Moneyball

The end of the world may be a tired storyline but that only benefits This is the End. With no immediate or heavy concerns with storyline the (half-written) script is allowed to entertain on its own merits. The cast are allowed to live within themselves, push their exciting and over the top performance to the very limits all against the backdrop of destruction. There aren’t many scenes where the laughs die down and there certainly aren’t any jokes that misfire or fall flat.

 

You will either love it or hate it. This is one of those films. But if you know what’s good for you, you’ll love it.

 

My Rating: 8/10.

What to Watch – July 2013

With most of the biggest summer films come and gone already, it is down to Pixar, giant robots and the least anticipated superhero film of the year to vie for audience attention.

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Now You See Me – 3rd July

A star studded cast embark on a world wide game of cat and mouse to catch a group of ‘Robin Hood like’ magicians turned bank robbers in Now You See Me, which is by far the most exciting film on this list for me.

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The Bling Ring – 5th July

From Sofia Ford Coppola comes The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson (albeit sounding like an American brat). Inspired by true events, a group of teenagers begin stealing from the rich and famous Hollywood socialites… the whole story is in the trailer pretty much.

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Pacific Rim – 12th July

After what many critics have called ‘the best trailer of the summer’ Guillermo Del Toro’s homage to Japanese monster films has a lot to live up to. And there don’t seem to be many people that think it will fail.

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Monsters University – 12th July

This will be the film that either reassures everyone that Pixar’s last couple of years were just a blip, or confirm what many people fear: Pixar are declining. Hopefully, as Monsters Inc. is probably my favourite Pixar film, the former will be proved correct.

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The World’s End – 19th July

Simon Pegg looks like he’s in the form of his life with the final installment in the Cornetto trilogy. Joined by a rich supporting cast it looks as though Wright, Pegg and Frost will be bowing out in a no less than exceptional manner.

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The Wolverine – 25th July

In a film that not many people want and fewer are excited about (other than me who is quite looking forward to it) Wolverine is taken on his most human and darkest screen voyage to date. However, the main problem here is: if you make Wolverine mortal, surely he dies straight away due to his body being filled with adamantium? But after the massacre to the X-Men film universe that was Origins, I suppose that doesn’t really matter?

Ask the general public who they think the best actor in the world is and you will probably be met with replies varying from Bradley Cooper to Ryan Gosling and, with the release of Man of Steel, you may even hear people citing Henry Cavill as ‘the best actor ever’: the general public are fickle when it comes to actors/actresses and they tend to follow the trends, whoever is ‘hot’ right now will be in the public eye more and the public will be tricked into liking them. I don’t wish to take anything away from the three particular actors I mentioned as I do like all three of them: they all have potential, but are they brilliant actors? I would hesitate to say so just yet.

Now if you’re reading this you probably have an interest in films and will no doubt know who Paul Giamatti is, but as the everyday cinema goer if they like him and the likely response will be “who?”; telling them that he is an Oscar nominated actor will probably not help either. While the likes of Cooper, Gosling and Cavill make headlines and get on the covers of magazines Paul Giamatti goes about his versatile projects with the utmost respect for the people he is working with and for the target audience. Giamatti is an actor that can consistently be relied upon to give great performances and make anything all the more enjoyable for his appearance. The reason why I have decided to write about him now is because of his insistence to ever expand his repertoire and has recently joined the cast of British ITV drama, Downton Abbey.

After slumming it for a few years, Giamatti got his first big break in 1997 when he starred in Private Parts, a role which catapulted him to face after he received a lot of praise for his performance. This led to Giamatti getting more and more supporting roles in big Hollywood films such as The Truman Show and Saving Private Ryan. His rise to fame in Hollywood continued after the turn of the 20th century appearing in Big Momma’s House, Planet of the Apes and Big Fat Liar. Okay, so not all of his films are good, but how often does and actor have a slate with no spills upon it? And anyway, it’s what he did after this that starts to get impressive.

In 2004, Giamatti reminded everybody just how good he is: Sideways. In this independent romantic comedy, Giamatti portrays a depressed writer with a very healthy liking of wine. Now I will admit that when I first watched Sideways I failed to see what the hype was about, nevertheless I recognised that Giamatti was putting in a terrific performance. Alongside Thomas Haden Church (another actor I’ve come to like a lot recently) Giamatti is absolutely wonderful, capturing an incredibly realistic portrayal and offering up moments of drama and comedy in equal share and to equal success. Sideways on the whole became a surprise hit and was nominated for five Oscars which helped the whole cast’s career greatly.

But Giamatti was made to wait for his personal Oscar nomination. That came when Giamatti starred alongside Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, playing Joe Gould, boxing manager and friend to Russell Crowe’s character. Although he lost out at the Oscars to that little known actor George Clooney (Syriana) Giamatti proved once again that he was one of Hollywood’s finest.

Since then, Paul Giamatti has gone on to vary his career as much as possible in terms of the roles he takes. Whether it be in the great action film Shoot ‘Em Up, the animated The Ant Bully, comedy in The Hangover Part II, drama in The Ides of March or even a musical such as Rock of Ages, Giamatti will give it all and continue to dominate films with his performance. I fail to think of a film appearance by Giamatti in which he has ever failed to live up to my high expectations I have of him: he is just ultimately captivating and always exciting to watch on screen.

There are a huge number of projects in the pipeline (not least Turbo and the latest adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) but arguably most exciting is the fact that he will be appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as villain Rhino. This could possibly be the best bit of superhero movie casting since Robert Downey Jr. completely stole the hearts of the world as Tony Stark. Early set photos (pre-CGI) look exciting and as if this is going to be another memorable performance from Giamatti. With critical acclaim being fired at him from every angle, it is about time he became a staple in the minds of mainstream cinema-goers. Here’s hoping…

In my opinion, Paul Giamatti is one of the greatest character actors of all time, allowing himself to completely indulge himself in every aspect of his role and this comes across perfectly on screen. Certainly someone to watch in everything he does.

After a highly publicised problematic time in production which included delays to the release date, location changes, problems with the Hungarian government and new writers being hired to rewrite the ending, World War Z has finally been released in cinemas.

World War Z is a globe trotting apocalyptic action adventure about the human race’s battle for survival against the fast spreading disease turning people to zombies. At the centre of this ‘war’ is Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator who is forced to return to his old job to help locate the source and a cure for the disease in exchange for the safety of his family. Lane’s journey takes him all around the world, from South Korea to Israel and eventually to Wales where he hopes that he can find a way to prevent the disease from spreading any more than it already has done.

The film opens with a brief introduction to Gerry and his family life, his wife and two daughters providing the emotional attachment to the central character who identifies with the audience as this sympathetic family man. And about ten minutes later World War Z erupts with excitement and begins to roll at breakneck pace with the attack on Philadelphia setting the bar very high as the, albeit poorly CGI’ed, zombies launch a full scale attack and Marshall law is enforced. The Lanes manage to escape to an apartment block, where Pitt gets to excel in a more action oriented role and takes out several more zombies, before they are saved. And Pitt is eventually landed with the mission of saving the world.

So with the world’s hope weighing heavy upon his shoulders Pitt takes the journey to South Korea and things show no signs of slowing down. As soon as they step off the plane zombies arrive and death follows closely behind. Inside the safe haven Pitt receives information from a random prisoner who seems to have no purpose other than to make sure Pitt ends up going to Jerusalem (pretty convenient that he was there really). This prisoner also offers a really clever but subtle insight into how other countries are dealing with the epidemic: North Korea have extracted the teeth of all of its civilians to stop the disease spreading through bites.

In Jerusalem the battle wages on and on and here is where Pitt teams up with an annoyingly trigger happy Russian soldier played by Daniella Kertesz. The action here in Jerusalem is really exciting and the pace of World War Z never seems to let up even for a minute throughout the first hour. However, once on the plane (a really really fantastic scene somewhat ruined by the fact that it is in ALL of the trailers) the film seems to take a twist of direction and the pace slows and an attempt to inject some real drama replaces it; the only other signs of drama coming from Pitt’s on screen wife holding a telephone and hugging her children.

 

On the plane you get this sort of “previously on World War Z” segment where you are shown once more the bits that you thought were unimportant from the first half of the film and why they are important now, as Pitt cleverly pieces together the clues as they land in Wales (of all places) to put an end to the spreading of the zombie disease.

The final act which takes place in Wales is not at all bad, but it slows the pace so much that it seems a far cry from the beginning of World War Z. Here, suspense is built and the film begins to seem like it is being character driven rather than action driven with Pitt becoming a much more engaging character at the end that he has been before. There are some places in which it seems like the zombies don’t really pose a serious threat but these are made up for with some great fight scenes throughout and a genuine fear portrayed by other cast members.

There seems to be a growing argument around the internet that Damon Lindelof can not write a good ending. And with the climax quickly tied up in a not too neat monologue delivered by Pitt there seems to be more ammunition to fire at the writer. With a really entertaining first half, a slightly weaker but still engaging second half it is more than worth the poor ending. Brad Pitt’s proves that he alone can still be a box office draw and, even at fifty years old, the world is still a safe place in his hands.

 

My Rating: 7/10.