Tag Archive: 2006


Landing the role of Superman is one that is meant to change your career forever and make you an immortal on the cinema screen, stapled in to people’s minds forever; it is one of the most iconic roles in movie history, the embodiment of being an American (despite being an alien) and any Superman film should make huge stars out of everyone involved. Remember Kate Bosworth? Remember James Marsden? Sam Huntington? Parker Posey? No… because the Superman film all of the aforementioned were involved with was 2006’s Superman Returns.

However, nobody was more affected by the failure of Superman Returns than the man of steel himself, Brandon Routh. When Warner Bros. decided to revive the Superman franchise a whole host of actors were considered for the part; Paul Walker, Brendan Fraser and even Will Smith (who decided to give us his own take on the superhero genre anyway with Hancock, a hero with a similar back story to that of Superman) but when Bryan Singer came on board to direct he decided that an unknown actor should be cast and that was, of course, Brandon Routh.

Prior to being given the part of Superman Routh had largely been seen, but unnoticed, in television shows such as One Life to Live, Gilmore Girls and Will and Grace. Whilst studying at University Routh was always told he bore a resemblance to Christopher Reeve (if you don’t know who he is, stop reading now… seriously) and he was signed by an agent for this very reason who told him if there was another Superman film ever made, he would be the man in the starring role. And then it came along… Routh’s big chance to impress.

Superman Returns bored the hell out of me! For some reason, unbeknownst to man, Superman Returns gained some very good praise from critics and was even a huge hit at the box office taking $84.2million in just five days which was a Warner Bros. record at the time. Yet of all of those people who went to see the film, I don’t think many of them found it to be the return of Superman that they wanted. Superman Returns was a largely lacklustre blockbuster: I wouldn’t say it was the worse comic book movie to hit the cinema screen but it dragged more than Daredevil and the action scenes were worse than Ghost Rider. Instead of making Brandon Routh a huge household name, it made him the butt of many jokes and the subject of many conversations that go a little bit like this:

“I really like him, he was good in Superman Returns

“@!#* off!”

But the fact is, Brandon Routh is NOT a bad actor, he is actually quite good, I think, and his career could and should have looked so different than it does today. Routh, since Superman Returns, has seen limited cinema time and the films he has made that have had wide releases (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) have seen him appear in nothing more than just a couple of scenes.

Brandon Routh should STILL be playing Superman in my opinion. He was the star of a film that grossed millions and millions of dollars at the box office and was praised by critics and has since fallen down the acting world so much. He should be the biggest action hero around right now or at least be a supporting actor in films like the Die Hard series or even G.I. Joe but instead he is starring in Partners, a sitcom that isn’t going down incredibly well right now and will just be another dent in his career.

Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen for Henry Cavill.

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Leonardo DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of the best and most versatile actors working today, if not one of the best of all time. He is one of my favourite actors which is obvious to anyone who knows me seeing as how I own almost all of his films on DVD and have watched them all numerous times. But ever since I first watched Blood Diamond it has been, not only my favourite performance by DiCaprio but also, one of my favourite films and I genuinely believe it is one of the greatest films ever made, despite not being received incredibly well by critics (perhaps due to the source material).

Blood Diamond is a story of three very different characters and how their lives and journeys merge together because of the illegal diamond smuggling industry coming out of countries like Sierra Leone (where the film is set) and being financed by a (fictional) company named Van de Kamp back in London, England. The movie is described as a political war thriller and features several political strands, the title itself is an obvious reference to the name given to the diamonds that are sourced from war torn African countries which are sold to finance the conflict. There is also the prominence of children being forced to become soldiers in these war torn countries too. Blood Diamond was set during the Sierra Leone Civil War between 1996-2001 and released in 2006, yet these problems still exist in some African countries which makes the film just as relevant today and the issues it brings to the forefront of your mind even more relevant because nothing has really changed. But despite being a politically fuelled film I don’t believe that Blood Diamond rams issues down your throat and force feeds you opinions because at the heart of it is a very convincing and very entertaining, in the most dramatic sense, trio of heroes.

Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely phenomenal as Danny Archer, a former mercenary turned diamond smuggler, and upon release of Blood Diamond he received a huge amount of praise for his authentic South African accent. Archer is the anti-hero, yes he helps Solomon find his family but only because of his own motives to retrieve the huge pink diamond Solomon found, steal it, sell it and get away from the conflict to live a very rich and extensive lifestyle elsewhere. DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for the film. His co-star, Djimon Hounsou who plays Solomon Vandy, a fisherman captured by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and forced to work to find diamonds while his family go on the run, his son later being captured and forced to become a deadly warrior. Hounsou got the nod at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor but I would argue that here Vandy is the main character and it is not DiCaprio’s Archer because it is Vandy we get to know first and it is his story that we care about. Hounsou’s emotionally fuelled performance is one of the best I’ve seen and he really was terrific! Finally Jennifer Connelly completes the trio and she plays Maddy Bowen, a journalist who is trying to expose the illegal conflict diamond trade and change things. Her crush on Danny Archer is mutual and they help each other out a lot throughout the film. Bowen actually helps the character development of Danny Archer; their romantic subplot does not seem forced and thankfully there isn’t a ridiculously placed kiss before Archer leaves just to keep Hollywood happy. The development that Archer goes through over the course of Blood Diamond is a really brilliant arc: in the beginning he is a man out for himself just wanting to make money, but as the film goes on he eventually turns into the guy willing to sacrifice himself so that his new friend (Vandy) can escape with his son and change his life as well as many others too. The relationship between Archer and Vandy is really interesting to watch and grabs your attention right form their first meeting.

The action is fantastic and David Harewood is brilliant as the warlord Captain Poison. For a man who spent most of his career working on British television series’ including Casualty, The Bill, Doctor Who and Hustle it really is quite an exceptional role that he got and a performance that matches those of DiCaprio and Hounsou. But the highlight of the film for me is when Solomon Vandy is reunited with his son Dia. What should be an incredibly happy and joyous moment is taken in a completely different direction by Blood Diamond and it was fantastic to watch. You’re wondering what is going to happen since Dia has been brainwashed into a cold hearted killer but the moment they reunite is beautifully written and is a masterpiece of acting.

Blood Diamond may not have been the most well received film but it is definitely one of my favourites and no doubt always will be. The storyline, the characters, the acting is perfect. I cannot recommend Blood Diamond highly enough!

Christopher Nolan is an absolute genius. I love him as a director and a storyteller; every single one of his films, be it Memento, Inception or The Dark Knight trilogy are wonderful masterpieces of cinema and The Prestige is no different. Released in 2006, The Prestige is based on the 1995 novel of the same name written by Christopher Priest, the novel was adapted into a screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan.

The Prestige is a very complicated telling of a very complex professional and personal rivalry of two magicians. As young aspiring magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) were friends and colleagues until a trick went wrong and Angier’s wife was killed. Angier blamed Borden for this as he suspects Borden tied an unbreakable knot around his wife’s wrists before a drowning trick. This leads to a rivalry that becomes an obsession for the both of them; each man obsesses with what the other man is doing and how he is doing it, both men sabotaging each other’s tricks in attempts to discredit or even murder their opponents. It is a deadly rivalry revolving around the greatest trick of all time: Borden’s Transported Man.

Jackman and Bale lead the cast brilliantly. Bale is somewhat of an enigma to me where his acting skills are concerned, despite always putting in a solid performance I often feel as if he has more to give and that he is holding something back but as we move forward through The Prestige it becomes clear that Bale is giving his best. Scarlett Johansson is the lead female playing the beautiful assistant to Angier, then Borden, Olivia Wenscombe who becomes both a pawn and a player within their games. I think that Olivia is an example of Nolan not really knowing entirely what to do with female characters as she seems to lack the motivation the two male leads are given and she often comes across as just a lovesick blonde. The remaining supporting cast consists of Michael Caine, Andy Serkis and David Bowie who perform very well as you would expect (maybe not of Bowie but he proves he has a talent for this).

Alfred Borden and Robert Angier are wonderful characters. They are both completely believable and Nolan does a great job of blurring the lines of morality between the two; neither are wholly good or wholly bad and I believe that the audience can choose which side to take (perhaps only after sitting through multiple viewings though). The Prestige is told in a non-linear fashion and shoots back and forth between the present day and the past as the characters attempt to discover each other’s secrets through reading their diaries. The plots then come together and once they do the film really draws to a perfect finale. The final act, or ‘the prestige’, of Nolan’s phenomenal film has more twists than a bag of pretzels, each one being more significant than the last.

The rewatchability factor of The Prestige is right up there. Watching over and over again you see more and more clues that give away the ending which you don’t see the first time round because “you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled”. The whole film is layered in foreshadowing, clue after clue to what the ending is working towards but if you don’t know then you won’t see it coming, you won’t work it out no matter how much you let your mind run wild yet it is so simple.

The Prestige may get forgotten about among Nolan’s works next to the originality of Memento and Inception and the hype around The Dark Knight but seriously, this is a perfect example of a story being told to the best it can be. Nolan proves himself to be a true magician behind the camera with this film carved into his very own magic trick: the Pledge, the Turn and finally, the hardest part of all, the Prestige.

My Rating: 10/10

Sherrybaby (2006) Review.

***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***

Released in 2006, Sherrybaby was well received by critics and was an official selection at a number of film festivals across America and Europe. Maggie Gyllenhaal in particular impressed and was nominated for a Golden Globe as well as various other awards for her performance in the lead role.

Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Sherry, a woman who apparently hates wearing a bra and loves sex. More importantly though, Sherry has recently been released from a three year prison sentence; she is eager to establish a relationship with her young daughter who has been looked after by Sherry’s brother and his wife. Sherry soon learns that fitting back into normal life is a lot harder than she imagined as she faces the temptation to return to old habits but must stay away to further her relationship with her daughter.

Gyllenhaal in the lead role, and as the only recognisable name among the cast, does a great job as Sherry. She plays her part really well and manages to draw the audience in to Sherry’s world and get a real sense of the emotional state and mental workings of the character. Brad William Henke as Bobby, Sherry’s brother, puts in a good performance and is very likeable as is Danny Trejo’s character, Dean, who begins a sort of relationship with Sherry.

This film is Laurie Collyer’s directorial debut. Collyer also wrote Sherrybaby and to date this remains the only feature film that she has directed. The direction here is very good. Sherrybaby screams realism, it feels as though we are in that world, the small details are given great time and place within the story and to be honest, I think that small details can really add to the final art of the film.

Sherrybaby touches on some very serious issues. We are given the drug abuse, the alcohol abuse and the difficulty of coming out of prison and integrating back into the real world. Even sexual abuse within the family is hinted at although this is a subject glossed over and I can’t help but feel that the film would have done better to get more in depth in this part of the story.

The story of Sherrybaby is a good one, but it is a very slow burner. The film is slow paced and at times borders on the edge of boring which is a shame, but for parts of the film I found myself willing something interesting to happen. Unfortunately though, it is not until the end that I got a real sense of something from the film. In the final twenty minutes Sherry moves forward a lot more than during the rest of the film. We see her trying to bond with her daughter and is something that I would have liked to have seen more of.

Overall, Sherrybaby is a good film, but that is all. Good.

My Rating. 6/10.