Tag Archive: brad pitt


Back in 1975 Jaws became the highest grossing film to date. It’s arguably one of the most famous films ever that has been parodied and referenced in countless numbers of films and has a theme tune that everyone can hum and recognise. The release and the popularity of Jaws marked the arrival of the summer blockbuster, which would become a staple in the cinema calendar; the summer blockbuster spots are reserved for the biggest studios to bring out the big guns and rake in the profits over summer. The whole idea of a ‘blockbuster film’ has gone through celebration and survived criticism but you can not deny that they are still apparent and, as we have seen this year, are the most bankable films of the year. But the originality has gone, and with that so has some of the fun.

Among the top ten highest grossing films of the year so far there are eight films that have been released in the summer. Only one of those is an original concept: Pacific Rim. When Jaws was released it marked a trend of ‘event’ films that major studios released to compete with Jaws and its sequels. Taking this into account Pacific Rim seems like a typical summer blockbuster remade for a modern audience. It seems like everything a summer audience want: mindless action, giant robots fighting gigantic aliens and what’s more the film had major clout behind it as it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim only just managed to double its budget worldwide despite all the hype surrounding it and Idris Elba booming “today we are cancelling the apocalypse” before every other summer film that you would go and see. Of course, one reason why Pacific Rim could have fallen short of expectations is because Michael Bay did such an awful job with the Transformers film that any film with robots in will now be tossed aside without thought.

 

But then a film with fighting robots also became the fifth highest grossing film of all time: Iron Man 3. So this seems to suggest that that was not the only reason for Pacific Rim‘s failure to make a huge impression on the audience. In a world with so many sequels it is becoming more important to see those sequels when they come out, especially with what Marvel are doing with each film becoming a huge stable of cinema in itself and an unmissable event. People want to see what they already know because the first films are so good and successful that it gives a sequel credibility before it is even released. The likes of Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, Monsters University and even Despicable Me 2 cracked the top ten highest grossing films – all coming off the back of successful franchises or original films. World War Z and Man of Steel also join the list but they’re coming from hugely successful books and comic books. With World War Z it also seems to suggest that star power is also important for a summer blockbuster with Brad Pitt no doubt being responsible for some of the surprisingly huge audience the zombie action film found.

So what of Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp? Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet absolutely tanked at the box office in 2013. Smith’s After Earth and Cruise’s Oblivion both seemed pretty similar in their basic premise: Earth has been abandoned and now Will Smith/Tom Cruise come back to Earth and find out that it’s not as bare as they might have thought. It was assumed that one film would take the spoils because they were too similar but as it turned out, neither film did and both failed. Johnny Depp looked to bring a new franchise to the big screen and should have been more successful being as though The Lone Ranger is integrated in popular culture – everyone has heard “Hi-Yo, Silver!” at least once in their lives. But a difficult time in production seemed to put an end to any plans Disney had of making a sequel. And the less said about R.I.P.D the better.

 

Another one of the most anticipated films of the year was Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. After Blomkamp’s debut feature District 9 was an Oscar nominated film people were expecting something exceptional from Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. However, as of now it has only just managed to make back its budget and not set the world alight as people expected. Of course, a late summer release won’t have helped being as though it seems everyone had already spent their money on previously mentioned films. So why is it so hard to find a spot for originality in the summer months?

For me, I think it comes down to the cost of going to the cinema. Over summer the children are off school and people go to the cinema as a family. This means that you’re going to be spending around £25-£35 on tickets and then another £20ish on drinks and popcorn which makes it seem pretty expensive just to go and sit down for a couple of hours. Nobody wants to go and see a bad film at the cinema anyway but when it’s costing that much you want to know that you’re going to enjoy what you watch. Therefore, I believe people are more likely to go and see Iron Man 3 when Marvel have a spotless record and you’re guaranteed a great performance from Robert Downey Jr. rather than take a chance that something like R.I.P.D or Pacific Rim which you don’t know much about.

 

In the next couple of years we are going to see more Marvel films – Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The Man of Steel sequel featuring Batman is coming out too, the same as the seventh chapter of Star Wars and presumably a third in the new Star Trek trilogy: add to that another Fast & Furious film, a sequel to World War Z and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It seems like so many huge franchises are begging for people’s money that it seems impossible for anything new to turn heads. For the sake of cinema that has to change sooner rather than later.

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UK Release Date: 15th November 2013

Stars: Ridley Scott (director), Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, John Leguizamo.

Plot: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

Brad Pitt seems to really be getting back on the horse and making some really good films after a quiet few years of his career. With 12 Years a Slave (also starring Michael Fassbender) out at the height of Oscar season, this all star cast hits cinemas later this year.

As this serves only as a teaser trailer there is not a lot of the plot released within the minute that we see, but what we do see is very intriguing: what is the motorbike murder about? what exactly does Michael Fassbender do? where does Brad Pitt fit into all of this? And what is going on with Javier Bardem’s hair?

12 Years a Slave Trailer

UK Release Date: 24th January 2014

Stars: Steve McQueen (director), Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Scoot McNairy

Plot: In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Films about slavery seem to be becoming the new Western. Every year there are now high profile stories of slavery being told on the big screen and 2014 will be no different with Steve McQueen gunning for Oscar glory. Perhaps the most noticeable thing about this trailer is in fact Brad Pitt’s beard, just for the sheer ridiculousness of how it looks… but that might just be me.

However, if you can look past Pitt’s beard what you’ll find is this really touching, almost unbelievable true story about one man’s descent into slavery and his fight against it. Chiwetel Ejiodor is not a name that everyone will be familiar with but he has starred in a huge number of films over the years and finally takes centre stage in a star studded cast.

Established stars Pitt and Fassbender, who looks like he’s playing an incredibly nasty piece of work and doing it so well, join rising star Paul Dano and the incredible Scoot McNairy who I am a big fan of!

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.

Deciding what films to see this month is going to be one tough task. With big blockbusters being released as well as lower budget story heavy features. There’s something for everyone to go and see in June.
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The Stone Roses: Made of Stone – 5th June

Shane Meadows’ documentary about the Manchester rock band is a must see for any fan!
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After Earth – 7th June

I remain unconvinced by this but Will Smith guarantees box office success whether the film is good or not.
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The Iceman – 7th June

The first of two Michael Shannon films released this month; praise has already been high for his performance here as Richard Kuklinski.
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Man of Steel – 14th June

And Michael Shannon plays the villain in Warner Bros. latest attempt to reboot arguably the most boring superhero ever created. Guaranteed box office smash and looks to be the Superman film people have been crying out for.
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Much Ado About Nothing – 14th June

If like me, you are a fan of Marvel and Shakespeare (I appreciate that isn’t a cross section many people anticipate) then Joss Whedon’s take on the famous Shakespeare play is a must see. With Clark Gregg and Nathan Fillion this is the modern sci-fi fan’s biggest wet dream.
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World War Z – 21st June

All the hype so far has been about the poor CGI and uninteresting posters. It’ll be interesting to see if Brad Pitt still has box office appeal – I’m not so sure.
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Despicable Me 2 – 28th June

If you’ve been to the cinema a lot lately you’re probably sick of seeing the teasers for this film, but you have to admit, it does look pretty good. And everyone loves those little minions!
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This is the End – 28th June

James Franco. Seth Rogen. Emma Watson. Jonah Hill. That guy from Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine. The funny one from Parks and Recreation. Milky Way. I want to see this.

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse, James Badge Dale, Eric West, Matthew Fox.

Plot: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

I don’t normally post new trailers for films that I have already looked at unless I am desperately excited to see a certain film. That’s not the case with World War Z. The reason I have decided to look at this trailer after examining the first here, is that the originally trailer was met with a lot of skepticism surrounding its faith to the original novel and the bad CGI. So is this new trailer any better?

Well the way the trailer is set up it seems to be the same before. A peaceful little section of Pitt’s nice, loving family is then broken up by lots of scenes of panic and the mountain of zombies. What I can deduce from this trailer is that it seems like the CGI on the zombies won’t be TOO important because there will be so many jump cuts flying around you’ll barely see them, especially behind the explosions.

The books is a best seller and people love it because it’s not just a brainless zombie epic, which unfortunately it looks as though the film will be. But studio execs need to put bums on chairs (and maybe Brad Pitt’s name alone isn’t enough to do that anymore?).

World War Z comes complete with mid-air plane siege as seen in The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3.

Blah blah.. Disney… blah blah… Star Wars. Exactly. With Michael Arndt currently writing Episode VII it has now been announced who will write Episodes VIII and IX, clearly Disney is expecting big things from their newest franchise. Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are the two people chosen to write the next sequels but it is unclear who will write which one as of yet. These are very good choices as Kasdan has previous with the Star Wars series (so why wasn’t he chosen to write Episode VII?) as he wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. simon Kinberg also has experience with blockbusters, he has written Sherlock Holmes and is currently writing Days of Future Past, the sequel to X-Men: First Class. However, Kinberg has previously had writing credits on Mr & Mrs Smith, Jumper and X-Men: The Last Stand, not such a good choice after all?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is picking up the pace now. We know that Jamie Foxx is in the running to play the villain and probably will do so but now we know that Harry Osborn will feature in the film and several actors are being auditioned. Those in the running include Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn) and Boyd Holbrook (Milk). If it was up to me I would be snapping up Sam Claflin to play the past as soon as I could. Claflin is a British actor that I have seen a lot of (Pillars of the Earth, United, Snow White and the Huntsman) and has also landed himself roles in other big blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It is clear he is going to have a great career and I really would love to see him emulate James Franco in this role.

Claflin gets the thumbs up from me to play Harry Osborn.

Scoot McNairy is getting around a lot in Hollywood at the minute. As soon as I first saw him in Monsters I was a fan, he is a very good actor and deserves all the success that comes his way. This year he has starred in Killing Them Softly with Brad Pitt and Argo with Ben Affleck. This week, McNairy has been cast in two more films. These are The Rover, an “existential western” set in the “near future” starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce; the other is Frank alongside Michael Fassbender. Scoot McNairy is fast becoming one of my favourite actors! (expect a blog all about him in the next week or so).

Finally, Pinocchio. The classic tale of a carpenter who makes a puppet that turns into a real boy. The story has been done several times, most famously by Disney and probably most recently on television show Once Upon A Time. For months and months this project has been in the works with two names attached to team up to make it happen and they are, arguably, ideal for the job. the two in question are director Tim Burton and (no, not Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter) the brilliant Robert Downey Jr, who would play Geppetto! The film has been on and off more than Ross and Rachel in Friends (can you believe its 10 years since that finished? I can’t!) but now a writer has been hired to produce a script. And that writer is Jane Goldman, the woman behind such hits as Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and The Woman in Black. Good times!

Babel (2006) Review

Babel is the third offering from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in his ‘Death’ trilogy, following Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Being a big fan of 21 Grams I was looking forward to watching Babel and had high expectations due to the amount of critical acclaim it received back upon its release.

Babel tells the stories of four different families in three different continents who are all connected by one tragic incident. But as much as Babel is about these families and their stories the stories take a back seat in order for Inarritu and scriptwriter Guillermo Arriaga to develop and explore pivotal themes in human life such as death, communication and family. It is a good job really because I felt that none of the stories were really strong enough to stand up by themselves and all supported one another significantly. However, the story that takes place in Japan is a little less connected to the others and, despite arguably being the most interesting of the four stories, has little bearing on the film as a whole.

As well as the deep themes being explored it is also the terrific acting that makes Babel worth the watch. Brad Pitt is not a name associated with the phrase ‘terrific acting’; yes he is a bankable name and yes he is world famous but he’s never been the best actor around but Babel sees Pitt put in a really emotional performance and is definitely one of his best to date. The real stand out performance for me was, again, in the Japanese story. Rinku Kikuchi as Chieko Wataya, a deaf-mute Japanese schoolgirl, is incredible. This is genuinely one of the best performances I think that I have ever seen, it is so compelling and just layered with intrigue that it is not a performance soon forgotten. It’s a whole international effort with stellar performances coming from actors and actresses of all nationalities including Adriana Barazza, Elle Fanning, Mohamed Akhzam and Gael Garcia Bernal. But any Cate Blanchett fans thinking of watching Babel I probably wouldn’t bother. She is on the front of the DVD case and her name is one of the most well known of the cast but she is barely in it and after her first scene she barely even speaks or moves.

As you might well expect the direction from Inarritu is flawless. Babel is not one of the strongest films I have ever seen but it is up there with the most beautiful. Inarritu clearly has a talent for his craft and this is nothing less than perfection in his directing of the film. Every single shot is well thought out and every single detail is covered. It is his performance as director that makes Babel what it is.

For all of it’s good points, as I mentioned earlier none of the stories are really that strong. It is hard to gain an emotional connection to any of the characters when you are being flown across the globe and back again to get all of these different stories flying at you. And for all the good acting and brilliant directing that is something that I could not look past. The writing needed to make the characters easier to connect with for the audience.

My Rating: 6/10.

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Eric West, David Morse.

Plot: A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.

With the success of The Walking Dead bringing zombies back to the forefront of mainstream television it should come as no surprise that Hollywood is looking to take advantage and make some money from the zombie industry. World War Z has been in the works for a long time and finally we have a trailer.

There has already been a lot of negative reaction to the trailer from fans of the original book on the internet but I think that it actually looks pretty good. I like Brad Pitt and I’m sure he will do a fine job in this film. World War Z (the film, not the book) is essentially an apocalyptic-save-the-world type thing and, as far as the trailer goes it will certainly grab the attention of audiences.

The CGI is not yet fully polished and we don’t really see enough of the zombies to gauge whether they look good or not, but I have no doubts that everything will be sharpened before it’s release date in another six months. I think that the fans of the book need to stop moaning and just accept that certain themes/characters/story lines from novels always get dropped when Hollywood wants to make a film from it, that’s just how it works.

Director Scott sadly passes away aged 68.

Sad reports among the news today for the world of movies as the famous director Tony Scott has been reported dead after jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles. His death is being investigated as a suicide. It is a horrible loss as he has directed a number of box office successes and big action films while forming strong partnerships with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Originally from North Shields in England, Tony Scott is the less famous and less critically successful brother of director Ridley Scott. But despite his films being less favourable with critics he is a celebrated and talented director nonetheless. A common criticism of his work was that he sacrificed story for things that looked great on screen and big action sequences but this obviously went down well with fans of movies and some of his films became huge successes and some of the most famous films of all time.

Tony Scott’s most famous film is of course Top Gun and whether you like it or not you cannot deny it’s place in movie history and popular culture (although more for its homoerotic tendencies than for its quality of film). Top Gun put Tony Scott on the map and he went on to direct a number of even more successful movies including Beverley Hills Cop 2 which became a massive success at the box office making nearly $300million off just a $20million budget. Scott worked again with Tom Cruise (after Top Gun) on Days of Thunder which many critics called ‘Top Gun in cars’ but despite the negative reviews Days of Thunder was another box office smash for Tony Scott.

The list of huge name actors that Tony Scott has worked with is seemingly endless: Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, Kevin Costner, James Gandolfini, Gene Hackman, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Mickey Rourke, Christopher Walken and the Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer. But with all these big names it seemed that Tony Scott enjoyed working with Denzel Washington the most as the pair made a total of five films together (with ranging success): Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, Unstoppable.

A winning partnership: Scott and regular collaborator Denzel Washington.

Whether you like his films or not he is a huge loss to the directing world and he had a big effect on mainstream action films that is still felt today. Critics didn’t praise his films too often but I bet they all enjoyed them as did most people who watched his work. He was a great director (I really like Top Gun, Enemy of the State and The Taking of Pelham 123 in particular) and my thoughts go out to his family.