Tag Archive: comedy


1939 saw the release of arguably the most iconic film of all time: The Wizard of Oz. Since then, no film has really managed to touch audiences as much as this and influence pop culture in such a fashion. The red slippers, the yellow brick road, the Wicked Witch of the West, the cowardly lion, tin man without a brain and a scarecrow without a heart are all easily recognised and associated with The Wizard of Oz. So why on Earth have Disney decided to try and even come close to the original with Oz: The Great and Powerful.

It should be noted that Oz: The Great and Powerful is not a direct prequel to the 1939 film. It is in fact a prequel to the original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz due to some complicated copyright business. James Franco is Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, a small time magician/con artist who is transported to the magical land of Oz, where he meets three witches and is said to make the prophecy come true and become the king of Oz.

James Franco is an actor who seems to love trying to add strings to his bow, however as any good huntsman will tell you one string is all a bow needs. Fantasy is the latest in a long line of genres Franco has had mixed success in along with comedy, drama, science fiction, superhero films. And it has to be said that fantasy is not a genre Franco looks at all comfortable with. Based on this performance alone I would be surprised if anyone ever let him loose with CGI again; his vision and hands and everything else was all over the place. His performance was elevated thanks to actual on screen actresses in his presence and when this happened (particularly in the scenes with Michelle Williams) Franco actually looked like a professional actor.

The beginning of the film, set in black and white and pushed back into a smaller frame in homage to the original film, is poor at best. Supposedly set in 1907 the dialogue and persona of the characters really lets Oz down. I found it hard to get into the film with poor performances for the first fifteen minutes or so and Oz being quite frankly, a very hard character to like.

As the film goes on Oz: The Great and Powerful does appear to get better but it has more ups and downs than Oz’s hot air balloon ride that got him there. The problem with this being a prequel is that the audience already know where the story leads, but in this case it feels as though the producers of the film have no idea where it is going. On the surface, though, there is a lot to enjoy thanks to incredibly well put together CGI displays and the intricate work done on the flying baboons is fantastic.

The supporting cast does very little to help the film with the exception of Michelle Williams and Joey King who both perform their roles as well as they could. This isn’t a performance that Mila Kunis or Rachel Weisz can be proud of and either with their characters being rather poorly written and just firing information at us as if they were telling us every single thought which we really do not need to hear. Zach Braff as Oz’s first real friend Finley the monkey provides a few much needed laughs but there are a lot of jokes that really miss the mark… by a lot.

There is already a sequel in the works but it is going to need a much better script, much better performances and any sign of a sense of direction because you won’t find that in Oz: The Great and Powerful.

My Rating: 5/10.

Had a little problem with the video when this was first posted. The problem should be rectified now. Apologies to all.

Stars: Jeff Wadlow (director), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christpoher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, Donald Faison, Lyndsy Fonseca, Clarke Duke.

Plot: The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding this film right now. When Kick-Ass was released in 2010 it was met with widespread critical acclaim and was definitely one of the best films of that year. One of the things that set it apart from a saturated superhero market was it’s comedy elements and seeing a young girl (Hit-Girl) being a complete bad ass.

And it looks as though (thankfully) that is a trend that’s set to continue! Moretz has plenty of time in the trailer as she seems to almost have shared billing with Taylor-Johnson thanks to her popularity from the first film. There are plenty of laughs and a lot of violence; you can tell that a lot of the feeling and character that the first film instilled in audience worldwide has not been lost.

However, it does waver into that superhero cliche of whether he really should be doing it or whether he should give up. “[insert superhero name here] is more than a mask” is just a line we’ve heard over and over again and we hear it again in some form in this trailer.

On the whole though, Kick-Ass 2 can happily take its place among my most anticipated films of the year after this trailer!

UK Release Date: 24th May 2013

Stars: Todd Phillips (director), Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifanakis, Ed Helms, John Goodman, Jamie Chung, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong.

Plot: This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.

The posters that have been released for this final chapter in The Hangover series have been parodying Harry Potter so it makes sense that the trailer continues with that tongue in cheek attitude. It’s a wonderfully put together trailer that will wet the appetite for any fans of the first two films.

I’m pretty sure that it’s impossible not to laugh at some point during the trailer. It starts with a scene you wouldn’t normally expect of the genre but quickly rectifies this with some great humour and that carries on right to the end.

The plot is still pretty unclear but it seems like Justin Bartha gets left behind again, John Goodman plays a bad-ass villain, some guys really wanna be part of the Joker’s gang but all they could find were pig masks, Heather Graham returns and giraffe lovers will probably be pleased and then less pleased in a matter of seconds. Enjoy…

Two years ago the Harry Potter saga came to an end and now it looks as though two of it’s lead stars, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, have found themselves a new franchise each. Daniel Radcliffe is in final negotiations to play the role of Igor, Frankenstein’s assistant, who the story is set to be based around (despite the fact that this character does not appear in the original novel). Emma Watson is set to become Disney’s next princess as she is in final negotiations to play Cinderella in the new adaptation (a basic retelling of the original story) directed by Kenneth Branagh. Cate Blanchett will be playing Cinders’ wicked stepmother.

In general casting news, two of my most anticipated sequels in the coming years have added new (and old) cast members. X-Men: Days of Future Past has now confirmed that Halle Berry will return as Storm along with several other former characters. As well as this Omar Sy has been cast and speculation is rife that he will be portraying the time traveling mutant Bishop (although it might be more likely he will be cast as an evil human leader). And in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes news: the brilliant, incredible actor Gary Oldman has joined as a human revolutionist, meaning it’s safe to assume that the troubled sequel is in safe hands after all.

Good news for comedy fans as FOX has give the go ahead to Let’s Be Cops, a story of two friends looking for more out life and so they pretend to be cops; but when they get involved with a real lief gangster the game gets real. Let’s Be Cops will be directed by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door) and will star Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings) and Jake Johnson (New Girl).

If they cast Max Greenfield too they’re onto a winner!

And finally… this week has seen Transcendence really get a shift on with their casting as it seems to be one of Warner Bros. top priorities at the minute. For anyone who doesn’t know Transcendence will be the directorial debut of Oscar winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. The plot is pretty complicated but it centres on a scientist whose brain is uploaded into his creation, a supercomputer with the potential to think for itself, after he is assassinated by anti-technology terrorists. Johnny Depp has been cast in the lead role and this could see the resurgence of his career at long last! Also added to the cast this week is Paul Bettany (A Knight’s Tale) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3). Transcendence is one of the most exciting science fiction films in production at the minute and is set to start shooting in April with a 2014 release date on the cards.

Paperman is the latest Oscar nominated (Best Animated Short Film) animation from Disney. It has received widespread praise for it’s innovative animation technique of blending together tradition animation with computer animation culminating in a short film that is wonderful to watch.

Paperman is the story of a young businessman named (only in the credits as) George. While waiting for his morning train George has a chance meeting with the elegant Meg. After she departs on a different train Meg is all that George can think about and when he finds out that she is in the office block opposite him he does everything he can to get her attention.

It may only be about six minutes long but Paperman tells the most beautiful love story. It’s proof that actions do speak louder than words and that such strong emotions can be evoked just from facial expression, body language and the most amazing score I’ve ever heard. This is better than a lot of feature length films that get released in the cinema.

You can’t help but smile when you watch Paperman, and if you can then there is probably something wrong with you. Here it is:

February is looking like a very exciting month over here in the UK for film releases. There’s animation, Oscar nominated performances, big laughs and big explosions. Here’s my rundown of the films to look out for over the next four weeks.

 

Bullet to the Head – 1st February

This looks like the speech-slurring Sylvester Stallone is back to his best as he teams up with Fast Five‘s Sung Kang. A very ordinary storyline but throw in some fantastic action scenes and funny one liners and you’ve got yourself one of the most enjoyable action films of the year.

 

Flight – 1st February

Denzel Washington is a man that always delivers and here he is with his latest Oscar nominated performance as a pilot who’s heroic saving of a crashing plane is soon under investigation as he may not be all he seems. With a supporting cast of Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood and John Goodman this has no choice but to be a fantastic drama.

 

I Give it a Year – 8th February

This is probably the film that I am most looking forward to this month. I can’t remember the last time I saw a trailer that genuinely made me laugh out loud as much as this one does. I Give it a Year looks hilarious and I hope that I will not be disappointed, especially since Simon Baker, of The Mentalist fame, is in it!

 

Wreck-it Ralph – 8th February

Nominated for the Best Animated Film Oscar at this years ceremony, Wreck-it Ralph looks set to be able to rival anything that Pixar have done in the past. Set in the world of video games we follow bad guy Wreck-it Ralph in his attempt to prove to himself and everyone else that he is in fact a good guy.

 

A Good Day to Die Hard – 14th February

The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise promises to be the biggest one yet. And with the introduction of Jai Courtney as McClane Jr it may be a sign that Bruce Willis is ready to pass on the mantle of leading the series, although I highly doubt that!

 

Cloud Atlas – 22nd February

Cloud Atlas‘ narrative structure is one that hasn’t been seen all that often in film and, upon it’s release in America (a good few months earlier than the rest of the world for some daft reason) it instantly divided critics. Despite this, I am still excited to see how the film will play out and really looking forward to seeing how the adaptation of David Mitchell’s epic novel turns out.

Pain & Gain Trailer

UK Release Date: 3rd May 2013

Stars: Michael Bay (director), Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Ken Jeong, Tony Shalhoub, Rebel Wilson.

Plot: A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.

This is actually based on a true story, how much of that true story remains in the film, however, is up for debate. But with a cast that teams together Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie then you have my attention, even if it is directed by that horrible man Michael Bay.

There are no huge explosions in the trailer so it looks as though Bay might have to try and prove he can be a good director without so much action which should be interesting; unfortunately it also feels like a role I have seen Wahlberg in many times before. However, it is great that Johnson getting to show off some humour in the trailer.

The trailer looks decent, but that’s about it. There’s nothing that makes me really want to see Pain & Gain because of the trailer but there’s nothing that puts me off it either. It’s an interesting premise and it seems like we’re going to get to see the plan, the extortion and the aftermath which should make for an interesting story. Coming from the writers behind two of the most anticipated sequels in film (Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Winter Soldier) it should be a good script to work from.

UK Release Date: 8th February 2013

Stars: Dan Mazer (director), Anna Faris, Rose Byrne, Simon Baker, Rafe Spall, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Olivia Colman, Stephen Merchant.

Plot: A look at the trials and tribulations of a pair of newlyweds during their first year as a married couple.

There aren’t many good British rom-coms. That’s the truth of the matter; the majority of them follow the same formula and recycle the same jokes over and over again. So it is great that I Give It a Year seems to be something fresh and, even better, it actually has a funny trailer. And a funny trailer is something that a lot of rom-coms lack.

The cast looks exciting, although there aren’t many high profile names they are taken from some great television shows: The Mentalist, Peep Show, Extras. It’s great to see Jason Flemyng here too! From the trailer it looks like every single character is going to inject some humour into the story which is fantastic.

A lot of good jokes are in the trailer and hopefully there will be more in the film. I don’t think British cinema can take another romantic comedy flop.

Clive Owen kills people with carrots! What’s not to love about that?!

Shoot ‘Em Up is one of my favourite films of all time and definitely my favourite action film. Clive Owen plays carrot toting Smith, a man with a mysterious past who just so happens to be around when a pregnant woman is followed into a warehouse by thugs with guns. Luckily, Smith arrives just in time to save the day and deliver the baby in a very unconventional method (shooting the umbilical chord) and teams up with his favourite prostitute in order to save the baby from falling into the hands of Paul Giamatti’s character ‘Hertz’ (I have seen the film countless times and I’m only just finding out the villain’s name now). It’s fast paced, adrenaline fuelled, completely ridiculous but so glorious at the same time.

On the face of it, Shoot ‘Em Up looks like a mindless action film that just involves Clive Owen shooting a lot of people all of the time. And while this is partially true, Shoot ‘Em Up is surprisingly more than that. What you get with Michael Davis’ writing and direction is somewhat of a pastiche to action films of days gone by and that’s what makes this movie so fun; it takes everything you like about action films, holds up a mirror to them and reflects them ten times better. This is included in the action where there are some completely outrageous stunts and scenes that defy all laws of logic and common sense but do we care? No. Because we’re enjoying being taken on this wonderful journey and forgetting the troubles of real life for an hour and a half. One of the most enjoyable things about Shoot ‘Em Up is Clive Owen’s deadpan delivery of witty lines; almost every second line of dialogue for Owen’s character is a joke and it is beautifully delivered with a straight face but I tell you now the lines are hilarious. It’s a perfect action comedy.

“What’s up, Doc?”

Shoot ‘Em Up tries to deliver a complex storyline which makes a change from the usual terrorist or revenge plot: the baby that Smith ends up saving has actually been born with the purpose of providing a bone marrow transplant to a corrupt senator who will die without the transplant. The confrontation with the senator leads to a complete disregard to the laws of physics and a mid-air shootout takes place after jumping from a plane! And we are also given back stories of the main characters that, while good, aren’t really needed and don’t really add anything to the enjoyment of the film.

This action spectacular provides action scenes a plenty, it’s practically non stop! We get them in mid-air (as mentioned), in warehouses, in a children’s park and even a brothel. It seems like Shoot ‘Em Up was made to purely entertain and that’s exactly what it does. With acting talent in the form of Oscar nominees Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti as well as the talented Monica Belluci you know you’re getting more than just a standard direct-to-DVD release.

Shoot ‘Em Up didn’t perform well in the cinema but has garnered quite a passionate following in the years since its release and I for one suggest that if you like action, or if you like comedy, then just turn off your common sense switch and enjoy the fun that Shoot ‘Em Up brings!

I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and in the past couple of weeks critics and fans alike have been compiling their lists of the ten best films of 2012 or twenty best or whatever you like, but I have decided to take a different approach to compiling my list and I will be looking at, month by month, what were the best releases. I’ll be using the UK release dates for films and, in doing it month by month there will be some big omissions and some surprise inclusions.

Will any of these films feature on the list?

 

January – The Grey

To be honest, if you look at what was released in January it doesn’t really fill you with enthusiasm for the rest of the year as there weren’t really many films worth noting released this month. I think that people were still more bothered about seeing the previous year’s Christmas releases (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) however there were a few films that stood out. You might think that We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame or War Horse might win this month but I decided to go for Liam Neeson’s The Grey. Neeson continued his rebirth as an action hero in 2012 and it was largely down to his enounter with wolves in the partially surprising hit: The Grey.

 

February – Chronicle

February brought a lot of very disappointing ventures to the cinema. Safe House was a blockbuster than lacked a punch, Man on a Ledge was a very boring ‘thriller’ and One For the Money is one of the most boring films I have ever seen! However, saying that I was really impressed by Woman in Black which seemed to reinstate Hammer Films at the forefront of the horror scene but for the best film of the month it fell short and I went for Chronicle. Chronicle was seen by many to be very refreshing to an overcrowded superhero genre. The characters that appear in this found footage film are not from the pages of comic books and, like The Grey, Chronicle was another surprise hit but worth of all it’s critical acclaim.

March – 21 Jump Street

If you think that 21 Jump Street is a strange and ridiculous choice to be on this list then I really do encourage you to look at films that were released in the UK in March this year. March saw releases from some very highly anticipated films that were subsequently big disappointments, none bigger than John Carter. Of course, March also brought us the beginning of a huge new franchise with the Jennifer Lawrence led The Hunger Games, however I enjoyed 21 Jump Street a lot more. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in the cinema, 21 Jump Street was a welcome injection of humour to an otherwise dull month.

 

April – Avengers Assemble

There was a clear winner for this month. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble became the third highest grossing film of all time, breaking no end of records on its way to this achievement. This was the event that film fans had been waiting for for 4 years and it did not disappoint, The Avengers (as it was known sensibly in other countries) provided big entertainment, big action, big characters and big laughs. The only real competition in this month came from another film with Joss Whedon’s name attached: Cabin in the Woods, which was seen to redefine the horror genre but really, nothing could top Avengers Assemble.

 

May – The Raid: Redemption

May saw a lack of big releases as the prospect of going up against Marvel’s box office Goliath seemed a little bit daunting for many studios. And of course there is a bit of a lull in the cinema calender before the big summer smashes get released. The Raid was something that we don’t see nearly enough on this side of the Atlantic, a foreign release… and a successful one at that! The Raid is a brilliant, action packed, adrenaline fueled Indonesian martial arts film and it should come as no surprise that there are plans in America to do an English language remake.

 

June – Killer Joe

Now, June saw the second big release of the year: Prometheus. And don’t get me started on how over rated that was and what a bore fest it unfortunately turned out to be. Rock of Ages was a very very dull adaptation of the successful stage musical and The Five Year Engagement was about five years too long. Killer Joe proved that Matthew McConaughey could really act and it turned out to be a very gritty, gothic crime drama that also featured Emile Hirsch who is quietly going about proving what a good actor he is too.

 

July – The Dark Knight Rises

At the beginning of July The Amazing Spider-Man was released and was a very good attempt at reshaping Spider-Man’s origins; then on the 20th of July Christopher Nolan turned up to show everyone how it was done. Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with one of the greatest films of the year. Full stop. He brought an all star cast here and cranked up the tension, cranked up the stakes and people flocked to the cinema to see how the greatest superhero trilogy ever made would end. And it did not disappoint. Sure, it never quite reached the heights of The Dark Knight which preceded it but I thought that the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was one of the greatest and most satisfying endings I have ever seen.

 

August – Ted

Fans of controversial humour, outrageous humour and toilet humour were delivered an early Christmas present back in August when Seth MacFarlane made his feature film directorial debut in this story of a child’s teddy bear coming to life to become a sex-craved, pot smoking best friend (voiced by MacFarlane himself). I think Ted may suffer from a lack of rewatchability but all in all it was a very funny film with some great cameos and hilarious scenes. The “white trash girls names” scene is one of the best scenes of the year in itself!

 

September – Looper

There were some very popular films released in September: Anna Karenina, Dredd, The Sweeney and House at the End of the Street to name a few. Lawless, featuring wonderful performances from Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce among others was an incredible film and gives Looper a run for its money but when I saw Looper I knew I was watching something special. Looper is one of the best films that I have ever seen and has fast become one of my favourites. The time travel plot device that has long been a staple in the science fiction genre and Looper gave an alternate look while skirting around the edges of Rian Johnson’s own laws of time travel. Looper was incredible! My best film of the year.

 

October – Skyfall

2012 saw the return of James Bond to the big screen in Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. After a disappointing Quantum of Solace Bond returned in a flood of critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide in the critically lauded Skyfall. Skyfall delivered a more personal look at the characters in Bond’s world, including a small trip into Bond’s background, a more in-depth look at M and revealed a few dark secrets of MI6. Skyfall also brought back some famous characters in a new style, Q and Moneypenny. Skyfall was simply fantastic and should be an outside bet for a couple of Oscar nominations.

 

November – Argo

My heart longs to say that Rise of the Guardians was the best film released in November but my head says otherwise. November saw End of Watch and Silver Linings Playbook released as well but I think that Argo was a really really incredible achievement for Ben Affleck. Argo was crammed full of suspense and tension and had audiences chewing on their nails whilst sitting on the edge of their seats. A true story of a rescue attempt using the undercover story of being a film crew for a science fiction film seems almost unbelievable but Argo brings it to the screen with such perfect realism.

 

December – Life of Pi

Life of Pi was very hotly anticipated as soon as it was announced. Being a best-selling book Life of Pi already had a huge audience waiting to see how the adaptation would turn out. The story is of 16 year old Pi who suffers a ship wreck which kills his family and leaves Pi stranded with just a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It is a truly touching and emotional story and is already reaping the rewards of their hard work with Golden Globe nominations for Best Score, Best Drama and Best Director.