Tag Archive: critical acclaim


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.

Amy Adams has just entered into negotiations to star in Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s critically acclaimed novel Dark Places. Adams provides an example of a modern day actress with a fantastic ability for acting as well as looking incredibly beautiful at the same time and has been nominated for three Oscars throughout her career.

Amy Adams got her first film role in comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous and this was the start of what would become a fantastic career. After this Adams spent a couple of years working on television, appearing in episodes of Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville and The West Wing before, in 2002, appearing in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can alongside the brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio. Spielberg even said that Adams’ performance in Catch Me If You Can should have launched her career, yet still it stalled.

It was in 2004 that Amy Adams got her next film role in The Last Run as well as bagging regular roles in television series’ King of the Hill and Dr. Vegas, then her career really gained speed. After The Wedding Date was released Amy Adams starred in indie flick Junebug, a film for which Adams herself received critical acclaim and she was getting the recognition she deserved everywhere, including being nominated for an Oscar for her performance.

Not many comedy actors or actresses get recognised as talented actors as well as people who make us laugh, but this didn’t sway Amy Adams from appearing in more comedies as she attempted to crack mainstream cinema. Adams appeared in Talladega Nights, The Pick of Destiny and The Ex and then, in 2007, she made herself known to a wider audience than ever before. Enchanted, the part animated/part live action modern Disney fairytale, cast Adams in the role of the princess and the film was a huge commercial success and prepared Adams for the success that was to come.

Amy Adams then starred alongside Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War, Emily Blunt in Sunshine Cleaning as well as making Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, all three of which were well received by audiences. Doubt was released in 2008 and it was this performance that saw Amy Adams nominated for her second Oscar.

Leap Year, Julie & Julia and Night At The Museum 2 followed before Amy Adams put in one of the best performances of her career in The Fighter and was rightly nominated for her third Oscar so far and arguably should have won it but it went to her co-star Melissa Leo. More critical and commercial success followed with Jason Segel’s reboot of The Muppets where she showcased her vocal talents.

With several projects in the pipeline there is no doubt that Amy Adams, one of the most versatile and well respected actresses working today, is set to achieve even more success. This year she will be appearing in the hotly anticipated and long-in-making film On The Road. Trouble With The Curve and The Master follow before what could become the defining and most important role for Adams to date: she is to take on the role of Lois Lane in Zack Snyder’s Superman tale Man of Steel, produced by Christopher Nolan.

Hopefully, Adams will continue to work in films for a long time to come and maybe one day she can win the Oscar that she quite rightly deserves.

Marvel’s The Avengers is out right now and breaking records left, right and centre; it has smashed the record for highest grossing opening weekend and is on course to break into the billion dollar club, who knows whether it will become the highest grossing film of all time. The highest grossing comic book movie to date is Batman flick The Dark Knight, the sequel to which, The Dark Knight Rises, comes out later this year and along with The Avengers looks to make this summer one for the comic book fans to really enjoy, but will The Dark Knight Rises be able to outdo The Avengers in terms of profit?

Batman Begins, the first of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Batman franchise, took in over $370 million at the box office which was pretty standard for a superhero movie at the time, putting it on a par with the very below average Superman Returns and the lacklustre Men in Black 2. However, The Dark Knight rose to critical acclaim worldwide and managed to rake in over $1 billion worldwide, becoming not only the highest grossing comic book movie of all time but also the eleventh highest grossing film of all time.

So The Dark Knight Rises has a tough act to follow and will it be able to follow that? Batman is a popular character and the huge scope of the audience that The Dark Knight managed to reach went beyond everyone’s expectations and now everybody knows about Batman and everyone knows what kind of film they will be getting going to see Nolan do another Batman movie. This is a good thing as you would expect a sequel to one of the highest grossing, and arguably best, films of all time would be able to make just as much money if not more, especially with the cast and crew all returning and the public hype the film is receiving.

However, something that could play against The Dark Knight Rises is that The Dark Knight created such high expectations in the minds of the audience that The Dark Knight Rises may not be able to reach. You have to assume that a lot of the money made from The Dark Knight was also made by a lot of people going to see the film on more than one occasion and if The Dark Knight Rises fails to live up to its predecessor then will fans really want to go and see it again? Probably not.

The reason for The Avengers making so much money so quickly, in my opinion, is because this is what a lot of comic book fans have been waiting for since the birth of the superhero movie; it is all of Marvel’s big hitters on screen at the same time: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk all sharing screen time. These characters were already introduced via their own movies in Marvel’s very clever and special approach to film making which meant that even if some fans didn’t like Thor or The Hulk, they would still see The Avengers for Iron Man or Cap. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t in that position; if you don’t like Batman you more than likely won’t want to watch a film about him.

Also, with The Avengers doing so well, the tide may turn for comic book movies and fans may want to see the colour of comic book pages brought to the big screen once again, they want the fun element of the comic books back on the screen and The Dark Knight Rises may be seen as TOO dark by some fans. However, Batman fans will be used to the darkness as his story has always been a dark one (minus the camping up by Adam West and Joel Schumacher over time) so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Personally, I don’t think that The Dark Knight Rises will make more than The Avengers; The Avengers is still going strong and will still be earning top dollars at international box offices for the coming weeks, then we shall have to see how The Dark Knight Rises does. But the originality that made The Avengers so popular is not there in Nolan’s ‘threequel’ but if achieves the same acclaim throughout its previews as The Dark Knight did then it would come as no surprise to see it break The Avengers‘ new opening weekend record.

UK Release Date: 12th October 2012.

Argo is Ben Affleck’s latest directorial feature and despite the fact that he might be better off heading down the directorial path, he is also the star of the film.

Argo is a political thriller about the rescue of six US diplomats being held captive from Tehran, Iran in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis. The US government and the Canadian government team up to rescue the six prisoners, but how? They convince the Iranians that the six US diplomats are actually a film crew shooting for a new science fiction film called Argo. The hostages then have to escape with their fake identities.

Watching the trailer, when it becomes apparent what the plan is to rescue the hostages you might laugh and think its a little bit of a ridiculous idea, but you might change your mind when you find out that this actually happened. With stars such as Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman lining up in the cast then Argo does have the potential to be a great film.

Affleck’s previous outings as director have provided two great films; the critically praised The Town and the absolutely magnificent drama Gone Baby Gone. I think Affleck does have the ability to capture great drama on film and hopefully he will be able to do the same here and with a couple of seasoned pros in the cast, he shouldn’t have to work too hard.

Commercial success may escape Argo but critical acclaim may not be too much of a stretch for Ben Affleck once more.

Mark Ruffalo is hitting headlines everywhere at the moment. Most recently, he has become the latest victim to the twitter hackers of the internet but that’s not what everyone is bothered about right now. The other reason you might be hearing Mark Ruffalo’s name everywhere you go right now is because he is currently starring in Marvel’s The Avengers and is the outstanding performer of the ensemble. Up until a few years ago, though, Ruffalo was not widely known by audiences, so just where has he come from?

Ruffalo began acting in 1989 (yes he really has been around that long) but he only appeared in one off television episodes, short films or very very minor roles in films. It was not until 1998 that Ruffalo started making waves in the acting world. He managed, by chance, to meet Kenneth Lonergan, a very successful playwright and screenwriter and the two began collaborating on stage productions. For appearing in Lonergan’s play This Is Our Youth Mark Ruffalo was cast in Lonergan’s film You Can Count On Me; Ruffalo gained a lot of positive reviews and was even likened to a young Marlon Brando, for an actor trying to get his break that is not a bad comparison to have.

Ruffalo sporting a whole new look for Collateral

This led to more work in the early noughties for Ruffalo and his film career finally began to take off with some haste. He experimented with genres going from romance with XX/XY to war with Windtalkers; from drama Life About Me to comedy View From The Top working with esteemed actors like Nicolas Cage and Gwyneth Paltrow along the way. Mark Ruffalo also had a part in the critically acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind alongside the brilliant Jim Carey and he certainly should be used to praise after appearing in another critical hit Collateral with Tom Cruise.

All actors like to prove they are versatile just to improve their CV, make them more preferable for roles, but even so you don’t have to do them all. Unfortunately for Mark Ruffalo he tried and even decided to step into rom-com. If you’re a male established actor usually rom-coms aren’t the way to go, but anyway Ruffalo appeared in 13 Going on 30, Just Like Heaven and Rumor Has It before returning to a more serious side of things in 2007 with Zodiac, a crime drama directed by the amazing David Fincher.

It doesn’t get much better than working with DiCaprio AND Scorsese

In 2010 Ruffalo appeared in four films. Date Night and Sympathy For Delicious can be forgotten about because with the other two he certainly makes up for them. First, there was Shutter Island, a fantastic thriller where Ruffalo played second fiddle to Leonardo DiCaprio and did a terrific job, no doubt about that. Then there was The Kids Are All Right for which his performance saw him nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

In 2011 Ruffalo starred in Margaret which, despite its cast featuring Ruffalo, Matt Damon and Anna Paquin, only had a limited release. But now, here we are, the year is 2012 and Ruffalo becomes the third person to portray the Incredible Hulk in as many films. A lot of Marvel fans had enjoyed Ruffalo’s close friend Ed Norton’s performance as Bruce Banner and were wary of Ruffalo taking on the part. How delighted fans are now that he did just that though, becoming without a doubt the best Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk on the big screen.

After the huge blockbuster that is The Avengers, Ruffalo is returning to more dramatic roles in Thanks For Sharing, Foxcatcher and Now You See Me but it is highly likely that Ruffalo has a clause in his contract with Marvel tying him down to several more projects as Bruce Banner so this will definitely not be the last you hear of the brilliant Mark Ruffalo.

Ruffalo became the first person to portray the Hulk on the big screen thanks to the use of motion capture technology.

Upon release in 2009, Up in the Air was subject to huge critical acclaim. It was named in many critics’ top 10 list of films for that year and nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (x2) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Unfortunately, it failed to win in any of those categories.

*** WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

The film centres around Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer who flies around the United States firing people for a living. We travel with Ryan and learn of his isolated life and his philosophies until his company threatens to ruin the happy life he leads by putting him on the ground.

Firstly, George Clooney is incredible. He has won one Best Actor Oscar (Syriana) and been nominated for three more (including Up in the Air) but I think that Up in the Air is the best I have ever seen him; he brings the character to life and allows the audience to feel how he feels. The supporting cast is just as good; Vera Farmiga (pictured) is great as is Ryan Bingham’s protege, if you like, Anna Kendrick. Then there are smaller, but still brilliant, appearances from Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, J.K. Simmons and Danny McBride to complete a superb acting cast.

Up in the Air is directed by Jason Reitman who is no stranger to critical acclaim with Thank You for Smoking and Juno both under his belt. I wasn’t a big fan of Juno but Reitman has won me round with this masterpiece.

The story is fantastic; it has a strong structure and a complete story arc. The characters really do develop and it is clear to see the three main characters changing over the course of the film. The character development of Ryan Bingham in particular is really good and he is up there with some of my favourite characters from movies ever. The writing of the character, the acting, the story just makes him seem ‘real’ and he’s a man you can sympathise with and empathise with. Although not really likeable at first, after being on the journey with him you come to know him and see sides of him that nobody else sees which is really well done by the film makers.

Although the film prioritises the drama aspect of the film and it is about Ryan’s job the comedy really shines in Up in the Air. Their are lots of funny moments, not necessarily jokes but things which can make the audience chuckle and laugh out loud. It really manages to mix the drama and comedy perfectly.

The ending was perfect and ambiguous which is really enjoyable. It can be read as a happy ending or a sad ending depending on your interpretation of the film and your feelings towards the characters but by this time Ryan’s development has become clear and you see what a nice guy he is. I’ve watched a few films recently where the ending has seemed like a bit of a cop out, but this was not one of them. Fantastic.

I fail to think of any negative point I saw in Up in the Air. Perhaps the only thing was that it didn’t last longer. I was more than satisfied with the running length, it didn’t drag, it didn’t rush but I could happily watch George Clooney as Ryan Bingham for hours. I’ll definitely be re-watching this a lot in future.

My Rating: 9/10