Tag Archive: Drama


UK Release Date: 13th September 2013

Stars: Ron Howard (director), Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Dormer, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, Christian McKay.

Plot: A biographical drama of Formula 1 champion driver Niki Lauda and the 1976 crash that almost claimed his life. Mere weeks after the accident, he got behind the wheel to challenge his rival, James Hunt.

Rush looks like it is going to be a wonderful story of two rivals with a lot of respect for one another that will toy with the emotions of audiences all over the world. Although this is basically Niki Lauda’s story, a lot of the publicity so far has come from Chris Hemsworth being involved in a supporting role. This isn’t his fault, he’s become a huge star over the last couple of years, but that may take some of the gloss off the film.

The trailer sets up the story and rivalry brilliantly. It’s not an action packed trailer showing off all the race scenes which it could easily have been to appease action hungry mainstream audiences. Instead Rush plays on the dramatic rivalry between the two incredible racers; this is the best thing to do.

We get a small glimpse of the crash which could have ruined Lauda’s career and expect this to be a central piece of the film as we see Lauda’s recovery and jealousy as Hunt dominates races he enters. It looks as though the two main performances are going to be really strong.

At risk of putting the kiss of death to Rush, this could be an outside bet for a few Oscar nominations next awards season.

Real Steel (2011) Review

Set in the near future, 2020 to be exact, Reel Steel is set at a time where the world of pro-boxing has come to an end and has been replaced by the WRB (the World Robot Boxing League). Two robots slug it out in the ring, being controlled outside the ring by their owners with a sort of futuristic gaming controller.

Our protagonist is Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman). Charlie is a former human boxer, one that never quite fulfilled his potential it seems, who is trying to make money by entering his robot in unsolicited fights. After being told his ex-girlfriend has passed away, Charlie is reunited with his estranged son, Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo). A strained father-son relationship gets put through the its paces as the two bond over their interest in WRB, eventually resulting in a surprise shot at the title belt.

It takes a while to begin to like Charlie. As the protagonist he offers very little to the audience in way of liking him, other than the fact that it’s Hugh Jackman playing him; he is selfish, in serious debt to a handful of people, doesn’t really care about anyone and he runs away from his responsibilities. Cue a family film where a stubborn child teaches his father to be a better person. And that’s where the real star of the show comes into play. Dakota Goyo is making a pretty good child career for himself and with his bright eyed and bushy tailed looks and attitude it’s no real surprise. Goyo is great here and adds a lot of heart to Real Steel and watching his relationship with, not only his father but, the discarded robot Atom grow is really heartwarming.

The work on the special effects in Real Steel is really noticeable and was credited with a nomination for the Academy Award for Visual Effects (losing out to Hugo). Animatronic robots were actually built, combined with motion capture performance, to bring the robots to life and they look 100% real. Everything they do, the way they look, the way they move, is brilliant. Watching the robots go toe to toe in the ring is as exciting as watching any Hollywood fight ever made.

The plot follows a fairly simple path. Nothing new is really offered in terms of the mould of a family film but what Real Steel does is give a masterpiece in how to make a really magical family film. Yes, at it’s core is the world of robot boxing, but really Real Steel is a feel good story with human relations at its core. The characters are really worth investing in and the story really manages to reach out and touch the emotions of the audience.

Slightly predictable, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless!

My Rating: 7/10.

TWO DAYS LATER – I just re-watched Real Steel and I’m not going to change my rating but giving it the film a 7 I have done Real Steel a massive injustice! This is the latest addition to my ever-growing list of favourite films.

White House Down Trailer

UK Release Date: 6th September 2013

Stars: Roland Emmerich (director), Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Joey King, Jason Clarke, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, Lance Reddick.

Plot: While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.

While reading about White House Down I became pretty excited about the prospect. What it seems to be is an updated version of the original Die Hard, but set in the White House, featuring one of my favourite actors at the minute who is riding a tidal wave of success, Channing Tatum. So, as I finally get round to watching the trailer, why am I left disappointed?

First of all, this is supposed to be an action film. Everyone loves action films because they don’t take themselves to seriously and that is the major problem we have here. Obviously, the terror threat for America in the last twelve years has been non-stop (and heightened in recent weeks) so maybe that is to blame for the horrible trailer which begins with news footage of the attack on the White House in the film.

But this does nothing to heighten audience interest. It bored me. I don’t want to be bored by a trailer for an ACTION film, I want action! Looking at the cast I do have high hopes for this and I am sure over the next few months we will see more of Channing Tatum taking on the bad guys but for now, don’t lose any sleep over this. NEXT!

April sees the biggest film release of the year so far, as well as the latest Ryan Gosling feature.
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Dark Skies – 3rd April

From the director of the not too successful Priest and Legion comes Dark Skies. It adds nothing new to the horror genre but should be a good ride for any fans of recent horrors like Insidious.
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Spring Breakers – 5th April

This has been getting a lot of attention because all of its publicity relies on seeing four girls in their bikinis, two of them being former Disney stars Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. The actual film itself doesn’t look that interesting at all, but I’m sure some people will like it.
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Oblivion – 12th April

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Cruise had a little flop on his hands here. I’m just not sure there’s much room for these films at the minute, and with Will Smith’s After Earth out later this year people may rather just wait for that. They seem to be pretty much the same film anyway.
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The Place Beyond the Pines – 12th April

It should come as no surprise that both Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper have both been earning great reviews already for their performances here. Just see for yourself, this will be brilliant. Guaranteed.
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Iron Man 3 – 26th April

The film, the story, the actor, the character. This is a movie that needs no introduction. The big blockbusters begin here. Iron Man 3.

Stars: Baltasar Kormakur (director), Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, James Marsden, Bill Paxton.

Plot: A DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer who have been tasked with investigating one another find they have been set up by the mob — the very organization the two men believe they have been stealing money from.

Based on the graphic novel (and what isn’t these days), 2 Guns teams up the unlikely partnership of Washington and Wahlberg. Unlikely but, judging by the trailer, an on screen partnership that is long overdue! It looks like they really hit it off and their chemistry will drive the movie.

However, it does feel like a plot that’s been done before. I don’t know if I’ve seen anything similar or even heard of anything similar but it just seems TOO generic. But saying that, it looks like 2 Guns is going to be a terrific action film. Explosions aplenty!

Side Effects Review

Steven Soderbergh, director Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Thirteen (Ocean’s Twelve too but I’m trying to build him up, not condemn him) and more recently Magic Mike, has previously stated that Side Effects marks the end of his directorial career for a few years as he intends to take a sabbatical. So with Side Effects, is Soderbergh going out on a high?

It’s probably best to go into Side Effects knowing very little about it and prepare to just be taken with it. But at it’s very basic the story can be split into two parts: the first half chronicles Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara) battle with depression and the meetings she has with her psychiatrist before she suffers traumatic side effects of a new anti-depressant; the second half is about her psychiatrist (Jude Law) as he attempts to unravel the truth and find out who is guilty of the events caused by the drugs.

As a psychological neo-thriller Side Effects requires some top notch acting from its headline stars. And Mara and Law do not disappoint at all. All I could think while Rooney Mara was on screen was “this is the same girl from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?” because she is completely different but still puts in a wonderful performance. Based on her performances that I have seen so far she is set to become one of the best, most versatile actresses of her generation. At only 27, she has the whole world of film at her feet.
I will admit that I am guilty of absolutely lambasting Jude Law in the early years of this century, but since about 2009 my opinion of him could not have changed more. In recent years he has emerged as one of my favourite actors to watch now; his performances are consistently good and that does not change here with one of his best performances to date in Side Effects as the obsessed psychiatrist.

Side Effects really does crank up the tension and suspense in a way that Hitchcock would be proud of. The story is very well thought out and once the first twist hits the audience it’s as if you’re on a roller coaster with twists and turns coming thick and fast, you can never really be sure what it actually happening. There are a lot of clever plot points that are made and this helps to make it such a compelling watch.

Unfortunately though, the twist and turn nature also lets the film down a little. In a film such as this there always comes the inevitable point where you have to tell everything to the audience, which sort of takes away the point of making such a clever film. And in Side Effects, Emily Taylor’s narration does not make it as interesting as it should and could be. The underlying back story that is given at this point does not seem strong enough for the rest of the actions that took place.

Jude Law’s character makes some very good commentaries on the state of counseling and depression which are well worth considering, the whole cast put in very good dramatic performances and while I was in the cinema I was truly gripped. However, after leaving I felt like I was missing out, that I had been unfulfilled and underwhelmed.

Multiple viewings are prescribed.

My Rating: 7/10.

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.

Flight marks Robert Zemeckis’ (of Back to the Future fame) return to live action directing after only working on animation/CGI projects since Cast Away in 2000. As he is most famously known for light hearted projects such as Back to the Future, Polar Express and A Christmas Carol Zemeckis may seem like an odd choice for such a deep story with several difficult and challenging themes to tackle, so would he be able to rise to the challenge?

Denzel Washington is Captain William ‘Whip’ Whitaker, a well known and well respected airline pilot. When his latest flight goes awry Whitaker is forced to make a drastic choice and crash the plane into an empty field, managing to save many lives; from this tragedy Whitaker becomes known as a hero. However, an investigation into the malfunctions of the flight reveal that all may not be as it seems.

There’s nothing I can say about Denzel Washington’s performance that you wouldn’t expect anyway. He is absolutely flawless as the tragic airline captain and is so enthralling in his performance that you can’t take your eyes off him. Right from the beginning Washington draws you into his character and slowly peels away layers and layers of Whip, allowing for a close examination of his character and all of his vices. While not always likeable there isn’t a moment where you want him to leave the screen because the character is full of complexities and conflict and incredibly well written.

And speaking of the writing, Flight is easily the best film I have seen this year in terms of its writing and storytelling and is one of the best written films I have seen in my life. This isn’t a film that is driven by action and there isn’t a lot of action scenes that crop up after the plane crash but that doesn’t matter. Wasington’s character is superbly well written as I mentioned above but so is Nicole (played by Kelly Reilly) who ends up being a wonderful treat really despite the fact I did not have a clue where her story was going or who she was when she first turned up. But then when this was revealed it made it even better. And there is one subtle scene where the plane is coming down over the house of Nicole as she is being pulled away by paramedics which I thought was understated but beautiful.

The wonderful acting is not limited to Washington alone. In a cast that features the likes of Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Brian Geraghty and Bruce Greenwood it’s impossible to expect anything less. Every member of the cast does more than hold their own with John Goodman and one line from Greenwood in particular providing some much needed laughs into a drama heavy production. Goodman’s brief appearances are a joy to behold and while I would have liked to have seen more of him it is probably for the best that he came in small doses.

The filming of the crash is superb. The in-depth analysis of the characters is fantastic and how it deals with the aftermath of such a tragic event is really well done. Flight is absolutely superb, a fantastic piece of drama. Unfortunately for Washington he is in a very tough category in terms of Best Actor at the Oscars and the script probably won’t win Best Screenplay but it has my vote!

My Rating: 8/10.

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.

Snitch Trailer

UK Release Date: 5th April 2013

Stars: Ric Roman Waugh (director), Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal, Harold Perineau

Plot: A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.

Snitch is just one of six films released in 2013 that is set to star the new WWE champion, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. And in all honesty, I don’t believe that this is going to be the best.

The trailer portrays Snitch as your typical action film. It’ll bring nothing new to the genre, just another chance to see Dwayne Johnson on the big screen and it is undoubtedly set to be a fun ride. The plot, from what I took from the trailer, doesn’t really seem to make much sense but I guess we’ll find out when we see more than just two minutes of footage.

It looks as though there will be a slow build up with no real big action footage until towards the end of the film, which will be slightly disappointing for action fans. Even the trailer seems to take the slow build up and doesn’t really inject any adrenaline into viewers, which is something that it’s target audience will have been wanting.