Tag Archive: imdb


How many films can you really have about criminals racing cars? Obviously Dreamworks felt like seven (and the inevitable eighth, ninth and probably tenth) Fast & Furious films just weren’t enough to satisfy the public – the majority of whom complain about the great success that recent installments of Fast & Furious have had. Therefore, they have decided to take on the established franchise with their own, born from video game (always a recipe for success *rolls eyes*) effort. There is one major difference though: the tone.

 

 

From that short trailer you can already see a difference between Need for Speed and the films of Fast & Furious. While Fast & Furious has always tried to beat home serious themes of family it has always been hid behind a slightly tongue in cheek atmosphere, never more so than in Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. However, with Aaron Paul giving a voice over and laying out the films premise it seems that there isn’t going to be much room for jokes in Need for Speed and seems to be more about a rivalry while giving the police and the crime section more serious undertones.

Aaron Paul’s casting also suggests a difference. Fast Five is probably the best film of the series so far but look at the cast; how many of those actors would look out of place in anything that wasn’t Fast & Furious? Can you really imagine Ludacris, Sung Kang or Gal Gadot in anything serious or better than the Fast & Furious franchise? No, of course not. But here Aaron Paul is one of the hottest names in television thanks to Breaking Bad and is one of the best up and coming actors around Hollywood at the minute. He has more drama in his little finger than the entire cast of the first Fast & Furious film. He’s paired up with Dominic Cooper (and anyone who has read my blog before knows how much I like him) and Imogen Poots, as well as Hollywood heavyweight and former Dark Knight, Michael Keaton.

 

But then there’s the almighty downfall of Need for Speed and why it probably won’t do well. Here’s the premise from IMDB for Need for Speed: Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins. This sounds a lot like an early Fast & Furious film, in particular it reminds me of 2 Fast 2 Furious. Since Fast & Furious gave itself a kick start with number four it became a lot more successful with audiences and critics alike and what was different in Fast & Furious (unfortunately the name of the fourth film as well as the franchise) to its predecessors? It was no longer really about the racing. Street racing or racing on the whole just wasn’t drawing in the audience so it was time to freshen things up in what is probably one of the best decisions in blockbuster history (maybe an overstatement, maybe not. You decide). Bringing standard racing back as the main story just doesn’t sit well with me.

I do hope that Need for Speed is a good film and I hope it brings in an audience (purely for Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper, not for the prospect of sequels) but I just can’t see it happening.

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Back in 2008, I don’t think anybody ever expected Taken to be as big as it became. I would say that Taken is probably one of the most popular films that has been made for years. It is very very rare that you find someone who hasn’t actually seen the first film and it is even rarer that you find someone that has seen it and disliked it. So it then becomes clear to those in charge that it makes very good business sense to make a sequel to the best action film of the century, no matter how much of a disappointment it is going to be.

The first problem that arises is the fact that there is absolutely NO need for a sequel whatsoever. When Taken first came out nobody at all was hoping for a sequel because Taken is a stand alone film; it has a beginning, a middle and an end (a ridiculous end in which the need for Holly Valance to reappear was thought up by some idiot behind a desk somewhere and it was very awful). The end ties up all stories nicely for Bryan Mills and his daughter and wife and everything is back to normal. So how do we come up with an idea for the second film?

Easy. Let’s just do the same thing again. However, this time it comes with a twist because it is not Maggie Grace’s character that gets taken, this time it is Liam Neeson himself: a man who single handedly brought down a whole gang of human traffickers manages to get himself and his wife taken and that would NEVER happen to the Bryan Mills of the first film. Anyway, that means (as Liam Neeson said in this interview) “a sack’s been put over my [Neeson’s] head and I’m in the middle of a fucking dungeon!”. And this is where the real problem starts.

Neeson’s speech in Taken became one of the most famous in movie history.

What is the joy of watching Taken? I will answer that question for you right now: the joy of watching Taken is seeing Liam Neeson beat up a load of bad guys. It’s that simple. All we want to see when we watch Taken is Liam Neeson fighting, kicking and punching his way through the city to save his daughter. Nobody really is bothered about the characters, I bet hardly anybody would be able to name the bad guy in Taken, or Neeson’s wife or daughter, and not everyone even knows who Neeson’s character is! The point is that none of this matters because we all just want to watch Liam Neeson kick ass! This isn’t going to happen if he’s sat in the middle of a dungeon, we don’t want him to tell his daughter how to save him and his wife, we want to see HIM save people!

Taken 2 currently has an 8.4 (and dropping) rating on IMDB although this is obviously down to fans of the first film giving it a high rating just because “it’s Taken, it’s bound to be good” even though it’s not even out yet anywhere but Hong Kong (where it only opened two days ago!). On Rotten Tomatoes Taken 2 has a 7% approval rating and I think this would be more akin to the kind of film it is.

As a stand alone film Taken 2 may be good (this is of course all speculation as I am yet to watch Taken 2 and no matter if I think it is going to be good or bad I will be going to watch it because I, like so many other people, enjoyed Taken a lot) but as a sequel to one of the hottest action films to come out of the 21st Century, I have my doubts.

UK Release Date: 3rd August 2012.

Stars: Yimou Zhang (director), Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Zhang Xinyi, Tong Dawei, Shigeo Kobayashi.

Plot: In 1937 China, during the second Sino-Japanese war, a mortician, John arrives at a Catholic church in Nanjing to prepare a priest for burial. Upon arrival he finds himself the lone adult among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When he finds himself in the unwanted position of protector of both groups from the horrors of the invading Japanese army, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and honor.

You probably haven’t heard of any members of the cast of The Flowers of War other than Christian Bale but that shouldn’t come as any surprise as this is a huge made-in-China epic. Whilst you may not be familiar with the name of director Yimou Zhang you may be more familiar with a couple of his works; Jet Li’s Hero and the brilliant House of Flying Daggers made him a name to be noticed among the world of cinema in the early noughties.

It seems strange that Christian Bale is in a film with a load of Chinese people just because we are used to seeing him in American or British films but it becomes clear from reading some interviews that he found the experience very educational and entertaining and could help him bring another level to his acting ability. The Flowers of War, at an estimated budget of $90 million, is the most expensive production to ever come out of China.

The Flowers of War has already been released among many nations and is coming to the UK a little late. The film was actually shot before The Dark Knight Rises and perhaps they want to try and make money off the back of Bale’s popularity as Batman. Despite holding a 7.6 rating on IMDB The Flowers of War didn’t go down well with critics but was still nominated for the Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film (it didn’t win). Go see it and make your own mind up though.

With so many movies made it is inevitable that nobody will enjoy all of them. There are also some movies that are frequently named as the best movies ever made and whilst I think that some of them live up to the hype (The Departed, Back to the Future, Toy Story) there are some classic films that I do not like despite the majority of people thinking they are absolutely perfect. Here are a few of my controversial choices:

Pulp Fiction is ranked at number five on IMDB’s list of Top 250 films and is commonly referred to as one of the best films ever made and Tarantino’s best. I don’t think this is Tarantino’s best work, in fact of all the films I have seen of his this is my least favourite, I much preferred Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill. I was expecting to be blown away by Pulp Fiction when I finally got round to watching it because of the way people spoke so highly of it, yet I was left bored and unentertained. I think the storyline is very weak and the dialogue is dull and unnecessary; it lacks the punch that Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds packs. And the way fans of the film bang on about it being a non-linear structure you would think it would be the only film to ever have done that and it doesn’t even add anything to the story by editing it in this way.

Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring Robert De Niro in an Oscar winning performance, is another film that left me feeling like I had missed something. As I have mentioned in  previous post I do really enjoy the first half of Taxi Driver, the way that the character is created and we get insight into this person and his life is very very good drama indeed. But then the gear changes in the film and the wheels seem to come off; I know some people like it but I just feel like it makes no sense, it becomes boring and where it tries to become exciting it fails. I would definitely place Taxi Driver up there with one of the worst gunfights in movie history for its climatic action scene.

Star Wars is undoubtedly one of the most iconic films in history. Many of the characters have become staples in popular culture: Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca, Han Solo. Everybody knows Star Wars, that much is true. But I don’t see what all the fuss was about. I am a fan of science fiction so that’s not the problem here; I like Star Trek and Back to the Future but I failed to see the hype surrounding this massive franchise. I felt very underwhelmed and very bored, Han Solo who is supposedly one of the coolest characters around disappointed me as did many of the others. I really wanted to like Star Wars but found it impossible.

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

When the trailer was first released for Horrible Bosses it seemed to promise so much but upon watching it seems that those promises could not be kept. Whilst not terrible, it wasn’t quite as good as it could have been.

Horrible Bosses revolves around three friends (played by Jason Bateman, Chris Day and Jason Sudeikis) who decide that their bosses are getting in the way of their happiness. They then decide that the only possible solution to their problem is to kill their bosses.

The three main actors, particularly Chris Day, each play their parts well providing some great character interaction and the friendship between the three is entirely believable. Colin Farrell, as Kurt’s (Sudeikis) cocaine addicted boss, is not in the film as much as I would have liked but when he is featured he plays his part and provides some laughs. Kevin Spacey particularly impressed in this and is completely believable as the villain of the piece; he doesn’t provide many laughs but he adds some much needed drama. Even Jennifer Aniston, who is completely over rated by every female on the planet, is tolerable in this and puts in her best performance post-Friends as a sex crazed dentist. Oh, and Jamie Foxx is completely rubbish in this.

The pacing, story, action and character interaction in the first two acts is really good. The first act is a great introduction to the three main characters, the dynamic of their friendship and the wholly unreasonable situations that their bosses put them in. It sets up the film with the story and a few laughs but by the end of the third act you feel like the film never really fulfilled it’s potential.

Some of the scenes seemed slightly too long and were filled out with a lot of dialogue that wasn’t really that humorous unfortunately. Although, this could be down the directing of the piece; there were a lot of long takes which made a few scenes seem to drag and I think that this comes down to inexperience. Horrible Bosses is Seth Gordon’s third feature length film as director; his most recent was Four Christmases and his debut was a film called Squirt which holds a 1.7 rating on IMDB so read what you like into that.

The end is really what lets the film down. Where the first and second acts do all they can to build the audience up for what should be a really good climax, the third act seems to go out of it’s way to ruin any hopes and expectations that the audience may have. It just seems a little too convenient, even for a comedy film where similar things can be forgiven. The ending I refer to is being given the all clear by the police thanks to Kurt’s car’s navigation system operator. The actual tying up of the film afterwards with each of the three main characters returning to work actually felt pretty nice.

I would watch this film again and who knows, maybe it will be better upon second viewing.

My Rating: 6.5/10