Tag Archive: liam neeson


This week has seen the release of two exciting films, albeit for very different reasons: The Lego Movie and Frozen, the new Disney film. The Lego Movie is one of the most exciting films currently being put together, not necessarily because of its story but because it’s a new way of making films that has never been done before; Disney’s Frozen is exciting because with Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph Disney seem to have returned to top form with their animation and Frozen could be another top notch film for them.

Take a look at the two teaser trailers (or don’t) and see which one you prefer:

THE LEGO MOVIE

UK Release Date: 14th February 2014

Stars: Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Chris McKay (directors), Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Alison Brie, Will Arnett

Plot: An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.

Coming from the very safe hands of co-directors Lord and Miller (21 Jump Street) and including a whole array of characters that have been seen in the Lego franchise previously (ranging from DC’s superheroes to the NBA all-stars) this looks like it should be a good ride, especially with Chris Pratt in the driving seat who is one of the finest comedy actors around today and absolutely hilarious in Parks and Recreation.

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FROZEN

UK Release Date: 6th December 2013

Stars: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee (directors), Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Tom Kane

Plot: Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

While The Lego Movie certainly has the star power, Frozen has the advantage that it is coming from Disney. It is unknown at this time whether this little scene will be included in the film but it certainly has my attention as you can tell that it has been crafted with the heart and humour of Disney films gone by. Plenty of reindeer merchandise will be sold on the release of Frozen.
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Sharlto Copley is a man who clearly loves film. When he was growing up he wanted to become an actor and now that dream has been realised. But before that, Copley started up his own production company Vasbyt Films LLC and became South Africa’s youngest television producer at the age of 25. At age 22 Copley first met a 16 year old Neill Blomkamp (a name you’ll be hearing a lot in the coming paragraphs and years) and Blomkamp began working at Copley’s production company in return for the use of the computers at the company for Blomkamp to furthur his passion of 3D animation and design.

Over ten years after this meeting Sharlto Copley made his acting debut in short film Alive in Joburg about a close encounter of the third kind in Johannesburg. Copley also produced the six minute film which was directed by Neil Blomkamp. In 2009 Copley made his feature film acting debut, again directed by Blomkamp, in science fiction masterpiece and Oscar nominated film District 9, an adaptation of Alive in Joburg. You can read my review of District 9 here, but one thing I didn’t mention in the review was just how good Copley’s performance is. This was the first time he had acted in a full length feature but he looks right at home in front of the camera, his performance is excpetional and he is nothing but loveable in his role. The change and development his character goes through is unbelievable and the emotion that Copley is able to bring to the role is just wonderful. I think this is one of my favourite performances of recent years.

This performance and the success of District 9 allowed Copley to make another of his dreams come true. Thanks to his performance he was noticed by the Hollywood executives and cast in the film remake of one of Copley’s favourite television shows, The A-Team. Now, the cast looks pretty good on paper with the likes of Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper among the names and token eye-candy-in-summer-blockbuster Jessica Biel included, and there were some good action scenes that made it a fun popcorn movie but there was nothing to it. However, Copley’s performance as “Howling Mad” Murdock was the shining light of brilliance among the film and he even gained praise from Dwight Schultz, the man who made the character famous in the TV series.

Having tried his hand at action and science fiction it seems clear which one he enjoyed the most as a look at his upcoming films will tell you that Sharlto Copley is sure to become one of science fiction’s greatest ever actors. His next film is Europa Report about a crew of international astronauts sent on a mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon. Another upcoming film is the intriguing Open Grave which will see Copley try his hand at horror: Copley’s character wakes up in a pit of dead bodies with no memory and must try to find the serial killer or decide whether he himself is actually the killer.

After this Copley is set to team up with old friend Blomkamp for Elysium, another science fiction film, however not connected to the earlier District 9. There is a lot of anticipation and expectation surrounding Elysium because it is Blomkamp’s follow up project and it also features Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and William Fichtner among the cast. Copley’s role in Elysium is set to be completely different from District 9 as he plays a bad-ass and vile South African mercenary: his versatility is set to be tested.

With roles in the Oldboy remake and the retelling of Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent alongside Angelina Jolie Copley’s career looks to be a path that is very well chosen. All we are going to see over the coming years is just how good and how versatile Copley is. Such a talented actor, he already has a cult fan base but he is deserving of even more!

The nominations for the 33rd Annual Razzie Awards have been announced and after last year saw Adam Sandler heroically sweeping the board by winning (or losing) ten Razzie Awards thanks to his film Jack & Jill, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 attempts to equal that this year after receiving eleven nominations in the ten categories.

Below is a full list of the nominees along with my predictions and other comments.

Worst Picture

Battleship

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure – seriously, look this up… what. the. hell?

That’s My Boy

A Thousand Words

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

 

Worst Actor

Nicolas Cage – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance/Seeking Justice

Eddie Murphy – A Thousand Words

Robert Pattinson – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – everyone knows he can’t act. Deny it. Try.

Tyler Perry – Alex Cross/Good Deeds

Adam Sandler – That’s My Boy – more as a plea for him to stop making films

 

Worst Actress

Katherine Heigl – One For The Money – not fair really, the film was awful but she did the best she could with it.

Milla Jovovich – Resident Evil: Retribution

Tyler Perry – Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection

Kristen Stewart – Snow White & the Huntsman/Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Barbara Streisand – The Guilt Trip

 

Worst Supporting Actor

David Hasslehoff (as himself) – Piranha 3DD

Taylor Lautner – Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – the only trick he has is taking off his top. Never work again!

Liam Neeson – Battleship/Wrath of the Titans – everybody loves him for Taken and Batman Begins but he does make some rubbish.

Nick Swardson – That’s My Boy

Vanilla Ice (as himself) – That’s My Boy

 

Worst Supporting Actress

Jessica Biel – Playing for Keeps/Total Recall

Brooklyn Decker – Battleship/What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Ashley Greene – Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Jennifer Lopez – What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Rihanna – Battleship – there’s nothing more gut-wrenching than seeing her name in the credits.

 

Worst Screen Couple

Any two cast members from Jersey Shore – The Three Stooges

Mackenzie Foy and Taylor Lautner – Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart – Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Tyler Perry and His Drag Get-Up – Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection

Adam Sandler and either Leighton Meester/Andy Samberg/Susan Sarandon – That’s My Boy

 

Worst Prequel, Remake or Rip-Off or Sequel

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – should never have been made, I don’t think anyone would argue with that!

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection

Piranha 3DD

Red Dawn – not sure about this one.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 

 

Worst Director

Sean Anders – That’s My Boy

Peter Berg – Battleship

Bill Condon – Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Tyler Perry – Good Deeds/Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection

John Putch – Atlas Shrugged: Part 2

 

Worst Screenplay

Atlas Shrugged: Part 2

Battleship

That’s My Boy

A Thousand Words

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

 

Worst Screen Ensemble

Battleship – responsible for one of the biggest flops of the year

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure

That’s My Boy

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – the best thing about this movie is that finally the franchise is done!

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.

Last week it was rumoured that Matthew Vaughn was being heavily linked with the director’s chair of the new Star Wars film and it has been revealed that the shortlist for a director is now down to just 2 names (we don’t know if Vaughn is one of them but I expect he is). However, the news this week is that Michael Arndt is set to write the script. This is a fantastic choice from a critical point of view: Arndt won an Oscar for best screenplay in 2007 for Little Miss Sunshine and received another Oscar nomination for his most recent feature, the incredible Toy Story 3. Arndt is currently overseeing the writing of The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire and will then start work on what is sure to be another brilliant script, this time for Star Wars.

Jack Nicholson is being pursued to play Robert Downey Jr’s father in The Judge. Downey has said that he would love to work with Nicholson but the problem is that Jack Nicholson has only made three films since 2003: the critically acclaimed The Departed, The Bucket List and How Do You Know, the latter of the three showing that it is clearly not a quality script that Nicholson is after. The Judge follows a big-city lawyer (Downey) who returns home after the death of his mother only to discover that his estranged Alzheimer’s-ridden father is suspected of murder, so he represents his father in the case. Although this is by no means a done deal I think it would be perfect casting having Nicholson play Downey’s father.

The LEGO movie spoken about so long ago is finally taking shape and two big name actors have joined the cast this week: Liam Neeson and Will Ferrell. Ferrell will be playing the main villain of the film while Neeson lends his voice to the villain’s henchman. The synopsis for Lego: The Piece of Resistance is: an ordinary Lego mini-figure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil Lego tyrant from gluing the universe together. Ferrell and Neeson join an ever growing cast of Alison Brie, Chris Pratt and Morgan Freeman.

Finally, what began as an internet rumour has this week been confirmed as an official announcement. Transformers 4 has seen the casting of Mark Wahlberg become a reality. And if the Transformers franchise had cast an actual good action star and decent actor in the first place instead of Shia Labeouf and that waste of oxygen Megan Fox then perhaps I would be more inclined to have given them a watch. However, as I have no interest in supporting Michael Bay I am not even sure Wahlberg can persuade me to begin watching this franchise. Transformers 4 will also be taking place 4 years after the previous instalment, Dark of the Moon.

 

Disney now owns three of the biggest companies in the world of movie making: Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, in particular the Star Wars franchise. So with these three huge franchises all working under the same roof it is inevitable that comparisons will be made, but just which is the biggest and best franchise? I will be ranking Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars out of 10 in categories such as Oscar recognition, box office takings, quality of the films and star quality.

 

Box Office

The box office takings are vital to companies and film franchises such as these three as it indicates whether there is any demand for their films any longer and obviously, at the minute, there is. The Star Wars franchise (the original trilogy and prequel trilogy) have taken $3,793,650,642 at the box office, making an average of around $632million per film. Marvel Entertainment have so far released six films of their own, from Iron Man to The Avengers and have made $3,772,055,196 (with The Avengers making up the most of that) averaging $628million per film. None of this quite matches Pixar who, since releasing Toy Story have amassed an incredible $7,794,770,758 at the global box office, however on average this only amounts to just under $600million per film.

Marks out of 10 for Box Office takings:

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 7

Star Wars: 8

 

“Son?”

Oscars

Each year the Oscars acknowledge the best films and the best efforts in making films. Marvel are really lagging behind in this area with just three nominations, two for Iron Man and one for Iron Man 2. Star Wars have so far managed to win seven Oscars with another fifteen nominations! But still this is far far behind Pixar who have been storming the Oscars with almost all of their films and have won ten Oscars for their feature films with another 30 (yes 30!) nominations!

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 1

Star Wars: 6

 

Film Quality

There is no doubt about who makes the best films out of Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. Ever since their first release Pixar have continually churned out near perfect, enjoyable family films almost every year. With their recent releases it looks as though they have started to lag but their discography cannot be ignored. Marvel, aside from Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, have dominated the superhero genre and continue to bring out fun, light hearted but still very very good films and all of this culminated in one of the best films of 2012: The Avengers. I have never really liked Star Wars but I can appreciate that the original trilogy was good (yet nothing to really shout about) however the prequel trilogy is universally disliked.

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 8

Star Wars: 6

Star Talent

Star Wars made stars out of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford primarily, although they were virtual unknowns at the time. However, they did attract Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness to the franchise. In the prequels they managed to cast some good British talent with Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor along with the huge Samuel L. Jackson. Marvel also signed Samuel L. Jackson up along with huge stars Robert Downey Jr, Ed Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Hugo Weaving, Tim Roth, Jeff Bridges and Sam Rockwell (and that’s not even all of them!). Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton, Kevin Spacey, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi have all provided voices for Pixar characters but a lot of the time the actors are unknown to audiences.

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 9

Star Wars: 4

 

Overall Ratings:

Pixar: 32/40.

Marvel: 25/40.

Star Wars: 24/40.

So overall Pixar comes out on top which is unsurprising to say the least! Although with their two most recent films (Cars 2 and Brave) not going down as well as previous efforts are they on the decline? Marvel have just released the third highest grossing movie of all time this year and their universe of films is only going to continue to grow and get more and more exciting. Star Wars has continued to live on in television shows since the end of the film franchise and everyone is expecting big things from the new instalment. In the next few years it will be interesting to see who Disney is getting the most from.

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.

Cillian Murphy strikes me as being a very interesting performer; I have seen quite a few of his films and always find his performances enthralling and I consider him to be a fantastic actor. For a time, though, it seemed as though acting would not be Murphy’s destination in life as his first real passion for entertaining was music. When in his teens and early twenties he formed a band with his brother, most of their (small scale) successes came while they performed under the name of The Sons of Mr. Greengenes. In 1996 the band were offered a five album record deal by Acid Jazz Records which the Murphy brothers had to turn down because Cillian’s brother Paidi was still in school. Murphy went on to attend University College Cork where he studied law and failed his first year exams; the reason being he had ‘no ambition to do it’ and later admitted that within days of starting the course he knew law wasn’t going to be it for him. So he came to be an actor.

Murphy started off his acting career on the stage where he quickly got noticed and then started making several short films and independent films in his home land of Ireland, including On the Edge and How Harry Became a Tree. It was a role in the film version of Disco Pigs (a role that was Murphy’s debut on the stage too) that he has to thank for the way his career has panned out afterwards as it was his performance here that brought him to the attention of Danny Boyle. Boyle was looking for someone to cast in the lead role of his film 28 Days Later and Murphy seemed to fit the bill. 28 Days Later subsequently became a hit all over the world and put Murphy in front of the huge crowds he could only ever have imagined. His performance earned rave reviews and Boyle was hailed for finding such a talented unknown actor.

Murphy starred alongside Colin Farrell in Intermission which became the highest grossing Irish film at the Irish box office ever (the record was broken in 2006 but Intermission held it for a while nonetheless) and Murphy also bagged himself supporting roles in his first Hollywood features: Cold Mountain and The Girl With the Pearl Earring. Even with his new found fame and success Murphy still returned to the stage and toured Ireland in theatre roles proving that he still had great affection for his beginnings. Then he got a call that would change anyone’s career…

Cillian Murphy was asked to come and audition for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in 2005’s Batman Begins. Murphy himself suggested that he knew he wouldn’t get the part because he didn’t have the physique to play a superhero yet he went and auditioned anyway. Director Christopher Nolan was so impressed with his performance that he cast Cillian Murphy in the role of Dr. Jonathan Crane, Scarecrow, the villain. He also appeared as the villain in Red Eye, a thriller in which he was the antagonist to Rachel McAdams’ protagonist. Murphy received huge acclaim for his villainous roles and got himself a handful of nominations at several awards shows.

Making it big in Hollywood didn’t change Murphy though and he once again returned to his roots to make Irish film Breakfast on Pluto, in which he played a transgender Irish foundling in search of her mother. Murphy had actually auditioned for the role back in 2001 but director Neil Jordan was hesitant to make the film so soon after his earlier works; Murphy continually tried to get Jordan to make the film before Murphy was too old to play the part and Breakfast on Pluto was eventually made. I think that this shows Murphy has a serious passion for his career and is desperate to take on roles that will not only challenge him as an actor but also challenge that audience’s perception of Murphy.

In 2007 Cillian Murphy reteamed with Danny Boyle to make science fiction film Sunshine, in which Murphy had the lead role. This is the first film that I remember seeing Murphy in and actually knowing who he was and it was this performance that led me to search for some of his earlier works because I thought the film was fantastic and Murphy himself was brilliant to watch. Another director who clearly found Murphy a great actor to work with is Christopher Nolan as he not only cast him in his masterpiece Inception but also allowed Murphy to reprise his roles in his Batman sequels: The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

And even appearing in one of the biggest, most loved and most successful trilogies of all time still can’t keep Cillian Murphy away from Ireland as he continues to ply his trade in independent cinema with turns in Perrier’s Bounty and Broken. Cillian Murphy is an actor who clearly loves his work and he has a very clear idea of how he wants his career to go as he aims to work with Michel Gondry, Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. Yet it is amazing that he still remains down to earth, very genuine, humble and homely; despite being friends with fellow Irish actors Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson Murphy’s closest friends remain those he had before he became successful, he keeps his private life just that which is why not many people may know him as they should. Best of all, I think, Murphy could have his pick of Hollywood films if he wanted but he won’t have because he refuses to move to Los Angeles full time because he doesn’t wish to distance himself from his family. What a nice guy!

The three biggest action stars in the world… ever.

During the eighties and nineties the action genre was the place to be and many action stars were born. Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren all made careers out of being action heroes. Their films were, most of the time, nothing more than a simple storyline where a hero just got to kick ass and the audience would have fun cheering the hero on while he did so, eg. Die Hard, Rambo. Nowadays you won’t really find that among the big Hollywood films, the genre has evolved over time and action films seemed to get more serious, genres started to merge and the days of the real action genre and action heroes are behind us, I think.

While people like the actors mentioned above are still making films I do believe that the only real action hero we have left is the English born Jason Statham. He is most famous for the Transporter trilogy and his films continue to get a cinema release whereas the likes of Lundgren, Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme do not, so why is this? I think it is because Statham does have a real talent for acting whereas a lot of action heroes are just there because of their size and physique; Statham has shown before he can manage the acting as well as the action, he seems like a really nice guy which audiences always like and he is still relatively new in his career, having only started out in 1998. It’s been 14 years sure, but actors these days go for a lot longer than that!

The Expendables 2 is coming out later this year and back in 2010 we saw a return to the sole action genre with the original film directed and written by Sylvester Stallone himself. The idea was to bring together a great ensemble cast of action heroes to bring the genre back to the forefront of blockbuster cinema. The cast included Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren as well as a scene that features three stars synonymous with the action genre: Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis. The sequel retains this cast and expands with Van Damme and Chuck Norris. The idea to revive the big action block buster was a good one in theory and went down well with fans as the film opened to huge commercial success across the globe but critics were less favourable as the film received mixed to negative reviews. Despite this, a third film is rumoured to happen and Steven Seagal says he has been offered a part. But it does seem as though the only way to get a big action film back on the big screen is to bring together an ensemble, otherwise audiences are not going to be grabbed.

Asian cinema still features a lot of action films and the very successful The Raid (originally titled Serbuan Maut) was even released in British cinemas earlier this year and went down very well with critics so maybe it is just Hollywood that can’t get it right? I suppose that the nearest thing we have to a pure action film these days is the Fast & Furious franchise but you could hardly say that Paul Walker is an action hero or that even Vin Diesel is (come on, he was in The Pacifier) no matter how much he really likes to think he is himself. The Bourne films are marketed as action films and I guess they could be described as such but this is still an evolution from real action films as it features more in crime and even political genres, however the action does feature a lot. And Matt Damon would not consider himself an action hero I don’t think. Liam Neeson isn’t particularly an action hero yet his film Taken is probably the most successful action movie of recent times and is the only really really good one that I can think of right now.

I would argue that the nearest thing we have to real action films now are the superhero movies. The action heroes have been replaced with those of the comic book world as they appear on the big screen and clearly define the theme of good versus evil and the hero goes on to kick some ass very much like Rambo, John McClane or Frank Martin would do. All the time, trying to keep it fun for audiences.

Over time all genres do evolve as audiences crave something new, something that will break boundaries or challenge them to put the pieces together themselves but I, for one, would like to see more old school action films being made. But none of these rubbish straight to DVD films, I want real action blockbusters with real action heroes in them. All it will take is for one new action hero to step out of the shadows and then a flurry of them will follow as it did for he superhero movies and for the fairy tale films too. So whoever he is, he better step up quick.

It is one of the most anticipated films of all time and how well it is received will determine how Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is seen by future generations; whether it really is one of the greatest film trilogies of all time or whether it burns out over two films and disappears without a trace after a poor final chapter. After watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight yesterday, I was ready for whatever Christopher Nolan had to throw at me with The Dark Knight Rises…or at least I thought I was.

The previous two films opened wonderfully: Batman Begins brought us Bruce Wayne’s origin as a child (or at least part of it) and his place in the real world at present day, The Dark Knight brought us one of the best opening sequences of all time with the Jokers bank robbery. ‘Rises‘ introduces the audience to a new world, eight years after the last confirmed sighting of Batman, Harvey Dent is still celebrated as a hero and Gotham’s streets are free of crime thanks to a police department headed up by Commissioner Gordon (the role reprised once more by the brilliant Gary Oldman). We are introduced early on to new characters in the franchise; Bane, John Blake, Miranda Tate and Selina Kyle aka. Catwoman.

Of these newcomers it was Blake who I looked forward to seeing the most because the stature of his character struck my curiosity and he is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is one of my favourite actors. However, it was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman that really stole the show for me. Nolan has proved doubters wrong by writing a strong conflicted female character who is more than a match for Bruce Wayne himself. In Batman Begins and The Dark Knight I felt that the only places the films really lost points was in the fight scenes; I never found Batman’s fight scenes as exciting or thrilling as I should have because it always felt a little too staged, too jarred but when Catwoman kicks ass in The Dark Knight Rises she really goes for it and the choreography is excellent, the fights are seamless and exciting, they are really incredible sequences. The eventual final climatic fight between Batman and Bane (played by another brilliant English actor Tom Hardy) is better than any fight scenes of the previous two instalments as well.

The plot can be condensed into a simple sentence: Batman has to stop the city of Gotham being blown up by Bane. Replace the two character names and the name of the city and that plot could fit any generic action movie. But to do this, to try and explain the plot of The Dark Knight Rises in one sentence is to do yourself and the film a massive injustice. There are enough twists and turns, revelations and red herrings to keep the audience interested and invested in the story and it moves at the perfect pace; you can tell it’s a long film but everything, every tiny piece of detail and dialogue is needed and it is well worth sitting through!

The Dark Knight Rises is a brilliantly written film, it is directed beautifully and every single member of the cast, young and old, performs excellently to make this wonderful masterpiece. With a cast that boasts so many big names (Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson and Matthew Modine) it would have been just as easy to let them run riot and it still would have been brilliant to watch but with Christopher Nolan at the helm this pool of talent brought their very best to the table to make one of the best films of all time and bring the final curtain on a trilogy that will define the superhero genre but the whole face of cinema for years to come.

My Rating: 10/10