Tag Archive: novel


Later this year Ender’s Game is set to be released to an audience that is already planning to boycott the film. The threat comes due to Orson Scott Card’s (the author of the original novel) controversial, to put it nicely, views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage; the author is set to earn some royalties from the film and some fans are unwilling to line his pockets, quite understandably. Just how serious these threats are remains to be seen, but for now lets just focus on the film itself. Here’s the trailer:

If you can’t tell from that, which you really can’t, what the storyline is, it is thus: 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. With this synopsis comes the promise of all out science fiction glory with special effects and battle scenes that will only be worth seeing on the big screen.

Now, obviously a brilliant cast does not always make a great film (Ocean’s Twelve, Alexander) but it doesn’t help to bring together many critically acclaimed actors, actresses and crew members, so who’s working on this?
Oscar winner Gavin Hood – 2006: Tsotsi won Best Foreign Language Film
Oscar winner Ben Kingsley – for his performance in Gandhi, seen in Ender’s Game sporting an interesting facial tattoo
Oscar nominee Harrison Ford – in my opinion over rated and very dull, but each to their own
Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin – Best Supporting Actress in Little Miss Sunshine
Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld – a young actress with a HUGE career ahead of her
Oscar nominee Viola Davis – Leading actress in The Help and Supporting Actress in Doubt
Basically, not a bad cast on paper!

But the film really hinges on the performance of Asa Butterfield in the lead role of Ender himself. He has previously appeared in Hugo and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and audiences do seem to have taken to him so far, now it is his time to carry a major franchise. Surrounding him with all of the talent mentioned above won’t damage his performance either and can only be a good thing.

The special effects from the trailer look pretty good, however the second half of the trailer does seem to tail off and become a little dull compared to the jumpy, action packed introduction. Ender’s Game does seem very similar to The Hunger Games which, based on its premise, should have been a lot darker in tone than it was; Ender’s Game seemingly takes a pretty darker approach than you would expect and could win many fans for that alone.

I am not entirely convinced by Ender’s Game just yet although I am interested in it. There just seems to be a certain spark missing. Hopefully, towards the release date promotion and marketing will be cranked up and the executives will be doing all they can to make Ender’s Game look as good as it can.

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UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse, James Badge Dale, Eric West, Matthew Fox.

Plot: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

I don’t normally post new trailers for films that I have already looked at unless I am desperately excited to see a certain film. That’s not the case with World War Z. The reason I have decided to look at this trailer after examining the first here, is that the originally trailer was met with a lot of skepticism surrounding its faith to the original novel and the bad CGI. So is this new trailer any better?

Well the way the trailer is set up it seems to be the same before. A peaceful little section of Pitt’s nice, loving family is then broken up by lots of scenes of panic and the mountain of zombies. What I can deduce from this trailer is that it seems like the CGI on the zombies won’t be TOO important because there will be so many jump cuts flying around you’ll barely see them, especially behind the explosions.

The books is a best seller and people love it because it’s not just a brainless zombie epic, which unfortunately it looks as though the film will be. But studio execs need to put bums on chairs (and maybe Brad Pitt’s name alone isn’t enough to do that anymore?).

World War Z comes complete with mid-air plane siege as seen in The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3.

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.

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.

The story of Les Misérables, originally written as a novel by Victor Hugo, is 150 years old. The first adaptation of Les Misérables as a musical came in 1980 and it has gone on to become one of the biggest and one of the best musicals on stage in the world. So how do you adapt the musical to film while keeping the operatic feel? How do you make a 150 year old story seem relevant to the 21st century audience? These are the questions that faced director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) when creating this giant production.

Les Misérables primary focus is Jean Valjean, a prisoner released on parole after spendingnineteen years in jail. Upon his release and his attempt to become a better man and live a better life he breaks his parole and ruthless policeman Javert dedicates his life to returning Valjean to prison. Along the way Valjean takes in the child of a dying prostitute. The plot spans seventeen years and is set against the backdrop of political turmoil and rebellion in France, culminating in the June Rebellion of France.

One of the key features of Les Misérables was the fact that the actors did not lip sync; their vocals were actually recorded while they sang on set, which is a very unique way of doing things when making a musical film. This means that the actors are forced to act, sing, move and sometimes fight all at the same time. It is a testament to how talented the whole case is that this never gets in the way of their vocals: this also helps to really keep a theatrical feel about the performance.

Hugh Jackman is Oscar nominated for his performance as prison Jean Valjean and his background in theatre clearly helped his performance in Les Misérables. Jackman’s transformation on screen as his character rises and falls in stature is fantastic and, with his performance, he brings so much emotion to the role it is hard not to feel for him. Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Valjean is probably one of my favourite individual performances I have ever seen. This is also true of Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of prostitute Fantine, although for very different reasons. Fantine is forced to desperate measures in order to raise money to look after her child and the sequence which portrays this (accompanied with the song ‘Lovely Ladies‘) is so harrowing and you can really feel the despair and desperation of the character. I am slightly disappointed that Russell Crowe wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for his performance: even though he plays the villain I thought Crowe made Javert reluctantly likeable and I was really impressed by his singing too.

The songs and the music are the centre piece of Les Misérables and, as you would expect being as though it is a musical, the songs are wonderful. With such beautiful music and compelling lyrics the choice of songs (and addition of new song ‘Suddenly‘) really help to create a wonderful narrative which is vital here as there are very few spoken lines within the two and a half hour running time. Hathaway singing ‘I Dreamed a Dream‘ was a real highlight of the film, ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?‘ was a wonderful team production, ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables‘ was another personal highlight along with my favourite song of them all ‘Stars‘.

At the beginning of this review I called the making of Les Misérables a giant production and the huge scale on which this film is made is evident from the very first shot. Right from the get go it is a real team effort and everybody pulls their weight equally. The sets are incredible, the set pieces are fantastic, character development is wonderful. Lots of characters are introduced at different times throughout the film but they never clog up the storyline.

Les Misérables is a terrific story on so many levels and, even at two and a half hours long, I could have happily sat through it again as soon as it finished!

My Rating: 10/10.

Here are a collection of trailers for, what I think are, the best movies to be released in the UK this month and will be well worth a watch!

 

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS – 5th December

This is something I have been looking forward to since I first saw the trailer. An exciting cast that combines Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken all brought together by Martin McDonagh in his In Bruges follow up.

 

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – 13th December

This is obviously the biggest film to be released this month and I’ve said enough about it already in previous posts so here is just one of the many TV spots for the epic Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings prequel.

 

SMASHED – 14th December

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the brilliant Aaron Paul play a married couple whose bond is solely built on their love of alcohol. Their marriage is put to the test when the wife decides to get sober. Smashed has already been adored by critics and could serve as a little treat this December.

 

LIFE OF PI – 20th December

I was more than a little dubious when I watched the first trailer for Ang Lee’s adaptation of the epic novel but with the release of this second trailer I don’t see how anyone can doubt this. A clear Oscar contender for sure.

 

PITCH PERFECT – 21st December

Anna Kendrick stars (and sings on the soundtrack) in this obviously Glee inspired musical that has gone down well with critics and audiences alike in America. I found the trailer a lot funnier than I thought that I would and it does look really really fun.

 

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Eric West, David Morse.

Plot: A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.

With the success of The Walking Dead bringing zombies back to the forefront of mainstream television it should come as no surprise that Hollywood is looking to take advantage and make some money from the zombie industry. World War Z has been in the works for a long time and finally we have a trailer.

There has already been a lot of negative reaction to the trailer from fans of the original book on the internet but I think that it actually looks pretty good. I like Brad Pitt and I’m sure he will do a fine job in this film. World War Z (the film, not the book) is essentially an apocalyptic-save-the-world type thing and, as far as the trailer goes it will certainly grab the attention of audiences.

The CGI is not yet fully polished and we don’t really see enough of the zombies to gauge whether they look good or not, but I have no doubts that everything will be sharpened before it’s release date in another six months. I think that the fans of the book need to stop moaning and just accept that certain themes/characters/story lines from novels always get dropped when Hollywood wants to make a film from it, that’s just how it works.

“The name’s Bond, James Bond” is one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, almost as iconic as the man himself who says it so often. James Bond is a figure known all across the world, a British Secret Service agent that has saved the world and defeated villains countless times. The Ian Fleming creation has spawned twenty-three canon films and has been played by six different actors, all of whom have been white.

Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and today’s Daniel Craig have all donned the suit and the suave attitude to play the most famous spy that the world has ever seen. But once Daniel Craig steps aside is the path paved for a black actor to take on one of the most famous cinematic roles in history? It certainly looks as though this is now a real possibility where it has never really been given any thought before. Skyfall Bond girl Naomie Harris has let is slip that a black actor has been met by producers to talk about taking on the part, despite Daniel Craig having a contract for another two films. The actor in question is the phenomenal Idris Elba, who would certainly be an inspired choice as his stock continue to grow in Hollywood after roles in huge blockbuster films such as Thor and Prometheus.

Harris is quoted in The Huffington Post as saying “it does seem like there is a possibility in the future that there could very well be a black James Bond. And I would have to vote for Idris because I just finished working with him and he’s a great guy”. I thoroughly believe that the colour of his skin should not be an issue for the casting choice but let’s not forget all the uproar that was caused when Daniel Craig was cast just because he had BLONDE hair! But this is something that Idris Elba has mentioned and spoken about before, in October 2011 he stated “I don’t want to be the black James Bond. Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond”. This makes complete sense; it should be his ability to act as the famous James Bond character that should see him either accepted or declined for the role.

Unfortunately I have been on a few fan forums and a lot of James Bond fans seem to be against this idea with some even saying that this would lead to a ‘gay, then female’ James Bond. Some fans say that making Bond black would go against the creation of Fleming but things are changing in the modern cultural climate and character’s do not stay the same forever. M was once a man in the films, now is a woman. Although I do believe that film fans can be fickle and in the end, if Elba played the part well enough there would be a lot of people backtracking on their previously held opinions.

Let’s not forget that it does appear to be a kind of underlying rule that a Hollywood hero must be either white or Will Smith. This would be a great opportunity for James Bond to not only take their own franchise and name forward but help pave way for better roles for black actors and a more equal chance for actors despite what their race may be.

It is unclear when in time the meetings took place between Elba and the Bond producers, it could even have been before they signed Daniel Craig on to two more films or it could have been after. It is also unclear whether Elba is the only person producers have met with or whether there have been others (black or white actors) who have been approached with a view to replacing Daniel Craig when he eventually steps down. Although, with critics already calling Skyfall the best Bond ever you have to think that fans will want to see plenty more of Craig before any considerations get under way as to who will be next in line.

Bond 23 ‘Skyfall‘ is in cinemas tomorrow (26/10/2012)

UK Release Date: 5th April 2013.

Stars: Kimberly Peirce (director), Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde.

Plot: A sheltered high school girl unleashes her newly developed telekinetic powers after she is pushed too far by her peers.

This is the first piece of footage we have been able to see for the remake of Carrie, based on the novel by Stephen King. Horror isn’t normally my thing but if this is anything to go by then Carrie could well be something that gets me into the cinema.

Chloe Moretz is a wonderful actress and at such a young age it is obvious that she has a huge future ahead of her. In this teaser trailer we get to see her recreate a famous image from the original film.

Carrie should be in safe hands with Kimberly Peirce at the helm. She hasn’t directed much but when she has it has been terrific; Boys Don’t Cry back in 1999 and the highly under rated Stop-Loss (starring Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in 2008 being her stand out projects. She should have another hit on her hands here!

The trailer overall gives off the spooky and paranormal/supernatural vibes you must expect from Carrie and puts you amidst the destruction that has been caused in the town. In just a minute and one simple scene the teaser trailer gives plenty of reasons to be excited about this film.

Anna Karenina Review

For a film set in Russia, it is pretty strange that all the characters have British accents. It becomes clear early on that authenticity and realism may not be high on director Joe Wright’s priorities. With Wright’s experience in the period drama genre being unquestionable after he has directed Pride & Prejudice and Atonement he was obviously a good choice to direct this piece and the visuals are very well done as you would come to expect from Wright.

Anna Karenina was originally a novel written by the famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. The story revolves around the title character as she begins to question her life, her happiness, her marriage and love itself. And these feelings start to cause some problems after Anna meets the determined Count Vronsky. At the time the novel was written the story itself contained strong political themes but in the modern world as a film this is something that we have seen before; most period dramas are just women in high societal positions having an affair and having to deal with it and more often than not Keira Knightley is involved in some way or another (here she plays the title character).

Knightley seems to be an expert of good performances that aren’t anything special and unfortunately her performance here is good at best, at times falling into the realms of averageness. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as he is credited on the bill since his marriage to Nowhere Boy director Sam Taylor-Wood) has a great screen presence here and seems to light up the screen and drive the story forward every time he appears. It is great to see him playing a more established and older man than his roles in Kick-Ass and Nowhere Boy. Otherwise, the rest of the cast is pretty lacklustre in performance: Kelly Macdonald is pointless at best, Jude Law is good but I couldn’t help but feel like he was miscast, but Matthew MacFayden brings some comedy highlights to the film which is nice.

The first twenty or thirty minutes of Anna Karenina would lead you to believe that you were about to watch an actual masterpiece. The way that Anna Karenina is directed is as if it is a theatrical performance with scenes and sets being moved and people seeming to walk from one scene just straight into another. This was a very novel and creative way of doing things but it seemed as though everyone got bored with it and they decided against doing this half way through the film and that was largely disappointing. The characters aren’t well rounded really, there are hints at back story that we never really get to know and the lack of background that we are given makes it almost impossible for us to get to know or get to care about any of the characters. Eventually, I became so fed up and disheartened with the characters that I wondered if it was too much to ask for the writers to just include a nuclear bomb that would end the film there and then. I must state that this isn’t the actors fault, I think they managed to do a pretty decent job with what they were given. Just what they were given wasn’t all that good.

Interestingly though I found that the sub plot was a lot more interesting and I found the story to be more compelling than the main one, which is probably a bad thing. The sub plot revolved around Domhnall Gleeson’s and Alicia Vikander’s characters. It seemed to me as though these two characters had a better love story and a more believable connection to one another than the main relationship at the centre of this film. They only pop up every now and again and the sub plot has little to no effect on the main storyline so it does seem pointless and takes up time in a film that suffers because of it’s running time.

Anna Karenina is good in places but unfortunately very bad in others.

My Rating: 5/10.