Tag Archive: oscars


Back in 1975 Jaws became the highest grossing film to date. It’s arguably one of the most famous films ever that has been parodied and referenced in countless numbers of films and has a theme tune that everyone can hum and recognise. The release and the popularity of Jaws marked the arrival of the summer blockbuster, which would become a staple in the cinema calendar; the summer blockbuster spots are reserved for the biggest studios to bring out the big guns and rake in the profits over summer. The whole idea of a ‘blockbuster film’ has gone through celebration and survived criticism but you can not deny that they are still apparent and, as we have seen this year, are the most bankable films of the year. But the originality has gone, and with that so has some of the fun.

Among the top ten highest grossing films of the year so far there are eight films that have been released in the summer. Only one of those is an original concept: Pacific Rim. When Jaws was released it marked a trend of ‘event’ films that major studios released to compete with Jaws and its sequels. Taking this into account Pacific Rim seems like a typical summer blockbuster remade for a modern audience. It seems like everything a summer audience want: mindless action, giant robots fighting gigantic aliens and what’s more the film had major clout behind it as it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim only just managed to double its budget worldwide despite all the hype surrounding it and Idris Elba booming “today we are cancelling the apocalypse” before every other summer film that you would go and see. Of course, one reason why Pacific Rim could have fallen short of expectations is because Michael Bay did such an awful job with the Transformers film that any film with robots in will now be tossed aside without thought.

 

But then a film with fighting robots also became the fifth highest grossing film of all time: Iron Man 3. So this seems to suggest that that was not the only reason for Pacific Rim‘s failure to make a huge impression on the audience. In a world with so many sequels it is becoming more important to see those sequels when they come out, especially with what Marvel are doing with each film becoming a huge stable of cinema in itself and an unmissable event. People want to see what they already know because the first films are so good and successful that it gives a sequel credibility before it is even released. The likes of Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, Monsters University and even Despicable Me 2 cracked the top ten highest grossing films – all coming off the back of successful franchises or original films. World War Z and Man of Steel also join the list but they’re coming from hugely successful books and comic books. With World War Z it also seems to suggest that star power is also important for a summer blockbuster with Brad Pitt no doubt being responsible for some of the surprisingly huge audience the zombie action film found.

So what of Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp? Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet absolutely tanked at the box office in 2013. Smith’s After Earth and Cruise’s Oblivion both seemed pretty similar in their basic premise: Earth has been abandoned and now Will Smith/Tom Cruise come back to Earth and find out that it’s not as bare as they might have thought. It was assumed that one film would take the spoils because they were too similar but as it turned out, neither film did and both failed. Johnny Depp looked to bring a new franchise to the big screen and should have been more successful being as though The Lone Ranger is integrated in popular culture – everyone has heard “Hi-Yo, Silver!” at least once in their lives. But a difficult time in production seemed to put an end to any plans Disney had of making a sequel. And the less said about R.I.P.D the better.

 

Another one of the most anticipated films of the year was Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. After Blomkamp’s debut feature District 9 was an Oscar nominated film people were expecting something exceptional from Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. However, as of now it has only just managed to make back its budget and not set the world alight as people expected. Of course, a late summer release won’t have helped being as though it seems everyone had already spent their money on previously mentioned films. So why is it so hard to find a spot for originality in the summer months?

For me, I think it comes down to the cost of going to the cinema. Over summer the children are off school and people go to the cinema as a family. This means that you’re going to be spending around £25-£35 on tickets and then another £20ish on drinks and popcorn which makes it seem pretty expensive just to go and sit down for a couple of hours. Nobody wants to go and see a bad film at the cinema anyway but when it’s costing that much you want to know that you’re going to enjoy what you watch. Therefore, I believe people are more likely to go and see Iron Man 3 when Marvel have a spotless record and you’re guaranteed a great performance from Robert Downey Jr. rather than take a chance that something like R.I.P.D or Pacific Rim which you don’t know much about.

 

In the next couple of years we are going to see more Marvel films – Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The Man of Steel sequel featuring Batman is coming out too, the same as the seventh chapter of Star Wars and presumably a third in the new Star Trek trilogy: add to that another Fast & Furious film, a sequel to World War Z and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It seems like so many huge franchises are begging for people’s money that it seems impossible for anything new to turn heads. For the sake of cinema that has to change sooner rather than later.

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UK Release Date: 15th November 2013

Stars: Ridley Scott (director), Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, John Leguizamo.

Plot: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

Brad Pitt seems to really be getting back on the horse and making some really good films after a quiet few years of his career. With 12 Years a Slave (also starring Michael Fassbender) out at the height of Oscar season, this all star cast hits cinemas later this year.

As this serves only as a teaser trailer there is not a lot of the plot released within the minute that we see, but what we do see is very intriguing: what is the motorbike murder about? what exactly does Michael Fassbender do? where does Brad Pitt fit into all of this? And what is going on with Javier Bardem’s hair?

Yes, you read that right. After the enjoyable yet unremarkable Rocky Balboa it appears as though it is very likely that Sylvester Stallone is set to reprise the most famous role of his career and bring the underdog boxer Rocky back to the big screen for the seventh time. However, if it does happen, it won’t be in any kind of Rocky VII film, it will be in a spin-off form the franchise. Intrigued?

To date the Rocky franchise has grossed over $1.2billion worldwide

Die hard film fans will have heard of Fruitvale Station (no Rocky connection yet) which is released tomorrow (26th July) in the United States as it has been very well received at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for American Dramatic Film, and Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best First Film. Fruitvale Station was written and directed by Ryan Coogler who is only 27 which is quite remarkable when you think about it.

Anyway, it’s Coogler who is planning to bring the next film to the big screen through his passion for the franchise. Coogler will be writing the script and directing the project which will be titled ‘Creed’ and will focus on the grandson of Rocky’s respected rival, Apollo Creed. The story will apparently revolve around Creed’s grandson and his dreams of fighting professionally despite his family’s concerns after Apollo died in the ring (Rocky IV). The young Creed will turn to Sylvester Stallone’s heavyweight champion Rocky to train him and help him become the best boxer he can be.

Left: Ryan Coogler; Right: Michael B. Jordan

The actor set to nab the lead role in the spin-off is Michael B. Jordan who stars in Fruitvale Station and, just in recent months, has been highly touted for some of the biggest films in production. Jordan is probably most famous for his excellent acting skills in The Wire and has also been seen on Friday Night Lights and starred in surprise hit, Chronicle. He has been linked with roles in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the Fantastic Four reboot (it seems like only a matter of time before he plays a superhero and getting this role isn’t going to hurt his chances). He certainly has the acting chops and the likeability about him to pull this role off, but would a spin-off work and is it even a possibility?

At the minute, reports suggest that Sylvester Stallone will come back on board as producer as well as star, meaning that his baby (the Rocky franchise) will still be in his own hands even if he hangs up his gloves after giving Creed its legs. The Rocky franchise is certainly a popular one and in the modern world of remakes, reboots and sequels it seems as though Hollywood would be daft to shoot the idea down without thinking about it. If Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan want to make it then I say we let them; they are both getting praise right, left and centre and the franchise would be in safe hands. It would also be brilliant to see a new summer blockbuster (with potential to be a series of films in its own right) with a black character at the heart of its story, which is something significantly lacking from Hollywood films.

I highly doubt Sylvester Stallone would turn down the chance to play Rocky Balboa once more. Let round seven begin.

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back together again for the third in their “three flavours Cornetto” trilogy. After the massive success the trio have had with zombie flick Shaun of the Dead and cop film Hot Fuzz, expectations are set high for their attempt at science fiction; can The World’s End possibly be as good as the two films that preceded it?

Simon Pegg (who also shares writing duties along with Wright) plays Gary King, an alcoholic who is desperately trying to recapture his lost youth by returning to his childhood town of Newton Haven to complete “The Golden Mile”, a twelve bar pub crawl ending at The World’s End which the group never managed to finish first time round in 1990. To do this, Gary reunites his old friends, who just so happen to be some of the best actors in Britain which certainly does no harm to the film: Andrew Knightley (Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan). Against their better knowledge the group decide to rejoin Gary for this mission, but when they get to Newton Haven they realise that they may be Earth’s only hope against a mysterious enemy.

The World’s End begins with a quick round up of the backstory: we are given glimpses into the five friends’ school and social life and a brief roundup of their first crack at the Golden Mile and how unsuccessful it ended up. Whilst there are a few sniggers here and there it serves less as a tool for comedy and more just exposition. It is not until Simon Pegg appears on the screen that the big laughs arrive and, to be honest, with Pegg on screen the laughs never seem to stop. His performance is up there with the best comedy performances of all time, he lives within the character, his charisma is unmatched and everyone can empathise with him: this is a guy who (it seems like) never wants to grow up, he’s trying to relive his youth, be the free spirit that he longs to be and not fall into the organisation of civilisation. It’s a great character turned brilliant by Pegg’s performance, cementing him as Britain’s best comedy film export of the modern era.

While the laughs are big, the action is also blood pumping. The five central actors aren’t necassarily people you would associate with being action stars or even carrying out any form of major fight scene but they more than hold their own here. Pegg and particularly Nick Frost excel themselves in the action sequences which are handled every bit as well as the comedy moments. The two best fight scenes are the ones that take place in the toilets, which allow for great fights in such a confined area, and in The Beehive against Pierce Brosnan (what is Pierce Brosnan doing popping up here?) and the townspeople.

It’s impossible not to like The World’s End. A lesser film would have lost it’s way when taking the turn from straight out comedy to science fiction but this is something that Edgar Wright embraces. Breadcrumbs are left all over the place, foreshadowing the reveal and, what’s more, you’re made to really care about the characters and believe in these people which also helps you go along with their journey. Even before the science fiction element occurs and the five friends are sat around, catching up there’s a lot to enjoy just because of the realistic element to it. It does feel like you’re sat in the pub with them: they’re just five normal guys in a pub, easily recognisable and easy to enjoy.

The World’s End is very close to a perfect comedy: it has likeable characters, great charisma and flair, wonderful performances from great actors, jokes that never end, running jokes that continue throughout, references back to Hot Fuzz which is a particular enjoyment and it has Simon Pegg in the form of his life. However, the end (quite ironically) is where the film falls from perfection.

Once at The World’s End, the heroes are confronted with the leader of this invasion (voiced by Bill Nighy) and there is a lot, and we’re talking huge speeches here, of exposition to get through. It seems like Wright and Pegg have tried to create a well rounded villain with a real motive which doesn’t quite pay off (and this comes right after the reveal of Gary King’s motives for wanting to return which is surprisingly touching and not really given enough time). Instead of giving a 2D villain with some plan you’ve heard before you’re confronted with the leader of this invasion talking out all of his plans and reasons as to why this has taken place. Credit has to go to the pair for attempting this, for trying to be different but it just never really brings the punch that you’re anticipating throughout the rest of the film. Luckily, Pegg and Frost do provide enough laughs in this segment that you can sort of overlook it but that let down does tarnish the film slightly.

Saying that though, it seems almost impossible to deny that this is a comedy film very close to perfection and one of the best British comedies of all time.

My Rating: 9/10

12 Years a Slave Trailer

UK Release Date: 24th January 2014

Stars: Steve McQueen (director), Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Scoot McNairy

Plot: In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Films about slavery seem to be becoming the new Western. Every year there are now high profile stories of slavery being told on the big screen and 2014 will be no different with Steve McQueen gunning for Oscar glory. Perhaps the most noticeable thing about this trailer is in fact Brad Pitt’s beard, just for the sheer ridiculousness of how it looks… but that might just be me.

However, if you can look past Pitt’s beard what you’ll find is this really touching, almost unbelievable true story about one man’s descent into slavery and his fight against it. Chiwetel Ejiodor is not a name that everyone will be familiar with but he has starred in a huge number of films over the years and finally takes centre stage in a star studded cast.

Established stars Pitt and Fassbender, who looks like he’s playing an incredibly nasty piece of work and doing it so well, join rising star Paul Dano and the incredible Scoot McNairy who I am a big fan of!

Slated for an October release in the UK, Seventh Son becomes the latest book series to be adapted into a film. However, you will probably not recognise the name of Joseph Delaney or his series The Wardstone Chronicles. This series of books is not as famous as the Harry Potter series, Twilight or even Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider saga, so it may be a bit of a risk choosing to adapt these books (for more than just this one reason which I will go into later). Even with a best seller you’re not guaranteed success, the failure of Stormbreaker put to bed any ideas that Point Blanc or the other Alex Rider stories may get the big film treatment no matter how much I hope and pray for it to happen… anyway, tangent ended, back to Seventh Son. Here’s the trailer:

Set in the 18th Century, the story revolves around young Thomas (Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame), the seventh son of a seventh son which in this world grants Tom with the ability to see things that others can not: boggarts, ghosts and other fantasy beings. Tom finds himself apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight against the evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

As you can see, in the trailer you get the carefully worded “inspired by the acclaimed series” rather than “based on…” which suggests Seventh Son is not going to be a straight adaptation. Although this decision has already angered some fans (but you always get the few who can’t stand to see any change to source material), I believe this is actually a smart choice: The Wardstone Chronicles does not carry the same fan base other book series’ do so this is an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. The story of a boy being trained in his craft has been done (Harry Potter, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Percy Jackson) and to attempt to place another origin story into a saturated market would make no sense at all, therefore, taking elements from other books in the series as well will help speed along the story. Hopefully it won’t be a case of too many ingredients just thrown in with no time given to story or character development.

The Wardstone Chronicles

The other promising factor for Seventh Son is the acting talent attached to the project. Of course, Ben Barnes is relatively new but making steady progress in his career, however he is supported by Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, four time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and two time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou just for good measure. The director is Sergei Bodrov who is a Russian filmmaker who has twice had his features nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Prisoner of the Mountains, Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan). At one time Jennifer Lawrence was also attached to star, meaning that the script must have some merit to it. Now this is not to say that I think Seventh Son is going to clean up at the Oscars, far from it, but I do believe that with this talent on board there is definitely potential and it has more chance of being a good film than a bad one.

So it’s based on an acclaimed book series, has huge talent starring and directing, the trailer is action packed and exciting. So why would it be a surprise hit? Well first of all: it’s fantasy. And unless you happen to be bringing out a new Harry Potter film or The Hobbit then fantasy is a no go genre, that’s been proven time and time again. The trailer brings back memories to me of Black Death and Solomon Kane, two films I actually very much enjoyed but both fared poorly at the box office and with critics; when making fantasy you have to KNOW you have a hit, otherwise it’s all been a waste of time.

Other problems involve the dreaded moving of the release date. While it doesn’t sound like much the moving of a release date can be a sure fire signifier of a flop. In this case Seventh Son has been pushed back all the way from February this year to January next in the USA, I’m still skeptic that we’ll even get it in October in the UK. This move has been due to post production needing finishing, the same reason that The Lone Ranger is currently flopping on it’s stomach in the States (one of MANY reasons if early reviews are to be believed). This is not always the case, The Great Gatsby became a hit despite the moving of that release date but that has Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, Seventh Son does not.

Problems continue when you look further below the surface and see that the script has gone through a couple of rewrites. Again, never a good thing as when a script gets re-written you can see that the film has been dragged in several different directions by people who come on board with a separate view for the story and no respect for the work done by their predecessor (the most recent example of this being World War Z where the ending was rehashed). Even worse, Rhythm and Hues Studios who provide the visual effects for Seventh Son actually went bankrupt while working on the film; Legendary Pictures agreed to give $5million to the company to help them finish their work so this may or may not have hindered the project.

As you can see, Seventh Son is not without it’s problems. But upon it’s release people won’t be looking behind the screen at the difficulties the film has had getting there; they will be looking at the quality that is being presented to them. Ever since I first heard about this film I have been silently excited; the story, the genre and the theme is right up my street and something of a geeky pleasure for myself. I have been excited by the trailer and think that there is clearly plenty of potential here. To release on a quieter week in summer may have been a risk but it is one that could have paid off. Now, however, I can only see this being a flop and it pains me so much to say that.

UK Release Date: 4th July 2013

Stars: Dean DeBlois (director), Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kit Harington, America Ferrera.

Plot: Five years after the events of the first film, the once land locked Vikings are now on the backs of dragons and their world has become bigger. As Hiccup’s curiosity grows the map expands and the Vikings come across new people and new dragons, discovering a larger conflict between mankind and dragonkind which Hiccup is inevitably at the centre of.

With sequels to animated films being all the rage these days with the likes of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 it should come as no surprise that the universally adored How to Train Your Dragon is getting the sequel treatment (trilogy treatment really with a third installment slated for 2016 release). Out of the three original films (HTTYD, Monsters Inc. and Despicable Me) I felt that HTTYD was the weakest, but with the most potential for more stories to be told, leaving me with the feeling that this could be the best animated sequel since the Toy Story films.

However, the teaser trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2 doesn’t give a lot away. As has become something of a trend recently, this is just one sequence from the film put into two minutes just to give the audience a peek at their old friends.

As we can see Toothless and Hiccup are still working together and Hiccup is clearly advancing Viking technology at a great pace. A glimpse at the new teenage Hiccup is something for fans to get excited about as the changed between when the original film took place and this one should be an interesting point. I look forward to seeing more beautiful footage and finding out more plot details.

Monsters University Review

With Monsters University, Pixar attempts to take back the crown as the best animation studio out there, a title that seems to be swaying towards Illumination Entertainment after the success of Despicable Me and its recent sequel. To prove they have not lost their magic touch, Pixar have brought back a winning pair, second only in animation to Pixar’s own Woody and Buzz, Mike and Sulley. University looks at the events that forced the two loveable monsters together and what made them the record breaking team that we first met in Monsters Inc more than ten years ago.

“I’m gonna be a scarer!”

Returning characters Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), Sulley (John Goodman) and Randy (Steve Buscemi) are all back, joined by a host of new talent. The primary new characters are mature student Don (Joel Murray), Squishy (Peter Sohn), two headed monster Terri and Terry (Sean Hayes, Dave Foley) and the unpredictable Art (Charlie Day). These new monsters make up the fraternity Oozma Kappa, the fraternity that Mike and Sulley are forced to join in order to compete in Dean Hardscrabble’s (Helen Mirren) Scare Games to prove they have what it takes to be the best scarers on campus and win their place back in the University as a scaring major. But with personal rivalries and an overall lack of scariness about their new friends, will Mike and Sulley have what it takes? The answer seems almost predictable what with this being a prequel, but what’s important is the journey.

 

While Monsters Inc was arguably Sulley’s moment in the spotlight, University is all about Mike Wazowski. We’re introduced to the adorable one eyed monster as a child on a field trip to Monsters Incorporated where he gets his first glimpse at the scare floor and realises his ambition in life is to be working there in the future. This short opening sequence opens up a whole load of strings to Mike’s bow; he has an ambition, he has a background, he has room to grow and learn right from the off, and by the end of the film Mike Wazowski comes out on top as one of Pixar’s considerably best characters to date.

“I can’t go back to jail”

Sulley, however, does not come off that well: arrogant, cocksure and generally that guy in class who seems really big headed who nobody really likes. Saying that, though, watching Sulley and Mike’s friendship blossom over the course of the (near two hour) movie is something very enjoyable, even though at times it feels like Sulley doesn’t really deserve Mike’s friendship. It is not until the final sequence that he really earns any respect or likeability, but more on that sequence later.

 

Monsters University isn’t really any different to any other college movies, using tropes and plot points to move the story along in the expected fashion. But then occassionaly it veers off the path into the realm of the unknown. It would have been very easy to head straight towards the beginning of Monsters Inc but that’s not what Pixar went with; it would have been even easier to end with Oozma Kappa winning the Scare Games and everything having a happy ending but that’s not where they went either and credit has to go to Pixar for their wonderful storytelling.

“I’m going to wipe the floor with that little know-it-all”

The animation is wonderful. Everything is turned up by ten on the colour scales and the creativity to come up with so many different monsters is really unparallelled. If nothing else, this is beautiful to watch. Things take a darker (both in tone and aesthetics) turn when Mike and Sulley risk their lives journeying to the human world. This wonderful sequence brings the two characters together in a really heartfelt exchange of words and shows great comradery between the two as they work so well with one another to get the better of the humans, playing to each other strengths: highlighting the ups and downs of friendship being worth all that hassle if at the end the two parties come out stronger as one than they were on their own.

 

There seems to be an unwritten rule that if you laugh out loud five or more times at a comedy then it’s definitely worth recommending to someone else. I can’t remember a moment when I stopped laughing while watching Monsters University; there was joke after joke, all aimed at a midway between child and adult so that everyone could share in the joy. There were fantastic set pieces, big laughs and really tru touching moments of a bond forming between lifelong friends.

“You’re just not scary”

It seems unlikely that we’ll get another Monsters prequel and it’s probably best if we don’t get a sequel. Monsters Univeristy never quite matches the original but it compliments it wonderfully.

 

My Rating: 8/10

Now You See Me Review

A star studded cast embark on a game of cat and mouse as the FBI and Interpol attempt to catch four magicians who use the disguise of their magic show to conduct bank heists and give the stolen money to their audiences. This band of magicians are known as The Four Horsemen and are each solo artists brought together by a mysterious hooded figure and a series of tarot cards. When together the group pull off these bank heists as a way of being allowed entry to an exclusive group of magicians known as ‘The Eye’.

“The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see”

The film opens every bit as you might expect: introducing the four characters separately, allowing for the audience to quickly get to know them and acknowledge their traits before they are put into the group dynamic. Up first is street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) whose opening trick is cleverly conducted to work on the audience as well; then comes Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist who uses his ‘gift’ to find out dirty secrets about people and extort them of their money. The only female member of the group is Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), an escapologist and former assistant to J. Daniel Atlas. These three are joined by the only one of the magicians whose actual tarot card links to the Four Horsemen of mythology: Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) who seems to be more like a con artist than magician. These opening scenes are every bit as exciting as you would hope and introduce our heroes as being likeable characters, so much so that it has you gripped form the very beginning.

Jump one year later. Now we’re in Las Vegas watching the Four Horsemen put on a show under the watchful eye of benefactor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and magician defrauder Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Here it is that the magicians pull off the bank heist that gets them noticed by the FBI. However, what the audience will notice is just how long this scene drags out and unfortunately it isn’t the only one. As with the case with real life magic shows, the magicians tend to lengthen things out, giving long speeches and explaining what they’re going to do before they do something completely different. While this may be all fine and well at real magic shows, when you have less than two hours on a cinema screen some of the waffle has to be cut down.

“These guys, they’re tricky”

But then that’s why Jesse Eisenberg impresses the most. If it wasn’t for Eisenberg’s charisma then perhaps Now You See Me would run the risk of being slightly dull, but every time Eisenberg appears on screen he hastens up the pace (if not only for his fast talking) but he inhabits the character; it feels like Eisenberg is the only one who has done his research and knows about magicians… which isn’t really surprising considering he was the first name attached to the project.

The other horsemen each have their own moments of glory (although arguably Isla Fisher’s comes at the beginning and never really rears it’s head again) with Harrelson providing a few sporadic laughs throughout, while Dave Franco provides one of the most exciting sequences of the piece in a fight scene with FBI agent Mark Ruffalo where trick mirrors, slight of hand and playing cards all come into use. It really stands out as one of the best action scenes of the summer which is remarkable considering the strength and special effects of the other blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness.

“Want to know how they did it? Just say the magic word”

While each individual actor gets their moment in the limelight at one point or another, it is a slight downfall that the four central characters seem to have very little chemistry with one another. The conversations at times seem jarred and the jokes not as free flowing as you would expect. Perhaps the worst part of the film is the completely unbelievable relationship between Mark Ruffalo’s character and the Interpol agent played by Melanie Laurent. Even the two actors don’t seem invested in that storyline.

Throughout the film there are (almost too many) hints towards the fact that there is going to be a twist so part of the fun comes from guessing what that twist is going to be. There is a little foreshadowing throughout but the reveal should still come as a surprise. It’s a great idea, but arguably poorly executed which is where it is going to be let down. However, this is just a small problem compared to the plot holes scattered throughout the plot and the pointlessness of Michael Caine’s character.

“First rule of magic: always be the smartest guy in the room”

Had it been released at any other time of the year Now You See Me could have very easily run the risk of bombing in the box office. But this is summer and people expect certain things from a summer blockbuster: they want to laugh, be entertained, see great action sequences, wonderful set pieces and big budget effects. And that’s what Now You See Me can deliver. It has it’s flaws but all in all is a thoroughly enjoyable film that can be filed under ‘hit’ for director Louis Leterrier.

My Rating: 6/10

This is the End Review

The biggest, brightest and the most prolific stars of modern comedy films play half-real/half-fictional versions of themselves for the Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen directed This is the End. The major characters here are Rogen himself, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride who all attend a party at James Franco’s house. However, during the star studded party, the apocalypse hits and these actors must find a way to survive until they are granted their passage to Heaven.

“I don’t wanna die at James Franco’s house”

The film opens with the self-deprecating humour that will soon become familiar as Seth Rogen is asked about his performances in films and begged to do the ‘annoying’ Rogen laugh. This quickly becomes a theme after the apocalypse arrives as there are many jokes thrown around about some of the casts less successful outings such as Green Hornet, Spider-Man 3 and Your Highness, while also paying tribute to higher points in their careers with the mentions of Moneyball and 127 Hours. Right from the off it becomes clear that this cast has been put together to have fun, they’re not afraid to be themselves or heap criticism on themselves: a very self aware project that reaps the benefits.

 

For the opening act the show completely belongs to one person: Michael Cera. Although he usually plays himself in pretty much every film, Cera takes a step outside of his comfort zone to actually play ‘himself’ and shines as the source of laughter. His new bum slapping, coke fuelled personality is the major highlight of This is the End and Cera really digs in and let loose. This is just one of a number of cameos: Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Watson, David Krumholtz, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd and Channing Tatum (particularly surprising and hilarious) all included.

“We should make a sequel to Pineapple Express

What becomes clear is that this is not a film that is made for everyone. If you have no knowledge of Rogen’s or Franco’s career and friendship in particular, then this is not the film for you. One of the more frequent points in the film is this friendship and Franco’s love for Seth Rogen. And if you don’t like Pineapple Express (which everyone really should) then you are not going to reap the benefits of the hilarious ‘Pineapple Express 2‘ homemade sequel.

 

Every major character has their time in the spotlight, each being allowed to let loose, have fun and provide laughs. Jonah Hill, however, perhaps has the most stand out points which you can look at even out of the context of the whole film and enjoy: the Milky Bar scene, the exorcism and the incredibly camp gun scene. Everything he does is fantastic.

“Dear God, it’s me, Jonah Hill… from Moneyball

The end of the world may be a tired storyline but that only benefits This is the End. With no immediate or heavy concerns with storyline the (half-written) script is allowed to entertain on its own merits. The cast are allowed to live within themselves, push their exciting and over the top performance to the very limits all against the backdrop of destruction. There aren’t many scenes where the laughs die down and there certainly aren’t any jokes that misfire or fall flat.

 

You will either love it or hate it. This is one of those films. But if you know what’s good for you, you’ll love it.

 

My Rating: 8/10.