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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

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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.

After a highly publicised problematic time in production which included delays to the release date, location changes, problems with the Hungarian government and new writers being hired to rewrite the ending, World War Z has finally been released in cinemas.

World War Z is a globe trotting apocalyptic action adventure about the human race’s battle for survival against the fast spreading disease turning people to zombies. At the centre of this ‘war’ is Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator who is forced to return to his old job to help locate the source and a cure for the disease in exchange for the safety of his family. Lane’s journey takes him all around the world, from South Korea to Israel and eventually to Wales where he hopes that he can find a way to prevent the disease from spreading any more than it already has done.

The film opens with a brief introduction to Gerry and his family life, his wife and two daughters providing the emotional attachment to the central character who identifies with the audience as this sympathetic family man. And about ten minutes later World War Z erupts with excitement and begins to roll at breakneck pace with the attack on Philadelphia setting the bar very high as the, albeit poorly CGI’ed, zombies launch a full scale attack and Marshall law is enforced. The Lanes manage to escape to an apartment block, where Pitt gets to excel in a more action oriented role and takes out several more zombies, before they are saved. And Pitt is eventually landed with the mission of saving the world.

So with the world’s hope weighing heavy upon his shoulders Pitt takes the journey to South Korea and things show no signs of slowing down. As soon as they step off the plane zombies arrive and death follows closely behind. Inside the safe haven Pitt receives information from a random prisoner who seems to have no purpose other than to make sure Pitt ends up going to Jerusalem (pretty convenient that he was there really). This prisoner also offers a really clever but subtle insight into how other countries are dealing with the epidemic: North Korea have extracted the teeth of all of its civilians to stop the disease spreading through bites.

In Jerusalem the battle wages on and on and here is where Pitt teams up with an annoyingly trigger happy Russian soldier played by Daniella Kertesz. The action here in Jerusalem is really exciting and the pace of World War Z never seems to let up even for a minute throughout the first hour. However, once on the plane (a really really fantastic scene somewhat ruined by the fact that it is in ALL of the trailers) the film seems to take a twist of direction and the pace slows and an attempt to inject some real drama replaces it; the only other signs of drama coming from Pitt’s on screen wife holding a telephone and hugging her children.

 

On the plane you get this sort of “previously on World War Z” segment where you are shown once more the bits that you thought were unimportant from the first half of the film and why they are important now, as Pitt cleverly pieces together the clues as they land in Wales (of all places) to put an end to the spreading of the zombie disease.

The final act which takes place in Wales is not at all bad, but it slows the pace so much that it seems a far cry from the beginning of World War Z. Here, suspense is built and the film begins to seem like it is being character driven rather than action driven with Pitt becoming a much more engaging character at the end that he has been before. There are some places in which it seems like the zombies don’t really pose a serious threat but these are made up for with some great fight scenes throughout and a genuine fear portrayed by other cast members.

There seems to be a growing argument around the internet that Damon Lindelof can not write a good ending. And with the climax quickly tied up in a not too neat monologue delivered by Pitt there seems to be more ammunition to fire at the writer. With a really entertaining first half, a slightly weaker but still engaging second half it is more than worth the poor ending. Brad Pitt’s proves that he alone can still be a box office draw and, even at fifty years old, the world is still a safe place in his hands.

 

My Rating: 7/10.

Man of Steel Review

In 2006, Warner Bros. and DC decided to reboot Superman (at the same time as tying it in to the original films) with the help of Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh. Despite doing well both critically and commercially (the ninth highest grossing film of that year worldwide) any plans of a sequel were put to rest as the studios bowed down to fans’ criticism of the film. The studios have thrown caution to the wind this time with a sequel already reportedly being worked on and Man of Steel setting the groundwork for Justice League.

“Where do I come from?”

Henry Cavill is Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman, sent to Earth during the destruction of his home planet of Krypton and raised on Earth by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). When what is left of the alien race return to Earth to find Clark and rebuild their own species from scratch, he is forced to choose between his heritage and his new home.

In something that has been given relatively little thought or sight on screen in recent years, Zack Snyder (the director being entrusted with the hopes and dreams of Justice League on his shoulders) plunges the audience right into Krypton’s destruction. The movie opens with some incredible special effects and a great sense of action as Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) come to blows over the future of their planet. Man of Steel sets the bar high for its action sequences with Jor-El and Zod engaging in the first real teaser of the super powered fights that we are anticipating seeing the red and blue of Superman engage in.

“What if a child aspired to something greater?”

On Earth the excitement continues to grow as we follow Clark around in a number of jobs, from fisherman to barman, in which we learn more about the character and his selflessness; he quickly races off to save a crew from a burning oil rig. His adult life is interrupted with trips back to his childhood: Clark saving his class from drowning on a school bus, being bullied for being different, coming to terms with his abilities. You get the impression that you might actually care about this alien. Then Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is introduced and all the groundwork laid so far beings to unravel.

Unfortunately, you can’t really have a Superman movie without featuring Lois Lane in some capacity. And while she may have served a purpose previously as bringing out another human layer to Clark’s character, in Man of Steel she is little more than an annoyance and one of the most pointless characters ever. There was no need for her to be taken aboard the Krypton spaceship, it didn’t seem like Zod had any needs for her to be on board other than so she could learn how to stop them from destroying Clark and Earth.

“Welcome to the Planet”

The character development that started so promisingly disappears when Clark meets Lois. Just two or three meetings later and Lois now knows everything about Clark and the two of them have decided that they are in love. It just feels so underwhelming and undeveloped that you being to question whether some scenes have been cut from the final edit. It’s as if Snyder and David S. Goyer (screenwriter) have decided that because everyone knows Lois and Clark are meant to be together, that’s a good enough reason in itself for it to happen without any seeds being set for a relationship. And the kiss at the end? Cliche and forced. The relationship could have been allowed time to grow and be explored if pointless scenes asking us to care about 2-bit characters who have had 5 minute screen time weren’t shoe horned in.

Despite all this, Man of Steel does offer some moments of relief. The fight scenes are incredible; one on one fights scaling over miles of ground. The enormous difference between humans and Kryptons is there for all to see. Superman’s flight, his heat vision, x-ray vision (underused) and heightened senses are all portrayed wonderfully and the special effects live up to the films early promise.

“I will find him!”

There are good performances all round, Kevin Costner makes a true return to form, providing a really great performance with limited screen time. Cavill, Crowe and Shannon all perform as well as the script allows as well. One of the main criticisms levelled at Man of Steel is the inevitable loss of human life that seems to not affect Superman and this cannot be ignored.

We’re supposed to believe that Superman, of all superheroes, this moral beacon of justice and hope, is okay with charging through petrol stations, diving through skyscrapers and pummeling his way around a small town is doing this and giving no thought to the innocent people inside all these buildings that are going to die because of his actions? I don’t buy that. And when SPOILER Superman does kill someone, he has a few seconds to regret it before being rushed off screen so the end credits can take his place.

“What do you think?”

Overall, Man of Steel does provide entertainment, that much is certain. The special effects and big budget moments are really worth seeing. But it adds nothing new to Superman that hasn’t been seen before, leaving the unanswerable question: what was the point? Cavill has the potential to be the best Superman ever, but he needs a good script and brilliant story in the sequel to attain this.

My Rating: 6/10.

The Big Wedding Review

In a comedy film titled The Big Wedding you wouldn’t be thought of as crazy to expect at least one of two things: a big wedding and/or some good jokes. If this is what you’re expecting then you are in for a major shock by the time the end credits begin to roll.

At the centre of The Big Wedding is Alejandro’s (Ben Barnes) marriage to Missy (Amanda Seyfried). Alejandro is adopted and his biological mother is a devout Catholic, therefore when it is announced that the biological mother is to attend the wedding Alejandro’s adopted parents, Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton), are forced to pretend that they are still married, despite the fact they have been divorced for over ten years. Oh the fun that could come from this, right? Wrong!

The film opens with a quite misguided attempt at humour as we are introduced to the three main(?) characters, Don, Ellie and Don’s new girlfriend/Ellie’s best friend, Bebe (Susan Sarandon). The majority of backstory is thrown out of the window early on as the film focusses on introducing the main characters, trying to use humour to get the audience on side: there are no funny moments in this opening sequence, nor in Alejandro and Missy’s meeting with the vicar (Robin Williams), nor in Lyla’s (Katherine Heigl) introduction. You can just about force a laugh when Alejandro’s virgin brother (Topher Grace) is introduced.

The Big Wedding seems to be an experiment as to how much recycled comedy you can put into one film: the storyline seems to be very 80s style humour, the characters have all been seen before and offer nothing new to the storyline, and almost every story beat is predictable, despite how unpredictable the writer/director thinks he is being. Add all of this to the fact that almost none of the characters are really likeable then you know what you’re in for: an hour and a half of wishing the movie is going to take one almighty twist in which the wedding gets attacked by a nuclear weapon. This, unfortunately, never happens.

Early on there seem to be some promising aspects with Heigl and Grace’s interaction being the main source of genuine laughs but this soon fades away and is forgotten about as they have very little interaction at all after the first twenty minutes. A lot of the time, even in a bad comedy you can see what the film is attempting to do, you can see the potential. There isn’t even any real smidge of potential here, however.

The characters are, on the whole, very unlikeable; the plot is completely predictable for the most part; the acting is very poor, in particular Ben Barnes, while Amanda Seyfried is completely wasted in a nothing role; and the dialogue feels horribly forced and back to front.

The Big Wedding tries so hard to load in multiple story lines and in a last ten minutes that feels so rushed, these story lines are given very little time to come to natural solution and the films seems to jerk awkwardly towards the finishing line: this makes The Big Wedding, in actuality, seem more like a big waste of money.

My Rating: 3/10.

Killer Joe (2011) Review

McConaisance: when an actor famous for being the butt of many a jokes due to the nature of his films decides, for some unbeknownst reason, to season his career with incredibly serious roles…and actually does it well. Back in 2011, this is exactly what Matthew McConaughey did: along with The Lincoln Lawyer, Killer Joe helped transform McConaughey’s career in a matter of months and left audiences completely bewildered at the ‘new’ actor.

“If you insult me again, I will cut your face off and wear it over my own. Do you understand?”

When Chris (Emile Hirsch) has his stash of drugs stolen by his own mother, he concocts a plan with his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden church) and inconsequently his younger sister, Dottie (Juno Temple) to kill his own mother and cash in on her $50,000 life insurance. To do so, Chris gets in contact with ‘Killer’ Joe Cooper (McConaughey), a detective who moonlights as a contract killer. The agreement turns complicated when unexpected events occur and Joe takes a shine to Chris’ younger sister as collateral.

Right from the off, Killer Joe sets itself apart from any other film, introducing quite possibly the most dysfunctional family in the world as Chris is kicked out of his mother’s house and forced to stop with his father and step-mother (Gina Gershon) after, we suspect, beating up his mum. The rain batters down on the ground and sets the mood for the rest of the film. We are quickly rushed into a strip club for a conversation that should probably be happening not in a public place, but this is the second clue that Killer Joe is going to be exciting, different and anything but what you expect.

“This is going to get done, one way or another.”

McConaughey is soon introduced and as soon as he appears he steals the show completely. Long gone is the man who made his career by taking his top off (although he does have a couple of scenes with his torso on show) and making dodgy romantic comedies. He carries the film with so much intensity; no longer a joke but now someone who can genuinely scare you. The character of Joe Cooper is an interesting and complex one and McConaughey brings him to life perfectly, you won’t want to take your eyes off him for a second, even if you don’t agree with everything that he does.

McConaughey is supported by a really fantastic cast who all more than hold their own. Emile Hirsch as a kid with a lot of front but no real guts is great, Thomas Haden Church does a really understated job but Juno Temple is the other star of Killer Joe. As the annoyingly cute and naive Dottie, you really warm to her character as she seems like the innocent victim here when Joe decides that until he gets paid he’s going to be keeping Dottie’s bed warm.

“Why don’t you do us all a big favor and just go kill yourself?”

There are real horrific moments in Killer Joe: it’s an incredibly brutal, morally questionable story but handled so well by director William Friedkin. Some of the scenes are particularly hard to watch from a moral standpoint but the film does a wonderful job of pulling you in that you are willing to be shocked and willing to be, at times, disgusted. At the same time there are jokes planted throughout the script that bring a darkly comic feel to the tone and make you feel guilty for even considering laughing due to the nature of the film.

Killer Joe is adapted from a play and that comes across. There’s a small cast which is often confined to houses and shacks to really constrain the story. All of this is handled with so much intensity, every thing that happens will have your heart pounding. The dialogue is delivered (once again by McConaughey in particular) in a manner that is just so addictive, characters are so interesting that you have no choice once you start watching but to get to the end. And the end is one hell of an ending that will leave you thinking for hours to come.

“Your eyes hurt.”

One of the best films I have ever seen.

My Rating: 10/10.

Bad Teacher (2011) Review

Believe it or not Cameron Diaz has been nominated for four Golden Globes during her career. However, it is less surprising to find out that these nominations came earlier in her career and her last one was actually in 2002 for Gangs of New York. Since then, she’s been more miss than hit with the likes of What Happens in Vegas, Knight and Day, The Green Hornet and The Box (called the worst movie ever upon release) all being panned by critics and shunned by audiences. When released in 2011, Bad Teacher made substantial profit grossing over $200million, but does the film warrant the commercial success?

The short answer is “no”. The longer answer is “no way!”. Cameron Diaz is the titular bad teacher Elizabeth Halsey who we meet leaving the school after just a year to get married to a really rich man so she never has to work again. However, when she returns home from school her fiance ditches her for that very reason and she is forced to return to her job as a teacher, the only thing she knows how to do (so how bad she is at everything else is anyone’s guess).

Elizabeth Halsey is arguably the worst ‘protagonist’ ever to grace the screen. She is a wholly unlikeable character and the combination of horrible writing and Diaz’s ‘sex sells’ performance make you beg for her comeuppance, which unfortunately never arrives (another flaw in the film after the lengths she goes through). But whoever thought that a gold-digging bimbo whose only ambition in life is to get a boob job and be lazy is a likeable character needs to be seriously punished.

When Halsey returns to the school we are introduced to Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) who seems to be an all round nicer character than Halsey and a moral compass in a world of wholly messed up characters (minus the gym teacher played by Jaseon Segel). However, about half way through Bad Teacher, the story changes and you end up disliking Amy Squirrel, meaning you are left with two horribly poor characters to watch in a tussle that you really could not care less about.

There are more laughs than expected but they fall well short of memorable. In fact, the only reason that they are funny could well be because they are placed against this canvas of nothingness. The children, or even Diaz’s interactions with the children, should be a source for much of the comedy but nothing is really ever made of this. There are references to other things that will be lost on many audiences.

Bad Teacher is a slightly entertaining joyride that seems to be cashing in on Cameron Diaz’s attempts to still look sexy. A few jokes hit the spot but the majority leave a horrible rotting taste in your mouth.

My Rating: 4/10.

epic Review

Epic. Never has a summer blockbuster been so ambitiously named. After one of the most exciting and visually astounding trailers of the year so far, anticipations are set high for the latest Blue Sky outing. With a voicing cast including the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Jason Sudeikis, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz and Beyonce Knowles, could the one hour, forty minute journey into the forest live up to the hype of a two minute trailer?

On the one day in a hundred years where Tara (Knowles), Queen of the forest, is set to select her heir an evil group known as the Boggans, led by Mandrake (Waltz) intend to kill her and destroy the forest in order to take complete control. The Leafmen are the group charged with the order of stopping the Boggans but in particular the soldiers that have to carry that weight belong to the incredibly uncharismatic Ronin (Colin Farrell) and rookie Nod (Hutcherson) with the help of a human girl, M.K (Seyfried) who gets shrunk down to two inches tall Alice in Wonderland style in order to save the forest.

No time at all is wasted in introducing the miniature world of the forest and the ongoing battle as three birds tussle in the sky with Nod and the little bird that he rides. Then the real life sized world comes into play with M.K arriving to live with her mad scientist father (Sudeikis) and you get the feeling that there is going to be a strong father-daughter relationship at the centre of this animated war film but when it ends there seems to be a great gaping hole where the human emotion of the film should have been.

It’s a film that lacks any intensity at all. For a film where the whole of the forest seems to be at stake you would expect that there is at least going to be a huge battle at the end but alas, this is not the case. The one time you think you will get to see a huge fight it is cruelly ripped away from you and you are forced to travel with the more boring companions on the quest.

There is a little humour provided in the form of a slug and a snail voiced by Aziz Ansari and the wonderful Chris O’Dowd respectively. And there’s a nice little musical number about halfway through the film in an attempt to lift the film more upbeat from its second act which is certainly lacking any determination at all.

The only thing that comes remotely close to being epic are the brief action sequences. The animation during the fight scenes does stand out as some of the best animation in recent years and the action scenes are full of potential and wouldn’t look out of place in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (although the fact that its animated might make it stick out a little).

There are some laughs, good fight scenes and another great (if underused) turn by Christoph Waltz. You cannot doubt that Epic will find an audience as it is enjoyable at times, but it does feel someone’s followed a dot-to-dot for making a children’s animated film and decided to miss out the dots that contain heart and emotion.

My Rating: 6/10

With the introduction of Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five, this franchise cemented its place as a must see film among the summer blockbusters; something for die hard action fans. After the commercial and critical success of the fifth installment it left fans wondering just how Fast & Furious 6 would top it? The solution: add a tank, add an aeroplane, bring back Michelle Rodriguez and just generally up the stakes. So what of the result?

“Give them a reason to stay.”

Fast & Furious 6 struggles to find its feet for a while, it’s as if the franchise isn’t quite sure how to better itself or what direction to take. Is it supposed to up the ante with the action sequences or focus on the family side of things and Brian O’Conner’s (Paul Walker) newborn baby. As a result the two strands of action and emotion are ruthlessly combined and don’t quite pack the punch expected, leaving Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and, most surprising of all, Tyrese Gibson to help the film pull through and come out well on the other side.

Enter Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). As Hobbs (the retuning Johnson) reliably informs us, he has been chasing Shaw and his crew across 12 countries stretching over four continents. Right from the off these are set up as some big time criminals, meaning that Hobbs has to put a team together capable of catching criminals like these. And the only team good enough is led by Dom Turetto (Diesel). When Roman (Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) return there is no time for reacquaintance as they are introduced to their target and the real reason Dom has agreed to play for the law this time round: Letty (Rodriguez) is still alive.

“I can reach out and break you whenever I want”

Soon enough the slow emotional parts of the film are eased out and instead of being told “we’re a family”, “you’re a family” over and over again, the real action begins. The team find themselves in London, racing through the streets of the English capital (although how anyone manages to elicit an illegal street race through the center of London is anyone’s guess) and the fights fly. The pick of the bunch early on is seeing Rodriguez go toe to toe with new addition Gina Carano.

The cars get faster, the action gets better and the stunts get bigger throughout and appears to peak in the incredible tank sequence; taking out cars is one thing but when there’s a criminal mastermind manning a tank, firing a cannon down the motorway and not afraid to crush however many innocent people it takes, then it’s going to be difficult going. And just when you think the story is coming to an end it takes another turn…

“This is something we don’t do”

And you end up on what must be the longest runway in the world with Shaw attempting to flee via a plane and Toretto’s crew not having any other option than to bring it down! That’s right… taking out a flying plane with just a handful of cars and Dwayne Johnson’s muscles. The adrenaline pumping finale takes all the worries you had and politely tosses them out as you’re sucked into the exciting ending where the stakes are higher than ever!

The one thing the Fast & Furious franchise has lacked so far in its existence has been that a real defining villain has never really been seen. Shaw has all the makings of it: he’s emotionally cold, he’s as intelligent (if not more so) than our heroes and he’s physically able to hold par with anyone, as seen brilliantly in his brief fight with O’Conner. However, when you leave the screening not really knowing what the villain’s plan was all along, then something has clearly gone wrong. The potential was never reached with Shaw.

“Maybe the Letty we once knew is gone”

But if the post/mid/beginning credits teaser was anything to go by, Fast & Furious 7 will have the real villain it deserves.

My Rating: 7/10