Tag Archive: woody harrelson


UK Release Date: 22nd November 2013

Stars: Francis Lawrence (director), Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Plot: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

Arguably the most anticipated film of the rest of the year, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer has just debuted at San Diego Comic Con and it looks fantastic! The original star studded cast has been improved and got even bigger than before for a film that is all but guaranteed to break a few records upon release later this year.

While The Hunger Games went down very well people have argued that the action moved at a pretty slow pace. As a follow up, this is unlikely to be the case again. Since Katniss and the incredibly annoying, never-going-to-be-good-enough-for-Katniss Everdeen, Peeta triumphed in the battle to the death, an uprising has begun around the Districts and the Capitol wish to put an end to any hope that might have stirred by making an example of the two heroes.

I’m sure that a reason will be established as to why all the previous victors don’t just kill the leaders of Capitol and really bring things home but despite that, there is a lot to be excited for and it won’t just be a rehash of the events of the first film (although a few parts seem familiar). There seems to be more drama, more action in the Districts, more Liam Hemsworth, and a lot more action. A real sense of human revolt can be felt and the trailer does an excellent job of exceeding all expectations.

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

UK Release Date: 22nd November 2013

Stars: Francis Lawrence (director), Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone

Plot: Katniss and Peeta are dethroned from their respective victory riches and are put back into the arena for the most climatic and menacing of the Hunger Games, known as the Quarter Quell.

Last year, The Hunger Games was one of the most anticipated releases as the best selling series of books were inevitably adapted for the big screen. It went on to gross just short of $700,000,000 worldwide and, despite positive reviews, I forgot that the sequel was even out this years. It’s safe to say I haven’t exactly been waiting for it.

I actually found The Hunger Games to be a bit slow paced and a tad boring at times. But Catching Fire looks to take the action to a whole new level and the trailer here is a terrific one. It’s going to build the excitement for anyone who saw the first film and fans of the books are going to wet themselves at just how good this will be.

The storyline does feel a little like clutching at straws, just putting the characters back in the arena again. But hey, that’s coming from the source material and that sold millions so who am I to tell them to do any different.

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.

 

‘Now You See Me’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013

Stars: Louis Leterrier (director), Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher

Plot: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

It’s a heist movie where the bank robbers are magicians and the detective is played by the Hulk, what more could you want? Now You See Me is obviously going to be compared to The Prestige upon its release and already is being compared on the internet which makes sense, The Prestige was also about magicians and is easily one of my favourite films of all time.

You can’t deny that Now You See Me has a very ‘prestigy’ feel to it; what with the teleporting device, the magicians, the woman trapped in a tank of water and the appearance of Michael Caine but there is enough here to justify that it is a very different type of film. It looks, to me, that Now You See Me is a lot lighter than The Prestige, as it would have to be to gain the box office it must be expecting with a summer release date and a cast full of stars.

I’m already looking forward to it. I enjoyed the trailer very much and Now You See Me looks like a fun film, that fun best summed up by Dave Franco’s half a second of trailer time in which he manages to fit in the trademark Franco smile. Eisenberg’s scene in which he escapes the handcuffs and gets them on to Ruffalo’s character is quick but incredible and it’s good to see they made the EVER so sensible choice of having Morgan Freeman do the voice over for the trailer. Bring on summer 2013!

After a few weeks that have been fairly quiet on the news front in terms of things that have grabbed my interest this week has exploded and there is a lot to catch upon.

First, let’s start with a small update on the Assassin’s Creed feature film that is being lined up (starring and produced by Michael Fassbender). This will no doubt gain more exposure when it starts filming as Assassin’s Creed is one of the most famous and popular video game franchises of the past few years. Assassin’s Creed has now seen production company New Regency team up with Ubisoft to get this project off the ground; an official statement has said that the movie is being fast tracked and they want to get it out as soon as possible, to the highest standards reachable. Good news as I would hate this one sit in pre-production for years!

Talking of films that have been in pre-production for years: Ghostbusters 3. Obviously, there have been rumours about Ghostbusters 3 knocking around for years but now Deadline are reporting that the studio are hoping to be able to start filming next year, with or without Bill Murray’s permission which has been holding them back so far. So roll on the fantasy casts for the new generation of Ghostbusters: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Matthew Gray Gubler and Emma Stone are being touted as possible leads.

It has been eleven years since the awful events that struck America. 9/11. And there have been a couple of films about the events, World Trade Center and United 93 and now it looks as though we are going to get another one. September Morn is a film that will detail the findings of the 9/11 Comission and Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner are all attached to star so far. But will a film about the findings of 9/11 really be wanted in America? Who knows.

So let’s round up the rest pretty quickly. The Hobbit is set for a December release this year and it has been released this past week that Stephen Colbert (Saturday Night Live) and the brilliant Jim Beaver (Supernatural) will be seen in cameo roles in the huge feature. A running time has also been quoted by Peter Jackson to be around 2 hours and 40 minutes, that’s a grand total of 160 minutes of Middle Earth adventure! Andy Serkis, fresh from directing the second unit on The Hobbit, is set to direct a motion capture film version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Serkis may also star in the film, nothing is confirmed yet, but he is clearly a great choice to direct after bringing such famous characters as Gollum and Caeser to life! And finally… Hugh Grant is set to return to his famous romantic comedy roles as he teams up with Music and Lyrics director Marc Lawrence again. No female lead has yet been signed on.

UK Release Date: 7th December 2012.

Stars: Martin McDonagh (director), Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko, Abbie Cornish

Plot: A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

Seven Psychopaths is a film I have had my eyes on for what seems like an eternity, I had been awaiting a trailer for months and then had to wait even longer for a release date for the United Kingdom to be announced before I uploaded this, but it is definitely worth the wait. This film sees McDonagh and Farrell team up once more after the successful In Bruges.

Farrell is pretty hit and miss but he stars in one of my favourite films (Pride & Glory) and I really like him and here he is alongside a very good cast given a brilliant offbeat story. Sam Rockwell is terrific, Christopher Walken is a proven great, Woody Harrelson never fails to put in a memorable performance and given a storyline that involves kidnapping dogs in order to make money from the rewards and then getting mixed up with gangsters after kidnapping the wrong dog can only lead to plenty of laughs!

And the trailer certainly looks promising. It seems as though Rockwell and Walken are going to get the majority of the comedy lines while Farrell is just along for the ride (despite being the main character). The trailer reminds me a little bit of Sideways in terms of how the comedy looks; it feels different, fresh, new and not too forced which has already made Seven Psychopaths a hit at preview screenings.

The only bad thing is that it is being released in December which is primarily Oscar time when all the big films come out (however in America Seven Psychopaths comes out in October). However, early talk is saying that Seven Psychopaths could be in the frame for a Best Original Screenplay nomination.

The Hunger Games: Reviewed.

***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***

The Hunger Games has been impossible to avoid over the past few weeks, maybe even months. Aside from the three big superhero films, The Hunger Games is probably the most anticipated film of the year. It has been adapted from Suzanne Collins’ worldwide best selling novel and directed by Gary Ross who is best known for The Tales of Despereaux and Seabiscuit.

The Hunger Games is set in the future; a future where teenagers are forced to compete as ‘tributes’ in ‘the Hunger Games’ where it is every man for himself and only the last man standing survives. These games are broadcast on televisions throughout each ‘district’ of the world. Katniss Everdeen is our hero and she volunteers to compete in the games in place of her sister.

The film relies a lot on the acting ability of Jennifer Lawrence who plays Katniss. Lawrence is an absolutely wonderful actress and she needs to be brilliant in this film to keep the audiences attention. Despite having a supporting cast that includes Josh Hutcherson, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson most of the scenes involve Katniss and require Jennifer Lawrence to hold the audience and she proves that she can do that.

It is a horrible world we are taken into that gives the audience a feel of the bleak future which our heroes inhabit. From the offset, even from the trailers, anyone with half a bran could predict the ending considering there are a couple more books (and probable films) to follow The Hunger Games. But it is the journey we go on that holds the audience, how everything unfolds, this is what we are interested in.

The visual elements of the film are spectacular and it is such a wide world in which events take place that the effects need to be perfect to really suck the viewers into the arena. From the fire in the forest to the spaceship flying above the district, the special effects are really powerful without distracting from other aspects of the film which is great as it the story could have easily been lost in the big wide world of The Hunger Games.

Katniss is a conflicted character in terms of film making. We are introduced to her as this strong, family kind of girl who sacrifices herself for her sister. Yet, as the film goes on, to me, she actually seemed like a weak person, completely opposite to what we were promised at the beginning. Whilst she proves that she is smart and adept with a bow and arrow, she still needs saving a couple of times and gets overruled by feelings inside the arena with a love story that really was not needed.

The poor character development is not unique to Katniss, however, and it is this that lets the film down in my opinion. Other characters are not given enough time to develop really and Josh Hutcherson’s character Peeta Mellark, I thought, was really really unlikeable and I was actually hoping that Katniss would kill him at the end of the film, but alas it was not meant to be.

The Hunger Games has proven successful with audiences already, opening to the third biggest weekend in history. It sets the foundation of the franchise and is an entertaining film, but character growth and strength of story hold back Jennifer Lawrence’s fantastic job in the lead role.

My Rating: 7/10

The Hunger Games

UK Cinema Release: 23rd March 2012

Okay, so I will admit I haven’t read the novels which the film is based on and I have no intention to, but the trailer makes The Hunger Games seem like a film I might be interested in.

The plot, what I can tell from the trailer, seems pretty basic. We have our hero, or heroine in this case: Katniss, played by the beautiful and talented Jennifer Lawrence. She is seemingly forced to run from her home and then forced to fight in these famous ‘Hunger Games’ as a representative of her district. Catch is, only one of the 24 competitors is allowed to survive. We’ve all seen similar stories before so we can guess the ending already. Katniss survives perhaps? But it is how she does it and what happens to her friends that will keep the audience interested.

The action scenes from the trailer don’t look too intriguing and the supporting cast don’t really seem to impress me either, albeit this is only a trailer, I imagine and hope that stronger performances are given in the actual film. But it will be interesting to see Jennifer Lawrence headlining a mainstream cinema release. She first came to mainstream attention as Mystique in X-Men First Class last year, despite being nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Winter’s Bone.

I look forward to seeing the movie and hopefully being entertained as it seems like a bit of a popcorn flick rather than a ‘thinker’.