Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

More 'Inception' mash-up trailers, there are so many out there and I am slightly hooked...

Okay, last week I put up some mash-up trailers of Inception (2010) with Pixar films, here are even more mash-up trailers featuring Inception audio, and it's incredible just how many there are, well at least it would be were it not for the fact that it is YouTube, and everything ends up on there.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-3)...

It's not bad, but I just wish one and only one of the three installments would be used instead of bits of all three.

Titanic (1997)...

I have to say this is one of my favourites, as the visuals of the scenes of the ship's sinking seem just like the kind of nightmare scenario the characters of Inception would find themselves dreaming.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)...

Jurassic Park (1993)...

What I really dislike about this one is the inconsistency - at various stages three different characters get Leonardo DiCaprio's lines, MAKE UP YOUR MIND AND STICK WITH ONE!!!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)...

Let's just say this looks a little too cheesy for my taste.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)...

Peter Pan (1953)...

Avatar (2009)...

This is possibly the best one due to the visuals alone!

Harry Potter, films four, five, six and eight (2005/7/9/2011)...

With about two seconds from the epic finale, which isn't out for another fifteen days (yes, I'm counting down I am that excited), at 1:33 - that little bit of footage was in the original trailer for the two part finale (2010/1) which was released a couple of months before Inception - what I hate about this one is that they just can't choose one film and stick with it.

The Simpsons Movie (2007)...

In my view this is also one of the best ones due to almost perfect lip-syncing, and excellent use of imagery in shots of security devices, as well as the Epiphany sequence.

In short, there are numerous Inception mash-ups on YouTube. Some work brilliantly, others struggle to reach mediocrity, there probably isn't a perfect one out there, but it's still a great way to spend an hour on YouTube!



Years after the murder of his brother (Matt Gerald), Driver (Dwayne Johnson) sets out to get revenge by killing all those involved in the incident, during which time he is pursued by a nameless hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen).

The title Faster and the lead being Johnson automatically makes you assume you're about to view a below par guns and car chase action thriller. Yes, the film features guns and car chases, but also a fairly substantial driving force behind it, as well as emotion, making this one of the better films of Johnson's career.

In terms of the art direction of action sequences we are offered one very slick car chase in particular through a busy road with Driver driving the getaway car from a robbery (in a flashback scene) with several cop cars in pursuit. Through very quick and precise cutting of shots, as well as fast and well created shots of the getaway car's manuevrability we are offered a thrilling, edge of your seat chase, both thrilling to watch and very impressive visually. As for the scenes with guns, they don't fail to both shock and impress as fast, well-timed editing results in them coming out quickly, boldly and, best of all, unexpectedly, in what prove to be quite graphic scenes dominated by Johnson.

Ultimately it is the emotional story that makes this a good film. Driver's quest to kill the entire network of criminals behind his brother's death and who almost killed him is consistently emotional, full of power and determined driving force, thanks to a performance from Johnson that isn't great acting by any shot, but is gritty and dominates his scenes thanks to general boldness.
The most emotional part comes when Driver tracks down one who has become a Christian and a travelling Evangelist in the last few years (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). As an Evangelical Christian I was touched as this scene is a great reminder that anybody can be changed through Christ and is even a reminder of the Inheritance of God's Kingdom when the Evangelist prays for Driver, forgives him in advance for killing him and then accepts his fate knowing he is going home to a perfect eternity, and this frankly unexpected twist makes the film for me.

Unfortunately the film's grit and substance deteriorates in the last 20 minutes in what proves to be some dragged out screentime filled with dull dialogue and poorer performances, especially in the forced performance from Jackson-Cohen, who gives one of the film's worst performances, not least because you can't tell if his accent is a weak Australian or an overly-posh English (turns out he is English in real life so it was the latter). As for the ending, it may be graphic, but it is a bit of an anti-climax. Don't let this put you off though, as this is a generally gritty, interesting and sometimes moving piece of film. It's not great, but definetly worth watching.

Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Moon Bloodgood, Maggie Grace, Tom Berenger, Carla Gugino, Mike Epps, Lester Speight, Xander Berkeley, Jennifer Carpenter, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Matt Gerald, Courtney Gains.

Teen Choice Award nomination: Choice Movie Actor: Action (Dwayne Johnson).

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

That respect I have been regaining for DreamWorks in the last two years - it's going again...

Post-Shrek 2 (2004) DreamWorks Animation were miss with all their films pre-Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), the only exceptions being Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and Kung Fu Panda (2008). Since then it has been straight hits, the nearest to a miss being Shrek Forever After (2010). I haven't seen Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) yet, but intend to within the next fortnight, and if it's as good as many critics have said it is then it will be a hit.

Now, let's think, why, were there so many misses post-Shrek 2/pre-Monsters vs. Aliens? It's simple, they were trying too hard to release at least two films a year - most likely an attempt to make arch-rival Pixar look inferior - without working hard enough on the screenplays of said films. 2009 only saw Monsters vs. Aliens released, which they "made up for" in 2010 with How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After and Megamind, the first and third of which had strong screenplays, the middle of the three being the most flawed, but only just falling short of its fourth star, but just managing to scrape hit status.

My respect has started to dwindle after seeing this. This is a list of all their upcoming films (copied as the image below), most of which have only been given simple premises, and that doesn't include How to Train You Dragon 3, which is set to be made. This included we are looking at 25 upcoming films.Puss in Boots has been in the works for a few years now, and will be DreamWorks money maker this Christmas season; as has Madagascar 3. It's no surprise How to Train Your Dragon is getting its sequels, as it is one of DreamWorks best films to date, plus there are nine books in the source material series. As for The Penguins of Madagascar: The Movie - well, they are the most popular part of the franchise, so it is understandable. As for the rest it looks like DreamWorks are once again trying to make too many films at once, and seeing as they were all announced by June 2011 that means they should all be released by 2018, which means we'll be looking at five films a year (roughly).
Of course some could end up being cancelled like Pixar's Newt, but I honestly can't see it as the only "cancellation" was when they decided not to make Shrek 5 after the release of Shrek the Third (2007), after initially announcing they would make five. They are highly unlikely to back down, and we are most likely going to be offered numerous films struggling to get past mediocrity. I guess all we can do is wait, hope and see...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron


Kiger Mustang Spirit (Matt Damon) is the head of the Cimarron herd. One day, however, he is captured by a Colonel (James Cromwell), who intends to tame him, against the wishes of Native American Little Creek (Daniel Studi).

Although this is an animation aimed at a family audience (which includes under-fives) this breaks away from the traditional guidelines of hero, villain and damsel. Spirit isn't a hero, rather an image of beauty and grace, drawn beautifully, with the galloping sequences graceful in design and bold in colour. Little Creek also is no hero, while the Colonel is no villain, rather both are representations of different attitudes to the beauty and grace of the wild animal and nature. Little Creek represents one who recognises that beauty and grace are not to be quenched, while the Colonel represents greed, as he yearns to have a horse such as Spirit all to himself, and this is a very neat contrast in characters.

Coupled with the characters to make this a good film are the wonderful visuals, which truly capture the grace and beauty of a horse in gallop and of a bald eagle in flight, thanks to careful drawing and close attention to detail. The film's pace plods at some points due to the lack of dialogue, therefore lack of character development, plus a build-up to a happy, anti-climactic ending. However, this is still a quite interesting film and a visual beauty, worth a viewing for the whole family.

Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi, Chopper Bernet, Jeff LeBeau, Richard McGonagle, Matt Levin, Robert Cait, Charles Napier, Zahn McClarnon, Michael Horse, Donald Fullilove.

Oscar nomination: Best Animated Feature (Jeffrey Katzenberg).

Sunday, 19 June 2011

'Inception' mash-ups with Pixar films

The films of Pixar couldn't be much more different to Inception (2010), but keep on watching as it is amazing how many mash-up trailers can be made with Inception audio and Pixar visuals. Some work better than others, let's take a look...

Firstly, is the mash-up with Up (2009)...

Secondly, is the mash-up with Monsters, Inc. (2001)...

I feel this one uses too little Inception dialogue, but the Monsters, Inc. sequences chosen are ones that you could just imagine being in an Inception dream.

Thirdly, is the mash-up with WALL-E (2008)...

Fourthly, is the mash-up with The Incredibles (2004)...

Fifthly, is the mash-up Finding Nemo (2003)...

This one has the weakest ending, and the fact they used Finding Nemo dialogue almost ruins it, however it was the perfect dialogue to use when you think about what Inception is about.

Sixthly, is one of the mash-ups with Toy Story 3 (2010)...

Although the use of visuals is brilliant it is ruined for me by the fact we have nothing but Toy Story 3 dialogue.

Seventhly, is another, superior, mash-up with Toy Story 3...

Those are just seven of over a dozen mash-ups with Pixar films, and seven of countless Inception mash-ups. For more, just go to YouTube. Anyway, personally I consider The Incredibles the best. Which one do you consider the best though?

Friday, 17 June 2011

Trailers for Summer 2011's (presumably) Three Biggest Films - thoughts...

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount Pictures; Dir. Michael Bay)

Looking at the trailer it seems we are going to be offered excellent visuals, and maybe even the odd moments of entertainment here and there, similarly to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). But what it seems we have is a flashing lights show with no substance to it, and how stupid is the idea that the Moon landings only happened over some robots? And also what does Rosie Huntington-Whiteley seem to do other than stand there and look gorgeous?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Warner Bros.; Dir. David Yates)

The last decade has seen seven Harry Potter films (2001-10), and it all leads up to this conclusion, which looks to be epic scale stuff visually, but also a very emotional and powerful story as well. That first part of the trailer showing Lily (Geraldine Somerville) saying goodbye basically to baby Harry is very moving, as is the part where Sirius (Gary Oldman) promises that they will stay with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe). I can't wait for this epic conclusion, and will probably cry when its over as Harry Potter has been a big part of my life for over a decade.

Cars 2 (Walt Disney Pictures/ Pixar Animation Studios; Dir. John Lasetter, Brad Lewis)

Cars (2006) was Pixar's weakest film, but the biggest money maker when it comes to merchandise, so Cars 2 would naturally have to come along at some point. Having seen all four trailers for this film it looks like it will be an improvement on the original, but slightly too daft to be up there with recent outstanding films Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010).

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Another New Poll...

With the epic conclusion of the Harry Potter franchise (2001-2011) out next month now's your chance to say which is the best/your favourite in the series so far. Seven films. One choice. Which will you choose?

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit


With the annual Giant Vegetable Competition only days away a monstrous Were-Rabbit strikes the town's greenhouses and vegetable plots, resulting in Wallace (Peter Sallis) and Gromit to be tasked with capturing the monster. However, the monster may be nearer to home than the loveable duo think.

Having made their debut in the Oscar winning short film A Grand Day Out (1989) it was no surprise that the claymation duo would get their own feature length film, and what a brilliant piece of film making it is. The premise is fairly simple, and before you see it you do wonder how an entire hour and a half can be centred around a Giant Vegetable Competition and a Were-Rabbit of all monsters. Well, what we get is a child friendly horror, that is rather more a wonderful blend of physical and verbal comedy, but at the centre of which is a message of just how important true friendship is.
The verbal comedy has everything from simple answers, most memorably when Wallace says he'll catch such a big beast "with a big trap"; puns on vegetables - a Were-Rabbit can only be killed with "a 24-carrot gold bullet"; and rabbit jokes - "the buck stops here".
As for the visual and physical gags we are offered everything from slightly risque, yet hilarious, innuendos for a family film; church setting ups of such visual laughs - when antagonist Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes) stands in front of a pole with hooks on it in the church he looks as if he has devil horns; wonderfully done blink-and-you-miss-them references to the first three Harry Potter films (2001-4), and a wonderfully more substantial reference to Psycho (1960) that gets a comic twist of chopping carrots; and deliciously absurd moments you can't help but fall about laughing at - Victor's Bull Terrier Philip breaks his tough nutter image during a fight between himself and Gromit on a toy biplane when he pulls out a flowery coin purse, in a wonderfully absurd gag where you actually have to blink to believe it; and Mrs Mulch (Liz Smith) is so startled by a rabbit that she spits out her front teeth, which knock it, in a wonderfully absurd and cartoonesque gag.

The gags, however, never distract from the wonderful claymation creation offered up to us. Every little detail of this film is wonderfully sharp, and comes together like a fantastic work of art, which is even more impressive when one takes into account that the claymation humans are never more than about eight inches tall on set. It is bright, colourful and visually very eye-catching in all places, although, the most memorable claymation creation is undoubtedly Gromit. The mute character, the dog who doesn't even bark, has more persoality than any other character thanks to the wonderful range of facial expressions he is given, that range from everything from scared, to angry, to upset, and he even rolls his eyes several times.

The rest of the characters are as memorable as they are mainly thanks to their wonderful voices. Sallis brings much warmth and friendliness to Wallace, as well as comical excitement to Hutch, a half-rabbit/half-human Wallace accidentally creates through mind alteration. As Lady Tottington, Helena Bonham Carter brings much dignity and captures the posh Brit type down to a tee; while Fiennes brings much cold malice to Victor, as well as wonderful delivery to the scenes where Victor gets comically angry. Other memorable cast members are Nicholas Smith, who brings great anxiety to the panicky Reverend Hughes; Peter Kay, who brings lovely comic cheek to PC Mackintosh; and Liz Smith who captures the old battleaxe type to a tee in Mrs Mulch, but also makes the character's softer scenes very, very believable and endearing in a wonderful contrast.

At the heart of it all though we have a message that is that true friendship can conquer anything and is more important than we could ever give it credit for, thanks to the unbreakable bond of love between Wallace and Gromit that will capture hearts and may even raise a slight tear, particularly towards the end. With these elements and many more combined this is one of the strongest films of 2005, and the best film to have been distributed by DreamWorks to date. A film that all the family will love and watch again and again. I love it so much I saw it three times at the cinema in less than a month when it first came out, and have watched it many more times since then.

Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Smith, Peter Kay, Liz Smith, Edward Kelsey, Dicken Ashworth.

Oscar: Best Animated Feature (Nick Park, Steve Box).

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' - Character Posters

With barely more than a month till the release of the epic conclusion, Yahoo Movies put up these character posters for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), showing the characters in battle/action mode. First things first, if you haven't read the book then stop reading this post as I will be making some major spoilers as I analyse the emotional arcs of the respective characters and how these posters represent what their parts in the final film shall involve.

As the titular character Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has had the biggest emotional arc of them all, from his initial shock at becoming a wizard, to the awkward teenage years, to the relationships with his friends, to his epic drive and determination to destroy the Horcruxes and kill Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). This poster shows only a small part of that gritty determination he has, which is what has driven him in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) and I'm sure will in this film.

In his fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters there are many Harry is fighting to avenge - his parents (Adrian Rawlins and Geraldine Somerville), who Voldemort killed when Harry was a baby; Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), whom Voldemort ordered Wormtail (Timothy Spall) to kill in the fourth film (2005); his godfather Sirius (Gary Oldman) whom Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) killed in the fifth film (2007); his mentor Dumbledore (the late Richard Harris in the first two films - 2001/2; Michael Gambon from film three - 2004 - onwards) whom Snape (Alan Rickman) kills in the sixth film (2009); Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) whom Voldemort kills in the seventh film; his owl Hedwig who is killed by a random Death Eater in film seven; Dobby (Toby Jones) who Bellatrix kills in film seven; and several others close to him who shall die by the final climactic showdown between Harry and Voldemort.

It's a very personal motivation for Harry to kill Voldemort, and his whole life has built up to it, and as you can tell by the poster Harry will fight passionately and with true grit in order to fulfill the prophecy of film five.

Particularly since the fourth film, Ron (Rupert Grint) has been the comic relief of the trio. However, in the seventh book/seventh and eighth films, Ron shows just how serious and loving he can truly be. Alright, he had issues in the first two-thirds of film seven, but he overcame them to save Harry's life and destroy a Horcrux. He has unconditional love for Harry and Hermione (Emma Watson) after all they have been through together, and he is also driven by his love for his family and his fear of losing them, and after all of the death and suffering that he, like Harry, has seen from the end of film four onwards, and also knowing that Voldemort's Death Eaters killed two of his uncles - mentioned in the books only - it is only natural that he is motivated to fight like hell for his friends, his family and his life, and it would be an insult if he didn't.

The brains of the trio from the start, Hermione's part in the fight against Voldemort shows just how far she has come in seven years at Hogwarts. From a bookworm afraid of breaking school rules, to going out into the big wide wizarding world, abandoning her final year of Hogwarts and duelling Death Eaters like there is no tomorrow, there is no denying that this poster shows a totally different Hermione to the one we first saw all those years ago. Her expression also shows both how much hurt and suffering she has seen has started affect her, as well as the fact that her part in the final fight is personal due to her Muggle ancestry, with Voldemort and his Death Eaters having killed numerous Muggles.

Voldemort's backstory of how he was an orphan named Tom Riddle, who first killed upon meeting his Muggle father and grandparents who had abandoned his mother, therefore causing his hate for Muggles, has always been a very interesting one. Having encountered Harry several times and each time failing to kill him, it has driven Voldemort to finally vanquish the one meant to kill him and he doesn't care who gets in the way. It's personal to him and is surely the reason he is as angry as he is in this poster, as by the finale of the series almost all of his initial coolness had gone, which is no surprise when you think he is the most powerful dark wizard of all time and he has been unable to kill this one teenager who hasn't even finished school.

Ultimately the character with the most complex arc and backstory, this final film will reveal the full story behind Severus Snape, in a journey which has taken a large emotional toll on him and has made him one of the bravest characters of all. By now he surely wishes it all to end and this poster shows in his face alone the emotional aspect of it all for him.

The most loyal and sadistic of all Voldemort's Death Eaters, it has always been clear that Bellatrix won't hesitate to kill anybody who stands in her way, and the emotion shown in the poster shows that she will charge into battle alongside her master, even into death. And the cold malice in her face shows that she truly cares not how many casualties there are along the way as all her years as a Death Eater have made her one of the most cold-hearted people imaginable, who takes joy in seeing suffering.

Neville (Matthew Lewis) has come a long way from that shy kid who struggled with simple magic. In the fourth book we learn that his parents were great Aurors tortured to insanity by Death Eaters when Neville was an infant, and in the fifth Neville becomes truly motivated to learn defensive magic for battle after Bellatrix (one of his parents' torturers) escapes from Azkaban. This poster shows Neville as it should - determined and with a big part to play in the finale. For Neville this battle is his chance to avenge his parents, and make the once great Aurors truly proud.

Draco (Tom Felton) has always been the most reluctant of the Death Eaters, due to the constant fear he has knowing that his pledge of allegiance to Voldemort means nothing to the Dark Lord, who wouldn't think twice about killing him in cold blood. However, he has always looked up to his father (Jason Isaacs) and for him becoming a Death Eater was originally an opportunity to make his father proud. Now all he cares about is not being killed by Voldemort, and the determined expression on his face shows this.

Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) has been greatly underused since the third film, and didn't even appear in the seventh which has all of a minute set at Hogwarts. However, one thing has always been clear in both the films and books, and that is that her love and loyalty to Hogwarts is unconditional, and she would fight to the death to defend it. In the finale she plays a key part in the battle and defence of the castle, and the look of raw determination and anger in her face shows that she will stop at nothing to protect Hogwarts and that this fight against the Death Eaters is her chance to avenge Dumbledore, among many others.

Once upon a time these two clowns Fred (James Phelps) and George (Oliver Phelps) Weasley did little more but funny magic and take the mick out of little brother Ron, and in the sixth installment they opened a joke shop which showed just how gifted they were with magic. However, after numerous threats and attempts by Death Eaters on the lives of them and their family and friends, it is time to put their humour aside and show the Death Eaters just what they are made of, and their expressions show just how grown up they are now.

In the first film Griphook had about a minute on screen played by Verne Troyer. In the seventh he is played by Warwick Davis and is saved from his imprisonment at Malfoy Manor by Harry, Ron and Dobby. However, his brief but key part in this final installment will see him betray Harry, Ron and Hermione after helping them break into Gringotts bank to steal a Horcrux, and his expression of cold malice and trickery in this poster reminds us of how Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) described goblins as tricky and nasty creatures you wouldn't want to cross to Harry in the first book/film.

All in all some truly fantastic posters which really represent their characters. I can't wait for the final film, and I hope some more of these posters are done soon as there are a number of characters who deserve one after all this time, as well as having key parts in the finale.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World


When Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) he realises he has found the girl of his dreams. However, to be with her uninterrupted he must defeat her seven evil exes (Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman, Shota Seito, Keita Seito, Jason Schwartzman).

Visually this is a brilliant piece of film making, made like a cross between a graphic/manga novel and a rather absurd video game. With its fast editing, split screens and use of classic graphic/manga novel techniques, such as a series of As flashing up when a character screams, and lines used to emphasise the speed at which characters such as Scott are running, are brought to the screen in sharp definition and are absurdly wonderful to look at, as well as rather comical as we think of how wacky and brilliant it would be if this happened in the real world as we watch it happen on screen. In doing this it has really retained the origins that it recieved from Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novels to a high level.

The film also makes good use of video game (well) clich├ęs, for no knowledge of a better word. Every time Scott defeats an evil ex he gains a score which increases by up to 1000 points with every evil ex defeated, with each evil ex exploding into a shower of coins that gets larger each time. And after defeating evil exes five and six Scott gains an extra life which *SPOILER ALERT* means he gets a second shot at defeating number seven. This all looks wildly inventive in live action and makes you feel like you are watching a genuinely awesome gameplay unfold and progress on screen. As for the fight scenes, great amounts of energy and brute power are put into the scene by all characters involved, and I personally feel like I'm watching a scrawnier, live-action gameplay version of Street Fighter IV (2008) or Devil May Cry 4 (2008) when watching these scenes, which are very fun to watch, and make big bold use of kung fu and wrestling moves.

Unfortunately all of the fighting becomes a bit too repetitive. Generally each scene where Scott must fight an evil ex is almost identical to the one before, and no matter how fun they are to watch unfold before your eyes they end up becoming very predictable and a case of "Hang on I swear I saw the exact same thing happen twenty minutes ago but with a different dude?" The fact that almost the entire focus of the film is on the fights also means that there is a very noticeable lack of character development, and also a very major lack of attention is placed on Scott and Ramona's romance. The evil exes are basically just props used to fuel the story forwards; and Scott, well he gets no real development until the end when he mans up and gains self-respect, by which point vast amounts of interest in his character has been lost; and the romance, well that has no real substance to it, it's just there so there is a reason for Scott to battle the seven evil exes.

Ultimately though with its absurd humour and wonderful to watch artistic style and battle sequences this is a real guilty pleasure type of film, which you can't help but love as you watch it unfold on screen. You are guaranteed to enjoy it in spite of its flaws, so it is a definite must watch whenever you long for some good entertainment.

Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong, Jason Schwartzman, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Satya Bhabha, Mae Whitman, Keita Saito, Shota Saito, Alison Pill, Anna Kendrick, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Aubrey Plaza, Brie Larson, Kjartan Hewitt, Ben Lewis, Nelson Franklin.

Satellite Awards: Best Film - Musical or Comedy, Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Michael Cera).
Satellite Award nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay (Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright), Best Art Direction and Production Design (Nigel Churcher, Marcus Rowland).

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

New Poll...

With Cars 2 out next month, I thought I'd set up a poll to see how many people favour one Pixar film over another. You get one choice for what you consider the best Pixar to date, or if you can't decide on the best then just go with your favourite. So you have the ultimate tough choice between Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010) - the franchise that made Pixar famous and possibly the second best trilogy of all time after The Lord of the Rings (2001-3); the underappreciated and much less remembered A Bug's Life (1998) - Pixar's second film; heartwarming family pieces Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Finding Nemo (2003); wonderful action-packed adventure The Incredibles (2004); the original Cars (2006) - a good (3 stars) film but the worst Pixar film to date, but with a phenomenal fan base; the charming and sophisticated Ratatouille (2007); mind-blowing futuristic science-fiction film WALL-E (2008); and the poignant, mature, and frankly beautiful Up (2009).

Eleven films. One choice. What will your's be?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Goonies


In order to save their homes from demolition seven youths (Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, Ke Huy Quan, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton) who call themselves the Goonies go in search of the legendary treasure of 17th Century Pirate One-Eyed Willie, encountering booby trap after booby trap, and always pursued by gangster family, the Fratellis (Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano, Robert Davi) who are intent on killing them and getting the treasure for themselves.

From start to finish we are offered an exciting piece of farcical comedy, with really absurd dialogue and action throughout, as well as a fair amount of crude humour. Every bit of the Goonies' journey is wonderfully over the top and energetic - from the start where they tie up Brand (Brolin) and let down the tyres on his bike so they can start their adventure, to their fending off the Fratellis what could only be a hundred feet below ground level. Much of the physical comedy comes from Data's (Quan) multiple gadgets, half of which he struggles to work and the aftermath of him using them, which results in over the top cartoon style violence and injury for the Fratelli boys. However, after a while you do wonder how the Fratelli boys manage to continue their pursuit with so much energy, particularly after you hear the bones crunch when pain is inflicted, and it is one of those times that you feel cartoon violence should be kept to the cartoon.

As for the verbal comedy there is a constant game of oneupsmanship and insulting each other between the boys, which the young actors time very well and put great amounts of attitude into. The best verbal comedy however comes from Chunk (Cohen), who really steals the show in a scene where the Fratellis interrogate him and he confesses to all the mean deeds he has ever done, from pushing his sister down the stairs and blaming it on the dog, to making an entire cinema full of people vommit; a scene in which he times the verbal gags beautifully and puts lots of comical emotion into.

Admittedly their journey does get a bit too ridiculous as there's only so many booby traps and caverns - all of which are fairly flimsy bits of set and prop - you can go through in one film without it all getting a bit too much, and by the two-thirds point it's becoming rather predictable. The other downside is the adults, as no matter how well they perform - and Ramsey, Pantoliano and Davi do give good performances - their constant bickering on screen gets a little tedious and you do start to wonder how the boys can keep following a mother who is so spiteful and borderline abusive of her sons. Mind you, Ma Fratelli is one scary lady so that could explain it. However, her giant deformed son Sloth (John Matuszak) who develops a special bond with Chunk eventually rebels against her after a lifetime of mistreatment and you can't help but cheer when he throws her overboard Willie's ship the Inferno.

The film also shows that family is more important than anything else. *SPOILER ALERT* the film's climax shows a cave in and Sloth put all his brute power into getting the Goonies to safety and then risks his life to save his mother and brothers, which shows that no matter how poor a relationship you share family will always matter unconditionally, even if it's only deep down.

At the end of the day this is not brilliant film making, but it is wonderfully entertaining, and has earned itself a cult following. Watch it and you will find yourself loving it, albeit as a viewer.

Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, Ke Huy Quan, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, John Matuszak, Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano, Robert Davi, Mary Ellen Trainor, Keith Walker, Steve Antin, Lupe Ontiveros.

Saturn Award: Best Supporting Actress (Anne Ramsey).
Saturn nomination: Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Jeff Cohen).