Month: February 2015

Wedding Ringer- 15

The Wedding Ringer is a plot by numbers film. Parts of Meet the Parents and There’s Something About Mary with splashes of I Love You Man and Sex Drive.
Just like with all the others, the best bits appear to be in the trailer. Kayley Cucoo-Sweeting isn’t right as the beauty bitch who gets the geek. Go figure! Perhaps she’s too ‘Penny’ or she’s too much of a convincing bitch, but I hate every moment she’s on screen. It was a role made for Cameron Diaz, ten years ago.
The film is inoffensive, but it’s also not very funny. It has heart, but it doesn’t have guts to fully commit to some of the setups.
In a similar way to the Internship, this film could have done with cutting down on the swearing, removing all the genital flashes (although points for showing more of a penis than 50) and bringing the rating down to a 12a.
I left liking the two male leads a little more than I have in the past, but also realising unless it has Rob Schnider in the lead I need to give the frat boys films a miss.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 6
Plot-7
Pace-7
Music-9
Enjoy ability- 6

Cake- 15

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This film isn’t for everyone, but I didn’t half love it. Jennifer Anniston gives an Oscar worthy performance as Clare, a chronic pain sufferer.
I was surprised at how light and funny the film was despite its dark story of suicide, isolation and addiction.
Anna Kendrick wasn’t quite right in her role as a fellow sufferer in the support group, but she did work well with Anniston so I’ll let it pass.
Sam Worthington! Where has this man been?? Finally a role that I think fits. Keep him away from the action movies and root him in indie dark comedies because he is a natural.
Highlight of this movie is truly Clare’s relationship with her put upon house keeper, played by Adriana Barraza.
Normally with these kind of films I’d be crying, but it has so much charm that you would find it hard not to feel uplifted.
Why this film was snubbed at the Oscars is beyond me.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 9
Plot- 9
Pace- 8
Music- 8
Enjoyability- 7

Blackhat- 15

I didn’t think there would be a film I regretted more than Shades. Oh how wrong I was.
It could have been a clever and fast paced techno thriller along the same vein as Enemy of the State and The Net (ok, The Net hasn’t dated well but it’s my guilty pleasure). However, what transpires on screen is something I feel should have been left on the cutting room floor.
The premise is sound, but it’s poorly executed and the excuse for a romance lacks any chemistry. The plot is so incoherent that I’m pretty certain a main character dies twice and ten people left before the credits rolled.

Cast-5
Cinematography-4
Plot-4
Pace-2
Music- 3
Enjoyability- 1

Fifty Shades of Grey- 18

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This appears to be a true Han, Solo movie. I had a number of offers to watch it with people. However, having sat uncomfortably through Basic Instinct for my Film Studies degree I knew this wasn’t something I could do.
I wasn’t alone in this thought either. About half the reasonably sized audience where flying solo for the early morning screening. I ashamedly broke the rules and did not sit in my assigned seat. Blushes a plenty when a cute guy rocks up alone claiming it as his own. At least 10 additional individuals crawled in after the lights went out and a handful of under aged girls firmly clutching 3D glasses from the film they were claiming to see arrived during the final trailer: something I addressed firmly with the manager and warned them to expect more. The problem with a sensation that causes a stir- EVERYONE wants to see it.
I don’t really need to tell you about the plot. The entire human race are currently in one of few camps about this movie and my ‘review’ will not sway you:
1. You’ve read the book, you’ve followed the production from its conception and probably saw it before I did.
2. You’re a sheep. You’ve heard the buzz and want to know what the fuss is about. Whether that be that you are curious, skeptical or downright hipster. (Hi, this is me. Ironically, I was seeing it more because I DIDN’T want to see a film about a sheep)
3. You know it has sex in it/ you think you’ll get sex by seeing it
4. No way, no how am I seeing that movie.

Now, what I will say is: four people walked out never to return. I admire these people for holding their hands up and going ‘nope, not for me,’ and I’m still not quite sure why I wasn’t with them.

I stayed until the end, more out of a overwhelming need to pull Ana from the screen and protect her. I feel a little at odds with myself because I don’t want to belittle anything people might like and enjoy, but I just didn’t feel the promotion of the sort of relation that appears on screen as ‘romance’ is healthy or good. I also accept that both literature and film are open to interpretation and I will gladly agree to disagree.

The scene it was building up to just wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it fell flat and heavy and I’m frustrated that it’s not a self contained film. It is an abrupt end and I heard a number of people around me mumble ‘is that it?’ as there was a large pause between the final scene and the credit scroll. I know it will put the fans at ease that there’s a sequel on its way, but for those of us who are not- it isolates.

I’ll give it something though- it’s a nice antidote for feeling alone on Valentine’s.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 8
Plot- 3
Pace- 3
Music- 5
Enjoyability- 1

Dracula. Mr Swallow: the Musical.

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When waiting for Keiran Hodgson’s French Exchange at the Pleasance, I got talking to the man behind the bar. I already had tickets to Dracula at this point, but I knew nothing about it. I was filled with excitement when this man insisted I was in for a treat when I saw it.

At only an hour long, as the opening number informs, I’ve never laughed so much in my life. It unfolds as a dress rehearsal for a Dracula musical, many of the players breaking character to the utter delight of the audience.

Nick Mohammed plays Mr Swallow, the high maintenance scene stealing Dracula. He engages the audience with a rib tickling energy that just has to be seen to be believed. A totally gem of a scene was the introduction of a ‘much needed’ additional character. Who ever is able to make a Scouse accent funny without having to rely on the cliques is true talent in my eyes. Yes I’m biased, and currently a little homesick, but everyone around me found it equally as funny as I did.

Playing Mr Goldworth and Van Helsing, David Elms adds a reserved calm to the delightful chaos. Early on, his involvement is mainly offstage, but as the dress rehearsal progresses and Van Helsing is introduced to the story he has more time on stage.

The previously mentioned Keiran Hodgson plays Jonathan, the invested and committed actor who wants his moment to shine as Bram Stoker’s solicitor Harker. While Harker/Jonathan never quite gets out of Dracula’s shadow, Hodgson is able to steal a number of scenes, including the one line run-through of his solo song that he vehemently fights for.

Joanna Grace is amazing as the female component of the four-piece. This woman has an amazing voice and a thought struck me when she belted out her solo; she is perfect for Wicked’s Elphaba. Her presence on the stage is commanding and a true joy to watch.

A special mention must go out to the five piece live band; Becca Tudor, Ed Zanders, Jack Cherry and Ben Hartly. Timings of all the players were perfect and it added to the overall feel of the play. There was a moment where I believe Ed Zanders was drawn into a conversation about the tempo of a song- genius.

As the hour draws to a close I had to admit, the barman was right; it was a joy to watch this group of professionals have such fun on stage. I intend to watch it again before it closes (28th Feb) and I would encourage anyone else to do the same.

Dracula Tickets
http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/dracula

David Elms will be appearing at the Invisible Dot for the Saturday Night Show: 7th March and 18th April
http://www.theinvisibledot.com/search?query=david+elms

Keiran Hodgson will be appearing at the Invisible Dot for the New Wave: 19th March and 16th April
http://www.theinvisibledot.com/events/330-the-new-wave

The Interview- 15

As I didn’t get a wristband for the Baftas, it’s only fitting that I spent the evening watching a film that would never even be considered for a nomination.
That’s not to say it’s a bad film. Sometimes you need a film like this. A stoner movie that offends and entertains in equal measure, but most importantly asks you to shut off your brain for two hours. It won’t hold up to repeated viewings, but it’s certainly worth a watch.
There’s a few blink and you’ll miss them cameos, and Seth Rogan and James Franco are as marmite as always ( I loath Franco and love Rogan). While it plays for laughs, some of the lines miss the mark and are cringe worthy. It’s hard not to see them as both playing themselves and I’m pretty certain Franco was stoned for the entire filming.
It’s so silly and ridiculous that you would be forgive for thinking the ban of the film was some delightful publicity stunt. However, those easily offended need not watch.
It is slow to begin with and it certainly takes forever to get to the main plot of the film. Apparently it was very important to establish Franco’s character and his relationship with Rogan. There are some fun parts in this, but it feels heavy and just a little pointless. Once we’re on the mission, however, the laughs come thick and fast.
Now, for most of you I would recommend waiting for it to find its way to Netflix- it’s already on the U.S. Edition, so I can’t imagine the UK one will be far behind. But if you’re looking for a laugh, and you’ve already seen Kingsman, it’s worth checking it out.

Cast- 6
Cinematography- 8
Pace- 7
Plot-6
Music-6
Enjoy ability-8

Selma- 12a

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It’s hard to criticise a film that is about someone’s life, even harder when that someone is as prestigious as Martin Luther King. While the film is a fair portrayal, it’s not nearly as good as it should have been.

The shame of the whole thing is that every white actor in a main role is a household name. Even the ones you don’t know the name of, you’ll swear you’ve seen in something else before. However, other than the underused Oprah Whinfrey and Cuba Gooding Jnr I could only place one or two others from the black cast. I couldn’t see this film as a storytelling biopic, but more of an illustration of how far Hollywood still has to go.

That said, the cast make a sound effort with the script. Tom Wilkinson is never a chore to have on the screen and David Oyelowo makes a fine transformation as Martin Luther King- seen best when he’s giving a powerful speech. However, a lot of the remaining cast are under used and under developed.

It’s rather interesting that this film chooses to focus not on the iconic bus boycott that led to King’s famous I have a dream speech, but instead on the protest to gain all black people the right to vote. No flashbacks to his early life; it smartly assumes if you’ve put your bum on a seat- you know who this man is. It’s such a shame then, that the film seems heavy with dead weight plot and in a desperate need of a good editing session.

Malcolm X is almost vilified and glosses over the contact he has with King. While I like the connections and the commentary of how polar opposite they were at times, they did not truly reflect Malcolm’s evolution after Hajj. It’s a shame because I would have liked to have seen a truer, deeper look into that relationship.

The film certainly will interest anyone studying the civil rights movement, but there is no feeling of inspiration, motivation or even achievement that you perhaps would get if looking at King’s Pre-dream era.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 6
Plot- 6
Pace- 5
Music- 3
Enjoy ability- 4

Jupiter Ascending- 12a

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I actually don’t know where to start with this movie. Firstly, I try not to rehash the plot in my reviews. However, it’s hard not to when it’s the films main failing.
Secondly, I hate to trash a movie as I doubt very much that I could do a better job. But trash it I must, because I almost walked out in the last twenty minutes.
The good
Well the cast is good. Leads Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum are beautiful and the chemistry is there. It wins bonus points for assembling some amazing British talent to flesh out the cast. Sean Bean and his northern tones are a nice addition, but is merely an extended cameo.
I must confess, I wanted Eddie Redmaye to be awful. I wanted him to be on the Razzie list this year. Not because I don’t like the man, I just like that balance- ‘Oscar noms aren’t perfect’. I was also curious if he’d handle it with as much grace as Sandra Bullock did for her Blind Side/ All About Steve book-end awards. Redmayne still might to be fair; it’s a far cry from Theory of Everything and he doesn’t seem to be enjoying the role nearly as much as he should. However, I liked the restrained, gravely pitch of his speech.
There are some beautiful set pieces but they are underused, The costumes are stunning but are the biggest indication that the plot has no grounding.

The bad
The editing is shocking. The first conversation between Tatum and Kunis have them sitting in different poses between camera angles. The 3d conversion is poor and may leave viewers with a headache.
I spent the first third of the movie wanting to get into space, and then the rest of it wanting to be in the screen next door watching Shaun the Sheep the Movie with screaming kids.
The action scenes are fast and blury to the point of nausea and there are way too many slow mo’s, even from the creators of the most iconic slow mo going.

The Ugly
The plot. Oh the plot. Reincarnation, family feud and just a sprinkling of incest. There’s too many characters being crammed into the story and no one is really developed.
There feels like there have been key scenes edited out which will make the plot a little smoother, which is a shame because this should have and could have been a smart film.

Oh… And watch out for the moment where you want Mila to belt out ‘yipee kiyay….’ You know the rest.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 6
Music- 7
Plot- 2
Pace- 3
Enjoyability- 4

Kingsman: Secret Service 15

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There’s something about a well cut suit. There’s definitely something about charming Brits running around having a lot of fun in them.

In an age where our spy movies are gritty and edged with realism, Kingsman rises to be our cure. With the creators from Kick Ass firmly behind the camera, this two hour ‘Jack Bauer goes to Hogwarts’ is able to poke fun at the genre while being fresh and … Ok, so I can’t say it’s the most original story, but you’re too busy laughing at Sam L Jackson to actually care.

Colin Firth and Mark Strong give excellent performances as veteran Kingsmen, providing a nice balance of wit and charm. Michael Cain is a delight as always.

Special mention must be given to the ‘Bond/Bourne/Bower’ of the film; Taron Edgerton as Eggsy. How this man has not made a name for himself before now if beyond me, his timing is perfect and you really find yourself rooting for him.

The budget of the effects have clearly gone on Sofia Boutella’s CGI prosthetics as some of the other set pieces feel a little lacking, but the overt farce of it all makes it permissible.

It follows the conventions of an action movie and never allows the pace to lull. The film isn’t for everyone and the violence does really call for this film being an 18 (seriously, I don’t know what the point of the BBFC is right now), but I am certainly looking forward to seeing it again.

Cast- 9
Cinematography- 7
Plot- 8
Pace- 7
Music- 9
Enjoyability- 10