Wednesday, March 07, 2007

300 Reasons to go to the Cinema

Ok not 300 reasons but 2. although the first one has 300 spartans in it.
Reason one is called 300, based upon the graphic novel by Frank Miller which is in turn based upon the film 300 Spartans which Miller saw as a 5 year old kid in 1962. Apparently the film is supposed to be visually stunning with an almost shot for shot adaptation of the graphic novel.

Reason two is Outlaw which Lever of ForeverBlueSkies fame has a sneaky little bit part . A hard edged Brit flick dealing with vigilantism. Both movies open on the 9th March, 2, days from now. Catch them if you can.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Night At The Museum: Movie Review

After Shawn Levy's woeful Pink Panther remake, he has redeemed himself, kind of. Night at the Museum has Ben Stiller playing a divorced dad forced to drop his fanciful ideas and taking a 'bog standard' museum security guard job in order to pay his rent, and prevent his son from feeling unsettled. Bog standard is what some feel about this movie but I think it rises above that label.

It does have a very familiar feel to it; Ben Stiller does what Ben Stiller does, and there is Ricky Gervais playing David Brent. Actually he's playing Dr.McPhee, the museum director but he doesn't seem to be able to play many characters. The titular museum is the Museum of Natural History, which serves as an great backdrop of characters and times, providing anachronistic answers to questions such as: what would a caveman do with a fire extinguisher?

What is really surprising is the appearance of Dick Van Dyke. My God, he's over 80 and still quite sprightly! He completes the trio of Bill Cobbs, and Mickey Rooney (5 years older than Van Dyke), the outgoing museum guards.

Owen Wilson and Steve Cougan are excellent even thought they have very small roles, and are at each others throats for most of the movie.

There is a lovely Central park scene which gives a Christmassy feeling, and a chance to get out of the museum for a while. The Museum of Natural History is a great place to visit, and this isn't too bad either.It's amiable enough, not a brilliant idea, but the performances make it worthwhile especially Cougan and Owen's tiny tiffs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

DOA: Dead or Alive Movie Review

There are only a handful of martial arts movies that can stand up to Kill Bill,
and this isn't one of them. :P It is though, a film that is not going to tax your brain at all. Just sit back and enjoy it for what it is - a sugary dollop of eye candy.

It stars the lovely ladies Devon Aoki (Sin City), Holly Valance, and Jaime Pressly, who are scantily clad for most of the running time (1 hr 27 mins). At times it resembles a computer game in the style of Tekken, or Mortal Kombat, with loud music, and bone crunching THWACK sounds.

The plot, well what passes for a plot rambles along at quite a speed. It's just an excuse for one fight after another, but why not? The duels between contestants are beautifully choreographed with lots of wire work used, so much so, that the fighters seem to spend more time in the air than on the ground. I would recommend this movie for anyone with Attention Deficit Disorder as scenes don't last very long. It doesn't take itself seriously at all, very much like My Super-Ex Girlfriend, but I prefer this one. What's not to like? Babes kicking ass, and sporting samurai swords. :)

Did I mentions that there is beach volleyball?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Super-Ex Girlfriend Movie Review

1And now for a superhero movie quite unlike Superman. My Super-Ex Girlfriend is pants, but it's likeable pants. If you have an evening where you aren't doing much it's an amusing distraction, not too memorable but enjoyable nonetheless. Well, memorable for the line "Why did G-girl throw a shark at us?" if nothing else. I don't imagine hearing that line ever again.

Why would Uma Thurman do a lightweight piece like this? Probably just for the sheer fun of it. She throws herself into the role of neurotic Jenny Johnson, and plays it up for laughs.

Luke Wilson, aided and abetted by his geek friend Rainn Wilson (from the American remake of The Office), is "the love interest". He is an architect who despite his best efforts can't seem to end the relationship with Jenny, causing her to exact revenge in ways only a superhero can.

Every superhero needs an arch nemesis. This film has the unlikeliest of bad guys: the most un-super-villain-like super villain, Professor Bedlam, is Eddie Izzard with an accent that is funny if not always American. This is a spoof superhero movie that wears it's pants proudly on the outside, which was more enjoyable than I imagined.

If you haven't caught any of Monsieur Izzard's stand up routines please do try. I'll leave you with this hilarious titbit from YouTube with Eddie explaining the difference between American and British movies
(Warning contains sweary words):

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Superman Returns Movie Review

Superman Returns is super. No doubt about it, but is this new movie as super as previous movies? Obviously the 3rd and 4th movies of the franchise pale in comparison (even though I liked Richard Pryor in III) to this newer version directed by Bryan Singer.

Surely if anyone can understand the psyche of a superhero it is Singer, with two X-men movies under his belt. As those were jam-packed with many mutants with extraordinary abilities, a film with only one super being up against a super-intelligent bald villain should really be a walk in the park for (still) young.

Some reviews have been mixed, are people's expectations too high? How could I even dare to hope that it matched the thrill I felt as a 6 year old child; way back then I was blown away, even more so than many of my peers, so was unsure when I heard that a new Superman movie was in production. Funnily enough that old magic is there. From the moment the theatre lights dimmed, and the familiar musical motif sounded, I was transfixed. Even the sound of a popcorn muncher didn't disturb me. My partner, who was bothered by the aforementioned muncher, said my face was agog with amazement for almost the whole running length of the film (154 minutes).

The tagline of the orginal movie was: "You'll believe a man can fly!"
What impressed me about this one was how slow and gentle some of the flying scenes were. Sure, Superman can fly at supersonic speeds but at the more tender moments he displays very soft aerobatic manoeuvres more gentle than before. Almost silent landing with huge bovver boots on is quite a feat. We also see a flashback to when Superman discovers his anti-gravity power.

This super silent flying comes in useful as Superman uses it to be a 'Super Stalker'. Along with X-ray vison he peers into the workd of Lois Lane. The movie mainly focusses on the relationship between Superman and Lois, after his 5 year departure. Kate Bosworth does appear a tad young for the role. She just doesn't have the, well, balls of Margot Kidder.
Brandon Routh on the other hand, is a worthy successor to Christopher Reeve. While not being the greatest of actors, but he was the greates Superman to date because he was absolutely believable in the role, and so is Brandon Routh ( the 6 year old in my head agrees).
Comb away the man of steel's forehead curl and stick a pair of glasses on him and he becomes Clark Kent. Why can't everyone in Clarke's office see this? Strangely enough Routh's Clarke Kent is similar to Reeve's, but his Superman is quite different to Reeve's. Hard to describe just why though, you'll just have to experience it for yourself.

Lex Luthor this time around is played by Kevin Spacey. Accusations of a hammy performance flitted around before the movie release, but Spacey is more badass than Gene Hackman ever was. Playing a super villain such as Lex does require a bit of OTT acting, but not quite as much as Jack Nicholson's Joker performance when Batman returned. How much to camp up a character is a delicate business, but Spacey is still believably evil, with his hatred for the man in blue tights. Parker Posey in her portrayal of Lex's dutiful lackey 'Kitty' Kowalski, for me steps over the line and is too cartoonish.

Lois's all American fiance is played by James Marsden (Cyclops from the X-Men). With his chiselled jaw, and him being the nephew of the Daily Planet editor, does Clark/Superman have too much comptetion.

Bryan Singer has opted this incarnation to stand for "Truth, justice and all that stuff" rather "the American way." The film makers seem to view Superman as a global superhero even though he was brought up in Smallville, USA.

The 40's feel of Richard Donner's first two movies has been recreated here, although it's a little odd to see cellphones being used as well. Also a couple of lines from the original movie have been resurrected, giving us something new and familiar at the same time.

Hopefully it won't be too long before Superman returns again, in the meantime I will have to make do by returning to the cinema to watch this movie again.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Superman Returns Trailer

OK, so I went to see X-Men 3 again. What of it? It's not as good as the first 2 X-Men movies but still enjoyable nonetheless. I was going to see something else, but have you ever gone to the cinema and the next unseen movie was over an hour away? I chose the easy option and went to see the film I'd already seen and knew I would like. Maybe it was to satiate my superhero cravings until Superman Returns is released, I don't know.

As a kid I often wondered what would happen if he got shot in the face or the eyes. The trailer finally answers that question. Wow!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Thankyou for Smoking Movie Review

Or "thankyou for eating", was what I was thinking for the first 39 minutes of this movie. Sitting opposite me on the other side of the aisle was the loudest popcorn muncher I've ever heard.

Anyway, to the movie: it's a satire about the cigarette industry quite unlike "The Insider." Nick Naylor, excellently played by Aaron Eckhart (Erin Brockovich, In the Company of Men). He plays "the Sultan of Spin" for Big Tobacco, the VP for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. A lobbyist who, by his own admission, has "a moral flexibility" that most people will never have.

He is a likeable fellow, so likeable in fact that even "Cancer Boy" is making friends with him on a talk show, when Nick's employers sell the very things that made the boy ill.

Nick has regular lunch meetings with "The MOD Squad" (Merchants of Death), a group of 2 other lobbyists who represent the alcohol and arms industries, competing for the highest death toll.

Playing another reporter, Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) tempts Naylor into divulging more than he would ordinarily. She asks why he does what he does. Indeed, everybody seems to think the same thing. Why a man of his intelligence and verbal dexterity would work for a company responsible for killing 1200 Americans daily. Is it just to pay the mortgage as he suggests, or does he enjoy the Machiavellian scheming?

Deep down he seems to be a good guy, taking his son on trips with him (he is divorced), teaching him what he knows: "If you are argue correctly, you are never wrong". A very rugged Marlboro Man is Sam Elliot, dying of cancer. Not content with just trying to pay him off to gag the sick man, Nick then goes onto teach him to spin the situation to the best effect.

Rob Lowe is great in a small role as a Hollywood big gun who Nick tries to sweet talk into putting cigs into the hands of film stars. Not much sweet talking is necessary, as Lowe says his place is not to judge. Unfortunately this doesn't pan out, we don't see film stars with fags in their hands, in those movies or even within "Thankyou for Smoking".

This is an intelligent movie that is laugh out loud funny, definitely worth a watch. An interesting aside: The popcorn muncher turned his phone on before the end of the movie was finished, just in time to be left a little note about the possible danger of cellphones in the future. :)