Reviews written by registered user
|18 reviews in total|
It has long been held that Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's 1988 graphic
novel "The Killing Joke" is one of the best Batman standalone tales
ever told. A gritty script, coupled with sumptuous art, means it stays
in the mind long after it's 64 pages have been devoured. Moore, in
typical grumpy style, as said that he 'never really liked it', and
found it 'far too violent and sexualized'. Odd quotes from a man who
had the final say in the script, but let's be honest he's always been
an odd bugger. You won't find Moore's name anywhere in the credits to
this brand new animated version, simply because that's what he wanted,
happy to see all monies go to artist Brian Bolland.
After thoroughly enjoying the 'comic to screen' animated version of Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns", I was still skeptical about this one, mainly because it was never going to look like the comic. Bolland is and was one of the best, most detailed comic artists about, and no way was anyone going to be able to do him justice. As expected, this is in DC's house style, farmed out to the far east presumably to cut costs. It looks as okay as the comany's other output, with slightly jerky animation due to a lack of frames and some nice touches throughout.
Comics stalwart Brian Azarello handles the script, and because the source material is only good for about 40 minutes he gives us a pointless extended prologue involving Batgirl, Batman and a villain who has no involvement or relevance to the main story. Batgirl fans should probably skip this, as it really doesn't do her any favours. Once it gets to the actual source material, Azarello lifts dialogue wholesale, even down to the Joker's "I Go Loony" song. This is not, however, a bad thing, as Moore's dialogue is always a pleasure to read or hear, and for the most part doesn't suffer from the shift to animation.
So this is really a mixed bag, with the first half coming across like a separate episode from the TV series that's been bolted on, and the second half doing a good job of living up to the title. After watching it I felt like I wanted to read the comic again, as it's so much better, something I didn't feel so much after "The dark Knight Returns". Whatever Moore thinks, it's a superbly good read, and will always get recommended over this version. "The Killing Joke" animated is simply an adaptation that wasn't needed, and succeeds mostly in watering down a great piece of literature. There have been a few moans about it's 'adult' themes, but there really is nothing too graphic, although the script does add in a needless extra scene to let you know that the Joker gets horny when he escapes. File under 'watch once then forget'.
Are you afraid of ghosts? I suppose most people would be, but lately it
seems that people are much more afraid of reboots, less like reboots
and more like big hobnailed boots stomping over beloved memories.
'Ghostbusters' main mistake was a rather unfunny first trailer that
suggested that Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy's team up magic had
finally spluttered out. The second trailer was much better, but once
the naysayers had grabbed on to the first they were NOT letting go, no
siree! So the good news for Feig fans is that 'Ghostbusters' in 2016 is
almost as enjoyable as the original. A definite reboot and not a
sequel, it nonetheless acknowledges the original with some nice touches
and a few well placed cameos that serve to pass the baton. Everyone was
well aware that they had some pretty huge shows to fill, and obviously
put a lot of work in, with the end result a well acted, well written
and technically impressive whole.
Our four Ghostbusters are equipped with the scariest things known to misogynist muppets female genitalia! They also come equipped with four actual personalities that are very well realized by the actresses concerned. Standout is Kate McKinnon, who seems to be channelling Tank Girl (wait for THAT to be offered very soon) as a very quirky genius, her marvellous face lighting up the screen as the characters weirdness is allowed to play around on it. Melissa McCarthy is quite restrained compared to her other roles with Feig but does her usual stand up job, with Kristen Wiig the sensible one who seems to have been possessed by Jennifer Aniston. Leslie Jones plays the only non scientist in the crew, but comes armed with a prodigious knowledge of New York and a bagful of sass. The icing on top is Chris Hemsworth, who plays their thick as a donut receptionist, showing a nice talent for comedy whilst he does it.
The special effects are what you'd expect from a big budget film today, and the ghosts all look terrific. There's a return for a couple of non human characters that will delight some, and may even bring smiles from the grumpy gits. Children will certainly have a few scares (as in the original), and the script allows for jumps and laughs equally well. Much like the original it has an action finale that by necessity ramps down the humour but even so gives you plenty to cheer for and chuckle at.
So 'Ghostbusters' is a really good film. There: I said it. I'm happy to slate a film if I don't like it (I walked out of the godawful new Ice Age film last week) but for most of this I had a goofy smile on my face and gave a few decent belly laughs. The female switch doesn't matter one jot, it only allows you to see four awesome actresses rather than actors. It's wonderful that once again bustin' makes me feel goooood.
Like just about everyone I'd never heard of the short lived TV series,
but decided to give this a go with crossed fingers, having been burned
too often by a catchy title hiding a dull film.
The story, about two very low profile costumed heroes stepping up to the big money league, is never too original (except right at the end), but it's saved by a snappy script and two very likable leads. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and there are plenty of laughs in what ends up being a lighthearted romp.
It's not overlong, coherent, witty, well acted and a fun way to spend 80 minutes, especially if you have a fondness for superhero films. You may not rave about it to your friends like you do the big budget blockbusters, but you WILL get them all to watch it, and that's the mark of a good flick.
Unlike a certain other superhero film recently released, 'Captain
America: Civil War' is unlikely to polarize opinion. It's a Marvel
film, you see, and despite being the relative newcomers to the 'film
your own characters' school, they're rapidly risen to top of the class,
knocking out hit after hit by simply understanding what their fans
want. Civil War is no exception, and is unsurprisingly much more than a
'who would win in a fight between...' punch fest.
Although Cap gets title billing here, Civil War is basically Avengers 3, following directly on from Age Of Ultron. We open with The Avengers kicking are as usual, but again as usual it's impossible to avoid civilian casualties when there's guns and bombs all over the place. One explosion later and the team are basically ordered to become an official task force, answerable to that most despicable of things: a committee. Tony Stark sees the sense in this, whilst Cap doesn't trust people to not have self interest and also to allow them to react quick enough. There's only one way to settle this...
So the scene is set, as The Avengers split into pro and anti factions. To actually get fists flying, however, you need a reason. Enter The Winter Soldier, last seen disappearing after saving Cap in The Winter Soldier movie. With Bucky seemingly to blame for a terrible international incident, Cap decides to grab him before the officials can, setting him squarely against Iron Man, now firmly doing what he's told. Cue stand off...
As I said earlier, this is much more than a simple series of hero on hero scraps, although the main one is a doozy. Not only do we get our usual Marvel suspects, but there's also the introduction of The Black Panther and a certain kid in a red and blue onesie. Both are handled exceptionally well, and you will be gagging for the Black Panther movie by the end, not to mention 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' in 2017. Add to this a nice return to the screen for Paul Rudd's Ant Man and the two and a half hours (yes, really) will fly by.
Much like the last Captain America film, Civil War gives a damn about plot, and a decent amount of time is spent actually having one and talking about it. The Winter Soldier is once again the device that gives the plot momentum, and poor old Bucky looks like he'll never escape his Hydra brainwashing. Whilst it's a Captain America film, Tony Stark and Iron Man are given plenty of screen time as Stark's demons are fully explored, pushing him towards an inevitable showdown. Again, it's a pretty serious film, but unlike a certain other film it finds time to make you smile as well. I mean, who'd make a two and a half hour superhero film without any light moments at all? Oh yeah....
Bold, bright, brash and brilliant, 'Captain America: Civil War' stand up alongside Marvel's other movies, and whilst some have said it's the best yet, I'd say it depends on what you're looking for. The joy of the Marvel movies is that they each tend to have something different, and to compare this to, say, 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' is pretty daft. Suffice to say it's faults are few and far between, it maintains a large cast without short changing anyone, and it's not full of plot holes. Chris Evans remains as perhaps the best piece of casting in the superhero genre, with new Spidey Tom Holland and Black Panther Chad Boseman each owning the screen as nervy kid and moody warrior respectively. Once again, when asked what kind of comic based films work best, the answer is 'make Mine Marvel'. Excelsior!
I had to write this after seeing the only other review describing it as
'Homophobic', something it certainly is not.
The McCarthys are a close knit Boston family who love sports, except for Mother and one of the three sons (there is also a daughter). the son in question is gay, but it is never presented as a bad thing. His family are in fact very supportive, even if their support is at times naive.
This is pretty much a standard family based comedy with plenty of laughs and good performances. The family are lovable dopes in the main, and the whole thing is harmless and often laugh out loud funny.
It may well be canceled (you never know these days) but it certainly won't be because some ignorant people think it's homophobic, thankfully.
It's no surprise that when Marvel's latest movie was released many,
many people (the non comics reading kind, mainly) said "Who?" The comic
itself has never been what you call top tier, with various incarnations
having been around for decades, although the film is based on the team
created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning in 2008, now being serviced by
top writer Brian Bendis.
Marvel certainly have made sure the Guardians have plenty of publicity, turning a bunch of also rans into a must see event and even having the confidence to proclaim "The Guardians Of The Galaxy Will Return" at the end of the movie. This is a company with the utmost confidence in their product, and after seeing it it's very easy to understand why.
First and foremost, Guardians... is fun. After a truly heartbreaking beginning everything goes a bit daft, mixing swashbuckling sci fi action with larger than life characters, and whilst at first you may be a little puzzled, it all streamlines into a simple plot soon enough. Basically, Guardians leader Peter Quill (known mainly to only himself as Star Lord) has a plot device, and other people also want the plot device. He forms an alliance with a very disparate bunch of people who each have their own reason for helping him. To go into more detail really isn't that necessary, as all it will involve is laying out a roster of names and personal grievances, and you'll get all that when you watch the film, because if you're reading this review I will lay odds you're going to see it.
The movie looks beautiful throughout, probably thanks to the thousand or so "Digital Artists" who take up a large part of the end credits. Ship design is fantastic, with many looking like they were pulled direct from a Chris Foss art book, and if you know Foss you'll know this is a high compliment. Yeah, the bad guys have dull, dark vessels with inadequate lighting (surely evil needs to see as well?) but the good guys have some sexy vessels indeed. Sound wise, it may seem odd that a 2014 state of the art sci fi movie will have a 1970's chart soundtrack, but the inclusion of The Runaways, Rupert Holmes and, of course, Blue Swede's "Hooked On A Feeling" is completely explained and rather poignant. It would be nice, too, if kids start downloading some of this awesome old stuff and finally start listening to real music (so speaks an old fart).
So in a nutshell this is a very good movie. It's packed with fun and enjoyable characters, but also has it's fair share of down beats and dead beats. Top honours are fought out for between Chris Pratt, excellent and ridiculously likable as Peter Quill, and the brilliant Rocket Raccoon, a purely CGI character stuffed with attitude and some great one liners. The other main characters all do well, however, with even big bag Ronan (no, not the Boyzone one, mores the pity) being well served and very well played with menace aforethought by Lee Pace.
One thing people want to know about Marvel films is what's the after credits scene like? Well, without being spoilery, I'll say two things: one, it's NOT a big reveal or anything like that, but two, it's really funny if you have a knowledge of a certain old Marvel character. Oh yeah, and you get to play everyone's favourite game in the movie - 'Spot Stan Lee'. It just wouldn't be the same without him mugging it up somewhere.
In closing, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is right up there with the rest of Marvel's cinematic output, making a clear mark by being totally different to anything else we've so far seen. It's Fun with a capital 'F', and engaging throughout. Some of the violence may be a bit much for smaller kids, and there's a bit of moderately fruity language (is 'dick' fruity still? I fall behind sometimes). That said, kids who don't mind a walking tree impaling people or a raccoon murderising people with a kick ass gun will have a blast. Big, beautiful and bad ass, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is definitely the feel good fantasy of 2014, as evidenced by the grin still stuck to my face. All together now... "I'm hooked on a feeling..."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I suppose it's only fair to start with the admission that I thoroughly
enjoyed Kick Ass, both the film and the comic. Although the former
diverged in plot from the latter, it kept the energy and humour (as
well as the violence) of the source material and tuned out to be a fun
movie (unless you read the Daily Mail). For the sequel, director
Matthew Vaughan has handed over his duties (including scripting) to
relative unknown Jeff Wadlow, a bit of a risk if ever there was one.
As with eth original, Kick Ass 2 centres around the titular character, a mild mannered schoolboy who likes to dress up in a wetsuit and punish bad guys, although he often gets his own ass well and truly kicked (no super powers here, folks). Dave Lizewski (Arron Taylor-Johnson,'Casualty') is the hero's alter ego, and together with the pint sized powerhouse Hit Girl (Chlow Moretz, 'Big Momma's House 2') he sets out to increase his limited effectiveness as a crime fighter.
All is well and good, but as ever life gets in the way. Hit Girl has to start actually attending school and being a (gulp) real girl, and the film handles the Mean Girls-esque premise much more ham fistedly than the comic did. Kick Ass, meanwhile, has tracked down other heroes inspired by him, and joins the 'super team' Justice Forever (fist pump). Meanwhile, Chris D'amico (Christopher Mintz Plasse, 'Marmaduke'), the rich mobster's kid from the first film, has decided to become the world's first super villain. This isn't going to end well Author Mark Millar has described Kick Ass 2 as the Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy, and this is definitely more true of the comic than the film. It has it's dark moments (one that may just blow away non comic book readers), but I wish the ending had been more true to the book, setting up as it does the beginning of part 3. That said, large swathes of the graphic novel are included, and the basic plot is pretty well stuck to. Special mention must go to Jim Carrey, who plays vigilante Colonel Stars & Stripes. It's a shame he is refusing to promote the movie because of the violence, but I guess that means he's one of those who only reads the bits of the script that they are in! "Your enjoyment will depend a lot on whether you regard murder, mutilation and dismemberment as good, harmless fun," says legendary prude Chris Tookey of the Daily Mail. Well, Chris, I just happen to fall into that bracket and thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the other members of the audience. It's certainly not for everyone, but if you enjoyed the first there's no reason not to like this one as well. More violence, more swearing and even some decent character progression, Kick Ass 2 is exactly what it is supposed to be.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, so this might reek of cheap cash in, yet another zombie film to
follow all the other zombie films that have been put out by zombie film
makers to the point where you really don't give a monkeys about zombie
films any more. Well, you should, because this one is a real diamond
(geezer) in the rough.
To compare this to Shaun Of The Dead would be well, pretty fair, really. It's another wholly British take on the genre, with the evil undead poppng up to ruin some cheeky Cockney's bank robbery, which they are pulling to save their Granddad's retirement home from demolition. That's basically the plot, and as in most zombie films the rest is all about survival.
There's two sides to the movie. On one, you have the bank robbers, headed by the charismatic Harry Treadaway as Andy, with Rasmus hardicker as his brother and the always lovely Michelle Ryan as their cousin Katy. They're hindered by the inclusion of Mental Mickey, deranged hardcase with a LOT of guns, and general idiot Tuppence, played by Jack Doolan (who you right remember playing a general idiot in Cemetery Junction. ) On the other side of the coin is the boys' Granddad Ray, who is brought to snarling life by Alan Ford, known primarily for his star turn as Brick Top in Snatch. Here he is only slightly more sympathetic, but as usual steals every scene he is in. With him in the zombie besieged retirement home are such luminaries as Richard Briers, Dudley Sutton, Tony Selby and none other than Honour Blackman. Naturally they provide some priceless moments, such as Briers trying to escape a zombie on his walking frame, the two of them moving at about the same speed (these being the classic shuffling zombies).
As the boys fight to get to the home, and the pensioners try to stay alive, hilarity definitely ensues. Even though it's got plenty of gore and violence, not to mention copious swearing, Cockneys V Zombies is a laugh out loud comedy piece. In terms of laughs it overtakes Shaun Of The Dead with ease, although the characters aren't quite as strong. TV scripter James Moran (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval and all that) has managed to get the whole pitch just right, with the laughs taking priority over anything too meaningful or horrible. The squeamish or easily offended will find nothing they like, but if you find the idea of a mash up of Shaun Of The Dead and Snatch an intriguing one, then this wonderful film is a must see. Oh and it ends with a song about Zombies by Chas & Dave that will stick in your head for days.
The basic aim of Dredd is simple it needs to be bold, true to the
source material and full of juicy violence, enough to wipe out the
memories of the notoriously poor Stallone attempt of 1995 that threw
plenty of money at the screen without bothering to work on anything
resembling a decent script.
The character of Judge Dredd, now entering his 35th year in UK comic 2000AD (they know it's 2012 - don't ask), isn't a complicated one. He is, as he is fond of stating, the law. The time is the future, and amidst the wasteland that is America there is a single, massive city with 800 million inhabitants, appropriately called Mega City One. It's quite the scumhole, and the only thing that stands between it and total chaos are the Judges, trained for years to be the ultimate in law enforcement, yet so outnumbered they can only handle 6% of the crimes committed. This, people, is as thin as the blue line gets.
The film is written by long time fan Alex Garland (28 Days later, Sunshine), and has had plenty of input from Dredd's creator (and still main writer even now) John Wagner. Filmed in South Africa on what passes for a tight budget these days (especially for Sci-Fi), it could be compared to District 9 in terms of the sheer effort put into it, with a result that is similarly impressive although aesthetically miles apart. Director Pete Travis (Endgame) does an excellent job, and between them they have turned in a film that will stand the test of time as a superior, adult action movie.
The premise is reasonably simple, something that works well as an introduction to what is, in the comics at least, a sprawling future world. Dredd is accompanied on patrol by rookie Judge Anderson, very well played by Olivia Thirlby, who is on the verge of failing her final assessment but is being given a second chance because of her powerful, and rare, psi abilities. A routine triple homicide (it's that sort of city) turns into a siege when they are trapped in a massive tower block by criminal nutjob Ma Ma (Lena Headey) and forced to fight their way out and stop her manufacturing the addictive new drug, Slo Mo. Obviously there's a bit more to it than that, but this is the basic set up and it works very well indeed, allowing for plenty of violence, some character development and no few explosions.
I can't write this review without focusing on Karl Urban, who has previously stood out for his excellent turn as Dr McCoy in the Star Trek revival. Not afraid to go through an entire movie with a helmet on, he is spot on as Dredd. He gives us an emotionless machine, a man who cares for nothing but the law, but a man you want to get behind and cheer on as he splats bad guys left right and centre. The humanity comes from Anderson, and it helps that Thirlby doesn't have to wear a helmet herself, with the handy excuse that it interferes with her psi abilities. Between them they give us the tired old wardog and the 21 year old rookie on the streets for the first time, and you sympathise with the life of a Mega City Judge.
Some people have criticized the apparent similarities between Dredd and the recent film The Raid: Redemption, in which Indonesian cops storm a tower block and much chop sockey ensues. To be honest, I was a little worried myself, but having seen both films I can happily confirm that they are nothing alike. Whilst The Raid is a pretty intense martial arts film which is rather dull between fights (although the fights are awesome), Dredd is a tight film all the way through, with the plot more than an excuse to go from fight to fight.
In conclusion, I can heartily recommend this film, in case you hadn't guessed. It's sort of like a cross between Robocop and Die Hard, all moderned up and with better music. It's no coincidence that those are two of the most kick ass action films ever, and Dredd borrows from the best, although as Robocop stole from Dredd in the first place it's more like recovering pinched property. The 3D is actually worth shelling out for, and there are some beautiful sequences where it comes into it's own, whilst the film itself is gritty and dirty, although not without a few lighter moments amidst the carnage. The humour in Dredd's comic strips comes from the city around him rather than his own actions, and here's hoping we'll see Alex Garland penning a sequel that allows us to wander through Dredd's world. Quite simply a superior action film, and whilst it's no masterpiece (then again, it's not supposed to be) it's as good as fans could ever have hoped. Here's to the sequels
The "Geezer" film has become a staple of the British Film Industry in
the last 15 years or so, popularized by the likes of Guy Ritchgie and
then carried on in films dealing with either football hooliganism,
violent crime, or both.
"The Rise & Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan" doesn't offer us much new, to be honest, but does it's job as well as can be expected. We get your typical footie loving hooligan Mike, played very well by Nick Nevern, who can't get a job in these disparate times etc etc. He's fixed up by fellow footie battler Eddie (an excellent turn from Simom "Jack Falls" Phillips) who introduces him to the world of organized credit card fraud. From here on, we follow his crime career with plenty of swearing and some, but not too much, violence.
It's a good film that builds its characters well, using two of the better up and coming Geezer actors of recent years. the old school is represented by Billy Murray, playing his usual type, but the main focus is on the two leads, who carry the film with style. Oddly, the football element does not sit with the rest of the film, and as it doesn't advance either plot or character could be erased without any detrimental effect to the film as a whole. So, not up there with "Rise Of The Foot Soldier", but worth your time if that's your idea of a good night in.... geezer!
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