Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When In Rome


When In Rome
Year: 2010
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Cast: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Alexis Dziena

In My Own Words
Ah, the chick flick. I have not met any girl who can resist a chick flick, and any girl who tells you that she doesn’t like chick flicks is lying. I’m not saying that chick flicks are the favourite genres of every female, but they are take up so little brain activity that they are just easy and fun to watch. A chick flick is to a female what an action movie is to a male. Guy’s love watching big explosions and action heroes, while girls like watching romance and female heroines. It all makes sense. In my experience, guys have bagged me out when I have wanted to go and see a chick flick, but what these guys need to realise, is that a chick flick is our answer to the action film. And part of me did really want to see “When In Rome”, but mainly for the fact that Rome and New York City are in one movie. I have yet to visit Rome (even though I am dying to), but New York City is, like many other people, one of the great loves of my life.

I noticed something interesting while at the cinema today. I went to the 12:05 session of “When In Rome” today by myself. Some people find going to a movie by themselves an act of desperation. I once heard one girl I used to know complaining about how much of a “nigel” she was going to a film by herself. I have done this on many occasions and I don’t feel like a “nigel” at all. Today when I went, there was about 6 other people in the cinema by themselves. There were maybe only about 20 people in the cinema, but I thought it was interesting that there were so many people there on their own. I think I might put it down to the time of day. Most of the people who came in to the cinema by themselves had shopping bags with them, so maybe it was the fact that the cinema was in a shopping centre. Once people finish their shopping, they have time and look for something to do so they go to a movie. I just find it interesting how people think it is taboo to go to a movie by yourself, because you may be missing out on a great movie just because you can’t find someone to go to it with you!

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“When In Rome” is the typical chick flick, which means that most guys would rather poke their eyes out than see it. It is not the worlds best movie, but there is something fun, funny and very cute about it. Beth (Kristen Bell) has always had bad luck in love and life and it only gets worse when she has to make a flash trip to Rome for her sister, Joan’s (Alexis Dziena) wedding. Down and drunk, Beth takes a venture into the Fountain of Love and instead of throwing a coin into the fountain to wish for love as most people do, she decides to take 5 coins. It is only when she gets home and starts getting strange mans following her around professing their love for her, she finds out that if you take someone else’s coins, they will fall in love with you. A real problem arises when she actually falls for Nick (Josh Duhamel), who she believes is one of the men who’s coin she has retrieved.

Nothing about “When In Rome” makes it a great film. It won’t be remembered in years to come as there is nothing which really makes it stand out. However, it is very light, fluffy and cute. It is definitely an easy watch and extremely predictable. The script isn’t all bad, there are some very funny moments, although it can be very corny. There is not much more to be expected from this film though, it is very stereotypical in the way that a girl has bad luck in love and then finds love. Even though it is very predictable, there are no boring moments in the film. The scenery of Rome and New York are well captured and can at times, detract from the story and characters at hand, which some people may see as being bad and others see as being a good thing.

Kristen Bell is adorable as Beth. Her character of Beth does seem pathetic at the beginning, but she does become more likable towards the end. Her and Josh Duhamel definitely have on screen chemistry and make a very cute couple. However, the four men that fall in love with her are loose ends. They are all pretty painful, more so than they are supposed to be. Their characters are all more annoying than funny. They are probably the biggest turn off in the film and so over the top that it is ridiculous.

Again, keep boys as far away from this film as you can. It is a stereotypical chick flick, but not the best chick flick you will see this year. The best words to describe “When In Rome” are predictable and the two words used the most in this review, cute and adorable. It is a great film to see if you plan on not thinking for an hour and a half or taking a trip to Rome or New York.
5/10

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine


Hot Tub Time Machine
Year: 2010
Director: Steve Pink
Cast: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Chevy Chase

In My Own Words
I remember the first time I heard about “Hot Tub Time Machine”. My fiancé and I went to the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood in February to see “The Wolfman”. When the preview for “Hot Tub Time Machine” came on, we look at one another at one another with our “You have got to be joking” looks. Let’s look at the concept for a moment. A group of guys go away together, jump into a hot tub and get transported back to the 1980’s. Come on. What a ludicrous concept. Judging a movie by its title, you would have to think that people are running out of ideas for films. However...after I have seen the film, it reminds me how good scriptwriters can make even the most ridiculous ideas work on screen. I was pleasantly surprised. So I give a huge thumbs up to the writers, Josh Heald, Sean Anders and John Morris, for making “Hot Tub Time Machine” work.

One thing that I really enjoy about being a reviewer, is seeing how audiences vary across different films. A couple of weeks ago I was watching “The Last Station” thinking how at 27, I was definitely the youngest in the audience. Today, I thought I was going to be the oldest in the audience. Funny that considering the film is rated MA15+ here in Australia. I’m positive that there were some young boys in the cinema that were not 15 yet. Friday night at the cinemas is an interesting night. All the rowdy school kids come out to play and the boys love yelling things out to make the others laugh. There is always a pattern to this too. They start off in the previews and everyone laughs, 15 minutes into the film when they do it again they get told to where to go. There comes a point in time when their rowdiness, which starts off being funny to their peers, just becomes annoying to everyone else. I can’t help but just sit there and giggle. Was I ever like them? Surely not.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“Hot Tub Time Machine” wins most ridiculous movie title of the year, but could also win the biggest surprise packet of the year. Like the title, it is very silly, but it is also fun, funny and entertaining. Not everyone’s type of humour, but much funnier than the majority of films in the same genre of humour that this film belongs in. The film begins with the coming together of old friends, Adam (John Cusack) who has just broken up with his wife, Nick ( Craig Robinson) who is not the pant wearer in his relationship and the out of control troublemaker of the friends, Lou (Rob Corddry). They decide to relive old times and go up to Kodiak Valley and take Adam’s nephew, nerdy Jacob (Clark Duke). After arriving and finding that things are definitely not as they left them, they retreat to the hot tub, which has amazingly started working after it was plagued by dead animals when they arrived, for a night of binge drinking. They awake the next morning to find everyone wearing fluro and listening to walkmans, all pointing to the fact that they have gone back in time to the 1980’s. Now they are all able to go back and do the things they have always wanted to do differently, or will they?

If you go into “Hot Tub Time Machine” expecting it to be ridiculous and gruesome, you will be pleasantly surprised. Truth being told it is not going to win any awards and is not the best acting performances by any of these performers. You will definitely get the most out of this film with the lowest expectations. However, it is a great story of friendship and a reminder of how you should make every moment count as, unlike in this film, people are not able to go back and recreate those moments that make your future. Pretty in depth for a film by the name of “Hot Tub Time Machine”. It is very well written and the director, Steve Pink, and the writers have made not a bad film out of a very silly concept, which signifies a job very well done. There are still some very silly moments and there are many things that just don’t make sense. Some people may see this as one of the funniest movies of the year and it may well be the funniest film of the year for people who like this sense of humour, while other s will still see it as completely ludicrous and in some parts, completely revolting. In other words, it does depend who you are and what your sense of humour is as to whether you will like this film.

Whether you are into this type of humour or not, there are undeniably some very funny moments. John Cusack’s, Adam is probably the least funny out of the characters, yet Cusack still has that likable persona. Lou, played by Rob Corddry, can be extremely vile at times, yet does give some of the great one liners of the film. Perhaps one of the funniest parts of the film is the one-armed Phil and the way he is incorporated into the film is very clever.

“Hot Tub Time Machine” is a lot of fun silliness. However silly it may be, it is not nearly as silly as what a movie with this concept could be. Definitely a funny film and very entertaining from start to finish. Just take this film as what it is, don’t expect to see amazing visuals or fantastic acting, just watch it to have fun, have a laugh and to relive some great 80’s music.
6.5/10

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Book Of Eli



The Book Of Eli
Year: 2010
Director: Albert and Allen Hughes
Cast: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis

In My Own Words
I wish this movie was adapted from a novel. Well, there is a novel called “The Book Of Eli” by Sam Moffie, but it bears no similarity to the film. The reason I wish there was a book of this film is because all my questions could be answered. Very rarely do I get completely confused by a film, especially a film like this. If I was confused by a David Lynch movie, another story, but a film like this shouldn’t be so hard to figure out. At first I thought it may just be me, but after I asked my movie companion the same questions I was asking myself and he couldn’t answer them either, I was satisfied that it wasn’t just me. I do really wish that this movie was based on a book so that I could read the book and completely understand what I had just seen. If this movie was a book, I could imagine the book being really quite good, as it had the potential to be a good film based on the story and a book can express things in more words (funnily enough). Instead, I will have to guess the answers to my questions or I may be able to one day interview the Hughes brothers and writer Gary Whitta, and question them myself. For example, why do people ask Eli to show them his hands and who does this distinguish him from? I would love to put more of my questions here, but I don’t want to spoil any of the movie for people who are planning to see it!

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“The Book of Eli” is a film that had the potential to be very good, but is not very well scripted. The huge problem with this film is that there are not nearly enough explanations offered as to why things are the way they are and therefore seems incomplete and not nearly as tense or suspenseful as directors, the Hughes brothers would want it to be. In the future, the human race has taken a huge step backwards as a result of the war making things such as food, water, education, shelter and power scarce. Eli (Denzel Washington) is on a lone traveller making his way across the land with a sacred book which is considered to be a weapon. When he arrives in a civilised town, he comes in contact with Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who is delighted to meet someone from before the “Flash” who remembers what life used to be like. He becomes obsessed with Eli when he realises that Eli is carrying the book which Carnegie has been so vigorously searching for. Eli tries to escape Carnegie’s town so to keep on his path of taking the book westward.

The good thing about this film is that in theory, it is a very good idea for a film. Unfortunately, it does not execute this idea to its full potential. It is very slow to get going as it is not until the 40th minute that the film actually offers any explanation as to what is going on. Even then, it doesn’t at one moment feel as though it hits the level of suspense that one would expect it too. The film has plenty of action and drama in it, but it feels slow and dull. Although the story itself is very interesting, it definitely feels as though the film’s writer takes his time to tell it and even then has problems trying to tell it. In hindsight, it is not an easy story to tell on screen, but it should have at least had more background so that the audience felt more comfortable in their understanding of what was going on. Possibly the idea of explaining what has happened to society as we know it gradually through the film may have been what the film makers were planning to do, but it does not work.

There are some good points about the film. For one, the cinematography is very good. The action sequences are very well filmed and edited. There are different filming styles used throughout the film which do actually make it visually pleasurable to watch. The musical score is also very fitting. It is not Denzel Washington’s best performance, but it is not a bad performance. The character of Eli is not a very complicated one to play, suggesting that this is one of the easier roles that Washington has played. Gary Oldman, on the other hand, is very good as the bad guy, Carnegie. He shows a ton of emotion in bringing this character to life and is the one that the audience will connect with the most.

The story is the foundation of any film, and if the story is weak for any reason, there is no chance that a successful film will come of it. “The Book OF Eli” succeeds visually, but this is about that only area that it does succeed in. Not a strong film by any means and will most likely be forgotten in the near future.
4.5/10

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Requests

Away from the net, we are always getting people asking us to watch films on DVD and review them. Until now, we have only reviewed films currently showing in the cinema. Movie Critical will still continue to do this, but we will also review films that our fans and readers request! So if you have a film, whether it be in the cinema or on DVD, that you would like to see us request, please let us know here and we will review it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Date Night


Date Night
Year: 2010
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson

In My Own Words
Finally, a comedy this year that is actually funny. It is rare to find a good comedy these days. So many writers write screenplays thinking that something sounds funny on page, when it is actually completely unoriginal and not even worthy to generate a giggle on screen. “Date Night” is completely different. It is funny in a pure way without throwing in crude or over the top jokes. So many comedy films dwell on gutter humour and it just gets old. But not this one. In my opinion, Tina Fey and Steve Carell are two of the best comedy actors around at the moment, both being “Saturday Night Live” graduates. They are both extremely funny and both brilliant in the way they can think quickly on their feet. All you need to do is watch the outtakes during the credits at the end of the film to realise how quick witted and hilarious they both are. I am a big Tina Fey fan and if there is one woman I want to be like, it is her. However, as much as I would love to meet her, I would feel like a total dunce compared to her.

Isn’t it funny with people who were in “Saturday Night Live”, when they are in a movie, there are cameos galore. Keep an eye out on in this film for all the stars who are not listed in the opening credits. When these cameos occur in the film, you will hear all the other audience members exclaim and speak excitedly to their neighbours, as I did. “Saturday Night Live” comedians are known as the most elite comedians in the states and I can understand the star power they have.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“Date Night” is the funniest movie of 2010 thus far. It is clean, classic humour, but do not think that means it’s dull. The film is far from that. There are still some moments which are just silly, but it’s not possible to have a whole movie where every single joke is funny. A good comedy is one which different types of people can enjoy and one which has you laughing at the beginning and at the end. Nobody likes a comedy that gets old after 40 minutes. Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire Foster (Tina Fey) are a self-confessed boring couple from New Jersey. They feel like their life is getting too predictable and that there’s not enough excitement , so rather than go to their normal diner haunt for their date night, they decide to doll up and go to one of New York City’s best restaurant. When they cannot get a table, they pose as the Tripplehorn’s, who have a reservation, but do not show up when summoned. This turns the night into the most unusual and thrilling date night they have ever and will ever experience.

As expected, this is not an emotional journey film, but simply just a lot of fun. The film is not boring or monotonous for a minute. It is predictable in a way as you can easily guess what is going to happen, but you do not know how it is going to happen. There is so many funny one liners that will have people quoting for days after they see the film. It is a very well written and witty script which is well directed by Shawn Levy. The only criticism of the script is that some features of the film are unnecessary, but there isn’t very many of these. The only one that comes to mind is the inclusion of Leighton Meester’s baby-sitter character. The jokes cracked here are very lame and it is clear that the only reason she is there is because she is from “Gossip Girl”. There are also some moments which don’t add up in the grand scheme of things either. Yet, these moments thankfully do not make up the film. The majority of it is just creatively fun and laugh out loud funny.

As for the acting, not Oscar-worthy, but both Steve Carell and Tina Fey are hilarious. “Date Night” is a must see for fans of either of these two. The two have great on screen chemistry and work so well together. They just seem to compliment and work off each other. It is definitely Steve Carell’s funniest big screen role since “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”. Fans of “30 Rock” will love the comedy in the film and will see Liz Lemon in many of Fey’s scenes. Taraji P. Henson is great as the tough Detective Arroyo and Kristen Wigg is hilarious as the Foster’s friend, Haley Sullivan. There is also cameo’s galore throughout the film which only add to the fun.

“Date Night” is a film which people of all ages will enjoy. More an adult comedy than one for the teenagers, but no doubt they will enjoy it too. The film will make married couples realise how just one night out of the ordinary can make the world of difference. A great comedy film that will be one of the comedies 2010 is remembered for.
7/10

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kick-Ass


Kick-Ass
Year: 2010
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicholas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong

In My Own Words
“Kick-Ass” is definitely one film that I had an opinion about even before I saw it. I have been looking forward to this film coming out for quite awhile, even before most people knew about it. As soon as I heard that it wasn’t a typical superhero movie, I was ready to line up for it as I love a film that defies the norm.

However, even before I saw this film, the controversy surrounding it got my blood boiling. “Kick-Ass” has come under scrutiny because of its violent scenes and coarse language. Not only this, but most of the violence and bad language comes from 13 year old Chloe Grace Moretz. Many people have been up in arms about this, and don’t get me wrong, I can see how some people would find this offensive and wrong. My argument against this is that the movie is rated MA15+ in Australia and R17+ in the USA for a reason. People have taken their children to see this movie completely ignoring the censors warning and assuming it to be a typical superhero movie. If you ignore these censors, then yes, you will be completely shocked and if you take your children to see this, you will wish you hadn’t. Going to a film such as this, knowing what it is about and being offended, would be like watching a porn film and being offended by the sexual content. If you do get offended by strong language and violence, nobody is forcing you to see this film so don’t complain about it. This is the same for Chloe Grace Moretz. No doubt you would’ve heard some of the things which she does in this film and if you think this sounds horrible, nobody is forcing you to watch her. Miss Moretz is no stranger herself to horrific films after staring in the 2005 remake of “The Amityville Horror” and she will be starring in the upcoming “Let Me In”. I doubt she will feel particularly scarred from this role. I would love to hear other people’s opinions on this film and its surrounding controversy as well, so please feel free to talk about it here. My advice is, take note of the classifications and don’t complain if you don’t.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“Kick-Ass” is unlike any other superhero movie. It is probably the most in your face superhero movie you will ever see, but nevertheless a breath of fresh air and great entertainment. Many people will find much of the film too hard to handle with its extreme violence, but if you can get past that and realise that this is only a movie, it is actually quite fun to watch. It has one valuable message in it, that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Of course, just remember, that this doesn’t mean that those extraordinary things will always involve killing the bad guys. Invisible high school student Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) has decided that he wants to become a superhero. He has no super powers and his only asset is his good heart. After his alter ego, Kick-Ass becomes an internet phenomenon, he inspires a whole new group of superheroes. Enter Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and his sidekick and 11 year old daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz). These two are the real deal and come equipped with their own special weapons and fighting moves, also a motive for revenge on Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), who is after Kick-Ass.

The film opens with a taste of things to come, confronting and gruesome, but also hilarious. Most of the shocks come in the first half of the film and if you are not offended by then, you won’t be. Matthew Vaughn’s film is almost like a “Kill Bill” for younger people and Vaughn direction is much like that of Quinton Tarantino’s. There are some great moments in the film, with the right cinematography and editing chosen for the right scenes. The soundtrack is also notable, sometimes being creepy and other times being fun and uplifting. The script is witty and very well written. “Kick-Ass” is completely original for the most part, but it still has many aspects of it that are typical to a superhero movie. It does tend to get cliché towards the end and although it is still suspenseful, it also becomes quite predictable.

Aaron Johnson gives a solid performance as Dave/Kick-Ass. He draws a lot of laughs, but at the same time a lot of sympathy. He can be so pathetic in the first half of the film that you feel sorry for him and even embarrassed for him. Nicholas Cage also doesn’t give a bad performance, but it is quite a strange performance. He looks so much like Stanley Tucci as Mr Harvey in “The Lovely Bones” that it distracts from his character in the film. Chloe Grace Moretz is the star of the film, although she is also the most controversial. The people who do not find her role offensive, will find her very entertaining and girls will find her empowering. It would be true to say that if the character of Hit Girl/ Mindy was only a few years older, she would not have been as controversial. Yet if she was, she would have been the same run of the mill female superhero and be branded as corny. Hit Girl is anything but that. She is completely out of the ordinary and although some of the things that leave her mouth are shocking, at least she isn’t like every other female superhero that has been and gone.

It cannot be reinforced enough that “Kick-Ass” is not a film for everyone. It is almost difficult to pinpoint the target audience for this film as it is like a high school film, crossed with a superhero action film, crossed with a shock comedy. Yet, if you get past all the controversy and the shock, it is a great and entertaining film. The ending indicates that there may be a sequel, but one has not yet been announced yet. Sequels are known for stretching past what the first film has done, so we may be in for more “Kick-Ass” shocks in the future!
7.5/10

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo



The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Year: 2009
Director: Niels Arden Opley
Cast: Michel Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Sven-Bertil Taube

In My Own Words
I feel like this review is quite belated. I only saw the film tonight, but I have been meaning to see it since its opening day. I had been so excited about the film release of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” because I am a big fan of the book. I have no idea why it took me so long to see the film.

I was so happy that I was going to see a film that was based on a Swedish book and was going to be in the Swedish language. I am not a fan of when films are based in a non-English speaking country, but the dialogue is in English. It detracts the credibility of the film for me. I’ve loved all the past Swedish films I have seen so that is another reason why I was happy the film would be in Swedish. However, it was strange for me when the film started. For how excited I had been to see the film in Swedish, I realized that because I had read the book in English, I had been seeing and hearing the characters speaking English dialogue and it was almost a shock to the system seeing these characters on the big screen, but with Swedish dialogue coming out of their mouths! But I soon got used to it and it became it exactly the way good foreign films become with me, I completely forget that I am watching a foreign film as the pictures and the subtitles seem to blend together.

I really enjoyed this film. They did change quite a few things from the book, but I understand why as they wouldn’t have worked on the big screen. I even found the film suspenseful even though I knew what was going to happen. I would love to hear from people who have and haven’t read the book as to what their thoughts were about the film. For those who have read the book, did you find the film suspenseful even though you knew what was going to happen? And to those who have not read the novel, did you pick the ending at all?

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is a film that is captivating, suspenseful, beautiful, intriguing and disturbing. It is a film that proves that some films really can be just as good as the novel which it is adapted from and fans of the novel will definitely be pleased by it. It is one of the best mysteries to be released in the past few years. Although it is quite lengthy at 153 minutes, not a scene is considered unnecessary and every single scene plays a role in the unraveling of the story. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is the first film in the Millenium trilogy, of which the second film, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” will be released later this year. Mikhail Bloomkist ( Michael Nyqvist), a reporter in hot water, is asked by Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) to investigate the disappearance and assumed murder of his niece, Harriet. Bloomkist employs the help of Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) to help him in his investigation. Together, they unlock some shocking Vanger family secrets and put themselves in great danger.

Films adapted from popular novels will always do well in the box office, but these films are not always as exceptional quality as their inspirations. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is extremely well made and it does not seem anywhere near as long as what it actually is. It is thrilling and a must for anyone who enjoys to be kept guessing throughout a film. Many people will be put off by the fact that it is in Swedish which means that they will have to read subtitles for 2 ½ hours, but it is definitely worth it. Right from the beginning, the audience is intrigued and starts guessing as to what is coming next. Director Niels Arden Opley has done a fantastic job at bringing the story to life and making sure that the film holds its own. The Swedish scenery is breathtaking and the musical score is perfect. It accompanies the film in the best way and adds to the emotion and suspense of the film. However, do be prepared as the film is not for the faint hearted as there are some incredibly intense sexual violence scenes, as well as some violent images in general.

The focal point of the film is Lisbeth Salander, who is the girl with the dragon tattoo. Noomi Rapace is perfectly cast as Lisbeth and is an absolutely intriguing character. The way in which she has been created for the screen is as though, as much as the film shows of her, she is still an enigma. She holds so much mystery herself, as the film points out straight or gay? Is she the victim or the bad guy? Is she stHowever cold and mysterious she seems, she is also likable, despite some of the bizarre things she does. Rapace is able to remain stone-like as Lisbeth throughout the film, but is also able to show he anger, her and vulnerability at the right times. Michael Nyqvist does not have a hard role to play in the film, but nevertheless does it well. However, some of their co-stars ( it is impossible here to say the actors names and not give away the ending) under-act their parts and are disappointing. Luckily they have two string main actors who are able to overshadow and take the focus off them.

Even if you are not a fan of foreign films, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is a great film to watch if you like to be kept guessing. Its characters are memorable and the film itself is unforgettable.
8/10

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Bounty Hunter


The Bounty Hunter
Year: 2010
Director: Andy Tennant
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Christine Baranski

In My Own Words
I try not to take too much notice of other film reviews before I see a film myself and can form an opinion myself. I don’t like to feel as though I have been persuaded to feel a certain way about a film. But the reviews for “The Bounty Hunter” were pretty hard to ignore, who can ignore the declaration that this is the worst movie of 2010! I was not looking forward to seeing this film for that reason. Maybe I wouldn’t have seen it at all until it came out on DVD unless I had a free ticket. Walking into the cinema, I was definitely prepared to see the worst movie I would see all year. It’s funny how a film that has a stigma attached to it as being a really, really bad film can sometimes make people want to watch it. I was actually curious to see it to make an educated decision as to whether it really is the worst film of the year, and to see really how bad it was. Almost like when I wanted to see “Gigli” with Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez and Al Pacino, just to see how horrible it really was.

Well, it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t the worst film I had seen this year at the cinemas. I believe “Old Dogs” takes that prize thus far. So it’s probably the second worst movie I have seen so far this year. I am pretty sure that minus the film’s two main stars, the film would have been a B grade, straight to DVD film. One good thing did come out of this film though. I wasn’t a big Jennifer Aniston fan before this film, but she was probably the best thing about this film and I was impressed that she could carry such a bad film.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“The Bounty Hunter” is just silly. That is the best word to describe the film. It is over the top and completely predictable. Even by looking at the poster for the film, you can tell exactly what the ending is. The concept is not one which is meant to be serious in the first place and does seem to be perfect for a comedy, but could have been toned down far more than how it was presented. Every ex-husband out there will toy with the idea of taking their ex-wife to jail and do so with glee, but the presentation of it as an on screen comedy just doesn’t work. Milo (Gerard Butler) is an ex-policeman who makes his money by being a bounty hunter. He is over the moon when he finds out that there is a warrant on his ex-wife, Nicole (Jennifer Aniston). Milo becomes mixed up with a story which Nicole is researching for her paper and it turns out he is not the only one after his ex-wife.

The major problem with this film is that everything is completely exaggerated. Perhaps the most irritating exaggeration is the music in the film. The music does not compliment the scenes, it overpowers it. There is no such thing in this film as background music and a subtle musical score, it is in your face the whole time and is just plain annoying. The characters are also extremely exaggerated. Maybe not the characters of Nicole and Milo, but the characters around them just seem to have way too much character. It is almost as if director, Andy Tennant is trying too hard to make “The Bounty Hunter” into a hilarious and successful film. Maybe if he didn’t try so hard, it wouldn’t have come across as such a mess.

Gerard Butler definitely does not give his bets performance in the film, but he is definitely not one of the striking bad points in the film. There isn’t a great deal of acting or even effort that goes into his performance. Jennifer Aniston does not do a bad job either. However, the role is much like other roles which she has done in the past and is a role she does well. These two stars save the film from being a complete waste of time.

“The Bounty Hunter” has attracted interest purely for its main stars, there is no other reason to see this film. There are no moments in this comedy which will make you laugh out loud, but rather have a bit of a giggle at certain moments. Not the worst film of the year, but not far off.
3/10

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon



How To Train Your Dragon
Year: 2010
Director: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson

In My Own Words
Finally a film that makes me believe that 3D may actually be all it is cracked up to be. “How To Train Your Dragon” really made me believe that 3D does definitely have the ability to add to the movie experience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that 3D shouldn’t be flaunted and used in every single film that is either animated or has action sequences. Take “Alice In Wonderland” for example. The film did not need to be in 3D as there was very little in the film which actually benefited by it. Falling down the rabbit hole was pretty impressive, but that is the only part I can even remember in 3D. Truthfully during “Alice” I had forgotten it was in 3D and was getting annoyed with having to wear glasses. “How To Train Your Dragon” was the complete opposite and I am so glad I saw it in 3D rather than in 2D. I came out of the cinema in complete awe of what I had just seen. And I do believe,that if you are in a cinema filled with children under 10 and you forget that they are these as they are so quiet, you have seen something truly captivating.

I really, really enjoyed this film. I loved the childlike nature of it, but how there was also so much emotion in it. As my fiancé said when we were leaving the film “It’s funny how an animated film can sometimes provoke more emotion than a non-animated film”, and he is completely right. Is it because animation has really come that far? I think not. I look back at the early Disney movies and some of those films can make me sadder than some recent films that are supposed to be tear-jerkers. Who will ever forget Bambi losing his mother or even Lady rejecting Tramp? Animated or non-animated, it all comes down to the talent of the filmmakers and their ability to stir up the emotions of the audience. That’s what great filmmaking is.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review

Welcome to the world of “How To Train Your Dragon”, where Vikings rule and slay dragons to show their strength and dominance. The newest animated release from directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders is sure to be a favourite for people of all ages, not just children. Unlike many other films, it has the ability to combine an air of playfulness with an action packed adventure while tugging on your heart. This combination is one which so many films struggle to achieve, let alone animated films. Hiccup ( Jay Baruchel) is a black sheep in his Viking hometown, and his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler) has no problem telling him so. It is a Viking’s duty to slay dragons, so when Hiccup captures one, instead of killing it, he befriends it. The dragon, which he names Toothless, becomes much like a pet to him and teaches him that their violent ways are merely survival instincts, a revelation in Viking society.

“How To Train Your Dragon” is more than just an animated film for children. Children will definitely enjoy it, but adults will enjoy how the film mixes fantasy with reality. The main attractions of the film are the mythical dragons, but it also has some very real issues. Many of people will see parts of themselves in Hiccup, who is the underachiever who fails to live up to what society and his family want him to be. The film also has the underlying theme of “Never judge a book by its cover”, as the dragons are perceived as being murderous beings, but are misjudged. The film, like many animations, does lean towards a happy ending, but it does also show that human beings (and cartoon characters) are not invincible and indestructible. These themes allow “How To Train Your Dragon” to stir up many emotions inside the audience and therefore how successful a film it really is.

The visuals are absolutely beautiful in this film and, whether the film is viewed in 3D or not, some of the shots are absolutely breathtaking. The characters are very well constructed and the majority of the dragons, especially Toothless, are extremely lovable. Many people will come away from the film wanting a dragon that acts like a domestic dog or cat of their own. There are many different types of dragons and each type is extremely well constructed and original. The film is almost like a dragon handbook, if dragons did actually exist. The dragons make the films content completely original and great fun to watch. The only downfall of the film is that the musical score did not seem to fit in with the film. It felt like there was almost a lack of a score, but the movie didn’t need to much help from background music to add to the emotion as the story and characters did this themselves.

“How To Train Your Dragon” is a rare animated film which is funny, sad, suspenseful and even romantic at times. Although fantasy, it can be extremely realistic at times, which may seem like a challenge, but the filmmakers pull it off and do so with style and subtlety. The best animation of 2010 thus far.
8/10

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Last Station



The Last Station
Year: 2009
Director: Michael Hoffman
Cast: Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti

In My Own Words
Today I am sure I was the youngest person in the cinema to watch “The Last Station”. I’m not entirely sure why that was, but don’t get me wrong, it didn’t bother me at all. I don’t particularly see why “The Last Station” has been particularly stereotyped as being just for the older audience. Maybe it’s because in Sydney it was advertised as closing the Seniors Film Festival at Dendy Cinemas 2 weeks ago, or maybe it’s because Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer are headlining it. Or maybe it is because the combination of Leo Tolstoy, romance and the early 20th century time period just do not seem even remotely interesting to the youth of today. I’m not quite sure that many of the young generation today would know who Leo Tolstoy is, unless they are avid readers like myself. I myself think that “Anna Karenina” is one of the beautifully written books, so I was overjoyed to know that there was going to be a movie about the great man and that Christopher Plummer was playing him. I really believe Plummer did the role complete justice, as did Helen Mirren in playing Countess Sofya.

I have always had a love hate relationship with films which are filmed in a non-English speaking country, but have English dialogue. “The Last Station” is another one of these films. Sometimes I think I would prefer to see a film set in a country and spoken in the same language as it would make it more realistic, but at the same time I understand why such films are done in English as it increases the audience scope. So many people get put off by the idea of going to see a film in a foreign language as they feel like it is work watching as well as having to read at the same time. Some films with the foreign country and English dialogue can really irk me, especially when the dialogue also has the wrong accent, but this film was not one of them.

By the way, does anyone else have the problem where anytime they see Christopher Plummer, all they can think is “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” No? Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, these are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“The Last Station” is one of those films which you watch, and forget that you are actually watching actors act. Although the film can seem a bit slow in parts, the acting is absolutely superb and is to be celebrated. The film may not suit all film goers, as period piece author biopics are not to everybody’s liking. “The Last Station” retells the last year of celebrated author, Leo Tolstoy’s (Christopher Plummer) life. In particular, it focuses on Tolstoy’s relationship with his wife, Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren). As a result of mixed political views, their marriage of 42 years was extremely turbulent, but could also be extremely passionate and loving. The film completely captures the raw emotion of their relationship, as well as the relationships of Tolstoy and the Countess with all the people closest to them.

Although the film is there to tell the story of Tolstoy’s last year, it is more about the characters. The direction by Michael Hoffman is spectacular in this way, as he brings out the best in all the actors who take part in the film and it is unbelievable how the audience feels as if they personally know and empathize with each of the characters. Unfortunately, being a character driven film, this does slow down the pace of the film which some audience members will find to be a disadvantage, while others will realize that every moment in the film adds to the realism of each of the characters. The visuals are also quite stunning of the Russian countryside in which Tolstoy and his family made their residence. The only downfall with the direction is that some of the landscape panning shots are a little too fast and do not allow for the audience to take in all of what they see on screen.

Both Plummer and Mirren earned themselves Academy Award nominations for their performances in “The Last Station” and this is not a surprise at all. Mirren is absolutely superb as Countess Sofya. She shows so many emotions within the film and does each perfectly. Mirren has said of this film that she did not look too much into how the Countess was in real life, but created her own interpretation of how she believed the wife of Tolstoy should have been. She excels at this and definitely brings the character to life. Plummer is also wonderful as Tolstoy, created a completely lovable characters whom the audience immediately falls in love with. James McAvoy is also brilliant as Valetin Belgakov. When he meets Tolstoy for the first time is particularly a stand out moment, showing the true emotion of a pupil meeting his hero for the first time.

“The Last Station” cannot be missed by anyone who is a Tolstoy fan, or a fan of great acting. There are many moments which linger once the film is finished and make this one of the finest biopics of the year.
8/10

Friday, April 2, 2010

Clash Of The Titans


Clash Of The Titans
Year: 2010
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton

In My Own Words
Curiousity usually gets the better of me with movies. If a film is based on a book, I will read the book before I see it. If the film is a remake, I will see the original before I see it. However, this was not the case with “Clash Of The Titans”. I have not seen the original “Clash Of The Titans”, and this time I was actually really pleased that I hadn’t. It felt like one of the only times I have been able to judge a remade film as a stand alone film. I have heard that fans of the original film have not liked the remake, and that there is numerous differences between the two. So my thoughts on the film may also be different to those of the original film’s fans, as I was watching it in a different way to them. I will watch the original “Clash Of The Titans” in the future. It will be interesting to see whether I like the idea of seeing the original after a movie, more than seeing it before, although I guess that will always depend on the movie I am watching.

My opinion of the film, definitely not the best blockbuster action movie I have seen, far from it. Yet the story kept me entertained for most of it. I have never known much about Greek mythology. I had a crash course during my Media, Ideology and Culture class a year and a half ago in college, but that was only the basics. So I learnt a lot more during this film and I would love to find out more it in the future. Oh, by the way, remember how in my review for “The Rebound” I mentioned how at the cinemas, it is like you are seeing double when seeing what is now showing? This is another type of film I can add to the equation. “Clash Of The Titans” and the upcoming “Prince Of Persia” look incredibly similar in the trailers. Particularly since Gemma Arterton is in both films.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Review
“Clash Of The Titans” is a film that could have been so much more. The subject matter is one that so much could have been achieved with, yet it falls remarkably short. For those who are not interested in Greek mythology and special effects don’t strike a chord, this film will be an utter bore. The story and special effects are what save the film. Perseus (Sam Worthington) is found at birth by a fisherman and his wife, who raise him as their own. When the human race rebels against the Gods, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) kills his family in his attack on the people. Perseus vows revenge against the Gods and sets fort with the soldiers of Argos to battle the Gods. It is during this time that Perseus is approached by Io (Gemma Arterton) and told that he is in fact the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), making him half man, half God.

What makes “Clash Of The Titans” a forgettable film is purely a case of bad directing. The film is not suspenseful or gripping at all in the way that an action film should be. It just feels weak and at no time do you feel completely engrossed in the film. Although Sam Worthington is usually in his element in an action film, as has been proved in “Terminator Salvation” and “Avatar”, this role does not do him any justice. His dialogue feels over-acted and at times almost inappropriate and silly. The camera angles and styles used during several of the crucial scenes do not work well and all and do no justice for the actors or the story. The camera use does not compliment Worthington’s performance at all, and does the same thing for Gemma Arterton’s performance. This also comes down to a bad choice of dialogue in the screenplay. Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson do well as the two deities, but their roles are quite miniscule compared to Worthington’s. One can also argue that there is perhaps too many characters in the film, and not enough room for character development of each of them. Perseus is well constructed, but there is really no room for any more character development for others.

On the other hand, the special effects and the visuals are quite stunning. They are well crafted and bring the world of Greek mythology to life. Such visuals as the Pegasus and Medusa are gorgeous. They also seem completely realistic, which is always a huge advantage when undertaking a mythical project. The interpretation of the ancient, mythical world is well done. It is very interesting and a great lesson for those who are not familiar with Greek mythology. The film does differ from it’s original, which some people will appreciate, while others will not be impressed by.

It is a shame that “Clash Of The Titans” does not measure up to what it could have been. It is nothing more than a mediocre action film with a good subject matter. With a better direction style and a stronger screenplay, it could have been one of the great action/adventure films of 2010, but instead is a film that will not be remembered in years to come, except as maybe a helpful resource when studying Greek mythology and its characters.
5/10

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rising Star: Aaron Johnson


It’s been awhile since Movie Critical has done a Rising Star post, so here it is now! This time around we have chosen Aaron Johnson as our Rising Star. Despite his young age, this UK actor is no stranger to show business. He has been in several productions over the years, but with his starring role in the critically acclaimed “Nowhere Boy” and the release of the highly anticipated “Kick-Ass”, his star is definitely on the rise.

Aaron Johnson was born on the 13th of June 1990 in High Wycombe in England. He started acting at the age of 6, when he started attending the Jackie Palmer Stage School in the same town as his birth. In his time here, he studied acting, dance and acrobatics. Johnson appeared in several productions both on stage and on film.
Johnson’s big break was playing the heart throb, Robbie in “Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging”. From here, he gathered quite a fan club. However, it was in the biopic, “Nowhere Boy” that the world became familiar with Aaron Johnson and his superb acting abilities. Sam Taylor Wood chose to cast Johnson in the lead role of the film as the young John Lennon. Such a role came with high expectations, and Johnson fulfilled this expectation by creating the perfect interpretation of one of the greatest musicians of our time. This film also marked a significant event in Johnson’s and Sam Taylor Wood’s life. The two became a couple and were engaged not long before the release of the film. The couple are also expecting their first child in the latter half of 2010. This relationship has been highly featured in gossip columns because of the 22 year age difference between the two. However, the age difference is not as startling in 2010 as it would have been in the past, and the couple are said to be very happy and do not let the age come between them.


“Kick-Ass” is set to be released in Australia on the 8th of April and 16th of April in the United States. Johnson plays the lead role of Dave Lizewski, whose secret persona is super-hero Kick-Ass. The film has already attracted loads of media attention and has already collected favourable reviews in its advanced previews. Johnson’s next project is in the Hideo Nakata directed film, “Chatroom”.

Aaron Johnson is fast impressing everyone in the film world with his versatile and intriguing roles. There is no doubt that this younger performer has a great deal ahead of him and we look forward to seeing a great deal more of him in the future!