29 July 2011

ARRIETTY- Review

It could reasonably be said that people have been unfair to Cars 2 because it's Pixar's combo-breaker, and the first of their features not to get more or less universally positive reviews. Perhaps there's some truth in that, but an animation studio that's similarly put on a pedestal is Studio Ghibli. Now I don't know that I rate their work as highly as Pixar's, but I can say at the end of this week, Arrietty is a damn sight better than Cars 2.

Ghibli's latest is an adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers, relocated to contemporary Tokyo. Shō is a young boy with heart trouble, dispatched to live with his great aunt for the summer. He spies a tiny girl upon his arrival, and becomes fascinated by the Borrowers. The Clocks are a family of Borrowers who live beneath Shō's new home, and their daughter, Arrietty, is equally as fascinated by the world of "human beans".

27 July 2011

CARS 2- Review

To put this mildly, the first Cars is no longer this studio's weakest outing. To put it in a different manner, Pixar Animation Studios have come out with their first cash-grab film; a sequel to the property that's netted them more toy revenue than even the series in which all the main characters are actually toys. I'm not amongst those lining up to shit on Pixar for Cars 2, but it does feel like the film shat on me.

Lightning McQueen is now a four-time Piston Cup winner, looking forward to a summer spent with his best bud, Mater, in the idyllic small town of Radiator Springs. In a move that's less Toy Story 2 and more Mr. Bean 2, the action moves abroad when Mater ropes McQueen into the car-niverse's first World Grand Prix. The races will run on Allinol, a new alternative fuel about which British spy-car Finn McMissile has his suspicions.

25 July 2011

HORRIBLE BOSSES- Review

Have you noticed how a lot of what financial analysts might call this summer's big comedies have really bland titles? Bridesmaids? Bad Teacher? And this week, Horrible Bosses enters the arena. Like Bad Teacher, it merely tells you that there will be bosses, and that they are horrible. It's to say nothing of the plot though, which errs closely to Strangers On A Train, name-checked in the film itself.

Nick, Kurt and Dale are three blokes who can't afford to quit their jobs, and yet find their lives gradually being ruined by their heinous employers. Nick's boss is a manipulative sadist, Kurt finds his idyllic employment wrecked by the sudden death of his boss and subsequent ascension of his cokehead son, and Dale is being sexually harrassed by the dentist he assists. Seeing no other way out, the three of them decide to pull off the perfect crime by murdering each other's bosses.

22 July 2011

BlogalongaBond- DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER Review

No, I'm not kidding...
Following the bold change-up presented by On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Eon slipped back into old habits in a bid to recreate the most popular elements of Goldfinger. Sean Connery was enticed back into Bond's shoes after George Lazenby, perhaps unwisely, chose not to sign on for more outings as the lead. The producers also reacquired director Guy Hamilton, and came out with Diamonds Are Forever.

Sadly, the terrific ending of the previous film is all but forgotten. We might as well have jumped straight here from You Only Live Twice, because nobody mentions the late Mrs. Bond and we find 007 with just as much determination to hunt down Blofeld as he did before the baldy face-changer assassinated Tracy. Apparently achieving his mission before the opening titles, Bond gets a new assignment- to uncover a covert diamond smuggling ring, which is tied up with reclusive billionaire mogul Willard Whyte.

20 July 2011

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN- Review

Created by Jason Eisener for Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse trailers competition, Hobo With A Shotgun is another of those features adapted from a spoof "Coming Attractions" style preview. Like Machete before it, it runs out of steam after a certain point, but unlike Machete, it's mercifully uncomplicated.

Rutger Hauer plays the titular hobo, who hops off a freight train passing through Hope Town, re-dubbed Scum Town by the violent family of lunatics whose reign of crime beleaguers the town. The hobo's plan is to scrimp and save enough change to purchase a lawnmower from a pawn shop and start his own business. It's only when he realises how bad things are in the town that he decides to take justice into his own hands, by using his savings to buy a shotgun instead.

17 July 2011

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2- Spoiler Review

This review contains spoilers for all of the Harry Potter films.

As I've been mentioning all week, I can trace my interest in films back to the first Harry Potter film. I'd probably be writing a blog about books or some shit instead, or else doing a proper job, if it weren't for my obsessive interest in the production of that film. 10 years later and a lot of film reviews later, "it all ends here", as the posters and trailers for the final Harry Potter film have insisted.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 concludes the saga, based on JK Rowling's novel, over the course of one tumultuous day. In a breakneck change of pace from the year-long timescales of previous outings, this final day finds Harry, Ron and Hermione closing in on Lord Voldemort's three remaining Horcruxes. Returning to Hogwarts, they inadvertently bring the Dark Lord's wrath with them, and a final battle for the wizarding world commences.

15 July 2011

Looking back at Harry Potter- THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

In the run-up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I've written a number of articles reflecting on the Harry Potter films, which will appear throughout the week on Den of Geek. I'll also post them here... 

David Yates stayed on as director for Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince, along with much of the previous film's crew, but there was consternation at the news that Warner Bros was bumping the film from November 2008, in order to fill out its summer 2009 roster, a delay that Paramount had also made with JJ Abrams' Star Trek.

After some initial unrest in fandom, the move eventually made the film one of the most anticipated of the series, coming after a two-year gap since the previous film and the publication of the final book in JK Rowling's series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. It's to this film's advantage that it's the first of the series to be produced with full knowledge of the story's ending.

Read the full article on Den of Geek >>

14 July 2011

Looking back at Harry Potter- THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX


In the run-up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I've written a number of articles reflecting on the Harry Potter films, which will appear throughout the week on Den of Geek. I'll also post them here...

Although The Prisoner Of Azkaban is the film closest in tone to the book on which it is based, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix goes one better, by actually superseding the novel. Rowling's over-long fifth instalment could have used a good edit before publication, and I think, by her encouragement of Goldenberg's artistic licence with the adaptation, she had realised that too.

If Potter-sceptics didn't get the fuss about Alfonso Cuarón's effort, David Yates gives the series its second wind. The performances are better, the story flows more easily, and the political dimension shows that the series is growing up. And happily, this is a director who doesn't mistake darkness of tone for turning off the lights.

Read the full article on Den of Geek >>

13 July 2011

Looking back at Harry Potter- THE GOBLET OF FIRE

In the run-up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I've written a number of articles reflecting on the Harry Potter films, which will appear throughout the week on Den of Geek. I'll also post them here...

In comparison to the two films that preceded and succeeded it, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire seems like a somewhat undisciplined adaptation, protesting at what has gone before at the same time as it wiles away screen time on diversions such as Moaning Myrtle's attempted bath time seduction of Harry.

However, it preserves the book's constant sense of intrigue and it boasts not only some of the best action sequences in all of the films, but also one of the best endings. As baggy as some earlier scenes may be, it's a strong finish that announces the corporeal Voldemort as a great screen baddy.


Read the full article on Den of Geek >>

12 July 2011

Looking back at Harry Potter- THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN


In the run-up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I've written a number of articles reflecting on the Harry Potter films, which will appear throughout the week on Den of Geek. I'll also post them here...

This is the first story in the series that doesn't feature an appearance by Lord Voldemort, instead focusing on Sirius Black as an antagonist for much of the film. Black has escaped the wizarding prison, Azkaban, an act thought to be impossible. All indications are that he wants to avenge the Dark Lord by killing Harry Potter. 

Warned of Black's intentions, Harry returns to Hogwarts to find it guarded by the sentinels of Azkaban- vile magical creatures called Dementors. As Dementors feed on unhappy memories and past traumas, they have a more profound effect on Harry than anybody else, and with the help of the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin, he must learn to fight his fear.

Cuarón's influence on the series is immediately obvious. The film has a darker, more sophisticated palette, and cinematographer Michael Seresin brings in a desaturated look that's worlds away from the first two instalments.


Read the full article on Den of Geek >>

11 July 2011

Looking back at Harry Potter- THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

In the run-up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I've written a number of articles reflecting on the Harry Potter films, which will appear throughout the week on Den of Geek. I'll also post them here...

Three days after Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released worldwide, and broke box office records here, there and everywhere in its opening weekend, production pushed forward on the first sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Warner Bros. had all of the cast contracted for the first four films, and immediately exercised their option for part 2, targeting a November 2002 release date. Behind the scenes, Steve Kloves reprised his screen-writing role and Chris Columbus returned to the director's chair.

Read the full article on Den of Geek >>

10 July 2011

Looking back at Harry Potter- THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE

In the run-up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I've written a number of articles reflecting on the Harry Potter films, which will appear throughout the week on Den of Geek. I'll also post them here...

On a personal level, I can trace my interest in films back to the production of the first film in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Having loved all of the books released at that point, I absorbed every nugget of information I could find about the big-screen version, before the film's release in November 2001.

It's for that reason that while I might forget my PIN number or when my birthday is, I can recall the name of the actor who played Quidditch captain Oliver Wood at will. These were the beginnings of my film geekdom. But it's in retrospect, and with the added capacities that come with being older than 11, that you notice these aren't flawless films.


Read the full article on Den of Geek >>

8 July 2011

SUPER- Review

At the end of a strange week in film, comes Super, the new film from Slither helmer James Gunn. Following in the footsteps of last year's Kick-Ass and Defendor, comparisons to those two movies are not only inevitable, but also mandatory. If the superhero movie genre is slightly exhausted, can it be that we're already close to exhausing its post-modern variant too?

Super is the story of Frank, a devout Christian who's as happy as can be for someone who believes happiness is overrated. That all changes when his wife Sarah, a recovering drug addict, leaves him and shacks up with Jacque, a charismatic dealer and crime lord. Distraught, Frank becomes convinced that he has a higher purpose. To wit, he believes that God wants him to dress in costume and deliver His wrath as The Crimson Bolt. As you do.

6 July 2011

TRUST- Review

Everybody likes Tom Hanks, right? Well, I think the crowd's more divided on David "Ross from Friends" Schwimmer, and yet a couple of days after I reviewed Hanks' latest, I saw Schwimmer's most recent directorial effort, which is entirely the anti-Larry Crowne. If one is a film that is completely inoffensive to the point of tedium, the other one is Trust.

Clive Owen plays Will Cameron, an ad man who dotes upon his 14-year-old daughter, Annie. Will buys Annie a new computer for her birthday, through which she is able to more regularly chat with her online penpal, Charlie. He's a 15 year old from California, who then admits that he's 20. And then 25. When Annie agrees to meet up with Charlie, both she and Will are rocked to their core, and their relationship may never be the same again.

4 July 2011

LARRY CROWNE- Review

As pet projects go, Larry Crowne isn't a bad film. As a pet project for Tom Hanks, whose first feature was That Thing You Do!, it's a little more disappointing. Hanks' second film is clearly a very personal project, as it's a film that he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in. It's also a film that is almost completely without conflict.

Larry is a hardworking but anonymous megamart worker for whom the highlight of each month is being named Employee of the Month. At the end of this particular month, he's fired as a result of both corporate downsizing and his lack of a college education. With a messy divorce putting a drain on his resources, Larry resolves to head back to college, refusing to be cowed by his circumstances and maintaining a bright outlook regardless.

1 July 2011

Superman vs. Hollywood- Jake Rossen

Book reviews aren't usually the forte of this here blog. Then again, if I can recommend a film-related book as good as Superman vs. Hollywood every now and then, I suppose I'm doing my part for literacy, to make up for telling you to go and sit in dark rooms and watch films during the summer.

In Superman vs. Hollywood, Jake Rossen gives an in-depth study of Superman's relationship with the big screen and television, and the obscenely complicated machinations that have either held up, obfuscated or flat-out ruined different interpretations of the character. The book was published in 2008, and so it goes as far as the box office business of Superman Returns before its conclusion, but it's a bracing read for Superman fans who are concerned about Zack Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel...