Monday, 28 March 2016
Starring the vocal talents of: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Tommy CHong, Octavia Spencer and Shakira. Written by Jared Bush and Phil Johnson, based on a story by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee. Directed by Bryron Howard and Rich Moore. Running time 108 minutes. Budget $150 million.
Wow, what a surprise. An animated kids film about anthropomorphized animals that is both smart, funny and original.
The story sees country bunny, Judy Hopps realise her dreams of becoming the first rabbit to join the Zootopia police force and leave home to begin a new life away from her risk adverse parents and her 250 odd brothers and sisters. The trouble is that Chief Bogo (a water buffallo played by, Idris Elba) doesn't think she's up to the job and assigns her to traffic duty rather than investigate a spate of missing persons cases that have sprung up all over the city. But Judy jumps at the opportunity and hops right on board, and through her sheer single-minded tenacity and the help of con-man, sorry con-fox Nick Wilde, Jason Bateman uncovers a sinister conspiracy at the heart of this incredible metropolis that threatens to destroy Zootopia itself! From then on it's a trawl through the udder-belly of this astonishingly realised city from naturist commune, to top secret laboratory to Mouse-mafia wedding to uncover the shocking truth.
I swear to god, this is the kid's movie equivalent of Soylent Green, but without the 'Soylent Green is people, people!' moment. I mean seriously at the heart of this wonderful film is a fantastic conspiracy that takes this movie to a whole other level! With glorious animation, simply superb art direction and more ideas than a hundred Kung Fu Pandas and Good Dinosaurs combined, this is an absolute treat and richly deserves to win next year's Oscar for best animated film.
So many funny characters, ideas, and dialogue. This is truly the cinematic version of Richard Scarry's Great Big Mystery Book!
Nothing bad to bleat about in this film, just an immensely satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable movie. And it's a credit to both John Lassiter and Walt Disney Animation Studios for once again realising that when it comes to animated movies, story is king.
Now, could someone please tell Zach Synder.
Hunt Zootopis down now.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisneberg, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane and Holly Hunter. Written by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio. Directed by Zack Snyder. Running time 151 minutes. Budget $250 million dollars.
WHAM! BAM! POW! Here it comes! Batman Vs Superman, DC's answer to Marvel's dominance of the box office. A film yearned for by fan boys for what seems like forever. Indeed it's also one of the true great cinema tropes, that of the team-up or the 'versus' movie. Universal did it back in the 1940s with their monster team ups culminating in the 1944 movie, House of Dracula where Dracs, Frankie and Wolfie have a house party. Since then, Alien and Predator have done it, as have Jason and Freddy and let's not forget Godzilla vs King Kong! And comics have been doing it since the Human Torch teamed up with Sub Mariner back in the 1940s.
And now it's time for two of the oldest comic book superheroes to square up and find out once and for all who would win in a fight between, the Man of Steel and the Dark Detective. Well rest assured I'm not going to spoil the outcome here! You're going to have to sit through all 151 minutes yourself to find out yourself. Although the answer comes in at the 120 minute mark or thereabouts.
So, what about the previous 120 minutes and the following long minutes afterwards, are they any good? Do they hold up? Well, rest easy true believers, this is by no means a terrible film, it's just not terribly good either I'm afraid to say.
It's exceedingly and un-neccessrily long, indeed if you cut out all the loooongggg slow motion sequences you could easily cut half an hour off this film and not lose a thing. It's also incredibly stupid, characters say and do utterly stupid things just to make this bloated script stumble along to the next plot point. It's extraordinarily poe-faced, taking itself far too seriously but worst of all, it's staggeringly dull. Dull with a capital D. U. L. L. long portions of this film just putt-putt along waiting for something to happen, indeed the main bout, that between our two heroes is two hours or so in the making. A slow ponderous build up, like the longest wind-up in history and the incredibly annoying thing is that when it finally arrives it's utterly ruined by the knowledge that if Superman had just taken a moment to explain his predicament to Batman, then they wouldn't needed to have fight at all.
Basically it's a mash up of two comic book classics, Frank Miller's Dark Knight and The Death of Superman. The story, reduced to its basic essence is as follows: Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne doesn't like Superman. Lex Luthor doesn't like Superman. Holly Hunter doesn't like Superman. Even Superman doesn't like Superman. Bats swears to do something. Lex swears to do something, Holly Hunter swears to do something. Supes sort of mopes about. Brucie needs Kryptonite and spends ages getting some and Lex beavers away like a mad scientist making something really bad. Anyway after about 2 hours of this back and forthing, Bats and Supes sort of meet up have a punch up and then team up with Wonder Woman to defeat something really bad created by Lex Luthor. So far so the trailer. And then the ending arrives and everybody hugs and tells each other about the power of love and working together like some sort of team and Superman asks where Dawn is?
But, it's not all hateful tedium, there was plenty to like about this film: I really liked Affleck's Batman, I really liked Jeremy Iron's Alfred, I also really liked Jessie Eisneberg's Lex Luthor (although he's the only actor who seems to think he's in a panto) and like every one else, I loved Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, although when you think about WW she's a bit of a dick. BUT what I didn't like was Henry Cavill, he really is a charisma free plank of ham. Every time he's on the screen a little part of you dies, he looks like he's trodden in a dog poo, all scrunched up face and pouty-like, with his hideous slicked back, side-parted hair and his dreary, colourless suit. He mopes around sucking the fun out of everything, like some sort of fun-sucker. And when he's Clark Kent he's a whiny little bitch, but at least his hair looks nicer.
The fights are for the most part great, particularly when it's against humans or the titular one of the title, it's just when it becomes a CGI slug fest, you utterly lose connection with the reality and there's no sense that our menage a trois are actually working together, apart from the 'I thought she was with you.' line which is bloody funny during the final battle no one said anything.
But enough waffling. I had gone on to write about all the plot points that left niggling questions in my mind, but seriously what's the point? In a nutshell, this is a big bloated, stupid superhero blockbuster and as such does exactly what it says on the tin. It cost an astonishingly stupid amount of money, it features astonishingly stupid dialogue and characters doing astonishingly stupid things to push the whole astonishing stupid thing along. It's by no means hateful, it is at times thrilling and exciting, particularly Batman's part but ultimately it's far too long and it's the length that drags this down and there's not nearly enough Wonder Woman.
Unlike the last Star Wars movie, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 3 and even the Nolan Batmans, I won't be going back to see this again, once was enough. I might pick up the Blu Ray if it's unrated, but I'll probably wait for it to turn up in my local CEX store.
A poe-faced, glum, grim and moody experience with not one scintilla of light or fun. If that's going to be the DC way then good luck but I'll make mine Marvel.
Sunday, 27 March 2016
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J.K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross and Bryan Cranston. Written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni. 95 minutes long. $145 million budget.
It's round three of the Kung Fu Panda series. So same as before, sumptuous visuals, amazing animation a few wise cracks, stuff for the kids, stuff for the parents and it doesn't outstay its welcome. Whether or not you enjoy this depends on how you feel about most of this film being set in a village filled with morbidly obese diabetic pandas, me personally I began to feel a little sickened by these horribly slothful and greedy black and white bastards. I have no problem at all with Jack Black's Poo being a rotund panda but the sight of a village's worth and the kids just felt a tad wrong to me. It felt like it was sending out the wrong signals.
That weird gripe aside, this was a fun, film with some good ideas, brilliantly executed.
PASSPORT TO PIMLICO
Starring: Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford and Barbara Murray. Written by T.E.B. Clarke directed by Henry Cornelius. 84 glorious minutes.
It's 1949 and Britain is still recovering from the war and suffering the frustrations of rationing, particularly the plucky inhabitants of Pimlico in the middle of the longest heat wave in decades. But their world is turned up side down, when an UXB explodes and an ancient royal charter is discovered that means that Pimlico is actually a part of Burgundy and not England.
It isn't long before the locals, lead by Councilman Arthur Pemberton (Stanley Holloway) takes advantage of the situation to set themselves up as an enclave of Burgundy much to the annoyance of the British Government who try everything they can think of to make these Johnny foreigners return to the fold. What follows is an utterly charming film that shows us a glimpse of a bygone era.
This is the classic example of the sort of film 'they' don't make anymore and it's the sort of film that you wish would never end, the characters feel so natural so full of goodness, even the wrong-uns, and their pluck and British vim leaves you loving them all! The way they work together and overcome every obstacle is so rewarding that you feel swept up in the whole thing. The Ealing Comedies are a singular series of films and this is one of the best and a lot of that is thanks to both the cast and the writing skills of T.E.B. Clarke who went on to win an Oscar for The Lavender Hill Mob.
Utterly enjoyable and utterly satisfying. If you've never seen this film and give it a go, you'll be in for a ruddy treat!
THE LAVENDER HILL MOB
Starring: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James and Alfie Bass. Written by T.E.B Clarke, directed my Michael Crighton. 81 glorious minutes long.
Alec Guinness is Henry 'Dutch' Hollander a low-ranking London Bank clerk in charge of transporting gold bullion from bank to bank who one day hatches a plan to rob the van and smuggle the gold out of England. Together with his only friend, foundry owner and artist Alfred Pendlebury they hatch their victimless crime by recruiting two petty crooks - Lackery Wood (Sidney James) and Shorty Fisher (Alfie Bass) to help them pull off the £20 million heist! What follows in this utterly charming British classic comedy is a wonderful and thoroughly satisfying caper movie that is both funny, touching and utterly beguiling.
Seriously this double bill left me utterly in love with the cinema and watching it in the oldest cinema in England, The Regent Street Cinema was the icing on the cake.
A superb double bill of two of the greatest British films ever made. If you've never seen them, then put aside a Sunday afternoon and enjoy.
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher, Jnr. Written by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg. 103 minutes long. Budget $15 million.
Well, that was a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting that!
The plot sees Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Michelle leave her boyfriend after an argument only to end up in the underground bunker of survivalist - Howard, John Goodman following a car crash from which he saved her. Michelle discovers she's also sharing the bunker with slacker, Emmet ( John Gallagher, Jnr) and also, according to Howard that something terrible has happened outside and they must remain in the bunker for the next two years! Although what that 'something terrible' is isn't revealed...
But what has happened and what is the real story behind Howard's story and what the hell does this all have to do with the 2008 found-footage monster movie Cloverfield of which this is a sort of belated sequel. Well, I can't say and if you want to enjoy this film, it's best you go in knowing as little as possible.
This is a claustrophobic and intense thriller with a superb cast and some great shocks. Goodman is superb and terrifying and Mary Elizabeth Winstead brings a real depth to her character.
And that's all I'm saying. Except that you don't necessarily need to have seen Cloverfield to enjoy this but it's worth checking out regardless.
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels and Miles Teller. Written by Stephen Chbosky, Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and Noah Oppenheim. Directed By Brobert Schwentke. 120 minutes long. $110 million budget.
So, this is the next chapter in the 'We wish we were as good as the first two Hunger Games Movies' franchise starring Shailene 'I'm the next Jennifer Lawrence' and human tree impersonator, Theo James as the chemistry free, too-old for this, lovers Tris and Four.
The plot follows on from the exact end of the last film, which makes it imperative that you have watched the last film in the series, if not all of them, like I had to. 'Why?' you ask, well the answer lies in the fact this freakin' blog is called: Going to the Cinema so You Don't Have to. I take bullets for you people! So a little bit of thanks wouldn't go a miss once in a while. I mean, it's not like I don't have a family I could be spending this time with. Oh god, little Timmy. I missed his first violin recital. Oh well, he plays like shit anyway.
BUT I'm digressing, now that would be a good title for the next film in this utterly shit franchise, Dullvergence: Digression.
They find another society seemingly run by Dumb and Dumber's Jeff Daniels and we're given a whole new set of rules for which
There's a reason this series is called Dullvergence, people! Don't waste your time, even if you have sat through that last three, this is just a dreary, bland, homogenized dirge.
Starring: Gerald Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster. Written by Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikit, Chad St. John and Christian Gudegast. Directed by Babak Najafi. 99 minutes long. Budget $60 million.
Look, I'm not ashamed to admit I loved the first film - Olympus Has Fallen, just loved it (apart from the truly shit CGI effects that really were wretched), so I was bloody excited about the sequel. I got down on my knees and prayed to the only god there is - the god of Hollywood - to make this like a proper old-school sequel, not one of those modern ones, where they try and re-invent the wheel. I wanted some of my favourite scenes revisited, I wanted what I loved first time round repeated - just bigger and most of all I wanted the same sense of relentless, vicious silliness that made the first film so glorious.
So, what did I get? Where my prayers answered? Well, sort of. It's certainly old school, it's bigger, louder and far more stupid than its predecessor but it's sadly not quite as good. It suffers from the same problems that Die Hard 2: Die Harder did, which is once you take your characters out of single location and give them more room to run around in, you sort of diminish the threat and make the situation look far too easy. Plus it's lacking a final mano-a-mano showdown.
This time round, rather than have our plucky heroes - US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and Secret Service serial killer Mike Banning (Gerald Butler), holed up in say, 10 Downing Street for the duration of the movie, the four-man writing team decided to make them run around an utterly deserted London for the all too-brief running time of 99 minutes.
The plot, for there is one, just - as in just to justify the outlandishly ridiculous action that is to follow, sees Asher, Banning and the heads of several 'free-world' states arrive in London for the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Luckily irate Pakistani arms-dealer and terrorist has been plotting for such a day since his entire family was eradicated at a family wedding several years earlier.
So, on the day of the funeral and on the steps of St. Pauls, it's revealed that the entire Metropolitan Police Force has been replaced by heavily armed terrorists and before you can say, 'hang on, that seems a bit far fetched.' Every London landmark has been obliterated in terrible CGI explosions and all the Heads of State are dead-dead. EXCEPT, wait for it... Asher and Banning! Who must now run around London killing all the terrorists before they can kill them.
After that it's just a series of fantastically repetitively stupid action sequences and OTT violence as Banning dispatches a slew of nameless fanatics with a series of knives, guns, bombs and his bare hands. The best bit in the film sees Banning repeatedly stab a terrorist to death in front of his horrified President who asks his psychotic body guard, "Was that necessary?" to which Banning replies, "No." Seriously, you had to be there.
Now, I'm not saying this is good cinema, I'm not saying it's well acted, or written, or even directed, indeed none of the above, but it is nevertheless stupidly enjoyable and I loved every minute of it. It does what it says on the tin and best of all, it's not making any attempt to say something new or radical. It's just a great big dumb, stupid action film starring a great big dumb stupid action hero.
This is the perfect Saturday night movie to be enjoyed with a Chinese takeaway or a big tub of Kentucky Fried chicken.
Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum. Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. 106 minutes long. Budget $22 million.
Love them or hate them, there's no denying that the Coen brothers make interesting films and there's always an air of excitement that heralds the arrival of a new one. Their films go from serious brooding modern classics like No Country to Old Men to strange, metaphysical reflections on the meaning of life, like A Serious Man to comedies like The Big Lebowski and crime capers like Fargo.
They have a passion for America of the 1930s, 50s and 60s and an obvious love of the great American movie studios of which this is their latest love letter.
The plot sees Josh Brolin's Eddie Mannix - studio head of Capital Pictures and fixer trying to resolve the mysterious kidnapping of the studio's star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) from the set of his latest film the religious epic Hail, Caesar. Whitlock has been abducted by a group of communist Hollywood script writers known as 'The Future', who use the kidnapping to indoctrinate Whitlock to communism. On top of all that, Mannix has a pregnant movie star to deal with, a dim-witted cowboy actor, a song and dance star, a disgruntled high-brow director, twin gossip column sisters, a wife and young daughter, a job offer from Lockheed and a genuine Soviet spy to deal with, all in one day. Plus he's trying to give up smoking and has a streak of Catholic guilt running through him wider than the Rio Grande.
The plot is almost redundant in this movie and rather than a cohesive whole this just feels like a series of skits strung together that all pay immaculate homage to the golden age of Hollywood. There are bits that'll make you laugh, some that'll make you smile but as a whole this is a rather disappointing miss-fire of a movie. It looks superb, the actors except Clooney who uses his 'I'm in a comedy, so I'd better mug' style of acting are great and the Coen's direction is peerless.
But the comedy feels far too high brow, you laugh and smile because of its cleverness, you get the allusions and the sophisticated nods and winks, but when you're sat in a cinema listening to the laughter it smacks of people laughing because it's expected of them at that time and not because it's actually laugh out loud funny and ultimately it's all rather dull.
It's funniest scene - the bit where cowboy actor Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) gets terribly miscast in a sophisticated romantic drama and fails to say 'Would that it were', is far better realised in the trailer where the punchline to the scene happens a minute later at the end of the trailer and not, as it is in the movie, a good half an hour or more later.
Despite all its good points this is a lackluster Coen Brother effort that looks and acts great but is sadly, ultimately revealed to be an empty, rather hollow experience.