Prometheus

A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

The first thing I will say is that the Alien franchise which started from Ridley Scott’s first 1979 film has had a rough time, dodgy sequels and some awful spin offs. The Alien it’s self has taken many forms over the decades since Ridley’s ground-breaking Alien film. From H. R. Giger stunningly created Alien to the awfully conceived human hybrid from Alien: Resurrection (1997). So Ridley has come back to the genre he defined, which must have seemed like a daunting task so for the sake of this review I’m going to try and not to compare it to any previous Alien film except the one that matters Alien (1979) because this is the only one that truly has any relevance to Prometheus.

The film follows a similar story as the first film in with a group of people on the fringe of space but this time the crew of the Prometheus are looking for answers to the biggest question mankind has ever asked, Where do we come from? The films main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by the talented Noomi Rapace is a young scientist who discovers a hidden message left across the planet by ancient human settlements with an invitation to a distant planet.

What you would expect from an Alien film is great suspense and tension like we have seen from the original film. The difference between the characters makes a huge different with the original crew being average Joes on an ordinary mining vessel not knowing what they are dealing with. Whereas the Prometheus is full of professionals from there respected fields and know what they are looking for their creators and because of this the suspense doesn’t build the same way. Some of the characters are not believable in their roles and some are completely underused. Charlize Theron who plays Meredith Vickers seems like a very intriguing character but there is hardly any deviation from the main plot to delve into anything else. The films also lacks any real signature jump moment where you could say that you are really frightened compared to the original where still today the scene where Dallas played by Tom Skerritt gets attacked in the ventilation system by the Alien still makes me jump out of my skin to this day.

A lot of people will be disappointed with this film especially if you think it’s an Alien film. Ridley Scott has tried to do something different trying to answer some questions raised by the first film and that doesn’t necessarily mean its anything to do directly with the Alien creatures themselves. This film solely takes aim at bigger questions and the Alien takes a back step, the focus centres squarely on the engineers as they call them (remember from the original film the big guy in the chair yeah him). As well as this there is a big focus on David played my Michael Fassbender. You see David is a robot and is coming to terms with the fact that he is a robot. Supposedly without feeling or emotion, the film squarely centres on him and his relationship with his makers in comparison to the human characters relationship or lack of with their makers. And this makes for a much more interesting but completely different feel to the film compared to the original, but in a good way. Michael Fassbender’s performance as David is a highlight playing his character brilliantly.

If you’re expecting from Prometheus an Alien esque suspense horror like the original it’s just not there and you will probably come out of the cinema disappointed. That is not to say the film does not have its own merits and the film is very interesting and raises some fundamental questions about our own existence and mortality and this is a much more intriguing and thought provoking subject matter than the first film ever rose.

50/50

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I have wanted to watch this for a while but the fact that Seth Rogen is in it put me off slightly. His normal crude comic style is at best mildly amusing, childish and unintelligent and at its worst borderline offensive, and I’m no prude. So I eventually managed to put aside my loathing sorry that’s a bit harsh, my disliking of Seth Rogen’s comic and acting abilities due largely to the fact I have read such good things about the film and the that Joseph Gorden-Levitt is becoming a more accomplished actor every time i see him.

This is no exception ether Joseph is at his best coming to terms with the fact that he has just been diagnosed with potentially fatal cancer and yes you guessed it has a 50/50 chance of survival.

The comic elements add light relief to the main story of Joesphs character Adam as he struggles coming to terms with the disease and trying to overcome it and still deal with his relationship with his girlfriend and his controlling and brilliantly played mother by Angelica Hueston. With his mother already dealing with her own problems and the continued breakdown of his relationship with his girlfriend. Adam has to rely on his best friend Kyle played by Seth Rogen to help him through this difficult time.

When the comedy takes a back step there is a heartwarming tale of friendship and the daily fight people around the world go though trying to beat this horrible disease. It’s durning his most difficult times that Adam comes into contact with first time physiatrist Kathrine played by Anna kendrick. With Adam trying to beat the disease as well as realising the fact that he might actually succumb to the disease and die and at the same time Katherine is trying to support him with his horrible situation as well as put into practice what she has learnt during her studies on real life patients. The roller cost of emotions that Adam deals with and the support her and Seth Rogens character Kyle becomes the defining story to the film.

This film deals with a very difficult and personal subject matter but deals with it very well. Some people could be offended by the jokes about death and cancer itself but a lot of people who face these situation react with that sort of attitude, if you can’t laugh what can you do I suppose. The film balances itself between comedy and story telling to the correct degree and shows how important the relationships of the people around you can be and that there is always a place for comedy even in the face of death and disease.

To round off a stand out performance from Joseph Gorden-Levitt almost overcast a shadow over everyone else but Anna kendrick shines through and even Seth Rogen is better than normal being just as vulgar in some places but actually funnier than any of his previous outings. Overall funny in places and very touching in others makes for a great film that plays with your emotions right up until the last scenes.

The Return of the Superhero

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let me start by saying I have never been a comic book fan but I have always had a very keen interest in the films that have resulted from them. starting as a child growing up watching the Tim Burton Batman’s films and watching the spiderman cartoons on tv this was my first encounter with the format and they where two very successful well rounded programmes albeit very different from the dark side of the tim button batman to the kids squeaky clean image of spiderman.

we have had a host of comic book movies over the few years that have dominated the summer blockbusters but it was not always that way. Since the early superman and batman movies there was was a lull when there was not much apart from a handful of unsuccessful low budget or high budget flops so the movie industry got fed up with the comic book heroes and they fell by the wast side that was until in the late 90’s early 00’s there was a new dawn breaking in the comic book movies with CG improving significantly over the latter half of the 90’s and with the first spiderman movie had just been released and at the time had the biggest opening weekend in cinema history . The movies studios took note, the biggest player to benefit from this has been marvel, with the successes of the first Spiderman film there was always going to be a sequel but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the plethora of comic book films over the next decade. Spiderman, rebooted Superman and Batman as well as 300, Iron man, Thor, hulk ,X-Men, Fantastic Four, Green Lantern and kick Ass.

Leap forward to last month and to the hotly anticipated Avengers or Avengers Assemble in the United Kingdom. It’s impressive that this film has been even made with Marvel and Paramount have invested a lot of time and effort just think of the logistics involved with the writing, budget and effort and luck that was needed to make this film happen. Starting with the successes of iron man in 2008 this film has been in the planing for the last half decade or more with the success or failed riding on each film in the build up to it, Iron Man and it’s sequel. Thor and Captain America all had to be profitable and successful enough for this film to have a chance of getting made but with the success of the spider man films I don’t think anyone would have doubted them. As of writing The Avengers is sitting fourth in the all time box office standings according to IMDB at just over a billion taken at the box office and it’s still going strong.

We Brought a Zoo

Another film based around true events. This story is based on Dartmoor Zoo in the UK and the Mee family who brought the zoo in 2006 in an attempt to refurbish and reopen it to the public.

Hollywood tends to have a history of taking true stories and twisting them for their own ends, ether to make the film more profitable or create a more interesting or marketable story for the American public. In the case of We Brought a Zoo this seems to be the case. They have changed a few key details such as location switching it to California and not mentioning the fact that originally the zoo was brought not just by Benjamin but one of his brothers their mother whose idea it was to begin with. If you start to change the details of a true story that story tends to suffer for it and you begin to lose its heart and soul.

Thankfully in this case it is still a watchable film but it does seem to suffer slightly the story arcs around the relationship between Benjamin Mee and His son as he struggles to come to terms with being a single father due to the death of his wife as well as the children dealing with the loss of their mother. So he decides to move house and look for somewhere quite in a country setting to start over. He finds the perfect house but with only one problem there is a slight catch it comes with a zoo attached and if he was to buy the property he will become legally responsible to care for the animals.

With a predictable story arc and no outstanding performances along with the tampering with the original story have had its effect on the film. I think there was a much more interesting story to tell here but they went in a different direction. Credit where it is due I have to say the director Cameron Crowe has done a good job still creating a reasonably enjoyable film. Matt Daemon and Scarlett Johanson performance are nothing special but it all comes together and it is quite enjoyable in the end and you are willing them to successes.

Overall I can not forgive the embellishments, changes and misrepresentations of the true story even if they are endorsed by the Mee family themselves I wanted to see the real story and that’s not what we got, although Cameron Crowe has created a heartwarming yet predictable story from this twisted truth. If you can forgive the embellishments or forget them entirely you will enjoy this film much more than I did.

 

Hugo

Even though I have never paid much attention to film awards I cant help but getting dragged in to watching some of these films even if I’m not sure about them I have to find out what all the fuss is about.

I never sought this film out until it got so much attention in the recent awards. The trailers where underwhelming and there did not seem to be a very big premise to the film. The reality is I did not think this was worth watching.

Hugo a film about a young boy, who recently through a tragedy has lost his father and became an orphan. He has been sent to live with his alcoholic uncle. Living and working inside the stations walls trying to fix a broken automaton (a mechanical man) he had been given by his father. He has worked hard scrounging and even stealing parts to fix it but needs a special key to operate it. This leads to a chance encounter with Ben Kingsley’s character and his adventure seeking god-daughter. They have a key connection that will lead to the discovery of the automatons secrets.

With Martin Scorsese Directing and a stellar cast this film should be a complete banker but unfortunately I think it has been let down by some weak performances from the supporting actors and the irrelevant side stories with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character not bringing too much to the film although he is still funny I don’t think the role was that well suited to his talents.

The main story including the ending is very heart warming and Chloe Grace Moretz performance was brilliant. That along with the Ben Kingsley who is never a disappointment again plays his role beautifully. I have to remind myself this is a family film so keeping that in mind I can forgive some of the simplistic story telling and enjoy this as the film its meant to be for a family and for that its very good. For me as an adult I could have not done with some of the side elements of the film overall worth a watch especially if you want to sit down and watch with your family this film will have something for everyone.

Moneyball

I have been looking forward to watching this film for a while and although I‘m not a baseball fan I have always enjoyed films based around sport. I have always seen true stories usually make the best films as the characters are easier to relate to and you just can’t make some of these stories up. The real world often troughs up some of the best stories that writers can only dream of creating.

This true to life story is based around Billy Beane who is the general manager of the Oakland A’s team. The team struggling with little money and loosing their best players to the big teams who will pay them substantially more money.

Billy comes across Peter Brand who has a theory that the way Baseball teams are picked and play the game is completely wrong and looks at it in a much more statistical way and he convinces Billy Beane that they can build not just a successful team but a championship winning team out of his very small budget.

I really like the film it has a great balance to it following Billys struggles with being separated from his daughter because of the split from his wife as well as the relationship and struggles between himself along with Peter Brand against the rest of the management of the Oakland A’s who are very old school and don’t trust or believe that Peters new methods will work. Brad Pitt’s performance is average and there is no stand out performance in the film it all just clicks together nicely. A great a feel good film well worth watching.

Bridesmaids

A lot of films to write about as I have watched quite a lot recently and been quite lazy with the blog so hopefully over the next few days I will have a few post on some of the recent films I have watched enjoyed and hated…

Bridesmaids

First I am going to start off with this comedy based around the preparations for a wedding and the relationships between the bridesmaids focusing mainly on the relation ship between the bride and her best friend and maid of honor played by Kristen Wiig.

I don’t know whether it’s because I am a guy because this film had some really good reviews and all I heard was good things about it.  My girlfriend had been bugging me for month to get a copy of it so I finally got it for her and we sat down to watch it. After 30 min of watching Kristen Wiig’s performance we both looked at each other and wanted to turn it straight off she was both unbelievable in the roll and annoying to go along with it.  The rest of the cast was not any better and can’t believe who ever done the casting for this film got any work after it. The sprinkling of British comic talent was a bit puzzling Matt Lucas’s inclusion was odd to say the least and added nothing to the film. Chris O’Dowd’s role as a British man playing an American police officer baffling and was even brought up in the film itself. All that was mentioned about it was that he did not want to go into it, which most likely means that he can’t do an American accent or that they could not think of any good reason a British guy was playing an American cop.

The only saving grace was Melissa McCarthy. Her performance as Megan a slightly deranged character who was laugh out loud funny in every scene she was in the film the only reason I would say to watch it is because of her performance yet she has so little screen time that I can’t recommend watching this just because of her.

Frost/Nixon

Review – Frost/Nixon 

I found my self-watching Frost/Nixon last night and to be honest I was not really in the right frame of mind for a film about a political interview, yet I have always been intrigued by the Watergate scandal and was interested to learn more. The only previous knowledge on the subject was from watching All The Presidents Men (1976).

I was surprised at the documentary style of the film, they would cut to interviews throughout the film and I thought this broke up what was an interesting story. From the outset I don’t think this worked they should have let the story speak for itself without having to cut to the interviews.

The problem is I don’t think there was much of a story to tell. The interviews at the time where obviously a huge historic event but dramatically recreating a Television interview for a film did not work well for me and the struggles of David Frost to get the production off the ground was not delved into deeply enough for it to play any substantial roll in the film.

Where the film was probably most interesting was the off camera relationship between David frost and Richard Nixon during the interviews themselves. This gave us an incite into the man himself Richard Nixon more than the interviews themselves probably have. He certainly did deserved his nickname tricky dickey.

My favorite aspect of the film had to be Frank Langella performance of the ailing Nixon. I have often thought and discussed is imitation of a real life person on screen acting or just that imitation, I’m of the opinion that its probably more difficult to study someone with such detail to get there accent spot on and the mannerisms right than it is to be given a character that you can mould to fit your needs as an actor. At certain points you forget your watching a film and you think your actually watching Richard Nixon himself Frank Langells’s performance was at times immense and mesmerizing.

The films production values, casting was spot on Ron Howard is making a habit of making great movies. This is not his best work by a long way but is still an interesting watch.

Random Fact

Frank Langella who played Nixon Also Played skeletor in Master of the universe movie and he considers it one of his favorite rolls.

Quick thoughts on Stand By Me, Hereafter and Faster

 Over the last week I have watched a few films as I have promised this will be a full diary of all the films I watch these are the recent ones I have seen but have not felt the need to do a full review due to them ether being not worth the effort or just due to the fact I don’t have the time to review every film I see in full.

Stand By Me

It had been a long while since I had watched Stand By Me and maybe it was the expectation that came with not having seen the film in so long but it did not seem as good as I remember. Since its release it has moved into Hollywood legend due to the death of River Phoenix. The acting seemed a bit wooden, though the story of the coming of age tale of the young kids is as relevant today as it ever was. Weather its that child actors are getting better and more skilled over the years or just that the film seemed slightly dated. I still very much enjoyed watching it, although I just wish it were as if it was for the first time. Sometimes memories of films can be better than the actual film Itself.

Random Fact

The little fat kid went on to become the only stable a reasonably successful actor out of the lot.

Hereafter

I had not read anything about this film prior to watching it as I read the synopsis on the slip case its not the type of film I would have normally picked but I have an open mind especially when it comes to films, so I gave it a go with Clint Eastwood directing and Matt Daemon staring I was expecting at least a half decent film. What I actually got was one of the most below average films I have seen from Clint in a while, coming of the back of the recent successes this was a bitter disappoint.

Faster

Lastly I just finished watching faster with Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock the less I say about this film the better. I got so bored during this dry uninteresting film but no bother it will slip into distant memory with all the other below average films I cant remember.

Random Fact

Dwayne Johnson cannot act

Up In The Air

Review – Up In The Air

I just watched Up In The Air directed by Juno director Jason Reitman. George Clooney plays a character that has shut him off from the world, he spends most of his life in hotels and flying across the country firing people.

This seems like a depressing subject but the film very funny in places and has that same dry wit you would expect from the director of Juno and thank you for smoking. Even with the dry wit and the cancer joke yes there is even a cancer joke aside this film runs deep delving into subjects I was not expecting to from the start of the film as you see Cloony’s character start to question his life and why he separates himself from the rest of the world.

A very good film but it has not made me want to rush out and tell everyone they had to see it. When it was released it obtained rave reviews and nominated for numerous awards, I really can’t see why. As well as this Vera Farmiga was nominated for an Oscar for this film. Her performance was not bad in any way it was good solid performance but I don’t think the roll she played demanded a huge amount of work or effort on her part. Clooney was defiantly the stand out performance of the film but I cant actually remember the last film he was in that he didn’t outshine everyone else on screen… batman maybe?