Nebraska (2013)

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It was tough competition at the Oscars this year and some exceptional standards to beat.  In terms of actors, you’re not going to better McConaughey’s Ron Woodroof, who not only warped his body to fit the role but wore that torment in his performance.  It was unparalleled and a completely justified win.

12 Years a Slave took home the Oscar for Best Picture and on some levels, rightly so.  There were unbridled performances from its actors.  It’s story was strong and engaging and as far as epic, autobiographical pieces go it deserved its recognition.

For me, it was unfortunate that Nebraska had to be up against such heavyweights as it is potentially the most underrated movie of 2013.  Bruce Dern is absolutely charming as old grump Woody Grant who ropes his hapless son (Will Forte) across country to Nebraska to claim a $1,000,000 prize from a Sweepstakes marketing letter.

Will Forte really plays well with Dern in this and they bounce off each other perfectly.  There is a huge amount of chemistry between the two and they portray classic family dysfunction to the letter.  There’s also some great support in the form of Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad) and the amazing June Squibb (The Young and the Restless) who was also dealt a bad hand at the awards.

This is the first time director Alexander Payne has filmed in black and white with digital cameras and anamorphic lenses and it pays off as the cinematography is breathtaking and gives you a valuable perspective of middle-class, suburban America which sets the tone for the rest of the movie.

This is a heartwarming story and gently hilarious.  You will find yourself chuckling at things because of their familiarity.  Most of all, the characters are hugely likeable even though you bare witness to a combination of destitute and desperation, love still shines through and that is a difficult thing to achieve.

Nebraska comes highly recommended.

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  • #nebraska #bruce dern #will forte #alexander payne #bob odenkirk #june squibb #movie fan #movie review #movie blog
  • 5 days ago

The Raid 2 (2014)

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I do not claim to be a kung-fu movie expert but I can go as far to say that in my time I have seen quite a few and I know what I like which, I believe, gives me some God given right to make the following statement;

'The Raid 2 is probably the best kung-fu movie I have ever seen.'

A bold statement at that and perhaps taken with a pinch of salt given my kung-fu movie critic credentials but let me try to explain why I think this.

First of all, The Raid 2 is the evolution of kung-fu personified.  With a combination of expert choreography and CGI we are shown what has to be the most brutal, gruesome and high octane fight sequences ever shown in today’s cinema.

Following on from the ever popular The Raid (2011), which developed a cult following, this had every chance to be a product of the classic curse of the sequel and fall by the wayside.  However, I can quite confidently tell you through the medium of the internet that this far surpasses its predecessor. 

Fairly newcomer Iko Uwais is back as Detective Rama but this time he is recruited by an undercover squad to take down the syndicate and reveal the corruption within his own police force.

The story and script are pretty solid and it flows without any nods.  ’Nods’, for future reference, are what I like to call ‘nod offs’ like when you get a boring bit of a film that doesn’t quite fit.  Almost like it’s a filler until the main action starts and you nearly nod off.  Essentially this is about a man who is determined to take care of his family and will do anything to make sure that happens.  Unfortunately for him, that involves taking down an entire syndicate of gangsters.  Typical, right?

Hey, I didn’t say this wouldn’t be far fetched.

Coming back to the choreography, not only are the scenes expertly played out at a pace unrecognised by the human eye but the camera sequences accentuate every move to maximum effect.  The camera seems to follow the the action to an effect like you’re there in the room with them, whether it be jumping off buildings to flying through windows, you get to feel every moment of intensity.

Director Gareth Evans is a fairly newcomer also which makes this much more of an achievement. Not only that, he is a Welsh born director which makes this a bit of a kung-fu kick in the face for other directors of this genre.  As I said before, he has presented us with the evolution of kung-fu movies and is now preparing us for a third installment.  No release date as yet but I for one cannot wait.

Verdict: 4/5

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  • #the raid 2 #the raid #gareth evans #iko uwais #kung-fu #rama #movie fan #movie review #movie blog
  • 6 days ago

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Steve Rogers is a tortured soul. A man whose choices have propelled him into a life time of immortality and with it he has had to come to terms with everything he knows and loves become non-existent. This is the portrayal given by Anthony and Joe Russo and a far cry from the hero in the first installment Even Joss Whedon’s interpretation gave a glimmer of a man with self-worth but as in The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers has no purpose and ultimately hates who he is.

Chris Evans reprises his role as the Cap and struggles with conforming to society in the new World but his attentions are distracted when an old threat in the form of Hydra and a Soviet Agent by the name of The Winter Soldier make him question his existence and the organisation that put him there.

This is a completely different angle from Joe Johnston’s The First Avenger and we see our hero still heartbroken over the loss of the World he knew. Which is why, I feel, the significance of The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) was disappointingly played down. Aside from a withering Agent Carter, all Rogers knows is gone and the death of Bucky Barnes, his best friend, haunts him still. The relationship between the two characters should have been electrifying like in Warrior but instead we get a Clash of the Titans.

In saying that, the Russo brothers had a lot to get into 136 minutes of film. They have basically rewritten history of the Marvel Universe so whatever happens from here on in will be a reflection of The Winter Soldier, especially with Avengers 2 ready to hit cinemas in May 2015. Although I have a feeling that a lot of that movie will be explained in July’s Ant-Man as in the comics, Hank Pym was the original creator of Ultron.

Beyond all critique, if you love Marvel, you’re going to love this. There has been a lot of controversy over Marvel making Falcon (played by a scene stealing Anthony Mackie in the movie), Captain America however unconfirmed reports are that Chris Evans’ contract ends after Captain America 3 and that Sebastian Stan will take don the famous red, white and blue suit. Bucky Barnes, as well as a number of other characters, has become Captain America in the comics, so anything is possible.

Verdict: 4/5

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  • #captain america: the winter soldier #chris evans #sebastian stan #samual l jackson #scarlett johansson #anthony and joe russo #hydra #shield #marvel #age of ultron #avengers #bucky barnes #anthony mackie #falcon #black widow #film review #movie review #movie fan #marvel fan
  • 1 week ago
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Could this be an Oscar on the horizon for Eddie Redmayne? I’m not one for biographies, really, but this looks promising.

The Theory of Everything - Official Trailer (Universal Pictures) HD

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  • 3 weeks ago
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What’s Your Favorite Scary Series?

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Ghost Face is BACK!..  Again.  The horror favourite of the 90’s that spawned a carnival of prank calls and Halloween costume purchases for years to come has been given the green light for a pilot for a series.  

Any talks to reprise the franchise ceased after Scream 4 in 2011 and for the best it would seem as there are only so many times you can tell the same story.  Could this be a very clever way of continuing the legacy or will it be apparent as a get rich quick scheme?

Jamie Travis (For a Good Time Call..) has been attached to direct as well as a bunch of Scooby Doo looking cast offs to star like Willa Fitzgerald, John Karna and Carlson Young.  ’Who are these actors?’  I hear you say?  I don’t know.

If they do this right then it could be really good.  We all know it won’t be as good as Hannibal but let’s hope it’s a far cry from Bates Motel.

No news of a release date yet but I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more about it as time goes on.

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  • #scream #series #90's #halloween #what's your favourite scary movie? #jamie travis #for a good time call #willa fitzgerald #john karna #carlson young #bates motel #hannibal #movie fan #movie news #movie blog
  • 3 weeks ago

True Detective is into Swinging

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RUMOUR HAS IT that Vince Vaughan is in early talks to follow the footsteps of Woody Harrelson and Mathew McConaughey and appear in the next series of True Detective.

Should this be true then he will potentially join Colin Farrell and Taylor Kitsch in the line up which seems like an eclectic mix of actors but I have faith in Nic Pizzolatto to make it work.

Vaughan is no stranger to dark thrillers when he starred along side J Lo in The Cell (2000) but more famously reprising Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant’s floppy remake of classic, horror fable Psycho (1998).

Personally, I prefer Vaughan in a good comedy along side partner in crime Owen Wilson but I’m keeping an open mind.

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  • #true detective #series two #vince vaughan #colin farrell #taylor kitsch #nic pizzolatto #j lo #norman bates #gus van sant #the cell #psycho #owen wilson #movie blog #movie fan #movie news
  • 3 weeks ago

Snow White & The Huntsman 2 Set to Hit Theaters in April 2016 and Without a Snow White

Universal were desperately looking for ways to bring back Snow White & The Huntsman after smashing it at the box office but without the awkwardness of having to invite both marriage wrecking, Kristen Stewart to play Snow White and sleeze-bag Rupert Sanders back to direct.  So the studio ruthlessly cut them all together and are making a prequel that will focus on Chris Hemsworth’s character, The Huntsman.

As it now has a new director in the form of legend Frank Darabont, it has resulted in The Mummy reboot being pushed back a few months so to give both movies a better chance at the box office.

The Mummy reboot also now has a director, Alex Kurtzman who is more than capable to take on and rejuvenate a great franchise.  The concept this time around will be to bring it back to its hammer horror roots which sounds exciting, if anything.

Sad news though Mummy fans, they’re not bringing back Brendan Fraser.  Devastated.  As is he.

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  • #snow white and the huntsman #snow white and the huntsman 2 #kristen stewart #chris hemsworth #charlize theron #rupert sanders #frank darabont #the mummy #reboot #alex kurtzman #brendan fraser #movie news #movie fan #movie blog
  • 4 weeks ago
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Anyone else think Interstellar will be the film of the year?

Check out the new trailer for it here. Release date is November this year.

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  • 4 weeks ago

Noah (2014)

What on Earth have I just watched?  Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to the weird and wonderful, you just have to look at Black Swan (2010) to know that the director has vision, if not questionable mental health issues, but after watching this catastrophic disaster then I fear he may have finally lost it.

Paramount were worried how this film would test with Christian audiences but I’m not sure that is the problem here.  Even as an Atheist I am more offended at the fact that Aronofsky had taken a beloved story from the Bible and turned it into an appalling, fictitious account to exercise his own colossal ego.  I mean, what were those rock people actually supposed to be?  I don’t remember those from the story.  The thing Aronofsky should have realised is that there was no room for “artistic” license especially when the outcome was as poor as that.  You are not Peter Jackson, so don’t try to be.

I almost feel bad for the actors who by all standards are of a high quality and their performances, as confined to the terrible script as they were, appeared to make what they could of it. In saying that, I dare say this could be a career killer for them.  Let’s hope I am wrong.

The person I feel the most sorry for is myself.  Not because I had to sit through that trot but because I paid £5.49 for it on Sky.  

Terrible, terrible movie. Bad Aronofsky, bad!  Naughty boy!  Back in your box!!

Verdict: 1/5

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  • #noah #darren aronofsky #russell crowe #ray winstone #film review #film blog #movie review #movie blog
  • 4 weeks ago

Starred Up (2013)

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I’ve never really been a fan of Jack O’Connell but seemingly and annoyingly enough he has been cropping up on my radar once too often and I’m beginning to warm to him.  I dare say this, as gritty and captivating Starred Up is I could see it going the other way should O’Connell have not been the lead.  He reminds me, in some shade, of a young Tom Hardy and that is no way an association of Bronson (2008).  O’Connell is progressing his career quite nicely with, not only getting a part in 300: Rise of an Empire but also starring in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (2014), written by Joel and Ethan Coen, released later this year and promises to be an epic movie.

O’Connell plays Eric, a violent, high risk offender who has spent his life in juvenile prison but when he is transferred to an adult facility he finally meets his match in the form of a fellow prisoner who just so happens to also be his father.

It appears Jack O’Connell had indeed met his match in the form of Ben Mendelsohn who gives an amazing performance as his father.  In fact all performances have an element of authenticity and that is thanks to debut writer Jonathan Asser who based this movie on his work as a voluntary therapist in a juvenile prison.

There hasn’t been many prison films in the recent history that can truly portray the harsh and brutal reality but David McKenzie creates a film that is both atmospheric and captivating.  This has been dubbed the breakthrough film for O’Connell but it seems the fairly unknown director and debut writer will also benefit from this movie.

However, O’Connell steals the show as he demands his presence as the young, troubled thug but even though his behaviour is outlandish you still root for him which by any standards is no mean feat.

Starred Up is available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD 4th August

Verdict: 4/5

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  • #starred up #jack o'connell #ben mendelsohn #jonathan asser #david mckenzie #prison movie #film review #film blog #film fan #movie review #movie blog #movie fan
  • 4 weeks ago
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