The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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There’s nothing quite like a Wes Anderson movie.  Arguably the most original, idiosyncratic film maker of our lifetime, Anderson produces movies almost like they were fit for stage. Even the sets look like they were built for a West End play.  This brings with it a certain charm and significant respectability.  However, whether you’re a fan or not you must admire his persistence in form.  Personally I find it a little same-y, with no attempt at development.  In saying that, it is enjoyable to watch great actors like Ralph Fiennes play characters like M. Gustave.

Here we follow M. Gustave, the head concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel and his growing friendship with the lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) as they get involved in the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting during the dramatically changing backdrop of war forlorn Europe.

One of Anderson’s greatest advantages is uncanny ability to draw in a great cast, including a series of cameos from A-list actors.  Ralph Fiennes is perfectly uppity as M. Gustave which is complemented by the Revolori’s Zero and their unlikely relationship.  A quarry of actors who bring their own element to the story such as Jeff Goldblum, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe and Ed Norton not to mention a cameos from Owen Wilson and the great Bill Murray which make this a joy to watch.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_9?url=search-alias%3Ddvd&field-keywords=the%20grand%20budapest%20hotel&sprefix=the+grand%2Caps%2C265

Verdict: 3/5

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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

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When the idea to present a sequel to an epic movie like 300 comes around then you better bet that big things are expected.  Even the influence of titan Zack Snyder on production duties you best have a plan in place, a director with gumption and a script that is at least on par with its predecessor.  I mean who indeed could Snyder trust with such a burden?  A director with promise and an impressive backlog of directing empowering, war movies and extensive experience with high profile actors and CGI…  In walks Noam Murro..  Who?  I’m glad you asked.  Noam Murro is responsible for the movie Smart People (2008)..  Anyone?  It had Dennis Quaid in it?…  I give up.

Another question that begged was; is this a sequel or a prequel?  Well a bit of both, but mainly played out during the events of King Lionidas and the brave 300 defending the Hot Gates from Xerxes army.  Athenian General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) must lead his army to defend Greek against the vengeful Artemisia (Eva Green) and her invading Persian army.  As my Dad so aptly pointed out this is the Greeks defending their land at sea but because of politics it was too little too late for Lionidas.

Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel ‘Xerxes’, this movie talks a little bit about the becoming of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and how and why he became the merciless God King.  For me, this makes him lose his appeal as a fearsome threat.  It’s much scarier when you don’t know, see or understand their reasoning.  This film is based a lot around vengeance.  Also, as talented as Eva Green is unfortunately she does not pull off the main protagonist.  She can play ‘mad’ better than anyone else but in a film based in a World that celebrates the empowerment of men, she seems out of place.  Her tiny frame and feeble arms wielding a sword that is twice her weight at men twice her size is unbelievable to say the least.

The script flows like an episode of Spartacus (and not in a good way).  The actors are handpicked for their talents, such as; Callan Mulvey, Hans Matheson and Jack O’Connell but they look like they’re struggling to make any of the characters their own with a script that has no depth.  

The action scenes are, obviously, of great quality.  Snyder stills sits in the production chair so you can expect him to deliver and mirror the original movie but perhaps he should have sat in the directors chair one last time as this movie follows the curse of the sequel and fails to match up to its predecessor. 

300: Rise of an Empire is out on DVD and Blu-ray 29th September, 2014.

Verdict: 2/5

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Check out the trailer for Dracula Untold. I was a little skeptical at first but this trailer has completely changed my opinion.

There I go judging a book by it’s cover again.

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