Saturday, 27 July 2013


The Wolverine. Starring Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen, Svetlana Khodchenkova and Will Yun Lee. Directed by James Marigold and running for 126 minutes.

Two interesting facts about this film. One, the director, James Marigold's family also invented the washing up glove and whereas this is Hiroyuki Sanada's 64th film, it's also Tao Okamoto's very first!

So what's it about? Well, Wolverine, or Logan to call him by his name, is this mutant with healing powers, an adamantium coated skeleton, and a talent for getting those whom he loves killed. When we first meet him, back at the tail end of the second world war he's saving a young Japanese prison camp officer from dying in a nuclear bomb blast in Nagasaki. But 70 years later, in the present, he's living as a drunken hermit in the woods with only a big old grizzly bear for company when a bizarre-looking, female Japanese martial arts wizard whisks him off to Japan to visit the death bed of prison guard, now the head of an vast industrial empire, who offers Wolverine a cure for his immortality. What follows is a lengthy, dramatic, slow-building, action-packed drama which sees Logan lose his powers, battle a mass of different villains and enemies all with seemingly conflicting agenda all the time trying to protect the grand-daughter of the man he saved back at Nagasaki, while battling his own personal demons and a fork-tongued, venom spitting mutant.

Well, I have to say I went in expecting this to be a drearily, dull, clunker and came out thoroughly satisfied by it. It might not as fun-loving as Iron Man 3, but nevertheless it's a terrifically meaty, surprisingly adult, and entertaining adventure, which felt a lot better in tone than Man of Steel. Hugh Jackman seems as in-ease with the role of Wolverine as Robert Downey Jnr does as Tony Stark. it's a role he's made is own and after six films, playing the cranky Canadian super-hero, it's hardly  unexpected. It's Hugh Jackman's film and on his shoulders it relies, he's in almost every scene and as such he's expected to carry this film alone, so it's a thrill to discover he's more than capable of the task.

With great action sequences a great final boss level and so solid, acting from Jackman, this is everything that Wolverine Origins and the abominable X_Men Last Stand weren't and should have been. 


Two by the ways.

If you're going you really need to sit through, at least half of the credits, you'll know when you can leave.


And James Mangold's (the director) family didn't invent the washing-up glove, that was invented in 1889 by, William Stewart Halsted.


Starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, directed by Paul Feig and running for 119 minutes.

"Okay, so here it comes! Two cops, okay? As different as chalk and cheese, get partnered to investigate a crime, let's make it drug based. One of them is a straight-as-an-arrow, by-the-book, buttoned up square, the other is a rule-busting, balls-breakin' slob. They start hating each other but grudgingly come to, not only respect not only each other, but also their methods. And lo-and behold, they bond! And together they are incredible. And the hook? They're both women!"


And that's how this film got green lit.

When this is just being funny and not bothering with the plot, which is so hackneyed it's hardly worth bothering with, it's a genuinely funny laugh riot, but when the plot kicks in it falls flatter than a pancake. it just doesn't need it. Once again, Melissa McCarthy proves to be the funniest thing in absolute ages and surprisingly Sandra Bullock proves her comedy chops by being an excellent funny, up-for-anything, straight girl.

It's obvious there's a lot of ad–libing going on, which means this is going to work far better on DVD with a stronger cut and all the out takes. But in the mean time, sit back and enjoy because when this is funny it's bloody hilarious. In fact, I think this is the funniest American comedy I've seen in ages and although I thoroughly enjoyed This is the End, this beats it by being more conventional. There's something extremely funny in watching Bullock's character colliding with McCarthy's family and friends.

The all-night pub sequence is worth the admission alone.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013



Directed by Gore Verbinski, starring: Johnny Depp, Arnie Hammer William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, and Helena Bonham Carter.

You could travel to Cardiff in that time by train in the time it takes this train wreck of a movie to derail.

Some bad men want to start a war with the local native Americans and another man who's building a railway through Indian territory might be involved with it and a mysterious silver mine. Plus there's a cannibalistic psychopath riding around being chased by a mentally ill native American and an assistant DA trying to bring the baddies to justice under the rule of law while wearing a mask, riding a tricked out horse and being the butt of every single other person's joke.

This film uses a lot of trains to deliver its thrills and like all train journeys the first half hour is fun but the following 2 and a half hours are just a tedious chore, not unlike this film actually.

It starts with an impressive train sequence and crash, then repeats the trick with another epic train sequence at the midway point and then again at the end because you know the old maxim, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Trouble is by the third time, you just don't care and because most of the stunts and action by this point are CGI you just don't care.

The Lone Ranger isn't an out and out bad film or even a terrible film, sure it has awful moments, bad acting, awful special effects, stupid plot points or unnecessary 21st century revisions and it makes the Lone Ranger the butt of all jokes and a bungling idiot but it's main failing is that it's oh so very long,  oh so, jaw-achingly long. Interminably long, long to the point of painful. Long, long, long. Long and oh so very dull, desperately dull, and nothing that happens ever really lifts the dullness.

There's so much wrong with this film, I can't be arsed to list it all. But the truth is, that what's wrong isn't worth complaining about because it's the sheer boredom factor that will get you long before Johnny Depp's over acting, the horrible Lone Ranger (not Arnie Hammer, who's okay) the savage, jarring brutality, the 21st sensibilities, or the 101 other issues get you.



Written and directed by Scott Walker. Starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. 105 minutes.

Based on the true story of the efforts of detective, Jack Halcombe (played by Nic Cage) to apprehend the serial killer, Robert Hansen (John Cusack) back in the1980s who terrorised Anchorage for over 13 years.

Nicolas Cage now has two modes of acting, bored or manic. For this role he uses setting one. This isn't a fun film or one you'd own and happily return to for a cosy Sunday afternoon viewing. It's depressing and grim, mainly because of Hansen's methods of murder but also because the film keeps shoe-horning in scenes of nudity and titilation at a lap dancing club, where Hansen's only living victim returns to over and over again to work. Watching the methodical detective slowly trying to piece together the witness testimony with his pursuit of Hansen never rises above procedural and it's not helped by the unnecessary addition of an action sequence and shoot-out between secondary characters and a desperate race against time to rescue the survivor before the killer can catch her again. The film finally comes to life in the final scenes during the interrogation sequence, but by then it's just too little, far too late.

Not a bad film, just not that satisfying or rewarding.


Saturday, 20 July 2013


Directed by Dan Scanton. Voice talents lead by: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren. Running time: 103 minutes.

A prequel to the vastly entertaining and original Monsters Inc. As a small ball, Mike dreams of going to Monster University. He grows up, goes to university to be a scarer and meets his future best friend, although at first they are enemies. Much bonding, growing up and mild hi-jinxs ensue before our frenemies become soul-mates and brothers for life. It could have been called When Mike Wazowski meet James P. Sullivan.

It's with a horribly heavy heart that I write these words, I feel as if I'm stabbing my favourite Uncle to death with a knitting needle. But this is perhaps the most disappointing Pixar film I've ever seen, more so than Cars (which I hate) and Cars 2 (which i loathe), both of those are just bad films, but this should have been something far better, because Pixar are simply better than this! Or atleast they used to be. There was a time Pixar swore they'd never do a sequel unless they could come up with a new story worth telling, as they did with Toy Story 2 & 3, which took a great story and came up with something better and more wonderful each time. But that's no longer the case with Monsters Uni. Now Pixar are in the buisness of making money for Disney and as such, no stone can be left unturned in search of big bucks and no franchise left unrealised.

What this is, is everything that Pixar films should never be – a pointless, lazy cash in, an excuse in milking a cash cow and nothing more. Gone is Pixar's maxim - story, story, story replaced by a tired rehash, of repeated beats and an utterly un-involving story.

The animation is superb, as you would expect. As is the technical skill and rendering, beautiful lighting, fantastic fur and textures. But that's a given and as such don't warrant any credit. What isn't good is the lazy creature design and lack of originality.

I saw this in a particularly empty cinema with handful of children, none of whom laughed that much, including my son who was rather nonplussed by the whole thing. The film has some funny moments and some exciting scenes but ultimately it's just so flat and engaging, there's also an utter lack of threat or scares that made the first film so exciting and original.

Little kids will like it, but older kids will be bored, as will parents, I know I was.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

#58 & 66 THE WORLD'S END

Directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring  Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike. 109 minutes running time.

Twenty years after a failed, end-of-school, pub crawl, unhinged and obnoxious, Gary Knight (Simon Pegg) gets his four, much-put-upon, mates to return to their hometown of Newtown Haven to finish off the pub-crawl they failed at in their youth. But much has changed, and not just themselves. Their old home town seems strangely otherworldly and beneath the surface they unearth an alien conspiracy that might just mean the end of the world.

Described as the third part of the Cornetto trilogy - the chocolate mint to Hot Fuzz's original 'blue' Cornetto and Shaun of the Dead's strawberry option. TWE arrives with a lot of expectations, will it live up to sublime genius of Shaun, or will it be a slightly over-baked version of Hot Fuzz, or will it just be be a tired rehash of the previous two with gags revisited and repeated and the same funny cameos? The trailer seemed to hint at the later but it's a relief to discover that TWE is a thrilling, extremely funny and very exciting comedy that might pay a nodding homage to the previous two films but doesn't do it slavishly.  This manages a perfect mix of humour, action and drama, with characters going on well-written story arcs that doesn't sacrifice humour for plot or vice-versa. It helps that the cast is terrific and that the two leads are playing against type, with Pegg happy to be the obnoxious one who never tries to sugar coat what an odious arse his character is, while Nick Frost handles his bitter and angry, tea-total bank-manager character very well.

The film moves at a break-neck speed which successfully avoids Hot Fuzz's over long running time problems and multiple endings. As a director, Edgar Wright just keeps getting better and his handling of action here is just as assured and confident as his handling of the humour and serious bits.

It's sod's law that two end-of-the-world movies should arrive in the same month with almost the same titles and it's sad to think that might have an impact on the box office. The World's End deserves to be seen several times.


#56 & 57 PACIFIC RIM (5.7.13 & 13.7.13)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Pearlman and the combined skill of artists at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic).

Apparently it's 131 minutes, but that can't be right, it felt about 20 minutes top.

In the future, aliens from another dimension invade the Earth through a rift at the bottom of the Pacific ocean and unleash gigantic monsters called
Kaiju to destroy mankind. In response humanity unties and fight back thanks to humungous robots called Jaegers that need two, or more, humans mind-melded to fight them.

Luckily all this guff is dealt with pre-credits and then what follows is an utterly jaw-dropping and gorgeous series of astonishing fights between these beautifully designed monsters and robots, plus some behind the scenes dramas and emotional beats. The film is a triumph of design and style and the sheer glee and joy that Del Toro brings to the proceedings is palatable. This film deserves to be seen on the big screen, in fact the bigger the screen the better and even more surprisingly it also benefits from being seen in 3D.

This is everything that the three Transformers movies weren't. Free of Michael Bay's horrible shaky cam you get to see the action and feel the hugeness of everything, the scale is very impressive, perhaps not as impressive and believable as the wonderful series of Toho Godzilla films, but still an absolute treat. Go in expecting a huge, crazy, science-fiction punch-up and you'll leave happy, it even avoids having the baking equivalent of a soggy bottom by not having a sagging middle.

This is, hands down the most exhilarating and enjoyable science fiction action film I've seen in ages! Seen it while you can, where it deserves to be seen, on the big screen!



Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne and Aasif Mandvi. 119 minutes.

Here's how the Hollywood pitch went.

"It's the Wedding Crashers meets Glengarry Glen Rose, but with less sex and swearing. Two expensive watch salesmen, Wilson and Vaughn, get made redundant and discover they're unemployable. Vaughn's girlfriend leaves him and so he lies on an application form and manages to get them onto an internship at Google, much hilarity ensues." 

I went in expecting this to be The In-Turd-Shits and was pleasantly surprised to discover I quite liked it. It's not ground-breaking, it's not hilarious, it's not fantastic, and in line with all American modern comedies, it's not particularly funny. However, by the mid-way point I found it had weevilled it into my psyche and won me over. I doubt I'll ever see it again, I certainly won't own it on DVD, but it was entertaining and it did have a heart, and Vaughn's character wasn't the usual obnoxious, wise-arse know it all he usually plays. The 20-something yoofs are likeable and the 'journey' these two men go on is enjoyable.

Plus I love the fact these two middle-aged dinosaurs teach the young bloods about life by taking them to a lap-dancing club getting them drunk..

Could have done with being shorter.


Monday, 8 July 2013


Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen. Starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Emma Watson. Plus plenty of celebrity cameos. 107 minutes.

Jay Baruchel, playing Jay Baruchel arrives in LA to visit Seth Rogen and ends up at a party at James Franco's new house on the eve of Armageddon and I'm pleased to say Armour not gedding out of here!

When this is funny it's bloody hilarious and when it's not, it's a tad slow and ploddy, but at 107 minutes it doesn't outstay its welcome. Despite the involvement Seth Rogen this film stands in complete defiance to the Judd Apatow school of American comedy by actually being very funny. The joy comes in watching well-known American actors saying and doing the most outrageous things, Emma Watson is hilarious, Danny McBride, as the self-appointed villain of the piece, just does his schtick, but dialed up to about an 11! And there's a 3rd act cameo that just about steals the entire film, plus a staggering conclusion made this a thoroughly enjoyable movie.