Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Kate Blanchet, Jean DuJardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville.

Directed by George Clooney.

118 minutes long.

It's 1943 the tide of the war is turning, the Germany war machine is failing and the allies and the Russians are racing for Berlin, while the German plunder, rob and steal anything they can get their stinking hands on. But who's going to stop them and save the art? George Clooney and his band of art experts that's who!

Based on the true story of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program this film follows six members of the program as they race around occupied and re-captured land alike trying to find where the German army has hidden the 30,000 pieces of art and treasure before Hitler's Nero Decree has it all destroyed.

This is a very episodic and fractured film, with the action divided up between three groups of the Monuments Men as each tries their damndest to save a truly astonishing selection of stolen art, along the way of answering the age old question of whether art is worth a man's life? Marketed as a sort of Ocean's 11 type comedy caper film, Monuments Men is most certainly not that sort of film at all.

It has a lightness of touch which at times sits uneasily with some of the action, particularly the discovery of a barrel of gold teeth and a warehouse filled the furniture and artifacts of tens of thousands of murdered jews. This isn't really a comedy, but then neither is it a drama. Told with the pace of a stroll and featuring a lovely cast of great character actors this film never truly engages but somehow still remains an entertaining film which is made all the more poignant by the fact it's based on a true story.


Sunday, 9 February 2014



Starring Joel Kinnaman,  Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Samual L. Jackson and Jackie Earle Haley.

121 minutes long and Directed by José Padilha.

This took five writers to piece together, Frankenstein-style including:
Edward Neumeier, Nick Schenk, James Vanderbilt, Michael Miner, Joshua Zetumer.

I decided from the start not to compare this remake to the original, or at the very least I made a concerted effort not too, trouble is by the end of it, I couldn't help myself. I've read several reviews of this film and the running theme seems to be that people reviewed it favourably because it wasn't the train wreck of a movie they thought it was going to be, much in the same way that they reviewed Revenge of the Sith and said, 'it's not as awful as Attack of the Clowns'.

Well, it's fair to say this isn't a train wreck, nor is it as bad as I thought it was going to be.

The story is much safer for a 21st Century audience that's also much younger than the 1987 version and that befits a 12a certificate film, so there's no blood, gore or boobies, can't have the minds of teenagers corrupted by the sight of a nork, watching people being shot to death, blown up and bludgeoned is okay though but not tits, not that there were a lot in the first film but still. I digress.

Plot wise, Detroit cop, Alex Murphy is investigated a crime lord with links to the police dept when he is targeted by a bomb that leaves him in a coma and horribly disfigured (but not for long, this is a 12a after all), his loving wife, Abbie Cornish signs him over to OCP and the tender mercies of good doctor Gary Oldman and before you can say, 'lose the arm', he's a walking talking law-enforcement robot, trying to reconnect with his family and son, while solving his own murder.

A large portion of this film, and argubly the best part is the OCP behind the scene discussions and development of the Robocop technology, where OCP try to win a political struggle to legalise robots on the streets of America. What's less successful is the action which is almost entirely given away in the trailer. There's also a deeply annoying 3rd act arrival of the need for a huge shoot-out that sees Michael Keaton's, up until then's excellent CEO of OCP go from being a brainy and driven money man to the usual gun totting baddie.

In terms of the new suit and such, I have no problem with that aspect, although I missed Peter Weller's robotic walk. Overall, there' too much CGI, too little action, a tad too much waffle but that doesn't turn this into a train-wreck movie. It's far better than last year's appalling Total Recall remake but sadly not a patch on the original and far superior Robocop.



After returning home from seeing this, I stuck on the original Robocop and was blown away by it! So perfect, so well made, directed and edited and the script at a gorgeous102 minutes if word perfect and it still packs a solid wallop. Oh and the effects are a million times more convincing.

Robocop 1987




Starring Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Terry Crews and Will Forte.

Directed by Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn.

95 minutes long.

This came out last October and because of my knee I missed it. Today, I took my kids to see it at the Cinema Club and paid the princely sum of £3 for the privilege.

Hands down the funniest animated film I've seen in ages! Laugh out loud funny, from beginning to end, a never-ending stream of ridiculous puns and jokes this is a beautifully animated and superbly visually realised world that won me over from the get-go.

The plot is madness itself, following on seconds after the end of the first movie, Flintwood and the inhabitants of Swallow Falls are forcefully evicted to San Fransisco, while supposedly benevolent tech guru and genius, Chester V (CEO of Live Corp - Live is Evil backwards) promises to clean up the island. Six months later, the clean up mission a failure, Chester asks our hero, Flint Lockwood to go back to the island with his friends and destroy the
FLDSMDFR which it seems is now creating sentient food, including a giant spider cheese burger. The journey, heart of darkenss style into the centre of Swallow Falls reveals a whole eco-system of wild life which Chester V has designs on.

Whoever decided to merge the plots and stories of Apocalypse Now, Avatar and Jurassic Park and then animate it with sentient food deserves a medal.

The LEGO movie might be bat-shit crazy but Cloudy has more of a heart.

Plus the end credit sequence, a series of mini animated films is worth sitting through too!

Great stuff! Can't wait to watch it again on Blu Ray!


#11 LEGO Movie

#11 The LEGO Movie
Starring: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson and Will Arnett.

Directed by Chris Miler and Phil Lord, 100 minutes long.

This is a direct sequel to the Matrix and means, at long last that you never need watch the appalling Matrix Revolutions ever again. Doing in 100 lean minutes what The Wachowski Brothers couldn't in 129 minutes.

The story is, in a word, batshit crazy, an everyday LEGO being, Emmet is accidentally chosen to be the chosen one and must stop Lord Business from destroying the realms of LEGO land before TACO Tuesday, along the way he teams up with an assortment of heroes, including Batman, Wonderwoman, a cat/unicorn and a cyborg pirate and much relentless insanity ensues, including a third act twist that is truly inspired.

I'm getting old, I actually found this almost too relentless in its frenzied creativity. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed it, not got a great deal to say about this other than there's no need to see it in 3D.

Funny, silly, packed with more ideas than a library's worth LEGO instruction manuals and above all, stupidly entertaining. You and your kids should love it.


Saturday, 8 February 2014


#10 SAVING MR. BANKSStarring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford and Ruth Wilson, to name but some of the cast. Directed by John Lee Hancock

126 minutes.

This is the opening salvo by the Disney corporation to have it's founder, the loveable, charming, sweet old uncle Walt Disney canonised and made into a saint.

Telling the story of how the loveable, charming, sweet old uncle Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks charmed the cold-as-ice, spinster, PL Travis, Emma Thompson into signing off on the movie Mary Poppins, despite the the later's open loathing of the former's crassness and cartoons. Told showing Travis's youth and the origins of the Mary Poppins story, this is a beautiful looking and moving, if not fictionalised account of the meeting of these two great minds.

Colin Farrell, one of my least favourite actors, gives a compelling and tempered performance as the young Travis's troubled father the Banks of the title and the rest of the cast are thoroughly convinicing.

It's a shame this film doesn't show up some of Walt Disney's more un-savoury aspects choosing instead to present him as almost a living saint, similarly PL's melting feels a little forced at times. Still, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable peek behind the curtain of the creative process, although I could have done without so much of her childhood.


Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée


Set in the mid 80's, Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a 100% macho, trailer-park living, rodeo-cowboy, homophobic electrician who discovers he's got full-blown HIV and AIDS and is given just 30 days to live and no drugs. Rather than just crawl off and die, Woodroof sets out to get the drugs and medication that the FDA has ruled illegal and along
the way meets up with Jared Leto's Rayon, a gay, HIV-positive transvestite, Jennifer Garner's Dr. Saks, a sympathetic but powerless supporter and he sets up the Dallas Buyers Club which sells other HIV patients the drugs they need by making them buy membership to the club where the drugs are a perk for joining.

Bloody hell this is a powerful film, with uniformly superb performances from McConaughey and Leto, McConaughey in particular continues to show what a brilliant actor he is, freed from the shackles of rom-coms, this is his second film of the year and the fourth film on the trot where he simply excels and shows what he's capable of, his commitment to this role, just physically, is simply stunning and shocking.

His Ron Woodroof is a complex character who never slips into easy cliche, his subtle change from homophobic arsehole to the arsehole with regards his relationship with Jared Leto's Rayon is both naturalistic and sympathetic. This film isn't a one tone, worthy gloom fest, it also has some pretty funny gallow-humour moments and at it's heart it's the story of a man discovering his humanity.

A somber and sobering film this was nevertheless a deeply moving experience.


Sunday, 2 February 2014



Aaron Eckhart, Bill Knightey,Yvonne Strahovski and Miranda Otto.

Written by Kevin Grevioux, Stuart Beattie. Directed by Stuart Beattie.

93 minutes or 5580 seconds of your life you'll never get back.

I just made a starling discovery on IMDB. It turns out that this film had not one but two writers! Blimey I was surprised, I'd genuinely assumed the whole sorry mess, CG animation included had just been improvised on the spot.

When I first saw this trailer to this film I hated it. And felt the same way right up till the early reviews started coming in then my interest got piqued. It was being hailed as: so-bad-it-was-funny, as a huge ridiculous romp and I thought, 'sod it, that sounds like fun! Let's give it a go.' Plus it's from the crew what made the Underworld films and I quite liked two of those, out of the four I saw.

I wish I'd followed my gut instinct.

Well, let me save you 93 minutes of your life, this just isn't worth it. Apart from Aaron and Bill, who both being very rum-sorts, give it their all this is just a utterly pointless, lazy and stupid film that's too serious and up it's own arse for its own good, when what was needed was a sense of its own silliness and a sense of humour. Sadly it has neither.

It takes place in Paris, a Paris utterly devoid of life, several of the fights happen in, around, under, above and next door to Notre Dame Cathedral and yet never is seen a single other living person, similarly none of the building that face the vast Gothic edifice ever have their lights on. And seemingly, the wanton destruction caused to the building and stain glass windows goes un-noticed.

The plot, for there is one, concerns an ages-old war waged between demons, there are 666 of them and some gargoyles sent by angels to fight the demons, a secret war unseen by humans. When a demon dies he goes to hell when a gargoyle croaks he goes upstairs. Luckily demons are insanely easy to kill, mainly based on their numbers and the Gargoyles are just shit.

Old Fron-Ken-Stein, given the name Adam by the queen of the Gargoyles is hunted by the demons for some nefarious purpose (it's to animate an army of corpses), Bill is the king of the demons. So the film consists of Frankie, killing demons, getting beaten up by Gargoyles, getting captured by Gargoyles, escaping, killing demons and getting beaten up by demons and gargoyles. All the while guarding Frankenstein's Journal which details how the mad old bastard reanimated life, it's the book that Bill and his gang want, obvs.

It occured to me right at the beginning of this film that if, when the Gargoyle first found the journal, they'd just burned it on the spot then the film could have ended right there and I could have gone off to see something else. Sadly they didn't and I stayed to the bitter end, and boy was I bitter at the end.

I wish critics would just be honest and say: this film is shit, it's not funny because it's shit, it's just shit. It's not worth Aaron Ackhart's time, it's not worth Bill Knightey and it's certainly not worth yours. My time it is, because I'm on a quest to find the shittest film of the year. So I deserve whatever I sit through.

This is just a dreary, quite dull and bland slug fest which doesn't even have Kate Beckinsale's lovely leather clad bottom to entice me.


I saw it so you don't have to. Don't make my sacrifice a vain one.



90 mins you'll never get back.

Voice actors include: That bloke from Modern Family and the remake of Dawn of the Dead, a couple of kids you've never heard of and Steven Colbert. Directed by that bloke who directed the Lion King by going, 'draw that line a little more to the left. Now draw that one going up, not down.' AND Mel Brooks, whom I hope lives long enough to make at least one more film, otherwise this will mark a sad full-stop to a wonderful career.

I recently vowed a blood oath never again go and see a kid's animated movie as long as I live on pain of death. Unless it was from Pixar. Or the sequel to How to Train Your Dragon-Tattooed Lady. Or if it was stop-motion animation. Or Aardman. Look, I swore I'd stop seeing generic, made by committee pap, okay? So when Baxter, whom I'm not blaming for this, made a deal with me, 'I'll come with you to see Jack Ryan Shite Recruit if you come and see Mr. Pissbody and Shitman with me', I thought, 'okay, the trailer looks fun, i'll give it a go.'

Big mistake, BIG mistake.

Actually it's not that big a mistake, it a 'meh' mistake, for a 'meh' film, for a very odd little film, one that's both a throw back and a terrible updated mess. There's the belief in the Dreamworks studios that in kid's animated movie you have to shoe-horn in the occasional adult gag or reference, you know the sort of gag us parents laugh at and our under fives shout-whisper, 'WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING, DADDY, WHAT'S FUNNY ABOUT THE WORD, PISS FLAPS?' You get the idea.

Anyway, Mr. Pissbody and Shitman take this idea to a whole new level, a level previously un-mined and undreamed of! For they (the makers of this film) have decided to fill a kid's animated film with jokes only adults will get, but not smutty jokes or rude jokes but jokes and cultural references for things that at least two generations of children just won't get, I mean Kirk Douglas as Spartacus for fuck's sake and Albert Einstein!? All of the humour of this film comes from complicated puns uttered by Mr. Pissbody, puns that Shitman laughs at then says, 'I don't get it.' throughout the entire film, reflecting the entire child audience of the cinema. Plus Pissbody talks in long, complicated sentences in a monotone voice with words that are convoluted and unemotional.

On top of that, you have a film whose only girl character has to be constantly rescued, over-and-over again to the extent that on one occassion she snags her dress on a nail and can't pull it free, oh and she get betrothed to King Tut, until she finds out she'll be killed if he dies and has to be rescued.

So, anyway, in a nutshell, Shitman - the adopted son of a super-intelligent, taking, dog with the IQ of about a 1000 who isn't killed by humanity as a freak the minute he's born but allowed to adopt an abandoned boy he finds in a box. Seven years later said boy, Shitman starts at school where he befriends the Asian boy and the boy in a wheelchair before being bullied by the blonde cutie who calls him a dog. Push comes to shove, or bite, Shitman bites girl, Pissbody is threatened with being deprived of his son and cooks a dinner party for parent of the bitten valley girl. Over the course of the evening both kids use Pissbody's time machine and disaster and hilarity ensues.

Then it's a race through time and a stop off with Leonardo Divinci and the Mona Lisa, who (shock-horror) won't smile, a trip to Troy and a bunch of macho soliders hiding in a wooden horse and a couple of other historical figures before the obligatory race against time to save the world from destruction.

Animation is solid, it looks good and the action is fun. But beyond that, it's just a great big whooping MEH.

Kids might enjoy it, my two didn't that much.