Thursday, November 20, 2014

Film Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

The third and final book in the series has become a 2 part film adaptation and this story sees Katniss becoming part of the rebellion against the Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) but Snow has a secret weapon in the fight against the Rebel Scum.

I was very keen going into this film as I was a big fan of the previous film Catching Fire which really got me keen to see where the story was going to go and was overall a much better film than the first, could this new film rise above like a Pheonix or like Interstellar come crashing down to Earth like a Seagull going out to sea to Die.

Well happily this film did indeed do what Interstellar could not and that is fulfil the hopes and desires I had for it, this is a very well made blockbuster and it is anchored first of all by a strong story of Rebellion against a ruling evil, the use of propaganda on both sides to wage war on a mental level against the enemy as well as the physical and the symbol inspiring others to join the fight.

Another thing I must praise about this film as well as the others so far is its wonderful female lead in Katniss who Laurence just brings to life effortlessly in a way that she sort of failed to do with Mystique in X-Men recently and you absolutely believe in her and her character here, she's strong, she has a soft side, she's a great leader and she has her doubts, I really hope we see more female characters like this one in the years to come as other actresses deserve it.

I must also praise the cast as a whole as well, Sutherland is a great villain here and it's interesting to see him here having recently watched him as a conspiracy theorist in JFK the day before, the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman is good here along with Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Geoffrey Wright, Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson.

However the decision to split this film adaptation into 2 parts severely dents any emotional impact the film is striving for as you start to get interested in what is going to happen and where the story is going to go and then it ends with a "Keep watching after this film for more of Mockingjay", I wish that the filmmakers had gone for broke and made a 3 to 3 and a half hour film which covered the book as the current decision to splice it into 2 makes it look like a cheap money grab and the first part failing to impress in its own right.

But that said none of that will matter as the lines for the film will go out the cinema door and the box office worldwide will be very big (I think the biggest of the year) but still at least its not deadly dull or disappointing so there's that, 3 and a half out of 5.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On the Air Episode 5: The Voyage of War

Alright folks,

Here is episode 5 (and my 2nd last) of my Radio show for 2014.

On this episode I talk about:

- Interstellar
- Fury
- Pride
- John Wick

As always you can either click play on the streaming bar inside the link or right click on download audio and save it to you Computer.

If you have Firefox then click on download audio and it should come up in your browser.

Link is here: http://t.co/ROxGMwbySn

Friday, November 14, 2014

Film Review - Let's Be Cops (2014)

Let's Be Cops stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr as a pair of men from Ohio who move to Los Angeles to make a break in life, one in pro football the other in computer games but one night they decide to put on some old police uniforms and pretend to be Cops but as they say be careful what you pretend to be.

Going into this film I feared the worst I had heard bad reviews, the preview didn't do a lot for me and I just got the feeling that this would be awful and unfunny.

Surprisingly this was not as bad as I thought it would be but also I wouldn't give it much of a pass either and I think the reason I feel this is the case is that parts of it did make me chuckle a little and I did like Wayans Jr possessing some of the Jamie Foxx charisma.

But the reason I don't give this much of a pass is that it is just a very very very predictable comedy for the moment they put on the uniforms you pretty much know what is going to happen and as a result a lot of the film just felt like killing time until the third act and also I really find the loudmouth obnoxious boorish man child not very appealing as a lead for a feature film or even in life, where are the confident people to lead films these days as I miss them and also feel that the movies should sometimes reflect a confidence we have in ourselves.

And although we may not notice it there should be characters (and there are some I will admit) that reflect it and want to inspire us to become that but instead it's this man child mentality that thumbs its nose at any sort of authority or responsibility and just wants to blame others for his or her own mistakes, smegging hell give me a break.

So all in all Let's Be Cops is not terrible but it's also very predictable and I cannot recommend it to anyone, 1.5 out of 5.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Film Review - John Wick (2014)

John Wick is played by Keanu Reeves who was a former hitman who retired to settle down with his wife who dies of an illness but sends him a puppy after she dies to keep him company but Russian gangsters break into his house and kill the puppy so he takes revenge.

John Wick is actually really good fun, much more than Denzel's Equalizer remake which was just DUMB! and not in a fun way as well as the Liam Neeson film A Walk Among the Tombstones which I found disappointing and the key reason I think is that unlike those films this one knows exactly what it wants to do and wastes no time getting down to business, Reeves is a very likeable lead here and he has good backup support by WIllem Dafoe and Ian McShane as well as Adrianne Palecki and Michael Nyqvist.

Not much more to say here other than its good old fashioned exploitation fun that had me smiling and will highly recommend it, 3 and a half out of 5.

Film Review - Pride (2014)

Pride takes place in the UK in 1984 a year after Margaret Thatcher won her 2nd election as Prime Minister convincingly but the Miners have gone on strike and they just might have some unexpected help in their fight from a very different section of the community.

Pride is good fun, it has a great soundtrack (the highlight for me was a Phil Collins song), a nice cheery and positive tone to its story and has some very good performances by Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Imelda Stanton as well as George Mackay, Faye Marsay and Ben Schnetzer.

Sadly my knowledge of UK political history undercut some of the dramatic tension on show in the film here as the late Baroness would go on to win the 1987 UK Election and the British Conservative Party would go to win the 1992 election after she lost the leadership in 1990 and as the film went on those facts just kept coming to the surface as well as the fact that UK Labour didn't really go anywhere until Tony Blair took the Opposition Leadership in 1994 and then won the 1997 British election where he would not reverse any of the changes Thatcher made to Britain.

But despite my political junkie problems (and they're not problems that affect the film at all, not in the slightest) I did have a good time at this film and would recommend it to filmgoers, 3 out of 5.

Film Review - Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar is the new film by Christopher Nolan who gave the Dark Knight Trilogy and the story here takes place on a future Earth that's running out of food so Cooper (Matthew McCounaghey) is tasked to lead an Interstellar mission to seek out a new world and boldly go where no man has gone before.

I was so SO excited for this film going into it, I'm a big fan of the Dark Knight that Nolan made and a new Sci-Fi film has me automatically racing to see it as fast as Quicksilver from X-Men, could this new voyage soar for the stars or just come crashing down to Earth.

Hmmmm.

It pains me to say this, it pains me to say it to the point where I want to cry but this movie is a major disappointment for me, almost on the same level as Jack Ryan was back at the beginning of the year.

But before I delve into those I will talk about what I did like and that is Nolan's technical achievements, the cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema who also did Her and the Visual Effects work are extraordinary and they demand to be seen on the biggest screen one could find (unless a Christmas Pageant sees you booted into the smallest which happened with me) as they are marvellous to look at and study.

However this film's storyline is all over the place and Nolan is just not that same kind of filmmaker that Steven Spielberg and James Cameron are or even Peter Jackson to a certain extent as while his spectacle is truly special this film lacks a beating human heart and emotional resonance to go with it and those three men are far more capable of pulling this sort of film off (the project originally started with Spielberg in mind) and after coming out of the film I started to miss the Chris Nolan that gave us the Dark Knight which was a very cold and dark film that took no prisoners and went balls to the wall.

And that sort of dark edged filmmaking is what Nolan excels at whereas this sort of sugary sweet and melodramatic style of filmmaking is a very specialist skill which Spielberg, Jackson and Cameron can pull off but Nolan isn't capable of it and I hope that with his next film he will go back to the Dark Knight tone.

But finally in terms of the performances McCounaghey and John Lithgow are the best performers here whilst Anne Hathaway is stuck with a 2 dimensional and poorly thought out role and Jessica Chastain is just wasted in her role and someone of her calibre and beauty (I swoon when I see her on screen) just doesn't deserve it.

And so to wrap it up, Interstellar is a sad sad sad disappointment for me despite its amazing visual effects, I cannot recommend it and it saddens me to even say it as I wanted this to be good I really did but it was not and I just cannot take any pleasure in saying this, 2 out of 5.

Film Review - Fury (2014)

Fury is directed by David Ayer and stars Brad Pitt as Wardaddy a tank commander in the dying months of World War 2 but one day a greenhorn named Norman (Logan Lerman) is assigned to his tank division and a dangerous mission may be the making or breaking of him.

Going into this film I felt very mixed mainly because seeing the preview for the film made me think "This will be either Great or Terrible" so was it either of those?

Nope it was actually neither of those things for me, don't get me wrong it isn't a bad film not in the slightest but I also didn't think it was all that great either.

Before I delve into those I will talk more about what I did like and those are the battle scenes with the tanks and the ensemble surrounding Fury (which is the name of the tank in the film), the battle scenes are nicely put together and I did like Pitt in the lead role, he's definitely surprised me recently with his good work in this film as well as World War Z and Inglorious Basterds, I actually liked Shia LaBeouf here (the day has come) and Lerman shows more of the promise he gave us in Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Also worth talking about are Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal as well as Jason Issacs in his small role but at the same time I just found the film overall to be lacking in that visceral emotional punch that it wants you to feel but I just didn't mainly because I was like "Yeah they're all going to die now" which makes it hard to care by contrast Lone Survivor with Mark Wahlberg from earlier this year gave me that feeling of a group down and out fighting against the odds and it was faster paced, more exciting and emotionally visceral than this film is.

And I recommend that film over this one as whilst it is well made and performed emotionally it falls short, 2 and a half out of 5.