27 February 2014

The Lego Movie

Before we go any further, let's just clear something up - Everything is Awesome in Lego Town! And trust me, you'll be singing the oh so catchy song for weeks to come. 

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, have taken on the challenge of giving the popular toys of Lego a voice in the highly anticipated The Lego Movie. These guys, plus a team of highly skilled animators and special effects buffs provide us with something quite special when it comes to animation. With a combination of stop-motion and computer generated animation, it translates on screen how much time and effort went into making this a Lego spectacle. It is safe to say that they have thought about absolutely everything and how an entire world would appear and move made out of little Lego bricks. 

Leading this animated journey is ordinary (yet made of yellow plastic) builder Emmet (Chris Pratt), who finds himself in the awkward position of being placed as the man who is destined to save the world from the evil President Business (Will Ferrell). Yet all he is, is an average workman who certainly is not save-the-day material (sorry Chris Pratt!). To help him along the way we have the likes of a Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and not forgetting the quirky love interest, Wyldstyle/Lucy voiced by Elizabeth Banks. The main thing to point out here is that this is not just a children's film for the half term, the utterly genius script writing will give adults every excuse to sit through it. This is a clever, satirical and very DC comic-ee film. The banter between Green Lantern and Superman is a very nice touch (a definite plus for fans) and gets even better when you realise the two are voiced by 21 Jump Streets stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum - and I get you can guess who plays who. 

The Lego Movie will certainly make the whole family laugh but at the heart of this film is a much deeper message. If you haven't already, grab yourself a ticket to see Emmet embark on his journey, tackling epic floods, robot Lego's and all with a crazy wizard, Vitruvius fabulously voiced by Morgan Freeman at his side. 

Don't forget that everything is awesome - until Unikitty gets angry. Never, ever get Unikitty angry!

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
100 mins, PG (2014) 

Unforgiven (許されざる者)

Yurusarezaru mono is a Japanese remake of the Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning film Unforgiven. Whilst the western world have been known to adapt Eastern tales, it has never really become common place for an American film to be retold through a different culture – until now.
This is a film that stays completely true to the original. The general characters and plot stay the same but instead we are given a Japanese setting of Hakkaido in the 1880’s. Due to this shift, there are evidently more cultural differences. Especially when it comes to the harsh tension between two rival tribes, the Wa and the Ainu. With this in mind, even though the original was pretty heavy, the violence seems even more noticeable considering the sheer amount of gore that comes with Samurai’s using their swords. We are introduced to a retired Samuari, Jubei Kamata (Ken Watanabe: Inception, The Last Samuari) who seems to have a pretty tiresome life living off the land with his two motherless young children. An old friend from the war Kingo Baba (Akira Emoto: The Eel, Dr. Akagi) travels to ask him if he would help him kill some men who repeatedly sliced the face of a prostitute, Natsume (Shirio Kutsuna) – of course a reward is involved.  
Just as they two did in the original, they travel to the small town unfortunately run by a ruthless Sheriff Ichizo Oishi (Koichi Sato) to track down the culprits. Vowing to never kill again, this becomes a race between hunting down the guilty men and Jubei nicknamed ‘The Killer’ during the war, battling internally with haunting memories of the past. This becomes quite an intense battle between anti-violent laws and a man who sees the people who need to be eliminated and follows through. Even though Unforgiven contains brutal imagery, the film enforces the Eastern codes of honour and tradition, making this fight much more than just gaining some Yen.  Watanabe is an excellent substitute for Eastwood, bringing a humble yet crazed performance to his Jubei, ‘The Killer’. Emoto also gives a fine performance as Morgan Freeman's stand in. The films comedic moments (which are certainly needed) are all down to the drunken and impulsive acts of youngster Goro Sawada played by Yuya Yagira.
Despite the films rather downbeat subject matter, Unforgiven is beautifully shot. The snow covered mountains make a great substitute for the bare west and Sang-il Lee’s direction does a tremendous job with this bold change. Unforgiven is just as concerned with acts of aggression as it is forgiveness. Although a lengthy running time if you can get lost in the story it is well worth sitting through this Japanese retelling of the Oscar-winning original.

Directed by Sang-il Lee
135 mins, 15 (2013)