31 July 2013


Lawless was certainly NOT flawless. And I'm not just talking about Tom Hardy's accent - as pretty as he is I think I could understand him better playing Bane. Anyway (sorry Tom) this screenplay is based on true events first documented in 'The Wettest Country in the World' (2008) written by Matt Bondurant. We are in 1931, introduced to a family who are producing moonshine during prohibition and successfully getting away with it until Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) shows up to, as he so lightly puts it - get those mother f*ker's and so he does.

Despite having an entertaining script from Nick Cave with 2 and a half hours of hats, violence, smoking, courting and crazy country dancing it still wasn't enough to keep you really captivated. However I did enjoy this western in spite of the writers spending too much time on scenes that didn't have any real value in developing the narrative forward. Guy Pearce is as commendable as always with Shia LaBeouf closely following giving a very solid and tenacious performance showing us how far the boy from Holes (2003) and Even Stevens (2000) has progressed. With gangsters being rife and the main characters owning a distillery and bootlegging business - you know this is a recipe for disaster , literally.  When people start to get killed and Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) steps in things really get going and it was disappointing that it look a while for the film to get there. I really thought that the writers had us going when the main man Forrest Bondurant (Hardy) gets shot about 10 times and that they were going against Hollywood by killing  him off, pah - it takes more than bullets and a cut to the jugular for this one to die. This is pretty violent stuff and rated 18 for a reason. We have full frontal from Jessica Chastain and I have to say that the gory fight scenes are beautifully shoot or should I say brutally, making you cease up when someone on screen is receiving a 'Scorsese' like beating.

Good soundtrack, strong cast, great gun fights but there was something missing. Maybe we all need to grab a copy of the book and have a browse.

Directed by John Hillcoat
116mins, 18 (2012)

Monsters University

Well I can certainly say that Pixar has truly worked hard on this one. Not only is the script tongue in cheek, the animation is truly ground breaking and the storyline even though we have the classic Disney 'and they lived happily ever after' ending is absolute. Even though it has been over a decade since the first instalment back in 2001 of Monsters Inc, Monsters University will make you laugh, make you jump and is one for all the family.

This film is an adult satirical, whimsical story in disguise as a playful child's film about boisterous, multicoloured monsters. Children certainly would have overlooked all the inventive connections to the previous film and to the characters we know so well; I was finding myself smiling at the sheer detail paid to establishing those connections (including the original Toy Story ball). University - a time that is supposed to be enjoyed, a time you are supposed to reminisce about with your friends and a time for learning how to scare? - yep, scare and this is exactly what these monsters do with their time. This is the first time we see Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sullivan (John Goodman) meet and lets say they are the complete antithesis of each other. Mike (would you believe) plays the stock character of the geek, a loser with braces who wants to become a top scarer - but sadly being a little green beach ball doesn't give him the edge to win over the head of the scare programme; Dean Hardscrabble, voiced terrifyingly well by Helen Mirren. So Mike the geek and Sulley the popular kid; with a popular surname who thinks that will get him where he wants to be, albeit a bit of courtesy and opening a text book occasionally he finds will get you further. Despite the best bud characters we know so well completely clashing on first encounters, throughout their journey to become scarer's they transform into the monsters that both adults and children will grow to adore.

Enough about the troublesome duo as I could go on forever (and no-one wants that!) - the animation (much like in the first film) is utterly flawless. The colour and depth within each frame really portrays how rapidly digital 3-D is progressing and I have faith that it will continue to exceed our expectations. Whether you need to take the children to entertain them during the holidays or simply enjoyed the first one then you will be yet again lost in the wonders of the monster world. Alongside typical college laughs, with a message that is quite profound and results in teamwork being the key (quite a nice life lesson for the kids in the audience) and the utterly gifted writing this is one to be enjoyed.

Directed by Dan Scanlon
104mins, U (2013) 

15 July 2013


I can safely say that this is the most vulgar, rude, obnoxious and crude role we have ever seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in. Who'd have thought that the young innocent teenager from '10 things I hate about you' (1999), could pull something like this out of the bag? Well he certainly does. Hesher is not for the light-hearted, it is not a Sunday afternoon flick but it is however a feel good film in its own right.

Other than the plot line being incredibly heavy, when Hesher gets involved with a boy who has just lost his mother in a car crash, whose father has giving up on life and constantly being bullied at school, he tries to help albeit going completely the wrong way about it! So when T.J finds Hesher imposing in his own home, this poor little boys life really goes from bad to worse - mainly due to the unwanted help Hesher is volunteering to give him, when it just seems like he is virtually intruding on this kids life. T.J's life sucked and now it sucks even more (Thanks Joe!) You hate Joseph's character from start to finish, with the rather unnecessary electric guitar rift that impose on the soundtrack every time Hesher is on screen, luckily it doesn't last long and I half expected him to shout 'Radical Dude'!  Aside from such techniques, the whole film has a very raw, Indie feel to it which reaches out to the viewer and says look, it can always be worse, yeah worry about it but then we have to take on the next challenge that life throws are way and the majority of the characters by the end of this horrific journey finally see the light. I certainly thought it hit home and I found myself really feeling for the guys on screen and wishing that they would just get a break from their unlucky streak, and they kinda do.

To sum up Hesher - a film that I won't be seeing again, purely because it was such a bleak subject matter. The cast give very powerful performances which really get the plot going but as I said it wasn't a feel good film that I enjoyed. It is heavy, emotive and you will find yourself thinking that these guys have got it really bad, especially when the chaotic explosion of Hesher appears on screen.

Directed by Spencer Susser
106mins, 18 (2010)     

12 July 2013

Da Vinci's Demons - 'History is a lie'

After Dan Brown's popular take on Da Vinci back in 2003 along with other problem solving plot lines (National Treasure 2004 & Wanted 2008) over the last decade, Da Vinci's Demons is yet another one that will keep you guessing and entranced by the amazingness of this Da Vinci's mind. Here we have a new and improved take on the Italian Renaissance and history as a fantasy genre. Da Vinci is more intelligent, cheeky, outrageous and as charming as ever as we are taken on a journey through his early years. Writer David S Goyer who is known for the Dark Knight trilogy and the new Man of Steel creates a thrilling cross between historical fact during this period of time and fantastical drug induced plot lines of  the entrepreneur, Da Vinci himself.

The whole cast provides us with perfectly flawed characters, performed with energy and passion, resulting in beautifully vulgar creatures you grow to love and hate simultaneously throughout every episode. Playing Da Vinci we have Tom Riley (Monroe & Bedlam) who despite not being in the limelight long brings unbelievable spirit and vigor to his character, very reminiscent of Paul Bettany's take on Chaucer in 'A Knights Tale' (2001). Amongst the other characters we have a few recognisable names but in the main we have an up and coming cast. Laura Haddock plays Da Vinci's lover (along with others!) who's first major role was in 2011,'The Inbetweeners Movie'  (I know what your thinking) but on this occasion she is very suited to this more serious and challenging role. With this being only an eight part series the story is fast paced and develops rapidly, however we are still waiting for the answers we seek (much like Da Vinci) in order to make sense of what is happening on screen between all the opium fuelled trips. 

'HISTORY IS A LIE that has been honed like a weapon by people who have suppressed the truth. Centuries from now, your own history will also be suppressed'. This ingenious quote was the only teaser we got up until the programme premièred back in spring and yep the series follows suit by not giving away any spoilers. Who knows maybe we shall obtain the answers we so desire in the second instalment (if they make it that is). Regardless,  if you are up for a bit of history drama, following such a mind as Da Vinci's, demons and all with blood, sex, deceit and laughter then this fits the bill. Just be prepared to be left behind when it comes to certain plot lines!

Directed by various people
60mins, 18 (2013)

4 July 2013

The Purge

One night a year all crime is legal - including murder. This is called 'The Purge'. In 2022 (not that far from now) America's government has introduced this event in order to regulate crime rates and boost economy by letting their citizens run riot for 12 hours a year. The whole evening becoming a cathartic process for those who have been waiting to release their primal urges that have been locked up for an entire year and not fear the consequences of their actions. All emergency services are suspended, no help will be given: resulting in everyman for himself.

The film follows one family during the annual Purge and these guys certainly don't have the safe, quite evening they had in mind. With James DeMonaco directing who bought us the likes of  'The Negotiator' (1998)  and 'Assault on Prescient 13' (2005) the Sandin's family, along with the audience should expect a hostage situation and a bit of negotiating. The main man James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) runs a business who is behind all the fancy security systems the general public put in place to protect themselves during the Purge, only to find out that said system certainly isn't impenetrable, especially when their son Charlie takes pity on an injured man and disarms the security system to let him in (oops). Little did Charlie know that this guy is being hunted down by some absolute maniacs in some disturbing masks who continue to terrorise them until they hand over the chosen target, ultimately condemning this injured man to death to save his family. So while all this is occurring their rebellious daughter Zoe's boyfriend decides to sneak in and thinks this is the opportune moment to speak to her father about excepting him as more than a friend to Zoe - impeccable timing, until he pulls a gun out! Spoilers - spoilers I know, but this is where the writers really show their skills. As soon as you think everyone is save, they throw in something else for this family to deal with thus challenging them to admit defeat and get killed in honour of this culling process or transform into the monsters who are at their doors in order to survive until the next Purge.

So for 12 hours, one night a year, you can virtually do anything, commit any crime and completely and utterly get away with it and the best thing, you have a year to prepare yourself for the people that may come after you for one reason or other - such a brilliant concept. Shame it never really won me over. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed every minute of it but I found myself thinking that there is no way the human race would be able to control themselves for a whole year if someone close to them was affected by the purge the previous year, I'm certain that basic instinct would want to see that person suffer the consequences. It's not in our nature, the whole fight or flight comes into mind and on a night like this all you can really do is fight in hope to survive the night. The corner of the eye camera tricks and eerie soundtrack really compliment each other here, very reminiscent of 'The Strangers' (2008) kind of with a 'Hunger Games' (2012) feel to it with the government having sanctioned such an event to keep statistics down albeit creating a horrific event once a year all in the name of good figures. A reasonably short film of 1hr 25mins, fantastic idea, carefully thought out but it still didn't convince me that something like this would actually work and benefit the country. If you want a raw script, edgy plot  full of twists and a not so cliche ending then this is the one. Still showing in theatres at the moment so go grab a ticket and see what you think.

Directed by James DeMonaco
85mins, 15 (2013)

3 July 2013

World War Z

After I first watched the trailer for this I wasn't sure what to expect but when I got round to see it, well I can safely say I was surprised - in a good way. Despite trying desperately not to compare WWZ with Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later' (2002) who first brought the running zombies to our screens I couldn't help but recall it when watching this new zombie tale. However the incredible zombie swamped battle scenes created in this motion picture are just as chilling as when we saw them in '28 Days Later'. I found myself on the edge of my seat as the director (Marc Forster) and the soundtrack delivered a very tense image that fills us both with fear and an utter overwhelming sense of despair when we are shown just how this Zombie virus has taken hold in every corner of the globe. Yes, I do think that this was the aim of the film but the more I think about it the more I focus on the lack of emotion created between the all American hero, Brad Pitt and his family. I certainly didn't feel anything for them when he was sent out in the thick of the zombie infestation to try and stop it. All very well until they realise that this is Brad Pitt and regardless of his role he really isn't cut out for saving earth, but Hollywood saves the day with a few cleverly scripted lines hinting at how to deal with this virus. One line sticks out particularly - 'Mother nature is a serial killer. She wants to get caught, she leaves breadcrumbs, she leaves clues...Mother nature knows how to disguise her weakness as strength' and of course this is the key. I won't give too much away guys but although we get that question answered there are endless questions that are only touched on and then completely forgotten about leaving you feeling a tad unsatisfied but perhaps if I get a chance to read the book such aspects will become clear.

Considering the production went way over budget due to having to re-shoot some poignant scenes that Brad had to pitch in himself to get it to the theatres, some of the effects are obviously rushed resulting in poor quality CGI which let the film down marginally. There are only a few shoots where this is the case but they stand out against the skilled make-up and prosthetics that the majority of zombies are in. The build up in this story is the main thing that really makes this a good film. Don't get me wrong in the opening sequence it gets straight in there but then we have a lot of waiting around building tension, creating that anticipation in the viewers mind, thus when something does happen we are all the more terrified for the characters on screen. Also I think the attention to detail is spot on. Even though they don't know where the virus originated from and how to treat it, they know that it spreads rapidly once bitten (12 seconds to be exact) and they actually address what would happen if you got blood in your mouth which sometimes gets ignored in such films.

Overall, nail biting stuff when you find yourself pondering on the images throughout and the close call the human race finds themselves in before they manage to cheat nature herself. If you like Zombies, then this is one for the film list but beware of the stock Hollywood 'save-the-day' ending.

Directed by - Marc Forster
116mins, 15 (2013)