Saturday, 1 September 2012

Movie Review: Total Recall (2012)

'What is real and what is Recall?'
It's safe to say that Summer 2012 at the cinema box office has been a real good time, providing us with everything from Superhero reboots to vulgar and offensive cuddly teddy bears. Summer is now drawing to a close and it will soon be time to bring out the gloves and hats from the bottom of my wardrobe. But beforehand Hollywood has decided to conclude the summer with a remake to one of my favourite flicks, attempting to conclude this already stellar summer season on a high note.

Fan's of the original film will be thankful to know that this new iteration most certainly ain't a train-wreck. Scattered throughout the film are some really nice, clever throwbacks and references to the original 90's classic, which will surely put a rye smile on fan's faces. The premise of the story however is mostly the same, those who have seen the original and are somewhat familiar with it will know exactly how the story will play out, whilst those who are newcomers may ultimately be confused and wonder what the hell is going on.

There's no new twists or surprises for fans to look forward to but in the films defence the story does present a few new elements that are rather interesting. The plot no longer centres around Mars, in fact there is no Mars, just Earth and a gravity lift between Britain and Australia known as 'the fall'. Not to spoil much but its a rather original concept (definitely the most original idea in the Movie)  but really could have been fleshed out a bit more to make this flick something really special. 'The Fall' could have presented some real political dilemmas within the films plot, however these are never fully realised or developed, instead 'The Fall' only serves the purpose of playing out the original films plot, which is a real shame.

The environments within the movie look really cool, but borrow rather heavily from the likes of Blade Runner, Minority Report and I'Robot. The people within the universe they have created seem if anything bland and lifeless, gone are the crazy mutants of the first movie (except one), though this could have something to do with the Earth setting, and in general gone are the crazy set pieces and 'WTF' moments of the first film. However its not just the supporting characters that could have done with some development, its the protagonists as well, they just seem so bland and uninteresting to the point that your not really interested in what they are doing or indeed if they succeed in their plans.
 What can't be faulted however is the films action sequences, most of them are pretty well thought out, in particular I enjoyed the first fight between Quaid (Colin Farrell) and his Wife (Kate Beckinsdale) as well as a really good Car chase scene halfway through the movie.

To conclude, its a decent Sci-Fi flick, and worth at least a watch, fans will appreciate the references and the action sequences, but may find the lack of character and story predictability a little harder to swallow. Newcomers on the other hand will likely love this and enjoy every second of it. If anything I hope it helps in attracting some new interest in the original film that I would consider a masterpiece.

I give Total Recall a 6/10

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Movie Review: Brave

Pixar attempt to 'change their fate' after the poor critical reception of Cars 2 in their new film Brave!
It's no secret that I'm a big Disney Fan, so much so in fact, even as I write this review I'm sporting my favorite Mickey Mouse T-shirt and Drinking from my Mike Wasowski Mug. Usually I'm eagerly anticipating a Disney Pixar film, though after last summers Critical flop that was Car's 2, I was rather nervous as to whether Pixar was going to drop the ball again. However I put on a 'brave' face and prepared myself for the worst, what I got however thankfully was a very enjoyable Family Flick.

Like most critics and reviewers have said, where the film really shines is in its first half. Essentially the first half of the film is completely character driven, I found myself getting really emotionally attached to some of the characters and their motives. In particular I could relate to the Mother and Daughter relationship of Protagonist, Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and Elinor (Emma Thompson) and some of the scenarios that were presented with these characters early on in the movie.

Whilst the first act of the movie has a rather serious undertone, it is cleverly balanced with some comedic relief that is reminiscent of some of the humor presented in Classic Disney Movies from the early 90's. Mainly thanks to the outrageously funny Billy Connolly, who plays Merida's Father, Fergus, and also thanks to Merida's Brothers, the triplets. I genuinely got more laughs in this Movie in its first 10 minutes, than I did for the Entire run-time of last years Cars 2. So major props to Pixar for getting that right.

Having said that, the film is not without its flaws, after such a strong opening half to the film, after a particular major plot point (which i will refrain from spoiling) the Films enjoyment and quality does start to wane a bit.

The overall second half of the film, seems rushed compared to the first half. The character development is kind of thrown out of the window when we are presented with a really bland, really undeveloped Villain, who is given only a little back-story and that's it. Because of this, the second act of the film never presents any real threat or any real form of urgency or issue, every plot point just seems to come together coincidentally and never really presents any closure on some of the events that happened in the opening act as the film draws to it's typical cliche' fairytale conclusion.

That's not to say the second half of the Film is a complete disaster, it still has its highlights and is thankfully saved by the humor and excellent visuals that are consistent throughout the whole film. Visually the film is stunning (as to be expected with Pixar) the Scottish landscapes are really beautiful and highly detailed, and the character design presents the usual Pixar quirks and features that are all so familiar, that everyone loves. Definitely see this one in 3D!

Overall Brave is yet another superb film entry in Pixar's Library, by no means is it their best work, but it most certainly isn't their worst! After Car's 2 (which most would consider a disappointment and Pixar's worst) It's great to see that Pixar hasn't quite lost their touch yet, Kids will love it, and Fans should enjoy it too, but may find it a little harder to overlook some of its more glaring flaws.

I give Brave a 7.5/10

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

All good things must come to an end, as Nolan's Batman Trilogy draws to its conclusion!
 Before I start talking about my impressions and opinions on the film I would like to express that my thoughts are with the Victims and their families who were involved in the tragic events that took place this opening weekend in Colorado.

It's safe to say that upon hearing about the release of this film I was rather skeptical. Of course why wouldn't I be? When it comes to the 3rd film in a comic book adaptation saga, it always seems to be the 3rd part that falters in quality or just utterly disappoints (I'm looking at you Spider-man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand). However perhaps the main reason I was skeptical about this film was because of the hard act it had to follow up,  that being its 2008 predecessor, The Dark Knight. Upon seeing this movie however my doubts and concerns were put far behind me, as this movie blew away all my expectations.

Those who are going in to this movie expecting an action packed super-hero romp may be disappointed with the slow, dialogue heavy, character driven style the film takes.Whilst the film presents some brilliant action sequences, which all have higher stakes than any other action sequence in the trilogy, the amount of action sequences presented in rises most certainly dwindles in comparison to the Dark Knight. However this really works in the films favour, as it decides to take substance over style, in comparison to other recent Superhero  films which particularly choose style over substance.

The Films Substance comes in its perfectly crafted plot, brilliant character development and excellent pacing. The film never fails to retain your fullest attention throughout its 164 minute run-time. The story follows on 8 years after the events of the Dark Knight, and shows how Harvey Dent's Death has affected Gotham and in particular the life of Bruce Wayne (who's alter ego is now wanted for Dent's Death). It's not until Bane and Catwoman come on the scene that Bruce feels he needs to put on the Bat-suit attire one more time. I really don't want to say much about the story at all cause I feel i would be doing the film an injustice if i said too much about it, all i will tell you is that it ties-in all 3 films very cleverly, not only is the story gripping, the conclusion that the story draws to is frankly completely unexpected and possibly one of the best endings I have seen to a film in a long time, I have no doubt that viewers will be more than satisfied with the way that Nolan has Concluded the Trilogy.

The Casting in the Movie is nothing short of top-notch. Christian Bale reprises his role as Batman, who does an excellent job of further developing Bruce Wayne's character, in particular his relationship with his butler and closest friend Alfred who is again played by Michael Caine. Other returning actors include Gary Oldman reprising his role of commissioner Gordan and Morgan Freeman returning as Lucius Fox. Newcomers to the fray are of course this films villain Bane played by Tom Hardy, who is given some excellent dialogue, whilst some viewers may find some of the dialogue is 'lost in translation' due to the vocal effects placed on his voice, it really didn't take me long to get to grips with what he was saying.

Perhaps the 2 roles that surprised me the most were Anne Hathaway who plays Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays Blake. In my opinion they definitely stole the show, Hathaway being able to give a sassy performance and some comic relief for some of the Cat's more tongue and cheek sequences and giving a more sombre performance in some of the more serious scenes. Definitely a contender for being the best portrayal of Catwoman on the big screen. Levitt's character is also interesting, he plays a cool-headed cop, and is perhaps the most dedicated to saving Gotham, he also plays a massive role in the story and is really involved in the plot. 

In a film that's full of very well developed characters and excellent acting of those characters its strange to say that one of its major flaws is a particular character. Miranda played by Marion Cotillard is frankly, dull and lacks any personality, making for a very dull character, her performance of the character is not particularly bad, but out of all the performances within the film, its sadly the least memorable.

Overall the final part of Nolan's trilogy is utterly satisfying, and had me glued to the seat, its emotional, its tense, its got great action sequences, its brimming with character, and in my personal opinion its the best film of the trilogy. The only real issue the film presents is what direction will Warner take Batman in its subsequent Reboot, as this trilogy will be a tough act to beat!

I Give The Dark Knight Rises a 10/10