Average User Score: 7.7Jun 9, 2014Director - Jon Favreau
Starring - Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara Jon Favreau is a man whose work is more well known than hisDirector - Jon Favreau
Starring - Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara
Jon Favreau is a man whose work is more well known than his face. Pete Becker? Happy Hogan? Maybe this is because he has spent the past few years behind the camera, helping to create the Iron Man franchise. In his latest film he pulls triple duty; writing, directing and starring.
Chef is a dramedy which tells the tale of Favreau's Carl Casper, a talented chef who, following an incident involving a food critic, lava cake and the internet, takes his talents on the road in a food truck. The film then shows how this affects his relationship with his son and ex wife (the beautiful Sofia Vergara).
Some people may be attracted to the prospect of an Iron Man reunion with the inclusion of Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. However neither actor is in the film for very long, although R.D.J's short turn is utterly hilarious.
Instead the film is at its best when we see the relationship Carl shares with his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and best friend Martin, (John Leguizamo), as they journey across America in their truck. All three actors are wonderful; their scenes are sparky yet natural.
Do not see this film on an empty stomach. Food is lovingly shot and used to great effect. Meats, spices, fruit, sweets and so on, are given screen time most actors would kill for.
Music is also used creatively with a special guest appearance by Gary Clark Jr. and a brass band version of Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing; it shouldn't work but somehow, it does. The music adds to each scene without detracting from the action on screen.
The film uses social networking, such as Twitter, as a convincing plot device; from the downfall of Carl to his rapid resurrection and beyond. The audience is reminded how the internet can affect a person's life (maybe a little shot at critics everywhere).
This film was nice. That isn't an insult; it was a genuine pleasure to watch a film that was funny without being embarrassing or gross out. The cast were superb and all looked like they were genuinely having a good time together. I left the cinema feeling happy without having been overwhelmed by action. I would thoroughly recommend this film to cheer up the most miserable soul.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.3May 28, 2014Director - Bryan Singer
Starring - Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellenDirector - Bryan Singer
Starring - Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen
X-Men is the oldest franchise that Marvel currently have in their ever expanding film universe. However it has been surpassed by the Avengers, both in their stand alone films and the juggernaut that was Avengers Assemble. Then Matthew Vaughn's prequel, X-Men: First Class (2011) shot some much needed life back into the series and things started to look up. But could the franchise keep it up?
Now Bryan Singer, director of the first two mutant films, is back and has the mammoth task of combining both sets of actors and giving us a film more credible and entertaining than the dismal X-Men: Last Stand (2006).
Without giving too much away, the plot revolves around Magneto and Professor X (McKellen and Stewart) sending Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to 1973 to see... Magneto and Professor X (Fassbender and McAvoy). Their mission is to change history and prevent the war that will wipe out mutant kind. And thus we go from old cast to new.
James McAvoy plays a broken Charles Xavier with raw anger and sadness, far removed from the all-knowing calm figure of Stewart. He is a joy to watch as he struggles with his power.
Fassbender is also a wonder, never overplaying a role that could have led to scenery chewing of the highest order. The chemistry between both actors is amazing, I just wish they had more time together.
Jennifer Lawrence has made the role of Mystique/Raven her own (Rebecca who??) She is sexy, sassy and focused but has not yet grown into her evil persona of the original films, which means we can truly love her (for now anyway).
And onto Jackman. You just have to look at the posters to see he is supposed to be the star of the film and there is no denying that he has been consistently good even as the films diminished in quality. While he does play an important role in the plot, he sometimes acts as merely a foil for the new cast but what a foil he is.
Special mention goes to Nicholas Hoult's Beast who has grown as a character even if his screen time isn't extensive.
I couldn't write a review without mentioning Quicksilver. I admit that when I first read about the character being included I was sceptical. I truly believed that Singer only did it to piss off Whedon and the folks at the new Avengers film. But Evan Peters is a blast as the super speedy mutant who, despite his limited screen time, makes every scene he's in his own. His performance is an obvious contrast to the serious portrayal that Aaron Taylor Johnson will probably give in Age of Ultron (if the mid-credit scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is anything to go by). Also, there is a cheeky little nod to his parentage; brought a smile to my face.
The film itself is well paced... action and emotion in equal balance. The 131 minute run time passes by without feeling like it is starting to lag.
The mixture of high quality digital and grainy 1970s film is used to great effect.
As with most Marvel films, stay until the end of the credits for a peak into what lies ahead for X-Men.
There are a few niggles I have (at the beginning of the film Wolverine's claws are back to being made from adamantium which pretty much negates anything that happened in The Wolverine) but for the most part Singer brings back the familiar and fans can feel safe in his capable hands.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.9May 17, 2014Directed - Gareth Edwards
Starring - Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe In 1954 the Toho Film CompanyDirected - Gareth Edwards
Starring - Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe
In 1954 the Toho Film Company made a picture about a huge dinosaur-like monster that rampaged through Tokyo. It was only 93 minutes long but it spawned a legend that has lasted 60 years and 28 (Japanese) films. I am, of course, referring to the colossus that is Godzilla.
Fast forward to 2014 and the newest incarnation of the world's most famous kaiju. Godzilla is an icon and the director, Gareth Edwards, had a mammoth task to overcome; how to bring the monster into the 21st Century without angering the fans.
The film begins with some original opening credits; words are redacted before the viewers' eyes, leaving only the names of the cast. This plays out over footage, supposedly from the 1950s, showing radars, military personnel and, finally, a large nuclear explosion at Bikini Atoll (the first of many references to actual events and /or classic Godzilla movies ).
We jump to 1999 and meet Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) who is investigating the skeleton of a large, prehistoric creature found in the Philippines. Then we zoom over to Japan where Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is concerned about the nuclear plant where he works. Disaster obviously ensues and what follows is a sequence reminiscent of the Fukushima disaster which occurred only a few years ago.
And now we are up to date. Joe's son, Ford, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is happily living in San Francisco with his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and young son.
At this point I would like to say that I was slightly disturbed at watching these two young actors playing lovers as, in my head, they are the Maximoff siblings (I know, I know, it's not real but I can still have my opinion).
Father and son are eventually reunited and that's where the action really begins.
Cranston is brilliant as a father who feels like he has lost it all; both traumatised and unhinged in equal measure. Watanabe is the yin to Cranston's yang; calm and collected to a point where some of his dialogue is barely above a whisper.
The younger actors; Taylor-Johnson and Olsen, are not as strong in their roles. Olsen is not given much to do except cry and run. In fact, one downside of this movie is that there is a distinct lack of strong female characters.
Taylor-Johnson has a larger part to play but he doesn't quite fulfil the leading man role. He isn't entirely convincing as an action star but neither plausible as desperate family man. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a good actor but he wasn't given enough to work with. The script is basic with Cranston's impassioned ranting (heard in the trailer) as the only stand out part.
But to most, it isn't the human cast that people care about. Does the 2014 version of Godzilla make the grade? In short, yes. He bears a resemblance to the original creature but without the look of a rubber suit. You could believe that there is a dinosaur-like monster out there. As you have probably gathered from the many trailers, Godzilla isn't the only kaiju in the movie but I will leave what they are, and why they are there, as a surprise.
And then there is THAT roar. Spine tingling with a bass deep enough to turn your internal organs to mush, perfect.
At several points in the film, just as the audience thinks it might be treated to a monster smackdown, the focus is always pulled back to the less interesting human story. However, the final battle is worth waiting for, if not a little short. Gareth Edwards has held enough back for the inevitable sequel (pending box office results).
There are small niggles here and there but I was always a fan of the King of Monsters (another classic reference) and there is enough here to remind us of the creature we fell in love with.
Bonus points if you spot the reference to another kaiju which appears in the first half of the film.
Rating - 7/10… Expand
Average User Score: 6.6May 11, 2014Director - Kar Wai Wong
Starring - Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Ziyi Zhang The Grandmaster is a film about Ip Man, a master of Wing Chun and theDirector - Kar Wai Wong
Starring - Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Ziyi Zhang
The Grandmaster is a film about Ip Man, a master of Wing Chun and the teacher of one of the world's greatest and best known martial artists, Bruce Lee. However, do not expect to see Mr Lee, there is only the merest mention of his name in the final moments of the film.
Also, do not expect a movie chock full of action; although there are obviously fight scenes, most are short, bloodless and at times just there to showcase the amazing martial arts styles.
There has been a previous film about Ip Man, entitled, surprisingly, Ip Man (2008) and starring Donnie Yen. Where that film was more action (presumably to capitalise on Yen's ability), this is more subdued and reflects on the history of not only Ip Man, but the essence of Kung Fu, in particular the style of Wing Chun. The script is littered with wise sayings and philosophical teachings giving the impression that The Grandmaster wants to delve behind the fighting and be driven by the characters.
In Tony Leung the film has a strong lead. He exudes charm and is convincing in his role as a Wing Chun master (Leung is better known for his dark and brooding roles in films such as Infernal Affairs and In the Mood for Love). He stars alongside Ziyi Zhang as Gong Er, the daughter of another Grandmaster who has a love/hate relationship with Leung's Ip Man. Zhang is beautiful and graceful, the perfect ice maiden. However it is this very quality that sometimes makes it hard for the audience to fully sympathise with her character; her facial expressions rarely go beyond a steely stare. Given she is part of the film's more sentimental storylines, it is hard for the viewer to truly understand what is going on, especially in the dialogue free parts.
Unlike the previously mentioned Ip Man, this film spans a much longer time-line, from 1936 China to Hong Kong in the 50s. The Second Sino-Japanese War, which is central to Yen's film, is a small section which is only there to show us why Ip Man leaves China in the first place. Indeed large blocks of text flash up thorough out the picture to give us information and remind the audience that this all really happened.
The film is beautifully shot; Kar Wai Wong uses the elements to dazzling effect. Snow, rain, blossom, steam... all are used to create a wondrous sight and visually stunning pieces (the sequence at the train station is a perfect example). The white plains of Northern China, described as harsh by characters, are nothing short of breath taking under his direction.
If you want a film that gives us an Ip Man of action, then I highly recommend Donnie Yen's 2008 movie. However if you prefer a more character driven and thoughtful piece, then this will be more than satisfying.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7May 4, 2014So, I realise I'm late to the party in regards to this film but better late than never, right?
On the surface of it, you can be forgivenSo, I realise I'm late to the party in regards to this film but better late than never, right?
On the surface of it, you can be forgiven for automatically comparing Zero Dark Thirty to Bigelow's other 'war' film, The Hurt Locker; you could be forgiven but you would be entirely wrong! The two films are completely different yet both are equally compelling, just for contrasting reasons.
The movie starts with audio only; calls between victims and the emergency services during the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. It's heartbreaking and horrifying without actually showing you anything. From here we jump two years and we are introduced to Jessica Chastain's character, Maya. Bigelow and writer, Mark Boal, give the audience a strong female character; a single minded woman who stops at nothing until she gets what she wants. Chastain's portrayal is a marvel; from her first 'interrogation' to the final moments, Maya's growth as a character, in strength and resolve, is utterly convincing. The only downside is that the audience never gets beneath the surface. Bigelow sacrifices who Maya is for what she does. However Jessica Chastain is so powerful in her role that the viewer will follow her story anyway without question.
The death of Bin Laden is almost always told as the story of the brave men who stormed his compound, yet we don't get to meet this group until two hours into the film. This film isn't about these people, it's about what went on behind the scenes to allow such a mission to take place; the many layers of bureaucracy and years of research Maya and company endure just to get a meeting with the Director of the C.I.A (played by James Gandolfini).
Some of the torture scenes make for uncomfortable viewing no matter what your opinion of it's usage. Bigelow pulls no punches in her direction and creates a visually beautiful film amid harsh environments.
The final half hour, the storming of Bin Laden's refuge which is shot almost in real time, is fascinating as the director switches between night vision goggles and the drab natural light of the compound, drawing the audience in and creating a tense final scene (despite the fact that we all know the ending of this story).… Expand
Average User Score: 8.6Apr 27, 2014Be aware, this film is The Raid 2, not The Raid the second. The difference being, people should not expect more of the exact same, thisBe aware, this film is The Raid 2, not The Raid the second. The difference being, people should not expect more of the exact same, this franchise has evolved.
The film picks up about half an hour after the first one, with the hero, Rama, now having to go undercover to find more corrupt cops and protect his family.
If The Raid could be likened to films such as Assault on Precinct 13 then the second film can be described as part Infernal Affairs, part The Godfather. The action is still there, extreme and over the top (not a complaint), but Evans has still kept the tension that made the original so extraordinary.
The final fight scene is immense and superior to the confrontation in number one between Rama and Mad Dog. Where that was raw and gritty, The Raid 2 produces an exchange that is technically amazing and visually stunning.
I was worried that stretching the run time from 100 minutes to two and a half hours would damage the film. Although the film could easily be trimmed down by about 30 minutes, I wasn't sitting in my seat praying for the end; the balance between action and tension kept my interest until the very end.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Apr 19, 2014Here it is, my first review (can't you just feel the excitement?)
The latest installment of the Marvel franchise has landed in the musclyHere it is, my first review (can't you just feel the excitement?)
The latest installment of the Marvel franchise has landed in the muscly form of Captain America. However the main attraction is neither the size of Chris Evans arms (sorry ladies) nor the pout of the beautiful Scarlett Johansson (never mind boys). Instead, the whole film is nothing short of a game changer for those that follow the Marvel universe and the TV series. Without giving too much away, watching the old films will never be the same again.
Mr Evans does a fantastic job as the man out of time trying to make sense of the world he now inhabits. Joining him this time is Ms Johansson as the arse-kicking Black Widow, and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka, Falcon. Both are great in their sidekick roles; Black Widow gives the girls a reason to cheer by holding her own against the men of the movie, however these moments seem to be inter-cut with several lingering shots of her tightly clad bum. Mackie also plays his part well without looking like he is just auditioning for his own solo film.
The film is action sequence after action sequence but this doesn't detract from the plot. The only negative I have with the faster paced scenes is that sometimes the punches and kicks are a blur (but that could be something to do with my age).
And now onto the titular Winter Soldier. I won't reveal his identity, even if it is pretty much an open secret now. However I will say that, although he is an excellent foil for Steve Roger's Captain, I would have liked to see him a lot more. For a man whose name is in the title, he plays second fiddle to some of the other bad guys.
Despite my Winter Soldier gripe, this is a fantastic film and really does open up the future for the Marvel film franchise. There are little nods to other Marvel characters, both old and new, which should keep every fan boy (and girl) happy. As usual please stay until the end of the credits for two post film sequences, the first of which had me squeal with delight... thank goodness there was only my boyfriend and daughter in the cinema (who were just as excited).… Expand