14 August 2010

Extract-ly what i like...

Extract - Mike Judge

From Arrested Development onto his somewhat successful film career with hits such as Dodgeball, The Break-Up, The Ex, Juno, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hancock, The Invention of Lying, Up in The Air, Couples Retreat and upcoming Paul, Jason Bateman is a very popular comedic actor who can somehow go from working big blockbuster films to starring in small indie flicks. But Bateman has the talent to turn those small indie flicks into laugh out loud memorable performances. Extract for instance is the latest film to be made to showcase Bateman’s true range of skills, directed by the magnificently funny and strange Mike Judge, a film essentially about an extract production company has some of funniest moments of the year with a great ensemble cast also featuring heavy hitters in the comedy scene such as Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig, J.K. Simmons and David Koechner. So finding out this ensemble cast had been brought together by Judge, i knew had to see it, and now it’s been released onto DVD, i snapped at the chance to see this film which won’t be getting a massive release nor will it be getting a massive following, which it somewhat deserves considering how light-hearted and funny it is.

It shows the life of Joel Reynolds, owner of a flavour-extract company, married to the wonderful Kristen Wiig, and being best friends with a bar owner and drug dealer Affleck whilst juggling problems at the plant and with his marriage. It shows the bad things a man would do to get everything back on track, and this is where the true laughs emerge, giving real life instances new meaning and having the heartfelt “real” responses in situations, such as Joel willing to take drugs to calm him down, a con artist willing to “fall in love” with a guy with only one testicle who is about to win a settlement and a guy who forgets his workers names. Okay, maybe not the testicle thing but still, you get my point. The growing relationship between Joel and Cindy, the con artist is believable and it becomes apparent that Joel is only doing it to get back at his cheating wife, who don’t suspect is doing anything until all the is revealed. It’s a decent comedy with some funny scenes, especially with Affleck, rocking a mad wig. He seems to be the light relief, similar to the role of Ryan Reynolds in Adventureland.

The massive increase in small, but relatively funny films seems to be occurring more in 2010, with tons of films not getting the massive releases they deserve but instead finding their way into people’s DVD collections that follow the one or two actors such as Bateman or Affleck. Big fans of Mike Judge will like too, so i would defiantly give it a chance, you might enjoy it like i did.

6/10

Simon Childs

STONE COLD STUNNER TO MYSELF?

The Stranger - Robert Lieberman

Let’s begin with a little story of myself and my childhood and involving a form of entertainment that many would call embarrassing or ridiculous. A form of sport that has received widespread hatred because of its childish nature and it’s over the top representation. You may already know what I’m talking about but if you’re unsure, it’s called wrestling, and no not the Olympic style wrestling but the good old fashioned wrestling provided by the WWE, the World Wrestling Entertainment Company, formally WWF. Growing up as a kid in South East London, fascinated by TV and the movies, it was no surprise that growing up; sport was a massive thing in my house. Watching football, cricket, rugby and a wide range of sports, one type that always fascinated by me by the staging of it, the sense of drama and script was wrestling. It had amazing characters, fantastic storylines and real athletes performing week in, week out all types of exciting shows and matches for you to wonder and wish about. It’s something that should grow out at a young age, but i do sometimes still read about the business about what’s going on, especially PPV every month. It’s something I’ve embraced, but I’m not a massive fan where i watch it three times a week like most children or teenagers but i still have my favourite wrestlers from the past and now. Always been a big fan of The Rock, Mankind, CM Punk, Triple H, Edge, Chris Jericho, and many, many more. But one name that defined the era that i watched, was the legend, Stone Cold Steve Austin. This man was wrestling. He was the face, he was the sound, and he was it. And people fucking loved it. And still do now. That’s why, using his massive popularity with the older audiences, his film career has somehow emerged with his starring in The Expendables, the new Sly Stallone film about a group of mercenaries, but before that Stone Cold had his own film, produced by the WWE with its new film company, Stone Cold takes centre stage, but will be able to take this and run with it into a fully fledged action film career?

Sadly the answer is no. Finding out that this was to be released on DVD instead of a cinema release, i knew that the film would be poor. The quality of a straight-to-DVD release where the filmmaking is so poor, you wonder if you could do a better job yourself. The storyline is weak, the action sequences are sloppy and all over the shop. Yeah sure it’s Stone Cold in action, but he can’t act really, just act tough, and that’s what makes the difference from him and other action films that had some acting kill, that charisma that made you care, for instance Bruce Willis in Die Hard, you actually care if he lives or dies. So after finding out Stone Cold had his own movie and finally getting to see it, it’s not looking good. He hasn’t made an impact like The Rock has. But i will keep watching his work, and who knows, over time, he could become brilliant. We all wish!

And on a last note...STUNNER!

2/10

Simon Childs

13 August 2010

Where’s the wax on, wax off bit?

The Karate Kid - Harald Zwart

Another remake for the summer blockbuster season where Hollywood churns out the best films of the year with most profit as the kids are out on their summer holidays, the parents are going on holiday to lovely places and having time off work. And for 2010, it’s The Karate Kid that has been remade with a bigger budget and grander scale to hopefully gain a new audience as well as charm the fans of the old Karate Kid films. I’m a big fan of the original Karate Kid film with Daniel La Russo fighting against the evil Cobra Kai fighting crew with the evil master John Kreese who wants blood. It’s a classic teenager film with some iconic scenes and phrases that will never die in film history, and the man who makes the film is Mr. Miyagi played by the legendary Pat Morita and looking at the martial arts history, there aren’t many people who would be right to take over the mantle from him, but one of the names that will always pop up is the awesome and historic master of martial arts and action films, the one, the only, Jackie Chan. The dude is a powerhouse in fight sequences and his whole career features some of the best ever seen and i doubt they will be beaten. But with this and Chan’s recent turns in becoming a better actor, would this be enough to either relive the past or upgrade for the better in the future? And i was hoping that Chan would do a bit of both, fusing the two together to recreate something familiar but at the same time new and I’m glad to say he does that with a whole heap of charisma and talent.

The story is adapted slightly to base it itself in today’s society where the kid moves to Beijing to start a new life with his mother and he soon meets the maintenance man of the building he lives at, Mr. Han. Mr. Han helps Dre Parker, the 12 year old kid played by the upcoming and quite likeable Jaden Smith (son of William Smith) after he is bullied outside his house and in his new school which seemingly started with Dre showing some of his dance moves to a local girl who takes a liking to him. From there, random events happen where Dre is beaten up and gets further upset about the situation until Mr. Han teaches him some moves to stop the bullies. This only about an hour in so far and the build up for Dre to become the master of kung fu he is at the end is a great pay-off, you can defiantly see the struggle and pain of training. It’s like a 45 minute long montage which is just ridiculous.

And before i give the score, a couple of things to point out, the ending is very good with the final move from Dre fucking hilarious and insane and something that defiantly trumps the crane kick from the original, which i was hoping they wouldn’t use. Also you’ll find in many scenes that Dre will give a look that is ridiculously similar to his father, like uncanny in how this kid acts and portrays himself on screen, once you see the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. A decent remake with good fight sequences but just lacking the original spirit and the age gap isn’t a good thing.

6/10

Simon Childs

12 August 2010

A Dramatic Turn For The Worse...(The Pacific Part 7)

Part 7: Directed by Tim Van Patton

Wow. That’s the word that came out of my mouth once the episode had ended. It’s an eye opener for sure. It is easily the most upsetting episode so far in terms of showing the real effects of war on a human being and it’s terrifying to say the least. Some of the sequences in this part were downright shocking, especially w
here one of the soldiers is throwing rocks into an open skull of one of the Japanese men. It’s revolting, but i guess it’s meant to be like that, it’s meant to show the brutality of the situation there in. The constant threat of death and the amount of destruction around him with their colleagues and sometimes friends dying or being blown up. The way the battle scenes are shot must take days, weeks or even months to perfect with the amount of timing and precise detail that does into them. To have it coming out the way it did, it proves that this show is one of the best on TV at the moment. The story at the moment has taken its chance to really show the horrors and the effects on the men and it shows none better than on Sledge, the innocent boy going into the war, being turned into the shell of the boy who first arrived. He’s seen things he wished he hadn’t and because of it, he’s changed. Sledge now moving into the limelight of the series, only small scenes with Basilone still not over the war and Leckie being hurt and being deported it seems only Sledge is left in the warzone. Maybe the next instalments will focus on the men outside the war, with Basilone trying to grip the reality of not being in a war, Leckie recovering from his injuries or being too injured and Sledge returning home to his family the man he was meant to be but something a little off about him. I’m looking forward to the direction this might go.

Simon Childs

11 August 2010

I AM THE ONE AND ONLY!

God of War 3 - PS3

This rev
iew is probably a few months way behind when it was released in March, but it was the first time i had gotten round to playing the game this summer and i thought i would review one of the best games ever to have been produced. I know in the future I’ll try to get games that are new and upcoming showcasing some of the best video games on the market at that time. With reviews of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fifa 2011, Playstation Move and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World coming this season, i hope you find the reviews worthwhile in selecting the right game to buy and most importantly play. So with one of the biggest years for the Playstation brand, from having heavy beatings from Microsoft and Nintendo, the games would have to shine in 2010 and so far, they have been with massive releases of Uncharted 2, Bioshock 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Final Fantasy 13, ModNation Racers, Red Dead Redemption, Transformers: War For Cybertron and many others that were both first party games and third party, but it seemed the line-up they had would somehow beat both the dry spell of original franchises from Microsoft and the family friendly, somewhat on a downward spiral Nintendo. With so many sequels to the successive franchises and series the console had before on both PS2 and with the launch of PS3, the second generation games would come to save the day for PS3 in terms of money.

One of the biggest successes for Playstation was the original concept of God of War on the PS2, a massive smash for the company, creating a game with luxurious settings, a fascinating and engaging storyline with action sequences that were not rivalled until the latest consoles of PS3 and Xbox 360. And with the sequel God of War 2, the team behind the games, Santa Monica Studios, wanted to create a game above the first, trying to capitalise on the software given to them and create an almost epically end to the console as the next in line was about to be released. And they did, creating a game furthering their work on the first and infusing more action and storyline with more puzzl
es and enemies to produce one of the best games I’ve ever played. And now moving onto God of War 3, a game which is released 3 years after the last one, from the same studio but this time with the PS3, a piece of software that would be utilised by the production crew to produce one of the best gaming experiences of all time. Mixing the fantastic storyline which once and all ends in epic fashion, causing iconic and mesmerising moments where you’ll wonder if your watching a Hollywood film and action sequences that would make Michael Bay have a boner. It’s really that great. Straight from the get go you have these fights with bosses that are probably better than final bosses of most of the games of PS3. And this is only the first level. The level designs are splendid and not once did i feel bored or began to lose patience with it like some games that have a grand scale, too much to handle. Here it is just right. Perfectly fitted into about 10 hours of gameplay, you could easily finish it in a day, but it’s worth it. It may seem short but it packs a punch with boss battles, puzzles and quick movements that will blow you away.

I won’t ruin too much of the storyline as I’m sure if you know about God of War you know about the back story of Kratos, a demi-God who after many years of being a powerful warrior becomes the God of War in the first game after defeating Aries and soon begins to think bigger threatening Zeus to become the God of Olympus. Throw in a few plot twists and turns and you’ll be rooting for Kratos to kick some butt throughout. And special mention to the sequences in God of War 3 where you’ll get to face off against certain gods, such as Hades, Helios, Hermes and Poseidon, and one of the most brutal sequences in the game is with Hermes, famous for his winged boots, Kratos does something that will both disturb you and want you to physically do it yourself. If you’ve played the game you’ll know what i mean.

Overall, a fantastic game with set pieces that are built to look and feel like a Hollywood Blockbuster, and the designs of both setting and character give it an edge over most of the games out there. Sure there are downers about the length of the game and button bashing gameplay with repetitive parts, but i think these are minor offensives, really nit-picking. So if you haven’t played it yet, go out and buy it NOW!


VISUALS: So far only two games match this for visuals, that being Uncharted 2 and Red Dead, but the boss battles alone warrants this full marks 20%


SOUND: It’s brooding, it’s vicious, it’s over-the-top sure, but it fits. The voice acting is silly at times but it matches the game, no faults i can find with it 20%


GAMEPLAY: God of War 1 and 2 were epic games and to once again feel that here makes the years long wait that extra special. It was perfect gameplay where the pace never stopped. 20%


LASTING APPEAL: Maybe not as long as many games on the PS3 like FF13 or Red Dead, but it packs a punch within the 10 hours of gameplay, there are no boring sequences just continued fun and i like that in a game 20%


SPECIAL FEATURES: Maybe lacking in online and other features, but trophies wise it will take a long time to complete and with artwork and special videos, it’s decent 16%


96%


Simon Childs

9 August 2010

Edward Norton vs. Edward Norton?

Leaves of Grass - Tim Blake Nelson

Every so often a really weird film comes out of nowhere and surprises you. Especially the people in it or the plot which somehow seems to be made from the mind of a mad man about to go on a killing spree. You know the films I’m talking about, the ones ruled by urban myth of how bad they are or for one particular scene where a tongue is cut off or a sex scene occurs that involve real sex. And for this month’s weird fucking film award goes to Leaves of Grass. Even the name is going to suggest some sort of drug use or drug connected, and it is. It revolves around the growing of drugs and how science can used for good to create a sustainable and varied choose of drugs. Wait did i say it was a good thing; i meant a horrible bad one. Now I’m not a believer of drugs but at the same time i don’t openly hate upon it, I’m that kind of person, everyone has their own choice and I’m not going to threaten people to do what i want. So I’m open to the idea of people doing it sensibly and it’s up to them. So going into the film, i was hoping the humour would overrun the fact it’s a stoner comedy with a lot less stoner, not like Pineapple Express or a Cheech and Chong movie. So once i knew it was Edward Norton as the main lead, i was a little surprised, seeing him as a professional actor who may not have the same roots in comedy been in this type of movie, i was defiantly surprised. And unfortunately after seeing the film, it doesn’t change my view greatly, it just cements the fact that it doesn’t work.

Ed Norton plays two characters, two twins, one being an ivory league philosophy professor and the other a weed grower from the Deep South with one of the worst accents of all time. Through in this whole storylines of the weed grower brother tricking his smarter brother to come back to their home town to help him with a local druglord who wants the hillbilly killed and that’s pretty much it. Of course a love story in thrown in too with the smarter brother, as every film has to have it and also the realisation of the smarter one that maybe his brother isn’t half as stupid as he thinks. It has the normal clich├ęs of a stoner comedy but just without the comedy and random violence mixed with it. I don’t find it funny or entertaining, if anything just really boring and predictable. I expected more from Ed Norton considering his past and the knowing fact that he is one of the best actors alive. Poor show. I don’t recommend it at all.

2/10

Simon Childs

Robert Pattinson isn’t a one trick pony/vampire

Remember Me - Allen Coulter

Robert Pattinson. A name googled more times than some of the greatest people that has ever lived, Newton, Gandhi, Einstein, and people all types of fields of science, mathematics, technology, media and the arts. His name is now one of the founding names of this generation. It’s sad to know that the Noughties will be remembered for a series of books and films that have seen to take over many people’s lives. Twilight. And when i say Twilight, with that horrible shiver down my neck, this cultural phenomenon has tore this universe into shreds because of its following, it defies logic in how so many people enjoy it. From mothers to daughters, to white people to black people, from the rich to the poor, it seems that the book has connected with a lot of people. It’s even difficult to comprehend this fact by how it’s bigger than one of the biggest book series ever, Harry Potter. So when a phenomenon defeats another, only one thing can come from it. Labels. Especially with the actors who star in these films; they are forever labelled as that role, we’ve seen it all before, where their lives are dictated by it, including their personal lives. Robert Pattinson will sadly be labelled that guy from Twilight. It’s sad but it’s true. He won’t be able to shake it off unless he does a Harrison Ford and continues to become iconic figures like Indiana Jones, Han Solo and Deckard. So with his first major lead film outside the Twilight franchise sees him trying to shake off the critics and i can say that’s not as bad as you may think.

Remember Me is a romantic drama piece that sees Pattinson fall in love with Emilie de Ravin, the lovely Claire from the epic TV show Lost. So it seems both have things to do in this film to move on. The two meet after a bet made by Pattinson’s friend to go after her in a cafe, and they soon begin to date. Pattinson beforehand is arrested after a fight and is arrested by de Ravin’s father played by Chris Cooper who shows the two young leads how to act. Through in the death of Pattinson’s brother who still haunts him long after his suicide and de Ravin’s mother being killed in front of her at an early age, it seems the two are damaged souls that get on together because of their up and down emotions. They do suit each other very well and the chemistry works. So the story follows the budding romance along with the two family problems with Pattinson’s father, Pierce Brosnan wanting to help but at the same time being a dick towards Pattinson and her daughter, Pattinson’s sister, who is very cute in the film, you will defiantly feel sorry for her.

And on a last note, a lot of controversy surrounds the ending of the film involving a certain event. Now i won’t ruin it for you, but it will swing your opinion in if it’s too soon to be using that event for a film, but it’s up to you. I thought it worked and added a different kind of twist, i just hope it isn’t used too many times as a scapegoat.

6/10

Simon Childs

Not so crazy about this one...

The Crazies - Breck Eisner

The latest in a long line of modern remakes of classic horror films, this George A. Romero’s 70’s B-Movie hit The Crazies has been updated and significantly changed from the original and many are calling it better than the original. Now there haven’t been many examples of horror remakes that have worked, sure you can list the names of films on one of your hands for the good ones, but when it’s done right, it easily makes up the fact that the others were shit. For example, Dawn of the Dead and The Hills Have Eyes, both use traits from the past film but update it in such a way it’s on its own accord and shouldn’t just be analysed for being a rip off of the original films. But as I’ve said, there are plenty more shit remakes than good, as you can see by some I’ve reviewed about like Halloween 2 and the upcoming DVD release of The Nightmare on Elm Street, both of which many hated on because of its portrayal of its lead iconic characters. With The Crazies, there aren’t any iconic parts or characters, but instead a simple plot which we’ve seen before where a town is infected by a deadly virus turning them into angry blood thirsty slow people with weird faces. It’s kind of a cross between the virus from Cloverfield and the Resident Evil slow types of zombies.

The lead character played by the dick Timothy Olyphant, and the reason i call him a dick is because i don’t like him. I just don’t. It’s almost like the scene from Star Wars in the cantina where the guy says he hates Luke Skywalker. Well it’s like that, but for a reason. I’ve heard reports of arrogance and the way he treats other actors and directors. I can’t respect an actor when shit like that comes out. So going into the film, i knew i wouldn’t sympathise with the lead, so may that have hindered it. Or maybe it was the boring plot with standard un-entertaining characters, the predictable action and the shiteous ending. I think it was a mix of all that. But back to the plot, Tim plays the sheriff of a small town and one night, after a dead body is found in the nearby lake and water system, the water is infected by a virus which soon spreads around the whole town. The government finds out and quarantines the whole town off, separating everyone into different sections. Along with the sheriff are his wife and his second in command who seems to be the only one whom turns up to the film wanting some action. The film is so boring, you’ll want to move onto something with action. As the main character is a sheriff you’d imagine he would be trying to sort shit out and taking names, but instead he just pusses out.

A bad remake of a film that wasn’t that great to start off with. Doesn’t work in the current climate where films like this appear every year in numbers but add new twists, don’t remake the film that started it all and not change it for the better. Sloppy filmmaking.

2/10

Simon Childs

Disappointingly not about Boba Fett and his life

The Bounty Hunter - Andy Tennant

The third romantic comedy review in a row, and I’m beginning to hate the fact that there are so many shit films out there claiming to be funny or claiming to be about romance. Here we have one of the worst cases of it. Yes, another Gerald Butler film showing his muscular charm along with his wit and action background with a semi attractive woman from TV. And here it’s Rachel from Friends, Jennifer Aniston. And it almost seems like a comeback for Aniston as i remember the last film she was in that I’ve watched was the half decent The Break-Up with Vince Vaughan, which i found to have a good time watching. Sadly, you can tell the leading man is one of the most important things where so she can bounce off of them, like how in Friends, the funniest people are the men and how Vince Vaughan is the show stealer in The Break Up. Butler can’t quite hold his own here with just his comedic timing, but with a poor script thrown in the mix, it ends up being more about the past relationship and less about actually being a bounty hunter or about the overall message of the film, if it even had one.

The film follows Butler’s character, becoming a bounty hunter and being asked to take her ex-wife, Jen Aniston in after she missed a court appearance. So here begins the goose chase with these two with different chase sequences and mind games and the usual, going down the road of their relationship and finding out how they’ve matured and how they’ve changed their wicked ways. Then comes the reconciliation part where you’ll see either be sexy or naked or both, and that’s the main draw of the whole film, seeing Butler topless or Aniston in skin tight clothes and showing her bust. Do actors really have to resort to that to gain a popular following? Proper actors use their bodies in the role for a reason, to further the character or story for the better, not because it’s the easy way out. So we have sequences that are meant to be humorous with the bounce back witticisms from them both but the only funny scenes, which are also pretty bad, are with Jason Sudeikis, a great comedy actor seen on Saturday Night Live in the US. He’s a very funny comedian, but here he is used as a secondary comedy source and it really doesn’t work. It would have worked better if Sudeikis was in Butler’s shoes and then it would have been funny.

So overall, don’t waste your time watching this, its utter shit that will almost anger you in a way you would have never thought of.

3/10

Simon Childs