26 August 2010

Jude Law’s retelling of Minority Report

Repo Men - Miguel Sapochnik

A lovely little story starts this review, examining the true fact that I’m connected to the one and only Jude Law. Well it’s a small story; we went to the same secondary school. It doesn’t have a great ending; he went for two years and left after not liking it and becoming the target of bullying. So yeah, it’s not a connection seeing he was there like 10-15 years before me, but it still counts. Kinda. But anyway, looking at his latest release Repo Men, i was genuinely interested in it, hearing people call it a cross between Blade Runner and Children of Men, which it is, but in a pleasantly surprisingly way, swaying between both to create something enjoyable and a little refreshing. Sure it manufactures the same world and the same kind of characters but uses them in different situations, with different emotions and a different type of storytelling. It’s a solid fun film from Law who seems to have sound himself in a bit of form with films lately, especially the fun Sherlock Holmes which i also enjoyed. Plus Forest Whitaker taking more of a lighter role is something new and i like it, it suits him but in the back of your mind, you still fear the fuck out of that dude. As well as Sabretooth from the dreadful Wolverine movie appears as a bit role, nothing too much to worry about, a villainous type role which ends horribly bad but funny at the same time.

The film follows “repo men”, people who collect machines that, in the future, have been made to act as vital organs, like hearts, kidneys, livers and that, and so these people, kinda like bailiffs, come to collect from people who can’t keep up with affording them. The Union, which the organisation is called, hires these men to do the deeds and Jude Law is one of them. Set in the future where people can live on without their organs using these machines, half of the film shows Law at work, showing his skills and having a wife and kid. It’s all very hunky dory, but the second half, well you can see where it’s going, and he becomes one of them, and goes on the run. It’s a flip reverse, the hunter becomes the hunted and so Law experiences what it’s like to be a normie and learns to grow (yawn). In the end, it works out for him, or does it? Great ending, never saw it coming. Somewhat similar to Inception strangely, where the ending is something to discuss because we all have theories of Inception but here they show it. I won’t reveal it as it’s really good but i do suggest seeing it. It’s violent, it’s funny in places, it’s got good action sequences, the look is spot on, and Law isn’t annoying.

7/10

Simon Childs

Shank me in the face

Shank - Mo Ali

Is there now a common trend of releasing British film that depict “real” life where teenagers are “gangster” and threatening? Is that what has happened now, that filmmakers think its right to almost publicise the good aspects of this kind of behaviour? Because it’s starting to begin to look like it. I found it with the release of Kidulthood and Adulthood, both films that were new to the genre, showcasing “real” aspects of a typical teenager living in rough areas, where it used small instances and blew them up to become something that they are not. Not everyone growing up in London is stabbed or robbed or grows into a life of crime. It just isn’t true. And now with companies thinking that the market is open to using this idea and running with it to create the basic idea but in different genres, shows that British filmmaking maybe on a decline. Sure it’s very been fantastic, but it’s had a few gems like Dead Man’s Shoes, In The Loop, The Last King of Scotland and Slumdog Millionaire to name a few. We don’t have to keep using this whole idea of kids in major cities living the hard life, it’s utter bollocks, it’s just something the media came up to describe a handful of people and thus in the cycle of life, people begin to want to become the label they’ve been given. It’s fucking wrong and i can’t stand it, the whole culture of it. So seeing that a film which is basically the –ulthood series but in a futuristic world with small segments of animation, i was both intrigued and already guessing that it would be shit. My prejudgement wasn’t wrong.

Starring a handful of familiar faces and some newcomers, a kid loses his brother in a futuristic hood where people are living without the law, where food is scarce and the world has collapses somehow. This young kid in a gang with his older brother as the leader find themselves in trouble with a local gang and is killed, and this triggers a series of events that lead the younger brother to find revenge, talking to other gangs, finding new friends and recruiting people. Throw in some fucking random animation sequences that will make you laugh and you have an hour and a half episode of Skins but produced by the Channel U or AKA as it is now. I’m not trying to be predictable with the review or racist with the comments but I’m just shocked this was allowed to be made, glorifying gang culture. Surely this is against what the world wants right?

3/10

Simon Childs

Nanny McPhee and the big waste of time

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang - Susanna White

Coming into the sequel having not the watched the original probably hinders this review and I’m not gonna lie to you; i wasn’t expecting a great film contradicting its strange love from people and the people who are in it. True it does have Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Ralph Fiennes, Rhys Ifans and Bill Bailey, but still this film is so incredibly lame. I don’t know if it’s trying to ride off the success of the first film because i haven’t seen it, nor do i know if the audience really want to see this because i am not its target audience, I’m a young teenager or a young child. From what i can gather, this is Mary Poppins for a new generation featuring jokes about poo and falling over and naughty words and all sorts. It’s a middle class film for middle class children to watch. That probably sounds harsh but that’s how i see it. It’s not entertaining to me, even if i was a kid, i would utterly bored, i want to see something funny, something sad, something entertaining. Now take some of the best teenage films ever, The Mighty Ducks, The Karate Kid, Pok√©mon, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Home Alone, Toy Story trilogy, Where The Wild Things Are, Wall-E, Up, Sky High, Harry Potter, the evolution of a children’s film has worked well, but this feels stuck in the mud. What the company behind the film will distress is that the film is a “family film”, something both adults and children will enjoy. Looking at the past examples I’ve given, most families would enjoy those films both young and old, but here i don’t think. I’d imagine the parents to put it on and walk away because they have shitloads of jobs to do that would be more fun than watch this.

The plot is pretty simple, a nanny appears, helps a family with a bundle of problems like being clean or being posh or missing family or growing as a human being. Boring as shit. And through in some random storyline where a villain is made and stuff. I’m not gonna lie, i wasn’t playing attention. So don’t buy this, don’t watch this, it’s really bad. But i guess if you enjoy the first, you’ll like this, maybe?

2/10

Simon Childs

SCOTT PILGRIMMMMMMMMMM!

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Edgar Wright

Let just start off by saying: OMG! ZOMG! OMG! OMG! OMG...

Sorry i had to vent my excitement at the fact that after many years waiting for this film to be released, after reading the graphic novels, after watching the trailers, looking at the posters, playing the video game, buying the soundtrack, buying the t-shirts, watching for spoilers and for casting news and reports on set, i finally sat down and watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And my world, i think it may have become the best movie of 2010. Now i wouldn’t be saying that lightly, look at some of the releases, big time releases such as the brilliant but mind-fucky Inception, the wonderfully brilliant and sweet Toy Story 3 and awesomely geeky Kick-Ass. Three of my favourite films this year, hell maybe even in my top 10 of all time. The film is fucking amazing. I urge you to see it now, right now, stop reading this review or whatever and go see the flick, because it deserves you too, and i guarantee you’ll enjoy it. I’m even going to see it again because it’s that good, and i never do that. And so, if you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably know a little maybe about this film, consisting of a fight against several “evil” ex’s and starring Michael Cera and directed by Edgar Wright who directed Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and the telly show Spaced, you’ve probably already know that. You probably already know that the film is based on a series of graphic novels written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, six to be precise, telling the story of Scott Pilgrim in black and white and featuring some of the funniest sequences seen in graphic novel history, these really are cult favourites. So will the film match up to the book, similar to the hysteria around The Watchmen and if it lived up to the books written by the legendary Bryan Lee O’Malley?

Well the answer is a resounding yes, like this YESSSSSSS! Because not only does it match the books in style, the humour and the action sequences, i would even go as far to say it may surpass the original material because of the way the film has such smooth transitions that are quick and exciting making the overall experience better. Plus the ending is different and i favour it, but I’ll allow your own opinion of it and i won’t ruin it. I’m sure you know the plot of the film already with all the ads and posters with Michael Cera playing Scott Pilgrim, Canadian slacker who must defeat Ramona Flowers’s 7 evil- ex’s, played by the lovely Mary Elizabeth Winstead and these 7 evil ex’s a played by a bag of famous faces including Brandon Routh AKA Superman and the ever magnificent Jason Schwartzman playing Gideon Graves. Along with the ride are Sex bob-omb, the band that Scott plays bass in with Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and Kim Pine (Alison Pill), both performances nearly steal the whole movie but the award of best performance is a mix of two characters who both have amazing performances with Scott’s gay roommate Wallace Wells played by Kieran Culkin and Knives Chau, an elegantly funny performance by Ellen Wong. The performances here are all spot on including random cameos from people you may know and even the background characters also pick up the slack too. The action sequences are over the top and look pretty amazing, especially the monster DJ’s vs. Band scene and the end fight scene with Gideon and Scott. It’s a clearly worked film with massive amounts of detail and it can defiantly be seen. I’m sure loads of films will now begin to be more precise in their post-production and borrow that style. I just hope they use it in the right way. Easily one of the best films of the year.

10/10

Simon Childs

Civilian Slaughter-shack (The Pacific Part 9)

Part 9: Directed by Tim Van Patten

The penultimate episode of The Pacific and it seems now the charm of war and the hero winning ending and sequences of the one man army have seemed to have worn off. The overall effect of war now is very damaging and you can see this episode being the point of where the viewer becomes distressed by it too, the way Sledge is on screen. Becoming the main hero of the series, Sledge has dramatically changed from the shy boy we’ve seen before. Now being the somewhat edgy soldier fighting in a war which seems to be going wrong, a few bad turns start to appear, especially with new recruits making his life hell. The scenes in the mud and rain are again a testament to the fantastic direction and cinematography of the whole series, with it being a great mix of beauty and horror. The guy who is played Sledge defiantly has a quick turn of being quite masked to the thought of war and the real troubles to being a fucking mental case who just wants to kill; the intensity goes up a completely new level with him. This is based on a real man’s experience of the war and it’s truly terrifying how he’s portrayed it. I just hope the other characters stories are tied up at the end of the all this and a somehow happy ending is made or something. Actually that does quite cheesy, so maybe not. By the looks of the preview for next week it will recap on all the characters and what they have done after the war. Should be good.

Simon Childs

The Legendary Franchise Returns (but is it a welcomed return?)

Final Fantasy 13 - PS3 & XBox 360

Released way back in March is probably one of the biggest gaming franchises latest number and it now being August, it has taken me that long to come round to playing it and gain a few hours into the game to give a warranted review of the game. The game in question pushes the boundaries of gameplay, flourishes with style and elegance that many games can only wish for and seem to divide many people about. Yes, I’m talking about the one, the only, Final Fantasy, with the latest instalment being the unlucky 13, well some people say it’s lucky because of the success compared to the past games. But Final Fantasy 13 has graced the next-gen consoles, showcasing the true power of video games by providing some of the best looking sequences seen on either console. It really is one of the best looking games ever made. True, the cut scenes do look straight out of an anime film, but that’s what FF is known for. Cut scenes that are beautiful and complicated, similar to Metal Gear Solid but with less talking. Produced by a prominent gaming company in the world, Square Enix, this role-playing game has a steep, steep history, with roughly around 30 games including spin-offs from the main series and becoming a massive media empire, producing a TV show, merchandise, movies and books, it seems that it will never stop, with number 14 currently in production, every gamer has had an experience with the legacy, and each person has a particularly favourite. Mine being the glorious number 10; i remember it being yesterday when i played that game, and to date, the only Final Fantasy game I’ve completed. It took nearly a year of my life, but i did it, and the pay-off was spectacular. And of course, i also played number 7, which was the first time i noticed the series and first noticed its grace and charm, something different to what I’ve played before. Now as time as gone on, the games have evolved from being epic to being infinite, which i don’t think is physically possible. The games now can last up to around 200 hours, if you count the side quests, the main storylines, all of the cut scenes and the secrets thrown in too, and for a modern game, that’s impressive. Most games pack a good 50/60 hours which keeps the gamer happy, even the last game i reviewed God of War only had 20 hours of gameplay which is nothing compared to the longevity of FF13.

Let’s start with the wonderful company behind the game, Square Enix, one of the best makers of video games for all audiences and especially in the genre of RPG’s where they have an esteemed long line of gems that you’ll probably have played like Final Fantasy 7, Dragon Guest, and have published a majority of great games recently like Batman Arkham Asylum and the upcoming Call of Duty Black Op. The company also made one of the best film series I’ve ever played, Kingdom Hearts. And I’m looking forward to the next instalment hopefully coming soon on the PS3. But back to Final Fantasy 13.

I’m not going to try to explain the plot to the game because it’s fairly complicated but I’ll talk about the game so far, because i haven’t reached half way yet. It’s a beautiful looking game, with excellent sound, sure the voice over’s can get annoying, but overall, the “show” of the game works brilliantly. The gameplay is very repetitive and you will see yourself just button bashing the x button whilst playing. But with a storyline that pulls you in and action that happens very quickly, after the hump of the linear gameplay you’ll find yourself in an open world which becomes a better game. It’s a decent buy with a long life in playing but you may get bored of it quite quickly.

VISUALS: One of the best looking games to have ever been released, most of the time it’s like watching a movie 19%

SOUND: Sure the voice actors can be annoying but the sound throughout the levels is astounding, even during the cut scenes 19%

GAMEPLAY: Repetitive in places but changes the familiar ways we’ve had before for a more commercial audience 17%

LASTING APPEAL: 200 hours of gameplay, need i say more? 20%

SPECIAL FEATURES: Not much extra stuff for you to grab it, sure there are trophies/achievements to get but other than not, just the everlasting side quests 14%

89%

Simon Childs

It’s one of those Straight-to-DVD releases where you’ll know a couple of the stars but it won’t be anything like what they are famous for!

Shoot The Hero - Christen Sesma

You know when a film is bad when it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. It’s not even noteworthy in the world, and it’s a shame, having a cast of people you may know the face of but can’t quite put the name to it, it has an actor who i think is funny; unfortunately this is not a comedy. This review won’t be a very long review, the film doesn’t deserve a full analysis because it’s very hard to analyse a film where nothing really entertaining or good happens. It’s a straight-to-DVD release where you’ll find it in the obscure section on Amazon. So obscure you won’t know of it, nor will anybody ever know of this film and they shouldn’t. It’s a pile of shit. I thought i would review it because it stared Jason Mewes, star of the famous Kevin Smith films, the last being Clerks 2 and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back being the highest in his career. I’m still a big fan of his and i find him very funny but i guess because of the business, finding decent acting jobs must be rare. The film divides into three parts, the first being a jewellery shop robbery that goes wrong and involves a couple who are about to break up, this includes Mewes. After this scene, it cuts to two friends or brothers lost somewhere in the desert and they stumble into a war. I’m not going to lie; i wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening. And then these two stories intertwined to end with a massive gun fight with Danny Trejo. Yeah, bit strange. I don’t recommend it. I’m just annoyed I’ve wasted an hour and a half on this where i could be watching something worthwhile. Don’t ever watch!

1/10

Simon Childs

A Hidden Gem

Sita Sings the Blues - Nina Paley

Being a film lover, someone who watches all the latest releases from DVD to cinema, checking out films that have been given high ratings to films with low ratings, and even using this site as an example of fascination and wonderment of the process and the entertainment factor of a movie, sometimes, you really find films that perhaps have not been given the limelight it deserves. And today, I’m here to showcase a film you may have never even heard of before: Sita Sings The Blues. And just to clarify, if you have heard of this film, i salute you for having great taste. An animation masterpiece which seems to take away from the heavy labour of creating animation that is meant to represent real life as much as possible, like films that use CGI to try to recreate real people, here animation is used in a way to tell a story in a different style, not recreate what we see every day. From the first ten minutes, you may wonder what type of animation it is, and the way it looks, coming off as something YouTube would of made or a young animator creating animations for his friends, but sticking through the film, you uncover something that crosses the fun and enchantment of Disney films, the sense of mystery and freedom only seen in Asian animations mixed with quirky humour and beautiful storytelling. It’s a great mix which leads to a contrasting piece that tells a common love story but using Indian folklore but through the medium of flash animation, something not done before or on this scale.

The film is told from different perspectives and in different forms, with four major featuring ones to be the main story: a legend told from the pages of Ramayana about the story of a prince who is followed by Sita, a woman who deeply cares for him, but the prince takes her for granted. That’s the basic storyline from which i followed, true, it’s hard to follow at the beginning but once the alternative version where the story is told in a modern context, and you begin to understand it. The second style is the alternative version which has a different animation style to the first section, and retells the story for the audience to understand better. The third style is where a group of people discuss the legend in a different way, making jokes and discussing the subject in a formal way, which leads to most of the jokes and the final and fourth way is where songs are used to retell the story in a music video-esque fashion. Here is also where some of the laughs appear along with some beautiful style and vivid colours. It’s defiantly something you’ll notice, the colours and patterns, it’s something so different but at the same time formulary.

A new type of animation and style i haven’t seen before that you might fall in love with, so go check it out and experience something different.

7/10

Simon Childs

A book with a horrible cover...

The Blind Side - John Lee Hancock

You may wonder what the title of this review may refer to but i think the phrase, never judge a book by its cover, is basically the mantra of the latest surprise hit The Blind Side. Well not latest, as it was released on DVD earlier on in the year, but I’ve only just gotten round to peeking it out after willing never to watch another Sandra Bullock film in my life. And i was sadly judging her film career and her acting ability, let’s start off by saying The Blind Side is a good film. The subject is something I’ve been interested in recently, NFL or American Football, a sport which seems to be gaining a bigger audience in the UK. With the TV show Friday Night Lights and big video game franchise Madden along with the massive event of the Super Bowl, American Football seems to be growing in size and I’m glad. It’s a decent sport which seems to entertain more than anything. And having a film about a certain player who had a bad upbringing and found his way onto the field is inspiring and something that can easily entertain a lot of people. Of course throw in modern music and cultural references we know of and you’ve got a hit. A hit in America, winning Oscar nominations and such and also sweeping at the MTV Movie Awards; which did open my eyes to the film, but i was still hesitant to dive into a Bullock film. I don’t like Sandra Bullock and the film she makes, they are for a certain audience and a certain person who is stuck in their ways. It’s annoying.

Back to the film and the plot, a black child is brought into a Christian white family’s house and soon begins living there to hopefully mould him into a better person. Having the strong mother Bullock, she comforts the shy quiet boy and helps him become smarter and gets him into a sport he was destined to play, American Football. It’s a sob story, rags to riches but with a cool soundtrack and including elements of normal life like a shitty neighbourhood or your mother being addicted to crack or being racially abused by people. It has themes we’ve all seen, but i think the goodness comes from the lead actors portray, it’s a mix of sadness and a heavy dose of inspiration, where a kid this low in society’s pecking order can rise and become a famous player. Yes this is based on a real story, so the feeling that the film was made for the biography channel for MTV is somewhat apparent, but you may be surprised by how much you kinda like it but can’t admit it.

It’s likeable in parts but not as great as other sport movies like Remember The Titans, Mighty Ducks or The Karate Kid (Does that count as a sport movie?), i recommend it for a date or something easy to watch.

5/10

Simon Childs