Lists  Reviews  Images  Update feed
MoviesTV ShowsMusicBooksGamesDVDs/Blu-RayPeopleArt & DesignPlacesWeb TV & PodcastsToys & CollectiblesComic Book SeriesBeautyAnimals   View more categories »
Listal logo
All reviews - Movies (672) - TV Shows (4)

A very sweet, underrated family comedy.

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 10 September 2012 12:31 (A review of Little Nicholas)


As opposed to the original series of books written by French author René Goscinny throughout the 1950s, the film adaptation of Le Petit Nicolas does actually have a plot where there is one individual storyline and, therefore, a beginning to an end. The style of the series is written in telling the audience about the different morals of life, but the film expressed a clear but very specific message; one that is beautifully told by protagonist Nicolas. It is emotionally touching as we engage with a family who just want to be “normal” and we’re alongside Nicolas and his gang of friends in their journey to “find out the truth”.

Furthermore, it has its outrageously hilarious moments. It is stationed in many ways like a situation-comedy, especially regarding Nicolas’s parents and the father’s boss. Also, it’s very funny with Nicolas and his friends, who are literally like a younger representation of the seven dwarfs despite there are, in fact, 8 of them and they argue and bicker at each other. It is all their different personalities and wanting to overpower one another that expresses the immaturity and competition between children. All 8 of the young actors gave strong performances in their respective roles as did Valérie Lemercier and Kad Merad in roles that are only known as Nicolas’s mother and father. In fact, all other characters apart from the gang of schoolboys are just referred to the audience as their character type. Director Laurent Tirard did a marvellous job in directing a feature that had a television and pantomime touch to it. You do not have to be the biggest admirer of foreign language films to enjoy this. It’s funny, it’s charming, it’s emotional and it is bound to warm the hearts of kids and adults alike.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Disappointing but still could've been worse.

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 9 September 2012 09:14 (A review of Anna Karenina)

A lot like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare and their works, Leo Tolstoy’s work has been numerously adapted onto the big screen and other various sources over the years, primarily his 1877 Russian novel Anna Karenina. The story has mostly been released as an English-language film as opposed to its origin language – Russian. In 2012, we are given another version of the novel with Keira Knightley in the leading role as she made her third consecutive collaboration with director Joe Wright following Pride And Prejudice in 2005 and Atonement in 2007. Their work together has been all-in-all success but unfortunately, despite that it is decent enough to endure for 2 hours, it did have quite a few missing pieces.

Director Joe Wright has always been a director with maintaining a bold, colourful effect in his films. Regarding Anna Karenina, he blends a very similar style of direction as Baz Luhrmann (in particular Moulin Rouge!) Therefore, in that sense, it focused on establishing a connection between a theatre-based fantasy and the real world dealing with the ups and downs of personal relationships. It is genuinely difficult to blend in those together, especially when it is an adaptation based on a novel in a different language and territory. Quite frankly, Anna Karenina falls into an easily occurred trap. It tended to focus a little too much on the visual appearance, which resulted a serious lack of emotional depth in the story and the attribution to the original source. Therefore, the most important keys had become the second-rate level of importance.

Keira Knightley continues in her costume-drama trademark with Joe Wright as she portrayed young Aristocrat Anna Karenina. You could quite easily establish that Knightley performs in a role that is related too much to Pride And Prejudice and Atonement, but this time, we see a slightly different actress. Finally, at 27 years old, Knightley has transformed from roles as a young girl into a more mature role as a grown woman; more essentially as a mother and a wife with responsibilities. Furthermore, Knightley successfully grasped the essential emotional-breakdown points and gives a good performance. This was not worthy of an Academy Award win for Best Leading Actress but it is still another one for us to remember. Kick-Ass actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson (formerly Aaron Johnson) took on the role of the charming and somewhat irresistible Count Vronsky. Unfortunately, he seems out of place in the entire film, let alone the character he played. He looked way too young and had the approach of a creepy, sexually possessed stalker. Furthermore, the chemistry between Anna and Vronsky was very dry. You’d think it was a woman having a romantic relationship with a teenager. And what was with that moustache? It may have been there to give Taylor-Johnson a manlier, older approach but it still provided a very forced touch for this specific actor to fit into this character.

On the plus side in terms of acting, Matthew MacFayden and Kelly MacDonald delivered solid performances Oblonsky, Anna’s brother, and his wife Dolly. We see different aspects of married relationships in Anna Karenina, but the most fascinating romance is the partial sub-plot between Konstantin Levin (portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson) and Kitty (acted by Alicia Vikander). Over and over in films based in a historical setting, we see love as an arrangement or as a duty but Levin’s feelings for Kitty are true love, and their performances were superb. Finally, there is Jude Law where age is slowly catching up with him as he portrayed Anna’s bitter husband Count Alexei Karenin. Our first impressions of this guy were that he is a very shallow and passionless man who hardly gave his wife the time of day at all. However, we see a traumatised, emotionally confused and occasionally dangerous Alexei. Nevertheless, Jude Law is easily the stand-out of this film.

You could name quite a few number of film adaptations based on books that could not have turned out any better, but almost the entire production of Anna Karenina became a severe blow for it. The fact that it is a British made and performed project set in Russia, based on a Russian novel by a Russian author; it just did not entirely fit. Quite frankly, Anna Karenina could have been as strong as recent historical drama A Royal Affair if the film stuck to its original roots and, therefore, improvised. Still, it was not entirely a bad film as there were still some solid performances and left the audience something to think about.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

A hilarious, delightful surprise.

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 6 September 2012 02:15 (A review of 21 Jump Street)

Initially prior its release, 21 Jump Street had quite a lot of heavy criticism thrown at it. For starters, first glances of theatrical trailers and still images, it had the approach that it would become another colourful Hollywood comedy with a mediocre outcome. Furthermore, it is a feature based on a TV series that was released in the late 1980s which aroused the question of whether the film adaptation will still stick to its original roots or will go somewhere a little different. Finally, the popular but not entirely favourable duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in the leading role. Still, considering the mixed expectations, 21 Jump Street overcame all the odds that were against it and became a delightful surprise package.

Being one who has not witnessed any of the episodes in the original 21 Jump Street TV series, it is hard to identify and then determine what footsteps from that show still remain within the film adaptation. Still, what we have is that it is still your vintage Hollywood comedy but the story as a whole and how it looked on screen had concepts of sit-coms, an insight into the mind-set of young men progressing from adolescence to adulthood and having to let go. Finally, it contained quite a series of effects that are somewhat related to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Therefore, co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, craft together a film what looks like it is made for television that combines marvellously with comic book and teen comedy concepts and they deserve credit for it, especially after their poor previous film Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.

When seeing Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum individually in other films, you either love or hate them. Casting these two in the shared leading roles were literally two halves of what makes a protagonist in a comedy mostly aimed for teenagers: the clumsy but well-intentioned one (Hill) and the other being handsome eye-candy (Channing Tatum). Still, the duo still provide exactly what they’ve been recognized for over the years but at times, switch in opposite directions. Hill, who had amazingly lost so much weight after his previously obese appearance, became a cool guy as Morton Schmidt/Doug McQuaid and was the more romantic character. Despite this, trails from his past comedies were still within 21 Jump Street as we still got the laughs and catastrophes. Channing Tatum, quite possibly the biggest piece of male eye-candy in Hollywood today transforms the most as he not only rarely took on a role in a comedy but also was the more sensible and geekier character. His performance as Greg Jenko/Brad McQuaid is undoubtedly his best to date and has revolutionized a new side of acting to him.

Further amongst the cast is Ice Cube - another actor who viewers will either praise or despise, whose tables are turned in a role that is quite possibly his best to date. His performance as Captain Dickson is, of course, completely idiotic but we are introduced to a very likeable character that both honoured and mocked the power and authority of the police. In addition, Brie Larson portrayed Schmidt/McQuaid’s “fellow classmate” and love interest Molly Tracey in a typical girly girl performance, and Dave Franco, the younger brother of James Franco, made an impressive presence too. Finally, be prepared for a surprise cameo appearance from one of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

Overall, 21 Jump Street goes beyond anything that you would initially expect from it as it is truly one of the biggest surprises that you will see in 2012, or maybe even of all time. There are comedies similar to 21 Jump Street that only tend to focus on the laughs and nothing more, but we engage with them in that sense, we are emotionally attached to them, it has exciting action and in the case of some viewers, it is a good eye-candy feature too. Therefore, whether it is an intended reboot of the original TV show or not, 21 Jump Street is still a solid comedy that has proved its potential to be the start of a successful series.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Takes pieces from other films but still enjoyable.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 31 August 2012 09:18 (A review of The Cabin in the Woods)

The Cabin In The Woods begins identically similar to horror hits The Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre as it follows a group of youngsters taking a road trip where danger beyond their wildest dreams await them. Plus, like those films, the title “The Cabin In The Woods” had become an immediate attention span seeing as not just for a horror film but in general, it is not safe to go to a cabin in the woods, really, is it? On the other hand, there was what one could call a subplot featuring technicians with their highly advanced technology who happen to be watching the group in that cabin. This is where The Cabin In The Woods was in connection with another film - Peter Weir’s The Truman Show. Nevertheless, Drew Goddard and co successfully managed to swerve round a very unorthodox combination and make a fun, well-acted horror hit.

Like all horror films, The Cabin In The Woods attempts to deliberately scare the viewers to the point where they feel emotionally terrorised, but there is no denying that it takes quite a number of aspects from particularly Sam Raimi’s previous work with the genre. For example, the over-use of violence and gore had that comical, unrealistic and perhaps humorous touch. On occasions, the humour took over completely and, therefore, the suspense and terror lost its grasp. Intentional horror-comedies are able to balance the two genres, but in the case of The Cabin In The Woods, it was more or less split in half and then separated with one half coming across as scary and the other as funny. The separation between the genres was literally like the film itself. It actually consisted of two plots (the cabin in the woods and inside an unknown facility) but the film cannot entirely tell which one was more important that they wanted the audience to focus on.

Almost every time that we see a horror or a comedy with youngsters portraying the primary characters, we are introduced to some new talents. After previously appeared as more or less an extra in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening back in 2008, Kristen Connolly took the leading role in The Cabin In The Woods as she portrayed the young, beautiful and sensitive Dana. Female characters are often the main protagonists in horror films because it makes the film even scarier as it penetrates that sense of innocence and beauty. In the past, we’ve seen from the likes of Sissy Spacek, Mia Farrow and Jamie Lee Curtis deliver some of the most innocent but mesmerising performances within a horror film. Kristen Connolly does not even come close to said actresses in their roles, but Connolly does express the fright and vulnerability of Dana as a terrorised victim rather well. Therefore, it is an impressive start to her acting career.

In addition to Dana within the group, we are introduced to more youngsters. First, even before he took on the role of Thor, Chris Hemsworth took on the role as Curt, the muscle man of the gang. Considering that this was, in fact, filmed before Thor and The Avengers but released in-between, we still got a good first glimpse of what was in store with a heroic but natural performance. Yet, he still had that typical rebellious and mischievous side to him like young people do today. Anna Hutchison gave a good performance as did Jesse Williams and Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford provide such strong chemistry together who each add a sense of humour and psychopathic touch to their roles as technicians Richard Sitterson and Steven Hadley. Finally, Sigourney Weaver makes her presence known in a vital role too.

Overall, The Cabin In The Woods may have taken a few pieces from other sources but still remained a delightful treat for viewers to sit down and enjoy for 90 minutes. You may notice its connections but Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard still craft together a new original horror story of their own which is scary and fun to watch. Goddard’s directorial debut went off to a good start and Whedon’s story ideas and script techniques improved even further leading to The Avengers.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Trapped between another action hit and a parody.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 27 August 2012 07:26 (A review of The Expendables 2)

In 2010, experiencing The Expendables on the big screen became the ultimate wet dream for avid fans of action films due to the outstanding ensemble cast of actors, practically are the symbols of the genre, the explosive action and the manliness of it all. Although it met with a mixed critical response, it was not long after the announcement of the sequel in which the majority of the gang would reprise their roles to take another intense adventure with the new action heroes added to the pack. What you see with The Expendables 2 and its predecessor is exactly what you get! It may have quite possibly the most exhilarating, badass and physical action you will ever see, but it still is a rather corny film that could quite easily come across as a guilty pleasure.

In the first film, Sylvester Stallone did an absolutely marvellous job executing the R-rated gun fights and car chases and, thus, making an action fan’s dream come true. However, Stallone did not return as director of The Expendables 2. Questions arose of who could replace him, but whoever that person was would need to be sophisticated enough within the genre to make the sequel. In the end, it was Simon West, director of Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Mechanic, who took the role. Stallone’s predecessor perhaps had a more manliness touch to it but the sequel did have a few unexpected packages. It focused a bit more on the story and dialogue this time. This simply balanced itself more as a normal film rather than a group of guys firing guns at people.

Sylvester Stallone returns to lead the pack as does Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lungdren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture. Seeing the majority of our action heroes all together in a film is, of course, a dream come true, like The Avengers. Practically every single character within The Expendables 2 were not anything for the audience to take seriously seeing as the film as a whole is very simple that serves a very simple purpose. Still, Sylvester Stallone gave a stronger performance than in the predecessor and Jason Statham was not quite as badass as he was before and due to the unusual gags that were added between him and Stallone, it ruined the manliness of the character. Furthermore, Jet Li was hardly involved in this at all which was disappointing and it was great to see fellow Expendables members Dolph Lungdren and Terry Crews, who were the key sources of the humour within this sequel, return in their roles.

New additions to the cast were Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Liam Hemsworth. Norris, whose appearance was more cameo than supporting, returned to his 70s and 80s action status and Van Damme, who was undoubtedly the best actor in the entire film, was more badass than ever as primary antagonist Jean Vilain. The most surprising aspect of characters in The Expendables 2 was Liam Hemsworth’s appearance. He was the most sensitive, natural character but unfortunately, he was not quite as involved within the film as he really could have been. Finally, the icing has been placed on the cake with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger making their presence known more in this sequel. See, this is where the script and every character have their weak spots. Particularly on Schwarzenegger and Norris’s behalf, the jokes are references from previous roles that they’ve played in their own careers.

Overall, The Expendables 2 is a film that is quite literally trapped between a traditional action hit and a parody film. High expectations with a solid story and well-developed characters are totally irrelevant for a film like this as it is generally just meant to be action-packed to blow the audience away. In addition, the two films, regarding amount of action and dialogue, are rather different and it is hard to determine which of the two is better than the other. They both may still consist of very corny stories and characters but the action is at the very highest standard! Therefore, it deserves another sequel because then we will get to see our action heroes return, along with more new ones, engage in explosive armed combat, physical fights and exhilarating car chases once more.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

A decent start back up the ladder for Pixar.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 27 August 2012 02:07 (A review of Brave)

Since its inception, Pixar Animation Studios have always been recognised as the organisation that have collaborated with Walt Disney Pictures and provided us with masterpieces within the animation genre featuring different characters and varied aspects of realistic and fictional life. For the very first time, Pixar had disappointed us with Cars 2 and to possibly revive that and bring back that symbol of hope, there was a lot on Brave and its maker’s shoulders. They'd not only create for their first individual project since Up in 2009 but also make an attempt at a fairy tale, which is what their colleagues at Disney have specialized in over the years. Nevertheless, although there was a rather original idea behind Brave, it did prove itself worthy as an overall success but it is not quite on that superior level among Pixar’s greatest.

Throughout this era of filmmaking, we have seen Pixar compete against DreamWorks Animations and have almost always come out on top. However, although Brave is quite possibly the best Pixar to date regarding animated effects and had successfully managed to provide us with on-going gags, it lacked the charm, the magic and the excitement that we should have – a bit like a DreamWorks Animations feature. Like quite a few of their works, the plot of Brave occasionally turned rather dry, surprisingly felt a tad corny and lost its grasp at emotionally engaging the viewers. Furthermore, following a twist mid-way through, it became an entirely different film. Instead, from a story about a young fulfilling her destiny as a highly talented archer, it transformed into a story connected with Mulan and Brother Bear. You can just tell where Pixar are slowly losing their touch in developing brand new stories and it really needs fixing. The 3D experience was not entirely worth it either.

For the first time, Pixar select a female protagonist, who follows in the footsteps of Belle, Jasmine, Snow White and other Disney Princesses. Yet at the same time, Princess Merida, Pixar’s latest hero, is one on her own and is not the next Disney Princess as she is a tomboy and has personal passions and has a mild rebellious side to her. This still makes her a beautiful young girl with a big heart. Due to this approach, she is perhaps more appealing to the kids than the adults. Furthermore, Pixar have given us different characters that are either deadly serious with a realistic touch or are on a more comical and wacky level (not necessarily a bad thing). In the role of Princess Merida was Kelly MacDonald has she executed these varied characteristics impressively and with the dazzling animated effects, she is still a likable leading character.

Throughout practically every film that we have seen featuring a king and/or queen whether historical or fictional, we have witnessed life on their behalf and their pressures and difficulties. With Brave’s King Fergus and Queen Elinor, the traditional behaviours of the royals are still maintained, but Pixar unusually and at the same time, creatively manage to add a comical and humorous touch. These are illustrated within each of these two characters. First, Queen Elinor is the more serious of the two as she plays the role of a strict queen wanting what’s best for her kingdom. Also, she has a sensitive side as a mother and eventually sparks an emotional connection with her daughter Merida. English actress Emma Thompson pulled off an impressive performance as Elinor with a very acute Scottish accent. Furthermore, Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly comfortably fits into the role of King Fergus. The majority of the humour comes from Fergus and is undoubtedly the strongest character. Finally, the most disappointing aspect of characters within Brave was the very low involvement of the primary antagonist – simply known as the Witch, who was portrayed by Julie Walters. Films, especially ones made by Disney, always need a villain to play a crucial part in order to bring forth the battle of good vs. evil but in that sense, Brave became very un-traditional.

Overall, Brave may have contained certain plot aspects that we have witnessed multiple times over the years, but it is still a beautifully animated, funny and entertaining Pixar film. It perhaps does not entirely feature the emotional attachment and a thought-provoking message for its older viewers, but it is a motion picture that kids will get more enjoyment from. Pixar could have done more with Brave but it deserves to be classed as another success from Pixar and a symbol of hope for them to get back on their feet again after Cars 2.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

The Boring Legacy.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 23 August 2012 06:03 (A review of The Bourne Legacy)

The original Jason Bourne trilogy starring Matt Damon had become a re-interpretation of action-spy films, perhaps even giving the James Bond series a run for their money, and after how well The Bourne Ultimatum was received, the icing had become the icing on the cake as it could not have gone much higher. Well, it would be pretty difficult to do so, at least. However, the fourth instalment The Bourne Legacy had other plans due to Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass’s absences and a new hero, similar to Jason Bourne, was going to be introduced. The film had a lot to show for it if it was to even come close to its predecessors. Nevertheless, The Bourne Legacy is what one would describe as “trapped” purely because it is does not grasp a firm link to the Bourne series but at the same time, it isn’t too far apart from it either.

Although Paul Greengrass not returning to director had become a real let-off on behalf of the latest fourth instalment in the Bourne franchise, Tony Gilroy, who had previously worked on the screenplays of the predecessors, returned to that role but also became the replacement to direct. Gilroy’s directorial work on The Bourne Legacy was almost everything that it should not have been. For starters, it had an agonizing painful slow beginning and, therefore, took a very long time to get going. This caused a great deal of confusion as you become lost with these new characters and questions if they even relate to the previous ones. Furthermore, considering that some of the action scenes were intense and well-filmed (but not quite on the same level as Greengrass), The Bourne Legacy gradually ran out of steam all-round.

Making a Jason Bourne film without Jason Bourne is like a James Bond film without James Bond, a Harry Potter film without Harry Potter and an Indiana Jones film without Indiana Jones. Matt Damon, who had portrayed Bourne absolutely marvellously in a rather mixed bag of acting, unfortunately did not reprise the role in The Bourne Legacy seeing as Paul Greengrass did not return as director. Instead, we have been given a new protagonist that became Bourne’s replacement. Jeremy Renner portrayed leading hero Aaron Cross/Kenneth James Kitsom in a role that does not in any way come close to Damon’s performance as Bourne and is more or less a trapped figure between a mindless action hero and a mysterious, dark, highly-developed character with a past. With what was granted to him following the poor development of the character, Renner did not perform too badly in the role. He may have looked good in action but it was Cross’s background story and lack of connection to Bourne that became the most crucial weak spot within the entire film. In fact, there is not even a valid explanation of why Cross is running from CIA in the first place and why he ended up in Alaska.

Rachel Weisz betrays her husband - current James Bond actor Daniel Craig, as she stars in the female leading role within a Bourne film. Previously, Matt Damon and Franke Potente had created a firm romantic connection and witnessing Weisz and Renner together on the big screen was quite literally remaking it all again. In fact, regarding this, The Bourne Legacy was a remake to The Bourne Identity. Anyway, Rachel Weisz has proved herself to be one of the most gifted but underrated actresses of this generation and due to the poor script, she miraculously gave an impressive performance as Dr. Marta Shearing. With this character, unlike Aaron Cross, we are given an insight to different levels of humanity and complexity, which at times, adds certain concepts of psychology due to the emotional damage caused. Her performance was easily the best in the film. Edward Norton took on the role of the supposed antagonist Byer, a retired Air Force colonel working for the CIA, and Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Joan Allen reprised their roles from previous Bourne films in what are closer to cameos as opposed to supporting roles.

Overall, The Bourne Legacy is truly a mixed bag that had initially become a bad idea due to the absences of what made the series great (Damon and Greengrass) and, thus, proved that it is just does not connect. The acting was acceptable considering the large differences with the characters and story, Gilroy wrote a very disappointing script but did a satisfactory job in the director’s seat. The Bourne Legacy is not the third sequel that we were hoping for and it does not in any way reboot the series but it is roughly a spin-off of the previous trilogy. If there is anything that we have learned from The Bourne Legacy, it is that films within a franchise, or are supposedly part of one, cannot work properly without the most crucial pieces that hold it all together: primary characters and on-going stories.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Solid feature film debut from Seth MacFarlane.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 16 August 2012 10:48 (A review of Ted)

Since it was introduced back in 1999, Seth MacFarlane’s work on animated sitcom Family Guy had progressively risen to worldwide fame and has largely influenced a generation. Whilst continuing with the show in 2011, MacFarlane decided to put his talents to the test, so to speak, as he began production on his feature film directorial debut - Ted. We already knew from the very beginning that it was going to feature the similar comical, vulgar styles of humour and character types from Family Guy. Although Ted may have had a few misses, so to speak, regarding laughs, it still became a successful comedy that is a delight to watch from start to finish and is a solid debut to feature films from Seth MacFarlane.

For Seth MacFarlane to make his directorial debut a success, the only way for it to become just that would be a comedy in similar relation to what created him - Family Guy. First, the sense of humour within Ted can be seen one of two ways: hilarious pieces of comedy or can come across as offensive due to either direct insulting jokes or vulgar language. The majority of those jokes are either not related or are not entirely relevant to what is actually happening within the film. It is simply trying not to run out of steam, so to speak, by keeping the audience interested. Furthermore, MacFarlane used various references from other TV shows and films within the actual plot of the story itself, such as John wishing his teddy bear to come alive and they become friends forever. Although it is recognized as a comedy, it is an equally genuine heartwarmer. MacFarlane teaches us lessons about friendship, love, commitment and about what to do when about to cross the bridge from childhood to adulthood. Therefore, he exposed another professional side to him with these thought-provoking messages.

Throughout his career, Mark Wahlberg has taken the roles in films particularly part of the action and sport genres. However, like MacFarlane and making his feature film debut, Wahlberg stars in a comedy portraying the vulnerable and occasionally, immature protagonist John Bennett. We have seen this type of character over and over again as it is a man acting like a young boy, but at the same time, he was someone that became rather new to the screen (struggles to become a man due to childhood memories and influences). Having said that most of the comedy contained references from previous sources of television and film, the characters were a part of that too. For example, John making an evening wish that his favourite toy would come alive and did so revolutionized the story of Pinocchio and Geppetto making his wish. Nevertheless, Wahlberg provided us with a rather special performance as he gave us various understandings of the traditional behaviour during childhood, adolescence and adulthood with one single character in an individual film.

Mila Kunis, who ironically portrayed Meg Griffin in Family Guy returns to work with Seth MacFarlane but in a more leading role and where we actually see her perform as opposed to just hearing. She portrayed John’s girlfriend Lori Collins, who is the only one of the three primary characters who gives the film a natural, humane and more serious tone to it. She also sold the comedy scenes rather well and as a result, performed at a higher standard than the rest of the cast. Now what we’ve all being waiting for – Seth MacFarlane’s both hilariously daft and emotional role as Ted. This character can be seen in many ways such as a relation to the alien Paul in the title film and various characters from Family Guy. In fact, Ted is practically Peter Griffin in the form of a teddy bear. To take away the innocence within the protagonist’s childhood memory is usually a very sensitive and, at times, controversial issue, but MacFarlane marvellously executed it very emotionally and still provided us with a likeable, personal bond with a message. In addition to providing the voice of Ted, he performed the motion-capture of the character that resulted in outstanding effects that is, quite frankly, hard to identify between a CGI teddy bear and a real one. Although we had three genuinely touching and funny protagonists, the only issue, story-wise, that did not quite seem in its place with the remainder of the film was the subplot featuring the primary antagonist Donny (portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi) and his son Robert (Aiden Mincks). It was just pushed in and did not really feel necessary. Finally, Patrick Stewart provided the voice of the narrator and Sam Jones made an appearance too as himself.

Overall, Ted is a comedy that will either leave people laughing from start to finish or will simply become a very insulting feature to sensitive viewers due to the jokes. Therefore, it is perhaps preferable if one is a fan of Seth MacFarlane and his work, particularly Family Guy. Although the humour can go either way, MacFarlane still generated the emotional heartwarming drama into the film. Furthermore, Ted may be a fantasy film but MacFarlane successfully grasped the realism of a completely fictional film into a delightful comedy-drama. Lastly, Ted features a genuinely creative screenplay that is one of the best in recent memory within its genre and it is a solid debut from Seth MacFarlane that proves he is capable of providing us with more hits in the future.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

An intense but flawed finale.

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 21 July 2012 12:30 (A review of The Dark Knight Rises)

After four long years of waiting, the third and final instalment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has finally been unleashed. Prior its release, The Dark Knight Rises had already received exceedingly high expectations from audiences following Batman Begins in 2005 and most of all - The Dark Knight in 2008. However, it is a third in a trilogy and not all films at that stage came out on top and, therefore, did not always provide an exciting climax that was expected. Furthermore, it needed to live up to the huge success of its predecessors and the build-up leading to this culmination. Thus, there was clearly a lot that we, the audience, were expecting from The Dark Knight Rises. Still, it managed to be more than satisfactory conclusion to an overwhelmingly popular trilogy but had certain flaws where it could have been a lot better.

Director Nolan had already illustrated his own stories of the Caped Crusader within Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and had also used his own realism style of filming to create a different background atmosphere of Gotham City. Considering this, Nolan was in the situation where he needed to grasp the concepts within Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and merge all them together in order to create the ultimate conclusion that’ll become the icing on the cake, so to speak, within the trilogy. The re-introduction of the world of crime and the more realistic and modernized city of Gotham were the closer relations to The Dark Knight. On the other hand, the more in-depth personal development of the characters edged nearer to Batman Begins. Throughout all three films, Nolan presented something different to the table but The Dark Knight Rises is the most flawed and weakest instalment. At times, it was very slow paced and over-long that resulted in flat segments that loosened the connection with its predecessors and it included some shocking plot-holes that weakened The Dark Knight Rises even further. Despite this, we have established that it was still beautifully filmed. It was just the problems within the story and the script.

Christian Bale returned for the third and final time as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Throughout each film, we saw Bale fit into the role in different ways: an emotionally confused but very fit and gradually fresh in Batman Begins, which he maintained in The Dark Knight and improved his wealth but appeared even more vulnerable. However, because The Dark Knight Rises is set 8 years later, Bruce is older and is not who he used to be. The audience got a more personal and courageous outlook on Batman where he was considered the underdog against Bane and his forces. Nonetheless, Christian Bale will remain as the most realistic and heroic Bruce/Batman. Michael Caine reprised his role as Alfred who delivered the most natural performance in the entire film with a lot of raw emotional feelings, which added a sense of innocence. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman made their returns in the roles of Lucius Fox and Commissioner Jim Gordon just as Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy returned in cameos.

Once again, another group of actors and characters were introduced into the Batman franchise. Previously performed by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, Anne Hathaway took on the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Hathaway, who was an underestimated choice, literally became Selina Kyle as she perfectly fitted into every emotional and physical aspect of the character. She was scheming, mysterious, badass and sexy. In the role, Hathaway provided something new that we hadn’t seen before: she was not seen entirely as Catwoman. She was simply Selina Kyle. This gave her a more natural touch as a human being rather than a comic-book superhero. Hathaway perhaps deserves a chance in a future Catwoman spin-off. However, there was the awkward romantic connection created between her and Bruce/Batman but, quite frankly, was it even necessary? Furthermore, Tom Hardy portrayed primary antagonist Bane, Batman’s next enemy in a much more physical role as opposed to previous enemies Scarecrow, Na’s and the Joker. Like Heath Ledger as the Joker, Hardy went beyond what we expected from Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy forged a terrifying, psychotic voice and due to the mask, he was almost literally acting with his eyes alone. His physique does not quite define the original comic book character’s appearance but, like Selina Kyle, he is expressed as a very strong, powerful person with a past. Finally, like Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard reunited with Nolan following Inception as they made their presence known in very up-close and personal but gradually very crucial roles too.

Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is, despite its flaws, a very intense finale to a trilogy that became a breakthrough in comic book adaptations and has become an inspirational influence within a generation. In certain ways, The Dark Knight Rises goes somewhere that hadn’t been seen in a Batman film before – it could go as far as to bring forth tears from the audiences. If there is to be yet another reboot in the upcoming future featuring the DC Comics hero, his colleagues and enemies, best of luck to them to even coming close to surpassing this trilogy.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

The mafia kingpin of comic book adaptations.

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 19 July 2012 09:35 (A review of The Dark Knight)

In 2005, we were given a much-needed reboot Batman Begins, that resurrected the series and became the dawning of a new era for the DC Comics hero. Three years later, we were awaiting the release of its sequel - The Dark Knight. The anticipation was high but the sudden and unexpected death of star Heath Ledger 6 months prior the film’s release, very quickly caught the public’s attention and perhaps became the most hyped film at the time. The Dark Knight may have served itself well as the sequel to Batman Begins, but compared to everything that we had experienced from the caped crusader, The Dark Knight literally went to a much higher level and became an instant global phenomenon that blew the minds of worldwide audiences and created a huge influence upon them.

Director Christopher Nolan had already given us dark but underrated hits including Memento, The Prestige, Insomnia and, of course, Batman Begins, but his work as well as his status in Hollywood rapidly increased down the same route as The Dark Knight itself whilst gaining the popularity and critical acclaim. Nolan very creatively exposed another side to Batman that Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher were never to pull off. He transformed this from what could have been comic-book action film into the violent, sinister and scheming world of gangsters and crime. Furthermore, the construction of the film was not in the world of Batman and comic book characters, but into our world and the filming of The Dark Knight, especially in the action scenes, were not overloaded with CGI effects popping onto the screen. Therefore, with all these brand new techniques, Nolan and co added much more raw human emotion into the series and, thus, more of a natural and realistic tone to it.

Whether the films within the series have become successful or disasters, the Batman franchise has always been recognised for the breath-taking ensemble casts and selection of characters. Christian Bale had already surprised us all with his fantastic performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins, but he returned to the role in The Dark Knight. Once again, he was fantastic in the role and has illustrated a very different Batman on the big screen, but when as the caped crusader, he still had a needlessly annoying croaky and raspy voice. Whether he improvised on it in The Dark Knight Rises, we shall see. Oscar-winning legend Michael Caine made his presence known once again as Bruce Wayne’s butler, mentor and perhaps father-figure Alfred Pennyworth. Furthermore, Gary Oldman returned as Lieutenant (later Commissioner) Jim Gordon as did Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, in which both became more involved in this sequel than its predecessor. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes as Bruce’s childhood friend and love interest Rachel Dawes. Gyllenhaal perhaps did not quite capture the essence of beauty like Holmes, but she had captured the purpose of the character and created an emotional connection between herself and the audience.

Let’s face it, the tragic passing of Heath Ledger 6 months prior the release of The Dark Knight became the primary cause of the overwhelming popularity of the film and the remainder of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. At 28 years old during this time, Ledger became the youngest actor to portray the Joker and in an Academy Award winning performance, the Hollywood heart-throb and Brokeback Mountain star surpassed Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the character in the 1989 film by Tim Burton as he took the character to a whole new level. The Joker’s purpose is to bring terror and he takes great pleasure in emotionally and physically manipulating or killing his victims. Ledger became that terrifying, realistic and at times, mysterious psychopath that the world had been waiting forever to see. Nevertheless, the Joker is a very likable and inspirational character that is one of the greatest villains of all time and Ledger’s performance is one of the most controversial and mind-blowing performances in history. Aaron Eckhart portrayed District Attorney Harvey Dent/Two-Face in a very powerful but extremely underrated performance. Eckhart literally defined both character as he illustrated the handsome, intelligent and smart Harvey but the emotionally and physically scarred, psychopathic attitude of Two-Face. Eckhart’s performance is on a very close level to Ledger’s.

Overall, The Dark Knight was precisely everything that everybody expected it to be, but even more. Nolan showed that it is possible to transform a series of fictional comic books into the real-world and still create a huge reality effect upon the audience. Whether one finds The Dark Knight a wildly overrated film or not, it is perhaps the most successful sequel ever filmed and one of the biggest blockbusters in history. It has also boosted up excitement for The Dark Knight Rises, the finale of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, to an even higher extent.

0 comments, Reply to this entry