Category Archives: Film

Dr. Strange – Review

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The marvel cinematic universe has branched out into the Dr.Strange comics. A movie that I imagine more than a handful of viewers will deem unknown territory. Along with Guardians of the galaxy I think its safe to say that Dr. Strange is one of the lesser known super heroes in the Marvel world currently on screen and if this movie is anything to go by a delightfully welcome one.

The story of Dr. Strange is primarily about an egotistical and genius brain surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange, who due to a bit of texting while driving gets his hands smooshed. It’s not unusual for people who are driving recklessly in movies to get spun off the road like one of those spinny hour glass looking things circus school students use and this is no different. The key plot point here is that Dr. Strange has, up until now, had incredibly deft dexterity making him the most legendary brain surgeon in the world. Since his entire identity revolves around him being better than everyone else at brain surgerising he becomes quite the mopey-martin and pursues a rumour that brings him to Asia. Rumour has it some interesting looking buddhisty kind’ve of characters have the ability to heal all kinds of issues using the spiritual realm.

This part of the movie is actually quite a well written drama about a man struggling to deal with an identity crisis after a horrible accident, and would almost be worth watching on it’s own if not for the misalignment he would suffer amongst the rest of the avengers. The trip to Asia that leads to him studying kung fu and various magical arts is reminiscent of every martial arts movie with a white lead character there has ever been. Due to Strange’s scepticism (and Cumberbatch’s performance) it’s even interesting up to the point where something actually happens, unlike every other origin story ever.

Saying that, I do think the film suffers a little from Origin-story-itis, in an unusual way. Traditionally the problems with origin stories are that two thirds of the film is seemingly wasted getting the the point where a traditionally unimportant man or woman, in the eyes of the audience, develops the abilities that make him/her interesting. Though this happens in the film, Dr. Strange’s life story is so compelling that it is never a bore, and that seemingly inimitable sense of humour (see Suicide Squad for how inimitable it seems to be) makes the journey completely fascinating. The issue, I think, comes when the ‘comic book’ story line occurs, and when the ‘final battle’ has to happen it seems a little forced and has a shift in tone, though I think it is handled as well as it could have been which brings me to the most important point.

This film NEEDS to be seen in 3D preferably in IMAX, I have never (as far as I’m aware) said this before neither about James Cameron’s Avatar nor Christopher Nolan’s Inception. The visual element in Dr. Strange is a delight by itself and forgoing the trip to the cinema for this is something that may be regrettable in the future. Some times the visuals are necessary plot points and sometimes it’s just fancy showing off, though unfortunately it covers up for some slightly more vapid story telling in the third act. I know some of you aren’t able to see 3D so I hope you don’t interpret this as a hate crime, for everyone else though if you feel like you are going to care about this character in the future, go see it as soon as you can in the biggest screen in the best 3D.

This is the best origin story film Marvel have done, I am very excited to see Stephen Strange in the Avengers and the other movies he ends up in and even if you know nothing about him, as I did not, I urge you to see this (in 3D) if you are a fan of comic book movies.

The Nice Guys

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If you haven’t had the opportunity to go to the cinema lately, or you have but you’ve just been disappointed by a plethora of uninteresting movies I severely suggest you make the time to go and see The Nice Guys, directed and co-written by Shane Black, the guy that directed Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I think he wrote Lethal Weapon as well, or something. He was definitely involved in it in one way or another.

Shane Black has absolutely no shame in parading around his love for film-noir which I also share. I loved this movie more than most movies I’ve seen in a while and certainly would put it on par, comedy movie wise, with the likes of Deadpool. I might be over selling this a bit, do you ever watch a film and it happens to tick all the boxes of the exact movie you wanted to watch, even if you didn’t know what that was? Well for me that was The Nice Guys, a neo-noir film based in the 70s starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Russell Crowe looks like he wouldn’t even need the phone from a Hotel to knock the shit out’ve you and Gosling, who still sits in my head as a rom-com guy, has an incredible comic timing. In fact the whole film is just made up of small moments of fabulous comic and dramatic timing.

Gosling plays a private eye who is so lazy that he is only one step up from a grifter, Russell Crowe plays an aggressive man who punches people for money, like The Punisher but less violent and more fiscally motivated. As it is Film Noir there is a dame/broad that has gone and got herself killed, there are a handful of storylines going on at once and they all meet up beautifully and yet messily throughout the movie. It’s stylish, faithful to the genre in my opinion and the best thing Shane Black has done by far. I’m not sure about you but I know a lot of people who wouldn’t go and see this movie because of

a) Ryan Gosling
b) Russell Crowe
c) Film Noir

but try and talk everyone out’ve their prejudices and take them to the cinema. Do yourself a massive favour and go and watch it immediately on my recommendation and avoid all trailers, the comic and dramatic timing can be somewhat ruined by a trailer designed to tickle your interest gland and this film deserves a blind viewing.

It feels like it could inspire a resurgence in great neo-noir and could be a great introduction for people who aren’t ware of it as a genre, and for everyone who is really into it there has been a tie-in book released on the Hard Case Crime label that is worth diving into for the rest of your life. In lots of respects it is to Film Noir what The Kingsman was to Spy movies, except you can tell there is a lot more respect for the genre with The Nice Guys and I think everyone you know will love it.

Spectre – Review

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by David Roberts

It’s been a long time since I have seen a BondJamesBond movie in the cinema, I think it was a Brosnan one and not one of the better ones, Die Another Day or something perhaps. Very gadgety. I have recently had the opportunity to watch Spectre the final film in the four part trilogy that is Daniel ‘James Blonde’ Craig. It also stars Monica Belucci and Léa Seydoux, proof at least that there was a god when Italy and France were being created. If you haven’t seen Malena and Blue is the Warmest colour you absolutely should do that instead of Spectre.

I am becoming more and more cinematically cynical, cine-cal, since I have had to watch more films in the past few years than I have in my entire life by an extreme amount, some films opening scenes begin and I instantly want to turn my phone off silent mode and beat myself to death with it as loudly and viscerally as I can. Other films, like Spectre, start off with a lot of promise of nailing a premise, then start chipping away at my illusion at a disappointingly slow but determined rate. Imagine walking into a class of five year olds with a list of things that aren’t real (God, Santa, Toothfairy, Love, Happiness, Olaf from Frozen….) and watching their wee faces start to swell up like a month-long over ripe apple covered in salty tears. Apart from continuing to hold out in the hope that I will eventually prove Olaf is real (you can’t prove that there isn’t an Olaf so that means I must be right), this was pretty much my reaction to the 007 movie of 2015.

Now Stylistically the film is great, hundreds of dialogue references and beautiful recreations scenes from James Bond movies of the olden days. These brought me glee but unfortunately the ‘actual’ plot of the movie seemed to be shoe horned in between these homages in a way that with a truck load of unnecessary melodrama gave the movie a feeling of a clip show that Sony had decided was worth spending two hundred and fifty million dollars on.

Monica Bellucci was there as a woman that James Bond sleeps with like most of the early Bond films had, though I’m fairly sure we decided to do away with glorifying his semi-rapey insistence and sexist discarding of beautiful women. Léa Seydoux is used more efficiently to an extent, but is just slotted into the roles of Bond Women from the past and after a bit of dialogue explaining how she has been able to defend herself from a young age instantly gets knocked out in an instant and can’t shoot straight, waiting to be saved, as you’d expect, by James Bond, which I understand is the point of the movie, but it feels a bit redundant to put effort into stating ‘This is a strong female character’ then knocking her the fuck out so as to make her nothing more than a French splash of makeup in a nice dress on the floor.

The film has some nice action scenes and Christoph Waltz is great though I’m starting to think that Tarantino is the only person allowed to write lines for him now, everyone looks nice and are shot well and the soundtrack is lovely….but the script is just a piece of shit if I’m to be blunt. The constant shifting between almost fourth wall breaking winks to the audience and then back again to a melodramatic intense plot line really left the film with a very confusing tone. I was mocked for audibly saying ‘oh for fucks sake’ under my breath at least once and I think the film would’ve been better devoid of humour or with a more honest focus on it, but if you like James Bond you will enjoy this movie at least a little I’d say.

3/5

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

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The Maze Runner

 

Hitting your screens this week is The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. The latest in the young adult post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction genre (yes that is a thing now). This is the second movie in a trilogy based on the novels of James Dashner, the last of which supposedly due out next year.  Unless of course they split it into two uneven half stories which is the norm for adaptations now. Plus there’s some prequels they’ll probably throw together as well.

The first film was a Sci-Fi mystery thriller, opening with our main character Thomas awakening in an unfamiliar elevator, to emerge to a strange wasteland where the only inhabitants are teenage boys and the only resources seem to be hair gel and presumably some kung-fu manuals. Facing amnesia and being the only person who seems to want to know what the frak is going on, he rallies the boys to his side, falls for the only girl in the village and convinces them to escape the eponymous maze. Once they do, they discover that an evil company called WCKD (pronounced wicked, clever right?) put them down there to test how their minds work. Which is apparently the key to uncovering why they are unaffected by a disease that has left the world in ruin. Anyway that’s the best I can sum it up.

So away from the intriguing set up of the original we are basically left with the leads on a less than original fugitive like escape. With much of the mystery uncovered after the last movie and very early on in this one we have more time to concentrate on the characters. Which are unfortunately uninteresting and two dimensional at best. Their character development is minimal and the dialogue abysmal. Most of the film is just sequence after sequence of someone screaming “GO GO GO!!!” Signalling in cliché manner that “there’s no time to explain!” In fact the main crux of the narrative is made up nearly entirely of exposition dumps used to get the important info out of the way so they can hurry along to the next action scene. Which is the main appeal of this film.

The action scenes are quick paced and exciting. Resolved on very quick thinking and fluid action that is supposedly the attributes these characters possess over the mostly evil adults. Cue some metaphor over the children being our future blah blah blah take away the cell phones! Goddamn millennials! Anyway couple this with zombies that are introduced in some genuinely original and creepy ways plus the recurring threat of the WCKD soldiers and we are treated to some dread filled horror scenes culminated in fast paced and frantic action.

The sad part is that neither the story nor the characters’ compliment these scenes and we are left with failures of character development 101. Or maybe this is just the standard for teenage boy fantasy. We have boring male lead lacking personality who would be more suited to being a blank avatar in a first person shooter. In a video game we would at least be able to say he’s characterless so that the audience can implant themselves into the role but for a movie/novel we just have an uninteresting blank face nobody who doesn’t utter a single memorable line of dialogue. Perhaps he was better developed in the novels through the use of a first person narrative. Then we have Jojen Reed from Game of Thrones. You know who I’m talking about the blond dude who plays the teenager in every film even though he is actually older than me.! He is simply there to be the devil’s advocate disagreeing with everything the protagonist says yet blindly following him on everything he does. We have the likable (and I use that word in its barest sense) side characters who try their best at providing comic relief in this sparsely written teen action movie while also providing much of the action which is mostly concentrated on running. A lot of running. Which the title suggests. Then the love interest, a Kirsten Stewart look-alike with (and I can’t believe I’m saying) less personality. She barely strings two sentences together in the duration of the entire movie and yet we’re meant to accept her as a viable love interest? A hangover from being on ‘all boy island’ too long I guess. You’ll notice that I don’t remember a single one of these characters names. A testament to just how little an impression they leave.

Basically what I’m trying to say is don’t go see The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Unless of course you are a fan of the books which I would assume to be a small audience, but obviously not small enough if they were able to convince the Hollywood elite to fund the damn sequel. Other than hard-core fans I don’t see it working for any audience other than people looking their Hunger Games fix and couples who decided to give the Netflix and chilling a break. Just enough good looking men to keep her sated and just enough action scenes to keep him awake.

A supremely average film with some decent action but lack of character. Also quite nice visually at times and the 3D doesn’t detract from the image but doesn’t really add much either.  Do keep an eye out for some TV favourites though! Little Finger and the baddie from Breaking Bad turn up and there’s a nice turn from the geek god Alan Tudyk, filling a darker role than we’re used to seeing him play.

3/5

 

By James Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E, another in a series of the rebootathon that has been 2015. In a year that has brought us the return of the Terminator, Jurassic Park and a somewhat Australian apocalypse this delightful spy romp headed by the man from the Vinnie Jones movies, is a reboot that is less a modern update than a delightful love letter to those spy adventures we lapped up as kids. Watching this movie felt much more like the fun filled tongue in cheek earlier Bond movies of the Moore and Connery days. Something that has been missing since his gritty, post Baleman Begins facelift.

Being one of those pesky millenials I have to admit that my knowledge of The Man from U.N.C.L.E is limited to my dad’s nostalgic rants and a quick wiki search so I can’t exactly attest to loyalty of source material in the movie. What I do know is that it was an espionage series from the sixties that shared airtime with that campy and lovable Adam West vehicle loosely based on Batman and that it involved the penmanship of Ian Fleming. The man we have to thank for everyone of us saying shaken not stirred, just to be told that a sex on the beach gets neither and “no sir, you cant have a little umbrella.” This undoubtedly led to the James Bond elements of gadgetry, espionage, pithy one liners and casual female objectification. All things that this movie stays true to.

The movie much like the show follows the adventures of the American James Bond played here by the British Superman, Henry (this superman kills people) Cavill. He goes by the unlikely name Napoleon Solo and is joined by the (you guessed it ) Russian Illya Kurykin. A KGB giant with Mommy issues played here by Armie Hammer. Hammer brings a surprising amount of comedic timing to his portrayal, assuming you don’t mention The Lone Ranger. Together they join forces in a way only sensical in comic books and dirty cold war fan fiction (have a google I’m sure they exist). Also in the mix is the placeholder female character Gaby Teller (played by Alicia Vikander), a genius mechanic stuck on the wrong side of the iron curtain and brought into the spy life because her father is an ex-Nazi rocket scientist or something equally evil. Gaby takes to the murderous and dangerous spy lifestyle very quickly for a civvie, but then again when faced with Henry Cavill’s blue eyes and dimpled chin, who wouldn’t?.

Anyway on with the plot. Spy stuff happens. Plot to take over the world or destroy it or to win the cold war for……someone? I’m sure it makes more sense than how I make it sound but truthfully the plot is very forgettable as are the bad guys of the piece. Not to mention riddled with plot holes. What I will say is that it’s a fantastic vehicle for a PG-13 rated self aware Archer-athon, complete with tactlenecks (the elegance of the turtle-neck combined with the usefulness of stealth apparatus) and spy on spy chest puffing. Comparing safe cracker gadgets, to fence cutting gadgets to penis metaphor to penis metaphor etc.. Perhaps the most delightful and the closest to progressive instance this film has to offer is when the two male leads get into a masculine pissing contest over women’s fashion. It was a particular delight seeing this typical demonstration of masculine one-upmanship being unashamedly decided on who had better taste in women’s footwear. Reminiscent of the “manners maketh the man,” philosophy of this years other spy comedy, The Kingsman.

There is definite humour and charm within the two male leads, surprisingly so from the relatively unknown Hammer and refreshingly so from the otherwise gloomy Cavill but where the film also shines is in Ritchie’s signature visual style and choice of soundtrack. A style which he still manages to keep current by adapting and making more subtle throughout the years. With a “you get the idea mentality” he doesn’t linger on gunfights but creates a thumping pace and moves on before it gets old, reminiscent of the hour and a half’s worth of sexual tension in Rock n Rolla that culminated in a four second sex scene. Many of the best laughs include little to no dialogue and are down entirely to the visuals and by contrasting relaxing music with hectic action. While at other times the rising drumbeats substitute the sound of the gunshots that are seen rather than heard on-screen.

So the film has it’s charm, hilarity and a modern cinematic flare whilst still being an ode to those romantic days. However it does have flaws as obvious as it’s leading men’s sex appeal (or so I’m told). Much like Ritchie’s other Hollywood indulgences like Sherlock Holmes and the other Sherlock Homes movie. It may be a fun ride but is in the end somewhat forgettable. By no means a bad movie but also by no means a great movie. You’ll forget the villains, the plot, half their damn names and some parts will make you outright question the logic. It is certainly worth watching for the back and forth of Cavill and Hammer and the swarmy charm of that Hugh Grant fella who just lives to make other men look bad.

You’ll notice one person I have yet to discuss is the female lead. Which is perhaps one of my greatest gripes with the movie. While one of my favourite reboots of this year Mad Max has some strong, interesting and down right badass female characters, to the point where you could call it Furiosa feat. Mad Max (that actually sound like a decent R n B hit), this film did not. Which is disappointing. They fall into typical action movie mentality of saying “look guys strong female lead!” by making her one smart cookie and tough which sounds great but it’s very apparent that less time has been put into developing her character, giving her as many fun lines or scenes as the boys, making her love interest/eye candy and you guessed it she still needs saving in the end. Couple that lacklustre and predictable femme fatale, double crossing stereotyping we are left with a movie that more acknowledges gender roles in movies than rises above them. But hey for a simple popcorn flick what do you expect?

To sum up. You’re not going to be upset that you spent an hour and a half on this charming spy adventure but you’re also not going to be in a hurry to re watch it either. This is the kind of movie that will be relegated into constant rebroadcasting on ITV2 in some not too distant virtual reality laced future.

3/5

 

By James Ward

Ant-Man

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by David Roberts

Out this weekend is the new addition to The Avengers roster, and the first origin story in years : Ant-Man. Starring Paul Rudd Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Ant-Man is a heist movie about a Scott Lang (Rudd) who can shrink down all small like with a special suit so he can steal someone else to save the world. A little like Oceans 11, except if Ocean was Paul Rudd and could shrink, (and the other 10 were 10,000 and all ants) it is a shift in genre from the more typical action movies that the blanket term ‘Comic Book Movie’ would imply.

Ant-man is one of the more controversial super heroes for people not already neck deep in Marvel Comics, and to many people was indicative of Disney running out’ve ‘the good’ superheroes to choose from. A man who can shrink down to a small size and gain super human strength, as well as gaining the ability to talk to ants, is considered to be more ‘unrealistic’ compared to the other heroes with at least one foot in reality. Examples include gamma radiation turning an angry man into an unstopping killing machine, or A Norse God/Alien shooting lightning out’ve a hammer that only he (until recently MCU-wise) has been able to lift, usually with his shirt off. Talking to ants and changing size was going to be one suspension of disbelief too far.

Also problematic was the production of the film in thh first place where Adaman ‘Joe’ Cornish and Edgar ‘Hot Fuzz’ Wright had written a fully fleshed out script which was rumoured to be too funny. So funny, in fact, that anyone who read it died or were seriously injured. Survivors claimed they never wanted to watch another Disney movie again, as they new it could never be as good. Deciding to find someone who could make the film a bit more serious and a little less like award winning movies ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Attack the Block’, they found a friend in Adam McKay, writer of such underwhelming but popular films as The Other Guys demonstrating a very real difference in American and British sense of humour. To his credit he also did Anchorman.

Perhaps this is why the movie seems a bit underwhelming and confused in tone a lot of the time, Paul Rudd is one of the few actors who has made me cry with laughter, even during his less successful movies, such as Wanderlust. In Ant-Man his comic timing is under used, and a lot of the jokes have fallen victim to Disney pushing the trailers so hard that you have heard a lot of the jokes before you go in. Ant-man sometimes feels like a children’s film that they went back to, and then added swearing into when they realised that a lot of the audience was going to be at least 15 years old and new at least four or five words for ‘poo’. The film was at times inconsistent, spending too much time on showing us how much of a lovely guy Scott Lang (Rudd) was, where the rest of the first two acts seemed to be set aside for Michael Douglas to yell at someone, or for Evangeline Lilly to storm out’ve a room.

Despite all this I absolutely loved this movie start to finish, all those wee niggly issues are not going to make you feel any less happy about what is going on. Scott Lang is such a truly lovable character that allowing Rudd to take centre stage as a character with depth as well as his great comic timing made him an absolute delight to watch. His motivation for becoming Ant-Man was believable and didn’t feel like a plot-line being crowbarred in just to get to the part of the film where he has to try to stop bad things happening. In the same way that Whedon had used all The Avengers personality traits to create problems, solutions and fighting styles, Ant-Man makes mistakes and bad decisions that feel like they are part of the characterisation and don’t feel forced resulting in very smooth transitions to what could otherwise have been disjointed, unrelated scenes. There are great references to previous films further cementing the film in the MCU and at least three, on first count, in relation to upcoming films. This includes a very exciting throwaway line about some kid that can climb up walls.

It’s hard to imagine anyone sitting through this and not enjoying it, though I was left with the feeling that I needed to see it for a second time to appreciate it. I’m not sure if that was because I watched it at 10.30am after about 6 hours sleep or because I had a chicken madras the night before that left me feeling like I had come in contact with Extremis from Iron Man 3. Some of my fellow journalists had already seen it at the time and said that, with a second watch, the film was much more enjoyable.

It is easy to forget that we haven’t seen a proper origin story since Captain America : The First Avenger which was four years ago, not including the Guardians Of The Galaxy Movie since it kind’ve brushed over the origin side of things. Apparently Rudd has already started filming his role in Captain America : Civil War next year and his character is so well developed that I can see the next Avengers movies being a lot more fun, I can see Scott Lang being as crucial to the feel of Infinity Wars as Tony Stark was to The Avengers. So as they go this one was very well paced, though it still felt a wee bit slow to begin with but it was a fantastic ride and I would happily will pay to go and see it again.

4/5

P.S There are not one, but two credit scenes at least one of which will make you clap with joy.

Magic Mike XXL – Review

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Suns. Guns. Buns and Magic Mike XXL are out this weekend in cinemas near you and me. A film starring Channing Tatum and Amber Herd this is a sequel to the original Magic Mike and follows the team of Male Entertainers on their last blow-out performance at the apparently very real Stripper Convention.

It’s a film about strippers hanging out on a bus, they find themselves all being forced by life to go their own separate ways, and give up the life of taking their clothes off for the amusement of many, mainly, women. The screening I was at was sponsored by the Northern Whig and therefore I was given two cocktails on the way in so please take in to account that, with my alcohol tolerance being similar to that of a shivering baby mouse who also happens to be fasting, I may have enjoyed it more than I would have. Though I did enjoy it a hell of a lot.

The film shifted focus somewhat from the original, where Mike was originally the mentor to the ‘new kid’ in XXL, while still the main protagonist, Magic Mike has the new role as the leader of the group of guys and the only real antagonist is their collective self esteem. A very feel good movie, though cheesy, it feels like it was perhaps trying to gear towards an audience of men as well as women and I am definitely surprised by how much I enjoyed myself.

The film begins with Mike who has been running his own furniture company, where he makes really interesting and popular furniture out’ve things he has found on the street or in bins. After throwing out Ice Cream left by his seemingly ex girlfriend from the last movie he starts some sexy dancing, with visual innuendo sparking all over the place. After eventually getting sick of dancing by himself, he finds out that a main character from the previous film has died and this makes him really want to take all his clothes off in front of people for money.

The great thing about this film is that is fun and daft, there is no reason to take any of it seriously and it doesn’t invite you to, aside from what I’ve interpreted as a pro-feminism look at the equality of women in relation to men but also in relation to each other. The under lying message, if there is one, is that their job isn’t just about being clothed and then being naked, but about helping their customers have a good time and even help heal their difficult lives. Though this sounds like the kind’ve lie you would tell yourself as a stripper to keep yourself away from the heroin, within the confines of the film it is a very pleasant view point and all the female characters are respected. There are frequent casual uses of female actors that are used to great effect by being just normal looking people. Some of the women are over weight, or older and the film doesn’t spend any time drawing attention to this, which both gives the film a foot in reality as well as a pleasant non judgemental look at a male stripper show. It is hard to imagine how a film that is essentially about men taking their clothes off how I could elicit such meaning, but it left me feeling good. The visual jokes had me in tears laughing, though as I mentioned there was a lot of gin involved, I would say that if you are homophobic or if rainbow flags annoy you because they make you question things about yourself, that this film may make you uncomfortable, other wise it is very entertaining.

Magic Mike XXL is a funny, feel good movie with a non-judgmental tone that isn’t, in the words of a man in the queue, ‘just a film for girls’, whatever that means.

4/5

Big Hero 6 – Review

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by David Roberts

Out at the end of this month is the Disney film which also happens to be a Marvel comic but isn’t part of the MCU. Big Hero 6 features the voices of Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans. Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph and James Cromwell. It’s cute, heartwarming and hilarious just like you would expect from Disney at this point and is the 54th Disney Animation film. Big Hero 6 and is preceded by a Pixar short called Feast which is equally as satisfying and is almost unbearably sweet and enjoyable. It’s almost worth going to see Big Hero 6 just for Feast. Fortunately BH6 is also amazing by itself.

Feast

Feast is a Pixar short about a man and his Boston terrier Winston. Though it’s more about Winston and food. The relationship between Winston and his owner is very exciting for the tiny dog as he is giving increasingly lovely amounts of unhealthy but great food, like bacon, eggs, burgers, cupcakes and meatballs. They are best friends so much so that he gets promoted to having his own seat at the table. Suddenly though Winston finds a new person in the house, and Winston is back to the floor eating just vegetables and dried dog food with parsley on top. A few months pass and everything goes back to normal and the lady owner is gone. Though Winston realises that his owner is upset and decides to do something about it.

It’s fair to say that I smiled so wide that the top half of my head slid off and into my popcorn, it is such a sweet and lovely story you would be hard pressed not to cry with joy while watching it. Even just because you are becoming more aware that your metabolism is slipping away and there was a time when you could once enjoy that much food without having to apologise to yourself and everyone around you.

Big Hero 6

Based in the alternate timeline of the world where Japan has rebuilt San Francisco after a major earthquake in 1906, San Fransokyo is home to a boy genius and scamp called Hiro.. A bit like a Tony Stark for the under tens he has a passion for robot fights, hustling and gambling. Hiro introduces himself as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to robotics and AI by destroying a professional robot fighters prized bot. His brother Tadashi convinces him to visit the school he himself spends time at to encourage Hiro to do something more useful with his skills in engineering than upsetting people who are definitely killing children at some point.

Slightly suspicious that the school will be loads of people sitting around learning things he already knows he becomes reticent, but pops in for a wee nosey and gets addicted. Everyone in the room is developing something amazing and he wants the opportunity to do that, particularly after meeting Baymax, his brothers huggable paramedic robot. You won’t be able to sit for very long before you start to imagine what it would be like to hug it. The 3d Effects of the following scene in the Convention of Clever People are really sharp, I felt like I was really there in the animated glorious room for the first time since using 3d, though I had been travelling since 7am and was possibly hallucinating slightly from sleep depravation.

The convention is also an audition to get into the school and Hiro arrives with what promises to be an incredible breakthrough in robotics, making at least a few people very eager to make use of him. Moments later the school explodes killing a member of the class. After this it becomes somewhat of a revenge story featuring a collection of fun lovable college age kids as superheroes. Fred who I refer to as Freddy Fourth Wall, is very enthusiastic about being in an origin story and a revenge plot line and assists with the creation of the team, which I assume is Big Hero 6, because there is 6 of them now.

The film is incredibly well written, heartwarming without being cringe inspiring, it is a film abut dealing with grief and morals and some pretty heavy things for a children’s film while at the same time being light hearted and hilarious. I had tears streaming from my face at points, as Baymax’s diligence and love of his job allows him to be lovable and funny without resorting to giving him too much of a human personality, Scott Adsit absolutely nails this character. The ‘low battery’ version of Baymax is one of the funniest and well acted things I’ve seen in an animated film and I’ve watched more than 3 of them. Baymax’s relentless helpfulness really makes his character an innocent in the whole thing and you could be forgiven for feeling like he was being manipulated in some way. Normally this would be were I would say “On the downside…” but I really can’t think of anything about Big Hero 6 that I didn’t love and I absolutely suggest that you go and see it with anyone who will go.

Metropolis – Dmytro Morykit – Review

MDM

by David Roberts

Back in 1927 when the world was black and white, less people knew who Hitler was, most people could remember Oscar Wilde dying and films were starting to gain traction as a popular art form. A standard had been realised and experimentation had begun both with plot and with cinematography. A German film maker called Fritz Lang had had so much success with Metropolis that he had been hand picked by Hitler to spear head his propaganda campaigns (which he declined while running away to France understandably). Metropolis is rumoured to be Hitlers favourite film, it could be of course because of the amount of control and the leader in this film had over the public. The lead actress, Brigitte Helm, didn’t like to be associated with the film, but when you’re Hitler’s favourite actress from about 1938 onwards you’ll probably not want to brag about that.
Fritz Lang decided to Metropolis and it was ground breaking achievement. Now it’s hard to understand why this film was so important if you watch it after the matrix for example or some more up to date reference, but I’ve been watching nothing but silent movies for the past month, so I was very excited to it as it is said to be the world’s first feature length sci-fi film.

Metropolis is based in a dystopian future, and within seconds of its first scene it has Orwell, Aushwitz and Bioshock plastered all over it which is odd since these things all happened a long time afterwards. The film, which I’ll get to, is only half the reason I was in the crescent art centre this evening. The main half is a man who has decided for whatever reason to write and arrange an incredible new soundtrack for the film. Coming in at approx 2 hours Dmytro Morykit brings the film to life in a haunting and engaging fashion. Despite sitting perfectly lit and only feet from the cinema screen Dmytro Morykit somehow blends into the background while still lifting you and leading you through the sinister Metropolis that gave the film its name. Many people have done versions of this including Adam and and Freddy Mercury and this relatively modest musician has written a beautiful work that sits comfortably amongst gods. If you are in the future reading this and Dmytro has become a multi billionaire and is now living in the moon I suggest you get the dvd and Spotify this one. Press play at the same time on both just like with the dark side of the moon and the wizard of Oz you crazy stoners. Assuming you can still get Spotify and it hasn’t been replaced by something else. Like your favourite albums being released in healthy gluten free food or something.
Despite the hiccups and technical difficulties at the beginning the first half of the film before the intermission was very interesting, really capturing the mood and somehow the feeling of the future through the eyes of people in the past. For me the Tango Tease is one of the best things that Dmytro did, and the particular night I saw him the second half, he was for want of a better phrase, on fire. Even now listening back to the music I enjoyed that night it is perfectly listenable and beautifully played but on the night I forgot where I was and was just floating on a cloud, and I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to watch a silent movie but most of them don’t as much grab your attention as they are a visual lullaby that was probably awesome at the time. A lot of the tracks are reimaginings of his own early compositions that have now found a home in Metropolis and some were freshly written for this project and it is incredible start to finish.

Dmytro is playing in the Waterside Theatre on the 20th January 2015 and then he is back to London.

American Sniper – Review

Second Tier American Sniper

by David Roberts

I’ve just been let out of a press screening of American Sniper. It stars Bradley Cooper and was directed by Clint Eastwood. It based on the life of Chris Kyle the deadliest sniper in American history, and is a very powerful, very difficult to think about film. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I also can’t say that it wasn’t a good film. It has upset liberals everywhere and caused many right wingers to don their ‘America Fuck Yeah!’ t-shirts without a shred of irony. Is the film worthy of it’s praise or criticisms…it’s hard to tell for either.

The film begins with Chris (Cooper) coming home to find his girlfriend enveloping some naked man that Chris is instantly sharp enough to notice isn’t himself. So he kicks her out and a flash back ensues to show that he was raised. His father makes it clear that there are three types of people in the world people who do what they are told and get pushed around and are bred for their wool (Sheep), people who attack or take advantage of the sheep and dress up as grandmothers to trick little girls (Wolves) and finally sheepdogs who have the purpose of protecting the sheep from the wolves. He is also told to always be a sheepdog. Up until the point of the terrorist attacks on US embassies Chris has been a rodeo cowboy but decides to enlist to become a Navy Seal.

The film soon becomes about Chris becoming the best sniper there ever was plus a deterioration of his personality as he becomes more jaded and destoryed by having to decide wether not shoot children who are holding dangerous weapons. The effect it has on his family is very obvious and detrimental, as Chris is constantly on edge about keeping his family protected from what he’s had to see while at the same time wondering how everyone can just walk about as if nothing is happening while there are such dangerous people out there killing al his friends. The first negative thing I can say about the film is that there is absolutely no attention given to character development, while in films like Boyhood there was always implied growth between scenes there was very little personality in the characters in the film. However it’s also very possible that my inability to connect with his wife and his friends, and therefore not really care when they died, is the point. Maybe it was over shot a wee bit, but maybe the fact that he barely knew his family and friends was worse, knowing again that this was a collection of, apparently very accurately told, true events.

The liberal part of my brain sees an American Sniper shooting all the brown people that he can, the film has depicted every single person of the Islamic culture as either being terrorists, or related to a terrorists plot. Someone’s hiding weapons, someone gives a wee call to someone to tell I’m in arabic to kill everyone in sight, and the real scary bad guy is depicted as a bond villain, with no reason to live other than to be evil. It also is stated at some point that though Chris has killed over 160 people that he didn’t feel bad about any of them and he just wished he’d killed more.

On the other side it is a war zone and has been evacuated, of course everyone here is going to part of an insurgence. The religious extremists are more upset about the children getting killed before they can kill the americans than they are about the children getting killed. And yeah if someone is running towards group of your friends with a bomb, or trying to drill a hole through your son’s head it doesn’t matter if the government just want oil or what have you, those are your friends and you have a gun.

Some people have been very upset about the divide on this and part of me wanted to be more annoyed because I knew that I would not be able to do that mans job even if it was absolutely necessary. Sienna Miller who plays the wife of Chris in the film has said that she hasn’t heard much of the criticism but even Mother Teresa could be criticised by somebody.

Get a copy of Hitchens’ book here

Now I’m sure she meant even the most innocent of people could be criticized and not even this lying, money laundering crook specifically.

How ever you look at it this is a great film, Bradley Cooper was excellent, you could barely recognise him, the film is powerful and like it or not it will leave you feeling extremely strange somehow. The photographs of the real Chris Kyle’s funeral during the credits followed by complete silence really reminded me of leaving a funeral and was haunting. It made me want to kick and punch and scream about how horrible the world is and that it isn’t fair but I just slunk off home quietly and confused. Then got caught in torrential rain and was more concerned about the hole in my boot that I’d just discovered.

4/5 – which is amazing for a film that I don’t think I enjoyed.