Saturday, 31 January 2015

Mortdecai: Film Review

Mortdecai: Film Review


Cast: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn
Director: David Koepp

Already rated as one of the worst films of 2015 and a low note on Johnny Depp's CV, Mortdecai arrives with hardly much expectation hanging on its shoulders.

Depp is Charlie Mortdecai, a moustachioed eccentric, art dealer and rogueish cad who, along with his manservant Jock (played with bit-of-rough charm by Paul Bettany) is forced to investigate the theft of a painting by the police. With no choice but to investigate thanks to an 8 million pound debt to Queen and country, Mortdecai is sent on a global chase to find the painting before time runs out and it falls into the wrong hands.

Mixing heist caper, Terry Thomas style speech and Rowley Birkin QC gibberish, Depp's OTT performance stands at odds with everyone else around him as he preens and pirhouettes his way through the story which has elements of Gambit within. The problem is while his manchild antics are the central turn with stupidity being more his MO, everyone else around him is taking it terribly seriously with their best plummy British accents on show for all to see.

Bettany fares well as a put upon man servant in the vein of Kato amidst Mortdecai's bumbling and to be frank, the whole affair zips along with a pace that belies its weak script and hammy lead performance.

Depp's character spends a lot of the film asking if it "will be all right in the end"; and you can't help but wonder if that's a meta touch and comment on his own career which seems to be spindling and circling the plug hole after a row of bombs belying some of the great work he did early on. You can see why he was attracted to the bounder role; a chance to riff on the English aristocracy and the art world, but the end result is such a mess that the ongoing joke about a gag reflex every time his wife kisses him soon becomes an involuntary audience reaction to large parts of what transpires on screen.

Rating:



Friday, 30 January 2015

New Terminator: Genisys trailer drops

New Terminator: Genisys trailer drops


The first new Terminator: Genisys trailer has dropped ahead of the Superbowl.

Hip Hop-eration: DVD Review

Hip Hop-eration: DVD Review


Rating: G
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Hip-hop, some hip-operated on OAPs, the hip paradise of Waiheke Island and a NZ feel all wrap up to make this Kiwi bred documentary a feel-good outing of the highest order.

Following a group of some 80 year olds of varying backgrounds, the doco follows the band and their irresistible leader Billie Jordan as they pursue their dream of being centre stage at the Las Vegas World Hip Hop Dance tournament.

Gently meshing together a historical background of a yesteryear and fusing it with the kind of sensibilities that made Young @ Heart such a hit all those years back. It's not quite as emotionally affecting as Young@Heart managed to be though it's suffused with such a Kiwi touch that's hard to deny.

When Billie gets the call from the Las Vegas organisers to say they're in, her typically low key reaction ("Bullpucky") sums up the approach to it all by documentary maker Bryn Evans.

Equally the subjects she chooses to concentrate on weave a tale-telling tapestry that hints at former lives within; from the pensioner who reads Haydn to the OAP who wants to model, these are Kiwis that will force many of us to head off and contact our parents to say hi.

The love-fest is cemented when the Otara based Krash hip-hop crew join forces with the Hip-Hoperationers by giving them their support, giving both the Otara gang a new focus and the OAPs a sign they're inspiring others.

It's clearly a message of Life is for Living and not exactly a new one to tote, but for moments such as one OAP grinning with glee after proving a crack-shot with a sub automatic rifle at a US range to comments like "We'll get you to Las Vegas - even if it's in an urn", there's no chance you won't be won over by this feel-good doco that rocks to its own beat.

Rating:


Ted 2 trailer drops

Ted 2 trailer drops


The first full trailer for Ted 2 has just dropped.

Seth MacFarlane returns as writer, director and voice star of Ted 2, Universal and Media Rights Capital’s follow-up to the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time. Joined once again by star Mark Wahlberg and fellow Ted writers Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild, MacFarlane produces the live action/CG-animated comedy alongside Bluegrass Films’ Scott Stuber, as well as John Jacobs and Jason Clark.


Ted 2 releases July 2nd 2015

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Selma: Film Review

Selma: Film Review


Cast: David Oyolewo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey
Director: Ava DuVernay

Already generating debate for the snub for former Spooks star David Oyolewo, Selma has prestige written through it - even though it has the air of The Butler around it. (Which is ironic given that The Butler's director was once attached to the project)

A mesmerising Oyolewo stars as Martin Luther King Jr as we get the inside story of the build up of the 1965 marches from Selma Alabama to Montgomery almost a half century after their time.

By preferring to concentrate on the tension between King Jr and the President Lyndon Johnson (The Full Monty's Tom Wilkinson) over the activism involved, we begin to learn the lengths the FBI went to to ensure that every last detail of the build up was documented.

This juncture in the civil rights movement came at a decisive moment in time with King's advisers at loggerheads and the President starting to feel threatened by the growing weight of the protestors' feelings.

Opening with King Jr's acceptance of the Nobel peace prize before a bomb rips through Birmingham, Selma sets out its stall early on. With the slow mo shot of the bomb's explosion, director DuVernay decides that pushing the buttons is perhaps more important than filling the story with an emotional depth and heart that's needed throughout. (The slow mo is over-used later on in key moments but feels hollow and a desperate attempt to try to convey some emotion when simplicity would have been better)

Selma is never better than when it lets Oyolewo take the stage and deliver impassioned speeches from Martin Luther King Jr. It's here that Oyolewo brings some of the resonance and power of the orator to life, despite never fully capturing the likeness. By delivering a swelling performance and a relatively dialled down turn during negotiations, you really get a sense of the compelling and uniting nature of Dr King as he galvanised people into action and so upset others.

The film's also a growing roster of prestige actors, with the likes of Martin Sheen, Cuba Gooding Jr, Dylan Baker, Tim Roth all turning up for their moment in the cinematic sun.

But DuVernay's piece never fully manages the subtlety needed of a film like this to propel it into the stratosphere; around 90 minutes in, when the first march of the Edmund Pettus Bridge disastrously takes place, rather than simply letting the horror of the visuals strike the deep resonant chord they need, she chooses to have a New York Times reporter who was on the scene narrate by reporting back events to his paper over the ghastly. The end result is a sentimental button pushing montage that tells you what to feel, how to feel and when to emote - given that the film uses actual footage from the final marches to maximum effect, it's a blundering misfire.

Equally, the story is told with such a straight-laced approach that there's never any shade; the conflicts between King and his wife, the conflict with Malcolm X, the conflict with those running the movement in Selma are completely left on the side; this is really where the story of Selma would have been better told, rather than a simple lifting of events from a history book.

There's absolutely no doubting Oyolewo's turn in Selma, but thanks to no directorial flair or flourish from DuVernay, Selma never quite achieves the power it needs for a story that's so worthy and a moment in time that's so vital to be captured on celluloid.

Rating:


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Fantastic Four trailer drops

Fantastic Four trailer drops


The first trailer for Fantastic Four by Josh Trank has just dropped.

Take a look at the Fantastic Four trailer.




Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Oculus: Blu Ray Review

Oculus: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Doctor Who star Karen Gillan stars in this parallel storylines horror movie that's already received genre acclaim.

Gillan is Kaylie, who believes a mirror is haunted by supernatural powers and that it's wreaked havoc within her life as well as others. Gathering her brother who was jailed for the deaths in their family, Kaylie sets out to change the future by delving into the past.

There are a few smart scares here and there, but Oculus isn't really an edge of your seat horror kind of film, more a psychologically unsettling piece set over two timelines. Based on the director's own short story, Oculus benefits from Karen Gillan's solid turn (even if her accent isn't quite convincing enough) and a restrained direction, aimed at unsettling you rather than scaring you outright.

Rating: