Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thor: Movie Review

Thor: Movie Review

Thor
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard
Director: Kenneth Branagh
So the Marvel universe continues its cinematic attempts to take over - this time with some help from a buffed up dude from Home and Away and a guy more likely to be known for Shakespeare.
Hemsworth plays Thor, a Norse god, who on the eve of his coronation as king is banished to Earth from Asgard by his father Odin (Hopkins) after he instigates an attack on the Frost Giants, a race with whom the Asgardians have been living in peace for years.
Dumped in New Mexico, Thor's found by Natalie Portman's scientist Jane Foster.
Convinced he needs to return to Asgard, Thor attempts to regain his mythic hammer (the source of his power) from a SHIELD facility.
But when he finds his powers have deserted him, Thor resigns himself to a life on earth.
However, back in Asgard, political machinations are afoot and Thor's brother Loki (a brilliantly reptilian Hiddleston) moves on the throne, prompting Thor's friends to try and bring him back....
Spectacularly epic, utterly engrossing and surprisingly funny, Thor is perhaps one of the best blockbusters in a while. Mixing Shakespearean motifs such as family betrayal, mistrust and revenge, it's clear to see why Branagh was attracted to this.
Hemsworth impresses as the petulantly arrogant god and Hopkins is suitably majestic as the regal Odin; each injecting their characters with the humanity and hubris needed of gods. Equally impressive is Hiddleston who brings the requisite element of mistrust to Loki that you're never quite sure whose side he's actually on - or what his motives truly are.
If there's to be a small quibble, it's that Portman and her team of scientists are a little underdeveloped - and the wonderful Kat Dennings is sidelined as simply comic relief.
The 3D serves really only to enrich the backdrops and isn't integral to the overall feel of Thor.
Yet, it's the Marvel universe which grows in depth with this latest adaptation - with crossover film The Avengers on the way, there's plenty to be done to lay the groundwork here. Mentions of Tony Stark, crossover characters from prior films and the obligatory Stan Lee cameo, this world is becoming more cinematically fleshed out than ever before - but not at the extent of alienating those who're not familiar with it all.

The winter blockbuster season is off to a simply Thorsome start.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Fast 5: Movie Review

Fast 5: Movie Review

Fast Five
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson
Director: Justin Lin
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Fast and The Furious franchise returns with Paul Walker's ex cop Brian O'Connor freeing Vin Diesel's Dom Toretto from a bus taking him to jail.
This puts Dom, Brian and Jordana Brewster's Mia top of the wanted list so they head to Rio to lay low for a while.
However, one last job pulls them back in - and when the trio's set up and betrayed by corrupt businessman Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), the hunt's on to clear their names.
But Reyes isn't the only one hunting the trio - fresh on their trail is federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) who's determined to bring them in for their part in the death of three agents.
So, the game is set.
Fast Five is like a greatest hits of the franchise; a bevy of familiar faces return with characters from all the films making an appearance in some form or other - along with new ones like Hobbs and a new love interest for Diesel's Toretto.
But as ever, the star of this show are the cars and the stunts. A particularly audacious final set piece is destruction to the maximum - and one scene sees a car go off a cliff with amazing effect.
The plot's as lacking as ever to be honest - and when characters utter lines like "It's easy money", you know exactly what's coming. Coupled with plenty of shots of Diesel and Johnson leering at each other, this predictably over long piece isn't exactly breaking the mould.
And yet, despite all that, it remains watchable fare (thanks to a superbly original take on using subtitles).
With the promise of a final film to wrap everything up and with the fact old characters have been brought back, it's clear those involved in this series actually care about the creations they've given life to.

In a world where movies often trot out tired sequels and phone it in, Fast Five shows there's still some heart and soul in the car racing franchise - and that's a rare thing.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easy A - Blu Ray Review

Easy A - Blu Ray Review

Easy A
Rating: M
Released by Sony Home Pictures

The teen comedy genre gets a welcome shot of life with this new film, loosely based on the infamous book The Scarlet Letter.

Emma Stone is Olive Penderghast, who finds her world changed when she's caught up in a lie.

After avoiding a friend's camping trip for a weekend, Olive's badgered into confessing that she slept with a college guy over that 48 hour period; something which is patently untrue but one which is given life despite her protestations to the contrary.

Within hours, the school campus is full of the rumour that Olive's become a harlot and after helping faux relieve a friend of his virginity, Olive's reputation is sealed campus wide.

But Olive soon discover there's a cost&

Easy A rocks because of a smart, sharp script and a star making turn from Emma Stone. Self effacing, amusing and incredibly watchable, Stone carries the film and gives a performance which is pitch perfect.

Admirable support from the likes of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson seal the deal - and make it a joy to watch again and again.
Extras: Gag Reel, Audition footage - commentary. The Blu Ray has pop culture references, movies of the eighties, the making of and a pop up trivia.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 22 April 2011

Devil: Blu Ray Review

Devil: Blu Ray Review

Devil
Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment
M Night Shyamalan returns with the first of a trio of anthologies from his Night Chronicles series.
In this, five people -who apparently have no connection - find themselves trapped in a skyscraper elevator.
As the police and various organisations try to free the quintet, it appears all of them have something to hide - and that one of them is actually the Devil, who's come to collect&
Devil feels like it should be part of a Twilight Zone series of stories on the small screen rather than the big screen release - its pacy story telling and brevity of running time are benefits.
With no famous leads or cast members, Devil works on one level as you're never quite sure who's going to make it out alive or who has the dirtiest secret. It's a clever twist from the director on the casting front - but it can't make the script soar.
The story's a little predictable and you can see how the intertwined story is going to unravel well before its muted and disappointing end.
That said, it's nice to see Shyamalan returning to grass roots film making - and I'd be interested to see some more of this trilogy.
Extras: Deleted scenes, docos on the story making and future releases - nothing stunning.

Rating: 5/10 

Cyrus: Blu Ray Review

Cyrus: Blu Ray Review

Cyrus
Rating: M
Released by Roadshow

Cyrus stars John C Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei as a mismatched trio.
Reilly is John a divorcee who meets Marisa's Molly at a party and they hit it off; so much so that after 7 years' estrangement from his ex Catherine Keener,he thinks she could be the one.

There's only one problem - her 21 year old son Cyrus (Hill) who initially welcomes John to their home but soon starts to act up in order to get him out.

Cyrus is a polished little gem of a dramedy of a film, delightfully quirky and confounds every expectation - while still delivering plenty of laughs and a good dose of heart.
The style is interesting as well - as it appears to have been shot on handheld cameras so they swoop in and out capturing every awkwardly odd moment.

The reason it works though is because of the leads - and if you give into the film's slightly weird ways and restrained humour, you'll love it

Extras: Deleted scenes, puppet movie (!) and intros

Rating: 7/10 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Heartbreaker: Movie Review

Heartbreaker: Movie Review

Heartbreaker
Rating: 7/10
Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Romain Duris, Andrew Lincoln
Director: Pascal Chaumeil
A massive hit in native France, L'Arnacouer aka Heartbreaker est arrive here on the big screen.
Duris plays Alex, a charming, expert in seduction - who resembles a French Vinny Chase from Entourage.
He's hired by various parties to break up couples; you know the ones where friends believe their friends could do better - or they're not happy.
He's good at it - and makes a reasonable living out of it too, having set up a business with his sister and dumb witted brother in law.
But he's also got money problems and with debts mounting up, he decides to take a high paying job to split Juliette (Paradis) from her fiancée Jonathan (The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln).
When he's taken to Monaco, Alex reckons this job should be easy - however, Juliette manages to make the work hard for him and he becomes more invested in it than he realises.
Part screwball, part farce, part rom com and part drama, Heartbreaker tries to be everything to everyone - and for the most part succeeds. With the slickness of a heist film, this stylish caper zips along with some funny moments (a pastiche of Dirty Dancing and snippets of Wham add the comedy factor).
But the end result is something like a light breezy cappuccino. There's plenty of froth and little substance at the end.
Sure, you can see what's coming a mile off - but Duris makes a good job of Alex despite some scenes being a little over the top and silly.
Paradis has some appeal as Juliette - and Lincoln impresses as the suave nice guy Jonathan.

If you fancy something a bit breezy and nothing too serious, Heartbreaker is the perfect remedy - and probably best you see it now, before the inevitable American remake hits our screens.

Dr Who - The Ark: DVD Review

Dr Who - The Ark: DVD Review

Dr Who - the Ark
Rating: PG
Released by BBC And Roadshow
Back to 1966 for this four part black and white adventure starring William Hartnell as the Doctor.
The TARDIS crew arrive on a massive spaceship carrying the final members of the human race as they head to a new home in space.
But a plague inadvertently brought by the Doc and his companions threatens their future - and their actions have shocking repercussions for all of mankind.
The Ark is known with Who circles for the Monoids - a race of rubber like aliens with one eye and a Beatles style moptop haircut. One of the less successful creatures (they can only communicate initially by sign language - which at times resembles the hand jive and other groovy dances of the sixties) they're a brave attempt at something different which sadly fail.
The story itself isn't too bad but isn't one of the strongest in the show's history- and came at a time when Who was facing the axe. Creatively it's an interesting premise which doesn't quite gel because of production failures and story issues.
Extras: Commentary, a look at HG Wells' influence on the show, One Hit wonder looks at the relative failure of the Monoids and a great doco explores the venue for the filming of many Who stories in the 1960s.

Rating: 5/10 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Harry Potter 7 Blu Ray Review

Harry Potter 7 Blu Ray Review

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part One
Rating: M
Released by Warner Home Video

This first part of the final film sees dark times ahead for the world.

With Lord Voldemort (a sinister Ralph Fiennes) completing his rise to power and the Ministry of Magic falling into the hands of the Dark Lord and his supporters, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) finds himself on the run - and public enemy Number One.

Following the death of Dumbledore, Potter and his friends realise they're running out of time - and opportunities - to rid the world of Voldemort.

Despite attempts to keep Harry safe, it appears no-one can be trusted and so the trio of Ron, Hermione and Harry decide now is time to try and bring Voldemort down before it's too late.

So, heading away from Hogwarts school, they set out to find the Dark Lord's Horcruxes (a sort of magical object which gives Voldemort his power) and destroy them - in the hope that that will end this battle once and for all.

Dark, bleak, moody and melancholy are just a few words to describe this, the penultimate outing from Harry Potter as the final curtain draws ever closer.

There's a lot to like in this first part - the action, such as it is (aside from an opening segment which plunges you right into the action and is breath taking on any size screen) is held by the trio of actors.

And for once, they impress; there's no way these kids could have dealt with such dark material and such emotional scenes earlier in their career.

Sure, Rupert Grint rolls out his trademark gurning face at times, but director Yates (and probably the material) reins it in this time.

To be honest though, there's hardly room for humour throughout - with jumps and jolts, the maudlin atmosphere is spooky, frightening and will be nightmarish to the younger end of the audience.

There's much of a "quest" feel about this film - perhaps, inevitably it would be the case as the story centres on the hunt for Horcruxes, swords and so forth.
It also means at times, there's little for the casual viewer - every lingering hug and stolen glance has some kind of significance and will be lost on those who've not followed the series or the book.
The best part though has to be the ghoulish animation which accompanies the tale of what exactly the Deathly Hallows are - with shadow animation and a Gothic feel, it's a stunningly well realised moment that stands out from the rest of the film.

But the problem is that it all feels too much of a set up for the final part - which granted, is, in some ways, no surprise.

The whole film has an ominous tone which doesn't have the pay off that's needed and as a result the ending to all the brooding and foreshadowing doesn't pack the emotional punch which was needed to whet my appetite for the final film, which comes out in 2011.
Extras: A 2 Disc DVD set comes packed with some good stuff - including a game of golf between the actors who play Weasley and Malfoy which charts their decade long friendship; there's also mini docos as well - but the Blu Ray contains a tantalising look at the final film, coming very soon&

Rating: 8/10

Dark Skies: DVD Review

Dark Skies: DVD Review

Dark Skies
Rating: M
Released by Shock DVD

Late 90s UFO conspiracy show Dark Skies was notable for many reasons at the time.

It crested a wave created from the success of the X Files and launched Eric Close as an actor (before he went onto Without a Trace)

It was also notable for launching to the fanfare that it would run over five seasons - if the ratings held up.

Sadly they didn't - so we're left with only the one season.

It centres around a young couple in the 60s John Leongard and Kimberly Sayers (Close and Megan Ward) who are caught up in the conspiracy of an alien invasion by a group called The Hive.

But opposing their hunt for the truth is the Majestic 12, a covert government group who'll do all it can to stop the truth coming out- and it seems all of history as we know it is a lie and was manipulated by these two groups.

Clever and well written Dark Skies still holds up reasonably well, some 15 years later.

Well acted and with a sense of compelling story telling, the 18 episodes all hang together and pack in great performances from Close, Ward and the much missed JT Walsh as the bad guy.

It's just unfortunate the season ends on a frustrating note which will never be resolved.

Extras: Photogallery

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Luther: DVD Review

Luther: DVD Review

Luther
Released by BBC and Roadshow
Rating: R16
The brilliant Idris Elba of The Wire fame finds himself in a BBC crime drama about a troubled detective (aren't they all?) lasting six episodes.
Elba is John Luther - who as the series opens is being brought back into work after being cleared from an investigation into his part in a case.
But no sooner is this maverick cop back on the beat than he finds his life taking all manner of turns for the worst.
Hoping for a reconciliation with his wife (Indira Varma), Luther discovers his already fragile world teetering on the brink into a series of investigations which push him to the very edge.
A little slow to get going, Luther is worth persevering with.
Mainly because of its star Elba who veers from burning passion and rage to complete vulnerability - and all of it thanks to a nuanced performance.
Which is a relief because the stories themselves are nothing spectacular - and may explain why the show's only coming back for another two episodes.
Ultimately Luther rises on Elba's turn and falls on the lack of originality in the script - it's perfectly watchable but instantly forgettable when it's finished.
Extras: Brief doco

Rating: 6/10

Friday, 15 April 2011

Sarah's Key: Movie Review

Sarah's Key: Movie Review

Sarah's Key
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Aidan Quinn
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Based on Tatiana de Rosnay's best selling novel, Scott Thomas stars as American journalist Julia Jarmond.
She begins to look into the Vel'd'Hiv Roundup in 1942 in France as part of a magazine article but discovers that she shares a key connection to what happened in the past to a Jewish family and their little girl called Sarah.
As she digs further into the past, and vivid flashbacks bring to light what happened, Jarmond finds that the present and future can definitely be influenced by what has already happened.
Kristin Scott Thomas has done little recently cinematically to impress after Leaving and Love Crime; so it's great to report that she's back on form in this exquisitely layered and powerful drama.
The film starts with two children bouncing and giggling in a bed in 1942; but with a dreaded knock at the door, everything changes.
This film is arrestingly good and packs a mighty wallop as the pieces begin to fit together; the story from 1942 is horrifically well realised, and conjures up a time we hope never to see again.

It's a strong sense of direction that delicately weaves together these two tales, stretched 67 years apart as they are - and thanks to the sensitive acting of Scott Thomas, you'll be left an emotional heap at the end.

Game Review: Rango - The Game

Game Review: Rango - The Game

Rango - The Game
Platform: PS3
Rating: PG
Released by EA
Based on the brilliant Johnny Depp CGI animated film of the same name, Rango (The Game) takes place after the film's denouement.
Depp's CGI chameleon is still top dog/ sheriff in the town of Dirt but has a new investigation to look into - the disappearance of Beans' father and the appearance of some moon rocks.
So, once again spinning some tall tales, the player must take on his mission and find out what the rocks have to do with everything and why Bad Bill's back in town.
The platforming style of this game mean it's pretty much aimed at all ages - though after a while, it does tend to feel as if it's skewing a little younger with the core repetition of action scenes.
It's great to have Depp voicing the character once again and makes the spin off game feel more like it's part of the film rather than the usual swift cash in. With some smart scripting, the goofy oddball sensibilities which pervaded the film are once again present in the gaming narrative.
Most of the game sees Rango having to see off gangs of bandits - either with his trusty shooter gun or via some crafty punching and general fightin'. Each villain you dispatch brings you sheriff stars which you can trade in to build up your core strengths, fighting skills and gun ammo. Throw in the need to guide bullets around certain parts of Dirt to open up portions of each level and you've got enough to keep you occupied.
While Rango is good platforming generally, its somewhat simplistic tone and repetitive nature (search the town, fight the gangs, collect the stars, shoot a golden bullet at a target and defeat the end of level boss) does grate a little towards the end. There are a few minor deviations where you get to ride creatures and chase trains and because of their sparse use they feel like welcome diversions.
Three settings (easy, medium and hard) mean you can play again if you want to - and also means all ages can take part in this.
All things being equal, Rango isn't a bad platformer; I was quite happy to endure the repetition of the levels and played onto the end - though I have to say, while it was a fun and entertaining ride while it lasted, it's fairly forgettable stuff once the PS3 was turned off.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Paul: Movie Review

Paul: Movie Review

Paul
Rating: 7/10
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Voice of Seth Rogen
Director: Greg Mottola
Aliens, geeks and Pegg and Frost back on screen - how can it go wrong?
The duo from Hot Fuzz, Spaced and Shaun of the Dead reteam (and write) this comedy about two guys, Graeme and Clive who head to geek mecca Comic Con after years of dreaming of making the trip.
Sated on the nerd fest that is Comic-Con, the duo then decide to roadtrip around the States, taking in some of the best UFO spots in America.
On a remote highway, the hapless pair chance upon Paul, a grey alien (voiced by Seth Rogen).
The little chap needs a helping hand to escape the government and get home - so Graeme (Pegg) obliges - and the great alien road trip begins.
Throw in a couple of FBI agents chasing, an accidental kidnap of Kristen Wiig's Ruth from an RV camp and a shadowy figure trying to stop them, and you've got the recipe for the rest of this scifi-geek-steeped-pop-culture film.
Eschewing many sci-fi references (ET, Close Encounters, Aliens, Star Wars et al), Paul is likely to appeal more to a certain sector of the audience than others.
That said, don't let the scifi bent of this witty (at times puerile) script put you off.
Sure, some may garner a little deeper level of laughs here compared to others - but the trademark bromance chemistry between long time working partners Pegg and Frost continues to amuse on many levels.
Granted, Paul is a little slow to get going and you almost feel some of the jokes are a little predictable at the beginning but once it picks up the pace, it really fires on all cylinders.
If you're a connoisseur of the bromance of Pegg and Frost (and their old married couple vibe), you'll know the easy charm the pair exude and with some great repartee (some of it completely unexpected and laugh out loud funny), you'll be in stitches throughout.
The supporting cast are also uniformly brilliant too - from the ever dependable Jason Bateman as an FBI agent to Kristen Wiig as the love interest, there's plenty of heart beating in here as well as the geek.

And yet in places, the script creaks a little with easy puerile humour being relied on a little too heavily. Given the smarts of the writing team that is, to be frank, a little disappointing.

Ultimately though, Paul is a good solid night out; it's cheeky, amusing and fun - some of the geek references may be lost on portions of the crowd, but that's not enough to make you feel you're missing out.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hop: Movie Review

Hop: Movie Review

Hop
Rating: 4/10
Cast: Russell Brand, James Marsden, Hugh Laurie, Gary Cole, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, The Hoff
Director: Tim Hill
As school holidays lurk around the corner, along with Easter, then it's time to roll out the animated fare at the cinema.
Hop is a part live action, part animated film, starring the vocal talent of Russell Brand, as EB.
A descendant of the Easter Bunny line from Easter Island, EB has a destiny to fulfil - he gets to become the Easter Bunny.
But selfish bunny two shoes EB doesn't want that - like any rebellious kid, he's got his own future marked out - as a drummer.
So running away from Easter Island to Hollywood via a portal, EB runs into Frank O'Hare (Marsden) a no hoper whose continual disappointment to his family has led to them intervening in his life to try and get it on track.
The pair accidentally meet - and EB throws himself into Frank's life - despite Frank's protestations to the contrary.
However, while EB is away, back at the Easter Island factory where the holiday season becomes real, the number two in charge, The Easter Chick, Carlos (voiced by Hank Azaria) is plotting a chicken coup d'etat...(That's not a MasterChef dish or recipe by the way)
Hop is a disappointment.
With a script that hardly packs in many laughs early on, it tries to get by on the charm and roguish caddish ways of Russell Brand and early jokes about the Playboy mansion (just think about the inhabitants if you're struggling).
The animation is charming enough (from the creators of Despicable Me, you'd expect that) but the live action scenes don't really gel. Russell Brand is typically Russell Brand and you can tell the creators have played to his strengths; James Marsden seems a little lost and brings only goofiness to the role.
Don't get me wrong; there are some moments when the comedy comes to the fore and finally reaps the rewards - including a scene halfway in where EB acts like a stuffed toy to get a cuddle from Frank's sister (The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco).

But with laugh out loud moments few and far between in an average script, this Easter "funny" will play better to the young.

Even with a cameo from the Hoff (which has more cheese on it than he likes on his burgers), it's one which the parents may find a little difficult to sit through. The kids however, will love it.

Rio: Movie Review

Rio: Movie Review

Rio
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann, will I am, Jamie Foxx
Director: Carlos Saldanha
The second of this week's animated openings (also out is Hop with Russell Brand) Rio is an altogether different beast.
From the creators of Ice Age, it's the story of the last male macaw in the world Blu (voiced with geeky overtones by The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg) who's kidnapped when young from his Brazilian habitat.
An accident leads him to be cared for by Linda (Leslie Mann) in Minnesota - and Blu's quite happy in his domesticated lifestyle.
However, when Tulio, from Brazil's department of Conservation shows up on her doorstep, pleading with Linda to let him mate Blu with the last female Macaw Jewel (Anne Hathaway), Blu's life is thrown into disarray.
Dragged to Rio for a romantic liaison, Blu's birdnapped once again - and along with Jewel and a few feathered friends, he's determined to escape back to Linda and the comfort of his normal life.
Colourful, passionate and full of heart, Rio is an animated delight.
From its opening song which soars with birds covering the screen in a wealth of vibrant colours, Rio will get you onside right away.
Even if the sight of most of those birds being kidnapped minutes later will terrify the young (one youngling screamed out during the screening at this point).
With a story which is sweet but not cloying, Rio manages to move and amuse in equal measures.
Throw in a great performance from Jesse Eisenberg (who's really cornering that geeky style) as bird nerd Blu - and a menacing turn from Jemaine Clement's Nigel, a cockatoo who used to be the in thing but who's now bitter and angry, and you've got the mix for a fun time for all the family at the cinema. Which is a rare thing.
But, it's an all family affair too - from the wondrous animated backdrops of Rio itself to the cast of supporting characters, (monkeys, dogs, toucans, birds) there's plenty for everyone to get lost in here.

The script has smarts too - with witty dialogue, great songs (the stand out of which is Jemaine Clement's bird rap) charm and animation that is easy on the eye and not reliant on 3D, you can't go wrong with Rio.

Oceans: Movie Review

Oceans: Movie Review

Oceans
Rating: 8/10
Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzard
Voiceover: Pierce Brosnan
This year's nature doco is an outstandingly shot, relatively non-preachy primarily French piece about the majesty and bounty of the Oceans of our planet.
With laconic and sparse narrative from Pierce Brosnan, the gorgeously shot footage sweeps across and swoops in and out of the waters of the world, as our senses are bombarded with wondrous images.
Images such as sealion, marine iguanas, a sea otter smashing shells on a rock on its belly to feed- to scenes of squid fending off crab who've wandered too close to their territory.
It's an hypnotic and mesmerising snapshot of the world around us.
And a reminder of what brilliance lurks under the waters and far, far away from our eyes.
With the greatest of respect, when Pierce Brosnan's laconic voice over is ditched, then this really is when the film soars because there's nothing to beat the beautiful viciousness of nature at work.
Sometimes in cinema, all you need is what's up on the screen to take your breath away -with just the majesty of nature, Oceans is truly awe inducing as it takes in the life in oceans all over the world - including New Zealand's waterways.
Granted in a film like this, there's bound to be a message about the effect of pollution and the vanishing wildlife but unlike others of their ilk, here the directors show some restraint and don't hammer home the message. By using images from space of the effects of pollution on the waters, the message is got across simply and eloquently - once again, just a simple image paints a greater picture than a thousand words could.

Funny, touching, and amazing, Oceans truly is a majestic piece of cinema, which really needs to be seen on the big screen.

Sucker Punch: Movie Review

Sucker Punch: Movie Review

Sucker Punch
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Abby Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Carla Gugino, Jamie Chung, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn
Director: Zack Snyder
With a truckload of hype and expectation screaming the next big geek thing, Sucker Punch is finally here.
Set in the 1960s, it's the story of Babydoll (an innocent Emily Browning) who, framed for the murder of her sister, is committed to a lunatic asylum by her murderous father.
With five days to go before she gets a life-changing lobotomy, Babydoll retreats into a fantasy world to try and plan an escape from a fate worse than death.
Along with Sweetpea (Cornish), Amber (Chung), Blondie (Hudgens) and Rocket (Malone), Babydoll sets her plan in motion - with a little help from the Wise Man (Scott Glenn).
Sucker Punch is an incredible film in many ways.
Incredibly frustrating, incredibly inventive and incredibly visual, it's easy to see why it doesn't quite make it.
It's stylish and astounding in spades (and the opening sequence which shows how Babydoll is committed is one of the best visually impressive scenes I've ever clapped eyes on) but narratively, it's not quite there and instead feels like a series of CGI sequences and some mightily impressive music videos.
Don't get me wrong - there are parts of this film that made my inner geek squeal with delight (impressive slow mo fight scenes, shots of 10 foot samurai warriors with red eyes being cut down by Browning's petite frame, dragons and planes, World War trenches with steampunk Nazis, an awesome OST) but therein lies some of the problem of Sucker Punch.
A film with a series of great moments strung together by some disappointing plot does not alone an outstanding movie make.
Sure, there'll be plenty of discussion of how Snyder's trying to provide strong female role models while dressing them up in provocative clothing - but the main feeling from Sucker Punch is it's a fantastic concept which never really gets past the ideas which may have been story boarded.
Having said that though, the core cast are impressive and you believe instantly in Babydoll's fantasy world and understand exactly why she retreats there to escape the horror; every single male character in this film (with the exception of Scott Glenn's Wise Man) is a slimeball and that gives the women a chance to shine in lead roles.
Ultimately, Sucker Punch will appeal greatly to the core audience it wants - the fanboys and fan girls who'll get their geek on over the utterly amazing action sequences.

But with a little more attention to the script, the visionary Snyder could have created a film which had a broader audience and would have been hailed as something revolutionary.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Burn Notice Season 2 : DVD Review

Burn Notice Season 2 : DVD Review

Burn Notice Season two
Released by Roadshow
Rating: M
So one of the best spy series on TV (sadly overlooked and plonked into awful late night slots) continues its second season - can you believe we're only on season two when there's six made? Sometimes there's just no accounting for taste.
Anyway, the brilliant Jeffrey Donovan returns as Michael Western, a former CIA Operative who was burned (ie fired) from the agency - but with no idea why or by whom.
This latest season finds him still stuck in Miami trying to find out who did it and why - but brings him a little closer to solving the mystery with the introduction of Tricia "Battlestar Galactica" Helfer's Carla.
But as ever, nothing is quite what it seems.
Why this show isn't a bigger hit is a mystery - but as long as we continue to get season releases, that's the main thing.
Sleek, smart and a little sexy, Donovan is effortlessly cool and this second season compounds the calibre of the show as well as the mythology. But it still remains easy to jump in.
A great ensemble cast is rounded off by Bruce Campbell, Gabrielle Anwar and Sharon Gless - and this year benefits from the appearance of one of Frasier's greats.

Extras: commentary, deleted scenes and behind the scenes - nothing spectacular.

Rating: 7/10 

Dr Who - The Mutants: DVD Review

Dr Who - The Mutants: DVD Review

Dr Who - The Mutants
Released by BBC and Roadshow
Rating: PG
This six part 1972 serial sees Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor and companion Jo thrust into the 30th Century to deliver a message from The Doctor's race, The Time Lords.
But when they arrive they find a world, Solos, torn apart by suspicion, Mutants and a Human Empire looking to flex its final might before leaving the planet it once ruled over.
Can the Doctor bring peace to both sides in these warring factions?
The Mutants is a story which is stretched a little too long - it could have comfortably sat in 4 parts but an extra 2 means the story drags somewhat and sags.
Some of the acting is of the ropiest order as well - but the story idea is An admirable one, dealing as it does with evolution and independence.
Pertwee still stands the test of time - even if those around him fail to measure up; some impressive effects (well, impressive for their time) shine through as well but all in all, The Mutants is a case of slightly missing the mark.
Extras: Commentary, docos - the usual collection - nothing really stands out from the extras. Is it possible the classic series is running out of things to say about each release?

Rating: 5/10

Friday, 1 April 2011

Jackass 3D Blu Ray Review

Jackass 3D Blu Ray Review

Jackass 3
Rating: R16
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

3 times the laughs, 3 times the stupid the cover blares.

And it's right.

It follows the same format as before; as Johnny Knoxville and his gang of malicious miscreants inflict various forms of torture on each other for no other reason than it seemed a good idea at the time.

But, my goodness, in places, it's extremely funny.

This film is frequently gross - think bums and air darts, portaloos and bungee ropes and you're starting to form an idea of how it'll all sit together. But yet, as I say in places, I just couldn't help laughing at the cojones (sometimes literally) on display and the minds that would come up with the various situations involved.

It won't break the mould - it will lead to a good night in for the lads and with a 3D copy and extended and uncut versions there's plenty for all fans of the Jackass genre to savour.

Extras: Outtakes, extended versions, making of, deleted scenes - enough to keep the fans happy.

Rating: 6/10