Thursday, 30 June 2011

Game Review: Red Faction: Armageddon

Game Review: Red Faction: Armageddon

Red Faction Armageddon
Released by THQ
Platform: PS3
It's off to the red planet we go for this fourth instalment in the Red Faction series - which I have to admit to having never played before.
50 years after the events of Red Faction: Guerilla, you control Darius Mason on the wilds of the planet in 2170 in this third person shooter.
The aim is to track down a group known as the Cultists, led by Adam Hale, who've taken out a Terraformer and plunged your race underground. As you negotiate your way underground and briefly on the surface, you face threats from said Cultists as well as numerous bugs and other baddies, hellbent on turning you into history.
While the action is fairly standard and sees you pretty much unable to roam too freely (a GPS can help with your quest if you end up getting a little lost and unsure of where to go when facing marauding attacks from hordes of creepy crawlies), this is still pretty playable stuff.
A clever addition is the option to repair structures you inadvertently - or deliberately - destroy while in your quests - thanks to a glove you wear. It's a neat visual touch as well and helps you realise that sometimes, the solution can literally appear in front of your very eyes.
Furthermore, a magnet grappling gun gives you the option to haul structures around and makes wandering around underground a little more fun as well as giving you the chance for wanton destruction - outside of killing the baddies. But you have to be smart on how you use this - cause after all, remember you're underground...

Red Faction Armageddon is certainly playable and there's plenty to do; it's no mean thing to say it's disposably good fun and will see you wasting hours on end as you scoot around doing your thing and trying to save the day. It's easy to control and immerse yourself in and with a couple of other options available once you've finished the main game, it's got a shelf life beyond the average third person shooter games.

Rating: 7/10

The Romantics: DVD Review

The Romantics: DVD Review

The Romantics
Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent
When a group of several friends and college buddies reunite for a wedding, you know there's going to be trouble ahead.
Katie Holmes is Laura, a writer who's maid of honour to best friend Lila (True Blood's Anna Paquin) ahead of her wedding to Tom, played by Josh Duhamel.
When the gang reunites, it's clear there's still some tension between Laura and Lila - mainly thanks to her love for Tom - and matters are brought to a head at a truly awful wedding rehearsal where Laura inadvertently toasts her and Tom - instead of Lila.
It's clear there's some issues between them all - and they're likely to try and resolve them this weekend whether they want to or not.
Simmering resentments come to the fore in this but it's a little slow and plodding to gain and hold your attention; while the cast is an admirable bunch and a good solid collection of actors, it's very hard to get engrossed in this gang and their issues.
The main triangle works reasonably well but overall, The Romantics is lacking a little of the dynamism it needs to propel it over its 95 minutes running time.
Extras: None

Rating: 5/10 

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon: Movie Review

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon: Movie Review

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Shia La Beouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Leonard Nimoy, John Turturro, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee
Director: Michael Bay
Back for a third time, the Autobots and the Decepticons continue their life long robotic battle
Thrown into the middle of this eternal scrap between good and evil is Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky who's struggling to get a job and is becoming resentful he saved the world (twice) for little lasting reward.
This time when it appears a deciding component in the struggle's been found in a spaceship which crashed into the moon around the time of Apollo 11's landing in the 60s, both sides scramble to try and seize it.
But it soon transpires the whole thing could signal the end for them - as well as us....
Transformers Dark of the Moon is a typical Michael Bay gig; there are explosions aplenty, set pieces and plenty of swooping shots of planes and choppers as they head into war.
Happily though Bay has dialled down the frenetic pace of the last film which saw scenes of utter mayhem and robots transforming at such a pace, you could barely keep up with it.

This time it's less of a blur and means the couple of major set pieces are absolutely stunning - including a chase scene on the freeway and an attack piece inside a building. It gives the effects a little more space to breathe and visually sends your eyes on one hell of a journey.
As for the robots themselves, Optimus Prime spouts his usual pomposity and Leonard Nimoy makes a good father of the robots (and gets to paraphrase one of Spock's famous lines from Wrath of Khan) but the Decepticons suffer a little in terms of screen time - until an end sequence in Chicago where both sides finally fight full on with such ferocity you would think you're in a gangland riot blessed with robot executions left, right and centre.
As for the humans, Shia makes good fist of whining Sam and shows he can carry an action film- however, that's not the case with the rest of the supporting cast - particularly Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Sadly with her, it's a case of bringing in some eye candy to titillate (as the camera lingers lovingly over her form at every chance) because the moment she starts speaking, it's starchly wooden and robotic. She manages an improvement towards the end though which is a relief - even if it's a minor improvement.
Of the heavily crowded ensemble, John Malkovich and Ken Jeong have cameos which are blown away by Alan Tudyk's supporting turn.

In many ways on screen, this third film is way too bloated - with an overly long running time which starts to sag, the older end of the audience may feel their attention span drift - though the kids will love it.

There's little in terms of story and the whole thing feels like it's leading to a confrontation between the robotic hordes.

That said if you're willing to check your brain at the door you will be entertained - though a word of warning you may feel at times, like you've beaten into submission by the brash, noisy and FX heavy film which is gung ho and even has the nerve to end on a scene of robots standing near a flying American flag.

Dr Who - Planet of the Spiders: DVD Review

Dr Who - Planet of the Spiders: DVD Review

Dr Who - Planet of the Spiders
Rating: G
Released by BBC and Roadshow

And so the third Doctor's adventures draw to a close on DVD - and in some ways, so does some of the supporting talent.

This adventure from the 1970s is the final outing for Jon Pertwee's Dr before he changed into Tom Baker and sees the Dr investigating a Tibetan retreat where spooky things are afoot.

Those involved at the retreat seem to be on the verge of summoning an alien presence - and their very existence causes all kinds of problems for the Doctor - and could even lead to his undoing.

The six part adventure is a perfect curtain call for Pertwee's man of action - he's given every moment to shine and seizes it with both hands; plus with the extras and commentary, it feels like a ending in many ways with three of the main talents involved sadly recently dying.

But that doesn't cast a maudlin eye over what's a great story and a fantastic range of extras as well for fans of the genre; commentary from Nicholas Courtney, Barry Letts and Elisabeth Sladen who have now left this earth add a tinge of nostalgic sadness which is hard to initially shake; but The Final Curtain doco which looks back over the third Doctor's tenure is sensitively handled and all the better for it.

Extras: Commentary, docos, reminiscences, an omnibus edition of the story and the usual informative subtitles make this a superior two disc release

Rating: 7/10 

No Strings Attached: Blu Ray Review

No Strings Attached: Blu Ray Review

No Strings Attached
Rating: R16
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

Natalie Portman heads into lighter comedic territory with this sex buddy romcom.

She stars as Emma, a girl who's known Kutcher's Adam for several years. Adam has always liked her but the pair never quite got together.

But years later, the pair meet up again and decide to embark on a "friends with benefits" relationship.

However, the inevitable rears its head and Adam wants more but Emma is happier in her no strings attached lifestyle....are they destined to never be a couple?

No Strings Attached isn't half bad - given you already know the ending - and most of it is due to the humour and performance of Portman.

With occasionally crude moments, but plenty of laughs and a script which sparkles with one liners throughout, there's certainly enough to get you engaged - and keep you there.

Extras: Deleted scenes, commentary, docos

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Inbetweeners: Series one: DVD Review

The Inbetweeners: Series one: DVD Review

The Inbetweeners Series 1
Rating:R16
Released by Roadshow and Hopscotch

A brilliantly scabrous and scatological comedy about a quartet of teenage boys and their misadventures in suburbia, this six part series is hilarious.

Simon Bird stars as gawky kid Will McKenzie, who's just moved into the area and has gone from private school to comprehensive; to make matters worse, he ends up befriending a trio of misfits who're sex obsessed, intellectually lacking and socially backward.

But you can't choose your friends...

Funny, crude, shocking and a perfect peek into teen boy mentality, there's much to love about the Inbetweeners - from bunking off to hitting an amusement park, the episodes are perfectly formed, incisively observed and dangerously addictive.

There's another 2 series to go after this and the excitement of a film as well - so jump in now - just make sure your parents aren't watching&.

Extras: Commentary by writers and cast, video diaries, the making of and deleted scenes

Rating: 8/10 

An Idiot Abroad: Blu ray review

An Idiot Abroad: Blu ray review

An Idiot Abroad
Rating: M
Released by Roadshow and BBC

A travel doco with an Englishman who hates the idea of being abroad.

Sounds intriguing but that's what this 8 part series is about - and stars Karl Pilkington who some will know as the third member of the comedy triumvirate who include Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

Essentially the show's premise is Ricky Gervais insisting Pilkington check out the Seven Wonders of the World and watching him struggle to cope with new cultures, situations and people.

The highlights are the trips to India where Pilkington pushes his insane theories about people to the limit; and China. The locations look stunning on HD on the BluRay release and it's all the better for it.

Pilkington's sense of wonder and skewed view of the world is very Little Englander abroad but it's frequently responsible for reducing this reviewer to tears of laughter.

Extras: Preview show, deleted scenes and photogallery

Rating: 7/10  

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures: S3 - DVD Review

The Sarah Jane Adventures: S3 - DVD Review

The Sarah Jane Adventures Season 3
Rating: PG
Released by BBC and Roadshow

A sci fi series aimed at the kids (but watched by many an adult thanks to the acting and storywriting) this latest season of the spin off series from Dr Who continues to be as fun and thought provoking as the previous ones.

A series of five two part adventures, this pacily written and sharply directed series is a joy from beginning to end; and the added bonus of this season is that it marks the final appearance of David Tennant's 10th Doctor.

Monsters from the 2005 revived series make an appearance and it's a welcome touch to cross over the two series. Coupled with some impressive child acting and Elisabeth Sladen's talents, the series is over all too quickly.

This latest release comes shortly after the sad passing of fan fave Elisabeth Sladen which adds a further poignancy to this - the only disappointment is a relative lack of extras.

Rating: 7/10

True Grit: Blu Ray Review

True Grit: Blu Ray Review

True Grit
Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent

Jeff Bridges stars as Rooster Cogburn in this Coen Bros helmed remake of the 1969 Western which originally starred John Wayne.
Cogburn's a one-eyed US Marshall who's charged by Hailee Steinfeld's teenaged Mattie Ross to bring her father's killer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) to justice.

Initially reticent, Cogburn takes on the job - and ends up teaming up with Texas Ranger La Beouf (Matt Damon) who's also tracking Chaney.

The three of them head out on the trail - with Ross determined to make sure Cogburn brings her father's killer home to face justice rather than see him swing in Texas (La Beouf's wishes).

But when Mattie accidentally stumbles across Chaney, the quest suddenly becomes deadly.

True Grit is a straight forward Western, which while sublime in places may not appeal to everyone.

Bridges and Damon are good but all in honesty, they're acted off the screen by Steinfeld, whose performance is astoundingly star making. Her Mattie is precocious, head strong and described by one character as "hard as nails". And yet once or twice, when the bravado slips, Steinfeld brings to the role a steely vulnerability and a humanity which it's hard not to warm to - or be impressed by - it's
a star making turn and one of the best reasons to see this film.

Extras: Plenty of behind the scenes, casting, trailer, doco about the writer - a good solid bunch.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tangled: Blu Ray Review

Tangled: Blu Ray Review

Tangled
Released by Disney
Rating: PG

It's Disney's 50th animated film.

And to celebrate, they're rolling out an animated version of Rapunzel for the small screen.

Mandy Moore stars as the erstwhile long haired princess Rapunzel, who's trapped in the tower by the evil Gothel (Donna Murphy). You see, Gothel knows that Rapunzel's hair has the power to turn back time and make people young again - and in true evil, godmother fashion she wants to keep that power all for her own.

However, as Rapunzel reaches her 18th birthday, she decides what she wants to do to celebrate is to leave the tower and see the lights which appear every year without fail on her birthday. (Unbeknownst to her, those lights are floating lanterns, launched by her parents as they try to find her.)

Gothel says no - but Rapunzel (and her pet chameleon Pascal) finds her life changed by the arrival of thief Flynn Rider (Chuck's Zachary Levi) who is looking for a hideout.

Flynn is coerced into helping - and together, the duo set off into the kingdom

Tangled is a good ole fashioned Disney film - with songs within minutes of opening (complete with catchy lyrics such as 'Don't risk the drama, stay with Mama' and 'I could be called deadly from my killer show medley') it's clearly aimed at provoking a bit of nostalgia within the audience.

But there's a sharp deftness to the script which sees it veer from being a little too old fashioned - and it's enlivened by great performances from Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore who give their characters a real boost from their subtle vocal tones.

Good family fun and a sign that old school simple story telling are still the Disney fortes and trademarks.

Extras: A 2 disc blu ray packs in deleted scenes, storybook openings, extended songs, making of and a 50th feature - as well as a DVD version of the film too

Rating: 8/10  


Friday, 24 June 2011

Bad Teacher: Movie Review

Bad Teacher: Movie Review

Bad Teacher
Rating: 4/10
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch
Director: Jake Kasdan
You'd think a raunchy comedy involving Cameron Diaz as an apathetic, pot smoking, drinking and uncaring teacher would be a natural sequel to Billy Bob Thornton's Bad Santa.
But I'm sorry to say this film is probably about as far away from that as you can get.
Diaz plays Elizabeth Halsey, a just retired teacher at a school, who's dumped by her fiancee after she's accused of gold digging by her would be mom-in-law. So facing a lack of cash and determined to get $10,000 for a boob job so she can net a sugar daddy, Halsey heads back to middle school and tries to cruise by and simply earn the cash she needs for surgery.
When Justin Timberlake's Scott Delacorte starts up as a supply teacher alongside Elizabeth, she senses he's got a bit of cash to splash and an inheritance to dig her claws into.
But what she's not reckoned with is Lucy Punch's uptight co-worker and all round do gooder teacher Amy Squirrel whose natural perkiness (both physically and on the job) just seems to get up Halsey's nose....
Throw into the mix Jason Segel's gym teacher, Russell who's got a crush on Halsey and it's a case of problems ahoy in the classroom.
Vulgar and crude can work - and in some parts of this film, it is laugh out loud funny as the foulest things come out of sweet looking Cameron Diaz's mouth - but there's little else on show in this "comedy" which exploits Diaz's sleazy looks and body for "laughs". (There's even a scene with Diaz wearing very short shorts and hosing herself down at a charity car wash while a rock song plays loudly in the background.)
Don't get me wrong, this has its moments and Segal, Diaz and Timberlake get by on the screen but the laughs in this flat comedy are few and far between - sure, there are some great one liners which cause mirth but it's not enough to get you through the film without it feeling like it's sagging. Diaz works as hard as she can but she can't save it - and really, who's rooting for a dumped, disdainful and selfish character whose prime motivation is simply a boob job....?

By now, you've probably come to the conclusion that I'm a prude with no sense of humour;I'd like to strongly assure you that is not so but I did end up feeling like Bad Teacher was a really missed opportunity; sure for the teen audience, and mainly young lads, this is probably high on their watching list.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

My Afternoons with Margueritte: Movie Review

My Afternoons with Margueritte: Movie Review

My Afternoons with Margueritte
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Gerard Depardieu, Gisele Casadesus
Director: Jean Becker
Gerard Depardieu stars in this gently Gallic rustic piece about friendship.
He plays Germain Chazes a man who starts the film kicking down a door after being ripped off for doing a job.
On a walk back home he meets Margueritte (Casadesus) a kindly old lady and a friendship is slowly born through a shared book and a love of stories, as well as feeding the local pigeons.
My Afternoons with Margueritte is a gentle and pleasant piece which is as breezy as a summer cloud.
It's a sweet piece about the regrets of the past - Depardieu, looking incredibly portly and like Obelix from the French comics, is affable and loveable enough as he negotiates a monstrous mother who along with school has held him back for years as various flashbacks explain. Equally his friendship with Casadesus is easy and understandable as they continue to meet - it contrasts nicely with the harsh ribbing he takes from friends at a local cafe.

There's a sweet vibe to this film which wafts you along with it in a very simple way. It may not be the most memorable of pieces but it's certainly uplifting and heart warming as it plays out before you.

Cars 2: Movie Review

Cars 2: Movie Review

Cars 2
Rating: 7/10
Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro
Director: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
So, Lightning McQueen (Wilson) and his pal Mater (Larry The Cable Guy) return in this sequel to the 2006 smash about animated cars.
This time round, there's more racing mixed in with a heavy side of industrial espionage.
When McQueen's goaded into taking part in the World Grand Prix by the flashy racing car Francesco (Turturro), he pulls together a team to help him win the day. On that team is hillbilly tow truck and long term friend Mater. But through a series of mix ups, Mater finds himself involved in Finn McMissile (Caine) and his quest to break an industrial spy ring.
And that causes rifts between the two friends - can the rocky road to winning bring them back together in this global adventure?
Let me preface this review by saying there's an absolutely brilliant short before this main event - and it's the return of Woody, Buzz and the gang in Hawaiian Vacation, wherein Ken and Barbie are left behind and the toys do their best to give them a Hawaiian holiday so the pair can share their first kiss. The short packs more laughs per frame than anything I've seen this year and it's just joyous - long may those shorts continue.
Ok, so that out of the way, let's zoom back to Cars 2.
I'll begin by saying there's nothing wrong with this sequel - it's bright, it's flashy and its animation is once again top notch (particularly the absolutely incredible global backgrounds which are brought to life)- and it's great entertainment for the young (and admittedly the young at heart.)
But I felt a little let down at the end of it - the adventures of Mater take top billing and sideline McQueen to the pitstop and I think in some ways, that's where it lacks a little heart and warmth as you'd come to expect from a Pixar flick. The film's very much a derring do tale of spies and espionage - even Finn McMissile is an Aston Martin (James Bond anyone?) and the opening sequence with McMissile on an oil rig is clearly an homage to the opening stunts and pre-title madness of all the Bond films in the franchise.
While those are great and showcase the most brilliant of animation, it suffers a little from a lack of comedy as it treads the usual "embarassed by my buddy abroad" and "Culture clash" ground. There are laughs and some smart visual gags here and there, but I think this one's more aimed at the younger end (and the kids at the screening loved it) than the whole gamut as other Pixar films are wont to do.
Caine is a great addition to the group and I'd welcome him back for more as he brings a suave appeal to his Finn character; McQueen's not as self absorbed as the first film and Mater really plays to the hillbilly tendencies.

Don't get me wrong - Cars is still very good Pixar entertainment but it's a little ADD as it zips between stories but racing sequences are stunning and come vividly to life because of the 3D - it's just a shame this family viewing suffers from a lack of 3D in its characters which would have seen this winter blockbuster race ahead of the competition. (That's enough car related puns now, methinks).

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Black Swan: Blu Ray Review

Black Swan: Blu Ray Review

Black Swan
Rating:R16
Released by 20th Century Fox and Roadshow

It's the film which won an Oscar and Golden Globes for Natalie Portman's portrayal of a ballet dancer.

And it's still as confounding as on its initial release earlier this year.

Set in New York, this latest from The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky follows a ballet company which is about to put on a new version of Swan Lake.

Portman plays Nina Sayers, a control freak of a dancer who's pushed herself as far as she can go for her role; with an obsessive desire to be part of the new production, she's gone right to the physical edge for the role of the Black Swan.

As Sayers starts to work on loosening up and getting in touch with her darker side, she forms a friendship with fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis). But as the show draws ever closer and she tries to channel the deeper more disturbed Black Swan, Nina's world starts to fall apart amid jealousy and paranoia.

Black Swan is astounding, confounding, audacious, confusing and compelling viewing in equal parts.

It's a dizzying head trip of a film at times lead by Portman's Sayers; she captures the fragility and the delicateness of the physicality of the dancing role as well as the mental tone too.

Still a spellbinding watch Black Swan demands your attention and that's no bad thing.

Rating: 8/10 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sherlock: Series one: Blu ray review

Sherlock: Series one: Blu ray review

Sherlock Series One
Rating: M
Released by BBC and Roadshow

A new Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century?

Didn't Robert Downey Jr already do that on film last year?

Well, he did - but to be honest, he never reached the heights of this brilliant 3 parter from the team who helped with the reinvention of Dr Who, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and a BAFTA award winning Martin Freeman as Watson, this is compelling viewing from the get go as it takes Holmes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books and updates him to the 21st century crime world of London.

This Holmes though is somewhat of a sociopath; he consults with Scotland Yard as a hobby because he has little else in life to keep him intellectually involved; so when Watson, a former army doctor ends up meeting Holmes, the pair become allies - albeit unlikely ones as they investigate a clutch of cases in London.

Over the course of three 90 minute stories, this modern day new version shines through - even though the second story isn't as compelling as those either side of it. And it's the writing, the clever visual touches and the brilliance of the main duo which make it so spinechillingly good.

Perhaps the highlight though is the third tale which introduces Holmes' nemesis and ends on a cliffhanger that you're screaming at the screen when the credits come up.

Clever, smart and confoundingly enjoyable, this is a Sherlock to love - and thank goodness more is on the way.

Extras: Commentary from creators, unaired pilot and a making of - a decent bunch

Rating: 8/10 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Conspirator: Movie Review

The Conspirator: Movie Review

The Conspirator

Rating: 6/10

Cast:
James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Kevin Kline

Director: Robert Redford

Back to the time of Lincoln's assassination for this very familiar tale of a lawyer torn between duty and a client who may be innocent but facing charges which will see her hanged.

McAvoy stars as Frederick Aiken, a returned Union war hero who's now working as legal counsel as they all cope with the aftermath of events following the assassination of US President Lincoln at Ford Theatre.

Seven men and one woman, Mary Surratt (Wright) are arrested for the murder and conspiracy and Aiken is given the job of defending Surratt of the charges.

But despite initial reticence to defend her, believing it's abhorrent to all he holds dear, Aiken soon begins to realise that she is innocent and fights tooth and nail to ensure she lives.

However, it appears the odds are against them.

An historical drama this may be but in many ways, it's a very traditional run of the mill legal drama; the tenets of every John Grisham style drama are there; the client who's being framed, the young lawyer who doesn't want the case but realises it's his chance to shine - they're all on hand.

And yet thanks to a masterful cast; particularly McAvoy and Wright's Surratt whose  demure outlook makes you empathise with her from the get go; this film is watchable - even if it does fall into the worthy but dull category at times.

In many ways, it feels like you're watching a play with a cast who're acting their socks off but following a legal drama adaptation. Redford's direction doesn't bring a lot of life to the story (he even uses a series of montages of paper headlines at one stage) but it's a well told conspiracy story which doesn't quite reach the heights it aspires to.

The Green Lantern: Movie Review

The Green Lantern: Movie Review

The Green Lantern
Rating: 4/10
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Taika Waititi, Temuera Morrison
Director: Martin Campbell
So another superhero franchise looks to take flight.
This time, it's the turn of the Green Lantern to try and sprinkle box office magic and ensure a future for the series.
Ryan Reynolds is cock sure pilot Hal Jordan, who despite his plucky exterior and all American clean cut image, is scarred by daddy issues, having seen his pops blown to pieces when a flight went wrong.
Jordan finds himself chosen by a green light one day (I know - bear with me) after an alien from the Green Lantern corp - a sort of green wearing space police - finds himself dying on the earth.
You see, the corp is trying to fight Parallax, an entity so evil it intends to wipe out the universe and take vengeance on the Green Lanterns, threatening the balance of power and tipping it in evil's favour.
So, Jordan is whisked off to another world to begin his training under the likes of Sinestro (Mark Strong) the leader of the corp; but he soon finds out the threat from Parallax is bigger than any of them could ever have believed.
The Green Lantern is an FX heavy slightly off kilter attempt at launching the franchise. It lacks a real emotional centre and has some completely absurd dialogue thrown in for good measure. Apparently, green is the universal colour for will and yellow is the universal colour for fear. So now you know.
And yet, it's not the massive failure you may expect having seen the very underwhelming trailer; Reynolds is very watchable as Hal and brings a level of performance which is engaging and believable; similarly for his role as Sinestro, Strong (one of the best character actors around) brings the gravitas to the mentor. Blake Lively continues her ascent from Gossip Girl, playing a ball busting pilot and business woman and Taika Waititi cracks a few lines here and there as Jordan's engineer friend.
But the problem with the Green Lantern lies with the evil side of the story; Peter Sarsgaard's Hector Hammond, who's Jordan's nemesis and infected by Parallax early on, seems to simply become the equivalent of Frankenstein's monster as he lumbers around the screen, howling and becoming the Jekyll character. Sure there are jealousy and daddy issues for him to deal with, but it's a one note performance from Sarsgaard which doesn't deliver by any stretch of the imagination.
As for the Parallax creature, a sort of grey Teletubby sun with tentacles, there are some reasonable FX shots and some quite clearly rushed effects as well; and when it comes to dispatching the baddie, it's fairly easily done by Jordan - and quite why these super efficient space cops couldn't do it, is a little beyond me. That said, the end hints at another outing for Jordan et al.
All in all, I don't think The Green Lantern has enough to really stand out in the superhero crowd; it lacks the grittiness of a Batman, the everyman appeal of a Superman and the fun offered up by this year's Thor.

It's by no means a major disappointment; it's just it could have done with a little smarter scripting, a bit more time in post production and then this generically produced light could have shined a little brighter.

Bridesmaids: Movie Review

Bridesmaids: Movie Review

Bridesmaids
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm, Chris O'Dowd
Director: Paul Feig
From its opening sex scene and with the first words being spoken being about cupping a part of the anatomy, you can tell Bridesmaids is going to tread lightly.
Wiig plays Annie, lifelong friend to Maya Rudolph's Lillian. Annie's a bit of a self saboteur; her bakery business went down the drains and she's got low self esteem from one night stands with Hamm's sleazy Ted.
She's not heading anywhere fast - and when Lillian reveals she's getting married, Annie's given the role of maid of honour.
However, as she begins to plan the wedding, she runs into the social circle of Lillian's friends; one of whom, Helen (Rose Byrne) becomes her nemesis.
So a rivalry is formed - and despite Annie's best attempts, the disagreements and resentment threaten her place in her best friend's wedding...
Bridesmaids is the best kind of R rated film - raucously funny and really rude in places.
From producer Judd Apatow, you'd be expecting something a little close to the edge - but what actually transpires is probably one of the best examples of an all female led frat pack.
There's a series of set pieces here; an awful dinner which leads to a wedding fitting which ends in the worst possible way; a trip to Vegas that sees the girls thrown off the plane; it's some pretty funny stuff - and in a very unexpected way.
Kristen Wiig (who co-wrote this) is the star of the show; with her natural comic timing and some hilarious dialogue and scenes, she's now finally a star in her own right (after years of honing it on Saturday Night Live); Rose Byrne is also good as the rival and Chris O'Dowd (from the IT Crowd) shines through as a cop who's also a nice guy.
The representation of female rivalry and one upmanship is perfectly captured in the screenplay and while it occasionally reaches hysterical heights, it always feels real - mainly thanks to the persona and acting of Kristen Wiig who clearly is bound for great things.
Of the fellow Bachelorettes, not many of them stand out - perhaps the best (and recipient of the worst treatment during the wedding fitting) is Melissa McCarthy's Megan. In this she's the female equivalent of Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover - and she gets some of the best (and crudest) lines.

Sure, it's not going to be to everyone's tastes but to be honest, Bridesmaids is an unexpectedly good treat; it's crude enough for the boys to enjoy and accurate enough for the women to steal some guilty pleasure from too.

The Reluctant Infidel: Movie Review

The Reluctant Infidel: Movie Review

The Reluctant Infidel

Rating: 7/10

Cast:
Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Matt Lucas, Archie Panjabi

UK comedian Djalili stars as Muslim Mahud Nasir, a Muslim who doesn't always follow the tenets and commands of his faith.

After his mother's death, Nasir discovers that he's actually adopted by Muslims and was born a Jew.

So with that identity crisis, Nasir sets out to find his real father and finds himself on a journey into the Jewish faith - at the same time of this deeply personal crisis, his son is due to marry and needs his father to embrace his Muslim faith to impress their would be father in law&.

The Reluctant Infidel is cross cultural comedy at its very best - and occasionally at its most predictable.

That said, its pre credits sequence packs in more humorous moments than some comedy films ever manage to cram in during their entire running time.

But it's with its star Omid Djalili that this film triumphs - with a rotund appearance and everyman face, he's immediately identifiable and affable in the extreme. He manages to deliver some brilliant one liners and deal with some broad based comedy of misunderstandings as well.

David Baddiel's script sizzles with smarts and farce in equal measures; but it creaks a little towards the end - some may be put off by the subject matter but it's sensitively handled and ultimately preaches a message of tolerance.

The Reluctant Infidel is a sharp satirical piece which is at its heart, a old fashioned British comedy - with a fantastically funny lead.

Dr Who: Revisitations 2 - DVD Review

Dr Who: Revisitations 2 - DVD Review

Dr Who - Revisitations 2
Rating: PG
Released by BBC and Roadshow

The second set of remastered classic Doctor Who releases collects together 1960s tale The Seeds of Death, 1970s The Carnival of Monsters and the 1980s Dalek tale, Resurrection of the Daleks.

As the original series of DVD releases near an end, it's inevitable some of the earlier releases would be put out again given they didn't have the wealth of extras and weren't as polished as the later releases have become.

It's almost as if the BBC knew there would be a degree of cynicism about this trio of releases because the extras lavished on the sets are quite simply excellent and worth the money alone.

The stories themselves are a decent bunch and showcase some of the best and worst of the show - it's great to see the Ice Warriors and Daleks back and there's something curious about the technicolour spectacle which is Carnival of Monsters.

But the effort which has gone into the remastering and the wealth of docos is the main reason to cherish the Revisitations 2 set; the piece de resistance is an hour long doco presented by David Tennant (The 10th Doctor) looking at the time Peter Davison spent in the role as Dr Who No 5 - it's a solidly entertaining piece which picks up the tensions, restraints and the successes of the era.

I'll continue to welcome these Revisitations Sets as long as the wealth of special features on this six disc set continues to be as excellent as this latest outing.

Rating: 8/10 

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Motorstorm Apocalypse: Game Review

Motorstorm Apocalypse: Game Review

Motorstorm Apocalypse
Released by Sony
Platform: PS3
Back to the heady world of racing we go - this time though, with a mix of motion comics and street racing.
But essentially this is street racing with an ever changing environment requiring you to adapt and lose the race.
Set against the backdrop of Apocalypse's MotorStorm Festival, you race as one of three participants, labelled Mash "The Rookie", Tyler "The Pro", and Big Dog "The Veteran"; across a series of terrains and a growing number of bikes, cars, trucks et al.
But as the races progress, the difficulty level increases; and the cityscapes you race around change as they begin to crumble and fall apart in keeping with the apocalyptic tone of the game.
Motorstorm Apocalypse is an all right sort of racing game; graphically, it's an odd mix using motion comics to tell the story is akin to watching an anime cross with a Gorillaz video; but when it comes to the gameplay, there's little radical on show. Sure you get to boost around the track but have to soon realize that could lead to over heating and explosions; so that means any acceleration has to be done in small bursts to ensure you make it to the end of the track in a qualifying position.
Sadly there's no in game map making it difficult to gauge where your competitors are - which makes it somewhat tricky to plan manoeuvres or any kind of race track strategy.
Disposable fun Motorstorm Apocalypse it may be - and an addition of multiplayer adds to an element of fun and competition- but once you complete the tracks, there's little incentive or reward to go back and finish first and claim anything - other than bragging rights.

Rating: 7/10 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Lovely, Still: Movie Review

Lovely, Still: Movie Review

Lovely, Still
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott
Director: Nicholas Fackler
Set against a backdrop of Christmas, this is the story of Martin Landau's Robert, an elderly gent who's working in a supermarket and who lives alone.
One day, he meets Mary (Burstyn) and spurred on by the potential for romance, the pair begin to date.
And that's really all I can say about the plot of this film - as you really don't want to know too much more about it to be honest.
Fackler's created a wondrous piece which will leave some on the verge of tears and may even melt the most cynical of hearts as this romantic tale plays out - but it's in the casting where he's really triumphed; both leads have wonderfully expressive faces, etched with the lines of life, hopes, regret and possibility. Theirs is a courtship of confusion, simplicity and above all heart.
Landau is an absolute stand-out as Robert; scenes of him asking his shop manager for help about going on a date, coupled with close up shots of his daily routine in front of the mirror are quirky, different and engaging from the get go. Coupled with Burstyn, there's a warmth and ease to both their performances which will have you thinking about grandparents, parents and lost loved ones as the story plays out. Throw in some solid support from Banks and particularly Scott, and this story is a compelling watch from beginning to end (even if you are a little cynical, it's hard not to be won over).
Suffice to say there is a twist in this tale of old love and it's one which really whips the carpet out from under your viewing eyes and demands you watch again to pick up the intricacies of the plot - but in this day and age of instant gratification and visual satisfaction, it's commendable to see story comes first.

Tugging at the heartstrings and leaving you with a warm glow, Lovely, Still is a perfect two hander, beautifully played and engaging; it's also one which will command you curl up with your loved one afterwards.

The Fighter: Blu Ray review

The Fighter: Blu Ray review

The Fighter
Rating: R16
Released by Roadshow Entertainment

Based on a true story, Mark Wahlberg stars as Micky Ward, a boxer who's living in the shadow of his older brother Dicky Eklund (a wonderfully wiry and sparky, Golden Globe and Oscar award winning Christian Bale.) Eklund is the pride of Lowell, Massachusetts; a boxer who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard, he's the celeb of the working class town.

However, Eklund is racked with addiction to crack cocaine and is dragging the family down - as well as his brother's hopes of staging some kind of fighting revival. Plus along with the fearsome matriarch of the nine strong family, Alice (a ferocious Golden Globe and Oscar award winning Melissa Leo) in charge of their careers, Micky is going nowhere fast.

So when Micky meets Amy Adams' Charlene, a local bartender college drop out, a tender romance develops and Micky begins to start to believe in himself and his ability again.

This is a knock out of a film which pulls no punches.

But it's the ensemble cast which gives this true story a human feel and raise it well above the mire of a clich├ęd boxing film.

Christian Bale is astoundingly good as Eklund, a sinewy frame supporting a "can't take your eyes off him" performance. There's energy and world class acting on show here as the small town hero who was on the cusp of having it all but blows it for the cycle of addiction.

Yet, while Bale's great, thanks to the sensible and restrained direction of David O Russell, it doesn't detract from the rest of the cast - specifically Mark Wahlberg, whose subtly underplayed performance is the perfect antithesis to Bale's sparky energy. He's an assured presence here and conveys the torment of realizing the family's holding him back and the pain of having to try and make that clean break.

Extras: Director, Filming the Fighter and deleted scenes

Rating: 9/10 

The King's Speech: Blu ray review

The King's Speech: Blu ray review

The King's Speech
Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Pictures

Colin Firth stars as Prince Albert aka the soon to be King George VI and Bertie, who's crippled by a stammer. With the health of his father failing and the second World War looming, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) decides Bertie needs help.

So, after doctors fail him and other therapists come up short, she finds a potential salvation in the shape of Aussie Lionel Logue (a brilliant Geoffrey Rush), an alternative and maverick therapist.

But with the death of his father, the forced abdication of Edward and the looming Second World War, Bertie soon finds it'll be his words which will inspire the Commonwealth.

The King's Speech is, quite simply, marvellous.

A brilliant crowd pleaser, with a script liberally peppered with dry wit and humour, along with some stunning turns from Firth and Rush, it's a riveting watch from beginning to end.

Colin Firth swept to glory with this performance but his role as the monarch to be is mesmerizingly good. The frustration Albert clearly feels in his inability to speak is etched perfectly on his face - and not once do you feel Firth is over egging the role. In fact, it's his restrained turn that may have you doubled with nerves as you will him to speak every single word when he's struggling.

Simply the unmissable crowd pleasing film of 2011, which will leave you lost for words.

Extras: A wealth of extras which are welcomed; commentaries, interview with Lionel Logue's grandson and a Q&A with the stars are just some of the best

Rating: 9/10 

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Green Hornet: Blu ray review

The Green Hornet: Blu ray review

The Green Hornet
Rating: M
Released by Sony Home Pictures

Seth Rogen stars as Britt Reid, the playboy wastrel - his father (Tom Wilkinson) runs a newspaper empire and has never really had much time for his son; he even goes so far as to dispense such bon mots as "Trying doesn't matter if you always fail."

So it's no wonder that Britt isn't exactly the life leader his dad expects.

One day after a party, Britt comes home to find his father dead and suddenly, he has the empire to run. With a resentful attitude, Britt sets about doing what little he can to keep the workload to a minimum.

However, one night, teaming up with dad's former associate Kato (Jay Chou), the pair inadvertently find themselves fighting muggers and kicking some ass.

At the same time, a local crimelord Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) is keeping the city in his vicelike grip and that spurs Britt into taking on the crims at their own game.

Thus The Green Hornet is born...

The Green Hornet has its tongue firmly in its cheek.

It's also brash, loud, over bearing, funny, entertaining and messy in equal measures.

There's humour in the fight scenes between Kato and Hornet with one long sequence resembling something from the Three Stooges. And there's even echoes of Benny Hill in one early scene.
If anything, Green Hornet is about the banter between Rogen and Chou as their jealous, bitchy bromance partnership grows. Because certainly the likes of the characters played by Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz are pretty much wasted and do little but serve to move the narrative along.

Which is a shame.

Overall, The Green Hornet is a bit of checking your brain at the door kind of fun.

Extras: Gag Reel, Commentary, making the film and a couple of exclusives for the Blu Ray release

Rating: 6/10 

Unstoppable: Blu Ray review

Unstoppable: Blu Ray review

Unstoppable
Rating: M
Released by 20th Century Fox and Roadshow

A hero with a buzz cut, a runaway vehicle and the potential for disaster.

Haven't we heard that somewhere before? Well, that and Denzel Washington in another Tony Scott train film too&.

In this latest from Tony Scott, Chris Pine stars as Will Colson, a newbie in the rail industry - and one who, according to older work colleagues has gained his position as a conductor on the rails in rural Pennsylvania because of nepotism.

Denzel is Frank Barnes, a long time employee of the rail roads who's seen it all before and is now just doing his job and training Colson.

However, their spiky training run is broken by the news another train's broken loose and thundering on the tracks, complete with a chemical payload and no driver because of an accidental mess up from a fellow employee Dewey (Ethan Suplee).

As the owner of the railway tries to work out how best to avert the disaster of a train ploughing into civilization, Barnes and Colson work with yardmaster Connie (ever dependable Rosario Dawson) to try and save the day.

Apparently inspired by true events, Unstoppable is actually better than the premise makes it sound - and thanks to some restrained directing from Tony Scott, it's actually more watchable than you'd believe.

Sure, there's plenty of swooping, circling aerial camera shots and continuous angled camera moments as the train continues on its path of destruction; but Unstoppable also throws in some decent characters and some commentary about old timers being forced out of jobs for young upstarts who know nothing of the industry

Thanks to Scott's assured leadership, this train stays firmly on the tracks - and destined for entertainment.

Rating: 7/10 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

True Blood Series 3: Blu ray review

True Blood Series 3: Blu ray review

True Blood Series 3
Rating: R18
Released by Warner Home Video

The phenomenally popular True Blood continues to wow the audiences and critics with its Southern American blend of sex, supernatural and soap.

Picking up directly after the end of Season two which saw Stephen Moyer's vampire Bill disappear after proposing to Anna Paquin's Sookie, the action never really lets up.

Most of the season is consumed with Sookie's search for her kidnapped love and takes in werewolves into the mix as well as expanding the roles of the Vampire Queen and giving a more urgent feel to the vampire/ human conflict.

But the central mystery of the season is essentially concerning Sookie's real nature&

True Blood is a classy mix of the sleazy and the supernatural; with an ensemble cast who get everything right, this at times extremely soapy series hits it out of the park on every level thanks to tight writing, good episode cliffhangers, and smart acting.

Sure, it may not appeal to all thanks to its occasional gore and violence but for an extremely guilty pleasure, you can't go far wrong.

Extras: Commentaries, minisodes and cast and crew look at the werewolves; but the highlight is Snoop Dogg's OH Sookie video

Rating: 8/10 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Super 8: Movie Review

Super 8: Movie Review

Super 8
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney, Ron Eldard, Elle Fanning, AJ Michalka
Director: J J Abrams
Small town America - Ohio to be precise - in 1979: Following an incident at the town mill, young Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) is left bereft of a mother.
Joe's solution to cope with the loss is to throw himself into his friends' movie-making project; despite his police deputy father's insistence that once summer is done, it's off to camp for him.
When the group ends up filming their amateur zombie flick at a train station one night, their movie-making is rudely interrupted by a massive train crash, which they soon realise was not an accident.
To make matters worse, when the US Air Force move in with the might of the military and people start disappearing, they begin to suspect something is seriously wrong....and something nasty is loose in the town.
Battle lines are further drawn up when Deputy Lamb (a brilliantly grounded Kyle Chandler, who once again proves his steely everyman appeal) investigates, bringing him into direct conflict with Nelec from the US Air Force, who may have ulterior motives for looking into this case.
Super 8 is clearly a film that wears its influences on its sleeve - and those are many; the fact it's by Amblin Entertainment (Steven Spielberg's production company) shows all the way through - with the whole film having a feel of the Goonies, Stand By Me, ET, Close Encounters et al inevitably dripped throughout.
Yet, you really shouldn't be put off by the fact it's a film about an alien loose in small town America; at its heart Super 8 is a nostalgically tinged relationship film with broad strokes of tenderness brushed through.
There's a wonderful camaraderie between the young kids as they make their film - how Joe copes with the loss of his mother and falls in love for the first time with Alice (the prodigiously talented Elle Fanning) and plenty of intimately played character moments throughout.
Those are punctuated by the various attacks of the creature (the details of which I won't spoil too much here as it's best you make your own mind up over the effects) which are quite sharp, short, vicious and a little frightening for a younger audience.
Director JJ Abrams has clearly ended up making a real homage to Spielberg's films in many ways; the tension's eeked out incredibly well and there's the right amount of genuine humour throughout to cover the whole gamut.
That said, there are a couple of reasons why it misfires - perhaps, to my mind, the ultimate reveal of the creature falls a little short of your expectations, as most of its appearances early on are more effective, thanks to mere glimpses of it than any full reveal could ever hope to fulfil; there's also the feeling that some of the heavy symbolism could have been reined in somewhat to have a little more impact (Joe carries a locket from his mum and every time he's in danger, the camera annoyingly focuses on it) and the finale is a little muddled, mawkish and sentimental - but then, what would you expect from a film with Spielberg's influences at play?

Overall though, Super 8 is a great piece of winter entertainment with some beautifully played intimate human moments; if Abrams had pulled back a little on the influences and symbolism and added a bit more subtlety, this ride would have been perfect; as it is though, it's one of the better thrills of the year.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

X Men First Class: Movie Review

X Men First Class: Movie Review

X Men First Class
Rating: 6/10
Cast: James McAvoy, January Jones, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Matthew Vaughn
So once more back into the X Men breach - and a third attempt at an origins film.
This time though it's from the minds who brought us the truly wonderful Kick Ass.
James McAvoy stars as Charles Xavier, a gifted young man whose life is decided by the altruistic path he forges in nurturing mutant kind and uttering the word "Groovy" as the 1960s progress.
Directly idealogically opposite him is Erik Lehnsherr (a brilliant Michael Fassbender) whose youth is defined by his tortuous treatment as a Jew in the Nazi concentration camps at the hands of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).
So Erik sets out to hunt Shaw down and kill him - but when Shaw threatens to bring the world to its knees via nuclear war, Erik and Xavier join forces - along with other newly discovered mutants to try to avert a potential world war three.
What to say about X Men First Class?
Well it's better than some of the more recent entrants into the franchise but it's no massive progression for the series to be frank.

It's more a case of the film once again attempting to restart and reboot the franchise and managing to do so in a somewhat at times limp way - so fanboys of this particular genre be aware...
However, there are some truly impressive things within this latest mutant outing.
Firstly Kevin Bacon's Shaw is startlingly good - Bacon's really delivered the acting goods here with menace mixed with charm as well as incredible screen presence. His is the stand out performance of the film without a shadow of a doubt.

Fassbender and McAvoy also deliver the goods but it's Fassbender who is the better actor bringing a dash of danger to the future Magneto as he heads off on his Bond like quest of vengeance; McAvoy's performance is crippled a little by his character's penchant for spouting pompous dialogue and putting two fingers to his forehead every time he uses his telepathy. In fact it's when these two's relationship is explored on screen you get the better film as you know what's to transpire further down the line.
But some impressive effects are hobbled by virtue of the fact there are more shonky ones on display and on this front the film's somewhat let down.

Jennifer Lawrence impresses as the young Mystique and just about manages to convince us of the inner turmoil her character faces before going bad; Nicholas Hoult brings a tenderness to the character known as Beast but January Jones is simply there as eye candy and to do a slight twitching of the face a la Samantha from Bewitched when her telepath Emma Frost does her thing.
The Cuban missile crisis setting adds little to the plot and, like some of the film itself, is a missed opportunity

Overall, X Men First Class may impress some with its fine acting but fans of the X genre will be disappointed nothing radical is done (aside from some great fanboy pleasing cameos); the rest of us may feel it's time to give the X Men a rest - even though this is rumoured to be the start of a new trilogy. It's not a bad film as it goes and doesn't lag despite its 2 and a quarter hour running time but it's not exactly what you'd expect - or hope for - from a fifth outing from this particular genre.

Barney's Version: Movie Review

Barney's Version: Movie Review

Barney's Version
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Mark Addy, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Bruce Greenwood, Scott Speedman, Rachelle Lefevre

Director: Richard J Lewis
Based on Mordecai Richler's prize-winning comic novel, Barney's Version stars the ever wonderful Paul Giamatti as Barney Panofsky, a TV show producer who's in the twilight of his life.
He's the kind of guy who tells it like it is in places and doesn't suffer fools gladly - but he's prone to making errors in his life - as his numerous marriages display.
But as well as the multitude of highs, he reflects back on his lows too - including the death of his friend Boogie (Speedman) who mysteriously disappeared after an alcohol fuelled row with Barney and whose disappearance saw Barney pursued by the cops for murder.
Over four decades and three wives, we follow Barney and his relationships with lovers, children and occasionally work colleagues. The first ended in tragedy; the second ended when he fell in love with another woman on his wedding night and the third falls apart because of his own fallability.
Barney's Version is an odd sort of film; it meanders as Barney recalls parts of his life as he battles with a fatal illness towards the end. Perhaps that's some of the point of this film that it moves around and is told by an unreliable narrator; but it's an oddly cold kind of film which doesn't really engage on an emotional level.
Granted, there are some wonderfully comic touches and deft moments; and at the centre of it all, there's a ferocious tour de force from Giamatti himself; every emotion is etched on this sad sack's face (incidentally as an aside, if there were ever to be a Droopy Dog film, he would be the perfect jowly choice) and his on screen presence demands you watch. With great supporting performances from the likes of Hoffman as his Jewish dad and Rosamund Pike as the love of his life, you'd expect this to fire on all cylinders.



And yet, it's a strangely unmoving and emotionally detached piece, which doesn't quite hit the mark despite the wealth of talent involved - it's only because of Giamatti's truly sensational and masterful turn that I made it to the end of the film.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

RED: Blu Ray Review

RED: Blu Ray Review

RED
Released by Warner Bros
Rating: M

Call it The Grey Team.

Bruce Willis stars as retired former Black Ops CIA agent Frank Moses, who's spending his retirement days in a big house and phone flirting with pension worker Sarah (Mary Louise Parker).

One day and without warning, a hit squad breaks into his house and attempts to assassinate him - after thwarting their attempts on his life, Frank heads to Kansas to snatch Sarah from potential harm and to try and work out who's trying to kill him; and perhaps more importantly, why.

As the conspiracy begins to unwind, Moses ends up meeting up with former colleagues Joe (Freeman), Marvin (a deadpan Malkovich) and Victoria (Mirren) to try and establish what's going on.

But time's running out - and ruthless CIA Agent Cooper (a brilliant Karl Urban) edges ever closer to tracking them down.
What can you say about RED?

Adapted from a DC Comics series, the film wears its colours on its sleeve within the first 10 minutes as the hit squad goes through countless bullets and destroys Moses' house in perhaps the most explosive and destructive sequence committed to celluloid.

Yet, there's some things to really love about RED - principally, the wonderful performance of Karl Urban, who has grit, determination, steely cool and effortless screen presence; Mary Louise Parker who is long overdue a lead; Helen Mirren with a really big gun (finally putting to bed her image as an English stage dame) and John Malkovich for just out-performing most on the screen. There's also a very cool scene where Bruce jumps out of a spiralling cop car with all guns blazing which is true to the comic book world the film inhabits.

But these are some highs which are balanced by some lows - the plot sags after a while and you may struggle to be as emotionally invested in it as perhaps you should be. However, if you love guns, explosions and a slightly off-the-wall tongue in cheek kind of action film, you'll be happy.

Extras: Audio commentary, deleted scenes, insights, Trivia track

Rating: 6/10