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Archive for July, 2011

Marc from Go See Talk has asked a group of us to “imagine ourselves as bona fide Theatre owners” as such we have the opportunity to schedule a week’s worth of Double Features. This sounds simple, it isn’t! With no rules or criteria to limit us we could pick any two movies per day (three on Sunday). I went through several drafts choosing movies by genre, decade, actors, directors. In the end I decided to forgo an link from day to day, there is no direct connection between any of the movies, however they are chosen to play well together as well as been linked by genre, style or vibe.

Monday: Two Lane Blacktop (1971) – Vanishing Point (1971)

The early days and popularisation of cars and movies happened around the same time. For this reason the two have always been linked. That is why there is no surprise that America has been responsible for the biggest car culture and the biggest movie industry in the world. For that reason a brace of road movies is a perfect start to a week of double features, and they are two of my favourites.

Tuesday: Metropolis (1927) – Star Wars (1977)

There are two movies that probably changed science fiction more than any other, both the way they look and the way we see them. A perfect combination for a double feature.

Wednesday: Streets of Fire (1984) – Trouble in Mind (1985)

Neither fantasy nor reality, not past, present or future; Streets of Fire and Trouble in Mind are both set in a world almost like our own. With troubled and flawed antiheroes they are like comic books on the screen without the baggage of actually been based on a comic book. Two films that could only have been made in the 80’s.

Thursday: Some Like it Hot (1959) – Life of Brian (1979)

A little light relief is needed as we reach the hallway point of this week of double features. Are these the two best comedy movies of all time? They are certainly my two favourites, watch them and decide for yourself.

Friday: Run Lola Run (1988) – Donnie Darko (2001)

Two very different movies that play with time and perception, they also both proved to be breakout movies for their young stars.

Saturday: Mad Max (1979) – Doomsday (2008)

A film could be considered a work of art, but a movie is entertainment pure honest entertainment. Saturday night is a night for movies not films and the ultimate movie has to be Mad Max. The underrated and unappreciated Doomsday is like no movie you have ever seen, it is more like every movie you have ever seen.

Sunday: American Graffiti (1973) – Fandango (1984) – Dazed and Confused (1993)

If you are going to spend five or six hours watching three movies in a row you may as well enjoy yourself. For that reason I have picked three of my favourite nostalgic movies.

More Double Feature Theatre lists HERE

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There are some actors and actresses who are so good you look forward to seeing them in a movie even if you know nothing about the film itself. This in itself isn’t unusual but for me it applies to four actors who just a few years ago I had no idea who they were.

Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig is one who really snuck up on me, having made her name on Saturday Night Live (2005-2011) that I don’t watch (not sure if its on in the UK), the first time I saw her in a movie was a supporting role in Adventure land (2009) where along with he onscreen husband Bill Hader steels the show. Whip It (2009) again saw her take a supporting but memorable role. Her two movies this year Paul (2011) and Bridesmaids (2011) have seen her excel in large roles.

Vera Farmiga

With a film and TV career dating back to 1997 I first took notice of Vera Farmiga when I saw The Departed (2006) then kind of forgot her until Up in the Air (2009), were she shone alongside George Clooney and received a much deserved Academy Award nomination. In the last twelve months she has appeared in Henry’s Crime (2010) and Source Code (2011).

Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy is an interesting inclusion on the list as I have seen some of his earliest screen roles including: The TV mini series Band of Brothers (2001), Black Hawk Down (2001) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). More recently he was in Layer Cake (2004) and Rock Rolla (2008), despite these high profile appearances I didn’t really notice him until Bronson (2008), this was followed by a scene stealing performance in Inception (2010). Future projects include :Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011), Mad Max: Fury Road (2012) and the big one, The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender’s early résumé also includes Band of Brothers (2001) he followed this with numerous TV roles including the British supernatural show Hex (2004-2005). Following 300 (2006) you can’t get away from him with Eden Lake (2008), Hunger (2008), Fish Tank (2009), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Centurion (2010) and most recently X-Men: First Class (2011). Future films include yet another adaptation of Jane Eyre and Ridley Scott’s new Alien movie Prometheus (2012). He is also my top tip for a future James Bond.

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Last week I revealed how I had seen Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time. Just a week later thanks to ITV (they seem to be showing the whole series) I have now seen the second movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. So how does it compare? 

Harry Potter returns for a second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When students start turning up in a petrified state the finger is pointed first at Harry and then a member of staff. Harry and friends set to work solving the mystery and saving the school all the time dealing with the politics and class struggle within the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Taken on its own merits I actually think it is on a par with the first film, but when put into context it does however suffer for having a very similar plot to the first. I’m sure this isn’t a problem for the younger viewers. As previously mentioned I have already seen The Prisoner of Azkaban, and found that it worked as a stand alone movie, I don’t think this second movie would have held my interest had I not seen The Philosopher’s Stone last week. Like an episode of a long running TV show the movie has to balance its stand alone story, character development and ongoing story arc. On the whole the balance isn’t bad but it does take a long time to get to the main underlying plot, once we get there the other elements are relegated or even largely forgotten. The problems the first movie had with the expression on the passage of time are sorted out pretty well and the year in which the movie is set is relatively clearly defined.

The young actors have grown into their parts and are far less wooden the first movie and take centre stage. This results is that some of the older cast members are given less to do, this is a shame as Snape (Alan Rickman) and Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) remain the best characters. The addition of Kenneth Branagh as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart is welcome comic relief as he plays a complete buffoon to perfection. The one character who doesn’t work for me is Dobby the house elf, he is clearly one for the younger viewers, I found him really annoying, with too much Jar Jar Binks not enough Gollum. The Quiddich match is an unusual part of the movie. It doesn’t have a huge amount to do with the main plot but is a fun addition in its own right a little like the pod race in Star Wars: Episode I is feels shoehorned in but actually fits well. The scene also helps develop the relationship between Harry and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) that will clearly be important to the plot later on in the series. Despite having a similar budget to the first movie the effects are a little more polished and in the fantasy context of the movie add to the storytelling not detract or distract it.

In conclusion the best bits of this movie are probably better than the best bits of the first movie but on the whole it has nothing new to offer that we didn’t see last time. The story is going to have to develop further and introduce some surprises if it is going to keep my interest for another six movies. Having already seen part three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I am now interested in seeing it in context of the other films.

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In an average month I watch around ten movies at the cinema, during the summer months that number drops off dramatically as the big budget blockbusters take over. Big budget films need to make their money back, one way of achieving this is for larger multiplex’s to show them in multiple screens when they are newly released and at their most popular. This has become more noticeable this summer as so many movies are shown in both 2D and 3D. There have been times recently when four, five or even six screens are taken up by one film (my local cinema has 12 screens). So over the last few weeks what movies have bypassed my local cinema in favour of the bigger movies like: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Green Lantern; Transformers: Dark of the Moon? Here are a few movies that look interesting that I would probably have watched given the opportunity:

22nd July

The Big Picture (L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie)

“When a successful Parisian lawyer kills his wife’s lover his life takes an unexpected turn… for the better.”*

15th July

Cell 211

“Juan (Ammann) is about to start work as a prison guard and is taking a tour of a maximum security area when he is injured slightly in an accident and left behind as a riot breaks out. Juan convinces Malamadre (Tosar), the convicts’ leader, that he is a new inmate who has been beaten up by guards, and the two men become close as the crisis escalates.”*

Hobo With A Shotgun

“A nameless, homeless man (Rutger Hauer) drifts into a city dominated by a family of gangsters who have bought off all law enforcement and allow crime to run rampant. Finally sickened by the bad situation, the hobo takes a shotgun from a pawn shop and becomes a vigilante avenger.”*

Honey

“In a remote region of the eastern Black Sea, a young man searches for his missing, sick father.”*

Bobby Fischer Against the World

“The first documentary to explore the dramatic life of the late chess champion, Bobby Fischer.”*

08th July

Trust

“A fourteen year-old girl befriends a teenage boy online to later discover that he is an adult with sinister intentions.”*

Holy Rollers

“Sammy (Eisenberg) — an ultra-orthodox Jewish teenager — risks losing everything when his frustration with religion’s limitations gets the better of him. Lured into a drug-smuggling career by his shifty neighbour (Bartha), Sammy must go on the run, but will he ever redeem his soul?”*

Super

“When Frank D’Arbo’s (Wilson) wife leaves him for a psycho drug dealer (Bacon), his paralysing anger transforms him into DIY crime fighter, The Crimson Bolt. With his trusty sidekick, Boltie (Page), and a monkey wrench, he sets out to right society’s wrongs and gain revenge on the man who stole his wife.”*

24th June

Incendies

“Canadian twins Jean and Simon Marwal (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette) are summoned to the reading of their mother’s last will and testament. Her last request soon leads them to delve back into her violent past.”*

Has anyone seen these movies? What am I missing?

*All plot synopsis come from Empire.

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I don’t think I have ever made a secret of the fact I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I have nothing against the franchise I just haven’t seen the movies, nor have I read the books. I have seen the third movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this was the result of a rainy afternoon, my admiration of its director Alfonso Cuarón and the chance occurrence that I turned the TV on just as the movie was starting; It had nothing to do with the Potter Hype. So as the rest of the know universe is getting exited about The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I have just seen the first movie, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone for the first time. So what did I think?

I’m not going to review the movie in full, that has been done to death in the past decade, nor am I going to dwell to much on the synopsis, anyone reading this probably knows the film(s) much better than I do, so briefly: Harry Potter is an ordinary 11-year-old boy, orphaned at an early age he lives with his fairytale evil aunt and uncle. Despite the best efforts of his guardians Harry discovers that he is a wizard and is invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. What follows is a combination of magical adventure and pre-teen school drama.

The story is well told and well paced, the two and half hour running time is about right, it packs a lot in without outstaying its welcome, however the depiction of time is very poor. There is a cleaver device whereby the movie is set in the space of a single school year, I understand this comes directly from the source material. The problem is that there is little indication of the passage of time, this in itself is a minor issue but it does devalue development of the friendship of the three young protagonists in its most formative time.

The budget is believed to be around $125million, approximately half that of the later movies, the money is used well with pretty good special effects are, and decent sets, but the real success is the cast of first rate actors (including: Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Fiona Shaw, Richard Griffiths, Ian Hart, John Hurt, John Cleese, Alan Rickman, Zoë Wanamaker). The only drawback to this the quality of the supporting performances is such that it makes some of the acting from the child stars seem a little wooden at times, I am led to believe it gets better in later movies.

Having never read the books I don’t know how well it works as an adaptation but taken on its own merits it is a well crafted and enjoyable film that doesn’t insult younger viewers or bore older ones. On the whole it makes for an enjoyable film, if a little safe and predictable. I will be checking out the rest of series in the coming weeks.

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The Overthrow of 3D

I have never made any secret of my dislike of 3D movies. I don’t have any particular problem with them, I don’t get headaches from watching them as many viewers have reported, 3D movies are often so bright and colourful that the 35% loss of light caused by the Real D glasses has never been an issue, I just don’t see the point. Filmmakers who have been enchanted by the medium will argue that it is “more immersive” than 2D, what they don’t seem to realise that a good story is more immersive than a visual gimmick. To exacerbate the problem in a sort of 3D snobbery they refuse to use the horror gimmicks of things flying towards the audience, the one thing 3D does well. The real issue of 3D is the extra cost, charging extra for the 3D glasses is fine but actually charging more for just watching the movie makes no sense to me. The expensive infrastructure needed to show 3D was paid for by the success of Avatar. My local cinema (who charge between £4.50 and £6.85 to see a film depending on when you go) charge an extra £2.10 (£1.50 for Children) for a 3D movie and £0.80 for the 3D glasses. That makes it nearly £10 for a 3D movie at peek times. It would cost a family of four (two adults and two kids) £33.10 (about $55 at current exchange rate) to see a 3D movie.

Despite my feelings for 3D I have actually seen four 3D movies so far this year: Sanctum, Drive Angry, Thor and Priest. But I have also seen three movies in 2D that were available in 3D: Green Lantern, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The next big release (excluding Harry Potter that I haven’t seen) will be Captain America: The First Avenger. As it was shot in 2D and retrofitted with 3D it will hopefully be screened in both formats. I know which I will be watching.

Working on the assumption that cinemas and studios keep track of 2D/3D split of the box-office take I have a theory that the best way to halt the unnecessary spread of 3D is to choose to watch the 2D version of 3D movies. If a movie is available in both formats but makes more money in 2D it will say far more to the moneymen who run Hollywood than the ramblings of film critics and movie bloggers. So if you feel the same as me about the gimmick that is 3D go and see Harry Potter and Captain America in 2D and send a message to Hollywood. If you are a fan of 3D, go and see them in 3D and thwart my plans.

Update:

Since publishing earlier today Brittani Burnham from Rambling Film tweeted: “Deathly Hallows is on track to break The Dark Knight’s record of biggest opening weekend” and “Only about 43% of Deathy Hallow’s gross was in 3D. This proves more Potter fans perfer 2D. let’s hope this 3D fad dies” these tweets echoed my thoughts so closely I decide to add them to the post. Lets hope this is the start of the revolution.  If you still aren’t put off 3D you can even get a pair of Harry Potter Style 3D glasses, a snip at double the price of a regular pair!

You can find Brittani Burnham HERE and on twitter @ramblingfilm

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Following last weeks Great Idea Terrible Movie: TV Adaptations I am now turning my attention to Comic Book adaptations. Batman & Robin (1997) was always going to be terrible, with Batman Forever Joel Schumacher had taken Batman to far from what worked under Tim Burton to ever come back. But what comic book movies should have been great but turned out to be terrible?

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

If you have seen Watchmen or V For Vendetta and wondered why Alan Moore hates movie adaptations of his work take a look at The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it will make sense. If you don’t know, the concept involves a group made up of heroes from literature who come together to fight evil. Brilliantly written with complex and conflicted characters the comic book is perfect source material, sadly this is all lost in the mess that is the finished film. It was so bad it is sighted as the reason Sean Connery retire from acting!  Joseph from Cinexcellence summed it up in a comment on my previous Great Idea Terrible Movie post:

“The best thing about that movie (which did have some fun moments) was the interview with Sean Connery in the special features about how he was offered the roles of Gandalf and Morpheus, but turned them down because they were confusing scripts. Then he picks The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Poor guy.”

The Punisher

Marvel’s anti-hero Frank Castle aka The Punisher has made it to the screen three times. It is hard to remember now but there was a time when DC was on top in the battle of comic book movies after the success of Tim Burton’s Batman. Marvels response was the suitably dark The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren in 1989. In some ways it works and is probably the best Punisher movie, unfortunately it is all a little subdued and flat and has nothing original to offer the genre. The first reboot came in 2004 with Tom Jane donning the iconic scull T-shirt. Jane works well as the brooding anti-hero and there is some good action but the plot is clunky at best. The final (so far) reboot The Punisher: War Zone came along just four years later in 2008. Tom Jane was replaced by Ray Stevenson for the worst of the three movies, and that’s why the movie makes the list. Three attempts each getting progressively worse, have they not learnt anything!

Catwoman (2004)

After the success of Batman Returns, a Catwoman spin-off starring Michelle Pfeiffer was planned eventually this descended into the farce that was Catwoman starring Halle Berry. The story is comply rebooted resulting in it having no connection or resemblance to the Tim Burton movies or the comic books. Catwoman is a completely new character called Patience Phillips with no mention of Selina Kyle, unfortunately new doesn’t mean original, it is like every bad comic book movie you have ever seen before.

These aren’t the only terrible comic book movies that should have been so much better. The X-Men franchise has two weak links The Last Stand (2006) and Wolverine (2009). The Fantastic 4 movies(2005 and 2007) are both pretty rubbish. There hasn’t been a decent Superman movie since 1980. Although not completely without merit Judge Dredd (1995) and Tank Girl (1995) were both pretty terrible. The Spirit (2008) is one of the worst movies of recent years.

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Cinema and Science fiction cinema in particular changed on May 25 1977, the day Star Wars hit movie screens for the first time. But Star Wars changed Sci-Fi movies, it didn’t invent them. Here is a guide to my favourite pre Star Wars Sci-Fi movies:

metropolisMetropolis (1927): Set in a dystopian future it is one of the most influential films of all time still looks impressive more than eighty years later. Directed by Fritz Lang it is an example of German expressionist cinema it is essential viewing for any cinema fan. There were other examples of the genre in the years that followed but none that really stand out to me. I could have included Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) both directed by James Whale but they belong more to the horror genre so we fast forward to the 1950’s where alien invasion and cold war paranoia became staples of the genre.

War of the WorldsThe Thing from Another World (1951): The inhabitants of a remote arctic outpost fend off a killer alien organism. The John Carpenter remake from 1982 is more widely known but this original version is also worth seeing. From the same year The Day the Earth Stood Still: Like many great early Sci-Fi this film has been remade but this original is far superior. With post war America overrun with cold war paranoia the film has a none to subtle message warning against the dangers of the cold war and the nuclear arms race that it was fuelling. War of the Worlds (1953) Based on a HG Wells story, by the time this original film version of War of the Worlds made it to film it had become another cautionary tale about the cold war. It was preceded by Orson Welles infamous radio play and followed by an epic album and a Spielberg remake. Invasion of the Invasion of the Body SnatchersBody Snatchers (1956) Like most great early Sci-Fi this film has been remade. Post war America was overrun with cold war paranoia. Is this sounding familiar? Again the message isn’t subtle but it’s a great film. Forbidden Planet (1956) If you are going to steal an idea you may as well steal a good one and that’s what Forbidden Planet does, taking its basic story from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The special effects were state of the art and that really is Leslie “Don’t call me Shirley” Nielsen. Take a look at the cast list Robby the Robot is credited as playing “Himself”.

60’s and 70’s Sci-Fi reintroduced us to dystopian futures and cautionary tales. Fahrenheit 451 (1966): Francois Truffaut’s brilliant adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel about a book-burning dystopian future. Don’t be put of by the mixed reviews and criticism by fans of the original novel, it is a great movie. Quatermass and the Pit (1967) perfectly blending horror and Sci-Fi, known as Five Million Years to Earth in America was it was the final and best (but least financially successful) of the three movies to feature the Quatermass character. The story is largely the same as the original TV series it is based on: workmen extending a London Underground station make a frightening discovery. Don’t expect the special effects to hold up to modern standards but it is still a great movie that has a lot to offer the horror and Sci-Fi genres.

2001 A Space Odyssey2001: A Space Odyssey  (1968) less a film and more a giant metaphor exploring the meaning of life from the origins of humanity to the present day and beyond. Absolutely compelling viewing but anyone who tells you they fully understand what is going on is a geniuses or a liar. It is also a rarity in the list a film that has not been remade, who would dare? Barbarella (1968): A commercial and critical failure the film has since become a cult classic. Based on a French comic strip, Barbarella gave Jane Fonda one of her most iconic parts, unlike many early sci-fi movies (and movies in general) of the time it really doesn’t take itself seriously resulting in a really fun movie. One remake or another is always about to happen but fortunately hasn’t happened yet, leave it alone! Planet of the Apes (1968) Guess what this one was remade too! An astronaut is stranded on a planet ruled by intelligent apes and humans are little more than slaves. The screenplay was co-written by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame and ends with what is possible the genres greatest twist. Forget “No [Luke] I am your farther” this is the big one!

A Clockwork OrangeA Clockwork Orange (1971) Another dystopian near future or just an alternative 1970s Britain? Based on an Anthony Burgess novel it could be a satire on the culture of the day or a grim vision of the near future, I would rather believe it is a testament to the human spirit. The Andromeda Strain (1971): based on a Michael Crichton novel and directed by Robert Wise (who also directed Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). The fight to prevent a deadly alien virus from spreading creates an interesting concept, the brilliant thing about it is the way it is captivating and tense without a villain or visible antagonist. THX 1138 (1971)George Lucas’ first attempt at Sci-Fi was far less successful than Star Wars but has gained a cult following. Starring Robert Duvall it depicts a yet another dystopian future, in this one drugs that suppress emotion are mandatory and sexual intercourse is outlawed. This is enforced by an android police force.  The Omega Man (1971) The first of two movies on the list to star Charlton Heston. The second and probably the best adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 I Am Legend telling the story of the last man on earth following biological warfare between the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union.

Solyaris (1972) The story of a space mission that may just have found intelligent life. The 2002 Steven Soderberg remake was a little tedious but the original still makes for compelling viewing. Silent Running (1972) The story of a spaceship containing the earths last forests until they are one day able to return to earth. Another cautionary tale. Soylent Green (1973) When I compiled a similar list a few years ago I missed this movie off the list, after my error was pointed out by Heather from Movie Mobsters I watched it again. I had forgotten just how good it was. Set in a polluted and overpopulated future, Charlton Heston plays a New York police detective targeted by government agents as he gets too close to a secret everyone wants to keep, namely where soylent green, a revolutionary new food comes from.

Death Race 2000 (1975) I saw this movie when I was very young, too young! I loved it at the time but didn’t really get it. Following a financial crisis and a military coup United States has become a fascist police state. The most popular sport is the Annual Transcontinental Road Race, a race where drivers score points for killing pedestrians as they race from coast to coast. The acting is terrible and the production cheep, but it has aged surprisingly thanks to a simple subtext that makes it an effective political satire. Released the same year, Rollerball (1975) received a more positive critical response but actually isn’t any better than Death Race 2000. The movie also revolves around a violent sport, this one resembling Roller Derby. The film now looks strangle prophetic as it depicts the world as a global corporate state. Also worth a look from the same year, A Boy and his Dog (1975) is a post-apocalyptic story about a boy (Don Johnson) communicates with his dog telepathically Logan’s Run (1976) is an interesting film to finish on. Released less than a year before Star Wars, it is a good solid and fun movie in its own right but in comparison to Star Wars looks extremely dated, it appears to belong to a different era, it this was it does work well as a reminder of how the genre and cinema in general changer forever just a year later.

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Forget The Dukes of Hazzard (2005), Starsky & Hutch (2004) and Charlie’s Angels(2000) they are as good or bad as you would expect them to be, but there are some movies based of TV shows that should have been great but turned out to be utter crap, here are three examples:

The Avengers (1998)

The original TV series was silly and camp but tremendous fun and has aged surprisingly well so an updated movie version was most welcome. You only had to look at the images of Uma Thurman as Emma Peel to suggest she was the perfect actress to fill Diana Rigg’s leather catsuit. Ralph Fiennes was fresh from his Oscar nominated performance in The English Patient and a good choice to take on John Steed immortalised by Patrick Macnee in the original show. Sean Connery allegedly turned down the chance the chance to play a Bond villain to play the bad guy in this movie. So what could go wrong? Well basically everything! Its easier to say what was good about it, the movie looks good, the main characters cars and costumes are spot on, the rest of the film sadly isn’t! The story is rubbish; the acting is atrocious; not helped by the lack of chemistry between the central characters; the direction, just like the plot is none existent.

The Mod Squad (1999)

Based on a 60/70’s TV show about a group of delinquents who are recruited by a cop work undercover. I haven’t seen any of the original show so don’t know how it compares, regardless of this, the concept is good. The cast is great with Claire Danes, Giovanni Ribisi and Dennis Farina but they are just wasted. Where the story should be hip and fun it is dull and forgettable. The cast is wasted and the direction and the photography are poor at best.

Æon Flux (2005)

Set in a dystopian future world the original animated series created by Peter Chung was bizarre, brilliant and avant-garde, it contained themes including sexual fetishism and graphic violence and most of all it had compelling characters. All this was lost in the terrible movie adaptation, it did retain the basic characters, some of the themes and gadgets, beyond that it is a loose and week adaptation. The story is incoherent drivel and is dull at best. The one redeeming feature, Charlize Theron looks amazing in the title role.

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As we get into the summer season the blockbusters all come out to play and there are lots of movies to see. Well actually no, as all the big movies take up 3 or 4 screens in multiplexes (or even more when there are 2 and 3D versions) the smaller films get pushed to one side and there is actually less to see. I did find six movies an see, five were worth the effort and one was The Hangover: Part II.

X-Men: First Class

Is X-Men: First Class a reboot or a prequel? I’m not sure if it really matters, but if it’s a prequel there are some distracting continuity issues, if it’s a reboot it is a fantastic opportunity to restart the franchise in the way the comic books often do. The casting is great, the acting is good, the story is okay, I love the 60‘s setting and there are some very funny moments. It does suffer from too many unnecessary characters and isn’t very well paced. On the whole it is a worth entry into the X-Men franchise that is much better than The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine but not as good as parts one and two.

Senna

A rare entry in the movie of the month segment, a documentary. Nothing against doc’s, they just don’t make it to my local cinema often. As a fan of F1 and Ayrton Senna I felt compelled to go and see this movie, I was amazed at just how busy the cinema was, now in its third week (like foreign language movies documentaries tend not to make it into a second week) and is number seven in the UK box-office. A fantastic and moving story a man who was possibly the greatest racing driver of all time, the true greatness of the film is how many none F1 fans who also enjoyed it.

The Hangover: Part II

The Hangover worked largely because of a great concept and a pull no punches approach to its gags, it even won my first ever movie of the month award exactly two years ago. The things that made the first movie surprisingly good are the same things that made this sequel dull, predictable and repetitive. All of these things can be forgiven, the homophobic and xenophobic nature of the story could also be overlooked but one thing that is totally unforgivable for a movie like this, it just isn’t funny.

Stake Land

A grim and often violent road movie from the team who gave us the direct to DVD zombie/rat/mutant classic Mulberry Street. As a survival road movie first and vampire movie second it shares as much with The Road or Carriers as it does with vampire movies. Benefiting from its gritty realism and the constraints of a low budget it is an intelligent and thoughtful whilst still being entertaining, and the vampires don’t sparkle in sunlight they burn! The best vampire movie since Let The Right One In

The Beaver

A clinically depressed businessman finds his own kind of self-help via a tatty old beaver hand puppet that he communicate through. Given his recent past, the baggage that Mel Gibson brings to a movie could present a problem, In the case of The Beaver, it actually helps. Poorly marketed this isn’t a fun comedy, yes there are laughs but this is a far darker movie than you expect. There is an interesting sub plot involving Gibbon’s son and a girl played by rising star Jennifer Lawrence, this in itself is as interesting as the main plot, however the two stories don’t fit together very well.

Green Lantern

If Marvel and DC are in a battle for movie supremacy Batman is standing alone against the might of the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Green Lantern was DC’s chance to get back into the fight before they bring out the potential big gun, a Superman reboot. I think we are going to have to wait for the man of steel. Ryan Reynolds does a good job in the lead role and the movie is better than the trailer and reviews would suggest, it’s still average at best.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The best thing I can say about the new Transformers movie is that it is much better than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, considering how bad that movie was it really is the definition of damning with faint praise. The story and the acting are as bad as ever, some of the action is quite good. The one lesson learnt from the previous movie is to make better use of the human stars even though foremost of those is Shia LaBeouf who lacks charm charisma and acting ability. The sad thing, somewhere in the two and half hour runtime there is probably a decent ninety minute movie; and the surprising thing, I miss Megan Fox.

As much as I loved Stake Land I have to give Movie of the Month to Senna, the first documentary to win movie of the month and a must for all film and motor-sport fans.

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