Month: November 2014

Toy Story 4. A Good Idea?

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Have a quick think. Is there a more perfect trilogy than the Toy Story series? The Godfather’s? Maybe. The Dark Knight? Star Wars? Lord of the Rings? Possibly. But in my opinion it doesn’t get better than our small, animated friends.

Above all else, Toy Story 3 was the perfect third edition for the series, whereas the same can’t really be said about those previous suggestions.

Last week, we got the news that there will indeed be a fourth Toy Story feature set to be released in 2017. Of course the initial reaction is one of excitement and joy: another Toy Story film – brilliant!

John Lasseter will be in the director’s seat for this one – the man behind the first two instalments and multiple other Pixar features. This is of course very good news indeed having someone who is very much part of the Toy Story furniture behind the film. On top of that, Lasseter’s enthusiasm for the project has been promising, suggesting that following discussions over another feature, he had no choice but to take it on.

But here’s the argument. The perfect trilogy has been made, why continue it? We left Woody, Buzz and co in the best possible way and now they are set to return for a new adventure. Surely the way things were left at the end of Toy Story 3 was the ultimate goodbye?

Clearly not, and I’m not for a moment suggesting the fourth instalment won’t be jam packed with laughs, cries and everything else we’ve become accustomed to with the Toy Story films. But my hope is that it in no way affects how things were left in the previous three editions, as it was simply perfect.

I’m fairly confident the approach will be one of a fresh start for the gang and the series. Andy’s gone – we shed our tears, but hopefully we will fall in love all over again with a new beginning for the gang, but ultimately I am still slightly peeved as to why there will be a fourth instalment when the bow had clearly been tied.

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Interstellar – Review

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Interstellar is by far Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date. This bold and risky venture sees him take on the equation of space exploration and the results are typically enthralling both through the awe-inspiring spectacle on screen and the emotional value of the film. By now we are used to Nolan creating magic in front of our eyes whilst tugging on our heartstrings and Interstellar is no different in that respect. Not quite living up to the quality of Inception or the Batman trilogy, Interstellar still mesmerises in the way only Nolan knows how.

Set in the future of the dystopian variety (is there any other?), Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former test pilot and widower, living with his father-in-law (Jon Lithgow) and looking after his two children Tom and Murph.

The latter, at the age of 10, is a rebel in a school that does not believe in the teachings of space exploration.

After a series of clues lead Coop and Murph to the remaining traces of NASA, they bump into Coop’s old boss Professor Brand (Michael Caine). After much persuasion, it is decided that Coop will be flying a team into space in search of a new home away from Earth, leaving behind his two children – possibly forever.

The Endurance ship consists of Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Romilly (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bentley. Along for the ride are ex-military robots TARS and CASE.

Upon their travels is when the wow factor kicks in for Interstellar. Planets consisting of mountain sized tidal waves and giant ice structures are typical of Nolan and his team’s ambition for grand scenery.

Rules of time and space lead to the introduction of the grown up Tom (Casey Affleck) and Murph (Jessica Chastain), now working under Professor Brand at NASA.

The trio of McConaughey, Chastain and Mackenzie Foy (playing the young Murph) absolutely steal the show alongside the striking set pieces. Nolan follows the family trend that has run through many of his films and both McConaughey and Foy in the opening third of the film create some powerful chemistry as she fights to convince him to stay on Earth. On top of that, Chastain is cast perfectly for the role of the strong and stubborn but smart grown up version of Coop’s daughter.

Nolan does brilliantly to fuse the love and emotion in tandem with the inducing spectacle he has painted before you. In fact, some of the best scenes are of the touching variety, when McConaughey is saying goodbye to Murph in particular. This is no surprise though; Nolan has made a habit of it by now. Take Inception, the final scene of Cobb arriving home is arguably the best of the film. Hans Zimmer should also be credited for again complimenting Nolan’s sights with another powerful score.

Interstellar is not without it’s flaws. At times the storyline is slightly disfigured and the amount of times the crew on board The Endurance discuss an issue or theory that they surely would have discussed before they left Earth is slightly unwarranted. TARS and CASE also pose two frustrating and perhaps unnecessary characters – almost the Jar Jar Binks’ of Interstellar.

For a film of nearly three hours, you can’t help but feel that the some of “the science chat” could be excluded. As an audience, our lack of scientific knowledge and know-how allows Nolan to experiment with Interstellar and it seems that any waffle that the characters say that sounds ‘scienc-ey’ is therefore believable. We don’t understand, but why should we?

Interstellar is certainly not Nolan’s best creation but is without a doubt his most ambitious to date. The risks of such a grand feat don’t always come off for him but he still manages to lay his foundations and Interstellar still proves to be a must-see epic that is literally out of this world.

 

Fury – Review

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When it comes to great war films, the main objective of any director is for the audience to feel involved – as if they are truly in the middle of a war situation. David Ayer’s Fury, to an extent, follows that trend, portraying an intimate observation into the gritty life as a soldier during WWII, but struggles to truly leave a mark of greatness.

Brad Pitt leads a team of tank soldiers through Germany in 1945 – the last knockings of the Second World War. The Nazis are on the back foot defending their own land as the troops battle through in their tight tank. Following the loss of one of their gunners, the group are joined by baby-faced rookie, Norman, played by Logan Lerman. With plenty of skills on a typewriter, his experience in a battlefield environment is at a minimum, and he must learn the brutal and ferocious methods of surviving.

Ayer does very well portraying the fierce grit of war and all it’s gruesome features that one would witness when doing battle. Using Norman, we get a clear understanding of the harsh nature of combat in WWII and just how much character a soldier needs to prove himself on the front line.

Lerman does a good job of playing the weak, untrained and weedy role of Norman learning the difficulties of war. Pitt, who of course is no stranger to the role of an F bombing US military officer, delivers a steady performance but certainly not his strongest.

The biggest surprise is Shia LeBeouf, playing the role of the strongly religious turret gunman, constantly with tears in his eyes and passion in his words – not the usual bland LeBeouf we are used to. Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal make up the tail of the squad and both give strong cameo performances, but nothing too memorable.

As a war film, Fury fits the bill with plenty of mud, gore, blood, bullets and bombs. But the CGI seriously lets the film down. The machine gun exchanges between Allie and enemy tanks could easily be mistaken for a battle you’ll be seeing in the upcoming Star Wars film – bullets flying like lasers across the screen. Nevertheless, the battles are certainly engaging; helped by some glorious damp, muddy settings across the German countryside.

The film unfortunately ends with a preposterous cliché, which seriously disappoints. Good but not great, Fury is still an enjoyable watch and a must see for any WWII fanatic.

Let’s Be Cops – DVD Review

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Let’s Be Cops is a classic case of; if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the film. Put your money away, don’t bother making a trip to the cinema or to the shop to buy the DVD, check out the trailer and you’ll have spared your time and effort. And having watched the trailer, you will have experienced the full comic extent of the movie, which is no more than the odd chuckle.

Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. play two losers who have both hit a wall, needing some excitement in their lives. For a fancy-dress party, they decide to go dressed as cops. Walking through the streets of Los Angeles, they are on the receiving end of a new found respect of which they are not used to, thanks to their police uniforms.

Gradually the pair takes their façade a number of steps further, including purchasing a cop car from EBay and stitching sergeant badges onto their uniforms. Things begin to get out of hand however, when they involve themselves in some serious criminal gang activity.

Johnson and Wayans Jr., best known for their roles in New Girl, usually share a very amiable on-screen comedy connection. Let’s Be Cops however fails to bring out their best and settles for typical stoner quality humour. The movie only manages to produce a number of moments of chuckle worthy comedy, and despite the idea for the movie being influenced by a moment in director Luke Greenfield’s life, it may perhaps should have stayed as just that.

There’s very little point going out of your way to watching this film. Once you watch the trailer, you’ll pretty much know just what Let’s Be Cops is all about.

Out on Blu-Ray/DVD – 26 December