Month: July 2015

Southpaw – Review

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Both the director and main actor of Southpaw have had inconsistent careers up to now. Jake Gyllenhaal has somewhat resurrected his in recent years thanks to performances in Nightcrawler, Prisoners and End of Watch.

Director Antoine Fuqua has never managed to match the heights of his 2001 epic Training Day – but Southpaw is a movie that both actor and director can be pleased with.

The film focuses on Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal), reigning junior middleweight boxing champion. Fresh from winning his belt, tragedy strikes when his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) is unexpectedly murdered, leading to an all mighty collapse in Billy’s life. As a result he loses is daughter to child protection, his boxing license and his home.

Starting back at the bottom, he seeks the help of trainer Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker) to help him turn his life around both inside and outside the ring. Billy faces a number of testing challenges throughout as he fights to get his future back on track.

Undoubtedly, Gyllenhaal lands the hardest punch with his performance. His arduous workouts leading up to the production of the movie have been well documented, and his training certainly paid off. His interpretation of this incredibly damaged and beaten down character comfortably fits in alongside some of his better performances in recent years.

Whitaker also gives an impressive account of strict but loveable trainer Tick as well as Oona Laurence who offers a touching role as Billy’s daughter.

For Fuqua, Southpaw is a movie he can be proud of. The end product is by no means perfect and has come under some criticism for its predictability and unoriginality, but the film is emotionally engaging and interesting enough, resulting in an enjoyable watch.

Perhaps missing a knockout blow but Southpaw certainly packs an entertaining punch thanks to Gyllenhaal in particular.

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Out This Week

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It’s looking pretty grim outside so why not head down to your local cinema and check out these films:

Southpaw

Jake Gyllenhaal went through arduous daily workouts in order to play the role of boxer Billy Hope in Southpaw. After tragically losing his wife in an accident and his daughter to child protection services, Billy uses the ring to get his life back on track.

Inside Out

The new weird but wonderful creation from Pixar sees us go into the mind of a young girl, Riley, as she and her family move to San Francisco. Starring the voices of Bill Hader and Amy Poehler, Inside Out sees the conflict of emotions in this little girl in the brilliantly unique Pixar way.

True Story

When a writer for the New York Times is fired for reporting false information, his life takes an unexpected twist when he is informed that a man accused of murdering his wife and children has been using his identity. Jonah Hill and James Franco star in this mystery thriller.

Read my review for True Story here: https://sceneit3.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/true-story-review/

Ant-Man – Review

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The production of AntMan was less than straight-forward following the loss of British director Edgar Wright. The man behind Shaun of the Dead abandoned the project in May 2014 due to “creative differences” with Marvel, and that left the movie in a difficult position.

Leading man Paul Rudd and Anchorman director Adam McKay took on the rewrite, while Peyton Reed (Yes Man) stepped into the director’s seat. As a result, there is a general feeling of what might have been throughout the finished product.

Rudd stars as ex-con Scott Lang, fresh out of prison for anti-corporate crimes and as a result, struggling to find work as well as a way to reconnect with his daughter who he rarely is allowed to see.

After breaking into the home of former tech-head Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Scott steals a hidden suit that he discovers can shrink him down to the size of an ant (believe it or not).

Upon his discovery, Lang is approached by Dr Pym and offered the role of Ant-Man in order to stop villainous Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from stealing the doctor’s formula and weaponising it.

Casting is all-important in these films and Rudd’s comedic comforts tie in well with the superhero role. We saw the same with Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy in a film that didn’t take itself too seriously and flourished as a result. Ant-Man follows a similar trend but not quite to the same extent, which is a slight disappointment.

There is plenty of typical Marvel laughs and the action and CGI is very impressive – but again, it’s up for debate whether the final product would have been different under the direction of Wright.

 

True Story – Review

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True Story should be an intriguing and thought-provoking watch, but instead is one that is too clever for its own good – trying to be too elaborate when the storyline should be enough to captivate its audience.

The film is based on the memoirs of journalist Mike Finkel, who has recently been fired from the New York Times after making false claims in his latest investigative article.

Whilst in the process of finding new work, Finkel (Jonah Hill) is informed that Christian Longo (James Franco) has been using the journalist’s name whilst on the run in Mexico after being accused of murdering his family.

Intrigued as to why, Finkel meets with Longo who is a huge fan of the journalists’ work and the pair agrees for Longo’s “true” story to be written. In return, Finkel teaches Longo how to become a better writer.

The story behind these two characters is interesting, being depicted by two well-established actors – but British director Rupert Goold (making his feature debut) delivers a tame and lacklustre demonstration of their account.

The aim of the film is to keep the audience second-guessing as to whether Longo is guilty of the accusations against him and what his intentions with Finkel are. Without knowing the facts beforehand, it’s still relatively obvious where the movie is heading and as a result, the excitement of the cat and mouse effect is lost.

Hill and Franco in their roles are fine, without ever really being allowed to truly express their best qualities. The latter tries his best to portray the damaged and eerie Longo but the cold eyes, monotone dialect and loud swallowing is all too excessive.

Felicity Jones stars as Finkel’s doubtful girlfriend and her scene with Franco is the highlight of the wasted role she performs in the movie. Sitting in the visitor’s cell alongside the accused murderer, she completely owns the room as well as the film – her only poignant contribution to the production. This being one of the more fascinating scenes in True Story is a demonstration of how flat the film is.

True Story feels like a constant source of wasted potential given its storyline and cast. As a debut feature for former theatre director Goold, it’s by no means a disaster, but taking on a tale of this magnitude and attempting too much with it has just left a confusing and bland result.

Ted 2 – Review

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Since Ted was released in 2012, becoming the most successful R-rated movie ever, Seth McFarlane hasn’t had the best of times. His Oscar hosting attempt was humiliatingly forgettable and A Million Ways to Die in the West was quite unremarkable. Returning to a successful, loveable character would have been the easy way back into the game for McFarlane, but Ted 2 certainly does itself justice.

McFarlane returns as the voice of the potty-mouthed bear, again accompanied by stoner buddy John (Mark Wahlberg). The two have had a polar opposite time recently though with John’s marriage to Lori ending just as Ted and girlfriend Tami-Lynn tie the knot.

Married life is proving difficult for the newlyweds, but Ted has the perfect solution to their problems: to have a baby. This proves more problematic when the government tell Ted that he must first prove that he is a real “person” in order to keep his marriage and have a child.

The couple, with help from John, seek legal advice, firstly from rookie lawyer Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) and then from civil rights lawyer Patrick Meighan (Morgan Freeman).

Laughs of the offensive variety are a plenty in this sequel, ranging from flat out stoner comedy to clever gags being played throughout. The film itself is a mess and the novelty factor may have worn off – but who cares?

Ultimately, it is more of the same, which is exactly what everyone wants when they go to see it – more scandalous gags, more swearing and more of the foul-mouthed teddy bear.

Beyond the jokes, McFarlane makes time for sentiment in the majority of his projects. Ted 2 is no different as one moment Ted and John are making wisecracks about 9/11, the next they’re bromancing over John’s failed marriage.

Some suggest McFarlane is funnier than he thinks, and perhaps there are occasions when he tries too hard with his comedy. But ultimately, he never fails with a crude joke or two and both Ted movies are perfect examples of that.

What to Watch: July – October 2015

Undated handout photo issued by Studiocanal of Tom Hardy in his latest roles as Ronnie (left) and Reggie Kray in the film, Legend. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 12, 2014.  The film also stars Emily Browning, David Thewlis and Christopher Eccleston and is written and directed by Brian Helgeland. Principal Photography for the film commenced this week. Photo credit should read:  Greg Williams/Studiocanal/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Summer is well underway and with it comes a host of exciting and promising new films which are worth a watch. Here is a list of what I’m looking out for in the coming months:

(UK release dates)

Ted 2 – Out Now

Everyone’s favourite potty-mouthed teddy bear returns alongside his new wife Tami-Lynn. The newlyweds want to have kids, but in order to do so; Ted must prove that he is a legitimate person in a court of law. Seth MacFarlane is back to direct and voice the grotesque teddy, while Mark Wahlberg also returns as Ted’s thunder buddy. No doubt we’re in for plenty more offensive laughs if it is anything on the first movie.

Ant-Man – 17th July

Marvel’s latest creation sees Paul Rudd take on the role of Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man. The production process has been anything but steady with several rewrites following the departure of Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright from the project. Marvel’s vision for the movie has seen Peyton Reed takeover as director, with Anchorman director Adam McKay also has offered a hand in the writing department. With funny men such as these, alongside Paul Rudd, expect Marvel to churn out a Guardians of the Galaxy esque show.

True Story – 24th July

Based on true events, former New York Times reporter Michael Finkel is brought to the attention of accused murderer Christian Longo who uses Finkel’s identity when he is apprehended. Jonah Hill and James Franco both star in this mystery drama, which made the official selection at Sundance. Written and directed by Brit Rupert Goold.

Southpaw – 24th July

Antoine Fuqua has had a stuttering career directing. Whilst Training Day was brilliant, he is also responsible for the monstrosity that was Olympus Has Fallen. Nevertheless, Southpaw looks like the kind of dark, edgy film that Fuqua can do wonders with. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a boxer on his way to the top but who struggles to balance his life outside the ring when his wife is murdered.

Inside Out – 24th July

Pixar’s latest creation already looks like an instant hit. Inside Out literally explores the emotions of young Riley and her mother and father as they up sticks to San Francisco. The trailer is enough to have you chuckling away with Inside Out surely a must see for all the family this summer.

Pixels – 12th August

Any Adam Sandler post 2006 probably isn’t worth watching. The same could be said for anything Kevin James has featured in. Remarkably, Pixels, which features both of them, genuinely looks like a fun watch. When aliens receive a time capsule sent from NASA including examples of life and culture on Earth, they interpret the greeting as a declaration of war. As a result, the aliens descend onto our planet in the form of various video game characters from the 80s. Chris Columbus, responsible for Mrs Doubtfire and Home Alone directs.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E – 14th August

Guy Ritchie’s latest production sees him recreate the television show from the sixties about a CIA agent and a KGB Russian operative who are forced to work together when a mysterious organisation begin the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play both agents, with Hugh Grant and Jared Harris also featuring. The trailer looks fun and exciting, with the typical Ritchie touch of class.

Vacation – 21st August

Admittedly, this does just look like a carbon copy of We’re the Millers but hey, we all had a good laugh at that didn’t we? Ed Helms and Cristina Applegate play two parents who take their kids across country to “Wally World” in order to reconnect as a family. Naturally, it’s not quite so straightforward and hilarity is sure to ensue. Chris Hemsworth and Leslie Mann also feature.

Straight Outta Compton – 28th August

When group NWA emerged from the streets of Compton, they revolutionised pop culture with music about growing up in the hood. This biography explores the group’s difficulties with life, with cops and their path to major success. Surely a must see for any hip-hop fan or any music fan for that matter.

Trainwreck – 28th August

Amy Schumer is one of America’s hottest comedy properties at the moment and she stars in Judd Apatow’s (Knocked Up, 40-Year-Old Virgin) latest product, Trainwreck. Schumer plays Amy, a commitaphobe more concerned about her career than her love life. That is until she meets Aaron, a good guy who throws a spanner into the works.

Legend – 11th September

Tom Hardy is an actor who will always push the limits of acting, and his latest role is no different. In Legend, he plays both Ronald and Reginald Kray, twin gangsters from London during the 1950s. The film explores the twin’s rise to power as well as their downfall and ultimately their imprisonment.

Everest – 25th September

Baltasar Kormakur’s latest creation sees a group of climbers embark upon the famous mountain but our struck by a severe snowstorm that devastates the party. Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin and Robin Wright star in what looks like a gripping true story. The trailer is enough to produce the white-knuckle experience.

What films are you most looking forward to this summer?

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer

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Yesterday, Warner Bros. released the latest trailer for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice at Comic-Con and dare I say, it got me excited.

I’ve made it no secret in the past that I am not Zack Snyder’s biggest fan, and I maintain that Man of Steel’s best qualities were down to Christopher Nolan’s input. On top of all this, I questioned whether it was a good idea to revisit Batman so soon after Nolan’s Dark Knight series, which in my eyes was near perfect.

Having said all that, the four-minute trailer released yesterday perhaps proved that Snyder is onto a winner. Understandably, movie trailers are never much to go by but this latest release gives us an insight into Ben Affleck as a Batman with more of an edge as well as Jeremy Irons who will be playing Bruce Wayne’s loveable butler Alfred.

And one quality that I can’t deny Snyder is his ability to create a quality looking picture. Man of Steel was a cool looking movie and Batman vs. Superman appears no different.

Sure to be plenty of rip roaring action between these two powerhouses in the superhero world, the new trailer has certainly wetted my appetite despite my initial doubts.