Month: August 2015

Concussion – Trailer

Here is the first trailer for Concussion, starring Will Smith. Based on a true story, Smith plays Dr. Bennett Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma.

Coming out this Christmas, Concussion could be an early Oscar shout. Smith of course is still without the award for Best Actor – could this be the performance that earns him the title?

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Game Over for Adam Sandler? – Blog

The recent release of sci-fi comedy ‘Pixels’, Adam Sandler’ latest big screen appearance, inevitably flopped at the box office, losing roughly around $20,000,000, and rightly so. The film sucked.

I say inevitably because any film starring Sandler nowadays is generally going to fail in all respects. You probably hadn’t even heard of his other recent release, ‘The Cobbler’, which opened to just $24,000. No surprises either – it also sucked. So how has Sandler stumbled so far from being one of the world’s leading comedy actors to making rubbish movies and ultimately posing as a hate figure?

Growing up, Sandler was one of my favourite cult comedy actors. ‘Billy Madison’, ‘Happy Gilmore’, ‘Big Daddy’ – all films that millions love purely because of his comedy in an era during the 90’s and early 2000’s where his name was one of the most sought after in the genre.

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I’d say it’s been almost a decade since Sandler’s last enjoyable comedy movie, ‘Click’ – and I know some people wouldn’t even agree with that. Everything since has piled up into a disappointing list of painfully unfunny films – ‘Zohan’, ‘Jack & Jill’, ‘Grown Ups’ (two of them!) and ‘Blended’ to name a few. All seriously poor movies, most of which are products of his own production company Happy Madison.

The man basically is incapable of making an enjoyable watch anymore and as a result people have simply lost respect for him as an actor and person. Is it laziness? Possibly. He knows he’s going to receive a whopping pay cheque after every woeful flick he makes regardless of how painful it is for the audience. Maybe he just doesn’t care for it anymore.

Why this is such a shame relates back to what I mentioned earlier about how he was once at the top of the comedy actor spectrum and how well respected he was for it. But it’s not just his comedy acting that’s taken a serious hit. Sandler has proved on a number of occasions he is a well capable dramatic and therefore respectable actor.

Perhaps lesser-known films on his CV but some of his best performances have come playing a serious role. If you haven’t already done so, check out ‘Reign Over Me’, ‘Spanglish’ and ‘Punch Drunk Love’ and you’ll see he has the ability to be a powerful actor. Yet by making shit film after shit film, we gradually forget why we loved him in the first place.

On the brink of turning 49, Sandler never moved on with his type of comedy. Take ‘Pixels’, he plays his typical down on his luck, cheeky chappy character – the same we’ve seen in the majority of his previous movies – but no one wants to see that anymore. His audiences moved on from his material but he certainly hasn’t and he continues to fail in his attempts to resurrect it.

One way he could go about that is by making new friends. Constantly appearing in movies alongside the equally unfunny Kevin James or Rob Schneider or David Spade obviously isn’t going to help matters – but they all seem too chummy and eager to play alongside each other at the audience’s expense.

I don’t hold much hope for Sandler. It seems to me he’s pretty content just making a host of rubbish films just to get paid handsomely, the next of which, ‘The Ridiculous 6’, opens in December. Let’s just hope it’s not as ridiculous as his drastic turn of career.

Check out my review of Pixels here

The Man From U.N.C.L.E – Review

UNCLE

If there was ever a reason to believe Henry Cavill should be the next Bond, his latest outing in Guy Ritchie’s, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, is it. The film will certainly act as an audition for Cavill when the time comes, and it would be hard to argue after his performance.

Set in the 60s, Cavill plays suave, classy CIA agent Napoleon Solo – reminiscent of an immaculate, suit wearing Sean Connery in the early Bond years. The sassy one-liners and womaniser attributes are also there for all to see.

The opening of the film pits Solo into a gun chase against strict, straight-faced KGB agent, Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer).

The pair soon come into contact again however when they are forced to work together in order to stop a mysterious criminal organisation from producing nuclear warheads and threatening a disturbance in the post Cold War peace.

Their only lead is Gaby (Alicia Vikander), a car mechanic from East Berlin whose father is a bomb making scientist and uncle a die hard Nazi. They soon discover the brains behind the organisation, the villainous temptress Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki).

With Ritchie directing, the film is typically stylish and visually engaging which perhaps makes up for the slight lack of substance.

Cavill and Hammer are perfectly cast opposite each other with enjoyable on-screen chemistry, exchanging humourous quips throughout. Hugh Grant’s boss role also offers the British comedy punch, and be sure to look out for a sneaky cameo from David Beckham.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E certainly lacks that definitive bite and is far from being Ritchie’s best work, but the film still proves to be an entertaining and stylish watch, a fitting revisit to the original TV series from the 60s.

Trainwreck – Review

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Amy Schumer can do no wrong at the moment it seems. Her stand up comedy has hit the US by storm and her debut feature role in Judd Apatow’s new rom-com, Trainwreck, follows that trend.

Schumer plays the hard partying, sex-driven alcoholic Amy – usually the male role in such films, which makes Trainwreck all the more admirable.

Amy is a commitaphobe, more concerned about her career as a writer for men’s magazine, S’Nuff, until she is assigned an article based on sports medicine doctor, Aaron Conners (Bill Hader).

Due to her approach towards the opposite sex, Amy manages to seduce the doctor in no time, but this time something is different.

The morning after, Amy struggles to come to terms with the discovery of these new things called “emotions”, whilst the love-struck Aaron is head over heels, calling after her, supported by client and best friend, Lebron James (playing himself).

The rest of the film is fairly inevitable, including an emotionally weak ending, but the refreshing trait to take away from Trainwreck is the role reversal of genders and their approach to the situation.

Schumer, who also helped co-write, is the main reason as to why this works as she is perfectly casted as the inappropriate Amy, paralleling her style of dark, gross-out stand-up comedy.

Apatow certainly owes a debt of gratitude to his female star, who has helped him regain some credibility after his tame directing efforts. Trainwreck can sit alongside the likes of Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, rather than the forgettable This Is 40 and Funny People.

Much like Bridesmaids (which Apatow also helped produce), we see the wacky, sometimes outrageous behaviour coming from the female perspective, which is pleasing, and amusing to see, especially when Schumer is that lady in question.

Pixels – Review

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Love him or hate him, it’s fair to say Adam Sandler hasn’t starred in a watchable movie for some time now. His latest outing in Pixels certainly doesn’t buck that particular trend either.

The year is 1982 when NASA sends a capsule into the solar system consisting of examples of human culture in an attempt to communicate with extra-terrestrial life.

Fast forward to present day where we meet Sandler’s inevitable loser character, Brenner – once video game prodigy, now fitting electrical appliances for work.

In the midst of not laughing at Sandler’s unlovable schlub of a character, we witness a spontaneous attack on a US army base, which turns out to be aliens reacting violently, in the form of classic video game characters, to the NASA capsule from 1982.

Cue video game nerd Brenner’s moment to shine when called upon by his best friend Will Cooper (Kevin James, obviously) who happens to be the President of the United States.

In an attempt to save the world, it is up to Brenner and his team of fellow video game geeks, Eddie (Peter Dinklage) and Ludlow (Josh Gad) to stop the pixelated alien army.

Produced by his own company, Happy Madison, this feels exactly like every painful Sandler film from the last 10 years or so. Not even the half impressive CGI can save this snore fest of a film, which can only offer the briefest moments of interest or comedy.

It is a classic case of the cast and crew having more fun filming than the audience watching, and Dinklage is the only one that is worth offering any comical interest in as Brenner’s nemesis turned colleague nerd. It almost feels like director Chris Columbus was very much secondary in the making of the film while Sandler and his buddies took over and do what they do best/worst.

Michelle Monaghan also stars as Violet, and the well respected actress hasn’t done her career any favours by starring as the sole female in the movie, playing the typical bitch turned love interest role that Sandler loves acting opposite.

Pixels is an incredibly dull watch. Fans of Sandler will probably view the movie without a problem but it has got to a stage where Sandler is happy to make a living producing unremarkable, unfunny films.

Inside Out – Review

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For years, Disney Pixar have produced animated movies that everyone, regardless of age or gender, has fallen in love with. They have this unerring ability to make us laugh and cry, and that in itself is an art. Inside Out fits right into their catalogue of outstanding pieces of work.

The film takes place in two locations. Firstly San Francisco where an 11-year-old girl named Riley has recently moved to from Minneapolis due to her father’s work. The second is inside the mind of young Riley where her five emotions reside – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.

Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) is the leader of the pack, shining like a bright star around the control station inside Riley’s head. The group seek to process incoming memories – these come in the form of bowling ball sized orbs, colour-coded based on the emotion.

When disaster strikes, Joy and the Eeyore-esque Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) are left stranded in long-term memory and Riley is left to the control of the three incompetent remaining emotions, Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black). It is up to Joy and Sadness to return before Riley goes AWOL.

Director and co-writer, Pete Doctor, was also the genius behind Pixar products Monster Inc. and Up, and Inside Out certainly fits a similar mould. Like all Pixar films, Inside Out is visually spectacular thanks to their ability to create huge, fantastical landscapes based upon the most original of ideas.

And like most Pixar movies, the film is incredibly relatable. Amongst the colourful mayhem that may be going on inside Riley’s head, there are happenings that literally everyone can feel a connection to – reminding us of how poignant ALL of our emotions are and were growing up.

What we ultimately have is an emotional film based on emotions, served with all the typical Pixar trimmings including some bright characters, some well thought out gags and some inevitable teary eyes. Inside Out is nothing short of another Pixar masterpiece, perhaps needed following the mediocrity of Cars 2 and Monsters University.

Inside Out is incredibly ambitious, bold and imaginative and a film that will play with a range of your emotions. But ultimately, you won’t see a more charming movie this summer.