Dredd – DVD Review

Karl Urban is Dredd.

Just needed to get that out of the way. Sylvester Stallone has nothing on Urban. This film was so simple but so frickin’ effective the visuals are stunning the acting from the three leads is perfect and comic book movies just keep getting better and better. Dredd was by far one of my favourite movies last year and now its on DVD so I can watch it again.

Set in Mega City One the story revolves around Judge Dredd, a law enforcer who has the power of Judge, Jury and Executioner and a young psychic rookie, Judge Cassandra Anderson. The pair are called to Peach Trees, a 200-storey slum ruled by Ma-Ma a drug lord who is responsible for the creation and distribution of new recreational drug Slo-Mo. When Ma-Ma finds out she has judges in her tower she orders a lockdown and tells the citizens she rules over to take the judges down or get out of the way, and so begins the fight to the top of the building for Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson.

With a plot line and main objective so clean cut and simple, the 95-minute film has plenty of time to have awesome fire-fights (and I do mean fire-fights), a little bit of back story (though none would suffice), and just the right amount of character development from both Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Lena Headey plays the drug-addled and psychotic Ma-Ma perfectly.

Stunning visual effects, near flawless acting, and enough explosions and gunfire to make any guy’s day. Dredd is the perfect man-movie.

5 Stars

Dredd will be out on DVD March 13

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History of Superheroes in Movies

superman

While there were superhero movies in the 1940s, 50s and 60s it wasn’t until the 1978 film Superman opened the door for comic books and their characters to be taken as serious movie ideas, but that faded over ten years until 1989’s Batman put them back on the map again. Unfortunately, with the exception of Batman Returns (1992) the popularity of superhero films declined again until 2000 when X-Men got it right.

xmen

Since X-Men superhero movies have been on the up and up. Production companies started taking the concepts seriously again rather than trying to make it comical and camp (I’m looking at you Joel Schumacher). 2002 saw Spider-Man swing on to the silver screen and both the X-Men and Spider-Man films spawned major film franchises for Fox and Sony respectively. But we’ll get to the major production companies later. Fox continued it’s push with Daredevil (2003), X2 (2003), Elektra (2005) and Fantastic Four (2005) while Sony (Colombia) released Hellboy and Spider-Man 2 in 2004. Following the success of
these franchises DC and Warner Bros. took a different angle and rebooted the popular Batman franchise with Batman Begins (2005) which had a much darker tone to it than the Marvel films that were being released at the time. Superhero films cashed in on the success of the early 2000 hits for a few more years X-Men: The Last Stand and Superman Returns in 2006 and Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007 (which might I add were all franchise killers) but come 2008 something clicked in the minds of Marvel, DC, production companies and audiences… Superhero Movies could be better than exciting. They could be exhilarating the perfect escape for people young and old just like the comic books they were based on were for people years ago.

darkknight

2008 was a big year for Superheroes, with Marvel’s start of their Cinematic Universe (Actually owning the rights to these characters this time) Iron Man blasted on to the screen, reviving the dwindling superhero audiences and Robert Downey Jr.’s career at the same time. On top of that the reboot of the Hulk franchise with The Incredible Hulk re-established another character for something in the future. Iron Man would have been the walk-away hit of superhero films that year had the follow-up to Batman Begins not been released. The Dark Knight wowed audiences and box officenumbers proved that superhero movies were not just a sub-class of action films. They were their own genre. Mixing comedy and drama with action, visual effects and the characters people of all ages could enjoy. The superheroes were here.

avengers

The late 2000s brought us a prequel to X-Men in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a surprise cult classic with Watchmen. The start of the new decade brought in more of the independent heroes in to the spotlight, Kick-Ass and Super depict average joes standing up and answering the call against villainy and Iron Man 2 delved deeper in to the mystery behind S.H.I.E.L.D and why they were showing up in all these Marvel movies. 2011 was another big year for Marvel with Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger setting up for the biggest superhero team up in film history. Fox released a re-invigoration of X-Men going back to the early days of Professor X in X-Men: First Class and DC unfortunately missed the mark with Green Lantern. Last year blew me away though with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises three of the four big superhero movie powerhouses put everything they had in to these films and they were incredible.

The superhero film genre has risen over the last twenty or so years to become films that provide drama, comedy, explosions and an all round entertaining visit to the cinemas.

The Watch – DVD Review

When you see the cast, Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade… you think “cool, that might be pretty good”.

When you see that it’s a movie about a neighbourhood watch group taking on aliens… you think “ok, that sound strange but yeah… it might be alright”.

When you see the movie you’ll think… “That was a god awful movie… I want my money back”.

The Watch is out on DVD now and this is a review… but also a warning… to not buy it. If you absolutely must see it… rent it… on like cheap tuesday or something. This movie is not worth the disc it’s burnt to.

 

Ben Stiller plays a Wal Mart manager who has his life pretty much sorted for him in the quiet community he lives in. But when the night security guard is killed at his store he forms a neighbourhood watch group to find the killer since the police don’t seem to care. The group attacks only three other members, Vince Vaughn as a seemingly single Dad who has a rebellious teenage daughter, Jonah Hill plays a high school drop out who failed to make it as a police cadet and Richard Ayoade as an odd british man who is new to the neighbourhood. A couple of sex jokes and useless profanity later they discover that an alien is responsible and a few more sex jokes and useless profanities later the movie is over. Slight twist that I won’t give away but in the long run. Nothing really happens.

Some bits are slightly funny but overall. Steer well clear of this movie. If you want a good aliens-attack-neighbourhood movie… see Attack the Block.

 

Just terrible… 1 Star

The Watch is out now on DVD… but don’t bother.

Wreck-It Ralph – Review

Wreck-It Ralph is a movie produced by Disney Animation Studios that looks and feels like it was produced by Pixar (it even has an animated short before the film starts). Whatever the arm of Disney this film comes from, the film is brilliant.

Wreck-It Ralph is set in Litwack’s Arcade, a simple neighbourhood arcade filled with games from all generations. One game that has stood the test of time in the Arcade is Fix-It Felix Jr. a game that features our titular character, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) wrecking an apartment building and the game’s titular character, Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) (you’ll never see this coming) fixing the building.

When the arcade closes and everybody goes home the game characters can take a well deserved break. Some visit other games like Pac-Man, where Clyde (one of the Pac-Man ghosts) holds the Bad Guy Support Group or Tapper (a bar-tending game from the 80s) where the game characters go to blow off steam. However it’s in the support group that we realise that Wreck-It Ralph, after 30 years of wrecking, has grown tired of being the bad guy and for once in his life, just wants to be appreciated. And so begins Ralph’s search for a medal which he thinks will give him the respect he desires.

Game Jumping through Hero’s Duty (a First-Person-Shooter) and Sugar Rush (a candy-coated racing game) and simply moving through the bustling Game Central Station, Ralph meets many original and classic game characters. The world of the arcade and the way the games are all connected is beautifully constructed. Even the subtleties like the way cake splashes on a wall is done in an 8-bit video-gamey way. I especially liked the way the citizens of Fix-It Felix Jr. moved, with a slight jerkiness you would expect from a game developed in the 80s. The film is also filled with little homages to so many video games its a rights acquisition departments nightmare.

Wreck-It Ralph also has these very cute moments and towards the end of the film you’ve found that you have bonded with these characters so when it comes to the crunch you tend to feel something for them especially the cute brat Venellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who in my opinion stole the show as Ralph’s pseudo side-kick. The other main character, Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun of Hero’s Duty (Jane Lynch, who seems to only be able to play one character these days) I found interesting at times but out of the four protagonists she was my least favourite. Rounding out the cast is King Candy the ruler of Sugar Rush (Brilliantly voiced by Alan Tudyk) as the films main protagonist.

This movie really has a sweet story and loveable characters and despite getting a tad convoluted sometimes, is a perfect film for the whole family. Kids will love the characters and the colour, and the older generations will love the homages to the arcade games from the 80s and 90s. A film definitely worth seeing these school holidays.

4 Stars

Wreck-It Ralph is in cinemas now.

Skyfall – Review

I know you have probably all heard it before but BOND IS BACK! …And this time it’s personal.

M orders a MI6 agent to take an unclean shot on Bond and a crony who has stolen a hard drive containing names and identities of double agents in criminal organisations all over the world. The shot hits 007 and he is knocked from the top of a train (of all places). With Bond missing in action believed dead and the hard drive now in the hands of the enemy there are questions to answer for M and all of MI6 is brought under scrutiny. The security of MI6 is questioned even more when a hacker seems to be able to infiltrate the MI6 firewalls and systems with ease. But he seems not to be targeting MI6… He’s after M.

Once again we have Daniel Craig playing the Blonde Bond, Judi Dench as M and Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner the MI6 chief of staff and M’s aide, similar to the pervious Craig films. But now we add Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Naomi Harris as Eve, and Ben Winshaw as Q, the MI6 quartermaster to the team of good guys. Also starring in this film is Skyfall’s baddie, Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva and the Bond Girl Bérénice Lim Marlohe as Sévérine.

The film calls on a lot of the flare from the old bond films and hopefully it will last because the last two films were a little low on ‘Bond-ness’. Skyfall brings back the the car, the gadgets, the corny lines and the action like the Bond movies of old, but still hanging on to the newer films grittier feel. If this is a sign of things to come, bring on Bond 24!

4 Stars

Skyfall is in cinemas now.

Argo – Review

Set in the late 1970s Argo is based on the true story of a CIA operation that freed six diplomats from Iran during a revolt against the American embassy. The operation? Well to create a completely fake film production and disguise the six staff as members of the film crew.

Ben Affleck stars (as Tony Mendez) and directs in this film that recreates the now declassified ‘Hollywood option’. It stars Bryan Cranston as Tony’s CIA supervisor, Jack O’Donnell and John Goodman and Alan Arkin as the Hollywood contacts, John Chambers and Lester Siegel. Tate Donovan (as Robert Anders), Clea DuVall (as Cora Amburn-Lijek), Chirstopher Denham (as Mark Lijek), Scoot McNairy (as Joseph Stafford), Kerry Bishé (as Kathleen Stafford) and Rory Cochrane (as Lee Schatz) round out the cast as the six ‘houseguests’ who are protected by Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor, played by Victor Garber.

The film is funny, insightful and suspenseful. I found myself very interested in the story despite the six ‘houseguests’ being more or less uninteresting maybe even whiny. The American stationed side of the operation (including the team at Hollywood) was much more interesting. Hell, even the Canadian ambassador was a better character. Now I understand that the portrayal is probably true to story but maybe just a little more vigour in the acting would have made it better.

Acting aside, this film is definitely one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Such an interesting story that until I heard about the film being made I had never heard of (Ah the life of a young person ay?). Affleck successfully directs this film. He pulls off the suspense expected from the story but successfully adds some humor and a few light-hearted moments to make this a very enjoyable mix of emotions.

I recommend this film for anyone who is keen to learn a little about American history, the CIA an maybe even the film industry (just a little).

4.5 stars

Argo is in cinemas now.

Ted – Review

Ted is vulgar, offensive, distasteful … and fantastic.

There’s something about a sex-obsessed, pot-smoking teddy bear that’s kind of endearing. Although it was difficult at first not to envisage Peter Griffin every time he spoke, Ted really grew on me.

It’s a familiar story line: man’s relationship is put in jeopardy due to lazy, irresponsible housemate. In this case, the slacker housemate just happens to be a life-size, talking teddy. The film adheres to the expected conventions of this genre, whilst throwing in large doses of humour and vulgarity for good measure. It fulfils and contradicts audience expectations all at once, which results in an oddly enjoyable experience.

In the same vein as recent release The Dictator, Ted goes for the shock factor. There’s potty humour and religious jokes galore, and one very memorable scene in which Ted squirts sunscreen all over his face in a bid to win the affections of a co-worker. In a time of extreme political correctness, audiences seem to be revelling in films that fly in the face of all that is deemed socially acceptable. It’s no wonder then that Ted is currently the most popular film in Australia. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more films like this in the not-too-distant future.

If you’re craving something different, and more than a little cheeky, you can trust that Ted will deliver. On the other hand, if you’re easily offended, you might want to give this one a miss.

4 stars

Ted is in cinemas now.

This review was written by  Cassandra Meehan

The Amazing Spider-Man – Review

In these current times nothing is more common than a movie sequel, adaptation or reboot. Yep franchises are the only way to fly in the film industry, in most cases, its a safe and sure bet. Enter the Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s new version of their not so amazing trilogy that went out with a very underwhelming finale. But I have to say… This time, they got it right!

Peter Parker is a young man living with his aunt and uncle in New York City, this much you already knew… What we didn’t know is why or how our young Spidey-To-Be is the way he is. In this film, Richard and Mary Parker leave Peter with Aunt May and Uncle Ben after their home was ransacked. Richard is a geneticist with some dark secrets and very dangerous research. Peter’s parents leave that night and never return.

Fast forward to present day and Peter (Andrew Garfield) is a senior at High School. He’s a photographer, very smart but not a nerd just a little awkward. Completely different and refreshing personality. There’s a girl (there always is) but not who the typical audience would expect, this time its back to the comics with Peter’s first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (played by a blonde Emma Stone).

Becoming Spider-Man is a little “Second ‘verse, same as the first”… There isn’t really a way around it but it is nice the skip over the sort of things we’ve seen before. This change is much more interesting and sped up. Which gives the story more flow. The story, while people would think that they’ve seen it before, “why see it again?”, is very different to the 2002 Spider-Man it almost feels like its a more realistic story yet it sticks to the comic books. So pretty much… It’s Awesome! If I’m going to criticise this film, it would be that Spidey takes off his mask way too much! And people’s sections to Peter being Spider-Man is a little underwhelming.

The comedy and timing of the dialogue is great and it just feels like they weren’t trying as hard as the original. That’s not a bad thing by the way, it’s great to have Marc Webb at the helm. You’ll remember Marc Webb as the director of one of my favourite films, 500 Days of Summer. He once again provides us with a very good film that never feels to epic but somehow seems to pull if off anyway.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone play Peter and Gwen very well, their romance seemed to skip a few stages at times but I’m fine with them being on the cutting room floor, because it still worked. Rhys Ifans plays Dr. Curt Connors, an Oscorp geneticist who worked with Peter’s father before he disappeared. Connors lost his arm before the story begins and attempts to find a way to regrow it with lizard gene tissue. This goes horribly wrong and the villain of the film, The Lizard is born.

Ben and May Parker are played by Martin Sheen and Sally Field, they portray a younger couple than the ones in the original films. But they are still a very nice couple instilling their kindness and sense of responsibility in Peter. Irrfan Khan plays Dr. Rajit Ratha, a devoted Oscorp employee and Denis Leary rounds out the key cast as NYPD Captain and Gwen’s father, George Stacy. Stan Lee also cameos in one of his best yet! Keep an eye out for that!

Bottom Line: Some would say that this reboot is purely for Sony to keep the rights to make Spider-Man films… In my opinion they can keep them. The Amazing Spider-Man was made with care and a level head. I hope this film franchise doesn’t go the way of the last because this honestly felt and looked so much better. I really enjoyed this movie, it has brought Spider-Man back to life.

3 Stars

The Amazing Spider-Man is in cinemas in NT and QLD now and swings in to cinemas other states tomorrow.

Brave – Review

Disney and Pixar create a new Disney Princess in the new movie, Brave.

Its a different take on Pixar films – similar to Up, its set in a slightly more real world than Toy Story, Finding Nemo or Monsters Inc. with Humans being (mostly) the only talking, intelligent creatures.

In Brave, Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a princess of the DunBroch clan, daughter of Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Elinor (Emma Thompson). She is a bit of a tomboy growing up. Preferring riding, exploring and archery to more ‘princess worthy’ pastimes. She and her mother have never really seen eye to eye, but the final straw for Merida is to be married off to one of the sons of the other three clans. What to do? Follow the Disney rule… “Got a Problem? Go see a witch!”

The animation is, as always, beautiful. Merida’s wild red hair and the fur of the bears (I know there are no bears in Scotland but it all makes sense in the film) flows and moves as if it was real. Pixar just make things one step more beautiful every film they make. Only flaws in this film I could point out is that the story seems a little forced at some points or even sped up for very little reason. It can sometimes seen a little obvious at points.

Bottom Line: Brave is a really nice take on Scottish legend and is a great film for the whole family. It provides a strong female role model for young girls as well as some very good comedic moments usually from Fergus or Merida’s three younger brothers.

3 Stars

 

La Luna

La Luna is the Pixar short that is attached to Brave. It is a lovely little film perfectly executed with very little dialogue that isn’t even dialogue it’s mumbling gibberish. The film is about Bambino and his first outing with his father, Papa and grandfather, Nonno as they go to clean up stars that fall on the moon.

Bottom Line: La Luna is Sweet and Mesmerising.

4.5 Stars

Brave is in cinemas now. La Luna appears before the main feature.

Rock of Ages – Review

Broadway Stage meets Silver Screen once again with ‘juke-box’ musical, Rock of Ages!

It’s a typical story of mid-western girl who travels to LA to find fame and glory as a singer. There she falls in love with the first guy she talks to. Gets a job that people would kill for and is pretty much set for life in the city of angels. Until lead rocker of Arsenal, Stacee Jaxx performs at the Burbon Room. The story leads our characters to more or less stereotypical scenarios. With a few interesting/funny twists.

While we’re on the story, the script is… well… flawed. Corny one liners, obvious plot developments and some flat characters. Despite this, the film is lots of fun. You get a chance to sing along to some of your favourite rock songs from the 80s, like Just Like Paradise, I Love Rock and Roll and a double header from Journey with Anyway You Want It and Don’t Stop Believing. I found my self laughing at the stupid things the actors did and I would say that this film would have been so much fun to make.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for something fun to watch on a Saturday Night with a group of friends, this is definitely that something. Lots of fun, lighthearted, and it features some of the greatest songs in the world! If you want nothing but a good time, any way you want it, if you wanna rock or know what love is then the cinema isn’t too far away… this movie will rock you like a hurricane! I really wanted to say that!

2.5 Stars

Rock of Ages is in cinemas now!