The Man from U.N.C.L.E – Review

A film that was greatly under appreciated during its release.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a re-telling of the 1960s television show that puts American and Russian spies, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin together to stop evil organisations.

The film version is directed by Guy Ritchie and as with many other Ritchie films, features his distinctive style. Particularly the use of split screen and revealing plot details by showing you footage you’ve already seen in a different context.

Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are played by Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (the Superman and Batman that could have been). This team is rounded out by East German Gabby Teller (played by Alicia Vikander) the estranged daughter of a former Nazi scientist who is being co-opted by Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra (Luca Calvani and Elizabeth Debicki), a wealthy Nazi sympathising couple into developing a nuclear weapon for them.

What proceeds is a series of espionage between our protagonists and antagonists as well as the odd double crossing within the protagonists team itself. There’s some light hearted quips and some fun visual comedy sprinkled through the film.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is such a fun film that it needs to be seen. While the film leaves the door open for a sequel it’s not all that likely, given that the box office results were not quite what Warner Bros. we’re hoping for and that Henry will most likely be tied up with his role as Superman (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spoiler there). This film is an absolute gem.

4 Stars

Man from.U.N.C.L.E can be streamed now on Netflix.

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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.

Seven Psychopaths – Review

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Seven Psychopaths is one of those films that clearly no one knew was about. In the screening I was in, three older ladies left about 15 minutes in and never came back. In another screening I heard about people were vocal about how it was not what they expected. “I thought this was supposed to be funny” was alone heard by a friend of mine in another screening. This movie in that case, I will say is an acquired taste. This film has a black comedy swing to it in the style of a pseudo Tarrentino flick. Lots of over the top blood splatter and a hilarious look in to the minds of different psychopaths.

All this is happening while Marty (Colin Farrell) is writing a screenplay titled ‘Seven Psychopaths’ about the psychopaths that feature in the film. This film is brilliantly paced and the violence and comedy nicely balanced. At sometimes I found myself laughing out loud at this fantastic film.

Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken execute their roles perfectly and I mean what would you expect from some of the world’s best actors. Woody Harrelson also plays a brilliant psychopath who only seems to care about his missing dog. Also keep an eye out for the very sexy Aussie Abbie Cornish. The writer/director Martin McDonagh was a playwright and now a screenwriter/director. He has directed two films before this one, Six Shooter (2006) and In Bruges (2008).

One of the best films for the year, Seven Psychopaths is a great example of the sort of original film that there should be more of in this time of sequels and remakes.

4 Stars

Seven Psychopaths 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 Adventures of Tin Tin – Review

Tin Tin was a journalist who first appeared in a comic book in 1929. Since then he, his dog Snowy, bumbling policemen Thomson and Thompson and the seafaring Captain Haddock have appeared in cartoons stop-motion features, live-action, and now, performance capture animation, and boy, does it look good! The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn is directed by Steven Spielberg, Produced by Peter Jackson and written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish… Truly an ultimate team, and it works. the film looks incredible and the story is funny and exciting. I haven’t seen a film like this in years!

The Secret of the Unicorn stems from three of the Adventures of Tin Tin comics, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. The story centres on hidden clues found inside three models of an old Man ‘o’ War ship, the Unicorn. The clues lead to a secret cargo that the unicorn was believed to have been carrying. Tin Tin stumbles in to the race to find the treasure when he buys one of the models. He begins to investigate which lands him in all sorts of trouble. After a series of captivating scenes, he meets Captain Haddock, a decedent of the Unicorn’s captain, and the last person alive to know the secret of the Unicorn… If only he could remember.

Jamie Bell (a grown up Billy Elliot) voices Tin Tin, Andy Serkis (Gollum in LOTR and this year’s Hobbit) brilliantly voices Captain Haddock, Daniel Craig is the Villainous Ivan Ivanovich, while Simon Pegg and Nick Frost voice Thomson and Thompson. The cast did brilliantly and in my opinion, the voices were spot on! The Animation (brought to you by WETA) should also get a nod for being amazing!

I thoroughly recommend this film. It’s a perfect one for the whole family. It seems the team will continue this film in a trilogy, with Jackson directing the second and a Spielberg/Jackson team up for the finale. With any luck these films will be in the same class as this one.

4 Stars

The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn is in cinemas now.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Review

In the midst of the Second World War, the Americans joined the efforts against the Nazi threat. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) attempts to join the U.S. Army to fight in the name of his father, who fought in WW1. Unfortunately, due to a list of medical conditions and his scrawny phisique, a topic of many jokes during the film, he is rejected. After five tries in five different cities, Rogers is given the chance to serve.

He is chosen for a super soldier program, headed by German Ex-Pat, Abraham Erskine and the father of Iron Man, Howard Stark. After the programs’ sucess and first result of Roger’s new abilities, he is put on the theatre circut to raise War Bonds. He is named Captain America and becomes a symbol of the American’s efforts against Germany.

Captain America is then sent to Europe to inspire the troops where he finally puts his abilites to good use… Rescuing his best friend and the rest of the 107th from the clutches of the evil super-soldier-gone-wrong, Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Now seen as a hero of the U.S. Army, Captain America and his band of soldiers take out Red Skull’s remaining ‘HYDRA’ bases. The last base in the Alps is the headquarters of ‘HYDRA’ and the home of Red Skull and his ultimate weapon, derived from a tesseract that belonged to the god, Odin. Red Skull and Captain America fight each other as the fate of America’s largest cities and the world hang in the balance.

Captain America: The First Avenger is the third Marvel movie this year and the last one before the currently in-production, Avengers flick. The film sported good scenes with humour and action as well as the most obvious tie-ins to the Avengers franchise to date… The HYDRA superweapon is derived from Asgard technology, from Thor, while a major character in this film is Tony Stark’s father, as well as the usual cameo from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), foreshadowing the involvement in the Avengers, because the title, “The First Avenger” apparently isn’t enough.

I found the movie was good, however, I think I enjoyed X-Men: First Class more. I have been a fan of the Captain nythos since the 90’s cartoon, Spider-Man, where the events of WW2 are reserected and Red Skull and Captain America come out of a time-locked vortex and I found it interesting how they played around with his journey to the present in this story. Overall, Captain America: The First Avenger was very enjoyable and I cannot wait for The Avengers, next year.

Captain America: The First Avenger is in cinemas now.
4 Stars

X-Men: First Class – Review

X-Men returns in this prequel that could be the best film in the franchise… Directed by Brit, Matthew Vaughn (known for directing Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Kick-Ass) and starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Kevin Bacon, this movie takes a look at the early days of Professor X and Magneto… It’s another X-Men Origins story but this one shits all over Wolverine!

First Class opens in 1944 with Erik Lehnsherr, a young boy whose parents were taken away and killed during the Holocaust. His powers were enhanced by Schmidt when he killed Erik’s mother in front of his eyes. Also during 1944 in New York, a young Charles Xavier meets Raven a ten year old shapeshifter, the young Mystique. Years later, Erik has honed his powers and is going around seeking vengeance against former soldiers of the Nazi Party. Meanwhile Charles, a graduate at Oxford University, and Raven, a waitress live together while Xavier finishes his thesis on Mutation and becomes a proper Professor. In the US, a man by the name of Sebastian Shaw, who hasn’t aged since he was a soldier during the Second World War… named Schmidt… is gearing up to start World War Three by positioning nuclear missiles in Turkey and Cuba, aimed at the Soviets and the US respectively. With the help of the CIA, Charles along with Erik and Raven seek and recruit fellow mutants to try to stop Shaw in his plot to rid the world of humans and advance the Mutant Race.

The film has received very positive reviews despite the disappointing box office results. Matthew Vaughn, has done very well making this movie and he has put himself in a position as a great Superhero Filmmaker. Good points of X-Men: First Class include the montages, first when Charles and Erik are recruiting (including a brilliant cameo from Hugh Jackman, Wolverine) and secondly when Charles trains his First Class at his old mansion, the site for Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, these two montages were beautifully done the latter featuring very effective split screen techniques. Down sides include as with almost all superhero movies is the part where they come up with their superhero names (seriously, look at almost every movie, that part is always shit) other than that I can’t fault the first instalment in what Fox foresee as a possible trilogy. It was humorous at points and it’s good humour, not crappy american humour… because it’s directed by a Brit. Intellectual and Action-Packed, X-Men: First Class is and will be the Best Superhero movie of the year!

X-Men: First Class

4 Stars

Batman – Review

PART ONE: Batman


Directed By: Tim Burton

Written By: Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren

Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Michael Gough and Kim Basinger

Gross: $411,348,924 (Worldwide)

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: 31st August 1989 (Australia)

Runtime: 126 min

Batman is such a fantastic movie. It was the first movie with a truly gritty Batman. Long gone were the days of Adam West and Burt Ward on the screens as the dynamic duo. Tim Burton, then famous for Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Frankenweenie, was asked to direct a Batman movie by Warner Bros. after the success of the comic books “The Dark Knight Returns” and “The Killing Joke”. Batman got the green light in 1988 after the success of Beetlejuice.

The Batman terrorises the criminal world as a mysterious vigilante until one fateful night when a member of a crime syndicate, Jack Napier is transformed in to the insane Joker, who plots to rule Gotham City. Batman reveals him self to Gotham City during battles between the Joker and the legend of the Dark Knight is born. Meanwhile, millionaire Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne courts photographer Vicki Vale, however both lives cross thanks to the Joker’s interventions.

This movie had just the right amount of darkness as well as a little humour and campy-ness that harks back to the sixty’s adventures of the caped crusader. All in all, this film is really good and masterfully made. It has served as a base for many, maybe even all Batman movies since.

4 Stars

Batman is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80’s & 90’s” Batman Films (Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin).

(500) Days Of Summer – Review

One of my favourite movies of all time… nuff said. This movie has two fantastic actors who play two very good characters. (500) Days Of Summer is not a love story, it is so much better. Tom, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Summer, Zooey Deschanel lives cross when Summer starts working at the greeting card office that Tom works for, that’s day one… the following 500 days are shown out of order but in a way that is easy to understand what is going on. This is a refreshing take on the conventional romance movies in which it is usually the girl who believes in happily ever after and then in the end it happens. (500) Days Of Summer is different.

Directed by Marc Webb (now working on The Amazing Spider-Man) this movie has beautiful scenes and shots as they are strung together by a fantastic soundtrack with songs by The Temper Trap, Regina Spektor, Hall & Oates and many more. The film has funny moments as well as ones that tug the heart strings a little. All in all (I know this post is short but it just means you have to see this film) this movie is one for everyone.

4 Stars

You can find (500) Days Of Summer on DVD and Blu-Ray in all good DVD stores now.