Reviews of this month’s film....
On DVD this month...
What’s being released on DVD this March
In cinema next month...
What’s being released in cinemas next April
Charlie Derry @charliederry http://www.charliederry.com email@example.com
Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn http://filmcraziest.wordpress.com/
Editor’s Note: What an issue we have this month! Special thanks to our contributors for filling it completely!
Chris Bone @Boney88 http://www.intuition-online.co.uk/ profile.php?profile=482 Paul Weedon @Twotafkap http://paulweedon.co.uk
Reviews of this monthâ€™s film...
Side Effects Serving as Steven Soderbergh’s final film, Side Effects is a psychological thriller that re-unites the director with his Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. Following a troubled young woman named Emily (Rooney Mara), the film looks at the unexpected side effects that prescribed drugs can have, as Emily is prescribed Ablixa by her psychiatrist (Jude Law), a drug intended to treat anxiety but one that has a surprising effect on her relationship with her newly paroled husband Martin (Channing Tatum). As Emily’s world slowly unravels, is everything as simple as it originally seems, or are there more side effects to be uncovered? Side Effects is a brilliantly paced and cleverly constructed thriller with constant twists that you won’t see coming. Having written about the film beforehand and seeing the numerous trailers, I would have never predicted how the story was going to progress, and certainly wouldn’t have imagined its outcome. The films disturbing revelations come surprise after surprise, and to mention any more in terms of
plot would be a discredit to the brilliantly written script. A great thing about Soderbergh’s films is that he always handles the genre and its themes perfectly. Mental health has been explored quite a lot in recent cinema, with The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and Silver Linings Playbook being the best of the bunch, but whilst Side Effects deals primarily with similar issues, it instead puts its focus on the drugs used to help keep such an illness under control. Much like with Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion, writer Scott Z. Burns is a master of factbased scenarios; as easy as it was to believe the information given about an international killer virus, it’s just as easy to be taken in by the serious facts discussed here, especially when you’re made aware that more US citizens die from prescription drug abuse than they do from car accidents. Another strong quality of Side Effects is the cast, each of whom give outstanding and engaging performances throughout. Channing Tatum doesn’t have a great amount of screen time, and I would have happily seen more of
Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry
Catherine Zeta-Jones who gives one of her best performances in years. Jude Law, especially, is brilliantly cast as he goes from empathetic to ruthless detective superbly. It is Rooney Mara that excels though, creating a brilliant atmospheric darkness with her character that shadows the whole film. As they are all quite unsympathetic characters, Soderbergh is able to be daring in where he takes the film, as he puts his characters through the worst of it without the audience being effected by their motives. But whilst these twists play tricks on your mind, Side Effects also tampers with the way you view the film, as it is filmed in a hazy, soft focus. It really does look great and this filming method suits the film perfectly. As a fitting sign-off for the director, it’s worth being reminded of his directorial debut Sex, Lies, And Videotapes, as all three of these elements are brought together at the end of this film as well. Done purposefully or not, Side Effects is definitely my favourite Soderbergh film so far, and it will be a huge shame if it is his last. Either way, he couldn’t have left on a better high.
8th March 2013
Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, and Catherine Zeta-Jones
Robot & Frank Release Date:
8th March 2013
Peter Sarsgaard, Frank Langella, and Susan Sarandon
Written by Paul Weedon @Twotafkap
At a time when the “indie” genre has become synonymous with twee pop soundtracks and angsty teenage miserablism, there’s something undeniably refreshing about director Jake Schreier’s striking debut, which places a curmudgeonly Frank Langella at the centre of this accessible, engaging and often extremely funny exploration of the difficult issues of aging and mental deterioration. Langella gives a charming performance as an aging jewel thief who is offered a domestic robot by his son to help him cope with the increasingly apparent effects of his dementia. Though initially hesitant to embrace the support of his new mechanical helper, Frank quickly warms to the robot when he grows wise to its potential for helping him restart his career as a cat burglar and thus an unexpected friendship is formed. The crotchety elderly singleton, largely despaired of and ignored by his children, may be a familiar narrative
device when dealing with familial dysfunction, but Schreier admirably chooses to shirk the more obvious tropes associated with geriatric protagonists. Frank may be bitter, impatient and steadfastly opposed to change, but these issues stem more from the confusion caused by his condition rather than
“Robot & Frank is elevated to greatness by the sheer warmth and charm of Langella’s performance.” a stubborn unwillingness to conform to the fast-paced changes of the modern world. Schreier elects instead to offer an objective reflection on the impact on future technology, rather than an outright admonishment from an elderly perspective. As the film progresses, we see Frank come to accept, albeit somewhat
begrudgingly, the assistance that Robot provides, gradually warming to and willingly engaging with the technological advancements that are taking place around him. A mawkish finale draws things to a mildly disappointing conclusion, especially given that much of the film’s brief runtime is spent tiptoeing around brazen sentimentality, but Robot & Frank is nevertheless elevated to greatness by the sheer warmth and charm of Langella’s performance - a role that is, by turns, both gently amusing and poignantly affecting. Imbued with a rich, playful tone and understated visual flair, Schreier’s film is a contemplative, sweetnatured piece of independent filmmaking, which marks out its director as an exciting new talent to watch. Be sure to seek it out immediately.
Written by Paul Weedon @Twotafkap
e h T : Oz & t a e Gr l u f r e w o P
Discovering the origins of L. Frank Baum‘s classic children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and a sort-of prequel to the classic 1939 film of the same name, Oz: The Great and Powerful follows a smalltime magician (James Franco) who arrives in an enchanted land ruled by three witches – Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams). Directed by Sam Raimi, the film focuses on how the Wizard arrived in Oz and became the ruler. But will he be a good man, or a great one? Having read the majority of average reviews for Oz: The Great and Powerful beforehand, I wasn’t expecting a lot as I took my seat in the cinema. Consequently, I loved it. Sam Raimi brings Oz back to life in all its magnificence as the films biggest highlights is its visuals. Sharing some of the same characteristics as the classic Oz film we all know, Oz: The Great and Powerful begins in black and white and, as Oz enters into the wonderful land of Oz, the scenery bursts into colour. With some brilliant 3D moments, these first few minutes in Oz are beautiful and show just how far cinema has come. Of course it wasn’t ever going to live up to the original, but it sure makes a fun and magical follow-up. It was enjoyable in itself to see how Oz came into power. Having not read the book myself, the story was
competent enough to keep you engaged, even though it wasn’t excessively clever. Also using the some of the same characters in both worlds to keep the connection between Kansas and Oz vivid, we are constantly reminded of the original film, a characteristic that I really enjoyed. Some, however, felt that Raimi was trying to live up to a film that he could never better, but I found the small similarities a friendly nod to the classic rather than something that the director should be criticised for. It would be beyond ridiculous to expect anything even close to the 1939 film, so making the comparisons at all wouldn’t make for a fair review. What were people expecting, really? The cast alone sets the film up as a strong but also campy and modern re-imagination of L. Frank Baum‘s novel. Whilst at times I felt that some of the casting was a little muddled, at the same time I enjoyed how this gave the film a theatrical quality, which in the end is what I liked most about it. James Franco didn’t suit the role perfectly and his character wasn’t particularly likeable for most of the film, but he gave a decent performance nonetheless and his role held up pretty well by the end. Yet again, though, it was Michelle Williams who stood out for me, showing that she can play a glamorous, good witch just as much as she can a broken-down wife. I absolutely adore her and
I think she was a huge asset to the film overall. Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis are also quite fun to watch, both giving entertaining performances as the bad witches of Oz, although they do have more similarities to the Wicked stage show than they do to the truly terrifying witches of the original. It’s Zach Braff who will have you laughing though, and I certainly laughed a lot! It may not be groundbreaking, but I found Oz: The Great and Powerful thoroughly entertaining. If you go in expecting a bit of fun with the classic story, then that is what you’ll get; we have to remember what we’re promised in the first place, and that was never the masterpiece people were hoping to be surprised by.
Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry Release Date:
8th March 2013
Director: Sam Raimi
James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz , Mila Kunis, and Zach Braff
Red Dawn Jed Eckhart, an experienced soldier, leads a group of teenagers to the forest as a way of escaping the North Korean soldiers that have just attacked their town. Soon enough, they form a terrorist group called the Wolverines, and they plan to take the town back from the North Koreans. Directed by newcomer to the directing game, Dan Bradley, this is a remake of the 1984 cult classic of the same name. Apparently, the only thing that is really changed is the invaders are North Korean, and not Soviets like in the original. You may think that sounds like a promising story, but you’d be wrong. That might sound like a promising story,
but it really isn’t, especially because it’s extremely unlikely that North Korea could manage to invade the United States. The film opens with some compiled archive footage explaining a situation in North Korea where Kim Jong Il has recently died, and the people are furious for whatever reason. It just feels like a disorganized, haphazard history lesson. The plot moves well, but there really isn’t any story at all. It’s just a series of events where The Wolverines attack North Korean forces, steal flat bread, meat and soda from a Subway, and just generally wreak havoc as a way to take back their town. The action
hardly stops, and that’s nice for action lovers, but it doesn’t allow time for solid character or plot development. The action is essentially: explosion, gun shot, explosion, gun shot. For any lover of war violence, they’ll eat it up, but it certainly doesn’t measure up to even a poor war film, and compared to Saving Private Ryan, this looks like it was made by a two-year old. Sometimes the suspension of disbelief is really stretched. At some points, the North Koreans had perfect opportunities to shoot at the so-called Wolverines, but they didn’t take that golden opportunity. Or, they missed by a long while. Wouldn’t they have had
military training? Who’s training them, Forrest Gump? “Just keep shooting, and shooting, and shooting. That’s all I have to say about that.” The dialogue is moronic, with people constantly using slang and just acting stupid. It feels like it’s written by a white thirteen year old wannabee gangster. The non-stop action can get tedious and repetitive. One other poor thing about the film is the characters. They are one-dimensional, and it’s hard to care for any of them. Their motivations are to become heroes of the town and avenge the lives of their loved ones, and take their homes back. They are not easy to admire or respect, so when any of them gets killed off,
the viewer could easily rub it off their shoulders and forget about it. Whenever the film tries to put in any character development, it’s pretty mediocre, and frankly, boring. The list of Red Dawn’s redeeming qualities is a very short one. The actors are good, but their source material is bad. That’s about it. The acting is bad and the cinematography is very shaky, and the storyline isn’t a thick one. If you still feel you must see this, go in expecting a generally poor feature with amateurish direction.
15th March 2013
Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Isabel Lucas, and Josh Hutcherson
Written by Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn
Written by Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn
Written by Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn
The Guilt Trip Around the holiday season, there is usually that one memorable, smart and fresh comedy that everyone is dying to see; and a forgettable flick such as The Guilt Trip ain’t it. Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is an innovative organic chemist who is about to go on the road to sell his product called Scieoclean, a new cleaning product that’s so safe, one can drink it. The credits open to Andy’s mother, Joyce (Barbara Streisand), calling and leaving him about forty-two messages. He stays at her house for a few days, getting prepared for the big road trip. Joyce tells Andy about a boy she knew back when she was a young woman on the prowl; and Andy gets the sudden idea of making these
two folks reunite with each other all these years later. That plan involves inviting her along for the eight-day drive. Along the way, they listen to some nasty audio book, gamble, try to take care of business, run into a conflict or two, and eat a steak the size of a poodle. The majority of which is revealed in the film’s trailer. The Guilt Trip is a satisfying nibble (if you’re not expecting much) at expressing familyconnectedness this holiday season, but it’s a disappointing bite because it doesn’t offer many big laughs. It is obvious that this will have a premise as tiredsome and old as someone’s great grandmother. It’s also very predictable and extremely familiar.
The best thing about is the fact that it isn’t unwatchable. It’s a forgettable affair, yes, but it’s an okay ride to go through the motions in the passenger’s seat with for the eight days of holiday cheer (next time, they should celebrate Hannukah simultaneously). The two stars are some of the only aspects that keep the audience’s attention. The mismatched pair create some fine chemistry. Chemistry implying on-screen chemistry, not Andy’s organic chemistry experiments. They are not the greatest pair of all, but they make the experience better than it would be with any other two stars. They carry the film well, as any other performer in the flick are practically
there for just a cameo. Is the chemistry so real that Joyce might have actually given birth to Andy, which we’re supposed to believe? Not really, but I’d believe that Joyce could have adopted Andy when he was a little toddler. In that way, the chemistry isn’t perfect, but it really is the highlight of the picture. Their chemistry is off toward the beginning, but it’s supposed to be. Their chemistry is off toward the beginning because it’s supposed to be, and the film shows the two grow as a mother-and-son unit as they
spend more and more time together. Andy is so annoyed by his mother that it starts to get annoying to viewer themself, but it’s understandable because Joyce has an over-bearing personality. It’s also a nice change of pace to see Rogen in a not-so crude role. The initial emotional void of sorts in their relationship toward the beginning starts to vanish and they come closer together. Just the way a predictable holiday season flick like this should be. Who wouldn’t want to spend eight days in a little clown car with their mother?...
8th March 2013
Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen, and Julene Renee-Preciado
Written by Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) was that one kid who always got picked on growing up. Then he received the Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) magic kit for his birthday and... well, nothing changed with the bullying aspect. Though, he gained inspiration and a lifelong friend out of it, the person who will be soon be known as Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). Burt wants to become a magician and that’s just what he does. Skip ahead to when they’ve been a headlining act in Vegas for ten years. A new street performer, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), comes on the scene and, in retrospect, makes Burt and Anton’s show feel extremely stale, especially because they’ve been doing the same old thing for the past ten years. The only thing that sometimes changes is the pretty assistant that helps them. In order to become popular again, Burt and Anton must learn to settle their differences and Burt must discover again what made him fall in love with magic in the first place. The plot is about learning to adjust and be a flexible person, something that Burt must learn. It’s successful on that level. The audience can feel for the characters because all of us would like to see Burt and Anton be successful again and settle their differences, but the point
of this isn’t to be meaningful, at all. It’s essentially a buddy comedy of meeting half-way, and Burt and Anton’s climb back to the top. Oh, and it’s a silly way to show how far these actors would go for a laugh. There are plenty of cool magic tricks, silly stunts, hit-and-miss gags (most hit), and a lot of the performers dress up in funky costumes and wigs. There aren’t too many characters, and they’re all developed in a mostly general way. Burt is just a selfish sexfiendish magician who should learn to become more selfless (and the character might actually fit Will Ferrell better than Carell); Anton is Burt’s magic partner who puts up with his nonsense; Jane (Olivia Wilde) is a former assistant of Burt and Anton who’s an aspiring magician herself; Rance is a magic veteran who Burt finds a friend in; Doug (James Gandolfini) is the traditional Las Vegas self-centered hotel owner; and Steve Gray is the ridiculous Criss Angel-esque street performer, who even has a show called Brain Rapist. Everyone is good in their roles but, as expected, Jim Carrey is the real scene-stealer. He gets some of the biggest laughs, and does some of the nastiest gags. He’s playing a loony bird, and that’s what he’s at his finest. This just goes to show that Carrey
can be much better than Carell when they’re in the same film, and even today, a lot of people might pick Bruce Almighty over Evan Almighty almost any day. Even when the film isn’t that funny, the movie tries, and that’s easy to admire. The only part that is easy to hate is really the beginning, because of two extremely annoying kids - Mason Cook (though, he might still be hated because of his association with Spy Kids: All the Time in the World) and Luke Vanek - thankfully, the characters grow up fairly quickly, and they’re the thing I would just like to forget completely. Alas, a fair amount of the material won’t stick in people’s memories. Most could remember the best laughs and funny gags come December, but the rest of the feature will feel a lot like a disappearing act from one’s memory.
15th March 2013
Steve Carell, Luke Vanek, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey
y t i t n e Id f e i h T Written by Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn
As a follow-up to the hilarious Horrible Bosses, Seth Gordon brings us Identity Thief, a film that isn’t the gut-buster everyone was expecting, but it is quite funny. Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy’s identity. This film follows a traditional road trip formula that is structured to get asses in seats, eyes on the screen, and money in the studio’s pocket. Thankfully, it’s fairly deserving of people’s money. It’s mostly entertaining, but often predictable. It suffers many flaws on the way to the end,
but it finds its way, thanks to the great comedy team that is Bateman and McCarthy. Bateman plays the straight man here, lobbing up lines so McCarthy can smash down some hysterical comebacks. A lot are aces, but some are just a little too out there, and even for a crude comedy, some of it’s too raunchy. The scene with her and Big Chuck is only funny because of poor Bateman hiding away in the bathroom. It’s nice that he is able to make the audience laugh a few times. This suffers greatly from poor comedic momentum. It’s funny in the beginning, it begins to be hilarious when Bateman and McCarthy are united for the first time, and at times, five minutes go by without a joke.
It forgets to make its audience to laugh, and that’s something that a comedy just shouldn’t do. However, part of this is to blame on the excessive marketing campaign. If you haven’t been living under a rock since December, you would know that a good 60% of the film’s best jokes are revealed in the trailers. Thankfully, they’re still slightly funny when they come around, and there are points in the film where
some jokes are very funny. The big laughs are separated by some good chuckles, so that’s decent. There are also some nice surprises in this film as a whole. Diana’s character receives a nice emotional layer, as she seems to be stealing identities because she doesn’t know her own. Because of this, many might be able to relate to the material and find a solid emotional connectivity to her character. This adds a sweetness to her, and the film in general, when car chases aren’t going on. Or Diana isn’t throat-punching 92% of the people she meets. It is also nice to see her character transformation go from antagonist to anti-hero and
so forth. Back to the flaws, since the road trip formula has been overused, it’s hardly original. The film is also very crowded. There are antagonists so many antagonists, and they keep getting added in to make the film longer. At first, Sandy is chasing Diana. Then Diana finds herself in trouble with a drug lord to whom she sold bad credit cards, and his drug dealers (Genesis Rodriguez and T.I.) come after her. Then, as a pleasant surprise, Robert “T-1000” Patrick is back in his element: chasing people. He portrays a bounty hunter who is also after Diana. Then there are cops who are also chasing Diana, and at times, Sandy. It’s a real jumbled nightmare when they
are all chasing each other and their paths cross. The conflicts also get solved almost too conveniently and unrealistically, so for some of it you have to turn off the logical part of your brain. But it’s better than having no conflict at all, like last year’s The Guilt Trip, which is almost completely bereft of conflict. Due to all the antagonists, the writing often comes off as lazy. Especially part of the haphazard ending, which makes the writer, Craig Mazin (who also wrote The Hangover Part II and Scary Movie 3), come off as completely disorganized and idiotic. He does not know whether to end it off as meanspirited, dramatic, sweet, or hilarious, so he practically decides to do all four.
22nd March 2013
Director: Seth Gordon
Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, and John Cho
The Croods After their cave is destroyed, a caveman family must trek through an unfamiliar fantastical world with the help of an inventive boy. The Croods is an incredibly simplistic journey. The message is also rather straight-forward, that sometimes letting your children have a life of their own is good for them. The film isn’t too imaginative either, with the journey consisting of a fast-paced trip where they discover the wonder of fire, shoes, jokes and, of course, a whole new world and strange new creatures none of these Neanderthals have encountered before. Grug has the hardest time adapting, as the new world seems to be much for him to handle. Where the movie lacks in sheer imagination, it makes up for it with the fast-paced plot, heart, charm and beauty. It’s also cool to see that the family
dynamics back in this time aren’t too different from what they are today. Though, you shouldn’t educate yourself with an amusing movie like this. The norm for animated films these days are to appeal on some level to adults, as well as kids. Just look at Wreck-It Ralph, a film that was filled with video game Easter eggs that actually made it more enjoyable for adults. The Croods is really more for the kids to enjoy, with childish humour like an adorable sloth, the family biting each other, or them not being able to extinguish a fire. I still did think it was hilarious, but I’m eighteen, and it might not make all people over 30 years of age find a ton of
hilarity in this. The real appeal for adults, if any, is that it’s made relatable for fathers. Grug is a strict father who is most worried about Eep, and he just doesn’t want to see her grow up and not need him anymore. It is made relatable for fathers because some are afraid of losing their little girl and it might be stressful for many to see them leave the nest, or in Grug’s case, the cave. Now, I’m not near a father yet, so I’m not speaking from personal experience -- but it seems that is the emotional appeal of this feature, and it makes the characters easier to care about. One other way it is made appealing for fathers is
that there’s a running gag at roll call where Grug is almost always disappointed when Gran shows up. It is really funny and it is made appealing for fathers because, really, how rare is it that you’ll love your in-laws? The fast-paced plot is exciting and there is hardly a dull moment. It’s an adequate plot, but it isn’t top-tier. The only things that really have room for improvement is the plot, the voicework and the imagination. The voicework is good at best, with most of the voice actors being funny and The Cage only sometimes bringing some craziness to Grug. The voicework is good during, but none of it notable or extremely memorable. It’s one of the weaker aspects of the film, sure, but the film has strong aspects in its amount of heart,
childish hilarity (most notably when the theatrical Belt repeatedly says “Da-dadaaaaa!”), charm and great replay value. While those aspects are all fine and dandy, the real notable part is the gorgeous animation (oh, and the adorable Belt). The creature animation is fantastic and everything just looks stunning, with vibrant colours and amazing Paleolithic landscape. This also has some of the most beautiful water you ever will see in animation, and you’ll just want to swim in it.
Release Date: 22nd March 2013
Director: Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Clark Duke, and Emma Stone
Written by Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn
The Host From Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, The Host is a science fiction romance novel that introduces an unseen alien race known as Souls, which take over Earth and its inhabitants’ bodies. Adapted and directed by Andrew Niccol, the film version, released this month, follows 17-year-old Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) who has been taken over by a Soul known as Wanderer. Melanie refuses to just fade away, however. When Wanderer starts hearing Melanie’s voice inside her head and experiencing memories of her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and boyfriend Jared (Max Irons), she sets out to risk everything to find Melanie’s loved ones, as she struggles to put aside the strong human emotions that are refusing to let her cooperate. Having read and finished The Host novel only days before seeing the film, I was eagerly anticipating the release of this adaptation. Despite enjoying the novel, however, The Host was the biggest disappointment of 2013 so far, and it is the worst novel adaptation I have seen yet. Let’s put aside that the novel is written by the author of Twilight for a second, though I will note that I am a fan of both the books and films, because the only thing worth mentioning that these stories share are a potential love triangle that once again gets in the way. For one thing, The Host is much better written. The book itself not brilliant, and
we already know that Meyer’s writing style isn’t masterful, but it was an enjoyable read as the story is well-developed and there are a lot of details given about the number of futuristic worlds that Wanderer has experienced. The only major downside of the novel is the lack of threat and acts/ desire for revolution. The souls are all too friendly for them to take any real action, and the humans are too compassionate to want to fight back; it’s a typical flaw in Meyer’s writing as she seems incapable of putting her characters in any danger. Because of this, The Host once again gets all too caught up on love to have the impact that a dystopian novel needs. Whilst I did like it, it was this lack of action against the Souls that meant I couldn’t love it, as nothing extreme happens or is built up to despite how thick the book is. On its own, the film doesn’t work at all. It’s not that The Host is an unadaptable story because it could have been done brilliantly, and being adapted by Andrew Niccol I had high hopes. In Time wasn’t the greatest of films but the dystopian future was set up brilliantly, and everybody loves The Truman Show. Having written about two alternative worlds already (I’ve not seen any of his other films to comment further), it was easy to presume that Niccol would have handled the screenplay for this effortlessly. Alas, he did
Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry not. The adaptation, instead, was a complete mess. With very little done right, I just can’t get my head around how nobody involved saw how badly they were dealing with Meyer’s work. It could have been as big as Twilight if they wanted it to be, because being adapted from a Meyer novel alone is where a large part of the audience is coming from. With potential sequels being discussed, as well, the film had the chance to introduce compelling characters that a younger audience could have invested in. Unfortunately, I’m not sure even these naive minds will be hoping for more. As an adaptation, The Host constantly strays from its original source, with the biggest flaw straight away being that the futuristic world isn’t given enough explanation. Whilst the film begins well to open up how and why this has happened to our planet, it never expands past these first few seconds. The book may lack any action, but what it does do right is fill the dialogue with Wanda’s experiences, detailing her previous lives on other planets to give some background information about why the Souls invade these planets at all. In the film, however, none of this is discussed. Seeing these different worlds would not only have been a visual treat (having species live in fire, under water, and on ice), but it would have made the dystopian future believable. Instead, it all comes off as rather pathetic, especially
with its diverted focus on “love conquering all”. Admittedly, films that have been adapted from a book always feel a lot flatter in comparison, but I have never seen it done quite this badly before. Not only does the film miss out many of the important aspects of the novel, from a character named Walter whose death has a big impact on Wanda, to the interactions between her and those of her kind as well as the friendships she makes in the caves, with the Doc, especially, taking a back seat, the film also changes many of the scenes it chooses to pin point. From small factors such as the Seeker waking up at the end of the film and not knowing who she is, to the conflicts around Wanda which meant that she had to sneak out to find Jamie’s medicine because nobody trusted her, these changes were almost and always unnecessarily constant. They weren’t always a flaw as it made the story more dangerous, killing off a couple of additional people because Meyer didn’t have the strength to, but it derived itself from the novel so much that the trailer alone was confusing. Instead of playing on the novels strengths, the film was more of a bullet point list of the main events, never expanding on anything to give it any meaning. The worst example of this was the end of the film, when Wanda wanted to kill herself to give Melanie’s body back and give Earth a chance of fighting back, not wanting to return to another planet because she couldn’t bear it without the people she had
begun to care about herself, something she had never experienced before. This may have been easy to pick up from some of the dialogue, but it was also made to seem irrelevant, much like many of the events that happened beforehand. In the end, and a lengthy 125 minutes later, even less happened in the film than it did in the book. Without the action that it needed to be a good science fiction film, The Host, instead, was more of a love drama, and a bad one at that. Unlike Twilight, which put a heavy focus on the leading relationships, the chemistries between Melanie/ Wanda and Jared and Ian were more or less in-existent. It was easy to presume that the film would play on these romances to entice the young, female audience, but it was yet again handled so terribly that even that didn’t work. Despite how often the characters pleaded their undying love, there was no apparent reason for them to have any genuine connections, therefore leaving the emotional scenes to constantly fall flat. With just an awful lot of kissing in the rain, the romances seemed forced, instead of being the acts of love that were needed to spark a revolution. The reason I was interested in this film at all was because of Saoirse Ronan in the lead role. She’s one of my favourite young actresses and is incredible in films such as Hanna, Atonement, and The Lovely Bones, but not even she could have saved this. Whilst her performance made it slightly more bearable, it wasn’t a role that I enjoyed. She did well with
what she was given, but the script was silly and the voiceover came across as cringey. If this was dealt with better then Ronan may have made this film work, but instead I found myself sighing every time she had something to say, so I couldn’t even come away proclaiming my own undying love for her. Max Irons and Jake Abel were well cast, too, but their characters lacked any depth. Instead of being two men who wanted to fight for what they loved, and their entire existence, they were mere figures for Wanda and the annoying voice in her head to kiss when things got a little tedious. The same can be said for the rest of the supporting cast, as many of them weren’t even given any screen time. Aside from Jeb (William Hurt) and The Seeker (Diane Kruger), who were actually quite dimensional characters, the rest of the cast were pushed too far back for us to care about any of them, despite how likeable they could have been. My recommendations would be to read the book if you need something to fill the time, but I wouldn’t bother with the film.
29th March 2013
Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, and Chandler Canterbury
22nd March 2013
Director: Craig Zobel
Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, and Pat Healy
On an ordinary and particularly busy Friday at a fictitious restaurant called Chickwich, the manager, Sandra (Ann Dowd), is upset since a shipment of pickles and bacon didn’t come in. Soon, a man claiming to be a police officer calls and complains that a pretty, young blonde employee has stolen from a customer. From the orders of the authoritative stranger, Sandra takes the accused, Becky (Dreama Walker), to a back room. This causes stress for everyone involved. Each new person who comes on the phone gets tricked into participating in Becky’s sexual humiliation. No one gets left unharmed. When ‘no one gets unharmed’ is said, don’t expect a violent assault with weaponry on these unexpecting individuals, it is more simply, and more brilliantly, an assault on their minds. No one is harmed as much as Becky herself, the biggest victim of them all. The others are just taking part in listening to the odd stranger, while she is the one being humiliated... One thing that is frustrating about the feature is how the people simply listen to the stranger
with hardly any questions asked. Sure, he claims to be an officer of the law and he might very well seem so to him, but we the audience know this dramatic irony to not be the case. However, we must all ask ourselves what would we do in a situation such as this. This film is just a true test of how far one would go to obey the law. I’d like to say that I wouldn’t obey a weird guy on the phone who claims he’s an officer who will be at the restaurant soon, I’m not sure if I could tell anyone convincingly that I wouldn’t listen to him... And that is a majority of peoples’ state of mind. Whilst the concepts embedded in the feature are extremely fascinating, the film is slowly paced and slightly frustrating. One of the only ridiculous and frustrating things about the feature really is how they freely listen to him. We know he is really not an officer of the law, but they don’t. These frustrating aspects of it make it so unique and fascinating, and also so realistic. They are also necessary to the feature, otherwise Compliance wouldn’t be the great taut thriller it actually is.
The characters are wellcharacterized as those who are willing to obey the law at any cost, and Becky as an innocent girl who is extremely victimized. Each performer portrays each character realistically and with ease. That’s a thing about lowbudget features, the actors are always so genuine and talented. Dreama Walker says she will be a great leading performer, and Ann Dowd and the eerie Pat Healy (as a sadistic, authoritative prankcaller) perform magnificently. No matter how slow this feature may be, it is nonetheless extremely compelling. It gets disturbing, thought-provoking and inarguably unsettling, but it’s very well made and it’s hard to look away. It’s even more disturbing to know someone actually did this. The restaurant may be fictitious, but the story is not. Compliance is an unforgettable, unsettling experience. While slow, it has fascinating and thoughtprovoking concepts and awesome performers that help make this one of 2012’s most disturbing and finest features.
Written by Daniel Prinn @DanielPrinn
Welcome To The Punch
Written and directed by Eran Creevy, Welcome To The Punch is a British thriller that follows detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) who, along with his partner Sarah (Andrea Riseborough) and scarred by his failure to bring down his nemesis, is given one last chance to catch the man he’s always been after, as ex-criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) is forced to return to London from his Icelandic hideaway when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. As they face off, they start to uncover a larger conspiracy at work, one that they both need to solve in order to survive. Welcome To The Punch is a confident and stylish British action thriller that, whilst it looks quite average from the outskirts, is a refreshing cinematic experience. With all too much of the same being released lately, it makes a nice change to see some of Britain’s talent coming together to give us something a little different. It may be all guns shooting and cars swerving, but this police thriller is a breath of fresh air to its genre. Full of energy, Welcome To The Punch is brilliantly paced. With an excellent opening sequence, the most
noticeable quality straight away is its stunning visual style. Set in London and full of big lights and city scapes, the setting and set pieces make the films dynamic action sequences even more riveting. Reminding me in part of some of Scorsese’s work, this look compliments its genre perfectly. From writer/director Creevy, who gave us the 2008 thriller Shifty, the one noticeable flaw of Welcome To The Punch is that the plot gets a little muddled when all of the twists come into play, although it does all get broken down for you near the end if you never quite got the hang of who was on who’s side. What Welcome To The Punch benefits most from, though, is its fantastic British cast. James McAvoy, Mark Strong, and Peter Mullan are all fantastic, and they come together brilliant with one scene, especially, that includes all three actors really standing out. Even Andrea Riseborough makes her place as a strong female lead in this action. Her relationship with McAvoy’s character isn’t well explored, but to have gone any further would have taken the film in a wrong turn.
Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry
15th March 2013
James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Peter Mullan, and Andrea Riseborough
The Paperboy Directed and co-written by Lee Daniels and based on Peter Dexter‘s 1995 bestselling novel of the same name, The Paperboy is set in 1960′s Florida and follows a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) who return home to investigate a careermaking story involving a death row inmate (John Cusack). With the help of his younger brother (Zac Efron) and a death-row groupie (Nicole Kidman), the pair try to prove the violent swamp-dweller was framed for the murder of a corrupt local sheriff.
I have to start off by saying that there was so much in this film that I didn’t want to see from any of these actors, that I’m struggling to think of how to even begin reviewing this one… Let’s start by saying that if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that The Paperboy is trashy. Unfortunately, because of how badly it is handled it isn’t trashy in a good way. With a very thin plot line, albeit one that appears competent enough to make a sexually charged film noir at first glance, there is an obvious lack of depth that means your focus isn’t allowed to go any further than the thin,
poor quality top layer of what this film actually is. To make it worse, the editing is so poorly done that it’s enough to make you feel dizzy and, whilst I really liked the use of colour, the cinematography is horrendously off-putting. As these qualities come together, The Paperboy, from the outskirts alone, looks less than mediocre. The promising cast was the biggest waste, though, not giving Zac Efron the transitional role I thought it would, making Matthew McConaughey somehow really dull, and giving John Cusack a character with so little threat, despite
his creepy qualities, that I was more scared of him in Being John Malkovich than I was of him as a murdering rapist. None of these characters had any motivation for what they were pursuing, and for that reason it was impossible to engage with any of them. The only actor worth mentioning for their performance is Nicole Kidman, but even then I felt embarrassed for her for the best part of the film. Still, it’s takes a lot of nerve to agree to a script like that! The real problem with The Paperboy is that everything seems to lack any real effort.
The cast try their best with what they’re given, but there was obviously no push from those behind the camera. For a premise with such huge potential, it all falls to an amateur level. I don’t even know what genre to put this under? It was so much of everything that it wasn’t really anything, know what I mean?
Release Date: 15th March 2013
Director: Lee Daniels
Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and John Cusack
Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry
On DVD this month...
March DVD Releases:
Gambit Date: 4th March
Sightseers Date: 25th March
An art curator decides to seek revenge on his abusive boss by conning him into buying a fake Monet, but his plan requires the help of an eccentric and unpredictable Texas rodeo queen.
Chris wants to show girlfriend Tina his world, but events soon conspire against the couple and their dream caravan holiday takes a very wrong turn.
The Master Date: 11th March
Rise of the Guardians Date: 25th March
A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.
When the evil spirit Pitch launches an assault on Earth, the Immortal Guardians team up to protect the innocence of children all around the world.
Argo Directed by Ben Affleck, Argo is a dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran, which is in turn based on the book The Master of Disguise. Led by CIA exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), author of the novel itself, a team is set up with the help of Tony’s supervisor Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman), and film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), to create a cover story for the escapees, in which the fugitives must pose as Canadian filmmakers who are scouting exotic locations in Iran for a science-fiction film. First and foremost, Argo is an incredible directorial piece of work by Affleck, and it’s no surprise that he won so many awards for his accomplished efforts at this year’s award ceremonies. Affleck handles this true story amazingly, and creates quite the periodic thriller with everything from the music to the clothing coming together superbly. These aesthetics are constantly strong, and really compliment the story as it looks as realistic as it actually is.
Based on truth, the story is never taken too far to make you believe otherwise, which is why it works so well. The tone of the film keeps you constantly engrossed, and even though you know how it’s going to end you’re still made to question what will happen next. The final few scenes are still tense and the film works as a well-paced thriller on its own. Whilst I found that the first half dragged a little bit, the second half is absolutely brilliant and more than makes up for it. The performances are also great, and the cast is very strong with interesting roles, especially, from the likes of Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. Argo fuck yourself.
4th March 2013
Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, and John Goodman
Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry
People Like Us Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry
Serving as the directorial debut of Alex Kurtzman and inspired by true events, People Like Us follows salesman Sam (Chris Pine) who, while settling his recently deceased father’s estate, discovers he has a sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), and nephew, Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario), whom he never knew about. As their relationship develops, Sam is forced to rethink his perceptions about his family and his relationship with his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer), and to re-examine his own life choices in the process. As the directorial debut by Alex Kurtzman, People Like Us tells a moving and somewhat engaging story. It won’t break your heart, but it might make you shed a tear. Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks make decent leads in this family drama, both giving very heart-felt performances. Banks’ character, at first, comes across as quite unbelievable as it’s a role that we’re not used
to from her, but her character is well-developed so it works much better as the film comes to an end. Pine doesn’t give a break-out performance either, but it’s always nice to see him in a lead role, though his character did need more of an emotional impact. It was Michelle Pfeiffer who stood out for me, though, as it was when her character was on-screen when the tears started to flow. This wasn’t something I expected from her performance so her role certainly makes a large improvement. I also feel that it’s worth mentioning a small supporting role by Mark Duplass, but there really isn’t a lot else to say about it! The only real flaw with People Like Us its confusion of genres. Everything about this film calls out ‘romance’, but it would be terribly wrong for it to be so. Unfortunately it was something that the film couldn’t have avoided considering its premise, and it was also something that made the story line predictable
in places. At the same time, however, it could have been dealt with a lot better. Instead, the film deals with the story line as many others have done before, so it doesn’t go beyond anything we’ve already seen. Without any specific breathtaking moments, there is still something quite beautiful about People Like Us, and I certainly look forward to more dramas from Kurtzman in the future.
18th March 2013
Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michelle Pfeiffer
End Of Watch Written by Charlie Derry @charliederry
Written and directed by David Ayer, End Of Watch follows the daily grind of two young LA police officers – Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) – who are partners and friends, and documents what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves. As the two discover a secret that makes them the target of the country’s most dangerous drug cartel, their skills, courage, and friendship are put to the test as we see the daily risks they take, and the price they and their families are forced to pay. Filmed in a found footage documentary-style, End Of Watch is a hard-hitting police drama like no other. The use of a hand-held camera makes the film look like a real-life documentary which is where a majority of the powerfully gripping engagement comes from. Feeling like you are witnessing a series of true events as the characters go from case to case, we see some of the most tragic situations that cops have to deal with, so it’s hard not to be moved by the situations that these two officers face.
There isn’t much that happens in terms of plot line, especially considering its nearing-on twohour runtime, but there’s still a huge depth to the film. This is thanks to its performances. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are brilliant in the leads, both giving excellent performances as believable cops who have a great chemistry as working partners. With a lovely supporting role from Anna Kendrick and a surprising one from America Ferrera, the raw performances will have you feeling every emotion going, and for that it is brilliant.
18th March 2013
Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, and Anna Kendrick
Amour Michael Haneke’s Palme D’or and Oscar winning tale of a retired piano teacher working through the trauma of his wife’s series of debilitating strokes is as heartrending as its title suggests. Throughout the film there is a deep sense of personal understanding implemented within the story. This is largely translated through their daughter, Eva, but also in contrast to her. Georges seems to meet the issue with a great deal of acceptance “Things will go on as they have done up until now. They’ll go from bad to worse. Things will go on, and then one day it will all be over” whereas she remains insistent that her mother go into care and receive the best treatment. It sets up a nature vs. nurture argument that becomes an underlying thought point to serve the ever increasing one; is this really love we’re seeing? Haneke thrives on audience interpretation, and his films set up the audience with plenty food for thought. In interviews he has been quoted with saying “There’s nothing more boring than a film that immediately answers every question that it raises” and here especially, it shows, as he plainly details all sides of the argument. It’s an issue he has admitted is close to his heart as he has experienced a family member go through the same experience.
But no matter what position you take what really remains is having to experience the very real trauma of Anne’s torment in a way that almost feels first hand. Emmanuelle Riva triumphs in her performance, so much so that it feels almost bizarre to think she hasn’t lived it. The artistic vibrancy of the flat, turned into a cold refuse through deadening and dusty greys paints a fitting but diminishing backdrop to Anne’s pain that is, in a word, brilliant. And the debate of whether or not it shows the full extent of love is both engaging and cancerous. I haven’t felt this involved with a film in a long time, not just emotionally but also purely on a level of being subverted from my seat, and into the images projected. It tugged at my heartstrings, but in a way that no other film ever has and, I fear, ever will again.
18th March 2013
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert
Written by Chris Bone @Boney88
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Written by Chris Bone @Boney88
Sometimes resisting the temptation to base a review for a movie on one moment is too hard to avoid. But in the case of the Twilight saga: Breaking Dawn pt. 2, that moment comes around too invitingly, in the form of the disastrously named and even more disastrously designed daughter of moody vamp lovers Edward and Bella; Renesmee. There’s something so close to real, yet utterly lifeless about that CGI baby that it’s hard to believe it’s not one of the replicants from Blade Runner. It unnerves me so much that during a screening I was urged to show my support for the Volturi with a fistpump directed towards the excellently creepy Michael Sheen as Volturi leader, Aro. But without the acts of child homicide from the former Tony Blair that I so dearly craved, I was left enduring the personification of a series at its mediocre best. Baby
Renesmerrk’s glossy cuteness proved to be such a forced effort that it only came to represent the despicably tearjerking end credits. In contrast, during the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 there was an almost unanimous appreciation that a part of film history had been brought to a resounding finish. During the end of Breaking Dawn Part 2 there was an overzealous desire to cram every possible sense of affectivity and finalisation down the throats of the followers of a series that hardly ever seemed to express that sentiment. Elsewhere, the ‘it was all a dream’ ending acts as a chance to grapple with some high quality action without taking the risks that make it worthwhile in the first place, as they decided to wow us with the same mediocre effects that personified the passively dull town of Forks, Washington for 4
other impotent movies. Lee Pace narrowly manages to save the day, proving to be the best supporting player that 2012 had to offer. But not even his newly introduced workings could rescue this doomed series. So as the Twilight saga comes to a close all I can hope is that somewhere, Stephanie Meyer is choking on her big fat pay cheque.
11th March 2013
Director: Bill Condon
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen, and Dakota Fanning
In cinemas next month...
Aprilâ€™s Cinema: Spring Breakers Date: 5th April Four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work.
Iron Man 3 Date: 26th April
The Place Beyond the Pines Date: 5th April
When Tony Starkâ€™s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, Stark starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
Oblivion Date: 12th April Tom Cruise stars as a veteran assigned to extract Earthâ€™s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.
Olympus Has Fallen Date: 17th April
Promised Land Date: 19th April
Former Presidential guard Mike
A salesman for a natural gas company experiences lifechanging events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.
Banning finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning must rescue the President from his kidnappers.