Movie Review: Contraband

Mark Wahlberg, akin to a Ken Doll, comes in two versions; the believable, serious, characterful, film and TV producer giving time to screen roles we know of Fighter and The Departed and also the swaggering, millennial era B-movie star who makes movie choices that are questionable, but fun to rip apart in a cinema post-mortem. In Contrband he travels firmly in the latter territory and hence in this review, he shall be Marky Mark. There isn’t too much of a plot to spoil in this type of fare; we’ve all been here before – a reformed family man slips back into the murky world of his criminal past to help out a relative, he brings together a motley crew of criminals and has to race against time to save his family. As such, things are on extremely shaky ground. Everybody is working very hard to convince us there is some … There’s more

Movie Review: The Muppets

Like Billy from The Commitments, I’ve never been shy about telling people that Animal from The Muppets has been a personal influence. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s impulse personified (muppetified?), an exploding bass drum of colour, noise and silly string. I wish life had more Animal. I wish The Muppets had more Animal. Because this is the problem with The Muppets. There just aren’t enough of the Muppets in it. I’m not fond of starting reviews with criticism, but the overwhelming echo once I’d finished watching The Muppets movie was that I was a little… well, underwhelmed. Which is odd, because The Muppets is a joy to watch. It’s funny, clever, and moving, and its musical numbers will bore into your brain like a zombie weevil wearing tap shoes. But I was still left wondering whether such a premise as the Muppets bursting back onto our screens had been exploited … There’s more

Movie Review: Polanski causes Carnage

When a collage of Oscar winning stars and an Oscar winning director get together for a project, you know the results are going to be good.  Renowned director Roman Polanski’s latest comic clash of manners cuts through the everyday boundaries of civility to show us what really goes on when the walls come down. Carnage, based on Yasmine Reza’s hugely successful French play titled ‘God of Carnage,’ Polanski’s latest effort is a sharp satire that encompasses everything from marital strife to class values in one.

The Death Dealer Is Back. Movie Review: Underworld Awakening.

Before we get started, it should be noted that I am an avid Underworld fan. With this in mind, I will be as unbiased as possible, except when referring to THAT outfit. Ass-kicking bombshell Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two Underworld films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species. Yep, this is essentially the storyline for popular Underworld flick number 4, Underworld: Awakening.  The writers, wisely decided not to mention flick number 3 ‘Rise of the Lycans‘ so our story continues where underworld 2 left off. 12  years have passed since the events of the second film and Selene (Kate Beckinsale) awakens in a lab and escapes into to a world where the human … There’s more

Movie Review: The Descendants

‘The Descendants’ is a quiet film, set over a few days, which sees Matt (George Clooney), as patriarch to his own immediate family and trustee of the interests of extended family, confronted with a wife suddenly in a coma and a realisation that he is ill-equipped to guide his daughters through this nor any other crisis to come. Nothing about the movie is overdone – there is no overacting, no simplification, no unneeded exposition. The film opens with a voice over narration, which can sometimes throw up flare shots of poor story to come; in this case it is scene-setting and puts Matt’s crisis front and centre before letting the film unfurl of its own accord.

Silence Is Golden… Movie Review: The Artist

It’s the film that has charmed audiences and critics alike across the globe and all without uttering a single word. For many, it’s simply the best film of the year. The Artist proves that so much can be said by saying so little. This tender, witty, charming film, which pays tribute to the classic silent movie era in Hollywood, is the best thing to hit our screens in a long long time. Sound like an exaggeration? Then you haven’t seen the film! Since premiering at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival last year, the hype surrounding the film has been huge and luckily, it does not fall foul of the hype. Having scored big at this year’s Golden Globe awards with three wins and numerous BAFTA nominations just announced, The Artist has captured us, and indeed Hollywood, like no film has done in years. It’s surely a shoo-in for Oscar glory. … There’s more

Movie Review: Haywire

It is an odd sight to see a woman bound across roof tops, having scaled up the stairs of Wynn’s Hotel on Lower Abbey Street, Dublin. Things become more surreal when her pursuers are heavily armed and in riot gear with the Garda logo emblazoned on the back. Our heroine soon finds her way to Dublin port and puts an eventful overnight trip to Ireland behind her. The previous night, she was escorted by a suited Michael Fassbender to Russborough House out in Wicklow, and on retiring to the Shelbourne Hotel their date turns sour and sets in train a tense morning and eventful departure from our shores. That a significant part of ‘Haywire’ was set, and more significantly shot, in Dublin was a surprise but a happy one for this reviewer. The city looks great, modern if a bit littered, European, cast in blue hues as is director Steven … There’s more

Movie Review: In Time

With ‘In Time’ it seems the makers, very pleased with their novel idea (more of which to follow), then felt exempt from showing any concern for making an engaging, logical or thoughtful thriller. They should know that a good idea offers no absolution from the need to construct a good movie, it in fact heightens expectations. Here a lot of energy is expelled working on clever puns around the movies central premise and not a lot else is achieved. Our story is set in a world where a body clock kicks-in for everybody in and around your 25th birthday and from there on in you work to earn time, accruing minutes to keep you alive. This world, like most, is an injust one, where some have access to all the time in the world while others are worked to the bone to have enough time to rest and get back … There’s more

Movie Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

So a spy movie eh? And adapted from a highly successful series of novels no less? So far, so very familiar. Expect action, car chases, hand-to-hand, life-or-death combat and a very fetching femme fatale. Except don’t, because this is no ordinary spy movie, and it’s adapted from no ordinary spy novel. This is a British thespian spy movie, and it’s from the pen of the most celebrated of spy authors, John Le Carré. For those unfamiliar with his oeuvre you would do well to check his novels out, or, for a more casual glance at the difference between his work and the rest of the pack, recent film adaptations have included the Geoffrey Rush/Pierce Brosnan romp The Tailor of Panama (a less-than faithful but enjoyable reworking) and the Ralph Fiennes/Rachel Weisz Oscar-winner The Constant Gardener (which is both faithful and brilliant). There is no room in Le Carré’s world for … There’s more

Movie Review: 30: Minutes or Less

At the risk of asking a larger question than this review intends to tackle – ask yourself, why (other than the impeccable writing) you are reading this review, or indeed any review? With some confidence this reviewer will offer that you are doing so to figure out the best form bit of cinematic entertainment to spend your cash on. The review will be a part of the fuller selection process which includes and is informed by publicity, trailers, feelings towards the cast and word-of-mouth. The outcome can be to steer well clear, make it your business to get to a screening as soon as possible or in a world where cinema and DVD release times edge closer to each other and people construct sophisticated home entertainment systems, a movie can be relegated to a list of movies to seek out on DVD. With ’30: Minutes or Less’ there is a … There’s more

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

It was, of course, Tim Burton who coined the term ‘re-imagined’ when he decided to put his unique stamp on a Planet of the Apes remake in 2001. This was in an attempt to distance his movie sufficiently from the revered original and of course cut the shackles of needing to worry about continuity and as it turned out, a plot that made any sense. ‘Re-imagining’ has has become part of the vernacular when discussing the flurry of re-boots, sequels, prequels and spin-offs now the order of the day for savy production houses. The original Planet of the Apes movie and its four sequels were constructed to create an story that tied together the past and future into one coherent loop. Come 2011 and while the title ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ might suggest an effort to slot into this loop, the movie is in fact a stand-alone … There’s more

Movie Review: Friends with Benefits

When you think through the plots of any number of romantic comedies, they largely involve one or both parties keeping secrets or some false pretence, going to questionable lengths to maintain their lies, only for things to unfurl in the last act. Sometimes lessons are learned but there can be no denying that the leads are actually very unlikeable with both romance and comedy largely missing in action. What sets ‘Friends with Benefits’ apart from the melee is that it introduces us to two likeable, self-aware characters which immediately gets your buy-in, delivering a refreshing, enjoyable movie.

Review: Rio

Rio tells the story of Blu, a rare macaw living in Minnesota who turns out to be the last male of his species and as such is brought to Brazil in order to get acquainted with Jewel, the last female. The pair get off to a rocky start and a gang of villainous poachers throw a spanner in the works when they kidnap the birds. Jesse Eisenberg voices the domesticted Blu in the nerdy and endearing manner that seems to be his default setting (apart from The Social Network, where he was nerdy and kind of a dick), while Anne Hathaway plays Jewel, all fiesty and independant and such. There’s great colour and scenery going on in the film and while the story is cute and all, it’s quite predictable and doesn’t really manage to outshine the huge amount of recent animated features. There are a few good jokes scattered … There’s more

Movie Review: Just Go With It

I was going to start off this review with a disclaimer saying that I’m not a rom-com kinda gal. But on reflection, that isn’t really true. I mean, some of my favourite films are rom-coms; Strictly Ballroom, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Groundhog Day to name but a few. Well, I guess none of them are 100% rom-coms – they all have a little something else to offer up to keep the viewer coming back to watch them time after time. I suppose that’s what defines a classic film at the end of the day. I think what I’m trying to say is that throwaway rom-coms are not my kind of thing. I mean, if I’m going to spend a tenner at the cinema I’m going to want to see something worth the cash. But since I was getting a free pass and for the sake of yisserselves, dear readers, I … There’s more

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

The books began thirteen years ago and in November 2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in cinemas. After nine years, we have reached part one of the finale of the Harry Potter movies. Saying goodbye to the series is also bidding farewell to a magical childhood in many cases. These films that have brought our favourite stories to life have lit up our screens year after year and they just get better every time. Deathly Hallows Part One is no exception. The boy who lived is all grown up and he stands before us as the young man who has been left a seemingly impossible task by Dumbledore. In order to kill Voldemort, Harry must track down the remaining horcruxes which all contain a part of Voldemort’s soul. This is the first film which does not feature Hogwarts and this lack of familiarity is something that adds … There’s more