Friday, 26 November 2010


Think back before Pixar unleashed "Toy Story" on the world... if you can then you can remember a time where The House Of Mouse had lost its way and any form of animation was immediately consigned to the small people with no taste or standards.

Since then every production company has strived to match the high levels of Pixar's output and thankfully for punters some have risen to the challenge - think "How To Train Your Dragon" and the first "Shrek." Now get ready to add DreamWorks' latest because "Megamind" is... mega!

The plot may eat away at the back of your mind as faimilar - a baddie who turns out to not be such a bad guy after all - but DreamWorks moves away from the similarily themed "Despicable Me" and gets the hero/villian set-up out of the way in less than 10 minutes flat. If you think you've seen the whole movie from the trailer, thankfully for once you're wrong! All that they show in the trailer is delivered upon the screen before 15 minutes have passed and the rest of the film is a delightful surprise.

Will Farrell (Megamind) finally delivers on his Saturday Night Live promises and whacks home all his one-liners unlike his recent "The Other Guys" and Brad Pitt becomes the teeth-glinting hero that all women believe he is (and in hushed whispers, many men as well.) From the play on the baby-sent-from-a-dying-planet intro (superb Superman rift) to the hero-wannabe turned nitemare to the city (The Incredibles), it delivers a fresh slant on the expected turn of events keeping things, even if predictable, fun enough to forgive/ignore.

What we have here is a film that audiences now look for in a "family film" - pratt falls for the younger members and sly in-jokes for their accompanying older ticket payers. Plus a kicking soundtrack that shows that "Ironman" doesn't have the sole ownership on AC-DC tracks. Great fun and even greater in 3D - Megamind for Mayor!

UK release date: 26/11/10
Certificate: PG

Sunday, 21 November 2010


9 years ago, the world unwittingly gave one small-time English author and one large American movie company the right to play with their emotions and rule their Winter schedules for the next 10 years... yep, 20
01 saw the first year exploits of a young Harry Potter enter into the world of wonder, witchcraft and wizardy with "The Philospher's Stone."

And now, finally it's the beginning of the end as we, along with most of the world, see Harry, Hermonie and Ron make the last stand against "He Who Must Not Be Named" - Lord Voldermort in an 147 minute cliff hanger that won't be resolved until Summer next year. So, if the "smack your forehead in frustration" endings of "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Fellowship Of The Ring" did your head in then be prepared because this one is a doozy!

Starting off without a recap (true fans shouldn't dare look for a "previously on Harry Potter...) Director David Yates continues on his quest to bring the franchise trembling into the world of darker terrority and, with the help of the depressingly-somber source material, he pulls it off effortlessly. What starts out full of humour and nice references to the under currents of love and lust between the hormonal Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermonie turns into a protracted chase movie with the 3 characters forced to leave Hogworts and take to the open road to stay alive by avoiding the cream of English baddie actors.

And the good news is that those who have grown up with the exploits are rewarded with the delight that the "child" actors have risen to the ranks of their adult counterparts. Yes, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and especially Rupert Grint can stand proud next to the regular delights of Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman, which is necessary as most of the movie hangs on their shoulders as they fight amongst themselves in various depressing English landscapes trying to locate Voldermort's horcruxes.

Finally, for our loyality over the last decade, the effects, the acting and the necessary but still none-the-less painful omissions from the books have culminated in a worthy beginning of the final bow to the boy that lived. Exciting, elequant and energetic - Harry's coming home!

UK release date: 19/11/10
Certificate: 12A

Friday, 12 November 2010


Like buses, Hollywood movie ideas come in groups. Beating the COMIC CON-audience wowing trailer "Battlefield Los Angles" by a good few months, SKYLINE is the first "bad aliens" flick out of the gate.

On paper, SKYLINE must have sounded like a sure-fire hit: a world changing event seen from the POV from the little people, not unlike CLOVERFIELD. Also, with a cast of at-best, hopeful wanna-be B-list actors, the audience will constantly be guessing who will survive the ordeal of a planet being attacked from up above. Unfortunately the ordeal is watching the recognisable bit-actors from "24" "Dexter" and "Scrubs" bumble along in a movie that pays attention to how it looks up on the screen rather than how it comes across to the viewers. People are taken, then saved, then taken again so many times that you just don't care about their struggle anymore - and for a survival movie at heart, that's not a good way to go. You need to care and root for them but with the script continually throwing the same "argh!" scenes over and over the mind and emotions are disengaged and you find yourself hoping to see the bright light at the end of the tunnel just like the cast - except yours is the cinema lights coming up.

What you essentially have here is a squandered idea that could have been so much better. With aliens not unlike Spielberg's "WAR OF THE WORLDS" you can't help but wish that the premise landed on someone else's table - Roland Emmerich, Spielberg, heck even Tony Scott would have had a better stab at blending characters that you need to survive with high octane thrills as fighter craft battle overhead against superior firepower.

Never one to ruin an ending, all I can say that The Brothers Strause's approach to their finale is a truly brave piece of movie-making... one that should definately give pause for thought before anyone hires then for another project. To do an ending in the style of "SPIDERMAN's" opening title sequences, and quite an "out there" ending, truly beggers belief! Crazy times!

UK release date: 12/11/10
Certificate: 15

Saturday, 6 November 2010


And so Hollywood, or more rightly the movie media, continue to label things as "...the next (insert last big film hit here)..." and so here we have "the next The Hangover..."

Go-to-guy for comedy since his stellar hit The Hangover Todd Phillips, returns with what can only be described as an edgy modern take on a classic comedy - Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Robert Downey Jr takes the "straight man under pressure" role played by Steve Martin against the force of nature Zach Galifanakas once inhabited by the late John Candy.

Now, depending on why you sit down to watch it will determine your overall feeling of whether it was worth it. This is no the Hangover - not by a long shot. The characters are thrown together through circumstance and thats exactly how it comes across - abit far-fetched and sometimes forced, but thankfully there is enough comedy to gloss over that fact. Especially when the script calls for gross-out gags rather than just plain laugh-out-loud humour. Now, if you're watching it because you know of the Martin/Candy classic and you wanna see if there is such a thing as a good remake/rip-off, then you'll find yourself reminiscing about it throughout Due Date's running time.

Like your worst fear, most of the best bits have been cobbled together for the trailer but there are still laughs to be had - a masturbating dog and its owner in particular are stand-out - but there are some mis-fires and unusual plot sequences that just don't seem to sit well with the story (a visit to a friend's house and the question of infidelity are levered in then promptly dismissed).

Downey Jr. though is still a sight for sore eyes and a great actor and delivers despite having to play the snooty ass that learns to relax alittle and quirky Galifanakis doesn't work as well as he did in his breakout part in The Hangover with only one person to bounce off of but this is still better placed for your time, commitment and money rather than previous comedy outings - The other Guys, Dinner For Schmucks etc.

UK release date: 05/11/10
Certificate: 15