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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Man of Steel - New Trailer Looks Powerful and Moving

Man of Steel - Due for release 2013

Crikey, I feel like I've been spoilt this week. First we get an awesome announcement trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness, then I had a massage - God know's I needed it to bring me back down to earth - now we've got a brand new trailer for Man of Steel (think I might need another one of those massage things again to calm me down!)

I know people have pretty mixed feelings for the original Superman from 1978 - I mean, the film is older than I am and in some respects hasn't dated too well in places (although mostly in the fashion department thankfully) - but I actually loved the original movie and still think its worth sitting down and watching today. It's just a great origin story - seeing where he came from, going through high school and racing the train - its just a shame that section of the film was so brief.

The new trailer below seems to show Clark Kent as a child, saving his fellow classmates after their school bus crashes into water. We've also seen him running around with a cape in the teaser trailer just like we all did as children. Hopefully we'll get to see a lot more of these early years in the film as he discovers his strengths and abilities.

Things get serious in this new trailer from about 1 minute 48 seconds where we can apparently see the destruction of the city with buses and cars flying into the air and buildings collapsing. There appears to even be a few spaceships flying about including hovering around Clark Kent's family home. I won't lie - I haven't read all the comics, or followed Smallville, so I'm not sure what these spaceships are, but if you know, please do let me know in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Although I've always been more into Spider-Man as far as super heroes goes, I'm really starting to build up the excitement for this new Superman movie now. I must say that Henry Cavill is really starting to look the part as the Man of Steel and I am a MASSIVE fan of Amy Adams - I just think she is always brilliant in everything she does and I'm dying to see her as Lois Lane.

Checkout the new Man of Steel trailer right here in HD and then let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Man of Steel - Official Teaser Trailer

Just in case you missed it, here is the original teaser trailer for Man of Steel. I though this was a pretty compelling trailer the first time I saw it as you don't even get to see the big man with his underpants over his tights until the very end of the trailer.



About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Star Trek: Into Darkness - New Teaser Trailer Out Today and it Looks Intense!

Star Trek: Into Darkness Due for release May 2013

Well that's brightened up my cold December Thursday... The Official Teaser Trailer for the new J.J. Abrams movie Star Trek: Into Darkness can now be viewed in HD right here: -



Now I don't really consider myself a Trekkie, I wasn't really into the TV series, but I did always enjoy the movies. I still remember seeing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan & Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a kid and loving them.

J.J. Abrams original Star Trek re-boot back in 2009 was a hugely enjoyable popcorn space-science-fiction flick, which happens to be a genre I love, so I've been looking forward this sequel for a long time.

The new trailer (above) looks intense, to put it mildly. It clearly blows the windows and doors wide open in the CG department with stuff blowing up and crashing all over the place... is that the Starship Enterprise we can see crashing into the sea? It looks like we will be seeing more of San Francisco too, judging by the frequent shots of the city in the future.

Looks like all the original cast are back and we can clearly see our very own Sherlock - Benedict Cumberbatch in this trailer - apparently playing Khan if the rumours are to be believed... I guess we'll have to wait and see, to be sure?

Star Trek Into Darkness is due for release on 17th May 2013 in 3D and IMAX. According to the end of this teaser trailer there will be a full trailer coming within the next 2 weeks on the 17th December 2012.

Looking forward to this one BIG TIME.

If you have any thoughts or comments on this trailer, feel free to leave them below.


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Saturday, 20 October 2012

Catfish - Mini Review

Catfish - Documentary Film - Movie Poster
Catfish - Documentary Film

Well I must say... this is an “Utterly Compelling” Documentary film - that’s a box quote if ever there was one!

The thing with this film is I really can’t tell you too much about it as it would take away all the interest in actually watching it, but I’ll see if I can describe the gist of it briefly. Don't worry, there are no spoilers here.

Catfish is the ‘Other’ Facebook film that came out in 2010. Two documentary film-makers start to document their brother/friend who has developed an interesting friendship with a stranger on the Internet through facebook - A little girl who is apparently a talented young artist... they became online friends when she painted one of his photographs.

The online friendship becomes more interesting when he also becomes friends with the rest of her family and even exchanges phone calls with the mother.  He and his film-making partners are based in New York City, while the so-called 'facebook family' are in Michigan.

In no time he develops what can only be described as an online romance with the eldest daughter Megan who is 19. Now I can’t really say any more as it would totally ruin the experience of watching Catfish.

I won’t lie, Catfish won’t blow your mind, and in fact, it's pretty much just what you expect it to be, but what follows will hold you gripped to the end regardless; it's a really well made documentary and captivated the Sundance festival during it's initial release - so much so that J.J. Abrams put his seal of approval on the film to give it a bigger release.

Anyone who enjoys documentary films and in fact, anyone who uses facebook or indeed the Internet in general should definitely take the time to see this excellent little documentary.

In the end, the ultimate question is: Is it real or is it faked?

Answer: It's certainly plausible, but actually, I don’t think it really matters!

My Rating: 7/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Looper - Film Review

Looper with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Movie Poster
Looper with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I absolutely love this genre of movie, this is what a live for; a quality bit of time travel science fiction. It's so hard to do time travel movies well, so the best ones are few and far between. Thankfully Looper is an excellent example of how to do a time travel movie and how to do it well.

It's the year 2042, time travel hasn't been invented yet, but in thirty years time, it will have been. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe - a hired gunman known as a Looper, employed by mob bosses thirty years in the future. In the year 2072 it has become almost impossible to dispose of a body after a 'hit' due to the tracking technologies invented by then. When you want somebody dead, you tie them up and send them back 30 years to be immediately executed by Loopers like Joe. They do the dirty work and dispose of the body which technically doesn't exist. Its the perfect crime.

Looper - movie still - Execution

The opening scenes of the film explain the concept of Loopers brilliantly with the aid of Joe's voice over - we see numerous quick edits of Loopers doing their job. They check their watch, a person appears out of thin air all tied up, BANG, collect the pay, get rid of the body. It's quick, easy and deadly efficient. The audience is immediately hooked.

At some point a Looper will execute a person and discover a massive pay day. They have just killed their future self. This is known as "Closing the Loop". Good work, happy retirement, enjoy the next thirty years.

Targets cannot be allowed to escape, there are too many consequences when time travel is concerned and early on we are shown what the penalty can be for letting your target get away when another Looper - Joe's friend allows his future self to run. It's a brilliant scene as we see what horrible things happen to him even though we don't actually see anything. Its gruesomely clever... Personally, I think you're better off just killing your future self and being done with it.

Things kick into high gear when Joe is confronted with his future self. After a moment's hesitation, future Joe (Bruce Willis) is on the run.  Now we're all set for a cat & mouse chase movie with a difference, but with an added element of The Terminator thrown in for good measure too.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as old and young Joe, meet in the diner for a stand off
Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as old and young Joe, meet in the diner for a stand off

The film is only set 30 years from our own future and as such, the world hasn't changed massively like we see in the recent Total Recall re-make. It's a somewhat dystopian future much like we've seen in other near future movies such as Children of Men. Some of the weapons are almost retro in their design and styling giving the film a bit of a Wild West sort of vibe that feels appropriate considering most of the film takes place in Kansas City and the surrounding mid-west farmlands way outside of the city.

It's in these mid-west settings in a typical US diner where we get a great meeting between the two versions of Joe, where they discuss how things are "gonna go down". This is the kind of scene where the writer tries to NOT explain time travel but gives us just enough information to enjoy the film. Old Joe explains "I'm not going to sit here and tell you how time travel works!" but goes on to say how his memory of the past is "Fuzzy, I remember bits, but sort of as they happen". It's one possible path, but things can be changed. I love all this stuff as it really gets the audience involved and thinking.

Its also in this scene where it really pays off that they used two actors to play the same character instead of just using make-up to age Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It would have never worked seeing the same actor talking to himself in make-up and could have been jarring. But having different actors working together so well like this, you completely believe that this is the same person talking to himself - just 30 years apart. It's really well done.

Emily Blunt puts on a great American Mid-West accent in Looper
Emily Blunt puts on a great American Mid-West accent in Looper

I won't explain any further plot points here as I don't want to spoil the film, but we also get to meet Emily Blunt as a single mother living on a remote farm. I'm a big Emily Blunt fan and speaking as an English person myself, I thought she did a fantastic job with her American mid-west accent.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to have picked a few winners with his recent film roles what with Inception, 50/50 and The Dark Knight Rises. He is fast becoming one of Hollywood's leading actors, which is great to see. It's also good to see Bruce Willis is still able to pick up some great roles, he gets some cool guns blazing moments. In fact, Bruce Willis must be one of the busiest actors going in 2012 looking at his IMDB profile.

Looper - Movie Still - Bruce Willis Guns Blazing

In Conclusion

So who is this film for? It may be a science fiction, time travel movie, but I honestly feel that this movie is so good that anyone, even non-sci-fi fans can enjoy it - that is a sign of a really good science fiction film. From the opening scenes, the concept is introduced so well that you are all set to stick with this film to the very end.

There are also some funny moments too, despite all this talk of killing, and it was good to see Garret Dillahunt (Burt from Raising Hope) again.

It's a film that keeps you thinking during and even long after it has finished. I may even go as far as to say this *could* be my film of the year so far. Possibly even this year's answer to Inception. Basically, get yourself to the cinema as soon as possible and watch this awesome movie.

My Rating: 9/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Saturday, 6 October 2012

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel - Mini Review

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Time Travel - Movie Poster
FAQ About Time Travel
In light of the recent release of the excellent time travel movie Looper, I decided to dig out my review of Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel from 2009. I'm guessing this little British film would have been missed by many, so here's your chance to find out more.

This little BBC/HBO produced film is about as British and low budget as they come; although it does star American actress Anna Faris - better known by most for her role as Cindy in the Scary Movie films. Anna Faris would have been the biggest name at the time of the film's release.

These days the film's biggest name is arguably Chris O'Dowd who we all know and love as Roy from the excellent channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd. American readers not familiar with The IT Crowd should check it out immediately!

The pub featured in the movie is definitely one I recognise from somewhere, but for the life of me I cannot remember where from right now. Is it Spaced, or Sean of the Dead? - Let me know in the comments below if you know it. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel - Movie Still - Pub Massacre

What's it all about?

In short - three blokes discuss time travel in the pub then discover a time porthole in the gent's toilets and skip through time (like you do). During their quirky adventure, they do their best to take into account 'The Rules' of time travel such as the Butterfly Effect, or the Grandfather Paradox.

It's a bizarre film that is nice and short, making it easily watchable after coming in from the pub yourself. It's fairly entertaining while it lasts, but wont be sticking with you too long after you've seen it. This is definitely a TV sort of movie perfect for Netflix subscribers who have seen everything.

From a sense of humour point of view it does has a vibe of coming from the same sort of stable as Sean of the Dead or Spaced, although not really up to the same standards.

This is definitely one for sci-fi fans looking for a bit of a geekfest, its perfectly watchable for those kinds of viewers and there are lots of references and Easter-eggs to keep you happy.  Look out for the movie posters at the theatre - the posters feature original or working titles for movies such as Close Encounter of the Third Kind, Back to the Future or E.T.

Non-geeks and non-sci-fi fans probably won't enjoy this at all though. 

My Rating: 5/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, & cool TV shows and loves to share his thoughts here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Mike's Micro Movie Reviews - Episode 4




The Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe - Movie Poster
The Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe

The Woman In Black

Hmm... NEVER go to a city centre movie theatre at 14:00 on a Saturday afternoon to see a 12A film!  The worst audience I’ve ever known for annoying chav kids and Potter weirdoes!

Never seen Daniel Radcliffe in anything before, didn’t particularly like him, and he had little script, just had to look scared a lot! Having said that, this was enjoyable enough with some jumpy moments, and well set. Apparently written by Jane Goldman (Kick Ass and Jonathan Ross’ missus) and differs quite a bit from the book and stage play according to my sister who is a bigger fan of this stuff.

Mike's Rating: 6/10



The Company Men - Movie Poster
The Company Men

The Company Men

Really enjoyed this – a topical scenario of 3 workers from a big corporate office in Boston who become victims of the recession/greed culture, and how it affects each of their own lives. Especially impressed by Tommy Lee Jones performance he brought a touching humility and ethical edge to his top executive character. And I like Ben Affleck too maybe the media have been too harsh on his turkey films which are now firmly in the past!

Mike's Rating: 8/10






Biutiful with Javier Bardem - Movie Poster
Biutiful with Javier Bardem

Biutiful

Well I must say, this was not the Barcelona I remember when I made a trip in my student days! A very bleak and moving film hitting home the abject poverty in which immigrant classes survive in so called developed cities. Javier Bardem deserved his Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film. Hard to criticise any aspect really, maybe it was a bit meandering and could have been edited down to a shorter duration. I’m a big fan of Spanish director Inarritu – recommended.

Mike's Rating: 7/10

By Michael Court.





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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Match Point - Mini Review

Woody Allen's Match Point - film poster with Scarlett Johansson
Match Point with Scarlett Johansson
I only got around to seeing this 2005 Woody Allen film about a year ago when it was on the telly box - Match Point is set in London, England, where everyone is frightfully posh and plays tennis or goes to the opera (or both). A former semi-pro, turned tennis coach makes friends with an incredibly wealthy family and soon begins to date the daughter (Emily Mortimer). Her father (Brian Cox – the actor, not the professor) gives him the chance to work in his company and earn fortunes...

Seems strange to me that he would give up his lifestyle as a tennis coach to work in what is essentially a high-stress job which he hates. Likewise, he seems to marry into the family at break-neck speed. This despite the fact that he’s clearly in love with the fiancĂ©e of his new brother-in-law – Scarlett Johansson - who wouldn’t be? She is absolutely smouldering on screen!

What follows is the inevitable affair and lots of sneaking around, it appears to be heading the way of other films such as Fatal Attraction or Unfaithful and when did they ever have a straight forward ending?

Scarlett Johansson's Sexy Kissing Scene in Woody Allen's Match Point (2005)
Scarlett Johansson gets steamy in this sexy & passionate scene in Woody Allen's Match Point

For a while, Match Point was looking to be a pretty average film; the pacing and editing of the developing story is very odd (at times even jarring) and the overly posh English accents are enough to make you cringe (like fingernails down a blackboard), it almost seems like terrible acting, but I guess there are people just like this in real life who go Clay Pigeon Shooting on the family estate at the weekends(?)

Thankfully the final act is rather very good, it's like the film equivalent of a 'page turner', you just HAVE to know what is going to happen next... But its not what I would have done if I was ever in a situation like that!

Match Point is a little difficult to get into at first, but if you can get past the posh accents and lifestyles of the characters and the film's odd pacing it is ultimately well worth sticking with to the very end. The final act is worth the price of admission alone.

My Rating: A high 6/10


About the Author: Chris Russell loves movies, and shares that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Mike's Micro Movie Reviews - Episode 3


Cemetery Junction film poster
Cemetery Junction

Cemetery Junction

Really enjoyed this. Reckon it must be the best movie Ricky Gervais has done – the stories behind ‘Ghost Town’ and ‘The Invention of Lying’ along with bad reviews put me off so much I didn’t bother with them. However this one works as a bittersweet drama with a degree of comedy very much in the style of 'The Office' – in a good way.

It struck a chord with me about small town mentality and wanting to see the world. It also shows how scarily narrow minded and racist our parents and grandparents generations could be - without necessarily realizing it. The young cast of unknowns were excellent and complemented the bigger names such as Ralph Fiennes.

Plus a lot of it was filmed on the Great Central Railway, Loughborough.

Mike's Rating: 8/10



Youth In Revolt - film poster
Youth in Revolt

Youth In Revolt


Michael Cera again playing a geeky loser – not that he is typecast – at lease he does it well! A very quirky take on having a dangerous, daring alter-ego as he goes all out to impress the girl, blowing up half the town along the way! What impressed me the most about this was the strong supporting cast – I was crying with laughter when Steve Buscemi opens the front door and walks in on the gang who are all completely f****d on mushrooms! Offbeat, out of the mainstream comedy done well.

Mike's Rating: 7/10







The Scouting Book for Boys - film poster The Scouting Book for Boys

Made a mental note to see this ages ago as it was recommended by Charlie Fink who wrote the soundtrack (Noah and the Whale) on his blog and at a gig I went to at the Camden Roundhouse a little while back. Thomas Turgoose stars in his first non Shane Meadows film, about two semi-delinquent kids who permanently live on a caravan park in Norfolk. What starts off as a teenage runaway story takes a very unexpected and sinister twist at the end. A quite disturbing and intense movie but well acted and a good advertisement for the British Film Foundation/Channel 4/Lottery funded arts projects.

Mike's Rating: 6/10


By Michael Court.


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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Total Recall (2012) - Film Review

Total Recall (2012) film poster
Total Recall (2012)

It's hard to believe that Paul Verhoeven's 1990 original Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger was released 22 years ago; it really doesn't feel that long ago, although I would have been far to young to watch it back then. I had to wait until the VHS was being passed around the school playground before I got to see it.

The new guy at work was saying this week how he only watched the original for the first time himself recently - he was only about a year old when the original was released. I found it strange that the original could find a new audience of people in their twenties watching the film for the first time. It must be interesting to see it like that with fresh eyes. But it makes me feel old to know that there must be so many films from the 80's and 90's that he has never seen. I couldn't believe it when he said he has NEVER seen The Terminator or Terminator 2!!!

Colin Farrell in Total Recall (2012)

Like many, my mind was already made up before I watched this 2012 remake of Total Recall. What's the point in remaking the original when its still so good. Surely this is going to be pony! Yes, its a bit harsh to have a such a strong opinion of a film before you've even watched it, but there in lies the biggest problem that this film faces. It barely stands a chance of a fair and decent viewing from anyone who has seen the original. It's very difficult to watch the film on its own merits, you just can't help but compare it to the original. It's fair to say, I wasn't expecting to like the film. In fact I only ended up watching this because my first choice of the night was sold out.

Thankfully, in the end, I'm glad to say that I didn't hate Total Recall. In fact I didn't hate it at all.

Total Recall (2012) - futuristic cityscape skyline reminds me of The Fifth Element or Blade Runner
Total Recall (2012) - The futuristic cityscape skyline reminds me of The Fifth Element or Blade Runner

Visually, Total Recall is for the most part, both interesting and impressive. There are obviously similarities to other Sci-fi classics such as Blad Runner, The Fifth Element or Minority Report, but it's hard to criticise the film for this since any film set in the middle to distant future will likely have some unavoidable similarities with at least a couple of pre-existing Sci-fi movies. Besides, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

There is a lot of detail on screen, every frame is rammed with content, especially in the outdoor scenes with the strange floating cityscape, it must be an architect's nightmare! At times the fast camera movements and quick edits barely give you time to focus on all that rich detail. It's almost overwhelming, but I believe it serves a purpose to emphasise the crowded overpopulation of the world, all crammed into just two opposite corners of the globe in Western Europe and Australia. The rest of the planet has been left uninhabitable (yes even the USA) and apparently the only way to travel between Britain and Australia is via a sort of giant train that travels right through the centre of the Earth... Unlikely? YES... but an interesting and fun concept that I'm willing to overlook because I love science fiction so much. In fact, why hasn't anyone done this in a film before?

Colin Farrell clings to the front of a flying car in Total Recall
Colin Farrell clings to the front of a flying car Minority Report style in Total Recall

On the whole, the visual effects are great, but there are a few rare points that maybe could have used a bit more polish - namely the flying car chase sequence where sometimes the vehicles or characters do seem to be painted into the scene, but I'm really being picky here. It's not a big problem, but in 10 years time, these effects could begin to look a bit dated.

Watching the film, there's a few things you just can't help but notice. The first one is glaring - no pun intended - but it seems that director Len Wiseman must have just watched J.J. Abrams' Star Trek since Total Recall is absolutely full of lens flair. It's everywhere, like used up, crumpled wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

Kate Beckinsale hides from excessive lens flair in Total Recall
Kate Beckinsale hides from excessive lens flair in Total Recall

Kate Beckinsale's character seems to be everywhere at once in this film. Quaid makes an impressive escape and seconds later, there she is again, looking as stunning as ever and not even out of breath... Does she have some kind of portal gun?

And another thing... If this film is so far in the future, surely they would have better quality glass/windows by then? Not the stupid movie glass that you can just shatter as you walk through it to escape the bad guys. I mean they can build a mode of transport that tunnels right through the centre of the Earth to the other side of the world, but they can't make windows a tiny bit stronger?

Its the future, but you can still walk through glass windows like they are not even there in Total Recall.
Its the future, but you can still walk through glass windows like they are not even there in Total Recall.

By now it's no secret that this version is based on the original, but it's not the same. Unlike the original, this is not based on Mars, but there are familiar references and nods to the original for the fans who want them. Mars is mentioned in conversation, a (PG13 friendly) arm is severed in a lift, and there is a familiar looking woman at the port security gate when Quaid is in disguise, but sadly there's no exploding head. Also the tracking device that Arnie pulls from his nose is now buried elsewhere, but again, it's pretty PG13 friendly when it comes to removing the device. Oh, and lets not forget the woman with three boobies :)

Kate Beckinsale in Total Recall

In Conclusion

In it's own right, Total Recall is a perfectly adequate Sci-fi popcorn cinema experience... "adequate" being the key word. It's not that bad, its a fun enough way to spend a Wednesday night... It's okay!

But it's always going to be a victim of being its father's son.

My Rating: 5/10

Colin Farrell grapples with Kate Beckinsale in Total Recall (It would be rude not to)


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Monday, 27 August 2012

The Last House on the Left (2009) - Film Review

The Last House on the Left (2009) Movie Poster
The Last House on the Left (2009)

I never did see the original video nasty version of The Last House on the Left from 1972, but I did see some of the others from back in the day, and generally I wasn't really impressed by them, so I never went out of my way to watch the rest. Similarly, I'm not really a big supporter of the idea of all these re-makes of 70's-80's horrors - although the re-make craze seems to have expanded lately to include sci-fi/action films like Total Recall and Robocop etc. This makes me very nervous as I loved Robocop back in the day, even if I was only a child when I watched it (you won't tell anyone will you?) I hope they don't mess it up.

Anyway, so I found that I had the 2009 re-make of The Last House on the Left recorded on my Sky+ HD box, so I thought I'd give it a go.

Two girls get themselves mixed up with an escaped convict and his nasty family/gang. The leader, played by Garret Dillahunt is better known by myself for his role in The Sarah Connor Chronicles or more recently as the incredibly likeable Burt in Raising Hope. There is not much to like about his character in Last House on the Left however. He savagely attacks the girls in the woods while his gang sit and watch. The attacks are brutal and graphic with a gritty sense of realism.

A rape scene in any film is an uncomfortable experience for the viewer and this film does a great job not to make light of the situation; the scene is awkward and feels much longer than it probably really is. It is difficult to watch and you are glad when it's over, but this is one of the film's strengths - that it can have that kind of effect on the viewer.

The girls are left for dead after the attacks and having wrecked their escape vehicle and taking injuries themselves, the gang are forced to seek shelter in a nearby home when a storm rolls in. Unknown to them, it is the home of one of the girl's parents. The couple take the gang in and fix them up, allowing them to sleep in the guest house.

Sara Paxton is attacked, raped and left for dead in the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left
Sara Paxton is attacked, raped and left for dead in the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left

During the night, one of the girls manages to crawl back to the house and the parents learn that their attackers are just next door, but they don't have a vehicle to escape in since the gang already managed to wrap it around a tree. They have no choice but to bunker down and fend for themselves.

I won't go into too much detail, but the film is essentially a horror/thriller revenge style movie as the parents take matters into their own hands to defend themselves and their daughter. Cue more graphic violence and at least one or two more quality deaths involving a garbage disposal unit, a hammer and a microwave. The film asks the question on the poster "If bad people hurt someone you loved, how far would you go to hurt them back?" In the case of this family, it seems they would go pretty far, especially with the last member of the gang... but can you really blame them?

I didn't have particularly high hopes going into The Last House on the Left, but I was pleasantly surprised. Despite its graphic violence and the uncomfortable rape scene, I enjoyed the film overall and was rooting for the family the whole time. I would now be quite interested to go back and watch the original, although it sounds like it hasn't got the best reviews. Let me know in the comments below on your thoughts for both the original and the re-make, I'd be interested to know.

Oh, and I don't think I'll ever be able to look at Burt in Raising Hope the same way again!

My Rating: 6/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, and loves to share it here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Carnage - Film Review

Carnage - film poster - Smiles will fade
 Carnage - Smiles will fade

I'm not going to pretend to be the snobby, elitist type who regularly goes to the theatre to see the latest West End or Broadway plays and then complains that the film version is a pile of soiled underpants in comparison.  As much as I enjoy the theatre, I just don't get to go as much as I would like.  As a result, its fair to say that when I sat down to watch my rental copy of Carnage this week I wasn't too familiar with the foreign language play - God of Carnage - of which this Roman Polanski film is based.

Except for the bookend title sequences, the film takes place entirely in one apartment and even if you had no idea the film was based on a play, it becomes pretty obvious very early on since it doesn't fit the normal conventions of a Hollywood movie, either in its writing, editing or the way the film is shot - not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact it makes a pleasant change to see a film that is a bit different - and this is one of the films biggest strengths (beside it's stellar cast of course).

The film focuses on a meeting between two couples expertly played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly (the Longstreets) and Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz (the Cowans).  Considering the circumstances, it all starts so well between the two couples, who have come together to discuss the matter of a playground dispute between their two 11-year old boys which resulted in one of the boys hitting the other with a stick and knocking out two teeth.

It's all very civilised and frightfully polite in the opening scene, which initially appears to be the end of the discussion between the two couples. In fact, the Cowans are on their way out of the Longstreet's apartment when the topic of discussion is changed at the door and before they know it, they have been invited back in for a cup of tea.  Oh dear... they probably should have just left when they had the chance, but thankfully for the audience, they didn't and it's about to get a whole lot more entertaining for us - at the expense of the characters of course.

Kate Winslet hits the deck in Carnage
Kate Winslet hits the deck in Carnage

It doesn't go completely off the rails right away thankfully; its more of a downward curve of behaviour between the couples during the course of the next 70 minutes or so.  Its great to see the gradual decline in relations between the two pairs and once it really starts kicking off, things just go from bad, to worse, to excruciating.

There's even internal domestic disputes between the married pairs and sometimes bonding between the two men, or between the two women, and eventually alcohol is introduced to the mix as if things weren't bad enough already. All the characters seem to hit their lowest point at different times meaning there's always someone who is completely losing it in their own way.

The behaviour of the adults in the film is no doubt worse than that of their own children, and in fact it seems that the two boys apparently make-up of their own accord in the end credits anyway. Its funny because it's true.

The trailer for the film didn't really sell it to me, but thankfully I don't base my viewing habits on movie trailers alone. It's pretty clear when you watch the film that the actors must have had a right good old time making it and I had a good time watching it too. Its a great way to spend 80 minutes if your looking to rent something a bit different.

Highly recommended.

My Rating: 7/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.

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Sunday, 12 August 2012

Toy Story 3 - Film Review

Disney Pixar's Toy Story 3 - Movie Poster
Disney Pixar's Toy Story 3

OK, I won't lie, I love Pixar. They are geniuses and never cease to amaze me. They have never yet made a bad film or scored lower than 8/10 from me for anything (yes even Cars... Although I must admit, I still need to see Cars 2).  The year 2010 got off to a bit of a poor start with the quality of films released, but it soon picked up once Inception and Toy Story 3 in 3D hit our cinema screens.  Here is my review for Toy Story 3 written just after viewing the film in the cinema in 2010.

If you haven't seen the first two Toy Story films, why not? Its hard to believe that the first Pixar feature film - Toy Story was way back in 1995 and it's still amazing even today. The hugely successful Toy Story 2 has the ability to reduce a grown man to tears with Jessie's Scene and a beautiful song by Randy Newman, sung by Sarah McLachlan called 'When She Loved Me'. Somehow Pixar have the ability to bring a lump to the throat of even the most hardened movie go-er at will. And they do it again with Toy Story 3.

As far as I know, everyone in the whole world has seen the first two Toy Story films and everyone is a massive fan (this is a fact by the way), Toy Story 3 is made for those fans (so everyone in the world then). It takes place years after the first two movies, Andy is now grown up and about to head off for college. He hasn't played with his toys in years so this third instalment in the franchise follows the fate of Andy's toys in this depressing time for them. What happens to toys when they are no longer needed?  This is a theme that Jessie had already experienced in Toy Story 2, and now the rest of Andy's toys would move on for their next adventure (or Great Escape if you will ;)

Ken of Ken and Barbie in Toy Story 3
Ken of Ken and Barbie may actually steal the show in Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 introduces many new characters, the highlight being Ken (of Ken and Barbie). He is so funny, and worth the price of entry alone. Mr. Potato Head had the cinema in tears of laughter with his antics, so, so good. And Buzz Lightyear getting reset to Spanish is just diamond, oh and Chuckles the Clown is comedy gold. Pixar have outdone themselves in the comedy department with Toy Story 3. This is the funniest and most fun film released in 2010 - End Of. It's also the most touching.

There are links back to the first two films, for hardcore fans of the series; the Pizza Planet Aliens are back and that's always good. And Sid (the kid who blows up toys in the first film) is back - now as a dustbin man.

I saw Toy Story 3 in 3D, but in all honesty the film is so engrossing, you completely forget you're even watching it in 3D. In reality, I think this film doesn't really need to be seen in 3D, but it does add a little something in a couple of scenes, but there's nothing in particular where things fly out of the screen at you.

In my view Pixar are the finest movie producers around right now with such a high standard they get an Oscar almost every time they make a film (deservedly so). Don't overlook Pixar's films just because you think they are for kids, they are not - there is plenty here for adults too.

Toy Story 3 was one of my most highly rated films not just of 2010, but of recent years and well deserved to be Oscar nominated for 'Best Picture'. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing their next film this year - Brave.

My Rating: 9/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, and Pixar films in particular. He loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.

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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mike's Micro Movie Reviews - Episode 2




We Bought a Zoo - Movie PosterWe Bought A Zoo

Been looking forward to this for a while. I’m a big fan of director Cameron Crowe (and friend of Pearl Jam) for his documentary on them and the grungey movie Singles from the 90s… Matt Damon was decent as usual (he doesn’t make many turkeys, Hearafter aside!) and the remaining actors well cast. In fact the downside was probably deviating the real story from Dartmoor a little too much for Hollywood… but I was prepared for it to be more sentimental that it turned out. Special mention to Jonsi’s soundtrack which I had to buy as it is so moving and integral to the films themes of nature, life and death.

Mike's Rating: 7/10 







The Dark Knight Rises - Movie Poster

The Dark Knight Rises

And after all the hype…. Awesome! The sheer scale of this could only be achieved by the vision of Christopher Nolan… For me it just fell short of The Dark Knight as I thought Heath Ledger was flawless as the Joker. Loved the scene this time, + 8 years, so dark and despairing, Bruce Wayne a broken man, and Bane more than an equal match for him physically. Tom Hardy’s voice modulated like a posh Darth Vader! Stunning cast yet again, loved Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman who provided some light relief and gentle humorous one-liners. Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to impress me as well… Superb conclusion, nicely set up to give everything closure and maybe revive the franchise one day? And even miserable cynics like me surely can’t fail to be moved by Michael Cain’s final speech!

Mike's Rating: 9/10




Contraband - Movie Poster
Contraband

Contraband

Rented last weekend, I felt this was a solid enough gangster thriller – interesting difference in that it was money laundering as well as drugs involved. Would like to see the Icelandic original now from which Hollywood pinched the idea! The cargo shipping journey from New Orleans to Panama was an unusual background to shoot in, and the cast and characters engaging enough, although Mark Wahlberg didn’t really have to break sweat in a typical role for him.

Mike's Rating: 7/10 











Rampart with Woody Harrelson - Movie Poster
Rampart with Woody Harrelson

Rampart

Extremely disappointed with this – bit of a random choice in Blockbuster. Woody Harrelson stars as an immensely dislikeable bent cop in Los Angeles who is finally caught out viciously beating a suspect. But then not much happens…! Way too conversational and drifty style too focused on Harrelson’s movements and only limited bursts of action, with no proper closure or conclusion whatsoever. Surprising cameos from Steve Buscemi and Sigourney Weaver… they must have been very bored!

Mike's Rating: 4/10


By Michael Court.


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Monday, 6 August 2012

Mike's Micro Movie Reviews - Episode 1

Mikes Micro Movie Reviews Title Image

This is the first instalment of Mike's Micro Movie Reviews, brought to you by my good friend Michael Court. Like me, Michael likes to watch as many movies as his busy life will allow. He loves to write up brief and easy to digest 'micro' reviews and pass them on to his friends. He has kindly allowed me to post his micro reviews to this site for the benefit of my readers.

Just like me, Michael enjoys many genres but it's no secret that he is a massive horror fan. Michael enjoys watching the latest movies at the cinema or catching up with films on rental or from an ever growing DVD collection of interesting previously released films. As a result, his Micro Reviews featured on this site will vary from very recent to very old releases. Variety is the spice of life :)



Boy A - Movie Poster
Boy A

Boy A

More a feature length drama than a proper film as such, this was screened on Channel 4 in 2008. I bought it on Amazon as I was intrigued to see Andrew Garfield’s performance for which he won a Bafta and became destined for bigger things, and it did not disappoint… One of the most thought provoking, poignant and tragic stories I have ever seen, based on a fictional book by Jonathan Trigell which I also read ages ago. There are clear parallels with the James Bulger case of the 90s (in the UK), but it manages to keep a respectful distance and admirable absence of bias towards any aspect it…. I would highly recommend this.

Mike's Rating: 9/10





Paranormal Activity 3 - Movie Poster
Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3

The Hollywood money executives wasted no time in knocking together this third instalment as another ‘prequel’ following the young girls growing up in 1988. More of the same suspense wise, this was watchable but hardly s**t your pants scary stuff, and could have done with far more plot being explained. All we discover is that dear old Grandma is a witch, and some old covenant is being threatened… (That’s not really a spoiler if you haven’t seen it!)

Mike's Rating: 6/10



Bronson with Tom Hardy - Movie Poster
Bronson with Tom Hardy

Bronson

Pre Dark Night Rises I was intrigued to see more of Tom Hardy’s work. To be frank this was violently psychotic and brutally uncomfortable to watch! The fact it was based on a true story of one the UKs most notorious prisoners, and played with such ferocious intensity by Hardy really makes an impact… Didn’t particularly like the over theatrical and stylised direction of Danish oddball Nicholas Winding Refn – I am convinced he will never be able to better ‘Drive’ – although having said that he is working with Ryan Gosling on a new project….

Mike's Rating: 6/10






The Darkest Hour - Movie Poster
The Darkest Hour

The Darkest Hour

This was really panned by critics online at Rotten Tomatoes and in the papers I read, but I quite liked it! A rare Moscow snazzy setting for what becomes a sci-fi action borderline apocalyptic horror! Emile Hirsch (who has made some diverse choices since Into the Wild) stars as the sensible one who leads a group of survivors against an alien invasion of virtually invisible electrical impulses… Also with Joel Kinnaman (The Killing US version and future Robocop) as a sleazy Swedish dot com merchant. Predictable but tense moments and good chases. Check it out…

Mike's Rating: 7/10




Look out for Episode 2 of Mike's Micro Movie Reviews coming soon.


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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Taken - Mini Review


Taken with Liam Neeson - Movie Poster
Taken with Liam Neeson

Now I won't lie, I was very late to the party with this one. It actually took me a few years to getting round to seeing it. In all honesty I think I was put off by the original trailer when the film was first released, but I did eventually get round to watching Taken when it was broadcast on TV earlier this year.

Liam Neeson plays an ex-CIA agent who has issues with his ridiculously annoying and spoiled daughter (Maggie Grace from Lost) going to Paris when she’s only 17 years old. Thankfully for us, she buggers off regardless and then spends most of the film being kidnapped meaning that we don't have to spend that long listening to her whining. That said, the film was a bit of a slow starter, but once she is ‘Taken’ it's action stations all the way.

To say that Liam Neeson plays a bit of a bad ass is putting it lightly. Let's face it, he's not a young man any more but he can still pull off being the action hero if you can suspend your disbelieve for entertainment's sake. But make no mistake, he is a big guy, you'd be a fool to mess with him.

There is lots of fun to be had here watching Liam Neeson lay enemy after enemy to waste (there do seem to be a lot of them?) I especially like the scene where he confronts the men who actually took his daughter – earlier in the film he spoke (or rather shouted down the phone) to them “I will find you, and when I do, I will kill you!” Later in the film... “You don’t remember me do you... I told you I’d find you”.

Good stuff, one for action and thriller fans and still worth coming back to even if you were late to the party like me. That said, I'm not overly excited at the prospect of seeing Taken 2, but I'll probably get round to it eventually... and I'll probably be thoroughly entertained again.

My Rating: 7/10


About the Author: Chris Russell just loves movies and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Predators - Mini Review


Predators - Movie Poster
Predators

The film literally opens with Adrien Brody awakening from a very deep sleep in mid-free-fall.   Talk about getting out of the wrong side of the bed!  His parachute opens automatically near the ground.  With absolutely no idea where he is, he wonders through the jungle where he meets up with a bunch other other guys, who also woke up in the same situation.

The characters are mostly armed with weapons and come from various backgrounds - some violent drug lords from Mexico or military folk. It seems they were going about their business when there was a bright light, next thing they know, they woke up here.

Not a lot needs to be said about the plot. They are hunted by about 3 Predators and their pet alien dog things. It's pretty much exactly what you would expect from a Predator movie, nothing more, nothing less. Overall, there could have been some better deaths, but sadly the 15 certificate ruined any chance of that so the best death was the guy who gets his spine ripped out in one swift movement. Nice.

I liked the fact that this was set on an alien world; they should have made a film like this a long time ago... in fact, they should have set the Alien Vs. Predator films here.

At the risk of giving you a mild spoiler - I'm sure you won't be surprised to see the film ending with more parachutes coming down to the planet surface, so who knows, there could be more to come; I must admit, I wouldn't mind a bit.  I'm sure they could do something interesting for Predator fans with a follow up if they took their time with it.

As a massive fan of the genre and both the Alien and Predator films, I found Predators an entertaining enough experience, but of course, non-fans of the series probably won't get so much out of it.

My Rating: 6/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.

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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Martha Marcy May Marlene - Mini Review

Martha Marcy May Marlene - Movie Poster
Martha Marcy May Marlene

This bleak but compelling drama with Elizabeth Olsen is not exactly a bundle of joy, so don't watch it if you're in the mood for a comedy. But it is a high quality film that is well worth your time. Olsen's breakthrough performance is quite frankly stunning.  She plays Martha - a damaged young woman who escapes a strange cult and struggles to return to a normal life living with her older sister and brother-in-law.

The film frequently flashes back to her time in the cult.  Flashbacks are seamlessly integrated and at some key points it is not immediately obvious to the audience if we are watching events in the past or the present - a deliberate attempt by the film makers to convey the confusion of the character.  Martha even asks her sister if she has ever had an experience where she wondered if it was a real memory or just a dream?

The cult Martha may or may not have spent the last two years of her life with, seem inviting and friendly at first, in fact the leader - Patrick (John Hawkes from Winter's Bone) is quite the charmer.  But of course, there is always a darker side.  This leads us to the 'compelling' nature of the film as we slowly learn more about the cult and why Martha is so damaged.

This is a very good film, but it's not going to be for everyone, it's far from being a mainstream film.  Elizabeth Olsen has fantastic potential for a great career in film and I for one will definitely be looking forward to see where she goes from here.

My Rating: 7/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.

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How To Train Your Dragon - Mini Review

How to Train Your Dragon 3D - Movie Poster
How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon is a DreamWorks animation (Shrek, Monsters vs Aliens) that is just about as good as anything Pixar have ever produced.  The animation is stunning and the sound is just plain awesome. When the biggest dragons are flying, the beat of their wings can literally be felt in your chest on a good home cinema as the sub-woofer moves the air around your room.  The flying scenes are absolutely tremendous on a big screen, resembling the best of similar scenes in James Cameron's Avatar.  The only problem with a film like this is that even a 42” TV just isn't big enough for this kind of epic content.

If I have any complaint at all, its that the Vikings have Scottish accents, but a look at the list of voice talent shows half the cast of Superbad and some other interesting names too - Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and David Tennant to name just a few.

The lead character, an outcast Viking boy is seen as an embarrassment by his fellow Vikings - he’ll never kill a dragon (he doesn't want to). The story follows the ‘secret’ friendship he develops with one of the most feared breed of dragons around, and its actually quite a touching tale; testament to the power of the animators and the facial expressions they are able to create.  They really bring the characters to life, it's even easy to understand the emotions in the face of the dragon - a fictional creature.  I have nothing but respect for the people who create these kinds of movies.  I just love them.

Sadly I wasn't able to see this movie in 3D at the time, but now that I have seriously upgraded my home cinema kit I wouldn't hesitate for a second to pick this film up on 3D Blu-Ray.  I'm sure it would look amazing on my new 59" Plasma.

My Rating: 8/10


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.


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Mini and Micro Movie Reviews


I have decided I will also include Mini and Micro film reviews whenever possible on this site.  Hopefully I can uploaded these more frequently than other posts to help keep things fresh.

The films featured in these mini or micro reviews will be a mixture of old and new from all genres.  They will usually (but not always) be films I have seen for the first time and may have been viewed in the cinema, via rental or even on regular TV.

By their nature these reviews will not be overly detailed, but a simple summary of what the film is basically about (spoiler free) and my brief thoughts.  You should get an idea whether or not I liked the film and hopefully you will have enough of an idea if the film will appeal to you or not too.

Bare in mind that just because I do or do not like a film, doesn't mean you will agree with my thoughts.  After all, as is the nature of any review, it is just the opinion of the author - in this case me.

So what are the differences between the types of reviews I will include on this site?

Full Movie Review

These will be single posts with a detailed in-depth film review.

Mini Movie Reviews

These mini movie review posts are quite literally, just that.  Like film reviews - only smaller.  Quick and easy to read, you should get a nice idea about the film and what I thought of it.

Micro Movie Reviews

Micro movie review posts are like tiny, tiny film reviews - usually only 1 or 2 paragraphs at most. Due to the extra small size of these reviews, these posts will consist of two or more films with a very short review for each.


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.

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About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.