Real Steel (movie review)

Mighty Atom

Pirates, Ninja and Robots – you can’t really go wrong when making movies about any of these things. Real Steel is no exception, it might not be deep and it might not be winning many awards, but it is damn fine entertainment. This is a fairly predictable Hollywood exercise in taking the audience out for a spin, but it shows some soul along with the fireworks. The opening credits are really quite beautiful and if it wasn’t for Hugh Jackman being present in the scene, I would have wondered whether I was in the right theatre. Continue reading

Been a bit busy

Well, I admit I haven’t posted anything since late last year and I am slightly sorry, but I have good reason.

Since December we have been getting to know a new addition to the family, Rufus was born and has proven that after everything we have been through, lymphoma and IVF that it really all does happen for a reason.

Now that we have found our stride and we have all become used to each other normal service should be resumed.

I will get back to posting reviews as and when something comes up that doesn’t conflict with Netguide’s Console magazine or Buttonmasher.

This year should also hold some interest along the lines of a new book, currently in development for a competition although if it doesn’t make the shortlist I will be self publishing again.

I also plan to get back on the screenplay wagon and still hope to bring some Koru Cottage t-shirts to the world too.

So plenty going on and plenty to come back for.


Angels and Demons DVD Review

I don’t read Dan Brown like I don’t read Harry Potter, being ignorant about these franchises sometimes helps an ignorant viewer enjoy the movie more.

I will also admit that I was very reluctant to watch Angels and Demons, mainly because I thought the Da Vinci Code was overblown, on rails and cheesey enough for me to never go back. I love a good treasure hunt and cryptic puzzles, but the movie never lived up to the gravity of the book’s hungry following. It’s fair to say that this movie does improve on the first in every way, the effects are well used, the backdrop of Rome is magnificent, Hanks is Mr Reliable and the plot has thickened. Continue reading

Inglorious Basterds Review

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There is one thing you can say about Tarantino, he knows how to make a great movie, maybe not every time, but he hits more than he misses.

He may not have had my full attention at Reservoir Dogs (having a preference for it’s inspiration : City on Fire), but Pulp Fiction owned the cinema at its release and still shows it’s class. It is safe to say that Inglorious Basterds is Tarantino showing his credentials at that level again, ignoring Kill Bill 2 and Deathproof’s indulgence. Continue reading

District 9 Review

District 9 Poster

District 9 Poster

I am sorry to say 3 weeks ago I knew nothing of District 9, and to be honest I think that was a good thing because my expectation was kept at a minimum. When I first saw the trailer it tricked me, caught my attention and left me wanting more….

Having recently arrived back from the viewing I can safely say that District 9 is a very original, clever and captivating movie. The opening act is a well crafted documentary style narrative that sucks you into this potential situation, my one concern was not knowing when or if this style would give way to more coventional storytelling. The intermittent splashes of ‘regular’ movie scenes blend in so well that they are a relief from the swinging camera without being obvious.

The story follows a reluctant protagonist caught up by the big corporate machine that he works for, the growth and development of Wikus (played by Sharito Copley) are pivotal to the outcome of the movie. The real stars are the Aliens in the way they are portrayed and by the quality of the visual effects. This movie is gritty and gruesome in an understated way, it draws you in with such suspension of disbelief that you stop looking for the joins and begin to accept that they are as real as the Johannesburg slum they live in. The alternate reality that Blomkamp delivers in this movie feels so natural and real, it could really be happening out there. Especially given the setting in a contemporary South African slum town that develops beneath the dormant, hovering Alien Mothership. What’s more the film works so well because it is set far, far away from America, otherwise known as the ‘centre of the universe’.

The final third of the movie does not let up on the pressure, and makes for a satisfying , if explosive conclusion where Wikus finally makes a stand for what is right even at his own personal cost.

Blomkamp has delivered a rollercoaster ride that shows the Hollywood heavyweights how to make a quality and original movie, I didn’t really know what to expect and I enjoyed every minute. Whereas I still haven’t seen Transformers2 because I know exactly what to expect and know that  I will come away feeling empty and unsatisfied.

If you value originality and expect to be entertained for your money, then I couldn’t rate District 9 high enough. Thumbs up from me. 😀

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Cast Includes: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope
Genre: Sci-Fi
Run time: 113 minutes
Rating: R16 – Contains violence and offensive language

Public Enemies Review

Michael Mann – a pedigree isn’t everything I’m afraid.

When a director delivers some of the greatest moments of your entertainment, you can be forgiven for expecting something excellent without effort. Miami Vice, Manhunter, Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Collateral – great TV and top drawer movies. Would I put Public Enemies in that bracket?

Movies around historical figures and events I have come to enjoy more as I’ve grown up, generally because they are a fun way to learn about a subject I probably missed at school. With Public Enemies I have the opportunity to learn about John Dillinger and his band of wicked men.

The casting is great, most outstanding is Jonny Depp in the role of Dillinger. Something that you can lay money on is that Depp will always give everything to a role, he knows his craft and never ceases to amaze, in fact if you stood Dillinger next to Jack Sparrow it would be hard to match the two as the same actor. Sad that he has never enjoyed the global praise that  has been heaped onto the shoulders of people like Tom ‘one trick pony’ Cruise. Dillinger’s nemesis Melvin Purvis is solidly played by an ineffective Christian Bale, but he seems lost without a tux, mask and cape.

The film itself is loud and ponderous, the quality of the stock shows Mann’s preference for digital swings from glossy to ultra grainy, in one prolonged shoot-out it looks like it could have been shot on a mobile phone and posted on you tube. I find there is a touch too much of the swinging handicam, the trend that helped me walk out of Cloverfield. Also worth a mention is the quality of the sound, the gunfire is ‘sharp’ and loud, more realistic? Perhaps, but does not make for pleasant listening in extend bursts.

The story takes it’s time to get where it’s going and the sense of desperate inevitability makes it all the more sad. It’s fair to say that I found the movie interesting, but I would not go out of my way to see it again, in fact a rewatch of The Untouchables is the biggest inspiration it left me with.

Overall – an average outing 😐 , with the exception of Johnny Depp as the Mr Reliable 9/10.

Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum
Genre: Thriller, Historical, Crime, Adaptation
Runtime: 2hr 22mins

Faintheart Review

Faintheart - Theatrical Poster

Image courtesy of Rialto Distribution NZ

First up I’ll be completely honest, this is the kind of movie I can’t help but like. A modest budget, a great bunch of character actors, sprinkle over some British humour and add a dash of ‘heroes journey’ to finish it off. The movie itself is unusal in the way it was made, by public vote through myspace, surely a brave and now well rewarded undertaking. Perhaps not as well cultivated as last years ‘Grow your own’, but for my money has more to offer than the cookie cutter effects movies we keep getting fed.

If you want to be picky the bones of the story are pretty much on rails, but I loved the characters and their eccentric ways. The story follows Richard (Eddie Marsan) a hardware store lackey by day and ardent Viking re-enactor in his downtime, his family have just about had enough of his reluctance to accept responsibility and that’s where we meet him, struggling with the battle to reclaim his life and love.

The movie has plenty of laughs to share with the audience and Ewen Bremner’s (Trainspotting) obsessive Trekkie is worth the ticket alone, there are a few other familiar faces too, Jessica Stynes (Confetti, Shaun of the Dead), Bronagh Gallagher (The Comitments).

If you want to get a better understanding of grown men that dress up as Norse warriors for kicks it might help, or if you want a fun afternoon with a predictable and warm fuzzy feeling at the end then go for it.

It was also nice to see some of the haunts of my youth on screen, most notably Nostalgia and Comics in Birmingham. It makes a refreshing change to see a British movie that ignores London.

Thumbs up from me. 🙂

Director: Vito Rocco
Cast: Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, Jessica Hynes, Bronagh Gallagher, Tim Healy
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 91 minutes

Image supplied courtesy of Rialto Distribution NZ

Image supplied courtesy of Rialto Distribution NZ