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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: TV Spot


Giving very little away in the trailer previous, the latest TV spot was shown on American television last night. Let's just say this 30 second segment is just as reluctant, but there seems to be a bit more turtle in this one, oh, and if you keep your eyes peeled you may catch a glimpse of the masterful Splinter too.  


X-Men Days of Future Past: The Final Trailer


The third and final trailer for X-Men Days of Future past has hit the net today and boy is it the best one yet. What is an eagerly anticipated sequel to First Class (2011), the latest trailer shows Wolverine recruiting the army of mutants, while a whole bunch of exciting stuff occurs in the back ground! Check it out.



Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Calvary



Genre: Drama
Directed: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Aidan Gillen, Kelly Reilly & Chris O' Dowd
Running: 100 minutes 

John Michael McDonagh caught everyone's attention in 2011 with the humorous tale of an unorthodox policeman by the name of Gerry Boyle. The Guard, starring the always presentable Brendan Gleeson, was heaped for its off-the-cuff comedy, "Irishness" and originality. So much so that many ludicrous insinuators boldly claimed it to the "the best" Irish film ever made. McDonagh returns with Gleeson at the helm once again and "the best" Irish movie claim is revived once more in Calvary; a rural tale of societies outlook on the modern church and the impact it has had on various individuals. Calvary's gloomy concept is smartly shot and nicely written. But this Irish film will undoubtedly finds its "global" praise in its daring subject matter as  "our" renowned routine of independent movies with crafty dialog and likable characters has slightly dipped this time around as the topic of choice makes you wonder why it would advertise "black comedy" in the first place. 

"There is no point in killing a bad priest, but killing a good one? That will be a shock". That grueling statement is followed by a Sunday appointment that will see Father James Lavelle (Gleeson) meet his supposed killer. The aching pain of self-confession is heard through our mysterious antagonist, blaming Father James and his good morals for the church and its despicable accusations (and convictions) of the past. Seeking solitude among the local community, Father James is startled by the encounter however the seriousness of the matter takes its time. Father James is considered a rare breed in the town of Sligo as the locals confide in him. They are attendees of a small church they no longer seek hope in. Father James and his dedication to the church and his community is played out in various sequences as the mender and peacekeeper of his community. Encounters with the abusive Jack Brennan (Chris O'Dowd) and the oblivious Milo Herlihy (Killian Scott) shows that he is yet to give up hope for the towns moral dysfunction - even if the culprit behind the confession box is living among him.

Calvary is grungy in its perception of modern society and the affect the church has had on various individuals; all of which play their part, however strange they may be. There are some fabulous scenes involving Father James and fellow priest, father Leary (David Wilmot). It is a relationship that is "Irish" and believable and makes full use of its clever writing. The lingering affect in the air of the small town is felt with routine trips to the locals, some you will find memorable and heartfelt, others I felt were quite uncanny, disturbing and just added to darken a tone that is already blind. One such is an irritating Aidan Gillen who inherits a grotesque character similar to Lord Balish of Game of Thrones. The towns doctor and philosophical head-melt proves dull, strange and awfully performed by a fantastic actor in Aidan Gillen. The same is said for an imprisoned cannibal played by Domhnall Gleeson in a wonderfully shot scene but the dialog and overall description of the encounter feels exaggerated to add yet another haunting interaction that feels far from authentic. It prolongs its sympathy from an emotionally crushed priest to emotionally disturbed locals that falls flat in its many uncanny side-plots enforcing a message we previously gathered from its fantastically written introduction.

The relationship between Father James and his daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly) gives Calvary a real depth of both reality with its bereaving comfort and connection. The performance from Kelly Reilly is phenomenal and really bounces off the riveting presence Brendan Gleeson has so often conveyed. Gleeson probably has given what has already been decided as a career defining performance. Gleeson really drives the sensitivity and the movie's cynicism and the modern perspective that he is indeed the poster boy for. Unfortunately I found the comedy nonexistent. Not that I went in to laugh my gut off, but it was advertised with black comedy and I missed most of that it seems. The sequences in the local pub are supposed to provide the black comedy, giving screen time to Pat Shortt and some more Aidan Gillen which proves hard to indulge in.

Calvary has received much praise on an international level, with snobby magazines like Empire and Total Film bowing to its daring concept and visually gritty story. Its brave in its approach and there was no better actor to lead the line other than Brendan Gleeson who is clearly devoted to a character that brings much relevance regarding the history of the church, and the growth of society's religious perspective right to the dramatic climax. The uncanny characters just didn't do it for me. They are vital surroundings in this stylistic story but I felt they added dialog that proved philosophically boring, crude and forgettable. Kelly Reilly on the other hand conveyed the same devoted performance necessary to make us believe in this extremely hot and prolonging debatable topic of crime - even if the rest of locals failed desperately in its "black comedy".





Monday, 14 April 2014

Images of the Week: Dawn of the Apes (2014)

I don't know about you, but Man vs. Movie has been anticipating Dawn of the Apes since its epic predecessor "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (2011). The last time we saw Caesar he waved his last goodbye to Will (Franco) and took to the forest to rally what is bound to be a war of consequence between man and ape. New director Matt Reeves has given very little away in the build so far, with the teaser being, well, teaserish! As we look forward to the release of the sequel, you can take a look at tasty new images below. 

Locked and Loaded: Caesar's heavy artillery 

A fit Gary Oldman: He will need to be 

Caesar's war face

Caesar: Making a stand 

Apes and Horses combine: A new level of intelligence 

And finally: Jason Clark's Malcom looks worried 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Genre: Action/Adventure
Directed: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel Jackson & Robert Redford
Running: 136 minutes

Man vs Movie has reported on the Marvel allegiance takeover in dull fashion over the years. Frankly, I am sick to death of it. The success of Iron Man (2008) and Avengers: Assemble in (2012) is well deserved. However Disney have all but forced us to eat a particular dinner that looked delicious in the oven but turned out to be too cold, mushy and tasteless i.e. the boring tale of Thor and The Dark World (2013), Ironman 2 (2010) followed by the divided opinion of Ironman 3 last year. Man vs. Movie can officially confirm that Ironman 3 was pure garbage! We could ramble on about Spiderman but that's for another day. The latest from Marvel studio is yet another sequel that tries to prove to superhero fans that the spawn of the Avengers success was not a once off enjoyment. As you may have already guessed, I did not like Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). I questioned myself but I would be lying if I told you there were sleepless nights. I came to the conclusion that maybe I just don't like Captain Steve Rogers as a whole? Well, since the release of winter soldier, Marvel fans (and me) have united to celebrate what is one of the most surprising movies of 2014 (so far) and the best marvel movie since the Avengers? (Yes that is a question).

Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is now celebrated as the hero and ageless World War II veteran Captain America who is fitted to a new suit and assigned to American duty; protect, serve and like the fantastic opening scene on heavy waters, infiltrate. Captain America and SHIELD’s recruitment set the ass-kicking tone from the off as Captain America takes out armed guards on a SHIELD vessel occupied by an Algerian mercenary. The fight choreography is rough and tense as we watch what looks like an upgraded Captain flinging his deadly shield beyond all corners of the vessel.  SHIELD companion Natasha aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is on her own mission of intelligence, one that leaves the Captain questioning the initial orders of Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson). It is only after the mission that the Captain is briefed by Fury as the patched dictator reveals Project Insight; three hellicarriers designed to park in the sky limit in order to eliminate any potential threat to the United States. Seeing this as a way of spreading an epidemic of fear rather than protection, Captain America's once proud perspective of the United States government is no longer. Steve Rogers struggles to adapt to modern society outside the suit. However Captain America is forced to put his politics to one side when Nick Fury is attacked by unknown assailants with the name “Winter Soldier “being linked to a potential destruction of SHIELD. 

Captain American and Black Widow seek to retain intelligence data that could reveal far more loose ends than they could have ever imagined. Creative villain Winter Soldier is the poison to Captain America's chalice making this sequel far more interesting in terms of depth; a story of relevance yet a backdrop of history and some much needed character development. The fantastic action scenes are just one reason this sequel pulls you in. Each character has their moment.  That "about time" moment happens for Nick Fury who gave us nothing but jibe talking jibber jabber in Marvel's “phase one” chapter.  However this time around Nick Fury advertises the very reason he is leading a bunch of kickass heroes into battle because he too can bolster some action. The lustful Black Widow is entertainingly witty and dangerous in her brutality once again, while new companion Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) aka Falcon is a humorous character of much likeness and excitement regarding the expansion of his story.

If a movie is going to be over two hours long the director would want to make sure it is well balanced. In this case, the action does outweigh the drama, and so it should; we want action, and we want it now. But, those looking for an all-out deconstruction of a country will want to stick to Man of Steel or Transformers because the portion of drama and dialog are added in what becomes a necessary environment of morals and human decisions based on terrorist acts, intelligence and the very existence of war. I think that is where winter soldier is receiving the majority of praise. It does carry relevance and depth followed by some well-choreographed scenes of brutality; an elevator brawl, a highway chase and a memorable showdown full of twists and turns. Reflecting back to my above sentence, this Marvel tale has everything involved to keep you interested.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo go into much detail regarding the story's backdrop. The inheritance of the old “factual history” trick has worked really well on this occasion and fortunately suits the origins of Captain America and the villainous antagonist. Previous director Joe Johnston did something similar in its Nazi-mystic element featuring the red skull but it was two hours too long. The action became boring and the story was careless, while we never truly rooted for Steve Rogers and his transformation. The Winter Soldier does well in building on an already existing chapter and overdeveloping the story of “what was” in its brief flashbacks of the first movie. So in a way this sequel has the first movie to thank in regards to the diagnoses of each character, developing Chris Evans into a Captain America we engage with and ultimately root for – something that proved hard to do in its predecessor. It brings satisfaction in relation to the extent of where Captain America, as a comic-book superhero is going and will inevitably become.

We will see a third movie but not before a much anticipated Avengers sequel. Then we will see a return of the hammer wielding Thor and maybe a Mark Ruffalo Hulk revamp. By the time a third movie comes out fans would have made up their mind on where the hell Marvel is going to take all of this. Nevertheless, The Winter Soldier has done what Thor and Ironman failed to do – create an exciting level of anticipation regarding a trilogy. 







Sunday, 6 April 2014

Starred Up


Genre: Prison Drama
Directed: David McKenzie
Starring: Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelssohn, Rupert Fiend and Sam Spruell
Running: 106 Minutes 

Jack O'Connell must have done something extraordinary in the audition to play along side the eccentric Australian Ben Mendelssohn. Playing second fiddle to the former skins star, both actors help bring this modernistic prison drama to life, owing much dept to predecessors such as Scum, A Prophet and Bronson.

In his first "major" leading role, the appearance of Jack O'Connell has been a long time coming. Renowned for playing Cook from teen drama Skins, Jack has made appearances in This is England and 300 Rise of an Empire of late. Director David McKenzie has managed to give Jack a role that sees him come out of his skin in what is surely the performance of his early movie career.

The opening scene is an invitation into the prison. Smartly shot, we follow Eric (O'Connell) as he is greeted with unopened arms into the hefty security of an adult prison. Unsettled and troubled in the adolescent prison he came from, Governor Hayes (Sam Spruell) is adamant to keep Eric maintained. Eric is aware of his surroundings, revealing his survival instincts in the first five minutes of its moody opening; melting a blade onto a toothbrush, Eric's fighting mentality is what lead him here in the first place and what will surely defy his future through-out the majority of this bit-part story. Cliched as far as prison movies go, but the twist is Ben Mendelssohn as Eric's intimating father and prison dictator. The relationship between father and son is heated as both are content in maintaining their own vigorous morals while a backdrop of child abuse gives us a darker insight into the current state of Eric and his father. Neville is aware of Eric's troubled youth and decides to guide him following a word of advice from prison kingpin Spencer (Peter Ferinando) who is beginning to lose patience with the young brawler,  leading to a difficult decision that puts father and son at the forefront.

David McKenzie's film plays with various sequences of brutality and verbal crudeness, so much so that you start to wonder just where the film intends to go. The first half of the movie is busy introducing a lot of characters involved in Eric's bid to survive, but also balances a sense of humanity and dignity in Oliver (Robert Fiend); a prison Councillor who's cautious approach is of like nothing Jack has experienced. Oliver opens new doors for potential rehabilitation in terms of Eric's anger issues but Eric is tortured by the corruptness in the prison, as well as his own psychopathic mindset.

Starred Up does a terrific job in locking you up from the beginning. Every punch, every scream every conversation is constructed to involve you. The cinematography is sharp and claustrophobic which allow you too feel trapped with these caged animals. It's drama is real and at times heartfelt considering the circumstance. There are no heroes here and deep down director David McKenzie knows they are placed in a situation where pity and remorse is not an option. It is the cliched tale of survival of the fittest. Jack O'Connell's character is clearly inherited from Ray Winston's Scum and done so to perfection. O'Connell's anger is felt so much that he almost leaps off the screen. He plays the role of a demented character wonderfully. The flawless performance from Jack O'Connell helps to distract us from the fact this movie lacked a real sense of direction form the beginning,  giving us a violent ending with little or no clarification or aftermath regarding our underdeveloped characters.

As a movie there is nothing here you haven't seen already. A prison movie is a safe bet and Starred Up is just another one of those. Its riveting considering the leading star while Ben Mendelssohn has proved he can do no wrong. It's graphic, vulgar and painful in its brutality; and as a man, that is maybe all one needs, but if you are looking for a story with depth and character development, Starred Up provides the opposite.













Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Under the Skin


Genre: Horror/Thriller
Directed: Jonathan Glazer 
Starring: Scarlett Johansson 
Running: 108 minutes

As silly as it may sound, Jonathan Glazer's take on modern alien-ism is so realistic it is truly frightening. A horror movie it is not, a sci-fi is questionable also; let's just say Under the Skin is a bag of everything, including drama and sentiment from a female alien seeking humanity in oneself. Giving very little away in its advertisement, judging by its James Cameron style poster, the opening scene is one of true remembrance, even if there is very little to show. Jonathan Glazer makes an alien assumption and what we are about to follow through-out this 100 minute slideshow of fascinating images.

A machine is seen slowly making its way toward what we eventually make out to be a human like eyeball, constructing our female protagonist to be (Scarlett Johansson). From there we witness a compelling concept of the hunter and the hunted through an aliens-eye-view. Prowling the wet streets of Scotland with a motive that is never fully explained, Laura is on the look out for vulnerable men with no direction other than the dark depths of what appears to be a concept of alien abduction. The murky human world is what captivates this movie to its full realism as hidden cameras are used to show the mundane streets featuring pedestrians at their typical. A transit van supplied by a mysterious biker is used to distract Laura from her manifestation; unrecognisable beneath her 80s retro hairstyle, Laura routinely distracts men at their most isolated, inviting them back to her abandoned house where they will meet their demise, revealing the most fascinating image and the "horror" of the movie. However Under the Skin feels purposely divided into a movie of two very different chapters, one that reveals sentiment in Laura with a dramatic outlook on what happens when the tables are turned on our leading star. It goes on to focus on a clever concept, one of much relevance in today's society. For me, Jonathan Glazer kills the darkish mood of its first 45 minutes to give us a sense of humanity and sympathy but again going back to what the movie offered at the beginning, making for a fantastic intro, a strange and not too comfortable middle and a brilliant ending.

Scarlett Johansson does very little here, yet it is the performance of her career no doubt. As strange as that may sound, that is exactly it; her cold and calculated expressions, her movement and her overall commitment to a film revealing more nudity than we would have expected, she is dedicated to her robust character from the get-go. Scarlett showcases a method side to her acting that the blockbusters of the past have not aloud her to do. Her robotic persona is scary and seductive making Under the skin spine tingling at times, yet heartfelt for both herself and her victims - she leads the line in fantastic fashion in this very rare one-women-show.

The chilling soundtrack helps set the atmospheric tone this movie thrives off from the beginning. Scarlett's on screen presence creates something so unnerving, you could cut the cinematic atmosphere with a blunt knife. The oblivious folks appearing in the backdrop of midnight Scotland gives this movie a sense of realism, with its stalker concept being of much relevance. Jonathan Glazer sheds some light on just how the average male can be vulnerable in the dead of the night; one scene shows just how far Laura will go to lure a victim to a misty grave.

Those looking to enjoy a movie of dialog will be very disappointed. Under the skin is an artistic outlook of hunter seeking its prey using a plethora of images; featuring deserted highways, wet and windy pavements and grizzly houses, while the sci-fi also comes into play in Laura's lair. Unfortunately the same concept is used toward the middle of the movie and the end, substituting gritty streets for the country woods and more. I for one found the images fascinating and self-explanatory.

Very little can be said in regards to how the movie plays out, and some people may be disappointed in that sense. It is probably the most realistic take on alien-ism I have seen in modern film so far. However so realistic that it may prove boring for some, and virtually unexplained. I for one tend to keep an open mind, therefore enjoying this visionary bag of mixed treats from Jonathan Glazer.