Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year's Eve

How's this for a strange twist of fate? My last movie review of 2011 (I know it's now 2012 but this is my last review of a film I saw in 2011) is New Year's Eve, and I saw it on the last day of 2011, New Year's Eve.

I knew from the moment I saw the trailer that despite the film looking like it might be terrible, I would end up seeing this with one of my best girl friends. And I did, during my Christmas break up to the north west of England.

The film, as you might have guessed, is set on New Year's Eve in one of the most spectacular locations for a New Year's Eve movie to be set, New York City. As Stan Harris says at one point in the trailer, "nothing beats New York on New Year's Eve". We have the ball dropping at Times Square, two pregnant women dropping at a nearby hospital, midnight kisses, chance encounters, rock stars, a dying man's last wish and one night to make all your new year's resolutions come true. The star studded cast take you on a whirlwind journey of New York on New Year's Eve.

I must admit that after my cinema buddy saw it and told me how terrible it was I was not holding out any high expectations for New Year's Eve. And I did think that it would pass by without me getting to see it. But a well timed showing fit with our plans and et voila, New Year's Eve on New Year's Eve actually happened. And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. 

Sure the cast is ridiculous. You thought there were a lot of famous people in Valentines Day or New York I Love You? Well that's nothing compared to this. I don't think I've seen a cast list this long since Harry Potter. And to be honest, it's unnecessary. Some of these roles could have been given to unknown actors or lesser known character actors and it wouldn't have made the slightest difference to the film, other than you wouldn't be playing 'spot the celebrity' every time the scene changed. I'm not saying anyone is particularly bad, it's just overkill on the famous actor front.

The thing that is most obvious, with all these famous types running around and with so many story changes, is that very few of the actors have chemistry. Not really through any fault of their own but they have so little time to become acquainted with one-another that it's hard to build rapport and in turn, chemistry. I also find it unbelievable that Ashton Kutcher would be best friends with Zac Efron or that Zac Efron would even contemplate snogging Michelle Pfeiffer (especially as the latter looks so haggard in this film). 

But you are right in thinking I said that this film wasn't all that bad. And it really wasn't. It was a light, fluffy, not too demanding film that kept me entertained for the 2 hours it was on. 6 out of 10.

Viewing Date - 31st December 2011
UK Release Date - 8th December 2011

Cast Overview:
Halle Berry ~ Nurse Aimee
Jessica Biel ~ Tess Byrne
Jon Bon Jovi ~ Jensen
Abigail Breslin ~ Hailey
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges ~ Brendan
Robert De Niro ~ Stan Harris
Josh Duhamel ~ Sam
Zac Efron ~ Paul
Hector Elizondo ~ Kominsky
Cary Elwes ~ Stan's Doctor
Katherine Heigl ~ Laura
Ashton Kutcher ~ Randy
Seth Meyers ~ Griffin Byrne
Alyssa Milano ~ Nurse Mindy
Lea Michele ~ Elise
Sarah Jessica Parker ~ Kim
Michelle Pfeiffer ~ Ingrid
Hilary Swank ~ Claire Morgan

Director ~ Garry Marshall
Writer ~ Katherine Fugate

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

I should probably open by telling you that I was not fond of the first Sherlock Holmes movie and had no intention of watching this one. Until I started to hear those magic five words 'better than the first one'. Better you say? Oh well I might as well see it then, after all, December has been rather cine lite owing to my two week absence. Plus I probably won't see anything while I'm up north for Christmas. Lets give it a go!

From what I remember of Sherlock 1 (that's not a lot), Sherlock 2 carries on pretty seamlessly. Irene (Rachel McAdams) is still wheeling and dealing and getting Sherlock (Robert Downey Jnr) into trouble. Meanwhile Sherlock's long suffering colleague Dr Watson (Jude Law) is planning his wedding. All Sherlock has to do is take Watson on his 'stag do' and get him to the church on time, but of course nothing goes to plan when Sherlock is trying to get one over on Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). One thing leads to another and the pair find themselves in Paris with a gypsy (Noomi Rapace) who is connected to Moriarty by way of her lost brother.

Simply put, whoever it was that said this was better than the first was either stupid or lying. It's over long, it's boring, it's complicated and it's contrived. I have never been a fan of Guy Ritchie but his direction of this film has to be some of the worst direction I have seen all year. He uses way too much slow motion, has these silly scenes of imagined fights before the real fight takes place, meaning you see every fight twice. And he's put in these ridiculous over stylised shots of running through forests. Just when you think it can't go on any longer or get any worse it does. 

The one good thing that can be said about the film is the casting, but even that can't save the film. The two females in the cast Rachel McAdams, who reprises her role of Irene Adler from the first film, and Noomi Rapace, last seen with a Dragon Tattoo, have nothing to do. McAdams is written out within the opening 15 minutes and Rapace appears here and there throughout the film but you're never really sure how she (as an actress or the character) got involved in the first place. The final nail in Ritchie's coffin surely has to be the fact that he can take an actor like Robert Downey Jnr, one of the most charismatic, charming and funny actors around, and make a film so utterly boring that even Downey Jnr can't save it. Surely that speaks volumes about how bad a director he really is?

The cinema was obviously experiencing 'technical problems' with their heating as it was stiffling in the cinema but even so I haven't been as close to falling asleep in a film since I saw The Last Airbender. There's a bit in the film where Holmes and Watson are talking about going home, and the whole while I was thinking, "yes, please go home, because then this will finish and I will be able to go home" but then they decide to go to Switzerland instead, and so it drags on for another hour.

There is a lot of acting talent here but unfortunately for those involved, not a lot else. Please don't let there be a Sherlock 3. 5 out of 10.

Viewing Date - 19th December 2011
UK Release Date - 16th December 2011

Cast Overview:
Robert Downey Jnr ~ Sherlock Holmes
Jude Law ~ Dr John Watson
Noomi Rapace ~ Madam Simza Heron
Rachel McAdams ~ Irene Adler
Jared Harris ~ Professor James Moriarty
Stephen Fry ~ Mycroft Holmes

Director ~ Guy Ritchie
Writer(s) ~ Michele and Kieran Mulroney based on characters created by 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Hugo is another film that I knew nothing about until my cinema buddy told me to check out the trailer. Even then, while I wanted to see it, I wasn't overly drawn in. Then as bad luck would have it, I was struck down with a horrible cough almost as soon as Hugo was released. And as I heard more and more good things about it I wanted to see it more and more. In the end I was so concerned that I would miss it that my cough be damned, I went to the cinema to watch it.

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is the boy of the film's title. Following the untimely death of his father (Jude Law), his uncle (Ray Winstone) takes him to work - and live - in a train station in Paris in the 1930s. After his uncle leaves him there, Hugo decides to stay and carry on winding the clocks, figuring if the clocks are still running, the people at the station will just assume it's his uncle doing the work, and he'll be allowed to stay there, as he has no other home to go to. In his spare time, Hugo is trying to repair an automaton that his father brought home to fix before he died. One day, the toy shop owner Hugo had been stealing parts from, Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), decides to steal something from Hugo to make them even. He takes Hugo's notebook, which once belonged to his father, and so begins Hugo's quest to get the book back. Hugo gets a lot more than he bargained for however when Georges past comes to light.

Hugo is such a charming film, an absolute pleasure from start to finish. The fact that it was directed by Martin Scorsese makes it all the more incredible. Now I'm not saying old Marty is not a good director. I'm sure we all agree that he has made some magnificent films, but these are films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, more recently Gangs of New York and Shutter Island. He's not exactly known for charming kids films. 

The other impressive thing about the film being directed by Martin Scorsese is that this is the first time he's shot a film in 3D. And I think this might be the most impressive use of 3D I have ever seen. Everything pops, like a feast for your eyes, from the dust in the train station to the people on screen, it's a visual treat. Mr Scorsese hasn't gone down the classic route of having things come out of the screen, instead he's just made everything three dimensional. It's honestly amazing use of 3D. If you see Hugo, and I highly recommend you do, you should see it in 3D.

3D gushing aside, everything about Hugo is a joy. The setting is perfect, the train station is smoggy and dusty and full of fascinating characters. The little passageways that Hugo has to squeeze through in his daily routine of winding the clocks have a maze-like quality to them. The cast is a delight, the previously unknown Asa Butterfield has an innocence about him but also seems like an old head on young shoulders. I don't think Ben Kingsley has been better for many years, finally putting aside his hammier acting and tackling something seriously really pays off. Sacha Baron Cohen is brilliant casting as the Station Inspector, simultaniously making you loathe him for being Hugo's nemesis but also wanting him to get the girl. I can't fault anyone. And it's lovely to see Christopher Lee in the smaller, supporting role of Monsieur Labisse, a likeable character for him for once.

This is the type of film which my mum would say gives you 'the feel good factor', you come away from it feeling somewhat enriched by it. It's also the type of film you could take your kids to and your grandma and each of them would get something out of it. Before it leaves the cinema I urge all of my readers to go and see Hugo (in 3D) and marvel in it's storytelling greatness. 9 out of 10.

Viewing Date - 18th December 2011
UK Release Date - 2nd December 2011

Cast Overview:
Asa Butterfield ~ Hugo Cabret
Ben Kingsley ~ Georges Méliès
Chloë Grace Moretz ~ Isabelle
Sacha Baron Cohen ~ Station Inspector
Helen McCrory ~ Mama Jeanne
Ray Winstone ~ Uncle Claude
Emily Mortimer ~ Lisette
Christopher Lee ~ Monsieur Labisse
Michael Stuhlbarg ~ Rene Tabard
Frances de la Tour ~ Madame Emilie
Richard Griffiths ~ Monsieur Frick
Jude Law ~ Hugo's Father
Kevin Eldon ~ Policeman

Director ~ Martin Scorsese
Writer(s) ~ John Logan (Screenplay) and Brian Selznick (Book)