Posts Tagged ‘action’

In a nutshell: Mean, moody and nameless takes a drive

Popcorn rating: 4.5/5

Don’t know about you but there’s something about a movie with fast cars and big action that brings out my inner child. One minute I’m sitting there, wittering on about the inherent beauty of Terrence Malick’s cinemtaograhy like Mark Cousins (but without an annoying voice) then the movies starts and a few minutes later, there I am, screaming “Drive muthaf**ka, drive” like some demented redneck from a 1980s B movie.

Anyway, confessions over. ‘Cos Drive ain’t that kind of driving movie. Oh it’s got cars and violence and shiny jackets and stuff but this Ryan Gosling vehicle, is more of the thinking gal’s driving movie. See, underneath all the action, there is a bittersweet love story all mixed in with a nail biting thriller.

As if the intricacies of the script weren’t enough, visually Drive is stunning. Each shot composed with beauty, an eye for detail, for making the most of the slightly off kilter. In fact the opening scene say it all – as the camera pans across the City of Angels at night, lights vibrant against the glittering black tower blocks, a thumping electro pop soundtrack practically makes you want to go outside, get into your own car and just drive like crazy.

Directed by the excellent Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive’s central character is a nameless stunt driver/mechanic (Gosling) who hires himself out as a getaway driver to earn some extra bucks. A laconic, unreadable character, the driver carries out each getaway with a professional precision that speaks a thousand words. Job over, it is back to his mundane, achingly lonesome life.

Of course, there is only so much planning ahead you can do so, when he breaks his own rules, gets emotionally involved and things go drastically wrong on a heist, the driver finds himself with a bag of cash belonging to a local mobster, a contract on his head and only one way to turn.

Drive is unflinching in its portrayal of life, and of violence. Every crunch of bone, every splatter of blood, every unspoken disappointment is on screen. Surprisingly, this doesn’t make Drive difficult or sad to watch but rather, as the credits roll, you realise just how much this small snapshot of another’s life has resonated with your own.

As the movie blurb says, some heroes are real.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

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In a nutshell: Snoring your way through the Wild Wild West.

Popcorn rating: 2/5

Someone somewhere had an idea. ‘You know what’s great?’ perhaps they thought. ‘Cowboy movies. You know what else is great? Aliens. Man, how cool would it be to like, you know, put cowboys and aliens together in a movie and then, like maybe, throw in Indiana Jones and Bond and that guy outta Apocalypto and that sexy bird from Tron Legacy cos she looks kinda sexy, like a sexy alien cowgirl. Wow, yeah and everyone aged from 10 to 90 would just love it. High five.’

For some reason I thought it sounded like a good idea too. I was looking forward to the Jon Favreau directed Cowboys and Aliens like a five-year-old looks forward to Christmas. See, I love Westerns. Real Westerns, like the Shakespearean filth of Deadwood or the raw elegaic beauty of True Grit. I like aliens too. Hell, District 9 is one of my all time favourite movies.

Cowboys and Aliens, however, is none of the above. In fact, when I was leaving the cinema, I heard someone describe Cowboys and Aliens as “good, honest fun” and I can only presume they were talking about when the older lady close to the front row started choking on her popcorn.

The premise is surprisingly complex but as it is also somewhat pointless, we don’t need to go into it in detail here. Suffice it to say that the story centres round a small town somewhere in 1873 Arizona which is mysteriously attacked by people-stealing aliens. Mildly perturbed by the arrival of aliens from outer space, the townsfolk calmly band together into a posse to go hunt the “demons” and save their people, with the help of some injuns and 30 or so outlaws.

Guess who’s going to win? Go on, guess. I won’t ask you to care of course. To care would require a few ingredients, like good dialogue, some character development and a script which offers something different from the same old good V bad plot.

What Cowboys and Aliens does have is a bucketload of saccharine, one dimensional characters, a frankly ridiculous twist even for a film involving cowboys and aliens and, worst of all, a boring script.

Oh, it’s not all bad. There is the odd smattering of humour, which works well, there are a few good, scary jumps along the way too, and at least the aliens have the decency to look different from previous imaginings. That’s it though.

Don’t get me wrong. I like mindless fun as much as the next kid – Indiana Jones, The Mummy, Men in Black are all great examples of movies which mix laughs, action and storytelling successfully. Cowboys and Aliens doesn’t, and its a shame really, because it was a great idea. It really was. It just didn’t quite match up to the dream.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

Disclaimer – This may seem like a harsh review but, true to the ethos of Let Me Eat Popcorn, it is my honest opinion. I would, in the interests of fairness, like to point out that my 12-year-old nephew Malachy loved Cowboys and Aliens and even went as far as to describe it as “brilliant”. So there.

In a nutshell: Apes start talking ‘bout a revolution

Popcorn rating: 4/5

We’ve all fond memories of the Charlton Heston original and maybe even a few of you male readers may have fond memories of Helena Bonham Carter’s she-ape in Tim Burton’s remake, but is a frightening prelude to our inevitable future as slaves to our simian overlords.

Directed by Rupert Wyatt, who proved he’s no slouch with debut feature The Escapist, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has proved to be the Indian summer blockbuster and then some.

Starring Andy Serkis – the undisputed King Kong of performance capture – Rise… takes us into new territory for this franchise reboot. Setting the action on a firmly human-run Earth, James Franco’s boffin is frantically searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s, which – as any fan of cinema, science fiction or literature will know – is destined to bring about the end of our kind. Becoming an unwilling father to baby chimp Caesar, he is firmly pushed back to the background as we meet the most interesting and engaging performance-capture protagonist of all time.

Andy Serkis as Caesar is a revelation and with technology beginning to catch up with his acting ability – the death knell to the trade? – has made the most convincing argument for awards recognition of the performance capture medium yet. His chimpanzee displays a range of emotions that Keanu Reeves can only dream of and by the time the revolution kicks in, you’ll be betraying your species in who to cheer on.

It’s not all fancy tricks and sad-faced apes, there is great action too, Serkis’ Casear leading a tactical charge in the finale worthy of his name and visually the CGI is breath-taking. There are some sly nods to the originals – including a post-Draco Tom Felton gaining the honour of uttering that immortal line and subtle and clever hints to future instalments.

Smart, engaging and moving, a summer blockbuster with substance, this planet’s journey to simian society couldn’t have got off to a better start.

Reviewer: AoifeWantonMovieLover

In a nutshell: A worthy throwback to the blockbusters of the 80s

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Watching Super 8 is like experiencing time travel. The clothes, the haircuts, the way the film is shot and even the plot points to a more innocent time when the world was enjoying its first blockbusters.

It is blissfully reminiscent of the excitement of the 80s and films like The Goonies and ET.  Super 8 is a clear tribute to that with the basic premise that a group of kids witness a train crash that is at the centre of an alien conspiracy.

But it is more than a love letter to the 80s. Modern filmmaking brings a new dimension to the old school – there are almost as many explosions as a Transformers film.

Yet the children’s innocence and reaction of sheer panic to a situation out of their control is convincing and charming.  Then again what else would you expect when the best of the old generation meets the new?  Steven Spielberg produced the film while Lost creator and Star Trek director J.J. Abrams was the man behind the camera.

The story centres around Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) in smalltown Ohio. His mum has recently died in a disastrous industrial accident and he is attempting to get over it by helping his friend create a zombie film for a school competition.  But then his home becomes swamped by the military who are ruthlessly efficient at keeping the Government’s secret just that.

As you might expect, all hell eventually breaks loose but clever camera work means you only get a true glimpse of the alien at the end of the film. It builds a tremendous and old fashioned sense of suspense.
And it’s satisfying to know an alien presence in a film can once again be fascinating and mysterious rather than world conquering.

Essentially this is a movie about friendship and community and how something so catastrophic can affect those bonds.  In truth Super 8 does go off the rails a bit towards the end but in terms of the experience and nostalgia it is definitely worth your money.

Reviewer: David Morgan

In a nutshell: 120 minutes of my life I will never get back.

Popcorn rating: 0.5/5

I love 300. And not just because it’s got fit, moody manly types running round in naught more than a pair of leather pants (well, mostly because of that). See, 300 was epic. It took a great graphic novel and it put it on screen in an equally great movie. 300 made those mythical Spartans live and breathe and fight to the death before our very eyes and I, for one, was enthralled. So, I love 300. So much so in fact that, since Christmas, I having been getting myself all happy and eager about 300 director Zack Snyder’s latest comic book style offering, Sucker Punch.

With awe-inspiring trailers, Sucker Punch promised us tough women battling to the death in action scenes so f*cking spectacular they would blow everything else we had seen before out of the water. I didn’t even care that the women were dressed like a 12-year-old’s idea of a hot date because Sucker Punch was Alice in Wonderland with machine guns. Oh, how my little heart went pit-a-pat.

Then I saw it. Depressing, miserable, over sexualised crud that I can, in all honesty, suggest no-one ever bother seeing. Ever.

I’ll even tell you why.

Sucker Punch’s lead character is 20-year Babydoll (Emily Browning) who looks like she was designed by a hungover Christina Aguilera – all big eyes, chubby cheeks and teeny, tiny clothing. From the very beginning poor old Babydoll’s life is rubbish and, not just because of her moniker, but because ALL MEN in the world are evil bastards and ALL WOMEN are vapid and beautiful sex objects.

Dumped into an asylum and facing a lobotomy, Babydoll retreats into a dream world where she and her mates, sexy Amber, sexy Blondie, sexy Rocket and  – mixing it up a little – sexy but hard Sweetpea have to find various “objects” which will help them to freedom. This sees Babydoll and crew dropped into various yawnsome video game scenarios where the gals CGI fight CGI monsters. Never before have action scenes been so pointless, so unimaginative and so inexplicably depressing.

And that’s it really. Throw in a bit more misery with the girls being dancing prostitutes, duly horrifically bullied by Blue (a pleasingly malevolent turn by Oscar Isaac, which earned the 0.5 rating) and quickly your fairly pleasant pre-movie mood evaporates into, well, kinda feeling  dirty and more than a a little bit sad.

Yip, you’ve been sucker punched – and, if you ask me – it’s by the fact you may have actually paid to see this gak.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

In a nutshell: Like a little brother – funny, fun but needs to grow up a little.

Popcorn rating: 3/5

It’s hard to dislike Seth Rogen. Even when he’s being a complete knob – like refusing to grow up in Knocked Up, dishing out random advice in The 40 Year Old Virgin or making a porno in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Essentially, Rogen is like a frustrating little brother – a chubby stoner who scoffs all the pizza, puts the empty milk carton back in the fridge and repels your friends by making boob jokes about, well, their boobs. Rogen has made a career for himself playing fozzie bear and, while he hasn’t stretched his talents playing wannabe superhero squillionaire Brit Read aka The Green Hornet, that goofy lovability works well here… most of the time.

The tale itself, in case you aren’t one of the fanboys peeing their pants over the arrival of The Green Hornet (3D),  is simple – rich orphan becomes crime fighting antihero with the help of a techy whizzkid, a sexed up motor and a penchant for mayhem. So far, so Batman. Except, with Rogen and mates  on board, The Green Hornet doesn’t take itself as seriously as *puts on deep voice* The Batman. And that’s good, because not only are there no embarrassing voices making you cringe behind your popcorn but one of the best things about The Green Hornet is that it’s funny, like properly laugh at loud mirthlicious.

Unfortunately funny isn’t always enough. With more superheroes gracing our screens than you can shake a light sabre at  (http://bit.ly/eZtAYK ), today’s audiences expect more than a couple of chuckles, a cute cameo and a big fat explosion. We want bromance, romance, car chases, bad guys with issues, good guys with flaws, big guns, bigger bangs and brain boggling street fights all tied up with a storyline that will squeeze every drop of emotion out of us like wringing out one sheet of Bounty. It’s a lot to ask but, hey, life’s tough.

The Green Hornet’s funny, its 3D looks good and it starts off strong with a heart breaking back story about daddy but then it loses the thread slightly, lurching from scene to scene like a toddler in Santa Land, over explaining the storyline with dodgy dialogue, throwing in unnecessary “stylish” graphics when you want to see some proper kick ass fighting and dragging out odd scenes just for the laughs.

Sure, there are flashes of comedy gold in The Green Hornet.  You can really see where  director Michael Gondry was going. He just didn’t quite get there. It’s a bit like when your gran asks if you want a biscuit and, instead of the expected chocolately Hobnob, you get two Rich Tea with a bit of marg in between.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley