Django Unchained review

Django Unchained film

Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film Django Unchained is quite simply off the chain if you pardon the pun!

A brutal, bloody, terrifying, hilarious and breathtaking film inspired by both the Django spaghetti western series starring Franco Nero (who makes a cameo) and Richard Fleischer’s 1975 exploitation flick Mandingo, about a slave trained to fight other slaves.

Set two years before the Civil War, the film stars Christoph Waltz as German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, who frees Jamie Foxx’s slave character Django in return for his help in tracking down three outlaw brothers.

Along the way, Django proves to have something of a knack for bounty hunting, so he trains under Schultz and the pair become both friends and partners.

And when Django learns that his wife Broomhilda (the beautiful Kerry Washington) is a slave on a plantation belonging to sadistic owner Calvin Candie (played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio), he and Schultz set out to rescue her, posing as fight experts interested in Candie’s Mandingo ring.

Just like Tarantino’s previous film Inglourious Basterds, Waltz’s Germanic delivery and measured manner steals every scene thanks to his terrific performance as Schultz that makes it so much fun to enjoy.

Equally impressive is DiCaprio, who seems to be enjoying the role of being a spiteful, pipe smoking bully. His performance is both awe-inspiring and yet terrifying. The scene at the dinner table while delivering the classic QT monologue is pure masterclass.

Making his sixth appearance in a Tarantino film is the superb Samuel L. Jackson as the head house-slave Stephen. Although it comes to a bit of a shock in how many times he says the “N” word…

To be honest, Django Unchained is not a film for the squeamish. As it features over-the-top violence including the gunfight sequence involving explosively splattering of blood.

And yet the script makes it so enjoyable to watch with great lines packed full of surprises with moments that will have you laughing out loud and gasping in shock, often simultaneously.

So a great film overall? Well, I have to admit there are some weak parts in Django Unchained and ironically this falls to Jamie Foxx.

The actor has the physical presence, that is undeniable, and as Django he certainly looks the part. Yet he never feels entirely right, as the gritty, gun-slinging hero or rather, sounds right.

Foxx is gifted with a soft, musical voice, but it jars against Django’s terse deliveries. “I like the way you die, boy,” should sound menacing and yet from Foxx, it lacks impact.

The other big problem is the running time, at 168 minutes the film is just too damn long and the middle segment drags considerably. In addition, Kerry Washington‘s part is badly underwritten (less than ten lines!), so there’s no chemistry at all between her and Foxx.

While Tarantino’s time-honoured atrocious cameo (as an Australian mining company employee) is so out of place and seriously undermines the final act of the film.

Despite these flaws, Django Unchained is a stylishly directed, superbly written and brilliantly acted spaghetti western pastiche that delivers shocks, laughs and thrills in equal measure. The soundtrack is also great too. Tarantino is back to his best!

Skyfall review

The name’s Bond. James Bond. It has been four years since we last heard these famous words utter from the British secret agent following the news that MGM encountered finance troubles during the production of the film.

Thankfully, all of these money issues have been resolved and it is such a relief to have Daniel Craig back on the big screen playing 007.

Directed by the Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, Skyfall is both the twenty-third James Bond film and the 50th anniversary of the series itself.

Written by John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, Skyfall sees Commander James Bond’s loyalty to M tested as her past comes back to haunt her.

After accidentally shot and believed killed by one of MI6’s own agent Eve – played by Naomie Harris – while trying to retrieve a hard drive listing undercover agents. A jaded Bond washes up somewhere exotic and sinks into a mire of depression and drinking games involving scorpions before a terrorist attack on MI6 HQ jolts him back to life and forces him to return to London.

Sure enough, the hard drive has fallen into the hands of crazed villain Silva – the quite brilliant Javier Bardem – who is using it to orchestrate a multi-faceted revenge attack on M, causing her professional embarrassment that puts Judi Dench’s character under threat of forced retirement by her superior Mallory – played by Ralph Fiennes.

Issued with some surprisingly standard weaponry by Ben Whishaw’s Q, Bond tracks Silva to his island-based hideout, but when Silva turns the tables and stages another attack on London, Bond is forced to take M into his protection.

Once again, the performance by Daniel Craig continues to impress. Playing the character as an older, wiser and a Bond who both bleeds and bruises. He could easily be ranked, along with Sean Connery, as the best portray of Ian Fleming’s spy.

Despite the presence of two Bond girls featuring the beautiful Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe, Skyfall is essentially Judi Dench’s film. The on-screen chemistry alongside 007 was first-class and it was quite touching to see their personal relationship.

And yet Javier Bardem steals the best scenes. The Spanish-speaking actor delivers a twisted and sinister performance that is a joy to watch. A complete contrast to Bérénice Marlohe, who plays the slinky Severine. Her on-screen presence was limited and it was a shame not to have more scenes with Bond.

The look and feel of Skyfall is one of the most breathtaking in terms of cinematography. Sam Mendes has that unique ability to blend some outstanding action set pieces including that chase sequence in Istanbul before the pre-credits sung by Adele, with some amusing little character moments – such as Bond straightening his cuffs after a death-defying train leap – while maintaining the surprisingly emotional tone of the script.

Skyfall definitely lives up to the hype and it is certainly better than the Quantum of Solace. The best Bond film ever? That’s debatable but in terms of thrills, Sam Mendes has directed a beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable Bond film that celebrates its history despite the reboot.

The Dark Knight Rises review

British director Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film is a fitting and satisfying conclusion to his Dark Knight trilogy, thanks to an engaging plot, spectacular action sequences and terrific performances from a superb cast.

After restoring credibility in Batman Begins back in 2005, followed by the tremendous box office success in 2008 thanks to The Dark Knight, the final instalment sees the return of Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman) squaring off a new foe in Gotham City: Bane (Tom Hardy).

Picking up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the film begins with bearded billionaire Bruce Wayne as a virtual recluse, having seemingly hung up the Batman outfit following a citywide crime clean up by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) in the wake of the death of district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).

However, when slinky cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) piques Bruce’s interest by stealing his fingerprints, he swings into action as the Caped Crusader again, much to the distress of faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine).

Unfortunately, Batman’s problems are only just the beginning, as Selina sells his fingerprints to gas-masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who has a master plan that involves stirring up a revolution in Gotham City.

Co-written with his brother Jonathan, The Dark Knight Rises continues that gritty, darker and realistic feel set by his two previous films. With the use of IMAX cameras, Christopher Nolan utilized much more of the filming to optimize the quality of the picture, meaning some truly breathtaking sequences.

The performances from the leading cast are excellent. Christian Bale seems to have taken the Joker’s “Why so serious?” taunts seriously and has lightened up a bit in the third film, while Anne Hathaway brings some much needed humour and sex appeal into play as Selina.

Tom Hardy is just tremendous as the gas-masked terrorist so intend in destroying the social foundation of Gotham City. Bane’s voice is still an issue though, as certain dialogue made it quite difficult to understand but it was certainly an improvement over the character’s original audio in the IMAX Prologue…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also terrific as dogged cop Blake, who uncovers some truths of his own and whose story strand forms an important part of the film.

The superb talent of Gary OldmanMichael Caine and Morgan Freeman are just perfect – playing the roles of Commissioner James Gordon and as Wayne’s ancillary staff of the loyal butler and president of Wayne Enterprises respectively.

And special mention goes to Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board who encourages a still-grieving Bruce Wayne to rejoin with society and continue his father’s philanthropic works. The twist at the end was a shock and yet her performance was first-class that you’ve never expected it!

Speaking of the story, the script is superb. Encompassing a sprawling, novel-like plot (there are references to Charles Dickens that go beyond an abundance of orphans) that ties everything together in a satisfying fashion.

In addition, Nolan directs some awesome set-pieces alongside some spectacular special effects work that looks incredible thanks to the IMAX cameras – the opening sequence and the scenes involving Bane’s master plan springs to mind.

However, despite the huge appraisal there are some flaws in The Dark Knight Rises… The luring by Bane involving the whole of Gotham City’s Police Department (over 3,000 officers) and trapping them all underground for several months seems ludicrous.

In addition, the super-fast recovery by Bruce Wayne following that backbreaking fight with Bane. The hero was able to heal his back problem so quickly that he was able to climb and leap out of the ‘pit’ prison with no issue.

And not forgetting, the ill-defined association between Selina and her apparent sidekick Jen (Juno Temple).

Despite those quibbles, it is fair to say that The Dark Knight Rises is the film the fans of DC Comics and superheroes have been waiting for. It certainly lives up to the hype and I would highly recommend this. See it for Bale, Hathaway, Hardy, and the awe-inspiring music by Hans Zimmer plus the beautiful cinematography by Wally Pfister.

The 2nd Law

The forthcoming new album from Muse entitled ‘The 2nd Law’ will be release in October 1st and yet, to entice the fans including myself, the Teignmouth-based band has unveiled some small details on the album.

As you can see in this post here, the new album cover looks very abstract and dramatic. The meaning behind the image is the rule of energy transfers hence the ‘Second law of thermodynamics’ in the album title.

The band entered the studio to begin recording their sixth studio album back in September 2011 and in an interview with Billboard on 18 October 2011, the band’s manager Anthony Addis revealed that Muse had begun recording their sixth album in London and that he expected it to be released by October 2012.

Matthew Bellamy jokingly described the album as a “Christian gangsta rap jazz odyssey, with some ambient rebellious dubstep and face melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelic” on his Twitter account.

In an interview with Kerrang! on 14 December 2011, Christopher Wolstenholme stated that the next Muse album would be “something radically different” from their prior releases. He also said that it felt as if the band were “drawing a line under a certain period” of their career with their sixth album.

It was revealed via Muse’s publicist Tom Kirk on his Twitter account that composer David Campbell who had worked with acts such as Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Beck and Adele was helping Matthew Bellamy compose the album.

In an interview in the April 2012 issue of NME, Bellamy said that the band were set to include elements of electronic music, with influences coming from acts such as French house duo Justice and UK electronic rock group Does It Offend You, Yeah?, as well as the inclusion of brass players.

On the first week of June, the band’s official website released a trailer on their next album, The 2nd Law, with a countdown on the suggested release date.

The YouTube trailer – which can be seen below – includes some dubstep elements, was met with mixed reactions from fans including myself. It seems out of place against the band’s previous music style many thought but it will be interesting how the final album will sound.

As for the first track ‘Survival’, the official song of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Matthew Bellamy noted as an “expresses a sense of conviction and determination to win.” It certainly sounds grand and self-importance especially for the sporting athletics determined to succeed in this YouTube video clip featuring a sporting montage.

And with the latest news announcement about the first single ‘Madness‘ on the band’s official website, I am looking forward to hearing the new album and seeing Muse performing live at Manchester’s MEN Arena later this year.

Roll on October 1st for The 2nd Law!

The Raid review

Having just come home from seeing this incredible movie, I’m not sure where to begin!

Well, alright I may as well start at the beginning. The Raid is an Indonesian martial arts movies filmed by some Welsh bloke you’ve never heard of, using a martial art you’ve never heard of and yet somehow has taken the world by storm. Why? Because it’s one of the greatest martial arts filmed ever made!

The Welshman in question is Gareth Evans whose quest it seems is to bring the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat to the worlds masses. With the help of his Indonesian wife, Gareth it seems, has made quite a name for himself over there with a documentary and a previous film invoking the brutal fighting style.

The plot like many films of this genre, is not up to much, however, this is a far better attempt than many. All you need to know is that there is this tower block that is filled with druggies (bar one it seems), with the kingpin at the top and a police swat team at the bottom with orders to take them out. The only character development is getting to know how the main guys like to dispose of their enemies.

While other films say the Ong Bak trilogy just lurch form one scene to the other to get Tony Jaa fighting again, this does seems to flow at a much better pace. After a one fight scene the characters get a break, and so does the audience (and trust me, you’ll need it), but your never taken out of the film or the pressure of the raid (no pun intended).

Right so lets get onto why your going to love this film, the fights. The art of Pencak Silat is magnificent to watch, it’s so fluid, poetic and yes, a bit violent. To me at least, it seems like a cross between Muay Thai, Aikido and the ability to use numerous weapons. Having rehearsed all the fight scenes before filming, the team were able to come up with some amazing battles cheaply but with time to refine them to an incredible detail.

As the victims get laid to waste with some incredibly vicious finishing moves, you are just left in awe at the speed and choreography of each and every one. There are a couple of stand out fights, one is a machete fight, and one later with a two-on-one fight that quite simply left me flabbergasted. It has to be seen to be believed. I can say it is two good guys against a bad guy, and it’s simply like nothing you have seen before. The direction is perfect and helped by the fact that the star of the show Iko Uwais was the choreographer.

Tony Jaa may have breathed a fresh new life into the martial arts films, but he’s going to have to raise his game after this. While the Ong Bak films are stunning and extremely brutal also, they seem a bit to unreal, here, everything seems more realistic. The handheld camera style may help with this, (though nothing like as shaky as the Bourne films), but also the sound is far better.

Ong Bak 2 especially, had pretty ropey sound effects when bones were broken. The only thing I can without doubt can give Tony Jaa, is the length of takes. Many of his fights have very few breaks, with some lasting a few minutes without cutting away.  You don’t get that here, but again, it still feels more like a real fight rather than a set piece.

Already a sequel is in the pipeline with a third film being aimed at to round off a trilogy. This first film was filmed for a little over a $1m, and already the budget has risen sharply for the second film. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I hope the extra budget doesn’t change the way this was filmed.

Sadly, Hollywood has signed a deal to make an American version and rights to do the same for the next title. Jesus Christ, God help us because there is no way in hell, it could close to this. Executives and insurance would never allow anything like this to be made stateside so really what’s the point?

This is a must see film and I’m fairly sure my favourite Asian action film. I need to revisit the Onk Bak series and certainly Hard Boiled to be sure, but I do believe we have a new target others must reach.

Reviewed by Invisiblekid

Further links:

Rotten Tomatoes



Avengers Assemble review

Written and directed by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, Avengers Assemble is the latest blockbuster from Marvel Studios featuring the iconic superheroes.

The six gifted protagonists – Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Dr. Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) – form Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) dream S.H.I.E.L.D. team.

Teamed up to become Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, they must fight and defeat Norse God Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

Yes, the plot sounds clichéd on world domination, but it is the action sequences that make Avengers Assemble such a thrilling and fantastic film to experience.

The performances from the leading stars are superb, especially Ruffalo as Dr. Banner who looses his temper to become the terrifying Hulk. Bruce Banner’s intelligence is unparalleled and is much greater than Tony Stark, while his compassion for human life is what drives the good side to his character.

As for Hiddleston, he is a revelation as Loki. The actor brings intriguing layers to the evil overlord and makes Loki much more than the typical one-dimensional villain in common action films.

Whedon provides plenty of laugh out loud moments thank to a great script full of witty lines. There are also many references to the comics, a nod to the die-hard Marvel fans while entertaining the newcomers.

I would highly recommend Avengers Assemble. Joss Whedon has indeed delivered the perfect superhero film combining a great script, thrilling action scenes, impressive CGI and pitch-perfect performances from a terrific cast. The best 142 minutes you can enjoy in the company of Marvel’s finest heroes.

Adam Buxton’s Bug series coming to Sky Atlantic

Comedian and former BBC 6 Music presenter Adam Buxton’s live music video show, Bug, is to be adapted for a new television series for Sky Atlantic.

The eight-part series will be a music video extravaganza that celebrates the most brilliant, compelling, thought-proving and weird music videos in the world today.

Building on the enormous success of five years of the live Bug shows, Adam Buxton will present these famous and not so famous videos, and examine the various comments they prompt and provoke among the esteemed members of the online community.

The series will celebrate innovative and ground-breaking videos, include special guests from the world of music videos and highlight the funniest comments on the web.

Each episode will also feature an original music video made by Adam and a host of the finest directors working in the industry today.

Adam Buxton commented: “I tell people that Bug is like going round to a friend’s house and having them open up their laptop and show you interesting and amusing things they’ve found or made, except not as tedious and shit as that sounds.”

Sounds great and as a fan of Adam Buxton since the good old Channel 4 days when he and Joe Cornish presented a late Friday night comedy on the weird and wonderful, not to mention their ultra-successful BBC radio show, I am looking forward to this new Bug show on Sky.

This video on Buxton reading YouTube comments still make me laugh.

Clock stops on 24 Movie

For the past eight seasons of 24, when the frustration got to Jack Bauer, the CTU agent would often shout “Dammit!”

In this situation, Kiefer Sutherland is reported to be furious at 20th Century Fox, which has called a halt to the movie version of his hit television show over budget and star salary issues.

According to Deadline, the problems includes scheduling issues around Sutherland’s shooting and promotional time for new television drama Touch, trouble locking in a director plus disputes over budget and salary.

While the movie has been developing for ages and faced other issues such as multiple script drafts, it all looked like the production would be on track to shoot around next month, with writers Billy Ray and Mark Bomback cracking a story that would, assuming the first movie is a box office success, play out across a trilogy.

And while there was no deal making taking place, Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua had apparently been in real talks to take on shot calling duties. Now, though, depending on the source, it’s either dead in the water, or on hold until everything can be worked out. But chances are, it seems unlikely to be shot before the year is out.

But have faith – not only does 20th Century Fox fully realise what it has in this potential franchise (thanks to global audience of fans demanding for Jack’s return) – but the movie also has Brian Grazer on board as producer.

Hopefully Grazer can sort out these issues over budget disagreements and get Jack Bauer back on track via the big screen.

The Simpsons 500th Episode

So here we are at an unbelievable milestone for the most famous family on TV. After first airing on December 17th 1989 they have reached 500 shows! Now, whatever you think of the show, the family or Fox Television, this is quite an achievement.

While Family Guy may have taken the “most dysfunctional family” crown in many peoples opinion, that show has also been cancelled, twice! So to go this distance and by the sound of it the end is still not in sight, this is something you have got to give them credit for.

This is the longest running American sitcom, animated and prime-time show, with a multi hundred million dollar movie and awards galore. They are simply are HUGE… or should that be were.
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Kiefer Sutherland has the right Touch

Kiefer Sutherland is returning to the small screen with an ambitions new drama from the creator of Heroes.

Touch, Sutherland’s first television series gig since his long-running 24, revolves around Martin Bohm, a widower and single father who learns that his emotionally challenged son, Jake, can see hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet. Martin must then put the pieces together and help others across the world connect.

Check out the official trailer to Touch:

Written and created by Tim Kring, this new supernatural drama seems intriguing. So why is Kiefer heading back to television so soon after 24? The Canadian actor explains:

“[The script] had a profound effect one me. The reason I made the choice was because it spoke to me,” he says.

And in regard to comparisons to his new character to Jack Bauer, Sutherland explains: “The real driving force for my character is to communicate with my son. The rest of the stuff is really for the audience and how one thing can affect another. The one parallel that I can bring from the two characters is that Jack Bauer was asked to save the day and there were always going to be casualties.

“And this character Martin Bohm is never going to have the perfect idyllic relationship with his son. They’ll both never completely win, and that is one thing that I’m drawn to certainly as an actor.”

And, much to Sutherland’s relief, his Touch character isn’t running around the entire episode. “He gets to sit down and he gets to have an intimate conversation,” he says. “This is not a serialized show like 24 was. There’s a beginning a middle and an end. There’s almost an immediate result in a situation.”

It all sounds promising but what about the 24 movie? When will the initial shooting take place?

“Hopefully we will be shooting end of April, beginning of May,” Sutherland reveals.

Oh yes! Kiefer Sutherland is back and will be making his presence on the small and big screen this year.