Star Wars: The Force is back

The Force Awakens poster

Thirty years has passed since the original trilogy concluded with Return of the Jedi. The epic struggle between the light and dark side of the Force has now been expanded thanks to the vision of the Mickey Mouse corporation.

When the news that Lucasfilm has been sold to Walt Disney Studios, the initial reaction was very mixed feelings to the die-hard fans.

What will become to the beloved series when the Disney ‘machine’ grinds out millions of dollars to promote the sequels in the future? The original episodes were perfect they said. Casting aside the dismal prequels as if it did not exist…

And yet, to everyone’s relief, Episode VII has restored faith. Thanks to the enthusiasm and attention to detail from J.J. Abrams.

Sure, the prequels by George Lucas left a bitter taste in the mouth to many with the somewhat average reception to Revenge of the Sith, considered to be ‘good’. But with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney have awaken the passion and fun behind this popular film franchise.

This film review will not be a spoiler but want I would like to express is my pure delight in the spectacle that is The Force Awakens. The thrilling X-Wing versus TIE fighter battles, the witty banter between the old crew and the new players, not forgetting the amazing lightsaber fights.

It was all very emotional to take in and yet, so exhilarating to experience. Director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy and the co-writer of the original trilogy Lawrence Kasdan have produced a masterpiece with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Rey and Solo

Seeing the old stars back once again with the likes of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher was touching. Even nostalgic. Yet, the weary faces shows how much their have aged since Return of the Jedi… At least Han Solo was up for the fight in the latest Star Wars.

The new players, in the shape of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Issac, were a Force to be reckoned with, pardon the pun. The trio were fun, energetic and bring a fresh take on the Star Wars universe of likable characters.


But my absolute favourite is BB-8. This little droid had the best moves. Rolling around and making beeping noises! Got a sense of humour too. BB-8 makes R2-D2 look like an antique. Sorry, C-3PO. Your buddy cannot match the wonder ball droid.

As for the villains, the stand out performances is definitely Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. A dangerous and troubled warrior with one of the most over-the-top lightsaber this galaxy has ever seen.

So does Star Wars: The Force Awakens live up to the massive hype? Yes. Definitely. J.J. Abrams has delivered the goods and I am so grateful it is great. Full of warmth, humour and terrific set-pieces.

The Force is strong with this one.

Whiplash – Review

My music tastes are pretty eclectic. I like a bit of everything but a bit more of metal. Jazz however is low on the list and big band jazz even less.

So remind me again why am I going to see Whiplash?! Well, it’s down to two things. One is that it is drum based and drums fascinate me. I can’t play them for toffee, but love seeing people who can. Secondly, it’s been tagged Full Metal Jacket meets drums. So now I’m interested.

The story follows a young musician and a maniacal teacher with the most outrageous teaching methods at a high-end music college.

We first see Andrew (Miles Teller) practicing drums alone in the Shaffer Conservatory of Music. Hearing a sound he stops, looks up and we get to see the infamous teacher himself. Terrance Fletcher, (J.K. Simmons) then asks him why did he stop. This prompts Andrew to continue playing, which is met by our first insight to Fletcher’s mindset when he retorts with “I asked you why you stopped and then proceeded to play like a wind up monkey.”

We see Fletcher use much nicer words later in the film in a couple of scenes (yeah that’s about it), but it’s a gentle subtle introduction to the grand master teacher, as later you get to see him in full bore Full Metal Jacket insult mode.

Fletcher’s belief is fear and intimidation is key to getting the most out of his band members. Shouting and chairs flung at his band when they make a mistake is par for the course. However, playing in Fletcher’s class comes a pathway to greatness such is his influence in the music industry.

Our real introduction to Fetcher comes when we hear the band play for the first time and someone’s instrument is out of tune. Your really not prepared for what follows as we see the enraged teacher work his way through band increasing his anger as no-one owns up. Utterly enraged, full bore shouting; nose-to-nose with each student has you flabbergasted. This really is like the lineout in Full Metal Jacket and Sgt Hartman introducing himself to Private Pyle.

After he finds the culprit and sends them packing (after a great Mars Bar joke), your left open jawed at the expletives Fetcher has just unloaded on his own students. Wow.

Having been handpicked, we assume Andrew on his first day might be excused from such behavior. No. Not even slightly. Crying it seems creates even more abuse. Each time Andrew plays, Fletcher comes forth with “Not quite my tempo” and the tension increases each and every time those words are uttered. From now on, I will forever try and work that saying in whenever the need arises!

As a viewer you are as shocked and stunned silent as much as the other band members looking on and just like them, relieved you’re not the target.

While the film doesn’t quite fully advocate Fletchers’ teaching methods, you get to see how much it drives Andrew to play out of his skin, quite literally until it bleeds as he tries to emulate some of his (real life) drum idols, one of which being Buddy Rich.

As the film progresses we follow Andrew as he practices all hours and Fletcher doing whatever it takes to get the best out of his core drummer. This culminates is a simply incredible last scene. Instead of your jaw dropping from the abuse, it’s dropped with awe as Andrew drums for his life. I damn near jumped up punching the air.

What’s more incredible is that Miles Teller is a self taught drummer and all the drumming is for real. However, he played as a rock drummer and as he found out, jazz drumming is a whole new ball game which involved weeks and weeks of teaching and practising.

It’s a fascinating film, loosing based director’s Damien Chalelle music school experience, isn’t perfect. Beyond the shouting there isn’t a much else to the film apart from a great “family meal” which has football playing sons taking centre stage, with drumming being seen as rather laughable by the football son’s parents. You only wish is to put them in front of Fletcher for some abuse.

But you are drawn into Fletchers’ performance and of course Andrew’s drumming skills. J.K. Simmons is just fantastic and given the outrageous abuse he gives face to face with his students must take a lot more skill than it looks. It feels so real, not at all just put on for show. He is very consistent in his role and while you might not think it is the right way of teacher, you totally believe he does not think there is any other way.

Rotten Tomatoes
Empire Magazine

J.K. Simmons
Miles Teller and on-screen girlfriend
Cast and Director

Buddy Rich drum solo’s:
Buddy a few days before his death
Nine minute solo 

Reviewed by invisiblekid

The Raid : Berandal

The Raid 2 Berandal

The first Raid film came almost out of nowhere, but before it was even watched, the talking point was it’s Indonesian, it’s Indonesian Pencak Silat martial art style and it’s directed by, a Welshman!?

Talk turned into stunned silence as before everyone’s eyes the most incredible display unfolded before them. On a budget that Pixar’s Andrew Stanton would scoff at (Mark Kermode podcast fans will know), Gareth Evans turned $1.1 million into something that many couldn’t forget. Fight scenes that no one had seen since Tony Jaa first appeared. Talking of which, where the hell has he gone!?!

Sure it was short on character development, but not many cared since the balletic fighting just blew everyone away.

Soon after, an American remake was announced (BOOOO!), but also a sequel (HURRAY!). Of course the first thing that spring to mind was, what was going to happen with getting famous and the inevitable budget increase. Would we loose the rawness and give way to silliness?

Well no, not even close. The budget only sprang to just over $4 million and this was in fact the movie Gareth originally started to film, but money problems forced him to shoot the tower block scenario and we ended up with the The Raid: Redemption.

Taking place just two hours after the end of that film, we see the star Rama, (Iko Uwais) being forced to go undercover to infiltrate a notorious Jakarta gang as a way of bringing down crooked cops which ties it to the first film.

To start though he needed a cover story and so was “arrested” in order to befriend Uco, the son of the prominent gang leader who is being held in prison. We soon then have our first fight in the tight confines of the prison toilets. Action which makes Jason Bourne’s fight in the the Bourne Ultimatum with Desh when they end up in the toilet looks like a game of slapsies.

What follows to be perfectly honest, is not the most original story. The son feels he’s undervalued by his ol’ dad and plans to make more of a name for himself. However, there is nothing wrong with it either. It’s not cringworthy at all, makes sense, and you get decent amount of human emotion and development

Rama is fully taken in by the gang and is sent on some debt collection runs along with Uco, which end up unsurprisingly, in a fight or two. What follows is what you saw in the first film… and then some. Without the confines of the small tower block corridors and rooms (or toilets), the fights get to breath a bit more.

What doesn’t happen, is you actually being able to breath. Such is the choreography your just laughing, wincing and enjoying what your seeing, no quite believing that each and every hit makes full contact. Yes,  just about every hit is a real a hit, just painstakingly timed to avoid actually doing real damage.

Iko Uwais spent over half a year working with the stunt men in order to perfect the fight scenes and also befriend them, as what was to surely follow would push them to their limits with the inevitable missed timed hits.

The first film made incredible use of inanimate objects, which in your head means more ouch, since you of course know the punches to the head, body etc are pulled slightly. But heads hitting tables, walls, floors, cars, baseball bats, baseball balls, shelves, hammers, pots, pans, chairs, lights, bottles, glasses, cabinets and so on, looks so much more painful in these films.

In the past, it usually looked faked as you can see such weapons bend and give way. Not so in Gareth Evans’ world. They look very, VERY real. And very, VERY painful.

As we are in the open world, we also get out first car chase. This is first for Mr Evans and with the exception of speed, a brilliant one at that. We are far from talking about 100mph crashes. 15-25mph more like for the most part. But it’s the most realistic chase I have seen for a long, long time. It’s proper wheel to wheel bashing and incredible camera work and the inevitable human body hitting metal body.

So far, we’ve had lots of stupendous fights, inc a big nod to Kill Bill and the Crazy 88’s spectacular, minus swords. We also get a female fighter “Hammer Girl”in the vain of Kill Bill’s Gogo Yubari, only this time instead of a meteor hammer, we just get a claw hammer… times two. The destruction of bodies you get to see in a train scene is quite sensational all for the eye to see.

This is fully deserving of it’s 18 certificate. Hell, its quite amazing how the BBFC let it go almost untouched, save for a few frames. Back in the 1980’s, this would have NEVER, EVER seen the light of day. Wow, just wow.

Her guide and brother is “Baseball Bat Man”. A favoured weapon used of course, but one that you have never witnessed like this guy uses it. Sound truly deserves a mention here and the metal thwack rings in your ears and as mentioned, your not for a second taken out of the film by a floppy bat.

As in Redemption, we have two main fights really. One with our Rama facing off with both hammer and bat at the same time (holy crap) and our finale with “Andi”, played by Donny Alamsyah. Now, the boss fight in the first film with “Mad Dog” (Yayan Ruhian) was incredible.

He also make a return in this film, but not at all related. However I’m not sure how well it now stands with Andi’s fight. It is just, just, mind-blowing. Taking days and days and days to film, we have to adversaries going at each other like nothing you’ve seen before. It’s truly incredible.

At it’s Sundance Festival premier, it was shown completely uncut. Quite what was cut I do not know, but it ain’t a whole lot. What you do see, you really question what the point of cutting the odd frame here and there. There is also a shotgun head shot that unless you have seen the real life head shot in the “The Faces of Death” documentary, you have never seen one as real as this.

Given the seamless cut from real life person to a dummy, I have honestly, honestly never seen anything close to that documentary until now. Evidence 100 per cent given by the fact of the shocked laughter of the audience when it took place. I cannot think for one second the team thought it’d make the cut.

So, here we have the most enjoyable martial arts film since, well, Gareth’s last attempt. With Raid 3 already signed, I cannot wait for the next instalment. While there are rumours that Gareth is linked to be the producer of the US remake, yet again it’s going to be pointless.

There is NOTHING that warrants it. Subtitles are not that hard to follow or even need in these films, certainly the first one anyway and I highly doubt the US health and safety bullshit will allow for similar fight sequences.

So get your backside into your local cinema and see this film. It’s one of the best martial arts film ever made. I’d even call it my favourite Asian action film ever made. I need another viewing of Hard Boiled to confirm, but I’m pretty certain this tops the list.

Review by invisiblekid

Rush film review

RUSH movie

Based on the true events of the 1976 Formula 1 season, Rush is set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of motor racing. Focusing on two of the greatest sporting icons battling over the ultimate prize, the world championship.

Directed by Ron Howard and with the screenplay written by Peter Morgan, this film is a story on a great rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

The story follows their distinctly different personalities on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error.

As the season progresses both men enjoy a number of successes but also suffer a series of setbacks, both personally and professionally.

Hunt’s marriage to feisty model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) hits the rocks and his eccentric supporter Lord Hesketh (Christian McKay) runs out of money, while Lauda survives a horrific crash at the German Grand Prix, requiring him to need extensive surgery.

Incredibly, Lauda recovers and makes a heroic comeback – inspired in large part by his rivalry with Hunt – before the ultimate showdown between the two at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The attention to detail in Rush is just a revelation. The sound and sights of 1970s racing is just perfect and the camerawork from cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, puts you right in the heat of the battle on track.

As for the two leading stars, both Hemsworth and Brühl deliver exceptional and complex performances that really showcase their desire and dedication to win.

In addition, it was really fascinating to see their mutual respect and admiration to one another despite their obsession to outrace and go for glory.

And yet, in my honest opinion Brühl’s role in Rush edges ahead of Hemsworth. His Austrian accent was spot on and even though he was playing a methodical and calculated character, which was a complete contrast to the wild and spectacular James Hunt, the German-speaking actor nails the personality of Niki Lauda perfectly.

Ron Howard’s direction is good and assured throughout the film, with the drama and excitement in the racing sequences the major highlight. With the cars screaming away off the grid, frantic gear-changes and overtaking moves really created the sense of exhilaration and thrills from an actual Grand Prix race.

In equal measures were the scenes involving the recovery of Lauda following his horrific Nürburgring crash, especially the surgery procedures. That was genuinely shocking.

As for the decision to include the real-life video footage of Hunt and Lauda in the final moments of Rush, this was inspired and it reveals the very significant moments that affected these two sporting heroes after the highs of winning the world championship.

So in conclusion, Rush is a truly excellent film. Beautifully directed by Ron Howard with a great script penned by the talented Peter Morgan, who also written the complex relationship between David Frost and Richard Nixon in the classic Frost/Nixon.

The film also showcases Formula 1 as more appealing to the non-petrolhead with fascinating characters, emotional scenes and thrilling races. Just like the actual sport itself!

The World’s End review

The World's End

It’s the end of the world but not as we know it. The conclusion to the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is a highly entertaining and amusing take on the science fiction genre involving huge amount of alcohol.

Following the success of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the third instalment from the Spaced team focuses on a group of friends reattempting an epic pub crawl in their hometown, before unearthing an alien/robot invasion.

Simon Pegg stars as never-grown-up man-child Gary King, who’s become obsessed with his epic pub crawl (the Golden Mile of twelve pubs) that he failed to complete with his best friends Andy, Ollie, Pete and Steve (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine respectively) in their hometown of Newton Haven, twenty years ago.

After reuniting his four friends – all of whom, unlike Gary, have grown up and now have families and responsible jobs – Gary persuades them all to join him in recreating their epic twelve pubs, twelve pints pub crawl in Newton Haven.

However, after a few drinks, they discover that the locals are all behaving rather differently and soon their evening takes a bizarre turn and ‘The Five Musketeers’ end up fighting for their lives.

Co-written by Wright and Pegg, The World’s End feels darker with a sinister tone compared to the previous films in the so-called Blood and Ice Cream trilogy. The pop-culture references are not as frequently mentioned in the television series Spaced but it’s still manages to be hilarious thanks to some witty dialogue and visual gags.

The fast-cut video style from Wright brings a sense of excitement and energy into The World’s End and the bar-room brawls in particular are beautifully directed, done in a similar way to the fighting sequences in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Pegg is just excellent in The World’s End. Pushing the limits from his usually likeable screen persona by playing Gary as a significantly more obnoxious character than we’re used to seeing.

Equally good is Frost as his best mate Andy. The on-screen chemistry with Pegg is a given thanks to their friendship off-camera.

The supporting cast is just fantastic with Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine playing Pegg’s old school mates. You can really sense the bonding between the old mates from these talented actors, reminiscing the fun and free lives before moving on and having responsibilities.

Rosamund Pike plays the love interest for both Pegg and Considine. Her part is just minor in the film and yet in that cliché sci-fi style, Pike comes to the rescue before the end of the world.

There’s also cameos from the likes of Pierce Bronson (who reunites his former Die Another Day co-star Rosamund Pike), Nicholas Burns and the old cast from the Spaced television series (Mark Heap, Michael SmileyReece Shearsmith and Julia Deakin).

The use of music is inspired and the flashback sequences to the men as teenagers recapture that free spirit of doing what ever their feel like perfectly.

Wright and Pegg’s witty script is packed full of quotable lines and is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s also dead-on and surprisingly emotional in its depiction of male friendships.

It even manages to say some interesting points about both the gradual homogenisation of British society, in particular the gag involving chain pubs, as well as commenting on both the appeal and the inherent dangers of nostalgia.

So in summary, The World’s End is a fitting finale to the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy with a bangin’ soundtrack, fantastic cast and entertaining script. I raise my glass in approval to Wright, Pegg and Frost in providing so much fun and laughter over the years.

Trance (2013)















So here we go with Danny Boyle‘s… let’s call it “his film”. Filmed during a break for his preparation of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, it’s clear he wanted to let loose. Not as free and loose as say Trainspotting, but definitely a film with little input from Hollywood executives saying what he can and cannot do.

I won’t spoil it by saying too much since towards the end of the film you have no idea what the hell is going on, but the last scene changes everything and you don’t get it until the final take. Even then, you will still be questioning what you have just watched.

In the beginning, we see an auction house (think Sotheby’s) selling a very rare painting. We are introduced to Simon (James McAvoy) who works there and subsequently is involved with the stealing of said painting. However, he suffers a blow to the head and forgets where he has hidden the painting.

The crew he worked for, lead by Frank (Vincent Cassel), hires Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) a hypnotist to see if she can unlock his memory and to see if he can remember what happened and where Simon has hidden the painting.

It’s not a spoiler to say she gets to know what he is looking for, but from now on, that’s all I’m going to say. However, what follows is a film you need to concentrate 100% for. It bounces back and forth the the extent that actually, paying too much attention almost makes it harder to follow.

It’s strange but if you watch it, you’ll get what I mean. You manage to keep up until near then end when wham! You have no idea what is going on.

If this were a film from any other director, you’d have no faith in it. But knowing who is behind it, which in my opinion is second only to Chris Nolan’s Inception or Memento for mindf**ks, you have faith. That faith I think is restored and rewarded. BUT, I’m not quite sure.

Make no mistake, this is a very good film, which is filmed impeccably with great angles that remind you without doubt, this is made by the same bloke who made Slumdog Millionaire which if nothing else, looked blooming gorgeous.

But an hour after watching, I’m not sure if it is brilliantly written, or in the films world, brilliantly convenient. The trouble is, one makes for a great film, the other makes for a not great film. Again, you need to watch this to get what I mean. Then you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.

All the acting is great though. Sure the characters sometimes act strangely, but this is purely down to the role they are playing. We are treated to some torture scenes which have you holding onto your fingers with savage pressure and a very painful (for the boys) gunshot wound.

There is also some full frontal female nudity, which at the time grates and seems way out of place, but again, this becomes apparent at the end and you see why Danny was showing you it.

Whatever your you think of my ramblings, you HAVE to see this film. You may love it, but while I doubt you’ll hate it. You may certainly think it’s jumped the shark a bit. But you have to sit down, relax and think about it after it’s over to see if you like it or not. If there ever was a film to watch with a friend or loved one and partake in the act of discussing it over a slice of pie after, this is one of them.

Like I said, you may think in the end it’s stupid, but step back and even if you didn’t like it, you cannot deny right up to the end, you were hooked.

Reviewed by Invisiblekid

The Evil Dead (2013)


Let me start by saying horror films are hard to make nowadays. Kids are not scared by the same things as they were years ago. But yet, so many modern horror films do the same things as found back in the 1970s and 80s.

The choice of going alone in the forest, going downstairs to investigate a noise. All done back then and for the last few years, joked about by today’s modern teenager.

So in recent years, that meaning and scare tactics has waned. So now we have just a competition as to how graphic we can be before the censors jump in and things that make you jump as the tactics to scare you.

This is not horror. Making you jump is not horror. Making you jump is not the same as making you scared to look out of your window or walk down a path in the dark.

Nah, now it’s all about how much blood can we produce and how we can make CGI look real and how much torture we can get away with.

That’s why I’ve not watched or cared about a horror film for years. On hearing the news the The Evil Dead was going to be remade had me crying into my hands and a continued hatred for modern horror.

But also hearing about the involvement of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (the original creators of The Evil Dead) certainly made me think again. Seeing the trailer also brought me forward into thinking, this could be rather good. I was excited about a horror films for this first time in years. The words of the pair saying have faith rang in my head. They made me have faith.

Oh and by the way. This IS a remake. Most on the set have said this isn’t so. This is a new version that should be thought of as it’s own and want it to stand on it’s own two legs. Huh, well the very fact that it copies 99% of the original shows that this is so a remake and they are all liars.

I then saw the red band trailer. Oh the pain. Oh the anger, oh the lies…

This appeared to be nothing more than Evil Dead meets Saw. Gone was the true scares only to be replaced by blood and one frame cuts hoping to make you jump. This had me running for the hills. In one fell swoop had me doubting everything I was told, and in no way had me wanting to race to the cinema to see this.

So here we are with the Blu-ray release. Being such a huge fan of the original, almost a bigger fan of the sequel and liking the third instalment, no matter the reviews, I would sit down and watch this alone, in the dark, on the floor – the snoring black Labrador was taking my place on the leather sofa.

I was hoping to be proved wrong and that this was finally a remaking work remaking. To improve on the original and restore my faith in the horror genre. It didn’t.

The premise of how they get to the cabin is rubbish. To be fair, I don’t know how you could get a bunch of teenagers into a cabin in the woods without it being shit, but this was weak.

A girl hooked on cocaine was going to go cold turkey with the help of her friends, and so this cabin seemed the only only place to do it. I guess Betty Ford was too expensive.

So the group roll up and make themselves comfortable in the cabin. But there is a smell coming from the basement. They investigate and find a load of dead animals and a book wrapped in plastic and barbed wire.

Of course this is an open invitation for it to be opened and the famous words of resurrection of the dead are recited. This I am not bothered about as how else would you raise the dead? By reading a Mr Men book?!

We soon get to the smack addict being left alone outside in the pouring rain who is “taken” by the woods. In the original, the first victim is also attacked by the woods and is bound, tied by it’s branches.

What follows I’m sure you can guess if you don’t know already the infamous scene. A scene that lead to it being cut for the UK video release (as well as other cuts). Later, the original director said he was not a fan and that he wished he cut it out completely. But in true fashion,  the remake tried to improve it and in true fashion failed… Hugely.

I was surprised it was not more graphic, in fact I’d say less so than the original despite the censors allowing much more realistic and explicit footage to be shown nowadays. It has ZERO scares and just reminded you of how much better it was done 32 years ago!

To cut a long story short, the whole film carried on in this manner. To be fair to the film, it was impossible to remake it and for it not to be compared to the sublime original.

There were takes of the 1981 film that took you back, but within seconds we are back to blood and gore and despite the involvement of Sam and Bruce, simply no idea how to make a horror film. At least a good one in the 21st century.

The 1981 version had some great funny moments that this version was sorely lacking. The original didn’t take itself seriously and yet this version has nothing but. It was “Hey look at me, I’m trying be be a great horror film, please come and watch me” all the way through. It tried to be scary, but it just wasn’t. At all and that’s it’s big problem.

I was so bored I found myself drinking yet more Polish 96% Vodka just to get through the film!

The acting was awful and had me wanting everyone in it to be killed ASAP.

The good stuff just reminded you of why you’re not watching the original where it was done better.

It reminds of the remake of Psycho which literally copied the entire film shot for shot but was somehow turned it to utter crap. The ONLY redeeming thing is the fact that with this Evil Dead, God bless ’em, there is very little CGI and what CGI there is, is done very well.

This was a terrible idea and at no point did anyone involved stopped to think the same thing. I urge you, to never go anywhere near this steaming pile of excrement (tho massively better than Eden Lake) and just go out and buy the original Blu-ray and watch how it’s done.

Not scary, not funny, not funny scary, so what was the point?

Further reading on The Evil Dead:

Mark Kermode’s thoughts
Rotten Tomatoes
Empire Magazine

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.