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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Inception - Review

Rating: 5/5
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Micheal Caine

It occurred to me a few days ago that I only write about recently released films or upcoming trailers that are circulating on the internet, and not once have I written a review on a film that was released nearly a year ago and which most people own on DVD or Blu-Ray. However, that is all about to change.  I thought I would start off writing about what was one of the most highly anticipated and successful films of the summer in 2010: the film that made many of us excited about going to sleep, and kept most of us awake with its intricate and layered narrative that made us question what is real and what is our imagination. Of course, I am talking about Christopher Nolan’s Inception. For those of you who haven’t seen Inception – in fact who hasn’t seen this film? If you haven’t then where had you been the last few years, seriously? Well for those of you who haven’t seen Inception (apart from me telling you to go and see it), the film’s premise involves the concept of dreaming, and the idea of stealing ideas from people’s minds when they are in the dream state - or what you and I would call sleep. Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads an illegal espionage team whose job it is to extract ideas from a subjects mind in dream scenarios, which have specifically constructed by the team in order to obtain whatever information they desire in the safest and simplest way possible: this process is called ‘Extraction’. However, Cobb and his team are approach by Mr Saito (Ken Watanabe) who questions the possibility of ‘Inception’, which involves planting an idea in a subject’s mind rather than stealing one. Their job is to convince Robert Fischer, the business opponent of Saito played by Cillian Murphy, to break up his father’s empire, thus removing the competition from Saito.

From the opening five minutes, this film does not stop. It jumps straight into the action and plot before you even have time to comprehend what is happening.  It is only by perseverance and patients that your questions become answered about halfway through the film – well sort of. There is so much detail in this film that you really have to pay attention, with more and more elements of the plot being added every few minutes, Inception is a film you need your thinking-cap on for. This is a film I have been waiting to see for years, the sort that just says to you:  ‘this film is confusing, so shut up, listen and pay attention.’ In my opinion this is what cinema should be about: making you think and not just letting you sit there waiting to leave the theatre until you can go home and get into your date's knickers. Whether this was an intention of Nolan’s is unsure, but I think it is just because he is such an extraordinary human being that he considers this normal, which I love. I would be intrigued to know how he came up with this film, as there are so many levels to his film that you begin to believe that there really is a team of extractors diving into people’s subconscious’ and scrambling around with their secrets and memories.
Like I said this film is so dense that it requires a considerable amount of brain work to keep up with. However it’s not a film for the intellectual, and can be appreciated by anyone who dreams - which is basically everyone. So anyone and everyone who dreams can be attracted to this film, and the way in which the dreams states are depicted are simply incredible. The way in which Nolan presents the concepts of a dream within a dream, and they way that your dreams can be influenced by your surroundings when you are asleep is brilliantly portrayed on screen. Some of the scenes when Cobb and his men are fighting with Fisher’s subconscious – particularly in the hotel and the rotating corridor – are some of the best actions scenes that do not rely on CGI that I have seen in a long time. The film just oozed perfection on so many levels. The action sequences in the mountains, in the van and in the hotel each contributed to a staggering third act, one make you almost physically exhausted while watching it - I can’t remember the last time a film did that to me.

Now most of us in the past have been asked the obvious question: ‘what’s the best film you have ever seen?’ Now when people ask this I usually can’t answer, because there are so many films that every time I see them I fall in love with them - I am very fickle in my approach to films. However Inception is one of those films that I adore, and could quite happily watch it over and over again until my eyes bled out of my ears. The way the film gets you thinking, it’s pacing, and the fact that you are confused for about half the time you are watching it are all the elements that make Inception a film that you need to watch again and again, and the more you watch it, the more you appreciate it’s creativity and it’s boldness. Of course I have to mention the ending, which got all of us arguing as to whether the ending of the film was real or whether Cobb finally got to go back and see his family again. The beauty of the concluding scene is that you don’t find out, because as soon as you do the secret or mystery dissipates. It is far better to be left unresolved and leave it to the audience’s imagination, rather than tie it up and disappoint people.

So what was your opinion of Inception? How do you think the film really ended? Do you want to see a sequel in a few years? Feel free to comment below or contact me via twitter.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary

In 2013 we have celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the most successful science fiction franchises ever, the one and only Doctor Who. Now there are numerous rumours circulating about what 2013 has in store for us, and Steven Moffat is keeping his cards close to his chest so as not to spoil anything. Now for the 20th Anniversary there was the episode ‘The Five Doctors’, which surprising featured only four Doctors’ with some old footage of Tom Baker thrown in so as not so upset any fans. Now this episode featured the Master, Cybermen, and Daleks and introduced the character Borusa, along with a short appearance of the floating head of Rassilon. For the time of transmission this episode was considered an absolute dream for every Doctor Who fan, so now there is heavy expectation on the 50th Anniversary episode or series, but who knows what is in store for us fans.

So what do you want there to be in the 50th Anniversary episode? Do you want to see the Master again, or maybe even an overdue appearance of Omega? Do you want to see an appearance from David Tennant or John Barrowman? Or would you like Paul McGann as the Eight Doctor stepping back into the Tardis? It has been reported that both McGann and Ecclestone have declined returning, but who knows what will happen in the next twelve months!  With Matt Smith currently doing fantastic in the role it can already be assumed that the anniversary will be one to remember. However if you want to voice your opinion feel free to comment below and let me know or contact me directly via Twitter (@RohanSeal221B).

The Woman in Black - Review

Rating: 4/5
Director: James Watkins
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, Liz White 

I have finally plucked up the courage to go and see The Woman in Black which everyone has been calling one of the creepiest films in a long time. Now I am not a big fan of horror films: for me they tend to be gratuitously gory or have an array of actors that would make an episode of Eastenders look like Chekov. However, after all of the hype and people claiming how intense it was seeing this film, I had high hopes it would leave a mark on me that I would remember, a possibly change my perception of horror films. So here we go. Are you sitting comfortably?

Now The Woman in Black is the story of Arthur Kipps, a solicitor from London played by Harry potter – I mean Daniel Radcliffe – who is sent to look after the property of Alice Drablow following her death.  Now while he is staying in the village local to the property, there are several rumours and suspicions regarding the house, with Kipps being made unwelcome by the villagers who advise him not to enter the house for any reason. In cliché horror movie style the hero, or central character, is told the most valuable line in horror movie history: ‘I wouldn’t go in there if I was you’. But what do you know, against all the advice and guidance from the locals Kipps ignores this and continues with his work - which is good because otherwise this film would have been very short! So from here on in, the film plays out as you would expect: Kipps stays at the house, experiences some creepy goings-on and then he meets the Woman in Black.

The film is a collection of jump-scares, creative camera work and periods of long and drawn out tension. Director James Watkins has incorporated some extraordinary shots into this film, each potentially being the point of view of the woman in black or any other possible spirits, adding to the intensity levels. This film is slow at the beginning, but has some very shaky moments later on that range from creepy shots of a blurred reflection right up to throwing something straight in your face that makes you want to cry. There is a period when the intensity does not stop, and I am glad at some moments I had a spare pair of underwear (I didn’t obviously – seriously!). This film is without a doubt a mental workout: In the way Inception gives you mind a workout through its density and complexness, The Woman in Black really over excites your brain, making you anticipate and see things that aren’t there, then when you think you are safe it throws a jump-scare right smack in your face. There are some moments in the film that just burn in your mind and sounds that ring in your ears for minutes after you have seen them. As a film it never lets you feel relaxed or safe for a minute, which I suppose is the purpose of horror films.

Therefore, despite my dislike for the genre, I can safely say that this is one of the best horror films I have seen for many years. It does not rely upon unnecessary gore, nor does it have poor acting. Daniel Radcliffe is superb in the role - providing you can forget his role in Harry Potter. It is obvious that Radcliffe is aiming to establish himself as an even better actor than we have seen him do outside the Harry Potter universe so far, and judging by his recent performances, including this film, he still has a substantial career ahead of him. James Watkin’s style of filmmaking, and the manner in which he sucks his audiences in and makes them a part of the experience, is brilliant, providing some of the tensest moments I have seen on screen. He does not provide any unnecessary action, violence or explanation that slows or complicates a film, instead the film both subtle and overt in its delivery. They often say that ‘less is more’, well this is most certainly the case with The Woman in Black. Although it may not have rekindled my opinion of the horror genre, the film is without a doubt one of the better films I have seen in the last six months.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Project X - Trailer review

The trailer for the latest film from Todd Philips, the director of Old School and The Hangover films, has been released and it looks as though Phillips is up to his old tricks of laugh-out-loud, toe-curling comedy. The film is Project X, which if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, is of another in the genre of found footage films, normally where everyone at the end if dead and the film basically tracks the series of events that led to them all ending up dead, decapitated by a monster in central park or some other sort of death in the wood that I couldn’t because I was either experiencing nausea due the camera shakes or I was asleep. They tend to be intentionally scary, but ultimately tiresome and not living up to the desired expectation (okay Cloverfield wasn’t terrible, or was it?).

However this film is based upon the events occurring leading up to and during a party planned by a group of American teenagers, intending to make it the ultimate, twisted party that we have all dreamed, but very few have ever actually gone to. People are like that and they will say: ‘Yea I was at this party last week it was amazing, yea, we stayed up until like 5am I had like five beers *snorts* I was completely wasted’. To those people I stick my middle finger up at you and blow a raspberry, because by the looks of this trailer no party could come close to the mayhem and chaos that is going to ensue in this film. We have zip lines, kung fu midgets, sex, drugs, copious amounts of alcohol, car crashes, flame throwers (the next time I am at a house party and the riot police with flame throwers come out, I would take that as a sign to call it a night).  This film seems to me to be the events of The Hangover that you didn’t see, and if there was a video camera capturing the antics that occurred in Las Vegas, this would be it in all its insane and twisted glory.

So hopefully this film will breathe new light into a franchise that is becoming associated with Nurofen, low budgets and bad acting, and that Todd Phillips will make yet another hilarious and insane film, one that is hopefully a lot funnier and unique than the Hangover: Part II. If it is anything like the trailer shows I am sure it will not disappoint,  as there seems to be some great lines and the split second timed humour that I love about Phillip’s films, which potentially could make The Hangover films look like a quiet night in when compared to Project X.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Bourne Legacy Trailer

Today the new trailer for the latest Bourne was released today, titled, as many of you probably know The Bourne Legacy. Now I will admit the trailer doesn't give us much information, but from what it shows the films promises high octane action and the superb stunts synonymous with the Bourne films. The only thing that looks slightly odd in the trailer, and the question for all those who have not read the books by Robert Ludlum and Eric Van Lustbader, is where is Matt Damon? That is the only thing that makes this trailer feels odd, as it is almost as though the series has been rebooted. However it has been said that this film will be more like a 'what you wouldn't have see' film, that while you are looking in one direction, Jeremy Renner (when he wasn't Hawk-eye) was beating the living daylights out of people.

I still want to see it. Do you want to see it? Check the trailer out and see for yourself.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Amazing Spider-man Trailer

Exciting news! The new trailer for The Amazing Spider-man starring Andrew Garfield was released today and already I am buzzing with excitement. The film which is a reboot of the Sam Raimi franchise (and also a re-imagining of the entire series apparently) sees Spidey getting to grips with his new powers in high school, falling for Gwen Stacey and battling against Dr Curt Connor's alter ego that is the Lizard. Now I am really excited for this film, but there is always a danger when you reboot a popular franchise such as Spider-man. Admittedly number three was, let’s face it, a bit of a mess, however I believe the franchise could have continued successfully, and Spider-man 4 was on the cards until script disagreements made the film no more. That was a sad day. However the new trailer looks incredible and I think Andrew Garfield will make us forget about Tobey Maguire in the role before you can say ‘bad new green goblin costume’ (you know exactly what I mean).

So the main villain in this film is the Lizard. I have been waiting for the lizard to be in these films since day one, and finally he is here in all his glory. Well, ok maybe not in all his glory. For those of you who saw the origin concept art form the Lizard (below) you may have heard him being referred to as Voldemort, a green Solomon Grundy or a Super Mario Goomba.

I was hoping that the Lizard would be very different from what we saw originally in the design you see above, which is the case with most concept art as they change the images as the production progresses. However, they seem to have kept it the same, which is a bit, you know, bad. I thought he would have the snout and a long tongue, but by the look of it we have what we see above. I am sure however that when he is on the big screen it will be gorgeous, and judging by the actions sequences I am sure I will be wetting myself with excitement and putting my doubts to shame.

The other villain who is in the film who we didn’t get to see (apparently) is Proto-Goblin. Now I am tired of the different incarnations of the Goblin we have seen. Yes he is one of the ultimate archenemies of Spider-man, but it needs a rest, seriously. That was the problem with Raimi’s franchise; the Goblin was too clown like and aimed at a children audience. You want a villain that is going to make them not sleep for a year, but sadly William Defoe’s boogieman didn’t pay off. However having said that I am looking forward to seeing Proto-Goblin, and hoping that they approach it from a whole new perspective, unlike James Franco’s Elton John snowboarder outfit.

The one thing that I will say about the trailer (direct congratulations to Marc Webb) is that I really like the tone of it. It is much darker that what we have seen before, less kid friendly and definitely aimed at an adult audience. Andrew Garfield looks great as Peter Parker and Spidey, Emma stone looks great a Gwen Stacey and Rhys Ifans looks great as Dr. Connors, not so much as green Solomon Grundy. However, despite my moans and criticism of the Lizard, I am so excited to see this film, and with The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers being released, this summer will be a super one (see what I did?)

So have you seen the trailer? What do you think? Is The Amazing Spider-man going to surpass its predecessors? Or will it be even more of a disappointment than the third? Let me know.