Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises is as good as it is stupid. I’m not just saying I didn’t care for Dark Knight Rises to sound contradictory; it just didn’t really do it for me. It is an overlong mess of good ideas and wasted potential, there were some great performances and some cool fight sequences but ultimately it felt like a film series that just didn’t care anymore. But hey what do I know, I liked Daredevil...


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Review: Red Tails (2012)

These days when some people see that a film is produced by George Lucas they are quick to judge it, unfortunately this is the way that most people seem to have dismissed Red Tails. These people are sorely missing out.

Director Anthony Hemingway provides a great eye throughout the film, and looking at his resume of TV work ranging from The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Community and Treme it’s really no surprise. The cast too are engaging and enthusiastic giving the film heart and soul. And it is George Lucas’s passion that got this project together, having tried to get the film produced in one form or another since the mid 80’s. In the end he ended up giving over $80m of his own money to get the film made and marketed. Lucas isn’t a man who raped and ruined your childhood; he is still a filmmaking master and pioneer, who every fan of popular cinema has a lot to thank for.

Red Tails is a fun and thought provoking film. Those are two things which are not necessarily easy bed fellows, especially with the Second World War as their backdrop. But Red Tails is a really fun film, which isn’t an easy thing to do in a war film, taking more from the cinema of the 40’s and 50’s than its more recent cousins and indulging in the spectacle of the aerial combat scenes, crafted by the ever wonderful ILM. The issue of race is one which can too often be glossed over and ignored, especially in regards to WWII but Red Tails deals with the story effectively and maturely. No, the film isn't perfect, particularly in its depiction of Germans as ruthless, scar ridden, evil menaces, this is hardly something unique to this film with many others also make this mistake (Saving Private Ryan), but you can’t fault Red Tails for this as this isn’t their particular fight. The equality it promotes in relation to race is truly impressive, and its unapologetic depiction of racism in the military more than makes up for its shortcomings.

Knowing the long history of this film it is clear that it is a labour of love for those involved, Red Tails is definitely a film that should be appreciated, it’s a World War II rarity, a visually stunning treat and something you shouldn’t miss.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Review: Hugo (2011)

Every piece of praise this film has received is completely justified. Spectacular, beautiful, magical; Hugo is a real masterpiece from director Martin Scorsese.


Monday, 7 May 2012

Review: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Disney truly got that magic formula right with 1991's Beauty and the Beast, and it's a magic that is still clearly visable today with the new 3D re-release of the film. With a great deal of care, love and attention this film made people take notice of the company again. The real shame is that it is magic that they would see squandered as the 90's continued under studio head Michael Eisner.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Review: The Avengers (2012)

A cameo from Sam Jackson as Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man in 2008 started the ball rolling for an eventual assembling of The Avengers, and now half way through 2012 that promise is realised. And it is fun, ridiculously good fun. The film may take a while to get going, but once it does it doesn't let up on action, adventure, comedy and just sheer geeky pleasure. Many have already said that The Hulk steals the show in the film, and they’d be right to say so, but the whole ensemble is on top form and having a great time, which shines through in every frame. One of the most impressive things about this film is that it exists at all; it is really a testament to the creative team behind this cinematic universe at Marvel and Disney who have delivered this fan-boy delight. In essence The Avengers is the 6th film in a series, bringing together and exploring these characters and doing it so well. Having these characters know that they all co-exist in this Universe opens up a box of exciting possible options for the future of The Avengers and Marvel films, and I for one can’t wait to see what they deliver next.


Review: Eden Lake (2008)

Socially interesting but tonally and logically it’s a bit all over the place. James Watkins' Brit horror is a well directed and tight entry into the genre type, but its characterisation could certainly be seen as demonising the working class. Whilst the more well-off characters aren’t portrayed as much more likeable and often unreasonable character choices can be forgiven for story purposes of horror more could have been done to flesh out the issues the film tries to tackle. Recent British sci-fi/horror Attack the Block is worth a watch for a similar social theme but in my opinion a more rounded approach. Still, Eden Lake is fairly interesting, enjoyable and commendable for its intentions of highlighting social anxieties, but should have probably decided which side of the fence that it really wanted to be on.


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

I massively enjoyed The Hunger Games. It's not easy to pull off a relentless dystopian sci-fi story, but this film does an outstanding job. Perhaps the most admirable quality of The Hunger Games is that with its peers in mind is it perhaps didn't need to go to this much of a quality effort, but i'm certainly glad they did.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Review: RoboCop (1987)

As much as Robocop is a product of Regan’s America in the late 80’s, it is still a socially relevant film today. For all of its humour and violence it really has a lot of interesting things to say about America, consumerism and advertising as well as the police. Director Paul Verhoeven delivers a really tight action film, which is not only visually impressive but 25 years on it still delivers a healthy dose of social satire and is great fun too. And yes, I’d buy that for a dollar.


Review: John Carter (2012)

Plain and simple, I had a really good time watching Disney's John Carter. Seeing the film in imax 3D proved to be a stunning and joyful piece of spectacle shattering any doubts I may had about the project within minutes of it starting. No small part of this success comes from Pixar’s Andrew Stanton who has really brought a lot of fun and excitement to this adaptation, which not only seems to stay faithful enough to the Burroughs novels but is equally very much the vision of the director. Much like Spielberg's recent big-screen version Tintin this in some ways feels as though it is a film out of its time, but that certainly isn’t an insult, it makes it feel almost timeless. With around 100 years of waiting under its belt you could certainly say this project has been through a bit of development hell; but looking at the finished product it seems to have been worth the wait. A fantastically fun film.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Review: Submarine (2011)

Absolutely charming, funny and gorgeous debut film from Richard Ayoade. One of the finest coming of age dramas of British cinema.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Review: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

From the get go you know this heist is never going to go well, and it isn't long till every crack and creak in the plan starts showing. Asphalt Jungle has fantastic direction from film noir legend John Huston and a great script with a lot of heart and superb dialogue. A must for any fan of the genre.


Review: Source Code (2011)

Following the success of the truly phenomenal Moon was never going to an easy task for director Duncan Jones and his 2nd film; but with Source Code you really get a smart and sophisticated sci-fi thriller which seems full of the director’s personality whilst also managing to be wildly entertaining. The film has some really interesting things to say about the sci-fi and action genres, the military, terrorism and American patriotism whilst never dumbing down for the audience or losing any of the tension that makes the film the absolute treat that it is. Highly recommended.


Review: The Bed Sitting Room (1969)

Massively underrated. You don't get many post-apocalyptic comedies anyway but Bed Sitting Room is definately an interesting watch. A truly surreal and peculiar piece of cinema showing Richard Lester, Spike Milligan and Peter Cook at their most bizarre. Plus a great Blu-ray transfer from the BFI as part of the Flipside series.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Review: Thor (2011)

In a way the big screen outings of Iron Man, Captain America and The Hulk had it pretty easy when you put it next to the challenges of Thor but Kenneth Branagh brings the production and its cast together melding Shakespeare, Tolkien and Marvel’s cinematic legacy together to deliver something really special. The cast is just fantastic and the visuals of both Asgard and Earth are a treat.


Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk is a really cool action film. As always Edward Norton and Tim Roth are fantastic, director Louis Leterrier also delivers some fantastic thrills throughout the film. The only problem is that compared to some of the other films Marvel have in their canon, this one doesn't have much else going on. It would be great to see more of the supporting characters of the film (General Ross, Betty and Abomination) in a Hulk or Avengers sequel, however if we ever will is a different question...


Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

This film isn't without its share of problems as the second in the Iron Man series and it's placeholder as an Avengers semi-prequel but it is a lot more enjoyable on the second viewing than I had remembered it. I don't think the problem lies in the various juggling balls the film is trying to keep in the air just that it seems to have lost a bit of the fun whilst it's doing it. For a blockbuster this however continues to interestingly develop its characters whilst introducing new ones and keeping up its anti-corporate message from the first film. Special mention has to go to the villains of the piece with Sam Rockwell's skin crawling portrayal of Justin Hammer, a negative zone Tony Stark knock off and Mickey Rourke as Whiplash whose explosion into the series during the Grand Prix scene is a heart pounding experience and a sound design treat.


Review: Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man kicks off Marvel's Cinematic Universe and provides the first step on the road to The Avengers. And what a first step it is! Iron Man is incredibly good fun but also provides an interesting amount of social and economic commentary as well as comedy to set it apart from many other entries of the genre. Robert Downey Jr. laps up leading role giving a bit of everything from Howard Hughes to James Bond and back to Robocop and Batman. The ever fantastic Jeff Bridges also gives a fantastic turn as the villain of the piece whilst Terrence Howard bores it up as Rhodey, probably a good thing they good rid of him in favour of Don Cheadle for the sequel...


Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America is a really fun film but a bit all over the place if you stop to think about it for too long. That being said, director Joe Johnson has a great eye for an action sequence which make some sequences come off as practically Spielbergian. There are some great performances in the supporting cast and the WWII setting provides a real aesthetic treat.


Oh and by the way, if you want to watch the correct chronological order of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would you agree that the best way is:
Captain America.
Iron Man.
Iron Man II.
The Consultant (Marvel short).
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (Marvel short).
The Avengers.


A few years ago I used to write a film blog (which you can still read at -, a film a day? Who was I kidding?), but then massive amounts of university work got in the way of that. Then recently I started writing mini-reviews on my letterboxd account (which you can have a look at over here - and this sparked my interest for film blogging again, and so here we are with a new blog!

I’ll first be collecting those letterboxd reviews together here and then adding anything new I write.

Hope you enjoy it and feel free to get in touch with me via twitter at