The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

When it was announced a year or two ago that Hollywood was remaking the remarkably successful Swedish film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo it came as quite a shock to most people. Not that Hollywood were doing a remake. That seems to be the only thing the american film industry are capable of doing these days. No. It was a shock to find that the film was being remade so soon after the Swedish versions release.

Then came the hunt for the new Lisbeth Salander, the title character. As director David Fincher sorted through the hordes of women in his sight for the now infamous role, the eyes were all upon the big stars. Angelina Jolie. Emma Watson. These names and many others were being thrown about as possible answers to Finchers problem. And then, out of nowhere came Rooney Mara.

It’s been a good year or so since she was announced to be playing Lisbeth and finally she has shown that she is worthy of the role. Mara plays the troubled computer analyst so brilliantly it almost rolls off her seamlessly. Daniel Craig proves that he can still be more than just Bond with his portrayal of Mikael Blompkvist, a reporter hired to find the murderer of Harriet Vanger.

The opening sequence is simply superb, with Fincher creating a beautiful opening credits sequence not unlike the one he used with Fight Club. Special recognition must go to Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross for producing yet another brilliant soundtrack that tops their work for last years The Social Network.

However as the film continues the plot does begin to drag just a bit, and unless you’ve read the book it might be a bit hard to keep up with the storyline. The conclusion drifts slightly from the original novels but not so much that it is completely alienated by it.

Fincher has once again pulled off a masterpiece. Although it’s not better thanThe Social Network it certainly isn’t worse. Frankly it will be a surprise to hear that there is no planned sequel in the works. Same time next year?

4.5/5

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New Years Eve (2011)

It doesn’t seem that long ago when the 1st film in this genre was released. When Valentine’s Day was released in February 2010, the amount of celebrities (ranging from Taylor Lautner (Twilight) to Kathy Bates (Misery) ) was hard to fathom. And yet it worked. The mix of storylines was so well thought out and the way in which they intertwined was so neatly done. The film did so well in fact (probably due to Twilight fans who wanted to see more of Topless Taylor) that nearly two years later we are treated to what may as well be a sequel.

It is Valentine’s Day in every single way apart from one major difference. Instead of being set on Valentine’s Day, it’s set on New Years Eve. With some returning actors from Valentine’s Day like Jessica Biel and Ashton Kutcher and even an appearance from Robert De Niro, we’re taken again to a busy day in America where another non-important ‘Holiday’ is taken up a few gears to make it seem like the biggest event of the year.

The storyline is not one main plot but rather a bunch of little plots which make up a sort of montage of film clichés mixed together. To explain each one in detail would take far too long but in short we have a ball dropping fiasco at the annual New Years Eve celebrations mixed with a dying man’s last wish, a teenager’s rebellion, a pregnancy battle, an aging woman’s mid life crisis, along with probably a couple more which I’ve missed out.

As each story has it’s designated screen time, the film moves along at a steady pace which is sure to keep you entertained. However it does begin to become annoying as just as one storyline starts to get a bit more interesting than usual we are thrown either into a new one or back into a continuing old one. And those who have seen the ‘original’ will no doubt find themselves trying to figure out whose paths will cross and at what point in the film. In a film like this any two characters can be related or interact with each other.

As the film reaches it’s end (climax is too strong a word for a film like this), your life won’t be changed but I’ll be damned if you won’t have had a good time. It just makes me wonder what we’ll see next. Maybe an Easter Sunday? Or perhaps a Halloween? Now THAT’S a film I’d like to be seen turned into a romantic comedy. Who wouldn’t want to see Michael Myers with a love interest?

Whatever the outcome I’ll be sure to look forward to it. It will take a good few sequels for this new found genre to become tedious.

3/5

The Thing (2011)

Well apparently Hollywood just can’t stop with the remakes. What with Arthur, True Grit and Fright Night all making their returns to the big screen along with countless others, it was only a matter of time before The Thing was put through this hideous act. Although it is supposed to be a prequel and not a remake it felt more of the latter.

The story is basically the same as the original. Explorers find an alien in the Antarctic and decide to do the clichéd human-in-a-sci-fi movie thing and screw things up by getting involved. Things go from bad to absolutely positively mind boggling crazy (as well as a bit deja vu for those who’ve seen the film) when it’s discovered that the alien has not only escaped but also has the very nifty party trick of being able to imitate everyone it comes into contact with. Cue uneasy tension as each of the cast is thrown into an untrusting hour or so. The cast is nothing fancy. Many unfamiliar faces save the two main stars, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) and Joel Edgerton (Warrior), who don’t stand out but try their hardest.

As the second act of the film begins the pace is brought up a notch. More scares are found in this than in any of the Paranormal Activity film (which, to be quite honest isn’t that hard to do) and serves as a great distraction from the harrowing fact that this is just John Carpenter’s version modernized for the next generation of ignorant kids who can’t be bothered to watch the original of a film because they have no respect (how I weep for humanity).

But I digress. The Thing isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be. It’s a good waste of 103 minutes just for the jumps alone. However if you want to watch a good Mary Elizabeth Winstead film watch Scott Pilgrim. And if you want a good Joel Edgerton film watch Warrior.

3/5

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)

Well it’s been a good few months since we said our goodbyes to one of the greatest franchises in the last decade. And so with Harry Potter’s exit comes The Twilight Saga’s resurface. And with it, the ever annoying ‘Twi-Hards’. Yet with all it’s turn offs (Taylor Lautner’s shirt absence in the first 10 seconds of the film, Kristen Stewart’s incredibly unimpressive acting skills etc) the film is still bearable.

As we begin we’re thrown right into the much anticipated wedding of Bella and her Undead darling Edward and then thrust headfirst into the honeymoon period with Bella acting like some horny teenager before we come to the third and final act. The demon baby conception. An act which unfortunately doesn’t end in an ‘Alien’ type birthing scene (Is it just me who would’ve loved to have seen Bella’s demon foetus exploding out of her womb a la the infamous John Hurt scene in Alien?). But the birth is just as equally disturbing.

As Bella’s safety is threatened by the miracle of life possibly killing her in the process it moves from a sort of soap opera drama to a FANTASY soap opera drama. Still it’s hard to put a genre to this addition in the franchise. There’s a bit of comedy, a LOT of romance and a bit of chick flick all mashed together. In all honesty it didn’t feel like a Twilight film at all. Maybe it’s because we’ve had such a long time between this and Eclipse that I’ve somehow forgotten what it was I hated about the series but I must admit I enjoyed it. It wasn’t half as bad as I was expecting it to be.

3.5/5

Hugo 3D (2011)

It was probably a bit worrying for some to find out that Martin Scorcese, director of such films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas, had plans to do what looks like a children’s film with a bit of romance thrown in. But then again, it’s Scorcese. You can pretty much bet your entire life savings that he’ll do good and not expect to lose anything (unless you bet on Shutter Island, the less said about that the better…)

The fact is, although it is mostly aimed at children, what with the magical look and feel of it, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s comic relief he so perfectly provides. Even the two main stars, Asa Butterfield (The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) are children. But whilst there’s plenty for the kids to gasp and be amazed at, there’s plenty more for us big ‘uns.

Butterfield is the main star of the film, playing Hugo Caberet, a boy who lives in a paris train station and spends his days endlessly winding clocks around the station whilst desperately trying to fix his late fathers automaton, a clockwork robot basically. He holds the story together brilliantly and his on screen chemistry with Moretz is just outstanding. But the main thing that made this film less of a kids film and more of a Scorsese film was the romance. Yes there is a bit of romance between the two children but as the film continues on it becomes apparent that this was all a front. The real reason for Scorsese’s saunter into the kids film genre is to show his love for film.

Set in early 1920s France is the best way to do this it seems, as the story takes a frankly brilliant turn into the beginnings of film itself. With classic references starting to crop up towards the halfway mark (and by classic I don’t mean the ones you can spot every few seconds in any Tarantino movie, I mean references to the Lumiére brothers among many other pioneers of early film).

So fear not! Although this isn’t gritty and includes neither swear words, gangsters, or even Robert De Niro, Scorsese proves that at 69 years old he can still be a magician behind the camera. The only bad point about this film is the 3D. Although I have come to accept that 3D is good sometimes I must admit I found no use for it here. But hey, it’s a damn sight better than Shitter Island…

4.5/5

My Week With Marilyn (2011)

As the year comes to a close there are a few gems that always end up being released in the run up to the Oscars. And My Week With Marylin is one of those films.

Thankfully this is not a full on biopic of the Hollywood legend. Any attempt at something so big would have to be a good few hours long. Instead My Week serves as the slightest of insights to the star’s life. Contrary to the title, the film doesn’t just take you through one week. It takes you through the production of Sir Laurence Olivier’s The Prince and the Showgirl, letting us have a glimpse into the movie godess on and off screen.

Taken from the perspective of Colin Clark, the third assistant director of the film, My Week shows the brief encounter Clark had with Monroe and his fleeting affair with her for, as you might have guessed, a week. But it is so much more than a love story. It is a love/hate story. As Clark falls head over heels for her, Olivier begins to get more and more frustrated over her constant unprofessional ways. Arriving late, forgetting lines and ‘playing the little lost girl act’ as Olivier so kindly puts it.

Michelle Williams’ performance as the troubled actress is spellbinding, Oscar worthy, and almost outshines the rest of the cast. However credit is due for Kenneth Branagh as Olivier. The film is a great piece of work. With plenty of laughs (but not too many) and beautiful set pieces which will make any classic movie fan just salivate in their seat. As well as a very thought provoking insight into Monroe. With mixed opinions being thrown about everywhere for the audience to ponder over.

4/5

Immortals 2D (2011)

So way back in January it was revealed that Henry Cavill, best known for The Tudors, has been cast as Superman in Zack Snyder’s reboot. Seeing as the film won’t be out till 2013 this no doubt gave Cavill a chance to show the world he is the right man for the job. And so his first big screen outing in which he plays lead (He was in Red Riding Hood and Tristian + Isolde) is this.

The film quite ironically is produced by the same guys who produced Snyder’s biggest hit to date, 300, and follows the ‘story’ (if you could call it that) of Theseus (Cavill), a mortal man who is chosen by the Immortal God Zeus (previously seen in countless other films, Disney’s Hercules being quite a big one) to stop mean old King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke – yep, by old I mean OLD!) from trying to ruin mankind by releasing the Titans, enemies of the Immortals and basically bad news for us guys.

Now reading that you might be thinking it’s a bit of a meaty storyline but in all honesty it’s not. Which to be quite honest isn’t a bad thing. After the first fifteen minutes or so you will realise that this film isn’t meant to be thought provoking or looked back at as a classic. It is here for one reason and one reason alone. To promote Henry Cavill before he dons the big red S on his chest. Freida Pinto (Last seen helping Caesar rule earth in Rise of the Planet of the Apes) plays the obligatory eye candy, and John Hurt is shown wondering around every now and then narrating and basically being John Hurt.

I’m probably sounding really cynical and you’re expecting me to give this film a measly one star at best right? But no. In all honesty it was good fun. The fight scenes were more or less on par with 300 and believe me there are plenty of be-headings and bloodshed to please any action movie fanatic. And the film did show off Cavill’s six pack, as well as his brilliant fighting, often enough to have it imprinted into everyone’s memory in preparation for Man of Steel.

Although it wasn’t as good as 300, it was certainly good enough. It’s not a waste of time, nor is it a masterpiece to be admired for years to come. Instead it falls neatly in the middle section of a film to waste a boring Sunday afternoon with.

3/5

Superbad (2007)

OK so let me get the obvious thing out of the way first so you can all judge me. I have never seen Superbad. Or rather I hadn’t until just now. OK. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Of all the films that are on the long list of films I should get round to watching that was pretty low on the list. It was just pure chance that LOVEFiLM sent me it this week.

Anyway moving on I finally managed to watch it and… well… it was crap! I mean granted the actors are all funny and great like Jonah Hill and Emma Stone (who I actually didn’t know was in the film till I started watching it! Lovely surprise!) but I’ve seen them do much much better. The whole storyline was ludicrous. It was basically three guys intent on getting alcohol in order to lose their virginity to three girls (who were by the way, really out of their league. I mean come on, Emma Stone and Jonah Hill? Really?)

It had hints of American Pie in it. Same basic storyline with the slightest of twists. But that slight twist meant the film can’t be compared to American Pie at all. It tried too hard to be like it. What with the crude jokes and storyline. But in the end it was just pure crap. I’d heard this film was really funny and it was talked about as one of the best comedies of the year when it was released but I can say with absolute 100% certainty I didn’t laugh one bit. Not even a titter. Nor a smile.

And now I come to the cops. Unbelievable cops. And not in a good way. They’re unbelievable because they’re so crass, so horrifically unrealistic, so awfully antifunny that I just didn’t even care what came out of their mouths by halfway through the movie. It would’ve been fine had the cops been funny but what they did throughout the movie was so unrealistic and annoying that it took all the humour away.

Basically, keep away from this film. As far away as possible. If you want a good teen comedy go watch American Pie. If you just want a comedy, watch Bridesmaids.

2/5

The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence

And so here we are finally. After the controversial ban from the BBFC back in June and the even more puzzling decision a mere four months later to reward the film a rating with two and a half minutes worth of cuts, Tom Six’s much discussed The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence is finally released in the UK.

After Six’s statement that the sequel to his 2009 cult hit would ‘make the first look like My Little Pony in comparison’ and the announcement of the Centipede becoming 4 times longer with twelve people in the awkward position, it’s an understatement to say fans were anticipating the outcome. And what an outcome it was.

Shot entirely in black and white, Full Sequence, tells the story of Martin, a short plump midget car park security guard (the complete opposite of the previous films tall, thin villain, Dr Heiter). Martin is first introduced watching the original Human Centipede and as the film progresses the character develops into a troubled man with a history of sex abuse which explains his reasons for wanting to create his own centipede.

Another aspect of the film which worked rather well was Martins constant silence. As opposed to the first instalment where Heiter spent much of the film discussing what was going to happen and explaining the progress to his victims, here Martin differs. Instead of speaking he spends his time doing. As he works his way collecting the people for his new-found hobby we see the victims gradually realise what their doomed fate is.

In all the film is quite simply a materpiece. Six has well and truly upped the ante and given us more gore and horror. However it seems that the film will always be remembered for the controversy surrounding it and with the third and final film slated for 2013 we can only imagine what he has in store for us next. And what we imagine will no doubt be nowhere near to the finished product.

4/5

Fright Night 3D (2011)

So last Tuesday I decided to see this. I don’t mind remakes much and I can watch any type of film but one. 3D. However, unfortunately this was in 3D and I was guilt tripped into seeing it and going against everything I believe in as both a human being and a film fanatic, that 3D should end. Now.

I tried my hardest to stay optimistic throughout the duration and even managed to find some good parts. Only some though. There was a nice little reference to stakes at the very begining which made me chuckle and there was a good reference to the original in the script. But that was it. The rest of the film was basically pure trash. David Tenant’s role was nothing special. He started out being a complete and utter bastard and then towards the end his character changed to a poor weak man suffering from the old clichéd ‘my parents are dead’ fiasco. The teen actors weren’t good but weren’t brilliant either.

And the 3D. It was quite honestly awful and makes me glad I’d taken a 2 year hiatus in seeing a 3D film. The technology still hasn’t progressed enough to, well, work. They tried to get the blood to spurt out into our face but it ended up just pathetically splashing a few centimetres out of the screen.

The whole film was about as half assed as this review (rather fitting don’t you think?). In all I’d give this a miss. If you really want to see a good vampire film watch the original.

2/5