The Wolf of Wall Street – Review

Director Martin Scorsese and leading man Leonardo DiCaprio team up once again to bring us The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the real life of Wall St stock broker Jordan Belfort. Who rises up through the world of big finance and shows us the true face of greed and temptation.

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The movie is best described as a dark comedy, Jordan’s exploits become so outrageous and sickly comic that it regularly left me in stitches and to the movies credit despite the ludicrous nature I never once felt like it wasn’t all true. The Wolf of Wall Street is taking the dark fabric of our culture and putting it up on the screen for all to see.

Some have condemned the movie for glorifying the exploits of these corrupt con-men; however I never felt this was the case. Whilst I did not find myself sympathizing with them I did feel myself being swept away in the overwhelming nature of excess and temptation. Which I feel is the central thesis of the movie.

We see Jordan at the beginning of the movie wanting to make money in the thriving financial centre of the world, but also more importantly to help his clients. An idea which is quickly dismissed by his first boss on Wall Street, played brilliantly by Matthew McConaughey. The idea being that not everyone who goes to work on Wall Street goes there with the intention of ripping off innocent people but they become intoxicated by the culture of greed which they themselves go on to propagate for future generations. This is not to say that Jordan and his compatriots are not to blame which of course they are but it is also pointing towards a larger problem within our society, that we allow these things to happen and go unpunished.

The Wolf of Wall Street had me laughing throughout and delivered standout performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler and Jon Bernthal. I absolutely loved this movie and much like Scorsese’s previous work Goodfellas, which would make an excellent companion piece with movie, The Wolf of Wall Street will be remembered for years to come as a cultural touchstone.

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American Hustle – Review

American Hustle is the story of the semi-true misadventures of 2 small time hustlers played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams who become entangled in an FBI plot to take down corrupt politicians.

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This the latest directorial outing from the recently prolific David O. Russell delivers some fine performances and brilliant moments of outrageous fun, specifically an absolutely outstanding turn from supporting actor Louis C.K, however fails to create any sort of cohesive narrative.

The movie sort of just plods along and generally just feels muddled and undisciplined as a piece of film making. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed O. Russell’s previous work The Fighter and it’s obvious he has a true talent for getting incredible performances from his actors however I cannot justify his Nomination this year for Best Director at the Academy Awards, nor the movie itself for Best Picture.

American Hustle is an incredibly average movie with moments of brilliance spotted throughout and some fine performances but not quite enough to compensate for its muddled narrative and dragging plot.

More hair than plot, unfortunately American Hustle perfectly exemplifies a movie that is style over substance.

Enders Game – Review

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So here it is the worst movie I’ve seen this year by a long shot.  The major problems with this movie are twofold, first is the plot. I’m sure when the book first came out in 1985 (which I haven’t read by the way) it presented some pretty novel ideas but in regards to the movie we’ve come a long way since then. The entire premise just feels incredibly cliché and almost every major narrative turning point seemed like I’d seen it played out 100 times before in various different forms of media and done much better than it is here.

As is becoming increasingly frequent in Hollywood Enders Game is just another movie focused more on special effects than it is on emotional engagement which leads me to the movies second major fault: the cast. A lot of people have described this movie as Harry Potter in space, which I think is pretty accurate in more ways than one and not in a good way. Like the early Harry Potter movies the primary cast here are all incredibly young and as such do not carry the movie very well. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of their acting abilities but as children they just lack the life experience required to believably portray the gamut of emotions required of them. As it turns out this is kind of big deal when your story is centered on a bunch of kids. Which by the way is never adequately explained in the movie, if Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley are the ones training these little punks why can’t they just lead Earths forces instead? I mean come on, who would you really want defending the planet. A bunch of preteens or someone with a lifetime of real world experience?  The threat was also never really fleshed out and as such just felt like an afterthought and the whole of Enders journey felt pretty needless. 

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Ultimately this movie was just really boring and is starting to become a trend for Writer/Director Gavin Hood, previous efforts including X-Men Origins: Wolverine the worst X-Men movie ever produced, perhaps Enders Game signifies that perhaps Hood should call it quits in terms of big budget Hollywood movies. Don’t go see Enders Game. End of

The Wolverine – Review

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Finally the Wolverine movie we’ve all been waiting for.

No kidding this was just amazing. I can honestly say I didn’t think they would really be able to pull it off but this just blew me away. If it was only mediocre it still would have been an improvement on its predecessor X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it’s so much more than that.

Instead of yet another pointless prequel the film makers made the very well thought out decision to set this film after all the events of the previous X-Men movies. Logan is alone, jaded and still haunted by the death of Jean Grey who appears throughout the movie via dream sequences exploring Logan’s inner turmoil as an immortal warrior surrounded by the death of his loved ones. And this is the crux of why I enjoyed this movie so much. Not only does it deliver great action and special effects but it’s also got a really great story at its core and delves into some really interesting themes at the same time. Essentially it manages to do what so many other movies strive but ultimately fail to do; it strikes the perfect balance between epic action and mature dramatic story telling.

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I loved the fact that the movie literally starts with Logan withstanding a nuclear strike at Nagasaki; I loved the fact that after being burnt to a human cinder his hair grows back to its perfect trademark style. I loved the fact that there’s actual honest to god character development in this movie.

My biggest fear with going in was the concept of taking away Logan’s mutant healing factor. A common trope which I really grow tired off. ‘Hey you know that one thing you really like about this character, well we ran out of ideas so we’re just going to make him vulnerable by magically taking that away’ Ugh. But honestly it didn’t grate on me as much as I thought it would and I was actually on the edge of my seat going into the climatic final battle.

About half way through the movie as Logan was reminiscing about his nuclear encounter in the now rebuilt Nagasaki (I’m not sure reminiscing is the right word?)  I was thinking to myself ‘Wow I’m really enjoying this, like a lot’ Which I think sums it up quite well. For a while now it’s just been so frustrating to watch Fox have their way with wolvie on the big screen. Hugh Jackman has always been the perfect fit for the role but pesky little things like the story and what not have seemed to get in the way, but not this time. They kept us waiting but they eventually got round to making a movie that truly does this character justice. Well done sirs. For 126 mins you managed to make me forget how much I resent the fact that Marvel Studios doesn’t have the rights to these characters.

Also with the absolutely tantalizing stinger this movies serves as a pretty great trailer for next year’s X-Men Days of Future Past. Which if you weren’t excited about already you will be after you see this movie.

Pacific Rim – Review

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WOOOOOAH

I mean c’mon, seriously that was just incredible.

Ok I knew going in there was a high probability that I was going to like this movie, I’m a massive fan of Guillermo Del Toro, I’m a massive fan of giant robots fighting giant monsters and I’m a massive fan of Charlie Hunnam (Jackson Teller from Sons of Anarchy) but I can honestly say as sky high as my expectations of this movie were they were well and truly exceeded.

There’s not one bad thing I can say about this movie except that I just want MOAR. Starting with the action, thankfully I avoided most of the trailers and TV spots so I didn’t ruin too much of it for myself, the fight scenes were just mind blowingly awesome. In a world where I’ve become pretty desensitized to over the top CGI spectacle I actually found myself breathless and aghast watching this movie.Image

 

 

What made it even more impressive was that I actually cared about the characters. They did a great job on the human side of the story that gives the movie a real emotional core, and made the action even more intense as I really wanted the humans to win. The comedic elements are perfectly measured so as not to become annoying but just enough to add some levity and joy into the movie. Which is another great thing about this movie, it seems like everyone just wants to make things overly serious, cynical and depressing in movies and whilst that works in some movies it’s nice to see something uplifting and hopeful for once.

I really haven’t got much else to say, I just loved it. It’s absolutely the best movie I’ve seen this year. Can’t wait for the blu ray and I pray to god they do a sequel. 

Man of Steel – Review

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Too many tv spots, wayyy too many. After about the 7th tv spot I felt like I had pretty much seen the whole movie already and as it turns out, I had. All the best moments had been spoilt for me. But despite all that I really, really wanted to love this movie, when they first announced it would be Zack Snyder directing andChris Nolan producing my head practically exploded with excitement. The dream team I thought to myself, Snyder’s eye for epic, super powered action sequences and Nolan’s dramatic, grounded story telling. How could this possibly fail? Well not that it failed exactly, but I certainly wasn’t totally blown away in the fashion that I was sure I would be. Obviously my impression is massively tainted by the sky high level of anticipation I had for this film, but to be fair I was in the same state of mind when I saw The Dark Knight in the cinema and I walked away from that experience having had my high expectations absolutely blown through the roof, with Man of Steel however I left feeling just slightly meh…

Now having said all that I will say that this is easily the best Superman movie to date, it totally blows the rest of them out of the water. The action scenes, as we’ve all seen from the trailers, are the truest depiction of Superman’s true power and the other great strength of the movie is the relationship between Clark and Lois, which is absolutely nailed this time. But other than that I found it pretty hard to care about a lot of the other characters. I wasn’t overly impressed with Zod as I thought I would be, a lot of the obvious dramatic moments fell flat for me and a lot of the movie really felt by the numbers and predictable.

They actually gave most of the best sequences to Faora and she displayed most of the best moments of Kryptonian abilities, shockingly I found myself more interested in watching her than I was in Superman. I was sure this was to set up Supes in the last act to start truly kicking some ass but no, the flip never happened. Obviously Superman wins but not in any spectacular fashion, he just sort of wins….

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In the final showdown Zod asks the appropriate question, if he was born and trained to be a warrior and on Earth he has all the same powers as Kal-El than what chance does he; a farm boy realistically have? And there is no answer for this question proposed. There real question then becomes why did they have that line in there when it’s only purpose is to make the audience say to themselves, Yeah Zod really should have won.

That’s just one of the little things that really irked me, and the point is if I’m taking the time to actually pick that apart and get annoyed by it then the movie’s not doing something right. Man of Steel is movie with serious ups and downs and unfortunately did not live up to the hype that surrounded it and having now had some time to analyse it I really don’t know if there’s anything DC can do to bridge the ever expanding gap between themselves and Marvel. And unfortunately for all the fans out there dreaming of a Justice League movie to knock Avengersoff the top spot, this really doesn’t bode well for it. To be fair if Man of Steel had dropped before any of the Marvel stuff had been set in motion I probably would have looked far more favourably upon it, but it didn’t. And the landscape for comic book movies has changed so much in the last few years it feels like DC will forever be lagging behind which is really unfortunate.

I don’t want to end on such a down note, so I will say that there is the definite possibility for a successful Man of Steel sequel but I think there has to be a major change up, lose Zack Snyder. 

World War Z – Review

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I don’t remember how exactly I became such a big fan of the zombie genre; it was probably Resident Evil 2, a game that introduced me and my brother to the sheer panic of fighting off the zombie horde with your last few rounds of ammunition. But I do remember reading a book called The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks not long after it was first published:  A practical step by step manual to surviving the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. And then in 2006 I discovered what would become my favourite book for many years to come, Brooks Magnum Opus:World War Z. A book I so fiercely enjoyed I became a spokes person for it among my friends and soon had many of them tearing through its pages just as I had. I read and re-read it over and over again. I listened to the audio-book and have followed Max Brooks career very closely ever since.

When I first heard that WWZ was to get the big screen adaptation I as many people I assume felt a mixture of feelings, excitement and skepticism. Excitement because there are several cinematic moments in the film, The Battle of Yonkers for example and skepticism because the narrative layout of the film is extremely un-cinematic and does not lend itself to the traditional 3 Act structure of Hollywood movies. As the movie fell into such difficulties during shooting my skepticism only grew but then the first audience reactions hit on twitter and hope was restored. Yesterday we went ourselves and saw the movie in 3D, going in my expectations weren’t through the roof they were somewhere in the middle. I knew from reading a few reactions not to expect the book and just to embrace the movie for what it is which I did and I actually really enjoyed it.

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World War Z is worlds away from the book, which I think was inevitable but that doesn’t stop it from being an excellent, fast paced, thrilling zombie movie. Brad Pitt nails it, predictably, in the lead role as Gerry Lane the retired U.N warzone investigator who is sent on a mission to find patient zero in an attempt to find a vaccine to the devastating zombie outbreak. To say there is nothing shared between the book and the movie but the title, as people on the internet have done, is actually unfair. There are glimmers here and there but it’s fair to say that it’s a very loose adaptation. The main similarity between the two is that they both use the zombie outbreak to examine the socio-political landscape on a global level: The North Korean ‘solution’, The Israeli Wall. Tied altogether with incredible big budget action sequences and special effects, there’s a lot to enjoy in this movie.

If there is a complaint to be made it would be in the movies third act, which actually goes against the grain in terms of big budget Hollywood action movies. Instead of turning up the speakers to 11 and blasting the audience into submission with a balls out finale, WWZ dials it back and goes for a slower yet still nerve wracking sequence.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed World War Z and would highly recommend it. Can’t wait to watch it again on blu-ray and the inevitable sequel J

Oh and I was actually in Glasgow when they’re were shooting the opening outbreak sequence, so yeah 😛