Saturday, 26 March 2011


There is a creeping sense of irony when watching Limitless. For a film about unlocking the full potential of your brain, you get the impression the writers of the film were probably only using 3% of theirs. Normally this would be a bad thing for a movie, but Limitless never fails to have fun with it's concept. Yes, on the grand scale of Sci-Fi Thrillers, it's no Inception. But it'd whoop The Adjustment Bureau's ass any day.

If you've managed to spot some of Limitless' obscure yet awesome marketing campaigns littered on public transport, you'll probably still have no clue what the movie is about. So, to enlighten y'all a little: the movie revolves around Eddie Morra (Cooper), a struggling writer/human being who stumbles upon a wonder drug that has the power to unlock the full potential of your brain. The next 90 minutes or so is a rollercoaster ride of 'what if' scenarios, from the ethical quandaries about tampering with human biology, to absurd action elements (one featuring a little girl's ice skates). It yo-yos so much between valid satire and dumbifying spoof that it'll make your head spin.

Shorter hair = cleaverer

But the film never really sets out to change the way you think, it just wants you to have fun. And in this sense it succeeds. Director Neil Burger (tehe), had a tricky job of representing exponential brain power on screen, but pulls it off with some neat camera work and editing wizardry. The story also has enough thrills and chills to keep your attention for the full running time, even if the ending does feel a little laboured. But it's Bradley Cooper who steals the show with a charming and very watchable performance. Some might be put off by his Chesire Cat smugness, but to be brutally honest, he carries this film away from the brink of absurdity.

I'm not calling this film a masterpiece by any means, but considering it didn't anger me (like some other recent theatrical releases), I must give it some kudos.

Oh yeah, and one last thing...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Trailers of the Week

A look at this week's best (and worst) trailer releases...

Super 8

If you didn't see Steven Spielberg's name pop up as 'Producer', you'd be forgiven for mistaking this trailer as some sort of E.T./Close Encounters spin-off. It has all the trademark features of a traditional Spielbergo fest: child main protagonists, single parents, evil military men, ambiguously motivated Extra-Terrestrials, bicycles.

Abrams finally shines some light on his mystery project, and the results are promising to say the least. The action in particular looks pretty astonishing, with some fantastic scenes of floating rubble and exploding buildings. But much like his previous 'Monster Movie' Cloverfield, Abrams is very much keeping his cards close to his chest on the actual appearance of the creature. Lets just hope it doesn't slip into formulaic Alien Invasion territory, à la 2005's War of the Words.

Friends with Benefits

After the atrocious No Strings Attached was released last month, it seems casual sex is the next hot topic for romantic comedies these days. But despite looking like EXACTLY THE SAME MOVIE, Friends with Benefits actually looks like it could be half decent; mainly due to the undeniable chemistry between the 2 leads - Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. They are also supported by a strong cast of comedy heroes, such as Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Patricia Clarkson, and Andy Samberg.

The only thing that worries me is the inevitable decline into soppydom that has sidetracked most RomComs since the dawn of time. ATTENTION HOLLYWOOD: the couple doesn't always have to get together at the end for it to be a happy ending. Just look at 500 Days of Summer.

The Smurfs

*Groan* Hollywood pulls another cherished childhood nostalgia out of the bag and proceeds to dump all over it. From what I can induce from the trailer, the plot involves the Smurfs somehow crashlanding into our world (ahemEnchanted), but the evil wizard Gargamel (played by a heavily made up Hank Azaria) is hot on their heels.

The film luckily stars Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, who can't help be lovable in everything they do. Plus I must admit I smirked a bit at the 'Milking it' joke. But before you start thinking this film might be any good, just think about this: I counted 6 'Smurf Puns' in this 2 minute trailer. If the film carries on at this puns:minute ratio, it will contain 270 Smurf Puns. Smurfing hell.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


is the first film in a doublebill of obscure British Comedians trying their hand at directing (Joe Cornish's Attack the Block being the second). But Richard Ayoade's directing is more than just 'competent'; Submarine is an absolute phenomenal debut from a very promising new talent. In fact, I'd be shitting myself if I was Ayoade - how on Earth do you top this?

Set in a very picturesque coastal Welsh town in the 1980s(?), the film follows the misadventures of Oliver Tate. A name that is sure to join the ranks of other unconventional High School Heroes, such as Max Fischer, Brendan (of Brick fame), and even Holden Caulfield. A good intentioned yet completely self-centred teenager, Oliver is burdened with an overactive brain and feelings of enormous self-importance. An early scene depicts a very candid fantasy of his: the general public's reaction to his untimely death. I was glad to see other members of the audience laughing in recognition; as Oliver's twisted love for melodrama was not far removed from my own teenage imaginings.

And who says there are no good films Post-Oscars?

But Craig Robert's Oliver should not take all the credit for making Submarine as lovable as it is: Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins, and Noah Taylor all add to the believability of this tragic comedy. And Paddy Considine makes an excellent OTT (if not very well-rounded) appearance as a deluded psychic. The soundtrack is provided by a sedated Alex Turner, which is so beautifully spot on that it makes you want to puke in absolute delight.

The negatives are few and far between but if I had to nitpick (apparently this is what proper critics do), it's middle act lacks the pace and relentless comedy of the 1st and 3rd. And whilst the film couldn't end any other way, I wish it tried something a little less predictable. Other than that, it really is a film worthy of it's already hefty hype. But perhaps the biggest surprise about Submarine are the very blatant influences from films such as The Shining, Don't Look Now, and Rosemary's Baby. Will Ayoade tackle a horror next? I bloody well hope so.

What it may or may not look like.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Charlie Sheen: The Movie

I might not necessarily agree with all the hoo ha about Charlie Sheen's public breakdown (what are we laughing at again?), but damned if I'm gonna miss the bandwagon on this one. 12 years down the line and I'm still paying the price for not reading Harry Potter.

Considering Hollywood no longer has the decency to wait until your dead before making a slanderous movie about you (case in point: W), we'll probably see Charlie Sheen: The Movie in a couple of months. And to save Hollywood some time with hiring and firing those pesky writers, I've decided to knock up a quick premise for their convenience:

Opens with Charlie Sheen as a young boy (played by that kid from The Road). He is imitating his father (Martin Sheen, FYI) in the movie Apocalypse Now - scene finishes with Charlie punching a mirror (precursor to his self-destructive nature later in life. DEEP.)

Next scene we see Charlie and his brother Emilio playing Ice Hockey. Emilio teaches Charlie the importance of 'Winning' (get it?), and they have a fight. Charlie wins. Obviously.

Then we do some shit about him being a good actor in Platoon and Wall Street, and how happy he was, blah blah blah. Then some minor breakdowns when he marries actress and all-round hottie Denise Richards. [stick in gratuitous sex scene] Then a segment on 2 and a Half Men and how his life seemed to be back on track.

Finally we get to the good shit: 2 hours of non-stop drug taking and hardcore pornography. Charlie (now played by a coked up Christian Bale) eventually dies of 'having too much fun' and slumps over the prostitute lying underneath him.

Final scene is at his funeral with all his friends and family manically weeping. After everyone has left, the camera pans towards the buried grave... *BAM* Charlie's undead hand bursts out of the ground.


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Retro Review of the Week: Rio Bravo

The cast isn't too shabby.

After suffering from a slight 'Western' hangover from my Clint Eastwood bonanza a couple of months ago, I decided it was time to revisit the genre with the rip-roaring Rio Bravo. From the description it seemed to encapsulate all the vital components from classic Westerns: shoot-outs, bandits, horse riding, bar fights, sing-a-longs, a disgruntled hero, a recovering alcoholic, and a one-toothed comic relief character. Not to mention, it stars John Wayne AND Dean Martin (didn't even realise Deano acted if I'm being truly honest). So I was pretty much expecting my socks to be blown clear off.

The plot of Rio Bravo is not too dissimilar from EVERY other Western out there - A local Sheriff and his trusty deputies fend off a group of bandits who are trying to free one of their gang from the local jail. It's kinda like 3.10 to Yuma except the story doesn't go anywhere and it's TWICE as long.

Angie Dickinson: the new love of my life.

Now, I'm probably giving off negative vibes about this film, and whilst I think it hasn't exactly aged well, you have to appreciate its old fashioned sensibilities and marvelous storytelling. This film really couldn't be more earnest if it tried - from it's (hokey) romance, to it's (comically reserved) gunfighting, to it's (criminally crowbarred) sing-a-long; everything screams '1950s Western'. And because it was made towards the end of the decade, it does feel more like a celebration of everything that made the genre great, rather than trying to be its own film. Which is completely forgivable considering the veteran talent involved.

So forget the frankly overrated True Grit. Sit back on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a whiskey in hand, and enjoy this under-appreciated beauty.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The X-Men: First Class Poster Saga

So if you're keeping up to date with all the X-Men: First Class promotional posters (and lets face it, who isn't?), you'll know by now that they all suck.

First we had this travesty of a teaser. People speculated for aaaages that it was a fake, mainly because of the shoddy photoshop work.

Seriously, is this the porno version?

Then we had these slightly improved 'Erik and Charles' posters, but they still weren't up to the standard you'd expect from a major Hollywood Summer Blockbuster.

Yes, we get it, they're Magneto and Professor X.

Then earlier today came the atom bomb of all bad teaser posters:

X-Men: Attack of the Egg People

So, to prove Hollywood is full of overpaid, untalented fat cats, I thought I'd design my own poster using a very modest piece of photo editing software:

I rest my case.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Hall Pass

Hot girls + perverted old men = Comedy Genius

Whilst we wait for The Hangover Part 2 to come out in May, the once Kings of Gross-Out Comedy, the Farrelly brothers (no, they're not dead), are back with another rip-roaring adventure into depravity. Now, I'm not gonna act all high and mighty, because I have enjoyed some Farrelly films of the past, most notably There's Something about Mary, Me Myself and Irene, and of course Dumb and Dumber. And whilst Hall Pass is not as good as any of those, it IS a lot better than The Heartbreak Kid and Stuck on You.

The story is simple yet broad enough to create hiiiilarious scenarios. The wives of 2 sex obsessed husbands give their other half the opportunity to have a week off from marriage (aka a 'Hall Pass'). This allows for quite a wide scope of 'comical' mishaps, from the rather forced 'lets take drugs in an unusual setting!', to the more natural 'ZOMG this girl is crazy!'. There are some jokes that barely even constitute as jokes, and act more as just surreal observations - meaning you'll be waiting for a punchline that just won't arrive.

Hash Brownies on a golf course? Woah, wacky.

Yes, it's out of touch, and yes, it's trying too hard. But there are still some lovable performances in there (especially from Jenna Fischer, Jason Sudeikis, and a gawkish Stephen Merchant), and there is even some heart - even if it's sidelined by mild sexism and vagina jokes.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

"Inception meets Jason Bourne"... apparently

In recent years we've seen a great resurgence in the popularity and creativity in the Sci-Fi genre. From Donnie Darko, to Moon, to last year's Inception, we've been spoilt with an influx of fresh new talent. The Adjustment Bureau appears to be the next in line to reinvent the genre, and whilst it has a refreshing concept, it lacks the conviction or edge to become the film it so desperately wants to be.

"As you can see, we're going to gloss over the thin plot by making you wear revealing outfits."

The story centres around politician David Norris (Damon), and his fleeting experiences with a ballerina called Elise (Blunt), which are cut short by a mysterious external force. Turns out that a group of men in hats and 1950s looking suits called the Adjustment Bureau control the destiny of every single person on the planet, and will stop at nothing to see their plan come true. Unlike modern Sci-Fi's, AD feels like a throwback to old TV shows like Dr Who and The Twilight Zone. It doesn't feel the need to explain every single minute plot detail like our dear friend Christopher Nolan, but instead leaves the antagonists somewhat in the dark. Which would be fine if the 'bad guys' felt like a real threat instead of spending the whole time hitting their heads and saying "Doh!".

Damon and Blunt are great as always, but the central romance just feels hokey. The fact a successful and handsome politician obsesses over a girl he's only met twice for 3 YEARS is just plain unbelievable. It sounds more like the story of a serial killer than a star-crossed love affair. And yes, I understand it's playing upon the idea of 'Fate', but the infatuation just comes off as paranoid and creepy. And unlike Inception, it doesn't have any style to fall back on, as it lacks Philip K Dick's characteristic bleakness that we've seen in films such as Blade Runner or A Scanner Darkly.

The hat is a pivotal plot device. Seriously.

But at the end of the day, the main problem with the film is that it just seems a little frivolous. The 'fate tracker books' and 'teleporter hats' are just a few things that make the a fairly thin concept feel so stretched and, well, silly.

Entertaining, maybe. Significant Sci-Fi movie, definitely not.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Joe Cornish Attacks my Block

I've liked Adam and Joe for a LONG time. I was laughing at their Trainspotting and Se7en cuddly toy skits before I'd even seen Trainspotting and Se7en. And with their recent comeback on radio via 6Music, it looks like they've even surpassed their previous 90s fame. I was then delighted (and slightly) surprised to hear Joe Cornish (yes, they have surnames) was to be writing and directing his own Comedy/Sci-Fi movie, involving some of the best minds in British comedy. But after witnessing the long awaited trailer for Attack the Block, why do I feel this idea could be a little misconceived? Watch the trailer below, then lets discuss...

What concerns me:
  • Having youths as the leads. It seems that actors like Nick Frost and Jodie Whittaker aren't actually the stars, but supporting a group of younger actors. This obviously works for a show like Misfits, but not every production is so lucky with its casting.
  • The Language. Now, I'm not gonna question Joe Cornish's knowledge of 'da street', but this film could be in real danger of becomming an utter cringe-fest if it doesn't feel authentic.
  • The Aliens. Erm...
  • Joe Cornish's experience. Despite being his first motion picture, Cornish has gone for a very ambitious concept and genre-melding (comedy/sci-fi/horror/teen). Could be messy.
But then again it does have Nick Frost. And lets not forget, Cornish is a frickin' genius: