Friday, 25 January 2013

Star Wars VII: My Thoughts

I am a huge Star Wars fan. I grew up with Star Wars, not around the time it was released, but because I have an awesome brother. I witnessed the disappointment of the cinemas when I saw the prequels, I agree with Simon Pegg's rant from Spaced...bloody Jar Jar!

When Star Wars VII was announced, though, I was very excited. A new Star Wars trilogy that has nothing to do with George Lucas and is headed by Disney? Yes please. Now, of course, I was wary. I was excited by the prequels and look what happened there, but I did have quiet optimism that it's going to be pretty good.

Then Michael Arndt was confirmed and I was happy. I mean, he's not well known, which I think can be a good thing and he's clearly a good writer. He's got an Oscar and he wrote probably the cleverest end to a trilogy in Toy Story 3, yet I had never heard of him. This is a good thing, it means he cares about his work, not his ego. This is exactly what Star Wars needs.

Now, apparently JJ Abrams is going to direct it. Very good move. I'm a massive fan of his rebooted Star Trek. I think it did wonders for that universe. It also proves that he can deal with the pressure of making a massive, big budget summer blockbuster. He has Mission Impossible III on his CV too. Let's look at his other positives: He's good with special effects, he knows key guys in the industry, he can handle the pressure of fanboys on his back and he's an excellent director. Super 8 proves this even further. The train crash in Super 8 was amazing. It looked great, but it wasn't all about the special effects. It had a human side to it. And this, is exactly what makes Star Wars (the originals), Star Wars. Also he knows Simon Pegg, so hopefully he'll get a cameo or something in it. Bless his little heart! 

Now we have got the news that they're planning to extend the Star Wars spectrum and are now making spin offs on famous characters from the universe. Names that have come up so far are young Han Solo, Boba Fett and Yoda. If you would have offered this in the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace I'm sure most Star Wars fans would have bitten your arms off, so what's changed? Absolutely nothing in my eyes. If the writing is good, I can't see why these are not a good idea. Of course it's milking it a bit, but I think they'll add something good to the universe - if they're decent that is. Also, Karl Urban for young Han Solo? 

I'm now very excited for this film. It's going to be hard, but it's going in the right direction. Hopefully, they can get a good story in place and we'll have the Star Wars we all know and love back on our screens. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Young Doctor's Notebook Review

Sky Art's 'Playhouse Presents' has somewhat passed me by. I've missed many of the shows that were on at the time and have just never bothered to watch them on catch up. A Young Doctor's Notebook, however, I remembered to put on record. Mainly because of my love of Daniel Radcliffe because I didn't really know what to expect.

The mini-series is split into four thirty minute episodes. This afternoon I decided to stick on the first episode...A couple of hours later and I had finished the entire thing. That's how good it is. 

For many that don't know what it is, here's a quick synopsis: A newly graduated doctor gets drafted out to a hospital in the middle of nowhere. Told you it was a quick synopsis! Now I know it doesn't sound like much, but what entails is much, much more than that. It's a story of isolation, addiction, but ultimately it's very funny. I warn you now though, it's very dark humour. It's awkward, it's disgusting, but it's bloody hilarious! 

Daniel Radcliffe plays the brilliant, rookie younger doctor while Jon Hamm plays the older version of him. Most importantly, these two have very good chemistry and bounce off of each other. The other doctors add to the comedy too, it really is very funny. 

This isn't just comedy though. In fact, in parts it's horrible, it's sad and it's gross, but that's what makes it brilliant. It had depth to it, it's not mindless, everything has a reason. It just feels complete. 

I would wholeheartedly reccomend this, just make sure you have your eyes covered for the operations if you're squeamish! 


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

5 Reasons Why I love (500) Days of Summer

I love (500) Days of Summer, it's a fantastic film and no, not just because Zooey Deschanel is in it... Here's 5 reasons why I love it! 

1) It's not predictable
I like films that mix things up. I like it when you can't guess what's going to happen. I'm typically British, I like it when a film has a sad ending. Romantic comedies are perhaps the most predictable films around. I mean, come on, what else is going to happen? 

2) The Soundtrack 
I'm just going to take the time to write down every song that appears in this film (and I hugely recommend that you buy this soundtrack) 

  1. "A Story of Boy Meets Girl" – Mychael Danna and Rob Simonsen
  2. "Us" – Regina Spektor
  3. "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" – The Smiths
  4. "Bad Kids" – Black Lips
  5. "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" – The Smiths
  6. "There Goes the Fear" – Doves
  7. "You Make My Dreams" – Hall & Oates
  8. "Sweet Disposition" – The Temper Trap
  9. "Quelqu'un m'a dit" – Carla Bruni
  10. "Mushaboom" – Feist
  11. "Hero" – Regina Spektor
  12. "Bookends" – Simon & Garfunkel
  13. "Vagabond" – Wolfmother
  14. "She's Got You High" – Mumm-Ra
  15. "Here Comes Your Man" – Meaghan Smith
  16. "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" – She & Him 
I'm sure that the person who compiled this soundtrack took it from my Itunes. Seriously, I have every single one of these songs. 

3) It's hilarious 
To prove my point, this is one of the first things you will see when watching this movie: "The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. Bitch." That gives you a feel for the movie right there. It's genuinely the funniest romantic comedy I have ever seen. It put the comedy into romantic comedy. (Yes I really just said that). 

4) Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel 
These two have outstanding chemistry on screen and more importantly, they're both talented actors. So many times romantic comedies have very average actors that just aren't believable. That's not the case here. Also, they're both incredibly good looking. 

5) It's Relatable 
Whether you're a teenager or middle-aged this film will relate to you in some way, I promise. I'm sure everyone has liked or even loved someone that hasn't liked them back. For that reason, this film hits a chord with you more than it would have.

The Following Pilot Episode

It seems that everything that comes onto Sky Atlantic has me interested straight away and it was no different with The Following. The premise is fantastic and a very clever idea even if it is just a 'cop show with a gimmick'. 

This show is very fast paced - a lot faster than I thought it was going to be, but that's not necessarily a problem. It had twists and turns and it's really quite thrilling. One of the writers was one of the guys behind Scream and you can tell because this is really clever in parts and genuinely quite jumpy. 

Kevin Bacon plays his part well, even if he does really annoy me, but that's probably a personal thing  (probably to do with those bloody EE adverts and the fact every time I look at him I see Roger the alien from American Dad wearing that Kevin Bacon nose, but I digress). However, it's James Purefoy who steals the show as the psychotic and intelligent serial killer, Joe Carroll. For me, he makes this show and he's the reason I'm going to tune in to the next episode. 

The Following Pilot was good, it's not brilliant, but it's interesting and I think the series could be very good, indeed. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Top 5 Films of 2012

5) The Hunger Games
We all know that film studios look to books now to make cheap money a la Harry Potter and Twilight, but few studios put the time and money in to actually make very good films (Harry Potter aside). With The Hunger Games though, Lionsgate chose to make a very good film. They got great actors and a fantastic writer/director in Gary Ross. I was actually surprised at how sadistic this film was, it was a breath of fresh air to watch and to get involved in another universe is a fantastic feeling.

4) Skyfall
Ah, James Bond. Who doesn't love James Bond? But let's be honest, Quantum of Solace kind of sucked. James Bond felt old, but not anymore. For 50 years of Bond, Sam Mendes made a terrific homage to everything Bond, while making one of the best Bond films in it's own right. It had everything, good action sequences, fantastic new characters and a good script. I would love it if Mendes stayed on for Bond 24.

3) Looper
When I first saw Looper's trailer, I instantly knew that I wanted to see this film and that it was going to be good. Ironically, the trailer only hinted at half of the film. I don't think anyone could have guessed where the second part of Looper would go, but what a fantastic film! Great acting from the  Joseph Gordon-Levitt - the best that Hollywood has to offer and it's good to see Bruce Willis back to his best. What I loved about Looper was that it's universe was so deep and that it's plot was so rich and complex, but still it was almost impossible to get lost and you could always follow along.

2) The Avengers
It's always important to take risks in Hollywood and Marvel certainly did that when they first set up what we now call 'Phase One'. Thankfully they did take that risk because now we have The Avengers, one of the best superhero films of all time and one of the funniest films I have seen too. Another risk that they took was hiring Joss Whedon as director. Now don't get me wrong, Whedon is a genius and has done fantastic work, but he  had never cracked Hollywood and was a fairly 'cult' director, but that paid off too because it was wonderfully directed.

1) The Dark Knight Rises 
One of the most anticipated films of all time and for all the right reasons. The Dark Knight was outstanding and could not possibly be topped, but god did Nolan give it a go. Now I don't think he did top it, but I think he came fairly close. It was wonderfully written and I really liked Bane as a villain. Most importantly though, it was a great ending to, in my opinion, the best and most consistent trilogy of all time.

Gangster Squad Review

Crime/Mob films are some of the best around. If you ask anyone what their favourite films are I'm sure at least one of The Godfather, Scarface or The Untouchables would be on there. These films were once massive and had huge success, but what more can you do with them? Enter Gangster Squad. Gangster Squad is a hugely enjoyable film because it's different from those sort of films. For one, Gangster Squad has a lovely style to it. It hits the classic 1940's genre with ease and is lovely on the eyes. It's a wonderfully directed piece.
If you're expecting something like 'The Untouchables' you're going to be disappointed. Ruben Fleischer's (Zombieland) comedic roots really helped make this film different. It's certainly a lighthearted film, it doesn't take itself seriously, which is nice to see. It does bring with it a very good gangster film though. It may not have the most unique concept or the most developed characters, but it's certainly enjoyable and entertaining throughout.. 

It really is testament to the director that he got the casting so right. Ryan Gosling - who I consider to be this generations Marlon Brando - has got his cocky, charismatic, ladies man down to a tee and Sean Penn has got his villainous mob boss perfect too with some fantastic hints of comedy that lighten the mood. Josh Brolin - the Captain America of the group - has to assemble a squad to take down Sean Penn. In doing this, he just happens to choose the most stereotypical group of people you could find. The Avengers they are not. 

However, it certainly relies far too much on all out action and mindless set pieces. I would have loved it if it could have been slightly more intelligent about how it went about it's action pieces.  

All in all though, Gangster Squad is bold, brash and exciting. It's not what you're expecting, but it's an enjoyable film with an excellent style and fantastic performances. It's brought crime films into a new era and I would love to see more films of the same ilk.