Rush: 9/10

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As a huge Formula One fan, who also takes great joy from watching films, you might think that Ron Howard has gone and made my perfect film with an adaptation of an epic formula one story on and off the circuit …… well you would be right. Rush is an adrenaline fueled emotional Roller coaster, that takes you on a journey of 1976’s formula one season, and the intense rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. The portrayal of our two protagonists is performed by Chris Hemsworth (Hunt) and Daniel Bruhl (Lauda), and both do a fantastic job of presenting their characters qualities,  good and bad. Hunt is a young, attractive, charming and talented racing driver, whose every move is contrasted by the equally talented, hard working, dedicated but sadly void of happiness, Niki Lauda. These two opposites start their rivalry in a Formula 3 race at Brands Hatch, where they get a little too close for comfort, and the intense wheel to wheel action doesn’t stop from there on. The remodeled cars are a work of art, and the team that re-enacted some of the most iconic race sequences, from the season’s most paramount races, deserve huge credit as well. But, it’s not just the on track action that makes this film appeal. Off circuit love scandals, bending the rules, team mate squabbles, fighting between journalists and drivers and, to top it all off, some very powerful and moving clips of an injured Nikki Lauda defying all the odds (and his doctors) to return to racing after a horrific accident that should have kept him out of the sport for a considerably longer period than it did make this a must see movie. Rush tugs at the heart strings as well as awakening the racing fan in all of us. I believe the thing this film does best is the way it perfectly finds the line between realism and drama. There is enough here to satisfy the most critical film fans and the most dedicated Motorsport lovers. A few days ago I reviewed another formula one film ,that I love, called “Senna”, and although both are brilliant they cannot really be compared apart from in one key area. Ron Howard presents Lauda and Hunt as they were, rather than how some fans may want to remember them. Like Ayrton Senna, our 2 protagonists have their issues; be it a unrelenting sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle (James Hunt) or, an inability to connect with anyone around him (Niki Lauda). The realism and “tell it how it is” attitude of story telling used by both Howard and Kapadia in both of these movies makes you understand and respect the sport, and its drivers, more than ever. I loved them both!

Rush- Final Score: 9/10

A must see for all formula one and film fans, as Howard wonderfully does the 1976 season justice. Certainly a new personal favorite.

(Image from http://carwitter.com/2013/09/05/rush-film-review/)

Senna: 9/10

File:Senna.jpgWith the release of “Rush” just one  week away, bringing immense anticipation for the story of Lauda v.s Hunt  on the big screen,it seems appropriate to set the mood and review what is in my opinion the best formula one film of all time. “Senna” is a feature legnth documentary following the career of inspirational racing driver Ayrton Senna, through the risk, devastation and, most importantly, achievements of a hero, not just for formula one fans, but for anyone who wants to break through social barriers and achieve more than anyone else thought was possible. Directed by Asif Kapadia, Senna supplies entertainment for everyone from die hard petrol heads, to every day film fans. This movie takes place in a period in formula one history that was dangerous, Properly dangerous, and at times this is shown graphically, which really makes a huge impact on the audience. It’s not often that I talk about just one shot when reviewing films, but if you have already seen this documentary you will understand. The death of Martin Donnelly during the 1990 Spanish GP is shown with one shot of  his body, departed from his flipped car,  in what can be described as a very unnatural position. This particular shot may be difficult to stomach, but certainly makes you respect the do or die drivers in the days before million dollar photo shoots and formula one drivers sanitization. To add to this, even though chances are you already know what is tragically going to happen to Ayrton, nothing can prepare even the most thick skinned audience member for the impact of the San Marino GP at Imola in 1994. This film not only shows the impact of Ayrton Senna’s death on the formula one grid, but also on the nation, and world, he inspired. Even the most devoted Alain Prost fan would find it a huge challenge not to leave the film feeling anything other than respect and admiration for the Brazilian icon. Kapadia unquestionably deserves further credit for portraying Ayrton as he was, rather than how many people want to remember him. Sad as it is, Senna was not perfect ; His recklessness and will to win is shown accurately and works well, alongside his obvious talent and desire to help his country overcome poverty, with the creation of a strong charity which still exists today. Ayrton remains, to this day, one of sport’s greatest ever icons and I think the realism of this documentary only makes me respect him more. “Senna” is a masterpiece plain and simple. Ayrton faced many challenges and difficulties throughout his short Formula One career (In which he won 3 World Championship titles) and nothing makes you understand, and admire him more than this film.

Senna- Final Score: 9/10

If you are not a Formula One fan, then I would still say there is a lot on offer here if you want inspiration to aim high and achieve your dreams. If you are a Formula One fan, and you have not yet seen this film, then make it top of your priorities, because you won’t regret it.

(Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senna_(film))

Phonebooth: 8/10

Phone Booth movie.jpgTrying to think of an interesting film to review is difficult when it’s been so long since my last cinema outing (3 weeks). I decided to go with an old favorite of mine called Phonebooth. This 2003 psychological thriller stars Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Katie Holmes, Radha Mitchell and Forest Whitaker, and is one film that has stuck with me from the first time I saw it, as a 11 year old. Even the more sceptical film fans would be forced to concede that shooting an entire feature length film in just one location and maintaining a huge amount of suspense in the process, earns this film and its director (Joel Schumacher) a huge amount of credit. Colin Farrel plays “Stu”, an attractive middle aged publicist whose every manipulative move has been observed by a dangerous sniper (played by Kiefer Sutherland).  The sniper takes justice into his own hands by making Stu confess his secrets to those he loves, or else lose all he holds dear. Farrell’s acting is superb throughout the film and Kiefer Sutherland’s voice acting is wonderfully chilling . For me though, what makes this film a personal classic, is the psychological edge and suspense that this film delivers in spades. Everyone has their secrets that they would rather not share with the world, and the portrayal of someone getting forced to confess every little lie , to leave nothing but “Flesh, Blood and Weakness” is a psychologically frightening idea which this film executes perfectly. Another thing this film does so well, is illustrate the fact that we may tell lies sometimes , to raise status and wealth, but by doing so we can lose track of who we are, and of how lucky we are to have as much as we do. I could not recommend Phonebooth enough, yes it’s a bit unrealistic at times, but in terms of psychological thrillers that make you think about what really matters, I haven’t come across anything better.

PhoneBooth- Final Score: 8/10

Suspense, excitement, great acting and even a nice little twist at the end. For all of its unrealistic moments I would say this film is a personal favorite.

(Image from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_Booth_(film))  

Kick Ass 2: 7/10

Kick Ass 2 has received some mixed reviews since its release last month, and this is most likely down to the high expectation that the success of the first film brought to the table. It was Original and funny and as a result the sequel really did have a lot to live up too, and like most other fans I have admit that it falls a bit short. The narrative isn’t as unique and admittedly you don’t get the same impact from the characters, because you already know them so well from Kick Ass 2’s predecessor, however that doesn’t mean that it’s not brilliant. Kick Ass 2 still packs a punch, with non stop laughs, breathtaking action and characters you still really care about. Hit Girl (played by Chloe Moretz) is back and she’s nearly as awesome as ever, all be it with more cheesy one liners, and less “kick ass” fight scenes. Aaron Johnson expertly portrays Kick Ass (just as he did in the first film) as his character is faced with the difficulties of a tough love life and a burning desire to be part of a super hero league, whilst also trying to keep those closest to him safe. Jim Carrey is another big name that was added to the bill for this sequel; potentially dangerous as he is such a love him or hate him kind of guy. Luckily though, Carrey does a good job as Colonel Stars and Stripes, he is funny and makes the character his own. The show is stolen however by Christopher Mintz-Plasse who perfectly executes his role as Chris D’Amico, later to be known as super villan, “The MotherF**ker”, whos comedic failures completely make the film! To add to this, his issues are more than fixed for him by his own league of fierce super villains, which keeps his character threatening as well as hilarious. The film as a whole, is ideal for a laugh with your friends, and offers huge entertainment, even if it does fail to live up to a lot of ambitious expectations in terms of story and originality. Then again, I think it’s fair to say its impossible to make a squeal as original as an original, so maybe it would be ok to cut the film a little slack in that department.

Kick Ass 2- Final Score: 7/10

Although at times Kick Ass 2 lacks the spark that made the original such a hit, overall this is a great film, that most fans will love, as it gives more of the same action packed comedy we have come to expect from this franchise.

(Image from:http://www.geekofoz.com/2013/08/kick-ass-2-review.html)

Film Rant: Too Many Sequels

One of the things that has always annoyed me about the film industry is sequels; or at least unnecessary and forced sequels. The kind that are shoved into the cinemas to make money even if they don’t really belong. They exist only to make more money and to milk a franchise dry until there is nothing left. For a classic example look at some of the popular books that are stretched into one too many feature length films, in order to cash in that little bit more on die hard fans. For me “The Hobbit” is a good example to use for this point. Even 2 films would be pushing it, but for Peter Jackson to have the balls to make a relatively small Childrens book into 3 feature length movies really does take it too far. In fairness though it’s not just “The Hobbit”. “Harry Potter” and  “Twilight” are both examples of popular book series that I think should have one less film attached to their IMDb profiles. The Deathly Hallows most certainly did not need two films; the Goblet of Fire possibly did but the Deathly Hallows…. No, not for me anyway, and Breaking dawn; well the fact that twilight was ever put on the big screen was a travesty, but making two dragged out movies for the final book in the series filled with montages of the previous films just to fill in a running time is a classic case of an unnecessary money grabbing sequel. But then again with a combined profit of over $2 billion between them I don’t think the executives will find it too hard to sleep at night even if the franchises they are trying to portray are not done justice. It could be argued though that all of this harshness towards these films is unjustified; I mean the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is loved by most fans and (although it’s not saying much) Breaking Dawn Part 2 has the highest rating on “Rotten Tomatoes” out of all of the Twilight films. As far as I am concerned the worst culprit for this greed is most certainly the “Saw” franchise. I’m well aware that these horror films are not everyone’s cup of tea and some people will actively avoid them, and if you are one of those people then I ask you to just believe me when I say that the first 3 are brilliant. Strong story lines and dilemmas that really make you think, they are far from pointless blood and gore. The 4 cash ins that followed however, were the complete opposite! As the directors changed and the narrative got itself into more and more knots, any credibility the original 3 films had built up, proceeded to bleed out slowly and painfully, with the final blow being struck through a 3D final chapter that removed any remaining realism or structured narrative for ludicrously complicated traps, fire and pink blood.

Unfortunately though, the fact of the matter is that, as long as unnecessary sequels keep rolling in the cash, they will never stop rolling onto our big screens. 😦

(Image from:http://www.generation-nt.com/zoom-489611,913751-test-saw.html)

The Worlds End: 5/10

The World's End poster.jpgRecently me and my friends attended a screening of the entire “Cornetto Trilogy”, which for those of you who don’t know, consists of the superb “Shaun Of the Dead”, the equally brilliant “Hot Fuzz” and the newest addition “The Worlds End”. I don’t know if the fact I watched the first two before hand made the bar The Worlds End had to aim for just too high, or if my brain had fatigued too much from 5 hours in a cinema when it finally started (at midnight). But in my opinion, this highly anticipated conclusion to Edgar Wrights trilogy failed to match my expectations. It wasn’t awful, but for me I found it really difficult to relate to, or like, the protagonist  Gary King (played by Simon Pegg). There is no getting round it, Gary is a knob. He gets his friends into bother, he lied about his mothers death to start a pub crawl and refused to accept responsibility for anything. This instantly makes me want him to fail. Harsh…..maybe, but in both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz the characters played by Simon Pegg have had their issues; be it a lack of motivation to improve his life, or being too uptight about his job and being unable to switch off, in both films however the protagonist develops into a reformed character and you are glad for it. The Worlds End however, concludes with a drunken speech from a Gary King that is still full of the same crap that he’s been spitting out through the whole film. Almost no character progression at all leaves a sense of “whats the point” about the whole thing. That said the brilliant cast, and always perfect pairing of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost,  make this film enjoyable and funny at times, but whilst we are on the subject; Andy Knightly (played by Nick Frost) was again a bizarre change from the his normal and popular characters. In both of the first two films Nick plays a simple but lovable character. In The Worlds End however he plays a fairly successful business man who is intelligent and seems to have a pretty good grasp of everything around him. In my opinion this made him less enjoyable and, without wishing to spoil key parts of the film, at one point Andy’s entire attitude towards drinking (which he has maintained for some years) changes without seemingly any reason. I think however it is fair to say that what let this film down the most was the Narrative. All 3 of the Cornetto Trilogy films are ridiculous (as are a lot of good comedies) but there is something about this one that made me keep repeating the phrase “oh forget the fuc*@ng pub crawl and just run!”. But never mind. I think on reflection, had I not been really tired, and had I not seen the better two parts of this trilogy in the hours leading up to The Worlds End, I may have enjoyed it more. However, less relatable or likable characters and a far weaker story would stop me rating the film up there with its older brothers. A good cast and some laughs along the way however, mean I would say it’s a decent all round comedy, that is just about above average.

The Worlds End- Final Score: 5/10,

Decent, but simply does not come anywhere near the other two films in the Cornetto trilogy!

(Image from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World%27s_End_(film))

The Conjuring: 4/10

ImageSo, I have decided to start my blogging career with a review of the last film I had the misfortune of spending my own money to see. That was The Conjuring, and let me firstly say that it’s not the concept or even the narrative that I have a problem with here; it’s the increasingly popular belief that shouting BOO! at the screen is what makes a good horror film. To me a good horror film should unhinge your mind and leave you feeling like the world you live in could all turn at any moment. For instance in Steven Kings classic “IT” the fear generated didn’t come from jump scares or extreme close ups or low rumbles building up to slammed doors and loud screams, it came from the idea that sometimes the thing to fear is our own imagination and the places it can take us. This concept is lasting. It can stick with you, just as it has with me since I understood it for the first time. The jump scares that The Conjuring repeatedly throws up however, may give a certain atmosphere in the cinema, and they might make you move suddenly in your seat, but shortly after leaving you are likely to forget about the narrative or the characters, and  instead remember only the moment the guy next to you Sh*t himself at the jump scares. funny yes, but not scary, and not lasting. To the films credit though, it does at least attempt to keep the audience engaged, with a family story that tugs at the hearts strings, as you just about care enough to hope they don’t get possessed or something like that. Over the entire film though, it isn’t enough to make up for the cheap jump scares that everyone has already seen a million times. If you are looking for an original concept that will keep you scared when you think about it months later, then you are better off looking elsewhere. If however, you want to laugh at the more nervously disposed in your friendship group, then yes, by all means go and have a laugh. But, when you pick up the DVD with a £5 sticker on it in HMV in 5 months time (which trust me, you will) I would strongly advice you purchase The Woman In Black instead. as at least then you get the same cheap jump scares, with the added pleasure of being able to make Harry Potter jokes.

The Conjuring- Final Score: 4/10,

Generic horror with decent acting, but you’re almost certainly going to forget about it by next week.

(Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Conjuring)