Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

Non-Stop

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

non-stop-one-sheetAn air marshal is on a transatlantic flight when he receives various text messages that threaten the safety of the plane’s passengers. Unless the airline can transfer $150 million into a bank account, no one on-board is safe.

Say hello to another film where Liam Neeson becomes the heroic figure, which we came to love in Taken and Taken 2. If you’re fan of those two films, you should consider watching Non-Stop, with action-packed scenes and a plot that just keeps on giving.

For some, the idea of having the majority of a film shot on an aeroplane may seem dull, but Non-Stop may turn that opinion around. The film has plenty of twists and turns, with you wondering ‘who’s next?’; something you would most likely find in a murder mystery plot. The storyline isn’t difficult to grasp, so you’re able to focus on the action unfolding as the film progresses.

Liam Neeson has basically carried on his persona from Taken but instead of being a devoted Dad and retired CIA agent, he is an air marshal called Bill Marks. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, because this is a role he is suited well to, which is why he was most likely picked to play the part of Bill. If it’s not broke then why fix it we say.

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Avengers Assemble

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Avenger's AssembleBack in 2008, the release of Iron Man garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.  This opened the door for Marvel to move forward with bringing its epic universe to the big screen.

The grand plan of having Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk springboard from their own movies into a single all-out action fest, with scope to continue their own stories afterwards, has come to fruition, with the big green guy’s recasting proving the only real continuity blip.

Downey Jr.’s wise-cracking, arrogant but hugely likeable Tony Stark has made for a great Iron Man, even if the second movie was a little weak. Chris Hemsworth has also proved a genius piece of casting for Thor, blending brash with stoic to give viewers a hugely watchable embodiment of the mythological god, and the film was a fast, fun affair.

Chris Evans as Captain America is certainly better than the film itself, as the second half struggles to deliver on a promising start. Evans does a great job of merging the all-American action hero with a man driven purely by his morals, so he looked a smart choice for the role.  It was just a shame that the film came loose.

Edward Norton was entrusted with the role of Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk was itself a reboot after the dullard, lifeless effort Hulk from Ang Lee, and whilst Norton’s movie was a stark improvement, Marvel obviously felt he didn’t fit going forward, and recast him with Mark Ruffalo. Rumours suggest it was actually about money, but surely, in Hollywood, the land of charity and low wages, this cannot be true.

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The Hunger Games – Killing time

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

One of the biggest movies of the year has been yet another adaptation, with Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games getting the blockbuster treatment.

In a post-apocalyptic North America, one boy and girl from each of the outer regions of a rich city are drawn to fight each other until only one remains, in a gladiator-style arena bloodbath ruckus. Once drawn from this annual lottery of death, the children and teenagers take part in glitzy ceremonies, presentations and training as a prelude to the ultimate death match, which is watched with glee by the rich city-dwellers.

Bow and arrow enthusiast Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her mother and sister in region 12, and when her sister is drawn to take part in the Hunger Games she volunteers to take her place. She not only has to leave her family, but also her best friend Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth, Thor’s younger brother).

The plus point is that she’s actually pretty good at hunting things with legs.

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DVD Rental – Top 10 Favourite Films

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Favourite FilmsWith some highly anticipated, potential mega-hits coming out this summer, including Alien semi-prequel Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, along with the recently released Avengers Assemble, we thought we would find the Top 10 Favourite Films of All Time, as voted by our readers.

We expected some people would dodge the obvious and somewhat clichéd classics, like Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia and, of course, Piranha 3D. We didn’t expect such a great mix of movies, with horror, comedy, action and romance all getting a look-in.

Yes, the big winner is perhaps expected, but there are some surprises in there, and we think it shows the continued diversity of both modern cinema and the UK’s own film fanatics.

So without further rambling, here is the list, counting down from 10.

10. Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s revolutionary sci-fi smash-hit, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, saw Harrison Ford’s Deckard chase down replicants in a dystopian future. Rutger Hauer gave Han Solo a sound hiding, and Sean Young was great as reluctant replicant Rachael.

9. Alien

Ridley again, and with his success rate for sci-fi it seems guaranteed that upcoming Alien prequel-of-sorts Prometheus should be a classic. This 1979 game-changer is often credited with revolutionising the heroine character, as well as introducing the surprise-shock ending which has become a stalwart in horror. And who could forget that famous chest-burster scene? Grim.

8. The Goonies

The Goonies, helmed by Superman and Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner, featured a young Samwise Gamgee (also known as Sean Astin) and friends trying to find the lost fortune of One-Eyed Willie. You wouldn’t need three guesses to work out that Spielberg is heavily involved behind the scenes in this charming family adventure.

7. The Notebook

This surprise entry doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings, as yank at them incessantly whilst showing you pictures of kittens. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams do the unrequited, forbidden love thing, then mum gets angry, then the two separate for years only to stumble upon each other, both faced with a great decision to make. But who is telling the story?

6. Crash (2004)

Not to be mistaken with Cronenberg’s mid-nineties gag reflex test of the same name, Crash is an inventive, compelling and beautifully crafted examination of racial prejudices, told through several intertwining stories set in Los Angeles. It really is a modern classic; funny, gripping, engaging, unpredictable and original, Paul Haggis’ movies is simply a must-see, with stellar performances from the likes of Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe and Thandie Newton.

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Game of Thrones – A Song of Ice and Fire

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

gameofthronesposterBack in 2007, HBO made the potentially risky decision to fund a TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s insanely epic set of novels A Song of Ice and Fire. Named after the first book, Game of Thrones is a fantasy-action-drama packed full of twist, turns, chills, thrills and an array of fascinating characters.

The tricky aspect is that, in order to do it justice, you would need to launch millions of dollars into each episode, get an absolutely stellar cast from kids to kings, film in genuine settings, structure the story faithfully and brace the audience for something which doesn’t exactly pander to the usual TV conventions. Luckily HBO has embraced the challenge, and now this studio has the best thing on TV either side of the Atlantic.

Prepare for dragons, incest, violence, gore, prostitutes, swords, sorcery, zombies, wolves and a dizzying amount of sneaky deception within the dynastic struggle which serves as the show’s foundation. There is also a eunuch and a dwarf, who are both utterly compelling, genius characters.

King Robert Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne, ruling the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. He is married to Cersei Lannister, uniting his royal family with riches. Their marriage is loveless, and as he drinks and eats his way to an early grave, she conducts a grim affair with her brother Jaime. Her other brother, Tyrion, is a dwarf, but neutralises any potential ridicule through his sparkling wit and intelligence.

King Robert’s closest friend is Ned Stark, and when the King’s Hand dies suspiciously, the King calls on his friend to serve in the role. This pretty much means Ned will run business whilst Robert gets drunk, sleeps with prostitutes and eats as much food as possible.

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The Thing – Snow need to panic

Friday, March 30th, 2012

the_thing_wallpaperThe Thing is a prequel set before The Thing, which was originally a remake of The Thing From Another World, based on a novella which wasn’t called The Thing.

The original novella Who Goes There? told the story of a vicious shape-shifting alien, which had previously crash landed in Antarctica and frozen in the ice. Discovered by researchers, and subsequently thawed, the creature goes around generally causing chaos, violently murdering the protagonists, ingesting their corpses and imitating them individually, thereby creating a sort of whodunit horror.

In 1951, it was given a typically American movie reinvention, replacing Antarctic researchers with the U.S. Air Force. The Thing From Another World was a hit, but the adaptation was rather loose, and in 1982 John Carpenter stepped in and gave us a an intense horror masterpiece which was far more loyal to its source.

The Thing 1982 took the whodunit horror concept and joyfully played with it for an hour and a half. Kurt Russell was brilliant in the lead role of MacReady, and the creature effects were as elaborate as they were shocking. It was horrific, but heart-pounding fun and a riveting watch, as each character tried to work out who had been infected with The Thing, before meeting a brutal demise. Upon being rumbled, those infected would freak out and split into some kind of deformed mess of filth. Grim.

Now there is a prequel; first and foremost, just calling it The Thing, like its predecessor, was a stupid idea. Moving on, there are two ways of looking at The Thing 2011; either it is a loving and loyal tribute to, and story expansion of, John Carpenter’s 1982 effort of the same name, or it is a horrible cash-in. Although if you want to cash in on a movie, best not to wait 30 years. This has been evidenced by the meagre box office takings.

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Drive – Bleed for Speed

Monday, March 12th, 2012

drive-poster1Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn was responsible for the offbeat, often surreal and grimy madness that was Bronson, starring an unrecognisable Tom Hardy as the eponymous hard case with a penchant for the savagery of solitary. The film gained well deserved widespread acclaim, and was regularly touted as a modern Clockwork Orange due to its inventive style, harsh violence and über-dry humour.

His follow-up was the abysmal Valhalla Rising; a slog of a mess of a movie, barely glued together by its only positive which was the cinematography. A few guys wander slowly through some scenery, stopping for the occasional grunt or bout of violence. It’s horrible, dull and pointless.

So, not sure what to expect next then, but his adaptation of 2005 James Sallis novel Drive has already developed cult status, earned numerous plaudits and nabbed the Best Director gong at Cannes.

Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver and mechanic who earns extra cash by offering his services as a freelance getaway driver. He has strict rules; his clients have a five minute window beginning from the moment they leave his car for the heist, and during that time he accepts total involvement and shared responsibility, but anything outside of that time frame simply isn’t his problem. He will not carry a gun, and he will not be involved with any clients for a second time.

From the viewer’s perspective, he is known only as The Driver, and comes across as a shy but focused recluse with very little interest in socialising. His world takes a peculiar twist when he meets new neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son Benicio. They quickly bond, whilst The Driver is also offered the opportunity to race pro, courtesy of local financier Bernie Rose.

As Drive coasts along with glorious fluidity, punctuated by a pounding, wonderfully intense 80s-style synth soundtrack, we all know that things must take a turn. Once we realise that Bernie and his partner Nino are more than a little dangerous, just as Irene’s husband makes a reappearance, the film kicks into top gear and we get an action-packed thrill ride all the way to the end.

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Thor – It’s Hammer Time…

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

thor-posterKenneth Branagh – director of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s Lost and… er… Thor.

It is perhaps unfair to pigeonhole Mr. Branagh, and he has plenty of movie titles to his name, but his work in performing and directing Shakespeare has dominated his career, so his selection for a Marvel Comics adaptation that has been a long time coming certainly baffled many. But then they gave the Hulk job to Ang Lee, a man known for directing Sense and Sensibility and The Wedding Banquet, and that worked out great.

No wait, that’s not right. Oh dear.

Moving on, Thor is one of the classic comic characters, but has been denied even a single big screen treatment before this effort, whilst Batman is awaiting his seventh Hollywood outing, Superman gets his sixth in 2013 and Spider-Man is chasing the pack with number four.

In all fairness, the man uses a big hammer as his weapon of choice, and it just isn’t as obviously cool as an array of Bat Gadgets, bullet- beating speed or the ability to sling spider-webbing from your wrists. Still, Thor is actually based on the Norse mythological God of the same name, and once you bring deities in, you can have plenty of fun with a big budget.

Branagh’s movie adaptation of Thor sees the eponymous character (played by Chis Hemsworth) banished from the Godly realm of Asgard by his all-conquering uber-powerful father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). He is slapped with this punishment when his rash actions bring about the threat of war with the neighbouring Frost Giants of Jotunheim. He was all set to be handed the title of King, but felt the urge to start a ruckus due to an overabundance of machismo.

His scheming brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) takes the opportunity to bring about his own plans for ruling the kingdom, once Odin suffers some kind of random collapse. Meanwhile, a disgruntled Thor finds himself landing on Earth with the commoners, much to his displeasure, but his father Odin was kind enough to send his big beast of a hammer, called Mjolnir for some reason, along with him. In a little bit of Sword in the Stone-type drama, Thor will only be able to wield this weapon and its power once he is worthy.

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Skyrim – Rock and Scroll

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

skyrim

Bethesda’s latest instalment in the Elder Scrolls saga has arrived, and Skyrim sets this new story around 200 years after the events of predecessor Oblivion. You play one of the Dragonborn; a rare occurrence of a human with the soul of a dragon, that only appears whenever the world is in danger.

So begins your adventure of dragon-slaying, dungeon-crawling, bandit-beating fun that will take you across a map of epic proportions. From the frozen peaks of the mountains, to the luscious greenery that adorns the forests, every corner of the world that is Skyrim feels unique, boasting breathtaking detail and a mind-bending array of intricate touches.
The hundreds, if not thousands, of dungeons, ruins and tombs that fill the world of Skyrim create a grand and immersive setting. Once you’ve completed one dungeon, there always seems to be another to conquer, and each has its own original aesthetic. The gameplay also involves a new, convenient mechanism which means that you will always be sent to places you haven’t already visited, so you will always be encountering new locations and dungeons.

Clearly, dungeons are only one aspect of this truly open-world experience. Within this world you are able to create your own weapons and armour, and adorn your bodily defence with special enchantments to improve your abilities. You can mix potions to strengthen you and your skills or weaken your enemies, as well as hunt animals for the skins and meat to create food with healing properties and even join a number of guilds to perform special tasks. The game’s progression, and that of your character, appears infinite.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

pirates-of-the-carribean-4-poster1Anyone who claims to be able to resist Captain Jack’s inimitable mix of swagger, swordsmanship, salamander and anti-sobriety must be off their Jolly Roger. It is a testament to the character and the actor that Jack ‘Sparrah’ can almost single-handedly pull this franchise through some serious scriptwriting issues and the excruciating presence of Orlando Bloom’s William Turner.

It is hard to believe that Johnny Depp nearly walked because the execs at Disney thought he had gone mad when they saw early footage of his daft pirate. The series would have experienced a short drop and a sudden stop had Sparrow been sacrificed, or played straight by a less creative and more submissive actor.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a refreshing surprise blockbuster, whilst follow-up Dead Man’s Chest had some great moments but got a bit tangled in its own fishing net. The second part of that story, and third entry in the series, At World’s End, also had some nice set-pieces but the story was contrived and needlessly complex thanks to the writers’ attempts to have everybody double-cross each other to the point of storytelling redundancy. All the way through, Jack Sparrow was great, thankfully.

A wise move, then, to give Jack a new stand-alone story without the irksome William Turner or his posh tomboy squeeze Katherine Swann. The general plan of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was to reduce the needless complexity, keep up the laughs and action and give Sparrow plenty of screen time. Too much of a good thing could be bad, but never with Jack… sorry, Captain Jack.

Loosely (very loosely) based on a novel called On Stranger Tides, this film sees Jack in search of the Fountain of Youth, with the Spanish and King George II also keen on the prize that would see skincare products wiped off the face of the Earth. King George II sends his surprise employee Captain Hector Barbossa, once again played by the wonderful Geoffrey Rush, on an expedition to beat the Spanish to the Fountain. In general, everyone wants to get to the Fountain, but there is a little more to this legendary elixir of life than meets the eye-patch.

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