Blog: Grosse Point Geek – Rapid Fire Reviews Jan 2015

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – Rapid Fire Reviews Jan 2015

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Happy New Year fellow film fans! Welcome to Grosse Pointe Geeks Jan 2015 Rapid Fire Review!

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Exodus: Gods and Kings

Director: Ridley Scott

Actors: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver.

Scott has another stab at the historical epic with this so-so retelling of the story of Moses. On the plus side its beautifully photographed, very well directed and the set designs are amazing. However, its too long, fairly dull in places and there isn’t nearly enough action. Also Weaver and Aaron Paul barely get a look in -making one wonder why they were cast in the first place, not only that but to be honest the whole thing had a distinct whiff of Ridley Scott tapping Gladiator all over again.

At Cinemas now

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The Expendables 3

Director: Patrick Hughes

Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, etc etc.

Recently released on Blu Ray, which includes an extended more violent version than the one released in cinemas. Now i know i did a quick review of it last year, but if I’ve said it once I’ll say it again – for the love of God and Mammon – if you haven’t done it already  -please please watch this film!

Yes its silly, no it isn’t Shakespeare but if you love an action movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, is well made and extremely entertaining – then this is definitely for you.

(On Blu Ray and DVD now  – however i would recommend getting it on Blu Ray)

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The Heat

Director: Paul Fieg

Actors: Sandra Bullock, Mellissa McCarthy

The mismatched cop genre is mined once more in this fairly good action comedy. Bullock is the straight laced FBI agent who reluctantly teams up with McCarthy’s slobbish Boston detective. Skips along at a rare old pace, very profane and actually quite funny in parts – especially McCarthy who gets all the quality one liners.

However we have seen this kind of film many times before in the 1980’s and one hopes that its success wont necessarily inspire Hollywood to go down that route all over again.

Available on DVD/Blu Ray and Netflix

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The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

Director: Peter Jackson

Actors: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Ian McKellan, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom.

The Middle Earth saga comes to a close with this epic final chapter that sees all and sundry close in on the Lonely Mountain to try and claim the gold from Thorin and Dwarves.. Freeman, Evans, Armitage and McKellan give faultless performances once again, plus Jackson effortlessly crafts a film that not only looks fantastic but is incredibly enjoyable as well. I will say this though – as good as it is, it cant touch the Return Of The King and one did get the feeling that a lot of footage was held back for the yet to be released 2015 extended edition DVD.

At Cinemas now

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The Imitation Game

Director: Morten Tyldum

Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Mark Strong, Charle Dance, Matthew Goode.

Based on the true story of Alan Turing – a brilliant mathematician who single handedly built a machine that could decipher the Nazi Enigma Code and as a result turned the tide of World War 2, saving millions of lives in the process. A totally outstanding film, with a mesmerising performance from Cumberbatch that, if there is any justice, will bag him a much deserved Oscar nomination. One of the best films of 2014 – highly recommended.

At cinemas now

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The Pyramid

Director: Gregory Levasseur

Actors: James Buckley, Ashley Hinshaw

Found footage film featuring a team of archaeologists who unearth a lost pyramid then get trapped inside, whilst being pursued by evil supernatural forces and all manner of flesh eating beasties. Descends into CGI madness at the end but to be fair the story is quite interesting, there are some pretty scary bits and its certainly worth a look for anyone who enjoyed last years As Above So Below.

Possibly still at cinemas now

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Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller

Actors: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon levitt, Powers Booth.

Not bad sequel to the 2005 original. Well made, fairly enjoyable with some good performances  – especially Brolin, Levitt, Booth and Green, however the narrative and story aren’t as well structured as the first film and overall it all feels like a case of been there done that with no need to do it again  – which seems to be all Robert Rodriguez does these days anyway.

Available on DVD/Blu ray

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The Wicker Tree

Director: Robin Hardy

Actors: Graham McTavish, Christopher Lee

Adaptation of the novel ‘Cowboys for Christ’ and a sort of sequel/companion piece to Hardy’s original film – The Wicker Man.

Suffice to say that once in a while there comes a film that is so bad that it automatically gets into my top ten worst of all time list………and this is that film. Awful in just about every way you can imagine – cheap looking, amateurish direction, terrible acting, appalling script,  and overall a complete and utter insult to anyone who enjoyed the first film.

Avoid

Available on Netflix (if you can be bothered)

 

 

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That’s it for now.  I’ll be back soon…

Author: Will Strong 

 

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – 2014 Roundup Best & Worst Of The Year!

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – 2014 Roundup Best & Worst Of The Year!

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

As the year comes to a close, it has to be said that on reflection, 2014 has been pretty damn good for films. The summer blockbuster season produced one of the best sequels for ages in Dawn of The Planet of The Apes, we bade a fond farewell to Middle Earth with the release of the final Hobbit film and Marvel managed to do it again with the one two punch of both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of The Galaxy. There was also the continued rise of some really exciting actors, specifically Richard Armitage (The Hobbit and Into the Storm) Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Matthew McConaughey (just about everything).

It wasn’t all plain sailing though – Michael Bay managed to take a stinking robot sized dump on us all with the appalling Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Renny Harlin proved that Die Hard 2 and Cliff-hanger were but distant memories by giving us the risible Legend Of Hercules, and shockwaves went round Hollywood with the untimely deaths of both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams – both wonderful, talented actors who will be sorely missed.

So to business – now remember the following is only my opinion and doubtless a certain person (no names mentioned Hobden) will be in dire disagreement with me on most of it.

Read On.

 

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2014’s Top Ten Best Films (in no particular order):

  • The Wolf Of Wall Street – one of the most entertaining, profane and downright hilarious films since Pulp Fiction.
  • The Dallas Buyers Club – managed to be both heart-breaking and very funny with a brilliant academy award winning turn from Mathew McConaughey
  • Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes -really well made with amazing SFX, Andy Serkis’ astounding motion capture performance as lead ape Cesar and some exciting top notch action.
  • Captain America The Winter Soldier -incredibly entertaining and refreshingly different.
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy – utterly mental but so much good fun – damn clever too.
  • The Imitation Game – cracking film – If Cumberbatch doesn’t win an Oscar for this there’s simply no justice.
  • Fury -highly realistic, relentlessly exciting, and superbly acted – will stand the test of time as one of the best war movies ever made.
  • Interstellar -mind bending sci fi, outstanding SFX, great direction from Nolan and yet another amazing performance from McConaughey.
  • Gone Girl -great date movie, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were fantastic in the lead roles, and there was the usual rock solid direction from David Fincher. A must see.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – certainly flawed and not as good as Return of The King, but still a cracking good movie, full to the brim with director Peter Jackson’s boundless imagination, epic battles and great acting (especially Richard Armitage as Thorin).

 

The Top Ten Honourable mentions

  • The Expendables 3 – daft as a brush, but absolutely huge fun, jam packed with fisticuffs, explosions and gunfights – plus Mel Gibson was a revelation as the villain.
  • Godzilla – Would have easily made the top ten best list if it hadn’t been for some very limp human characters and the criminal underuse of Brian Cranston. However it was exceptionally well directed by Blighty’s own Gareth Edwards and featured SFX and monster action that was frankly gobsmacking.
  • Maleficent – surprisingly lovely film, with real hidden depths and a wonderful performance from Angelina Jolie.
  • Pompeii – great action, good use of 3d that actually benefitted proceedings and a deliciously OTT Kiefer Sutherland as the chief Roman baddie.
  • Hercules – preposterous in just about every way you can think, but a rollicking good ride, featuring some top battles and good show from Dwayne Johnson.
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Another fun film – Phil hated this, but I just couldn’t help liking it – hopefully there will be more.
  • 300: Rise Of An Empire – ridiculous prequel/equal/sequel to Zach Snyder’s 2006 original. Nary a shot was without a rippling torso, severed limb or a lot of shouting, and Gerard Butler was sorely missed – but despite this it managed to be extremely entertaining.
  • The Raid 2 – Another one that would have made the top ten best list – not quite as good as the first entry, a bit talky and at least 20 minutes too long, but the presence of the indestructible Iko Uwais, Gareth Evans sure handed direction and some bone crunching fight scenes made for a absolute corker of a film.
  • Lone Survivor – Peter Berg atones for Battleship, with the true story of four Special Forces commandos trapped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. Featuring brutal action, a welcome absence of jingoistic American flag waving and some great acting – especially from Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch.
  • Edge Of Tomorrow – Basically Groundhog Day meets Aliens –but Cruise gets his best role for a long time, plus it was really well written, and all the set pieces were excellent.

 

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The 4 Most Overrated of 2014

  • X-Men: Days Of Future Past – With Bryan Singer back directing, I expected to be blown away by this one – but instead of a welcome return to the awesomeness of X2 and X-Men 1st Class, what we got was at times a very entertaining film, that sadly let itself down all too often by miring the audience in overly talky dialogue and overblown exposition. Not only that but the ending made no sense at all.
  • 22 Jump Street : The first one was well written and funny, this admittedly was good in places – especially when Ice Cube was on the screen – but was I the only one who thought it was just a rehash of the original film?
  • Lucy – On release this was a massive box office hit – however I am still trying to fathom out as to why. Ok Scarlett Johansson was pretty good in the title role, but the story was basically a rip off of Limitless and by the end got so preposterous that it stretched even my usual levels of tolerance.
  • Snowpiercer – Despite having a good first 40 minutes plus a great title, cast and setting – this one turned out to be a right let down. Mainly due to the fact that what should have been a slam bang post apocalyptic actioner ,turned out to be a rather boring arty farty oddity that had woefully disappeared up its own orifice by the time the credits had rolled.

 

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The Top Five Worst of 2014

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – There are not enough words in the English language to describe the utter unmitigated hatred I have for this steaming pile of celluloid ordure. There is just no excuse for a summer blockbuster about Robots fighting each other to be nearly 3 hours long, deathly dull, mind numbingly boring, badly written and offensive. Without doubt the worst film of 2014 and quite possibly of the last 10 years too. Shameful.
  1. The Legend Of Hercules – Laughably pants, with a balsa wood infused “performance” from Kellan Lutz, crap fights; terrible direction from Renny Harlin and editing that appears to have been done with a blunt machete. Avoid like the plague.
  1. Non Stop – how on earth an action movie starring Liam Neeson of all people can be this bad is beyond me. Dire.
  1. 3 Days To Kill – Despite a spirited central performance from Kevin Costner , this meandering Taken wannabe failed miserably on every level to be even remotely engaging and provided more evidence (if any was needed) that McG is one of the most inept directors working today.
  1. The Amazing Spiderman 2 – Overly bloated sequel with an oddly dislikeable performance from Andrew Garfield as Spidey, Jamie Foxx’s awful pantomime villain, zero story and dull action scenes – which all in all made for one of poorest superhero movies for a very long time.


Next Time: My Preview of 2015

 
Author: Will Strong 

 

Blog: All Things Film – The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition (DVD/BR)

Blog: All Things Film – The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition (DVD/BR)

Uncategorized

The Review: So Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth once more for for Elves, more Orcs, more Dwarves and more walking.  Yes lot’s of walking.  So overall The Hobbit 2 is okay.  Not Lord Of The Rings great by a long way but good fun, much tighter than the first part with a much quicker pace. The visual effects are much better this time around also, that extra year between films helping WETA polish the film to a much higher standard than part 1.  But  ultimately the problem is after 5 films (with one more still to come) it’s all feeling a little familiar.  Where as Middle Earth was once a marvel, it’s now as familiar to me as Brighton town centre (and one would argue with considerably less horrible sights).  The film picks up with the scenes in Lake Town but for everything it does new, it shoe horns in a cameo or a return to something we’ve seen or done before.  That sense of wonder is gone and with it a degree of magic that the original films brought with them.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have wonder.  The barrel sequence is pure adrenaline  and when Smaug finally does make an appearance, he’s everything you hoped and more, voiced so expertly by Benedict Cumberbatch.  Martin Freeman is greta in the role he was born to play and the supporting Dwarves feel more like real characters this time.  Even Evangeline Lilly mangoes to shine as the only notable female character, even if she is forced to carry an Eastenders style romance plot.

The additional footage in this extended edition once again does little to help the pacing issues.  This is still a very long film that, worst of all, now feels even longer and dragged out.  For a full list of what’s added check out this site here.  

So as you would expect from a Jackson Middle Earth film, the craft is good, the actors are excellant and the FX up to the usual standard of WETA.  But for me that magic, that special something just isn’t there.  Be it familiarity or just the feeling like there’s a good 3 hour film waiting to bust out the combined near six hour run time of the first two Hobbit movies, Middle Earth just doesn’t wow like it once did.

If you already own the film, this is for collectors and die hard Rings fans only.

 

Reviewed By: Phil Hobden

 

Buyers Guide: Released November 3.

The UK versions are best suited for importing, given that they have the same english-language packaging. The age ratings (two round circles) might be irritating to some.

However, for The Hobbit, they are printed on a separate removable sheet of paper. Also, the Brits do have some nice exclusives as well. Like with AUJ, the Weta Statue is not released in UK, though.


High-definition versions

The spine of the packaging of the UK BluRay version is thicker than the US release in order to accommodate the BBFC rating logos! No 2D-only version seems to be available.

  • 3D+2D BluRay: one disc with the film in 2D; two discs with the film in 3D; two discs with bonus materials.


Exclusive high-definition versions

  • 3D+2D BluRay Steelbook: one disc with the film in 2D; two discs with the film in 3D; two discs with bonus materials; steelbook packaging. Same design as the USA Target exclusive, but in 3D.
  • 3D+2D BluRay Bookends Edition: one disc with the film in 2D; two discs with the film in 3D; two discs with bonus materials; Guards of Erebor bookends. This seems to be a late issue of the Guards of Erebor bookends. The cover art does not show it yet, but the Amazon listing definitely states it’s the Extended Edition. A little overpriced to my taste though. Exclusive to UK.


DVD

The design of the UK DVD (first printing at least) is a foldout digipak with an outer cover without a photograph, and thus more resembling the old LOTR SEE DVDs! It won’t play on US DVD players though.

Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

Uncategorized

The Review: So Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth once more for for Elves, more Orcs, more Dwarves and more walking.  Yes lot’s of walking.

Firstly lets address the elephant in the room.  What the hell was peter Jackson thinking with it’s HFR malarkey? My first experience with watching a film in this format and needless toe ay like most other people I found it to be a massive hindrance. Okay so yes it does make the 3D quite enjoyable and get’s rid of almost all the motion blur and uncomfortableness associated with working in the added dimension.  But man does it make the rest of the film look horrid.  Okay that’s not strictly true the internal scenes at night look OK but the day time stuff really does look like Australian daytime TV.  Which is odd that you would choose that for a film where you’ve investment nearly $100million USD to make it look fantastical then apply it in a format that makes it look unreal and cheap.

As for the film? It’s good.  Not Lord Of The Rings great by a long way but good fun, much tighter than the first part with a much quicker pace. The visual effects are much better this time around also, that extra year between films helping WETA polish the film to a much higher standard than part 1.  But  ultimately the problem is after 5 films (with one more still to come) it’s all feeling a little familiar.  Where as Middle Earth was once a marvel, it’s now as familiar to me as Brighton town centre (and one would argue with considerably less horrible sights).  The film picks up with the scenes in Lake Town but for everything it does new, it shoe horns in a cameo or a return to something we’ve seen or done before.  That sense of wonder is gone and with it a degree of magic that the original films brought with them.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have wonder.  The barrel sequence is pure adrenaline  and when Smaug finally does make an appearance, he’s everything you hoped and more, voiced so expertly by Benedict Cumberbatch.  Martin Freeman is greta in the role he was born to play and the supporting Dwarves feel more like real characters this time.  Even Evangeline Lilly mangoes to shine as the only notable female character, even if she is forced to carry an Eastenders style romance plot.

So as you would expect from a Jackson Middle Earth film, the craft is good, the actors are excellant and the FX up to the usual standard of WETA.  But for me that magic, that special something just isn’t there.  Be it familiarity or just the feeling like there’s a good 3 hour film waiting to bust out the combined near six hour run time of the first two Hobbit movies, Middle Earth just doesn’t wow like it once did.

And next time?  I’ll stick with good old standard frame farm 2D thank you.

Reviewed By: Phil Hobden

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