The Book of Life – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

The Book of Life – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Big screen animation continues it’s ever upward spiral with the release of The Book Of Life, from producer Guillermo del Toro.  A beautiful, fun film with stunning character design, a great cast (Ron Perlman, Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana), some nice rejigged music and, naturally this it’s a Mexican themed film, you have the obligatory (almost contractually so) cameos from Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin – it just feels right. The Book of Life is up there with The Boxtrolls as one of the best kids films of the year.  Who needs Pixar, eh?

Best Bit: Visually one of the most unique animations ever.

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try: The Boxtrolls, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Up

 

Rating:

 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

 

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Blog: All Things Film – Guardians Of The Galaxy Reviewed

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Marvel, ugh. Here we go again. Apparently each movie is different to the last, and it has no real genre defining attributes. Does it arse. It’s superheroes and villains all pantomiming one another to the point of performance. Guardians of the Galaxy is no different, but then, I guess that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable – to a point.

Chris Pratt is having a good year, though, is he not? He’s Quill in this movie, the Indiana Jones-type of hero plagued visions of his late mother and carries around a mix tape of the eighties greatest hits. He flies around in a spaceship; a big boy’s bedroom uncleaned and without a woman’s touch – it’s enough to remind you of Bill Pullman’s character in Spaceballs. In fact, the whole vibe of Guardians has a Mel Brooks tint to it. Quill meets a green-skinned alien thing named Gamora – and when you see her and her name garbled by the mumbling dialogue, you’ll swear it’s Gomorrah. And then you’ll make the connection yourself and the whole thing will come full circle.

There’s a bevvy of light-hearted, overjoyed characters here – far too many to mention. The most famous of the bunch is a duo named Rocket and Groot, CGI’d to the hilt, and voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel respectively. The addition of these two slaps a feint childishness to the whole affair – but then again, it works well for what it is.

So, what makes Guardians different to the rest of the Marvel outings? We’ve already seen carefully constructed witticisms in Iron Man, and shoehorning familiar soundtracks that seem antithetical to these types of movies does put an unusual stamp on the proceedings, but it has been done before. It surely, then, can’t be the final act where good versus evil blasts bolts of light from its palms and causes untold destruction of cities and innocent civilians. In other words, this is superhero stuff through and through – and brings precious little in the way of new agenda to the game.

Co-writer and director (and Troma alumni) James Gunn writes and directs admirably, and with a steely confidence that suggests he’s now in the big time after ropey fair such as Slither and Super. He’s donned the big boy cap now, and it seems entirely suited to him; keeping the proceedings just boisterous and loud enough to keep him in $100m+ budgets – and certainly within this widened franchise – for at least a couple more movies. Sitting through Guardians, though, one suspects he wishes he’d have been granted an R rating. The main change of game Gunn brings is to somewhat ridicule typical conventions of the superhero / gang tooling up for what seems like certain death; in a scene we have endured time and again, one by one, the guardians stand up and throw their hat into the bucket of certain doom. Rocket, the gangly little raccoon, is the last to stand up and remarks on how stupid they look. It’s one rung up the ladder from Austin Powers International Man of Mystery’s diabolical scheming plan from Dr. Evil, and the awkward silence that befalls the team after they’ve stopped their maniacal laughter.

Is this a comedy? Yes, first and foremost. On a sci-fi level it’s perfectly adequate nonsense. As comedy, it is less successful unless you’re, say, 12 years old. We’ve seen witty remarks done far better, here – and the end credits threaten us with another movie in the not too distant future. But credit where it’s due, it’s done well here.

After around forty five minutes, it did drag on… but then, I guess, any scene featuring a grown tree javelin one of its branches through a bunch of extras playing bad guys, and bashing them from one side of a gangway over and over again till they’re dead can’t be all bad.

 

Author: Andrew Mackay

Blog: The Book of Life – A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: The Book of Life – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Big screen animation continues it’s ever upward spiral with the release of The Book Of Life, from producer Guillermo del Toro.  A beautiful, fun film with stunning character design, a great cast (Ron Perlman, Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana), some nice rejigged music and, naturally this it’s a Mexican themed film, you have the obligatory (almost contractually so) cameos from Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin – it just feels right. The Book of Life is up there with The Boxtrolls as one of the best kids films of the year.  Who needs Pixar, eh?

Best Bit: Visually one of the most unique animations ever.

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try: The Boxtrolls, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Up

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Review: Out Of The Furnace (Cinema)

Review: Out Of The Furnace (Cinema)

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The Review: As nice as it is to see Christian Bale not playing a campy superhero, there seems to be mostly only one setting he goes for, lately; that of the slightly angry, mostly psychotic revenge-fuelled layabout.

Out of the Furnace is no different. Here, Bale plays a mill worker who’s relatively happy shacked up with Zoe Saldana (and who wouldn’t be?) and generally getting on with life. His younger brother, Rodney, played by Casey Affleck is a war veteran deeply shaken to the core by his adventures and trying to make ends meet by involving himself in illicit bare knuckle boxing matches.

Of course this won’t turn out well. Affleck mostly steals the show as the dim-witted brother who enlists the services of a local kingpin (Daefo) to go and fight a few rounds under the supervision of DeGroat (Woody Harrelson, channeling Mickey Knox) – the USA’s most evillest, violent and balding crime lord since Ben Kingsley’s Don Logan.

It’s all played perfectly well. Bale does all he can to say the line “Rodney, You PLONKER!” at almost every turn. Affleck convinces us that he’s a no good, shell-shocked nitwit. He manages to continue to convince us with his performance in this film, too. Scott “Crazy Heart” Cooper’s direction is at once quiet and under-laboured – a welcome follow-up to the gushing Jeff Bridges starrer a couple of years back.
Sadly, all this grandiose blatancy is underserved by a script perfectly willing to throttle along one two major plot contrivances. Bale, early on, involves himself in a car crash. It’s a stone in the shoe of the film’s overall message, and certainly surplus to requirement. It’s a plot device enabling him to fester anger and defy the odds of engaging the world’s most ruthless badass on his own turf. It’s extremely unnecessary given the certainty of the material and feels more at home in a Scott Adkins picture.

Next up – in what I consider to be this year’s head-slapping “Oh WHY did you bother doing that?!” moment, a cell phone is accidentally knocked out of a pocket and records a damning indictment for two characters who meet their demise shortly after. The pious artificiality of this action and when it occurs – conveniently before both men are executed – donkey punches the believability of the movie right at the time when it’s most needed.

And then there’s the end. It’s satisfying, all right. It’s the payoff we expect and we deserve. Take this beginning and ending – and a rather edifying, if fleeting, repatriation between Bale and Saldana’s estranged lovers on a railway bridge – and you have one of the movies of the year. But take into account the liberal use of mistrust of an audience’s appreciation for not being treated like cretins in two moments such as the ones I’ve describe, then the filmmaker’s shouldn’t be surprised at a reaction like mine.

We’re not dumb. Casey Affleck is dumb.

And I’m not knocking off at least two points for the middle finger, thankyouverymuch

Reviewed By: Andrew Mackay

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