Friday, 24 February 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

After the first Ghost Rider film was savaged by critics, the producers decided to hand the sequel over to directing duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor best know for the Crank films and Gamer with the hope that they would inject some life into what could become a moribund franchise. I was reasonably entertained by the first film. I didn't hate it nor did I love it, so I went into Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance expecting nothing more than to be entertained, but this is a film so terrible it almost made me stop watching films altogether. It is so hard to believe that a story with so much potential could be fucked up this badly. I really hated this film! If this is the best Hollywood has to offer, then I never want to watch another film. I have not been so annoyed the the incompetence of the film making on display since M. Night Shyamalan's bastardization of The Last Airbender. (The worst film I have ever seen in my life.)

The problem with both Ghost Rider films, but particularly Spirit of Vengeance is that the audience really does not give a shit about the central character Johnny Blaze. Spider-man and Superman work as films because the audience are invested in the characters of Peter Parker and Clark Kent, but Nicholas Cage does not inject any personality into the role of Johnny Blaze, which makes the film a really, really long slog even though it only has a 95 minute running time. Cage also seems to be the only member of the cast to know that he is making a comedy, 90% of the film he is plodding his way though the lame, stilted dialogue. The other 10% he is going ape shit, screaming like a banshee in peoples face. The real travesty of this sequel is that even the scenes with Ghost Rider are boring as shit, all because Ghost Rider does absolutely nothing in his scenes, other than stand still and stare at people.

Neveldine and Taylor have a very kinetic film-making style and operate the camera as well as direct which make their films both visually interesting and very original due to there strange camera placements. The majority of the scenes in this film are incomprehensible due to the ridiculously quick cuts, shaky camera-work and 3D. The 3D itself is not bad, but the shaky cam effect means that  you cannot see a fucking thing throughout the entire film. This is more evident in the action scenes as there is no sense of location or focus to any of these scenes.

[Spoilers Below]

The plot makes absolutely no sense what so ever. From what I can make out, the devil  has a son and he wants possession of the kid and for some reason a load of weird priests want possession of the same young boy. Ghost Rider has to deliver the kid to a church in the desert and as a reward he will be cured of his curse. However the way the film presents such a basic plot is so convoluted and poor, that after about 20 minutes you realize that the plot is not going anywhere and has been completely forgotten by the filmmakers.

Another thing that pissed me off about this film is that the filmmakers think that they are making a film that is funny. It isn't. every single 'joke' in the film falls flat, especially the shot in the trailer of Ghost Rider pissing fire and then giving a thumbs up to the camera. It was not just me who didn't laugh, the entire audience of about 50 people did not make a single noise throughout the film. The only audible noises I heard were embarrassed laughter towards the end when Ghost Rider raises a woman from the dead for no reason. I honestly considered walking out of the screen after about 45 minutes, but didn't. Bad choice on my part.

Normally when I review a film, I try to think of at least one positive thing to say about the film. The only positive I can give to this steaming pile of shite is that the visual effects do not look bad, also there are 2 cool shots of Ghost Rider. And that is about it!

In short, Fuck this film. Do NOT pay to see it because Neveldine and Taylor are in talks to make another Ghost Rider film, however this will not happen if this film flops. There is nothing to enjoy here and I can honestly say, hand on heart, it is one of the worst films I have ever seen at the cinema and a colossal waste of my time. (Not quite as bad as The Last Airbender though!)

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

1 / 10

I loathed it!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Muppets Review

Finally! I have been so excited to see this film ever since the film was first announced by Walt Disney Pictures. I have been a fan of The Muppets since childhood and remain to this day a fan, they make me laugh now as much as they did when I was young. For years The Muppets have been making films, usually direct to DVD, but they have not made a good cinematic film in a while and so the idea of seeing them on the big screen seemed like a great idea to me. So, the latest Muppets was released over in America months ago and has only just crossed the pond. I eagerly anticipated opening day to see the film, particularly because the film had received such positive reviews .But could the film live up to such overwhelmingly great reviews?

The answer to that question is YES. The film is beautiful in every way possible. It is funny, heartwarming and a great reminder of what is great about The Muppets. Director James Bobin (best known for directing and co-creating HBO's Flight of the Conchords) manages to balance the comedy and characterization of The Muppets incredibly well as well as insuring that the characters natural charm is still relevant to a new audience. The film also has amazingly catchy songs like all great Muppet films should. This time the songs are written by fellow Flight of the Conchords veteran Bret McKenzie who puts witty rhymes with upbeat but modern tunes, making the soundtrack CD a must buy. The songs are staged and choreographed in such an unflinchingly traditional musical way that they are as humorous as they are impressive, but also have a touch of the familiar to fans of the original Muppet films such as The Muppet Movie,  The Great Muppet Caper and Muppets Take Manhattan. 

Like many Muppet fans I was worried about the idea of the new film being centered around a new character, but rest assured Walter fits into the rest of the cast with ease. The way screenwriters Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller incorporate the character into the film is interesting, if you have never seen The Muppets before, Walter manages to be the one to introduce Kermit and the rest of the characters to you in a very smooth fashion. Whereas if you are already a fan, you naturally assume the role of Walter, the optimistic fan who wants his idles to get together again and prove the critics wrong. Walters undying fandom of The Muppets will surely resonate with fans like me who have become frustrated at the lack of good Muppet content over the last few years.

[Spoilers Below]

There are a few minor flaws, however these did not at all effect my enjoyment of the film. I would consider them more observations than flaws to be honest. It is quite clear that the voices are not that of the original cast, Miss Piggy is clearly not Frank Oz and Kermit is not Jim Henson who sadly has passed away. This at times is distracting, but I do not hold this against the film in any way. The only other issue I had with the film is that there is a point about half way through where the pacing of the film slows down and as a result very young children might get restless, but all of this is forgiven as The Muppets start their reunion show.

Once The Muppets Telethon starts, the films get better and better. The jokes come thick and fast and honestly I thought it could have been written by Henson himself as it has the same sort of wit and charm that Henson brought to the characters originally. It is clear that everyone on the film is a fan of these characters and more importantly understand what made the characters great in the first place. This is something I feel the filmmakers should receive most credit for as they remain honest and faithful to the characters Henson created. The Muppets Telethon is The Muppet Show as we all remembered and loved. But the thing that shocked me most about the film is how genuinely poignant certain moments are. There are scenes in which The Muppets discuss why people don't like them anymore and to see them perform again and become comedy legends as they once were before is something magical to behold. 

To summarize, The Muppets is an incredible film for both Muppet fans and non-fans alike. The songs are funny and amazingly well staged and the celebrity cameos are brilliant. But the best thing about the film is that The Muppets are as charming and hilarious as they always have been, and to see them go from being obsolete to legends is something I found genuinely moving as a lifelong Muppet fan. I have tried to be deliberately vague on particular jokes and character moments as I would recommend you go and see the film as soon as you get chance. 

The Muppets

10 / 10

Simply Brilliant!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Star Wars : Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D Review

So, I have literally just got back from watching Phantom Menace 3D at my local cinema and so these are my immediate reactions after watching the film. I will start by giving my general feelings on Star Wars and Phantom Menace, then give more detail on the 3D presentation. I will try to be as brief as possible, as I know I start to ramble on when talking about Star Wars.

So, I am a huge Star Wars fan and have been from an early age, therefore I cannot remember the first time I watched the original trilogy. By this point it seems like they have always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories of childhood are Star Wars related, so when I was 8 years old I was so excited to see Phantom Menace on opening day and I can still remember the adrenaline rush I got from watching the film and in particular watching the Podrace sequence. Needless to say I love Phantom Menace because I love all 6 Star Wars films.

Now, when I first heard George Lucas was going to be taking all 6 films and re-releasing them in 3D, I was not at all excited or interested. I was ecstatic however at the idea of being able to watch the films again on the big screen and if I needed to watch them with 3D glasses on to achieve this I would. But the fact remained that I really did not give a shit about the 3D side of things. So I decided to go in and watch the film with an open mind. If the 3D was rubbish I would enjoy watching a great film again and if the 3D was great, even better. Then the 20th century fox logo appears on screen followed by the Lucasfilm Ltd. logo. Then, as we all know, fades on screen 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....'

As John William's incredible score filled my ears the goosebumps kicked in and the legendary opening crawl started. From that point on I forgot I was watching the film in 3D and I mean that as a compliment. The 3D was not distracting at all and added a surprising amount of depth to the frame considering it is an up-converted 2D film. I have seen many up-converted 2D to 3D films, all of which have been absolutely awful. Most of these films up-conversions had been rushed to devastating effect and as a result these films looked like they were out of focus and far too dark, as the brightness has not been adjusted to compensate for the dark tint to the glasses. But there was something about the way it was used in Phantom Menace that worked for me. You can certainly tell it was not shot in 3D, but the 3D is used in such a way that it just draws you in, even in the dialogue scenes.

As you may have guessed the main showcase for the 3D in Phantom Menace is the Podrace sequence and when watching the scene you can certainly tell that this is where the technicians have put the majority of their time and effort. It looks brilliant. The reason it looks as good as it does is because George Lucas does not use quick cuts and close ups nor does he excessively shake the camera to add a feeling of 'realism', the camera is steady and always in focus, which enables the Pods in the scene to really stand out in 3D against the very blurry fast moving background.

[Spoilers Below]

There are however scenes in which the 3D conversion does not look very good. Qui Gon Jinn's cremation scene looked terrible for example because the open flames seemed completely separate from what was going on in the rest of the frame. The only other shots that looked pretty shitty were the shots of Corousant from space. Because Coruscant is a black and white planet, the contrast between the darkness of Corousant and the pitch black of space was not very clear and could have been solved easily by upping the brightness ever so slightly. However these are all minor gripes in what was a surprisingly good conversion.

To wrap up, I thought I was going to have to tolerate/hate the 3D in order to watch Episode I again at the cinema, but it turned out that the 3D was for the most part very good and effective. In fact I liked it so much that I will probably try to go and see it again while it is still on at my local cinema. Bring on Episode II - Attack of the Clones (my least favourite of all 6 Star Wars films)

Star Wars : Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Film : 10 / 10
3D : 8 / 10

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Worst Films of 2011 (Part 1)


Director : Martin Campbell
Cast : Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard.

As a fan of the DC comics on which the film is based, I was incredibly excited for this film. Needless to say I hated everything about it. Blake Lively has to be one of the biggest casting cock-ups of 2011, firstly she looked about 12, so I spent a lot of the film thinking that Ryan Reynolds was grooming her and also wondering why someone so young was head of an airbase. Secondly and most importantly, she cannot act to save her life. Not one line she utters during the films 114 minutes is believable or said with any enthusiasm. She is cast opposite the always confused looking Ryan Reynolds who I thought was quite a good bit of casting as Hal Jordan, but together they have no chemistry and plod through a shitty script page by page as I sat in the cinema, bored and confused that the director of 'Casino Royale' was behind this steaming pile of shite.

However as much as I didn't like the majority of the film, there are things that deserve praise. Some of the action scenes were very clever and well shot. There are also crowd scenes involving thousands of aliens that are mind blowing as the design of the aliens themselves are eye catching and well rendered. I also did not hate the 3D as much as most people did, I thought it was fine, wasn't bad but it certainly didn't stand out.

[Spoilers Below]

So the 3rd act of the film has Hal Jordan fighting a shitty CGI face, called Parallax, in a giant space battle. In the comics, Parallax looks like a golden dragon, this is not the case in the film. I nstead the filmmakers decided to make him look ten time cooler (NOT) by designing him to look like John Merrick from 'The Elephant Man' a decision I still cannot get my head around. Anyway, he is fighting Parallax in space and Green Lantern/Hal Jordan decides to throw Parallax into the sun, thus killing him. So after lots and lots and lots of pissing around he finally throws Parallax into the sun and kills him. Later when asked why he killed Parallax by throwing him into the sun, Hal Jordan says something along the lines of "I just remembered that the bigger the mass, the quicker it burns" WHAT! Do the writers think I'm a retard. Seriously. The bigger the mass, the quicker it burns?... Bollocks.

To make things even worse, Sinestro's characters arc (by which he turns from good to bad) is completely non existent and plays out off screen. That is of course until the end when they decided to try and set up the fucking sequel in which they are going to make Sinestro the villain! I leaft the cinema bitter, upset and really angry that they fucked up the adaptation of my 2nd favourite comic book character.


Director : Ben Palmer
Cast : Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and Joe Thomas

I went into this film expecting great things. The series is hilarious for many reasons but for me personally there has never been a series that represents my time in high school as much as The Inbetweeners, particularly in terms of the way the characters talk to each other. But within minutes of the film starting I knew I was going to be disappointed. The spark that was in the TV series was gone. The dialogue felt forced and stilted. The situations manufactured. The supporting characters so devoid of personality that it seemed to me that they were only there to look good.

[Spoilers Below]

The thing I loved most about the TV series is that it was always believable. The situations and characters were relatable and familiar to teenagers and unfortunately this wasn't the case here. Everything just felt fake and unfunny. Multiple jokes were repeated from the series, the main one being a scene with the deck chairs and disabled people, which was a joke lifted from the first series and has exactly the same outcome and punchline.

My main problem with this film is the introduction of the female characters or the boy's love interests. Each one of them is a female clone of one of the boys and are obviously only there to try and give the storyline some sort of closure, as the film is the last we will see of these characters. So to make sure all four guys get there own lady, there is the tall dumb one, the loud mouth one, the gullible one and the normal one. The loud mouth one is the one I have the biggest gripe with as the writers handle the delicate subject of female weight in the most sexist, misogynistic way that the topic can possibly be handled. This leads to awful and unfunny scenes as the filmmakers expect the audience to laugh at 'beached whale' jokes.

I really wanted to like The Inbetweeners Movie, but i honestly didn't laugh once during the film, which I consider a shame. But the thing that really annoyed me was that when the film finished, me and a friend were discussing how shit it was, whereas everyone around us was proclaiming it to be the funniest film ever made. It certainly is no Life of Brian!