Midnight in Paris follows the story of Gil, a script writer turned author, who's on vacation in Paris with his fiancé, Inez. He's not entirely happy with the holiday as he's stuck with Inez's snobby friend and he's stuck on his book. However when taking a stroll through the streets of Paris, drunk, he happens to be sent back in time to the 1920s where he comes across a whole bunch of famous people living in Paris at that particular era. The following night this occurs again and he believes that this may not just be a one off thing.
The cinematography in the film was sensational. The film opens with three and a half minutes of beautiful cinematography that capture's Paris' beauty and is played alongside a catchy soundtrack. It was a hard act to follow, but Woody Allen maintained it the whole way through. The cinematography also captured the beauty in the lighting, if that makes any sense whatsoever. The film is alluring and right in your face, and that isn't a negative thing.
The film incorporated a whole bunch of famous authors and artists in a humorous sort of way. When Gil is transported back to the 20s for the first time he in originally unaware of what's happening and I was laughing as he was pointing out what a coincidence it is that he just met a writer named F. Scott Fitzgerald who has a wife named Zelda. It was hysterical to see these famous people arriving on the screen and having conversations with a man from the modern day.
The soundtrack for the film was exquisite. There were just a couple of songs present in the film and a couple of them are repeated over and over, but boy were they great. The soundtrack was just amazing. Right from that opening 3 and a half minutes I was already in love with the soundtrack and it only got better from there. There's so much of this film that I absolutely loved!
Owen Wilson gives an astonishing performance. Owen Wilson is well known for his comedy and this is most definitely a comedy, but I actually believe he performs at a greater standard in his more dramatic films. Of course in a film with Owen Wilson there will always be humour, but I loved his performance here and it wasn't a full on over the top comedy. This will be the film that I remember him from, the first film that comes to my mind when I hear the name Owen Wilson.
To sum up Midnight in Paris was a sensation film with beautiful lighting captured by the outstanding cinematography. The film was very funny, had an exquisite soundtrack and was led by the amazing Owen Wilson.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues begins a few years after the first film. Ron Burgundy is living in New York after recently being divorced from Veronica Corningstone and being fired from the news team. He is offered a job on the first 24 hour news team, which he eventually agrees to. Upon agreeing the this job he must go out and find his news team; Brick Tamland, Brian Fantana and Champ Kind. Together they slowly try to rise back up to the top.
I'm a massive Anchorman fan and this didn't disappoint. I will hopefully post a review of the first Anchorman film, but I first must discuss this one. I really had high expectations for this. I can tell you that I was far from disappointed. Adam McKay and Will Ferrel have successfully brought these characters back to the big screen without falling into the bad sequel territory. The film is full of laughs, emotion, sharks and explosions. It has nearly everything you could think of... and that's not even an exaggeration.
The film had me laughing the hardest I have been all year. There have been some very funny films this year, but without a doubt the funniest of them all is Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. It was hysterical to see the new adventure of Brick, Ron, Brian and Champ as they discover the city of New York. Also, this time around it's not just Brick who steals the spotlight.
The final act of the film is outrageous, in an epic kind of way. If you watched the first film thinking how over the top and crazy it got at times, well that's going to seem like a regular day when you watch the final act of the film. It was absolutely hilarious to see the mayhem that was occurring. There was literally no way to see any of it coming and I mean it, one of the most un predictable moments in comedy.
I loved how only a few jokes were ruined in the trailers. I only watched the main two trailers for this film prior to actually watching the film and they got me excited, but I wasn't going to watch any more footage. These trailers actually had many alternate jokes to the film which made the film all the more surprising. This is actually the case with every Adam McKay film and I adore how he does that. He ruins hardly any of the humour.
To sum up Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was far from disappointing. It was without a doubt the most outrageous, hilarious, un-ruined and well made comedy of the year. Up there as one of the all time greatest comedy sequels.
4 1/2 Stars
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire kicks off right from where the first film finishes. Katniss and Peeta have returned to District 12, but only briefly as they are quickly taken away on their district tour. The capitol is upset with them as they are a beacon of hope for a revolution that's beginning to spark. The capitol thinks up a way to kill them in a crowd pleasing way. This is to have a hunger games using previous victors. Katniss is forced back into the arena where she faces a whole heap of new threats.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is superior to the first in almost every way. I'm a big fan of the first two books, the third one not so much, and was beyond pleased with the quality of the first film. Catching Fire manages to up the first film by telling a more compelling story, featuring deeper emotion and even manages to fix the minor gripes I had with the first film, the very very minor gripes I had with the first film.
The cinematography and direction was outstanding. The biggest, and most common complaint about the first Hunger Games was the cinematography. It was all over the place and occasionally unwatchable due to the over use of shaky cam. Fortunately, Francis Lawrence has arrived at the helm and he practically eradicates the pesky fowl know as shaky cam, making for a much more watchable and more enjoyable film.
Many aspects of the movie were skimmed part or were rushed. As I'd read the book prior to watching the movie I knew everything that was going to happen and what was about to appear on screen. Because of this, I felt as if the film adaptation skimmed through various aspects of the novel, or skipped them entirely. Not only did they do this, but even when not comparing the book, scenes felt rushed through and shoehorned in. It's not a major issue, but it's me nitpicking.
There's too much time spent outside of the arena. This time around, the film is the story of Katniss' life and the effects of having two victors last year. Because of this, the film isn't meant to focus on the Hunger Games themselves. For what it is, it's beyond fine, but I couldn't help as to wanting more from the movie. I wanted to spend a bit more time in arena and a bit less beforehand. We know the outcome of the first half and it's really the second half that we're anticipating.
To sum up The Hunger Games: Catching Fire may spend too much time out of the arena and skimmed past a few scenes, but it's superior to the first in every other way, including the cinematography and direction.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is a little different to the usual Jackass films. This time Johnny Knoxville's prosthetic make up-ed character, Irving Zisman takes the centre stage as he is told to take his 8 year old grandson across America and to his drug taking dad's house. Along the way the two begin to get along and cause mayhem and stress to the civilians around them.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa actually tries a bit harder to make it an actual film then the other Jackass films did. The first three films are essentially just a bunch of hilarious and dumb stunts that were actually very entertaining. In this film they actually try to add a bit of a storyline and even a few emotional and heartwarming scenes into the film. This is of course with the public stunts and pranks with civilians.
Bad Grandpa is one of the funniest films to come out this year. It's not as well made as a few of the other comedies such as The World's End, but it's much... much... much funnier. There were frequent moments in the film that would cause the whole cinema around me to burst into laughter and boy these parts were hilarious. It's amazing how much funnier pranks are when they're preformed by an elderly man. Especially when his penis is stretched in a vending machine... and that's not even the most atrocious part of it!
The kid in this film was surprisingly great. Jackson Nicoll does a great job at staying cool during some of the most outrageous and entertaining moments in the film. He doesn't even laugh once and he makes the film seem just a bit more realistic. If he was laughing the whole time or sounding like he was acting then the whole film would have been ruined. He did a great job and I actually expect him to do a lot more comedies in the future.
To sum up Bad Grandpa is a heart warming, emotional and absolutely hysterical installment to the famous Jackass series. It's one of the funniest films this year, tried really hard to be more like a film and the main kid was awesome.
My review for Army of Darkness is coming, don't worry. Evil Dead is a kind of re-make kind of re-imagining of the horror classic. The film follows the story of twenty something year old Mia as her brother and their friends go to a remote cabin to help Mia get through rehab. Here they discover the book of the dead which, when read out loud, initiates a voodoo ceremony that will lead to a horrific end for everyone involved... unless the group of friends can stop it before it's too late.
Evil Dead is both loyal and un-loyal to the original film. I try to look at this film, not as a re-make, but as a re-imagining. The film follows the same plot as the original and features a few similar scenes and scenarios that the original film had, but overall it was a new Evil Dead experience. There were new characters and essentially the whole second half of the film was new. To be honest after watching through to the end of the credits (which you definitely should) I'd actually say this film is more of a sequel to the original.
The film ups the intensity compared to the original. The film film had a little bit of black comedy, especially Evil Dead II, but this one is dead serious (pun unintended). Evil Dead actually even ups the gore a little bit as you could probably guess if you've seen the red band trailer. A fair amount of scenes in the film were actually disturbing to watch. I've said this before, but gore doesn't really scare me. It's just intense. The new Evil Dead, as well as the original, do well at putting in a couple of scares as well as a shower of blood. Well rain in this case (just watch the film to get my lame joke). I didn't find this is scary as the original, but definitely gorier.
Evil Dead proves practical effects can turn out better then special effects. Literally over three quarters of horror films these days use a showcase of special effects, but this film apparently used entirely practical effects and incredibly realistic makeup and prosthetics. The practical effects actually look more disturbing and realistic then a lot of special effects filled horrors. The film proves that you don't need a massive budget to make a great horror film. This is quite possibly one of the best remakes of a classic ever made.
The start of the film rushes the relationships between the characters very quickly. The film opens with a shocking and disturbing scene then cuts forward in time to the group arriving at the cabin where it's quickly announced the relationships they have with each other. It takes about a minute to establish how everyone knows each other and how well they know each other. I can understand that this was done as we're really just here to watch then all die (that sounds so bad reading it out loud) yet the director still tried to make an effort to build characters well.
To sum up Evil Dead is possibly one the best remakes that's ever been done. It's loyal to the original whilst still being it's own film, it's use of practical effects is realistic and disturbing although establishing relationships was rushed.
3 1/2 Stars
This review will contain spoilers if you are unaware of the true story
Fruitvale Station is the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old trying to turn his life around after being released out of prison. The film follows the final 24 hours of his life which all leads up the the intense and emotional final act where Oscar confronts with friends and enemies. This leads to him being arrested and murdered in cold blood by a police officer who took things too far.
Fruitvale Station was an amazing, intense and emotional film. This film soaks you in and then spits you back out with tears rolling down your face. No matter what mood you were in upon starting this film, everybody's mood will be identical upon finishing the film. It lets you know exactly what you're in for right from the first scene, which is the actual footage of Oscar Grant's unfortunate murder. This scene brought both tears to my eyes and shivers down my spine. From then on out, the film managed to get ever more emotional and twice as amazing.
The film features the perfect runtime. The film clocks in at a brief 85 minutes, which is next to nothing in movie time. If the film went for any longer then it would result in being too long, and vice versa on being too short. As this wasn't the case, however, i was hooked the whole way through. There wasn't a single moment where my interest wasn't peaked.
Michael B. Jordan gives a sensational performance. There were plenty of great performances in the film, but his was by far one of the greatest performances of the year in one of the greatest films of the year. Michael B. Jordan most definitely deserves some kind of award for his breakthrough performance. Oscars are going to be tough next year. Really, really tough. Not just for acting.
The most upsetting aspect of the film is that it's a true story. The final act of the film just shows the brutality and abuse of power that some members of the police use. As evident in this film, some can take it too far weather that's deliberate or accidental. Oscar Grant was innocent, yet the cops intended to arrest him and his friends, beat them then eventually end up killing Oscar. It just makes me feel sick, especially since the man who was actually responsible for the crime got away without any suspicion.
To sum up Fruitvale Station is one of the greatest and underrated films of the year. It was intense, emotional, had the perfect runtime and featured amazing performances, especially from Michael B. Jordan.