Posts Tagged ‘Mansfield’

Review: Robin Hood

13 May, 2010
Tackling the story of Robin Hood was always going to be a challenge for director Ridley Scott. The much loved tale of Nottingham’s most infamous resident was always at risk of upsetting fans of the legend, and taking on the fable by way of the ‘untold story’ has proved a mixed success for the famous talent.
The new film tells the story of how Robin – referred to here as Robin Longstride – initially ended up in the 13th century town of Nottingham after fighting alongside King Richard in France on the army’s return from the crusades.
Following the King’s death Robin (Russel Crowe) finds himself fleeing the shambolic army, taking on the identity of a dead knight, Robert Loxley, to get home to England under the pretence of returning the former king’s crown.
But having granting the knight’s dying wish to return his sword to his father in Nottingham, Robin finds himself embroiled in a fight to fend off the French army and reunite the nobles of the north – who are suffering from the heavy taxation and ineffective rule of the newly crowned king John.
It is difficult not to draw comparisons between this new Robin Hood and the director/actor team’s previous partnership on historical epic Gladiator. And it has to be said that the new film pales in comparison to their earlier efforts.
Director Ridley Scott does a good job of directing the film throughout, with slick, snappy editing and a firm display of his ability to direct with the best of them.
There are moments, however, where the action is all too familiar – a scene where Crowe rides his horse behind a row of archers and is thrown a weapon mid stride is almost identical to a like-for-like sequence in Gladiator, and Crowe’s Maximus-a-like gruff voice seems to be used more often than not to camouflage his wandering accent than to enhance it.
The battle scenes throughout the film also feel fairly boring and empty and fans of the director’s previous films will be disappointed not to see the relentless, all-out action of Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven.
The scale and excitement seems to have taken a back seat, perhaps in order to preserve the family-friendly 12A certificate, but the overall impression is that of watching a poor man’s version of a familiar blockbuster template.
The decision to take the story back to it’s origins was clearly a clever move, not only does it follow in the footsteps of hit prequel story films Batman Begins and Casino Royale, but it also gives the film a good chance to stand out from the age old story – and avoid any risks of Men in Tights parallels.
And although the back history to how this legend came about is interesting, the seemingly simple narrative does end up becoming tiresome and a little unbelievable at times, particularly the obscure flashbacks to Robin’s inexplicably absent childhood memories which conveniently make him the perfect candidate to unite the country’s noblemen.
The choice to make Robin a Yorkshire man with the home town of Barnsdale will also be sure to aggrieve some more patriotic Nottinghamshire viewers looking to celebrate the heritage of their home county.
With filming taking place only partly in Robin’s Sherwood Forest home, Crowe has taken it upon himself to contribute the majority of the wood to the film with a dull portrayal of what is clearly a far more interesting Character.For a role so close to ones he has excelled in previously it is hard to understand why there is such a lack of enthusiasm and passion here.
Elsewhere Cate Blanchett puts in a solid turn as the begrudged but empowered Marion Loxley, while British actor Mark Strong does a good job of appearing brooding and sinister despite his lack of dialogue.
The real star of the film however is Oscar Isaac as the naive and arrogant Prince John, toying with the character’s vulgar confidence as he turns from disgruntled prince to ardent but completely inept king. Every second of screen time seems to be made entirely his own and it is hard not be captivated by his ‘bad guy you love to hate’ performance, opting for his sleazy king above the slightly overlooked Sheriff of Nottingham.
Ridley Scott’s latest take on Robin Hood clearly showed ambition, and outlined what could have been a fantastic film and the first of this summer’s true blockbusters.
Unfortunately although the film clearly has its merits the end result is something which does no justice to Scott as a director, Crowe as a leading man, or the legend of Robin Hood.
2/5
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The Immaculate Inception

10 May, 2010

Following last week’s news of J J Abrams’ latest hype-fest, Super 8, sneaking its way onto screens Brit director Christopher Nolan is hot on his heels with a new trailer for Inception. The third trailer shows a little bit more of what to expect from Nolan’s upcoming, super-secret, super-complex thriller. With cast and crew still tight-lipped about the film, despite the upcoming July release, it’s probably best to make the most of this video and start throwing wild theories about what is going on across the internet in the hope that you might just land on something eventually. Despite the confusion though, this looks absolutely stunning and comparisons are already being drawn to the first Matrix film in relation to the technical accomplishments of Inception. There’s a little bit more on the narrative here as well, with shots of what we can assume is mind thief Leonardo Di Caprio’s wife and a few scenes with Michael Caine looking cool.

Check out the trailer here and, please, if you have any idea what is happening, let me know.

The Chad Cinema New Year New Film Round-up

31 December, 2009

 January

Ignoring the fact that, realistically, people should be spending January preventing everyone they know from paying to see Did You Hear About the Morgan’s, the real one to watch here are Pixar’s 3D rejigging of Toy Story 2 and French crime flick A Prophet. Admittedly, the pair won’t sit hand in hand (unless you have a particular urge to dispel the saccharine happiness of Pixar’s sequel with a brutal, unsettling account of modern French criminality) but general opinion of A Prophet is that it is the first film to really contend with La Haine in terms of modern French cinema, and for the other count everyone loves Woody.

Also in cinemas will be Martin Campbell’s Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson in the Casino Royale’s directors latest action thriller as a renegade police man who’s daughter is murdered in what appears to be an attempt on his life. But all is not what it seems for our blue-eyed hero, as he uncovers his daughter’s involvement in a complex government conspiracy. If you like your action films with less though the Wachowski brothers’ Ninja Assassin will also be nunchuk-ing it’s way into a cinema near you, based on the popular comic book series of a masterless ninja.

February

Disney’s first old school 2D fairytale film in donkey’s years, The Princess and the Frog, comes out this month with the hope of harking back to a simpler, less computer-driven time. I’ve got high hopes for the film seeing as it is, after all, how the company made its name and it would be tragic for the classic style of animation to die a death completely. Disney are also patting themselves on the back for the fact that this will be their first film since the company was created to feature a black protagonist – although all that sounds like a piece of news a good 60 years late in coming to me.

Also worth a mention are The Wolfman, because it’s got Benico Del Toro in it, and children’s adventure saga Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief, because you’ll be sick of seeing it franchised in every way imaginable by March.

March

Tim Burton’s latest foray into the depths of his utterly messed up head arrives in the form of Alice in Wonderland, which will also be the directors first film to utilise 3D.  Inevitably this will be a runaway box office success and with Depp and Bonham-Carter getting their teeth into the big roles there’s no shortage of talent on offer to back up the Director’s superbly dark and manic vision.

Hack and slash actioner Clash of the Titans will also be on the big screens, starring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson in this Jason and the Argonauts style big budget revamp. Also out this month will be Scorsese sppok-a-thon Shutter Island and Matt Damon Bourne-a-like Green Zone, which should be well worth a look.

ApriloProving that there’s still some cash to be bled out of the comic book movie cash-in, Iron Man 2 ka-pows its way onto screens. Hopefully better than the slightly overlong first film, Robert Downey Jr returns as the cocky Tony Stark, this time taking on a new secretary in Maggie Gylenhaal and a new enemy in Mickey Rourke.

Also look out for Kick Ass, which could be the Shoot Em Up of 2010 and features children who brutally murder people and swear lots.

May

Blockbuster season get’s underway early as Sex and the City 2, Prince of Persia and Robin Hood all square up to rake in on the early summer market. Elsewhere Nightmare on Elm Street looks set to ruin everything that was good about one of cinema’s most pivotal and entertaining horror films, while Rec 2 sneaks into cinemas to in the hope of building on the success of the truly fantastic Spanish horror film that came before it.

June

Will Smith produced high-kicking remake The Karate Kid gets set to upset an awful lot of people by recreating the heartfelt tale of a young boy forced into painting fences for an old man with a badass moustache. The downside here is that it stars Smith’s son, the plus side is that it’s also got Jackie Chan .

July

The biggest hitter for July will undoubtably be the third installment of the New Moon saga, Eclipse, but with the release of Toy Story 3 at the same time this could be one of the closest fought battles for the year’s box office receipts.

August

A good month for action, August sees the release of Christopher Nolan’s enigmatic Inception, starring Leonardo Di Caprio in a film which claims to involve a crime in the depths of a man’s mind. Special effects and head scratching will be mandatory.

Also on screen will be Angelina Jolie led spy thriller Salt and testosterone fuelled super action film The Expendables, starring every action star ever to have run away from something blowing up in slow motion.

September

apparently no films will be released next September, so you should probably go for a walk or communicate with another human or something.

October

Animated film Despicable Me, starring Steve Carrell, is set to break new ground through using pioneering digital technology to create a feature length film using only computer generated characters voiced by popular actors of the day. If you ask me, it will never take off…

November

Harry Potter returns to the big screens for the first part of the final book in J.K Rowling’s hokum pokum series, Deathly Hallows. If that doesn’t float your boat and you fancy something more high brow Jackass will also be available in 3D from 5th November.

December

Christmas blockbuster season returns with a vengeance as Chronicles of Narnia:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, comic book adaptation The Green Hornet and the incredible looking Tron: Legacy all arrive in time to get away from your family.

Ridley’s Robin Arrives

15 December, 2009

It has been trapped in development hell for years – mainly due to an intricate casting system which seemed to involve getting into a punch-up with anyone and everyone who may have been unfortunate enough to have auditioned – but the first glimpse of Ridley Scott’s Robin hood has finally arrived on the internet.

Set for release in 2010 (providing you will believe absolutely anything you are told), the Russel Crowe led biopic claims to set our the ‘true’ story of the infamous outlaw and his rise to notoriety.

Now seemingly settled on the title of Robin Hood after seemingly trying out every possible combination of words in the English language, the film also stars Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian and the not-at-all-menacing-looking Matthew Macfayden as The Sheriff of Nottingham.

To be honest, the trailer looks like a more British version of the opening battle scenes of Gladiator, but then that is probably not all bad. Crowe gets to husky grumble a bit in his trademark style, although it’s have any idea if he is attempting an accent having upped the gruff-factor to 11. Clearly Crowe feels Christian Bale needs a run for his money following the last two Batman films.

The trailer looks much darker than I think most people were anticipating, and it certainly shows all the hallmarks of the historical action epic exhibited in Gladiator, Braveheart et al, but I’m reserving judgement until we get more than a minute and a half of moody looking shots in the dark.

You can watch the trailer over at comingsoon.net here.

The jury is out on whether or not this Dylan-esque ditty will be included in the update:

Why I love zombies…

4 November, 2009

night_of_the_living_dead

George A. Romero was the first man to put flesh eating hordes of the undead onto celluloid in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead. Since then the pasty looking ones have taken on a life of their own (sic), with an endless army of the great exhumed hitting the big screen for our enjoyment and delectation.

Romero set the trend for the super low budget style of the zombie films we know and love today, creating the film on a budget of $114,000 and using a simple narrative, snappy writing, smart camera tricks and clever design and make-up to work with the constraints of his budget rather than against it. The end result was a film that took in a total of $30million worldwide.

Obviously, this seemed like the perfect amateur money making formula. But what the thousands of copy-cats failed to notice was that it was the immaculately constructed script and mythology that went into making Night of the Living Dead such an iconic, subversive piece of cinema, not just gratuitous brain-munching.

And so a new genre was born, the ultra-low budget, mainly god awful and predominantly straight-to-video zombie film. Here lies one of the greatest creations in cinema history, a place where you can enjoy a good 80 minutes of attention grabbing, nonsensical, cinematic bliss – with the most sublimely absurd titles known to man.

For the uninformed, here are some of my favourites:

  • Space Zombie Bingo!!! (Three explanation marks, three!)
  • Zombie Holocaust (simple, concise, effective)
  • Zombie Strippers (for raising the bar of absurdity)
  • Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! (a personal favourite and proof repetition gets you noticed)
  • Zombie Honeymoon (never a good way to start married life)
  • The Zombie Diaries (criminally undermined in the Bridget Jones series)
  • Stubbs the Zombie in ‘Rebel Without a Pulse’ (no more explanation needed)
  • Wu long tian shi zhao ji gui AKA Kung-Fu Zombie (because we all dreamed that, one day, someone would)
  • Gay Zombie (because zombies swing both ways)
  • Z: A Zombie Musical (who says the undead can’t sing and dance?)
  • Zombie Vegetarians (representing team veggie)
  • Get Along Little Zombie (a heartwarming tale of flesh eating youngsters)
  • No. My Other Possessed-Zombie Girlfriend. (if there’s a better title out there, I sure as hell don’t know it)

And finally… A few more top zombie facts, zombie-fact-fans:

Although Romero was first to put flesh eating zombies to screen, the first big screen appearance of the zombie was in the 1932 film White Zombie, starring man-god Bela Lugosi as the wonderfully named voodoo master, Murder Legendre.

In writing Night of the Living Dead, Romero openly’ admits to ripping off Richard Matheson’s superb 1954 book, I Am Legend, which everyone should have read.

Despite having no end of trouble finding a distributor for the film (many of whom wanted a re-shot ‘Happy’ ending), Romero refused to change the original print or make cuts to get his film into cinemas and insisted it should be shown in its entirety.

The cause of the zombie outbreak is never explained throughout the film’s duration. This might be obvious to some but it’s a subtlety that lots of people miss – another reason why it is so great. The closest we get to an explanation is offered by a scientist citing radiation from a space probe – another nod to militant cold war tactics in the film.

The film was made using chocolate sauce for blood and cooked ham as a substitute for human flesh, with mortician’s wax as make up for the zombies.

There are nine characters named ‘Zombie-with-gun’ in sequel, Day of the Dead.

It has been remade twice, made 3d and treated in 2004 to produce a colour version of the original. All of these are rubbish.

Everyone can do a good zombie impression, with sound effects. But mine is best.

When Halloween loses its spook…

30 October, 2009

Modern horror films are rubbish. There I’ve said it, it’s a fact.

The problem is, as with so much of Hollywood these days, a lack of imagination. Horror films in their giddy, slash-filled glory days were gloriously damaging; long, controlled lessons in  building tension and fear to such a point that you would willing stave your own face in on the chair in front just to save yourself from the thundering, inevitable crescendo.

Horror films fell out of favour in the 80s and 90s but have always been much of a hit and miss genre. But when they are done well there’s few other films that can affect you as much as a horror good enough to leave you checking the door three times and leaving the lights on ‘just to be sure’.

The point is that the time for peering at a film through iron clasped fingers has been and gone, so much so that it is now a cliche used in awful adverts for awful horror films which show the ‘terrified audience’ throwing their popcorn into the air whilst watching scenes far too startling to show on your whimpering, cowardly television.

Don’t get me wrong, I love horror films. But the reason I love them is the way they can get into your head like no other type of film. Modern horror has increasingly drifted away from this idea and opted to run away with shocking an audience rather than scaring them. Films like the never-ending Saw saga and the two Hostel films are uncomfortable to watch, but not because they make your mind play tricks on you and terrify you into imagining what could be there. These films are all about the sharp sudden shock of watching the face jolt up behind the window, or watching some squawking damsel lose an arm with a fountain of haemoglobin.

Now this is all well and good, but I can get a sudden shock by slamming my foot in a door. And I get tired of that quickly too.

So this Halloween, rather than going to watch Saw VI or Rob Zombie’s horrendous looking Halloween II, why not hunt down one of these classic horror films.

The classic as good as everyone says it is:

Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock’s old school horror can still throw it’s weight around today. Rather than going for outright scares and violence, Hitchcock eeks out the suspense and keeps you guessing at what the hell is actually happening right up until the finalé. It’s easy to snub a film like this by today’s break-neck standards, but I dare you to go back to this monochrome gem and dive in without preconceptions or an adequate source of lighting. Steer clear of Gus Van Saints’ god awful 1998 remake mind, for christ’s sake…

The one that crossed the genres best:

Alien

Ridley Scott’s space horror brought a new lease of life to both horror films and sci-fi. It basically reinvented a dying genre by turning it into a new style of horror, where a fear of the vast unknown and utter, utter isolation could be utilised to scare the living crap out of you. The first film of the franchise, Alien took a slow, meticulously controlled pace from start to finish and re-set the benchmark for horror.

The one you might not have heard of:

À l’intérieur  (Inside)

This magnificently monstrous French horror from 2007 centres on a heavily pregnant mother-to-be who is involved a horrific car crash which kills her husband, leaving only her and her unborn child alive. The film picks up four months later at when, alone in her home at christmas,  the woman receives a knock at the door from an utter, utter, nutcase of a woman who attempts to steal her unborn child and kills anyone and everyone that might be able to offer help to our rotund protagonist. Relatively unknown, this is a magnificent piece of horror film-making and, at best, brutally unforgiving.

The one to make you lose your appetite:

Night of the living dead

George A Romero’s first film of his ongoing saga and the zombie film that fathered all zombie films. Romero’s iconic film is another masterclass in misdirection and suspense, distracting you from the real message of the film which only hammers home in the final sequence. Buckets of offal and chocolate sauce were used to create the eerily realistic effects on Romero’s super-tight budget, and it still makes for uneasy viewing today.

The British Benchmark:

The Wicker Man

Worth watching alone for Christopher Lee’s mightiest of performances, this post-Hammer horror Brit production is still one of the greatest and most unsettling horror films ever made. Robin Hardy’s trick here is the way he effortlessly eases the audience in to Edward Woodward’s shoes as Sgt Howie, gradually unveiling the unsettling reality of Howie’s predicament into the iconic final sequence.

Edit: Alternatively you could watch this, indefinitely.

He now runs California…

20 October, 2009

Yes, I have completely stolen this from Empire, but sometimes the world needs to see something incredible.

Ten points go to whoever can tell me what the hell is so funny

ATTENTION WORLD – There is an Expendables trailer.

15 October, 2009

In the past I may have sounded over-excited about the impending release of The Expendables next year. But now the evidence is here, in three-minutes of pure, ball kicking glory. And it’s awesome.

There is always a place in my heart for mindless, shallow, thrill-seeking action films and from the looks of it The Expendables ticks all the boxes.

Make no mistake, there is more testosterone here than gym full of rhinos. But I think we should all take a gleeful delight in the fact that the majority of this trailer involves watching things get blown up, shot at, or beaten up.

The trailer first emerged last night at the movie blog and shows Stallone et al getting stuck in to a hefty glimpse of the final film. The banter between the cast looks good (Statham’s ‘I’m getting a text’ line and Jet Li’s small man complex stand-out here, as well as his ‘I would have winned’ line) and harks back to the glory days of muscle bound action one-liners that made the original 80s action films so amazing.

There’s a few interesting plot teases as well, why are Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren fighting at the end? Aren’t they both on the same side? Mickey Rourke looks ace as the group’s leader. The Stath and Li look great in the high kicking roles. Also interesting is Danny Trejo, conspicuous here by his absence, who many assumed would be the bad guy head honcho – we can just hope that the world’s baddest Mexican will be getting all the screen time he deserves.

Colour me excited.

Stallone’s new Death Wish

1 October, 2009

Hollywood iron man Sylvester Stallone is all over the place at the moment. If he’s not drawing together the world’s most amazing cast of arse-kicking hard-as-nails I-drink-beer-while-I’m-smashing-things-to-pieces action stars for upcoming super-actioner The Expendables, or working out how to be the meanest looking 63-year-old on the planet in the next Rambo film, he’s deciding whether or not remake 1974 Charles Bronson classic, Death Wish.

The Italian Stallion has been speaking to Empire about how he hopes to put together a remake of the brutal exploitation flick, but at least he seems fairly grounded about the whole idea and is fully aware of just how much he could mess up, and just how much Charles Bronson would come back from the dead just to kick his arse if he did.

“It’s a classic morality tale, where you take a civilised man and take away everything that matters to him so he becomes primitive again,” he said, speaking in the interview.  “The story’s been done many times, and when it’s done well, it’s an emotionally engaging film. The trouble with remakes is that people fall in love with the original. It’s like peanut butter. If you try to change the taste of peanut butter, you’re in trouble.”

The more I hear from the Slyster these days the more I like him. At least he’s fully aware of how carefully he would have to tread about such a loved piece of cinema. Not only does he blatently know what he’s good at and what people want from him (ie smashing people’s heads in and killing generic South Americans with a machine gun the size of a cow) – but he does it exceptionally well. And how could you not love a man who can make peanut butter analogies and bring together Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Sly himself and Arnold Schwarzenegger for at least an hour and a half of gun fights and explosions?

But I digress, here is a chance to see Bronson in all of his Death Wish, no-nonsense ass-kickery. If there’s a better way to get a seat on the subway I don’t know about it.

A new depth to Hollywood…

1 September, 2009

James Cameron’s hype machine has been whirring frenetically for what seems like several decades in anticipation of his upcoming film Avatar, which – according to Cameron at least – will revolutionise cinema and the way we watch films.

For those not in the know, Avatar is Cameron’s come-back superhit (his first feature film since 1997’s record destroying Titanic) and is set to change all of our lives forever on its release this Christmas.

The trick here is the new 3d cameras Cameron has spent the past decade developing, promising an unparallelled depth of field and a type of 3D which is not possible using current techniques.

Unfortunately for Cameron decades of developments and around 12 months worth of clever marketing may have worked on Hollywood’s production gurus  – with production firms including Disney and Pixar, as well as directors like Guillermo Del Toro pledging their allegiance to his new system – but the fans seem yet to be convinced.

After the release of the first official teaser trailer for the film – which came initially at the cringingly titled ‘Avatar Day’ where selected cinemas around the world screened 15 minutes of 3D tit-bits for the film – floodgates opened, and the torrent of hate for Cameron’s latest began – with many claiming the promised 3D revolution was nothing more than a mediocre, video-game like cut-scene.

The problem Cameron now faces is to find a way to win back his fickle fans. And with the internet churning out more and more hate propaganda like this by the day, it’s hard to see how that will turn around.

Luckily for Cameron his ‘future of cinema’ idea which was such a hit with panicky studio bosses also happens to be a rather superb business model. Despite the resentment of fans, Cameron has the luxury of insisting he is right, and that his new 3D system, unlike the one currently being utilised by an increasingly large number of new releases, is as breathtaking as he claims. The problem here for the haters is that, for the time being at least, no one can prove him wrong. Slating Avatar for it’s video-game like look on a computer screen is easy, and can be just as easily defended by claiming the true image is only revealed in the cinema.

I’m also certain that the only victor of this stand-off will be curiosity. Fans who berate the trailer will be the first in line come the film’s release, just to be certain that they were right. And anyone who wants to decide for themselves will have  to fork out at the big screen.

And here we come back to those panicky studio bosses. The Hollywood big cheeses have been fighting a losing battle against piracy for years now. And with films now commonly leaking out and spreading almost instantly through internet in higher and higher quality before they even hit the cinemas, the studios are running out of options to stamp the problem out. Cameron’s vision of the future is, therefore, particularly appetising to the powerful people – his revolutionary technique is one which can only be leaked in an inferior quality, and one which punters will have to fork out for to see properly.

The money recouped from salvaging hollywood’s nose-diving box office receipts would more than outweigh the cost of Cameron’s Avatar (rumoured to have smashed its $200m budget way back) flopping. So a 3D film future is more appealing than ever to those who hold the purse strings tightly, making Avatar’s popular and critical success all but irrelevant to the impact of Cameron’s jazzy technology.

So no wonder Cameron is confident, the future of cinema looks all but decided already.

But enough with these nonsense conspiracy theories, it might be alright. Take a look and tell me what you think…