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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Things have gone very wrong by this point….

The film is about – and 50% of it is – a huge house party organised by 3 nerdy friends: Thomas (Thomas Mann), J.B.(Jonathan Daniel Brown) and standout comedy character Costa (Oliver Cooper). The plan is that by having a ‘legendary’ party they will become popular and in turn be able to ‘get’ girls they wouldnt normally be able to have.

Like many other films these days that intend to convey an element of realism – everything that’s shown is filmed from camcorders held by characters in the film. In a nod to this genre’s ridiculousness – the friend who does most of the filming has been intentionally made to not seem like a real character.  As usual you will find a door to a room left half-open just as 2 of the characters have a quiet conversation, or there will be a character with a camera coincidentally hiding in the bedroom wardrobe just as a couple are about to have sex. This is all for the sole purpose that these scenes can be filmed – and therefore seen by us.

The party although predictably ending up totally out of control is still grounded in reality. It’s not the gross-out, totally crazy style of film that you might expecting. This is a good thing, and adds a little more weight to the events that do happen. It does mean however that Project X doesn’t have the extreme drama or feature the hilarious situations that say a film like Superbad did. However it is funny in places and has a good soundtrack too.

Enjoyable but (ironically given the size of the party) not spectacular and sometimes it’s more of an experience than a film. 6/10

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007 (Daniel Craig) searching for what hides in the shadows…

Skyfall seemed to attract universal praise on it’s release, with some critics even tipping it to become the first James Bond film to win an Oscar. The truth is that although it’s of a much higher standard than most Bond films it’s not actually quite as good as all the hype would have you believe.

The whole film has a much more serious tone than usual. Bond, M and MI6 are portrayed as dinosaurs, hopelessly outgunned in a modern era where digital attacks are now able to do more damage than physical ones. One of the key points of the film is that Bond is now vulnerable, both  physically and mentally. This greatly increases the dramatic tension. In previous films you could be 99% certain that Bond would win every fight. Here the outcome of even a minor tussle is uncertain. This is greatly to the film’s benefit and instead of just throwing huge spectacular set pieces at you, the director (Sam Mendes) is able to focus just as much on realism, drama and character interaction.

I would say that after the half-way point, the story pans out pretty much as you expect it to. There’s no twist or outstanding ‘Aha!’ moment that elevates this beyond a very good film to a superb one. Also against the more sombre backdrop, Bond’s famous one-liners often seem incongrous and out of place. Javier Bardem deserves a mention as the villain of the piece, he comes across as particularly dangerous and menacing. Without giving too much away : the end of the film is interesting since there is a change-of-guard and a reintroduction of old characters. A reboot seems to be indicated with Bond himself apparently back on form.

A very good Bond film, refreshing and dramatic. 7/10

The trouble with planes is that there is always an ’emergency’ axe on board.

A group of four strangers win a competition run by the social site All2gethr.com (no doubt meant to represent Facebook) and the prize is an all expenses paid flight to New York. However first they must take part in the in-flight entertainment, which takes the form of a show-and-tell masquerading as a quiz.

Initially clever, this film plays on the type of social fears we all have. Would you really want all your friends to know about that video you watched online a few nights ago? What was it called again? “Too Young To Run”? Tut tut. Would you really want everyone to know your full sexual history or should I say lack of sexual history? or how about the genital warts remover you ordered last week, or the piles cream you use on a regular basis?

Moving on from social fears the stakes are raised further when the character’s family members are put in danger. What would you do if a knife was held to your daughter’s throat? or if someone had a gun to your mother’s head? You are watching her on a screen and are hundreds of miles away and powerless to intervene. What would you do to stop them from being harmed? Anything? Well the point of this film is to explore that possibility and to terrify you in the process.

However sadly (within the context of the film) there is never actually a knife at your daughter’s throat. The film is happy to show your best friend’s head blown off with a shotgun or your brother’s arms cut off with a machete (things which are now horror film standard fare) but stops short when it comes to showing the truly terrifying and genuinely uncomfortable. Not that I want to necessarily see these things but just the possibility that they *could* happen would be frightening enough.

The acting : I couldn’t decide if it was good or bad, at times seeming realistic and at others like the slightly amateurish acting you get in a British soap opera. Also being a British film (I am English btw) it’s naturally low budget. 90% of the movie is set on a small private plane and while keeping your interest quite well, fails to hold onto it for the final third at which point the film turns into more of a standard slasher flick.

I once went on a TV quiz show here in the UK and you never got to see the host – just hear his fake cheerful voice as he talked to you for 30 minutes. and he sounded just like Alligator (the killer in this film) It was quite creepy then and has the same effect here….

I’m going to give this an average 5/10 It’s certainly inventive and starts well but doesn’t go far enough in exploring your fears to be genuinely frightening.

Hugo was shown in 3D for it’s theatrical release which meant that  the early films of George Melies were also recreated in 3D…

This is the story of Hugo, a young orphaned boy played by Asa Butterfield. He lives inside the walls of a train station and is searching for parts so that he can fix a mechanical man that he and his late father (Jude Law) had begun to fix. In the process he befriends a young girl called Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), rediscovers early film maker George Melies (Ben Kingsley), learns about his pioneering work in film, and finds himself part of new family. It’s a fairytale directed by Martin Scorsese with a story about the early history of film shoehorned in. It was also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, undeservedly in my opinion, although its not a bad film by any means.

Initially I struggled to get into the story. It feels almost like you are watching a bunch of cartoon characters albeit ones played by humans. It takes a little while before the emotional elements of the film work their magic so that you can become more accepting of these slightly unreal characters. There is lot of light humour, much of it coming from Sacha Baron Cohen’s Inspector Gustave, who has an injured left leg. Although it has to be said many of the humourous elements do feel a little flat and forced. And while it was genuinely interesting to learn about George Melies and his films, there is an educational tone to these sections which makes them feel slightly incongrous when compared with the adventure and fantasy of the main story.

In all but name this is a live-action Disney film featuring the now familiar story where the orphaned main character finds himself alone in the world and then through a ‘journey’ and with the help of various characters he meets on the way, is able to find happiness and ultimately a new family. But sadly this isn’t vintage ‘Disney’. The screenplay and dramatic pacing just aren’t good enough and the emotional hooks the film tries to get into you never go deep enough under your skin for you to really care. You were upset when Bambi’s mother died, and no doubt you cared when Simba was left alone after his father’s death, but with Hugo….. not so much.

6/10