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Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Ted directed by Seth Macfarlane; released in 2012

Seth Macfarlane is sick. Sick in the sense that he uses twisted, disturbing and no thrills dialogue and on more than one occasion mocks 9/11 and sick in the street slang sense; that he is ultimately one of the comedy genius’ of his generation. ‘Ted’ uses the same monikers that you expect from Macfarlane, the continual ‘close to the edge’ comedy – which  makes you question whether or not you are fully aware that you are laughing at something that mocks probably the whole world and his clever knack of presuming you have the stomach for it. Unsurprisingly this film is highly enjoyable. It tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a lonely young boy who one night wishes for his new Christmas present – a large teddy bear, to come to life. Amazingly, it comes true and from then on, Ted’s (voiced disgustingly by Macfarlane) life is transformed into one of a globally known celebrity. As the years pass however, you are thrown back into the 35-year-old life of John, who is in a 4 year relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis) and still hangs out with his best bud Ted. They love weed, still think Flash Gordon is badass and unbeknownst to them have a stalker. Packed with horrid humour that rips 9/11 (not too soon), it keeps you laughing and then thinking about what you actually just heard, which makes it a very easy watch. I loved the connection between John and Ted. However old you get, you always have your best friend and what Seth Macfarlane does well, is to not make it corny and ridiculous. Ted is a real character and not just a comedic element, which he could well have turned out to be, even though the film is called ‘Ted’. Mark Wahlberg out does his performance in ‘The Other Guys’ and really shows how he has grown as a person, since his days as a wannabe rapper and then his transition into acting and finally his acting success with ‘The Fighter’ and now this. He begrudgingly has to give up his best friend, which at times is a tough watch and unlike Macfarlane’s cartoon background, hold’s back on the humour and allows for some very emotional moments. This is what made the film great, the way in which it balanced the stupidity and outrageousness with the sadness and the anger. I also loved the supporting cast, which includes, Matt Walsh (Veep), Joel McHale (Community), Giovanni Ribisi (Contraband) and Patrick Warburton (Family Guy). They all add their dramatic and comedic skill, which enhances the film’s, already laugh-out-loud comedy. The relationship between John and Lori is a great success and enables Seth Macfarlane to really throw some curveballs, some excitement and some heartbreak and it still is able to hold its truthfulness. I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of the Seth Macfarlane world, Joel McHale and the main stars.

9/10

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home directed by Jay and Mark Duplass; released in 2012

It’s always hard to judge what you are going to get when you sit down and watch something fronted by Jason Segel. He’s far better than ‘How I Met your Mother’ in ‘Knocked Up’, funnier than ‘Knocked Up’ in ‘I Love You, Man’ and now delivers his most touching performance in the Duplass Brothers latest ‘dramedy’, ‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’. The character, ‘Jeff’, is a great fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’, and decides to live his life following the same sort of journey in his home town. On the day the film takes place, he receives a phone call from an unknown man (who has dialled the wrong number!) asking for somebody named Kevin and from then on proceeds to take any path that is led by that name. This results in a mugging, being there to help his brother on more than one occasion and finally, in the totally heart wrenching and uplifting end, discovering what he believes the reason why he has been put on this earth. What struck me most about this film is the sadness. You feel for Jeff’s mum, a woman searching for a new man, who, on the day Jeff goes on a sort of treasure hunt, believes she may have found the person of her dreams. Susan Sarandon does well to encapsulate the life of a tired mother, intent on improving both her sons normal but broken lives. You fully understand the heartache and troubles she has suffered over the years, with the loss of her husband, the lack of self belief from Jeff and the stubbornness of Pat (Ed Helms). All these factors come together to solve the family’s drawn out and unwanted lack of communication. They are able to bridge the gap and connect, with Jeff being the person who has spearheaded the reunion with his overly positive outlook on the world. He had been seen as the one who lacked ambition, who didn’t care but as the years past, he was, really, the one who at no point stopped believing. This is what makes this film a complete tear-jerker. I went into it believing it was going to be a laugh-out-loud comedy but after Jeff’s first knock back, witnessing Pat’s marriage fall apart and Sharon’s continual disappointment, you really want them to succeed and need to them have a better life.  Ed Helms is great as Jeff’s older brother Pat; buying a Porsche has finally put a cherry on the top of his mid-life crisis cake and after the discovery that his wife of a few years, Linda (Judy Greer) may be cheating on him, sends him into a complete meltdown. The only person there to help is the one person he has resented for many years, Jeff. Their brotherly relationship is touching to watch, from the moment Jeff utters anything to do with relationships, Pat points out that he has no leg to stand on in terms of what Pat has been through but when he is the only person who is actually offering any sort of advice, he agrees and when he tracks down Linda, is able to reconnect. I loved this film and was completely moved and surprised by the level of despair and complete heartbreak throughout. Much like the Duplass Brother’s previous work, ‘Cyrus’, you are taken aback by the writing and the total realism of all the performances. I would recommend this film to fans of the directors and the main stars.

9/10

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel directed by John Madden; released in 2012

I always think about growing up and becoming that person who get’s a free bus pass and a state pension. I think about how my life is going to change, what I’m going to be able to do and what will be hard. Therefore, I am so very glad that I decided to watch this film. Filled with sadness, over-the-moon excitement and a donning of the cap to the elder generation of British actors, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ is one of the most heart warming tales I’ve seen in recent years. It’s hard to watch this film and not take your eyes off the screen, from the opening monologues, as an audience, you are completely engrossed in each character’s woes and prospects. Contrasting agenda’s such as, boosting your self belief, wanting some affection, rebuilding relationships and finding long-lost one’s, results in each scene being either tinged with close to tears sadness or hand clapping jubilation. You are taken on journey’s that are lifetimes in the making, which when witnessed, taking this into account, make some scenes nearly unbearable to watch, most notably Tom Wilkinson’s character tracking down the man he has loved since he first met him over 30 years earlier. What was great about this film was the on-screen time balance between all the central characters, you are given just enough time to enjoy their individual stories and in the penultimate scene, see them all come together. I also thoroughly enjoyed Dev Patel’s performance as Sonny, the over enthusiastic, young, impressionable owner of the hotel, which in reality is a shell of its former self. He really has come along way since ‘Skins’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and now looks like he will go on to be a great leading man; he is currently appearing in ‘The Newsroom’ which I would highly recommend. As relationship’s blossom, the hotel gains admirers, which was pretty predictable but still highly enjoyable viewing. He pulls off a typical on-screen Indian accent, which sounded pretty generic but still believable. Some films border on racist when having a British Indian actor portray an Indian but in this I’m glad to say this wasn’t the case. Another great part of the film is the setting, the vibrant, loud and colourful Jaipur. It really would be a great escape for anyone wanting to get away from a past life and as the characters realise what they want to do with their lives, they really seem to warm to it, even though from the look of it, this really shouldn’t be difficult. You convince yourself you can feel, smell and taste the environment when you watch it, which enables a great backdrop to any scene, especially those involving happiness. Young actors should watch this film with great appreciation to the people they grew up watching and the people they will become when they have been on our screens for 20-30 years. This film shines a great light for British Cinema and with the recent news that funding may be reduced, I really hope it could be the catalyst for future investments and funding into films based and shot in the United Kingdom, even though this film is shot in India! I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of the actors, director John Madden and Comedy Drama’s.

8/10

The Amazing Spiderman directed by Mark Webb; released in 2012

Is it too easy to say that director Mark was able to cast his ‘Webb’ over the previously successful Spider-Man franchise? No. It isn’t too easy, as after being given the task of trying to out-do his predecessors, there was always going to be criticism; this film however, even though it does have the same plot as the original ‘Spider-Man’ (2002), is able to put a fresh spin on the historic character. With Andrew Garfield replacing Tobey Maguire and the screenwriters deciding to take Spidey back to high school, you are thrust into the world of a teenage boy, who after visiting his dad’s workplace, is unknowingly bitten and given the chance to live the life of a human-insect hybrid. Breathing fresh life into a film series that maybe didn’t need it, Andrew Garfield has successfully been able to portray the infamous Peter Parker in a tough loveable rogue sort of way, unlike the burden that Maguire believed it was. From the bite, he enjoys the power, loves chasing down bad guys and still has the time to create an arch-nemesis. What I enjoyed more about this film than the previous instalments was the coming-of-age spin on it. You see him grow into the Spider-Man character parallel to growing up and taking school exams unlike the past films which saw Maguire, already in a successful career, thrust into it. As he grows up, his powers become stronger and to the audiences enjoyment; he isn’t modest, he enjoys beating up criminals and borrowing from his portrayal of Eduardo Severin in the Facebook biopic ‘The Social Network’, is cruel and has the attitude that makes the enemy’s skin crawl. What I also loved about this film was the romance he has with Gwen Stacy, played by up and comer Emma Stone. Much like Webb’s previous directorial effort ‘500 Days of Summer’, he enables you to more than warm to the budding affection between the two and when the film reaches its explosive climax, understand the decisions made by both of them. Another great highlight of the film was the battle between Garfield and Rhys Ifans, who plays Dr. Kurt Connors, the man who decided to transform himself into a giant Lizard! The battles didn’t look like CGI, with choreography that could have been seen in other recent Marvel Films, such as ‘Captain America: First Avenger’ and ‘Thor’, as these included man on man, not Spider vs Lizard. The CGI though is used to great effect, leaping from building to building reminded me of Neo’s first leap in ‘The Matrix’; I would compare this films CGI to the ground-breaking effects seen in The Matrix Trilogy. A film that may not have been needed, with the previous trilogy of films still having undeveloped plotlines, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! Andrew Garfield, a Spider-Man fan as a young boy, really has thrown his entire life into the character, which completely shines through during the entire 136 minute duration. I loved this film and even though it doesn’t go as dark as the recent Batman re-boot, it still has a darker feel to the previous instalments, which will hopefully be developed in the sequel, planned for 2014! I would recommend it to fans of the comic, the director and Andrew Garfield.

8/10

Prometheus directed by Ridley Scott; released in 2012

As a huge fan of the original ‘Alien’ series of films I was eager to see what Ridley Scott was going to do with the new film ‘Prometheus’. With a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce and Idris Elba, unsurprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed it. The film’s premise pre-dates ‘Alien’, as the crew of the ship Prometheus are sent to an outer solar system to discover the true origin of life itself. What I enjoyed most about the film was the detailed plot, that is delivered very understandably by all the cast. The film starts off slowly, which when looking back may account for the fact the crew have spent two years in hypersleep to reach their destination and when woken are still coming to grips with their crew-mates, situation and adjusting their brain but happily, after a shocking discovery, the film’s action, suspense and true scariness builds up. The film is truly scary, I found the first deaths of two crew members and the ‘abortion’ that occurs to be sickening to watch and helped it pay homage to it’s predecessor. It also reminded me of many recent space set films, such as ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Moon’ which, set in the not to distant future aren’t made to look too ridiculous, which this, with the aid of some great CGI and costumes completely matches and at some points is even more believable. As much as I loved the film, the only let-down was the predictability of the plot, which even though is acted well, didn’t add anything to the ‘Alien’ premise. There could have been something more, something that could have taken this film to another level. Don’t go into this film thinking it is going to be better than the original, it isn’t, it’s different. There are obvious parts of the film which are there to remind you of the original series and keep you grounded but these are few and far between; the film’s action is brilliant and very enjoyable. It could have turned into a slasher movie but due to great performances, it doesn’t, the deaths of many of the crew are needed, which makes the climax all that more sad to watch. Michael Fassbender’s performance as David, the android sent to accompany the crew (saying he is a robot isn’t a spoiler, it is stated at the beginning), is by the far the stand out within the film. He is able to convince the crew of his handiness but due to being a robot has been sent a real task, which makes his performance tough to watch. So human-like but nothing like a human, he pulls it off well, better than Ian Holm in ‘Alien’ and it also reminded me of the performance of Matt Damon as Bourne; extremely efficient but unable to comprehend why. Another great aspect of the film was the performance from the British trio of Idris Elba, Sean Harris and Rafe Spall, who hold their own against a big international cast and showed grit, sadness and excitement throughout. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Prometheus’ and really believe it will rejuvenate interest in the original series and thankfully has plenty of inklings to think there could be a sequel or maybe even a new quadrilogy of films. I would recommend it to fans of science-fiction films, the original series and Michael Fassbender.

8/10