Reviews

Her Review

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Her [2014]

Sci-Fi |Romance |Drama (126 min) [15]

Her tells an unconventional and quirky story in the not so distant future, which sees downhearted and lonely writer Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) dealing with life after the breakup of a long-time relationship. One day Theodore comes across an ad offering the world’s first artificial intelligent operating system which he decides to buy. Soon he finds himself captivated with the consciousness called Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) with whom he finds himself falling in love with. Samantha evolves every day, becoming seemingly more human and helping Theodore in ways others have failed. However the unorthodox relationship soon has Theodore feeling slightly foolish at having fallen for a computer and how he must appear to everybody else.

The movie plays like many other rom-coms, with the ups and downs of relationships, the lovers tiffs and heartbreak, albeit between a computer and man. However the flirtatious voice of Johansson has the viewer forgetting that she is indeed artificial and buying into the idea that this is a normal relationship just like any other. Phoenix brings a gentleness and humour to Theodore, which makes him a very affable character, which is important considering he is in nearly every scene.

Her is a sad, clever and original story that is a must see for any movie-goer. Although the storyline may seem strange, it’s a beautifully told and flawless film with the most believable love story you are probably to see on screen this year. Director Spike Jonze has created a superb movie with gorgeous scene after scene, which interwoven with a sci-fi element, has successfully created a compelling story with two very complex characters. Make sure to have an open mind when seeing this movie and you are definitely going to be blow away by its originality.

5/5 stars

Joshua Williams (Head Reviewer)

 

The Lego Movie

Monday, April 14, 2014
The Lego Movie (2014)
 Animation / Adventure / Comedy (100 minutes) [12a]

Hollywood seems to be having an off day of late when it comes to creating a comedic buzz. The Lego Movie is an unexpected treat of good clean comedy at its very best for all to enjoy.

Warner Brothers and the Danish toy manufacturer show us how it’s done with this all star, fast paced, laugh a minute animation, which is filled with enough hilarious sequences to get even the most disengaged child rolling around with laughter.

There are far too many geeky and nostalgic one-liners to mention here without a major spoiler alert, but suffice to say, these give this film an extra edge to bring in the big kids too.

Christopher Miller and Phil Lord were charged with writing and directing this film following their success with movies such as Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. They employ the same effective, borderline brutal editing style they demonstrated in 21 Jump Street at times, but also have the ability to squeeze comedy from the most unanticipated sequences. Imagination and visual awareness is not something that falls short here.

Chris Pratt plays the voice of lead character Emmet, the no frills construction worker Lego man that we all know so well. Emmet is believed to be ‘The Special’ from a prophecy read out by Lego Gandalf (Morgan Freeman). Emmet is believed to be the one to liberate the Lego world from the clutches of the aptly named President business who is at the top of the Lego pecking order controlling the lives and worlds of every Lego man or woman that you have ever known.

There are so many joyful surprises as the film progresses, not least the daring and quite brilliant ending. It is difficult to believe that a Lego movie with so many other corporate entities involved - could work so well, and be so thoroughly mad at the same time.

This is one film that will not disappoint. If one had to find fault, it would be with the occasional dull scene that is put to shame by copious amounts of genius and laughter elsewhere. The plot of this movie isn’t exactly hard-hitting or too adventurous, however this can be forgiven quite easily as it holds its own on so many other levels

Please be warned that this film does come with a health warning in the form of the annoyingly addictive ‘Awesome Song’, which is expected to linger long after you have left the cinema, especially if there are children present.

4/5

Matt Roberts(project Coordinator)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                  

One Chance

Monday, April 14, 2014

 One Chance (2013)

Biography/ Drama/ Comedy (103 minutes) [12a]

 One Chance is an inspirational biopic that captures the hearts and minds of the audience, as it attempts to take the viewer on the rags to riches journey of world renowned Opera singer and 2007 Britain’s Got Talent champion Paul Potts. 

With a brilliantly cast assortment of British acting talent this is one film that is almost comparable to the brilliance of such classics as Brassed off, Little Voice or Made in Dagenham.

James Corden shakes off his laddish and comedic stereotype with his meaningful portrayal of the wannabe Opera virtuoso. At first one may be alarmed at the through and through Londoner attempting his best Bristol drawl. Do not let this be a deterrent, Corden preservers with this to bring to life the wretched childhood, love life and eventual stardom of Paul Potts.

Assisting Corden in this triumph over adversity plot is a wealth of support, such as Mackenzie Crook portraying Paul Potts Phone shop supervisor and rebellious best friend, Colm Meaney playing the stern disenchanted, proletarian father figure and Julie Walters who does her kindly and eccentric mother hen routine with her usual gusto. A real pleasure to watch is the lesser known Alexandra Roach, who plays the love interest of Potts.

Academy Award winning Director David Frankel, somehow manages to keep it all together and down to earth by filming exclusively in Port Talbot. His attention to detail in capturing the drudgery of everyday life, such as working at the local branch of Carphone Warehouse and gritty steelwork scenes, assist in convincing the audience of how the young Potts would have undoubtedly found the small town existence tough. One can easily believe from several early scenes, that Potts would have certainly been the outcast for not holding the same values or interests as his contemporaries.

Even if you’ve never heard of Paul Potts or watched Britain’s Got Talent, you’re never in any doubt as to how this ends. The audition scene from the tenor’s turn on Britain’s Got Talent is intercut with real footage from the ITV broadcast with a significantly less polished-looking Piers, Simon and Amanda. Frankel’s decision to end the film just as Paul is on the cusp of fame is a genius move.

Although not quite as musical-worthy as films such as Billy Elliot, the heart-warming underdog subject matter is a recipe for success. The chosen cast complement each other well. Even though somewhat predictable, this film will certainly leave you with that satisfied feeling one gets after watching a good film.

 

4/5

Matt Roberts (Project Coordinator)

 

 

The Monuments Men

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Monuments Men [2014]

 
Action | Biography | Drama | (118 min) [12A]

With a fully locked and loaded magazine of acting thoroughbreds, this is one war film that vaguely harks back to the line-up format of cult classics such as Kelly’s Heroes or The Dirty Dozen.

This film, directed by and starring George Clooney attempts to honour the actions of the real Monuments Men, a largely forgotten specialist unit put together during the Second World War, with the sole purpose of retrieving millions of stolen artefacts before being destroyed by the retreating Nazis.

For those seeking the thrill of armchair combat scenes this probably won’t make the grade. This is a film that offers the viewer something with a little bit more integrity, as it attempts to follow the small band of soldiers who are not only showing signs of beginning to creak with age, but also openly discuss the futility of war and even the value of their own mission in relation to losing comrades.

Clooney, plays Lt Frank Stokes, the all American leader of a small team of art experts from both sides of the pond, who are recruited to take on the mammoth task of saving some of Europe’s most valuable cultural artefacts, which are under constant threat from Allied bombardment as they advance towards Berlin and also from the Nazi’s who are ordered to destroy the evidence rather than leave it behind for the enemy.

Hugh Bonneville really fly’s the flag for Britain in this film. He plays Donald Jeffries a tragic yet heroic character, given a second chance by his old friend Stokes. He is joined by Lt James Granger (Matt Damon) Sergeant Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett) Sgt Walter Garfield (John Goodman) Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) Private Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and Private Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas).

Bill Murray fans will enjoy his rare solemn performance which at times throughout the film indicate the underlying anti-war message. John Goodman works his usual magic and seems to hold the film together with his gentle giant persona and witty one liners. Matt Damon seems restrained compared to his Saving Private Ryan or Bourne performance and Cate Blanchett may need to brush up on her French accent for future Parisian museum curator roles.

In summary this film is lost somewhere between Hollywood adaptation and history essay. This should not however deter you from going to see a well shot, relatively well cast film with a number of scenes that can only be described as lovely. This charmingly told tale will appeal to the inner Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.

 4/5 stars  

Matt Roberts. (Film in Afan Project Coordinator)

Hunger Games: Breaking Fire

Wednesday, January 08, 2014
The Hunger Games: Breaking Fire [2013]
 
Sci-Fi | Adventure | Action | (146 min) [12A]

Revolution is in the air. Breaking Fire continues on from the first movie which sees Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, The Kids Are All Right) return home to ordinary life in District 12, albeit in the Victor’s Village and with plenty of money.  Katniss soon learns their dealings with the Capitol are not over when President Snow arrives at her home warning her against any further defiance and to convince the public she is in love with Peeta.  As victors of the Games, it is their job to tour the districts and convince the public that their stint with the berries was out of love, and not in defiance of the state. 

The Victory Tour is a complete failure, which sees escalating violence against the Districts with Katniss and Peeta helpless to do anything. Then news arrives that the Seventy-Fifth Hunger Games will reap from past victors of the games, moving from children killing children to successful and experienced killers pitted against one another. Our two heroes are chosen which sees them back in a murderous arena, fighting for their lives once more. 
The film side-tracks and waters down a lot of the key ideas and concepts of the book, particularly concerning the de-sensitisation of killing in modern entertainment and especially the rebellion and politics that were over-simplified, probably to appeal to the widest audience possible. The film had a massive budget, but huge parts of the arena were blatantly made unnecessarily of CGI which took away the authenticity of some scenes of the movie. 

Even though the film is slow at certain parts of the movie, it soon picks up in the arena with the Games veterans, which becomes obvious have an underlying plan that only reveals itself at the end. The movie is a definite watch, even if just to see what the hype is. However when you are no longer high on the hype, you’ll realise that the film isn’t all so spectacular and as the middle film, it cuts abruptly and falls flat of meeting expectations you really think you’re going to get. Even so, the saga continues next year with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.

3/5 stars

Joshua Williams (Head Reviewer)

How I live Now

Tuesday, November 05, 2013
How I Live Now [2013] 

Action| Drama | Thriller | (101 min) [15]

Saoirse Ronan (Lovely Bones, Hanna) plays Daisy, an American teenager sent to stay with her British cousins –Edmond, Isaac and Piper – in the UK countryside. Based upon the novel of the same name by Meg Rossoff, Daisy soon finds herself smitten with her cousin Edmond (George MacKay, Sunshine On Leith, Defiance) and enjoying a care-free and blissful summer of picnics and swimming, ignorant of the political events happening in the wider world. However, this all changes when a nuclear device is detonated in London and civil war ensues which sees the family separated. This ignites a chain of events that sees the cousins trying to find a way home to the farmhouse and reunite.

Though sticking true to the novel, the idea of cousins in this unconventional relationship may not appeal to everyone and in some instances is the only thing that crosses your mind when Daisy and Edmond are seen together on screen – it even crosses Daisy’s when she states “We shouldn’t…” Even so, the movie captures young love in all its essence and succeeds in pushing the boundaries of what people consider “normal”.
For those expecting a storyline similar to the dystopian future portrayed in The Hunger Games, How I Live Now offers a different reality – one that’s much more gritty, negative and one of lost innocence, but also one that ends with optimism and hope.

How I Live Now is a great movie, however it’s 15 rating which includes rotting corpses, on-going sexual threat and the more than average cousinly love story may not be everyone’s definition of your typical Sunday afternoon movie. If you would like to watch a similar movie, then check out Tomorrow, When the War Began for a far more family friendly experience.

3/5 stars

Joshua Williams (Head Reviewer)

The Croods

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Croods [2013]

Animation | Comedy | Adventure | Family (143 min) [12A]

After their cave is destroyed, a Stone Age family known as the Croods must struggle to survive in an unfamiliar world full of new experiences and spectacular scenery brimming with danger in the form of carnivorous plants, swarming birds with insatiable appetites and a very hungry feline that refuses to give up the chase. Patriarch of the family Grug (Nicholas Cage, Face/Off, National Treasure) is tasked with leading his wife, children and much loved mother-in-law across unknown territory and deal with family feuding that threatens to break the family apart. 

Grug’s daughter Eep (Emma Stone, The Help, The Amazing Spider-Man) plays the typical angsty teenager struggling to find their place in the world who has grown tired of her monotonous repetitive life. That is until the family meet nomad and inventor Guy (Ryan Reynolds, Buried, Green Lantern), which marks the end of their lives as their know it. The movie offers an insight into how caveman may have reacted to new things such as fire and shoes, which children might not totally understand but will surely find it extremely amusing.

The movie sees The Croods evolve from cave dwellers that are afraid of the dark, to a family that learns to live and enjoy life rather than merely survive day to day. The Croods offers an energetic, fast paced adventure full of excitement and thrills that will definitely ensure an enjoyable experience for adults and children alike. If you or your young ones enjoyed this, you should watch The Incredibles, Despicable Me or Monster’s University that’s showing in Croeserw Enterprise Centre on the 10th of October!

3/5 stars
Joshua Williams (Head Reviewer)


The Great Gatsby

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Drama | Romance (143 min) [12A]

The Great Gatsby is a story that follows writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire, The Spiderman trilogy) as he comes to New York City in 1922 – an era of glitz and glam, loosening morals and opportunity for all. Baz Luhrmann directs a great performance which sees Nick moving to Long Island, next door to the elusive millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCrapio, Inception, Titanic), a new money type that has struck it lucky during the boom years of rising stock markets. Across the bay lives Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan, Drive, Never Let Me Go) whom Gatsby courted temporarily during WW1, and her husband Tom (Joel Edgarton, The Thing) – part of an established old money, blue blood family. Nick soon comes to see through the cracks of Gatsby’s lavish façade and finds a man plagued by obsession and oncoming tragedy.

 

Luhrmann adds to this classic story by capturing 1920s New York in all its glory. From its grand sets and impressive scenery to the dazzling parties in the Gatsby Mansion and iconic costumes, the movie offers a spectacular and vivid journey to the viewer. It may seem questionable to some, how Maguire was chosen to play the watchful narrator of the story-Nick Carraway-as he has still yet to shake his Peter Parker image. Maguire portrays Nick as placid and adds no depth to his character, at times standing on the side line as if he doesn’t belong to the plot, gaping at everything and everyone, only there to explain and egg on the other characters.  

 

Overall The Great Gatsby is a great movie to watch. Although sticking close to the original plot of Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, the 2013 version offers a tantalising and beautiful adaptation, dressed up in glitter, tinsel and lights, which definitely makes the movie worth watching to the end, even if only for the view. If you liked this, you might consider watching Moulin Rouge.

3.5/5 stars

Joshua Williams (Head Reviewer)

The Lone Ranger 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Lone Ranger [2013]

Western | Action | Adventure (149 min) [12A]

The Lone Ranger is an epic adventure set in the American west that tells the story of Texas Ranger John Reid (Armie Hammer, The Social Network,  J.Edgar) and his Native Indian – albeit reluctant – companion Tonto (Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland). The story begins in 1933 which sees Tonto recollecting his and the Lone Ranger’s earliest attempts at opposing corruptness and bringing justice to the Wild West.

Depp’s wit and quirkiness portrays Tonto exceptionally and adds a whole other side to the character by maintaining a seriousness whilst also having a fun side that only Depp could bring. The comedy aspect works well with what is a reimagining take on a Western movie.

The movie delivers what only a Disney Production can create – no expenses spared to create the best sets and props whilst also taking advantage of on-scene locations in the USA, a great and captivating storyline and superb acting from Depp and Hammer, supported by Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, Les Miserables) and William Fichtner (The Dark Knight).

Although production was plagued by spiralling costs and American reviews have been negative, the end result is a fantastic watch for everybody and it brings the Lone Ranger to a whole new generation of movie goers and youngsters alike. If you liked this, watch Pirates of the Caribbean.

4.5/5 stars

Joshua Williams (Head Reviewer)

The Conjuring

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Conjuring [2013]

Horror | Thriller (112 min) [15]

From director James Wan’s (Insidious, Saw) sixth film, comes The Conjuring.  A story based on true events from the 1970s which is focused upon paranormal investigators and the Perron family. Terrorised by a dark entity in their new home, the Perron’s played by Lili Taylor (Public Enemies) and Ron Livingston (Band of Brothers, House) and their 5 daughters contact the Warren’s (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) for help.

 

The movie goes back to old school horror tactics such as ‘Don’t look under the bed’, dark cellars and the feeling that someone is in the ominous old wardrobe in the bedroom. Wan knows these are scary and it works! Add in a blindfold game of hide and seek and creaking floorboards and doors opening of their own accord, along with long, suspenseful shots and you can see why this film has the power to unsettle and play with the viewer’s emotions.

 

However, if you’re looking for a horror story that is unique and takes surprising turns at every opportunity, you may be disappointed as the movie is predictable and at some points slow and boring.

 

The Conjuring is a great movie to watch in the cinema or with a group of friends. Expect many jump shocks throughout and a night staring at the wardrobe in your room. And if you want to see more of Wan, Insidious: Chapter 2 will be in cinemas next month.

★★★☆☆

Joshua Williams (Head Reviewer) 

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  1. Her Review Caroline Lane 01-May-2014
  2. The Lego Movie Caroline Lane 14-Apr-2014
  3. One Chance Caroline Lane 14-Apr-2014
  4. The Monuments Men Caroline Lane 16-Feb-2014
  5. Hunger Games: Breaking Fire Caroline Lane 08-Jan-2014

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