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Gravity Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on November 14, 2013 by Adam Broome

I’ll start by saying: This is going to become one of those films that everyone raves about at the time of it’s release, but five years down the line, after the special effects in it are featured in every single blockbuster going, people look back on and say “Actually… it wasn’t that great really, was it?”

gravity-poster

The film is essentially a disaster flick. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (both on good form) are astronaughts who are doing a little maintenance work on the ol’ Hubble Space telescope, when Houston Control warns them that they ‘have a problem’. The Russians destroy a spy satellite with a missile, but unfortunately due to the high satellite density in the immediate surrounding area, create a cloud of ‘space debris’ in the process. This debris starts to orbit the Earth at speeds faster than sniper bullets, and subsequently hits the Hubble Space Telescope, killing all but our two survivors, and leaving them without any satellites left to use to contact Earth (or for that matter, any shuttle to land back on Earth with).

The ninety minute run time is (pardon the pun) well-spaced out – the pacing is great, and the film rarely drags. A lot of people seem to have problems with knowing that Sandra Bullock carries at least half the film by herself, but to her credit, she does an amicable job in the shoes of a rookie space engineer who goes from ‘panicking newbie’ to ‘female Bear Grylls’ in the space of three hours. Whenever her character has the potential to annoy, the effects are there to back her up, and the two come together seamlessly, with ‘Gorgeous George’ around to keep everything on track.

gravity-end

Be under no illusion – never before have I seen such unity between real life film clips and digital animation. If the green screen tricks of The Great Gatsby blew you away, you will flip out when you watch this. I don’t think there was a single person in the audience who wasn’t full-on bricking it for the first thirty minutes. What people don’t seem to mention is the brilliant use of point-of-view shots, putting us inside Bullock’s suit and allowing us to see the disorientating effects of zero-gravity first hand as she lashes out to hold onto anything at all with her two flailing arms. You’ll find yourself quickly starting to panic along with her.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. It’s an almost painfully simple plot about the need to survive, and the films Open Water and 127 Hours came to mind. With all due fairness, if it’s characterization and a solid script you’re looking for, they’re the better films to watch. What you have here is a better sense of special effects, and cinema taking it’s first steps into next-generation digital trickery. 3D is definitely recommended, if only for the awe-inspiring sense of travelling miles above the Earth (and you can throw in a few ‘flinch’ moments too for good measure). Disaster movie enthusiasts will have all their boxes ticked, and it was also nice to see a 12A film that didn’t feature a copious amount of violence.

Ridley Scott made space a terrifying place to be in 1979 by adding an alien. This film creates one of the best white-knuckle film experiences I’ve seen in a long time by simply taking one thing away.

Gravity.

7/10

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The Woman In Black – Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on June 24, 2012 by Adam Broome

(Dated Feb 16th, 2012)

Ever since seeing the original Japanese ‘Ju:On’ series, the horror genre – particularly in Western cinema – has been fighting a losing battle. The last big horror film I remember being released at multiplexes was a Paranormal Activity film, the original being a film that made me cry with laughter more than anything else.

Were it not for family recommendations to see this film, I probably would not have been so interested – Daniel Radcliffe’s first genuine attempt to escape his ‘Harry Potter’ name tag on the big screen, in a film based on a play based on a book.

The Woman In Black is an old-school ‘haunted house’ film set in Victorian times, about a lawyer named Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), who has fallen on hard times financially after the death of his wife. Struggling to raise his child and deal with his grief, his boss gives him one last chance to straighten himself out, by sending him to a lost corner of England to help sell an estate. Upon his arrival at the local village, it soon becomes apparent the locals want him gone as soon as possible – being superstitious, they believe the vengeful spirit of the title is set to cause the deaths of several children if her isolated homestead is disturbed. Kipps, needing to prove himself, heads to the haunted house regardless, and not soon after, every child in the village – including his own – is on the chopping block.

The marketing material for this film claimed that the approach would be based around the ‘suggested’, only hinting at the scares, and leaving most of the work to the audience’s imagination. I have to say, the film is an epic fail on this account – if anything, the antagonist is revealed far too quickly, and I’m sad to say this is definitely a ‘jump’ film, forcing me to draw comparisons with the style of I Am Legend.

The sets are lavish and well-constructed, and there is a fair amount of tension-building as Kipps wanders the house alone – not a lot happens for the first forty minutes or so. However, once the jumps start, they come thick and fast, never really letting the audience relax until the climax. Most of these jumps though are entirely unnecessary – pigeons falling down chimneys, faulty plumbing exploding etc.

But for all of the things this film does wrong, there is an equal amount of what it does right – once the sun goes down and Kipps is alone in the house, you know things are gonna ‘get real’. The ensuing jaunts in the house culminate in perhaps the most nerve-wracking thirty minutes of cinema in recent history – I have not heard an audience scream (nor seen popcorn fly) as much as this since the CUEAFS screened ‘White Ghost’ back in 2009. Drawing comparisons to Japanese horror, if you’re a fan, you can definitely see where the inspirations have been drawn from in this film. Kipps opens a door to find nobody there, but when he closes it, there are suddenly footprints from the door back up the staircase he just went down. The woman in black herself is modeled upon tricks I’ve seen several times before in ‘hair-horrors’ also – not particularly original, but more than enough to do the job if you’re new to this style of horror.

All things considered, even if you don’t scare easily, this is an entertaining romp. Radcliffe handles himself well, as does his supporting cast. The story moves along at a fair pace, and the final act – though cliched – leads to a rather unexpected ending. If you’re new to the genre, this will scare you. If you’re well-experienced with horror though, this could make you laugh. But importantly – you will laugh with the film rather than at it.

8/10

Public Image Limited – Coventry Kasbah 31/05/11

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , , , on June 1, 2011 by Adam Broome

“Oh my god! What have they done to the main hall?! It NEVER looks this good!”

I’ve just been told I have to pay an extra fiver at the door to get in. Having heard the lone female voice exclaim her alarm from inside the venue, and having been looking forward to this night for months, I quickly pay up anyway and edge inside. The main hall is all in shadow, an industrial gothic gloom cascading over a predictably middle-aged audience who were already on the booze. I pick my space three rows from the front, beneath a giant PiL logo. After doing a state of butter adverts in the late 2000s, John Lydon (A.K.A ‘Johnny Rotten’) reformed his old post-punk band to do a spout of recent reunion tours – a group that some consider to be one of the best alternative bands of the 1980s.

Much to my surprise, it’s only forty minutes later that Public Image Limited themselves enter onto the stage – no warm-up band to speak of. Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame enters onto the stage with his crew, one of whom is the spitting image of Fleetwood Mac. There is much applause, yet over all the high spirits one man is able to shout out above the rest.

“Johnny! John-ay! John-ay! Johnny Johnny!”

The singer drops a flat expression to the awaiting crowd.

“You know its funny… we play gigs all over the UK, and every night at every gig, in the audience there is always one tit!”

Johnny Rotten stares at the drunk man with well-humoured, if slightly crazed, eyes.

“Congratulations! Tonight, YOU’RE IT!”

His entrance secured, Johnny takes PiL straight into it. Public Image is the opening song, followed by a free-styled version of Albatross.  For the first twenty minutes, Johnny Rotten appears to be struggling. His aging band are still having a whale of a time playing their riffs, but Rotten seems to have difficulty hitting the high notes. However, after the opening two songs, he settles into the gig, and you can see the glimpse of the ‘godfather of punk’ that’d we’d all expected to see, come back into full bloom.

Much to my surprise, This Is Not A Love Song is actually their third song, despite being a tune you’d expect more at the encore. The hit eighties single puts everyone in a good mood, and from then on the set list plows through a stream of alternative electro punk from a bygone era. It’s pretty much all there – from the rendition of Swan Lake from Tchaikovsky’s legendary ballet suite, to Disappointed and Warrior from PiL’s later albums. The industrial beats, despite their age, are giving everyone in the room some serious bass. It’s not long before the shy head banging turns into proper ‘moshing’ down at the front, with only occasional drunkards dropping down to spoil the show from time to time. The only notable songs missing from the set list are Seatlle and Fat Chance Hotel – the latter being a song I had really hoped they’d played.

Half way through, the Kasbah security decide to add their own laser display to accompany proceedings, singling out everyone in the audience possessing a camera with a laser, to guide other personnel to their location. It doesn’t stop anybody – everyone just becomes more discreet. Whilst the guard on the balcony plays ‘pretend sniper’ with his laser pen, down in the crowd no one could care less. Several youngsters appear alongside me, demonstrating the importance of ’14+’ gigs – as usual at gigs like these, the older generations are more rowdy than the younger ones.

The music hits all the right notes. The complex mix of industrial ‘punk dance’ is pulled off with aplomb, with most songs being improvised. This did mean that some songs went on slightly too long I felt – I’m sure one song clocked in at around fifteen minutes. However, at the times when the songs connected the least, I did feel a certain emotional experience, looking at John Lydon in front of me, and being transported back to the 1970s in the Manchester music scene, doing the same as Ian Curtis and Mick Hucknall before me. Whichever way you look at it, everyone was in the presence of a music legend, and a true icon of the 20th century who revolutionized music forever.

PiL leave the stage abruptly, but of course return for an encore that features perhaps their most well-known song Rise, getting the audience chanting ‘anger is an energy!’ in perfect synchronicity. The last song is a remix of Lydon’s collaboration with the Chemical Brothers – Open Up. The audience seem to know this is definitely the finale, and all of the sudden synonymously  just think ‘sod it’. The mosh pit engulfs the entire front half of the main hall. Beer flies all over the place. Sweaty middle aged men relive their younger years alongside a few other youngsters as everyone shoves and jumps all over the dance floor. The grinding industrial tune is the closing song, leaving Johnny Rotten to simply thank the audience and wave goodbye.

At one point in the gig, John called his music ‘disgusting garbage’ – with a sense of ironic humour, naturally. Generally, the quality of music was of a very high standard throughout. The gig gets extra points for having no warm-up band – the whole experience went a lot smoother and quicker than I expected. The atmosphere was definitely ‘underground’ – it was a feeling I’ve not experienced in a long time, and has been sorely missed. Considering my last concert was Paramore, and my last great gig was Gary Numan, this has been a long time coming. Down and dirty in Kasbah, this was also my first gig in the main hall – it was nice to have a change from the rather claustrophobic side room. My only criticism was that some songs had dated worse than others, and unfortunately these tended to be the songs that lasted over ten minutes. Still, the good vastly outweighed the not-so-good, leading to a memorable night, and probably the best gig I’ve been to at the Kasbah thus far. It’s certainly an acquired taste, but for those into their ‘experimental’ and their ‘underground’, this is an experience not to be missed.

8/10

 

127 Hours Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on January 8, 2011 by Adam Broome

It seems a long time ago since the Spiderman trilogy was on our screens. I was quick to make my opinion known that they featured too much cheesy dialogue and not enough bang for the buck. However, amidst the corny plots and wooden scripting, two actors stood out from the rest – Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (who is awesome in just about everything), and James Franco as Harry Osborn. The latter was an up-and-coming star, and Danny Boyle’s latest offering – 127 Hours – puts the entire weight of a 94 minute film solely on the weight of this actor. Is Boyle’s new ‘feel good’ film able to take the strain?

127 Hours is a film based around the real-life event that occurred when Aron Ralston decided to take on a canyon trek in the Utah desert, but forgot to tell anyone where he was going. Catastrophe struck when a loose boulder sent him tumbling down a crevice, landing on his arm and trapping him at the bottom. This film follows his struggle through the 127 hours of being trapped in the canyon, before realising he only had one option left if he wanted to get out of there alive.

Unless you’ve had your head stuck in sand, chances are you probably know the outcome of this film already. Danny Boyle took on a story which had a problem from the offset – if we knew how it would end, how could a story be made to be exciting or interesting? Thankfully, the acclaimed director has proven once again why he rightfully deserves his seat at the awards. Even if you know the outcome of this harrowing tale, it rarely detracts from the events of the film. Boyle does just about everything he could possibly do in a film about one man trapped in a canyon, before leading the viewers to the inevitable denouement.

Considering the narrative, you might be inclined to think there’s a lot of back-story before the film gets underway, but you’d be wrong. After about ten minutes or so, the boulder has fallen, and James Franco takes the only spotlight around. I’ve not seen an actor show such talent since Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. I’ve only seen Franco as the over-the-top villain in Spiderman, and the stoner in Pineapple Express. This seems his best role to date, and he thrives on the challenge. He goes through a full range of emotions, from the humourous to the terrified. Together, him and Boyle trap the audience in that canyon, and tell the back story through various flashbacks and hallucinations. These provide most of the film’s laughs and surprises, at the expense of taking the audience out the canyon and loosing a claustrophobic atmosphere. Some of this scenes occasionally go off on tangents however, which made me wonder if Boyle was trying to clock up a longer running time. Some of these scenes also attempt to trick the audience, but if you already know the ending, you aren’t going to fall for it.

This film is entirely focused on the acting of one man and the script. Both have been pulled off with aplomb, delivering a film that provides enough empathy with the characters to rival that of Touching The Void. I often noted good use of audio throughout, from the split-screens at the beginning to the more gruesome scenes at the end. I should say this film should not be judged on the much-hyped ‘three minute scene’ at the end – it makes for uncomfortable viewing, but it is in no way as gratuitous as some make it out to be.

I wish James Franco all the best in his future career, and I hope this film receives some recognition at the upcoming awards ceremonies. The film falls short by perhaps being a tad too short, and despite Boyle’s best efforts, a film can only demand so much of an audience if we know the full narrative already. But to make a film of such calibre despite these set-backs is an achievement in itself. It is an involving and engaging tale of humanity, and what people are capable of in the face of overwhelming odds. The moral of the story is clearly labelled in the end credits – always tell people where you’re going. ‘Oops’ indeed.

8/10

Paramore Review (Trent FM Arena – 08/11/10)

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , , , on November 9, 2010 by Adam Broome

When I was seventeen, a strange thing was happening. As a teenager in 2007, chances are you were either a Black Parade-er or a Riot-er. The former was MCR’s signature album, epitomising the ’emo’ genre at it’s pinnacle and effectively defining a generation. The latter, however, was an album by a then up-and-coming band called Paramore. ‘Riot!’ was the answer to all anti-emo teens who still wanted some pop-punk to listen to. Paramore themselves started out as an ’emo’ band themselves back in 2005, but went on to create Riot!, which became a pivotal album that bridged the gap between the decline of emo, and the rise of the ‘scenesters’. The band got added publicity with their song ‘Decode’, which was the official soundtrack to the first Twilight film. Last year they released ‘brand new eyes’, which became their most successful album to date.

All in all, this trip down memory lane was an event long in waiting. Myself a fellow ‘rioter’ from three years back, I was willing to make two night runs to get back to Nottingham and catch the band in all their glory. But a friend who had seen them once warned me they were not very good live. Could this band live up to their hype, or were they indeed victims of their own success?

Opening up the night is not B.O.B as expected, but the band ‘Fun.’. They enter out onto a raised platform of a stage. I’m staring at the lead singer’s bare feet for the most part as he prances up and down. It takes all of two minutes for it to dawn on me what I’m in for. Jonas Brothers rip-offs straight out of Disney’s ‘Camp Rock’, playing all the Hannah Montana B-Sides for the kiddy boppers that now encircle me. They dress in 1950s attire, and jump around a little. All in all, they’re just dull. The lead singer asks the audience to sing along, but the drummer is the only one who complies, since it’s only him out of the lot of us who seems to know any of the words. A female guitarist, dressed in leftovers from KT Tunstall’s wardrobe provides the pubescent lads with something to look at. The guitarist stops halfway through a song to re-tune the strings. The singer runs up to him, and sings really loudly down the guitarist’s ear, trying to put on a good show, leading to awkward ducking-away movements and the guitarist strains to hear his chords.

“Come on Nottingham, I know you’ve got hands… let me see your hands!”

Oh p*ss off.

After a short wait, B.O.B enters on, and thus we get the big surprise of the night. His quirky mix of dance and R’n’B hybrids make for some wonderful tunes. ‘Bobby Ray’ has a complete ensemble of backing singers, DJs, dancers and co-performers. The singer swaps guitars several time to show his musical talent – once through a cover of MGMT’s ‘Kids’. He may as well be called ‘Bobby Ray Charles’, such is his passion for wearing shades. He jumps around, dances, and sings with everything he’s got in a show that he gives 100% for his audience. He sweats so much his shades actually slide off and break on the floor. He laughs – he’s enjoying himself too much for it to matter. B.O.B even manages to sing Nothin’ On You, even though the co singer isn’t even here. And, of course, Airplanes is his finale – Hayley Williams acting as ghetto as she can in a puffer jacket, and failing to the extreme, but it’s all in good humour. B.O.B’s energy is reflected by the audience by the time he leaves – everyone is on cloud nine. People next to me say that if Paramore decide to cancel the show now, they would leave perfectly happy.

Then the fabric goes up, and the main event is queued. Girls are crying. When they see my confused look, they explain they’re only crying because they’re about to see Paramore. Then the lights dim, and the fabric collapses. Paramore blast on to the sound of ‘Ignorance’, and quickly screw it up by stopping halfway through the song to introduce themselves as Paramore. Instantly, memories of Emilie Autumn come flooding back with a wave of nausea. You’d expect a shudder of ‘oh dear’ to resonate through the crowd, but no – they love it. In fact, before the first song’s finished, half the front row have already fainted (and that’s not an exaggeration… no, that did actually happen).

So, where to comment first? The two singles from ‘All We Know Is Falling’ are played, and that’s that. About four songs are played from Riot!, and the rest was the ‘brand new eyes’ set list. They asked at one point if anyone had bought their latest album. I felt sorry for anyone who hadn’t. There was a completely out of place country and western song dedicated to their home town, which was quickly followed up with acoustic renditions of some of their other songs, such as ‘When It Rains’. The acoustic set built up the middle section of the concert, and involved the band sitting on sofas and generally not doing a lot.

Hayley Williams is the complete ‘Lee Mack’ as I call it. As you’ll see from the little accompanying video, she asks the audience to sing her songs for her almost every five minutes. She looks tired and bored. Looking back at the video, it seems I’ve caught the best bits. Hayley Williams spends most of the concert walking back and forth, singing the songs without effort or emotion (and frequently out of tune). At one point, she stops the concert and demands the middle-aged ‘Twilight mums’ in the seated area to stand up. Her tone is one of the most condescending I’ve ever heard in a concert.

“Let me. Tell YOU something. YOU. Are at a PARAMORE concert. Those seats are not there to make you comfy. They are there to CATCH you, when you FALL.”

Hayley Williams refuses to continue with the show until the middle-aged women comply. She teeters close to having a full-blown temper tantrum right there on stage. Sighing, the older generations heave themselves up off the seats they’d paid for, realising the arrogant little thing on the stage before them wont back down. Evidently, miss Williams has never heard the term ‘the customer is always right’.

It may please some of you to know that Hayley Williams tripped up during the second song, and also got bottled at one point. Therein lies the heart of the problem of this whole concert – Hayley Williams. The face of Paramore. A woman only one year older than myself, and now a woman corrupted by her own fame. I’m sure she started out genuinely enough, but the Hayley Williams before me now is nothing short of a prima-donna. All she has to do is look at people and they scream. She has become self-centered and arrogant. Self-important. Worst of all, her fellow band mates look bored out their skulls. During one particular moment in the middle of ‘Pressure’, Hayley introduces each individual band member in turn. Eventually, Josh was left to introduce Hayley Williams, and the crowd went berserk. Josh just looked a little sick and angry at the crowd’s reaction. By the way, the famous Paramore ‘back roll’ with bassist and guitarist happened only once. If you blinked, you missed it.

I’ve got to wrap this all up, but you can see where it’s heading. At one point, I felt it might just be that I’m getting too old for this sort of stuff nowadays. Paramore are not at ‘gig’ level anymore, and the stakes are higher. They’re going up against Def Leppard and Rage Against The Machine. It has to be better than this. If you watch the video and think it looks really awesome, I seriously recommend you experience some of the older bands. They know how to do it right. Paramore seem bored with all their songs. AC/DC have forgotten what it’s like to be bored with their music. They’ve been playing the likes of Back In Black since before the majority of Paramore’s audience were even born (not to mention the band themselves!). Paramore was meant to be a concert that signified the end of an era for me, but maybe that era already ended long ago.

But then I think no. B.O.B came on, and gave a hundred percent. I still know good music when I hear it. I still know a good show when I see it. I still know the difference between those that make the effort and those that don’t. B.O.B sweated so much his shades fell off – the only time Hayley Williams remotely broke a sweat was when she went on stage in a coat. Bobby Ray was sandwiched between two rather dull and rubbish bands. My advise – ditch em.

As for Paramore, it was just lackluster. The band were bored, Hayley Williams was on auto-pilot, and you could tell it wasn’t working. Heck, I almost get the feeling the band are about to split up, or go on a hiatus or something. It all rests on the shoulders of the lead singer, who is on nothing short of an ego-trip powerful enough to rival that of Marilyn Manson. She is not up to the job. Hayley Williams doesn’t care about her audience, but nor does she need to – her crowd of kids seem happy, given that most have probably lost their concert virginity to them. Self assured, she tells her crowd:

“I want you to find someone tomorrow. Someone who wasn’t here tonight. You wont be able to speak, but just by the sheer state you are in, they will know… they will KNOW that THEY HAVE MISSED OUT!”

Well, my voice is perfectly intact. You didn’t miss out on much at all. Really. Genuinely. Seriously. So, this is the moment a lot of you have been waiting for, so I’ll just have to swallow my pride, take this on the chin, and make the following statement. Paramore is probably the worst concert I have ever been to. I’ve been to ones where the warm-ups were better than the headliners, but in this case, one warm-up band was crap as well. The best thing about this indie gig was a bloody R’n’B singer. This amounts to this concert just having a whole lot of ‘fail’. No amount of spark-showers or confetti can save it. By the end, Hayley’s got a member of the audience singing the end of Misery Business for her, and I’m just in the local circle pit trying to get some remnants of enjoyment from the night. I do not buy a t-shirt. The show’s one saving grace – it was better than sitting at home watching TV.

6/10

Inception Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on July 19, 2010 by Adam Broome

Still smarting from the disappointing Iron Man 2, I was in dire need of a good quality film. With everyone getting hyped up over Eclipse and Toy Story 3, I turned my attention to a mystery film directed by Christopher Nolan – his next film succeeding The Dark Knight. The story had been kept hush-hush, which is usually a bad thing. I went to see it last night to investigate what the rather bizarre trailer was actually about. Nothing could prepare me for what lay in store.

The story has probably been kept quiet because of it’s intricate and complex nature, so I’ll summarise as brief as I can – Leonardo DiCaprio is the main character, a military type who has become a select group of people around the world who are able to penetrate people’s subconscious (it was a concept originally designed by the military, you see). Now on the run, falsely accused of murdering his wife, DiCaprio is desperately trying to find ways to prove his innocence. Salvation appears in the unlikely form of Asian businessman Ken Watanabe, who wants DiCaprio’s particular talents. The mission – to stop rival businessman Cillian Murphy from taking up his recently-deceased father’s throne, and thus jeapordising Watanabe’s own business plans.

DiCaprio decides that the best way to deal with Murphy is to put an idea deep into his subconscious, through a process called ‘inception’. It’s a dangerous process, but DiCaprio is desperate. He selects a team, one of whom is university student Ellen Page. Her character starts out knowing nothing about DiCaprio or inception – and it’s her you’ll mainly be following through the tricky plot.

First off, special effects. For those who have seen the trailer, you will have no doubt what’s in store.  The special effects are top-notch. One critic claimed the dream sequences were not strange enough to be passed off as dreams. This is arguable, but for me, Nolan has done a cracking job of creating convincing ‘impossible’ worlds.

Acting is predictably high quality, given the star-studded cast. Michael Caine is slightly underused as Page’s university lecturer, only being on screen for 2 of the 148 minutes running time. Cillian Murphy manages to add depth to a character that would otherwise have just been ‘the villain’, whilst DiCaprio manages to convey his conservative military type with aplomb, a character under constant strain of memories of his wife.

Cinematography is of such a standard there seems very little to say about it. The trailer will show you a horizon that loops up into the sky and folds over the top of the world, but that’s just a simple CGI trick. The real fun comes in the form of paradoxical staircases and randomly-appearing freight trains. One scene early on involving a dream flooding with water made an impression, whilst another proved that you don’t need CGI to make people float down hotel corridors anymore. A scene on a mountain seemed a little out of place, but it was perfectly kosher with the plot.

The script was every bit as witty and intriguing as Nolan’s previous two Batman films. Every now and then there are dashes of humour to lighten up the understandably complex situations the characters find themselves in. Emotion can feel detached from the characters at some points – overtaken by the surrealism occuring all around. However, the most important notion – that of desperation and panic – are consistant throughout, making this an edge-of-your-seat experience – alas, only if you can follow the plot.

The idea seems to paralell that of The Matrix somewhat. People go to sleep, and enter a dream world in which almost anything can happen. The one difference here is that, unlike The Matrix, the dream world looks rather similar to the real world. Thus, Nolan tricks the audience several times into leading them into false ‘real worlds’. Soon, you’ll be doubting every scene as the real one, effectively drawing the events of the entire movie into question. Personally, though, I feel this was less sci-fi than the 1999 classic. Despite the sequences, this seemed a much more realistic and believable affair.

Overall, there is very little to fault with the film. With the exception of Once Upon A Time In The West, an older film I saw back in February, this is without a doubt the best film I have seen this year. The concept was original enough for my liking, and it’s nice to see someone who seems to have made a genuinely imaginative film, rather than a sequel or a remake. It may have done better as a ’15’ certificate, given the adult nature of some scenes, but this is ultimately a lot less violent than The Dark Knight. I wish it every success. It’s nice to see these kind of films, which seem rare to come by nowadays.

There is no introduction sequence, so the moment it starts rolling, you have to be on top form right from the off. If you want a film to relax and kick back to, this is not the film for you. It is not Pirates Of The Caribbean. It is not Superman. This is, as everyone has indeed commented on, an intelligent blockbuster. You must be ready to play hardball if you’re going to see this film. Once you’re lost (as is easy to do), I imagine you’re in a world of hurt.

If, however, you do fancy hedging your bets, I thoroughly recommend this film.  Amidst all the zero-gravity hotel corridors and crumbling Japanese villas, there is a solid story with good characters and a good script. Yes, you get a few twists with it as well. I managed to follow it just fine, so it is possible to do.

Just don’t have a toilet break.

10/10

Iron Man 2 Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on May 9, 2010 by Adam Broome

Set to be my personal ‘film of the year’, the sequel to my first-ever review two years ago was a highly-anticipated event. After hearing mixed reviews about the copious amounts of characterisation going on in it, I had to see for myself whether or not the only franchise to rival ‘Batman’ was still holding strong.

The story picks up six months after Iron Man 1, with Tony Stark being told to hand his suit over to the US government. He gives his company over to his secretary Pepper, as unbeknown to her, the power node in his chest is actually killing him. As you can probably already tell, there is a lot of chat going on, and the only action comes in the form of Mickey Rourke’s villain Whiplash – a sour Russian scientist who has ties to Stark’s father.

After a promising opening twenty minutes, you think this will still hold the honour of the first film. Mickey Rourke develops his suit quickly, and heads to the US for a confrontation, whilst the scenarios and characters are set up back in America. Don Cheadle steps in to play Rhodes, Stark’s military friend and soon-to-become sidekick War Machine. To say it took Stark almost a whole movie to get used to using his suit, Rhodes manages to control his suit within a matter of minutes. The acting is as good as the first, though is let down by rather odd humour. Some set pieces are played purely for laughs this time round, taking off the seriousness that gave the first movie it’s edge.

Scarlett Johanson plays Black Widow, a spy who worked for the Russians in the comics, but works for SHIELD in this film (?). Her talent is wasted, the character is altogether unnecessary, and her ‘fighting’ scene looks woefully out of place in contrast with all the robot-smashing going on. Whiplash attacks a grand prix in a very well-choreographed sequence, then spends the rest of film preparing his massive attacks for the finale. Whilst he tinkers with robots, all that’s left is lots of talking, unnecessary cameos from the likes of Samuel L Jackson, and misplaced humour.

Rourke’s villain seems extremely underused. Stark’s father plays a role in this film in more than one way, yet the history between Iron Man and Whiplash is never explored, not even on the simplest terms. Ultimately, the villain seems to be there only to provide bangs for bucks. It is the final straw for me, for a film that explored the characterizations so well in the first film should make a mess as bad as this for a sequel. The special effects are good, the story is obvious. This epitomizes Hollywood blockbuster fluff at it’s highest calibre.

Like Pirates Of The Caribbean, this franchise now plays for laughs – and I mean Hollywood laughs. You know, the Americanized, ‘unfunny’ kind. Why does it spend time furthering Stark’s character which we already know, rather than devoting time to other characters such as the villains, or even to some of the lesser-involved goodies, such as Rhodes? Like the first film, this focuses entirely on Tony Stark. But this time, you just wont care.

6 / 10