Sunday, 28 March 2010


Wow. Just wow. That is the only word I can use to describe the epically magnificent awesomeness of Matthew Vaughn's hilariously violent comic book movie Kick-Ass. No longer does the title of "Best Superhero Movie, Like, Ever" belong to The Dark Knight, for Kick-Ass has been released, and it is now king. And we must all worship it.

To call a movie Kick-Ass is very daring, critics with bad taste will no doubt use it as a pun in their reviews, bashing the movie, saying it does not kick ass. But let me tell you folks, there is no doubt about it, Kick-Ass does not only kick ass, it takes its foot, shoves it right up your asshole and tickles your prostate with its toes until you have a gigantic, monumental orgasm.

Based on Mark Millar's graphic novel of the same name, Kick-Ass revolves around Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a nerdy comic-book geek who dreams of one day becoming a superhero. However, his only power is, in his own words, "being invisible to girls." Although every man in the world has this power, right? Right? Right?

Anyway, after questioning his friends about the non-existence of real-life superheroes, Dave decides to do it himself, and buys a superhero outfit online, which is essentially a fuckin' wetsuit. And so, he goes out to bring vigilante justice to his town, armed with two batons and the sheer determination to fight crime. His first attempt, however, lands him in hospital after being beaten, stabbed and hit by a car. Very inspiring.

His second attempt proves more succesful, and a recording of it ends up being the most viewed video on YouTube, gaining him overwhelming media attention. He then meets up with real-life genuine superheroes Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Mortez), who join together to try and bring down mob boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong).

When I came out of my screening of Kick-Ass, I could not control the massive grin that was on my face since the movie began. 'Twas a little embarrassing, walking towards the exit of the packed cinema, wearing a gigantic smile, but I was so friggin' happy! I had just had the most fun I've ever experienced in a cinema. I had just watched a masterpiece. I had just watched what is quite possibly the best movie of 2010. And I had just replaced The Dark Knight as my favourite movie of all time.

This movie, my friends, is perfect. There is not a single tiny little thing in this entire movie that I would have changed. Not one thing. Although there was one thing I would have altered in my screening of it; I would have liked the sound to have worked for the first minute of the movie. Fuck's sake.

Kick-Ass is a pumped-up action film, and I have to say, the action scenes are jaw-droppingly orgasmic. Each action scene seems to have its own style, with one being gritty, one being cartoony, and another just being overall very brutal. There's also one that's done in the dark, which, I'm not ashamed to admit, made me a little teary eyed with how awesome it was (I was clearly very hyped up for this movie, and seeing my expectations fulfilled to an unbelievable extent was very moving for me. I'm a pussy, y'see.)

As Kick-Ass throws his batons in the air, trying desperately to fight like a superhero, yet getting the shit kicked out of him, but not giving up, you are on the edge of your seat, with Vaughn's direction making it so god damn engaging. And when 11 year old Hit Girl runs down a corridor, jumping around, twirling, blasting bullets into a gang of badguys, reloading in a millisecond, and shooting again, whilst "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett plays, trust me, you'll shit yourself in pure awe of what you are witnessing. In short, words cannot express how mind-blowingly stunning these action scenes are.

The cast is also magnificent, with Johsnon playing our geeky hero to perfection. The Brit absolutely fucking nails the American accent (take notes Gerard Butler), and is a very strong lead, making the character rather absorbing to watch as he fails miserabely trying to live out his dream of being a vigilante. Also on fine form is Nicolas Cage (no, I'm not kidding, Cage is good in this.....yes, he is) as Big Daddy. However, some may be rather confused as to what the hell is up with his voice when he is in costume, as he does a little Adam West homage, taking small pauses in between words. It's a bit, uh, weird.

But it's 13 year old Chloe Moretz who steals the show as the brilliantly foul-mouthed 11 year old Hit Girl. Her performance is nothing short of "AHMAGAWD, AMAZING!!" and truly is the best in the movie. She's the most captivating character, slaughtering her way through the villains in such a marvelous fashion, gloriously saying "cunts" (tee hee) and overall just kicking some ass. And then some.

Kick-Ass is also a hilarious movie, with spectacular comic timing and wit surrounding it. The interaction between Dave and his friends Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters) leads to many laughs, with them consistently mocking each other. Also, there's a scene in other superhero Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)'s car, where Kick-Ass starts dacing to Gnarls Barkley's song Crazy, which is just so friggin' random that it's pricelessly funny.

But, most of the comedy in this movie comes from how amazingly over-the-top it is with the action sequences. The finale of the movie, the big massive action scene, is uproariously funny, with one of D'Amico's men becoming so desperate to kill Hit Girl that he goes and gets a massive fuckin' bazooka to blast her 11 year old ass away. Oh, and I have to say, Kick-Ass has the best and most satisfying finale of a movie I have ever seen.

With some of the most jaw-dropping action sequences I have ever seen, and side-splitting comedy as well as some genuinely great acting, Kick-Ass is the number one movie to see of 2010. My entire audience was in fits of laughter for the whole thing, as was I, and that massive grin I had throughout Kick-Ass is well-deserved. This movie is a masterpiece in modern filmmaking, and is now my favourite film.


Monday, 15 March 2010

500 Days of Summer

Romantic comedies. Ugh. Don't they just make you puke? I mean, they're all the same. Boy meets girl. Boy flirts with girl. Girl likes his flirtatious ways. Boy and girl go on date. Boy funny. Boy and girl go up to bedroom. Boy does girl, missionary style, in the dark. Boy and girl enjoy happy times. Boy and girl fall out. Boy and girl cry. Boy and girl find each other again and enjoy a big, wet kiss, happy forever. Yawn.

However, there are some movies which challenge this cliche-ridden genre, trying to put a new spin on it, with fresh ideas and a new outlook on the stereotypical plot points. One of these is 500 Days of Summer, a twist on the romantic comedy from first-time director Marc Webb. And wow, what a promising debut.

Meet Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He works as a writer for a greeting card company, yet he dreams of being an architect. In other words, he's a pussy. One day, Tom is in a meeting, when in comes Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), the boss's beautiful new assistant. For Tom, it's love at first sight. For's not. Ah piss.

It arises during a karaoke night that Summer in fact does not believe in love, and never has, the complete opposite of Tom's views on the matter. Later that night, Tom's intoxicated co-worker, McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) blurts out to Summer that Tom likes her. The drunken awkard-situation maker-upper! Tom and Summer then become closer over the next few months, bonding over their music tastes, doing all sorts of friendly things together. Oh, and they have sex in the shower. Which is, like, awesome. Despite their closeness, Summer still insists that she does not consider love to be real (bitch!) and that the two are not boyfriend and girlfriend, leading to the two falling out and splitting up, with Tom becoming...well, shall we say, not very happy. Do they get back together? Do they fall in love once again? Well, watch the damn movie, you dumbass.

The most interesting thing about 500 Days of Summer is the way the story is told. Instead of a typical start to finish love story, we watch Tom recollect his affair with Summer at random points in their relationship, jumping from happy times to sad and depressing times. One point we could be at day "(389)", and then right back to day "(19)". In a way, it comes across as a throw-back to Woody Allan's classic rom-com Annie Hall, what with the mixed up story structure of a couple's relationship.

Webb's direction is spot-on, with a sharp and fresh look to the movie, giving a rather modern and new feel to it. He has made this into a stylish and cutting-edge film, without trying to hard too make it this way. Seeing as to how this is his first feature film, it's a very impressive start to what I hope is a long career for him. Unless he fucks it up with the Spider-Man reboot (why the hell is there a Spider-Man reboot? Seriously?).

Anyway, one of the things that separates 500 Days of Summer from other recent rom-coms is this: it's funny. So many times, romantic comedies fail miserabely on the second part of their genre. The comedy. 500 Days of Summer, on the other hand, is bloody hilarious, filled with wit and humour that will have you urinating all over your seat. Well, maybe not that far, but hell, it's funny. I almost fainted of laughter when a grumpy, depressed Tom is standing in a packed bus, and a song comes on his iPod which reminds him of Summer, to which he reacts by screaming at the top of his lungs, "I HATE THIS SONG!!" and is then kicked off the bus. It's sharp, it's unexpected, and it's side-splittingly funny.

However this movie is not all fun and laughter, as there are some genuinely powerful, emotional moments throughout. As we get to know these two characters more and more, we begin to care about them, we have a connection with them. This is especially true for Tom, whom we are following for most of the movie. One especially hard hitting scene is when we see his expectations of what will happen at a party between him and Summer on the left side of the screen, while the reality of what will really happen at the party is on the right side of the screen. The result is heart-breaking, and I admit it made me teary-eyed. And I'm one hard-ass. Yes I am.

Gordon-Levitt is near flawless as our main character, brilliantly taking us through the long journey of his relationship with the woman he loves. We feel for him, so much so that when Summer says something that hurts him, it hurts us too. And when he loses his faith in love, it's devestating for us to watch. Deschanel is on the same par, delivering the performance of a woman who doesn't want to fall in love, and is so unsure of it, she pretty much denies it for herself. The chemistry between the two works marvellously, and we as an audience desperately want for these two characters to end up together. We watch their relationship's goods and bads, it feels very personal. And who would have thought that shouting "PENIS!" in a public garden would be so romantic? Happy sigh.

But, you know what one of my favourite things about this movie is? The music. Wow. 500 Days of Summer has such a fantastic soundtrack, which I'm sure Webb had something to do with, as before this he was a music video director. As Tom dances down the street to Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams", you too want to dance. It's so flippin' upbeat. And just after the final scene (which I love, by the way, it's a nice little wink to the audience), "She's Got You High" by Mumm-ra pops on, and closes the film, leaving us with a feelgood last scene and a feelgood song.

500 Days of Summer is a treat. It's such a fun, highly creative and inventive movie in a genre which I thought was all but run-down. It's not the worn-out boy meets girl, they fall in love and they live happily ever after fiasco. No, this is boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl doesn't, and.....well, I won't spoil it for you.


Sunday, 14 March 2010


Some years ago, never mind how many (it was four, actually), there was a movie. A movie in which the events were so amazingly stupid and over-the-top that its filmmaking was pure genius. A movie that split audiences in the middle, with some saying it was a retarded, piss-poor pile of crap, and others who said it was a brilliantly self-aware shotgun up the ass to those whose movie taste ranges from "arty crap" to "even more arty crap." The latter group are the smart ones. In a way.

This was Crank, a hilariously unrestrained movie done in the style of a video game, written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. And now from these two michevious filmmakers, we have Gamer, another overblown live action video-game, but this one is a little different.

Gerard Butler is Kable, a condemned criminal who should be on death row for murder (he's obviously a very likeable main character....seriously, he is). But instead he is the popular super-star of "Slayers", a game in which the bodies of convicts are fully controlled by outside players through microchips in the inmate's brains. In this brutally violent game which is broadcast to the whole nation, the prisoners are forced to battle each other in vicious surroundings (guns, explosions, people on fire, cars spinning through the air, also on fire, y'know), with the one to survive 30 contests being set free. Kable, however, has other plans, and decides to escape so that he can see his wife Angie (Amber Valletta), who is part of another living game called Society, and his daughter Delia (Brighid Fleming).

Of course, this pisses off the game's creator Ken Castle (a mesmerising Michael C. Hall), whose warped schemes (gasp!) are threatened by Kable's breakout. And so, Kable joins forces with an extremist group which is against Castle to find his wife and daughter, while determined to take Castle down and kick his ass. Awesome.

And that's all this movie is. Awesome. It's bullets, blood, carnage, with a slice of revenge and filled with things that go boom. Not only does this aid in the movie's appeal, it also holds it back. With Neveldine and Taylor's Crank, it was so much more than that. You see, Crank was not just awesome, it was brilliantly memorable, extraordinarily immoral and so exaggerated that it was somewhat hypnotic. Gamer, however, just doesn't quite have this, but hell it gives it a go.

Sure, it doesn't have the extravagance or sense of humour of Crank, but there's no denying that it's just as fun and entertaining as it, which is all it's trying to be. This is partly due to Neveldine and Taylor's direction, of which I am a fond admirer. Their fast-paced, erratic way of filming is put to perfect use in Gamer, giving a sense of the warfare on-screen, and also delivering the feel of an action-packed video game. And as usual, they've put in lots of pointless shots of tits. Woop.

In Gamer, we have three different worlds presented to us. One is just the normal, yet futuristic streets of the outside world. Another is Slayers, the gritty and violent blood-shed game. And there is also another world, the world in which Kable's wife Angie works. This is Society, which is very much akin to The Sims, and is presented in a cartoony, colourful way, the complete opposite of Slayers. It shows off Neveldine and Taylor's brilliant creativity and gives them a chance to do something a little different, as the rest of the movie is full-on brutality and grit. It also displays how messed up these breathing human-character games are, as Angie is forced to do degrading things by her fat shit slob of a controller.

The editing of Gamer is pretty solid, flawlessly captivating during action scenes without seeming like a schizophrenic mess. However, I have to say that overall the movie is a bit brief, with the final act arriving a bit too early. But Christ, what a final act!

Butler's performance is decent enough, playing a character who's been through a lot of torment and pain. You can feel Kable's desperation to escape the blood and guts of Slayers, and to just go home to his wife and daughter. However, I have always had a problem with the Scotsman's attempts at an American accent. To me, he just sounds weird. I can't explain it, he just does, and there were points in the movie where I just wanted to rip out his vocal chords so that I didn't have to listen to the exasperating Scottish American drone coming from them. Ugh. But it's Michael C. Hall who stands tall in Gamer, offering an enthralling performance as the eccentric villain who has been given too much control. It's an excellently over-played excecution from him, showing off his impressive talents as an actor.

Also on fine form is Logan Lerman, who plays Kable's 17 year old controller, Simon (yeah, yeah, Simon Says, very funny). He is basically an exaggeration of the modern-day teenager, addicted to technology and the internet, with a massive, uh, future computer wall-screen thingy in his house.

Neveldine and Taylor have never been known as subtle filmmakers, and this is no exception. I'm not just talking about the action, I'm talking about the message, or moral, or meaning, whatever, that centers around Gamer. It is a message that we as a society are obsessed with technology and games, and this movie paints a future where we take this all too far. Yes, a future like this is unlikely, but it's a clear message that boosts the film up from being just another stupid action-fest, and being rather admirable.

Despite being a tad over-serious and lacking in Crank's wicked sense of humour, Gamer is still a pumped up, exciting piece of thrilling entertainment with fantastic direction and decent performances. It's creative, it's original in its look, and it's unique. Just someone tell Butler to keep his mouth shut.


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Alice In Wonderland

A doorknob once said, "Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.” I guess Tim Burton skipped this part of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as he decided not to read the directions of the children's favourite when making his own film adaptation of it. Alas, it was not directed in the right direction, and turned into a style-over-substance pile of crap. Dumbass.

Burton's Alice in Wonderland does not follow the original narrative of Carroll's beloved classic, and in a way serves as a the book. Uh, yeah Tim, that'll work, won't it? A movie sequel to a novel. It's like making Moby Dick 2, without basing it on any of the Moby Dick movie adaptations. Why didn't you simply recreate the happenstances of the original book instead of just making a sequel? Or at least make a movie for this to be a sequel to. Jesus, man.

Anyway, the movie starts off with a 6 year old Alice (Mairi Ella Challen) describing her adventures in the magial world of Wonderland to her father. Cut to 13 years later, and Alice (Mia Wasikowska), who appears to be a 19th century emo, has forgotten her wondrous adventures, assuming they were a simple childhood dream. We watch Alice as she attends a party at an estate, which is revealed to be an egagement party, and she is to be asked for her hand in marriage by some snotty upper-class bastard (Leo Bill). However, his proposal goes unanswered and Alice runs off and chases a rabbit down a rabbit hole. As you do. Time for some big motherfucking special effects and things placed simply to poke you in the eye once you put your 3D glasses on.

Turns out the inhabitants of Wonderland remember Alice from her first visit, yet proclaim that she is the "wrong Alice." Our rather bewildered hero then discovers she is prophesied to slay the monster Jabberwocky, which belongs to the wicked Red Queen (a marvellous Helena Bonham Carter, who is one of the few highlights of the movie).

And so, Alice is off on another adverture (where the fuck was the first one?), coming across familiar characters such as The Mad Hatter (rather oddly played by Burton regular Johnny Depp) and The Cheshire Cat (voiced by the always brilliant Stephen Fry).

Over recent years, Burton has been adapting or re-imagining books and movies which are all well-known to the general public, applying his own unique and quirky style to them. Sometimes it works (Sweeney Todd, Batman) and sometimes it doesn't (Planet of the Apes, this). Alice in Wonderland just doesn't seem to fit right, as it is not remembered as a creepy or gothic novel, which are typical of Burton's work, although it's quirky as hell. Burton's style just comes across as odd in this, which is especially true for Tweedledee and Tweedledum (both played by Matt Lucas), who are so weird looking I was actually completely freaked out by them as I watched them on-screen. His performance is decent, but one cannot ignore how freakish the two twins look. No offence to him.

Similarly, Depp's portrayal of The Mad Hatter is, umm, interesting, but again it's just weird for the sake of it. His manic ginger hair and overall bizarre appearance is also a bit off-putting. However, Helena Bonham Carter shines as the Red Queen, giving a memorable performance as an attention seeking, big-headed (literally), adult toddler. She glides on-screen, giving a cold stare to a bunch of shit-scared frogs, easily winning the best performance in the film. In contrast, Mia Wasikowska gives a rather dim and unmemorable performance as Alice. Her portrayal of a girl thrown into a familiar, yet unfamiliar world isn't necessarily bad, it just doesn't really have much of an impact, which sucks as she's the goddamn main character.

However, the cast is massively overshadowed by the spectacular special effects. The movie has a fantastic visual style, as would be necessary for an Alice in Wonderland adaptation, and I have to admit, the special effects did impress me. This is especially true for the little toad creatures who work for the Red Queen, which I raised both my eyebrows in awe of. In fact, pretty much every creature is brilliantly animated and comes to life in magnificent fashion. Also, the 3D is put to good use, enhancing the magnificent feel of Wonderland (or Underland, as it's pointlessly renamed, kinda pissing on Lewis Carroll's gravestone).

But good special effects do not a good movie make, and although Burton's Alice in Wonderland boasts a big budget, it is lacking in the writing department. Linda Woolverton's script may contain many elements from Carroll's book, but other than that, the movie's writing is forgettable, not having any real spark to it.

Is this a terrible movie? No. Is this a good movie? Not quite. It just doesn't work as well as it should have, and as a fan of Burton, I was disappointed. It's a visually stunning mess, with forgettable writing and an overall feeling of "meh." Kids will love it though. But kids are retarded.

Rating: 5/10.