Heroes Reborn … Teaser Trailer Released – Excited? [TV]

Last night NBC surprised viewers with a Teaser Trailer for Heroes Reborn. The mini-series is set to air in 2015, and will have 13 episodes. The trailer gives absolutely nothing away, except letting us know that it is coming. We in fact no very little else about the mini-series, no story details have been released, however what we do know is that Heroes creator, Tim Kring, will be rejoining the show to exec produce, and this will feature its own stand alone arc.

Fans of the original show will sadly remember that this was cut short, being cancelled after the fourth season due to ratings for the show dropping. While I think the majority would agree that season 3 was disappointing compared to its predecessors, however season 4 was starting to redeem itself a little and was starting to rebuild some momentum. Although I was late to the show, while Heroes never topped its first season efforts, I was very disappointing when I got to the end of season 4 to find there would be no more.

*Spoilers to follow* – if you are interested in watching the original series – please don’t read any further! (Feel free to skip to the bottom to see the trailer)

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It will be interesting to see where the mini-series will pick up, with season 4 ending with Claire revealing her powers to the world, a series 5 would have brought about huge change to all of the characters lives. However, we will now be 5 years on from this event, and I wonder whether the show will keep in real time, or will set its self a few yeas back. I’m imagining the series to start with a flashback to the end of season 4 and then be followed by the classic Heroes opening, with the title of episode – 5 years later. But I may be wrong.

NBC Entertainment  President Jennifer Salke has said in a statement that “Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in.”

I’m torn as to whether I want to see any of the original characters. In an ideal world we would have got a season 5 and had the show appropriately tied up – however now we are going to get a new set of characters and any appearances from the originals are bound to be cameos at best, and run the risk of tainting the original characters. Perhaps it would be better to just start with a clean slate.

It will be interesting to see how this works out, with the original series fizzling out with a lot of viewers after season 2 before its demise at the end of season 4, will enough people be excited to see the show return? I will definitely be giving this a go when it hits the screens, however whether it can keep me interested or not, we will have to see.

How do you feel about Heroes returning, and which (if any) of the original characters would you like to see return?

Her … A thought provoking social commentary, likely to be the most underrated film of the year [REVIEW]

It would be easy to take a look at the synopsis of this film and write it off immediately. Which I fear may be the case with many, judging by the fact that this film was only released on the 14th February (In the UK), and when I saw it on the 15th, it had already been relegated to a small seater Studio screen … which was also empty.

I first read about this film about 6 or so months ago, and thought it was an interesting idea. My fear was that it would be too Lars and the Real Girl-ish … however, although comparisons could be drawn, Her, is very much its own film, and Spike Jonze has done a great job, creating an emotional and thought provoking piece that hints at where we may be heading, and jibes at where we are today.

her-movie-posterJoaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a man going through a divorce, who in his loneliness purchases a new Operating System, OS1, that is designed to meet a persons every need, and has the ability to grow, learn, and make decisions – ultimate artificial intelligence. Theodore eventually falls in love with his OS, named Samantha, and pursues a relationship with ‘her’.

The film borders on Sci-Fi, and Spike Jonze has created a world that is not too far from our own. It feels like Jonze has placed this maybe 15 to 20 years into the future. Technology has advanced (obviously!) and people are engrossed with their electronic devices. Everything works like Siri, nothing seems manual anymore, but a reliance on computers to do everything, from reading emails out loud, writing letters on voice command rather than being typed, reading news stories, and even holding conversations.

The film, although futuristic, has an element of truth to it, which Spike Jonze is poking at. Although with all of the technological advancements that on the surface bring people closer together than ever before … human interaction is being lost. People forever have their heads in a smartphone, or a tablet or a laptop, rather than connecting with the people who are around them. I read a short, interesting article on this subject  the other day prior to watching this film, and it came back to my mind when watching Her. Throughout the film you see hundreds of people, all together, near each other, travelling together … yet almost everyone is engaged with their electronic devices and talking with them. Even Theodore’s job is to write personalized letters for other people – even people’s most intimate and close relationships are not being communicated directly with one and other, a complete stranger is playing a middle man. With, Her, Spike Jonze is holding up a mirror to society as we are now, and showing us where we are heading if we continue down this path. Of course technological advancement isn’t all bad – but Jonze is raising a very real point with this film.

Another thought provoking aspect of this film that Jonze explores is that of love. Love by its very nature is unpredictable, and the love between two people is often not understood by those outside of the relationship. On the surface, it seems like the idea of this film is crazy, and that the Theodore character should be branded as a ‘weirdo’ – however when the film gets going – for the most part, it doesn’t seem that strange. I did find myself torn throughout the film, at times feeling like this was ridiculous, and at others it seemed so normal. Yes, the OS is a program, she is not real – however she communicates like a real person, she presents real emotions, she makes unique decisions – she becomes very real, very fast. And the way that Theodore’s character changes when he is with ‘her’ is astonishing – before he is, whilst not broken, depressed and lonely – yet when he begins his relationship with Samantha, he becomes happier, care-free and begins to enjoy life again. And as an audience, who are we to judge? It doesn’t negatively affect anyone else around Theodore, and it makes him happy – so why is that weird, and why should he be branded as ‘weirdo’. I am talking from an audience perspective here … this is behaviour is accepted by most characters in the film, and it is referenced that Theodore is not the only one who is experiencing this.

But of course it is absurd right? … It’s a tricky one.

One way to look at it, could be that what Jonze is propositioning is, that we are becoming less capable of handling real emotions because of our obsession with electronic communication – losing that human touch is diminishing our abilities to communicate on a real level. You can say whatever you want through a text or an email and never have to face real response or consequence – Twombly remarks often in the film to the OS … “I can say anything to you”. This is idea of hiding from emotion is directly referenced at one point in the film, by Theodore’s ex-wife (Rooney Mara), which I think was added in to nudge the audience at what Jonze is trying to say.

The writing of this film is impeccable by Jonze, and as this film is mainly dialogue between the two central characters, Theodore and Samantha, running at two hours, it doesn’t feel slow (maybe for 10 minutes it slows, but picks up again straight away). Jonze has also done a great job in making the world look great … not too dissimilar from today – to hit home where we are as a society at present – but advanced this to be obvious it is the near future.

The casting is an inspired choice, Joaquin Phoenix is impeccable as Theodore Twombly – he makes you feel for him, laugh with him and is a character you will no doubt warm to. Scarlett Johansson is also brilliant, and although you obviously never see her, she sells the performance with her voice, and really does make Samantha feel real (did anyone else notice just how much she sounds like Rashida Jones?). Bearing in mind the two main characters are never together, it feels as real to the audience as it does to Theodore, and everyone involved has done a great job at creating this film. Supported by the likes of Chris Pratt and Amy Adams, you are reminded that human relationships do in fact still exist. The film yo-yos up and down emotionally, being biting funny when it wants to be, and then crushingly depressing.

Not only is this a great piece to view, it raises numerous very interesting, and real points to consider. I have a feeling this will be overlooked by too many, and is likely to be the most underrated film to come out this year. Spike Jonze has created a truly magnificent, thought provoking film … and if you have got through all of my waffle to here, I would recommend it to you!

8/10

Dallas Buyers Club … [REVIEW]

This was a film that I didn’t have too much knowledge about going in, however from the trailers and the few bits I had read, made this a film I was very interested in seeing.

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Dallas Buyers Club tells the (inspired by true events) story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic, electrician and hustler who contracts HIV and is given 30 days to live. Refusing to just lay down and die, Ron battles against the medical system to get the medication he needs, not only for himself, but also for other AIDs sufferers.

The story is one very much of growth. A complete homophobic, Ron resents being put in the homosexual bracket, as a lot of his fellow sufferers were homosexual men. He is shut out by his “friends” and is very much alone. After being refused the drug AZT (medication for the disease), he begins to obtain the drug illegally, and when the well dries up, ventures over the border to Mexico in seek of medication to save his life. Realising the AZT has been poisoning him, Ron is given proteins and minerals to help him, and then begins to sell these back in America. Ron forms a partnership with Rayon, a transvestite man, in order to sell his substances to the gay community suffering from the same disease as himself. This starts off as pure business, however watching the relationship grow is a great spectacle.

Getting past the films slow-ish start, the story is fascinating. As the FDA react painfully slow to find treatment for HIV/AIDs, it is those suffering from the disease who are on the forefront of the research and self medicating with much greater effects than the FDA approved medical treatment. Fighting against a system of drugs being pushed for the profit of pharmaceutical companies rather than the well being of patients being the focus, Ron sets up a Buyers Club, a membership system that allows the AIDs sufferers to get as many drugs as they need by paying a monthly membership fee. With the help of Rayon, and support of Eve, a doctor unconvinced by the system she works in, Ron works tirelessly, travelling across the world to bring in the help these sufferers desperately need. Where this starts as a selfish money making scheme, Ron grows to become compassionate and begin to care about the other people around him.

The performances in this film, are frankly outstanding, and some of the the best you will see all year. Matthew McConaughey is simply brilliant as Ron Woodroof. He is completely believable in the role, and delivers a performance that is deep, emotional and is one of his best. He has been tipped as the frontrunner for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars, and having now seen the film, I can see why. McConaughey is fast shaking his lack-lustre Hollywood reputation, and is now (more) consistently putting out stellar performances. Jared Leto is on par with McConaughey, as Rayon, Ron’s transvestite business partner, who grows into a close friend. Leto brings a sensitivity to the role, and is a character that you will warm to immediately. Again, is a in with a good chance at the Oscars, for Supporting Actor. I felt that it took Jennifer Garner a little time to settle into the role of Eve, however when she did hit her stride, she was great to watch. Her character is compassionate, sensitive and much like Ron, unwilling to to lay down.

As you might expect, this is a very heavy film, and one that will hit you hard.The story is interesting, and whilst holding an uplifting feel, is a film of tragedy, and one that had me in tears on multiple occasions. This one that I would definitely recommend seeing, and am tipping to pick up a lot of awards in the coming months.

8/10

I would like to add a small note to the bottom of this review – apologises for the negativity.

Please can all cinema goers please respect the films and people around you trying to watching. They do not wish to listen to your running commentary and unrelated comments. Please keep these to yourself and wait until you have the left the screen to have your conversations. Sorry to end this review so negatively, but this seems to be happening more frequently in the screenings I have been to recently, and it is something that really knarks me. It is great that people have comments and opinions about the films, heck this is what this blog is all about after all – however there is a time and place, and when this is done over the film, it can affect the enjoyment of others.

 

The Lego Movie … Everything is AWESOME! [REVIEW]

Oh man, was I excited for this film! From when I first heard about it, to seeing the first trailer, to finding out the release date. I just could not wait to see this! And then, to discover that the film was already showing, when it isn’t set for full release in the UK until the 14th (next week), that just made my weekend.

Well, that was until I saw it … then THAT made my weekend.

lego-movie-logoThe Lego Movie tells the story of Emmet, an ordinary, everyday construction worker. He is content with his life, following a set list of instructions each day, which involves smiling, going to work and building, smiling, paying for overpriced coffee, smiling, exercising, and whole lot more smiling. Although, along with all of the other Lego people, he is happy – Emmet isn’t special, or at least has never been told that he is. When he mistakenly finds the Piece of Resistance, a magical item that can save humanity, Emmet is mistaken for a MasterBuilder, and the Special … and his adventure really begins as he embarks to save the Lego world from Lord Business.

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Everything about this film is fantastic. The film, although you may think is a kids film, has plenty to offer for the adults. In fact, where a lot of kids films have parts just sprinkled in for the grown ups, The Lego Movie feels slightly opposite, more aimed towards the older market, with bits sprinkled in for the kids. However, not in a talking down to them kind of way. This is one that the whole family will enjoy – and even if you don’t have kids (like me), is one that begs to be watched. Don’t be thrown off by the fact you are watching a film based on toys. This really is a film that needs to be watched by people of all ages.

The film looks absolutely amazing. The animators have done an absolute stand up job of creating this Lego world. What is so good about the animation, is that while it isn’t stop motion, it isn’t over animated to be unrealistic. Everything that moves, and is in the world, looks and moves as if it were a Lego toy. The animators have been precise in not making anything move in a way that the toy wouldn’t. And that is what makes this film feel so magical! The attention detail is absolutely fantastic, and it isn’t just the Lego pieces that have been given the care and attention they deserve, if you look closely there are some well hidden gems … which I will let you spot for yourselves!

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The casting of this film is inspired. Chris Pratt is fast becoming a go-to guy in Hollywood, playing the role of an everyman fantastically well. There is just something about Pratt that makes him instantly likeable – whether he is playing the buffoonish Andy in Parks and Rec, or a Navy Seal hunting down Osama Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty … or even as a Lego man! Morgan Freeman steps in as the wise Vitruvius, and brings much to the role, as he did as God in Bruce Almighty. The perfect choice was made for a comical version of Batman … Will Arnett just has a way of making being so ridiculously aggressive so damn funny, and Batman just feels like the role he was born to play – full of arrogance, aggressiveness and a killer dry wit, Arnett is now my second favourite Batman of all time. I of course cannot forget Will Ferrell, as Lord Business, another comedy actor who can make being aggressive absolutely hilarious. And if you have read this blog in the past, you will know that I am Ferrell’s biggest fan, and I don’t believe he disappointed in this role either. A special mention also has to go to Liam Neeson, who seems to be making the rounds at the moment in comedy films, with his cameo in Anchorman 2, and now the Good/Bad cop in the Lego movie. Imagining him recording those two voices is making me laugh even writing this. Neeson is absolutely fantastic.

Along with these main players, there was a number of big names who also stepped in to provide their voices, including the always funny Nick Offerman, the lovely Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill, who made for an absolute hilarious Green Lantern, alongside 21 Jump Street partner in crime Channing Tatum as Superman. The sharper eared of you will also hear the likes of Dave Franco, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Jake Johnson, Will Forte and Cobie Smulders … just to name a few.

Now I know what a lot of you will be thinking. This is just a ploy to up the sale of Lego, to sell more merchandise, to have your wallet reached into and emptied. Now, I am sure that this will commercially benefit Lego, however this isn’t the intention of the movie at all … or at least if it is, it is hidden very well!

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The story is great. It is kind of your classic right of passage, everyday joe becoming the hero, type of movie. But that is just the framework that is set up to allow the story to progress to the ending. Once the framework is in place, then the imagination opens up, into something that is absolutely beautiful to watch. The film is fast paced, and the writers imaginations have run wild. Which is what makes this film so appealing. There is a child like wonder to this story, and one that we can all relate to from back in our childhoods. The film is action-packed and the kind of story you would play out in your head, were you sat building and playing with your own Legos. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a story with pirates, robots, lasers, sharks, laser sharks etc etc …

Oh, and it is also, absolutely hilarious! The jokes come thick and fast, and rarely miss. A string of puns (good and bad, but always funny), childish jokes, jokes that will fly over the kids heads but land nicely with the adults, and tons and tons of visual gags – this will be one of the funniest films of the year!

The story has a clear message, and is one that isn’t new – be yourself, believe in yourself and you will achieve, everyone is special just the way they are. It sounds cliché … but the film is written so well, that it never feels like a cliché. Although a film about toys, you aren’t being talked down to, and a great line in the film – that sums up the point I am trying to make about it not being cliché is … “I know it sounds like a cat poster … but it’s true”. It is truly heartwarming and will have you smiling, laughing, and even bring a tear or two to your eye. And with a great twist towards the end, which I think few will see coming (I won’t spoil it for you), it is just topped off as an all round awesome film.

Although very early in the year, I do think this will be strong contender for movie of the year.

If you only ever listen to me this once, please, please do yourself a favour and get yourself out to the cinema to see this one as quickly as you can. You will not be disappointed.

9/10

 

Out of the Furnace … [REVIEW]

I find it very surprising that this film has not been given more attention over here in the UK. An all star cast, a director whose last film brought in Oscars and a long list of producers that include Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet, the film has had very little coverage, and although only came out in the UK this Wednesday, the film has been relegated to only being shown in studio cinema screens, and in the showing I was in today there was only two other people and myself.

Out-of-the-Furnace-MovieA raw, and emotional revenge film, Out of the Furnace, set in a small American town, tells the story of Russell Baze, a working class man, who when his brother goes missing and the police don’t act fast enough, decides to step in himself.  

The performances in this film are all very good. The directing is also, very good. The contrasting shots throughout and visual metaphors are all very clever and executed to a high standard. The film is very emotional in places (so take your tissues). However, the film just doesn’t quite deliver what it could have been.

The length of this film doesn’t do it any favours, running at just under two hours, it does start to drag a little bit. The film is relatively slow by its very nature, which is not necessarily a bad thing, with a very well used score, builds tension and peaks interest. Although during the less emotional times it does start to feel a little sluggish. 

Christian Bale shows yet again his acting range with a deep performance as Russell. Nothing ever goes right for him, and all he tries to do is look out for his family. Casey Affleck swings in and out as Russell’s brother Rodney, at times he is fantastic, but at others he is unbelievable and lacklustre. Although whenever he is alongside Bale, that is when he really shines. The chemistry between the two is very high, and they come across as very believable brothers. Supporting roles from Willem Dafoe, Forrest Whitaker and Zoe Saldana contribute heavily to the progression of the story, and a particular scene between Bale and Saldana is perhaps the standout moment as it is the film at it’s rawest, and in my opinion most emotional. Woody Harrelson is particularly menacing throughout and the perfect villain to hate.

The story isn’t feel good to say the very least. From the very kick-off this film has a dark mood, which never picks up in the following two hours. This review has been relatively short as I don’t wish to reveal any spoilers, and although not as good as it could have been, this is very watchable, and has plenty of standout emotional moments, it is worth watching. I do suspect that this film will struggle in the UK due to lack of attention it has been given, but I recommend giving it a try for the raw performances alone.

6.5/10