Monday, 19 July 2010

New Release - Toy Story 3

When it comes to kids films I'm usually the last in line but the prospect of a new Toy Story was a chance I couldn't miss, Pixar have mastered the difficult task of creating films that entertain all generations, and I had been eagerly anticipating a third film since the credits rolled on Toy Story 2 back in 1999. The first one hit the big screens when i was just eight years old and I have grown up with Andy, watching his toys run amok every time he closed his bedroom door, and becoming completely absorbed in the crazy situations they have encountered. 

We join Woody and Co. a few days before Andy packs up his belongings and heads off to college, misplacing his toys who end up donated to a children's daycentre instead of being packed away in the attic. It is down to Woody to convince the toys they haven't been abandoned and return them safely back home whilst avoiding crazy children, tyrannical toys and terrifying trash compactors along the way. 

Whilst the story remains fairly similar to the previous films, the introduction of a wealth of new characters (along with everyone's old favourites) adds to the enjoyment with comic characters such as an eccentric hedgehog, Mr Pricklepants, and the introduction of a hilarious romance between Barbie and Ken fleshing out the storyline with a healthy dose of humour. The eagle-eyed amongst you may even spot a character from one of Miyazaki's movies appearing in a young girls bedroom, a subtle nod to one of the greatest animators of all time.
One of the highlights of the film arrives after the credits have rolled with an alternative rendition of a memorable song from the first Toy Story, making it essential to stay in your seat right until the lights come up. It is also imperative that you arrive on time, as is usual with Pixar films you are treated to a short animation before the main feature and 'Night and Day' is definitely up there with the best of them, giving the audience a taster of the sheer brilliance they are about to behold. 

Toy Story 3 is an emotional ride; much like in Pixars recent releases Up and Wall-E, it is surprising how affecting a cartoon can be, with a number of poignant moments that will overwhelm even the most cynical of viewers.  Even though the human characters only have minor roles in the story, the few lines they do have will resound deeply with everyone, and the mixture of characters at different points in their lives means that there will be a part of the story that relates directly to you on a personal level. It's not just about throwing out the old toys anymore, its about the process of growing up and those that have followed the story from its first incarnation will be saddened by the reminder that their own childhood has passed.

Captivating from start to finish, Toy Story 3 is a triumphant reminder of Pixar's ability to blow all your expectations out of the water and in doing so they have delivered what could possibly be considered their greatest film to date. Essential viewing for everyone, Toy Story 3 is an unmissable extravaganza that is almost guaranteed a best picture nomination at next year's Oscars ceremony. Book your tickets right now, you would be a fool to pass up the chance to catch  the final part of the trilogy in its full cinematic glory.


If you like this you will enjoy these:

Mary And Max
Watership Down
Pom Poko

Friday, 16 July 2010

New Release - Inception

Imagine if the brains behind Mensa gathered together one day and created their own version of the A-Team, it would probably end up being very similar to Inception. Basically, Cristopher Nolan is a genius; Inception's storyline is an incredible feat of imagination that will simultaneously amaze and disorientate you with each thrilling turn. The acting is impeccable, with an ensemble cast that is bound to provoke a number of Oscar nominations (as long as the Academy realise that at the core of this  science fiction epic there still lies an emotionally draining thriller ) in dramatic roles that will haunt your dreams for a long time to come.

The less said about the plot the better, not because its bad, in fact its awe-inspiring to see the lengths Nolan has gone to in order to make this work , but it would be unfair to spoil your enjoyment of the film and would be quite a difficult feat to summarise concisely the key ideas behind Inception. Despite being a complex beast, Inception remains watchable throughout thanks to the impressive visuals and mind-blowing special effects that despite being physically impossible are still incredibly realistic.
Its closet comparison would be The Matrix, another game-changing sci-fi that took special effects to the next level by providing the audience with one hell of a story and not relying purely on the futuristic visuals to create the films success. The action has definitely stepped up a notch in Inception, with events in interweaving dream worlds affecting the consequences in others. It sounds complicated but it is a sheer joy to behold as Dicaprio and his team invade people's dreams and simultaneously assault an arctic fortress, defy gravity in an insane hotel corridor brawl and swerve traffic in a deadly car chase. Anything is possible in a dream, and thankfully Nolan exploits this to its maximum potential; trust me on this, the action sequences will leave you stunned senseless.

The only thing that dwarfs the intense action is the labyrinthine plot, which requires a great deal of concentration to follow. Luckily, Nolan makes this easy for the viewers by creating a visceral plot that completely absorbs the audience's attention - prompting an almost dream like state of consciousness as the action unfolds before your very eyes.

As I left the cinema I was undecided on my opinion of the film, there was just far too much to take in after one viewing. Having said that though, I would definitely consider catching Inception for a second time, the more the film has invaded my dreams since watching it, the more I want to immerse myself in Nolan's incredible imagination once again. 


If you like this film you will enjoy these:

Waking Life
Dark City
Jacob's Ladder
The Matrix

Sunday, 11 July 2010

New Release - The Karate Kid

Let's make it clear from the beginning, The Karate Kid is a blatant vehicle for Jaden Smith, with his all too famous father Will producing the movie in an attempt to bolster his son's acting career. Much like the criticism that Shane Meadow's Somers Town garnered for its association with Eurostar, it could be argued that the Karate Kid is a cleverly crafted two and a half hour long advert for Jaden Smith. That being said, it's a fairly well polished advert with Jaden putting in a solid performance, the only criticism that can be levelled at Smith is his age; the original Karate Kid was much older, broadening the films appeal to a wider audience, but as I watched pre-teens fighting I couldn't help feeling that this would alienate the teen audience as they will struggle to relate to the main character.

Don't get me wrong, the original is hardly a masterpiece, as is clear from its recent relegation to the library of channel five sunday afternoon family films that are usually only worth watching for the memories they rekindle, but in 1984 the influence it had over popular culture was widespread, with teens everywhere desperate to take up martial arts. There is no doubt that the new version will inspire a similar wave of interest and while this may indicate a certain amount of popularity, it is no indication of the film's quality, which doesn't come close to the sheer entertainment of the original.

Without comparing the two versions, The Karate Kid is a fairly entertaining movie, it has its flaws - most notably its length, but children oblivious to the original will love watching Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) start a new life in China while finding his feet with the local gang. Jackie Chan puts in a sterling performance as Mr Han, the caretaker and karate master who dedicates his time to training Dre and teaching him the true art of karate, that shows he can actually act. 

The story arc remains very similar to the original with the main alteration being the setting, which provides some fantastic backdrops for the street battles and a striking training scene on the great wall of China. Visually the film is impressive and the acting is okay, but remakes are never going to compare favourably to their predecessors and a change to one of the most memorable scenes in the film ("wax on, wax off") will be seen as blasphemous by fans of the original.

This is definitely a film for the younger generation, people familiar with the 1984 version should stay well away but those heading into the film without preconceptions formed from viewing the original will find a fairly enjoyable story that is very easy to watch. As i know most people reading this will have seen the original, save your money, and if you haven't seen the karate kid, you're missing out on an eighties classic - go and buy the dvd now and forget about the new version. Some things are just better left alone.


If you like this you will enjoy these:

The Karate Kid (1984)
Pump Up The Volume
Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

New Release - Get Him To The Greek

Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a dull, unfunny comedy, in fact I would go as far to say that it wasn't comedy but a boring drama. It pains me every time i hear someone mention how brilliant it was, and I really can't comprehend why anyone commissioned a spin-off, on second thoughts scrap that, Forgetting Sarah Marshall made money at the box office, so of course we are going to get a lacklustre follow-up, none other than Get him to the Greek.

The story follows Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) as he attempts to escort Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) to his long overdue comeback gig but struggles to keep the dishevelled rock star away from drink, drugs and desperate women. It sounds like the perfect recipe for a comedy but unfortunately it appears that the writers created a number of key scenes and then attempted to loosely tie them together with a script, and that will never work.

It's a shame that the majority of the jokes are clearly aimed at a teenage audience when references to The Mars Volta and Lars Ulrich clearly pay off, film-makers should realise that not everyone in the world is a hormonal teenage lad, desperate for a glimpse of nudity or endless toilet humour, but have faith that intelligent people are out there! Maybe they are just too on the ball and realise that anyone with half an ounce of intelligence will probably steer clear of this film. Admittedly, some of the jokes did bring a smile to my face, but this was not nearly enough to redeem the lack of structure and poor characterisation .

If you like your films without meaning, easy to follow and easy to forget, go and watch Get Him to the Greek, the perfect throwaway Summer comedy. Just don't say I didn't warn you!


If you like this you will enjoy these:

The Hangover
Super Troopers
This Is Spinal Tap
Grandma's Boy