Showing posts with label Thriller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thriller. Show all posts

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Brothers Movie Review

Brothers Movie Review starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman

Director: Jim Sheridan

Release Year: 2009

Running Time: 105 minutes

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Carey Mulligan

"Brothers" was based on a film directed by Susanne Bier known as "Brødre".  This American version however was directed by Irish director Jim Sheridan.  An interesting film that looks into the effect the war in the Middle East has had on one family. Undoubtedly "Brothers" brings out some excellent performances, certainly from Tobey Maguire who gives one of, if not, the best performance of his career.

Sam Cahill (Maguire) has a nice family, married to Grace (Natalie Portman) with two young daughters. He is in the Marine Corps and is often stationed in Afghanastan. Sam is respected by all, especially his parents.  However, his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the total opposite.  A failure in life and just out of prison he comes back to the family causing rifts.  With Sam heading back out to Afghanistan, questions are answered on how difficult it is for families with loved ones who are serving in the military and ultimately the effect it can have on everyone involved with quite devastating and unpredictable outcomes. 

Movie review, rating, trailer and photos of Brothers

The storyline is interesting, because it involves real life situations.  It makes the film very relateable.  The flow of the storyline however, is rather ragged and dismantled.  This is to show how lives like this are in real life.  It is not easy for any person involved when a loved one is going out to fight for his country abroad.  The storyline in "Brothers" enables the viewer to construct their own thoughts on events and connects to them at an honest level.  The rough feel to the plot gives the movie an incredible sense of realness.  One discrepancy in the plot is that due to its non-flowing nature, if it was not for the excellent performance provided by those involved, there would be nothing linking scene to scene, or, relationship to relationship. 

Movie review of Brothers (2009)

The three leads in the film take full advantage of excellently thought out characters. Maguire shows a darkness in his depiction of Sam, something that has not been seen before by the former Spider Man actor.  Credit is thoroughly deserved for his role - the changes in personality he shows for what his character has been through make for excellent viewing.  Both Portman and Gyllenhaal back up Macguire's terrific performance with excellent portrayals themselves.  Both adding varying dimensions to their characters. 

"Brothers" is a solid film to watch.  However, we cannot help but think that without the great performances from the cast this film would have suffered.  There is no real climax to come by the end of the film and at certain points the plot becomes very predictable.  The film survives on the backbone of the strong performances provided by the lead cast members that make this film much better than average.

M+F Rating: 7/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Swordfish Movie Review

Swordfish Movie Review

Director: Dominic Sena

First Release Date: 8th June 2001 (US)

Running Time: 99 minutes 

Starring: John Travolta, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Vinnie Jones, Don Cheadle

"Swordfish" is a film that has a well known cast but upon its release the film garnered more press than usual due to the fact that it was the first film to feature Halle Berry nude.  A forced scene in what turns out to be a very disappointing and mediocre movie despite the lead roles of John Travolta and Hugh Jackman - both failing to add anything great to the film .

Stanley Jobson (Jackman) living in the Texan desert is visited by Ginger Knowles (Berry).  She asks him to meet her employer and ultimately wants Stan to use a computer - something he is unable to after being banned as one of the worlds most notorious hackers.  Persuaded by the desire to see his daughter again Stan goes to meet Gabriel Shear (Travolta) who is a wanted criminal by the FBI.  Stuck in the middle, Stan must do what he can to keep Gabriel from killing him and his daughter while trying to save the lives of others as the FBI closes in. 

Movie review, rating, trailer and photos of Swordfish

"Swordfish", even with its well known and acclaimed cast is a let down.  The story line is okay at best and despite some good twists at the end, they fail to improve the film in the slightest.  The twists do not have the desired effect that directer, Dominic Sena, would have wanted and imagined when making the movie.  The cast is also ineffective in making the film any better despite the success they have had in other films.

Jackman, looking very young and less muscular than how he is now - due to films like "The Wolverine" (2013), is very average in this thriller.  His character does not give him the opportunity to give a performance that is positive or impressive.  This goes for all of the cast.  Characters are not developed enough for them to make an impression on the audience.  Travolta's performance is below average and his character does not have enough dimensions that the viewers can explore.  Not enough story or context is provided on Travolta's character.  Whether they hold background information back to make the movie more mysterious or whether they wanted to focus on other aspects of the film, it really does limit the effect the film has.  

Swordfish movie review, trailer, rating and photos.

The one scene that attracted much media attention when this film was released was Berry's topless scene.  However, the scene does not fit into the film at all.  It is forced, pointless and really interrupts the flow of the movie. This scene could have covered other aspects of the story and provided more context.  Another disappointing aspect of "Swordfish" are the action sequences.  There are few of them in this action film and the ones that exist are very mundane.  

"Swordfish" is a below average film. The storyline is something that feels familiar and despite a few twists it is nothing special.  The acting is mediocre and definitely not what you expect from such a well known cast.  The topic of the film is the only saving grace as it is relatively interesting yet the storyline does not take advantage of this and focuses instead on different aspects.  Come the end of the film, frustration is at its highest as the opportunity is missed to make a really great film.

M+F Rating: 4/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Fifth Estate Movie Review

The Fifth Estate movie review, rating, trailer and photos.

Director: Bill Condon

First Release Date: 11th October 2013 (UK)

Running Time: 128 minutes

 Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci, Peter Capaldi, Alicia Vikander, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie

"The Fifth Estate" is a film based on  real events - the 'information revolution' of the 21st Century.  It's story and content is based lossely on two books both published in 2011; Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World's Most Dangerous Website by Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding.  It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, the man behind the WikiLeaks website and also Daniel Brühl, David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney.

The film centers around journalist Daniel Berg (Brühl). From his first encounter with Julian Assange (Cumberbatch) to the stories and secrets they revealed via WikiLeaks.  Daniel finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of activism for freedom of information.  As time goes on, cracks can be seen to form in his relationship with Julian as he finds himself in over his head going up against the biggest and most powerful governments of the time. 

Movie review of the Fifth Estate - a film about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

Half of the aspects of "The Fifth Estate" are excellent however the other half ruin the film. It is a real mix of good and bad but despite this is still a relatively okay film overall.  For anyone who has followed the news the last few years will be familiar with the story and rise of WikiLeaks - a non-profit organisation that uploads secrets, news leaks and classified truths from anonymous 'whistle blowers'.  This movie depicts to the full extent the major stories and cover-ups that WikiLeaks has leaked.  It is filled with basic content of the countless leaks they made available to the world. 

"The Fifth Estate" features a relatively well known cast but the one stand out is Cumberbatch.  With dyed white hair and an Australian accent, Cumberbatch is Assange.  He portrays Assange's, mannerisms perfectly and is extremely convincing in the title role.  Without Cumberbatch, "The Fifth Estate" would have petered out into nothing.  He really is the driving force behind any success or positive reaction that the film gains. 

The other well known actors are all okay. However, they do fall into the shadows, cast by Cumberbatch's performance.  Brühl is good as Daniel Berg and the supporting cast including Thewlis, Linney, Tucci and Peter Calpaldi are all solid but far from amazing.  In this film they define the word 'supporting'.  Not one stands out or affects the overall outcome of the film from their own performance.  

Movie review of The Fifth Estate starring Cumberbatch, Bruhl, Thewlis, Capaldi, Tucci and Linney.

It is the look, feel and directing of "The Fifth Estate" where it ultimately falls down. The content is there albeit very consuming, however director Bill Condon does well to make this understandable for the audience.  The problem is that in a way there is too much content - it does not allow for any real story or drama to occur or take place.  It is based on two books so does has room to maneuver in a story that could grab and pull the audience in yet it sticks to the rather risk-less portrayal of event after event (this happened, then this happened and so on ).  When thought about and understood in this manner "The Fifth Estate" is not a good film at all.  There seemed to be no effort to make it into an exciting film - in fact you could go as far to say this would have been better as a documentary rather than a movie. 

"The Fifth Estate" is an interesting film in two ways; firstly, the content is relatively engaging and engrossing, secondly it really is difficult to work out your own feelings about the film.  On the one hand, you have an excellent performance from Cumberbatch that is unmatched by anyone else on set, but then the general direction of the film really lets it down.  Saying this, the film is still above average but this is down rather to the true story content that the film depicts from the two books it is loosely based upon. "The Fifth Estate" is an okay film that is far from excellent. It is spearheaded by the sublime performance from Cumberbatch but with below average direction the movie equates to nothing more than a content filled, drama lacking movie. 

M+F Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Gravity Movie Review

Gravity Movie Review starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

UK Release Date: 7th November 2013

Running Time: 91 minutes

Staring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris

Winning seven Academy Awards and six BAFTAs, it is almost impossible to not know of "Gravity".  Directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the film has certainly impressed the majority of critics who have watched it. It definitely is one of the most aesthetically pleasing films you will see, with breathtaking shots from space and it portrays the sense of loneliness that lies just outside of our atmosphere which seeps into the room as you watch.

Gravity, stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock - movie review, trailer, rating and photos

Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is on her first space mission with Matt Kowalski (Clooney) and they are on a space walk to do maintenance work on the Hubble Telescope.  While doing so, an incoming message from Houston warns the team that an unused Russian Satellite has been destroyed by the Russians.  This has caused a chain reaction of debris to smash around Earths atmosphere colliding into other satellites and is aiming right towards Stone and Kowalski. 

The film is incredible in being able to portray what space is like.  Vast scenes of silence swallow the audience into the depths of space.  "Gravity" is filmed in a way that is really aesthetic.  It looks great.  Each shot has been choreographed properly to give an excellent feel of gravity.  The soundtrack compliments the film perfectly and helps engage the audience.  It really is a film that effects those watching. You feel as if you are in space yourself and can feel nerve wracking effects as the film progresses.  Cuarón has directed this movie to reach the heights of space (pun intended) but there are aspects where the film disappoints. 

Movie review, trailer, rating and stills from Gravity

The length of the film is very short at only 90 minutes long.  It seems to be over very quickly.  This combined with a quite plain storyline is disappointing.  It is predictable and it would have been good to see other characters to be more prominent throughout.  Bullock's performance is solid enough throughout and she is able to hold the movie and the part being the solo main character. If she had not been able to do this the film could have failed completely.  

Apart from these small issues, "Gravity" is an excellent looking film to watch. It is exciting, exhilarating and will certainly take your breath away.  Apart from a slightly disappointing storyline which lacked depth, the films feel and look certainly make up for this.  However, in comparison to films like "12 Years a Slave" (2013), "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013) and even "Captain Phillips" (2013), after you have viewed "Gravity" you will not feel as impressed.  It is definitely worth watching, with great shots and an overall feel that has been cleverly put together.  

M+F Rating: 7/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Machine Movie Review

Film review of The Machine movie starring Caity Lotz and Toby Stephens

Director: Caradog W. James

UK Release Date: 21st March 2014

Running Time: 91 minutes 

Starring: Caity Lotz, Toby Stephens, Sam Hazeldine, Dennis Lawson

From director Caradog W. James comes "The Machine", a science-fiction movie that is filled with drama and action which also connects with the audience mentally.  This British film stars Caity Lotz and Toby Stephens in the main roles and is very dark and secretive, portraying a mood that is very eerie throughout. 

"The Machine" is set in a future world that is in the midst of a cold war that causes Britains Ministry of Defence to try and develop a war changing weapon.  The man they rely on for this is Vincent (Stephens) however his early attempts fail.  He acquires the help of another scientist, Ava (Lotz), as he tries to create 'The Machine' - an android that has processing skills that have not yet been seen before.  Vincent's ultimate aim is to harness this and implant it into his sick daughter however, his creation is more than what he could imagine.  

The Machine movie review, trailer, photos and rating.

This film is really one for the sci-fi lovers.  Robots, artificial intelligence, secret laboratories, human experiments - what more could you want?  The whole film has a dark and creepy feel about it which helps build tension and the mood of the film.  However, this also becomes one criticism of the film - the actual lighting is too dark.  It is difficult to make sense of everything that is going on and some details feel hazy as you cannot see everything. 

The storyline is decent. It is very relateable in this day and age where technology has come so far in that the events portrayed in the film are not a mile away from reality.  This is one factor that keeps the audience gripped throughout.  The film is good in keeping the audience involved and the constant thought of 'this could be true' will run through your mind many times.  However, the film does lack a certain quality that ultimately prevents it from becoming an excellent film. 

Trailer, review, rating, photos of The Machine.

The acting in the film is okay, with some parts feeling forced and not natural. This was slightly disappointing but overall for a relatively unknown cast compared to the big names of Hollywood, the acting in "The Machine" was quite good.  The science-fiction themed backing soundtrack was perfect yet is spoilt by the excessive overuse of it.  It really becomes frustrating and adds a jerkiness to the film that was at times, unbearable. 

"The Machine" is a good science-fiction film. It has a few drawbacks but all in all is a film that is better than average and connects with the audience.  It creates a dark atmosphere which sets the movie in motion.  The characters within the movie could have been developed further to give an extra layer to the film as it does feel like it only scratches the surface. If you like sci-fi then you will no doubt enjoy watching "The Machine".

M+F Rating: 6/10

Reviewd by M+F Reviews.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Incredible Hulk Movie Review

Movie review of The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton and Liv Tyler

Director: Louis Letterier

UK Release Date: 13th June 2008

Running Time: 112 minutes 

Starring: Edward Norton, Live Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Ty Burrell

"The Incredible Hulk" is the second film in Phase One of Marvel's Cinematic Universe having begun with "Iron Man" (2008) a month earlier and culminating with "The Avengers" (2012).  In spite of this, "The Incredible Hulk" is the one film in the whole franchise that is yet to feature an individual sequel and also is the one film out of the franchise that does not feel the same as the others.  

Review of The Incredible Hulk directed by Louis Letterier

Having taken part in a failed experiment that exposes himself to huge amounts of gamma radiation Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) becomes The Hulk.  5 Years later he is in hiding and is hunted by the American government, headed by General Ross (William Hurt), who wants to weaponise the Hulk process.  While as the Hulk, Bruce can only be soothed by his love interest, General Ross's daughter, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), and must try and keep his pulse rate below 200bpm while he is chased by General Ross and his henchman Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth).  

In short, "The Incredible Hulk" is okay. It no way matches up to the other films in the Marvel franchise but is an improvement on "Hulk" (2003).  The movie jumps around a lot and it can be quite hard to follow the story.  The storyline is not explained in the best way and this is disappointing considering the success of the other films.  Hulk as a character could inspire better stories than the one outlined in "The Incredible Hulk".

The Incredible Hulk Movie Review, Rating, Trailer and Photos

One big failing of the film is the cast.  Norton, is good as Bruce Banner/Hulk but is not great especially compared to the perfect match Robert Downey Jr. is as Iron Man.  This is unfortunate.  Norton is a good actor but does not fit the character well for Marvel.  The films they produce are successful due to their casting and the versatility of the role the actors can offer. Norton struggles to portray different aspects of one character - being very serious for pretty much the whole of the movie.  There is no release from the film, there is no humour or comedy that can be found in other Marvel films, a balance that needs to be struck in these sorts of films. 

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast do not seem to fit their characters very well either.  It is by no means unwatchable but it could be a lot better.  Tyler is okay in the lead female role but her character is not great itself.  Likewise with the nemesis to the Hulk, Abomination (Tim Roth).  This is meant to be the main battle for the Hulk but this is not a great match.  The film does not have the usual Marvel feel to it that you recognise and associate with the other films.

Film review of The Incredible Hulk (2008)

"The Incredible Hulk" is a watchable film.  It is filled with action and adventure and is worth watching especially as it is part of the Marvel franchise.  There may be more to the decision not to cast Norton as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in "The Avengers" but instead Mark Ruffalo was chosen and was met with better reviews.  That being said, Norton is not a bad Hulk, but unfortunately does not fit Marvel's own successful character selection.  The storyline for "The Incredible Hulk" is patchy but can still be followed and concludes in an okay way.  This film fits in above Ang Lee's "Hulk" but is far from the heights of the other films in Phase One of Marvel's Cinematic Universe.

M+F Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Captain Phillips Movie Review

Captain Phillips Movie Review

Director: Paul Greengrass

UK Release Date: 16th October 2013

Running Time: 134 minutes

Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Catherine Keener

Having already been treated to seeing big hits like "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "12 Years a Slave" we were again lucky enough to have the chance to see "Captain Phillips".  Another one of the years biggest movies and having been nominated for 6 Academy Awards we had high expectations for the Paul Greengrass adaptation of this true story.

This true story is remarkable and centers around Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks).  He was the captain of the Maersk Alabama ship that was unarmed as it made its journey around the Cape of Africa.  Tracked and boarded by Somali pirates, Captain Phillips is taken hostage as the story reaches high tensions with the arrival of the US Navy Seals.

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips
Photo courtesy of CTMG
First of all, we want to discuss the very last scene of the film (don't worry - we will not give away any plot details).  If you have seen the film then you will know what we are talking about and if you are yet to see it, when you do you will know.  It was this scene for us that really pushed "Captain Phillips" from a good film to an excellent film. This scene alone is one that would rank among Tom Hank's best ever for the quality of acting displayed. The emotion and attention to detail is perfect and really escalates the film to the next level making it stay with you after the film has finished.

The rest of the film for us was good, better than average but nothing spectacular.  It has a long build up period before the main climax and even though this is needed it is rather general and not very exciting.  This may be an after reflection because of how the film ends as there is a distinct change of pace in the film and tensions definitely rise.  This is only a minor problem but does affect our overall rating of the film.  

We have already mentioned the exceptional performance of Tom Hanks but that is not the only standout performance in the film.  Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is the main Somali pirate in the film and is by far one of the more interesting characters.  As to how true this representation of the real life Muse is , we do not know but the performance given by Barkhad Abdi is nothing short of exceptional.  He really plays the character well and throughout you get the sense of truth in the performance.  His performance shows the other the audience the 'other side' as well at times.  By this we mean that obviously the story is told from a Western perspective but at times and one scene in particular you can understand  the reasons behind why the pirates are doing what they do. 

Barkad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Photo courtesy of CTMG

"Captain Phillips" is a very good film.  It is intense, real and has a feel of authenticity about it that some other 'based on true story' films do not have.  There are great acting performances from Hanks and Barkhad Abdi that really hold the film together throughout.  It is a thrilling movie which is impressive considering that the majority of it is based at sea.  It really is a film that can grip the audiences attention and it will not be released until the very end. 

M+F Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Gamer Review: More Than Just A Game

Gamer Film Review

Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

UK Release Date: 16th September 2009 

Running Time: 95 minutes

Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Ludacris, Terry Crews, Logan Lerman

Set in the distant future, "Gamer" follows Kable (Gerard Butler), in a world where people can be controlled by others in games. Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) is the creator of the games; one is called Society and the newer game is titled Slayers.  It is Slayers that Kable is controlled in and it uses death row convicts as the controllable real life characters within the game, however if they can survive 30 sessions they are allowed to go free.  "Gamer" is an okay film filled with tonnes of action scenes that coincide with an interesting idea for a storyline which unfortunately does not fulfil its potential.

Gerard Butler as Kable and Logan Lerman as Simon in Gamer
Simon (Lerman) controls Kable (Butler) in "Gamer" (2009)

Butler plays his typical action hero role as we have seen time and time before in films such as "Law Abiding Citizen" (2009) and "Olympus Has Fallen" (2013) with both of these being much better movies.  However, there is nothing wrong with Butler's performance, it is just very similar to what we have seen before. The character is perfect for him, innocent but caught up on the wrong side but eventually does his best to do the right thing. 

We were more impressed by Hall's performance as Ken Castle.  You will probably know Hall from his title role in the hit TV series "Dexter" (2006-2013) where he plays a Miami Metro forensic officer who is also a serial killer. "Gamer" was released in the middle of the run-time of "Dexter".  We watched the whole 8 season of "Dexter" in the last year (that's a lot, we know) and surprisingly when we saw Hall we did not associate him with Dexter Morgan.  Sometimes, it is difficult for TV series characters to come out of their roles for the big screen but Hall does this very well. He actually plays the villain in this movie impressively. He is very creepy, insane and he really does show that he can hold a spot in a movie as well as a TV series. 

Michael C. Hall in Gamer
Michael C. Hall as Ken Castle in "Gamer" (2009)

The film itself is okay.  It is full of actions scenes both 'in-game' and in the usual world.  However we did find the camera shots not great, especially during Slayers.  It was difficult to grasp what was going on as it was moving so fast with plenty of explosions and gun fire.  If you like any of the shooting video games then you will most probably like this film.  What we did like was some of the technology it showed.  Simon (Logan Lerman), is Kable's controller and the computer he has is very impressive. It is very similar to Tony Stark's in Marvel's Iron Man film franchise and it is always interesting to see technology like this.

Overall "Gamer" is a standard action film that really only offers action scenes.  The storyline is okay but could be better. It could be developed further to make it flow easier as the original concept is good.  The film's characters are okay, although they are quite one-dimensional and you cannot really create an emotional link with them. If you love action then is a great film for you and if you liked "Dexter" then you will enjoy seeing Michael C. Hall in a different role and it will be interesting to see him on the big screen again, whenever that me be.

M+F Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews

Sunday, 9 February 2014

District 9 Review: Surprisingly Good Science-Fiction

District 9 Movie Logo, Review, Trailer and Rating
Director: Neill Blomkamp
UK Release Date: 4th September 2009
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt

What would you expect from a pretty much unheard of cast and a storyline that at first glance is quite 'out there?' Lets be honest, you would not expect much.  That's where "District 9" wins. You do not expect much when watching the film for the first time but it actually is a very good science-fiction film that can be enjoyed multiple times. It is quite different from others and filmed in an interesting yet entertaining way. 
Neill Blomkamp is the director responsible for "District 9". The film itself is shot in a way that it is almost like a documentary. It is a cross between a usual film and a documentary with the latter part talking about the life of Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) in a way that makes the audience question what is going on.  Alongside this, the film part of "District 9" shows what is going on with Wikus and eventually the two meet at the end and the documentary part makes sense.  It really does work for this film and the storyline is spot on.
Sharlto Copley as Wikus van de Merwe in District 9
This shows the documentary side of the film
The film, albeit science-fiction, does show some sort of truth. The conditions that the alien race are left to live in are disgusting and are similar to the slums that can be found in Africa. It is a representation of how bad some people live and how they are viewed because of this.  It also has a link to what governments are doing that people do not know about. This is easily observed in the trailer below.
If you like alien films this really is for you.  Alien weaponry, genetic testing and plenty of action "District 9" really is a true science-fiction movie. Copley really does deliver a great performance and stands out.  Surprisingly the film delivers great emotion throughout.  It really is a shock as you will find yourself feeling sorry for Wikus and the situation that he has unfortunately found himself in come the end of the film. 
Photo from Neill Blomkamp's District 9

"District 9" is quite the surprise and is a great movie.  There have been rumours of a sequel which we would definitely watch but with the bar set so high it would be interesting to see how it would compare, especially considering the disappointment that "Elysium" (2013) brought which saw the repairing of Blomkamp and Copley.  However, that takes nothing away from this film which is intelligent, clever and exciting to watch with a fresh cast and exciting storyline.
M+F Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Runner Runner Review: Potential Wasted

Brad Furman's Runner Runner
Director: Brad Furman
UK Release Date: 27th September 2013
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Anthony Mackie, Gemma Atherton
Brad Furman's "Runner Runner" was a film that was much anticipated. Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck combine in this poker movie however our anticipation soon turned to disappointment.  We will run through what we liked and disliked about Runner Runner (excuse the pun).
The idea behind the film is solid.  The story line was good and probably the best thing about the film. Unfortunately though, it did not convey onto the big screen very well.  If you have seen the film "21" (2008) then you will understand that films can be made about card games and can be successful.  This film is not one of them.  Runner Runner begins with Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) playing poker to try and win enough money to pay his college fees. He fails and believes he has been cheated by the site.  He goes onto challenege the owner of the business, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block takes Furst on and into his business but all is not what it seems when the FBI, headed by Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie), turns up and accuses Furst of illegal activities.
Justin Timberlake Ben Affleck
This is where the film broke down for us.  It turned so far away from being a film about poker it started trying to be something else.  It was a shame as we believe if it had stayed more focussed on the game of poker it would have been better.  With the FBI involved and Furst caught in the middle between them and Block a situation arose that we have seen to often in films; the innocent caught between the bad and the good but cannot do the right thing due to the circumstances.
If you saw the cast list before you watched the film you may be quite optimistic.  Affleck, Timberlake and Mackie were joined by Gemma Atherton for the film.  It is safe to say that all of the performances were below par and this is easily one of the worst movies Justin Timberlake is in. However, his own performance was one of the highlights.  The singer-turned actor-turned singer is likeable on screen and plays the innocent role well.  There is something about him that we could relate to. 
After "Argo" (2012), Affleck looked unstoppable but this was not a great performance by him. Maybe the character was wrong and not suited for him but he certainly did not look comfortable on screen and this was a disappointment.  Mackie also did not suit the character. Playing a frustrated FBI agent, who you questioned how legal he was, Mackie did not perform to the standards he set in "The Adjustment Bureau" (2011).  We felt Atherton did contribute much to the film.
Runner Runner was disappointing, especially when you consider the cast and the potential the storyline has. It is still worth watching so you can develop your own opinion. Timberlake makes it easier to watch and is probably the only substantial highlights when watching the film.
M+F Rating: 5/10

Trailer for Runner Runner

Reviewed by M+F Reviews

Monday, 27 January 2014

Riddick Review: There Have Been Worse

Director: David Twohy
UK Release Date: 4th September 2013
Running Time: 119 minutes
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dave Batista, Katee Sackhoff, Karl Urban 

Riddick is the third film based in the Chronicles of Riddick film series. Vin diesel takes his place as Riddick in the titular role. He is joined on screen by  Dave Batista, Katee Sackhoff and Karl Urban who are three of the better known actors that feature in the film. There is also a small role for singer Keri Hilson.

The film takes place on an unknown planet after Riddick is left there alone and is fighting for survival every day. On the horizon he notices a big storm which to him is a sign to leave the planet. He sends out a distress signal and two ships come down but not to save him. They are there to take him out as he is a wanted fugitive. It's then a case of Riddick vs the two teams and whether he can get off the planet before the peculiar storm hits. It reminded us of a reversed horror film. In a horror film the characters the audience usually root for are the ones who are being attacked/hunted/haunted. In this case we are obviously in support of Riddick who is doing the chasing and this is something fresh and different to view. 

We found the film quite enjoyable and not necessarily one where you need to have watched the previous two to understand. You are provided with a light recap of the story in the opening scenes. Even though it was a film that we quite liked it did for us have some setbacks that we were not that impressed with. 

We found a few of the fighting scenes to be pointless with odd moves and body parts being chopped off left right and centre. We understand the need for the fight scenes but in ways they were over the top. Having said that Riddick's use of knives as his weapon of choice was entertaining to watch. It made the film quite enjoyable when you knew he was going to fight someone - it was something to keep looking forward to.
"When the chains come off, you go in the first five seconds." - Riddick
We felt that the graphics and set design were poor. The whole film felt strange and the lighting was peculiar. Obviously it was made that way for a purpose but for us it didn't work and made the actual watching of the film slightly frustrating. The film graphics were very unbelievable. Obviously, the film involves creatures from other planets but they looked quite poorly designed. This was probably the biggest issue we had with the film.

There were some more comical parts of the film that we enjoyed. Some of the script was amusing but this was also put along side very cringe-worth scenes, especially at the very end so look out for that.

Even with these small gripes we came away from this film having enjoyed it, whether that's because we didn't have high hopes before hand, we don't know. But something worked in our eyes and this film would not be a bad watch if you are looking for something different or a film to have on in the background. 

M+F Rating: 6/10

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.  

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Prisoners Review: Are we all Trapped?

Director: Dennis Villeneuve
UK Release Date: 27th September 2013
Running Time: 153 minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano

Prisoners is a chilling crime thriller that was released in 2013.  Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhall star and both give incredible performances making this film a superb watch.  Director Dennis Villenueve could not have done much more to make this film more thrilling or gripping throughout.
The film is about the disappearance of characters Keller Dover (Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Howard) two young daughters on Thanksgiving. However the film centres around Dover's reaction to the apparent kidnapping and the toll it takes on him, his wife and their son.  While Detective Loki (Gylenhaal) does his best to find the missing girls, Keller takes things into his own hands by kidnapping the number one suspect, Alex Jones (Dano).
The film is full of suspense and will keep you guessing right up until the end.  An extremely powerful performance from Jackman makes this film stand out from others like it.  Rarely has he been seen to display such raw emotion and it is a pleasure to see.  The film is backed up by an ensemble cast where Gyllenhaal also puts in a great performance to add to the depth of the films characters.
This film is not just about the two girls being kidnapped and being considered as prisoners but it shows how in a situation like this everyone is a prisoner.  The families of the missing girls are lost to their emotions - Keller's wife, Grace (Bello) deals with it by taking sleeping pills and is a prisoner to her room.  Keller himself becomes prisoner to his demons while Detective Loki is a prisoner to his past.
Similar in ways to Zodiac (2007), Prisoners is an excellent film. Even if you are not a fan of thriller or crime films this film is worth a genuine watch.  Impressive performances by all those involved and directed perfectly, Prisoners offers an exhilarating storyline with scenes that will make you be on edge of your seat for many different reasons.
M+F Rating: 8/10 

Reviewed by M+F Reviews.