Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Wall-E ***** (For The Crawley Observer)

The concept of an adorable robot can be confusing, but as soon as his face appears on the screen your heart melts. With this, and the cute characters of faulty robots, a cockroach and a new age robot makes this a film that is unmissable. What you don't really gain from the adverts is what the film is about.
Wall-E is left to clean up Earth which has become a place where nobody can live because of the filth. But because he is the only one of his kind left, he becomes lonely. Then EVE comes along to look for life on Earth, and is what Wall-E falls in love with. The film continues with Wall-E chasing and trying to save EVE from the humans.

The film is perfect for the summer because not only will it attract children and offer a very important message throughout, but it's enjoyable for teenagers, adults and the grand parents! This really has catered to everyone's needs. Even the toughest person will come out feeling happy after spending some time with this innocent robot. The film's not too long either which can be the disappointing parts of a summer blockbuster. So all around, this is THE perfect film.

It is created by Disney's Pixar who has also made the ever popular films Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Incredibles. And although in the very beginning the dialogue is limited, when the adventures in space occur, humans (who are, by the way, made out to be lazy) take over the speech. And if you recognise the voice of the computer, it's done by Sigourney Weaver, so there is the common famous voice over!

Not only is the storyline in the film beautiful, but the cinematic experience is stunning. The effects are out of this world (literally), and the creators have really out done themselves, and should be proud of this brilliant movie. In some cases you almost find it believable that a robot is floating around space chasing another robot just because of the effects.

So really, I think this is the best Disney film that has been created so far. And with the common Pixar short at the beginning being as funny as the film itself, you will enjoy every moment of it. It's definitely one to watch.

The Chronicals of Narnia: Prince Caspian *** (For The Crawley Observer)

Narnia is clearly on of this year's biggest films for families but unfortunately it doesn't live up to its expectations.

Compared to the previous film this is a lot darker, possibly losing the audience it previously gained. And with little elements of mystery and magic, but action scenes and evil characters that aren't pleasant makes this film a lot harder to watch and understand.
Having said that, some scenes are beautifully crafted, the special effects are stunning and the scenery is just as glorious and immense as it was in the first Narnia; this making is slightly easier to watch during the action scenes.

Taking the set away, the storyline is weak. Giving little detail about the plot away, the narrative is actually quite dull. The first half doesn't have a moment where it picks up. And considering this is a lengthy film, you do become bored watching a lot of dialogue based scenes. However, the second half is filled with everything from the amazing effects to the huge war-like fights meaning by the end of the film you actually feel quite satisfied.

Many recognisable faces are provided for you during this film if you have seen the previous. And there are a few more characters (Prince Caspian being one of them, obviously) that are new to the story providing its chance to move on. However, like in the first, the four main characters aren't believable or enjoyable to watch so you're left to find comfort in the mysterious creatures that, in this, aren't very original or fun.

To sum up the film, it's a mixture between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. But, although it's meant to be a film based on fantasy, its hard to find the fantasy about it. Yes there's half animal/half human creatures but its such a left down from the first film. If you're a fan of the books you may understand the film more but coming from a film point of view, this just doesn't cut it.

See it if you're a fan of this type of film, or if you like tame action scenes, but don't if you're expecting something great from this highly anticipated film. It's beautifully filmed, the sets are amazing and the special effects are out of this world. But the acting, narrative and overall impression of the film is disappointing, meaning this summer is going to have to find another blockbuster.

The Happening ** (For The Crawley Observer)

The film starts off quite successfully; M. Night Shyamalan (who is also the director of The Village and The Sixth Sense) creates great tension and extremely psychotic chaos particularly for a '15' certificate. However, as the story begins to develop, the strength it gained in the very beginning is lost leaving you with a film that has a bizarre storyline which is also badly acted.

What makes this film less successful compared to the usual greatness that Shyamalan creates, is the fact that he seems to have made a film that's almost too weird and out of his league. Although when the actual thriller elements of the movie are shown, he creates a realistic sense of fear but the film loses focus and gains a, what seems to be, niche appeal. This means the popularity of the film is for a very limited group of spectators, and might be why The Happening just doesn't satisfy an audience with a love for thrillers as a whole.

Added to the main narrative of the film, the acting involved is particularly dire with a more than annoying lead female character, played by Zooey Deschanel, and an extremely unbelievable lead male played by Mark Wahlberg. So, you are left with a limited amount of success through the few creepy moments. However that said, Ashlyn Sanchez who plays a needy little girl really brings this film together making it almost bearable to watch.

The film as a whole retains an air of mystery throughout, but with an undefined ending that makes it even stranger, particularly when you come to analyse what you have just witnessed, lets it down. There are some lighter comical elements but even these are almost too awkward to find funny. Plus, sometimes you find yourself wanting to laugh out of embarrassment for the actors purely based on what the film is about - An unknown disease travelling through the wind.

With the horrors of people killing themselves, and a relationship issue threaded through the storyline... It just doesn't mesh well. I would also point out that some of the best parts of the film have been shown in the trailers. So when its meant to be tense, the feeling is lost because you've seen it all before on TV.

This film is definitely one for avid movie lovers who are craving something out of the ordinary. In my opinion it isn't satisfying and doesn't provide the sense of brilliance that you come to expect from Shyamalan's films.

Analysis of a scene from Beetlejuice (mise-en-scene)

I'm going to analyse the scene in which the couple, Adam and Barbara Maitland, drive into the sheltered bridge. I feel it's the most clue giving scene in the whole film, and is really interesting to understand and interpret.

A quick synopsis of the scene:
Adam and Barbara are currently on a two week vacation which they are spending in their run down house, and plan to decorate it. The couple need a few things from the store that Adam runs, so Barbara drives Adam to the store to collect these few items. As they are heading back, a dog distracts Barbara from driving, and they ultimately drive into a sheltered bridge and fall into a river.

I was trying to decide how to analyse the film in terms of what order to place the certain areas predominant in a film (those being the mise-en-scene which include the set and costume, the music, special effects and camera work). And feel it would make the most sense, and be the most understandable to analyse them in the certain categories. So here they are...
The mise-en-scene in this film gives everything you need to know away. You really wouldn't need any kind of dialogue if you just read the set. So to start off with, we are presented with a huge white house. The size of this house could represent how innocent the couple are. Tim Burton could have chosen any colour for this house, but he chose to choose white - The most innocent of all the colours. So immediately you are not threatened by anything that is giving to you. Around this white house you see a tree with no leaves, a fence that looks very unstable and thick clouds in the blue sky. The fence could show the signs of the interior of the house, as it is very run down. And the tree and clouds could actually be an indication of the dark that's about to occur in their lives. I know it sounds a bit far fetched but really, everything put into the scene has a meaning. They could have adjusted the sky in post-production to have no clouds, they could have brought in a tree full of life, but instead these two factors, and the run down fense in this scene have an unpleasant feel about them indicating something isn't quite as simple as the huge white house might signal. And in the distance of this huge house is the village in which they both live near by. The houses seem, from what is given in the shot, to all be of cream colours and whites, but are distanced from this house. This meaning that the house is isolated from any interaction with the main village - Like the alive being isolated from the dead.

When the camera cuts to Adam and Barbara running down the stairs, their costumes are very much relating to their personality. Adam wears a shirt, with clashing trousers and glasses, giving the smarter part of the couple. And Barbara wears a white dress with a small floral design on it, which is flowing and covers most of her body up; a very good indication of her innocence and motherly figure in this film.

The car they drive is of a yellow pastel colour, enough to stand out from the creamy looking houses and make a statement, but also isn't too domineering against this very quaint picture we are being given.

The very first sign of something bad about to happen is the shot of the sheltered bridge. The surrounding picture is of the countryside; A beautiful image of fields and white houses. But right in the middle is this huge, bright red interfering bridge. Red is always associated with anger, stress, death and blood, so for this bridge to stand out in such a way isn't appealing at all. And from this very first sign of seeing red, a pattern begins to emerge. Red becomes the common colour in the scene with subtle hints of it throughout the different shots that the audience are watching. This is used in films to hint to the audience that red is of an importance (You may notice if you're watching Jaws that yellow is the reoccurring colour in that film). Provided in the next few scenes is a man wearing a red cap, men washing a big red car, red as the font colour for the front of the shop, red flowers and the shop containing many red apparatus. This isn't a coincidence. It has all been there to signal that something red is an important aspect in the script.

Along with these images we see a man cleaning his statues with his dog walking across the street, houses that are neatly kept and a hair dresser sitting in a chair waiting for someone to ask for a haircut. Obviously, he has been given the appropriate uniform for a hairdresser to make the audience believe he is one. And these images seem very nice and pleasent to observe.

But, after being exploded with these red images, we return once again to this domineering red bridge. Remember just above I said the 'dog walking across the street'? Tim Burton didn't let the dog do that randomly. The dog is the reason why the the couple are killed. We see this dog again, in front of the bridge, which distracts Barbara from driving, and ultimately she crashes through the side of this sheltered bridge, the yellow car contrasting and standing out so much from the red that's presented, and eventually falls in the deep flowing river. Again, the river could have been a stream but the action had to have an impact so it's huge and splashes everywhere to create the dramatic effect. And, of course the bridge is sheltered because the car had to drive into something, to create the tension of balancing on the edge, before falling in and bringing down the red wood with it.

So, when you actually start reading the mise-en-scene, you realise that dialogue is such a small part of the script in a film...

Next blog, camera work and editing.

Prom Night *** (For The Crawley Observer)

Okay, so this isn't the most original horror of them all with the typical beautiful girl (Brittany Snow) being the main target of the film, and with other minor characters disappearing into dark corridors by themselves. But this film is still actually quite entertaining.

If you're into brutal murders as part of your cinematic experience don't expect to be completely satisfied because they've clearly tried to tone it down to achieve a '15' certificate. However, the killer is as psychotic as you would expect a murderer who's been locked up to be and it contains as many tense scenes as you might want.

Having said that if this sort of genre is your favourite type of film you probably won't enjoy it; It's almost like a kid's version of a horror by being quite jumpy but showing no blood whatsoever; which is odd considering the murderer's main weapon is a knife. Also, by no means is the storyline original. It's written for the night with lots of American ditzy girls being the main culprits so it does become quite predictable and typical to watch. The script can also make you laugh as well be containing lots of famous last words.

The film has obviously been released in an effort to scare their most predominant audience - 18 year old's facing the anxiety of the future. This added to the relatable storyline of a special prom night and the end of a school era means this film could be a surprise popular horror by default, as it attempts to scare its target audience more due to the identifiable narrative.

Nelson McCornick (the director of the film) and J.S. Cardone (the writer of the film) have worked together before and have another horror planned. They create a good team with a watchable film style but they are no outstanding duo in terms of creative story writing. Ultimately, the film is like any other horror, and disappointingly, the scenes that are meant to become scarier each time actually become annoyingly repetitive. So to say this film could be a popular horror is very optimistic.

But if you enjoy a film that creates a nervous atmosphere and does make you jump I suggest going to see it. Remember though, it is filled with conventions to the max so don't expect to come away experiencing a sense of inventiveness.

Sex and The City *** (For The Crawley Observer)

Yes, this is the most feminine focused film known to man but that's a given!

Leading from the ever popular Sex and The City series, the film gives you the same roller coaster ride you would expect from the characters and situations. And even if you didn't get into the TV shows like me, it's still a brilliant film (speaking from a female perspective, of course).

Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon are 4 actresses playing their character's effortlessly, making it not only enjoyable to watch but also believable. They're in your face, sensitive, funny, caring and bitchy - Every girl imaginable could relate to this film. And with fabulous designer shoes, bags, dresses, this is a life any girl would want to be part of.

However, this film could also appeal to men too. It has a compelling storyline focused around relationships and conceivably men might just learn a few tricks of the trade in how to handle relationship issues. But ultimately, and without a doubt, it's a chick-flick.

The anticipation of this film isn't an anti-climax by any means. Michael Patrick King who has written for Sex and The City previously has packed everything into this film that you would expect from the TV series. There isn't one point in this that you are let down by the narrative. It relates to the shows as well as making a storyline for itself in the film.

Basically, it's a whole other series in one film. Of course it glamorises the lives of the women living in L.A. and New York, but it works well as it feeds into the ultimate female fantasy of leading such a lifestyle. It has the most perfect ending to crown this fabulous, glorious film meaning you leave the cinema on a high.

So girls, get a group of you and get ready to laugh, cry and have a great time!

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull **** (For The Crawley Observer)

Spielberg, Lucas and Koepp... These is the team that has delivered a film that is well worth the anticipation. Planned to be one of this year's biggest successes in the film industry, Indiana Jones exceeds its expectations and brings a whole new dimension to the ever popular prequels.

It's the attention to detail that Spielberg gives to his films that makes them breathtaking to watch. The amount of effort that has gone into the location, special effects and camera work is truly immense. It's hard to take your eyes off the screen, and even though the film is just over two hours long, it feels like two minutes.

Lucas, who created the Star Wars trilogy, and Keopp who has produced screenplays for films such as Jurrassic Park, produce a storyline for Indiana Jones (although it is a bit bizarre towards the end) that's as original as the previous films but with a slightly modern twist, even though it's set in the 1950s.

The film is exciting, action packed and extremely realistic which adds to the depth; the originality of the music brought into this film adds to the drama. And yes, it still has the cheesy humour and fight scenes that any normal human being would never survive, but Jones does!

Harrison Ford acts as if he hasn't had a gap from these films, and with his new side kick 'Mutt' (Shia LeBeouf) playing what seems to be a young Indy makes a partnership which is compelling to watch develop. If you're a fan of the original films you will recognise some familiar faces. But if you never really got into the Indy series it doesn't matter! This film is so good it would be successful even if it didn't have a great history behind it. It's flawless.

Not one moment do you get bored or lose interest. Make sure you see it in the cinema because the atmosphere is amazing. Even if you're sceptical of a new version, give it a try. This will give you a flavour of what Indiana Jones is going to become, if this brilliant series continues.

Beetle Juice *****

Strange, unique, dark, weird... The words that come to your mind when you think of a Tim Burton film. And these words can certainly be used to describe Beetle Juice.

The story focuses around a married couple - Adam and Barbara Maitland (Played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) who unfortunately get killed in a driving accident, and spend the rest of their time on Earth and beyond discovering life so much more far fetched than what could ever imagine. During the time of their discovery, they meet a very diverse bunch of characters from a Gothic, ghost seeing daughter played by Winona Ryder, to a perverted, zombie lunatic who is actually Beetle Juice - Or Betleguese, as he spells it, acted marvelously by Michael Keaton.

This film is the definition of quirky. The thought that's gone into every scene is immense. The detail of the costumes, the brilliantly designed sets, the casting of each and every character. It's a great experience to sit and take this film in. Every aspect of this film has a meaning - From a self harming pixie to a eccentric mother who just wants to make spiky sculptures. You build relationships with the recently deceased couple who just want answers, and you find the afterlife extremely intriguing. Tim Burton's imagination is impeccable, and deeply creative. He really has made this a one of a kind film.

While friends get possessed by dancing to funny little songs at a formal dinner table, Betleguese turns himself into all sorts to try and scare away certain individuals. Michael Keaton is unrecognisable, and certainly provides the evil layer that this film needs, with a charm that's slightly inviting and then also a presence that is quite repulsive.

After these descriptions of the film, it seems to be something of a confusing, creepy nature but it's actually delightfully enchanting from what Tim Burton and his team of writers have created. And with a more than satisfactory ending that leaves you relieved, happy and some what confused as you think back to yourself about the scenes you've just witnessed, the overall all impression the film leaves you with is, well, happy. But just remember, this film isn't anything ordinary. It's completely bizarre, and out of this world with imagination. But if you're up for trying something new and original, go for it!

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Dark Knight *****

A man you definitely wouldn't want to introduce to your parents, a few out of this world gadgets and an incredible ludicrous car. It can only be one thing... The next Batman movie has arrived. Based around the famous fictional city of Gotham, the antics from the protagonist and antagonists of this film slowly unravel to reveal an exciting and almost never ending turn of events. Batman, The Joker and Two-Face are on the screen for one of the most anticipated films made.

If, like me, you're trying not to listen to the hype of the film and make your own judgement do so. But actually you will have the same opinion as every other person that has watched this film. It is absolutely brilliant in every way, except of course the voice that Christian Bale puts on as Batman. But he doesn't talk like that the whole time, so you won't have bleeding ears when the film finishes.

The cinematography is immense from the shooting of action scenes, the extent of the sets, the costume and makeup... Basically the whole motion picture. Christopher Nolan, who previously directed and wrote Batman Begins, has out done himself on the directing of this film. His creativity, hard work and imagination has added up to this film being one not miss. If you're not a Batman fan, I urge you to see it for the pure entertainment value this film provides. It's action packed as you'd expect from a Batman film, it's got comedy value and it's got sensitivity in it, mostly provided by Maggie Gyllenhaal, the romantic lead. Plus, you know everybody is going to be quoting The Joker for years to come... You'll wanna know what every one's talking about, right?

Heath Ledger... How do I describe his performance? Never have I been so scared of a fictional character, and yet want to be his friend at the same time. He's brutal, yet funny. He's aggressive, yet extremely intriguing. He's impossibly terrifying but then again so very lovable. His role is played flawlessly. You cannot fault anything he does in this film. Hearing "Here's Johnny!" will be a walk in the park after hearing The Joker say "Why so serious?"
And lets not forget about Two-Face. Although the post-production of the face seems a little dramatic, the effect the reveal of his face has on you is quite drastic. He has the essence of a killer in him, and that makes it all the more chilling.

I guess we should talk about Batman as well. Christian Bale plays his usual distanced self, but as Batman is pretty distant he fits perfectly, like every other aspect in this film. And with his day to day character Bruce Wayne working well together with Michael Caine playing Alfred Pennyworth, and Morgan Freeman playing Lucius Fox to create cheeky little phrases, and intelligent relationships just makes everything seem so perfect.

So to sum up... Watch it or you'll miss out.
Dedicated to Heath Ledger.

What Happens In Vegas ** (For The Crawley Observer)

What Happens In Vegas is a film of two halves. The first half is very much like a game of cat and mouse between Cameron Diaz (Joy McNally) and Ashton Kutcher (Jack Fuller). It contains a lot of slapstick comedy, and at times can be quite amusing. The second half is more of a love story that actually has some structure and is surprisingly sensitive.

Cameron plays a very sophisticated, career minded woman, and Ashton plays the lazy bachelor type, giving the film a lot of scope to develop and play with in terms of the relationship between the two of them. They both slip easily into their roles as it is typical of their previous history of film characters - But it still comes across as refreshing.
With added characters of Lake Bell (Tipper) and Rob Corddry (Hater) playing the main character's sidekicks and Queen Latifah playing the marital councillor, it all adds up to a recipe of quick comedy, strong one-liners and visually comic moments.

Although it's clearly obvious to romantic-comedy fans what the ending is likely to be, the result is still quite satisfying and does leave you with the obligatory warm fuzzy feeling.

Ashton plays his part very well and shows a more neautral side to him than what he is ususally credited with. Cameron, the consummate professional plays her female vunerabilities as well as remaining strong and this makes for a good blend between the two characters which works well.

Dana Fox who wrote this as well as The Wedding Date has made a film that does live up to the expectations of a Rom-Com. She clearly knows how to create the conventions of a romantic film, and has worked well to create a comic twist to it. However, there is no one point in the film where you think 'this is brilliant'. Maybe it will translate better to DVD?

It is a very universal film that should appeal to a wide audience. But with no ground-breaking material or scenes in the film that hook you in, it really is just another Rom-Com that might be worth seeing if there is no better option availble. Then again, if you are a fan a Cameron Diaz or Ashton Kutcher then you may want to go and see it just for them. They are good on the eye and live up to their typical casting.

What Happens In Vegas isn't bad but it also isn't that good. It is extremely predictable, and to any film fan this won't be new. Nevertheless, if you're hoping to see a light hearted that's not too sentimental and not so funny that it has you falling off your seats then you may want to go and see it.

Iron Man **** (For The Crawley Observer)

How can you be cool in an iron suit? Well Robert Downey Jr. who plays the Iron Man manages to pull it off with tremendous success.

Not only is his character arrogant and rich, but he has this tough exterior that really does make him delightfully mean, if that's ever such a thing. And with the film set showing how luxurious life can be if you're a successful businessman, his appeal grows even more as it encompasses his outstanding house, beautiful cars and all the designer clothes and accessories you can imagine.

The film isn't all about his wonderful life though; the amount of modern technology that's thrown into this is breathtaking. The use of imaginative and detailed scenes throughout the film means that Jon Favreau who directed this magic of a Marvel film, has proven his talent in the film industry.

Although, perhaps a bit long when you're sitting in the cinema and with a predictable twist, the film lives up to the Marvel characteristics with a brilliant bad character played by Jeff Bridges, amazing supernatural powers throughout and realism that will make you gasp. The comedic moments are provided from the sarcasm of Robert Downey Jr., and the action moments that are so intense you can't help yourself but get caught up in them. This is one successful action/superhero film with a cast of recognisable faces that are mostly well acted and make it that much more enjoyable to watch.

It does have to be said however, Robert Downey Jr. can't do emotional scenes and does seem out-acted by Gwyneth Paltrow who plays the very efficient lead female in this film. Although this film is meant to be about Iron Man and the discovery of him there isn't as much action as you'd expect or perhaps like.
The first and last scenes of the film are crammed with action, but as the storyline beings to build the action becomes lost making it seem quite a lengthy film as I mentioned earlier.

Also, when reflecting about the narrative of the story, it is actually quite sick and tormented. It contains brutal scenes of captivity and very graphic and painful looking fight scenes making it bizarrely uncomfortable to watch. Maybe we need to keep in mind that it is actually robots that are fighting, to keep this film in perspective.

Overall though, any fan of the Marvel films shouldn't be disappointed with this one. It contains all the stereotypes of a comic book hero, their successes and failures that would be expected as well as the modern day twists that can be created in films today.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall **** (For The Crawley Observer)

Nicholas Stoller, the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall has possibly created a film that's funnier than Superbad (But if you didn't find Superbad funny then you probably won't like this).

Quick one-liners are thrown into this film throughout and have you laughing from beginning to end. Although it is easy to tell that this film has been created to make you giggle, the elements of Russell Brand's Britishness, Jason Segel's heartbroken state and the extremely laid back characters of Hawaii makes this a tremendously successful comedy.

Not only is this film a great pick me up, but the sentimental side of the storyline draws you in. At one point in the cinema a person behind me actually shouted 'don't do that! Oh you're stupid', vividly demonstrating how caught up you become in an almost romantic comedy, comedy being the main expression of genre.

Russell Brand has been used to good effect to advertise this film although most adverts don't do the film justice. To sum up his character, he plays himself but with a different name, so if you're a fan of his wild antics and comedy genius then you will definitely not be disappointed. And don't underestimate the other character's influences on the film. Jason Segel playing the crushed character that has split up from a very successful actress makes this film.
He places his appearances from other films such as Knocked Up into this role and going from his mannerisms to his movement, the guy is just plain brilliant. The two beautiful actresses Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis playing the female leads give even more appeal to this film as well.

Anyone who has awkwardly bumped into an ex before will be able to relate to this film. There is venerability, jealousy and pain all expressed in this movie but with a light hearted tone, as you would expect from a comedy. And although this film does drag a bit at the end, the final scenes are satisfying and bring the whole movie together. It is actually quite sensitive once you get past the moments of hilarity, and with such a diverse cast, the film really does mesh well.

I do have to make it quite clear though, the content is extremely adults only. With Russell Brand explaining his views on sex in a typically graphic fashion, amusing scenes in the bedroom as well as reenactments from some of the characters, it is a film focused around one topic. However, with relationships being the key issue, it's easy to see why these scenes of comedy are needed because to be honest, the film would be quite depressing without.

So overall, if you're looking for a film that will make you laugh from beginning to end with eye-candy characters and topics that are easy to relate to, go and see it.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Street Kings ** (For The Crawley Observer)

This film's genre sits somewhere between a gangster and an action movie so if that's your thing then it will almost tick the boxes. When the action kicks in it is extremely intense and graphic. However, with the exception of a few extremely well shot shooting scenes at the end, the middle of the movie seems to give up and has a sense of nothingness about it.

What is impressive, especially coming from an American movie, is that the police forces aren't made out to be perfect and flawless. So you don't feel the need to sign every time a policeman manages to miraculously survive a more than likely death action scene. And with believable gangster-like characters playing some cruel roles, including Noel Gugliemi and Cedric the Entertainer, the film is quite interesting to watch.

However, considering Keanu Reeves plays the lead detective within this film, his connection with the audience is lost from the very beginning. He has a dislikeable character, which combined with appearing unable to act in certain disguises within the story of the film, he doesn't seem to portray his actual job as a detective well at all. It all seems forced and becomes hard to watch as his role within the film slowly loses momentum.

This film is dominated by lead males playing police officers and gangster like characters, staying very much true to type. However, the introduction of the female characters brings a depth of emotion which creates a deeper level to this film. Naomie Harris produces the fear and moral dilemmas well that are needed for the storyline, as well as being real sentiment to this masculine narrative.
And the sensitive topic of racism and relationships running throughout the film seems to lend focus and reasoning for the somewhat brutal scenes of murder, drug dealing and dishonesty.

This film catches you at the very beginning but slowly loses its appeal by having a storyline which doesn't seem to be clear in it's aims. Throughout it you don't appreciate what the characters have set out to do, although for an action film, the ending is reassuringly good. Nonetheless, you don't feel as if you have grasped the film and can truly understand why men are being wrapped in barbed wire or even more puzzling, why they are being shot for running a corner shop.

Street Kings is a film wherein if you're interested in seeing guns, fights, drugs and a lot more controversy it's perfect. If not, then you will more than likely come away not really sure what it was all about and whether it was worth it.

21 **** (For The Crawley Observer)

Robert Luketic, who is better known for his directing skills in chick-flicks such as Legally Blonde or Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, has created a film this is arguably one of the most original and exciting films produced in a long time.

Along with the young new talent that is Jim Sturgess, who plays Ben Campbell, the MIT student aiming to achieve a scholarship to Harvard Med School, the storyline is immersed with intellectual and moral dilemmas as well as moments of hilarity and high action.

The mix of Luketic's out of the ordinary cinematic filming, the talent of Sturgess and the compelling storyline makes 21 a film very hard to dislike. The film deals with a group of highly intellectual students who try and beat the system when it comes to playing poker in Las Vegas. The line up includes Kate Bosworth who as well as playing the obligatory romantic lead fares well as the intelligent, sexy member of the team.
The film also has its fair share of gangster like characters; one of whom is played by Laurence Fishburne who really does send shivers down your spine, alongside typical student and motherly-type figures that hold the morality of the storyline. Kevin Spacey also puts in a typically spectacular performance by playing a mentor to these students and lends an edge to the film.

Peter Steinfield and Allan Loeb, who wrote 21, have addressed the usual problems that young adults face; juggling a job, a girlfriend, an education whilst staying committed to family life. But don't think of this as a normal teenage movie because this is so much more sophisticated. Think of it as a mix between Snatch, Ocean's Eleven and Cruel Intentions and you may be half way there in terms of understanding the inventiveness of this story. There is also no let up, no moment during your cinema experience to feel relaxed and at ease with this storyline.

As well as challenging your intellectual ability you are also faced with emotional dilemmas from Ben Campbell's life all caught up in the action of Las Vegas. And just when you thought a change in the narrative couldn't exist, it somehow does.
With clever cinematic ideas peppered throughout the film which adds to the appeal along with the many combinations of twists and turns throughout the storyline - some of which may actually make you gasp, you are left with a movie that isn't just great... But absolutely fantastic!

If you want a film that's not only funny and exciting but so beyond your expectations of a storyline that it really does leave you feeling bowled over, go and see it.

How She Move * (For The Crawley Observer)

It doesn't bode well that even the title of the film is annoying, the problem being that you automatically want to add an 's' to the end of Move, and being one of the competitors for Step Up 2: The Streets, How She Move simply doesn't cut it to be as successful as the first Step Up.

It becomes almost painful to watch as the lead character Raya (played by Rutina Wesley) experiences so many personal traumas in her life that in order for her to escape it the inevitable much happen.
You quickly become distanced from the film because, although intending to represent the fighting ambition that Raya has, it all gets a bit too much with her sister dying from drug abuse, her dad walking out on her family and then rejection from her own community, the only place she feels comfortable. It's a very intense film to say the least and the fact that it is being produced in a documentary style makes it seem all the more harder to bear.

In addition with the film being based around dance, the visual approach to the competitions and the rehearsals of the moves aren't that exciting either. As the film slowly builds up to the actual moment of the dancing, it brings with it an anticlimax as, unlike other dance films such as Dirty Dancing, you don't feel the urge to leap out of your seat and copy the dance moves.
Although being physically impressive, particularly in the last scenes of the final 'dance off' where very original and strenuous looking moves are acted out, the cinematography means you miss most of the good stuff so that all you're left with is one or two impressive moves mixed in with a couple of twirls and a few reaction shots.

Annmarie Morais who wrote the film has clearly tried to put as much emotion into it as possible. However because of her desire to create a drama out of a dance film it becomes quite depressing to watch. You don't feel a link with any of the characters because for one, the relationships seem quite false. Two, even the lead character is dislikeable due to her betraying nature. And three, there are no characters with defined personalities; they all appear to be so complex that they become confusing to understand and therefore difficult to identify with.

I am sure that this film will transfer much better to DVD as the whole experience of watching it on your TV's won't make it as intense as going to see it in the cinema. There is one redeeming factor, if you're not into the storyline you could always go for the soundtrack. MTV helped produce the film so at least the choices of songs are worth listening to. With the music (which I have to admit sometimes has the tendency to be a bit in your face) the film would have no drive or appeal to it.

So if you're into urban genres of music, as least that will give you a reason to go and see this film.

Drillbit Taylor ** (For The Crawley Observer)

If you're expecting a simple storyline with light-hearted laughs you will be delightfully satisfied. The film depicts young teenagers experiencing what High School might be like for the first time, which apparently involves making sure you don't get bullied. And if you do become the unfortunate one who is bullied, it shows you how to go about getting revenge.

This film does convey this message well within the typical American High School setting, and explores the vulnerability that can occur when you first start at school. And with the bullies being particularly psychotic means that you do actually feel fear for the three boys in the film.
However, although some scenes are quite funny, don't expect to find yourself gasping for air from the laughter that overcomes you. It could be said that with the topic of the film being mostly about bullying, you may not find it funny at all, but a cruel reflection of what can actually occur.

It is clear to see that Seth Rogan, who also wrote Superbad, has had a big influence over this film. The young teenagers are like miniature versions of the characters in Superbad but actually play their parts better than Owen Wilson who is the lead adult in the movie.
With Troy Gentile playing 'Ryan' the gangster wannabe much like McLovin', and Nate Hartley playing 'Wade', the geek-like character similar to Evan; it doesn't provide any original comedy moments if you are already familiar with Superbad, but the way they carry their roles is excellent.

Disappointingly, Wilson plays his usual dramatic self and creates a character that's both annoying and dislikable all in one which leaves the film being let down by him. What also lets it down is the storyline. In the beginning the profiles of the characters are established very quickly, with stereotypes bring the main focus of the humour which is successful. However, as the film begins to develop the narrative becomes disjointed and feels extremely long when you're sitting in the cinema. Scenes that are short could be extended, and scenes which aren't that important to the story should definitely have been shortened.

With this in mind, and the combined repetitive and predictable type of comedy being given to you, it's mostly a relief to leave the cinema. Having said that, it is quite empowering for those teenagers who have been bullied at school. Although the outcome is most likely inevitable, the friendship and support portrayed throughout the film is heart warming.

Would I recommend this film? Yes, to anyone who wants to have a mindless couple of hours in the cinema, sprinkled with a few laughs and without having to think about keeping in touch with the storyline. What does add some light relief is the contemporary soundtrack. So if you find yourself getting bored, just sing along to a couple of songs, they're a bonus!

Vantage Point *** (For The Crawley Observer)

You may be thinking 'I'm going to get bored seeing the same scene over and over again'. But it really is amazing how even though you witness the president of America being shot several times, it can have a different impact on you each time.

Pete Travis,who directed this film, has finally created an original intense action film using the same scene but with different storylines cleverly weaved together. As the film goes on, it begins to unravel, and just at the point where you're going to find out a major clue to the film, it rewinds its self and goes to another person's perspective leaving you on a cliff-hanger.
The quality of the storyline gives it an edge that does make it very successful. Not only is the plot intriguing but so are the cinematic ideas. The way in which the film rewinds back to reveal another witness of the president's shooting, along with collages of the scenes just seen makes this very interesting to watch and almost pleasing as you begin to get immersed with another viewer's story.

However and very frustratingly what lets this film down is the ending. Without giving too much away, you are very much reminded that this is a film about America with the references to 9/11, politics and bombings and by the quote 'this war will never end.' So in reality the final scenes would most likely never happen but this is cinema so, miraculously they do.
It's a shame because up until the last third of the film it's brilliant to watch. And I'm sure when you're in the cinema you'll hear everyone around you sigh at annoyance due to the disappointing and unsatisfying ending. My advice would be beat the crowds and leave early so you're just left with the powerful drama instead of being left with an ending that makes you want to 'cringe'.

That said, with Matthew Fox and Dennis Quaid playing believable bodyguards to the president, along with the innocence of Forest Whitaker who plays an unlikely hero the film is enjoyable to watch as their individual stories being to unravel. These actors play their parts perfectly for their roles within the story. But it can become quite a challenge because so many recognisable faces are included; you will be thinking 'where do I know him from?' So if you're not going to leave early, maybe you could play the game 'guess what film the actor was in' while the final scenes are being shown.

It is clear that the main focus on this film is American history and ideology. The resolution of the events that occur during this film, ranging from shootings to terrorism, almost have an idealistic feel to them but the morals are wholly serious. So just remember as you're walking out of the cinema, the action and narratives is faultless, well at least for the first two thirds of the film, and it would be a shame if you judged this film on its ending, which I know is sometimes difficult to avoid. I would recommend you give it a try.

Cloverfield ****

No posters, little photography, short adverts... This has truly made Cloverfield one of the most intriguing films created in a long time. It's been buzzing around the Internet for about 2 years and finally now the mystery has been solved, or did it just create another one?

Matt Reeves, the director of Cloverfield, made this film with an open mind in the film business, and completely dismissed Hollywood expectations of narrative. Instead of giving detail on important aspects of the film, like the landng of the monster, the film effectively goes straight into the action, leaving the audience confused and anxious, much like the characters who have no idea what's going on when they see the beheading of the Statue of Liberty. If you watch and listen carefully enough, like many Art-house films, subtle clues are given through the script and the filming which is already distorted. With this added effect makes the audience really think about the film, instead of passively being given every detail they need, and this means the mystery remains constant throughout.

Cloverfield is a Marmite film - You either love it or hate it. One disappointment of Cloverfield is that, like a lot of action films, some stunts make you think 'you could never have survived that in real life'. And also similarly to The Blaire Witch Project, you may feel as if you have just been on an hour's boat trip due to the constant shaking of the camera.
But with high action, special effects and mystery towards the whole concept of this film is brilliant for anybody who likes to try someone new or unexpected. But even if you like sticking to the same genre of action, this will satisfy your need for a new movie using unconventional twists.

Matt Reeves has now created a legendary name for himself and is sure to bring more movies with as much interest, excitement and thrills as this one. There has been speculation of a sequel which maintains the same plotline but takes on somebody else's perspective. If this is the case, the box office is bound to get a lot busier on its release.

The Cottage **** (For The Crawley Observer)

A horror mixed with a comedy... Not the typical two genres that you would normally expect to be successful but it really is a marriage made in heaven!

The violence, although somewhat exaggerated makes you want to turn away but try not to. The horror is diffused with a diverse cast of characters who are played off against each other with a huge injection of humour. This has the effect of making The Cottage arguably and somewhat bizarrely, one of the best comedies and horrors of this year so far.

Paul Andrew Williams, who directed this film, plays around with the conventions of a horror; so what might normally be seen as grotesquely gruesome is re-interpreted as comedic due to his skillful mix of horror/comedy genre.
You know you really shouldn't be laughing at someone having half their foot cut off, but with the melodramatic performances from the actors (although I think I would be melodramatic if I had my foot cut off) and the profile of their personalities being built from the film's narrative means that what could be seen as awful, turns into a belly laugh.

David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) have an almost good cop, bad cop feel about them although ironically they are the criminals themselves. Serkis plays his part brilliantly, almost like your stereotypical East End criminal. He is able to handle the difficult situations caused by his brother Peter by portraying a tough exterior but actually is very funny at the same time. This is coupled with Shearsmith being pleasantly oblivious and dramatic in situations you couldn't even being to imagine finding yourself in.
Jennifer Ellison, who clearly provides the eye candy, also plays her part well as a mouthy victim, but with a somewhat repetitive dialogue, her character soon begins to lose its touch, particularly towards the end.

The film is similar to Severance, so if you enjoyed that you will enjoy this. It provides the same laugh out loud humour as Hot Fuzz, which has proved very popular with audiences, and there is no reason to believe that The Cottage will not enjoy the same type of success, particularly with the added twist in genres.

Williams, who also wrote the film as well as directing it has made the storyline very enigmatic. He provides an idea of why each character is portrayed the way they are without going into much individual detail. This leaves you with a movie which is pretty much based around the action, almost as if the audience has been placed in a situation without being told what has happened. And with the ending being even more unique and impressive makes it surprisingly successful.

Above all, do yourself a favour, go and see a film where you know the money you pay for your ticket will be well-worth it for the sheer entertainment value.

Untraceable *** (For The Crawley Observer)

Before going to see this film, the thought given to you through the advertisement is that Gregory Hoblit, better known for American television productions, has created a typical 'gross-out' horror, much like the ones created in the 1980s like SS Experience Camp. But actually it has a modern day twist with the characters completely surrounded by technology throughout the almost unbearable scenes of graphic torture.

Watching the Saw series with clever reasons behind the murders has obviously inspired the writers of this film, as every murder has a meaning. Robert Fyvolent and Mark Brinker, who wrote the story, have created the perfect balance of thrills, conflicts and horror conventions making it not just about killing every person in sight.
And it clearly shows how the Internet does create websites where the popularity can grow overnight, making those who visit certain websites everyday think 'Why do I actually do that?'

It seems all good so far? Not really. Anybody who is interested in the horror/thriller genre will easily be able to predict the clues given and therefore guess the end result. And being produced by an all American cast and crew shows through quite clearly, with messages of the FBI being able to save us and the fact that they aren't flawless and are actually very intelligent.
This means most of us who have heard this idea a thousand times over find it quite boring and not particularly interesting in the film. Also, animal lovers beware; the opening may make you want to leave, but stick with it because more cruelty is to come!

What really is impressive is the acting. No easily recognisable faces are in the film, but Diane Lane plays a believable agent, Jennifer Marsh, a single mother who surrounds herself with her job. And the conflicts with her personal life give another dimension to the film, meaning this horror could actually be one for the girls (as long as these girls can bare to watch killings of people, animals and possible children!)
Billy Birke plays Detective Eric Box creating a possible romance, and the lovable Colin Hanks plays Agent Griffin Dowd as Marsh's sidekick, creating three very different characters that work well together. I won't give away who the killer is but they play the part incredibly well, making it seem more and more likely that these websites will be created in this technology dependent world.

So overall, unless you've never seen a horror or thriller before, you won't feel particularly impressed with any unique qualities in the film but may gain some satisfaction with yourself by figuring out the ending before it's happened.