Sunday, 25 September 2011

Film Review: "Final Destination 5" (2011).

The tagline of the film reads "Death has never been closer". And that couldn't get any clearer with Final Destination 5. This horror film directed by Steven Quale and written by Eric Heisserer It is the fifth installment of the Final Destination film series. In this latest installment, Sam and his friends manages to escape a ill-fated bridge, thanks to a premonition Sam obtained. However, when 2 of his friends died in a mysterious way, Sam must use his memories from the premonition to save his friends, before death hunts him down. 

Alan Horn, the head of Warner Bros., confirmed at ShoWest in March 2010 that Final Destination 5 was in works at ShoWest. Producer Craig Perry later added that the film would be shot in 3D. Eric Heisserer was announced as screenwriter in April 2010. The studio initially picked August 26, 2011, as the release date but later changed it to August 12, 2011. In June 2010, New Line Cinema announced that Steven Quale would direct. In August 2010, actor and musician Miles Fisher was the first to be cast in the film as Peter Friedkin. Three days after Fisher's casting, Arlen Escarpeta was cast in the film as Nathan. In late August 2010 Nicholas D'Agosto and Ellen Wroe were cast. One day later, Final Destination regular Tony Todd, from the first three installments, joined the film. In August 2010, David Koechner and P. J. Byrne were announced to have joined the cast. In September, Emma Bell was cast as the female lead; Molly. In mid-September both Jacqueline MacInnes Wood and Courtney B. Vance joined the main cast. Principal photography took place between September and December 2010. Producers stated that this installment would be darker and more suspenseful in the style of the original film.

It stars Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner, and Tony Todd. The cast gave overly melodramatic performances that were borderline comical throughout the film, especially when particular characters met their unfortunate and, in this case, predictable deaths.

With little of the ingenuity of previous installments, Final Destination 5 is a predictable, disposable horror fare. An absolute slap in the face to the fans who made the franchise a hit in the first place. The movie is a catastrophe in and of itself. Imagine a movie that features an endless cavalcade of people being eviscerated in the bloodiest and bone-snappiest of ways, yet which somehow manages to inspire the audience to envy the victims. There's absolutely no reason for the movie to exist other than the only one Hollywood studios really care about: a cynical cash grab. Like too many horror franchises, a premise that was once scary has evolved into something campy and self-aware. Selling bland fatalism to kids, it's the work of crooks and sadistic fiends. It showers you with gore while dumping a motor engine in your lap and poking you in the eye with a burnt stick. If you've seen one such movie, you've seen them all, and one is too much. If this is what horror fans want these days, then... be very, very afraid.

Simon says Final Destination 5 receives:

Monday, 19 September 2011

Film Review: "The Smurfs" (2011).

The film's tagline reads "Our World is About to Get Smurf'd" and that's exactly what happens in The SmurfsThis 3D live-action/computer-animated comedy film directed by Raja Gosnell; adapted by J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Schtick and David Ronn; loosely based on The Smurfs comic book series created by the Belgian comics artist Peyo and the 1980s animated TV series it spawned. It is the first CGI/live-action hybrid film produced by Sony Pictures Animationand in The Smurfs trilogy. The film tells the story of the Smurfs as they get lost in New York, and try to find a way to get back home before Gargamel catches them.

In 1997, producer Jordan Kerner sent the first "of a series of letters" to The Smurfs '​ licensing agent Lafig Belgium expressing interest in making a feature film. It was not until 2002 after a draft of Kerner's film adaptation of Charlotte's Web was read by Peyo's heirs, that they accepted Kerner's offer. Peyo's daughter Véronique Culliford and family had wanted to make a Smurfs film for years and said that Kerner was the first person to pitch a film that shared their "vision and enthusiasm". Kerner soon began developing the 3-D CGI feature film with Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. In 2006, Kerner said the film was planned to be a trilogy and would explain more of Gargamel's backstory. In June 2008, it was announced that Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation obtained the film rights from Lafig Belgium. Kerner said the current project started with Sony during a conversation with the chairman-CEO Michael Lynton, who grew up watching The Smurfs in the Netherlands. On a budget of $110 million, principal photography began in New York City in March 2010. In order to help the Smurfs' animators during post-production, cinematographer Phil Meheux and his team would light up a scene where the Smurfs would be digitally added using 7 and one half-inch tall models to stand in during set-up and rehearsals. ees who spent around 358,000 hours animating. Character designer Allen Battino, a long time Kerner collaborator, was brought in to redesign the characters for CGI.

The film stars Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Sofía Vergara, with Jonathan Winters and Katy Perryas the voices of Papa Smurf and Smubrfette. The cast gave less than stellar performances and have disappointed my Smurf spirit with their ridiculous antics and flat comical jokes.

Though Azaria is uncannily spot-on as Gargamel, The Smurfs is a tired live-action update, filled with lame jokes. It exists in a closed universe, and the rest of us are aliens. So if you're going to watch this movie, make sure to bring your Smurf pooper-scoopers with you. The film is entertainment more disposable than the animated series' half-hour cartoons ever were. Adults who remember the cartoon version may get caught up in what the Smurfs would call the 'Smurfstalgia'. As for adults who do not fondly recall the Smurfs cartoons are strongly advised to steer clear.

Simon says The Smurfs receives: 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Film Review: "Anonymous" (2011).

"We all know William Shakespeare. The most famous author of all time. Writer of 37 plays, 154 sonnets and several epic poems. But why are we here today? What if I told you that Shakespeare never wrote a single word..." This controversial theory is presented in Anonymous. This political thriller and historical drama film, directed by Roland Emmerich and written by John Orloff. The movie examines the theory in which that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, who penned Shakespeare's plays and presents a fictionalized version of his life as an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, poet and patron of the arts. Set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I and the Essex rebellion against her.

Screenwriter John Orloff became interested in the authorship debate after watching a 1989 Frontline programme about the controversy. Penning his first draft in the late 1990s, commercial interest waned after Shakespeare in Love was released in 1998. It was almost greenlit as The Soul of the Age for a 2005 release, with a budget of $30 to $35 million. However, financing proved to be "a risky undertaking", according to director Roland Emmerich. At a press conference at Studio Babelsberg on April 29, 2010, Emmerich noted that the success of his more commercial films made this one possible, and that he got the cast he wanted without the pressure to come up with "at least two A-list American actors." Emmerich noted he knew little of either Elizabethan history or the authorship question until he came across John Orloff's script, after which he "steeped" himself in the various theories. Wary of similarities with Amadeus (1984), Emmerich decided to recast it as a film on the politics of succession and the monarchy, a tragedy about kings, queens and princes, with broad plot lines including murder, illegitimacy and incest – "all the elements of a Shakespeare play."

The film stars Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I of England, Sebastian Armesto as Ben Jonson, David Thewlis as William Cecil, Edward Hogg as Robert Cecil, Xavier Samuel as Henry Wriothesley and Rafe Spall as William Shakespeare. The cast gave great performances despite being historically inaccurate to their real-life counterparts. Ifans gave a monumental performance as the Earl of Oxford and pulled off the intellectual yet tormented soul of the age. Redgrave a magnificent performance as the Virgin Queen of England. She gave a much more darker portrayal than her predecessors who always seem to portray her as a heroic figure. But never got into her dark, complex psyche.

Emmerich's epic, idiosyncratic subjects are often pitted against iconic or impersonal antagonists, but Anonymous' conflict remains rivetingly intimate, in spite of its sumptuous, larger-than-life settings. A subject of historical nature is typically handled badly in the movies, but the film treats the subject in a fresh and interesting way, despite the possibility of major backlash from Scholars to even Shakespeare fanatics. Overall, it might be considered as a grand movie entertainment from the modern Master of Disaster.

Simon says Anonymous receives:

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Film Review: "The Help" (2011).

"God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free. And I got to thinking about all the people I know. And the things I seen and done. My boy Trelaw always said we gonna have a writer in the family one day. I guess it's gonna be me."
This is at the heart of The Help. This period drama film directed and written by Tate Taylor, and adapted from Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name. The film is about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, during the Civil Rights era in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter is a journalist who decides to write a book from the point of view of the maids (referred to as "the help"), exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families.

In December 2009, Variety reported that Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, and Mark Radcliffe would produce a film adaptation of The Help, under their production company 1492 Pictures. Tate Taylor, who optioned film rights to the book before its publication, was chosen to write and direct the film. The first casting news for the production came in March 2010, was reported that Stone was attached to play the role of Skeeter Phelan. Other actors were since cast, including Davis as Aibileen; Howard as Hilly Holbrook, Janney as Charlotte Phelan and Lowell as Stuart Whitworth. Mike Vogel plays the character Johnny Foote. Octavia Spencer portrays Minny. Filming began in July 2010 and extended through October. The town of Greenwood, Mississippi, was chosen to portray 1960s-era Jackson.

The film stars Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O'Reilly, Chris Lowell, Sissy Spacek, Mike Vogel, Cicely Tyson, LaChanze, Allison Janney, Mary Steenburgen, and Anna Camp. The cast gave brilliant performances. Vividly portraying the cruelty of white people, with the exception of a few, and the struggle and oppression of African-Americans. Kudos to Davis, Stone, Howard, Spencer and Chastain (the latter two especially). Spencer gave one of the most amazing performances in movie history. As well as for Chastain, for her second major film. These two stars are showing promising futures. Both Oscar-worthy performances for sure.

The Help is a sentimental tale that reveals great emotional truths in American history. It is triumphantly emotional and brave. The film is a plea for respect for African-Americans. It is an incredibly strong stand against the way white people treat African-Americans. It is an excellent film, and it is an attempt to deal with an issue that had been overlooked, and it wouldn't have been done if it hadn't been for Tate Taylor. And it's not like everyone says, that he ruined the book. That's absolutely not the case. Nobody was going to do the book. He made the book live again.

Simon says The Help receives: