Reviews – Film

Men In Black 3

Tuesday 5th June 2012

Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back again, protecting the earth from the scum of the universe. This time, Agent J must travel back to 1969 to change history and stop an alien assassination by the infamous Boris The Animal, who will kill Agent K.

It’s been 15 years since the release of Men In Black, and 10 years since Men In Black II, so what’s changed? Well, to be honest, nothing. The banter is the same; the aliens are the same, and even the type of special effects are the same. So far, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the comeback, but what’s great about MIB III is that they’ve polished off the trilogy nicely, and not completely modernised the franchise.

The first character to appear on screen is played by former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger. Looking back at the numerous pop stars to have appeared in films over the year’s shows a big hole in the acting department. Credit where it’s due, Nicole performed the part well but was subsequently killed off shortly after.

Don’t let this put you off though, because Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones still perform perfectly together as the MIB duo, and it’s quite heart warming to see them back on the screen together. The film is filled with the pair giving out the occasional jibe at each other, as well as continuing those underlying famous lines. It has to be said though, that the star of MIB III has to be Josh Brolin who played a young Agent K. He played a perfect Tommy Lee Jones, with having the same mannerisms and distinct voice. He also showed Agent J the fun loving side of Agent K that he’d longed to witness.

Overall, the film is good fun and contains all of its original novelty value. There are times when it does struggle to conjure up any state of excitement or adventure, because let’s face it, if you’re an alien you’re going to get zapped by a space gun, and if you’re human and witnessed it; you’re going to get zapped by the memory wiper. It’s a simple as that.

Agent K promised Agent J the secrets of the universe, but there’s one in particular that he was never told. The film takes a turn at the end when Agent J discovers exactly what it is, which will tug a little on your heartstrings. Agent J waited 14 years to find out what it was, and so did we. It can be safely said that the whole thing was wrapped up perfectly.

 

Clash of the Titans

Friday 9th April 2010

Clash of the Titans (2010) isn’t ground breaking cinema, but it’s one that you will be pleased you paid for at the cinema.

Perseus was born to King Acrisius’s daughter, Danae after she was tricked into sleeping with Zeus, the king of the gods. Acrisius then casts his daughter and son out to sea in a wooden box hoping to escape his fate that he would die if his daughter ever gave birth to a son. A fisherman finds the box out at sea and takes Perseus in and raises him as his own as his mother, Danae was dead.

10 years later whilst out fishing they find that the city of Argos has declared war on the gods, which angers the gods and causes Hades to rise from the sea. Hades kills most of the soldiers, and Perseus and his family who try to not become involved get caught up and all except Perseus are killed when their boat sinks. The remaining soldiers discover Perseus floating out at sea and take him back to Argos.

King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia are celebrating the return of the remaining soldiers when Hades appears, killing the remaining solders and in attempt to kill Perseus, realises that he is a demigod. Perseus is then told he is the son of Zeus and is offered hospitality with the gods, but Perseus does not want this, he believes his real family died whilst being caught up in the selfishness. Hades is angered by the vanity of Argos and kills Queen Cassiopeia and tells the King that if his daughter Princess Andromeda isn’t sacrificed in 10 days the Kraken will be released killing all of Argos.

Perseus is initially imprisoned as the people of Argos see him as a threat, but after Io who has watched over him all his life visits him and tells him that he must kill the Kraken in order to get back for the death of his family. King Cepheus also sees how Perseus can save them and he is released and his sent out with a group of soldiers to find the three witches and bound for the Kraken.

At this point in the film the story has been told in so much detail that you get the feeling it’s going to be a slow one. If you haven’t seen the original film (1981) then you may be thankful of this, but at the same time you want the action to kick in. The beginning of the story is also told differently because originally the beginning of the plot (as written by Wikipedia) is

Calibos, son of the sea goddess Thetis, is a handsome young man destined to marry Princess Andromeda, the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia, and heir to the rich city of Joppa. But cruel and destructive Calibos has hunted and destroyed every living thing surrounding the Wells of The Moon, including Zeus’s entire sacred herd of flying horses (except for Pegasus). As punishment for this and his many other transgressions, Zeus transforms Calibos into a satyr-like creature that is subsequently shunned and forced to live as an outcast in the swamps and marshes. Thetis, furious at her son’s fate, vows that if Calibos cannot marry Andromeda, no other man will, either. Equally infuriated by Zeus’s total devotion for his own son, Thetis transports Perseus from Seriphos to Joppa. Perseus, befriended by the scholar and playwright Ammon, learns of Andromeda and her plight: she cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle, and any suitor who fails to answer the riddle correctly is burned at the stake.”

You make your own decision on which story line you would have preferred, but at the same time expecting a re-make to have the same significance isn’t always the way.

The next disappointment came when the soldiers were getting ready to head out to seek the Stygian Witches and a soldiers pulls out a mechanical owl and after asking what it was, another soldier replies telling him that he doesn’t need to worry about it and the owl is put back. Now, the mechanical owl played a big part in the 1981 film, named Bubo it leads the soldiers and aids Perseus to the witches. It’s details like this that should be in film re-makes, especially this one as it made a big part of the original film.

Any Skins fans out there may have also recognized one of the soldiers, Eusebios who was played by Nicholas Hoult. I praise whom casted him for the part because he was most suited for it and should certainly be doing films and not silly teen dramas. (You may also remember him from About a Boy).

Perseus is sent gifts from the gods, a sword and a black horse (Pegasus) which he decides not to take and still isn’t encouraged to use as he takes on a giant scorpion in the dessert, who was risen by the blood from Acrisius’s hand that was cut off whilst trying to kill Perseus.

The gifts that Perseus was sent were also a great significance in the original film. Originally they were a sword shield and a helmet that gave Perseus invisibility, and neither of which were used in the film. A shield was crafted for Perseus by the skin from the scorpion that was killed in the dessert that was tough for battle.

They then visit the three witches who are ugly and share one eye, which they cannot see anything without. They tell Perseus that the only way to kill the Kraken is with the head of a monster – Medusa.

Medusa must not be looked as for she will turn you to stone. This scene was very anticlimactic and not a lot can be said for it apart from all the soldiers die and Perseus leaves with Medusa’s head. It’s what you expected anyways because even if you don’t know the story the film posters kind of give that away.

Ever watched Lord of the Rings? Like watching a lot of walking? Go see Clash of the Titans.

Perseus takes his gift of Pegasus and rides back to Argos where the Kraken has been released. Princess Andromeda sacrifices herself and is tied up and offered to the gods, but it is too late. The Kraken is a big, ugly monster than has risen from the sea causing much destruction but is soon tamed as Perseus produces Medusa’s head, which turns the Kraken to stone. This brings Hades to his weakness and he is sent back to the underworld.

If you haven’t seen the original film or know anything of the original story I would imagine you would go along and enjoy the film, but if you’re like me and enjoyed the original (now would be the time for me to point out that it is my all time favourite film) you will pick faults and possibly be disappointed.

What disappointed me the most was the fact that the beginning was slow and didn’t tell the whole of the original story, the small details that were big details originally didn’t have much significance and the journey didn’t seem as much of a struggle as it could have.

With all that said the effects used in the film were brilliant and the creatures created were effective, especially the three witches and the Kraken. When the film was first released in 1981 (produced by Ray Harryhausen), stop motion was used and it was considered to be highly impressive – people were blown away by it.

 

Alice in Wonderland 3D

Saturday 13th March 2010

Alice in Wonderland (2010) is Tim Burton’s version of the 1865 classic children’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Carroll Lewis.

Alice spots a white rabbit running through the fields one day when she decides to follow it, which ends up in her falling down a hole and trying to escape a world of unimaginable situations and peculiar creatures.

Unlike the original story the film doesn’t start off in the same way. We start off by watching Alice running away from a marriage proposal when she spots the white rabbit running through the garden and decides to run after it. The rabbit runs down a hole, Alice looks down and ends up falling in.

My next disappointment followed shortly. For anyone who has read the book you may be feeling the same as me, and expect it to follow at least all of the key scenes. So, as we follow Alice trying to get through a small door we next expect her to start crying and then drowning in her own tears (like the original story), but I was sad to see that this scene was missed out.

We are then met by some of the star cast when we meet Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas) and Mouse (Barbara Windsor) and the Cheshire cat (Stephen Fry). Shortly followed by the rest of the all-star cast, Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Red Queen (Helen Bonham Carter) and White Queen (Anne Hathaway).

I believe that the cast line up is great, although I was slightly put off by Tweedledum and Tweedledee because they looked a little too much like Matt Lucas. Children’s stories create escapism and having Matt Lucas looking very true to his character I didn’t think worked as well as it could have, and all I could think about was Little Britain.

Johnny Depp’s character was played and looked brilliantly. Although he is known for his eccentric characters, I knew that after seeing Willy Wonka he would fit this part perfectly. I have to admit that I found his accent a little ‘off putting’ in certain scenes because sometimes his Scottish accent shone through and then others he had more of a broad British accent, but I’m not too sure if this was to do with his character as Mad Hatter.

The visual excitements you get from the film are out of this world, but isn’t that just how Burton likes it? It was bright, eye-popping, crazy and certainly the way it was portrayed in the book. Even reading the book, or even watching the Disney animation film you know just how ‘out there’ the story line really is. I’m not saying that Burton were on a trip, but we all know how ecstatic he gets over his films and I could not have thought of a better book adaptation for him to create.

With this in mind I would have like the film to have a higher certification with more of Burton’s eccentricities in there. I’m sure Disney would argue about how it needs to appeal to it’s target audience (children), but I would argue that if I were a child going to watch that the characters would probably freak me out anyway.