LISTED Film Previews – December 2011

This is it!! The final run down of the year, and what a year its been for films! We’ve had a lot of great films come past us this year, and a lot of terrible ones….. and a lot of ones that looked great but turned out to be terrible and ultimately disappointed me to the extent that I cried. Physically cried. Sad isn’t it? Please Hollywood, stop making disappointing films and just do good ones? Thanks, ‘preciate it…

Anyway, after that short distraction, I should probably mention that you can hear more film reviews, news and previews (and other things that rhyme) on May Contain Spoilers – the Film Review show that knew Soylent Green was People all along! You can “Like” our page on Facebook to get all the latest updates, links to our podcast and pictures of our competition prizes, or you can follow us on Twitter using @FilmSpoilers. And for a taste, you can follow this link to listen to the podcast of our show:

http://maycontainspoilers.jellycast.com/podcast/feed/2

But if you came here for Film Previews to get you in the Christmas mood then… well, there aren’t many Christmas movies out this month. Sorry. But instead, I packed this months previews full of some other awesome stuff instead. Just thinking of you, you know. Enjoy!

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (12A) (Dir. Guy Ritchie)

After the surprise break-out hit of the first film, Guy Ritchie brings back the crime-solving duo of Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) and Watson (Jude Law) for a second action-packed adventure. In A Game of Shadows, Holmes and Watson are pitted against their fiercest adversary and the only man that ever matched Holmes for intellect – Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Also returning is Rachel McAdams as Adler and a new addition of Noomi Rapace as Sim (which links to another release this month…) as the group go on a chase across Europe to stop Moriarty’s web of murders. If it’s as smart as the first, you can bet A Game of Shadows will be a massive hit across the board in time for the Christmas break. Released December 16th.

THE THING (15) (Dir. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.)

Not actually the re-boot that everyone thought it might be, but instead a prequel to the John Carpenter 1982 original, The Thing stars Mary-Elizabeth Winstead as grad student Kate Lloyd working in an Antarctica research facility that has discovered an alien craft. This discovery not only leads to a confrontation between her and her research professor (Ulrich Thomsen), but a series of grizzly goings-on which explain all the events that lead right up to the opening of the original film. Expect big references to the original and plenty of thrills and flame-throwers. Released December 2nd.

PUSS IN BOOTS (PG) (Dir. Chris Miller)

A somewhat tenuous spin-off from the successful Shrek series, Antonio Banderas returns for the origin story of the scene-stealing feline as he teams up with mastermind Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) and Kitty (Salma Hayek) to steal the famed Goose that lays Golden Eggs. If you’re a huge follower of the Shrek series or have kids then it might be worth going to see, but the rest of us might remain cautiously sceptical for now. Released December 9th.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (12A) (Dir. Brad Bird)

Having to compete with the possibly more anticipated Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is no easy feat for Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) fourth outing in the series. Although the M:I series is starting to die out a bit, Ghost Protocol looks like it will be going in a new direction as Hunt’s group must go rogue in order to clear the name of their organisation. Also starring Jeremy Renner before he appears as Hawkeye in The Avengers next year, Ghost Protocol looks to have everything that made the previous films successful, but with a darker edge. Released December 26th.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (15) (Dir. David Fincher)

Gradually becoming a slightly more acceptable American remake than others recently, this version stars Daniel Craig as the journalist Mikael Blomqvist who is aided by wanted computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) in his search for a woman who has been missing for 40 years. Although the original Swedish films were a massive hit this side of the Atlantic, the American remake is still sure to bring in crowds due to its much higher filming budget and big name cast/direction team, so it’s probably worth going to see even if it’s just to compare with the originals. Released December 26th.

As published in Listed Magazine and on http://www.listedmagazine.com.

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Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (Contains Spoilers)

It just goes to show – sometimes, some things ARE worth getting excited about! Yes, I am a pretty big geek at heart, but I have been waiting for this film to come out for well over a year now and in all honesty it was totally and completely worth the wait!

I’ve been reading the Scott Pilgrim comic/anime books by Bryan Lee O’Malley for quite a while, after being convinced by a friend working in a local comic shop that I should check it out. I immediately loved what I was reading after the first few pages and was completely hooked after that. Since then, I’ve been recommending the Scott Pilgrim books to any of my friends who I think might like them, and they too have become hooked as well. Scott Pilgrim is the ultimate “non-hero”, and the books have this incredible sense of humour about them that hooks you in and keeps you reading just to see what the next funny bit is going to be. Admittedly, it does take a certain kind of sense of humour to get it straight away (“warped” would be an appropriate phrase…), but then that’s just part of what makes Scott Pilgrim so damn good.

As with pretty much anything, there were a couple of things I wasn’t sure I liked, but they were only small and I’ll get to them later. I’m not going to bitch on about how the film is never as good as the books, because people that compare the films to the books too much are looking for reasons to hate what they see. No, I’m not like that – there are very few films that are going to have everything from the book in them and be as good as, if not better than, the book itself, so grow up and move on.

Anyway, the second you start watching Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, you know that you’re watching something entirely different just from the digitised video-game version of the Universal logo. The first bit of the film is almost exactly like the start of the first book (Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life), and I don’t just mean as in the content – I mean like they’ve taken panels from the books and made them a reality! Shot for shot, some scenes are exactly how they appear in the pages, which is probably more of a testament to Edgar Wright’s capabilities as a director to make sure that the film reflected the look and style of the book, and the fact that he had Bryan Lee O’Malley on the set for filming as well goes to show just how closely everyone wanted to keep the film to the style of the books. And this was not unnoticed in the slightest – in fact, it made watching Scott Pilgrim Vs The World even better than it otherwise would have been because you really feel like you’re experiencing a real-life version of the books. But then, bearing in mind that Edgar Wright is mostly responsible for the existence of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, I’m sure when people heard that he was at the helm of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World they weren’t too worried about how it would turn out and that it was in pretty safe hands!

All of the characters are brilliantly adapted from the books as well – Michael Cera has been proclaimed by Bryan Lee O’Malley as the person to be Scott Pilgrim, as no-one else could ever really capture him. Mary Elizabeth Winstead looks brilliant as Ramona Flowers, even though in the film she comes across as a bit more of a bitch than in the books, when we actually see a lot more of her kind and caring side and therefore we care a lot more about whether they end up together. But for obvious reasons, there is a limited amount of time in a film to do that without ruining the flow of the action, and they managed to get across everything that was needed from the relationship they share in the books. Mark Webber looks exactly like Stephen Stills, and Kieran Culkin does a fantastic job of portraying Wallace Wells’ character who nearly steals the show with the amazing lines he gets in the film. Even screaming fan-girl Knives Chau (17 Years Old) is brought to life by Ellen Wong in a fantastic way, because she gets the geeky side of Knives and how badly she wants to be noticed.

But of course, the best part of the film has got to be the visual effects. The way that Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is brought to life on the screen is done literally like a living comic book, and I honestly think that without all of the visual accompaniments to on-screen actions, the video-game effects taking place in real-world situations and the super colourful fight sequences that catch you off guard at some points, then Scott Pilgrim really would have been missing something important. And as if the comic book text wasn’t enough, the fight sequences are so huge and crazily bombastic you’re not sure if you’re watching a film or playing a really lifelike game of Street Fighter! Arguably the best example of this is the fight scene against super-powered psychic vegan Todd Ingram (played by Brandon Routh) with Scott getting pretty much plastered to the walls, whilst Routh gets all the great lines in the scene. Easily one of the best scenes of the film, along with the fight with Chris Evans’ Lucas Lee.

There were things in the film that had obviously been added, or elaborated on, from the books. One such scene is the spoof of Seinfeld where Scott enters his apartment and has a back and forth with Wallace to a laugh track. This happens for all of about 3 minutes and then stops, never to be heard from again. Why? Why not. That’s part of what made the books so interesting, so why shouldn’t it be the same in the film?

A couple of things I didn’t like, which were only small, we’re the following – the fact that Envy Adams (played by Brie Larson) isn’t heard from again after the fight with Todd Ingram even though she’s a big part of the storyline and Scott’s back-story, that evil mastermind Gideon Graves (played by Jason Schwartzman, who winked at me after I complimented his moustache. Yes, that’s true.) just doesn’t seem as evil in the film, and that Ramona’s bottomless bag isn’t really explained as it’s linked to how she gets about through all the dimensional doors and stuff. Still, that doesn’t stop it from being hilarious when she manages to pull the world’s hugest sledgehammer out of her bag during a fight scene, obviously poking fun at video game characters that walk around with huge great weapons that are unseen until you actually use them.

Essentially, everything that needed to be in the film was there – there was enough explanation behind each of the characters to not leave any holes in the plot; the humour, the visuals accompanying actions and even the best lines from the books were included; actual panels from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s books were used at certain points, and the whole of the film was generally enjoyable from start to finish without really slowing down too much. Each of the fight scenes with Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes was as crazy and ridiculous as you expect them to be. The ending of the film was slightly different from how I expected it to be from the book, but that itself was almost to be expected. The final fight with Gideon Graves is truly epic, but then everything gets shook up when the “Nega-Scott” turns up. But, the way that it ends with Scott arranging brunch with him next week is a veritable stroke of genius to ending the scene.

In short, I loved Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. It was pretty much everything I expected it to be, and it’s almost entirely incomparable to other films in its visuals and style. I would say to anyone seeing this film that you should definitely read the books, either before or after the film, as it will put the film into more perspective and make you enjoy the books even more. Like I said, there’s no point in comparing the film to the books too much, but it’s clear that the film captured a lot of what made the books so great to read. I even loved the way that the film got rounded off with Scott and Ramona heading off together in a similar way to the book, though the means as to how they got there was not what you expect. I’m giving Scott Pilgrim Vs The World a well-deserved 9 out of 10, even if it’s just for the fact that Bryan Lee O’Malley’s books are the best thing to happen to my eyes, ever! The film is awesome (easily in my Top 3 of the year!), and everyone should give it a go, even if it’s just to see what all the fuss is about!

LISTED Film Previews – August ’10

Once again, here be another bunch of cinema releases happening soon that I’d really like to go and see, but will probably not actually get the chance to do so. *Sigh* oh well, such is life I suppose. HOWEVER, I have made special arrangements with people as far as Scott Pilgrim goes, so expect me to be jumping around like spring on E by the time that gets released! Anyway, enjoy…

THE LAST AIRBENDER (PG) (Dir. M. Night Shyamalan)

Based on the kids cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang (Noah Ringer) is the last of the Air Nation Nomads and the successor in a long line of Avatars who have the ability to control all four elements. After being frozen, he is found by two siblings from the Water Tribe (including Jackson Rathbone from Twilight Saga), and his training begins for his ultimate task – to defeat the Fire Nation Lord and the scarred Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), and end their century-long war on the other three nations. This film might not be the most substantial release of the year, but it will definitely provide some cool effects and entertaining fight scenes, as well as being the biggest 3D release of the year alongside Toy Story 3, so it’s worth checking out for fun. Released August 13th.

THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (PG) (Dir. Jon Turteltaub)

The second film of the year (along with Prince of Persia) which will further make Jerry Bruckheimer a formidable force in Hollywood, this film also comes from the same director/producer team as National Treasure. Nicolas Cage is Master Sorcerer Balthazar Blake, who recruits a seemingly average guy (Jay Baruchel) to assist him in his quest to keep New York City safe from his arch-enemy Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). Expect kids and adults alike to be thoroughly entertained by the storyline and visuals of this film, to the extent that it might be successful enough to earn itself a sequel and Nic Cage a better reputation. The tagline reads “It’s the Coolest Job Ever”, and from the trailers that seems all too true! Released August 13th.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (12A) (Dir. Edgar Wright)

Quite possibly the sleeper hit of the year, Scott Pilgrim is adapted from the series of comedy anime books centred on the layabout musician of the same name (Michael Cera) who falls for the new girl in town, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Only thing is, in order to properly date the funky-haired girl of his dreams, he must first fight (and defeat!) her Seven Evil Exes. Trust me when I say that this is going to be a comedy unlike anything else you have seen, combining together the best parts of the comic (literally, with “comic” text accompanying actions throughout) with awesome effects and the director of Shaun of the Dead backing it to make one single epic entity! Definitely catch this if you like quirky comedy of a different kind! Released August 13th.

THE EXPENDABLES (15) (Dir. Sylvester Stallone)

A film directed by Sly Stallone himself doesn’t sound like the deepest, most thought-provoking film in the world. But when it’s one that stars pretty much every significant action star of the last few decades, how can you really NOT be tempted to watch it? Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren are a team of mercenaries dispatched to South America to overthrow a dictator. Don’t be mistaken – this is going to be a big film! Released August 19th.

As published in Listed Magazine Issue 30 and on www.listedmagazine.com

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