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.

The Social Network (Contains Spoilers)

I think by this point it’s pretty safe to say that David Fincher is a dude who really knows what he’s doing. He may not have as many Oscars as Scorsese, as many classics as Spielberg or as much money as Cameron, but his repertoire shows that he definitely has it together and is more than capable of creating pieces of cinema that are sure to make heads turn. Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac – all of these have been incredibly tense and very intellectually challenging films, and The Social Network is no exception to this. Ironically enough, after seeing The Social Network I honestly couldn’t wait to write a blog about it and express my opinions of it on a public medium!

The Social Network, I personally think, is one of the most intellectually entertaining films not just of this year, but of recent years as well. Pair that with the fact that, at its centre point, it is a piece about one of the most used, talked about and potentially dangerous inventions of recent years and you have a film that is GOING to cause a stir, no matter what! The partly true, partly fictional story of the Harvard University based creators of the social networking site Facebook (which you’d be hard-pressed to find someone NOT on it now!) sees Jesse Eisenberg playing the role of Mark Zuckerberg, the main geek-brained creator of the infamous networking website. Eisenberg does a fantastic job playing Mark as he is able to deliver all his lines with such a straight face and blank attitude that it’s both believable and ironic in equal measures – believable because Eisenberg delivers all the computer jargon with such conviction you’d think he graduated from MIT, and ironic in the way that someone with such a lack of social interaction skills and emotional depth could create the world’s largest and most famous social networking site. But that’s the irony of the situation to begin with, really – the fact that The Social Network starts with a five minute scene of Mark basically ruining a date by gradually insulting his date more and more because his mind obviously operates on different levels from normal humans goes to show just how socially awkward and emotionally blind Eisenberg’s Mark is. Also, as a side note, that first scene of the film where the awkwardly sarcastic Mark and his date Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) are sat around a table was probably the hardest part of the film to write! From this early point, it’s clearly established that Mark is not just socially blind, but more a borderline Asperger’s patient, which is again why it’s ironic he managed to create Facebook.

Whilst Eisenberg does an amazing job as the sarcastically smarter-than-thou Mark, it’s Andrew Garfield who truly shines through as Mark’s roommate and co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin. Garfield is genuinely an amazing actor in The Social Network, providing the other half of the entire story that makes up the script of the film. Saverin is the more socially aware, richer go-getter of the two founders which is what starts to provide Eisenberg’s Mark with the conflicts he faces, as for someone so socially unaware, he’s friends with someone who is more popular, has more money and can intellectually keep up with Mark. The scene where Garfield truly steals the show is at the point where Saverin is given further contracts to sign and realises exactly what his shares in Facebook are after a corporate investment and, even though you don’t feel as much of a connection to this jealous and somewhat spiteful portrayal of Eduardo Saverin, you can’t help but feel bad for how shunned and cast out he gets.

This is not to say that Saverin was the “bad guy” in any of this, and that’s part of the beauty of The Social Network – there are no clearly defined “good” or “bad” characters. Each of the characters is right or wrong about different things in equal measures – at the point where Saverin wants to monetise Facebook through advertising, Eisenberg’s Mark doesn’t want to. He wants to “not stop the party before 11” as the parallel goes. BUT, as it now turns out, Facebook ended up charging for advertising on their spaces and that is now why Facebook is worth so much money, and has made billionaires of Saverin and Zuckerberg. So in the end, neither of them are exactly right or wrong, which is what makes their characters so compelling throughout the entire film.

Justin Timberlake is a bit questionable in the role of Sean Parker, and I’m having a hard time making my mind up about him. On the one hand, I think Timberlake is doing a good job for himself in becoming a legitimate actor as well as singer, and I think the Social Network will work well for him as a stepping stone to further good roles. However, his particular role in this film I found a little hard to accept as it progressed. At the start of the film, Timberlake obviously does a good job of becoming the Napster Mastermind Sean Parker – a cocky rich guy who dropped out of school, managed to screw around in the Music industry and has gotten plenty of fame and fortune because of it. Let’s face it; of course Justin Timberlake would be good at playing that role… But as the film went on, and the character of Sean Parker had to become gradually more genuine and less of a “mogul” type, Timberlake became a little less believable in his character, and that’s where he started to falter. So to begin with, Timberlake’s character works well and drives the storyline, but towards the end he starts to become less of a steering wheel and more of a regular cog in the works. But he still makes for an interesting character, and I think that Timberlake might actually have some kind of possible career in film ahead of him.

One aspect of The Social Network that was interesting, and in fact of many of Fincher’s films, is the way in which the story is told. The Social Network isn’t exactly told in a series of flashbacks as the film actually starts back before Zuckerberg created Facebook or even his first attempt at an internet-wide practical joke of Facemash, but more with cut-aways to the legal proceedings that followed after Facebook became something bigger than any of its creators. At the end of the film, the storylines catch up to each other and come to one, single conclusion as the story of the creation of Facebook meets with the courtroom drama that ensued after it. In this way, the delivery of the information that drives the story is evenly spread out, and in some places even comical with the way that it is cut together to tell the story of certain incidents in Facebook’s creation. What is also interesting about this form of storytelling is that it keeps you guessing as to how they all got to that point – at one part towards the end, you get the sense that Saverin and Zuckerberg are almost at a point of an understanding again before everything gets far worse, but the point is that it keeps you guessing at times, and that’s what gives The Social Network’s story its edge.

I should also say that the film’s soundtrack is worth a mention at this point. The soundtrack to The Social Network has been written and put together entirely by Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor and legendary rock producer Atticus Ross, so it would definitely make for an interesting listen if you know your music history AND enjoy using Facebook as well, considering that two veritable legends of modern rock music have come together to create this soundtrack.

One thing that The Social Network does make very clear is, ironically enough, the dangers of using Facebook. It’s actually quoted in the film “It’s addictive. I’m on it like, 5 times a day!” and about how “the internet isn’t writing in pencil, it’s in pen” and it’s repeatedly referenced at how just using Facebook is all about putting all of your personal details up on a public forum for anyone you know to access. It’s been recently stated by Eric Schmidt, boss of Google.com, about how the dangers of using Facebook and other social networking sites won’t be apparent for a while, but will still be there all the same. Schmidt anticipates that the current generation of Facebook users won’t be worried about identity theft, but more about how to escape the online identity they’ve been creating for themselves all this time. He states “Young people may one day have to change their names in order to escape their previous online activity” and that could end up being very true, and The Social Network does a good job of beginning to subliminally imply this.

Ultimately, there is very little to fault The Social Network on, except for one small part where in one scene they have Prince Albert played by someone who is CLEARLY American and looks nothing like Prince Albert at all. That detail aside, The Social Network is an awesome film with great characters and brilliant casting all round, and I think it has easily made its way into my Top Films of the Year. It will also be interesting to see how Fincher tackles the re-make of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo next year with Rooney Mara from this film becoming Lisbeth Salander. I’m giving The Social Network 8 out of 10 for sheer impressiveness and intelligence, and I think everyone should make an effort to catch it in cinemas!

LISTED Film Previews – March 2010

Because of changes in the printings for Listed Magazine, these will actually be going out monthly now, as opposed to covering two months in one go – which means more movie previews packed into a months space than before, making your movie-going choices even more difficult than before! I love being helpful!!

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (PG) (Dir. Tim Burton)

Tim Burton, master of the wierd and gothy, has struck once again – this time turning his hand to Lewis Carroll’s famous masterpiece! Taking on a slightly different storyline to the usual concept, this version sees a 19 year old Alice returning to Wonderland to fulfil her destiny of ending the Red Queen’s reign of terror over Wonderland. Burton has given the film’s visuals his own unusual-but-accurate approach, and with a star-studded cast including Johnny Depp (of course) as The Mad Hatter, Stephen Fry as The Cheshire Cat, Michael Sheen as The White Rabbit and Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen to name just a few, this is definitely one (acid) trip you’ll want to go on! Miss this, and you’ll miss out! Released March 5th.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (15) (Dir. Neils Arden Oplev)

After having a huge reception, this Swedish adaptation of the bestselling book is reaching our shores soon! A journalist (played by Michael Nyqvist) and a computer hacker are paired up to investigate a girl’s disappearance. But the more they investigate, the more they uncover about the families history and a string of murders from the past… Even though Sony have already optioned for a remake, you’ll want to check out this original version first and foremost! Released March 12th.

THE RUNAWAYS (15) (Dir. Floria Sigismondi)

A chronicling of the rise to fame of LA rock band The Runaways, who were an all-girl band in a man’s rock world in 1975. Written and directed by Sigismondi, this film sees Kristen Stewart break FAR away from her previous Twilight Saga role to play teenage lead singer Joan Jett, as well as Dakota Fanning looking surprisingly grown-up playing Cherie Currie. A must see for drama lovers and music lovers alike! Released March 19th.

CLASH OF THE TITANS (12A) (Dir. Louis Leterrier)

Whilst 2010 seems to be “The Year Of The Bad Re-Makes” (stay tuned for future months for more on those…), the Clash Re-make starring Sam Worthington (of Avatar fame) looks like it could satisfy anyone having withdrawal symptoms from 300! Loosely based on Greek myth, Perseus (Worthington) embarks on a mission to destroy Hades (Ralph Feinnes) before the underworld can spread to Earth and seize the power of Perseus’ father Zeus. The visual effects in Clash Of The Titans looks fantastic from the trailer, so you can definitely get more bang for your buck in this one than any other action film this month. Expect every other re-make this year to look awful compared to this! Released March 26th.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (PG) (Dir. Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders)

From the same studios that brought you Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon is an adaptation of the children’s book of the same name that follows a young Viking named Hiccup Horrendous The Third as he finds his very own wild dragon, Toothless. If you’re a fan of kid’s films with things for the parents included, then this is a great comedy adventure for the family. Catch it in 3D if possible, too! Released March 31st.

As printed in Listed Magazine Issue 25 and on www.listedmagazine.com

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