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.

Bridesmaids (May Contain Spoilers)

The typical summer chick flick comes in many forms. Recent years have seen the travesties of Sex and the City not once, but twice, and weren’t quite met with the sense of “Oh, this looks like a good way to spend an evening for both the guys and the girls” than the producers had perhaps hoped. However, producer of 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up Judd Apatow and director Paul Feig may well have gotten the mix just right with Bridesmaids.

Bridesmaids focuses on the broke and lovelorn Annie (Kristen Wiig) who is asked by her lifelong friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be Maid of Honour at her wedding. But in the process of organising various parties, showers and a wedding as well, Annie’s life begins to unravel as she tries to keep up with Lillian’s perfect new friend Helen (Rose Byrne) and things start going from bad to worse. At the same time Annie has to deal with various love troubles including her new interest Nathan (Chris O’Dowd) and her lack of money, but is still determined to show that she can be the best Maid of Honour there is.

The script, which was partly written by Kristen Wiig herself, is very witty and even stretches towards being pretty crude in some places, but doesn’t dwell on it too much and doesn’t turn the whole film into a two hour fart gag instead. What Bridesmaids does pretty well is capture a more sinister and competitive side to wedding arrangements, but keeps a similar comedy style to Knocked Up and other similar films. The comedy mostly comes from Kristen Wiig’s character flaws and her hopeless attempts at over-compensating for her downfalls.

Rather than playing on the crude (though, it must be said, the food poisoning scene is one of the funniest of the movie) which it would have been so easy to do, Bridesmaids goes for a more female-oriented style of comedy with jokes that men will find funny but are obviously made so that women will get them first, and laugh that much harder.

Essentially, Bridesmaids plays out a lot like a version of Knocked Up that has been tailored for women more than men, but also done in a way that guys won’t be entirely put off of seeing it. Plus, seeing familiar faces of British comedy like Matt Lucas and Chris O’Dowd (from The IT Crowd) in actual roles in this made it all the more interesting to watch, and even though Matt Lucas doesn’t have much of a part Chris O’Dowd’s character does get plenty of lines and plays a very likeable character and manages to keep his Irish accent a lot as well.

Bridesmaids gets a firm 6 out of 10 for being an incredibly funny comedy with plenty of material to poke fun at (especially with Melissa McCarthy’s uncouth character chipping in with random comments, and perhaps becomes the female Zach Galifiankis from The Hangover?) without relying on too many crude jokes to get its laughs.

The Hangover Part II (May Contain Spoilers)

It might not be one of the film releases I have personally been getting excited about, but The Hangover Part II has gotten a lot of people excited after the phenomenal success of the first film.

A couple of years after the events of The Hangover and that fateful night where everything went from bad to worse,  Phil, Doug and Alan are jetting off to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. However, despite Stu’s best efforts to keep his wedding and subdued bachelor party as memory loss-free as possible, The Wolfpack end up stranded in the middle of Bangkok with no memory of the night before – and while Doug is safely back at the resort this time, they have managed to lose Stu’s fiancées younger brother Teddy, the teenage golden boy of the family. Waking up to shaved heads, a dismembered finger, facial tattoos, a monkey in a denim jacket and less than 48 hours before Stu is due to be married, The Wolfpack have to gather their wits and retrace their steps all across the city of Bangkok in order to find their lost man and get everyone back to the wedding on time and, more importantly, in one piece!

There is a lot to be said for originality in comedy films like this, and the storyline for The Hangover Part II doesn’t have much in the way of originality. But that’s only speaking from the basic premise of the whole movie – basically, the exact same situation happens from the first film, but in a new city and with different situations. Because of that, a lot of what happens loses some of its impact as you know what to expect and can see where some situations are heading. When they all wake up in a hostel, you know there will be all kinds of things lying around that will end up being clues to the whereabouts of their lost member and what happened from the night before. But then, that’s the basic premise of the first film too, so it makes sense that a sequel would follow closely to a winning formula.

With all that being said, though, there is a lot of originality in the comedy and in particular Zack Galifianakis’ slightly demented character of Alan.  He may not be incredibly versatile, but this is one character he does painfully well, and ends up being the source of most of the re-quotable lines after the credits roll. Not to say that Bradley Cooper as Phil isn’t any source of comedy either – in fact, as with the last film, Cooper is a lot of what drives the action towards the comedy set-ups they find themselves in. Plus, his and Ed Helms’ reactions to getting repeatedly beaten over the head by trapist monks are pretty priceless as well.

What made The Hangover so great was how unpredictable it was in what could happen next, and while Part II loses some of that it still manages to retain some golden moments of unpredictability that mean you find yourself both laughing and cringing at the same time. For instance, the second that they all walk into a strip club in the dirtiest area of Bangkok you know they’re setting it up for a lady-boy joke – it’s Thailand, how can they not do that kind of joke? – but the brilliance of the scene comes from the execution of the lines. You know where they’re heading, but you still end up laughing all the same.

Part II originally had a few more cameo spots, but after Mel Gibson was turned down to be the tattoo artist, and Liam Neeson’s scenes for the same role had to be reshot while he was filming another film (ahem-Wrath of the Titans-ahem), Nick Cassavetes stepped in as a cameo for the reshoots. Having a lot more of Mr Chow in Part II was a bonus as well, and Mike Tyson’s appearance at the end (however brief it may be) will always be appreciated by fans of the first movie!

While it may not have the surprises of a tiger in the bathroom or a dentist pulling out his own tooth, The Hangover Part II does take everything that happened in the first film and goes a long way to one-upping itself, so if you enjoyed The Hangover then there is a lot you will get out of this film despite the fact that it lacks some of the originals spark.

The Hangover Part II gets a 6 out of 10 for being a little predictable and yet incredibly hysterical at the same time.

LISTED Film Previews – May 2011

Yes, once again it’s the lead up to the big Summer of blockbuster movies, and you can already tell that production companies are gearing up for the big summer releases when the sequels start appearing more and more towards the Summer months. Having said that, a lot of them look quite interesting this year and I’ll more than likely end up at most of them. But until then, here are some previews for you lovely lot out there to have a gander at while I get comfy and watch my stories. SHHH, it’s about to start…

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (12A) (Dir. Rob Marshall)

Once again seeing Johnny Depp reprise his role as the iconic rum fiend Captain Jack Sparrow, On Stranger Tides is not so much a sequel but more of a continuation of a now on-going series. This time round, Cap’n Sparrow is on a search for the fabled Fountain of Youth, during which he crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz) and the infamous Blackbeard (Ian McShane), who takes over control of the Black Pearl. Personally, I’m not expecting too much that hasn’t already been done in the other films, and with Gore Verbinsky overboard from directing it might not have the spark that made the first Pirates so ground-breaking. But with Knightley and Bloom now dropped from the cast, Keith Richards returning again as Jack’s father and the inevitability of it being released in 3D, it might just be the Pirates that the previous two were so desperately trying to be. Released May 18th.

THE HANGOVER PART II (15) (Dir. Todd Phillips)

The Wolfpack is back for another outrageous series of events from the night before from hell. This time we see Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) travelling to Thailand to celebrate Stu’s wedding in Bangkok. But where there are celebrations, there are consequences. So when everyone wakes in a hotel room with memory loss, some shaved heads, facial tattoos and a monkey on the loose, they have to track down Stu’s fiancée’s brother by following clues from their night out leading them to a monastery, a tattoo parlour with a crazy artist, and all over half of Bangkok in the process. And if you thought that they got into some trouble in the first Hangover, then Part II is sure to top everything! As with the first film, The Hangover Part II is sure to be the breakout comedy hit of the year. Released May 27th.

PRIEST (15) (Dir. Scott Charles Stewart)

Set in an alternate world ravaged by centuries of war between humans and vampires, a legendary Warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) lives in a dystopian walled-in city run by The Church. But when his niece is abducted by a roaming pack of vampires, Priest chooses to break his sacred vows to the Church and leaves the sanctuary of the city in order to find her, aided by a young band of warriors like himself. The overall feel of Priest comes across like a mixture of Underworld or Resident Evil with a bit of Terminator: Salvation. Whilst it seems like it might be lacking some depth in its story, Priest could make up for it with some promising (if overblown) 3D action sequences, so check it out if you’re into big ridiculous action films! Released May 11th.

HANNA (12A) (Dir. Joe Wright)

A 16-year-old girl (Saoirse Ronan), raised by her father (Eric Bana) to be the perfect assassin, is dispatched on a mission across Europe while also being tracked by a ruthless intelligence agency and facing questions about her existence and her humanity. Bear in mind this is less of an action film but more of a drama with serious undertones, go and see it if you ever enjoyed the film Leon. Released May 6th.

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

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