Stuff To Look At

A veritable profusion of cinema-related goodness this week, with the new Tammy trailer, Under The Skin and Miss Piggy…

Tammy

Above is the first Tammy trailer. The comedy stars Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd and Kathy Bates. Apparently, Susan Sarandon plays Melissa McCarthy’s grandmother. I’m not sure how this is possible, given how young Sarandon looks. Perhaps she is aged up. Tammy is due for release in UK cinemas on 4th July 2014.

Under The Skin

Here is the full UK trailer for science-fiction thriller Under The Skin. Directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson the film has been receiving critical acclaim at its festival screenings. Under The Skin is released in UK cinemas on 14th march 2014.

The Love Punch

Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson star as an ex-husband and wife whose retirement fund is wiped out when their company is defrauded in The Love Punch. This comedy caper also stars Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie. The Love Punch hits UK screens on 18th April 2014.

Muppets Most Wanted

MUPPETS MOST WANTED

Miss Piggy looks resplendent. Her dress is designed by none other than Vivienne Westwood, who has also designed Miss Piggy’s key wardrobe for Muppets Most Wanted. The image above begs the question of whether Miss Piggy marries Kermit in the film. I wholeheartedly approve, particularly if Rowlf provides piano accompaniment. Muppets Most Wanted is released in cinemas on 28th March 2014.

Postman Pat: The Movie

Postman Pat can carry a tune?! This is apparently the case in the upcoming Postman Pat: The Movie. I am more interested, however, in the robots. And Jess of course. And the glimpse of robot Jess. Postman Pat: The Movie hits UK screens on 23rd May 2014.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

This teaser trailer has everything; Optimus Prime getting pumped with bullets, Marky Mark running around looking scared, Dinobots, and, erm, dragons. I’m sure more will be revealed as the release approaches. Transformers: Age of Extinction is due for release on 10th July 2014 in the UK.

The Legend of Hercules

This trailers is giving me shades of Gladiator and 300. Kellan Lutz plays the titular character in The Legend of Hercules. Having previously appeared in Immortals, Lutz is no stranger to ancient myth films. The Legend of Hercules is released in UK cinemas on 28th March 2014.

Yves Saint Laurent

Biopic Yves Saint Laurent looks slick, polished, and endlessly stylish. Pierre Niney stars as the young fashion designer who is catapulted to fame in the late 1950s. Yves Saint Laurent is released in UK cinemas on 21st March 2014.

Non-Stop

Liam Neeson has really carved out a niche as an abrasive but meritorious action hero of late. Non-Stop continues this trend, as the above clip from the movie illustrates. Also starring Julianne Moore and Lupita Nyong’o, Non-Stop hits UK screens on 28th February 2014.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel seems to be ticking all the boxes. Writer-director Wes Anderson is most admirable, and the cast, including the excellent Bill Murray, is enviable. Also, there’s a cat. The Grand Budapest Hotel is released in the UK on 7th March 2014.

Divergent

Based on the best-selling novel, Divergent stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Kate Winslet. The sci-fi film is set in a future where people are divided into factions based on their personality. Divergent hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

G.B.F.

G.B.F. looks like a fun, high school-set comedy. The film is directed by Darren Stein, who helmed late nineties black comedy Jawbreaker. I’m hoping for the same kind of satirical style from G.B.F., which is released in cinemas on 21st March, and is available on demand on 22nd March 2014.

Film Review: The Eagle

The Eagle is a fairly standard sword and sandals tale that eschews grandeur to concentrate on a more personal story. Although the themes seem rather simplistic at times, the film is entertaining nevertheless.

Marcus Aquila’s father was in charge of the Ninth Legion, of which all men vanished along with their gold emblem in the north of Britain. Now a centurion, Aquila is a skilled soldier but carries with him lingering thoughts about his father’s disappearance. When he hears rumours about the eagle’s whereabouts, Aquila travels with his slave Esca across Hadrian’s Wall to try and retrieve it…

The Eagle is less of an epic than a film such as Gladiator; the battle in Kevin MacDonald’s film appears  not as wide-ranging. The focus is squarely on the personal in The Eagle. Aquila is concerned with restoring his father’s honour, and travels with only a slave instead of an army. The film provides no great surprises with its narrative, but there is enough drive and action to entertain audiences.

Jeremy Brock’s screenplay is perfectly suitable for the genre, although the dialogue can be a little hackneyed. Themes in The Eagle are stripped back to basics; the film concentrates on honour and trust. It does not really delve deeper than the surface into these issues. The relationship between Aquila and Esca is built upon these themes. There are definite homoerotic overtones, but these amount to all tease and no pay off, as perhaps is expected.

The battle scenes in the film are graphically violent. It seems that the filmmakers wanted to accentuate the violence of the period. The art direction and cinematography work well, generating a sense of harshness in the landscape that matches the brutality of the violence. The sound design is interesting; for the most part it is good, but veers towards overemphasis in the later battle sequences.

Performances in The Eagle are good overall. Channing Tatum makes a formidable soldier, he is certainly appropriately cast in terms of physique. Jamie Bell adds substance to the film as the slave Esca. He brings a solemnness to the character which is credible. Donald Sutherland plays the wizened old man well as Aquila’s uncle. All the Romans in the film speak with American accents; an unusual choice that is a little distracting at the beginning of the film.

The Eagle is not particularly remarkable or innovative, but it is a decent sword and sandals film. Fans of this genre are unlikely to be too disappointed by this offering.

Film Review: Tron: Legacy

Tron: Legacy is all about spectacle. Just like the 1982 original, the narrative is exiguous at times, but the special effects are captivating.

Several years after his father Kevin’s disappearance, Sam Flynn is reluctant to take over the reigns of his father’s company. Investigating a new development in his father’s mystery disappearance, Sam is pulled into a cyber world where programs duel to survive…

Tron is a strange choice for a very delayed sequel. The film did lacklustre business at the box office upon its 1982 release, although it has become something of a cult favourite since then. Tron is best known for its pioneering use of CGI. Tron: Legacy is very much the progeny of Tron; the films share similarities in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

Tron: Legacy‘s story is not the most engrossing. The film uses a similar premise to the original, albeit with the addition of Kevin Flynn already being a part of the cyber world. Sam finds an obligatory love interest in Quorra; an interesting, if fairly predictable, character. The dialogue is sometimes cringe worthy, particularly Sam’s one-liners during the action sequences. As well as harking back to the original film, Tron: Legacy exhibits shades of Gladiator in the games sequence. The film also depicts a poster of Disney’s 1979 film The Black Hole, a remake of which is the next project Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is due to tackle.

Tron: Legacy‘s strength lies firmly in the visual. The virtual world that Sam is pulled into is nothing short of stunning. A combination of neon and monochrome, Darren Gilford production design is effortlessly futuristic. Kevin’s apartment and the downtown bar are particularly memorable. Coupled with this are the film’s special effects. Special Effects supervisor Eric Barba has done a magnificent job in taking about thirty years off Jeff Bridges.

Daft Punk’s soundtrack is wonderful, and feels entirely in keeping with the tone of the film. Tron: Legacy is very aware of its 1980s ancestry, and appeases it with touches such as the inclusion of a couple of classic tunes from the decade.

Garrett Hedlund is adequate as Sam; the role does not call for too much of a range. Jeff Bridges has enormous presence in Tron: Legacy, aided in part by his multiple roles. Olivia Wilde brings a necessary stiffness to Quorra, while Michael Sheen offers some frivolity to proceedings as Castor.

Go and see Tron: Legacy purely for the spectacle. The story may not be absorbing, but the visuals certainly are.