Film Review: Baby Driver

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a lot of fun. Style, action and a memorable soundtrack make for a most enjoyable movie.

Baby is the best getaway driver in the business. He is being coerced into carrying out jobs by a crime boss, who is intent on hitting as many targets as possible. However, Baby dreams of escaping after meeting waitress Debora…

Written and directed by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver‘s high-concept premise rendered into a genuinely fun picture. The film does rely on genre conventions, yet it is a slick production with a lot of energy. The narrative follows certain beats. The plot is geared towards a final heist, after which Baby will be free. As expected, things do not go to plan.

Baby Driver is a humorous and good-natured picture until things start to go sour. Nevertheless, Wright is careful to place the horror of violence early on. The film is a moral tale but one which makes you root for the protagonist, even when things are sliding out of control. Wright makes some smart moves, setting up an array of antagonists for Baby. It is unclear who the final antagonist will be, and the film is better for this sense of unpredictability.

The soundtrack is a pivotal aspect of the film, and it does not disappoint. The music is varied, but always feels like an appropriate accompaniment to the on-screen action. There are some finely executed set pieces, aided by Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss’ brilliant editing. The editing is responsible for much of the film’s style, and should be lauded as such.

Ansel Elgort delivers a wonderful performance as Baby. He is delightfully awkward at times, and his giddy excitement really taps into the adolescence of the character. Jon Hamm is great, whilst Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx seem to be having fun in their archetypal roles. Lily James is well cast as Debora.

Baby Driver will undoubtedly be one of the most fun rides of the summer. Edgar Wright once again shows he knows what makes a broadly appealing film.

Previews: Wonder Woman Trailer, Baby Driver, More!

A plethora of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including Wonder Woman trailer, Baby Driver, Atomic Blonde and more…

Wonder Woman Trailer

Here is the latest Wonder Woman trailer. The film is something of an origins story for one of the most famous female superheroes. Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Connie Nielsen, the film is directed by Patty Jenkins. Wonder Woman hits the big screen on 2nd June 2017.

Baby Driver Trailer

Here is the trailer for Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. The film is about a young getaway driver who wants to ditch his criminal life. The film stars Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx. Baby Driver arrives in UK cinemas on 16th August 2017.

Transformers: The Last Knight Clip

This new clip does not reveal too much about the plot of the latest Transformers movie. Transformers: The Last Knight sees humans at war with the machines from another planet. Michael Bay’s film stars Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins. Transformers: The Last Knight is set for release later this year.

Life Poster

The latest poster for Life focuses has a suggestion of Gravity about it. Life is about a group of scientists aboard the International Space Station who discover a new life form. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds. Life is out in UK cinemas on 24th March 2017.

Atomic Blonde Trailer

Charlize Theron is deadly in this trailer for Atomic Blonde. She plays an MI6 agent tasked with delivering a priceless dossier. She is joined by James McAvoy and John Goodman. Atomic Blonde will hit UK screens on 11th August 2017.

Lady Macbeth Trailer

Lady Macbeth is the debut feature film from theatre director William Oldroyd. The film is about a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a man twice her age. The film stars Florence Pugh and Cosmo Jarvis. Lady Macbeth will be released in UK cinemas on 28th April 2017.

Rough Night Trailer

Rough Night is about a group of former college friends who accidentally kill a male stripper. The film looks like a cross between Very Bad Things and Weekend at Bernie’s. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, and Zoë Kravitz. Rough Night will hit UK screens on 16th June 2017.

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 works, it works well. When it doesn’t, however, the film disappoints.

Peter Parker is enjoying his role as Spider-Man, although the impact this has on his relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacey is taking its toll. As Peter hopes to find out more about his parents, he has new antagonists to contend with…

With The Amazing Spider-Man 2, director Marc Webb attempts to blend a journey of discovery with a cartoonish comic book romp. There are parts of both aspects that are effective, but as an overall product the film is a letdown.

The narrative and pacing are a bit of a mess. The main focus of the plot appears to be Peter’s desire to discover more about his father, yet this is picked up and dropped without much thought throughout the film. The forward and back relationship with Gwen is highly reminiscent of the first franchise’s dynamic with Mary Jane. Nevertheless, there are some lovely scenes between Peter and Gwen.

Antagonists in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are less well developed. The motivations attributed to these characters are dubious at best. There seems to be no genuine reason for a lot of what happens in the film. Given the genre, viewers will expect to suspend disbelief for the more fantastic elements of the movie. However, the antagonists here are given the flimsiest reason to carry out their actions.

This is what makes the film cartoonish. This is further compounded with the heavy use of CGI. Although the effects are good, it is inescapable that the images are computer-generated rather than live action. Camera work in the aerial shots are great, but a showdown between Spider-Man and Electro is pretty much all CGI.

Visuals are strong overall, and the soundtrack is superb. Chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey is a highlight of the film. Elsewhere, Dane DeHaan is not used effectively as Harry Osborn, while Jamie Foxx exhibits a limited range.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has some strong points, but the issues with its narrative are insurmountable. Hopefully the third instalment will be stronger in this respect.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic delights, including the last Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer, the latest X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer, Maleficent, Noah and more!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Above is the final The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer. Spider-Man is basically fighting everyone. Everyone. He really needs his Amazing Friends. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane De Haan and Jamie Foxx, The Amazing Spider-man 2 hits UK screens on 18th April 2014.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Here is the latest trailer for sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film features characters from the original X-Men series as well as the younger versions from X-Men: First Class, taking place over two time periods. X-Men: Days of Future Past is released in the UK on 22nd May 2014.

Maleficent

The latest trailer for Maleficent suggests the film will be much more action packed than the standard fairy tale. Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent looks deliciously wicked, yet the trailer indicates that the film will show another side to the iconic character. Maleficent is released in UK cinemas on 30th May 2014.

Noah

I’m sure there are more than two of some of these animals in the latest clip from Noah. Just how big is this ark going to be to fit them all in, with sufficient provisions so they don’t start eating each other? I guess we will find out when Noah hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

Pioneer

Well this looks tense and interesting. Based on true events, Pioneer is the story of a team of divers going to lay a pipeline in the North Sea. Reportedly due for a Hollywood remakePioneer is released in UK cinemas on 11th April 2014.

Snoopy and Charlie Bown: A Peanuts Movie

With Postman Pat and Paddington Bear getting big-screen features, it is not really a surprise that Snoopy is following suit. This teaser does not reveal too, much other than Snoopy is as cheeky as ever. Snoopy and Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie is due for release in 2015.

The Maze Runner

THe latest film to be based on a best-selling young adult movel that I haven’t read, The Maze Runner is an action thriller set in a dystopian world. I like the look of the maze in this film, but with my sense of direction I wouldn’t last too long. Starring Dylan O’Brien and Will Poulter, The Maze Runner is out in UK cinemas on 24th October 2014.

Rio 2

‘It’s a Jungle Out Here’ is one of the songs from the upcoming Rio 2. The animated sequel sees the return of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann and Jamie Foxx. Rio 2 hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

Stuff To Look At

Film stuffs galore, including the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit trailer, Machete Kills, Into The Woods and more…

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Here is the first Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit trailer. The release of the trailer comes in the same week as the character’s creator, author Tom Clancy, passed away. Starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, and Kenneth Branagh (who also directs), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is out in UK cinemas on 26th December 2013.

Rio 2

Talking animal alert! Rio 2 features the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann and Jamie Foxx. Blu, Jewel and their three children venture to the Amazon for a family reunion. Rio 2 is due for release in April 2014.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Here is the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This middle instalment features Orlando Bloom returning as Legolas, but a distinct lack of Gollum in the trailer at least. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is out in UK cinemas on 13th December 2013.

Machete Kills

Machete Kills is the follow up to 2010’s Machete. The film features more outlandish casting (including Charlie Sheen) and a more outlandish plot. Machete Kills hits cinemas on 11th October 2013.

Into The Woods

Meryl Streep Into The Woods

Well, Meryl Streep looks different. She plays the Witch in the first image released from Into The Woods. Based on the musical of the same name, Into The Woods is an amalgamation of a number of well-known fairy tales. The film also stars Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt and Chris Pine. It is set for a Christmas Day 2014 release in the US.

Frozen

Here is the first full trailer for Disney animation Frozen. With a talking snowman as a sidekick, the film seems perfect for Christmas. Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel provide the voices. Frozen   hits UK screens on 6th December 2013.

Film Review: White House Down

WHITE HOUSE DOWN

Roland Emmerich’s tongue-in-cheek blockbuster is throughly entertaining. White House Down works because of the humour, which cannot be anything but intentional.

John Cale dreams of working for the Secret Service, protecting the President. On the day of his interview, he decides to take his daughter along so that she can go on a tour of the White House. Unbeknownst to Cale, an armed group are ready to overtake 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…

After the perplexing Anonymous, director Roland Emmerich returns to the kind of film which made his name. Like his last film, there is plenty to laugh at in White House Down. However this time the humour is intentional.

White House Down follows the formula of an action blockbuster. The archetypal characters are present here. Every twist seems to be signposted early. When the reveal comes, it is delivered with a straight face which adds to the overall humour.

The situations that Emmerich’s film showcases are so absurd that it is difficult not too laugh. White House Down plays these up. The film has the requisite action and big set pieces required for this kind of blockbuster. This aspect is executed well.

Despite the outlandishness of some of the action and plot twists, White House Down feels very contemporary in its representation of the political. The overall motivation behind the coup is boiled down to its basics. The fetishisation of President Obama, depicted here from Jamie Foxx’s President Sawyer, sadly does not match the ideological reality.

Performances in White House Down are decent overall. Channing Tatum is a good fit for John Cale. The character is a cross between an experienced soldier and a reluctant hero, and Tatum plays this well. Jamie Foxx is well cast as President Sawyer, whilst Joey King offers a good performance as young Emily.

White House Down is often silly, but always entertaining. A fun popcorn flick.

Film Review: Django Unchained

Django UnchainedQuentin Tarantino does revenge motifs well, and Django Unchained is no exception. Tarantino’s spaghetti western is immense fun.

Former dentist Dr Schultz buys the freedom of a slave, Django, in order to help him complete a mission. As Django can identify the men Schultz is after, the former dentist trains him in the art of bounty hunting. Django meanwhile is determined to be reunited with his wife…

Like many westerns, the theme at the heart of Django Unchained is revenge. This is fulfilled by both the overarching narrative and the occupation of bounty hunter. The plot is uncomplicated, eschewing numerous strands to concentrate on character motivation and action set pieces.

Django Unchained is a fantasy of the oppressed. It is one that most can engage with. It will be difficult to find viewers who cannot get behind the protagonist. Slavery is universally abhorred, so the idea of a slave getting revenge on those that mistreat others was bound to be a winner.

The violence in Tarantino’s film is frequent and often over the top. Some of the brutality is difficult to stomach, but represents the seriousness of the issue, despite the film’s novelty wrapping. The outlandishness of the shoot outs bring the fun back in a wholly cathartic manner.

The music used in Django Unchained really sets the tone. There are several stylistic devices that mark it out as an unmistakable product of Quentin Tarantino. Dialogue is often quotable. Much has been made of the film’s use of racially charged language. Nevertheless, it appears entirely in keeping given the setting.

Jamie Foxx plays the title character straight, allowing the supporting cast to excel in terms of amusement or outlandishness. Christoph Waltz is excellent as Dr Schultz, while Samuel L. Jackson delivers a star turn as Stephen. Leonardo DiCaprio makes a memorable foe as Calvin Candie.

Django Unchained is a very enjoyable film. Tarantino has produced a striking addition to the genre.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of stuff this week; a new Oz The Great and Powerful poster, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters trailer, something from Stoker and more…

Trouble With the Curve

Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, Trouble With the Curve is a drama about a baseball scout. After Clint Eastwood films received a mixed reception at best, it will be a relief to some that he is not directing this one. Trouble With the Curve is out in cinemas on 30th November 2012.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel and Gretel was always a disturbing fairy tale, so it is really no surprise that the filmmakers have chosen to go down the violent fantasy route with this cinematic adaptation. Starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arteton, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters looks like a lot of fun. The film is released in the UK on 15th March 2013.

Oz The Great and Powerful

This week the first poster for Oz The Great and Powerful was released. Directed by Sam Raimi, the film stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Disney’s last foray into Oz territory was the cult classic Return to Oz, so it will be interesting to see what this new film brings. Oz The Great and Powerful is due for release in March 2013.

Stoker

This is not a trailer for Stoker, but a video that depicts the creation of the poster, along with clips from the film. I’m not entirely sure what Stoker is, but I am interested to find out more. Starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska, Stoker will be released on 1st March 2013.

A Good Day to Die Hard

John McClane is back for another adventure in A Good Day to Die Hard. The last instalment did not quite match the much-loved earlier trilogy, so it will be interesting to see how this one does. Bruce Willis returns as McClane on 14th February 2013.

Django Unchained

Above is the latest trailer for Django Unchained. The trailer has director Quentin Tarantino’s stamp all over it. Starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained is released in UK cinemas on 18th January 2013.

Trailer Round-Up

Trailers this week come in the form of Wreck-It Ralph, Django Unchained and The Great Gatsby. Additionally, I have included a music video from Rock of Ages, just because.

Wreck-It Ralph

Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph appears to be Toy Story but for video games. The tropes of that hugely successfully franchise are apparent in the first trailer for Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Rich Moore. The film looks like it will satisfy a family audience, whilst also referencing video games heavily. Wreck-It Ralph is due for release in February 2013.

Django Unchained

The trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Django Unchained, was released this week. Tarantino has jumped from Nazis to slave owners, with Jamie Foxx playing a slave seeking vengeance and searching for his wife. Leonardo DiCaprio also stars in the film, alongside Tarantino-collaborator Christoph Waltz. Django Unchained will be released in the UK on 18 January 2013.

The Great Gatsby

 This trailer has been knocking about for a while, but I thought I would post it to make a Leonardo DiCaprio double bill. Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was never going to be traditional. The novel has many avid fans, and if they can take it as a reinterpretation of Fitzgerald’s classic rather than a straightforward adaptation, then it looks like a lot of fun. The Great Gatsby is due for release in 3D on 26th December 2012.

Rock of Ages

The film version of musical Rock of Ages is out on 13th June 2012. I am seeing it today, and I cannot wait. To get everyone in the mood for the film (well me at least), I thought I would post a music video from Rock of Ages, a cover of the Journey classic ‘Any Way You Want It’. Enjoy!

Film Review: Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses is a fun comedy that entertains throughout. All is forgiven, Jennifer Aniston. Well almost all. Not The Bounty Hunter.

Friends Nick, Kurt and Dale all hate their bosses. Nick’s boss Dave has psychotic tendencies. Kurt’s new boss Bobby is a habitual drug user. Dale’s boss Julia makes unwanted sexual advances towards him on a daily basis. The trio contemplate killing their bosses, but things don’t go according to plan…

Horrible Bosses works very well as a 15-rated comedy. The humour is sometimes lewd but never descends too far into crassness. There are some very amusing site gags as well as a script that is punctuated with humour throughout. The comedy has a universal appeal. It is not too close to the bone as to offend people, yet there are some darkly humorous jokes.

Seth Gordon’s film is well paced, and provides some tension (although this is never without humour). Given the premise, the narrative seems quite predictable from the outset. Nevertheless, the film features a number of small twists, making it more difficult to predict the outcome. Horrible Bosses does some of the things expected of it, but subverts other elements.

Considering that there are several main characters, it is unsurprising that the film relies on stereotypes to a certain extent. The trio of friends are sufficiently developed and have a believable relationship. However, the screenwriters have made the bosses into caricatures. This may sound like a negative, but it reality it is not. Given the genre, these over-the-top characters are responsible for much of the film’s humour. The bosses are given the freedom to be as outlandish as possible, making them far worse than the average nasty employer. As well as creating humour, this gives credence to the murder plot.

Horrible Bosses boasts great performances from its stellar cast. Jason Bateman is as watchable as ever as Nick, playing the straight guy to the more comical friends. Jason Sudeikis is a lot of fun as Kurt, while Charlie Day once again shows off his comedy chops as Dale. Jamie Foxx is amusing in a small role.

As Dave, Kevin Spacey appears to be playing a more heighten version of himself. Colin Farrell is wildly amusing as Bobby, but is sadly underused. Jennifer Aniston is great as Julie. It is refreshing to see her in a different type of role, which goes some way to redeem her recent film choices. Aniston also seems to be having a lot of fun with her character.

Horrible Bosses is highly recommended for mainstream comedy fans. Although it is unlikely to win any awards, it should prove very enjoyable for audiences.

Horrible Bosses is out in UK cinemas on 22nd July 2011.