Saturday, 27 February 2016

Redemption in Recent Movies!

Redemption in Movies!

'Deadpool' starring Ryan Reynolds has been out in cinemas for less than a month and has already wheeled in a whopping £250 million making it the 21st quickest movie to ever surpass that high sum of money. Not only has the film been a critical and commercial success, but it has also proved to be a redemption for Reynolds himself. After a failed portrayal of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, many thought that the character would be gone for good and not even Reynold would be able to save it from obscurity. A second bite at the superhero genre popped up for Reynolds as he was cast as Hal Jordan in DC's 'The Green Lantern'. The less said about 'The Green Lantern', the better. Two attempts and two failures from Reynolds in the world of superheroes. Who'd of thought that seven years later from these attempts, Reynolds would have knocked a second attempt at Deadpool out of the park with one of the most popular and successful superhero films of recent times?. Reynolds has most definitely redeemed himself from his past roles and has truly became a favourite in the superhero world. So this got me thinking. Who else has redeemed themselves in recent times after a couple of stinkers? This has been the case for many actors, directors and even franchises as a whole. So here's 5 of some of the most recent cases where redemption has truly been found!

1. Chris Evans 

With Reynolds redeeming himself in a big way with Deadpool recently, it only makes sense to start off with another superhero star. Chris Evans came to fame in 2005 when he was cast as The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four and then reprised his role in 2007 in the sequel, The Silver Surfer. The films certainly didn't do as well as hoped with it receiving poor reviews. Evans would no longer take up the role as Jonny Storm and seemed to drift off away from the spotlight. This was until he was surprisingly cast as Steve Rodgers, better known as Captain America in the 2011 film of the same name. He was set to become a key figure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as he had been picked to play one of the lead characters. This came as a shock due to his past in a Marvel franchise and obviously people were sceptical of this choice. However Marvel won't have looked back. With a good performance in the first Captain America, Evans was already on the road to redemption. Evans was able to fully redeem himself when he was a key part of 'Avengers' which was a global success with Evans producing a great performance as Cap. Then two years later, he fully showed his star power as the lead in arguably Marvels best solo film, The Winter Soldier. Evans has came a long way since his time in the Fantastic Four and is now one of the faces of the Marvel company. He has truly redeemed himself and has done a fantastic job, exceeding our expectations by far.

2. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is most definitely one of Hollywood's nice guys. Whether it is him giving more than half of his Matrix paycheck to other members of the crew or donating loads of his wealth to numerous different charities. It can't be denied that Reeves is a great guy. It's his acting which splits people. Myself, I'm on the side who loves Keanu. 'Speed' is one of my most favourite action films of all time and I also get great enjoyment from 'Point Break' and 'The Matrix'. I am a big fan of Reeves work and love him at the helm of an action franchise. However recently in his career there have been a few stinkers. No matter how much I like Reeves, it has to be admitted that the work he's done lately hasn't been great. '47 Ronin' and 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' were not some of his best work and has maybe set Reeves ability back a few steps in peoples minds. That was until last years John Wick. Keanu is most definitely back with a bang. John Wick was a fantastic action movie and was highly successful mainly due to Reeves slick performance. A great return for Reeves and with a sequel already being scheduled, it has definitely redeemed Reeves for his recent form.

3. Michael B Jordan

Now this one may seem like quite a harsh one. I have been a fan of Jordan ever since I seen him in the fantastic found footage superhero film 'Chronicle'. Then with Fruitvale Station, Jordan became one of Hollywood's hottest new talents and is being tipped for huge success. His abilities then earned himself the call up to become 'The Human Torch' in the rebooted 'Fant4stic'. Sound familiar? Shockingly this attempt at the Fantastic Four ended up being worse than the original and the movie was panned heavily by critics. Not one of Jordan's finest moments. However Jordan was very quick to redeem himself and did so in the same year as the star of 'Creed'. He was very unlucky to miss out on an Oscar nomination for his fantastic portrayal as Adonis Creed in the continuation of the Rocky franchise. An incredible performance that's made Jordan's future look even brighter. And soon everyone had forgot about that train wreck 'Fant4stic'.

4. M Night Shyamalan

Redemption isn't only just for actors. There may not of been a single person who had been on as bad a run as Shyamalan. He burst onto the scene in 1999 with 'The Sixth Sense' and may tipped him to become the next big thing, even calling him the next Steven Spielberg. Wow. Then with other successes such as 'Unbreakable' and 'Signs', the future looked good for Shyamalan and he was on a hot streak to match anyone. However the biggest streak of awfulness was yet to come as Shyamalan brought terrible movie after terrible movie to the big screen. It started with The 'Village' which was a box office success but didn't get the praise it seeked. It only got much worse after this with the boring 'Lady in the Water' being next which was incredibly awful. The non intentional hilarious 'The Happening' was next and due to this failure, many people were really questioning Shyamalan's abilities in film making. 'The Last Airbender' and 'After Earth' only furthered the confirmation of Shyamalan's decline with arguably his two worst creations in his library. From the next big thing to one of the worst directors currently working, it had all gone wrong for Shyamalan. Now I just recently watched 'The Vist' Shyamalan's latest movie and this more than shows that he has some talent. This movie was pretty good and he showed his talents very well of creating quite a creepy atmosphere and also provided some great comedy. It would be too quick to say that 'The Visit' has completely redeemed Shyamalan but it is most definitely a return to some of his better works and has made up a little for his past atrocities. Lets hope he can continue this in the near future.

5. Star Wars- The Force Awakens

Hey, who said redemption was only for individual people? If anything has redeemed itself in recent times, it is Star Wars. The prequels were a dark time for many fans of the original as they swapped the greatness of Luke, Han and Leia for mostly boring stories involving Obi Wan, a bratty Anakin and Padme. The prequels were most definitely not well received by the fans with many many people feeling that they were massive disappointments. That is why when it was announced in 2012 that Disney had ought Lucasfilm and there would be an episode 7, many were hopeful but also many were worried. There were high hopes that 'The Force Awakens' would bring back pride to the Star Wars saga. Albeit there was also great fear that the new instalment would only put the franchise further back. Well now over 3 years and currently £1,471,865,932 later, it can be confirmed that Star Wars has returned to it's glories of the past. The franchise is well and truly back on the right track and seems to be in good hands. With a blend of a fresh faced cast and nostalgia from the past, 'The Force Awakens' was able to create something that I'm sure that most movie fans would certainly enjoy. This is the first step to hopefully enabling us to get rid of the bad taste of the prequels. Thank you J.J Abrams for bringing the real Star Wars back to it's glory days and redeeming it for the time being.

So that's my short list of recent redemption in movies. There are quite a lot that you can choose from so let me know other particular cases of redemption. Once again thank you for reading, it means a lot!

By Angus McGregor

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Zoolander 2 Review

Zoolander 2 is the sequel to the popular 2001 comedy Zoolander. It once again stars Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander with Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell reprising their roles as Hansel and Mugatu. The sequel is coming out 15 years after the original which has raised some questions. Would Zoolander 2 be able to re capture the magic from the first one?

No. No it did not. Nowhere near the same quality as the first film. It pains me to say this but Zoolander 2 is not good at all. As a fan of the original I was really looking forward to this film but it was a complete failure. It had none of the heart and good humour from the original with pretty much every joke falling flat. A huge disappointment.

I think something that makes me hugely disappointed in this film is the talent that was in this production. I have enjoyed films from Ben Stiller in the past including the first Zoolander. Between him and Will Ferrell, they have been some of my favourite comedy characters of all time. I have also enjoyed films with the talented Kristen Wiig in it as well. Owen Wilson is ok too I guess. But that is what makes this hurt even more. There is plenty of comedic talent in this movie and yet everything just falls flat. You have seen what these actors are all capable of and know that they can create comedy gold but Zoolander 2 is so far away from it. There was potential for this to be good but it just became another pointless sequel. The new members of the cast weren't funny either. Penelope Cruz was absolutely terrible and was only in the movie for two reasons. I would say get someone funny instead to be in it but the film failed with the great talent it had anyway. The child actor tried I guess but every joke that had to do with him involved poking fun at his looks and weight which was never really funny to begin with. Kyle Mooney played Don Atari who was yet again another unfunny and insufferable character in this film.

The sad decline of Zoolander and Hansel

I know you're probably thinking, you could see that it was going to be bad a mile off. And you're probably correct. But every movie deserves it's day in court and you can never be too sure. But sadly the film just became an obvious cash grab, using celebrity cameos to entice people to come see it. And that's another thing so insulting about the film. Instead of using good writing and jokes, it relies on cameos to try and draw laughs. This fails for pretty much every single time and is possibly one of the cheapest ways to try and draw laughs. It's over reliance on this is one of the films biggest downfalls as it really isn't effective at all. To show how these barely worked, I completely forgot Benedict Cumberbatch was in this film until I looked up images for this post! Just add him to the list of unfunny, not memorable and terrible cameos.

Disappointment all around from all comedic talent.

The film couldn't even make me feel happy to see these old characters back on the big screen. But the magic just seemed to have completely disappeared. The characters weren't funny at all and it was just sad seeing this fail. I really wished that this would have the same effect as the first movie but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. 

The film also had quite possibly the most creepy CGI man child I have seen in a movie. It looked so terrible and very unsettling. It will forever haunt my dreams from now on. 

The only parts that seemed to bring back some nostalgia where when songs like Wham!'s 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' came back on and reminded me of the old Zoolander. I also did get a laugh of seeing a local Scottish hero in Susan Boyle make a cameo appearance. I really did not expect to see SuBo in this film and it was genuinely funny to see her react to the paparazzi like the crazy woman we all thought she was when she stepped out onto the Britains Got Talent stage many years ago. This was one of the only cameos that did in fact work which I'm afraid may of only encouraged them to overfill the film with. The opening action scene was done pretty well as well to be fair. Being perfectly honest that is really where the good points end. 

Gawn yerself SuBo

Final Verdict: Zoolander 2 = D
As a comedy it certainly failed. It was really unfunny except from the SuBo cameo which has really saved this film from being an F. It really is just what we have come to expect from rehashed sequels nowadays. Sadly, Zoolander 2 was a failure. Not worth seeing at all.

So if you have seen Zoolander 2, what did you think of it? I certainly hope you enjoyed it more than me but that isn't exactly hard. Once again thank you for reading, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Big Short Review

The Big Short is one of eight films nominated for the accolade of Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars. It is also probably the most star-studded cast of the nominees with Hollywood A listers Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling taking up main roles in the film. But does the film really deserve to be nominated especially for such a huge honour that the Best Picture category is?

The Big Short is based on the economic collapse in America during 2008. It features Christian Bale as Michael Burry, a anti social oddity who comes across a large of number of subprime home loans that are in great danger of defaulting. By realising this he decides to bank against many of the banks that the housing scheme will crumble with many taking him on as the offer seemed too good to pass by. This attracts the attention of Jeremy Vennett (Ryan Gosling), Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) and other greedy opportunists who are looking to become rich if this situation comes true. They all have the same aim, to get rich off of this economic disaster. 

The Big Short tries to make the banking and what ever else is going on seem interesting. I say tries because not at all times does it succeed. I guess you kind of have to have a knowledge of certain terms to fully appreciate what is going on but I don't even know if that would make it more interesting to be honest. The film does try and use some celebrity cameos, such as Margot Robbie in a bath to explain........erm...... ugh I'm not perfectly sure. I think many people would be focusing on something else rather than the explanation of the certain terms being used in the films. The film used this style a few times to try and explain what was going on which I do think was a good idea and could've worked well. I just don't think that the source material is particularly interesting enough to draw you in and failed to do so with me. Overall the film really isn't that interesting but the effort to try and make it so is admirable but unfortunately I didn't feel worked. 

I would most definitely say that this films success is mainly down to the talent portraying these characters. Christian Bale was excellent in his role as this oddball genius who under covers this many years before it happens. He is great as he works out these equations and numbers whilst simultaneously rocking out in his office whilst his employees sit in shock as they look at this genius. My only complaint is that I wanted to see more of his character. I don't feel he was in it enough and the film would've been more enjoyable if he had been in it for longer.

Christian Bale as Michael Burry

Ryan Gosling was also great in this film as Jeremy Vennett who goes around bringing this possibility to many investors and trying to get people to back the idea of the housing situation crumbling. Gosling's charisma in this role worked perfectly and was also used a lot of the time for comedic effect. His smart arse ways were great to watch as well as his breaking of the fourth wall to narrate what was going on in certain scenes. He certainly brought some life and humour to the film which at times it really needed. Steve Carrell continues to prove that he is an incredible dramatic actor in this film as he is great once again. He may very well of been nominated had it not been for Christian Bale beating him to it. Who would've thought that the guy who loved lamp in Anchorman and 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' would become one of the top serious actors? Brad Pitt was also very good as Ben Rickert, a former banker who has came back to help two up and comers try and make some money. Although his character dislikes what banking does, he has no qualms participating and helping being a part of the greediness involved. This does not take anything away from Pitt as he produced a strong performance. 

Carrell and Gosling were both great.

The Big Short is directed by Adam McKay, director of films such as both Anchormans, Step Brothers and The Other Guys. As you can see these are mainly comedy films which makes it surprising to see him go for quite a serious movie with quite a little opportunity to make quips and jokes. He does bring a unique style to this film with his use of camera work throughout the film, some working better than others. You can see him bringing traits from previous films over with him such as breaking away from reality to allow a character to speak directly to the audience. This I feel worked well and did actually work well. However there was something that McKay continued to do that I didn't feel added anything to the product. At times, the camera would be focussing on characters talking and the camera would not stay still and would continue to move around whilst the dialogue was still going on. This often made the camera blurred and take time to refocus and I don't really see what this did to add to the film. I definitely feel that this is something it could've done without. The film as well used a lot of what seemed like slides and many cuts to either explain or show a passing in time which I do feel worked fairly well. 

I don't feel this film really should of been up for Best Picture. Maybe that's due to eight nominees being far too many when every other category has just the five. I really don't feel that the film is that great especially with who it is up against, I feel that it is easily dwarfed by many of the other contenders. I was fairly disappointed with this film in all honesty. I had looked forward to this film for a long time and I don't feel it lived up to my expectations. Maybe that was due to the Oscar nomination which may have built it up a whole lot more for me. The film isn't bad, I just don't feel it is quite at the level it has been put at.

The Big Short at times made the audience feel like this

Final verdict: The Big Short = C
The performances in this film is most certainly the best part of this film which struggles to create much interest. This isn't entirely the films fault as the concept isn't really that intriguing as a whole. I wouldn't rush to go out and see this one and personally don't see myself re-watching this any time soon.

So there are my thoughts about 'The Big Short', if you have seen it what did you think of it? Do you feel that it was rightfully nominated in the Oscars? Once again thank you for reading, it means a lot!

By Angus McGregor

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Oscar 2016 Predictions!

February 28th marks the day of the Oscars presented by Chris Rock. It is always surrounded with much publicity as it is probably the biggest event in the world of entertainment. There is also much debate to who will pick up the illustrious awards this year with the categories being filled with fierce competition. Instead of just giving my own predictions, I thought I would turn it into a bit of fun and invite a couple of my friends and fellow film enthusiasts to give their predictions as well. We haven't seen every film that has been nominated or has someone nominated in it but we'll still try our best with our predictions. Due to this we won't be doing every award as if none of us have seen any of the candidates there isn't much of a point in going over it. So lets get started!

So there will be four of us doing predictions. Obviously one will be myself. The three others are my friends and fellow college students Michael, Drew and Billy. This is all just a bit of fun for four movie fans at the biggest event of the year. I will be giving a slight insight to what has made me decide on my picks. I will only be doing the main categories as it would end up being far too long to put reasoning for each of us on each category. The other categories that we will be predicting will be in a table at the bottom for a quick summary of our picks.

Best Picture: Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight

There's no better place to start than with Best Picture. This is considered the biggest of them all as it represents all the directing, acting, music composing, writing etc put forth into a film.

Angus: Spotlight: For me, I feel that Spotlight should win this award. This came down to The Revenant and Spotlight for this accolade. It was a tough one but I decided to go for the one that I felt was a better movie and had a bigger impact on me . And that was Spotlight. In my heart I really wanted to go with Mad Max and I would absolutely love it if it were to win.

Michael: Spotlight

Drew: The Revenant

Billy: Room

Best Actor: Nominees: Bryan Cranston, Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne

Second is the Best Actor award currently held by Eddie Redmayne. He is up for it again but did any of us think he had what it takes to retain his crown? Or would a certain Leonardo Di Caprio finally scoop up the award?

Angus: Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant): My pick for this award is Leonardo Di Caprio. However I don't feel that he should. I feel that there were better performances in this category. But I am going with my head here and I think that this will finally be Leo's time.

Michael: Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Drew: Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant)

Billy: Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant)

Best Actress: Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Charlotte Rampling, Brie Larson, Saorise Ronan, Jennifer Lawrence

Best Actress is next which is currently being held by Julianne Moore. There is no possibility of that happening two years in a row but there is a chance for both Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence to pick up a second Best Actress award.

Angus: Saorise Ronan (Brooklyn): I am not entirely sure about this category due to unfortunately not being able to catch many of the movies. This is just me really going out on a limb here for my pick. I have heard many good things about Ronan's performance and look forward to seeing this in the future.

Michael: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Drew: Jennifer Lawerence (Joy)

Billy: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Best Supporting Actor: Nominees: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Rylance, Sylvester Stallone

Christian Bale is the only one to have lifted this award before and looks to do so again this year. He faces a lot of tough competition in what is one of the most competitive categories this year.

Angus: Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight): I think that Mark Ruffalo deserves this award. I loved his performance in Spotlight and thought he was really great. And if he doesn't win, lets just hope he doesn't get angry....

Michael: Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Drew: Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Billy: Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Best Supporting Actress: Nominees: Rachel McAdams, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alicia Vikander, Rooney Mara

Angus: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl): This was one of the toughest categories for me to decide. It was between Vikander, McAdams and Winslet all the way as I loved all three of their performances and could hardly separate them. Alicia Vikander is my favourite actress right now and due to that, it gave her the edge over very tough competition.

Michael: Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Drew: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Billy: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Best Director: Nominees: George Miller, Lenny Abrahamson, Tom McCarthy, Adam McKay, Alejandro G Inarritu

Angus: Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant): I really really want to go with George Miller here for Mad Max but I do think that Inaritu will pick up his second Oscar in a row in this category.

Michael: Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)

Drew: Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)

Billy: Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)

Best Picture
The Revenant
Best Actor
Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant)
Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant)
Best Actress
Saorise Ronan (Brooklyn)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Best Supporting Actor
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Best Supporting Actress
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
Best Director
Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)
Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)
Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)
Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)
Costume Design
Jacqueline West (The Revenant)
Jenny Beaven (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Jenny Beaven (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Jenny Beaven (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Make-up and Hairstyling
Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini (The Revenant)
Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini (The Revenant)
Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini (The Revenant)
Music Original Score
John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)
Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)
Production Design
Arthur Max and Celia Bobak (The Martian)
Jack Fisk and Hamish Purdy (The Revenant)
Arthur Max and Celia Bobak (The Martian)
Arthur Max and Celia Bobak (The Martian)
Visual Effects
Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett (Ex_Machina)
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Emma Donoghue (Room)
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay (The Big Short)
Drew Goddard (The Martian)
Drew Goddard (The Martian)
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Matt Charman, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Bridge Of Spies)
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Ronnie del Carmen (Inside Out)

Some very different picks and not a lot of the same in most categories. It will certainly be interesting to see what is picked to win the illustrious awards. This has just added a little extra spice to the whole event. Only one category was unanimously picked and that was Best Director. It shall be interesting to see how this all pans out.

So those are our picks. Please feel free to leave your picks for the categories in the comments and also if you agree or disagree with anything please say. Thanks for taking the time to read our picks for the 2016 Oscars, it means a lot. I'd also like to thank Michael, Drew and Billy for giving their time to predict the winners for this blog post. Please check out my reviews for some of the films nominated such as 'Spotlight', 'The Revenant' and 'The Danish Girl' Once again thanks for reading!

By Angus McGregor