Reviews

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Reviewed by vu1999uk

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Here is a rarity. A sequel better than the first. Not bogged down with the origin of the first, the two leads are now perfect in their roles and the villians are all nicely played. Has some nice humour, and a great finale. Sets up for a sequel nicley as well. Good popcorn blockbuster.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Reviewed by darthrodney

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

Sadly its Spiderman 3 all over again, just without the "Goth Spidey Dancing" thank god. Jamming in too many villains to try and draw in audiences and also short cut its way to a "Sinister 6" movie to try and get that "Avengers" type box office money. The action is great but this is a poorly constructed, jarringly edited and poorly soundtracked movie ... its just clumsy throughout. There is HEAVY and lead footed foreshadowing and the soundtrack tunes are just a bit too on the nose for the scenes they cover. If they kept the excellent Jamie Foxx as the only villain this would be a much better movie. Dehaan is given barely any time to develop into the other antagonist and is just thrown into being the badguy. Stone / Garfield and the action are great ... the studios greed has really undone this movie.

Calvary

Reviewed by emer

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Calvary is director John McDonagh’s accomplished follow up to the highly entertaining international success - The Guard. This is an inspired Irish mystery story about a benevolent priest tormented by the comically twisted members of his small community. In essence, it is a whodunnit with a twist - we are given the date for a murder and than introduced to the suspects. Grounded by a superb performance from Brendan Gleeson as the tough minded priest in peril, this movie may not achieve the success of The Guard but it stands out for me as the best Irish one I have ever seen. This movie is more subdued and darker - it offers an insight into the persistence of religious faith in the Catholic Church despite the horrendous legacy of abuse and is sure to have phenomenal success both in Ireland and beyond. The film begins with a virtuous priest - Father James (Brendan Gleeson) - in the confession box, listening to an unexpected visitor who announces that he was savagely molested as an altar boy for five years. He is determined to exact his revenge and now this unseen man is going to kill a good person for no good reason. In fact, he’s going to kill the kind and altruistic Father James, just for ironic kicks and because he is innocent! The killing has been set for the next Sunday, exactly one week later, leaving the priest just 1 week to uncover who is out to murder him. Father James is shaken but rather than making any hasty decisions, he mediates on his dilemma while tending to the members of his community. He goes around the rural village of Sligo where he finds a very odd, bawdy, eccentric parish – arsonists, adulterers, drug users and domestic abusers live in close proximity. Despite attending regular mass, its habitants are still bitter, angry and indifferent – each harbouring dark secrets. In this crumbling town, each parishioner seems equally likely to commit murder. Along the way we meet the boisterous butcher (Chris O’Dowd) who is sick of his adulterous wife (Orla O’Rourke) who keeps getting beaten by her boyfriends. There’s also a vaguely sinister police inspector (Gary Lydon) whom the priest interrupts with a saucy male prostitute (Owen Sharpe). The devilish doctor (Aidan Gillen) is a depraved cynic who makes no secret of his violently disturbed Athiest views, an extravagantly wealthy banker (Dylan Moran) whose riches have failed to make him a nice person, a sex-starved young man (Killian Scott) considering joining the army and an aged American writer (M. Emmet Walsh) who is counting down the days to his death. Amid the weight of trying to bring hope and succor to his profoundly dysfunctional flock, is the arrival of Father James’ beautiful, insightful but troubled daughter (Kelly Reilly), fresh from a recent suicide attempt. As the film counts down the days to the show down on Sunday, the compassionate but wearying priest begins to slowly lose his spirit and even begins to ponder his own impending death. Brendan Gleeson gives a terrific, career best performance effortlessly moving from dramatic to comedic. His virtuous priest couldn’t be more different from the surly, drug guzzling police officer he played in The Guard, yet both characters are intense, fearless and determined to fulfill their duty to the very end. At the same time, he is no saint – he can be sarcastic, has a weakness for booze and finds himself questioning his beliefs in a God that allows such unspeakable, horrific acts occur every day? The ensemble cast is also superb and anchor the film to the end. Calvary is a darkly black comedy which never loses its focus and cleverly shows how the sex crimes and abuses of the Catholic Church will have a lasting legacy. It cleverly takes an idiosyncratic yet compassionate look at human nature. However, while the The Guard was a straightforward comedy, Calvary resonates more deeply and becomes notably less humorous as it moves towards the conclusion. This shift in tone is both emotional and moving. I also thought it was visually and technically excellent and great use was made of the rugged and picturesque Irish landscapes – the Sligo seashore, the sculpted cliffs and colourful fields. The photography captures the sombre, silent mood and intense atmosphere as did the use of an appropriately melancholic score. This is an inventive and memorable movie, one which I found both captivating and profound. While the glum tone might not appeal to everyone, I have no doubt it will have a considerable fanbase - particularly in Ireland.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

How soon is too soon for a reboot? The Amazing Spider-Man was initially greeted with scepticism, with some saying that it was too early. But Sony and Marvel aren't going to let a hot property like Spidey gather cobwebs. It turned out to be a lively and fresh new take. Sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 continues in the same spirit of fun and adventure. Peter AKA Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) tries to protect Gwen (Emma Stone) from harm by putting distance between them. He has plenty to keep him busy though, as he deals with the circumstances surrounding his parents' death. Meanwhile, put-upon and largely unnoticed Oscorp electrical engineer Max (Jamie Foxx) suffers an unfortunate encounter with some electric eels. He is reborn as a blue-skinned, pulsating energy force known as Electro (not unlike Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan). Now that the world sees him, he sets out on a path of destruction which also includes Peter's terminally-ill friend Harry Oscorp (Dane DeHaan)... There's no shortage of action, thrills, humour and emotional moments in Marc Webb's sequel. Beginning with the fate of Peter's parents, the film wastes no time in introducing the film's big bad: Electro. He's a more dangerous villain than the last film's Lizard, but like all of Spidey's adversaries he still retains a shred of humanity. A well-staged showdown between Electro and Spidey in Times Square is the film's highlight. Even though he's now the wrong side of 30, Garfield has settled well into the role and remains thoroughly likeable and heroic. With four writers onboard, you would think that's a recipe for disaster. But Webb has smartly learned lessons from past Spider-Man films (specifically no. 3) about too many villains spoiling the broth at the same time. There's more than one villain in the film, but Webb has lined them up one at a time, which is more effective. There is one surprise in the film that many won't see coming, but it gives the film an emotional resonance that rings true with earlier events. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a few notches ahead of its predecessor and thoroughly deserves its four stars. Spin a web to your local cinema and catch it now.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Reviewed by roberthughes23

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Another good Marvel movie. Action is brilliant from the start. I liked the first one but this one in my opinion is better again. Despite the odd predictable piece to the plot, good story line and great movie. Recommended for sure!

We are the Best

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Swedish director Lukas Moodysson is erratic at best, veering between the highs of the emotionally devastating Lilya 4-ever to the lows of the nonsensical A Hole In My Heart (memorably dubbed A Hole In My Head by the late Michael Dwyer). His new film We Are The Best! falls somewhere inbetween. Set in Stockholm in the early 1980s, the plot focuses on three young teenage girls: the tomboyish Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) and the more traditional, Christian Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne). Told by everyone they meet that punk rock is dead, they set out to prove everyone wrong by forming their own girl band - but they don't see it as that. Each of them is rebelling against something, in that difficult transition from girl to young woman. But their bond is so strong that they'll stick together no matter what everyone else thinks. We Are The Best! features natural, unshowy child performances that seem too good to be true. They really are that good and are the film's main selling point. It's often said that children are natural actors anyway, as they love to imagine and pretend. Finding ones who can hold your attention for the entire film is not an easy task, but Moodysson has succeeded in doing so. There's a warmth to these three characters that makes you wish you were 13 again. Unfortunately, the film is very chaotic at times and doesn't hit the emotional beats that it needs to (a love triangle with a boy is left mostly to the audience's imagination). Moodysson's constantly-moving camera can be a distraction from keeping up with the sub-titles as well. Predictably, the music from the girls is screechy and loud, but that's part of their punk charm. We Are The Best! lacks the emotional impact of Moodysson's best work (Lilya 4-ever), but its rugged charm and superb child performances are enough to warrant a recommendation.

Calvary

Reviewed by vu1999uk

  • Currently 5/5 Stars.

While there are some funny moments in this film, it really is a dark and at times disturbing look at modern life in Ireland and the role of the Catholic Church in it. Brendan Gleeson is immense in a role where he has been given a week to live and put his house in order. We follow him as he tries to impact positively on people's lives and when it works and when it fails badly. It all leads up to a conclusion that does not disappoint. Just an excellent film that raises the bar for all future Irish films.

The Lunchbox

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

The Lunchbox is, refreshingly, an Indian film that doesn't have singing and dancing in it. It plays out like an Indian version of Brief Encounter, The Shop Around The Corner and its remake, You've Got Mail. Mumbai has a group of 5,000 delivery men called Dabbawallahs. Every day, they deliver hot lunches from home or local restaurants to workers all around the city. It's a very reliable system, even verified by Harvard University. But what if one lunchbox got sent to the wrong person? In this case, neglected housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur) tries to inject some spice into her marriage by sending her husband a special homemade meal. Instead, it ends up in the hands of lonely widower Saajan (Irrfan Khan), who is about to retire and is training in his replacement Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Ila and Saajan strike up a correspondence, driven by their love of good food and their yearning for a connection to another person in a city teeming with over 12 million people. Ritesh Batra's first film is a real charmer and it's no surprise to learn that it's been charming audiences around the world. It takes a relatively simple premise and turns it into a story full of warmth, humour and emotion. The two leads are so well-written by Batra that you begin to feel for their situations. This is exemplified by a scene in which Ila puts on a new dress for her husband, who barely even notices. Saajan struggles with accepting that he's about to retire and be replaced by a younger man. It's a visual joy too, with scene after scene of delicious Indian food being prepared and eaten. Not one to watch on an empty stomach, as otherwise you'll get a hankering for an Indian meal straight after. That could be a good thing though. If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then it could also be applied to a cinema audience. It doesn't quite go in the expected direction towards the end (this isn't Hollywood), but it's a real treat to watch and a film to savour long after the credits roll. Delicious.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Half Of A Yellow Sun is another film from a first-time director, Biyi Bandele. Like many first films, it wobbles a bit at times but certainly holds the attention. Based on the book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, it's a story of two couples set against the turbulent backdrop of Nigeria's shaky new-found independence from Britain in 1960. Sisters Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) leave Lagos to find peace in the arms of political activist Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Richard (Joseph Mawle). Odenigbo's overbearing mother manipulates him to betray Olanna. This causes problems between the sisters when Olanna revenge sleeps with Richard. Meanwhile, Nigeria's independence starts crumbling away... Given the unfamiliarity of Nigeria's fight for independence (at least to an Irish audience), the occasional, authentic newsreel footage is helpful to set the scene and explain the political and social backdrop of the story. It's quite an involving story, well-acted by the cast including Ejiofor, whose profile has increased since 12 Years A Slave. It's a film in which the characters' emotions are very much reflected by what's going on in the world outside the front door. While that metaphor mostly works, it sometimes comes across as clumsy. A panicky series of shootings by Government militia at an airport is shot from the neutral perspective of the white, British Richard, rather than the Nigerian Olanna. That lessens the impact somewhat, given the blunt nature of the shootings. For what it's worth though, Half Of A Yellow Sun is a good, reasonably reliable film that might be of interest to curious filmgoers. If anything, you'll learn more about Nigerian history.

Calvary

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

John Michael McDonagh's second film Calvary started as a conversation between the director and Brendan Gleeson while they were shooting The Guard: with all the negative publicity surrounding the Catholic Church in Ireland, how about a story involving a good priest? The good priest here is Father James Lavelle (Gleeson). In a startling opening scene in a confession box, he's informed by one of his parishioners that he will be killed in less than 10 days, on a Sunday. This parishioner has a well-founded grievance against priests, but intends to kill Father Lavelle simply because he's innocent. Not telling anyone, even his troubled daughter (Kelly Reilly) from a previous life, he faces his own mortality and atones for the sins of his profession, while finding some sort of peace within himself. This is a hugely confident second film from McDonagh. Working on the strength of their partnership on The Guard, McDonagh and Gleeson have fashioned a modern Irish story that has cross-over potential for international audiences. It's a challenging story to begin with, given the way priests are viewed nowadays (as exemplified in one scene involving a little girl and her aggressive father). It's not so much a whodunit but a who-will-do-it, lining up a series of local suspects played by a superb supporting cast including Aiden Gillen, Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran, David Wilmot and even good 'aul Pat Shortt. Gleeson is the heart of the film though and he delivers possibly a career-best performance. The title is a reference to the place where Jesus was crucified, so you can see a parallel being drawn there by McDonagh. There is some humour in the film, but sparingly used given the dark subject matter. The little nods to the three-act structure of a film are a nice touch though. Irish cinema can be notoriously poor at times, but with Calvary and the upcoming Run & Jump, we may be seeing a renaissance of quality Irish films for a change. Highly recommended.

The Last Days of Mars

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

Sci-Fi horror The Last Days On Mars marks the feature debut of Irish director Ruairi Robinson. He made his name on some award-winning shorts, particularly the Oscar-nominated Fifty Percent Grey (check it out on YouTube). But it's a bit of a disappointment... Based on the short story The Animators by Sydney J. Bounds, it's set over the course of 19 hours on a Mars-based mission. Technically-speaking, it should be called The Last Day On Mars. Campbell (Liev Schreiber), Brunel (Elias Koteas), Aldrich (Olivia Williams) and Lane (Romola Garai) are among the exhausted and homesick crew awaiting a transport to take them back to Earth. But this being a movie, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. One of the crew falls into a crater after the ground collapses - missing but presumed dead. However, she crawls back out very much alive and infected with a deadly Martian virus that soon spreads among the crew. Campbell and his remaining human crew can't let the virus get back to Earth... The Last Days On Mars is ambitious for a first feature, considering the scale of visual effects and make-up effects involved. The money is certainly on the screen and Robinson has secured a quality cast to tell his story. But the story is where the problem lies. We've seen it all before - the race to get off-planet is from Red Planet and the zombie-like virus is from 28 Days Later and Prometheus. There was a chance here to tell a story about what future manned missions to Mars might be like, with added tension and psychology. Instead, Robinson goes for a run-of-the-mill space horror that just doesn't deliver the goods. There's only so many times you can watch a character running down a corridor while something chases them. It's reasonably decent for a time-waster, but the sad thing is that Robinson is clearly capable of something better. Maybe next time.

Labor Day

Reviewed by jen:D

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Surprisingly really enjoyed this film. Very sensual and tactile, with beautiful cinematography! I would watch it again, and would recommend it to others!

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