By Stephen Bain
Killing your boss is something many of us privately fanaticise about. That’s the promising idea of this latest comedy from director Seth Gordon.
Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis star as the three victims of power-hungry employers – Kevin Spacey on brilliantly dry form as a corporate manager, Jennifer Anniston as a nymphomaniac dentist and Colin Farrell as a coke-head. In an attempt to rid themselves of these tyrants they hatch a plan to kill all three and agree to let one of the other people do the dirty work so they cannot be linked to the murder. In many ways the film is a hark-back to the Strangers on a Train premise – something which the film actually references. It starts off in a highly entertaining manner as we are introduced to the three gloriously over-the-top bosses.
All three chew the scenery and carry off their parts with relish and indeed the film is at its best when these three are onscreen. However the film loses its way around the half way mark and feels at least twenty minutes too long. What could have been a relatively short, sharp, B-movie comedy becomes a by-the-numbers affair with the usual lengthy bumbling protagonist routine. I was feeling restless by the time they entered the separate houses and actually wished for more screen time with the bosses themselves. Scenarios appear which, although entertaining on their own, do little to move the story forward – a cameo by Jamie Foxx is a prime example.
It’s no help that the three leads range from being entertaining to annoying and both Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis unfortunately fall into the latter category. The squeaky, high-pitched clumsiness from Day’s character becomes irritating and Jason’s Sudeikis’s womaniser comes off as unsympathetic. As mentioned the film does have a few very funny moments but one can’t help but feel that a tighter film is lurking in there somewhere.
While by no means “horrible”, Bosses is a comedy that underperforms.
By Stephen Bain
A remake of the much loved 1981 original starring Dudley Moore, Arthur is Russell Brand’s third big screen outing. Slated in the US press upon its original release the film failed to take America by storm. Perhaps we Brits will be kinder to one of our own?
Well slightly. Nonetheless, Arthur still offers very little in the way of surprises and never really raises anything more than a smile or chuckle. Russell once again demonstrates what he does best, playing the hard-drinking, roguish playboy with a heart of gold. Unsurprisingly he manages to hold the film together and the production will certainly be well received by his devoted fans.
However the real understated highlight of the film is Helen Mirren who plays his loyal but frustrated nanny Hobson (played by Sir John Gielgud in the original). She delivers many of the films more touching moments with ease and demonstrates her natural ability at dry wit on several occasions. Indeed the mother/son relationship between the two is a believable one.
Similarly Greta Gerwig is a likeable, sweet screen presence against Jennifer Garner who has fun as the mad, unstable potential wife for Arthur. However Nick Nolte is, rather surprisingly, less effective and somewhat pointless as Garner’s psychotic father.
Whilst Arthur does offer moments of charm it cannot rise above anything more than mere fluff.
By Stephen Bain
The “ticking bomb” scenario has been used to exhilarating effect in the past. It is simple yet intense and establishes a real threat for the audience to chew on. Combine this with the complex, elaborate universe of traditional science fiction and we end up with something like Source Code, a contrived yet solidly paced and highly entertaining thriller.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a man who wakes up on a rush hour train alongside Michelle Monaghan (who looks rather like the soon-to-be Mrs Prince William). After eight minutes the train explodes apparently killing everyone on board. However Gyllenhaal suddenly finds himself in a capsule at a US base where he discovers his mission is to enter the body of a dead passenger and find the perpetrator before he can strike again.
The second outing from Ducan Jones, the director of science fiction drama Moon, may be a lot more accessible for the masses compared to its artistic predecessor yet it still succeeds in setting up an imaginative, compelling scenario. The sense of mystery as Gyllenhaal repeatedly travels back to the same eight minutes (in the style of Groundhog Day) is kept up, and the viewer gradually learns more and more along with our protagonist.
The performances are all solid and Gyllenhaal is given excellent support from not only Monaghan but also Jeffrey Wright and Vera Farmiga, who adds a level of sympathy and likeability to her character. Things do take a somewhat cheesy turn towards the end; however the narrative is solid enough to make us overlook such glitches.
Source Code may have its weaknesses yet succeeds in captivating the viewer and hence is a solid engaging experience.
Film nerds will stir in their nests, disturbing the mountains of cinema stubs they have pointlessly collected as they thrash around in anger at the news of Bradley Cooper allegedly being picked to play the lead role in the remake of The Crow. I imagine.
Some might wonder why they’re bothering to revamp this cult revenge thriller which is largely famous because Brandon Lee, son of caterwauling Chuck Norris botherer Bruce, died during its filming. The answer is that they’re doing it to accrue the piles of cash that you’ll grudgingly hand over to watch it.
Cooper isn’t confirmed for the role officially, but some executive chatter has suggested he has a shared vision with the remake’s director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Presumably that vision is of himself swimming in a bath of money, Scrooge McDuck-style, after getting paid for resurrecting a film which I’d happily keep coffined in a crypt with other improbable classics.
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The trailer for lupine meathead Taylor Lautner’s first lead role in a movie away from the Twilight series has been released.
Abduction sees him dicking around with an iPad before discovering that he is not the typical American boy that he had always thought. Instead he is some kind of Bourne-lite spykid or something, abducted as a child and raised by imposters. Learning this leads to him being chased by a shady government agency while he tries to find his real parents and pop his cherry with a token female sidekick.
It seems like the kind of film which might have featured Shia LaBeouf a couple of years ago and the whole thing is not likely to win Lautner any new fans. See if you think it will appease his teen and twentysomething female audience by watching the trailer here.
By Stephen Bain
When one thinks of romantic dramas, the works of Philip K. Dick do not normally come into mind. However this rather unique mix provides the basis of the story. Part political thriller, part science fiction and part love story.
For the first forty minutes we see our star Matt Damon running for political office and experiencing a sudden down-turn in popularity due to the revelation of an incident during his college days. During this time he bumps into Emily Blunt in a men’s room and the two have an instant attraction to one-another, however a group of shady men in hats seem determined to break these two apart.
Damon and Blunt prove to be an exceedingly likeable couple and succeed in holding the film together, and the concept also provides a decent amount of intrigue without relying heavily on guns and explosions (in fact I cannot recall a single gun being fired).
However it’s difficult to shake the somewhat contrived nature of the plot. The romance at times feels rushed and could have developed over a longer period of the film. Additionally the philosophical speeches about free will and the right to choose come off as hammy rather than compelling. This is partially due to the presence of Terrance Stamp, who can pull the “mysterious” man off so well that it almost comes off as a caricature.
Nonetheless, Bureau offers a refreshingly different take on a somewhat established genre.
By Stephen Bain
The nerdy homage to popular culture continues in Paul, the third film from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – the creators behind Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.
The “Paul” of the title is a coarse but ultimately loveable alien voiced by Seth Rogan (frankly who else). Pegg and Frost play two English science fiction nerds who stumble across the stranded alien whilst on a road trip across the States.
Nods to previous, beloved films in the science fiction genre are prevalent; we get cameos from the likes of Sigourney Weaver and Steven Spielberg as well and some less-than-subtle dialogue. As ever Pegg and Frost make an entertaining double act. Seth Rogen is less annoying than usual and succeeds in making his character rather likable.
However the film is a step down from both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The distinctly English, small scale charm of those films is this time adapted to satisfy the American market. Instead of the quiet English villages we get the vast American landscape. The humour is diluted to encompass a very different American life-style. Subsequently the inevitable “clash of cultures” routine occasionally emerges with the duo encountering red-necks or naive creationists. Similarly crude references to drugs and cursing often take the place of genuine wit.
Both science fiction fans and fans of the Frost/Pegg duo should be satisfied, however people expecting a repeat of Shaun of the Dead may be slightly disappointed.
By Hayley Thorpe
When ‘The Tree Of Seasons’ was originally described as Harry Potter-esque, I wasn’t sure it would be my sort of book, as I’ve never really read anything fantasy before.
I wanted to read it as it was penned by the late Stephen Gately, formerly of Boyzone.
Stephen had been working on the novel for the past few years up until his death. Thankfully he’d worked out the ending and had told husband Andrew how it would end.
‘The Tree Of Seasons’ captured my imagination, with each page gripping my attention and concentration. I sat there constantly saying “just to the end of this chapter” and then I wanted to know more and more as time went on.
The story of Josh, Michael and Beth Lotts takes the reader on an adventure into the woods after they witness bright lights in the dark. Intrigued to know what it could be, the children decide to investigate.
Little do they know that they’ll be transported to another world where many of their dreams and nightmares become reality. Could their enemy be disguised as their aunt?
‘The Tree Of Seasons’ is just that - a tree that covers all of the seasons. But beyond the magical tree, these four seasons each hold a kingdom belonging to Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. But how would you feel if you were constantly in Winter?
Stephen’s fans, friends and loved ones can see his cheeky, fun-loving nature on every single page. It’s sad to think that he made a wonderful writer but we will never get the chance to read any more. He has penned a fantastic fantasy story that could have had additional novels full of new adventures.
Resident expert Joe West on THAT rumoured Lethal Weapon franchise…
Living doll Anne Hathaway is probably going to be exposing all seven feet of her teeth after learning that she’s got a role in the next Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movie, titled The Dark Knight Rises.
Hathaway is playing Catwoman and her uncostumed alter ego Selina Kyle. Nolan has managed to sap the campy nature out of other badguys and it is likely he’ll pull the same trick when the movie arrives in 2012. UK luvvie Tom Hardy is also confirmed as insane beefcake Bane, which means he’ll be able to bring more of what we saw in Bronson to the screen and complete the double-header of evildoers that Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne has been accustomed to facing thus far.
The sceptic in me thinks that this trilogy almost certainly peaked with The Dark Knight but at least the filmmakers are not trying to resurrect Heath Ledger’s Joker by using Johnny Depp, as had been previously suggested by fans. If anyone can prove me wrong its Mr. Nolan, but I’ve got higher hopes for Arkham City, the upcoming sequel to Arkham Asylum. Sadly it’s a videogame and so not directly comparable.