50/50

It Takes A Pair To Beat The Odds

Director
Jonathan Levine

Starring
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Seth Rogen
Anna Kendrick
Bryce Dallas Howard
Anjelica Huston



Every year TVs and cinemas across the world are flooded with dramas, sometimes even comedic dramas focusing on cancer. Why cancer? Because it’s the only thing killing the human race off with astonishing effectiveness and almost everyone knows someone who’s been affected. It’s perfectly acceptable if you haven’t noticed, the majority of them are absolute dross. Now, a cynical individual would suggest that such films are largely created for actors to shave their heads, cry and grab an award or two and for studios to make a great handful of cash – I’m sure this isn’t the case for all of them but with so many crap flicks flooding the market, the movie industry has become quietly saturated by cancer films. 50/50, however, is different. Not only that, it’s a profoundly beautiful piece.

The film opens with a brief introduction to Adam Lerner [Gordon-Levitt]; a completely average young man, maybe a little more insecure than most, his modern-art producing girlfriend, Rachael [Howard] and his loutish best friend, Kyle [Rogen]. Everything is completely normal up until the point that Adam consults his doctor about a back pain he’s been suffering from for some time. Sitting calmly with the consultant, Adam falls into a trance the second the word cancer slips from the doctor’s mouth. From here on he’s bombarded by awkward conversations, over-compensating friends and family as well as countless individuals patting his shoulder and muttering, “It’s going to be fine”. To help Adam cope with his diagnosis, he is recommended a therapist, Katie McCay [Kendrick], who is in fact three years younger than him. As Katie is still in training and Adam is only her third patient, the first few sessions are incredibly uncomfortable and seem to have little effect. As the story progresses, Adam’s emotional state subtly fluctuates and he loses many inhibitions, growing increasingly frustrated by his situation and how people have to ‘deal with it’.

I think the first thing to say about this film is that it is agonisingly real and almost unbearably credible. Through a combination of exceptional performances all-round, steady direction and a beautifully cutting screenplay, 50/50 feels… completely real. I think every critic would agree that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance is breath-taking, seemingly ‘doing’ so little and yet conveying so much with this flawless thousand yard stare. Then there’s Seth Rogen’s performance (which is more a re-enactment of his own actions when screenwriter Will Reiser was actually diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer) which is, well, everything you’d expect from a Seth Rogen role layered with an incredibly touching sincerity. The other supports are a little more two-dimensional but equally impressive. Bryce Dallas Howard has somehow managed to really hone that self-important bitch role – curiously enough, that’s actually a compliment – Anna Kendrick seems to almost channel a less confident Tina Fey – again, compliment – and Anjelica Huston wholly embodies the overbearing mother who simply wants to help, despite taking care of her Alzheimer’s stricken husband.

From a technical standpoint, Levine has produced a very strong release with carefully arranged shots that no doubt accommodated a great deal of ad-libbing and spontaneity, whilst capturing everything you’d expect from a major motion picture. The pacing and structure are glorious, ensuring the entire one hundred minutes progress without dragging or rushing Adam’s journey. Additionally, the choice of location (Seattle) was surprisingly commendable, providing a cloudy backdrop of city skylines, suburban house-rows and picturesque mountain ranges. On top of all that there is a deliberate but wholly natural growing suspense and up until the film’s conclusion, you feeling a rising tension in your gut as you quietly ask yourself that horrendously morbid question.. is this character going to die? And, honestly, you care; which, to me, is the greatest effect a film of this nature can hope for.

Unfortunately, this film isn’t perfect and there are a few tiny negative elements that niggled at me. Firstly, every tick-box cliché that I would usually berate a lesser release for has been explored here. I realise this may be an obsolete statement as it’s heavily grounded in a real experience and at no point feels forced but the film still pads itself with familiar developments and characters – they’re just better represented here than anywhere else. Secondly, we have that atypical folk/indie score that I simply can’t stand. From television ads to independent cinema and sitcoms everywhere, we’re being constantly hounded by hemp wearing fuckers with acoustic guitars, warbling on about some bollocks in the most tedious manner under the delusion that their lack of emotion is the most emotional expression one can produce. Twats. I appreciate it’s certainly fitting for this film and works extremely well at times but on a personal level, I hate it.

As stated in my final summary, this film is one of many dealing with the subject of terminal illness but so few have managed to really nail that perfect combination of humour, heart, sorrow and sheer rage as delicately and entertainingly as 50/50. I don’t care if you’ve had cancer, know someone who has or even know someone who knows someone with cancer, it doesn’t matter, this film is about how we as a species deal with the reality of death and for that reason alone, everyone should watch this.


Release Date:
25th November 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Spoilery spoilers within**
There are so very many outstanding scenes ranging from heart-wrenching to hilarious so singling out one instance in particular is quite tricky. I think the scene I enjoyed the most was Kyle arriving unannounced at Adam’s house to show him a blurry photo on his mobile of Rachael with another man. The exchange that follows is not only wonderfully written but amazingly acted, reminiscent of something you’d see in a play, with characters sitting, standing, leaving the set, coming back and all the while talking over each other. I may have over hyped this very simple exchange but it’s one of those moments that highlights the stellar acting, writing and direction.

Notable Characters:
As stated above, each performance is notably brilliant for various reasons, with each actor providing a truly memorable role. But to say anything other Joseph Gordon-Levitt is phenomenal would be criminal. If I’m honest, I would say 2011 has been a good year for film and for box office revenue but a little sparse when considering truly exceptional performances. As such, when the awards seasons roll round, you can’t help but say “Of those available, this was the strongest.” Not here, with 50/50 Gordon-Levitt has given us a truly spectacular performance and in my mind, the finest of the year.

Highlighted Quote:
“I would like to present to you what I am going to call Exhibit Whore! Look at it! That’s Rachael and that’s a fucking filthy Jesus-looking motherfucker and they’re kissing! I did it! I fucking nailed you! I’ve hated you for months and now I have fucking evidence that you suck as a person! Holy shit!”

In A Few Words:
“I’ve seen a lot of shitty ‘cancer films’ (trust me, there are tonnes) but 50/50 is simultaneously touching, funny and thoroughly grand”

Total Score:

5/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #59

[20 November 2011]


Winning Team:
Guess Uhura’s Coming To Dinner

Genre – Chekov and Sulu embark on a series of first dates only to have each one ruined by Lt. Uhura and her randy sugar daddy, James T. Kirk, with hilarious consequences

Runners Up:
The Undiscovered Country & Western
Genre – William Shatner’s renditions of classic country songs in his unique style
Jungle Book II: The Wrath Of Shere Kahn
Genre – A harrowing tale of jungle based revenge
Kobayashi Morons From Outer Space
Genre – Mel Smith captain the Enterprise in a disastrous Starfleet training movie
The Firm
Genre – John Grisham is Star Trekkin’ across the universe
Star Trek: The Wrath Of Chaka Khan
Genre – Disco-fuelled documentary about a fight at the Capital Records studios. Chaka-Chaka Khan!
Star Trek XII: Breaking Wind
Genre – A Twilight sci-fi vampire flick with flatulance


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What type of animal is Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
RABBIT
2. What is the title of the sequel to Gremlins?
GREMLINS 2
2. What was the title of the 2002 film featuring Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter? [bonus point for the full title]
THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE
4. The Last King Of Scotland is set in which country?
UGANDA (I will accept Africa, despite it being a continent)
5. Which Lord Of The Rings character called the one ring his ‘precious’?
GOLLUM / SMEAGOL [bonus point for stating Bilbo Baggins]
6. Which actor plays the role of Jason Bourne in the Bourne series?
MATT DAMON
7. Which Pixar film was released with the poster tagline, “After 700 years of doing what he was built for, he’ll discover what he was meant for”?
WALL-E
8. Who played King Arthur in 1995’s First Knight?
SEAN CONNERY
9. Which actor has quoted the following lines: “I could’ve been a contender, I could’ve been somebody” and “You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder for money”?
MARLON BRANDO
10. Who directed Tokyo Story? Akria Kurosawa or Yasujiro Ozu?
YASUJIRO OZU
11. Which year saw the release of Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid and Footloose?
1984
12. Monty Python released four feature-length films, name them. (one point per correct answer)
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT / THE HOLY GRAIL / LIFE OF BRIAN / THE MEANING OF LIFE (Live at the Hollywood Bowl and Almost The Truth not accepted)

ROUND II: Filming [Even numbered Star Trek films Special]
1. What is the name of the villain in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan?
KHAN NOONIEN SINGH (alternatively KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!)
2. What are the names of the captains of the Enterprise? (one point per correct answer)
JAMES T. KIRK / JEAN LUC PICARD (arguably, also Cpt. Spock)
3. What was the title of the last film in the Star Trek continuity before the J.J. Abrams reboot?
NEMESIS
4. Which alien race (or collective as they’re not really one race) is the main villain in First Contact?
THE BORG
5. Which US city do the Enterprise crew return to in The Voyage Home?
SAN FRANCISCO
6. What is the name of the matter reorganising device in Wrath Of Khan?
GENESIS
7. What breed of whale is the probe trying to communicate with in The Voyage Home?
HUMPBACK WHALE
8. Which British actor plays Picard’s clone, Shinzon, in Nemesis?
TOM HARDY
9. Which two cast members directed Star Trek IV and VIII? (one point per correct answer)
LEONARD NIMOY / JONATHAN FRAKES
10. The title, The Undiscovered Country, comes from which Shakespearean play? [bonus point for what it refers to]
HAMLET [Death]
11. What class of starship is the Enterprise-E (as seen in First Contact and Nemesis)? Olympic? Sovereign? Galaxy?
SOVEREIGN CLASS
12. Toward the end of production on The Undiscovered Country, Kim Cattrall and a photographer snuck on the set of the Enterprise bridge and took several nude photos, none of which survived because Leonard Nimoy caught them and destroyed the camera in a fit of rage. True or False?
TRUE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What was the last narrative film to be shot entirely on 70mm film (specifically Panavision Super 70)?
HAMLET (1996)
2. What three colours are the tour cars/jeeps in Jurassic Park? (one point per correct answer)
GREEN / YELLOW / RED
3. How many roles does Cheech Marrin play in From Dusk ‘Til Dawn?
THREE
4. Ulysses Everett McGill, Pete Hogwallop and Delmar O’Donnell are characters from which film?
O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
5. Falling Down: As a retirement prank, Sgt. Martin Prendergast’s fellow policemen fill his draw with what?
SAND
6. The quote “Here come the pain” is from which Al Pacino film?
CARLITO’S WAY
7. What is the name of the go-kart that the He-Man Woman Haters Club enter into the annual go-kart race, in The Little Rascals?
THE BLUR
8. What did J. Lee Thompson direct after The Guns Of Navarone?
CAPE FEAR
9. In About A Boy, Will Freeman attends a SPAT support group. What does SPAT stand for?
SINGLE PARENTS ALONE TOGETHER
10. What were the titles of the four sequels to Child’s Play? (one point per correct answer)
CHILD’S PLAY 2 / CHILD’S PLAY 3 / BRIDE OF CHUCKY / SEED OF CHUCKY
11. Which 1951 Robert Taylor swords-and-sandles flick featured uncredited cameos by Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren? [bonus point for naming Mervyn LeRoy’s feature debut]
QUO VADIS [Little Caesar]
12. Die Hard takes place on what day?
CHRISTMAS EVE / 24th DECEMBER

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What does Jessica Tandy’s character dub the machines in *Batteries Not Included? Fix-its? Tiny technicians? Repairmen?
FIX-ITS
2. Which of the following composed the score for Titanic? Jerry Goldsmith? Carter Burwell? James Horner?
JAMES HORNER
3. In Lucky Number Slevin, what does Slevin’s surname (Kelevra) mean in Hebrew? Good cat? Bad dog? Small fish?
BAD DOG
4. Which French actor’s breakthrough role was in Mathieu Kassovitz’ La Haine? Andre Dussollier? Vincent Cassel? Jean Reno?
VINCENT CASSEL
5. Gojira (Godzilla) is a hybrid of Gorilla and what other word? Whale? Lizard? Lion?
WHALE (Gorira and Kujira)
6. In Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Ryu kidnaps Yu-Sun to pay for his sister’s transplant. What organ does she need? Kidney? Liver? Heart?
KIDNEY
7. What name does Mulan take when posing as a man, in the Disney film of the same name? Zhou? Ping? Li?
PING
8. The following is a quote from which James Dean film: “I guess there’s just a certain amount of good and bad you get from your parents.. and I just got the bad”? East Of Eden? Rebel Without A Cause? Giant?
EAST OF EDEN
9. What is Salvatore’s nickname in Cinema Paradiso? Toto? Burro? Torus?
TOTO
10. During the ‘space jockey’ scene in Alien, what did Ridley Scott use instead of the regular actors to make the set seem larger? Forced perspective? Children? Puppets?
CHILDREN
11. Bollywood is often incorrectly used to refer to all Indian cinema, when it is in fact a term used for the Hindi language film industry in which city? Delhi? Bangalore? Mumbai?
MUMBAI
12. A sequel to 1973’s The Sting was released ten years later called The Sting II. True or False?
TRUE

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART I

Forever Is Only The Beginning

Director
Bill Condon

Starring
Robert Pattinson
Kristen Stewart
Taylor Lautner



Thank you! After increasingly positive reviews for the Twilight sequels, I can finally go back to ripping this shit to shreds. With its terrible direction, hammy acting and atrocious script, Twilight was pitiful escapist nonsense but at least it had great comedic value, Breaking Dawn on the other hand, is hopelessly boring. I cannot stress this enough, NOTHING HAPPENS! Making this final instalment a two-parter was probably the biggest mistake of the entire saga.

So after all the drama of the last three films, Bella Swan [Stewart] has set a date to be married to vampire Edward Cullen [Pattinson], on the condition he turn her into a vampire after their honeymoon. Naturally, this knowledge infuriates werewolf, Jacob Black [Lautner] who still feels that Bella is throwing her life away. The ceremony takes place, as does the honeymoon, shortly after which, Bella discovers she is somehow pregnant with a lethal immortal child that’s growing at an exponential rate; fearing for Bella’s life, Edward brings her home. As her condition deteriorates, the wolves plot on how to destroy the unholy abomination child with only Jacob and the Cullens standing in their way. See? See that? That’s a neat breakdown of a simple fifty minute premise! You don’t need two fucking hours to tell that! What we end up with is terrible structure and pacing, overly indulging in a forty minute wedding, forty minute honeymoon and forty minutes of actual plot.

Before I dissect this beast, let’s quickly run over the positive elements. Carter Burwell’s return was rather positive for me as I’m not only a fan of his work but his score is one of the only good things about the first instalment. Unfortunately, other than a nice return of the original theme, there’s no real opportunity for him to stretch his legs and we’re served up rather bland incidental music. As ever, Billy Burke as Bella’s grumpy almost uncommunicative father is both a source of amusement and a light break from the pap churned out by the leads and Taylor Lautner still manages to come out with a fraction of credibility, despite the ridiculous set-ups and appalling dialogue. Finally, there’s the gaunt/skinny CGI enhancement to give Bella that afflicted anorexic look, which was incredibly impressive throughout.

With that out of the way, it’s time for a spoiler happy breakdown of the entire film, scene-by-scene. Before the wedding, Edward visits Bella to reveal some last minute details about his ‘true nature’ – having spent three films whining about it, you’d think he’d be out of examples. Despite the fact it’s nicely filmed, the Edward flashback is nauseatingly stupid with refrains of “I’m a monster, Bella” only to be quickly batted away with the justification that because he was only taking the lives of murderers, it was perfectly acceptable. Then we get the first dream sequence – yep, first – which, I dunno, is supposed to show Bella’s concerns about becoming a vampire. Standing at the altar, she looks back and notices the red petals scattered down the aisle are now in fact a river of blood, as she stands atop a pile of corpses like some grim cake decoration. As with all Twilight films it’s impossible to read the facial expressions and emotive glances so fuck knows if she is supposed to be hurt, confused, scared, concerned, aroused or whatever by this. So the actual wedding takes place and it’s littered with abysmal cliché nonsense, starting with Bella’s apprehensive walk to the aisle, in which she looks like she’s trying to hold off explosive diarrhoea. Then she sees him. Edward. At the altar. And the world makes sense and everything’s good and she strides confidently and blergh. At this point we’re probably about twenty or thirty minutes in and still waiting for the film to start. Instead the plot moves on to a rather embarrassing reception, littered with moronic speeches (granted, Billy Burke’s was funny), outlandish dancing (vampires love to dance, foolish mortals), indecipherable expressions and Maggie Grace among the extras, she’ll no doubt play a large role in the next part. Then Edward leads Bella into the woods for her wedding gift.. which turns out to be Jacob. This scene actually runs without incident until Bella subtly implies she’s going to allow Edward to make love to her… I say “allow”, she’s been heavily pushing for this since the first film. Jacob becomes infuriated at the potential of vamp loving (seemingly more so than her opting to become a vampire, proving it’s all about the sex) before being dragged off into the woods by his wolf buddies.

*pause to get my breath back*

I understand Rio de Janeiro as a honeymoon location, with the exotic nightlife sparkly boy could hideout and have a good time with his young bride. But then they take a boat to a private island. Which I sort of understand as well, maybe they’re aiming for secrecy so he can be his sparkly self on some private beach. Right? Nope. Unlike the other films, there’s not one sparkly diamond-skinned scene in this entire film, despite the fact they spend several weeks in South America, or as its better known ‘the land of no sun’! But suddenly it doesn’t matter and everything that came before becomes instantly irrelevant as you start to realise it’s time for sex. After a lot of awkward shuffling and preparation, Bella and Edward finally get to rut to their heart’s content. And it’s fucking horrifying! I have a strict belief that sex scenes in films are always limited by the fact they can’t show anything and as such they’re usually unrealistic, badly filmed failures, or as I like to call them, “fleshy sadness piles”. After all the abstinent-heavy subliminal messages and “I’ll hurt you” speeches, they finally go at it and it’s so fucking ecstatic that Edward rips the bed in half within the first two seconds, no doubt due to the fact that he’s probably a premature ejaculator – cemented by Bella’s condescending, “It’s alright”, a classic film cliché. The next morning, Bella awakes among the devastation and stares herself down in the mirror, remembering every second of their passionate night. Enter a moody Edward, who reveals the various bruises on Bella’s body and refuses to penetrate her again as a human – which is actually quite funny. Their little holiday continues with a lot of chess playing (sexy, sexy chess) and walks in the jungle, which leads to the second dream sequence: Bella defeats Edward at chess and nails him on the beach. But wait! It was just a dream! Oh no! How fucking terrible! Crying her eyes out, Bella begs and pleads for his dead icicle penis and Edward finally submits and they decimate the bedroom again. Every single second of this footage is a generic nightmare of writhing shoulders and rolling around nonsense that just bored the piss out of me. I’ll admit the start of the pregnancy stuff, the pro-life/pro-choice argument and the wolf pack politics (if you can call it that) are fairly engaging, so we’ll skip ahead a bit.

Despite all the “get it out of her” talk, Edward accidentally links with the baby using his psychic powers and everything’s shit again. Suddenly there’s talk of baby names (Edward Jacob and Renesme – for fuck’s sake!) and one of the weirdest birthing scenes in history. The last three major plot developments are filmed in exactly the same way with flash-cuts and montages of previous footage. The first is the birthing scene, which is quite impressive for how much they get away with in a 12a but that doesn’t negate the fact that he delivers the baby by eating it out of her womb! The second is Jacob’s imprinting on Renesme – I’ll admit it was better handled than I had expected it to be but it’s still a mind bogglingly lame concept, falling in love with a baby because it’ll be a hot teenager? For crying out loud. And finally there’s the Cullen/wolf fight which is probably awful – I say ‘probably’ because you can’t actually see anything. I appreciate it takes place at night but with super-speed vampires and CGI wolves all we have are dark blurs charging other dark blurs against a dark backdrop. And the final shot is Bella coming back from the dead, reborn as a vampire, again, heavily utilising voiceovers, flashbacks and montage clips of blood cells and synapses. To be honest, the whole thing ends very anti-climactically, topped off with a bold, wholly out-of-place credit sequence.

I realise this is only half a film and in the same vain as The Matrix: Reloaded, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I, it’s difficult to form a reaction on a story split down the middle. Having said that, Breaking Dawn is a shockingly bloated mess with the same weak narrative, the same unimpressive characters and the same dodgy one-liners. I appreciate no one’s hoping to snare newcomers with this release but I can’t help but assume the decision to cut the last book into two releases was a purely financial one.


Release Date:
18th November 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
What else can I expand on after that massive one and a half thousand word tirade? Hmm.. I liked the monk’s reward. Michael Sheen’s brief reprisal of the campy vampire leader Aro was amusing.

Notable Characters:
As always I found the wolf tribe acting far superior to the vampire acting (for the most part), most notably by Booboo Stewart and Julia Jones who play Clearwater siblings, Seth and Leah. As with most positive points in the Twilight films they are far from perfect but work well with what they’re given.

Highlighted Quote:
“I know how this ends and I’m not going to stick around to watch”

In A Few Words:
“Combining all the flaws of the last three films with a skull-fuckingly boring story that takes a good hour to actually get off the ground, Breaking Dawn is by far the worst of the Twilight films so far”

Total Score:

1/5

IMMORTALS

The Gods Need A Hero

Director
Tarsem Singh

Starring
Henry Cavill
Mickey Rourke
Freida Pinto
Luke Evans
Stephen Dorff



Despite the fact he’s only made two films before Immortals (one of which being simply ‘alright’), I’m quite the fan of Tarsem Singh’s work. The man has such a keen visual eye for uniquely breathtaking cinema that any other flaws simply evaporate. I’m not saying they’re not there, just that you don’t seem to worry about them. No doubt Immortals will receive a great amount of negative press but of the recent big budget swords-and-sandals flicks (namely Troy, 300 and Clash Of The Titans) this is probably the strongest.

Set in an extremely stylised version of ancient Greece, Hyperion [Rourke], the King of Crete, has set out to conquer the known world as an act of vengeance against the gods who stood by while his family suffered and died of plague. His ultimate goal appears to be cementing his place in the history books by obtaining the legendary Epirus bow, releasing the titans and essentially ruling the world. In order to acquire the bow, Hyperion must first enslave the only individual who can locate it, a virgin oracle named Phaedra [Pinto]. At the same time, Hyperion’s army marches toward a village where a young peasant, Theseus [Cavill], resides. Theseus’ only real understanding of the world is his duty to his mother – the goings on of life outside are almost irrelevant. With the army approaching, the town is evacuated in order of class; meaning the peasants will be escorted with the second caravan. Before they can leave they are betrayed by one of their own embittered defecting soldiers and Theseus’ mother is killed. Theseus himself, unable to prevent her death is captured and put to work in a mine. Before his arrival he meets with the thief Stavros [Dorff] and the enslaved Phaedra. Sensing there is some great destiny surrounding the choices Theseus will make in life, Phaedra prompts Stavros to help her escape on the condition he includes Theseus. Whilst all this is happening, we are introduced to the gods watching from Mount Olympus. As much as he has faith in Theseus becoming a leader of men, Zeus [Evans] refuses to interfere and issues a decree that any god caught directly intervening will be put to death.

The first thing to really get out of the way is the historical accuracy and the artistic licensing with the characters. Much in the same vain as 13th Warrior, Immortals is less concerned with telling an exact adaptation and more a unique interpretation of events that would eventually become the myths we are familiar with. Once you understand this, all the nagging little inaccuracies and liberties taken seem less problematic. Personally, I felt the story was a beautiful portrayal, told in an extremely interesting and engrossing manner, mixing the realistic with the arguably plausible. The most notable element being the representation of the gods and titans as incredibly powerful, agile, glowing beings, rather than the toga wearing giants we’re more accustomed to. Everything about their on-screen presence screams pure majesty and when they eventually release their full potential, the effect is stunning; equally, the titans feel more like a dangerous feral tribe rather than lumbering beasts. But as ingenious as this decision is, it also robs the film of a vast epicness that audiences have come to expect – even though this is the first thing people complain about when watching mythological blockbusters. In other words, by making everything largely credible and as realistic as possible, the magnanimous feeling that comes with an ancient epic seems absent.

The performances aren’t particularly groundbreaking – namely because most of the characters were relatively 2D and formulaic for their archetype – but that’s a standard hazard with this genre. The only actor that really seems weak or underwhelming is Freida Pinto. In a similar role to Caroline Aranha in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, she looks lost throughout the film, only really shining at a handful of key moments. In the movie’s defence, I liked that she was a reasonably helpless maiden, if only because it bestowed some semblance of historic and character realism – I hate the need to make female waifs as strong as their male counterparts solely because it’s fair or whatever. The oracles’ personal guard being skilled warriors? No problem there. The oracle being a badass with a blade? I would have grumbled. But I digress. Henry Cavill’s performance fits neatly for the role and he does a commendable job but all I kept thinking was, “Can he play Superman?” The answer is yes, by the way. Mickey Rourke’s contribution as Hyperion is also interesting if only because he conveys a more sinister and threatening side than I’ve seen from him as an antagonist. For a time you understand his frustration and rage but his methods are so brutal that he is genuinely quite frightening. Outside of the leads, Dorff fulfils the cocky sidekick role with ease and the gods provide decent support; a lot of the remaining cast are just filler but they still manage to compose themselves decently throughout.

Tarsem’s biggest flaw (as far as critics and cinemagoers are concerned) is his inability to match storytelling with spectacular visual sequences; as such, no one will say a negative word against the cinematography, costumes, make-up, sets or artistic choices but they’ll still bitch that it was slow, boring or stupid. I am a fan, so I may very well be a biased party but I have to disagree, Immortals is a good combination of luscious visuals, reasonably paced story, spectacular action sequences and decent performances. I will however state that the score by Trevor Morris (known for his work on The Tudors) left a lot to be desired. There was enough to match the on-screen entertainment but in making the radical elements a little more down-to-earth, the score should have been dramatically elevated. Also, this is the first film where the 3D effect didn’t overly blur or spoil the picture – I still think it’s a gimmick, so I rarely report on 3D versions in my reviews but care has been taken to ensure the 3D illusion is achieved without compromising the finished product. Naturally, this film will not be for everyone, you’ll have the overly opinionated proclaiming it violent, inaccurate and cliché, whilst those expecting a second 300 will say it’s dumb, wordy and boring. My opinion? See it.


Release Date:
11th November 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
I bloody hate sex scenes. Unless you’re going for something incredibly graphic it just comes off as unrealistic pap. Being male, you’d think I’d cheer every opportunity for nakedity and grinding but it feels so out-of-place and stupid in films that it really slows the pacing down. I appreciate they ‘needed’ a sex scene in this film but I really haven’t seen anyone get it right.. well, not in a film rated 15. Outside of that little gripe, anything featuring the brazen bull was brilliant. For those unfamiliar with the history behind it, it’s a horrifying reveal, for those who know exactly how it was used, its on-screen presence is terrifyingly ominous.

Notable Characters:
Both Cavill and Rourke provide respectable on-screen performances but Luke Evans as Zeus is something to be noted, if only because Zeus is almost always portrayed as an old bearded man. It’s refreshing to see each of the divine beings played by beautiful svelte youths with exceptional speed, agility and strength without sinking into that weird MTV territory. I wouldn’t necessarily say any of the gods’ performances outshone the leads but it’s one of the only aspects of casting which could have gone hideously wrong. Thankfully this is far from the case.

Highlighted Quote:
“During times of peace, the sons bury their fathers, but in war it is the fathers who send their sons to the grave. Are we at war, Father?”

In A Few Words:
“Like the majority of Tarsem’s work, Immortals won’t please everyone but it is without a doubt an exceedingly beautiful piece of artwork”

Total Score:

3/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #58

[06 November 2011]


Winning Team:
X-Men Second Class

Genre – Same as the first film but with less leg room

Runners Up:
Kes Anderson
Genre – Uplifting drama in which a hawk with an incredible eye for cinemtaography in the avian world, hits the big time
Dial M For Merde!
Genre – A verbatim drama detailing the conversations of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel (starring Warwick Davis and Klaus Kinski)
The Life Asthmatic With Wheezy Sue
Genre – Story of revenge against a killer inhaler
Fantastic Dr. Fox
Genre – Animated political drama
Flushmore
Genre – A shiteological horror


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Superman II features which superhero?
SUPERMAN
2. What is the most song well-known song from White Christmas? [bonus point for naming the two lead actors who play Bob and Phil]
WHITE CHRISTMAS [Bing Crosby / Danny Kaye]
3. Who composed the score for Jaws?
JOHN WILLIAMS
4. What colour is Danny’s car (Greased Lightning) in Grease?
WHITE
5. What is the name of Julie Andrews’ character in The Sound Of Music?
MARIA
6. What colour is the corpse bride’s skin in the film of the same name?
BLUE
7. What kind of animal is Hidalgo?
HORSE
8. Who played the title roles in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin? (one point per correct answer)
GEORGE CLOONEY / CHRIS O’DONNELL
9. What was the title of the second James Bond film?
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
10. The Searchers, Rio Bravo and The Quiet Man all starred which actor?
JOHN WAYNE
11. Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey were regulars in which film series?
CARRY ON
12. In what year was The Towering Inferno released?
1974

ROUND II: Filming [Wes Anderson Special]
1. What is the name of the fictional famous diver in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou? [bonus point for correct spelling]
STEVE ZISSOU
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the book by which author?
ROALD DAHL
3. The Darjeeling Limited tells the story of how many brothers?
THREE
4. Who plays Royal Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums?
GENE HACKMAN
5. In what year was Bottle Rocket (Anderson’s debut film) released?
1996
6. Who is the only actor to star in every Wes Anderson release? Bill Murray? Owen Wilson? Jason Schwartzman?
OWEN WILSON
7. What exactly is Rushmore?
A SCHOOL
8. In Fantastic Mr. Fox, what is the name of Ash’s cousin?
KRISTOFFERSON
9. Which Anderson film features the characters Max Fischer, Herman Blume and Rosemary Cross?
RUSHMORE
10. What was the name of the short film that appears before The Darjeeling Limited? [bonus points for naming the two actors who star in it]
HOTEL CHEVALIER [Jason Schwartzman / Natalie Portman]
11. How does Steve Zissou describe the shark that killed his best friend in The Life Aquatic?
JAGUAR SHARK
12. During filming of The Royal Tenenbaums, the hawk used to play Mordecai was kidnapped but as the production schedule couldn’t wait for the bird to be returned, they just used another one. True or False?
TRUE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Which five actors play the medical students in Flatliners? (one point per correct answer)
KIEFER SUTHERLAND / JULIA ROBERTS / KEVIN BACON / OLIVER PLATT / WILLIAM BALDWIN
2. What is the Iron Giant’s last line in the film of the same name?
SUPERMAN
3. The entire cast and crew of The African Queen suffered from severe dysentery, except for John Huston and Humphrey Bogart who lived almost exclusively on a diet of what?
WHISKEY
4. Which actress was born Norma Jean Mortensen?
MARILYN MONROE
5. How many academy awards has John Williams won?
FIVE
6. Which is the higher grossing franchise, Harry Potter or James Bond?
HARRY POTTER (7.7 billion / James Bond 5.1 billion)
7. Which animated film holds the Guinness world record for 399 swear words, 199 offensive gestures and 221 acts of violence?
SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT
8. Who composed the score for The Omen?
JERRY GOLDSMITH
9. This year, John Carpenter released The Ward, his first film in ten years. What did he direct in 2001?
GHOSTS OF MARS
10. Who directed Bill Cosby in 1990’s Ghost Dad?
SIDNEY POITIER
11. What does Navin name the dog in The Jerk?
LIFESAVER
12. How many different mask designs (excluding the CGI mask) were used on Halloween H20?
FOUR

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following made the most money at the box office? Gone With The Wind? Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs? The Godfather?
GONE WITH THE WIND (Gone With The Wind 390mil / Snow White 370mil / Godfather 268mil)
2. What year was Straw Dogs released? 1962? 1967? 1971?
1971
3. Which brother is the first to get into a fight in the barn in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers? Adam? Benjamin? Caleb?
ADAM
4. Who directed the 1996 Robin Williams film, Jack? Martin Scorsese? Francis Ford Coppola? Brian De Palma?
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
5. Who was the first recipient of the Disney Legends award (Disney’s annual hall of fame award)? Fred MacMurray? Julie Andrews? Roy E. Disney?
FRED MACMURRAY
6. Which character does George C. Scott play in The Hustler? Bert Gordon? Minnesota Fats? Eddie Felson?
BERT GORDON
7. Which musical instrument is Charles Bronson known as in Once Upon A Time In The West? Banjo? Whistle? Harmonica?
HARMONICA
8. The following is a quote from which Woody Allen film: “A relationship, I think, is like a dead shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies.. and I think what we got on our hands here is.. is a dead shark”? Annie Hall? Manhattan? Bullets Over Broadway?
ANNIE HALL
9. The last scene of La Vie En Rose is set in which Parisian music hall? Bobino? Theatre Mogador? Olympia?
OLYMPIA
10. What film did Roger Michell direct after Notting Hill? Enduring Love? Changing Lanes? The Mother?
CHANGING LANES
11. What was Robin Williams’ feature film debut? The World According To Garp? Good Morning, Vietnam? Popeye?
POPEYE
12. Joel Schumacher’s latest film, Trespass (starring Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman), recently broke the record for longest box-office presence (i.e. length of time in cinemas). True or False?
FALSE (after doing so badly, it was out on DVD just eighteen days after it was pulled from cinemas, setting a new record for fastest cinema-to-dvd release)