Friday, November 29, 2013

Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor (Nick Hurran, 2013) Review

I'm back! Yeah! And what a way to kick off my return with a review of...something that is technically not a film but on the other hand it could perfectly qualify as one (well, it defines the dictionary definition of both 'film' and 'movie'). The main reason being that, if you are a big Doctor Who fan like me, you could see it in the cinema...and I did. The 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who was shown in cinemas so it certainlly qualifies. So what about my 'Top 10 Films of 2013' list...well it would have to be qualify before we even argue about it.

The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) are summoned to UNIT's base in London in order to investigate a painting of the destruction of Galifrey, the Doctor's homeworld. Time portals open to reveal the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) hunting down Zygons in 18th century England and the Doctor during the Time War, known as the War Doctor (John Hurt), having to make a horrific decision. The three Doctors band together to not only stop the Zygons from taking over present day London but to also make sure that the War Doctor makes the correct decision.

I think the first thing that came to mind when watching this is that it reminded me how great David Tennant was in the role and it's excellent to see him return. Matt Smith certainly proves his worth this time around especially if you weren't that convinced by him before hand. Lastly, John Hurt just seems like an actor who will never lose his touch. The three work off each other very well and it's good to see the film make use of side characters such as Clara too. The writing has definitely improved from the series, especially considering that this is a Steven Moffat script which are usually convoluted and a bit too much. The 'film' benefits from a feature-length run time and definitely feels like an actual Doctor Who movie.

I do have a few complaints however. While the primary story about the War Doctor is great, the Zygon sub-story starts off fine but is dropped completely towards the end. We never see an outcome or any kind of resolution to it. I can also see some people getting annoyed by the portrayal of Elizabeth I but it didn't really bug me that much as she did come in handy in the second half. This is a personal point but I do think that we needed more characters for the 50th Anniversary. You could argue that the episode Journey's End was grander but the second half of Day of the Doctor makes up for this with a spectacular finale for one of my favourite cinematic moments this year. I was also a bit miffed at how small of an appearance Billie Piper makes

The Day of the Doctor is a pretty damn good way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. The three leads compliment each other very well and work off each other, leading to some great moments (both spectacular and hilarious). The writing is much stronger than the actual show and, while it does have some flaws, was worth watching in the cinema. If I saw this on TV, it would probably be a 7/10 but the grand spectacle of it on the big screen earns it an extra 0.5 as well as one of the best cameos this year next to Thor: The Dark World (not Stan Lee) and a great ending.

A cinematic treat. There are some flaws regarding sub-plots but the surprisingly good writing and great acting makes for a memorable movie event.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Parenthood (Ron Howard, 1989) Review

I know I've been failing on the quantity of reviews recently but there are plenty of reasons why...or just one but, hey, let's just get this show on the road. Considering that there are plenty of films out in the cinema that look's time to talk about a film that came out more than 20 years ago...yeeeah, I'm sure I'll get to the cinema eventually...Gravity looks pretty good...

Gil Buckman (Steve Martin) is a father of three with his wife Karen (Mary Steenburgen) who has to deal with his problem childern, his 'black-sheep' brother Larry (Tom Hulce) and being a likable father and providing for his kids. He's not the only one having parent trouble as his realative Helen (Diane Wiest) has to raise her two kids after her husband abandons them. Her daughter is bringing home what seems like a sleeze and her son is very distant. Lastly is Nathan Huffer (Rick Moranis) who has to deal with his estranged wife while making sure his daughter is a straight-A student.

I admire what the film is doing. I enjoy it when films have multiple characters and stories to develop them. It's refreshing to see multiple narratives that run parallel to each other yet are still connected and cross-over every now and then. This means that we get some genuinely engaging with likable characters who the actors do justice. The heart-warming story is assisted by good humour and good character development (the ending to Larry's story is...heart-breaking yet sadly realistic). It's runs on realism and making the situation relatable.

The film is well-written and uses humour well yet still manages to make a heart-warming story. Diane Wiest is probably the stand-out actor in this film along side a surprisingly deep role from Keanu Reeves. Steve Martin brings his usual routine that he has perfected and it's good to see Rick Moranis play against type by NOT being a pathetic dweeb. The ending is bitter-sweet to say the least but it ends the story with most of the loose ends tied up.

Parenthood was a good surprise and one of the stronger films that fall within Steve Martin's usual routine. It does what it sets out to do by delivering a heart-warming story with good acting (with an brilliant performance from Diane Wiest). I could see how this film is relatable and creates a realistic family setting. Next time, I'm sure I'll get round to reviewing a modern film...or a film that rocked my mind...I really don't know what happened for that last 2 hours...

A well-written, heart-warming story that uses humour and realism to make a relatable and enjoyable flick.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (Alan Taylor, 2013) Review

I think it's safe to say that it hasn't been the best of years for films (we were spoilt last year with greatness) and my evidence for this being that the last film I saw in the cinema was Pacific Rim...that was back in July. Now it's November and I finally got around to watching a new film in the cinema and the next in line in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.

After the events of Avengers Assemble, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is brought before Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and is sent to the Asgard dungeon for the rest of his days. Asgard can't rest easy though, as a threat from Asgard's part, Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston), for as returned to find a powerful energy known as the Aether. Back on Earth, Jane Foster (Natatlie Portman) learns about portals found in London which lead to a realm known as The Dark World where the Ether is kept. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) takes Jane with the Ether back to Asgard to find a way to harness it and stop Malekith from reeking havoc.

One of the biggest complaints about the first Thor was that people just wanted all out action rather than a fish-out-of-water story with Thor getting his powers back. This is the Thor film those people wanted as it is just all out action (with a very unique fight scene which I've heard being described as Portal meets Mortal Kombat...Portal Kombat). This, however, means that it takes a while to REALLY get started as it just seems dull to begin with. The second half is excellent though and the settings are nicer (London is much nicer than New Mexico...did I just say that out loud?) and it's very nice to see more of Asgard (although I was expecting to see more of Thor's friends but there is somehow LESS of them than the first film).

When Avengers Assemble came out, the character that exploded in popularity was Loki so it was expected that he would return as a main character but I didn't expect him to be the best thing about the film. Tom Hiddleston proves that he can still keep up a great role and gets better every time and leads to some of the films funniest moments (one of which features one of the best movie cameos I have ever seen). Malekith was mixed for me. He has a great design (and considering how impossibly stupid he looks in the comics, is saying a lot) and his powers offer a great fight scene but in terms of personality and voice, he isn't very unique (which is disappointing considering that he sounded better in the trailer).

Thor: The Dark World is not as good as the first film but damn is it close. The only thing that really makes it inferior is the dull first act but it makes up for it with a spectacular second half. The action is great (mostly thanks to a very unique fight sequence), it looks very impressive for the most part, the characters are still as we remember them and is a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While not as good as the first, it captures what Thor does best and makes for some unique moments and great action.

Also stick around for the's a Marvel film, I shouldn't have to tell you that now.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Road to El Dorado (Eric Bergeron and Will Fin, 2000) Review

Have you noticed that people like to use the word "under-rated" even when a film statistically isn't under-rated? The misusing of the word is what I'm getting at. I will admit I have some films I like that are under-rated (based on imdb and Rotten Tomatoes). This also marks my first traditional animated Dreamworks film review which means that there may be some good films on the horizon like The Prince of Egypt but let's take a look at the only Dreamworks film to never make a profit...The Road to El Dorado.

In 1519 Spain, two swindlers called Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (Kevin Kline) cheat their way through a game of dice and end up wining a map leading to the fabled city of gold, El Dorado. After being found out, the two find themselves on the ship of Cortez (Jim Cummings) who decides to make them slaves on their voyage to Cuba. Miguel and Tulio break out and find themselves on an desert island where they find El Dorado itself. Upon arriving, they are thought to be gods by the citizens and keep up the facade to steal their gold and pull off the biggest scam in history.

Why must we live in a world where awful films like Shark Tale made a profit and yet this film didn't. Why do I say this. Because I think that this is one hell of a film. The film lends itself to traditional animation in order to capture the cartooney yet realistic style that fits the film so well. The idea behind the film was to make an animated film that didn't focus on a hero and instead put sidekick-esque characters in the leading role and it makes for two very likable and memorable protagonists. Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline share such a strong chemistry like that of John Goodman and Billy Crystal in Monsters Inc. and make Miguel and Tulio that much better characters. Even the villain, Tzekel-Kan, manages to escape being generic and with Armand Assante hamming up the performance. 

Arguably the film's strongest aspect is the music. This was to be expected considering that it's provided by the same team behind The Lion King's legendary soundtrack. Is it on the same level? If it isn't, it's pretty damn close. The main theme starts the film off with a magnificent and triumphant bang with other songs doing what songs in films SHOULD do, convey the emotions of the characters like 'Friends Never Say Goodbye' does. While it is a little bit odd that the characters sing one song themselves and leave the rest up to Elton John's non-diegetic songs but 'It's Tough To Be God' is so damn catchy that it's easy to forgive. Even the background music is magnificent with the talented duo of Hans Zimmer and John Powell.

It really saddens me that The Road to El Dorado was a flop because I would've loved to see more from Miguel and Tulio (well, as long as Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline stayed on board). It puzzles me as to why is was a flop or why it's currently under 50% on Rotten Tomatoes (THAT really perplexes me). With very memorable and likable character accompanied by top notch voice acting, an absolutely amazing soundtrack (both vocal and background) and beautiful animation (with maybe one or two moments of CGI that sticks out). The Road to El Dorado is one of the many reasons why I miss traditionally animated films but it's sure as hell better than most animated films in recent history.

Such a magnificent film and easily one of Dreamworks best. Why it flopped...I have absolutely no idea.