Tag Archive | Reviews

Review: Safe House

In our opinion. everything Denzel Washington touches (well, acts in) turns to gold. The Bone Collector, Man on Fire, Deja Vu…all extremely watchable because of Washington. His faultless performances never change and his youthful looks don’t either – and this is the same for latest action flick Safe House.

Washington plays rogue CIA agent Tobin Frost who is brought into a ‘safe house’ in South Africa. The safe house is under the care of young CIA agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) who has the responsibility of looking after Frost. But when the safe house is compromised and invaded by the enemy who are after Frost, both CIA agents find themselves on the run and dodging bullets.

The movie has been compared to the Bourne series, which is to be expected as the film shares the same cinematographer Oliver Wood. The comparison is unfair though as at no point does it try to be a Bourne film. Yes the CIA references and action scenes are both heavily featured, but the plot line and relationship dynamics are completely different. Both Washington and Reynolds play completely different characters and both form an unlikely on-screen friendship which lights up the somewhat blood-splattered screen.

The duo’s relationship is familiar and it’s probably because Washington often takes on the role of a mentor. Think him and Angelina Jolie in the Bone Collector and you’ll understand what we mean. The chemistry between Washington and Reynolds is great and the action scenes are very realistic – the car chase scene where Frost attempts to strangle Weston is particularly shocking. There are some gory scenes which are difficult to watch but this does add to the authenticity.

The setting, Cape Town, compliments the hectic and fast paced shots. The scenes are always packed with people and the dusty, busy roads make a good setting for the nail-biting chase scenes.

Safe House is quite different to other action films we’ve seen before. The fighting skills of both characters aren’t that of a superhero or even a super slick fighter. Both men fight realistically – sometimes winning and sometimes losing. The shaky camera work makes you feel like you’re there in the action but does have a tendency to make you want to vomit too. If you can hack a bit of gore and like action thrillers then you’ll like this.

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Review: The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a sexy political thriller that sees two of Hollywood’s hottest actors – Ryan Gosling and George Clooney – seriously impress in their very different roles.

Clooney plays democrat Mike Morris who is bidding for power in the presidential elections. Gosling plays his adoring press spokesman, Stephen Myers, a sharp-witted young shot who believes in Morris and the campaign. The team is headed up by Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Throughout the campaign Gosling’s character finds himself interacting with the opposition – much to the disappointment of his colleagues. What ensues is a story of corruption, deceit, suspicion and betrayal as everyone competes for power and media approval.

The cinematography throughout the movie is very clever and some of the shots are just plain pretty. The first scene sees Gosling’s character walking onto an empty stage to practice an election speech. The room is dark and eery and all you can hear is the static of the microphone and Gosling’s heavy breathing. It sets the tone for the movie well – the rest of the story is quite tense and unpredictable.

Clooney, although one of the main characters, unfortunately doesn’t get much screen time. When he does appear he gives his usual charasmatic performance but he needs a bit more of a role in order to make a real impact. Seymour Hoffman is fantastic as the campaign manager although we have to admit we miss his funny appearances in films like Along Came Polly.

The biggest star of the show is undoubtedly Gosling. He has exploded onto our screens recently and for good reason. He takes control of every scene he is in and you can’t help but navigate towards him when he speaks. The character is someone easy to relate to – he wants to make an impression but he also wants to do the right thing. This is of course sometimes difficult in politics and this is what the film displays best. It gives a real insight into the world of politics – where image and values are paramount.

The twists and turns throughout the film are really interesting and definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. If you’re even slightly interested in politics and its psychology then this is a definite must see.

Review: In Time

Justin Timberlake shines in his first lead role. He is so believable as a do-good rebel – it’s hard to remember that he comes from a teen-bopping boyband background.

Sci fi thriller In Time is a really interesting look at what the future could be. The story revolves around the theory that ‘time is money’. Quite literally. Currency has been replaced by time, with every member of society wearing a digital clock on their arm and earning time for every shift they clock in for. Most people who live in the ‘ghetto’ survive day-by-day whereas others give ‘decades’ as birthday gifts. Everyone starts earning time from their 25th birthday, and so everyone stays young.

The lead character is Will Salas, played by Justin Timberlake. Living in the ghetto with his mum (Olivia Wilde) Will works at a factory and usually only has a day on his clock. But one night he is given a gift – of 100 years – by a drunken man who he meets in a bar. The morning after he finds the guy timed out and a small note which simply says ‘don’t waste my time.’ Suddenly Will has years to play with and so, naturally, time slows down and he begins to enjoy the finer things in life. It all speeds up again though when Will, who is suspected of murdering his acquaintance, goes on the run and takes a millionaire’s daughter (Amanda Seyfried) hostage. They soon spark up a romantic relationship and go on a mission to distribute time to the poor.

Timberlake is very believable in this futuristic Robin Hood role. His character is relateable and has you backing him the entire way. The chemistry between Timberlake and Seyfried is also really sincere. Seyfried plays a rather different character than usual and she is almost unrecognisable in a fiery red wig. The two characters compliment each other well – he is tired of injustice and she is desperate to break free from her fathers empire.

The message of the film is quite clear too. It’s all about the rich taking things for themselves and limiting how much time the poorer members of society can earn. Although it is set in the future there are some scary resemblences to society today. Will we all wear clocks on our arms and pay for bread with time? We doubt it. Will there always be a struggle between the rich and the poor? Probably.

DVD Review: Green Lantern

Here at Screenscoop we love action films. Sit us down in front of a sci-fi marathon of explosions and intergalactic romance and we won’t budge from our seat. Not one muscle. But something unexpected happened when we sat down to watch Green Lantern – we couldn’t get up enough!

It could be because of the poor chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively or it could be because of the terribe CGI – either way we doubt we’ll be hitting the repeat button anytime soon.

On paper it should work. Ryan Reynolds plays hot-headed pilot Hal Jordan who, after witnessing an alien crash, is chosen to become a Green Lantern. By putting on a green ring he is able to fly, wear a spiffy superhero costume and fight evil. He’s also sworn into a group of Lanterns, The Green Lantern Corps, gathered together to fight evil, protect the innocent and maintain the Universe. Peter Sarsgaard plays professor Hector Hammond who joins the dark-side and tries to destroy the world, which Hal obviously has to stop.

The original DC Comics version is gripping and exciting but director Martin Campbell failed to bring this same sense of excitement to the screen. Most of the shots really do look like something out of a poor computer game. Noteable scenes include the initial alien crash landing and Hal’s first superhero act – using his ring to create a race track to divert an out of control helicopter from hitting a busy crowd. Reynold’s suit is also pure CGI which looks… fake. We know it is – but that’s not the point.

Although Reynolds is great as cocky Hal Jordan, the chemistry between him and leading lady Blake Lively is forgettable. Lively’s character is believable and her performance is good but the two together just don’t work.

Peter Sarsgaard is fantastic in his role and plays a brilliant enemy. He had us cringing at his big, veiny forehead and is almost unrecognisable.

Green Lantern certainly provides 114 minutes of escapism and premium popcorn chewing time but does it live up to expectation? Not really.

Review: Breaking Dawn Part 1

*Contains some spoilers – you have been warned!*

Picture the world three years ago. Very few people had heard of Bella Swan, very few girls fancied Edward Cullen and Taylor Lautner was merely a prepubescent boy whose one noticeable role was in a horrendous follow up to Cheaper by the Dozen. It doesn’t feel right, does it?

That’s because these days, due to the phenomenon of Stephenie Meyer’s book series, the world is full of ‘twihards’ and vamp fans who can’t wait to take another bite out of the popular Twilight franchise. And the latest instalment, Breaking Dawn, is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated of the bunch.

Twilight follows teenage girl Bella Swan and her vampire love interest Edward Cullen as they embark on a relationship. Breaking Dawn, the last in the series, explores their marriage and the beginning of their eternal life together.

The story so far is that the unlikely (albeit gorgeous) pair have fallen deeply in love, fought off some deadly enemies and – despite attempting a ‘break’ – have decided that they can’t live without one another. Breaking Dawn begins with the build up to Bella and Edward’s wedding. Both are as nervous as each other because, although Bella has asked to be turned into a vampire after the ceremony, she has also requested a ‘human’ honeymoon with lots of time in the bedroom. With Edward an almost indestructible vampire this, obviously, causes some complications and Bella becomes pregnant. The rest of the film follows their struggle during the pregnancy and leads up to the graphic birth.

If you’ve read the book you will no doubt be pleased with the film because every scene is true to it. The wedding scene is beautiful and is like something you might see in a Midsummer Night’s Dream, the honeymoon shots are delicate and addictive and the birth scene is… just as disgusting as you might imagine it.

The birth scene was shot with an equal amount of gore and distress but it managed to avoid being un-watchable. During shooting the baby was apparently covered in jelly and cream cheese to create realism and it certainly worked. The vampire cesarean will have you grabbing your face in disgust and the CGI used to create Bella’s malnutrition is frighteningly realistic.

Director Bill Condon has no doubt created the best Twilight film to date. He has managed to perfectly capture the excitement of the final book, create some of the most romantic scenes between Bella and Edward and he’s also ensured Jacob and the wolf pack’s relationship is fully covered. Some of the best scenes include the wolf pack’s fight and Jacob and Bella’s bittersweet wedding dance.

In short Breaking Dawn is a must see for any Twilight fan and has made the wait for the final chapter almost unbearable.

Review: Home Alone

This yuletide cracker never fails to get us in the mood! Macaulay Culkin stars as eight year old Kevin McCallister who accidentally gets left behind when his family embark on a Christmas holiday. Cue plenty of home alone mischief and festive fun.

The story begins at the McCallister’s house where the family have gathered to pack for their impending holiday to Paris. Following an argument with his older brother Buzz (who we want to punch in the face, by the way), Kevin is banished to the attic room for misbehaving and makes a wish for his family to ‘disappear’. In the morning the family rush to make it to the airport and accidentally leave the house without Kevin on-board. Later that morning Kevin wakes up to an empty house and the realisation that his dream has come true. Naturally he is excited and starts running around the house like an elf on Christmas eve – chopping down trees, riding on sleighs and…shopping for milk and eggs. But Kevin’s festive fun comes to a halt when two burglars – Harry and Marv – target the McCallister home and plan to steal all of the goodies inside.

One of the best moments of the film is when little Kevin mumbles the classic one liner: ‘This is my house, I have to defend it.’ From then on it’s an absolute treat to watch. Of course, it’s highly un-realistic that an eight year old boy could come up with the intricate traps that Kevin does, including a blow-torch door, but it’s so addictive to watch.

Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are fantastic as holiday crooks Harry and Marv. Every scene that the pair star in has bundles of slapstick comedy and some of their scenes even border on cringe-worthy. A particularly ‘cringe’ moment is when Marv has a tarantula placed on his bearded face – yuk.

The reason Home Alone is so magical is because it takes viewers back to their childhood. We see everything through Kevin’s eyes and, for an hour and a half at least, we get to giggle at some really strange things. How often do you see an imprint of an iron on someone’s face? Exactly. Classic viewing.

Review: Due Date

We all know that Zach Galifianakis is a genius actor – his wolf pack antics in The Hangover had (and continues to have) us gripping our sides in hysterics. But the hairy, chubby, funny-man excels alongside Robert Downey Jr in Due Date and, if it’s possible, had us laughing even more.

The plot of Due Date is very similar to classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It follows Peter Highman (Downey Jr), a business man who is desperately trying to get home to his pregnant wife. Enter Ethan (Galifianakis), an aspiring Hollywood actor who is obsessed with his deaf dog and his dad’s ashes – he even keeps the ashes safe in a coffee tin for the duration of the movie. Following a mix up at the airport the awkward pair are forced to embark on a road trip together to make it back to Los Angeles. What ensues is a hilarious mixture of arguments and punch ups that all begin to delay Downey’s character from making it to the birth of his first child.

What is so intriguing about Due Date is the chemistry between Downey Jr and Galifianakis. Sure, the characters aren’t supposed to be ‘made for each other’ but we were genuinely shocked at the casting – it was difficult to imagine these two stars working on screen together. But the casting is what makes the movie so watchable – you can’t help but empathise with Peter and (predictably) Ethan makes you want to punch your own face in sheer frustration at his stupidity. But the characters are so real and so likeable – it’s nice to watch their relationship unfold.

Particularly funny moments include Galifianakis’ character falling asleep at the wheel and driving the pair off of a bridge and the ‘rescue’ scene where Ethan dresses like karate kid and saves Peter. There are, of course, some awkward moments including the scene where Peter deliberates over emptying the coffee tin of ashes onto a highway.

Overall Due Date is a great exploration of friendship and really does challenge the concept ‘don’t judge a book by the cover.’ It’s a must watch comedy that’s a bit different from the rest.

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