Month: May 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Imagine yourself a filmmaker who has several successful television shows and you’ve created a single movie that made far more money than it probably should. What do you do next? Take a break? Just keep up with the TV shows? How about putting yourself in the leading role of your next feature, even though you’re not really an actor? Well, that’s what Seth MacFarlane’s done with A Million Ways to Die in the West, a film which he leads, directs, produces, and co-wrote. Perhaps MacFarlane had too much control this time around. I say that only because the character he plays, our film’s lead, is about the only one with anything to do for the entire two hours for which A Million Ways to Die in the West plays. This is a long comedy, but it is so very lacking in plot and characters (and jokes, really) that there isn’t a whole lot to hold your interest. A few misses are permissible in a good comedy, but I laughed fewer than five times during this one. And I liked MacFarlane’s Ted! (Although I’ll admit I liked it less than most people seemed to.) MacFarlane plays Albert, who begins the film by chickening out of a gunfight and breaking up with his long-term girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfreid). He gets depressed. And then along comes Anna (Charlize Theron), who becomes his...

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Maleficent (2014)

I don’t really know if Sleeping Beauty needed to be re-told again, but if we’re going to get one, at least the one we get is like Maleficent, which delivers a different take on the classic story. This time around, the point of view from which we watch is Maleficent’s, and that delivers a more sympathetic approach to the storytelling. In this version, the “evil witch” of the story is a sympathetic, multi-dimensional character, while the true villain is that of a power-hungry king. Aurora — the soon-to-be “sleeping beauty” — is more of an afterthought. Hey, at least it’s doing something different. The film opens with a young Maleficent as the largest and most powerful of all the faeries in the forest kingdom called the Moors. The kingdom is at war with the humans, so isn’t it a surprise when a young boy named Stefan appears and the two become quick friends. But, years pass and eventually Stefan becomes close with the king. After a failed conquest of the Moors, Stefan (now played by Sharlto Copley) is tasked with killing his former friend. Instead, he drugs her and then cuts off her wings as “proof,” saving her life in the process, but the film really doesn’t want to dwell on that or even make you consider that. Now, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) turns to the darkness. She puts on...

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The Grand Seduction (2014)

I’m entirely unsure of how The Grand Seduction, a Canadian comedy which is a remake of an earlier Canadian comedy, will be seen outside of its home country. For a lot of the time, it really does feel like a “Canadian comedy,” not one that will appeal to those who don’t have the kind of background to allow them to “get” many of the jokes. There is some universal appeal here, I’m sure, and it was absolutely hilarious to someone like me (a Canadian), but I just don’t know how it’ll translate to those overseas, or even in the more southern American states. Here’s the story. The 120 people who live in the small town of Tickle Head are sick of collecting welfare checks and doing nothing with their lives. There’s a chance for them to get a factory built, which will bring enough jobs for everyone. Unfortunately, the business who wants to build the factory requires the town to have a doctor. Tickle Head has no such doctor. After a series of events, one is found for a 30-day trial period, during which time the townsfolk hope to endear themselves to him in hopes that he’ll stay as a permanent town fixture. The man behind this plan is Murray (Brendan Gleeson), who essentially becomes the town mayor after the previous mayor runs away to work in the city....

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Spring Breakers (2013)

SPRING BREAK FOREVER! Labelled as ‘THIS YEAR’S MOST OUTRAGEOUS WILDEST FILM’, Spring Breakers is a movie experience like no other! Directed and written by ‘indie’ director Harmony Korine (Trash Humpers, Gummo), the film tells the story of 4 college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine) who rob a restaurant so they can go on Spring Break. After days of partying, drinking and taking drugs they are arrested but then soon bailed out by a crazy drug and arms dealer (James Franco). After spending time with their hypnotic new friend, it starts to become unclear of how far the girls will go to experience a Spring Break that they will never forget. You will either love or hate this film- if you are familiar with the director’s previous work then you will probably understand and appreciate not just the story but the editing, audio and just how beautiful this film really is. After watching this, the factor that you will definitely never forget is James Franco’s outstanding performance. The way he executes his role of Alien is tremendous so much so that in 10 years’ time it will probably be looked at as iconic; he really transforms into a rapping, drug-dealing gangster. Let’s not forget the 4 girls (2 of which are ex-Disney starlets) who impress also. Out of them all, Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place, Getaway)...

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Maleficent (2014)

THE MAGNIFICENT MALIFICENT  (By Daniel O’Connor) Disney’s greatest and most fearsome villain has been resurrected in this brilliant fantasy adventure. Directed by newcomer Robert Stromberg, the film re-tells a story that everyone knows and loves (‘Sleeping Beauty’) but reveals the truth behind the iconic Disney villain. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) wasn’t always evil- she was once a young fairy who would do anything to protect her kingdom. This was until she was betrayed by man-kind which turns her heart to stone and brings out her dark side. Maleficent puts a terrible unbreakable curse on the King’s new born daughter, Aurora (Elle Fanning), which she soon comes to regret later on in life. Maleficent starts to realise that Aurora may be the solution to peace in the land and is forced to take extreme actions to bring everyone together. This film finally gets the ‘fairy-tale gone dark’ genre correct – we have seen disappointments from ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, ‘Red Riding Hood’ and so many others but now we have a film that passes with flying colours! The CGI used is really believable and is quite beautiful to look at, transforming a simple forest into a magical kingdom. Fairies, goblins, dragons, weird tree-men…You name it, there are so many mystical creatures in this film and they all look outstanding (which is quite rare). The costume department should also be praised...

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