Monday, 2 September 2013

Pain & Gain (2013)

Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Action
Rating: 15

From the second Mark Wahlberg uttered the first few pointless opening lines, including the cringe-worthy “I believe in fitness”, I knew I was going to dislike this movie. Funnily enough, by the same closing line “I believe in fitness”, a lot had changed. Not only did I now hate the movie, I had also lost a small but precious part of my soul and approximately 500 brain cells. This film was all pain and absolutely zero gain.

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie are three rather stupid bodybuilders in Florida, who try to kidnap and murder a rich customer from their regular gym in an attempt to steal his finances and make themselves richer. You can kind of see what Michael Bay was trying to achieve here, by bringing a (shockingly) true story to life and simultaneously hoping to create a comedy that mocks all cliché films about the American dream and being the best that you can be, however, this idea fails to translate. What is instead created is a shambles of a film that makes the audience both cringe and howl at the ridiculousness of it all. Witty and charming is what they were going for, but messy and embarrassing is more like it. I found myself frequently covering my eyes – whether that be to protect myself from the graphic and unnecessary amounts of gore and violence, or the stupidity and desperation for laughs.

There are few good things in Pain & Gain, including moments of rare and genuine talent from Anthony Mackie, and an Ed Harris role (albeit, a disappointingly small one). Perhaps even the barbeque scene (you won’t believe your eyes) gathered a few real laughs… however if The Rock’s acting career wasn’t already down the toilet, then it most definitely is now. As for Wahlberg? Maybe he should reconsider showing his face in public ever again. Harsh, yes, but fans of Ted know he can do comedy, and avid watchers of The Fighter know that he can also act. This movie has taken a good five years from his career, which is an honest shame. You can do better than this Mark.
To put it simply, Pain & Gain is an embarrassment to cinema. Although many may find some entertainment from the terrible performances, dodgy plot and try-hard direction, most will wonder where the past two hours of their lives went. That’s just my opinion, but to quote the film: “I watch a lot of movies… I know what I’m doing.”


The World's End (2013)

Director:  Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman
Genre:  Comedy, Sci-Fi, Action
 Rating: 15

 On paper, The World’s End sounds like the most ridiculous idea for a movie that anyone could ever imagine: five middle-aged men reuniting in their old hometown of Newton Haven to complete the 12 stop pub-crawl The Golden Mile that they never finished as teens 20 years ago, only to find that the town’s residents have been replaced by ink-blooded robots – or “Blanks”. The ‘five musketeers’ reluctantly become the human races’ only chance for survival. Yes, it’s all very ridiculous, but what’s even more ridiculous is that it still works, and this of course relies on the famous and much loved comedy duo at the forefront of this silly tale – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul).
The World’s End marks the third instalment of the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’ (a joke only fans of the duo will understand) following the critically acclaimed Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz - tough acts to follow indeed - and manages to yet again create the perfect blend of laugh-out-loud humour, loveable characters, recite-able quotes and slapstick comedy. Simon Pegg is brilliant as the rowdy and haywire Gary King who is determined to complete the Golden Mile no matter what, despite his exasperated friends – the sensible and begrudging Andy (Nick Frost), the pathetic and kind Peter (Eddie Marsan), the pretentious and boring Oliver (Martin Freeman) and the competitive and fun-loving Steven (Paddy Considine).
All five characters are very Dad-like which makes this film a perfect watch for the blokes, however it is so hilarious that anybody over the age of 15 would enjoy it. It may be unimaginably silly, but with films like this you can’t take them too seriously – they’re just a bit of light-hearted fun - yet with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s ingenious script-writing skills, there’s an underlining intelligent wit that will have the audience in stitches.
The World’s End is a film suitable for anyone with a sense of humour, and for fans of Pegg and Frost it is a 10/10 must see. Dramatically compelling, mildly thrilling and hysterically funny, this comedy sci-fi is a tremendous end to the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy.

World War Z (2013)

Director: Marc Forster
Rating: 15

Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay), Drew Goddard (screenplay), Max Brooks (novel)
Genre: Thriller/Action/Drama
The Zombie phenomenon is much like the zombie plague itself: once bitten, there’s no going back. With films like Shaun Of The Dead and 28 Days Later or TV shows like The Walking Dead, our generation is hooked on something that was once a kooky idea from some mad daydreamer but is now a cultural obsession that rakes in billions worldwide - the terror of the undead.
What is interesting about World War Z is that it may be the first proper zombie blockbuster that Hollywood has truly seen; with Brad Pitt at its forefront, an overactive hype surrounding its release and a billion dollar budget. It is worth mentioning that this budget for sure did not go to waste, as World War Z ticks all the boxes needed for a zombie thriller.
Marc Forster enraptures exhilarating suspense from the word go, immediately launching into the action sequence and subsequent introduction of these highly rapid, insanely ravenous and dangerously infectious creatures. From this moment on, the anticipation never really ceases and leaves the audience permanently on the edge of their seats, as we follow courageous family man and former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt), as he becomes re-employed solely to help find the cure of this lethal zombie-creating disease - facing obvious terror and near-death experiences on his quest.
World War Z definitely seems to be more of a thriller than just a typical zombie film – which is a refreshing change. The movie plays less on the glamourized gore and grossness of the zombie itself (perhaps this is sad news for hard-core zombie fans?) and more on the traumatic impact and terror that this frightening unknown disease has on the world. You could say Max Brooks’ novel of which the film was based, tells the most accurate story of how a zombie apocalypse would pan out in reality - these zombies are fast, and what’s worse, is that there is a lot of them - and their numbers are fast increasing. It is the conquest of beating these creatures that drives the movie through to the end, with never ending intensity and heart-jolting jumps.
A dull moment is never to be found in World War Z. It is a quick, white-knuckle-turning rollercoaster ride of emotions, teaming well with a clever script and plot; in turn creating a brilliant film through something more powerful than just cheap thrills and artificial bloodshed.