The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) – A Review

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Synopsis: When faced with an electrifying enemy, Spider-man must juggle his abilities alongside his personal feelings with his love life and the unanswered questions surround his parents.

Main Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti

The Hype: The normal buzz surrounded this movie, as with all superhero films these days. Following on from the success of its reboot, the franchise moves forward with the story and took bucketloads at the box office, although not quite as much as the first film.

What I Thought: Unlike the first series of movies that had multiple bad guys, this time around they seem to have found a happy balance between onscreen time for them and the main storyline of Spider-Man. We get more of the back story of Peter Parker’s parents and why they left him, but we also have some epic battles between our hero and the main antagonist of the movie, Electro – played by Jamie Foxx. Andrew Garfield has been much better in the role and manages to inject just the right amount of comedy into his character to make it funny, but not ridiculous. The main part of the storyline that I was interested to see was how they dealt with the end of Gwen Stacy’s plot. I think they did it very well and although not done exactly the same way as the original comic, it was a fitting conclusion to this part of the story and very well filmed. I also liked the fight scenes in this film, some great slow motion stuff and they didn’t last for half the movie, unlike Man Of Steel. Director Marc Webb and the writers have got this reboot just right I think, 2018 until the next one though, that’s a LONG wait…

Conclusions: Great effects, good balanced storyline with more insight into the past and I look forward to the third part of the series. Certainly on a par with the first movie.

Smurfin’ The Web Rating: 4stars

Trailer:

The Railway Man (2013) – A Review

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Synopsis: A former British Army officer captured by the Japanese finds love, but has to exorcise the demons of his past and the events that took place while he was a prisoner of war all those years ago in World War II, in order for him to move on with his new life.

Main Cast: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, Stellan Skarsgard, Hiroyuki Sanada

The Hype: In the wake of the Oscars, The Railway Man got a little forgotten about and failed to live up to its budget. Of course, there is always the chance that it may get remembered for 2015’s Oscars, but I would guess that it is a little late in the day for that kind of thing to happen.

What I Thought: An excellent movie. Its theme of forgiveness is an evocative one and the cast do a grand job of bringing that to the fore. Nicole Kidman was a late replacement as Patti Lomax and I have to say that in retrospect she was probably a better choice that the original in Rachel Weisz. Based on the true story of Eric Lomax who wrote a book of his experiences as a prisoner of war, this film was an enjoyable but emotional watch and a lot of that emotion was portrayed onscreen by Jeremy Irvine who played the young Eric Lomax. You may remember him from the movie War Horse and he puts in a great performance here.

Conclusions: Evocative, emotional and worth a watch. Some great performances and an interesting storyline that jeeps you watching till the end.

Smurfin’ The Web Rating: 4stars

Trailer:

Lone Survivor (2013) – A Review

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Lone-Survivor-posterSynopsis: A special forces team sets out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in what would become known as one of the most valiant fights in modern warfare history.

Main Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, Ben Foster, Ali Suliman

The Hype: Made on a modest budget by today’s standards, this film generated some Oscar buzz and was actually nominated for two statues. Highly successful at the box office, the story is compelling enough to make people talk about it.

What I Thought: This is what Zero Dark Thirty SHOULD have been all about rather than the utter drivel that was served up to us. Lone Survivor is based upon a true story that is, as I already mentioned, compelling and an emotional roller-coaster that has you on the edge of your seat for pretty much the whole 2 hours. Nominated for two Oscars in the sound department, and its easy to see why; the sound was phenomenal in this film – really gripping stuff and far better than Gravity (which won the two Oscars). The facts of the story are amazing and the eventual outcome leaves you with a large lump in the throat, if not tears on your cheeks. If you are a war movie fan, then this will be for you. If you hated Zero Dark Thirty, then equally, Lone Survivor is for you.

Conclusions: An amazing story, with gripping action, great sound and leaves you learning a thing or two about, well, a thing or two.

Smurfin’ The Web Rating: 4stars

Trailer:

The Raid 2 (2014) – A Review

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Synopsis: Set a short time after the events of the first movie, our hero Rama goes undercover to infiltrate a crime family and bring down the thugs and corrupt police in Jakarta.

Main Cast: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusodewo, Oka Antara, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle

The Hype: From the reaction and critical response the first movie got, big things are expected from the follow-up film. With a bigger budget and a more experienced cast, you would think that this film would be out of this world considering the success of the first.

What I Thought: Let me first get this straight. I loved the first film. The Raid was both innovative and exciting to watch and kind of raised the bar for martial arts movies. The Raid 2 however, failed to excite me in the same way. I don’t know whether it was lost in translation, but to me the plot was very disjointed and the hunt for the corrupt policemen storyline very quickly became non-existent. This did spoil the film somewhat for me, but the action, the fight scenes and the violence are all just as present as in the first film, perhaps this sequel is even more violent.

Conclusions: A storyline which is disjointed and loses its way quite early on, but excellent fight scenes and violence aplenty make this a good watch, but a poor sequel.

Smurfin’ The Web Rating: 3star

Trailer:

Draft Day (2014) – A Review

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Synopsis: An NFL team manager has to decide who he is going to pick in the NFL Draft in order for his team to make a difference next season. Sonny Weaver Jnr has to balance the books, please the fans and the coach as well as his own personal goals. This will be one hell of a day.

Main Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Pence, Terry Crews, Tom Welling

The Hype: This was released just before the actual NFL Draft. Probably in an attempt to gain some more box office monies from bored Football fans during the summer months. It worked pretty well too, taking 3 times its meagre budget.

What I Thought: I love this kind of movie. It’s a similar type of film to Moneyball or Trouble With The Curve in its ideas and eventually its payoff, and although not a film worthy of Oscar recognition, it serves its purpose and fulfills the watcher satisfactorily. I enjoyed it and was pleased that it took you in a direction that you wanted it to go. Predictable, but sometimes that’s ok as you get what you pay for. I recommend Draft Day to sports fans, but anyone who like Moneyball will probably get a kick out of this one. Kevin Costner makes another welcome return to the screen and seems to be on a bit of a roll at the moment with a few films out this year and this performance does him no harm whatsoever.

Smurfin’ The Web Rating: 4star

Trailer:

Noah (2014) – A Review

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Synopsis: A retelling of the well-known bible story about a man given the task by The Creator to save all that is good in the world before it is destroyed by flood.

Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins

The Hype: Its been a while since a bible story was brought to the big screen (other than the Christmas story of course) and I guess this was as good as any to get the big budget treatment. Not a massive success in the box office though this one…

What I Thought: …and its easy to see why. Despite the cast which is really good, the film itself was pretty poor. There are bits in the story that I certainly don’t remember from being taught it as a child which did make it kind of confusing in places, particularly at the start but the jist of the story is the same. What let this down for me were the special effects. There are some real moments of shoddy workmanship that seem to have been just swept under the carpet in order for the film to make its deadline leaving me to take the opinion that this was just a paycheck movie for all concerned and that no real pride was taken in it.

Conclusions: Basically, it’s not exciting enough to keep your interest at its highest peak throughout the duration of the film and the special effects just made it worse in all honesty. I am sure there are some films on my hard drive that will easily beat this one in terms of enjoyment.

Smurfin’ The Web Rating: 2stars

Trailer:

X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) – A Review

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x-men-days-future-past-postersSynopsis: Wolverine is sent back in time to convince the younger Professor Xavier to help him stop Mystique and the dangerous path that she has put herself on in her quest for justice after many mutants have been killed in the war effort in Vietnam.

Main Cast: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage

The Hype: Since the series was rebooted, there has been much more buzz about the movies and this sequel was no exception. The first film was a huge success and I had high hopes for this movie from the very first trailer.

What I Thought: Great. It was as good as I thought it was going to be. The story is indulging and keeps a good high pace throughout. The special effects are also pretty decent and in particular a scene featuring the character Quicksilver. Apparently when this character’s look was released the comic fanboys went nuts. Personally, I am not quite that nerdy so it didn’t matter to me one way or the other and I really enjoyed his scenes in the movie. There is plenty of action throughout the film and the time travel aspect of the story means that you can pretty much wipe out the two sequels to the original movie from 2000, which of course is a very good thing, because they were crap.

Conclusions: Good story, great effects and the cast is yet again a collection of some of Hollywood’s finest. Definitely worth a watch and if you liked the first reboot, then you will enjoy this also as a natural progression in the saga. It will be interesting to see where they take it next.

Smurfin’ The Web Rating: 4stars

Trailer:

Because I’m Batman!….Again (Sigh)

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So this week brought us the first image featuring Ben Affleck as Batman and also the added attraction of the new Batmobile (albeit only the cockpit).

Oh my word! The amount of creaming about this photo that is going on over the internet is incredible. Personally, I don’t know what the whole hoo-ha is about. I actually think that the Batman vs Superman film is going to be a terrible film and yet another needless superhero movie.

I am almost done with the whole superhero thing, after so many disappointments recently. The world orgasmed over The Avengers – I hated it. That same fanboy world gushed over Iron Man 3 – I hated it. Yet again we see another reboot (WHY!) of the Batman franchise when the last reboot has only just finished and I can’t help thinking that it will be hugely successful, but I will indeed hate it.

Now please bear in mind that this is not any reflection on Ben Affleck, I was actually in his corner when it was announced that he would be playing the part of Batman when that same fanboy world that is now banging on about how cool he looks all cried NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

We shall see, and I will probably get around to watching it at some point when it is released, but I won’t be rushing out to the cinema and queuing for hours just to get a ticket before anyone else. I am more looking forward to the new TV show Gotham which is out this autumn which traces the origins of some of DC Comics most well know characters growing up in a city that has danger lurking around every dark corner.

Eurovision 2014 Final – Review & Conclusions

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It’s over, and this year it was yet another anti-climax when it came to the voting. Here are my reasons why.

This year was a very even final set of participants with no clear bad or good split in each half. The eventual winner Austria put in a superb performance, but so did many other countries on the night. I am sorry, but without that ridiculous beard, Conchita Wurst would NOT have won this contest. the gimmick appears to have paid off and I am very annoyed to be honest.

The booing of Russia was completely inevitable and fully deserved of course. The Netherlands? where did that come from, it was one of the songs that I hated the most and to finish in the top 3 was a real surprise. My favourite song Romania was nowhere to be seen and I was sad to see the UK finish so low and I think she deserved much better than the 17th place.

I almost got the top 3 correct with Austria and Sweden both finishing in the main positions. Armenia who I predicted would do well finished just outside in 4th place so I didn’t do too badly.

I still feel that the winning act was a novelty and for me it vilifies all the sceptics of Eurovision that just take the piss out of the competition. Just for once it should be a song and act that actually deserve to win it without the use of a gimmick. In my opinion Austria deserved to do well, but it wasn’t a winner for me and I shall just have to jar my disappointment once again and wait for next year’s batch of songs.

Until 2015, thank you all for reading my blogs and hope that we will meet again next year.

Eurovision 2014 Final – Preview & Predictions

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Its Grand Final Day! The time has come for these 26 countries to polish off their acts and make sure they are all ready for tonight’s final in Copenhagen. This year I actually think the contest is pretty wide open although there have been less songs that I have really liked this year which is different from most years.

I would say that the whole show is pretty even in terms of the draw. there isn’t a better half of the running order and I think that this makes it interesting in a number of ways. Traditionally in recent years, the winner has come from the second half of the set and around the 17th/18th position. This year, the favourites are split right across the draw. Austria go 11th, Sweden go 13th and Armenia and Romania are very early.

The UK, who are now 5th favourite at 9/1 are finishing off the show tonight going last and I think this is very favourable for us. This is a very pleasant change from recent years and I think that we will be quite high up on the left hand side of the scoreboard. I still don’t think its a winning song though, there are better.

I’ll give you a couple of top 3 possibilities that I think may happen by the end of Saturday.

  • Sweden
  • Austria
  • UK

Or perhaps we may see this final 3…

  • Armenia
  • Sweden
  • Austria

So a couple of possibilities there which are interesting, but I definitely think that Sweden will be there or thereabouts. The top songs are very equally matched in their own way. I don’t rate The Netherlands as a top 5 song, its sudden popularity may reach the top 10, but no further. I have been known to be very wrong before though, lol.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the final tonight, I know I will and I will be back on Sunday to report my review and thoughts on the proceedings of Eurovision 2014. Thanks for reading and good luck to your own countries if they have made it through to the final. I will be cheering the UK and Romania. =)

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