The Vault – Ocean’s Eleven

oceans11

Last night I had the house to myself so thought it was only right that I browse the endless shelves of our DVD collection to find a film that I probably should have watched a very long time ago. With that in mind I stumbled across Ocean’s Eleven, having no idea of the plot or even the meaning behind the name of the film, I thought it was worth a shot.

It’s very rare that I have a shuffle of my top 10 films, but Ocean’s Eleven shot straight up there! I’m probably even going to go as far as top 5. It was brilliant and to be completely honest I’m pretty gutted I’ve only just seen it considering it came out back in 2001, I feel like it’s been a missing part of my life for the past 12 years.

It seems I was quite naive about this film, as I’m guessing it is pretty well known, probably by those who haven’t seen it as well, but my naivety only added to the joy of watching the film for the first time. I was a bit worried when George Clooney’s face appeared on the opening sequence, (I didn’t even know he was in it – I know what was wrong with me?) but the moment he opened his mouth he immediately rid any anxiety I had.

The meaning of the film soon became clear, and one thing I really enjoy is when a title has a relation to the film, and this couldn’t have been more perfect – I think finally understanding why the film was called ‘Ocean’s Eleven ‘ also cleared a cloudy area my brain has been struggling with.

Clooney and Pitt in one film – now that is a lot to deal with. In terms if hotness it’s like an olden day collaboration of Ryan Gosling and Channing Tatum. The only difference is that Clooney and Pitt scream MAN while the others scream more boy. However, the pair worked fantastically together, their chemistry with each other was clearly evident throughout the whole film, even the young Matt Damon did a cracking job up against such a high end cast. Other actors on the bill included Elliot Gould, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts.

I found Julia Roberts an odd choice for the female lead, every time she was on screen all I noticed was that she wasn’t walking well and it put me off. I also think my lack of fascination for her may have had an adverse effect on the charm she brings. I would have much preferred to see someone else as leading lady – although at present I can’t picture who.

Apart from my dislike of Julia Roberts in this role, I couldn’t criticise anything else. The film was easy to follow, if you listened well you would get the full enjoyment but I imagine if you only tuned in half way through you would soon pick up what was going on.  An aspect which did make me laugh however was how short the film was; with a tiny running time of only 116 minutes, these days that could be classed as a short! – Okay well maybe not quite but pretty soon I’m sure it will. I was worried that if I didn’t start watching half seven I wouldn’t be done, but no I was done by half nine and that had included a few toilet/drink breaks!

So it seems a good film can still be shot in a reasonable amount of time; good actors will timeless; and meaningful sequels do still exist. Now I need to watch Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen – watch this space.

 

Danny: Ten oughta do it, don’t you think?

Rusty: [Stares of in silence, not looking at Danny]

Danny: You think we need one more?

Rusty: [Silence]

Danny: You think we need one more.

Rusty: [Silence]

Danny: All right, we’ll get one more.

Rusty: [Blinks]

 

Skyfall – Kat’s Review

skyfall_post-650

I know Rach already covered this film when it first came out but I thought seen as I have only just watched it and have different views on the film I’d give my response.

I knew the commitment to watching the latest James Bond film was a big one, people had advised to watch it when I wasn’t nearing sleep, when I had a good length of time spare, when I had nothing else to do apart from watch and so after weeks of waiting for the optimum moment I committed.

As I write this I’m still unsure of where the hype came from. Yes it was the latest Bond film to be released so anticipation was always expected – but did it really deserve how much it got? People had been telling me that it was the best film they’d ever seen, the best Bond film by far, a breath of fresh air for Bond – but the whole time I was watching it, all I could think of was ‘how old does Daniel Craig look? He’s surely not going to do another one?’

Considering the film was released last year I was thoroughly surprised that the ending to the story had remained a secret to my ears – I must have been dead to the world to have missed it! But I’m very glad it did because if it hadn’t then it would have been pointless watching it.

The film itself had a feel of the older films; there were fewer gadgets, less big stunts and less of a storyline to follow. Usually when I watch a Bond film I spend the whole time trying to understand what’s going on, but for the first time I was able to follow what was happening. Even the Bond girl – if you could class Naomi Harris as the Bond girl in this flick) didn’t get her kit off!

After Bond escorting Her Royal Majesty to the Olympic Opening Ceremony I really thought the new film was going to epic – yes that’s a hard job to follow but Bond always pulls it out the bag, right? Sadly this time, I feel wrong. Better luck next time Bond.

‘Where the hell have you been?’  M
‘Enjoying death. 007 reporting for duty.’ Bond James Bond – Skyfall.

 

The Hobbit – Paper Edition

The Hobbit flat cover

With the release of The Hobbit soon to hit the big screen I decided that I could no longer put off the classic novel by J.R.R.Tolkien, so I added it to my Christmas list and finished it last night. I have mixed views. Okay, I have one view: it was so BORING.

Yes I know you are squealing with disgust at that last comment and quite frankly, disagree all you like. I accept that I am in the minority, going on the success trilogy’s franchise that precedes and the franchise alone for the Hobbit, I am aware that my views are not in line with society’s. I wanted to enjoy it, I really did -hence it making it to the Christmas list- but I just didn’t. I was willing the end to come, dwarfs kept getting into trouble and needed a hobbit’s help – that was it. That was all that happened. I was bored, bored of reading, but having to finish it just in case something amazing was going to happen which all the fuss was made about. But it didn’t, the amazingness didn’t come.

The beginning had a slight hook – I was intrigued as to how the adventure would unfold, but even now as I try to write this review I cannot recall in what order the events happened. I must say, I did enjoy the chapter with Gollum, but this may just have something to do with the fact that Gollum is a world renowned character from the franchise and I was just happy to recognise someone and finally be in with the crowd. I was also happy to find out where the ring came from – stocking up information for when I eventually see Lord of the Rings (yes, I know I should read them, but after The Hobbit I can’t quite face them).

Another downside I faced was the way the book was written, and I find this with a lot of books which have been written in a past time and republished for modern reading; the English. If you’re going to republish what you want to be a classic – please update the wording. Even I struggled to read some parts and this book is meant to be for kids?! Is there any need for phrases like ‘QUOTE’ why not just write ‘MODERN QUOTE’ and make it easier. I know I’m complaining about the trivial but it really does annoy me. Someone’s going to be proof reading it anyway, why not just change the needed bits to modern English?

So all in all, I didn’t enjoy the book and now I’m looking less forward to the film and the LOTR trilogy I have on my DVD shelf waiting to be watched. Maybe they’ll spark something and all will become clear.

 

The Witches – By Roald Dahl

As we go through life, we sometimes realise that there are key elements which we have missed form certain time periods of our lives, for example never joining the Brownies. For me, (it came as a not so pleasant surprise) it was the fact that as a child I was never big on reading, so I never read all of the classic children’s literature. But now that I am an avid reader (thanks to J.K. Rowling), I was browsing the shelves of a second hand book store and came across what I believed to be my favourite Roald Dahl book (one of the only ones I had read), The Witches, only to find when I started the first few pages that I had in fact got my books mixed up and I had never read the story; it had always been on my ‘to do by the age of 10’ list. So a decade later I thought it must be fate that this book has landed in my lap on a Sunday afternoon and so I took to reading it.

The story is truly delightful, but I had to remember when I was reading it, to read in the mindset of a child; that way it made it much more fun! The story is written from the perspective of a little boy and Roald Dahl has captured the character’s essence perfectly, with the target audience the clear thinking theme throughout. As I read I was picturing a small class of children listening intently and squirming as their teacher said words like ‘dog droppings’ and ‘poo’. The beauty of it though, which made for such lovely reading, was the fact that in no way could it be real. The story-line hadn’t been over-thought about; it was as if a child had come up with the idea and Roald Dahl had just written it down using grown-up words.

If you want something to read your kids at night, to a class full of small children, or to take you back to your younger years, then I would definitely recommend The Witches. My recommendation may be slightly biased as it is the only one I have read for a very long time, but it was a little drop of pleasantness in my adult life.

My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night. But ah my foes and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light” Roald Dahl

 

A Fire Will Rise – The Dark Knight Rises Review

Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to a spectacular end, bringing us a movie some of us (including me) have waited for since the very first trailer was released back in July 2011. After the phenomenal success of The Dark Knight, achieving rave reviews and breaking box office records, fans and critics waited patiently for the follow up. After a heavy marketing campaign with around 6 different trailers overall, the wait for finally over on July 20th (my 21st birthday no less) and I can honestly say I was not disappointed.

PLEASE NOTE there WILL BE SPOILERS!!! If you have NOT seen the film PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER! (But come back after you’ve seen it and post your comments)

The film has everything you expect from a Nolan Batman film: fantastic huge action set sequences including car chases and fight scenes; Hans Zimmer’s fantastic atmospheric score; the gritty, modern Gotham City and the gadgets and gizmos that have become familiar with this incarnation of Batman. Add to that Batman’s psychological anguish and trauma, played superbly by Christian Bale again and supported by an amazing collaboration of actors – both returning to the franchise and some new faces. A few thoughts on some of the main players

Christian Bale – Bale steps up his performance in this instalment showing a Bruce Wayne who still feels the emotional effects of the event of 8 years previously having lost his childhood friend and love Rachel, and the strain of Batman becoming a hated figure in Gotham. Wayne has lost his purpose and hung up his cape but has shunned public life in favour of solitude. When he re-emerges as Batman he is re-energised and Bale plays a character that is visibly happy at becoming his alter ego, even though it hurts those around him (specifically his butler come father figure Alfred). However, he meets his match in the form of Bane and Bale really comes into his stride in the latter half of the movie, playing a Bruce Wayne who is heartbroken to see Bane destroy the city he loves and everything he worked to accomplish with one fell swoop. Batman ultimately returns reinvigorated and ready to save Gotham one last time.

Michael Caine – Michael Caine showed his acting capabilities in this movie, playing an Alfred that was ultimately heartbroken at what the young boy he had become a surrogate father for had become.  Caine didn’t feature as heavily in this movie, as Alfred made the difficult decision to walk away from Bruce just under half way through the movie (a scene that is almost painful to watch).  But every scene the movie legend was in he stole, from comedic, dry one liner’s, to emotional beautiful speeches.

Gary Oldman – Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon is still majorly struggling with the emotional and mental strain of the lie of what happened 8 years previously as he is forced to praise the man who tried to murder his son and condemn the figure of Batman, for the ‘greater good’. Oldman again does a terrific job and proves he really is an acting legend. Gordon is quite the mentor for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake and the two have a great chemistry on screen. As others criticise Blake’s enthusiasm, Gordon is somewhat revitalised by it and Oldman plays the transistion between the exhausted and defeated Jim Gordon to Gordon fighting back when Bane takes over Gotham perfectly.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Speaking of JGL , the newcomer to the Batman movies really is a fantastic new addition, playing the rookie cop John Blake, who really does have amazing detective skills as early on he proves he knows the true identity of the Batman and what really happened to Harvey Dent. His ability to carry a character that is left as one of Gotham’s primary protectors in the wake of Batman disappearing was brilliant – he handled the action side of things well as well as the emotional moments (the scene with Gary Oldman as Gordon’s confession was read out by Bane was beautifully acted by both). I couldn’t help but be enthralled by Gordon-Levitt’s Blake and the characters endearing qualities and I think I walked out with a newfound love for the man.

Anne Hathaway – I’d like to first point out that Anne Hathaway is one of my favourite actresses-she is insanely talented and beautiful to boot (one of only 2 of my girl crushes!) So when it was announced she would be joining the cast I was thrilled. Although many had their reservations, I was walking in excited to see how the entire film would play out. Hathaway did not disappoint me and thoroughly laid her critics to rest with her performance. It should be noted that she is never referred to as Catwoman and she play a Selina Kyle that is not only sexy but strong, sassy, witty and confident.  The character had so many layers: from her sly introduction as a cat thief disguised as a maid, to her resourcefulness to get her out of a difficult situation (the scene where she shoots her way out of the bar, and then screams and cries helplessly to escape being arrested was brilliant!) She also showed emotion, as Selina took Batman to face Bane for the first time – the shots of her stood helpless behind the bars were heart-rending. A great addition to the cast as Nolan’s first female ass-kicker in the series.

Tom Hardy – Hardy’s incarnation of Bane had a high task of following the late Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as The Joker. However, the two villains are ultimately quite different and whereas Hardy does not have the same memorable effect as Ledger, he is still an excellent adversary. Although many critics have criticised not being able to understand Hardy’s accent, I heard every word very clearly, and enjoyed his choice – it was clear, succinct but also slightly reminded me of Darth Vader. He may not have the same psychotic approach as The Joker, but Hardy still scared the living crap out of me – I would not want to meet the man in a dark alley. The character’s voice, his stance and the way he walked exuberated confidence, and made me afraid for Batman even before those first blows.  Hardy was quite unrecognisable as the terrorist, mercenary who held Gotham hostage and did a fantastic job.

Marion Cotillard – Cotillard did a brilliant job as the deceptive Miranda Tate – charming and sophisticated on the outside but underneath  Ra’s Al Ghul’s child, born into the prison pit who climbed her way out and remained under the radar for most of the film (it wasn’t until just before that I began to think the trigger person was her, but on watching it the second time the little clues were there). The only criticism I can give is Cotillard’s slight awkwardness when performing the stunts and action sequences. Okay, granted she did only give birth two months before she started filming but I just wish she’s looked more comfortable doing the scenes.

It was also great to see a few other actors I recognised from various things –the delectable Burn Gorman (whom I recognise from Torchwood) playing the villainous Stryver and Josh Stewart (who is J.J.’s husband Will from Criminal Minds), as one of Bane’s main thugs Barsad. Additionally Morgan Freeman, Nestor Carbonell, Cillian Murphy and Liam Neeson return and reprise their roles respectively. This film’s assemblage of actors is a showcase of some of the best talent in today’s industry and is a stellar team effort.

(And as a side note – the boy who sings the national anthem before the destruction of Gotham begins gives a beautifully chilling performance that gave me goosebumps – a rather innocent image immediately contrasted by the chaos and fear that is felt as Bane takes control.)

Overall this film is on such an epic scale, with the last 45 minutes alone leaving me on the edge of my seat. It was action packed and full of explosions and chases and that giant fight scene on the steps was epic! The film kept a strong pace and was riveting, suspenseful, emotional and just an all-rounder, setting a standard as perhaps the film of the year.

The ending of the franchise was also extremely satisfying. I had a feeling that they had not killed Batman despite so many rumours that that was the case. I suppose in a way they did kill Batman, or at least Bruce Wayne’s version of Batman – as far as the people of Gotham are concerned Batman died saving the city and thus proved he really was a hero. However the ending saw that in fact (somehow) Bruce had escaped the Bat before the bomb went off and he now lived happily ever after with Selina. Alfred acknowledged him from afar and we saw Alfred’s dream of seeing Wayne happy and safe finally realised.  One debate that has emerged online regarding the ending is whether or not it is in fact an illusion of Alfred’s. Given Chris Nolan’s penchant for open-endings, the debate has started as to whether or not Bruce Wayne is actually alive. Even though this is an interesting idea, I think perhaps people are reading too much into it. For one thing, Alfred never really had any interaction with Selina, so why would he imagine she would be there? And also –you can see that she is wearing Wayne’s mother’s pearls in the final image and we do hear that they are missing from the itemised will. If you want to read more about the other side of the debate please read this or for a more balanced view read here 

We also had the major twist that John Blake’s real name was in fact Robin and the image of him swinging into the Batcave makes him the perfect candidate to take up the mantle when (and it is a case of when and not if) the reboot of Batman happens. Whether that happens or not (or whether in fact he becomes Robin or Nightwing) will be another story. Fans will certainly be interested to see what happens if the next person to take on Batman story will choose to build on Nolan’s ending or whether they start fresh.  For now though Christopher Nolan can bask in the knowledge that his Batman trilogy was successful, bringing a new take on the comic book character. The third film of the series was an epic conclusion to a series that will be remembered as perhaps one of the great comic book trilogies of all time.

Leave your comments – what did you think of the film and THAT ending?

Catwoman: My mother warned me about getting into cars with strange men

Batman: This isn’t a car!

The Dark Knight Rises

Rachel