The blog of Amon Warmann: Film journalist.

Posts tagged “Film Review

Film Review | Pitch Perfect


An analysis of the Step Up! and/or Bring It On franchises would show that both sets of films follow a particular formula. Directed by Jason Moore, Pitch Perfect (2012) is very much of the same ilk. Clearly inspired by TV shows such as Glee and The X Factor, this ensemble comedy should be commended for being an entertaining watch despite its predictable nature. Anna Kendrick stars as Beca Mitchell, a rebellious college freshman who’d rather spend her time producing music than attending classes. Her father (John Benjamin Hickey) wants her to broaden her horizons, and soon she finds herself auditioning for The Bellas, an all-female a cappella group. Led by Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chloe (Brittany Snow), The Bellas need new members to challenge for the international championship of collegiate a cappella.

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

Film Review | Rise of the Guardians

Just in time for the holiday season comes DreamWorks Animation’s second feature of the year,Rise of the Guardians. Based on the series of books by William Joyce, this story of childhood heroes uniting to stop a common threat often feels like the child version of the Avengers, and it will doubtless entertain many a young audience as Christmas approaches. However, although it makes for fun viewing, Guardians is ultimately bettered by many of its contemporaries.

Read the rest of this review at Yin & Yang here.

Film Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

Five years and four bestselling books later, it seems we’ve finally come to the end of the multi-million dollar grossing, teen vamp Twilight saga. Long-awaited final chapter Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012) will likely add to that undeniably impressive gross haul, whilst fans of Stephenie Meyer’s novel can rejoice in the fact that the Bill Condon-helmed conclusion is easily the best of the series. Picking up immediately from where last year’s predecessor left off, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 sees Bella Cullen (née Swan, Kristen Stewart) – now a vampire – revelling in her newfound abilities with husband Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Unfortunately for the happy couple, the ruling Volturi sect are soon made aware of their half-breed daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) and, believing her to be an immortal child, move to destroy the coven. In an effort to prevent a bloody battle, Bella and Edward must amass witnesses to prove Renesmee’s harmlessness.

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

Film Review | Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Setting a narrative during the final days of civilisation is a premise which has been utilised on countless occasions in films. However, instead of focusing on a last ditch attempt to save the planet, Lorene Scafaria’s romantic comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) paints an intriguing picture of what the world might look like if the end was upon us. Dodge’s (Steve Carell) wife ditches him when a humorous radio transmission informs them that the world will end in three weeks. Alone and unsure of how to spend his last days, fate intervenes in the form of next-door neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley).

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

BFI London Film Festival 2012 Review | Blood

After last year’s The Awakening, Nick Murphy returns to the London Film Festival for Blood, a moody police thriller based on the TV series Conviction. Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham are Joe and Chrissie Fairburn, brothers and fellow police detectives who are investigating the grisly death of a 12 year old girl. When all the leads point to a convicted sex offender (a suitably disturbing performance from Ben Crompton) Joe thinks he’s got his guy, but the lack of evidence means he may go free. Haunted by a past failure in similar circumstances, Joe is determined not to let events repeat itself, and he and his brother take matters into their own hands. But when the investigation turns up more likely suspects, things spiral out of control as the brothers desperately try to hide the truth from their suspicious colleague Robert Seymour (Mark Strong).

Read the rest of this review at Screen Geek here.

Film Review | Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted 3D

After being well-received in the US earlier this year, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012) finally gets its UK release this week. Not for nothing has the animated franchise grossed over a billion dollars, and the latest energetic instalment deserves to be just as successful as its predecessors. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) and co are still itching to return to their home in NYC. Tracking their penguin pals to a casino in Monte Carlo, they soon find themselves on the run from the persistent French captain Chantel DuBois (fantastically voiced by Frances McDormand). Taking refuge in a travelling circus, the gang must impress an American talent scout if they ever hope to return to their beloved zoo.

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

BFI London Film Festival 2012 Review | End Of Watch

A cursory glance at David Ayer’s filmography will reveal his propensity for cop dramas, with his previous work including such titles as 2001’s Training Day (for which he wrote the screenplay) and 2008’s Street Kings. He’s back on the beat again for his latest flick, End of Watch (2012), a gritty action-thriller set in Los Angeles which owes much to two exceptional central performances. Our protagonists this time around are Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña), partners and best buds who are duty-bound protect and serve the citizens of the ‘City of Angels’.

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

Film Review | Pusher

Drugs and gangster films are becoming more and more commonplace in British cinema. The latest is Pusher (2012) – Luis Prieto’s British remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 cult hit of the same name – and thankfully it is one of the better drug-fuelled thrillers to be released in recent times. Frank (Richard Coyle) makes a steady amount of money from his life as a drug dealer. When he is approached by a former prison acquaintance for what could be his biggest deal yet, Frank is convinced it’s a sure thing.

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

Film Review | Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

James Bond is all the rage at the moment; the highly anticipated Skyfall (2012) hits UK cinemas later this month, whilst the Bond 50 Blu-ray collection has just hit the stands. Another must for Bond aficionados comes in the form of Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012), a Stevan Riley directed documentary of Ian Fleming’s super spy that serves as the perfect appetiser before the next adventure of Her Majesty’s most loyal agent. Of course, 007’s beginnings stretch back a lot further than 50 years, and Riley goes into an impressive amount of detail on Fleming, the character’s originator.

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

Film Review | Untouchable

Having won a handful of prestigious awards and broken box office records across the globe, French Oscar entry Untouchable (The Intouchables, 2011) finally gets its UK release this week. Directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache and inspired by a true story, this French dramatic-comedy tells the story of the unlikely friendship between disabled millionaire Philippe (François Cluzet) and his outspoken ex-con carer Driss (Omar Sy). It soon becomes clear that almost every bit of Untouchable’s international praise is justified.

Read the rest of this review at CineVue here.

Film Review | Now is Good

Ol Parker, the scriptwriter behind The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is on directorial duties in Now is Good, a predictable drama about a teenage girl (Dakota Fanning) dying from leukaemia. Based on Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die, on paper it would seem that Now is Good has all the required elements for an emotive watch. However, what we get instead is a frequently galling drama that fails to translate Downham’s award-winning text into watchable cinema.

Read the rest of this review at Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | Dredd 3D

Approximately 35 years after John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra created him, Judge Dredd is now one of the most popular comic book characters of all time. Unfortunately, he has fared significantly less well on the big screen, with the 1995 Sly Stallone debacle failing to capture the character effectively. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Pete Travis’ Dredd 3D (2012) – an immeasurably superior, grittier take on 2000AD’s most feared law enforcer, befitting of its comic book counterpart.

Read the rest of this review at Cine-Vue here.

Film Review | A Simple Life

Having made a clean sweep in all the major categories at the Hong Kong film awards, A Simple Life finally gets its UK release this week. Directed by Hong Kong veteran Ann Hui, the film depicts the growing bond between an ageing servant and her employer whilst offering a refreshingly optimistic perspective of life in the face of inevitable death. Although its pacing may limit its appeal, the first rate performances by the two leads make A Simple Life one of the most moving films of the year.

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | Ted

With his live-action directorial debut Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) utilizes the talking animal shtick once again with Ted, which features a talking teddy bear as its main protagonist. The premise is as ridiculous as it sounds, but thanks to the accomplished trio of MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, it is one of the more enjoyable comedies of the year. Having gone into this without having watched an episode of MacFarlane’s popular TV show, I found myself eager to see more of the director’s small-screen work.

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

The reason why rap is not as respected as Jazz or Blues, one MC muses, is because ‘people don’t understand the language’. Try as director Ice T might, by the time the end credits fall on The Art of Rap, there are still a few things that are lost in translation for those who are not rap aficionados. Still, even if total understanding remains elusive, Ice T’s documentary will certainly leave you with an appreciation of rap, and will particularly please fans of the genre.

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | The Dark Knight Rises

At the beginning of the year, you would be hard pressed to find a ‘most anticipated films of 2012’ list that didn’t feature The Dark Knight Rises. But Batman on film wasn’t always this popular; 1997’s Joel Schumacher directed Batman & Robin is widely regarded as one of the worst comic book movies of all time (and with good reason). Christopher Nolan managed to reinvigorate the franchise with 2005’s Batman Begins.  He went one better and set a new benchmark for superhero movies with The Dark Knight in 2008. With The Dark Knight Rises, has Nolan outdone himself again?

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | Salute

The Olympics have long proven to be an excellent stage for socio-political statements. At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, American 200m sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos both raised a black-gloved fist during their medal ceremony to show their support for racial equality. Despite being on the podium that day, Peter Norman’s role in the proceedings have gone largely unknown – hence filmmaker Matt Norman (Norman’s nephew) taking it upon himself to tell Peter’s story with his 2008 doc Salute.

Ably narrated by Chris Kirby, Salute provides its audience with some essential context early on as we learn how Australian liberals were opposing the government’s ‘White Australia’ policy, whilst the big push for civil rights in the US was only emboldened by the assassinations of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedys. This is interwoven with some interesting insights into how the three medallists came to love sprinting, all shown in just enough detail using a combination of archive footage and interviews. The socio-political climates in both countries only help to illustrate just how courageous it was for the Olympians to make their ‘black power’ statement at all.

Read the rest of this review on CineVue here.

Film Review | The Amazing Spider-Man 3D

“It’s too soon!” “The origin story…AGAIN?!” This and more was the less than enthusiastic response which greeted the announcement of the cleverly titled The Amazing Spider-Man back in 2010, a reboot of the superhero franchise which Sam Raimi began in 2002. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t among the sceptics; it had after all been only 5 years since Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, and although that movie was disappointing, it would have been intriguing to see how they might have made amends. Still, the steadily improving – if overly revealing – marketing of The Amazing Spider-Man did well to silence many of the naysayers, and director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) should take pride in having delivered an engaging finished product, laying a solid foundation for future sequels in the process.

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

What if Abraham Lincoln, esteemed 16th President of the United States, was a vampire hunter? This is the laughable premise on hand in Timur Bekmambetov’s faux-historical 3D action movie, imaginatively titled Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote the screenplay).

Bekmambetov’s film chooses to put Lincoln’s (an impressive central performance from Benjamin Walker) better-known deeds on the back-burner, focusing instead on the President’s secret life as a vampire hunter. Lincoln’s motivations for hunting the undead are established early on via a flashback of his mother’s death at the hands of a bloodsucker. From then on, the plot zips along at a furious pace as Lincoln is befriended by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), trained in the ways of vampire-slaying and seeks vengeance on the creatures’ leader Adam (Rufus Sewell).

Read the rest of this review on CineVue here.

Film Review | The Five-Year Engagement

Prolific man-child director Judd Apatow is back in the producer hot-seat for The Five-Year Engagement (2012), an entertaining romantic comedy which will please Apatow fans as well as appeal to broader audiences. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, the plot follows Tom (Jason Segel, reuniting with Stoller) and Violet (Emily Brunt) who become engaged after a unique proposal in the film’s opening minutes.

Plans are made and venues are booked, but when Violet jumps at the chance to pursue her academic career in Michigan, Tom agrees to delay the wedding and put his own career as an aspiring chef on hold. Predictably, Tom’s willing sacrifice soon turns into resentment; Violet thrives in her new position while Tom wastes his talent preparing sandwiches in a deli, lamenting what could have been. As the planned two year stay is continually extended, more and more obstacles emerge for the likeable couple.

Read the rest of this review on CineVue here.

Film Review | Prometheus

It’s been 33 years since Ridley Scott’s Alien, a film which has since gone on to become a classic and is widely regarded as one of sci-fi’s most seminal pieces. After many sequels and spin-offs – some admittedly better than others – the highly anticipated Prometheus heralds Scott’s return not only to the genre, but to his universe, with the film being strongly marketed as a prequel and being said to have ‘strands of Alien-DNA’. Whilst Prometheus just about works as a standalone sci-fi movie, fans of Scott’s aforementioned work may be left disappointed.

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | Snow White and the Huntsman

Although Snow White and the Huntsman is not the first depiction of the well-known fairy-tale Princess this year – that honour went to the light-hearted Mirror Mirror – it’s safe to say that it’s the version many were more interested in watching, and with good reason; it boasts an excellent cast – including Oscar-winner Charlize Theron, Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth, and Twilight star Kristen Stewart – an acclaimed video game commercial director in Rupert Sanders (in his feature-film debut), and the impressive trailers only broadened its appeal. It’s surprising then, that this darker take on Snow White is far from the epic re-imagining it looked so set on delivering.

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | The Raid

These days, it seems like every other film I watch contains some sort of fight scene. As such, I’ve seen a number of similar looking sequences which vary in their degrees of effectiveness, and the vast majority of those are little more than ‘seen-it-all-before’ shoot-em ups and the like. Put simply, it’s not often that a film excites me purely on an action basis, but The Raid is a fresh breath of air in this regard, and an instant standout of the genre. Whilst it will take a more thorough investigation to determine where The Raid ranks among the greatest action films of all time, it has certainly earned its place in that discussion.

Read the rest of this review on Yin & Yang here.

Film Review | Dark Shadows

Long has esteemed character actor Johnny Depp been large-haired filmmaker Tim Burton’s muse for the director’s brooding visions, with many of those team-ups little more than tinkering with already established characters. Predictably, Burton and Depp’s latest outing, the horror-comedy Dark Shadows (2012) – their eighth collaboration together – doesn’t even try to buck that trend.

Based on the cult US TV show of the same name, the film sees 18th century lothario Barnabas Collins (Depp) turned into a vampire and buried alive after breaking the heart of evil witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). Nearly two centuries later, Barnabas is accidentally freed from his tomb and, returning to his hometown of Collinwood, finds the dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family in disarray. Intent on restoring his family’s fishing business to its former glory, he is met with opposition in the form of the spurned witch.

Read the rest of this review on CineVue here.