The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Review




Directed by Peter Jackson

Starring Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen

When a mysterious wizard arrives at his door, Bilbo Baggins is uprooted from his snug Hobbit hole and thrown into an adventure of a lifetime. Flanked by 13 dwarves, the company embark upon a quest to regain their homeland from the dragon Smaug, all the while an ominous presence is starting to rear its head in Middle Earth.

The film opens in the sunnier days of the Shire we know and love. 48 frames per second bring an incredible amount of detail to an already rich scene from the offset; you can make out every leaf with dizzying clarity. It has to be said, as the film progresses there are more and more gratuitous 3D moments that really are pointless if you are watching it 2D or (in future) on DVD. However, The Hobbit is perhaps more beautiful and sharp than its predecessors, the scenes in Rivendell are breathtaking.  

There is a certain amount of nostalgia in The Hobbit which is natural; old faces such as Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and even the protuberant blue eyes of Elijah Wood earmark The Hobbit as a definite prequel. But in the mean time there is plenty of fresh meat which provides The Hobbit with ample character in its own right. Martin Freeman could not be more perfect as a young Bilbo. Kind natured, brave hearted and plucky, he is a joy to watch.

In some respects it is nice that The Hobbit is set to become another great trilogy but part of me questions why this short book needs to be drawn out over three films. Obviously it is a great money spinning deal, however time will tell if the story has been drawn and padded out in a way which is unsatisfactory. You could probably read Tolkien’s The Hobbit in less time than it will take to watch the 3 films. But then again, while The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of The Rings, it is significantly different in tone and style. Something which Jackson has noted and ran with. One of the finest scenes of the movie is the exchange between Sméagol/Gollum and Bilbo when the one ring is thrown into the mix. Jackson manages to capture a balance between quirky humour and genuine danger; it’s what makes The Hobbit so perfect for a family audience. The sophisticated, epic nature of Lord of The Rings may be missing, but The Hobbit more than makes up for this in other areas.

There are some moments that seem to have little to do with the main plot (such as a sledge ride through a forest with a brown Wizard) but for the most part The Hobbit is a thrilling cat and mouse chase with a heart warming climax. Freeman’s Bilbo shows a remarkable amount of growth and has already soared through one great character arc. Considering this is the first in a trilogy, there is enough brilliance here to make us genuinely excited for The Desolation of Smaug. To all cinemas goers; it’s good to be back in Middle Earth…
Rating: 7

Prada - Actors S/S 2013

Prada have revealed an all star cast modelling their S/S 2013 line. Scroll down for pictures of Aaron Johnson, Dane DeHaan, Harvey Keitel and Benicio De Torro looking dapper in these black and white portraits...

Project X - Review




Directed by Nima Nourizadeh

Starring Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel-Brown

When Thomas’ parents leave town for their anniversary weekend, his best friend decides to throw him a Birthday party in the house. Welcome to the age of smart phones and internet! What was supposed to me a small high school party quickly spirals out of control into absolute carnage. You know the party scenes in movies that last a couple of minutes and that’s it? Well Project X is what it would be like if it was extended for an hour: madness.
Don’t think for a second that this is going to be anything other than wild, untamed and vacuous partying; because that’s precisely what it is. It’s unapologetic in its approach. Filmed in the hand held style, Project X threatens to undo some of the hard work Chronicle did with that genre. It’s unfair to utter these films in the same breath however they do share some similarities. Where Chronicle succeeds and Project X falls short is that the dialogue matches up with the filming style, as the lines in Chronicle encapsulate a natural teen dialect. Project X on the other hand uses that home movie style, but the script hasn’t adapted to it, and the dialogue is not believably natural.
With that said, anyone who tries to review this film in the same way you would a film like Chronicle is already onto a loser. This is because Project X is essentially one massive music video of the party you always wished you could have. It’s obvious that the demographic is teenage girls and boys who will resonate with the sheer brat-like nature of the boys. I read a review of how Project X lacked the heart and wider message of Superbad, I’m not trying to say for a second that real people lack heart, but they’re not the caricatures depicted in Superbad, and I can very much believe that boys would throw a party motivated by popularity and getting laid. But in some respects the film does shy away, it could go a lot further at times, and it doesn’t which is a shame.

This film is not a cinematic masterpiece by any means, but a lot of people find it entertaining, funny and enjoyed it; why should that be frowned upon? Let’s face it, the film is an 18, but the kids watching it will be younger than that and will think it’s cool. To call it the worst film of recent years is horrendously extreme. Make no mistake, this film is for the kids, you need a sense of humour; no ones trying to say this will happen at the house next door.

The soundtrack of this film is immense; if you want a party playlist, buy the OST. This won’t be the last we see of Thomas Mann; and quite frankly that’s not a bad thing.
Rating 5.5

Golden Globes: Nominations

Awards season is officially beginning (eeeeeeek!) and here are the film nominations for The Golden Globes. The TV nominations have been left out of this particular post but let's face it, most of us are only interested in the films (or at least, I am).
Best Motion Picture - Drama
  • Argo
  • Lincoln
  • Life of Pi
  • Django Unchained
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Les Miserables
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • Silver Linings Playbook
Best Director
  • Ben Affleck, Argo
  • Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Ang Lee, Life of Pi
  • Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
  • Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
  • Richard Gere, Arbitrage
  • John Hawkes, The Sessions
  • Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
  • Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
  • Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
  • Jack Black, Bernie
  • Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
  • Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
  • Ewan McGregor, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
  • Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
  • Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
  • Naomi Watts, The Impossible
  • Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
  • Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
  • Maggie Smith, Quartet
  • Meryl Streep, Hope Springs

Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
  • Alan Arkin, Argo
  • Leonard DiCaprio, Django Unchained
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
  • Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
  • Amy Adams, The Master
  • Sally Field, Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
  • Helen Hunt, The Sessions
  • Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Best Screenplay
  • Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Tony Kushner, Lincoln
  • David O. Russell, Silver Livings Playbook
  • Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
  • Chris Terrio, Argo
Best Original Score
  • Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
  • Alexandre Desplat, Argo
  • Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
  • Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, Cloud Atlas
  • John Williams, Lincoln
Best Original Song
  • For You (music and lyrics by Keith Urban)
  • Act of Valor; Not Running Anymore (music and lyrics by Jon Bon Jovi), Stand Up Guys
  • Safe & Sound (music and lyrics by Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams and T Bone Burnett), The Hunger Games
  • Skyfall (music and lyrics by Adel and Paul Epworth), Skyfall
  • Suddenly (music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Schonberg and Alain Boublil), Les Miserables

Best Foreign Language Film
  • Amour
  • A Royal Affair
  • The Intouchables
  • Kon-Tiki
  • Rust and Bone

Les Miserables - Premiere

Just a few shots of the stars from the Les Mis New York premiere, although somehow a few pictures from the world premiere have ended up here too. Not sure about Hathaway's Tom Ford boots - however Redmayne's Burberry suit is the stuff of dreams...

Dior Advert

Slightly random post for today, but felt inspired to share this beautiful advert with you for two reasons. Firstly, the music is Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor) by John Murphy which feautured in our favourite soundtrack post from a while back. A beautiful peice of music from the Danny Boyle film, Sunshine. Secondly, the advert stars Charlize Theron. Enough said.

Jameson Empire Awards 2013

Today marks the preliminary round of voting for the 2013 Empire Film Awards. The best thing about these awards is that it’s all down to the real movie fans of this world, not in the hands of an Academy. Obviously there are going to be a great many more films that will be released before voting closes, so this is our opinion as it stands. It would be premature to list The Hobbit and Life of Pi already given the fact their worthiness still hangs in the balance! Similarly, the typically award-like films are being with held for later in the award season. Therefore, a lot could change between this vote now and the Jameson Empire Awards!
Dane DeHaan
From his explosive debut in Chronicle to his supporting role in Lawless, this young actor is showing that he's far from being type-cast. This is going to be a tough category this year, we also considered Craig Roberts (Submarine, Red Lights, Jane Eyre) but Dane just pips him to the post!
Elizabeth Olsen
Feel free to disagree with our labelling as 'new'. Although Martha Marcy May Marlene was released last year, it seems like 2013 has really been Elizabeth's year. Despite having few films under her belt, it already felt like her character in Redlights (alongside Cillian Murphy) was too small for her!
Would not like to be fighting it out in this category this year. With films like The Avengers, Prometheus and Looper it was very hard to pick - but Chronicle was a refreshing take on super powers because the kids become the opposite of super heroes.
American Reunion
Perhaps you have to be a long time American Pie fan to appreciate the sheer nostalgia of this beauty, but it packs many a laugh no matter what. Fingers crossed for many more reunions for Stifler and the gang...
The Woman In Black
If anyone votes for the Devil Inside they will get a virtual tap on the wrist... The Woman In Black, however, was a classy remake of a classic play and novel. Plus who doesn't love Daniel Radcliffe?
As if the outstanding cast wasn't enough, Steven Soderbergh's disaster movie was laced with doom and anyone who didn't feel scared to touch a door handle after watching Contagion is a very brave person...
Tom Hardy
No surprises here then! Just look at Lawless, This Means War, The Dark Knight Rises... This man can act anything! Close contenders for the title were Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Haywire) and Javier Bardem (Skyfall).
Jessica Chastain
Gracious and believable in the majority of her films, especially Lawless and Corialanus.
Christopher Nolan
Making people choose between Sam Mendes and Christopher Nolan hardly seems far, but any man who managed to round off the Batman Trilogy after the dizzying expectations set by its predecessor deserves the award. Well done Mr Nolan.
How can it not be Skyfall?
The Dark Knight Rises
With a plot twist to rival all Nolan plot twists and a stellar cast, it's hard not to be excited by this film. Absolute class.
Avengers Assemble
Outstanding use of 3D by director Joss Whedon, managed to avoid the issues which have plagued 3D in the past. Dark and lacking in detail are not phrases you would use to describe The Avengers

Follow this link to read the review of Skyfall

The Dark Knight Rises Review

Prometheus Review

Avengers Assemble Review

The Woman In Black Review

Chronicle Review

Broken - Trailer

Here's the new trailer for the independent film Broken set for a 2013 release, but any film with Cillian Murphy and Tim Roth in it has got to be worth waiting for, right?

Tom Hardy signs up for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

The Inception actor will play Sam Fisher in Ubisoft's film version of the popular video game. Eric Singer is on writing duties. This new comes only a few months after Asassin's Creed was picked up by Regency and Fox. If this is going to be a trend for action movies in the coming years, we can't complain so long as they keep on casting the likes of Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy.

Have your say: good idea or not? And are there any other games you'd like to have the film treatment?

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2




Directed by Bill Condon

Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner

When the Volturi are alerted to the suggestion that Bella and Edward’s newborn half-breed may in fact be an immortal and dangerous vampire, the knives are out once again. The final battle commences in a magnificent fashion.

This is most definitely the strongest film in the Twilight Saga and a fitting ending to the mammoth franchise. Now that Bella is married to Edward and finally becomes the vampire she so longed to be, the fabled love triangle from the past four movies is no more. Thankfully, this means that the hours of teen angst and moping over Bella’s two eligible males are now long gone. There is no ‘team Edward’ and ‘team Jacob’: this is Bella’s movie and she very much does it justice.

The strength of this movie lies within the casting. Our three leads are now more than comfortable in the roles we have come to know and they are supported by a refreshing cast of new and brilliant characters. Special praise to Michael Sheen is in order also, because he is good in this.

It has to be said, this is no technical masterpiece and will not be winning the awards for visual effects anytime soon. Notably a suspiciously fake looking baby, which seems unnecessary given the marvellous hair and makeup on hand without computer graphics. It also lacks some of the realism and freshness of Twlight. However the heart of the piece remains in the well crafted relationships between the characters: notably Jacob Black’s bizarre but nicely handled crush on Bella’s young daughter. It’s also nice to see Bella being more of a bad ass, she no longer sits biting her lip for two thirds of the movie. 

The highlight of the film is the crescendo at the end of the third act. Refreshingly the director has managed to take creative liberties with the plot whilst eventually still remaining true to the ending of the saga. This means that even though you may have read the books, there’s still a certain amount of a spoiler alert and you will not see it coming! Perhaps it would be too much of complement to say the moment of revelation is Nolan worthy, however it is brilliantly inspired and genuinely very clever. It is a scene that validates the entire saga.

Rating: 7


Breaking Dawn Part 2 - Premiere

Los Angeles was the place to be on Monday night as all the stars were out for the premiere of the final instalment of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Scroll down for all the looks from the evening and stay tuned for the London leg of the world tour.

Kristen Stewart in a lovely gown by Zuhair Murad

R-Patz looking as dapper as ever

Dakota Fanning reprising her role as Jane

All smiles: Rob appears to have forgiven Kristen Stewart

Nikki Reed aka Rosalie

Ashley Greene

Taylor Lautner

Elle Fanning in some, shall we say unusual, wedges

Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene

Like Crazy - Review




Directed by Drake Doremus

Starring Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence

Like Crazy tells the story of a British college student who falls in love with an American classmate. They are then separated when she is banned from the US after overstaying her visa in order to stay with him. A long distance relationship ensues…

It’s not that this film is bad (on the contrary there are many lovely aspects of it), but it’s just not particularly good. Independent romance films aren’t boring; you only need to look at Blue Valentine to see how it’s done well, but Like Crazy is slightly bland. Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin are fine actors, but this leading role where they take up the majority of the movie is too large a feat. The characters themselves are not striking and they are never actually introduced so it’s hard to form an audience relationship with them. All it takes is the arrival of Jennifer Lawrence’s character to show how much of a difference an actor with a bit more charisma and presence can make to the film, it is better after she’s introduced.

The photography and the editing are absolutely beautiful; there’s a naturalistic quality about the way the movie is shot which is refreshing and charming. But the fact still remains that this is a very slow film, which is ironically only 90 minutes long.

It’s a simple romance and an ancient dilemma, but sadly this film never gets chance to really sing.

Rating: 3

Oscar Predictions: Amour

It's never too early to start speculating about the Academy Awards! Especially after it was announced that Seth MacFarlene is on presenting duties.

If you read our post in the summer on the Cannes Film Festival, you'll know that this movie was awarded the Palme d'Or for best film, so it was probably an Oscar prediction back then. Nonetheless, it's now set for a November 16th release nationwide in the UK so in a few weeks opinions will be formulated!

The movie is being shopped as "a film about the extraordinary strength of love." It's directed by Michael Haneke and stars Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert.

Keep an eye out for this at a cinema near you so you can get a head start for Awards Season. Don't know about you, but we're starting to get very excited!

Have your say: Any more obvious predictions or is it too early to say? You know where to comment!

Skyfall - Review




Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench

When a hard-drive listing all undercover NATO operative is out of the hands of British Intelligence and into the hands of cyber villain Silva; James Bond must resurrect himself from a near death experience in order to recover the drive, salvage M’s reputation and control a man who wants ultimate revenge.

From a personal point of view, Daniel Craig is the most impressive James Bond to date even in the shaky second instalment: Quantum of Solace. Here Bond is back in fine form in a film specially made to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Ian Fleming’s juggernaut series. Having rebooted the film series away from the campness of the Brosnan era, Skyfall picks up a while after the first days of a licence to kill in Casino Royale. In this film he is more of a hurt hero battling with ghosts from his past.

The film opens with an adrenaline laced chase sequence through a Turkish bazaar. What’s beautiful about this opening is what director Sam Mendes has described as a “Russian doll” approach. You think it’s a car chase, which evolves into a bike chase, which morphs into a train chase: and this happens seamlessly. Praise must be given early on for cinematographer Roger Deakins who has delivered searing and dramatic visuals; stunning cinematography would be an understatement.

Sam Mendes has taken up the mammoth challenge of this 23rd Bond movie with refreshing poise. He has spoken of trying to get a quality plot cemented to begin with and then to incorporate all the obligatory elements we expect from a James Bond film. This seems to work better than starting with necessary fundamentals (the credits sequence, the Bond girls, the exotic locations, the cars, the villains and the explosions) and trying to fit in something of a plot around it. There are charming odes to Bond films of yester year and finally a director has been happy to utilise the breathtaking British scenery for the majority of the movie: Skyfall is definitely worthy of the 50th year anniversary.

This movie’s iconic credit sequence is one of the best ones yet. Craig takes a tumble through morbid animations supplemented by Adele’s dulcet tones. They definitely cracked it this time. James Bond spends a hour or so as an unshaven wreck who is out of shape and hitting the bottle. I say “out of shape” but fear not, Craig’s glistening musculature is not impeded by this. And rightly so because he has multiple Bond girls to please. Fellow agent Eve (Noamie Harris) gives a reasonable effort as MI6 sniper and Berenice Marlohe is utterly beautiful; but Skyfall is most definitely about the men.

Javier Bardem’s villain Silva does not surface until the second act, but when he does, it is glorious. In a lengthy tracking shot he delivers a parable about rats which acts as a recurring motif throughout the rest of the movie, he then probes Bond about his drink, his form, his relationship with M and even his sexuality in an erotically charged scene. It’s moments like this where Mendes is at his American-Beauty-best and Daniel Craig shows that subtlety is his ace. Silva is multifaceted and a highly original creation, a foreigner with a Nolanesque deformity to boot (echoes of Harvey-two-face anyone?) What’s bracing is that Silva’s motives are personal, and his way of going about his revenge is in a very 21st century way.

There’s a wonderful reinvention of Q by Ben Whishaw who brings youth and humour while reminding us of, quite sinisterly, the damage that can be done with a computer before breakfast in the wrong hands. The banter between him and Craig is inspired, another example of Mendes getting the absolute best out of his actors. As commented by members of our viewing party, Ralph Feinnes plays it as enigmatically as ever but gets some excellent action scenes in the third act.

Skyfall provides everything we have come to expect and love from James Bond, it’s sleek, traditional, thrilling, fun and laden with classic characters. All in all, if Skyfall was to be the last Bond movie, Sam Mendes most definitely ends it on a high. However thankfully one thing’s certain, 50 years in, James Bond will remain on our screens as a Great British icon for many more years to come.

Rating: 8

Daniel Craig as 007

Ready for action: Daniel Craig as James Bond

Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem get to know eachother

Gadget man Q played by Ben Whishaw

James and Severine

What's Your Number - Review




Directed by Mark Mylod

Starring Chris Evans, Anna Faris and Ali Graynor

This movie came on to Sky Premier last week and while movies of this genre never really float my boat, it was either this or another foreign language affair and this seemed a bit easier going.

So the premise is as follows: serial dater Ally’s hits a wall in her life when she realises how all her friends are settling down with lovely men while she is still going out on meaningless one night stands. She then vows to make her 20th conquest the man she spends the rest of her life with, when this goes to pot, Ally is forced to try to rekindle the flame with her extensive list of ex-boyfriends. This all seems fair enough, but within the first 5 minutes of this story you will easily see what will happen in the end. What is the point of that? And that generally is my issue with romantic comedies, they are sickeningly predictable, save the occasional curveball such as (500) Days of Summer.

Aside from the horrendous predictability, the film is quite amusing and entertaining. Chris Evans and Anna Faris are cute, gorgeous and sassy, everything you want really. The supporting cast is actually very decent: Martin Freeman, Ali Graynor, Joe McHale and Zachary Quinto all make appearances to keep you on your toes. Also, the soundtrack is fair. The problem is that films like this are forgettable and people take little from them, but who says films have to be memorable and life changing to be watched?

Rating: 3

On The Road, Kill Your Darlings, Howl

It has been a while since the last Kill Your Darlings update and while there is still no specific release date for 2013 it does seem like filming has wrapped. It also seemed like an opportunity to update all you ‘beat freaks’ out there on everything Beat Generation in film at the moment!

James Franco’s wonderful portrayal as Allen Ginsberg in the 2010 film Howl aired on Sunday night for all us British people. The film illustrates Ginsberg’s revolutionary poem alongside extracts from the obscenity trail that ensued. Though by no means a conventional movie, this little film depicts the poem as a performance and truly does it justice. Here’s the link to where you can catch or rewatch Howl on BBC iPlayer.

Similarly as you may well know, an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic novel is also hitting cinemas. On The Road stars Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund and tells the story of a young writer’s journey across the country. Amateur Reviews will endeavour to review the movie at some point.

Now back to Kill Your Darlings, here are some of the latest images that have come to our attention and also a link to an interview of co-star Jack Huston.