The Syndicate - End of Season



So last night marked the last and, in our opinion, best episode of The Syndicate! The fifth instalment centred around the events that led Jamie (Matthew Lewis) to winning his share in the syndicate and everything that occurred after.

It was no coincidence that Jamie's story was left until the end as it included all the best bits and was a very exciting climax to a decent series. Matthew Lewis lived up to our expectations at the start of the story and shows the kind hearted Neville Longbottom is only one side of his acting talent. Jamie is the polar opposite - a scheming, scrupulous man who could charm the hind legs off a donkey!

If you haven't seen any of the previous episodes of The Syndicate, you'll warm to the way the shows are structured as the season progresses and you'll get to know some proper characters. The last few minutes of the final episode reach an explosive end and it's very well done. Overall, The Syndicate is a charming, heartfelt drama that is definitely worth catching!

Lawless Trailer

Just a quick one for you guys today - the trailer for the upcoming movie called Lawless about boot-legging in the prohibition era has surfaced: we thought we'd upload it so you can take a look!

Looks good right!? The movie stars Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Dane Dehaan and Jessica Chastain amongst others and is set for release later this year.

Contraband - Review



Directed by Baltasar Kormákur

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale and Giovanni Ribisi

Contraband is an action packed heist movie surrounding Chris Farraday's (Wahlberg) mission to save his family from a drug lord after a job gone wrong. Faced with an obscene amount of owed money, Chris turns to smuggling counterfeit bills in from Panama. Cue copious amounts of shooting, driving, fighting and men being macho!

This films main strength lies in the solid cast. These actors are cool. Caleb Laundrey Jones plays the young and unreliable Andy, while Ben Foster plays best friend Sebastian. Add to this Lukas Haas, Kate Beckinsale and David O'Hara, you're looking at some highly competent and believable acting. Wahlberg is once again surprisingly impressive and seems to be a chameleon like actor who looks relaxed and fits in any given situation making the audience feel at ease watching him in any role.

First time director Baltasar Kormákur shows great promise and we're expecting Contraband will be the first of many Hollywood smashes. Interestingly enough, our director played the lead role the 2008 film Reykjavik-Rotterdam on which Contraband is adapted from.

The main issue with Contraband is that it's not very original and doesn't break the mould of a genre that has been done many times. As well as this, the third act seems slighty drawn out. It has major echoes of the Ben Affleck's film The Town. And as far as heist movies go - The Town is better because it feels more sincere and all together more grown-up. That said, Contraband definitely has the edge in terms of the visuals. Firefights in Panama and a decent soundtrack look vibrant and sound amazing.

Contraband is definitely worth a watch, despite being a bit padded out, cookie cutter and generic - it's beautifully shot, immensely cool and very well cast. You're guaranteed a thrilling ride.

Rating: 5.5

One to watch: Caleb Laundry Jones. After seeing this young actor first in No Country For Old Men and then X Men First Class it seems he has a bright future ahead of him. Look out for Caleb's upcoming film Byzantium later this year!

Have a look at the trailer for Contraband:

And if you've already seen and loved Contraband, be sure to watch The Town:

Now on Sky - Sucker Punch



Directed by Zack Snyder

Starring Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens and Abbie Cornish

Now this movie received an obscene (and in our opinion unwarranted) amount of abuse after its release last year. And we’re going to come right out and say it: Sucker Punch is not nearly as bad as some of the reviews.

The film is about a young woman who gets institutionalised after attacking her step father and develops an alternate reality world of different levels as a way of coping. She plots to run away and real life mirrors her fantasy as she tries to obtain the objects to escape. As far as plots go, there are much worse ones, the ending is rather clever and it may lead to a (brief) discussion of theories.

In terms of acting, there leaves a lot to be desired, but actually Cornish and Browning are fair actresses. The one performance which stood out however was Oscar Isaac as a rat pack pimp who probably couldn’t have been any creepier! The costume, hair and makeup is stunning and Snyder has used a combination of real sets and CGI which interchange seamlessly.

Sucker Punch plays up everything that is commercially successful. Hot gun wielding girls in short skirts, video-game-style fight sequences and a kick ass soundtrack. For an entertaining movie that looks sleek and is well produced, you won’t go far wrong with Sucker Punch. Sure, it’s no Inception – but did it really profess to be that?

Rating: 6.5

Have a look at the trailer, and scroll down for a cover of Where Is My Mind from the movie which is amazing!

Emily Browning as Baby Doll

Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie

Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea

Jamie Chung as Amber

Looper - Trailer

Rian Johnson's new film, Looper, looks right up our street! Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, this time travel thriller centrals around the concept that a killer who works for the mob of the future recognizes one of his targets as his future self! The UK should expect this in theatres on September 28th and probably just before in the US.

The teaser trailer has just been released and boy does it tease! Gordon Levitt is back to his slick Arthur-esque ways after Inception - and it looks like it's going to be a massive summer for the actor with the release of this, as well as the eagerly anticipated Dark Knight Rises!

Keep it Amateur Reviews for all the latest film news and reviews!

The Bling Ring - Set Pictures

Here we've got the latest shots from Emma Watson's new film The Bling Ring which has been filming in Los Angeles. All echoes of Hermione Granger are firmly gone now and it looks like this role is going to distance her from that character even further. The so called Bling Ring is based on a real life story surrounding a group of teenagers from Calabasas in California who got done for breaking in and stealing goods from loads of stars homes in Hollywood. Their victims included Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox amongst countless other celebrities! 

Emma is playing a girl called Nicki, the daughter of an old glamour model (Leslie Mann) who reckons that it's paramount her girls find fame. Some of the scenes are filmed at Lynwood jail where Linsay Lohan served time, and one of the convicted members of The Bling Ring, Alexis Neiers also went to prison there. Interestingly enough, a few years ago, E!Entertainment had a show called Pretty Wild which was about Alexis Neieres and her two sisters, it was cancelled after the first season - so hopefully that wont be a president for the movie. Expected for release next year and directed by Sofia Coppola, Amateur Reviews are confident it'll be a lot better!

From Rome With Love - Trailer

The new trailer for Woody Allen's upcoming movie From Rome With Love starring Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin has been released - and it's looking good! Always promising when the trailer makes you laugh, and Rome is looking incredible!

It's hitting theatres in Italy from April 20th so look out for it in the next month or so. Until then, expect premiere and press junket coverage!

Disappointing Films - Part I

While this new series of posts is called 'disappointing, what we really mean is boring/naff ones to put it bluntly. It's just that the euphemism in the title is less harsh... Anyway, sometimes instead of (not so) dazzling reviews, it's nice to just know straight away what film is not worth going near. This is subjective, but in case you don't trust our better judgements, we have given reasons...

1. LEAP YEAR - I'm sorry Matthew Goode but unfortunately this film was really predictable. There wasn't that much potential to begin with...

2. THE LAST SONG - You'll soon see a pattern emerging here.

3. THE INTERNATIONAL - The trailer looked incredible, the film not so much. Could've been good, but wasn't really.

4. STAR TREK NEMESIS - Not even Tom Hardy could redeem this...

5. THE GHOST WRITER - It's not that this is bad, but it's rather boring. And what's worse is that it could've been outstanding.

6. CASINO JACK - Struggling to remember the plot never bodes well.

7. WHEN IN ROME - There are 10 to a dozen rom-coms like this. I suppose it is quite feel-good.

8. SKATELAND - Could've been amazing but sadly didn't quite live up to the promise.

9. SOMETHING BORROWED - Highly irritating movie with lots of complaining beautiful people.

10. THE IRON LADY - Always end with the controversial one! Felt like a massive flashback and kept waiting for the film to settle down and begin. Fanastic acting mind you.

Have your say: any ones up here that you thought completely don't deserve to be, or any that you thought we missed? (In the case of the latter, it may well appear in Disappointing Films - Part II!)

The Bitter Pill - Rooney Mara

The Bitter Pill is Rooney Mara's next film directed by Steven Soderbergh. The thriller is about a woman who starts taking prescription drugs because she is trying to deal with her anxiousness as her husband is about to be released from prison. We have little word yet on cast and release date, but as ever, we'll get you on the pulse of breaking news.
From the pictures, you can see filming is taking place and Rooney looks worlds apart from her previous role as the iconic Lisbeth Salander. Mara is showing her versatility as one of the most talented young actors about and we are excited to see where this project is going!

"And here's the before and after shots!"

 (We promise we will never coin that cliche makeover phrase again...)

Lawless - Update

It’s all happening with John Hillcoat’s upcoming movie. Formerly known as The Wettest County, the Prohibition-era bootlegging film has had a name change to Lawless as cleared up by Dane DeHaan on twitter today. However this has raised a certain amount of confusion at Amateur Reviews because another film starring Rooney Mara is currently being shot under that same name!

Originally filming was supposed to start way back in February 2010, but due to various financing issues it eventually started filming a year later. But it’s going to be worth waiting for if the cast is anything to go by: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce and, of course, Dane DeHaan are all starring! Lawless is expected to hit US theatres on August 31st and will probably make a splash across the pond around December so look out for it.

While clarifying a certain amount of confusion surrounding the name change, we though we would take this opportunity to post some of the movie stills! Keep checking back on Amateur Reviews and trust us to fill you in on any further Lawless news!

Now on DVD - The Help

The Help


Directed by Tate Taylor

Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer

Set in 1960s Jackson Mississippi, The Help is the story of two black maids, Aibileen and Minny, who join the civil rights movement with the leadership of young writer Skeeter. She interviews the maids in secret and then writes a book from the point of view of the help about the shocking way white families treat their employees. It’s a moving story that shows how courage and doing the right thing can overcome outrageous prejudice and inequality.

In most aspects, The Help is an excellent film. You’d struggle to find a better array of actresses who each bring something different to the table. Minny (Spencer) provides the humour in the form of mischief and tantrums. The heart of the movie is Viola Davis as the wise mother figure Aibileen. Some of the most powerful scenes come from her relationship with a white baby, Mae Mobley, and we see how she looks after the child better than her own mother can. Jessica Chastain's character, Celia, literally lights up the screen with her bubbly personality. As one of the few genuinely good women, she is terribly sweet, endearing and a pleasure to watch. It seems to us that Emma Stone’s acting has been overlooked in the nominations this year as her sparky portrayal of Skeeter is the glue that holds the piece together. The attention to historic detail is evident in the set and costume design which look beautiful and visually stunning.

However there are flaws. Other than being half an hour too long, as a viewer it can be hard to believe these characters as real people. The mean women are unbelievably nasty whereas the good characters seem too good to be true. Although a film would be nothing without the villains and heroines, the characters do seem to come across like caricatures and you wonder how the attitudes of all these people bought up in the same environment can vary so greatly. As well as this, it is a shame that strong and powerful ladies such as Aibileen and Minny need a white girl to stand up for them and they mound an incredible amount of gratitude upon her for doing what is right

With all that said, despite the flaws, The Help is a great film. The acting is superb, it’s funny, powerful and massively moving. If you want to watch an instantly likable film, that is really well made and simply portrays a period of historic significance: The Help in definitely for you. Just keep some tissues handy!

Rating: 7

Now on DVD - In Time

In Time


Directed by Andrew Niccol

Starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy

The plot focuses around the concept that people stop aging from 25. In order to keep living, time is money and acts as the currency of the future. People are paid in time and have to lose time in order to buy things. And just like money, there are those who have time and those that don’t. Will Salas falls into the former of those categories and finds himself on the run from Timekeepers and trying desperately to beat the elitist system.

The concept itself raises some interesting socialist ideas, however it seems Niccol is reluctant to make too much of a political statement, despite the fact what was hinted at was the best part of the movie. The two villains of the piece (Pettyfer and Murphy) are the most enjoyable in terms of acting. Although baddies always seem to have more to work with! They are sleek, wicked and lend to the funnier moments of the movie.

Controversially, Amateur Reviews has to admit that the performances of Seyfried and Timberlake did little to float our boat. As characters they don’t seem to gel particularly well and were quite unsubstantial. The double act had the potential to be very clever and were given some pretty quotable lines however it all seemed lost in delivery.

The first act of the movie is promising but by the third it all goes a bit Robin Hood and it feels a bit contrived. On a whole, In Time is definitely worth a watch because as an idea it had so much potential but it’s the execution that leaves a lot of be desired in our opinion. The cast is full of beautiful big hitters who are all supposed to be 25, the sets and soundtrack is stunning so all in all it is probably worth checking out. Just don’t go into it thinking this is going to change the way you think about our system.

Rating: 6

LOL - New Pictures

Miley Cyrus' new movie LOL is set for release this summer and today there were new stills released. The film looks like a typical teen coming-of-age story also starring Demi Moore and Ashley Greene. But let's be honest, the main attraction is Douglas Booth and Paris! Douglas Booth is also cast to play Romeo in the remake of Shakespeare's tragedy and after his decent performances in Great Expectations and Worried About The Boy - this should be good! Anyway, take a look at the new stills and the trailer and decide whether the sheer fact Douglas Booth is envolved makes it worth watching...

Modern Classics – The Social Network

The Social Network


Directed by David Fincher

Written by Aaron Sorkin

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake

You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

Amateur Reviews are embarking upon a new series of posts celebrating modern classics from recent years. Today’s feature is the 2010 Oscar Winning film The Social Network. Given the fact this post has the word ‘Classic’ in the title you can rest assured that these movies do not need a rating out of 10 because they are all examples of impressive film making at its peak.

One evening way back in 2003, Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg started what was soon to become a global phenomenon in world wide communications. The success, however, was not without its controversies and The Social Network chronicles the various legal and personal issues that stemmed from the inception of Facebook.

Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) heads up the writing credits, alongside Ben Mezrich whose book, The Accidental Billionaire, was the basis for the script. It is probably worth mentioning straight off that The Social Network is not 100 percent fact based and plays with multiple perspectives. In our opinion, the main strength of the movie lies within the script. These characters are the smartest in their game but all have a vulnerable side which makes it impossible not to empathise with them. The script has Sorkin written all over it – the witty banter is extremely clever and there is an elegant level of humour that is just superb. The storyline is told in a non linear style from the various court cases that eventually took place and this allows Sorkin to play with character perspective and memory in an interesting way.

Director David Fincher is up to some of his best work also. The whole film is glossy, sleek and sexy. If someone had said a film about computer coding and lawsuits would be this attractive, it would have seemed unlikely before watching The Social Network. Fincher has succeeded in creating an incredibly well paced and flowing film that moves through a significant amount of content in a modest time: a little over two hours.

Jesse Eisenberg takes on the role of Mark Zuckerberg and makes it his own. To be honest, it is hard for us to judge if he was a ‘good’ Zuckerberg because it is not like we really know who he is. Given that, Eisenberg is incredible. Prior to The Social Network he was quite similar to Michael Cera... We were used to seeing him in nerdy and endearing roles (Zombieland), but The Social Network is a stage where Eisenberg really shows what he's made of. He still channels a lot of that awkwardness and his delivery of lines in light speed time is impressive, but there is a crueller edge to him that is something we have not seen before. Justin Timberlake plays Sean Parker and you genuinely manage to forget you are watching the great JT… He is genuinely charming and shows he is capable of humour as well. The role of co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who is later shunned out of the business, is played by Andrew Garfield who is definitely a young actor on the rise. Armie Hammer tackles both Winklevoss twins and manages to give both Cameron and Tyler distinct personalities. Rooney Mara stars too and rounds of what is a stunning cast of young talent.

One of the reasons The Social Network has been earmarked as a modern classic is because it emulates the best of everything. The best of directing, writing and acting. Facebook is something millions of us use every single day without even considering it so The Social Network is more relatable than so many other films. And while the story is deeply rooted in technology and the impersonal nature of social networking, Fincher manages to bring it back to very human qualities that strike a chord with us all: the need for recognition and acceptance.

The Social Network is definitely a favourite with Amateur Reviews and also friends of our blog! Go check out for more musings on TV, film and life in general!

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Yesterday marked the opening of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour - aptly named The Making of Harry Potter. The stars were out in Leavesden, just outside of London where the studios are located, although sadly Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe were absent. Alas fear not Potter fans because Evanna Lynch, Bonnie Wright, Tom Felton, Rupert Grint and Warwick Davies were all there to open the tour to flocks of excited fans.

The actors and actresses took time to sign all the autographs for the fans, Tom Felton especially staying on the red carpet for a long time so as no to disappoint any of the fans at the grand opening. The attraction has immortalised famous sets such as The Great Hall, Diagon Alley and visiters get to see costumes, props and special effects that have been made famous by the series of films.

A family ticket for two adults and two children costs £83. Individual adult tickets (over 16) are £28 and for children aged 5 to 15 are priced at £21.

The prices for tickets are undoubtably on the pricey side of things but The Making of Harry Potter promises to be a magical experience that any Potter fan will never forget. Imagine the excitement of walking into the Great Hall where the films of a generation were shot! The studio tour is the UKs answer to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and Amateur Reviews are keen to hopefully get down to Leavesden one day to report directly from the unbelievable experience!

Scroll down for an array of pictures from the grande opening, including shots of the stars and a peak inside the attraction!

Here's the outside of the studio - looking epic to say the least! 

Not one for the spider-phobes amongst us! The life size Aragog is sure to inspire fear in visiters just like it did when Harry and Ron came across Hagrid's spider in the Chamber of Secrets!
Rupert Grint was the only one of the main trio there, but the fans were clearly not disappointed at meeting Ron Weasly!

Tom Felton was over from L.A for the opening and was looking smart as ever.

Evanna Lynch stunned in a gorgeous play suit showing off her enviable pins!

Bonnie Wright was dressing for the spring weather in a lovely printed blouse.

Tom Felton made sure to sign everyone's autographs. Definitely not like his character Draco then!

Back in The Great Hall - notably missing the Hogwarts robes...

Even Hagrid's motorbike is there for fans to see.

 The official website for more ticket information and bookings!