Movie Monday: RoboCop

We all know what the general synopsis of RoboCop is, but if you don’t it’s about a police office who, after he receives wounds which have left him all but dead, gets made into a cyborg and goes on to try to rediscover his humanity and who he was before he became RoboCop.

I’ve said in other posts about how anxious I was about this when it was announced they were rebooting one of my favourite movies, and that fear was firmly installed in me until I saw the first trailer. That first trailer blew my mind away, one line that RoboCop says actually made me jump out of my seat! So going into this remake my expectations had gone from all but nothing to incredibly high, and the movie pretty much fulfilled those high expectations.

Joel Kinnerman was pretty good as Alex Murphy/RoboCop. He did have a good charm and looked conflicted as he’s trying to come to terms with what has been done to him.
The new suit looks good, although I think the black and silver of the original is better, in this movie RoboCop is silver and black to start off with but the big boss man (Michael Keaton) feels black would be better, more tactical.
Speaking of Mr.Keaton, he is very good here. I’ve been a fan of Michael Keaton since I saw Batman, Batman returns and then Beetlejuice. I think he holds the viewers attention well and here he plays the role of CEO of Omnicorp very well, he looked natural.
Gary Oldman was really good in the role of Dr. Dennett Norton who creates the technology behind RoboCop and later goes on to be the main human point of contact once RoboCop is awakened.
Abbie Cornish is sweet and lovable as Clara Murphy and I think she really sells the distress of having her husband on deaths door then made into this cyborg.

The storyline is, in my opinion, better then the original movie. It addresses the strain it puts on Alex Murphy and his family as well as solving the crime of who tried to kill Murphy, as well as dealing with the corporate side to the storyline.

Something that is not in this movie from the original is a stand out villain. In the original Kurtwood Smith gives us such a nasty piece of work character, Clarence Boddicker, that is the polar opposite of Murphy/RoboCop and almost steals the show with his performance.
What I did not miss was the over the top violence, there is still a high body count but we don’t see all the blood and gore of the original. I’ve read various articles that have said that Paul Verhoeven  wanted to make a comment about American cinema but I’m glad it wasn’t brought into the remake

The satire is in the remake as it was in the original, mainly from Samuel L. Jackson’s Pat Novak who hosts a current events show and isn’t afraid to show who he’s rooting for. It looked like Jackson had a lot of fun with this character.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie and I’d like to see where it goes if a sequel is made. Is it better then the original? That’s not a fair question I don’t think as the original was a great representation of its time and I think this remake stays loyal to that. I will just add that if Hollywood continues on this course of remaking these iconic movies then this is an excellent example of how it should be done. With RoboCop they haven’t tried to copy the film scene for scene, they’ve made a movie that  is respectful of the original whilst making this movie its creature.

 

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Movie Monday: Battleship

Battleship is a film that I dismissed when I first watched it. I’d listened to a lot of people basically saying it was a bad film so when I watched it I only saw the negatives, but it’s been a movie that has kept popping into my mind from time to time and I knew I needed to watch it again. So when I saw it on offer at my local HMV I grabbed it.

The basic story is a screwball guy is forced to take responsibility and joins the U.S. Navy where his brother is a commanding officer of a Destroyer. While out on a joint international war games near Hawaii aliens come down, engulf a huge area in a big bubble and try to phone home. There are only three navy ships in this bubble and they have to fight the aliens and try to stop them phoning home.

That’s the gist of it, what annoys me is the daft Hollywood stuff in the film, mainly the screw up who has to step up and be the man he needs to be. There is also a scene where the protagonist has his face grabbed by an alien and has a psychic experience where he sees what the aliens are planning, I’ve seen this done a few times in movies now and aside from Pacific Rim it just feels like a cheat. The characters in the film need to know this is a hostile race of aliens and they will kill us all etc. They did this in Independence Day and I’d like to see some more thought put into how the aliens motives are revealed. I do wonder if it’s done to save time though, studios want movies to be a certain length so maybe that’s the reason. In Pacific Rim it was part of the story line and I liked how they done it.

There are some bits which you’d expect to see in a Hollywood movie which are not in there. We have the singer Rihanna and the model and actress Brooklyn Decker in this movie and at no time do I remember either having to wear something that is just there to get some flesh on show, this I applaud the makers for. Rihanna is kitted out in navy gear throughout the film and Decker is wearing shorts and a vest top. Neither are sexualised just for the sake of it and they are more characters then eye candy.

Taylor Kitsch is quite likable as Alex Hopper, our protagonist and seems to bounce off of Tadanobu Asano very well. Their two characters have a hostile beginning to the movie. I found Kitsch quite believable in the role and he didn’t seem scared to make himself look a fool.

I would have liked to of seen more of the aliens in the movie. We only really seem them from a human point of view, which is okay but the writer inside of me is keen to know more about them. Their technology is better then that of mankind’s but not to the point where they severely dominate the battle.

There is a lot of CGI in Battleship but it  looks very well done, I can’t recall any time in the movie where I was pulled out of it because of the CGI.

Overall on a second viewing I did really enjoy Battleship. Yes there are some clichés in it but it was a fun film to watch. Visually it was beautiful, the characters are pretty straightforward and the storyline is a little on the direct side but I didn’t find that a negative here. The Director, Peter Berg put together a very nice and tidy film that is entertaining, funny and easy to watch.

 

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Movie Monday: High Expectations

This week we see the release of the RoboCop reboot, which I am really looking forward to. I didn’t always feel like this. When I first heard that Hollywood was rebooting one of my favourites movies I felt like going home, crawling under my bed and hiding from the pain that was coming. Then I heard Michael Fassbender might be playing Alex Murphy/Robocop which gave me a little bit of hope, then he dropped out and some guy (Joel Kinnaman) I had never heard of was cast. This time I was at home but I resisted the temptation to crawl under my bed. I told myself that this film had Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton (three of my favourite actors) in it and that had to count for a lot. Jackie Earl Haley is in it too and he’s pretty awesome, and Abbie Cornish is in the movie as well and she’s entertained me when  I’ve seen her on screen.

So basically my despair at the thought of one of my favourite movies being destroyed was deeply ingrained into my soul……. But then I saw the first trailer……………..

 

It took all the despair away in one foul swoop. As that first trailer progressed I got more and more excited and then came the moment in the trailer that *literally made me jump out of my seat. One line did this….

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

The trailers I’ve seen since then have done their job and got me more and more excited for this movie. The action and effects look good, Kinnaman seems to have a bit of charm about him and the suit looks pretty cool.

 

I’m planning on seeing it next week….I hope my expectations are met because they are very high.

 

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*Lots of people say this word and misuse it, here I am not doing that. I did jump out of the chair I was sitting on during my lunch break at work.

Movie Monday: My Five Favourite Movies From 2013

2013 was a big year in my movie loving life. I finally started going to the cinema on a regular basis with a couple of friends or my girlfriend Tracie and I saw a lot of movies at the cinema. I did miss a couple though. The Worlds End, The Wolverine, Carrie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Heat, Rush and Prisoners are just a few of the movies that I have missed during the year.

Picking out a Top Five is more then a little difficult as there were so many great movies out the last year. Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, The Conjuring, Frozen, The Man Of Steel, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Thor: The Dark World, Pacific Rim, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Elysium, Despicable Me 2, World War Z, Riddick, You’re Next and Evil Dead. These are the films that I remember being impressed by during the course of the year. Now I need to choose five, which is going to be difficult.

 

  1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  2. Pacific Rim
  3. Thor: The Dark World
  4. Frozen
  5. The Conjuring

 

These five, in this order, are the movies that have been the most memorable films of the year for me. Catching Fire at number 1 is by far and away well deserved. I really liked the first movie in this series but this raises the bar very impressively and I’m eager to see the next two movies.

Pacific Rim was always going to be in at number 2. It’s not the most in-depth movie that has been created but it has giant Kick-Ass robots beating the living snot out of giant alien monsters and the fan boy in m just loves it!

Thor: The Dark World was a movie that I think was always going to enjoy. I also liked the first Thor movie but like the Hunger Games movies this second film in the series stepped up and blew its predecessor out of the water.

What can I saw about Frozen, it’s a lot of fun. A hell of a lot of fun. It’s entertaining, humorous, and absolutely beautiful. This is Disney at its best in my opinion.

Finally, The Conjuring. I didn’t think that I was going to like this movie. I had no real desire to see this one but a friend of mine wanted to see it so I went along too, I’m glad I did. It was a movie that had great characters, actors, direction, story, everything. Well worth a watch.

 

So there it is, my top five movies of the year. This was not an easy list to make and I hope that this year is as challenging to pick out my top five of the year.

 

Honerable mentions. These films impressed me but were not quite good enough to make the top five. Gravity, Fast & Furious 6, Elysium, You’re Next,  Riddick, The Man Of Steel and Despicable Me 2.

 

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Movie Monday: Elysium

Set in the year 2154 Elysium is a space station where the rich live in as close to a perfect world as its possible. they live in harmony and have a medical system in each home that cures all known illnesses. The poor have to tolerate a hopeless life on earth where there are no jobs, no money and no healthcare. Those on earth have to also put up with bureaucratic robots who run everything.

Earth is where our protagonist max, played superbly by Matt Damon, Is trying to keep himself on the straight and narrow and away from his previous life of crime. Max has a bit of a quick mouth and is searched by two robot police officers who break his arm. At hospital he meets his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga). She has a sick daughter that comes into play later.

At work Max gets a nasty dose of radiation and has five days to live, and this is when he decides he needs to force his way onto Elysium to use the medical systems they have that will cure him.

 

I really enjoyed this movie. It gives a look at what a future earth could very possibly come true and it does not feel too much of a push for the rich to isolate themselves further then they already are. There is the odd issue I have with it, I’d imagine this medical system they have would be on earth as well, maybe not as prevalent but I do believe there would be a few of these machines on earth. Law enforcement is done by robots, that look awesome by the way. The people have to deal with automated systems that are not anywhere near understanding or even co-operative.

Los Angeles looks like a slum from any number of third world countries. Buildings look like they are on the verge of collapsing despite being inhabited. The vehicles look rusted and the whole world just looks like its decaying.

 

The acting is amazing. We all know Jodie Foster, she pulls in a very dark performance as Elysium’s Secretary Of Defence. Matt Damon pulls out a breathtakingly performance here. I like Matt Damon, I think he is a very gifted actor and this is one of my favourite performances from him. We know about Damon and Foster though, its the other main actors here that impressed me a lot. Sharlto Copely as the vicious Kruger is amazing. I’ve seen him play a bungling bureaucrat in District 9, a fruit loop in The A-Team and now a seriously sinister killer who does not care about anybody or thing except himself. Alice Braga as Frey also impressed me, she made me believe she was devoted mother who is struggling to make life as good as possible for her severely ill daughter. I’ve seen Braga in a few films now and her range is impressing me. Diego Luna as Julio, Max’s best friend caught my eye also. I’m not really aware of this actor but after this I’ll be keeping an eye out for him. Wagner Moura as Spider and the awesomeness that is William Fichtner both give solid performances as well.

 

What I’ve taken away mostly from this movie is its look at humanity. This is an incredibly good movie, but as a look at what may become of us, as a species it is one of the best movies I have seen. The desolation the director Neill Bloomkamp envisages for our future feels eerily real. He has dismantled society and taken the rich and powerful out of it, which leaves the rest of us to try and survive. This is what life is today.

 

On a personal note, not only do I love this movie I love the inspiration aspect of it. As a science fiction writer it is full of great visuals and gives the mind a lot to play with.

 

I just also want to mention briefly the shaky camera footage in this one. I don’t mind a bit of this method of filming but here it was too much and if I’m honest I actually want to see the action and not always feel like I’m in the middle of it.

 

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Movie Monday: The Conjuring

The Conjuring tells the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren as they investigate a demonic haunting of a house in Rhode Island and the family of seven who have recently brought the house. Carolyn and Roger Perron and their five daughters notice a few odd occurrences, a nasty odour, framed pitures falling off the walls and Carolyn has bruises appear on her body. They are slowly more and more harassed by unknown elements which culminate in Carolyn being locked in a previous boarded off basement and their eldest daughter being attacked by an unseen force as she is trying to help one of her sisters who was sleep walking. It is at this point where Carolyn asks the Warren’s to come and help them, this is when it all kicks off…

I really enjoyed this movie, so much that me and my friend Stefan saw it twice (Stefan is a huge fan of this sort of movie, and the subject source). It has the heart stopping moments and the shock moments as well as the tender moments. I liked that there didn’t seem to be many CGI effects, this gave it a more raw feeling.

This is based on actual events, the people involved here went through all of these things and I know people are sceptical about it but I’m of the mindset that unless science has proved something exists or does not then it could be possible.
The script is very tidy and I did not notice any plot holes or inconsistencies any where and I am really liking James Wan as a director. The last few films of his I’ve seen have been good and each one seems to be getting stronger and stronger as he has built his portfolio.

The cast is really strong as well, each of the four main actors will probably be recognised by any movie fan out there. None of them are what I think of as superstars which I think helps make the movie feel more humble.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play Ed and Lorraine Warren and they play a couple really well, they look very natural together. As do Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor who play Roger and Carolyn Perron, they look very natural together and like Wilson and Farmiga you feel the devotion to each other.
This movie would not be as good without these four actors, but the rest of the cast do an incredible job as well. Shannon Kook is smooth and capable as the Warren’s assistant and John Brotherton plays a police officer (not sure why a police officer is needed but I’m sure there’s a good reason) who is very sceptical but also adds a little comic relief and has some good banter with Kook’s character.
I also need to mention Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy and Kyla Deaver who play the Perron’s daughters. Each of these girls are good and make it believable that they are sisters.

This film made me feel like I was there and part of what the characters were going through, not many films have had this effect on me. Not many films get so many things right but this one does, it feels like everything came together very well and we, the movie fans, reap the rewards.

One of my favourite movies of the year.

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