Tag Archives: Gary Oldman

Robocop (2014) | Review | Film

RoboCop (2014)The return of RoboCop was something noone asked for. The 1987 original is a piece of cinema history, as elegant as only storytelling from the 80s can be. So why watch this remake?

The short answer is if you want to a watch a film which, judged on its own merits is passable, but when compared to its older brother fails to live up to its name in almost every way.

The story begins, as before, in a futuristic Detroit – although the 80s version of the future, as usual, is cooler than what we’ve ended up with. This time the scale is more focused on the global threat of terrorism and the loss of American lives, lovingly set up by Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson).

There’s no doubt that the film is aware of the irony in its Robocop_2014_posterdepiction of both Pat and the gun-loving Yanks he represents in using a one-dimensional view of the world to see a robot army crawling over Tehran as ‘freedom’.

The origins of RoboCop as the monotone-voiced cyborg we know and love have changed. Not only is Alex Murphy not shot to pieces, but RoboCop himself has no amnesia to tangle with, just a spot of drug therapy – which conveniently fixes itself when the plot requires it.

Lead Joel Kinnaman (known only from TV series The Killing) does a remarkably uninspiring job of bringing Murphy to life. It’s the nature of a reboot to compare to the original, but Kinnaman plays things far to safe to offer any stand-out moments whatsoever, and as a result you feel as if it could have easily been a completely separate film and it might have even be better off.

Some of the changes seem petty as well, such as Murphy being transformed by ‘OmniCorp’, now a subsidiary of ‘Omni Consumer Products’, rather than OCP itself, which means there’s no board of directors to tangle with, just Batman…I mean Michael Keaton.

The iconic ED-209 robot is also tragically sidelined, wheeled (or tiptoed?) out for only a couple of key scenes and there was no chance for them to offer their customary warning whatsoever.

Film should move forward, rather than look back. The best remakes undeniably build on what has gone before in the franchise rather than re-treading old ground.

With this release, no new ideas are brought to the table. Murphy’s relationship with his son is held up as an overly significant plot point, but it has no pay off, and his wife’s distress while touching at first quickly grows into a distraction.

Murphy's relationship with his family takes centre stage...when it suits the plot.
Murphy’s relationship with his family takes centre stage…when it suits the plot.

Not enough time is spend with the film’s main villain, Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), and instead the audience warms to secondary antagonist Rick Mattox (Jackie Earle Haley), who is unfortunately sidelined before he gets a decent throwdown with RoboCop.

The suit design inexplicably offers a single human hand, not even its relevant arm, as if to make some sort of statement about the importance of contact and humanity, but instead comes off looking oddly asymmetrical and you are frequently left wondering why.

In fact that thought is something of a theme for the film altogether – just why? Everything about the film is forgettable and uninspired. The acting talent of the supporting cast, including Keaton and Oscar-nominee Gary Oldman, struggles to shine amid a script which offers no relief from the inevitability of a film made for profit rather than love.

If you are about 12 years old, then there is genuinely some excitement to be had here (not to the standards of a stronger Doctor Who two-parter, but hey), and the action is decent enough when it happens, though the shaky cam is enough to give you a bit of a headache if you watch too hard.

In all RoboCop is a film which fails to re-capture audiences imaginations, as if someone tried to play Heath Ledger’s Joker with none of the audacity and ended up with a paler, tamer, and far less bloody version of the film we know and love.

Rating: 2/5

James Michael Parry

If you fancy an alternative, check out indie title Our RoboCop Remake instead.

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The Dark Knight Rises | Film Review | This Is Entertainment

Hand-breakingly good actionWith its predecessor raking in critical acclaim from across the globe, not to mention two Oscars, the deck could not be stacked higher against The Dark Knight Rises. Quite amazing then, that the film generally manages to escape the shadows of previous films to hold its own and live up to its legacy.

Eight years have passed since Batman vanished after taking the blame for Harvey Dent/Two-Face’s killing spree at the climax of TDK and the years have not been kind. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is a recluse, Wayne Enterprises has been hit hard and there is a storm coming – a storm led by build-like-a-tank supervillain Bane.

The Nolan incarnation of Bane is far removed from the hulkish giant found in Batman’s most tragic cinematic outing, Batman and Robin (which, interestingly, Bale was almost cast as Robin in). Bane circa 2012, played to perfection by Tom Hardy, is a calculating and brutal terrorist, intent on bringing Gotham to justice. Sounding familiar? That’s because justice was the driving force behind Ra’s Al Ghul’s assault on the city back in Batman Begins.

In fact the ties with Director Christopher Nolan’s first venture into Gotham City keep popping up, almost as if the franchise has gone full circle. Unfortunately it does mean that the continuity seems odd, as TDK now doesn’t quite fit as well with the other two, despite sharing most of its name with the latest film.

The returning cast is on fine form, with Bale, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman slotting in to their establish roles reliably. It’s Caine though that really pushes the envelope emotionally, with the most touchingly tearful speech of the trilogy.

Newcomer Anne Hathaway as cat burglar Selina Kyle, or Catwoman as she’s better known, is a delicious blend of deadly and sexy, instantly convincing as the opportunist thief making the best of a bad time in a bad town.

Bane does the Caped Crusader some damage.The other two new faces of note quickly give a suggestion of the film’s mind-bending edge, since they both feature in Nolan’s last blockbuster – 2010’s Inception. Marion Cotillard’s shrewd investor Miranda is the first suggestion that the business world of Gotham is bigger than just Bruce Wayne. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Gotham cop John Blake, who provides a new point of view as the audience follow for much of the film, as the characters we know change before our eyes.

Gary Oldman continues his Oscar-worthy turn as Commissioner Gordon. This time around Gordon is held back from the front line, forced to let youngsters like Blake take the lead. Oldman perfectly depicts the character’s mixture of frustration, as he struggles to stay in control of his city, and regret, at keeping the truth about Harvey Dent a secret.

The spectacle of this film is undoubtedly the greatest of the three, with the sound and cinematography reaching new heights, something particularly noticeable when viewed in IMAX. The film’s plot is a double-edged sword however, simultaneously too complex and too simplistic. Some characters aren’t given the time they deserve, and the lack of a central driving force like Heath Ledger’s Joker really tells, as the smaller plot lines conflict and fight for attention towards the final act.

Nolan went into this film to meet the challenge of making a compelling final instalment to a trilogy, something notoriously difficult to accomplish, and thanks to his passion and dedication as a director, succeeds in making a film up to the calibre of the other films, but falls short of surpassing them.

Rating: 4/5

pictures courtesy: breitbart.com

Believing the Hype – Part 1: Most Antipated Films of 2012 | This Is Entertainment

With the excitement of New Year over and done with and the daily grind of work and school already kicking in, it’s time to think about what’s worth getting excited about in 2012. Sure there’s some sort of Olympics and a European football tournament, and even the end of the world (perhaps), but the really interesting stuff comes in the form of our daily distractions of film, music and computer games.

So, in order to kick the hype machine into gear, This Is Entertainment presents a series of articles highlighting the top five most anticipated from the world of film, music and Xbox games, beginning with the silverscreen:

made by Ryan LuckooThe Dark Knight Rises 20 July

Christian Bale returns (slightly higher than before) for the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. This time around it’s a very Inception-inspired affair with Tom Hardy taking the role of big bad terrorist Bane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt joining the team as Batman’s new helper beat cop John Blake. The exciting thing about the premise is that the film is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, when the Caped Crusader took the fall for Harvey Dent’s killing spree. With Nolan at the helm, and several blockbusters under his belt, there’s little chance of the team dropping the ball, and with promise of antics from Catwoman, courtesy of Anne Hathaway, this is a serious contender for big hit of the summer.

The Avengers27 April

Another entry in the ‘Year of the superhero’, and this is certainly the big one in terms of numbers of heroes involved. Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and of course the top man Captain America all thrown together in one action-packed adrenaline ride – sound appealing? The balance of personalities will be key, especially with Robert Downey Jr. threatening to steal the show as king of swagger Tony Stark. Writing duties come from Zak Penn (X-men 2, X-men 3 and The Incredible Hulk) and Joss Whedon (Firefly, Serenity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), undoubtedly an impressive pedigree, and with Whedon taking directing duties as well he’ll be sure their story gets realised with all the style and humour it deserves.

made by RNK Fan ArtSkyfall26 October

Bond is finally back. After a four year absence Daniel Craig picks up the Walther PPK again to protect the people of Britain, and this time it’s in a story with the least links to the Fleming-verse, since Skyfall is a the first film not to be in any way based on one of the Bond creator’s stories. Judy Dench is back as M, and Naomi Harris is on Bond girl duty, in a story which delves into M’s past as it “comes back to haunt her”. With long-running relationships to be tested, it could prove to be the most personal story since 1994’s Goldeneye. As ever the story is being kept fairly under wraps, but don’t expect to see a return of the ‘Quantum’ organisation, although the style is unlikely to stray far from the ‘new’ Bond formula.

The Hobbit14 December

Before the story told in arguably the most successful trilogy of the 00s, there was Bilbo Baggins, dwarves and a very large dragon. In print a more child-friendly tale than The Lord of the Rings, but on screen Peter Jackson is creating a story on his usual epic scale. Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins, and was so wanted by Jackson that he scheduled in a break in shooting for Freeman to reprise his role as Watson in the Stephen Moffat’s sublime Sherlock. Sir Ian McKellen leads the band of dwarves, filled with well-known names in its own right, on their quest, as they are re-united with plenty of other familiar faces from the proceeding films (which are actually set afterwards, just to be confusing). For those with a thirst for fantasy will have no better journey than this in 2012.

The Amazing Spider-Man4 July

In the other side of the big superhero face-off, the return of Spider-Man sees us going back to the beginning (again) with The Social Network star Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. This reboot, now a groan-inducingly familiar term, focuses on Peter Parker’s high school years, so no Daily Bugle or sideline in pizza delivery. Marc Webb is the aptly named director of the flick, known previously for (500) Days of Summer, has a background in music videos. Webb put together numerous micro-films in the past decade for the likes of Green Day, Good Charlotte, AFI, My Chemical Romance, 3 Doors Down, Maroon 5 and Yellowcard, which might result in a particularly poignant use of music for Spidey. The supporting cast includes Emma Stone, as love interest Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans as Doctor Curt Connors, the unfortunate scientist who, after an inevitable accident, becomes Spider-Man’s nemesis The Lizard. It may be a story we’ve seen before in Sam Raimi’s 2002 film, and certainly there is a lot to live up to for Garfield in Tobey McGuire’s performance, but Webb has everything to prove with what is only his second feature length picture – plus there isn’t a goblin in sight.

Plus: Under the Radar – Keep an eye on Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s sort-of Alien prequel set in the same universe, expect the same chill-factor as you get from watching the original alone in the dark and a massively ambitious project all round.

Check back soon for the next instalment looking at the most anticipated albums of the year.

James Michael Parry

Film: Review – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Espionage is an ugly business. Paranoia, stalking and deception are just everyday things, but when you can’t trust your friends…that’s when things start to get really nasty.

So it is in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a cerebral thriller based on John lé Carre’s 1974 novel, which delivers everything you might expect of a slice of home-grown British cinema.

The first thing which strikes you about Tinker, Tailor, other than the impressive pedigree of the ensemble cast, is how convincingly 70s everything seems. The usual period cars and fashions are present, but it’s the small details, such as lead man George Smiley’s (Gary Oldman) signature thick-rimmed black glasses, purchased during the pre-credits sequence, which ooze Cold War Britain, a rigid harsh front constantly alert to the threat of Communism.

A more useful feature of Smiley’s glasses is a clear way of working out when the story seen on screen is a flashback, since much of the film’s background is told in retrospect.

The setup sees Control (John Hurt) tell Mark Strong’s character Jim Prideaux that there is a Soviet Agent inside the secret service, known as ‘the Circus’, and it could be one of five men.

Tinker, Tailor and Soldier refer to three of the five suspects (played by Toby Jones, Colin Firth and Ciaran Hinds respectively), codenames given by control to the men so Prideaux could refer to them unknowingly in communications. The remaining two were the Poor Man (David Dencik) and the Rich Man – Smiley himself.

As part of the investigation, Control sends Prideaux to Budapest, Hungary, to find out some information about the mole, but things do not go to plan.

From here the film twists and turns as Smiley investigates what happened next, with the help of Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), a young civil servant in a neighbouring department of The Circus, and Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) a former asset who returns to provide information crucial to the investigation.

The drama is gripping and complex, with only the most agile of mind able to keep things straight, but the beauty of the film is that it doesn’t matter, and often an element of confusion enhances the tension as the plot curdles to treacle-thick proportions.

The cast are convincing right from the off, and even world-famous A-lister Colin Firth manages to toe the line to convince in a supporting role. Gary Oldman holds the narrative together in Oscar-baiting fashion, his reserved style of inquisition causing even professional spies to falter, and equally displaying a delicate emotional inflection as the story touches on his troubled relationship with his wife.

This film is perhaps a little to complex for its own good, but easily equal to the sum of its parts, and with such high quality ingredients in the cast, Let The Right One In Director Thomas Alfredson has managed to stitch together the most tense and gripping film so far this year.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry