Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Brad Bird

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist

Synopsis: As a result of Ethan Hunt’s team being framed for the bombing of the Kremlin, Ghost Protocol has been initiated, resulting in the IMF being disavowed.   Hunt must go on an unsanctioned mission to prevent a terrorist codenamed Cobalt (Nyqvist) obtaining nuclear missile launch codes, and clear the reputation of the IMF in the process.

Continue reading

Spielberg Double Bill Part 2 – The Adventures of Tintin

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones

Synopsis: Herge’s most famous creation is brought to animated life with the latest motion capture techniques.   In this adventure, the simple purchase of a model ship leads Tintin on a mystery for sunken treasure, an adventure which introduces him to long time friend Captain Haddock.   Based on the Tintin graphic novels “The Crab with the Golden Claws” and “The Secret of The Unicorn”.

Continue reading

Paul (2011) – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Greg Mottola

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, Blythe Danner

Synopsis: Two English geeks are on a trip across America, starting with the infamous San Diego Comic Con and then following a trail of the most famous UFO hotspots.    When along they way they meet a genuine interstellar alien, their adventure takes a whole new turn.

A review by Film Nerd.

This is a film almost entirely designed for the themes of this blog.   Starting at Comic Con with an almost loving homage to the geek Mecca, with well-known geeks Pegg and Frost front and centre, it makes it very clear what the tone of this film is about.   It is not necessarily about new ways of making film, and it is not even parody of geek culture.   It embraces the source for comedy that celebrates these forms of entertainment rather than mocking.

The simple fact is that though this films stands in its own right as a clever comedy, the sheer number of pop-culture and classic sci-fi references present in this film are staggering.    So if you are the type of person, that, like me, would at least once in this life-time be able to attend the key San Diego even that opens this film, then chances are that these extra film references (and cameos…. no spoilers in this review), will take the comedy to an entirely new level.

I don’t think that the trailer gives the film enough credit for how clever it can be.   Yes, the titular alien Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen, is crude, obnoxious, and spends a good portion of the film naked, but this is not a film that often goes for cheap laughs, and it finds a balance with the more heart-warming elements of the film quite admirably.   It is not hard for Pegg and Frost to act as long-term friends, it is well on record that is indeed the case.   Showing how Paul can alter that dynamic however is entirely believable and the interesting addition of Wiig’s love interest adds yet further dimension.   A final mix of believer, religious sceptic, jealous mate, and a pursuit by one capable and two incapable agents makes for what is in the end an original and entertaining film.

Like most comedies, some gags do fall flat, and there are occasional gags that fall flat that may stem from the skewed Pegg/Frost humour.   These moments are few though, so sit back, have your mental movie diary ready to pick each film reference and enjoy the “Trek”.

4 stars out of 5


Paul on IMDB

Paul on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hljxH-QJq1g]

Upcoming Genre Films for 2011 Part Deux – A Preview by Film Nerd

First of all thanks to Urban Fantasist for that awesome post.   Consider my appetite whetted.   As you referred to yourself though, there are certain tastes of mine that were not catered to, so here is a preview of 2011 from the perspective of someone who collected comics in high school.

I will be using the same list as Urban Fantasist from io9, but I will extend from there a little bit from a post by blastr featuring the top 55 trailers for films coming out in 2011.   I will of course avoid overlap between these lists.

The Green Hornet (io9, blastr)     January 14

A remake of the series that first captured hearts on radio serials then on television, featuring a rich guy turned vigilante.   The character was created by the guy who brought us The Lone Ranger, and at one point in the radio series it was indicated that the Hornet is descendant of the Ranger.   Directed by Michael Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame, it could prove interesting.

I Am Number Four (io9, blastr)     February 18

A group of nine aliens hiding out as teenagers on Earth are hunted down for extermination by the government.   With three down, this film follows the story of the fourth to be targeted.    Based on a novel of the same name.

The Adjustment Bureau (io9, blastr)     March 4

Matt Damon plays a congressman destined for big things, before he meets and falls for Emily Blunt’s ballerina.   He was supposed to never meet her again, but somehow does, and falls in love with her.   The mysterious agency of the title steps in to prevent the relationship, and put our heroes life back on the set path.   Escaping, running, and hiding ensues….

Battle: Los Angeles (io9, blastr)     March 11

Gritty war film with hand-held camera work with visceral closeups, etc.   Oh yeah, and humans are fighting aliens.   Sounds like a great big B-movie, but with a cast headlined by Aaron Eckhart, may prove a hidden gem.

Red Riding Hood (io9, blastr)     March 11

Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman star in this retelling of the classic tale, with the wolf recast as a werewolf connected the past of she with the hood.   Don’t know how Urban Fantasist missed that one, sounds like her cup of tea!!

Paul (io9, blastr)     March 18

Comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as two mates on an American road trip that meet foul mouth alien Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen.   Some of the gags on the trailer are foul, but delightfully so!!

Sucker Punch (io9, blastr)     March 25

A film by Zack Snyder, who previously brought us 300 and Watchmen.   He does have a talent for absolute visual splendour on-screen, and the trailers indicate this will be no different.   It is hard to get a grasp on what it is about, but seems to be the story of five girls attempting to escape the clutches of evil authority in a mental asylum…or is it a war zone???   Or a bordello??

Super (io9, blastr)     April 1

Okay, so the concept of this sounds very similar to Kick-Ass… average bloke dons a costume to fight crime.   So lacking in originality on that count perhaps.   Just watch the clip posted on blastr though and I dare you not to show some interest!!

Hanna (blastr only) April 8

Eric Bana’s ex-CIA agent trains daughter Saoirse Ronin to be the perfect assassin, with the goal to target Cate Blanchett.    A lot of talent there in that sentence, and a pretty cool concept to boot.    The trailer also kicks butt!!

Your Highness (io9, blastr) April 8

Danny McBride and James Franco reteam with the director of Pineapple Express to star as royal brothers on a rescue mission… a comedy that drags Natalie Portman and my favourite Zooey Deschanel along for the ride.   I am still giggling at the trailer… “What a coincidence, I was just about to finish thinking of you!!”   Hehe.

Thor (io9, blastr)     May 6

The Norse god is exiled to Earth, as reimagined by Marvel Comics.   Mjolnir was spotted after the credits to Iron Man 2, resulting in my second Nerdgasm for that film.   Those that don’t know that this is part of building towards Joss Whedon’s The Avengers should be stripped of their geek badge immediately!!

X-Men: First Class (io9 only)     June 3

The second Marvel movie for 2011.   With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and January Jones on board, and Kick-Ass’ Michael Vaughn directing, can we put the travesty of X-Men: The Last Stand behind us???

Green Lantern (io9, bkastr)     June 17

A film based on a DC universe second tier hero.   Ryan Reynolds is good casting, but the CGI costume is still a little off-putting for me.   However, has the potential to be the next Iron Man, whom was one of Marvel’s second tier heroes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (io9, blastr)     July 15

You really want a synopsis for this one?

Captain America: The First Avenger (io9 only)     July 22

The source of my first Nerdgasm in Iron Man 2 was spotting Captain America’s shield partially constructed in Tony Stark’s work room.   Like Thor, this is building to Whedon’s The Avengers, and has Chris Evans donning the tights in what can only be called great casting!

Cowboys and Aliens (io9, blastr)     July 29

James Bond and Indiana Jones!!   The old west!!   Aliens!!    Daniel Craig waits from unconsciousness with a strange device on his arm.   Harrison Ford plays the villain of the piece, that teams with Craig when the bigger threat arrives.   Why didn’t they think of this earlier???

The Thing (io9 only)     October 14

Prequel to John Carpenter’s iconic original.   Stars Joel Edgerton, and personal favourite Mary Elizabeth Winstead, last seen in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Sherlock Holmes 2 (io9, blastr)     December 16

Downey Jr. and Law return to 221B Baker Street, this time to face the infamous Professor Moriarty.   Be warned, blastr screwed up, the trailer from the first film, not the first trailer for the second!!

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (io9 only) December 23

Steven Spielberg directs his first fully motion capture film.   Peter Jackson produces.   They will be swapping roles for the sequel!!   Stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.   Some writing was even done by Doctor Who‘s Steven Moffatt!! Add that element of retro charm and I am sold!

Man, that is a lot of movies…. I hope Bride of Film Nerd doesn’t kill me when we need a second mortgage!!

 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Michael Apted

Cast: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Gary Sweet, Simon Pegg, Tilda Swinton, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley

Synopsis: Lucy (Henley) and Edmund Pevensie (Keynes) are once again drawn into Narnia, this time dragging allong their annoying cousin Eustace Scrubb (Poulter).   They join Caspian (Barnes), now king of Narnia, onboard the Dawn Treader, on a mission to find seven missing lords of Narnia whom had fled during the reign of Caspian’s uncle.   While on tis quest, they uncover the existence of a severe threat that endanger’s Caspian’s kingdom.

A review by Film Nerd.

This film has been out for a few weeks now, and according to what I have read is not performing well.   Some prospective movie-goers may see this as a mark of the poor quality of the film, and this would be an unfortunate conclusion.   A film’s performance at the box office is not always the best way to judge what you are going to see, as evidenced by the original Matrix film, which only found an audience with DVD release.

It defies belief that each subsequent Narnia film is performing worse than its predecessor. as really, the films are ironically getting better.   Perhaps the somewhat disappointing adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe may be to blame for this, because the adaptation of Prince Caspian I found to be a rare case of the adaptation exceeding the quality of the source material.   Dawn Treader is not a film I would say does the same, but being one of my favourite books in the series, it really does not need improving.   The film does however match the quality of what was originally written by C.S. Lewis.

The film achieves this not only by a faithful adaptation, but all round brilliant performances.   Keynes and Henley have matured in their acting skills, Barnes has steadily been working since his first appearance in  Prince Caspian and has quite a commanding on-screen presence, and Pegg voicing mouse Reepicheep is a real delight.   The true find of this film though is Poulter as Eustace.   He plays an annoying character in such a way as to make it the most entertaining person to watch.   I think director Apted must have realised this, as Eustace was utilised as narrator of the film, which also served to introduce the uninitiated to the story.   I look forward to seeing Poulter again in The Silver Chair, should the film get greenlit despite the current box office.   In a supporting role, special mention should also go to Gary Sweet as Drinian, who was so immersed in the role of captain of the Dawn Treader, it took me a couple of scenes to realise it was him.

I am making no claim the film was perfect.   The nature of the book did make the story telling a little episodic, so this interrupted the flow of the narrative somewhat.   Also, being a fan of the novels, there were certain moments I would not have minded seeing expanded upon.   These are overall minor quibbles, given that it was a film I was just happy to sit back and enjoy, and a tear was even brought to the eye quite unexpectedly at the end.   I am sure Bride of Film Nerd would also have wiped her face a bit if she was not too busy laughing at my father wiping HIS face.

Yes, this is a film very strong on Christian allegory, and I understand this may turn many people off in today’s society.   If you can at least accept this fact and you are not too concerned over the religious messages one way or the other,  this is a good film to see to fill in some of those uneventful holiday hours.   I will stop short of begging people to see it, as I repeat, given Poulter’s performance, I really want to see The Silver Chair get made!!

3.5 stars out of 5

 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on IMDB

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxfb1L-hMxU]

Star Trek (2009) – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood

Synopsis: The film that takes us back to where it all began… James T. Kirk attends Starfleet Academy and then takes command of the Starship Enterprise.   However, the history of the future is not quite the same as has been implied in previous Trek chapters.

 

A review by Film Nerd.

Up until this point, I have avoided reviewing my favourite franchises.   I felt for a very good reason too… I am such a gushing fanboy, that my reviews would be decidedly one-sided and biased by my collected knowledge of the entire saga, rather than focussing on the individual film.   This brief preamble explains exactly why there are no reviews here of anything from Lord of the Rings, James Bond, or, indeed, nothing from Star Trek.   The fact I feel I can now review them is more a reflection of the fact that I have quite a number of reviews under my belt now that may show me as an impartial film critic, that I can perhaps let myself indulge a little  bit in absolute impartiality.

An impartiality that had me see J.J. Abrams Star Trek a total of three times at the cinema, dragging Bride of Film Nerd with me on at least two of those occasions (forgiven mainly due to the fact that the second visit was our first trip to IMAX).   I did not walk in entirely blind, I had already been made aware of the MacGuffin, that villain Bana’s Nero and Nimoy’s Spock had travelled back in time, altering the timeline in the process.   Quite frankly, this was a stroke of genius, in one move freeing ther film from over forty years of Star Trek cannon.   This gave the script more room to breathe, and also let the individual actor’s develop the character’s for themselves, while keeping enough respect for the original cast to keep the spirit of the original characters alive.

Pine’s Kirk is a perfect example of this.   Pine was provided with the “what if?” scenario of James Kirk growing up without the support of his father.   As a result, he is a delinquent who lacks direction.   That is until he is recruited to Starfleet by Greenwood’s Captain Christopher Pike (a reference to the character who in the original series captained the Enterprise before Kirk, played by Jeffrey Hunter).   Pike’s mentor role brings out something in Kirk more familiar, a rascal, but one that accepts responsibility, much more the Shatner style Kirk of old.   Zachary Quinto is also amazing, not only looking like a young Leonard Nimoy, but capturing the essence of the character brilliantly.   He is perhaps more prone to emotion than the original, but this is fitting given his younger age and his continued struggle with his human half.   Of the lead three, I would have loved to see more McCoy.   Urban does a fantastic job capturing the character of the irascible country doctor with the heart of gold made famous by DeForest Kelley.   He even is more striking as a ladies man type than the original, which used to be hinted that the younger McCoy was prior to the series.

The rest of the cast does very well.   Saldana as Uhura not only looks smoking, but is a very fierce and capable officer.   Cho and Yelchin imbue their Sulu and Chekov respectively with the right mix of officer material and sense of humour.   When it comes to sense of humour though, Scotty was always great comic relief in the series, and Pegg’s version takes full advantage of this fact.   Aside from the main cast, Bana’s villain has an understandable motive, but is perhaps too consumed with the need for revenge to develop too far.   His power comes more from advanced technology than from sheer intellect, so Khan he is not.   Given this is an origin story though and there are already 7 main character story arcs to follow, this may also have been necessary for the scripting of the film.   Greenwood is amazing in this film, the first which I can recall seeing him in.   As may be clear from other reviews on this site, I have subsequently become quite a fan of his.   Finally, I get to Nimoy.   He is the connective thread between this film and all that has passed before.   For many, he IS Star Trek.   So his presence is what makes this whole movie gel.   He doesn’t have to do anything beyond slip into a role he is comfortable with just as he is his own skin, and as a true fan, I could ask for nothing more.

Abrams was very clear in making this fan, he was not necessarily a Star Trek fan.   He made it clear though he respected exactly why the franchise was loved by so many.   In the end, he crafted a film that he felt he would want to go and watch.   In doing so, he opened up the franchise to the uninitiated.   After all, my evidence for this was Bride of Film Nerd, who enjoyed it enough to acquiesce to see it again with me.    In making the product more open, I acknowledge there was a backlash.   Those that know Abrams was a Star Wars fan insisted on seeing similarities in this film with the former franchise.   To me, this is frankly bollocks.   The opening scene of a large Starfleet vessel drifting past the camera may have been an obvious homage, but beyond that I think those naysayers were grasping at straws.   Come on guys, Star Wars does not have copyright on ice planets!!   No, despite this film being open to a larger audience, it is quintessentially Star Trek, with the message for a bright future for humanity well and truly in tact.

5 stars (out of a possible 5)


Star Trek on IMDB

Star Trek on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuDc4GtjLfY&playnext=1&list=PL823376CAA9CEFC13&index=1]