Elysium – 6/10

There is a great movie here somewhere amongst the mess. A missed opportunity…


District 9 was such a breath of fresh air when it landed back in 2009 and this makes Neill Blomkamp’s overly complicated follow up even more disappointing. While it is not a particularly original concept, the prospect of affluent members of society moving away from Earth to live in a floating paradise should provide plenty of space for biting social satire. When Blomkamp does attempt to go down this road it is mostly successful as he sends up the ludicrous bureaucracy of the law enforcement system perfectly. The problem is this message is lost beneath the sludge of a messy, ill thought out plot.

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The Monuments Men – 3/10

Utter, total, turd.


The prospect of a cast featuring Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and George Clooney is mouthwatering to say the least. Add to the fact that The Monuments Men is Clooney’s directorial follow up to the widely successful Ides of March and we are talking about one of the most anticipated films of 2014. It is difficult then to fathom how the end product is so bland and forgettable.

Aside from a typically strong Cate Blanchett performance as a Parisian art curator, the rest of the cast sleepwalks through this one with even the great Bill Murray offering zero respite. Worse than the acting is the script which is so humourless and self righteous it is actually difficult to sit through The Monuments Men until the end.

The message seems to be that art is more valuable than anything, even life, but against the back drop of the second world war this idealistic attitude is borderline offensive to the millions of young men and women that lost their lives. Tonally the film can’t decide what it wants to be. It flits between ‘comedy’ (in the loosest sense of the word) and forced camaraderie to create a frustrating viewing experience.

After universally poor reviews hopefully we can collectively forget about The Monuments Men as a species and just pretend that Bill Murray was never even involved. George Clooney should probably stay in front of the camera exclusively from now on, he is a handsome bastard after all.

The Martian – 8/10

Matt Damon makes a film much more fun than his last space outing…


Since Gravity in 2013 there has been one big space movie every year. Last year it was Interstellar and 2015 brought Ridley Scott’s The Martian. Now whilst there is no denying the visual brilliance of Gravity or the huge critical acclaim of Interstellar, at times they are both ponderous and humourless affairs. The Martian‘s great strength is that it combines breathtaking effects and science, with a brilliantly down to Earth (sorry) performance from Matt Damon.

Unlike say Interstellar, The Martian is laugh out loud funny on numerous occasions and credit must go to Ridley Scott for combining comedic actors such as Kirsten Wiig and Community‘s Donald Glover with a plethora of excellent acting talent like Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels. Daniels in particular is perfect for the tone of the film as he is equally comfortable in both dramatic and comedic roles and he gets a chance to do both in The Martian.

Leading the pack is Matt Damon who carries the early part of the movie where it is basically just him and the scenery with ease. Damon has made a career out of playing understated but charismatic characters and his Mark Watney is both likeable and relatable despite being an astronaut and genius botanist.


Rounding of the cast are Kate Mara and Michael Pena who are both on their way to becoming household names already and it is this incredibly talented collection of actors that make for an engrossing story that never outstays it’s welcome even at over 2 hours.

The Martian shows that you can combine serious science with heart wrenching emotion and still end up with a fun and easy watch. In the movie space race of the last three years, The Martian is easily taking home the gold medal.

Top 5 Edward Norton Characters

Ed Norton is a tough actor to pin down having appeared in critically acclaimed blockbusters, indie flicks and disappointments. For every Fight Club there is a Death to Smoochy

Despite never quite scaling the heights that his talent fully deserved, Ed Norton is without a doubt one of the greatest living actors. Here are 5 of his most compelling and memorable characters.

5. Monty Brogan – 25th Hour

Best Quote: Too long to transcribe here but see above video. Well worth a watch even out of context.

Best Moment – The above rant, whilst brilliantly written by David Benioff, is bought to life by a self righteous and toxic Norton who somehow also brings a sympathetic edge to what is basically a diatribe of hate. It is also one of the great on screen monologues.

Spike Lee’s 25th Hour is an underrated gym that not enough people have seen. It is perhaps more poignant than ever given recent events and bubbling tensions.

4. Lester ‘Worm’ Murphy – Rounders


Best Quote: ‘I guess the sayings’ true. In the poker game of life, women are the rake man. They are the fuckin’ rake.’

Best Moment – Worm returns to Matt Damon’s Mike McDermott’s life like a whirlwind destroying everything in his path. This is never more devastating then when Worm surprises McDermott while he is hustling a poker game for cops… it doesn’t go well.

Like 25th Hour, Rounders is a criminally underrated gem. It is also bang in the middle of Norton’s golden run starting with Primal Fear and taking in American History X and Fight Club.

3. Mike – Birdman


Best Quote: ‘Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.’

Best Moment: Mike is undoubtedly one of Norton’s more abrasive characters. Mike’s initial arrival on the set of Riggan’s play is a tour de force in snarky, passive aggressive, douchebaggery from Norton who appears to be relishing every second of playing such an arrogant jack ass.

In his later career Norton has had much more success playing supporting characters such as in Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom.

2. Derek Vinyard – American History X


Best Quote: ‘If you come near Danny again, I will feed you your fucking heart, Cameron.’

Best Moment: Perhaps unfairly American History X will always be remembered for the infamous ‘curb stomp’ scene but Derek losing it over the family dinner table at his mother for dating a Jewish man is just as powerful.

American History X is the 32nd best film ever made according to IMDB users despite only being nominated for 1 Oscar. Like Shawshank Redemption before it however, American History X is now receiving the plaudits and the audience it initially deserved, years after the fact. Derek Vinyard is Ed Norton’s best performance but not his most iconic character. That plaudit belongs to…

1. The Narrator – Fight Club


Best Quote: ‘I am Jack’s smirking revenge…’

Best Moment: In a film bustling with memorable scenes it is nigh on impossible to pick just one. The opening hushed narration, the first fight with Tyler, crying into Bob’s tits, the destruction of Jared Leto, the heart wrenching finale of watching society collapse with Marla by his side etc.

The defining moment for the Narrator however comes when Tyler burns his hand with Lye. Norton’s screaming and wincing makes the pain seem real and his beautiful realization ‘it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything’ frames the rest of the movie.

Top 5 Kevin Smith Partnerships

The fictional ‘ViewAskewniverse’ that Kevin Smith has created has struck a chord with people the World over who see themselves, in the geeky idiosyncrasies and insecurities of the main characters. Kevin Smith’s films are awash with Heroes and Sidekicks – just like the world of comic’s that Smith loves so much. Here are five of the best of them…

5. Banky Edwards & Holden McNeil


Played by: Jason Lee and Ben Affleck

First appearance: Chasing Amy

Best moment: Narrowly pipping the ‘tracer’ argument from the opening scene, is the glorious moment when Banky finally realizes that Alyssa is lesbian and the sexy song she has just sung was not for Holden but for Kim. Jason Lee’s smile paints a thousand spiteful words.

4. Bartleby & Loki


Played by: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon

First Appearance: Dogma

Best Moment: The slaughter of the Mooby executives with Bartleby constantly undermining Loki’s ‘penchant for the dramatic’ is hilarious and well written. The fictional Mooby’s brand would go on to play a big part in the Kevin Smith universe. Not least for the next two clowns…

3. Dante Hicks & Randal Graves


Played by: Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson

First Appearance: Clerks

Best Moment: Hard to pick just one defining moment from two movies that are basically Dante & Randal sitting around talking but the ‘home truths’ scene at the end of Clerks is surprisingly hard hitting and emotionally resonant as Randal flames Dante for blaming everything on others and telling him to ‘shit or get off the pot’.

2. Brodie Bruce & TS Quint


Played by: Jason Lee and ‘TV’s Jeremy London’ (to quote Jason Lee from the Mallrats DVD commentary.)

First Appearance: Mallrats

Best Moment: The taking over of Mr. Svennings dogshit game show has some killer lines (‘When Jaws popped out of the water…’) but their initial entrance to the Mall where they bump into that dick from the Fashionable Male and Willam’s sailboat is Brodie and TS’ finest hour.

1. Jay & Silent Bob


Played by: Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith

First Appearance: Clerks

Best Moment: Finally getting their own movie is obviously a wonderful achievement but in terms of the characters themselves surely (SPOILERS) buying the Quick Stop at the end of Clerks II is their crowning glory. Taking the whole franchise back to where it all started. Snoogans.

Kingsman: The Secret Service – 7.5/10.

Colin Firth plays tinker, tailer, soldier and spy as Matthew Vaughn continues his hot streak.

colin-firth-at-event-of-kingsman -the-secret-service-(2014)-large-picture

With 2010’s Kick Ass, director Matthew Vaughn turned the comic book genre on it’s head with gritty realism and unfamiliar character arcs and story line. After continuing his good work in that area with X-Men: First Class (one of the finest films in the whole comic book genre), Vaughn has turned his talents to the classic espionage genre and if not reinvigorated it then certainly made it interesting again.

I wasn’t that taken with the Bourne franchise, despite my undying love for Matt Damon, and I flat out dislike Bond films so the only reason I ended up watching Kingsman was for the excellent cast and because of Matthew Vaughn’s track record (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass and X:Men: First Class to date).

Heading up a mostly British cast are Colin Firth and Mark Strong who always collaborate well together and it is nice to see Strong as a supporting hero rather than as a stock British villain. Firth is a touch of class as ever and he has more of a twinkle in his eye in Kingsman than in some of his recent work which has appeared a bit phoned in since The Kings Speech.

Alongside Firth and Strong, relative newcomer Taron Egerton does a brilliant job as the protagonist in what is a tough role to pull off. The cockney wide boy can so easily become caricature but Egerton is equally at home in trackie bottoms or a smart suit and he could be one to keep an eye on for the future.

KSS_JB_D11_01307 - Harry (Colin Firth), an impeccably suave spy, helps Eggsy (Taron Egerton) turn his life around by trying out for a position with Kingsman, a top-secret independent intelligence organization.

Slightly worrying is the inability to escape completely from genre trappings with tired plot devices like a ticking clock and also cartoonish villains (Samuel. L Jackson is disappointing as the antagonist) unfortunately present. Another concern is the action genre in general is still guilty of failing to find interesting roles for woman with Sophie Cookson little more than a prop in her supporting role here.

With Joss Whedon, JJ Abrams, Gareth Evans and to a lesser extent Zack Snyder doing great work on similar projects we could be entering a new golden age for big action blockbusters and Matthew Vaughn should be able to pick whatever project he wants next after such a strong start to his directing career.

The Zero Theorem – 7/10

Bald man grapples with dystopia whilst staring at various women’s breasts.


Anyone who has seen any of Terry Gilliams’ previous work (Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus(!) etc) will know that he is a bit of an oddball. I have always felt if he was a bit more b̶o̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ serious like Terrence Malick say, he would be a lot more appreciated in high brow circles but instead he infuses his lofty ambitions with humour and colour.

The dystopia featured in The Zero Theorem obviously owes a debt to 1984 but to be fair it is almost impossible not to and he does bring his own visual style to the table. I quite like main player Christoph Waltz (although he has never got close to equalling his performance in Inglorious Basterds). Waltz grows into the role but Matt Damon steals every scene he is in. If you are into deep and meaningful symbolic stuff and you like Gilliam’s previous work then you should definitely give this a shot. Stick with it too, the last half an hour is much better than the opening.