Tag Archives: Nick Frost

[Review] – Snow White and the Huntsman

1 Jun

Title: Snow White and the Huntsman
Year: 2012
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini, based on the screen story by Mr. Daugherty, based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Lily Cole, Ian McShane, Johnny Harris, Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Brian Gleeson, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality
Runtime: 127 min
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Metacritic: 56

It’s been nearly a month and a half since I saw Tarsem Singh‘s Mirror Mirror, the first of the year’s two Snow White-inspired movies. And ever since, lots of people have been patiently waiting compare that to this film, Rupert SandersSnow White and the Huntsman, after all, two films based on the same property released in the same year is not something that happens all that often. Now, granted, the two films are widely different in their approach to the classic Brothers Grimm tale, with Mirror Mirror being this candy-colored PG-rated family affair, and this one being a much darker interpretation of the timeless story, but comparisons were still inevitable.

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[Trailer] – Snow White And The Huntsman

19 Mar

 

Earlier today we got a glimpse at the new Prometheus trailer, now it’s time for the other big Charlize Theron movie coming out this summer season: Snow White and the Huntsman. As we’ve heard quite a lot by now, there are two Snow White movies coming out this year, Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror which is due at the end of this month, and this one which hits theaters June 1.

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The Adventures of Tintin

27 Dec

Title: The Adventures of Tintin
Year: 2011
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, based on the comic books by Hergé
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Tony Curran, Toby Jones
MPAA Rating: PG, adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking
Runtime: 107 min
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Metacritic: 67

I knew I would really like The Adventures of Tintin. After all, it was Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest ever, doing his first animated film, in motion-capture, with the help of Andy Serkis, the pioneer of the technology and who already delivered one of the best performances of the year as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a mo-cap creation. The screenplay was written by three guys that make my geeky heart pump, Steven Moffat (he of Doctor Who and Sherlock), Edgar Wright (he of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Joe Cornish (he of this year’s Attack the Block, which I gave an A to). And it was based on the Hergé comics I devoured as a child and which I remember really fondly.

The result? Well, it’s a pretty damn exceptional film, with Steven Spielberg taking a lot pages from his own playbook, especially Raiders of the Lost Ark, to really deliver a hugely entertaining film, an action adventure thrill ride with some sequences that will make your jaw hit the floor for the sheer awesomeness they evoke and just how insanely well-made they are, this film becoming the second example of the year of how just how effective motion-capture can be if used by the right hands. And obviously, few hands are as trustworthy as Steven Spielberg’s, even if he’s the analog guy, he really seems to have been reinvigorated by this new technology that allowed him to create some shots physics would have maybe made too difficult to shoot regularly. This is Steven Spielberg feeling like a kid in a new playbox, the one of motion-capture, and one in which he can run free and do pretty much whatever he wants, it’s no wonder then that his creative juices were flowing at such high levels.

It’s not just the action, though, Mr. Spielberg is still super careful with the characters and pays great attention to the small details, and of course he’s joined by John Williams, his longtime composer who hadn’t produced a score since Mr. Spielberg’s fourth Indiana Jones film three years ago, and that comes back this year with this thrill ride and the much more old-school, emotional, epic War Horse that Mr. Spielberg premiered in the same week as this film (and which I’m hoping I’ll get to see really soon). And look, I won’t lie, motion-capture still is kind of creepy, it still sits in a really uneasy place between animation and live-action that it’s sort of still carving out for itself, but this isn’t The Polar Express creepy, this is much more refined animation, and in the hands of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, who closely produced, supervised the post and would helm a potential sequel (with him co-directing with Mr. Spielberg a tentative third), and who of course employed mo-cap in his Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong (thus the employment of Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis here), the technology really goes to new places in which you don’t get distracted by it but instead get engulfed by the world it presents.

Because it really is incredibly hard not to be sucked in by Steven Spielberg presenting an action adventure film featuring action scenes in motorcycles, at sea, on air, on really awesome locations and featuring some badass villains. And as someone that grew up with Tintin as a kid, it was just brilliant to see his stories on the big screen as acted and voiced by Jamie Bell, even though something about the animation on the character made him seem younger than he probably should have. The animation, however, is done perfectly well on Snowy, the incredibly awesome and loyal dog that always accompanies Tintin on all his adventures, he pretty much walks away with the whole film. Also around, of course, are Captain Haddock as played by Andy Serkis, and Thomson and Thompson, the two nearly-identical detectives that usually are on the same cases as Tintin, and who are here played, thanks to a genius casting choice, by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

The approach Mr. Spielberg took with the mo-cap technology in re-creating these classic characters is truly ambitious and it really paid off. I was admittedly kind of scared at first, after all these were characters that were so awesome because of how simple the drawings of Hergé seemed on the page, they were truly 2D creations. And yet, the animations are so awesomely done that, while the characters obviously look far more human than they did in the comics, they maintain every little bit of the feel the characters had when I read them, and that’s what they were ultimately all about. Further enhancing the experience is the fact that 3D on the hands of someone like Steven Spielberg is used not as a cheap gimmick, but as a true way to enhance our overall experience of the world we’re thrown into.

As we follow Tintin and Captain Haddock on the search for a sunken ship once commanded by Haddock’s ancestor, and their encounters with the film’s antagonist, Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine, played by Daniel Craig (who had worked with Mr. Spielberg before on Munich), we’re taken on a rollercoaster ride full of explosions and chases and seriously fun characters played and voiced by a truly incredible cast. It’s impossible not to love The Adventures of Tintin, even if you’re not familiar with the character, even if you think you don’t like motion-capture, this film is tremendous, a seriously smart family-friendly film that will honestly be enjoyed by every member of the family. After a three year absence (or six if you, like me, would rather believe the fourth Indy film didn’t happen) Steven Spielberg is back, reinvigorated by a new technology he employs to create some mind-bending sequences reminiscent of his best work in the action adventure genre.

Grade: A-

Attack the Block

28 Aug

Title: Attack the Block
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Joe Cornish
Writer: Joe Cornish
Starring: 
John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, Nick Frost
MPAA Rating: 
R, creature violence, drug content and pervasive language
Runtime:
88 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 
89%

Attack the Block is one of finest films of 2011 so far, it’s really as simple as that. And even though I was looking forward to it a great deal to begin with, because it had some great buzz surrounding and, most importantly, because it came with producer Edgar Wright’s seal of approval, I really wasn’t expecting to love this film as much as I ultimately did. Edgar Wright is one my favorite directors, so the fact that he was supporting this project meant a lot, and he clearly has a lot of trust in Joe Cornish, who’s making his feature-length writing-directing feature here, as the two collaborated (alongside the equally awesome and geek-friendly Steven Moffat) on the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Adventures of Tintin, as well as in the one for the Ant-Man adaptation that Mr. Wright has had his eyes on to direct himself for the past few years. So that meant Attack the Block was a must-see for me, but again, no matter how much faith I had in it, I wasn’t expecting such a sensational film full of very-British wit and a terrific visual style that make for one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory.

Attack the Block sees aliens arriving to a South London housing project in these pods that are camouflaged in the sky as it’s Guy Fawkes Night and there are fireworks going off all over the sky, making the arrival of the fiery pods most inconspicuous to the naked eye. And what’s awesome about Mr. Cornish’s style is that he wastes basically no time at all in building up some sort of setup to tackle the alien arrival, but instead he introduces us fairly quickly to this bunch of sort of reprehensible teenagers, led by Moses, who are busy mugging Sam, a young nurse who’s returning home after a night shift. And just then we have the first alien landing. And it’s awesome that the movie does that because it means that it adapts this insanely awesome fast pace from the very get-go and instead of wasting precious time with exposition and getting to know the characters it introduces that main event from the very beginning and it speeds off, and we’ll get to meet this crew at the same time as they battle these new foes and try to protect themselves, their block and their weed. Not to mention that the nurse decides she’d be safer staying put with these thieves.

This is pure entertainment, stylishly done in the tradition of those B-movies of some three decades ago, that had the cast of unknowns and the special effects that weren’t top notch but that still looked awesome and just had that tangible energy that elevated the film to tremendous heights of fun. Not to mention that it was a terrific decision by Mr. Cornish to have it all take place in that housing project, because that meant the location got to become sort of like an extra character, and it meant our characters were in their home turf, so we get to really meet them as best as we could. And Mr. Cornish has done a fantastic job at crafting these characters, as those criminals become individuals who we feel for and we start liking quite a bit, and the alien attack for them becomes sort of like the ultimate learning experience, as many of them discover a lot about themselves and what they have to offer. And the way we achieve that familiarity and sympathy for them is terrific, as it’s in the midst of jokes and action set pieces that Mr. Cornish starts adding layers to their very distinct personalities and that we start caring a lot for them.

And not only are the characters pretty awesome, but this cast of unknowns is also pretty damn wonderful at playing them. John Boyega, who plays Moses, does a seriously spectacular job. Because it’s Mr. Boyega who really draws you into this film and allows you to really care not just about Moses, but also about everyone else, he was a truly fortunate find by Mr. Cornish, as we believe Moses as the leader of the pack, we believe his great knowledge of the block and its residents and how he always seems to find the perfect way to deal with them. Other than Moses we also get to meet a mixed group of individuals, and they all work splendidly in all sorts of levels, from the nurse, to the rest of the gang, to the crimelord of the area, to the drug dealer of the block, Mr. Cornish has done an insanely satisfying job of providing some really neat characters and identities.

I loved this movie, it’s one the year’s best and it seriously establishes Joe Cornish as a very talented writer-director to keep an eye on. And it’s no wonder that he’s friends with Edgar Wright, you get the feeling that the two are cut from the very same cloth, two guys that clearly have a lot of love for a lot of films, and they use them as tremendously useful inspiration points in their own work, and much like Mr. Wright’s masterful debut, Shaun of the Dead, this is a film that manages to be truly hilarious without ever once feeling as a spoof, but instead managing a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and thriller. Attack the Block proves that you don’t need to be a hugely-budgeted film with an A-list cast to be one of summer’s most exhilarating and best movies, you only need to know how to execute your formula and have the right people to do it with. This film achieves all of that to the highest of levels, the fact that it does so with a nifty local jargon that will remind you of the one in A Clockwork Orange is but an added bonus.

Grade: A

Paul

25 Apr

Title: Paul
Year:
2011
Director:
Greg Mottola
Writers: Nick Frost and Simon Pegg
Starring:
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver
MPAA Rating:
R, language including sexual references, and some drug use
Runtime:
104 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
7.4
Rotten Tomatoes:
72%

It’s hard for me to describe the sense of anticipation that I had before I saw Paul. This was easily for me one of the films from the first half of 2011 that I wanted to see the most, and I’ll take a minute here to tell you exactly why that was.

First and foremost, it’s because of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I first came upon these two on Spaced, that masterpiece of a short-lived cult British TV series that starred both of them and was written by Mr. Pegg and directed by Edgar Wright, who I’m also a huge fan of and who’s the third component of this trifecta of British awesomeness. It’s hard to really describe how amazing Spaced is, and if you haven’t yet watched it I suggest you stop reading and go do that right now, it’s only 14 episodes full of witty pop-culture references and surrealist bits and just insanely great dialogue that you can watch in one unforgettable seating.

After Spaced the awesome trio took their talents to the big screen, and started their Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy with Shaun of the Dead, a romcom film that also had zombies and that was a true success and that had you thinking these three should stick together forever. And, well, they sort of had us thinking that they just might, as 2007 saw the second installment of that trilogy come to life as Hot Fuzz arrived in theaters and showed everyone that these three weren’t one-trick ponies.

Both of those films are probably amongst my ten favorite films of their respective years, and so I was saddened to see that the guys weren’t immediately releasing the final chapter in their trilogy, which is reportedly going to be called The World’s End. Instead, they went on to do their own separate things. Mr. Frost had a role in The Boat That Rocked and a smaller one in Penelope. Mr. Pegg exploded real nicely onto the scene with significant roles in Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek among many others. And Mr. Wright went on to direct last year’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which I have ranked as my 8th favorite film of all last year.

So yeah, they have been doing all right since the last time they all worked together. And even though there will be a mini-reunion of sorts to get us going until they decide to finally make The World’s End, which is happening late this year when Steven Spielberg’s motion capture 3D The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (which was co-written by Mr. Wright and stars Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost as Thomson and Thompson), this was the film that would see us see at least Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost reunited in front of the camera.

So yes, I was excited about Paul, very excited actually. Two of the funniest people that excel the most when they’re together back on-screen as the two leading men of a film that they had written together. And then there’s the fact that this was to be directed by Greg Mottola, who has a pretty stellar record himself, this is the guy that started out in the mid-nineties with the very good Daytrippers, then went on to work on three TV series that not only are unequivocally great but have garnered a considerable cult following: Arrested Development, Undeclared and The Comeback. And then the guy went back to feature films in 2007 with Superbad, following that up with 2009’s Adventureland, both films I gave an A grade to. So, again, expectations were running high on Paul.

But that’s been me going on for way too long about why I was looking forward to Paul so damn much, and not a word on exactly how I thought it finally was. Well, here’s the thing, it’s not as great as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz were, nor as great as Superbad or Adventureland, but it’s still seriously good. I mean, it’s tough to match the heights the former films of the people attached to it did, but this one honestly doesn’t fall that far from it. It has its uneven moments, but it also has quite a few of those magical moments we know these people can deliver, and with Seth Rogen voicing the titular foul-mouthed alien the two encounter, then you can count one at least being a pretty unique roadtrip movie.

I mean, this is a very warm-hearted film in the end (and the actual ending is pretty awesome), one that’s full of a lot of giggles, and that’s pure great entertainment. It’s just fun to see people having fun on-screen together, and Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost, along the many familiar and funny faces they bring along for the ride like Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader and Sigourney Weaver (Ripley!), definitely look as though they were having a ball just riffing off each other.

My expectations were ridiculously high and I still found myself loving every last second of Paul, loving how sweet it was behind it all, which was a refreshing change from most R-rated comedies of late who think they have to be dirty all the time.

Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost are geek heroes by now, their work alongside Edgar Wright (who’s an even bigger geek hero of mine) has cemented their statuses as such because of how lovingly they homage many genres in the movies they do together. And here, even though their usual partner-in-crime is away, they continue at it quite brilliantly, spoofing the sci-fi genre in a way that you know only true sci-fi geeks can, doing some references to films like Star Trek, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and a cool and extra-geeky one to the lesser known Mac and Me.

Paul is an awesome film, it’s not Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz because it really wasn’t trying to be, it was trying to be something more silly while still retaining the heart and wit of those two, which it honestly did. This is a film with a cast full of great people, headlined by two guys that have so much love for each other it’s infectious to watch on screen, and by a third guy who does wonders voicing a stoner alien. It’s pure honest fun, and that’s all you can ask for until we get The World’s End.

Grade: A-