RED 2 / 2 Guns

120px-Film-stripOne sequel, one film with a “2” in the name that isn’t, and a very sore tummy from eating a landfill-engulfing quantity of jalapeños for dinner.


“What happens in the Kremlin stays in the Kremlin!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: the good guys from the first film are targeted by the nastiest hired killers on the planet because they apparently have some information that they don’t

See it if you like: spy thrillers with a nice edge of humour

You may recall such recent reviews as Kick-Ass 2 and Despicable Me 2. Well, RED 2 can join the list of sequels which don’t try to be the first film all over again, and which are better for it.

Whereas the original RED had some exceptionally comic book-esque scenes (the sequence in the shipping yard being the prime example), these are generally lacking in this sequel which goes more for chop-socky fast-paced combat and over-the-top scenes with guns instead. The good thing is that it doesn’t suffer as a result.

All of the central original cast are there, and this time joined by some other big names. Anthony Hopkins turns up at one point, but I can’t go into detail as it may be spoiler-some. Suffice to say he’s brilliant and shows an impressive range with a very entertaining character.

Also appearing is one of my favourite unsung actors, Neal McDonough. Since seeing him in Boomtown (a superb series which should never have been cancelled), I’d always looked forward to seeing him in things and he is spot on in this. He plays a very determined, no holds barred, whatever it takes to get what he wants operative.

Add to this Catherine Zeta-Jones who has more slap on than three women working at the Boots make-up counter, David Thewlis as a hard-to-catch seller of secrets and Byung-hun Lee as the world’s most dangerous contract killer and you have a very good cast indeed.

The story is also good, and the dialogue fizzes. In particular, and as in the first film, Willis and Malkovich play incredibly well off each other.

There’s everything a decent spy story needs. Guns, women, explosions, tension, backstabbing, cars, guns, more explosions, poison gas, things blowing up… All with a decent number of laughs thrown in.

Yup, this one’s good.

2 Guns

“Are we people?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Uncovered undercover DEA agent his patsy find themselves hunted for stealing the wrong person’s money

See it if you like: gun-thirsty action thrillers which still make you think

Second up was this nice twist on the buddy story starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Without giving too much away (no more than the trailer does, anyway), the two are drug-running and robbing places left, right and centre… but unknown to Stigman (Wahlberg), Washington’s character Bobby is an undercover DEA agent.

Thing is, despite this little fact coming to life at an inopportune time, the two end up thrown together in a bid to keep themselves alive and get revenge on various parties who’ve wronged them.

It’s pretty violent, but like RED 2, has some very humorous moments. The dialogue and chemistry between the two leads is great to watch with some fast-paced verbal jousting that’s either the result of a lot of rehearsal or a natural link. Either way, it makes many scenes very entertaining indeed.

Importantly, the story is good as well although it’s a little bit easy to guess who the overall bad guy is. This doesn’t steal any of the story’s thunder, though, and it rides well until a suitably chaotic and blood-soaked finalé.


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Warm Bodies

120px-Film-stripThese days we need an excuse to get to the cinema, so with Valentine’s Day popping its ugly head over the Hallmark parapet we grabbed a nice dinner at the new ASK Italian then over the road to Cineworld to see the newest rom-zom-com:

Warm Bodies

“They’re not curing themselves. We’re their food source. They are not becoming  vegan.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: walking dead becomes walking slightly-less-undead when he falls for a survivor

See it if you like: Funny horror films, basically. And cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

While Shaun of the Dead couldn’t really be held responsible for a “slew” of spin-off comedy zombie films, there have been a few kicking around over the last few years and the success of Pegg’s film is bound to have had some effect. This one is based on a novel and one I do want to read if it’s as good as its adaptation.

The tale definitely owes a nod to Romeo and Juliet as our “hero” zombie R (he can’t remember the rest of his name, played by Nicholas Hoult) hooks up with Julie (Teresa Palmer), a survivor of a plague that turned most of the world’s population into shambling brain-eaters. Those which go even further down the infected line lose all their skin and turn into skeleton-like “Bonies”. Fast-moving, fierce and not-very-well-CGI‘d, these are the real bad guys in this piece.

As well as this “stages of zombieness” idea is a nice twist where it’s explained why zombies eat brains in the first place. I won’t spoil it though!

It’s apparent from the start that “R” is a little different, holing up in an aircraft with a collection of stuff that makes him appear like a shambling WALL-E. A lot of the dialogue is voice-over material as we get to share his thoughts, a novel idea for a zombie flick where we normally assume that they don’t have any.

Soon enough, he rescues Julie and the two start to bond. She, of course, is the daughter of the leader of the anti-zombie forces (Grigio, played by John Malkovich) which is bound to cause some problems should she try to take her new boyfriend home to meet daddy.

The film follows their development as a couple, the changes it makes to “R” and also the other zombies. This is definitely not a fast-paced, taught zombie fest. This rom-zom-com focusses heavily on the “rom”, has novel ideas about the “zom” and manages very well with the “com”. The audience in the cinema (sold out) were very vocal with their laughter around a lot of the dialogue – deservedly so.

Simply, it’s a nice film. Not excessively gory, though the Bonies would likely give younger viewers a few nightmares. It doesn’t run too long, it’s a clever idea, the cast work well and the jokes don’t fall flat.

Gillian really liked it, I enjoyed it and we’d both recommend it.

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Red / Burke and Hare / Easy A

Assuming that M Law Solicitors don’t demand I take down this blog post for defaming a film for giving it bad reviews (as they did with my post regarding Parking Eye, which I still maintain wasn’t defamatory as it was in the public interest), please enjoy the following catch-up from the last 2 weeks’ abuse of my Cineworld pass.


“Time to open up the pig”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: a group of retired secret agents take on the CIA to find out who’s put them on a “to be killed” list.

This is another in the current run of bigger-than-life action films that seem to be putting bums on seats at the moment. It’s also one of the best, mainly due to a novel idea and a superb cast. Come on – Helen Mirren with guns? How can that not be cool?

The rest of the eldsters are played by Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman. Freeman could be in the biggest cinematic turd in history and would still make his sequences worth watching, but fortunately Red is no such bum-dropping and is instead just good fun.

There’s plenty of action and it makes full use of the common trend of using CGI rather than stuntmen to a large degree. I still prefer more old-school effects (Raiders is the best Indy film by a mile for several reasons, this being one of them), but it doesn’t stop Red being any less enjoyable.

Definitely go see.

Burke and Hare

“That… would be an artery”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Two Irish guys stumble across a nice way of making money – selling corpses to a medical school. Only what happens when they run out of fresh meat?

Honestly, can Simon Pegg do know wrong? I honestly don’t think I’ve seen him in a film I’ve not enjoyed yet. When you add the likes of Andy Serkis and Tim Curry to the cast, then top it off with Ronnie Corbett it would take some kind of miracle to destroy it. Get John Landis to direct and you may as well buy your ticket without seeing a review.

Burke and Hare is perfect Halloween fodder. It’s set in the 19th century, it’s grisly, it’s tasteless and it’s funny. I’d not recommend it for younger kids due to some of the scenes being a little too “eeeeewww” but other than that it’s superb.

There are loads of little references in the background (Greyfriar’s Bobby makes an appearance) and the original historical tale does make for decent film material, even if the facts have been moulded somewhat.

Looking at the other horrors available this Halloween, this has to be the best of the bunch.

Easy A

“That’s the one thing that trumps religion… capitalism”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: shy teen pretends to nob schoolmates for cash/vouchers until it all goes too far

I didn’t expect to enjoy this, despite the trailer being “OK”. After all, it’s a teen-girl-at-a-school film, and they’re pretty formulaic. I just went as it was on at a good time for me to fill 90 minutes of an afternoon.

Oh, I love it when I’m proved wrong.

Easy A has a fantastic script, beautiful dialogue, an in credible wit and a decent story. Emma Stone is excellent as Olive, the girl who gets talked into pretending to sleep with a gay classmate to stop him being bullied for his sexuality. Who then recommends him to others, until she’s made out to be the school slut.

The supporting cast are all well-played from her hilarious family, to the wise-cracking English teacher and the bonkers Christian brigade. There genuinely is not a dull moment.

While Olive does bemoan the fact that her life story wasn’t directed by John Hughes, it could have been. It’s that good.

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