STEVE Carrell is known mainly for his comedy - but he plays the morose, downbeat, unlucky-in-love character as well as anybody.
In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World his character, Dodge, is definitley more on the morose side, but the film has elements of humour and is an easy on the eye, if not earth-shatteringly brilliant, piece of film making.
As an asteroid nears Earth, Dodge finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is his neighbour Penny, Keira Knightley, who inadvertently throws a spanner in the works.
She wants to get back to her family hundreds of miles away (and overseas) and when the inevitable riots edge closer to their home, Dodge convinces her that she’s better off with him than her down and out stoner boyfriend, so off the unlikely pair set.
During the course of their trip they meet a bunch of oddballs, whose outlook on life - all three weeks that is left of it - is very different.
The best scene in the film sees the pair stop off for a meal at Friendsys - a sort of TGI Fridays but with a ‘what the hell it’s nearly the end of the world let’s have an orgy’ type attitude.
Everybody they encounter views Earth’s impending destruction differently, which obviously has the viewer thinking ‘what would I do if I only had three weeks left to live?’
As the film meanders on, Dodge and Penny become closer and when finally their paths divert with just days left on the countdown to oblivion clock, they realise perhaps they were meant to be together after all.
But is it too late?
Watch it and see.
My rating: 7.5/10
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE - When you get Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and a bunch of other super-tough guys together under one roof you know there’s going to be mayhem.
But in Avengers Assemble mayhem doesn’t even come close.
What you get is a truly cracking, action-packed film with some amazing effects, witty dialogue - mainly courtesy of Robert Downey Jnr’s wise-cracking Tony Stark, and a heap of ferocious battles.
It really is a fun film, which sets off from the outset at breakneck speed and never lets up.
In a nutshell the story is this: Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from dimension jumping god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army of alien soliders.
The Avengers are Iron Man (Downey Jnr), The Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) with agents Fury (Jackson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) thrown in for good measure.
When Loki arrives from another dimension with the intension of bringing Earth’s puny human race to its knees, only The Avengers can stop him.
They are called together in a bid to thwart the wayward god and battle his mighty alien army and their phenomenal dragon-like spaceships.
Without a doubt the star of the piece is Iron Man but Hulk has his moments too.
It’s a light-hearted yarn, true to the Marvel comic books rather than trying to be too serious - Stark’s Iron Man essential in adding humour to the piece.
It’s no wonder the film received rave reviews. It is that good.
Expect two or three sequels, but that’s no bad thing.
My rating: 9.5/10
21 JUMP STREET - Jonah Hill is a funny man.
Every film he has starred in has been funny - think Superbad, Get Him To The Greek, The Sitter - and 21 Jump Street is no exception.
His partnership with Channing Tatum works well too and, though a little too long at the end, the film is well worth a watch and funny throughout.
In high school, Schmidt (Hill) was a complete dork and Jenko (Tatum) the popular jock. After graduation, both of them join the police force and end up as partners riding goofy bicycles in the city park.
Following a bungled drug bust, where the culrpit is let off as Jenko fails to corrently read him his Miranda Rights, the duo are assigned to an undercover unit to infiltrate a drug ring that is supplying high school students weird new drugs.
But how high school has changed in the years since they left.
In a complete about turn it’s now cool to be a bit of a nerd, and uncool to be a jock.
So Scmidt is in his element, Jenko not so much!
The funniest scene in the film sees the pair high on the new drug themselves (in a bid to remain undercover) where they go through a number of hilarious stages - the giggles, hallucinations, deep sleep, invincibility etc during an otherwise boring school day.
Hill’s effortless comedy is the making of the film and there’s a great supporting role from Ice Cube as the pair’s expletive-loving boss.
My rating: 8/10
CHRONICLE - Did you like The Blair Witch Project? Enjoy Cloverfield? If you did, then you’ll love Chronicle.
Because like Blair Witch and Cloverfield, Chronicle is shot from a first-person, hand-held camera perspective - though it’s certainly not as jumpy and disorientating as the aforementioned films.
In fact it’s done very cleverly.
The story sees three high school friends - one a nerdy kid from a dysfunctional home (the one ‘chronicling’ events on his video camera) - stumble across a bizarre meteor-type object buried in the ground which transmits telekenetic powers to them.
Performing innocent tricks and pranks at first, like moving blocks of lego around with their mind or spooking shoppers by making everyday objects levitate, the teens soon start to realise the potential of their ever-growing powers.
Before long they are roaring through the skies like three scrawny supermen.
But as a wise man (elderly comic book chracter) once said: “With great power comes great responsibility” a piece of advice our nerdy friend - Andrew - would have done well to heed.
He lets the power go to his head and is soon out of control.
The climax of the film is stunning with an almighty battle between two of the boys, representing good and evil, and some eye-popping special effects.
With nobody of note taking the lead roles to carry it, the film has to be good on its own merits - and it is.
My rating: 8.5/10
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - IF you watch only one film this year, make it The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
OK so there are another seven months to go and hundreds of films to be released before the year is out, but this intense thriller starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara is one that cannot be overlooked.
Based on the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not one for the faint-hearted.
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is asked to find out what happened to a teenager forty years ago.
Hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara) joins in the search and not only uncovers some very gruesome details, goes through quite a few traumatic ordeals herself.
Not only is this film based on a book, but it is a remake of the 2009 original, Swedish picture.
And while many Hollywood remakes of European films rarely do them justice, this one does.
Having to fit a very complex plot into a Hollywood blockbuster that will translate well to the worldwide audience is not an easy task, but this works.
Acclaimed director David Fincher has created a work of art with this film, which includes one of the best opening credits sequences I have ever scene.
I’m rarely hooked from the first second of a film, but with this I was.
Mara and Craig are sublime together and it was refreshing and interesting to see Craig in a role as dark as this and featured in such heavy scenes.
This is one that has had had me thinking for days, it’s a must-see, the original is a must-see and the book is a must-read.
My rating: 9/10
HAYWIRE - Films with females in the lead role have never really done it for me - think The Long Kiss Goodnight, Salt, Eon Flux and Elektra. Get my drift?
Having said that, ocassionally a real kick-ass heroine comes along, like Uma Thurman as The Bride in Kill Bill, and all is, briefly, forgiven.
And in director Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, real-life bruiser, MMA fighter Gina Carano, is the dog’s!
How she manages to keep her boat race in such beautiful shape defies logic - especially when you see her in cage-fighting action. They ain’t slapping and pulling hair!
Anyhoo - back to the film.
Mallory Kane (Carano) is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.
Boasting a talented cast that includes Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas and Michael Angarano, Haywire is a super-slick action adventure with some great fight and chase scenes, a brilliant soundtrack and some sharp dialogue.
It’s easy to follow and easy on the eye and Carano is definitely a major star in the making - if she isn’t one already!
You know you’re going to Google her now!
My rating: 8/10
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - When your girlfriend says “I love this film already” after just 10 seconds, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s going to be mushy.
But after three consecutive nights of football on Sky Sports, I had to grin and bear it.
The silver lining for me, after picking up Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Midnight In Paris from Blockbuster - I noticed the gorgeous Rachel McAdams amongst the stellar cast.
As it turned out, I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
Owen Wilson plays Gil Bender, a frustrated American writer obsessed with 1920s Paris, who is about to be married to the wrong woman, his fiancee Inez (McAdams).
He loves Paris and wants to live and work there, she doesn’t.
He is scatty and laid back, she is the exact opposite, bossy and focussed.
When one evening, after a lengthy wine-tasting session, Gil finds himself transported back to his favourite era and socialising with Cole Porter, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picaso and F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, he realises - bizarre as it may seem - he can’t get enough of this new life.
Everything he dreams of is there: Beautiful, cultured women; talented artists and writers, music, laughter and love.
But what of his ‘real’ life with Inez and his looming marriage?
Like a film-length and much better version of the 90s sitcom Goonight Sweetheart, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst, Midnight In Paris sees the protagonist flitting between two very different periods in time.
The Parisian backdrop is amazing throughout the film and the dialogue is sharp and witty and sincere.
Wilson is always easy on the eye and he excels in Midnight In Paris.
An utterly absorbing film.
My rating: 8.5/10
BREAKING DAWN - Being a hopeless romantic (and tbh a closet Twilight fan myself) I decided to treat my better half to Breaking Dawn on DVD as we spent a weekend in my folks’ caravan in Wales.
Surrounded by nothing but rolling hills, sheep and hooting owls - and other caravans - the serene setting was the perfect place to watch the latest instalment in the Twilight saga as we cuddled up under a blanket with pizza, garlic bread, beer and wine.
Having watched it before at the cinema and loved it, I wasn’t overly bothered when my partner fell asleep halfway through and instead of sitting cursing, thinking I could have been watching a real testosterone fuelled guy-flick, I decided to stick with it.
And I’m glad I did.
Admittedly it took a good while to get going but once it did, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story goes thus ... In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), plus those they love, must deal with the chain of consequences brought on by a marriage, honeymoon, and the tumultuous birth of a child, which brings an unforeseen and shocking development for werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).
The one thing that really struck me was just how gaunt and ill Bella (Stewart) looks in the film - the miracles of modern effects or extreme dieting?
Either way it’s convincing and hugely important as her pregnancy is the main subject of the film. Will the baby be normal or a vampire?
Fair enough, it’s not as action-packed as the first two movies, it’s quite mushy for an hour or so, and it’s pretty long - but it’s enjoyable and sets the scene nicely for Part 2.
My rating: 7/10
CONTAGION - WITH a stellar cast and a globally appealing subject matter I expected big things of Contagion - and while I wasn’t blown away, it’s a decent film that keeps your attention throughout without reaching the dizzy heights it could.
The reason for that? Difficult to pinpoint. But I’d say it’s just a little flimsy - you don’t particularly warm to any of the characters and there’s no real sense of fear transmitted to the viewer.
Contagion, as you may have guessed, centres on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors, led by Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet.
Also starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law (with a bizarre, constantly changing accent) Contagion is the modern-day version of Outbreak, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo on the trail of the deadly Ebola virus.
While the virus is different, the premise is the same - it’s upto the World Health Organisation to stop the spread, to find out where it originated and create a vaccine before mankind is effectively wiped off the face of the earth.
Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) is the first person to contract the virus, created when “the wrong bat bit the wrong pig” and before long millions are infected.
It’s worth a watch but, in my opinion, not as good as Outbreak.
My Rating: 6.5/10
THE IDES OF MARCH - NOW I must admit up until recently I wasn’t a massive fan of Ryan Gosling - mainly because he’s much more buff than me and the missus almost swoons everytime he whips his top off.
However, in the last two films I’ve seen him in he has been excellent.
In the Ides of March, a political thriller directed by George Clooney, he shows his versatility as an actor and, I’m pleased to say, his guns only once!
Gosling stars as Stephen Meyers - right-hand man to presidential candidate Govenor Mike Morris (played by Clooney) and the brains behind the govenor’s campaign.
Meyers is an idealist who is brilliant at communications and a true believer in politics.
In the middle of the Ohio primary, the campaign manager of Morris’s opponent asks Meyers to meet him and offers him a job working for the opposition.
At the same time, Morris’s negotiations for the endorsement of the man in third place, a North Carolina Senator, hit a snag.
In the middle of all the political goings on, a young campaign intern, Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), catches Govenor Morris’s attention.
To sum up, the Republicans have a trick up their sleeves, Stephen may be too trusting, and Molly has the mother and father of all secrets.
But what’s most important to Meyers: his career, victory in the elections, or doing the right thing?
Clooney is excellent as the charm-oozing govenor and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is perfect for the role of Stephen’s boss - oozing slime from every pore.
It’s well worth a watch - good story, great acting and not too political as to make your brain hurt.
My rating: 8/10
WARRIOR - Warrior is, quite simply, one of the best films I have seen in some time.
The older I get, the more difficult it is to please me where films are concerned, so I was over the moon with Warrior which ticked all the right boxes ... and then some.
Warrior tells the story of Tommy (Tom Hardy), the youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer (Nick Nolte) who returns home, where he’s trained by his pop for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament - a path which puts him on a collision corner with his older brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton).
The three main characters, Hardy, Nolte and Edgerton are fantastic - Hardy, in particular, oozing menage as a former marine who has more than a couple of skeletons in his closet.
He really does look like a chap you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley and the fight scenes are immense.
The story, while hugely far-fetched (but no more so than the Rocky movies) is brilliant, the acting is staggeringly good and the direction and dialogue are superb.
You really warm to the characters and the finale, around half an hour of pure cage fighting action, has you literally on the edge of your seat.
It truly is a cracking film, I for one could watch it again and again.
My rating: 9.5/10
CRAZY STUPID LOVE - Ryan Gosling appears in possibly the best romantic comedy I have ever seen.
Crazy Stupid Love tells the story of Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) whose life changes dramatically when his wife tells him she wants a divorce.
As a result he meets Jacob Palmer (Gosling) in a bar whilst drowning his sorrows, who helps him to get back on the dating scene - with hilarious consequences.
From start to finish, I loved this film.
With an all-star, beautiful cast, each scene is filled with at least one hotty to drool over.
But putting that aside, Crazy Stupid Love, is side-splittingly funny, touching and weepy all at once.
What makes this film a must-see is its ability to convey the different type of love people feel for each other, be it a husband for his wife, a teenager who has a crush on his babysitter or a lothario who falls into bed with a different woman each night.
This is one film I could watch again and again, and each time notice something new.
I thoroughly recommend it.
My rating: 10/10
ABDUCTION - When stars of gargantuous blockbusters try their hand in other movies, some succeed and some fail.
Whether Taylor Lautner will succeed is still up for discussion after his first outing, Abduction, following his role as loveable werewolf Jacob Black in The Twilight saga.
He’s no Robert Pattinson, that’s for sure.
Pattinson is a brooding, James Dean-esque, but versatile actor whereas Lautner looks wooden.
Don’t get me wrong, Abduction is a decent film and Lautner isn’t bad in the lead role, but he doesn’t add anything to the film and, to me, looks set to be stuck with action roles - still at ten million dollars a pop, or whatever the going rate is for Arnie-wannabees these days - I’m sure he won’t lose too much sleep.
Anyway, on with the plot.
Nathan (Lautner) is a high school student in Pennslyvania, who likes parties and (to some degree) fighting with his dad. He has rage and self-identity issues and sees a shink (Sigourney Weaver). When he’s assigned to work on a school project with his neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins), who he’s sweet on but too shy to talk to, they find a website for missing children, and, aging one online, see a likeness of Nathan. He contacts the site, and it triggers an alert in New York.
It appears Nathan may not appear to be who he thinks he is after all.
Cue chases, fights, cheesy dialogue and a dash of romance.
The film sets itself up nicely for a sequel, but with a title like Abduction - which doesn’t really make much sense, what the heckfire could they possibly call it? Abduction 2?
My rating: 6/10
DRIVE - Ryan Gosling is at his brooding best in Drive, but despite a sterling performance even he couldn’t turn a good film into what has been widely acclaimed a classic, in my opinion.
Gosling plays Driver (that’s not his name - he just doesn’t have one) a Hollywood stunt driver who supplements his income acting as a getaway driver for bank robbers.
The film starts off brilliantly with Gosling outrunning and outwitting the cops after a heist.
When he befriends his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio, whose dad is in prison, the film deviates into an awkward would-be love story with too many stony silences and bizarre background songs.
It heats up again from the middle onwards when Driver agrees to help out Irene’s newly released husband in a bid to get some gangsters off his back, offering his services to help him pull off one last job.
When things go wrong Driver finds himself a marked man with a contract on his head and this is where the film takes another twist and deviates again into a Goodfellas-like extreme violence-filled would-be cult movie.
The problem I found is that Drive doesn’t do what it says on the tin. There isn’t nearly enough car-chase action (think the excellent Ronin), for the film to live up to its title.
I can understand why it has been dubbed a classic - but it doesn’t quite hit the spot for me.
It’s good, just not great.
My rating: 6.5/10
HORRIBLE BOSSES - We’ve all, at some point, worked for a horrible boss and may have occasionally wished a little misfortune on them.
That’s the plot behind Horrible Bosses – except A LOT of misfortune has been wished on these slave-drivers.
An all-star cast plays out this comedy, including Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman.
This hilarious film follows three employees as they attempt to bump off their annoying bosses in a bid to find happiness.
Kevin Spacey is remarkable as the self-centred, spiteful Dave Harken and while Jennifer Aniston plays adequately as Dr Julie Harris, she will always be Rachel Green to me therefore doesn’t really cut it in any other role.
For the fellas, however, there is enough of Aniston’s flesh on show throughout the film to get excited at!
Horrible Bosses only really gets going half-way through and becomes much funnier when Jamie Foxx is introduced as Dean MF Jones.
It is one you should give a try and would go down well if you’re suffering with a case of the January Blues.
My rating: 7/10
ANIMAL KINGDOM - This post-modern Australian masterpiece tells the story of teenager J (Josh) who, due to his mum’s passing, goes to live with his estranged family ... who are known criminals.
The 17-year-old fights for survival in a household far from conventional, and finds himself trapped and roped into a life of crime.
Directed by David Michod and described as an Australian Goodfellas, Animal Kingdom will not let you down.
Although Hollywood legend Guy Pearce plays Sergeant Nathan Leckie – the man who feels he can save J from his despicable family made up of drug users, thieves and low-lives – the star of this show is J himself, played by James Frecheville.
While J is the usual angst-ridden teen, trying to figure out where he fits in in life, he’s quick-witted and more switched on than his police-dodging uncles.
Besides his superlative performance, it’s Jacki Weaver who plays a blinder as J’s Freudian-like grandmother, Janine.
In a role that epitomises a Mafia boss, Janine regularly demands long, sensual kisses from her sons and her only concern is ensuring the men in her life stay out prison, even if that means getting rid of J.
With some disturbing scenes, fantastically surprising moments and a well-rounded closed ending, Animal Kingdom ticks all the right boxes for a top-drawer thriller.
My rating: 8/10
BLITZ - Cooler than an ice sculpture of Bond and harder than a granite statue of Stallone, only one man springs to mind - The Stathmeister, Jason Statham.
Not famed for his period costume dramas or comedies, Statham (Snatch, The Mechanic, Transporter) sticks to what he knows best, mindless violence and cool one-liners.
And he’s at his best in Blitz playing Detective Sergeant Tom Brant on the hunt of a serial cop killer, Barry Weiss aka Blitz, played menacingly by Aiden Gillen.
Statham doesn’t just beat people up for ninety minutes in a variety of gruesome ways in Blitz if that is what you’re looking for - his character is more unhinged than outright maniac or hitman, but the film itself has some nice dialogue, a decent storyline and enough action to keep you interested.
Adapted from a Ken Bruen novel and slickly directed by Elliott Lester, decent supporting roles from Paddy Consadine, who plays Brant’s gay Chief Constable Porter Nash, and David Morrissey, corrupt and slimy local journalist Dunlop, make Blitz well worth a watch if grimy, gritty action pap is your thing.
My rating: 7/10
BIUTIFUL – This Spanish masterpiece is a story about Uxbal and his life which is anything but beautiful.
In fact, it’s really quite tumultuous – he’s a single father living in the modern world, in a run-down apartment, attempting to deal with his manic depressive, abusive, estranged wife, make a living through working in underground Barcelona and cope with the realisation that he is dying of cancer.
Javier Bardem’s usual hard man image is juxtaposed with a warm, kind-hearted, loving father as he plays Uxbal.
Able to talk to the dead, before their spirit has passed over, Uxbal (pictured above) survives and puts food on the table by being paid to do this.
He also acts as a middleman providing cheap, fake products to Senegalese street sellers from a squalid sweatshop which employs many illegal Chinese immigrants.
As the film unravels, life goes from bad to worse, Uxbal’s condition worsens, the Chinese workers die of asphyxiation and his wife, Marimba begs to be a family again after sleeping with Uxbal’s brother, Tito.
With no fancy special effects or booming soundtrack, Biutiful is a seductive yet touching piece of cinema.
For every female that watches this flick, I guarantee you will want to grab a hold of Uxbal and tell that everything will be OK.
It’s a simply divine film, but one that takes more than one viewing to truly understand the dynamics.
The film is in Spanish with English subtitles but don’t let that put you off.
My rating: 7/10
LIMITLESS - What would you do if you could harness 100 per cent of your brain’s capacity rather than the paltry 20 per cent humans actually utilise?
If you could access every scrap of information you have ever read and heard consciously and subconsciously?
Well that’s exactly what happens to down-and-out writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) in Limitless, a cracking yarn also featuring Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish.
Morra is struggling. He has a contract to write a book but hasn’t written a single word, his girlfriend has just dumped him and he’s stuck in a rut - that is until he meets his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) by chance on the street one day who offers him a pill which can change his life.
Reluctant at first, Eddie is soon addicted to this wonder drug, known as NZT, and finishes his book in four days.
He soon learns that that is just the beginning and realises this little clear pill can change his life, big time.
As the former nobody rises to the top of the financial world by reading patterns in the stock market and making millions of dollars in just weeks, he draws the attention of business mogul Carl Van Loon (De Niro), who sees this enhanced version of Eddie as the tool to make his company billions. But brutal side effects jeopardise his meteoric ascent to the top and he soon finds out the down side to NZT and realises he’s in a fight for his life.
A thoroughly enjoyable movie.
My rating: 8.5/10
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU - Billed as Inception meets Bourne and starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, The Adjustment Bureau is a superb film with a mix of suspense, action, romance and originality.
Damon plays David Norris a senator on the brink of greatness who falls in love after a chance encounter with a free-spirited ballerina Elise (Blunt) which changes the course of his destiny.
But there are those who don’t want the course of his destiny changed, shadowy figures from The Adjustment Bureau, who do everything they can to keep the two apart under orders from ‘The Chairman’.
What would you do if you were told you were destined for greatness but if you followed your heart that greatness would be unattainable?
That’s the quandry facing Norris when he learns the truth about why his path to political greatness will be derailed if he gets together with Elise.
But should he follow his heart or his head?
The film has powerful performances from not only Damon and Blunt, who strike up a surprisingly good and believeable chemistry, but the men from The Adjustment Bureau too, including John Slattery, Anthony Mackey and Terence Stamp.
All in all a cracking good yarn!
My rating: 9/10
FROZEN - How can a film about three skiers trapped on a chairlift possibly be any good? I’ve no idea, but trust me it is!
In fact I’d go as far as to say it beats the pants off Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and is right up there with Jaws in terms of edge-of-your-seat suspense.
Credit must go to director Adam Green and the cast of Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell and Kevin Zegers.
When three friends Dan (Zegers), Joe (Ashmore) and Parker (Bell) are mistakenley left suspended 100ft in the air in sub-zero temperatures and with not a soul around, every decision they make becomes one of life or death.
Let’s face it there’s not a lot anyone could do in such a perilous situation and knowing nobody will be at the resort for a week to rescue the trio it boils down to three choices: Stay put, jump or try to climb from car to car in a bid to reach the nearest support pole and climb down.
Oh and there’s one more bugger (pardon my French) of a problem too - a pack of hungry mountain wolves on the ground.
The dialogue is sharp, the performances from all three are excellent and the film never once crosses over the line to cheesy and unbelieveable.
This could really happen and with over 100,000 skiers using 5,000 chairlifts per day - it’s a wonder it hasn’t already.
My rating: 9/10
CONVICTION - It’s difficult to believe the man who played the lunatic murderer in The Green Mile, ‘Wild Bill’ Wharton, could be anything but guilty in Conviction but therein lies the premise of the film.
Sam Rockwell plays Kenny (Muddy) Waters, a roughneck, always-in-trouble-with-the-law bad boy, who is jailed for life for the brutal murder of an elderly German woman whose house he once broke into as a prank with his sister as a young boy.
The excellent Hilary Swank plays his sister Betty Anne, who believes in her brother’s innocence beyond all doubt and sets off of an 18 year mission to have his conviction overturned.
When her appeals are rejected for the final time the only thing Betty Anne can do is study law and become an attorney herself in a bid to free her beloved brother - even though her dedication to the cause sees her own family gradually fall apart around her.
Swank as usual is excellent and thoroughly watchable and Rockwell likewise and there are some good supporting roles too - none better than Betty Anne’s friend Abra Rice played by Brit Minnie Driver.
Conviction is a cracking film and definitely worth a watch - Rockwell and Swank’s performances alone justifying a view.
My rating: 9/10
THE FIGHTER - There have been some cracking boxing films over the years. Raging Bull, Rocky 1 and Rocky 4, Cinderella Man, The Hurricane, Million Dollar Baby.
There have been some stinkers too - Rocky V has got to be the worst film of all time!
But you can now add another to the list of belters ... The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams.
The film is based on the story of the early years of boxer ‘Irish’ Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his brother Dicky (Bale) who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.
Bale is phenomenal playing Dicky Ward, a man still buzzing from the memory of knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard in his prime (a bit like Henry Cooper’s infamous punch which floored Cassius Clay) but also haunted and taunted by the fact it was more of a slip that put the ring legend on his backside.
A serious crack addiction in his later years whilst training his brother leaves Micky in limbo, unable to quite attain the heights he aspires to.
But all that changes when Dicky is incarcarated and Micky switches his management and trainer.
Bale is fantastic and really shows his versatility as an actor and while he steals the show from Wahlberg, ‘Marky Mark’ is still excellent playing the lead role as is his girlfriend Charlene, played by the flame-haired beauty Amy Adams.
Don’t be under the impression that this is just a boxing film, though. It is much more than that. It provokes a whole bunch of emotions and is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
My rating: 9/10
SANCTUM - James Cameron’s latest epic Sanctum - made for 3D and pretty much panned by critics - isn’t such a bad film.
Ok there’s some pretty hammy acting - not helped by the fact that there’s nobody of real note in the film - you can tell a lot of it was shot solely for the 3D wow factor and there’s not much of a storyline - but as mindless pap goes, I enjoyed it.
The film centres around an underwater cave-diving team which experiences a life-threatening crisis during an expedition to the unexplored and least accessible cave system in the world.
Trapped by flood waters after a hurricane closes in high above them, the team must find a way out or face a cold, dark death in the cave’s hidden depths.
Cameron is a master of watery blockbusters - think Titanic and The Abyss - and while Sanctum isn’t on a par with either of those movies it has its moments.
The director captures the claustrophobic chill of the underwater caves perfectly and there are enough gruesome and grisly deaths and injuries to keep anyone happy (if you like gruesome and grisly deaths and injuries that is).
It’s not an edge-of-your-seat thriller and it won’t leave you battling with your emotions, but it is good enough to keep you glued to the screen if only to find out who lives and who dies.
My rating: 6.5/10
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, GET HIM TO THE GREEK - If you’re in the mood for a couple of rip-roaring comedies then look no further than Hot Tub Time Machine and Get Him To The Greek.
Both films are packed with hilarious moments and dialogue and are well worth a watch.
Hot Tub Time Machine centres around four friends played by John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson and the fantastic Rob Corddry and has a great cameo from non other than Crispin Glover, best known for his role as George McFly in Back To The Future.
The plot centres around the bunch going on vacation together and being transported back to 1986 via a magical hot tub in their chalet. Cue plenty of fantastic 80s fashion, music, retro gadgets and totally un-pc banter.
Also filled with laughs is Russell Brand’s latest offering Get Him To The Greek. Starring the fantastic Jonah Hill (Superbad), Get Him To The Greek sees Hill, who plays record company nerd Aaron Green, as the man given the unenvious task of escorting rock star Aldous Snow (Brand) to a reunion concert in LA despite the star having relapsed into a world fuelled by drugs, booze, sex and non-stop partying.
With dozens of fantastic cameos and superb performances from Sean Combs (P Diddy) and Colm Meaney as Aldous’s dad, Get Him To The Greek is hilarious from start to finish.
My ratings - Hot Tub Time Machine (7.5/10), Get Him To The Greek (8.5/10)
UNSTOPPABLE, THE TOWN, LONDON BOULEVARD - If action films are more your thing - here are three crackers to whet your appetite.
Unstoppable, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine (Star Trek) tells the true(ish) story of a half-mile long runaway freight train carrying tonnes of toxic chemicals barrelling towards a major city and a potential catastrophic disaster.
I’m a massive fan of Washington - he was brilliant in The Manchurian Candidate, Man On Fire, Training Day, Deju Vu etc - but couldn’t save the debacle John Q! But he’s at his best in Unstoppable as a railway veteran with 28 years experience who has recently been told he’s soon to be out of a job.
When he’s partnered up with new boy Will (Pine), who has family connections and will ultimately replace Frank (Washington) the awkward tension soon gives way to heroics as the pair chase down the train in a bid to stop it from derailing.
Based on a true story, Washington and Pine are outstanding in this high-octane action-fest with explosions, cute dialogue and tension all the way.
Another cracker out now is The Town, starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner and Pete Postlethwaite.
The Town is the tale of four men - thieves, rivals and friends - being hunted through the streets of Boston by a tenacious FBI agent (Mad Men’s Adam Frawley) and a beautiful young woman who could destroy them all.
Best known for his role in The Hurt Locker, Renner steals the show for me despite Affleck being the main character, though Affleck - love him or hate him - pulls off the role of head honcho of the gang well.
Sharp dialogue and some awesome action sequences - including the opening bank job - make The Town one of my top films of the year so far.
To complete the trio is London Boulevard, starring Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin and the unbelieveably good Ray Winstone.
In South London, ex-con Mitchel (Farrell) tries to go straight by taking a job as a handyman for a reclusive actress, played by the delicious Knightley. But it’s tougher than he thinks to stay straight, especially when Gant (Winstone) turns up demanding he work for him.
Oozing menace as only he can, Winstone is mesmerising to watch and Farrell keeps pace admirably.
The film takes a bit of time to get going but explodes into an orgy of violence midway through (without being overly graphic) and heads to a suitably pleasing conclusion.
Well worth a watch.
My ratings - Unstoppable (7.5/10), The Town (9/10), London Boulevard (7.5/10)
Other films, some new, some slightly older, on DVD well worth a watch (my ratings in brackets - mark out of 10):
The Mechanic (6.5), The King’s Speech (8), Taken (7), The Hurt Locker (8.5), The Way Back (7), Mr Nice (7), Due Date (8.5), She’s Out of My League (8), The Book of Eli (7), The Dilemma (6).
And one for the kids ... Diary of a Wimpy Kid (9.5) - brilliant!
ALL DVDs reviewed are available to rent from BLOCKBUSTER, WIGAN LANE, WIGAN.