Thursday, 16 August 2012

Film News 16/08/2012 - Dragonball Z

Apparently, the 2013 Dragonball Z movie is definitely going to be Dragonball Z - and not Dragonball - which is a brilliant decision as the story matter is so much richer, the characters so much better, and it's just less childish and weird.

It is rumoured to be set after Goku's defeat of Kid Buu (the final bad guy in the Dragonball Z series) and before the World Martial Arts tournament which ended the DBZ series and was set 10 years after the fall of Buu.

This could mean a difficult transition for those not familiar with the Z world as it may require a lot of presumed backstory. 2009's "Dragonball Evolution" started at the beginning, going through Goku's training and his first meetings with Bulma and Yamcha. Then again, this setting for the new film also gives the director almost a clean slate: all baddies have been defeated and there are 10 undocumented years during which almost anything could have happened!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Film News 12/08/2012

This film news update is aaaall about one of my very favourite actors/faces, Chris Hemsworth!

Hemsworth fans have two upcoming performances to look forward to. One very typical of Chris, "Red Dawn", and one something quite different, "Rush".

"Red Dawn" stars Hemsworth as a US marine forced to protect his country as it is invaded and taken over by North Korean soldiers. A remake of the 1984 film of the same name which starred Patrick Swayze (and in which the enemy were Soviet troops, as would be expected in a 1980s American flick), this looks to basically be an American propaganda piece in which (the Australian) Hemsworth spouts a lot of lines about freedom and justice and American nobility, aka "America, fuck yeah"! However, the casting means I will definitely be watching this movie, not only Hemsworth, but I am also starting to develop a bit of a girl crush on "Transformers 2"'s Isabel Luca (another Aussie).

"Rush" is the new film by Ron Howard. It is a biopic of Formula 1 racer, Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl, and focuses on his rivalry with fellow driver, James Hunt (Hemsworth). Not my kind of film generally (Formula 1 bores me to tears), but I may have to make an exception here as it stars Hemsworth and Bruhl, another favourite of mine (he is German after all).

Also, for fans of the other Hemsworth, aka Liam, aka Gethin Jones #2, "The Expendables 2" out next Thursday stars the young "Hunger Games" actor as a bit of youth amongst the old fogies which dominate the film. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


It's only early August but I think we can say that this month's most talked about release will be Seth MacFarlane's feature film directing debut, "Ted". This is the story of a lonely eight year old boy, Johnny Bennett, who makes a wish on a shooting star for a Christmas gift to come to life and become his BFF. And along came Teddy. Teddy ages with Johnny  and they grow together into man and bear, John and Ted. Lazy and constantly smoking weed, Ted and John are still best buddies 26 years on, but John has a gorgeous and ambitious girlfriend of four years who thinks its time John and Ted have some time apart, a separation neither of them seems capable or willing to uphold!

"Ted" is classic MacFarlane, ticking all the boxes we've come to expect from Seth's other ventures, especially Family Guy and American Dad:

Sick humour - check. MacFarlane in-jokes - check. Brilliant slapstick - check. Surreal cameos - check. Talking creature which shouldn't be talking - check. Random inserts practically irrelevant to the plot - check. Mila Kunis - check.

First of all we have to praise MacFarlane for the original and imaginative idea behind Ted. This director is known for his quirky and unparallelled characters and plots: an evil mastermind baby; an alcoholic, intellectual talking dog; a meterosexual cocktail-swigging alien; a German spy trapped in the body of a fish. "Ted"'s protagonist is typical MacFarlane but not typical of movies. Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) is a brilliant mechanism to highlight the real issue here: Mark Whalberg's approaching-middle-aged, lay-about, good-for-nothing male lead who needs to grow up and learn to commit. To a job. To a girlfriend. To life! His inability to let go of his childhood teddy bear merely represents his inability to grow up. Using a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, incessantly horny cuddly toy to do this sets this film apart from all the other midlife crisis plotlines which I'm sure there's no lack of in Hollywood.

Running alongside this main storyline we also have Giovanni Ribisi starring as Donny, who as a child adored Ted and has transformed into a massively creepy stalker who wants to obtain Ted for his overweight, terrifying son, Robert (Ted's best line in the film: "I think he's his son, but he may also be his lover!"). Empire declared that this side plot merely detracted from the fact that Ted and John's true enemies are themselves. Hmm, perhaps this is true, but it does generate some fantastic one liners from Ted and the scenes set inside Donny's house (playtime with Robert and an amazing dance solo from Ribisi) add some fantastic moments to the film and make it worth this addition. Ribisi always delivers a great performance. Though he has proven himself a brilliant character actor in serious roles, his true beginnings are in comedies such as "Friends" and he is an undeniable comic talent.

That said, I do believe that where "Ted" perhaps falters is its desire to be a heart-warming film, almost a family movie, as well as a twisted comedy. I don't think it quite finds the harmony between the dark humour and the more intimate, romantic side of the tale, not just John's relationship with his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), but also the more sentimental aspects of his relationship with Ted. It is all brilliantly acted (MacFarlane, Whalberg, Kunis, Ribisi - a flawless cast), but it feels as if it's trying to accomplish too many things at once. It is not an impossible harmony to achieve, but it is a harmony not quite achieved here.

Humour-wise (and isn't that the main factor in all of MacFarlane's works?) I have to say that "Ted" consistently delivers. With undoubtedly high expectations from "Family Guy" fans (aka 70-80% of the UK adult population), there was a lot of pressure on this film to be one of the year's best comedies and so far I'd say the only film I've seen that's potentially matched "Ted"'s funny factor was the fantastic "21 Jump Street". If you don't like sick, juvenile humour maybe you won't enjoy "Ted" but then why would you be watching it? This film is laced with laugh-out-loud, original humour. Like in "Family Guy", there is barely a line of dialogue which isn't funny. That said, the script is smooth and flows completely naturally. This is, of course, largely down to the comic talents of MacFarlane as Ted, but also kudos has to be given to Mark Whalberg, who has proven himself time and again to be incredibly well-suited to funny roles. Whalberg is hilarious and just so lovable. He is defnitely rising on my list of favourite actors. Without question, one of the greatest moments of the film is Whalberg's incredibly speedy and error-less reel off of "white trash names". As pointed out by Empire, his previous experience as a rapper (oh Marky Mark) can't hurt!

The physical comedy in this film is also typically MacFarlane and brilliantly choreographed! A scene where Ted and John beat the crap out of each other to the extent that its ridiculous they're still standing afterwards reminds strongly of multiple FG moments when Peter and his family have brutally attacked each other.If you're looking for a clever comedy to make your sides split, I think there are few who wouldn't be satisfied by this tasty treat! "Ted" is a great movie debut from one of our favourite comic TV personalities and will hopefully not be the last!