Southpaw

A Knockout Film

15A  123 mins

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson

Plot: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Willis to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.


Review: Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is 43-0, he is undoubtedly the best in his class but when he gets a challenge from upcoming boxer Miguel "Magic" Escobar (Miguel Gomez) during his post fight conference he quickly becomes agitated and unreasonable resulting in a terrible string of incidents that will lead to his life being truly turned upside down.

With his life pretty much destroyed he turns to the only trainer he knows that can train a great fighter, Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). Life gets harder for Billy for a while but only hard work and the will to get back in the ring and get his family back together will keep him going. First of all I want to mention Gyllenhaal's incredible transformation physically going from Nightcrawler where he played a low weighted insomniac to the muscular beast he is in Southpaw. Yes with trainers and the right diet its possible to do but you still need to have the determination to do it and like some fellow actors Gyllenhaal has no problem getting fully involved with his character.

As for his acting, well there is no surprise that he is being hailed for a possible award nomination as he does completely own his character very much to the point you could truly believe this has been his life. But a film isn't about just one actor in general and Southpaw thankfully gets that right. With a great supporting cast like Rachel McAdams as Maureen Hope, a loving and devoted wife as well as mother and Curtis Jackson as the very well played boxing promoter and agent Jordan Mains. But apart from Gyllenhaal's brilliant performance the two parts of equal excellence are that of Whitaker's Tick Wills, a flawed but ultimately honourable gym owner and trainer who despite his own issues helps the troubled lead, and Leila Hope played by the fantastic Oona Laurence who I would be surprised if she didn't receive an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actress.

And rightly so as she plays the child part beautifully from her extremely emotional scenes to the moments of triumph and love. There have been negative thoughts about this film being too predictive, I've also actually read somewhere that people were upset that the film contained too much boxing, I mean come on really?! Yes it's predictable and yes there's no reinvention here but what this film does is tell a great comeback story and one that you can actually feel a part of. Very much in films like Rocky where you truly will the fighter to succeed, this film doesn't let you down and carries on the great legacy of boxing films we've had in the past. If you are looking for a new idea don't go, if you are looking for a great film with good acting totally go and watch it. *** 3 Stars

***** 5 stars "Take my money and show me again!"

**** 4 stars "I'll see that again when it comes out to buy"

*** 3 stars "I'll buy it and watch it when it's in the bargain bin"

** 2 stars "I may watch it again sometime"

* 1 star "This is why I'm glad for memory loss"

No star "Don't even bother"

Inside Out

Inside Out warms you Outside In

G  94 mins

Director: Pete Doctor

Starring: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Kyle MacLachlan

Plot: After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

Review: From the brilliant studio that brought us unforgettable films such as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters Inc and Up we now get the instant classic Inside Out.

When Riley, a beautiful baby girl is born she has only one thing in her mind, and that's Joy. But things soon get crowded as she feels other emotions and they all vie for control of Riley. Now eleven years old Riley is upheaved from everything she knows and loves with a move to San Francisco, and with Sadness slowly taking over will Joy be able to keep things from falling apart or will Fear and Anger destroy this once bright mind.

Pixar have without doubt brought us one brilliant film after another, there are some that aren't as strong but they are all great in their own right. Inside Out carries on this tradition but also carves its own unique way through. The story is very well played out and very well written to keep audiences engaged, also with a runtime of just over an hour and a half it is the perfect length of time for children before it starts becoming a chore to sit and watch. The voice casting is as usual on point with Amy Poehler in the lead as Joy, the full of beans enthusiastic part of Riley's mind that always looks for the positive in any situation. We also have the great voice talents of Bill Hader as Fear, Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust and the brilliant Phyllis Smith as Sadness. But let's not forget the minor roles in comparison of Riley herself voiced by Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan as Mom & Dad and the always brilliant Richard Kind and John Ratzenberger who both have several Pixar credits to their name.

The animation is the best I've seen to date and just invites you in to become part of the fun. The film is bright and quick flowing so will keep the children amused and with the few but not distasteful adult jokes will keep everyone happy. Unfortunately there are some minor negatives, not because of film or storytelling errors but just things that will make the difference as a viewer. First of all there is what I consider to be a massive plot hole, however for the sake of having a running time of 94mins rather than 40mins I'll forgive them (Also it could be possible most people won't even think about it). The other problem with the film is, if you or your child is of a sensitive disposition take some tissues. There are moments throughout the film that will inevitably have your child crying if not in an incredibly sad mood, however this isn't a negative as much as it might sound because it is this feeling of sadness that as a viewer creates a emotional connection between you and the characters. So the negative is actually still a massive positive because just like the intro sequence in Up it will have you teary eyed but for all the right reasons.

So if you weren't already going because it's a Pixar film (and we all love those really) or because you just think it would be an hour and a half of quiet to take the kids, go! I don't even think you need a child to go see this as I would happily of gone without my daughter, she just made the experience mean so much more. Go and see it, go right now! ***** 5 Stars

There is also the added bonus as with the Pixar films of a short story before the feature. This in itself is very sad but also very joyous, maybe a good emotional warmer for what you are about to watch. *** 3 Stars

***** 5 stars "Take my money and show me again!"

**** 4 stars "I'll see that again when it comes out to buy"

*** 3 stars "I'll buy it and watch it when it's in the bargain bin"

** 2 stars "I may watch it again sometime"

* 1 star "This is why I'm glad for memory loss"

No star "Don't even bother"

Avengers: Age of Ultron


12A  141mins

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, James Spader, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson

Plot: When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.


Review: A while after the first Avengers movie finished we find the team back together and hunting down Loki's sceptre. Which leads them to Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) in his castle hideaway, while his legions of men and tanks try and hold back the Avengers. When this doesn't seem to be working his newest and most powerful recruits Brother and sister Pietro (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) Maximoff, who after Strucker's experiments on them now possess super speed for Pietro and telekinetic and mind control powers for Wanda join the fight. With the battle finished and the Avengers having got back the sceptre they head back to Avenger's tower where Tony Stark AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner AKA Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) convince the rest of the team to let them investigate it to see what its power is. When they find that the sceptre in itself is the most complicated and intricate neural collective they decide without telling the team that they are going to try and use this super intelligence to create a self sustaining and self aware iron suit which falls under the program name Ultron. When they fail to achieve a connection between the intelligence and the iron suit they leave J.A.R.V.I.S (voiced by Paul Bettany) in charge to carry on trying to work out the problems, but maybe it wasn't that it wasn't working but just not ready..... until now.

Hammer time... maybe not

Hammer time... maybe not

 

The problems with a film of this magnitude is that everyone already has massive expectations, especially if you are fond of the first movie. Also with a cast as big as this as well as adding to that you worry that the film will suffer and that it will just all become a fight fest of which you may miss half of because there is too much going on. Well in the case of disappointment, you really shouldn't be worried. It has a different tone to the first film as well as having an evolution to the characters from the way they behave around each other to the way that some of them have built further bonds, so you do need to go in to this film not thinking you will get another Avengers Assemble because what you are getting is the same characters you now know and love from before but they have just become the next phase of the Avengers.

Joss Whedon also has made absolutely sure that the story is very well laid out with no particular "what was that all about?" moments as well as making sure each team member gets their respective moments equal to each other, although we do find out more about some of the lesser thought of Avengers which is really good to create attachment to them. Also not only with dealing with stable characters of the franchise we also have several new characters as well as a whole host of back up characters from the previous movie and previous movies of each individual character. I don't want to spoil who they are because its fun to see each being brought into the fold.

Then we have the quite brilliant James Spader as the voice of Ultron who for my mind is as equally creepy and sinister as he is completely insane and matched pinpoint perfectly by the voice acting of Spader. All that plus for the fans and people in the know there is a whole host of geeky goodness in there like a trip to Wakanda being probably the most obvious of note, and of course what would a Marvel film be without it's very own Generalissimo Stan Lee who actually gets a sizeable part considering his usual blink and you could miss it moments.

With all this brilliance there are some prices to be paid, firstly it's two hours and twenty two minutes long which for me is a pleasure because you need that run time to show what's needed but that is an evening gone pretty much so it's not a film for those wishing for an adventurous hour and a half film. Also some of the early fight scene between the Avengers and Strucker's men actually looks CGI, what I mean is 98% of the FX done on this film is seamless but there is one or two pieces early on that just look a little untidy. So overall this has done a great but different job of following on from it's predecessor as well as adding a whole host of extras for you while for the most part kept it all looking good.

If you have liked any of the other Marvel films you will most likely like this as well, if you haven't watched any other the other Marvel films that's fine too because you will be gently pulled into the awesome world that's been created. No end credit scene for this Marvel film but there is one mid credit so don't forget to stick around for that too.

****/* 4/5 Stars


***** 5 stars "Take my money and show me again!"

**** 4 stars "I'll see that again when it comes out to buy"

*** 3 stars "I'll buy it and watch it when it's in the bargain bin"

** 2 stars "I may watch it again sometime"

* 1 star "This is why I'm glad for memory loss"

No star "Don't even bother"

Big Hero 6: Why we all need a Big Hero

PG  102mins

Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams

Starring:  Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung

Plot: The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Review: The film opens with robots battling in an arena to the end and as the camera pans out we see it's actually a back alley robot fight club with shady characters and hustlers betting on the matches. The battle is won by a mean looking robot who has decimated his last opponent and in steps the new challenger, 14 year old Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) with his rather quite pathetic looking robot. He is almost laughed out of the arena until he brings out a stash of money and so the fight begins. With Hiro's back street illegal gambling getting him into trouble his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) has to rescue him which still ends up with them in trouble. Hiro is a fourteen year old genius that like many other teenagers don't know what they are doing with their life.

That is until Tadashi takes Hiro to the San Fransokyo Robotics college where he along with fellow students and friends create the tech of the future. Suddenly the world doesn't seem so boring and dull for Hiro, this new found reason prompts Hiro to take part in the college expo where he displays his new creation in order to win a scholarship. During his time visiting the college with his brother Tadashi introduces him to his own creation, Baymax. Baymax is a personal healthcare companion who activates to the word "Ow" or "Ouch", he then assesses the vitals and needs of the injured person and duly administers the required healthcare. But Baymax along with Hiro and a few friends will become much more than they ever thought possible.

Big Hero 6 has been created masterfully by the same creators that brought us Wreck it Ralph and 2013's smash hit Frozen, and just like with those films Big Hero 6 brings every type of emotion to the table and not just for kids either. I will admit that I was thoroughly looking forward to this which also worried me that it would not live up to my expectation but I had nothing to worry about. Just like with Wreck it Ralph and Frozen the story is fun and with lots of excitement and it is very important to have that, especially as for a kids film you need to keep them excited and filled with wonderment as well as making it relatable. This is where I think these films have cracked it.

For anyone that has seen the aforementioned films you will know that with all the laughs and comedy there is also that moment where you have no other choice but to feel the emotions that the characters feel, ok it may not set you to tears but you definitely felt it and that is the beauty of it. I took my daughter with me as I do to most kids films and it was interesting that without any words I could see how she was feeling from her reactions and that is only possible because of the brilliant way in which these films are made, there were the moments she felt sad and happy but also the moments of throwing the fist in the air with a massive "YEAH". Any film that manages to capture the complexities of human emotions and make you feel exactly as they do is by far the best type there is. As for visually it is superb, from it's highly stylised neon look of San Fransokyo (After a quake in San Francisco with half the population being Asian it was rebuilt and renamed to show the collaboration between the cultures) all the way to it's more complex robots. There are errors and most of which will pass you by but there is quite a staggering error in the final scenes however if you have enjoyed the rest of the film as much as I did or you just don't think about those types of things you should be ok.

If you have kids go see it, if you don't have kids go see it. Sure, go and see it twenty times because I think even after that you will still feel the wonder. Also as usual with Marvel associated films, stay till the end credits for the extra scene        ***** 5 Stars 

 

***** 5 stars "Take my money and show me again!"

**** 4 stars "I'll see that again when it comes out to buy"

*** 3 stars "I'll buy it and watch it when it's in the bargain bin"

** 2 stars "I may watch it again sometime"

* 1 star "This is why I'm glad for memory loss"

No star "Don't even bother"