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Review: The World’s End

Cinema Review

worlds endThere’s a lot of talk in the publicity about this being part of trilogy of films by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost but this film is as different from the previous two films as Hot Fuzz was from Shaun of the Dead. It shares with them the idea of taking a genre film plot and setting it in England with characters more familiar from comedies. This time it’s the alien invasion Sci-Fi genre that gets the treatment and the film does a good job delivering authentic a science fiction action film with their trademark irreverent humour.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) is a man whose life peaked as a teenager and its been downhill ever since  He ropes in his old school buddies to relive what he remembers as the best night of his life: a pub crawl around twelve pubs starting with The First Post and finishing with The World’s End. We get introduced to the four others completely from Gary’s perspective as teenagers so Oliver (Martin Freeman) is nicknamed Oman because of a birthmark on his forehead, Peter (Eddie Marsan) is alright because his family are wealthy and Steven (Paddy Considine) is the rival ladies’ man. Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) was Gary’s best friend and wing man. A sixth person mentioned is Sam (Rosamund Pike) Oliver’s sister that Gary once had sex with in the disabled toilet of a pub.

All Gary’s friends have gone on to be adults with jobs, wives and children and they are not really that interested in a pub crawl round the town they all left far behind with a desperate loser who has not emotionally grown since their school-days. Their memories of Gary and that night are not as warm as Gary’s so he has to manipulate each of them into joining him out of pity

When they arrive back at their hometown the place is cold and indifferent to them and there’s certainly no warm welcome. They check into a hotel (run by Julie Deakin who played the landlady in Spaced, an early TV collaboration of Pegg, Frost and Wright). Then the pub crawl starts at The First Post which has had a corporate makeover that the friends refer to as being Starbucksed (though Wetherspooned might have been more accurate). Gary gives them an enthusiastic historical introduction to the pub and seems to expect the barman to remember him which he doesn’t. Gary orders five pints but Andy interrupts and says he wants water. This really upsets Gary but Andy doesn’t care about pleasing Gary and hints that Gary is reason he only drinks water now.

The next stop The Old Familiar is identical to the first pub even down the customers but has a different barman who still doesn’t recognise Gary. In the third pub Gary gets the instant recognition he wants but that’s because his photo is pinned to a wall of shame full of customers who have been barred for life.

At the fourth pub The Cross Hands Gary picks a fight with a teenager in the toilet whose only offence was to ignore Gary bragging about how cool he used to be. He finds out the young man is not in human but some sort of modular android and destroys it. Andy and the others come into the toilet to talk about one the nastier lies he told to get them there. Soon they are battling a gang of teenage androids. They realise that have no idea how many people have been replaced by androids and the sensible plan is to leave immediately but Gary talks them into carrying on with pub crawl to avoid alerting the other androids that they know about them. Andy downs four shots to catch up and get drunk enough to go along with Gary’s stupid plan.

As they go on they discover the aliens’ plan but Gary drives them on to finish the pub crawl because that really is more important to him than the end of the world. Simon Pegg’s character is definitely not a hero in this film and he drives the story forward by his misguided quest. A lot of the comedy comes from his immature behaviour and the way he drags his straight-laced friends along for the ride. The film starts slowly building a very realistic character dynamic before it shifts up a few gears into a high action finale.

The casting includes familiar faces that have worked with Pegg, Frost and Wright before such as Mark Heap, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith and Darren Boyd. There’s also a very well-known actor who hasn’t been credited who has a small but important role in the story. The cast are just great and there’s naturalness to their interactions.

Like other films by Wright, Pegg and Frost this film is influenced by the films they have loved, in this case it’s science fiction films and the broad theme certainly owes a lot to Invasion of Bodysnatchers (the 70s remake rather than the original). I’ll have some fun spotting them when the film comes to Bluray. There’s a running gag that they can’t agree what to call the androids who are bit touchy about being called robots and they eventually end up calling them blanks

This film might not be quite as funny as Shaun of The Dead or Hot Fuzz but it still has more laughs than many other comedies and there’s a real depth to characters. The theme of the film is the battle for individual freedom with all its flaws against compromising and conforming but it’s done with the wit you’d expect from these writers.

Rating 8.0/10

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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Film

 

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Review: Attack the Block

I was familiar with Joe Cornish from radio and TV working with long time partner Adam Buxton. This made me definitely want to see how his first film would turn out. I was a bit apprehensive but still confident it would be worth it. I am glad that to say that this is a really is an impressive and entertaining debut film

The films opens with young nurse Sam Jodie Whittaker walking home alone. It must be November 5th because there are fireworks going off all over the city. She starts going down one very quiet then sees a crowd of teenage boys. Then they spot her. She tries just keep walking to brazen it out but they surround her and  the leader Moses (John Boyega) pulls out knife and takes his scarf off his face and demands her purse. She sees she is helpless and hands it over.

Just then something falls down from outer space and smashes into a car right next to them. Moses goes into the wreckage to see what caused it. He gets attacked by a strange creature which scratches his face and runs off into the nearby park. While the boys are distracted Sam runs off. Moses is angry about being attacked so they go after the creature and find it hiding in a park hut. After shooting fireworks at it they all pile in and attack it, killing it. Yeah, these are our protagonists. In an interview Joe Cornish revealed that part of the inspiration was being mugged himself by a gang of boys just like these.

They take the body with them back to the tower block that they all live in Wyndham Tower, which is the same one Sam lives in too but none of them know this yet. Outside they meet two younger boys who insist on being called Probs and Mayhem and want to hang around with the older boys but they get firmly rejected. Moses and his gang know the creature is alien and are hoping it might be worth money.

The take it to Ron’s (Nick Frost) flat on the top floor because he watches the Discovery Channel. Ron is a stoner who runs a fortified cannabis growing room for a real gangster Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) who is there rapping with one of his henchmen. Moses hands the stuff they stole from Sam over to Hi-Hatz who gives him a pack of drugs to sell for him, drawing Moses in deeper to crime. He really has no time for them blathering abut aliens and lets them the store the body in the growing room.

Brewis (Luke Treadaway) a friend and customer of Ron’s is there too and he has a look at the alien and he confirm the obvious that it is like nothing else they’ve ever seem before. Brewis is an out-of-place posh boy and really makes a dick of himself trying to act cool around the boys. Outside they see whole load more lights falling from the sky. They are excited by having more aliens to hunt and rush from Ron’s to get geared up for a battle. We get to see a bit of Pest (Alex Esmail), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Dennis (Franz Drameh) and Biggz’s (Simon Howard) home life but don’t see any of Moses’.

They head out to the park where the saw the lights landing. The see one that died on landing and it is much bigger and nastier than the one they killed before. Dennis had been ordered to take the dog for a walk and the dog is straining at the leash to go after something in the darkness. It breaks free and runs at something and we hear pathetic yelp as it is killed. They see a big black shape coming towards them with lights that at first they think are eyes but are actually big glowing blue teeth. The boys all run away back towards the block.

Meanwhile Sam has gone to the police to report her mugging. Two policemen take her out in their van to look around for the boys.  They spot Moses running and they catch him and shove him in the cage at the back their van. Not only does Sam identify him as her mugger but he was caught with a sock full of drugs.One of the creature appears and slaughters both of the policemen, then tries to find a way into the van. Sam gets in the back next to Moses out of its way. The other boys come to Moses’ rescue using fireworks to run the creature off, while Dennis gets in the van. He frees Moses from the cage but Sam locks herself in the cage thinking that boys killed the policemen. Dennis drives off followed by the other boys on their motorbikes down into an underground parking area, where he smashes into Hi-Hatz car head first. Moses lets Sam out of the back and tells her to get to safety.

Hi-Hatz is very angry and he really doesn’t want them to tell him about aliens. When they hear a creature approaching he sends his henchman to investigate and he gets killed very quickly. Hi-Hatz shoots the creature dead and the boys use the distraction to get away. Creatures chase them all the way back to the block and Biggz gets split off and trapped inside an empty bin with one creature outside trying to get in.

The others make it back to Wyndham Tower but Pest’s leg gets ripped open by a creature. They drag  him into the block and just spot Sam going into her flat and they force their way in. She is sceptical about their story of alien creatures but agrees to patch up Pest’s leg. Something bangs at her door  and a creature breaks through into the flat. Moses strikes it through the head with a sword and it dies instantly. The boys try to figure out what to do next while Sam sneaks away but she hears the sound of several creatures prowling around in the block and decides she’s safer sticking with the boys.

Criminal teenage gangs are really strange protagonists to choose. At the start you agree with old woman who gives a Sam a cup of tea to help her relax who wants them all locked up. Later on their mask of bravado gives way to genuine acts of courage. Pest will either grow on you or drive you crazy because he will not shut up. The young unknown cast are very convincing, especially the boys playing Pest and Moses. The dialogue sounds very authentic.

For a low-budget film like this the alien creatures seemed pretty effective. They are big creatures covered in deep black hair with a maw of blue glowing teeth and no other visible features. I know it is guys in costumes but its a pretty smart costume design that allows a nice realistic feel the to the motion of the creatures. The scene of them seeing the creatures outside of a window high up the block was so good they did it twice.

I see people refer to this film as a comedy horror and I think is misleading. There is quite bit of humour in the film but I don’t think it is a comedy. I think it is more of a science fiction creature feature.  I really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing Joe direct more films in the future. I’d also not mind seeing more of the boys.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Paul

 Two sci-fi nerds from England, Clive Gollings (NickFrost) and Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) are geeking out at their holiday of lifetime starting with visit to San Diego Comicon. Next they rent an RV head off on trip round various well-known alien encounter sites. On their first night out a car speeds down the road out nowhere, overtakes them and crashes right in front of them. They get out to see if the driver needs help and discover the driver is Paul (Seth Rogen), a short green wise cracking ET. Paul begs them to help him escape from a mysterious government agency led by The Big Man (Sigourney Weaver). He has been held for 60 years while he was interrogated for all his knowledge and now they have finished doing that they want to cut him up to learn about his special alien abilities. He  has escaped and now needs to go meet a rescue ship. Graeme agrees to help eagerly but Clive is less certain but finally goes along with it.

They stop for the night at a trailer park run by Creationist Christian Moses Buggs (John Carroll Lynch) and his daughter Ruth (Kristen Wiig). When Ruth comes round to collect their money for berthing up for night she meets Paul and she collapses in dead faint from the shock. They flee from the park in a panic with the still unconscious Ruth. Moses alerts the police and soon government agents turn up, led by Agent Zoil and rookie agents Haggard (Bill Hader) and O’Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio).  The agents and Moses Bugg chase after the RV as it head towards Paul’s rendezvous with his rescue ship

This film is a lot of fun. It’s not a hilariously funny film and I found I was sniggering a lot but there were few big laughs. Clive and Graeme are Frost and Pegg and they are charming naturally funny guys and are also as nerdy in real life as their characters.In this film they got to play characters that allowed them to indulge their interests. the script is full of lines taken from classic sci-fi films and I enjoyed playing spot the references. A lot the humour is pretty crude and there is a running gag that Paul has inspired many of the ideas of modern popular culture. Paul is amusing but I wondered if  there was a problem dubbing on Seth Rogen’s voice because it didn’t quite blend in with sound of the film and there were times I could tell it was recorded in a studio far far away

The rest of the cast are pretty good though I did think Ruth and especially Moses were bit of a caricature. I know it was done for laughs but it was a bit of an easy target to poke fun at the crazy Christians. In a lot films about friendly aliens on Earth we get the innocent alien learning about human culture but Paul is already an expert and it is Ruth who learns about this strange new world of swearing and penises and kissing boys. The agents especially were a lot of fun. Sigourney Weaver was great playing The Big Man as an over the top mega bitch and I am sure Simon Pegg will treasure his scene with her near the end for a long time.

Rating 7/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1092026/

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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