Monday 26 August 2013

Film: We're The Millers

When a small time drug dealer agrees to bring a shipment back from Mexico he thinks the perfect cover is to be a family man, so he recruits oddball friends and neighbours to play his fictitious brood.

Along the way they encounter another travelling family while also trying to evade a rival dealer and deliver the drugs on time.

The entire cast look like they’re having fun and it comes across on screen. Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses) is great as the downtrodden pot dealer Dave and Jennifer Aniston delivers another hilarious and sexy  turn as stripper Rose, who has to convince everyone that she’s the perfect Mother. The pretend kids of the family are the hapless Kenny (Will Poulter) and streetwise Casey (Emma Roberts).

There are plenty of laughs here with Poulter especially giving a show-stealing performance, look out for the spider scene!

Without doubt the best comedy of the year so far.

We’re The Millers is in cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Essential    

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Film: Hamlet 2

Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge) is failed actor turned drama teacher Dana Marschz in this 2008 comedy.

When a group of delinquents join the class Marschz must use his awkward street-smarts to help the troubled youths express some creativity, but following a string of critically savaged plays the school decides to close the drama department leaving the teacher to ponder his (and his students’) future.

Is producing a sequel to one of the world’s best loved plays the answer?

American audiences unfamiliar with Coogan’s brand of humour didn’t take to this film but it isn’t as bad as you might expect. Marschz’s life is in tatters as his job and personal life fall apart and Coogan performs adequately in the role, even delivering some very funny physical comedy moments.

Elisabeth Shue (Cocktail, The Karate kid) pops up as a parody of herself and her inclusion also brings from the star-struck Marschz.

Unfortunately the films climax (the performance of Hamlet 2) detracts from the comedy on offer and contains very few laughs itself, ensuring that Coogan follows in the footsteps of British comedians such as Rik Mayall (Drop Dead Fred) and Lenny Henry (True Identity) who also have a Hollywood flop in their CVs.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy. 

Thursday 8 August 2013

Film: Only God Forgives

A family of criminals come up against a cop with a brutal sense of justice in this thriller from the team behind Drive.

When Billy (Tom Burke) goes looking for cheap thrills it ends in murder and events escalate when the cop on the case gives the victim’s Father a chance for retribution.

Billy’s brother Julian (Ryan Gosling) goes looking for revenge but his own morals prevent him from taking the action his Mother (Kristen Scott Thomas) demands.

Director Nicholas Winding Refn has served up another visual delight that is punctuated by explosions of violence. The film looks fantastic (great use of colours) and feels very atmospheric but too often veers off on a self-indulgent direction that makes the viewer wonder what exactly is going on.

Only God Forgives would have been so much better as a straight-forward revenge thriller but remains enjoyable thanks largely to the screen presence of Vithaya Pansringarm as the sword-wielding  supercool cop Chang.

Catch it in UK cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Good.

Book: Stolen Prey by John Sandford

An entire family has been murdered in the most horrific scene Lucas Davenport has ever seen. The level of violence and ruthlessness makes him immediately suspect the involvement of a Mexican drug cartel but he can find no evidence whatsoever to support this theory.

A tale of robbery, greed, drugs and murder follows featuring a whole host of unsavoury characters which includes: Three Mexican hitmen, disgruntled bank employees, a questionable Mexican cop and his assistant, along with Virgil Flowers who now has his own spin-off series of books.

While attempting to get to the bottom of all this Lucas must cope with an arm injury caused when he became the victim of opportunistic muggers. Will he catch up with them?

Being familiar with this series definitely enhances the reading experience as this one on it’s own doesn’t quite have the excitement of previous efforts, but as part of the series it’s another reasonably satisfying outing for Davenport and Co. largely thanks to the gripping finale.

Ric’s Rating: Good.        

Friday 2 August 2013

Film: The Wolverine

News of a dying friend brings Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to Tokyo and he is soon caught up in a tale of kidnap, murder and treachery.

During his pursuit of Yakuza thugs Wolverine is injured and inexplicably his healing powers do not seem to be working. Hurt and confused he must rely on fighting skills alone to get to the bottom of things and rescue the girl.

Based on a popular graphic novel this feels rather hurried to me. There is little time to get to know any of the new characters and the confusing timeline created by the many X Men sequels, prequels and spin-offs doesn’t help either.

Jackman (as always) is excellent as the snarling hero but the other performances and characters on show bring little to the table. The poisonous Viper just isn’t in the same league as Magneto or even Mystique and I’m fast becoming very tired of huge fighting robots.

This one is for Marvel / XMen / Wolverine fanatics only.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy.