Review: Bad Neighbours 2 (2016)

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Zac Efron, Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen reprise their roles for this, a tired and unnecessary sequel to Bad Neighbours that rehashes its plot, with a sorority as the noisy neighbours instead of a fraternity.. In order to ensure their house sells, Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) turn to old enemy Teddy (Efron) for help. Continue reading “Review: Bad Neighbours 2 (2016)”

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Review: Take This Waltz (2011)

Freelance writer Margot (Michelle Williams) is married to Lou (Seth Rogen), a cookbook author who specialises in inventive chicken recipes. Their relationship is cosy and tender, yet uninspiring and routine, though neither seem interested in confronting those marital issues that bubble under the silken surface. But, when Margot unexpectedly crosses paths with handsome neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby) on a writing trip, her heart is pushed and pulled to the limit Continue reading “Review: Take This Waltz (2011)”

Emma Stone: Hollywood’s New ‘It’ Girl

Who is Emma Stone?

It’s a question that has an array of different answers. Asked a mere five years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who had a clue. Aside from a few brief appearances in Malcolm in the Middle and the Medium, she was an unknown, studying away at acting school, doing whatever she could to get herself noticed. Asked today, however, and most people would probably reply with something along the lines of “OLIVE PENDERGHAST FROM EASY A”. Okay, maybe not Continue reading “Emma Stone: Hollywood’s New ‘It’ Girl”

Review: 50/50 (2011)

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27-year-old radio employee, is abruptly diagnosed with a very rare, life-threatening form of spinal cancer. Unable to turn to his self-obsessed girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) or domineering mother (Anjelica Huston) for help, he instead finds resolution with his oafish best friend (Seth Rogen) and novice therapist (Anna Kendrick).

It’s a rare feat for a film about cancer to be both funny and deeply moving in equal measure, but that’s exactly what makes 50/50 so distinctive. It’s Continue reading “Review: 50/50 (2011)”

Review: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Synopsis: Po (Jack Black) the chop-sockey panda, returns for a new adventure, this time taking on evil Lord Shen (Oldman): a formidable enemy with a nasty secret weapon. Po is joined by his old buddies – Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Monkey (Jackie Chan) – to protect the Valley of Peace.

Kung Fu Panda 2, the sequel to Dreamworks Animations’ heavily buzzed about Kung Fu Panda, is a wondrous equal to its perfectly enjoyable predecessor – if not slightly more sophisticated and well-rounded. The comedy, story and voice-work have all been upped in an attempt to combat sequel fatigue and, to the films merit, everyone pulls it off in a charmingly buoyant manner.

The script, penned by returning screenwriters Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel, is wonderfully paced, and a marked improvement on the original. Not only are Berger and Aibel able to strike the perfect balance between Po and the Furious Five’s quest to stop Lord Shen’s and Po’s heartbreaking discovery of his adoption, but they heighten the enjoyment factor with lampoonery, exhilarating action and the inclusion of an inspired kung fu-esque score by John Powell and Hans Zimmer. It’s not an easy task to alternate between the heaviness of characters lost childhood and spritely adventure, but Kung Fu Panda hits the nail on the head, exquisitely weaving the two strands together in a near seamless manner.

Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson oversees with a keen eye and indisputable zing that ensures Kung Fu Panda 2 preserves the marvellous spark and sheer gaiety that made the original so popular. A snappy pace and scenes that are choreographed with a distinct level of creativity – most notably the anime-infused flashback scenes revealing Po’s psychologically disturbed childhood and the hilarious Pac Man-esque chase sequence through Gongmen city – wholly infuse the film with an overarching fun disposition, and ensure the animation is as visually interesting and detailed as physically possible. The fact that Guillermo Del Toro acted as creative consultant shines through and indicates how dedicated Dreamworks Animation were to making a worthy sequel.

The film might boast first-rate animation and a refined script, but it’s the star-spangled voice-work that makes each and every madcap character stand out from the crowd and feel as integral as the last that is the films true prize. Black, in particular, gives a top-notch as the burgeoning Po, and is the ultimate heart and soul of the film. His personality has become so suffused with that of Po’s that it’s hard to think of them as two separate entities. Hoffman, Jolie and Rogen stand out amongst the supporting cast, each injecting the necessary laughs, thrills and enterprise into their roles.

It is, however, the new additions that steal the film. Oldman delivers a necessarily, and utterly convincingly level of menace as Lord Shen, while Yeoh and – try not to laugh – even Jean Claude Van Damme fit perfectly in their roles as Soothsayer and Master Croc, proving their worth as befitting additions to the already bountifully capable cast.

Kung Fu Panda 2 works not only as marvellous family entertainment, but also as an innovative and fervid animation spectacle, intercut with heartwarming revelations, thrilling action, skilful comedy, superlative voice-work, and a soaring soundtrack to boot. It’s a film for all ages, and one that unquestionably deserves to be cherished and enjoyed as much, if not more, than the first.

Review: Paul (2011)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite in yet another bromance buddy film, this time from director Greg Motolla.

Paul sees two best friends, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) embark upon a tour of UFO landing sites after visiting Comic-Con in San Diego. Fleeing into the night after angering some aggressive rednecks, they have a chance encounter with Paul (Seth Rogen), a wise-cracking alien who implores them to take him with them before he gets dragged back to Area 51.

All too keen to indulge in a geek fantasy, the two nerds stash Paul in the back of their rented RV and attempt to return him to his landing site. But things don’t go quite according to plan when they accidentally kidnap a trailer park attendant (Kristen Wiig) and discover that they have an FBI agent on their trail (Jason Bateman).

For the most part, the story is solid. It impressively finds the right balance between road movie and alien flick, and results in an old fashioned, grand, amped-up final showdown.

Motolla’s direction, however, is all-too tame and demonstrates that a Pegg and Frost film is banal without their counterpart Edgar Wright. Mottola makes a commendable effort, but is clearly out of his comfort zone.

Pegg and Frost, even without Wright, put their real-life friendship to good use and create a likable duo, with naturally blowing, witty banter and individualistic personalities, enough to differentiate them from their previous on-screen personaes.

Seth Rogen proves to be a inspired choice for Paul, reminding audiences he is in fact a talented actor, and not the one hit wonder he was in danger of becoming. And Kristen Wiig, in her first mainstream film, shows off her natural comedic talent, getting her own fair share of laughs in amongst an already headstrong cast.

Jane Lynch and Sigourney Weaver, though awarded with limited screen time, both bring a remarkable sweet-wise quality to their respective roles, making you ache for more.

Paul is an adequately enlivening Saturday night movie, with gratifying gags, a savvy cast and enough sci-fi references to keep everyone happy.