From Training Day to this year's Sabotage, filmmaker David Ayer writes and directs movies about the cathartic power of releasing your inner warrior. And this World War II action thriller is more of the same, with a "war is hell" message stirred in for good measure. The problem is that there's nothing particularly new here. It's a beautifully shot and edited film, with terrific performances and a remarkable sense of scale, but there have been so many movies made about this conflict that it's difficult to find something original to connect with.
It's near the end of the war, April 1945, as Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) leads the crew of a tank named Fury: Bible (Shia LaBeouf) is a true believer, Gordo (Michael Pena) is a relaxed joker, and Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) is a hot-headed thug. Having just lost their driver, they're joined by rookie Norman (Logan Lerman), who doesn't yet have a wartime nickname because he never thought he'd end up driving a tank. Together, they head further into Germany, not as liberators but as invaders and occupiers, working with other tank crews to take a strategic town before heading further into the hot zone, where a series of particularly brutal Nazi assaults ensue.
The point of the film seems to be that war erodes a person's humanity over time, and the sharpest aspect is the way each character emerges at some point on the continuum. Obviously, Norman is the naive newbie who still has a strong conscience, while at the other extreme Coon-Ass is virtually a monster. Wardaddy is somewhere in between, a tough guy who still has a sense of perspective, such as when he reasons that Norman should be allowed to have some private time with a young German girl (Alicia von Rittberg) simply because they're "young and alive". All of the actors are excellent, adding telling details to their characters that deepen every scene. And the camaraderie between the five-man crew is remarkably authentic, as is their ease inside the cramped quarters of the tank, which makes submarine movies look spacious by comparison.
Continue reading: Fury Review
Where the 2011 reboot felt effortless in the way it recaptured that warmly anarchic Muppets humour, this sequel feels like it's working every step of the way. Yes, it's riotously silly and occasionally hilarious, but there are large chunks of the movie that just aren't funny at all, mainly because there's so much emphasis on the tangled web of a plot that the characters get lost in the shuffle.
It starts just as the last movie ended: the Muppets decide to do a sequel based on an idea from interloper Dominic (Ricky Gervais) to take their show on a world tour. But Dominic is actually in league with super-villain frog Constantine (Matt Vogel), who has just escaped from a gulag. So when the Muppet Show lands in Berlin, he orchestrates a swap: Constantine takes Kermit's place in the show, while Kermit (Steve Whitmire) is sent to Siberia under the watchful eye of guard Nadya (Tina Fey). Meanwhile, Interpol agent Jean-Pierre (Burrell) and CIA operative Sam Eagle (Eric Jacobson) are investigating a series of robberies mysteriously linked to Muppet performances in Berlin, Madrid and Dublin.
All of this builds to a head in London, where Constantine is staging an elaborate wedding to Miss Piggy (Jacobson) to distract from his real plan to steal the Crown Jewels. But this plot-strand feels predictable and limp compared to much more interesting character interaction. For example, scenes between Kermit and Fey are a lot more fun as they plan a musical revue with the inmates (and get Trejo and Liotta sing and dance!). And the escalating banter between Sam Eagle and Burrell is hilarious even as it indulges in cheap Euro-jokes.
Continue reading: Muppets Most Wanted Review
Kermit and friends are set to go international with the help of their unfortunately named new tour manager Dominic Badguy, with hopes of selling-out major theatres in all the big cities of the world including Berlin, Madrid and London. As usual though, things are not about to run smoothly for these trouble magnets as they are forced to postpone their tour when Kermit becomes under suspicion for robbery. It's bad luck for him that there's another frog in town - the formidable Constantine, who organises a jewel heist with the knowledge that he may evade capture because of his unwitting doppelganger. Constantine tries to pretend he's Kermit amongst the other Muppets in an effort to evade detection while Kermit gets locked up, but will they realise their mistake in time to release their real friend and finish their tour?
Continue: Muppets Most Wanted - Clip
For an amazing true story performed by such a strong A-list cast, this is an oddly uninvolving film. Fragmented and uneven, it shifts from comedy to drama to romance to adventure, never letting us get the feel of any sequence. In other words, the episodic structure would have been much more suitable to a longer-format TV series. Even so, this is a fascinating chapter of history that we haven't heard nearly enough about. And the actors are good enough to keep us entertained.
It takes place as the tide begins to turn during World War II, and art historian Frank (Clooney) recruits a team of experts to protect Europe's most important paintings, sculptures and monuments from both Allied bombing and Nazi plundering. He recruits a handful of Americans (Damon, Murray, Goodman and Balaban) to work with a Brit (Bonneville) and a Frenchman (Dujardin), and as they spread out around the continent, they discover that the real problem is that Hitler is stealing art on a massive scale and hiding it somewhere. Working with a resistance-minded French museum curator (Blanchett), they are able to find where some 5 million stolen pieces are stashed.
The central theme is whether art is worth risking your life to save. And if Clooney and Heslov had allowed this idea to seep through the pores of the script, it might have carried a real wallop. But they announce it over and over again, never giving us a chance to think about it ourselves. Everything about the movie is just as unsubtle, with each sequence played for laughs, thrills, drama or romance, as required. Which means that nothing emerges as organic for these simplistically defined characters, who are a composite of some 350 Monuments Men and Women who did a job no one thought was possible. Even so, it's fun to watch these actors play with the material, stirring in snappy details here and there and of course playing on their strong chemistry.
Continue reading: The Monuments Men Review
'The Monuments Men' is based on the true story of seven unlikely museum directors, curators and art historians who were tasked with the virtually impossible mission of rescuing artistic masterpieces from the prevailing Nazi thieves during World War Two.
Directed by Academy Award Winning Actor, George Clooney (Ocean's Eleven) The Monuments Men must risk their lives behind enemy lines as they fight against time in order to save hundreds of years of artistic history and man's greatest cultural achievements which are due to be destroyed by the Reich in this action comedy drama that encapsulates the triumphs and heroic deeds of the unsuspected heroes of World War Two.
The Monuments Men aims to avoid the cynicism of War and bring a new approach to this previously reclusive story based on the Monuments Men book by Robert Edsel.
Kermit and friends return, embarking on an extensive world tour that sees them reach all corners of the globe at sell-out theatre shows in the likes of Berlin, Madrid and London. However, things can't be that easy for these disastrous Muppets as there's always someone out to bring them down; this time, a major organised jewel heist occurs stopping everyone in their tracks when they realise who the culprit is. Constantine, is the world's most dangerous frog, but he becomes even more of a threat by his striking resemblance to Kermit himself. In a horrifying turn of events, Kermit gets locked up for a crime he didn't commit - while Constantine goes about trying to fool his friends into thinking he's the good frog. Will Kermit's friends realise who they've let into their lives in time for justice to be served?
The Muppets return in 'Muppets Most Wanted' - a grippingly funny sequel to their 2011 Oscar winning movie 'The Muppets'. The new movie sees the return of director James Bobin ('Da Ali G Show', 'Flight of the Conchords') alongside writer Nicholas Stoller ('Get Him to the Greek', 'Gulliver's Travels', 'Yes Man'), and it's due for release in the UK on March 28th 2014.
The Monuments Men are a group of seven scholars from art historians to museum curators who are enlisted by the American government in the 1940s to retrieve some of the world's most priceless artefacts and art pieces from the hands of the Nazis during World War II. They plan to destroy certain parts of mankind's history bit by bit and, though it seems like a suicidal mission in itself, it is absolutely essential that the US doesn't let that happen. The men involved in the program have only received basic army training having been thrust into action with precious little time to lose. Encountering tumbling down shelters and landmines everywhere, they truly encapsulate the meaning of bravery by taking to the front line to protect history, no matter what the consequences.
Continue: The Monuments Men - Alternative Trailer
It's the 1940s and with World War II at its most fierce, Hitler's Nazi army is threatening whole worlds of culture and history. He wants entire generations to be wiped from time but America isn't going to let it happen. The government set up a Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, enlisting seven men - from art historians to museum curators - to march headfirst in the conflict and rescue important art masterpieces and artefacts from the thieving hands of the Nazis. Having only been given basic training and with very little time to waste, the brave men thrust themselves in the face of danger to protect mankind's history no matter what the consequences. With enemies everywhere and a terrain covered in landmines, the journey will not be a straightforward one.
Continue: The Monuments Men Trailer
Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and friends are up to their usual tricks as they return to our screens which sees them embark on a major world tour, selling out the biggest theatres in the likes of Berlin, Madrid and London. However, as can be expected from the rabble-rousing Muppets, things don't run smoothly and they manage to get embroiled in an organised jewellery heist behind which sits Kermit's mean doppelganger and his equally evil sidekick. When Kermit gets into some serious trouble after a terrible mix up, it's up to the Muppets to once again face their enemies just like they did with oil magnate Tex Richman when he threatened to drill into the Muppets' theatre for oil. Will they succeed once again? Or will their new troubles prove too much for the feisty characters?
Martin and Claudia are two lawyers who were formerly in a relationship. They are roped into a case together on the defense team of an alleged terrorist, following a tragic bombing in a London market one morning in November. It may be a difficult job to being with, but things don't get any easier when they covertly discover that their client was actually assigned as an undercover spy for MI5 and was supposed to lead them to the bombers before the attack. They soon begin to realise that their every move is being closely watched, and with threats on their life by some powerful people following their investigations and risky suggestions in court, they must escape the controlling force that is the government before they are eradicated - though it could be too late.
Continue: Closed Circuit Trailer
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
From Training Day to this year's Sabotage, filmmaker David Ayer writes and directs movies about...
Where the 2011 reboot felt effortless in the way it recaptured that warmly anarchic Muppets...
Kermit and friends are set to go international with the help of their unfortunately named...
For an amazing true story performed by such a strong A-list cast, this is an...
'The Monuments Men' is based on the true story of seven unlikely museum directors, curators...
Kermit and friends return, embarking on an extensive world tour that sees them reach all...
The Monuments Men are a group of seven scholars from art historians to museum curators...
It's the 1940s and with World War II at its most fierce, Hitler's Nazi army...
Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and friends are up to their usual tricks as...
Martin and Claudia are two lawyers who were formerly in a relationship. They are roped...