A very odd blend of caper action, dark drama and romantic comedy, this slickly made con-artist romp never quite finds its stride. There's a merciful vein of sharp wit in the script, thanks to writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy Stupid Love) and a spiky performance from Margot Robbie. But Will Smith's presence leaves everything feeling rather tame, compromising his character by making him a nice-guy crook rather than the unpredictable black-comedy protagonist he really should have been.
It opens as the wide-eyed Jess (Robbie) approaches veteran grifter Nicky (Smith) about learning the art of the con. She follows him to New Orleans for some major pickpocketing and double-crossing in the run-up to a big football championship, but Nicky unceremoniously dumps her afterwards. Three years later, they meet again in Buenos Aires, where both appear to be running scams centred around the Formula One team owned by Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro), who's never far from his right-hand goon (Gerald McRaney). With help from his old pal Farhad (Adrian Martinez), Nicky sets out to run his sting. But Jess is a distraction, and the stakes are too high for him to take his eye off the game.
While it's one of the running gags, Nicky's soft centre is a serious problem here, making the movie feel like a vanity project for Smith, who seems far too determined to be sympathetic. (Ficarra and Requa know how to make an anti-hero likeable: see Bad Santa.) Instead, Smith is a jarring combination of beefy physicality, fast-talking thievery and squidgy emotions. Robbie is able to more effectively merge Jess' gung-ho personality with her gleeful criminality, but when they're both together on-screen it's impossible not to feel like everything about the characters' relationship is a big con. So we wait for the script to reveal its clever twists and turns. But they're surprisingly few and oddly inconsequential.
Continue reading: Focus Review
Rodrigo Santoro - A variety of stars were photographed as they attended the World Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' new film "Focus." The premiere was held at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California, United States - Wednesday 25th February 2015
While sitting at the bar of a hotel lobby one night, a man catches a glimpse of an attractive young woman and goes over to introduce himself. That man is Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) and that woman is Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie). When the two go back to Barrett's room for the night, a gunman attacks Spurgeon, demanding all of his money. The problem is, Spurgeon is a seasoned conman, and is able to quickly sniff out a scam when it arises. After imparting both Barrett and her assailant with some lessons in the art of conning, Spurgeon leaves. Three years later, Spurgeon and Barrett will be reunited in a dangerous game of deception and theft.
Continue: Focus Trailer
Nicky Spurgeon is a genius when it comes to his work as a con man in the criminal underworld but decides to take on an intern in the form of the beautiful, blonde, aspiring criminal Jess Barrett. However, things soon get a little complicated when a spark ignites between them and Nicky is forced to let her go rather than jeopardise their professional circumstances. They are reunited some years later, however, in Buenos Aires with Jess having gone on to perfect the art of elusive scamming as a grade A femme fatale for another con man and Nicky's interest soon re-awakens when he sees her in action. Unfortunately, this time they are working against each other in their most dangerous operation yet and Nicky is torn between wanting to protect her and wanting to do the right thing.
Continue: Focus - Teaser Trailer
After the snappy, clever 2011 original, this sequel feels rather lazy by comparison: it's still visually colourful and sometimes witty, but the overcrowded story is all over the place, mixing wacky slapstick and corny satire with a political message. And none of this is edgy enough to make it memorable, except perhaps the addition of one new character, a deranged poisonous frog with delusions of romance, voiced by the riotously operatic Kristin Chenoweth.
At the centre again are the rare blue macaws Blu and Jewel (Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway), who now have three feisty kids at their bird sanctuary in Rio de Janeiro. Then their human keepers Tulio and Linda (Rodrigo Santoro and Leslie Mann) spot another blue macaw deep in the Amazon, so Blu and Jewel fly off to investigate with their children and buddies (including Will.i.am and Jamie Foxx). Sure enough, this turns out to be Jewel's long-lost family, overseen by her father (Andy Garcia) and guarded by her heartthrob ex Roberto (Bruno Mars). But there's an evil logger threatening the rainforest, and Blu's old nemesis Nigel the cockatoo (Jemaine Clement) is out for revenge.
After the oddly flat prologue in Rio, the film kicks up a gear when it arrives in the jungle, where the imagery becomes far more dense and colourful, leading to some wonderfully outrageous musical numbers and raucous action sequences. The level of detail is impressive, as is the range of creatures thrown into the story. But the script never quite rises to this level of invention, once again simplistically putting the city-bird Blu in an alien natural environment, with added in-laws and ex-boyfriends. Much more fun is Nigel's interaction with his poison-frog sidekick, even if his subplot never builds any steam.
Continue reading: Rio 2 Review
Monty Trainer, William D. Talbert III, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy Garcia, Anne Hathaway, Carlos Saldanha and Jamie Foxx - The stars of the animated family film 'Rio 2' attend the inauguration of Miami's first-ever Walk of Fame - Miami, Florida, United States - Friday 21st March 2014
The fantasy action sequel dominated the US box office during its first weekend.
300: Rise of an Empire had a storming first weekend of release during which the new fantasy action film raked in $45 million. The Zack Snyder-directed sequel battled off competition from Dreamworks' animated Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which took a rather disappointing $32.2 million, as well as the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop and the fantastically successful The Lego Movie.
'300: Rise Of An Empire' Has Walloped All Competition Over Its First Box Office Weekend.
300's victory may have been trumpeted but its success falls short of its predecessor's $70 million debut seven years ago and the film hasn't exactly fared well at the hands of critics. Nevertheless, the movie enjoyed a healthy opening with 3D representing 63% of all tickets sold, according to Forbes. As the only R-rated movie currently on release, 300 stands to continue its success for several weeks with only Arnold Schwarzenegger's thriller Sabotage set to pose any threat when it arrives on the 28th March.
Fans of the 2007 Spartan war romp 300 probably won't care that this spin-off is even more chaotic and much murkier to look at. It still features armies of scantily clad muscle men grunting idiotic declamatory dialogue as they charge into cartoon-style battles against all odds. No, this isn't particularly subtle filmmaking: it's loud and brutal. And good for an unintentional laugh.
At the same time as Spartan King Leonidas (a briefly glimpsed Gerard Butler) is leading his 300 men to battle against Xerses (Santoro), Greek General Themistocles (Stapleton) approaches Leonidas' wife Gorgo (Headey) for help facing Xerses vengeful military commander Artemisia (Green) on another front at sea. Themistocles' main officers are Aesyklos (Matheson) and Scyllias (Mulvey), whose son Calisto (O'Connell) secretly joins the army as they set sail for an epic ship-based battle against Artemisia's fearsome forces. And there are two more watery conflicts to come, each more outrageous than the one before, as Artemisia taunts Themistocles seductively while dispensing fiery death and destruction at every turn.
The addition of two strong women adds a bit of interest here, but the focus is still on the bare-chested men, even if only three or for of them actually emerge into proper characters. Headey's chief contribution is a rambling voiceover narration explaining everything for us, while Green's wry smirk and momentous glower let her steal every scene. By contrast, the men seem rather feeble. Stapleton is manly and commanding, but not hugely charismatic. Rising-star O'Connell barely gets two decent scenes. Santoro is hilariously grouchy eye candy. And everyone else is clearly expendable.
Continue reading: 300: Rise of an Empire Review
When Leonidas and his valiant army of 300 Spartans were wiped out by the vast forces led by Persian God King Xerxes, the rest of Greece now feel that their country has gained honour following their tragic loss. However, their battle is not over yet as Persia is rapidly sailing in for another invasion. Rival cities Sparta and Athens are forced to set aside their bitterness towards each other if they have any hope of victory - though with Xerxes on their tail with immortal power, their lives teeter on the edge. Nonetheless, the Greeks remained filled with a fierce determination following Leonidas' heroism and so Themistocles of Athens leads his naval fleet to war while Sparta's army prepares for another fight. How can they survive against a seemingly impervious God King and his female ally, the just as ruthless, sword-wielding Artemisia? Outnumbered and overpowered once again, there is still hope.
Continue: 300: Rise Of An Empire - Clips
Blu and Jewel believe that they are two of a kind as the only full grown blue macaws in existence as they make their home in a cosy Brazilian bird sanctuary with their fast-growing offspring. With Jewel developing itchy feet (or should that be talons?) and the 'babies' desperate to learn more about the world and their kind, the arrival of news of another flock of their kind deep in the Amazon rainforest sends Jewel reeling with excitement at the thought of vacating to the wild. Blu is less fond of the idea, now being comfortably accustomed to their artificial city lifestyle, but goes along on the adventure for the sake of Jewel. As they arrive in the jungle with their friends, they meet Jewel's formidable father and some old friends - and if that's not enough for Blu to worry about, Nigel the evil Sulphur-crested Cockatoo has also taken to the wild with revenge on his mind. But Nigel might not be the only thing to fear in the unpredictable Amazon wilderness.
Continue: Rio 2 - Alternative Trailer
Following Leonidas' honourable though inevitable death alongside his Spartan army of 300 at the hands of Persian God King Xerxes, the rest of Greece cannot help but feel a certain pride at the valiant effort. Now, with Persia quickly threatening invasion, rival cities Sparta and Athens must throw aside their differences and rally together to defeat their forces - but with an all-powerful king like Xerxes, their chances of survival look minimal. Nonetheless, filled with a newfound determination after Leonidas' heroic venture, Athens' naval fleet led by the admiral Themistocles set out to bring Persia down, as Sparta's army prepares another brave attack. They may be outnumbered yet again, but hope is the last thing Greece is going to give up.
Blu and Jewel's babies are growing up fast and developing an eagerness to learn about the world outside their Brazilian bird sanctuary run by kind owners Linda and Tulio. The free-spirited Jewel is also getting itchy feet, with the death-defying adventures of 'Rio' now wearing off, and is determined to venture out into the Amazon rainforest to meet other blue macaws and teach her children about life in the jungle. Joining them once again are their colourful avian friends Pedro, Nico and Rafael, and Luiz the bulldog who, just like Blu, struggle to adapt to the wild. On their new journey, Jewel meets her father after a long time apart, though he is anything but warm towards her slightly awkward mate. The in laws are the least of Blu's worries though as Nigel the evil Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is set to return once again with a revenge scheme on his mind.
'Rio 2' is the brilliant and wacky sequel to 2011's 'Rio' and sees the return of director Carlos Saldanha ('Ice Age', 'Robots') with a new co-screenwriter Don Rhymer ('Big Momma's House', 'The Santa Clause 2'). As well as all your favourite characters from the original movie, you'll get to see a lot more adorable new creatures as it hits UK cinemas in 3D on April 4th 2014.
Continue: Rio 2 Trailer
After a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attack by Leonidas' army of 300 Spartan men on Persia's much larger army led by the 'God-King' Xerxes, the rest of the Greeks are at war with Persia determined to end their invasion and bring down their so-called God once and for all. Athens and their strong naval fleet, led by the admiral Themistocles, are forced to team up with Sparta, their civil rivals, and their formidable army though the Greeks are still ultimately outnumbered on a massive scale by Persia. However, with a determination instilled by a national pride in the sacrifice of Leonidas and his men, the Greeks enter in their new battle gladly and with a significantly reduced fear of their enemy.
'300: Rise Of An Empire' is the gritty, action-fuelled follow-up to 2007's '300' directed by Zack Snyder ('Dawn of the Dead', 'Watchmen', 'Man of Steel'). This sequel has been adapted from the graphic novel 'Xerxes' by Frank Miller and directed by Noam Murro ('Smart People'), though Snyder does make his return alongside Kurt Johnstad ('Act of Valor') on the screenwriting credits. With a multi-award winning epic to beat, 'Rise Of An Empire' looks to be a thrilling addition to this war saga and it is set to hit screens in the US on March 7th 2014.
Prepare for the bloodshed to continue, as the 300 series will continue.
Seven years after the original 300 caused students to yell “THIS. IS. SPARTA!!!” at every beer-fueled rager for months on end, we get the trailer for the sequel – that’s not really a sequel – 300: Rise of an Empire. The film has new direction – Noam Murro, taking over from Man of Steel’s Zack Snyder – and a whole new focus and as Murro has pointed out, this will not be a sequel per se – in. It will be more of a prequel and sequel at the same time in terms of the timing, the events take place before, during and after the events of 300. Instead, this new installment will shift its focus. Based on the graphic novel Xerxes by Frank Miller, the film will open with Greek general Themistocles getting ready to battle an invading army of Persians under the mortal-turned-god, Xerxes.
Check out the trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire below:
Continue reading: 300: Rise of an Empire - Battles, Blood and Brand New Characters
LOVE ACTUALLY heart-throb RODRIGO SANTORO is playing a transsexual in his next movie. The Brazilian actor, who romanced LAURA LINNEY's character in the hit...