The original 300 was a film drowning in as much cheesy splendour as there was blood. Seven years on and 300: Rise of an Empire is the unnecessary sequel, or “sidequal”, that tries to deliver that same ham-fisted entertainment as its original, albeit without the same director, cast or Zack Snyderisms that forged the first one. From the same creators as Sin City (another film with an unwanted sequel this year), this battle-bonanza depicts everything that happened off-screen in the first film with the Athenians. What Noam Murro fails to realise however is that the Athenians were off-screen in 300 for a reason. (more…)
Under the Skin is, no doubt, a troubling film. Many critics have hailed it as a masterpiece of the medium, triumphing its striking cinematography and meticulously constructed visual narrative. I don’t hope to undermine these aspects of the film, as they are certainly nothing short of remarkable. There’s no doubt that Under the Skin is a feast for the eyes. But, as my eyes ate up the spectacle and chomped down on the vistas, my mind starved. At its best, it is unsettling. At its worst, it feels watered down, disjointed, and sporadically paced.
Whilst I am never a fan of the love-it-or-hate Marmite analogy that is often applied to distinctive filmmakers, there can be little doubt that Wes Anderson’s movies are rather divisive. They are alternately hailed as fresh, exciting visions in a world dominated by slightly drab franchises or dismissed as style-over-substance fluff. However, I feel that his latest effort, The Grand Budapest Hotel should not suffer from the same problems. Yes, it is hyper-stylised, symmetrical, straight-lined and full of stop-motion interludes, but beneath this exterior lies a hilarious and heartfelt script, some really excellent performances and an intriguing story set in the ever-tragic period of interwar central Europe.
The Lego Movie is out, and it seems to have the building blocks for success – both with the critics and the box office. But is this really such a big surprise? Last year, out of the top three highest grossing films worldwide, Despicable Me 2 and Frozen took both 2nd and 3rd place. So it’s pretty clear that the animation medium is a popular choice nowadays, and judging by the box office numbers, it’ll just get bigger and better. Everyone has a favourite animated movie, and in order to mark the release of The Lego Movie (and I guess Mr Peabody and Sherman…) I’ve decided to compose a list of my favourite cartoon gems on the silver screen. So without further ado, here are my personal top 15 animated films of all time!
With only a few hours to go until the obviation of all 2013-14 Oscar predictions, the Watching Between the Lines Gang thought it would be worth posting their collective predictions. The politicisation of the Oscars is often touted (and abundantly apparent), and these predictions don’t necessarily reflect what our team thinks should win, but what films we predict the academy will award. For some categories, favourites clearly emerged, but some distinctions of opinion appeared. Hopefully between us, we get ’em all right.
Let’s get this awards show on the road, from last to first.
When the Lego Movie was first announced, the general reaction, including my own, was one of an un-surprised shrug and a pretty good idea that it would be of straight-to-DVD quality. What was instead delivered by the wonderful pairing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who also delivered a big hit with the zero-expectation 21 Jump Street) was one of the most imaginative, hilarious and all-around wonderful films I’ve seen. Not only is it far, far better than a toy-franchise-based film has any right to be, it is a genuine joy of a movie for every age. Using the boundless creativity allowed by the Lego blocks in real life, this is a consistently entertaining exercise in how to treat a license. (more…)