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Recent film round-up

Although I haven't written one of these for a while I thought it would be nice to do a medium-size entry on films I've caught over the last 2-3 weeks (courtesy of a couple of home on demand services).

I managed to catch the film Tommorowland starting the ever charming George Clooney as wunderkind inventor Frank and the relatively unknown Britt Robertson as a modern-day smart kid with a habit for fixing space rocket launch pads, Casey. A somewhat delightful but also mature take on the idea of "what if some of the most brilliant mins in science, engineering and humanity came together to create almost anything to make the lives of humans better?

The Brad Bird-directed film has some really interesting ideas and can be quite heavy on the CGI. The overriding messages of how we the human race need to take action to make the planet better for the future could also be too persistent for those who would rather just be entertained for two hours. It does at least show that with this and Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol under his belt, Bird is most capable of directing animated and live-action affair equally well.

I also managed to catch The Anomaly starring actor/director/writer Noel Clarke. The premise of ex-soldier Ryan being awake for only 9 minutes and 47 seconds before reawakening in another body/timeline is both interesting and allows lead Clarke to play various roles in the same film. His attempts to find the cause of the phenomenon and how to stop it are the driving force of the movie with Ian Sömmerhalder's Harkin assuring he prevents that from ever coming to fruition. Alexis Knapp also plays gang-owned escort and potential ally to Ryan, Dana. Although a pretty face (and body) she proves to be more than just eye candy as the film progresses.

An ambitious premise let down perhaps by its budget or the seemingly rushed nature of certain parts of the film makes The Anomaly a great idea on paper that maybe needs a little more work in its execution. A reasonable effort though by Clarke who has shown with the likes of Kidulthood/ Adulthood he can write great scripts/material.

For a departure from the typical action and sci-fi fair, I caught the British-New Zealand co-produced feature, Slow West. By no means a long film, the movie sees Kodi Smit-McPhee's Scottish youth Jay travel to the US midwest to find his young love, the aptly named Rose Ross. Along the way he meets an Irish-Canadian gun for hire, Silas (played by the ever-talented Michael Fassbender).

The film's run time of around 90 minutes helps maintain a firm focus on the journey that Jay and Silas make to locate Rose (for clear and somewhat selfish reasons as the film progresses). The image quality of the film is crystal clear and the locations used for shooting in New Zealand make a nice substitute for the barren and colorful landscapes of the Wild West.

Scratching a recent itch to watch some older (albeit entertaining) superhero films, I watched the trilogy of Spider-Man 1, 2 & 3 once again. Sam Raimi's take on everyone's favourite web-crawler captures the feel of the Spider-Man world and Manhattan perfectly, at least for the first two films. Great casting sees Tobey Maguire as nerd turned spider-strength superhuman Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst as sweet and aspiring actress Mary-Jane Watson and James Franco as the friendly but easily led to jealousy Harry Osborn (among many others). The villains are no slouch either with Willem Dafoe as the notorious Norman Osborn/Green Goblin and Alfred Molina as the robotic multi-limbed science genius, Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus.

Although Thomas Hayden Church does his best to humanise Flint Marko/The Sandman, his character feels very underwritten and reduced more to a display of Spider-Man 3's CGI and budget than anything else. Topher Grace also feels strangely cast as Eddie Brock/Venom which contrasts heavily with the character's broad and taller frame from the Spiderman comics. You can definitely feel the studio's pressure with the third film and although the teaming up of Peter and Harry as Spidey/Green Goblin is a nice precursor to what we eventually got in The Avengers, one can't help but feel Spider-Man 3 should have been the best of them all, not the entry to break the proverbial camel's back. Alas.

Finally I managed to watch The Voices which treads a fine line between being a dark comedy and a substantially dark drama. The film clues you in quite early on that upstanding factory worker Jerry (played by Ryan Reynolds) may have some issues (his pets talking with him for one). The off-kilter personality is part of his character however which is acceptable until one or two of his dates with the girls from accounting, Fiona (Gemma Arteton) and Lisa (Anna Kendrick) go the wrong way and result in the darker tones of the film coming through.

Reynolds' performance here is great though as his ability to play 20-something Jerry with his severe mental health issues allows us to remain drawn to the character's charms somehow. Hard to categorise and all the better for it, The Voices is a film to catch if you don't mind your humour very dark (and at times quite grim too).

So that's my recent film viewing round-up. Have you watched any of the above and if so, what did you think? Any recommendations? Just want to comment? In either case feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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