Watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Online Movie Review 2013

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Release Date: November 21, 2013 (2D theaters and IMAX, p.m. screenings)
Studio: Lionsgate
Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenwriter: Simon Beaufoy, Michael deBruyn, Scott Frank
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, Woody Harrelson, Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amanda Plummer, Lynn Cohen, Patrick St. Esprit, Meta Golding, Bruno Gunn, Alan Ritchson, E. Roger Mitchell, Maria Howell, Stephanie Leigh Schlund, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language)
Official Website: TheHungerGamesmovie.com | Facebook | Twitter
Review:  7/10 rating

Plot Summary:

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour’ of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.

Movie Review

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens months after the “The Hunger Games” (an awful excuse of an ode to Suzanne Collins masterpiece, even though she was heavily involved with production) as we find Katniss Everdeen suffering from extreme moments of PTSD. We watch her endure the fake, Capitol induced life and the desire for the simplicity of that in District 12.

The opening of the film is strong. Actually- almost near-perfect. Much darker and more visually attractive, these sparse moments give you a feeling that the film could actually live up to everything it should be. Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend”, “Constantine”, “Water for Elephants”) works hard to undo previous director Gary Ross’ established bland visuals, and succeeds. But the cinematography can’t save the shaky dialogue and pacing.

Watching Katniss and Peeta’s struggle through the tour is beautiful. It really is. And the revelation of the Quarter Quell plays out exactly as you hope. It’s after the emotional tension releases that we’re left with a boring shell of a film. The acting breaks (even J. Lawrence’s..sometimes), the pacing seems as though the writers gave up, and the visual effects…well, it’s nice to see that the VFX artists from 1980 wanted to keep the same continuity between the horrid attempts in this film and the awfulness of the first one.

But, it makes a comeback…sort of. As soon as the Quell starts- BAM. You’re back in it. The charming use of 65mm IMAX is a nice touch, but immediately reminds you, “oh yeah- I’m NOT watching ‘The Dark Knight Rises’…I should probably re-watch that”. Hawai’i is shown off beautifully, the VFX, again, are not. And the pacing feels rushed. Then slows back down. And then speeds back up. And then slows…and never finds it’s balance again.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” reminds me a little bit of when I first watched Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige”. I was left with that “wait…what?!” feeling. The difference, however, is that “The Prestige” is supposed to feel like that. You want to watch it over and over. Films should be like that. Instead, “Catching Fire” leaves you feeling that you just want to move on. It can’t find that perfect balance between beautiful, tragic, and slow; intense, bloody and fast.

It’s an improvement from the first film, this is true. However, is it a great film? No. It is a film that has a beautiful opening and a perfect introduction into Francis Lawrence’s interpretation of Collin’s novel, that falls apart with dead pacing and laughable dialogue.

“Catching Fire” is forgettable (not box office-wise, obviously). But, hopefully, “Mockingjay” (slated to be a two-parter released within the next 2-3 years) will finally be The Hunger Games that the book establishes.

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Watching Thor : The Dark World Online Movie Review 2013

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Release Date: November 7, 2013 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D, p.m. screenings)
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Studios
Director: Alan Taylor
Screenwriter: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins
Genre: Action, Adventure
Official Website: Marvel.com/Thor | Facebook | Twitter
Review: 8/10 rating

Plot Summary:

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos.but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, “Thor: The Dark World” is directed by Alan Taylor, produced by Kevin Feige, from a story by Don Payne (credit not final) and screenplay by Christopher Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (credit not final) and is based on Marvel’s classic Super Hero Thor, who first appeared in the comic book “Journey into Mystery” #83 in August, 1962

Movie Review

Having just watched a premier screening, I am delighted to come away from the cinema to write a positive review. Thor Dark World is a spectacular special effect driven film, much of which is set in Asguard.

I was worried that including Loki yet again might become a little repetitive, but in this film he excels as a great character, I only hope however that they don’t overdue his presence in the Marvel Universe. How many times can this guy come back from the dead?

There isn’t as much character development as the first film, and Thor’s friends are nowhere near as interesting as the Avengers. I guess they simply needed these characters to all remain as they were so as to keep continuity within the Marvel universe, but its noticeable how little impact the storyline will have on anybody.

The armies of Asguard were noticeably lacking in fire-power and weapons (even though they have an armoury), which is made even more evident when an entire guard division bring knives to a laser-gun fight. Their turrents were the only defense they had against an Ariel assault and proved to be practically useless. You would expect them to be better prepared.

The healing powers of Thor, Jane, and even a smashed alien space-craft become a bit of a running joke as well. But at least they get hurt, even if it only takes them a scene to heal. And if smashing every column holding up a building is still not enough to take it down I’m not sure what will be.

Christopher Eccleston played a competent bad guy, although his intentions for what he was doing was still unclear as to why. Its simple to say he was insane and just wanted to kill everybody, but when a threat of that magnitude appears and planetary alignments are in effect, you expect half the Universe to show up and stop him or take advantage of the situation, or come looking to take the power for themselves. I also expected to see the entire army of Asguard come to help out at the end like they apparently did in the past. Not just Thor who appears there by mistake.

The scientist with the miraculous plot saving devise is also a little hard fetch to take in, especially when he creates a remote control for cosmic anomalies. Along with Loki’s illusion power which also serves as a convenient plot-saving devise at times. I’m willing to overlook these but there’s no denying what they are.

Overall its a good enjoyable superhero movie, which you will want to watch several times and is a decent entry into the Marvel Universe.

P.S. Watch it in 2D, The 3D added little of worth. movieboxoffices.wordpress.com

Watch Bad Grandpa Online Movie review 2013

Jackass_Presents _Bad_Grandpa_7

Release Date: October 24, 2013 (p.m. screenings)
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Screenwriter: Jeff Tremaine, Preston Lacy
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicholl
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: R (for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use)
Official Website: Jackassmovie.com | Facebook | Twitter
Review: 7,1/10

Plot Summary :

86-year-old Irving Zisman is on a journey across America with the most unlikely companions, his 8-year-old Grandson Billy in “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” This October, the signature Jackass character Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and Billy (Jackson Nicholl) will take movie audiences along for the most insane hidden camera road trip ever captured on camera.

Along the way, Irving will introduce the young and impressionable Billy to people, places and situations that give new meaning to the term childrearing. The duo will encounter male strippers, disgruntled child beauty pageant contestants (and their equally disgruntled mothers), funeral home mourners, biker bar patrons and a whole lot of unsuspecting citizens.

Real people in unreal situations, making for one really messed up comedy.

Movie Review

Bad Grandpa is a hidden camera comedy movie, written and directed by the creators of Jackass: Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze and Jeff Tremaine. I always considered Jackass to be silly in an unfunny way, and I was never much of a fan of pranks in general, so I was immediately turned off by Bad Grandpa. Also, the second main actor in this movie is a child, and pranks with children are usually the cheapest and least funny ones, since authors know they can make the kid say/do anything and always get a reaction from adults. In short, this movie looked like another comedic failure to me, but amazingly it proved to be very funny and entertaining.

The story is fairly simple: Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) is an 86 years old man whose wife has just died, and that makes him very happy, since he’s now free to pick up young women. Unfortunately, his joy is soon ruined, as his daughter leaves her son – Irving’s grandson – Billy (Jackson Nicoll) with him because she’s being sent to jail for drug use. Irving is supposed to take Billy to his father, and he accepts just to get rid of the kid, even if he doesn’t like the kid’s father – and so, a quasi-road trip movie begins. The story isn’t really that important, since this is a hidden camera movie, but it’s nice to see that the writers didn’t just dismiss the story for that reason and didn’t make this movie a collection of unfunny and loosely connected sketches that are going nowhere (like Grown ups 2).

Jackson Nicoll, who plays Billy, is one of the best child actors I’ve seen in a long time. He’s extremely convincing and talented, and even if you don’t like kids (in general or in movies), you’ll end up loving Billy. Knoxville is great as the ever-horny, foul mouthed old man, especially as he manages not to laugh at all of the sketches he put up and, in case some of you haven’t realized this, he’s completely shameless: for example, he agreed to pretend to have his penis stuck in a vending machine, among other things! There aren’t any other (relevant) actors in the movie, but the people’s reactions to the pranks are priceless. No “real” movie could have created such great comedy, because an actor’s reactions are rarely so well enacted, spontaneous and sincere. Like, if someone tried to mail a child and the post office employees found that out, in a movie they would immediately call the police. In Bad Grandpa, after finding out just that, one of the two employees just stood there confused, while the other tried to explain politely that they “cannot mail a person”.

I loved the (intentional?) social criticism in the beauty pageant scene. Irving dresses Billy like a girl and enrolls him in a pageant for little girls, hoping to win the first prize that is $5000. While performing, Billy’s dance song suddenly changes to “Cherry pie” by Warrant, he takes his clothes off and starts pole dancing in just panties, a bra and stockings. You can see all the other contestants’ mothers staring shocked and in disbelief, as if what they were doing to their daughters was any better. or less embarrassing and degrading. In conclusion, I don’t know why everybody seems to hate this movie: there are just a few fart jokes in it, everything they do is really funny, and there’s even a story you can follow and characters you can learn to love. If you want to have fun and you haven’t seen Bad Grandpa yet, do it, because you’re guaranteed to laugh for the entire duration of the movie!

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Watch Escape Plan Online Movie review 2013

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Release Date: October 17, 2013 (p.m. screenings)
Studio: Summit Entertainment (Lionsgate)
Director: Mikael Håfström
Screenwriter: Miles Chapman
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Amy Ryan
Genre: Action, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R (for violence and language throughout)
Official Website: EscapePlanmovie.com | Facebook
Review: 7/10 rating
DVD Review: Not Available

Plot Summary:

One of the world’s foremost authorities on structural security agrees to take on one last job: breaking out of an ultra-secret, high-tech facility called “The Tomb.” Deceived and wrongly imprisoned, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) must recruit fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to help devise a daring, nearly impossible plan to escape from the most protected and fortified prison ever built. “Escape Plan” is the first pairing of action legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in leading roles, and co-stars Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio and Amy Ryan.

Movie Review

I was so prepared not to like “Escape Plan” thinking it would be another run of the mill Stallone action movie. I went in with very low expectations, not knowing anything of the plot. But surprisingly, this film turned out to be very engaging and fun to watch after all. I will not be putting a detailed synopsis for you to be able to enjoy this movie fully as well.

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a Houdini of jails, having the ability to escape even the highest of high security enclosures. He finds himself locked up in an unofficial facility whose problematic inmates are meant to “disappear”. In the advanced, high tech and isolated prison, Breslin’s escape skills are put to the ultimate test.

Sylvester Stallone still delivers his lines as garbled as ever, but he looks good for his age, and has not lost his charisma as an action star. He managed to be quite credible in playing such an incredibly-skilled individual. We are ready to suspend disbelief and accept that he can do the impossible. Hey, that is Stallone on that screen!

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a German inmate named Rottmeyer, who befriends Breslin. Arnie plays it light here, with his acting so typically awkward and actually funny, but we know and love him in this tongue-in-cheek style of his.

Jim Caviezel is intense as Hobbes, the warden of this special prison, as well as its proud designer. He will go to all extremes to prove that his prison is escape-proof. His career seemed to have taken a dip after “Passion of the Christ” and that is unbelievable after the limits he pushed with that memorably emotional performance. He is very good here despite being in a rather one-dimensional antagonist role.

It was very good to see Sam Neill on screen again, also after what seems to be a long absence. He plays the prison physician here faced with a moral dilemma.

The story telling by Swedish-born director Mikael Håfström is well-paced and actually quite exciting. The set design of the prison was very high- tech, and well thought of. That version of solitary confinement was harsh! The escape techniques seemed logically planned and thrillingly executed. The revelation scenes are very well-staged and that is only how far I’m going to describe them so you won’t be spoiled with the many surprises this film has in store for you.

Recommended for those looking for a good, entertaining and unexpectedly smart action film. You may think you already know how it all ends, but the road it took to get to that ending is quite an enjoyable ride, despite those typically hokey gunfight scenes towards the end. I had a good time watching this. 7/10.movieboxoffices.wordpress.com

Watch Carrie Online Movie Review 2013

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Release Date: October 17, 2013 (p.m. screenings)
Studio: Screen Gems (Sony)
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Screenwriter: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort, Julianne Moore
Genre: Horror, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R (for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content)
Official Website: Carrie-movie.com | YouWillKnowHerName.com | Facebook | Twitter
Review: 6/10 rating | 7/10 rating

Plot Summary :

A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz), a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother (Julianne Moore), who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom. Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, “Carrie” is directed by Kimberly Peirce with a screenplay by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Movie Review

Amongst the many actors and actresses who I love seeing in films or television shows, is Chloe Moretz. Though mostly known for being the foul mouthed Hit Girl in Kick Ass, and often being the little girl who seems more mature than how we usually picture 16 year olds, in this film we are reminded that as much as she has the ability to be strong, ferocious, and cunning, at the same time, as shown in part in Kick Ass 2, she is still very much a young girl. Which leads to why Carrie perhaps was the perfect role for her, for it seems to continue to show her evolution as an actress and show she isn’t a one trick pony.

However, I would be doing a disservice to the movie if I didn’t mention her co- stars who really help push Carrie into a figure who you not only feel sympathy for, but want to see get revenge. First I must mention Julianne Moore who plays Margaret White, Carrie’s mother, who is a haunting presence with intense eyes and intense beliefs, which makes her the parent you would only wish on enemies. Also, I must mention Portia Doubleday as school bully Chris. She takes on the very familiar role of the popular girl who bullies a helpless girl, and gives it new life. Then, there is Gabrielle Wilde, as the sort of innocent, and seeking redemption Sue; Judy Greer as Miss Desjardin, the school gym teacher who is one of the few, and first, to stick up for Chloe; and then there is Ansel Elgort who plays Tommy, the boy who Carrie gets a crush on, is Sue’s boyfriend, and is the one who takes her to that fateful prom.

Now, I’m sure most of you know the story since pretty much the trailer gives it away. A young quiet girl has a religious zealot for a mother and finds herself constantly bullied at school. One incident though begins to push her too far and with this, she has an almost X-Men like awakening in which powers manifest. At first she is confused, then intrigued, but as life gets harder and people become more difficult to deal with, she stops being the victim to circumstances, largely out of her control, and decides to get revenge on those who have long been hurting her. Needless to say, it is an interesting movie to release on Spirit Day.

As for praise when it comes to this film, though highly cliché to say, I must admit that the film was a bit intense, but it is all thanks to Julianne Moore’s performance. Her work as Margaret White is terrifying to the point where she could be the mother of all horror icons, the one who nurtured them in such a way that no wonder they all became twisted, that is how good she is. Her intensity, her use of religious madness, and the gruesomeness of the acts she commits against herself and Carrie, make your heart race and sometimes makes you want to turn your head due to the things she does. As for Chloe Moretz, she continues what we saw in Kick Ass 2, which is showing that as much as she is capable of being a bad-ass, she can also play soft, someone you can sympathize with, even imagine in a romance movie. And ultimately I feel that those who don’t know the story may even have hope that all would work out in the end for her. Then with Portia Doubleday’s Chris, I feel she breaks the mold when it comes to what we think of when it comes to teen-aged female villains. For a long time the standard has been based on Mean Girls, Regina George specifically, but I feel Portia has found a way to set a new precedent of the type of bully you love to hate. Lastly, I must mention that one of the main things this remake benefits from is the special effects. Between Chloe’s powers and the death of some characters, you see some of the things which help justify the remake past making money.

But, no movie is without fault. First and foremost, the amount of powers displayed by Carrie made me think I was watching a long introduction of a new X- Men character, or an alternate Jean Grey back-story. How often, and how open, she was with using telekinesis and studying it made it so that when it came to the big finish, it didn’t seem as grand as it did in the original movie. Also, as much as I love Moore’s performance, it can be divisive due to it possibly being seen as over the top, and maybe clichéd considering she is a Christian who twists the bible to fit her sense of morality. But probably my biggest issue was the whole revenge plot which came from almost getting suspended and not getting to go to prom. It seems so ridiculous and juvenile that though you are willing to go with it, at the same time as you see the effort put into the revenge, you can’t help but roll your eyes.

Overall: Worth Seeing

Those who saw the original only have reason to see this due to the special effects you wish the original had and because Moore definitely goes further than the original mom. As for newcomers, though not the best horror or thriller out there, the performances and gore are sure to entertain you and give you something to talk about. However, I don’t know if this is the type of film I would rush to see since it is good, but certainly doesn’t have the makings of a classic. Still, I think it made for a nice way to spend a little more than an hour and a half.

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Watch Pulling Strings Online Movie Review 2013

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Release Date: October 4, 2013 (limited)
Studio: Pantelion Films (Liongsate)
Director: Pitipol Ybarra
Screenwriter: Oscar Torres, Issa Lopez, Gabriel Ripstein, Georgina Riedel
Starring: Laura Ramsey, Jaime Camil, Omar Chaparro, Tom Arnold, Stockard Channing
Genre: Comedy, Romance
MPAA Rating: PG (for language and brief smoking)
Official Website: PullingStringsmovie.com
Review: 6/10

Plot Summary :

“Pulling Strings” is a bilingual comedy starring Jamie Camil. Alejandro (Jaime Camil) and his loyal best friend Canicas (Omar Chaparro) are hardworking mariachi singers looking for fame in Mexico City. More than just a mariachi, Alejandro has a second full time job – he’s a single dad. When Alejandro tries to secure a visa for his young daughter to visit her grandparents in the U.S. Alejandro’s request is flatly denied by a young embassy worker, Rachel (Laura Ramsey.) Later that evening, Alejandro and Canicas run into Rachel while playing a gig – which turns out to be a celebration of her promotion to a post in London. Alejandro seizes the coincidental encounter as a chance to change her mind on his rejected visa, and with Canicas by his side, they whisk her into an unforgettable adventure. And, while he gets busy pulling strings for a visa, it turns out the strings of his heart are pulled too.

Movie Review

Having successfully demonstrated with the recent box-office smash Instructions Not Included that the Hispanic audience is largely underserved, Pantelion Films has come up with another winner in Pulling Strings, a slight but sweet effort that serves as an excellent showcase for its Mexican star, Jaime Camil. The effortlessly charismatic performer delivers a winning performance in this romantic comedy that somehow manages to work despite its endless contrivances.

The singer/actor plays Alejandro, a mariachi singer struggling to raise his young daughter (Renata Ybarra) on his own. Deciding that she would be better off being raised by her grandparents in Arizona, he applies for a visa to take her there, only to be brusquely rejected by the embassy employee, Rachel (Laura Ramsey), who can barely be bothered to look up from his paperwork.

When Rachel later shows up at a party at which he and his band are performing, Alejandro doesn’t bother to hide his resentment. But when he later spots her drunkenly sleeping at a bus stop after indulging in one too many shots, he takes pity on her and takes her home with him to sleep it off on his sofa.

Waking up with a hangover the next morning, the aghast Rachel is mostly concerned with finding her laptop, which contains vital embassy documents. Thinking that if he gets close to her she might reconsider his case, he hides it and proceeds to go through an elaborate charade of helping her recover it with the aid of his loyal friend (Omar Chaparro).

The ensuing complications — the computer soon goes missing for real when Alejandro’s apartment is broken into by the crooks to whom he owes money — are both too predictable and drawn-out. Naturally, the previously buttoned-up Rachel, who’s about to be transferred to London, suddenly realizes the ample charms of both Mexico City and the handsome mariachi singer with an angelic voice.

That voice is unveiled on so many occasions — including an impromptu serenade by the band to a lovelorn man’s girlfriend — that the film nearly qualifies as a musical. But it’s understandable considering its lead performer’s musical gifts.

It all goes on for too long, with the third act machinations, including a manic chase through an airport when Alejandro tries to prevent Rachel from going through with her plans, feeling all too familiar. Such familiar American presences as Tom Arnold as Rachel’s solicitous boss and Stockard Channing as her mother are largely wasted, with the latter’s dramatic scenes not exactly meshing with the surrounding frothiness. But these are small quibbles about this otherwise winning vehicle that should provide its male star easy entry to Hollywood films.

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Watch Welcome TO The Punch Online Movie Review 2013

Welcome to the punch

Release Date: March 27, 2013 (limited)
Studio: IFC Films
Director: Eran Creevy
Screenwriter: Eran Creevy
Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Elyes Gabel, David Morrissey, Peter Mullan, Daniel Mays, Andrea Riseborough
Genre: Crime, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R (for violence and language)
Official Website: Not Available
Review: 6,1/10

Plot Summary:

The second feature from acclaimed British director and filmmaker Eran Creevy, “Welcome to the Punch” is the story of two arch-nemeses: detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy; “X-Men: First Class,” “Wanted”) and master criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong; “Sherlock Holmes,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Guard”). When Sternwood escaped three years ago after a daring robbery, Max was left emotionally and physically scarred. But after Sternwood’s son turns up in a hospital due to a failed heist, he’s forced to return to London – giving Max his second chance to get the one criminal who got away. Yet as Max delves deeper into the case he uncovers a vast conspiracy. Featuring rising star Andrea Riseborough (“W.E.,” “Shadow Dancer”) and Peter Mullan (“Tyrannosaur,” “War Horse”), the film was shot in the gleaming streets of London’s rejuvenated East End and the banking center of Canary Wharf.

Movie Review

It’s been a long time since I have seen so much advance publicity for a film. Underground stations and trains, buses and billboards in London seem to be festooned with posters advertising “Welcome to the Punch”. There has also been a noticeable TV advertising campaign in the UK, aimed at plugging the film’s supposed entertainment value. It is clear that “Welcome to the Punch” has a substantial PR budget attached to it. I am not surprised that so much effort is being made to convince potential viewers of the film’s credentials. Although “Welcome to the Punch” is a reasonably entertaining film, it is ultimately a disappointing one. It has more style than substance. It’s a slick, glossy thriller that looks expensive. However, it is also a bleak film with (apart from one funny scene that is a strangely effective mixture of humour and tension) little to lighten its almost unremittingly depressive milieu.

“Welcome to the Punch” is an attempt at modern day noir. It seems to me to have been heavily influenced by some of the recently successful TV crime series emanating from continental Europe (primarily Scandinavia), such as “The Killing”, “Borgen” and “Spiral”. However, it’s not as good as any of those programmes. A few years ago, criminal mastermind Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) injured London detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) and fled to Iceland to escape the clutches of the police. He has now returned to London because his son has been shot and injured and is critically ill. This gives Lewinsky the opportunity to try to apprehend him for his past misdemeanours. Thus begins a complex tale of revenge, political and police corruption and obsession.

“Welcome to the Punch” is entertaining. It is beautifully filmed and is a visually confident film that is a delight to look at. The acting is, for the most part, good – there is very effective support from the likes of Peter Mullan, Daniel Mays and David Morrissey. The soundtrack too is spot on. So, why is it no better than an averagely good film? Well, for one thing, the plot is so complex that it is sometimes difficult to follow. There is, for example, one scene in which the behaviour of a character (which ultimately leads to her being killed) is simply inexplicable. We have to wait a further 30 minutes or so for an explanation of why she did what she did. This is most definitely a film that requires the viewer’s undivided attention – so much so that watching it sometimes seems to be much more of a chore than a pleasure. In addition, it is sometimes difficult to discern, amidst the frequent scenes of gun violence and mayhem, exactly which character has been injured or killed. This is because several of the actors have a similar physical appearance to each other and because the action all too often takes place in a darkly lit, brooding atmosphere that makes it difficult to see exactly what is going on. McAvoy gives a very good performance as the obsessive detective hellbent on revenge (despite occasional lapses with his London accent!). And it is certainly the case that “Welcome to the Punch” is a stylish film. But it is ultimately also a bleak and empty one that, despite the money and behind the camera talent expended on it, barely raises itself above the level of a competent thriller.

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