Name: William Derbyshire
Bio: I am a 27-year-old movie buff who regularly goes to the cinemas either by myself or family/friends. I've taken an interest in reading the reviews in film magazines and writing my own. I've been looking for a website to publish them online lately and I found this one so I thought I'll give it a try.
Okay. First things first, I’ll just get straight to the point: The Wolf of Wall Street is wrong. Just plain and utterly wrong. So much so that anyone with heart problems will be dead before its 180 minutes are up. Even describing in this review as to how filthy, immoral, lewd, crude and vulgar it really is can cause your pulse rate to go through the roof. How it got past the film censors is anyone’s guess unless director Martin Scorsese sneaked it past them when they weren’t looking. It’s probably the kind of film Oliver Stone would have wanted his own Wall Street to be if he had been given the chance.
So it’s definitely NOT for the faint-hearted. However, if you can stomach it all like I did and lived to tell the tale, then you’ve just survived the most highly raucous but entertaining experience you’ll have in a very (very) long time. But it’s worth taking your health into consideration first like reading the warning sign before going on one of those extreme theme-park rides.
From dirty start to obscene finish, every profanity in the English dictionary is used, all the characters are the lowest of the low and yet it’s what makes them loveable and the most obscene behaviour ever committed to film is depicted in such a way it’s almost creative, whether it’s eating a live goldfish, snorting cocaine and doing the nasty at work or relieving one’s self on legal documents.
The Wolf of the title is stockbroker and anti-hero Jordan Belfort and the film tells the true story of how he rose to the top forming a company that sells useless junk to any sap unlucky enough to have given them a bell, only to fall just when his life couldn’t get any sweeter. Along the way, he cheats on his wife, parties practically every day, remarries, has passion with his new other half, lavishes her with expensive gifts and becomes a daddy.
Leonardo Di Caprio gives out the performance of his career as Belfort and shows how much he has matured from new kid on the block during the 90s to fine young actor who’s almost hit the 40 mark. Jonah Hill also gives out his all, making untrustworthy but crazy salesman and partner-in-crime Donnie Azoff so loud and foul-mouthed, his acting is worthy of an Oscar. All the cast members, including an energetic Margot Robbie and the ever so posh and privileged Joanna Lumley, deliver their lines with such fun and enthusiasm that you get the impression they improvised them before each scene was shot.
As well as all the ground-breaking obscenity on display, The Wolf’s best highlights also include Belfort, high on powerful drugs, trying to bumble his way to his car (and drive it) like an incapacitated Mr Bean and a sea-faring journey via yacht that ends in disaster (remind you of something, Leo?).
The party stalls during a lingering sequence with the FBI which can be forgiven given that it takes about the same amount of time the interval of a raunchy comedian’s stand-up show would allow. But then, Scorsese starts to kill it off slowly. You know where this is leading but the ending is stretched out to a point a spot of editing during the final act is seriously needed. There are also moments of repetition and where the film goes from shocking to downright nasty, some of which are unbearably unwatchable.
But that’s probably me being a bit too sensitive and there are those who can probably take it. For those who have stayed up late to see a very enjoyable Christmas do right to the very end and know that it’s all ended with a bang, you’ll feel the same way after The Wolf’s reaches the end of its lengthy conclusion. Things may not work out for Belfort but you still end up smiling.
The Wolf of Wall Street is Martin Scorsese’s well-directed, extremely outrageous and satirical but enormously funny epic that will leave you gasping for air and recovering from it a few days after you have left the cinema. See it again if you have the guts for it. You’ll need them.
A year since An Unexpected Journey happened for Bilbo...now what? Well, the journey goes on, of course even if Peter Jackson may be stretching the material a little too far...or so a lot of us think.
The first chapter in his Hobbit “saga” (a small children’s book compared to Rings, we know) started everyone, Bilbo, Gandalf, the Dwarves et al on their adventure. This was An Unexpected Journey, a worthy prequel that thankfully didn’t desecrate on any of the Lord of the Rings movies, despite the many ideas that Jackson had on how to present this story.
There were problems with it though: the introduction of the Dwarves dragged on and on and the new “revolutionary” 48-frames-per-second filming technique Jackson used for it barely showed any difference on how the many other 24-frame live-action films in the last 100 years or so have been made.
Happily though, Jackson seems to have fixed these problems (okay, he’s still continuing the whole 48-frames thing, but that doesn’t matter a jot) as The Desolation of Smaug moves swiftly along and doesn’t pause for breath or needlessly detail every last aspect of each new character one by one. It’s also worth mentioning that no reminders are given to the audience which is rather refreshing in a way, given that some of us had to suffer through each one before each Rings chapter kicked off, even if we had seen each film many a time at the pictures or on DVD before their official cinema release.
The Desolation of Smaug isn’t perfect, the plot does strain at times, but it’s certainly Peter Jackson’s most wildly entertaining, staggering and strangely enough, absolutely terrifying film so far.
The frightening moments come in the form of Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt), a Skin-Changer who may be a little too much to “bear” for the small ones, but he’s nothing compared to the – somewhat recycled - creepy Spiders from the Rings films that will still leave arachnophobes, new and old, squirming in their seats. There’s another one...believe me, there IS another one...but we’ll get to it later.
As far as action goes, this Hobbit chapter delivers in astounding quantities with plenty of arrows flying and fist and sword fight sequences, something the first one lacked. Jackson also makes up for it with a stunningly executed barrel chase down a river that’s up there with Indiana Jones either trying to dodge a boulder or being pursued on mine-cart. Even if some of it is a little on the unbelievable side, so what? In 3-D, the final scenes in a treasure-laden cave have gold coins and jewels flying towards you and you’ll want to grab some of them yourself. But whatever dimension you see this film in, whether it’s the battles or the gorgeous-looking Middle Earth sets; it will still grab your attention.
Martin Freeman reprises Bilbo and continues to feel at ease with his role, the same for the Dwarves, Ian McKellan as Gandolf...need I say more? Rings fans will be pleased to know Legolas is back, played once again by Orlando Bloom, and he, like all the other Rings characters and actors portraying them, hasn’t changed a bit. New cast members include a terrific Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-Town and Evangeline Lilly playing female Elf Tauriel. Her character, however, is a bit of a disappointment. When she’s in action, she shines but when she’s speaking, she seems bland and lacks the spirit and fieriness of movie heroines like The Cat from The Dark Knight Rises and Avatar’s Neytiri.
But the star turn is Benedict Cumberbatch providing motion-capture and a voice like Scar from The Lion King on an amplifier for the most startling movie monster since Jurassic Park’s T-Rex...Smaug the Dragon. Forget Gollum, this dude’s the real deal. He practically scared the living (insert your own expletive here) out of me. The third dimension also makes him all the more petrifying. He will leave cinema-goers having nightmares for weeks and would even make Spielberg soil himself. God only knows what lies in store for us once the last instalment arrives. Until then, this beastie boy needs to be in the Rogues Gallery along with Kong and Godzilla and Cumberbatch needs some kind of recognition for his work here, perhaps an award.
All in all, The Desolation of Smaug improves on An Unexpected Journey in every way possible. Yes, the Tolkien purists may be ticked off by the many diversions from the original Hobbit book but in this case, they’re moaning about nothing. What’s more, once the film starts and they’re stunned by this true spectacle, only then will they shut up.
A decade or so and five X-Men movies on, you would have thought by now that Hugh Jackman would have left the role of Wolverine and handed the adamantium claws over to another actor like James Bond’s tuxedo was given to George Lazenby, and then to Roger Moore, in the wake of Sean Connery. Surely, there would be another part for Jackman to sink his teeth, and a new Wolvie film for that new actor to sink his claws, into.
But there is only one man for this acting job and that is Jackman. Seriously, no-one else can play him, even in 2008’s prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine when a younger star would have circumstantially been needed to portray him in his early days. That, however, was his last outing and it misfired thanks to a tedious plot, a dull villain and a lacklustre climax which left me quaking for the action spectacle that it should have been. But it’s clearly evident in The Wolverine that director James Mangold injects this movie with that much-needed boost and thrill that was lacking in X-Men Origins, but the storyline still suffers from ridiculous twists and the action being cut short when it’s about to get exciting.
The Wolverine kicks off to a good start: Logan being held in a Japanese POW camp in 1945 and surviving the Nagasaki atomic bombing (a cool thing about being a mutant). Then, we move to the present day - he’s also immortal - after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, which is odd as people would have wanted to forget Last Stand as it left a bad taste in their mouths. Poor Wolvie’s living in the sticks, suffering from visions of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the mutant chick he had to bump off at the end of LS, and making friends with bears doing their business in the woods. Ten more minutes into the film and just when he’s started a brawl in a bar, hot Japanese assassin Yukio (Rila Fukushima) makes her entrance...only it feels forced. She’s sexually attractive and you would want to date her, but the scene builds up tension only to be briefly interrupted by her and you wish she was introduced later on. It’s not long before Beastie Boy gets an invite over to Japan to visit dying corporate boss Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi ) who craves Logan’s healing abilities but he’s not the only one who’s after them.
The stunning cinematography in Japan is on a par with Skyfall’s and the action excels, even if most of it is on a cartoonish level. The fight on top of a bullet train shown in the film’s trailers, however, lacks the wow-factor of the train battle sequence in Spider-Man 2, looks amateurish and is needlessly shorter in comparison. But if that leaves us movie-goers deprived of adrenaline, I can tell you now that Mangold definitely delivers a final showdown that’s miles better than before. If only he saved the plot from moving towards silly Michael Bay-esque territory and left an unnecessary, mind-baffling scene half-way through the end credits with two characters who we thought died, along with Jean Grey, reappearing as cameos, where it should have been – on the cutting room floor – that The Wolverine is sadly not entirely the movie we wanted Origins to be, but you would certainly be lacking common sense to pick it over this. Trust me; this film seriously improves on it.
Jackman is still on terrific form and definitely hasn’t shown signs of growing tired of playing Wolverine, even in his sixth film as the hairy mutant. He knows what makes the character tick and gets his hot-tempered personality and burly, muscular physical appearance spot-on like he’s got Wolvie’s DNA inside him. Fukushima does her best playing an ultimately one-dimensional character but hey, she’s sexy, so what does that matter? Well, the relationship between her and her shaggy boyfriend doesn’t quite sizzle. Scenes of dialogue in superhero films are fine but do they have to drag on? Less talky, more slash-y next time, perhaps? If Fukushima doesn’t attract the males, there’s also the steamy Tao Okamoto, given a stronger role as Yashida’s granddaughter Marika and Svetlana Khodchenkova, deliciously malicious as Dr. Green, aka Viper. For all the gals, there’s Will Yun Lee as Kenuichio Harada, head of the Black Ninja Clan, even if he’s given little to do.
For all The Wolverine is worth, you’ll still get a kick out of it and it’ll probably be like Origins never existed, but the most perfect solo movie outing for Jackman’s fiery mutant is still yet to be made. But rest assured, with a seventh film in the works, it may still happen.
The first Despicable Me took me completely by surprise back in 2010. Recommended by my youngest sister Jenny and with nothing to do one Saturday afternoon, I decided to use my gut instinct and went to see it despite the trailers and adverts making it look like kids’ stuff. How misled was I! What surprised me was the idea, which I liked from watching the previews, was how original, fresh and unique it was. Not to mention, highly imaginative, weirdly moving and utterly hilarious like the best out of Pixar. The crew behind it had obviously considered developing the story to be more important rather than gathering up the biggest A-star voice cast, which is why some non-Shrek DreamWorks animations tend to misfire. In short, it was different (in a good way) and a total riot.
It’s hard to describe the concept of Despicable Me in a nutshell, so I’ll try my best: Imagine Blofeld from You Only Live Twice in the position of Carl Frederickson, the grumpy old man from Up with three little orphaned girls in the place of a chubby boy scout, an outlandish plan, not to attach balloons to his house or start World War III but to steal the moon – sorry, Wallace & Gromit, cheese is off the menu – all in the hope of doing his hard-to-please mother proud...I know, that’s a bit too long, isn’t it?
Anyway, like most animated films these days, this unexpected hit that’s appeared out of nowhere has been given a sequel. Was it worth it, especially as the first film more or less worked as a stand-alone story?
Well, not only does Despicable Me 2 beat its predecessor but it squeezes practically everything that was fun about the original, irons out its problems by giving us a better plotline and ‘second’ villain (Vector was slightly irritating), throwing in more uproariously funny gags, mostly in the form of yellow pill-shaped gibberish-talking Minions, who are like Oompa-Loompas with ADHD, belting one-liners that will have you quoting in the car on the way back home thanks to a corking script and sending-up the spy genre with the famous underwater sequence from The Spy Who Loved Me, lovingly ripped-off for your amusement...or annoyance. DM2 may not be The Dark Knight of animated sequels, that honour still goes to Toy Story 2, but it’s certainly in the same league as that along with TS3, and if Monsters University doesn’t beat it as this year’s top animation, you’ll have difficulty finding anything of the sort that’s either better or enjoyable.
Like Spider-Man 2, DM2 doesn’t waste too much time either introducing, or re-introducing, the main characters or remind the audience what happened previously the moment it starts. It just kicks off the story and gets on with it. The main hero/villain Gru, is now a doting dad to Margo, Edith and Agnes. Not that he’s the most fatherly of fathers, judging by the fact he lets unattended children wander into an iron maiden and leaves bear traps in the garden at kids’ birthday parties. Steve Carrell has done very well for himself given that he stole Jim Carrey’s almighty thunder playing what was a minor – and funny - role as Bruce’s rival Evan and starred in the US version of The Office, and voices Gru with great aplomb...and a peculiar accent. As for the three young lasses, Miranda Cosgrove (Summer from School of Rock) along with Dana Gier and Elsie Kate Fisher voice them like they’ve never grown up since they last provided them with dialogue. Gru hasn’t been planning some spectacular heist down in his basement since we last saw him. He’s been making jam, like Willy Wonka except probably deadlier, with the help of his useful if useless scientist Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand, doing probably the only good thing he’s ever done. Sorry, I’m not a fan of his).
This sequel, like most animated ones, could have just easily been a futile attempt to cash in on the success of the first film with Gru turning evil once again for some silly reason or another, but thankfully DM2 feels fresh and doesn’t show any desperate signs of being a shoddy cash-cow. Instead of outdoing a baddie, Gru has to track down a baddie for the Anti-Villain League run by the posh Silas Ramsbottom, voiced by Steven Coogan although he sounds more like Timothy Spall, with the help of agent Lucy Wilde, a character who wouldn’t look out of place in a Dr. Seuss book/movie, perkily voiced by Kristen Wiig. They’re assigned to go undercover to track down a hazardous substance that can transform anyone unlucky enough to test it out, consume it or have it touch them into deadly, ferocious creatures that are like a cross between The Were-Rabbit and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. and these two unlikely spies have to team up to do what it takes to trace it, whether it’s baking cupcakes or doing battle with a “fowl”-tempered pet, but with the two falling head over heels for one another, might the pairing of this odd couple lead to something more eternal?
You can predict where this is probably going but with such genius stuff going on, the absurd but inventive plot isn’t really the most important aspect, something rare in a CG film where story is normally a vital issue. The film runs at a terrific pace without taking any unnecessary detours or slowing down particularly for a couple of sad scenes which fortunately just come and go before they get too gooey. The animation is sublime, the slapstick comedy harks back to the heyday of Chuck Jones and possibly Fred Quimby, the Minions totally steal the show as expected and even enjoy a moment in the sun, plus the 3-D is the most impressive in ages. So, should there really be anything to complain about?
Well, the girls and Nefario don’t have much of an essential part to play unlike previously and are pretty much left out in the rain. Also, the origins of Mexican restaurateur Ecuador (Benjamin Bratt) aren’t really explained all that well. But these are only minor protests and it’s pitiful of me to be so picky about such an entertaining movie with a gloriously loony finale and a rendition of Y.M.C.A. you won’t find anywhere else.
Despicable Me 2 is the best second film in an animated franchise since Toy Story 2 and the most fun and hilarious of its kind in the last couple of years. Absolutely brilliant.