Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 (PG)

I really wasn't going to bother with Kung Fu Panda 3 - having not seen the second instalment I felt sure I'd be missing huge gaps in the subtle nuances of the story.

But then I found myself with nothing better to do.

Then I figured I wouldn't bother writing the review - if you like Po and the gang, you're going to go see this, if you don't you're not.

Then I found myself with some wine, some olives and nothing better to do.

So here we go.

Seen the first two? You've seen 3.

Same gags, same message, same everything.

It's not bad, it's just not any different to anything we've seen before.

Sure there are a couple of new characters, but that's really it.

I get that it's not meant for men over the age of *coughmumble*, but it feels lazy. Like everyone involved decided to not rock the boat.

Oh, and the 3D bits are bloody predictable too. And annoying.

I get it - hey, why change a winning formula - but rather than rehashing stuff, why not come up with something new?

Yeah, I know, not gonna happen. But I can dream.

(Seriously, go see Hail, Caesar! It's so much more fun)

Hail, Caesar! (12A)

The great thing about a new Coen brothers film is that you never quite know what you're going to get.

Even if it's billed as a comedy, life is still not straight forward - will we get a Big Lebowski or a Burn After Reading? Or even a slant on No Country For Old Men or The The Man Who Wasn't There?

Hell, even Inside Llewyn Davis was tarted as a comedy - and that really was stretching the definition.

So, where we at?

Well, Hail, Caesar! certainly falls into the comedy category, but more than that it almost creates a new genre of film - fun films.

Because if there's one thing this film is, it's fun.

The story, such as it is, is quite simple.

Set in the early 50s, studio fixer Eddie (a brilliant Josh Brolin) spends his days solving endless problems as Capitol Pictures attempt to create entertainment to the masses.

But it's not easy.

The star of his main picture (one George Clooney - look out for him, he could go far) has been kidnapped, his leading actress (a delightful Scarlett Johansson) is up the duff and in need of another husband, a young star (Alden Ehrenreich) is proving to be useless and two gossip columnist sisters (played by Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton) are chasing a story Eddie wants buried.

All the while, he's being chased by a company that would like to offer him a "proper" job.

If the story sounds convoluted and slightly over-cooked, it is - but that really doesn't matter.

Because what Hail, Ceasar! is really about is film.

From the outset, the tone and mood are set to invoke the dramas of the day, and from there we get the full gamut - the western, the Biblical epic, the Busby Berkeley spectaculars, the romantic feature...

There's really nothing the Coen brothers don't touch upon.

And what's clear is just how much they love film.

And how much fun they had making this one.

In fact everyone was clearly having a blast on set - from the smaller roles up to Channing Tatum singing and dancing, the whole cast was having the time of their lives.

And that love, that sense of fun and enjoyment, just flows off the screen and washes over you, leaving you with a warm sense of the fuzzies.

This could have been self-indulgent (and many ways it is), but the Coens manage to side-step that neatly - helped massively, it has to be said, by Roger Deakins whose cinematography gives the whole shebang a lustre and sheen that rounds things off a treat.

It's funny, quirky, fun, enjoyable, fun, a laugh an fun.

In fact, you could review this whole thing by simply saying FUN in big capital letters.

This film won't change your life, sure, but for a couple of hours it'll make it a little better. And that's got to be a good thing.