January is always a busy month at the cinema as it seems to be when all the Oscar films are out in the UK. It’s also why I ended up at the cinema eight time this month. Here are the other bunch of reviews…
5. Gangster Squad
With a mob king virtually ruling the streets of LA in the 1940’s, a group of street-hardened cops are tasked with a clandestine operation to clean up the streets, but there’s one rule: no badges.
This film could’ve been so much more than it was and yet some how that didn’t matter so much. It was certainly watchable and nice to see Gosling and Stone reunite, but the plot was a bit gangster-lite. The gloss of the film makes it difficult to take it seriously as the portrayal of the mob, but will hopefully encourage people to see out some grittier films. 3/5
6. Les Miserables
Set during the French revolution this epic based-on-a-play-based-on-a-book tells the tale of Jean Valjean, a man searching for redemption whilst being pursued by a ruthless policeman. A rags-to-riches tale, when Valjean agrees to take care of a young girl his life changes forever.
Presumably another example of translating from the stage straight to the screen this film attempts to employ the tricks of the theatre and in so misses some interesting plot details (particularly Valjean’s journey from outcast to respected and wealthy factory-owner). Overly long and lacking in any real narrative plot this certainly has some emotional issues but they feel exploitative. But Hugh Jackman’s performance is superb however. 3/5
7. Wreck It Ralph
Video-game baddie Ralph is fed up of being the outcast in the game he has played for decades. Taking matters into his own hands he escapes and goes game-hoping across the arcade in search of a way of being accepted.
An entertaining film with cameos from retro computer game characters that are sure to keep the adults as interested as children, this is an adorable blend of humour and heart. Ralph is a great character, labeled as the baddie he just wants to be accepted. An utterly charming film (as is the short film shown before). 4/5
8. Zero Dark Thirty
Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow turns her attention to the CIA’s decade long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. CIA agent Maya arrives as the tides are changing, torture as a method of gaining information is on the way out as the agency is forced to resort to conventional tactics which are at times hampered by man power and vast amounts of data.
Despite being a film where the ending is know, the film works much like a slow-burning thriller that builds to a cool but edging will-they-won’t-they. At 2hrs 37mins this is another ‘bladder-buster’ of a film but each minute feels worthwhile. Chastain is a great lead, although the hints of her background (recruited straight out of high-school and almost single-minded in her determination) could’ve been explored a little more. Despite criticism the film gives a considered look at the use of torture in evidence gathering and a lack of jingoism makes this one film well worth seeing. 4.5/5