Can you believe it’s that time again? I certainly can’t. Since 2016, the Movie Metropolis Alternative Oscars have been shaking up the traditional awards by including films that the majority of ordinary folks, like you or I, actually watch.
While it’s all well and good to include technical masterpieces, famed for their beautiful shot choices and superb performances, there isn’t really an Oscar for Best Blockbuster. With that in mind, here at Movie Metropolis, we’ve ripped up the rule book and transformed the Academy Awards into this: the Alternative Oscars. Continue reading →
Voting in the 2017 Alternative Oscars is now closed, click here for the results.
They’re back! The Movie Metropolis Alternative Oscars have returned for a second edition after their phenomenal success last year.
For the uninitiated reading this, the MMAO were set up out of my distinct lack of faith in the Academy Awards. For years, the ceremony has forgotten about the films that the majority of the cinema-going public enjoy watching. Continue reading →
For a long time I’ve suggested that the Academy Awards are a little out of touch with what movie-going audiences love to watch. Yes, they reward technical brilliance, The Revenant has certainly proven that for this year, but they forget to realise that blockbuster cinema is an ever-present source of entertainment for the masses.
With that in mind, I’m hosting the first Movie Metropolis Alternative Oscars. Using the majority of the categories from the glamorous event, but with films we’ve probably all seen in the last year.
So, please vote in each category, select your favourite and the winners will be revealed on February 28th, Oscars night. Continue reading →
In the first edition of the MM Top 5 series in 2014, we look back at 2013 and which films stood head and shoulders above the rest. After whittling the contenders down to just five, it’s time to announce the best five films 2013 had to offer us.
5. You’re Next: August 2013: Dir: Adam Wingard
5. You’re Next
The Film:In a year when horror films took a back seat to big blockbusters, remakes and uninspiring sequels, director Adam Wingard decided to think outside the box when creating his horror masterpiece You’re Next. Taking style tips from lesser films in the genre like The Strangers, When a Stranger Calls and to some extent Black Christmas, Wingard managed to create a horror film which wasn’t only downright terrifying, but genuinely funny.
Following the story of a family coming together to celebrate a special occasion, Wingard cranks up the tension three-fold when a group of masked killers start terrorising the innocent family unit. The scares come thick and fast but it is the comedic social references which really hit home. Hilarious scenes involving the family scrapping over a delightful meal are brilliantly juxtaposed to create something which simply doesn’t sit right in the mind of the audience.
Gore abound, with deliberately terrible dialogue and hideous over-acting, You’re Next is nearly perfect, however, it’s generic middle sequences stop it from placing any higher than fifth in this MM Top 5.
Success:You’re Next is a film which proves you don’t need a-list Hollywood talent, a massive budget or even a well-known director to garner box-office success. On a budget of just $1million, the movie went on to gross over $26million at cinemas across the globe.
There are rumours that a sequel is in development for release in a couple of years time, but details are still exceptionally sketchy, though this reviewer would love to see the masked murderers return in one form or another.
Receiving over 75% positive reviews from critics across the globe, it is one of the best praised horror films in recent times and fully deserves its success. For an in depth review of You’re Next,Click Here.
The Film:After the huge disappointment that was Iron Man 2, director Shane Black takes over from Jon Favreau to helm the next sequel in Marvel’s biggest franchise. Robert Downey Jr continues his brilliant form as Tony Stark/Iron Man and brings to the table a much softer, more delicate side to the character than perhaps we are used to, especially considering his acid-tongue in Avengers Assemble. Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts but is sorely underused once again, even though her character has been fleshed out, a little.
Set at Christmas (for some reason), Iron Man 3 follows Tony Stark as he comes to terms with his anxiety after the events in Avengers Assemble and tries to battle a foe who isn’t all he seems.
The film requires a suspension of belief, more so than any other Marvel offering and takes on a much darker, sombre tone to portray Tony’s fears and deepening depression. In fact, the majority of the film takes place out of the Iron Man suit and fleshes out Tony’s character rather than his alter ego. A risky move by Shane Black but one which works, for most of the its enormous running time.
Joining the cast are Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian, a man who has a bone to pick with Stark after events which took place decades before, and a brilliant Sir Ben Kingsley as new foe, the Mandarin. Iron Man 3 is a film which took the strong points of each of the other films and apart from a few lapses, manages to remove the negative aspects. A fully deserved fourth placing in 2013’s top five films.
Success: There really is no denying the popularity of the Marvel franchise and Iron Man 3 broke many records when it was released in May last year. Ranking as 2013’s highest grossing film at the box-office, it took an incredible $1.25billion in cinemas worldwide, including over $57million in the UK, Ireland and Malta alone.
Critics were equally as impressed as the audiences who went to see the film, only criticising the lacklustre 3D which has blighted many films since its resurrection a few years ago. With a rating of 78% positive reviews, it remains one of the most highly rated Marvel films ever released, which is a true testament to Downey Jr’s brilliant characterisation and Shane Black’s new, bolder and darker direction.
The Film:Perhaps a controversial choice here as World War Z was released to a mixed critical response after its turbulent production, but what a film we ended up with. Directed by Marc Foster, who took charge of the rather disappointing Quantum of Solace,World War Z is a roller-coaster ride of adrenaline pumping action, from start to finish.
Starring Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a UN operative who has retired to spend more time with his children and wife, the film follows his story as he is thrown into the middle of a zombie apocalypse, trying to find out the root of the problem by travelling to numerous countries across the world.
Yes, the plot is paper thin, but once you’re strapped in for the ride, you couldn’t care less. Pitt commands the screen and steals the show from the other, rather stilted characters which appear from time to time. World War Z is a truly astounding film, it throws the rule-book of zombie invasions out of the window and creates its own thinking. Gone are the slow, brain-eating corpses of yesteryear, in their place are creatures which move at cheetah-like speed, forming swarms of their own kind to obliterate anything in their path.
In one particular scene, mentioned in a previous MM Top 5, we see Pitt’s character on-board an aeroplane as he does battle with infected passengers. A truly horrifying, chest-pumping moment in a film filled with them.
Only the anti-climatic finale stops World War Z from placing any higher, but it fully deserves its bronze medal.
Success:A massive budget which kept increasing ($190million) rendered World War Z dead in the water before it was even released, and after a very slow start many of the nay-sayers looked like they would be right on this one, but word of mouth finally managed to spread and in the end, the film was a box-office success, grossing over $540million worldwide, much better than the studio was hoping for.
Critical acclaim was in short supply, which was partially the reason why the film suffered from a slow opening weekend, but there were people who appreciated the movie for what it was. With an approval rating of 67%, World War Z is the lowest rated film in this list, but it deserves much more than that. For an in depth review of World War Z,Click Here.
2. Pacific Rim: July 2013, Dir: Guillermo del Toro
2. Pacific Rim
The Film:Released in July 2013, Pacific Rimwas the brainchild of visionary director Guillermo del Toro and he fashioned a corker of a movie here. Taking cues from many like-minded films such as Godzilla, Jurassic Park and the Transformers franchise, Pacific Rim adds enough story and differences to make it stand out from the rest.
The film follows the story of Earth as it comes under attack from a race of monsters from deep within the Pacific ocean. These beings, the Kaiju are truly gargantuan in size and nothing our planet can do will stop them. Enter the Jaeger program, a group of enormous man-made robots designed to take on the Kaiju and destroy them before they can cause too much damage and death.
The special effects are truly revolutionary and show just how much we have come on in the last decade. From the CGI recreations of cities like Hong Kong, to the Jaegers and Kaiju themselves, everything is painstakingly detailed to ensure that these monstrous creatures and robots are as realistic as is physically possible.
With a cast of actors like Brit favourite Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam and ex-Eastender Robert Kazinsky, audiences are treated to characters who play their roles well, because they aren’t getting over the egos that some more well-known people could have put into their characterisation.
However, a first-act lull stops the film from clinching the gold medal, and finishes in second place in this top five countdown.
Success:Pacific Rim was a victim of poor marketing and suffered at the global box-office because of it. With a budget of $190million, it grossed just over $400million, well below the studio’s expectations.
It was a bitter blow for director Guillermo del Toro who expected the film to rival Iron Man 3 as the year’s biggest and best film. It certainly rivalled it in the latter stakes, with superior special effects and a greater focus on creating something which would be remembered for being exceptional and awe-inspiring.
Despite its less than stellar performance, a sequel is already rumoured to be in the pre-production stages with Guillermo del Toro returning as director. If it can be half as entertaining as its predecessor, then they’re onto a winner. For an in depth review of Pacific Rim,Click Here.
1. Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Nov 2013, Dir: Francis Lawrence
1. Catching Fire
The Film:Based on the second in Suzanne Collins’ successful trilogy of novels, The Hunger Games: Catching Firewas cleverly released in a fairly quiet November when the majority of the big blockbusters had already had their run in the cinematic marketplace.
Continuing the story of Katniss Everdeen as she battles the Capitol after winning the 74th annual Hunger Games tournament with her ‘fake’ love interest Peeta Mallerk, the film showcases numerous new additions to the series, from actors and actresses, to foes and arenas, everything has been updated to ensure it can stand away from its predecessor.
Jennifer Lawrence returned to the series fresh from her Oscar win alongside Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and of course the effervescent Stanley Tucci. The acting talent is sublime, with every performance being simply excellent.
Special effects were also given a much-needed boost. Those of you familiar with my opinion of the previous film will know that I wasn’t a fan of the CGI used in creating the Capitol and the ridiculously fake-looking fire. Thankfully one of those has been stepped up a gear, with the Capitol no longer looking like a Star Wars rip-off; the CGI flames still need work however.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is everything a film should be. From its detailed story to its excellent acting and decent special effects, it is fully deserving of being crowned 2013’s greatest film.
Success:It was a film which was predicted to top the billion dollar mark; though it didn’t quite meet analysts expectations it still bettered the previous film’s takings. On a budget that had almost doubled to $140million, it’s box-office gross is a staggering $806million and still growing as the film remains in cinemas now.
The sequel, Mockingjay, will be in theatres in November this year and is already hotly tipped to become 2014’s highest grossing film, in a year which may prove tough with the release of Transformers 4 this summer.
Catching Fire is truly a film of epic proportions and its critical response rating of 89% positive reflects its standing in the market place. For an in depth review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,Click Here.
Last fortnight’s edition of the series has been very well received and has already become the second most viewed after only two weeks. Continuing the theme of screen icons, I’ve decided to look at the best roles of a man who has only recently become one of the most sought after actors in the world. Who? Liam Neeson of course!
As always, spoilers will feature this fortnight, so please look away now if you don’t want to ruin the films!
5. Daniel: Love Actually: Dir: Richard Curtis
The Film:Love Actually is a marmite film, you either love it or you despise it. Directed by rom-com connoisseur Richard Curtis, it was released in 2003 to impressive box-office takings despite its mediocre reviews. With a budget of $45m, Love Actually managed to bring in a whopping $247m worldwide to become of the most financially successful British romantic comedies ever.
With a whole host of British talent including the likes of Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant and Rowan Atkinson, the story centres on a group of people living very different lives in the run-up to Christmas. Watch out for an overzealous jeweller played by Rowan Atkinson which will have you in stitches.
The film itself is very basic, with no bangs and no shocks but what it does have is a lot of Christmas cheer, a good helping of teary eyes and of course a nice dollop of cheese to warm the cockles. So, like marmite, give it a go, you never know what could happen…
The Role:It would be particularly easy to include five films that starred Liam Neeson as an ‘action hero’, someone who isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty to look good up on the silver screen, a modern day Arnold Schwarzenegger if you will. However, not including his role as Daniel here would be downright criminal as it shows his softer side brilliantly. The Irish actor is definitely good at beating people up as we will see later on, but there are scenes in Love Actually which show just how versatile he truly is.
Whilst the film itself may divide audiences across the world, the performances from everyone involved, especially Neeson, certainly don’t and that is why a 5th placing here is thoroughly well-deserved.
The Film:The Greyremains one of my favourite films from 2011. Fitting into the thriller genre, the movie follows a group of men stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after a serious plane crash. Much to their dismay, they are hunted by a pack of hungry grey wolves, one of the most feared predators on the planet. The only way for them to survive is to keep moving, but it’s easier said than done in a place so desolate.
Directed by Joe Carnahan, The Grey was well received by critics but suffered at the box office due to stiff competition on its December 11th release date. On a budget of $25m, it grossed just over $77m, a success, but not as pleasing as it could’ve been given the right timing and the right marketing campaign. Nevertheless, the film is a crowd-pleaser, with a brilliant score, terrific acting and some truly terrifying scares. For an in depth review of The Grey, Click Here.
The Role:Neeson really put everything he had into the performance here, and whilst it lacks the character development of some of his other characters, that is down to the script writers and not Liam’s excellent work. The character of John Ottway is a broken man who has tried numerous times to end his own life – to no avail.
After the plane crash which killed over half of the passengers on-board, he and the survivors head out into the wilderness in search of aid with Neeson’s character leading the pack. His strong, confident performance here really paid off and you felt every strain and heartbreak he suffered along the way as the reality of death slowly seeped back into his mind. The role was physically demanding with cold, wet shoots that were often hampered by the weather.
His role here may not be as deep as some others, but the fact Liam managed to pull off such a fantastic and credible performance despite poor filming conditions makes it all the more remarkable.
3. Aslan: The Chronicles of Narnia: TLWW, Dir: Andrew Adamson
The Film:The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobeis in my humble opinion, one of the best family fantasy films ever made, and it is hugely underrated. Whilst it proved a powerhouse at the global box-office, taking just shy of $750m, it was less enthusiastically received my some critics who argued that it was a shallow mess that robbed everything that was great about C.S Lewis’ dramatic novel.
The film starred a huge array of acting talent, with the likes of Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Dawn French, Ray Winstone and Jim Broadbent amongst others and followed the story of a gateway to a magical land filled with adventure and danger. A must for any good children’s fantasy film.
Filled with charming special effects, stunning scenery and some great performances, this film opened a gateway for adaptations of Lewis’ other novels, and whilst neither of the two successors were as warmly received as this, they both brought in big bucks at the box office.
The Role:By 2005, Neeson had already proved he was an incredibly versatile actor, with lead roles in Star Wars and an Oscar nominated performance in Schindler’s List, but the Irish born thespian had never taken on a voice only role, something which it is claimed he had always wanted to do. What better way to start than with one of the greatest characters in children’s literature; Aslan. This mighty lion had been brought to life before but never with such a gravelly, awe-inspiring vocal performance as Liam gave to him.
Aslan needed to be a powerful beast with a warm heart and Neeson brought this to him. A well-deserved bronze medal in this fortnight’s MM Top 5.
2. Oskar Schindler: Schindler’s List, Dir: Steven Spielberg
2: Oskar Schindler
The Film:Schindler’s Listis one of the most positively reviewed films of all time, and it regularly received full marks from critics and audiences from around the world who said it was a defining moment in cinema history. It also marked a huge turning point in the careers of everyone involved. Director Steven Spielberg was already making his mark as the king of blockbuster cinema, but after his two releases in 1993, one being this and the other being the year’s highest grossing film Jurassic Park, he cemented his place at the top of the pecking order and he has never looked back.
It also performed exceptionally at the box-office with its miniscule budget of $22m being turned into a handsome profit of almost $300m. The film proved very profitable for Universal Pictures and Spielberg’s own production company, Amblin Entertainment.
With stars like Liam Neeson and Sir Ben Kingsley in lead roles and a poignant score from John Williams, it had all the right ingredients for a deliciously moving portrait of the life of Oskar Schindler.
The Role:Liam Neeson had remained largely undetected at the time Steven Spielberg was fashioning his 1993 masterpiece, but after a casting call for the role of Oskar Schindler, the veteran director knew he had found the right man for the job.
Neeson played Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees during the holocaust. A harrowing film at best and one that should not be watched lightly, Liam gave a brilliant performance alongside Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes. There is no doubt the film will always have been one of the most emotional ever brought to the silver screen, with or without Neeson’s involvement, but his passion for acting really comes across brilliantly on screen.
It is impossible to truly understand just how horrific these events were in the past, but even the small glimpse we see here, the terror of Schindler being discovered by the authorities, is enough to put a lump in your throat thanks to a resonant performance from Liam Neeson. It really is a wonderfully moving portrait and from director Steven Spielberg a thank you, to the man who saved so many lives.
The Film:Released in 2009, Taken was a massive hit for director Pierre Morel and 20th Century Fox who had no idea just how popular the film was going to be. After release, fans raved about the tense plot and excellent acting, and for the majority, the critics were doing the same. The numbers speak for themselves, a budget of $25m was recouped in no time and by November 9th 2013, Taken has grossed a massive $225m worldwide. There’s no wonder a good, if rather pointless sequel was released last year.
The film follows the life of ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) as he comes to terms with his retirement and relocation to be closer to his teenage daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) who lives with ex-wife Lenora (Famke Janssen). Unfortunately it isn’t plain sailing for Bryan as Kim is kidnapped whilst holidaying with friends in Paris. From here-on in, the film takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride as Bryan searches Paris for his daughter before it is too late.
The Role:This is the role that made people sit up and realise that Liam Neeson was a fantastic action hero. From his tall stature, to his gruff Irish accent, he was physically and mentally intimidating and a perfect fit for a film such as this.
The movie itself suffered from a lack of plot and a very poor sense of direction, but it really didn’t matter as we saw Bryan Mills go head to head with drug smugglers, traffickers and even French politicians, beating his way through them with as much force as a bulldozer to save his little girl.
Neeson has now signed on to play Mills in a third Taken film, and whilst this was met with dismay from fans of his work, there is no denying that seeing him punch some bad guys is a massive guilty pleasure and hugely deserving of a gold medal in this fornight’s MM Top 5.