Imeh Akpanudosen/GettyCreated in 2006 as a way of acknowledging the best new acting talent, the Rising Star is the only BAFTA award that's voted for by the general public. Here's a look at the five nominees hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous winners James McAvoy, Shia Labeouf and Kristen Stewart at this year's ceremony.Dane DeHaanFollowing a seven-episode stint on In Treatment, 27-year-old Dane DeHaan then starred as troubled superhero Andrew Detmer in the gripping found-footage sci-fi hit Chronicle, appeared alongside former Rising Star winner Tom Hardy in the Prohibition drama Lawless and played Ryan Gosling's son in The Place Beyond The Pines. Following rave reviews for his portrayal of Beat poet Lucien Carr in Kill Your Darlings, DeHaan will next be seen in zombie comedy Life After Beth and perhaps more notably, The Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.George Mackay21-year-old Mackay has already picked up a Scottish BAFTA for his performance in last year's fishing tragedy drama For Those In Peril. Before that, he appeared in a number of children's fantasy adventures (Peter Pan, The Thief Lord), starred as one of the Bielski brothers in Defiance and played Clive Owen's son in The Boys Are Back. While 2013 also saw him star opposite Saoirse Ronan in How I Live Now and showcase his vocal talents in The Proclaimers jukebox musical, Sunshine On Leith.Lupita Nyong'oThe oldest nominee on the list, 30-year-old Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised actress Nyong'o is also the least experienced in front of the camera with short film East River and MTV Base's controversial drama Shuga the only productions listed on her filmography before she landed her breakthrough role, female slave Patsey, in Steve McQueen's awards favorite 12 Years A Slave.Will PoulterThe youngest nominee at just 20, Poulter began his film career in 2008's under-rated coming-of-age comedy drama Son of Rambow before landing the role of Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. He continued to prove his talents in low-budget drama Wild Bill and stole the show from Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis as loveable dope Kenny in We're The Millers while this year will see him feature in British crime caper Plastic and the big-screen adaptation of The Maze Runner.Lea SeydouxBorn into one of France's most cinematic families, Seydoux grew up surrounded by a whole host of Hollywood stars and after working with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen and Ridley Scott, has gradually become one herself. A three-time Cesar Award nominee for her roles in The Beautiful Person, Belle Epine and Farewell, My Queen, the 28-year-old is an outside bet for an Oscar nod thanks to her compelling performance in the Palme d'Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color.
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
We're the Millers is a screwball comedy about a self-involved pot dealer, Dave (Jason Sudeikis), who wrangles stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), dopey loser Kenny (Will Poulter), and rebellious runaway teen Casey (Emma Roberts) to join him on a felonious trip across the border and back to smuggle tons of marijuana into the United States from Mexico. Such a wily storyline is sure to provide a slew of organic gags...of course, it doesn't, and the film instead relies on a nonstop barrage of egregious pop culture references to get audiences laughing without expending any real creative effort.
And since they do comprise the majority of the film's runtime, we decided it was only right to pay tribute to said quips. As such, peruse the following comprehensive list of all of the pointless, forced, groan-inducing pop culture references from We're the Millers:
The film opens with Dave watching a string of YouTube clips, most notably the "Double Rainbow" video. Dave and a college friend (Thomas Lennon) discuss a Dave Matthews Band concert. Dave makes a joke about Dexter.Dave refers to a trio of long-haired ruffians as "the cast of Annie." Dave does an impression of Bane, Tom Hardy's character from The Dark Knight Rises. Dave calls a buttoned-up Midwesterner "Flanders," a reference to the Simpsons character. Dave calls stripper Rose "Pretty Woman." Dave mentions that he has rented, but not yet watched, Precious on Netflix. Dave compares Casey to Eminem, specifically from his role in 8 Mile. Dave mentions Dora The Explorer. Dave contrasts his fake family with The Brady Bunch. Dave compares his fake family to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Dave makes a joke about the movie La Bamba.Casey makes a joke about Snoop Dogg's well-known affection for marijuana.Dave denegrates LeBron James and compliments Michael Jordan.Dave, Rose, Casey, and Kenny listen to, and sing along with, "Waterfalls" by TLC.Dave makes reference to Tom Waits.Dave utilizes the Miller Brewing Company slogan, "It's Miller Time."A vacationing couple (Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn) mention the movie Free Willy.Dave references Scarface.Rose makes a vulgar joke with the title of the movie Black Hawk Down.Dave sardonically contrasts Rose's acting talents with those of Meryl Streep.Offerman's character mentions that his wife's vibrator is named Joe Morgan.Rose performs a stripping routine, pulling a waterchord in an over-the-top reference to Flashdance.A criminal (Ed Helms) references the mythology of Spider-Man in a discussion about a tarantula bite suffered by Kenny.Dave references Barbra Streisand's celebrity in the theater community.Dave uses the phrase "Whale emoji, hashtag YOLO" while mocking Casey.Dave calls Kenny as "Ken Doll."Dave makes a joke about 50 Cent.And somewhere after that, the film ends. But the references do not! In the blooper reel...
A dumb thug (Mark L. Young) insults Kenny by calling him Don Knotts.Hahn's character likens her tampon to a Stormtrooper.Sudeikis, Roberts, and Poulter surprise Aniston by playing, and singing along to, the Friends theme song.
Did we miss any?
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In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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