Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writers: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary

Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Edward Bunker, Lawrence Tierney

Rating: ★★★★★

Reservoir Dogs was Quentin Tarantino’s breakthrough film as it made a prestigious name at the Sundance Festival of 92’.  A mixture between cool, gruesome and fun it is one of my favourite films being somewhat flawless in form of story, directing, acting and soundtrack.  It is entertaining from the very first second and deserves its place as an all-time classic and one of the best films ever made.

The film stays mainly within a warehouse in the aftermath of a jewellery heist gone incredibly wrong after a police ambush.  As the story unfolds we are introduced to the infamous colour-coded gangsters as the four remaining survivors discuss who’s betrayed them and “what the fuck happened!” Mr White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr Orange (Tim Roth) charge into the warehouse, Mr Orange has been shot in the gut, blood everywhere, Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) shorty follows, screaming it’s a set-up. Shouting, swearing, screaming they’re clueless in what to do and who has betrayed them.  The film then switches showing the story of how they were picked for the job by leader, “the thing” look-alike Joe Calbot (Lawrence Tierney). Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) then strolls in; he’s psychotic and has a cop in the boot as a hostage; they attempt to find the rat again. Soon after Eddie (Chris Penn) arrives, the son of Joe, he’s angry, Joe is angrier, they go through the plan again together, the meetings, their history looking for the rat that has turned a robbery into a mix between a bloodbath and a western stand-off.

It is easy to spot the link between the pure genius in structure when looking at Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction as it is flawless. Starting completely with intriguing dialogue and introductions, followed by thrilling action which leads to “flashbacks” filling every hole and answering every question about each character and story; finishing in an amazing end climax filled with swearing, loud bangs and blood.  The script is hilarious at times with so many classic lines – “Why am I Mr Pink?” “Cause you’re a fucking faggot” –  “Don’t you think Mr Brown is too close to Mr Shit” – “Are you gonna bark all day little doggy or are you gonna bite?” – The dialogue is then complemented by classic scenes, including the famous and somewhat horrific ear-cutting scene which is filmed directly to the 70’s classic Stuck in the Middle of You as Mr Blonde decides to play games with his hostage, it is one of my favourite film scenes ever created.  The whole film, from start to finish is filled with fun and entertainment and rarely within in a film there is not a single boring moment you want to rush through.

The characters are excellently developed within the structure, Mr White is our main character somewhat, and we like him most. Mr Pink is annoying, selfish and pig-like, he also doesn’t tip waitresses. Mr Blonde is a psycho; however he’s cool mysterious and someone who you wouldn’t argue with. The stories are so well structured and planned out you learn and see into the personality of each character. The acting of these characters is also a faultless aspect, Harvey Keitel as Mr White is brilliant with the final and opening scenes really being his highlights.  Buscemi’s Mr Pink is also another standout, although annoying he deserves credit for some great moments especially when he’s calming down Blonde and White.

The all 70’s soundtrack is something which adds this fun and different element to Reservoir Dogs making it stand out.  Simply including it would have had a great effect within the film however in a master-class way Tarantino many times makes the music diegetic putting it within the “film world”. Shown in full extent as Mr Blonde cuts of an ear and then throughout as the gang plays K-BILLY’s 70’s classics driving around.

Reservoir Dogs is an unforgettable watch, one which you will go back to time and time again as the film is definitely one of the best and most definitely one of my favourites ever made.  Tarantino’s debut is simply faultless showing its own created style within every frame.  Classic dialogue, an excellently executed story, a cool soundtrack along with brilliant acting makes this an easily watchable, fully entertaining experience.

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Monsters University (2013)

Monsters University (2013) Poster

Genre: Comedy, Family, Adventure, Animation

Director: Dan Scanlon

Writers: Dan Scanlon, Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird

Staring: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Helen Mirren

Rating: ★★★★

In a time before Monsters, Inc. where Mike had braces, was even smaller, even more adorable there was Monsters University. To say Monsters University does its pre-sequel justice is an understatement, it gets funnier, cuter and even more brilliant. The new technology used by Pixar clearly shows as the quality of the monsters are phenomenal, the writing is amazing and the film as whole will certainly be remembered just like Monsters, Inc. as a classic.

We join our small, green monster friend Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) in his school-days taking a tour of Monsters University’s “Scare Floor”, as his big one eye gazes from a far at his heroes he realises that he wants to be a professional scarer. Scaring human children to sleep, collecting screams for energy being a professional scarer is a job that separates the monsters from the beach balls. On his journey to reach his dream Mike joins Monsters University where he meets James P. Sullivan “Sully”, (John Goodman), big, blue and terrifying and coming from a long line of the best scarers life looks easy for Sully. Whilst Sully chooses the “jock” life, pranking, partying and sleeping; Mike chooses the “nerd” life of studying, studying and studying but when the two face their first exam their conflict leads them to fail the course.

With the easy route to his dream ruined the only way Mike can become a scarer is to win the “Scare Games”. The Scare Games is a traditional Monsters University event that judges who the best scarers are, but with Mike paired up with Sully and a bunch of unexperienced “rejects” his team “OK” are certainly the underdogs. The film focuses on how the games and challenges faced bring the characters of Mike and Sully together. The fierce competition from other monsters and the principle “queen” makes the adventures of our adorable monsters action packed, fun and dangerous.

Pixar once again has managed to reflect real-life from Monsters University, in Monsters, Inc. (2001) the film and the different characters represented those in the work place. This time round the characters represent those in a school environment making it very relatable to the audience. The film as a whole has “family” written all over it from the cute characters and the great gags that will keep everyone entertained. The use of casting also attracts those older with the likes of Helen Mirren (The Queen), Steve Buscemi (Fargo) being very popular well-known figures.

The film had me hook, line and sinker from the opening, seeing the cute little Mike walking around brought back all those feelings and memories from Monsters, Inc. The way that Pixar manage to create such emotion and feelings for Wazowski with only an eye and brow to work with is incredible and new monsters such as “Squishy and Art” just emphasised the awww’s.  The storyline was also intelligent, adding information that only gives us a further insight into the life of our much-loved Mike and Sully also giving us a chance to see behind the scenes.

This film lived highly up to the standards set and I’m glad it did, I’m sure you’ll find Monsters University on the best sequel lists rather than the ones that shouldn’t have been made. Faultless from start to finish, from characters to storylines, to gags and casting. It was hilariously entertaining and once again Pixar has created an animation picture that will become a classic. If you enjoyed Monsters, Inc. then you will love Monsters University, so what are you waiting for-Its scaring time!