All the fast cutting, fast talking, pounding sound-tracks and nods to the London Olympic dream can’t lift this curiously old-fashioned sports movie out of the mundane.
Aside from the twist that it’s the women’s relay team that’s making the drama, there’s not enough budget or risk-taking to lift this innocuous TV-movie script beyond soapland and pop-videos. Plenty of charm, but it lacks the grit and ambition to rise beyond the bottom step of the podium. Continue Reading
(Also titled: SAGA: Curse of the Shadow, Dragon Lore: Curse of the Shadow, The Shadow Cabal)
A throwback to 80’s straight-to-VHS genre movies, strictly for the die-hard Tolkien fans, although this is more The Good the Bad and The Ugly with swords.
Somewhere in Generic Fantasy Land, three renegades – an elven bounty hunter, a crusading fighting cleric and a notorious Orc raider – join forces to defeat the Shadow Warrior and prevent the resurrection of the local death god. Like you do.
Just don’t expect Peter Jackson levels of creativity or budget. This was in fact, a Kickstarter project and credit to the producers, they got it made. Continue Reading
A quartet of British B-movies that rode the coat-tails of big budget Hollywood sci-fi and fantasy. A not-quite golden age of British retro-sci-fantasy cinema featuring a menagerie of rubber monsters, including Doug McClure…
The Land that Time Forgot (1975)
At the Earth’s Core (1976)
The People that Time Forgot (1977)
Warlords of Atlantis (1978)
Guilty pleasures don’t come much guiltier than these from defunct British studio Amicus, featuring McClure (TV’s The Virginian) as their International star ‘name’, alongside the best of British. Continue Reading
Five years on: the ‘vikings’ are still inexplicably Scottish, their kids remain, more inexplicably, irritating all-American teens; Jay Baruschel still sounds like Tom Hanks; but the dragons and the flying sequences are even more thrilling. Just as well, given some dodgy politics.
At times terrifyingly dark, intense and scary, the kinetic theme-park ride can’t conceal the broadest-brushed life lessons in a hackneyed script. But why does Kate Blanchett’s character look like a space alien, and what’s with the borderline racism? Continue Reading
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s third instalment of the pretentiously labelled Cornetto triology delivers yet another bizarre and slightly desperate genre mash-up. As top-notch British actors uncomfortably mix profanity, slick martial arts action, and big-effects sci-fi, one wonders what we could have had if the touching buddy-comedy-drama had been left to play it straight.
There are laughs and superb performances, but it’s all undercut by the desperate silliness of alien killer robots. Continue Reading
Always watchable Tom Cruise fights another War of the Worlds in this rollicking, timey-wimey, CGI-laden Groundhog Troopers. Or should that be Starship Groundhogs? Or possibly Independence Groundhogs?
Five years after meteorites crash land carrying an alien invasion force, cowardly PR slime-ball Will Cage (Cruise) is sent to the front-line as cannon-fodder and is killed almost immediately – only to wake up again at the start of the previous day. Somehow he’s been infected with the aliens’ ability to ‘reset’ time. Under the training of Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Cage lives the same day over and over; but foreknowledge of the battlefield doesn’t prevent the failure of the human counter-attack. Instead, the pair have to find a way to kill the alien central ‘mind’ before the attack even happens.
It’s Groundhog Day with armoured exoskeletons, big guns, big explosions and hordes of thrashing, tentacled metal nasties. Continue Reading
A talented ensemble cast swap wigs, prosthetics, race and even gender in multiple roles, but the question remains; is the sprawling, interlocking, portmanteau fantasy-drama a breath of fresh air or an epic failure? You can see why so many award-winners signed up for the challenge; there are some stunning performances; but no amount of makeup can make up for the pretentious twaddle at the heart of the script.
Adapted from David Mitchell’s novel of the same name, Cloud Atlas tells six stories in a variety of genres spread over a period of nearly 500 years, from 1850 to 2321. As a technical exercise, it is a stunning assembly; six plots and six sets of characters that form six distinct movies cut together with profanity, nudity and some graphic violence; but the house of cards threatens to topple over about every ten minutes.
The Wachowskis fancy themselves as philosophers and visionaries, which is why they, with arthouse director Tom Twyker, took on the ‘unfilmable’ novel. These days, anything is filmable, but does that make a decent movie? Continue Reading