Impressive visuals can’t hide the lack of originality behind this “Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies” franchise opener. And with the long shadow of Lost cast front and centre, you know you can’t trust a thing that anyone says or does from start to finish.
Just as well The Maze Runner‘s Lost Boys are fine young performers to make this CGI-laden behemoth bearable; with Brits Wil Poulter and Thomas Brodie-Sangster a cut above.
Emerging lost and terrified from a supply elevator, supposedly 16-year-old Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) has no memory bar his name of who he is or where he came from – but the thirty or so Lost Boys of The Glade quickly fill him in; they are at the centre of a massive, industrial maze which shifts nightly; no one trapped there after dark survives the Grievers. This is clearly some twisted adult’s idea of a science experiment, but to what end? Continue Reading
Actually, chaps, it’s Dracula Re-told in that ‘Lord of the Rings mashed with 300/Videogames’ aesthetic, in a kinetic but oddly stilted, bloodless CGI-fest of 15-certificate non-horror.
Welshman of the moment Luke Evans (The Hobbit, Immortals) cuts a dash as the anguished and clearly misunderstood Vlad (the Impaler) Dracul, historical Transylvanian prince of legendary cruelty. Clearly a revisionist text, this sets up the politically dubious clash of Westernised, peace-loving Christian Transylvanians versus the tyrannical Muslim Turks. Hmm. Continue Reading
Grotesquely violent, sweary, nuts-and-bolts action flick Olympus Has Fallen, starring and produced by gruff Scottish lump “THIS IS BUTLER!” Gerard Butler (300, Law Abiding Citizen), makes uncomfortable viewing.
Not for it’s graphic terrorist attack on Washington, bloody and uncompromising as it is; but for the dire poverty of script and ideas in this cynical money-making behemoth which plunders the worst excesses of Die Hard and Under Seige.
You know you’re in trouble when the PR people call the director ‘visionary.’ Especially when the ‘visionary’ is Antoine Fuqua (King Arthur, Training Day), a blind man who couldn’t direct traffic. Continue Reading
Despite an over-long, four-act structure, disjointed flashbacks and an over-reliance on vast swathes of CGI carnage, Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) delivers a surprisingly super-heroic epic on a grand scale. Boy, do you get a lot of movie for your money.
Choosing homage to Christopher Reeve’s Superman I and II over the DC Comics source material, it stays the course thanks to throroughbred writing from David S. Goyer (Batman, Blade trilogy) and the firm guiding hand of producer Christopher Nolan (Batman, Inception).
While Henry Cavill and Amy Adams prove a well-matched Lois and Clark, Russell Crowe deadens every scene, and none of them can match Michael Shannon’s righteous fanatic, General Zod. Continue Reading
An old-fashioned sci-fi space-opera which, despite the huge and complex CGI fleet actions, relies entirely on the conflict between child warrior Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) and his grizzled mentor Colonel Gruff – sorry, Graff (Harrison Ford).
Fifty years after the insectoid Formics are beaten back from invading the Earth, mankind is breeding child soldiers whose video-game generation minds are best able to absorb the huge amounts of battlefield information. Groomed for command, brilliant misfit (aren’t they always) Ender may be Earth’s one great hope of defeating an unknowable alien enemy.
While it plays like Tom Brown’s Schooldays meets Starship Troopers, you just can’t help thinking: Harry Potter in Space. Continue Reading
A little bit of The Sting, a little bit of The Prestige and a lot of Oceans Eleven can’t lift this entertaining but empty thriller that tries to be as tricksy as its subjects.
From the point it introduces Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Woody Harrelson as street magician, escapologist, hustler and mentallist, you think you’re in for a treat.
But it’s all about Mark Ruffalo’s shabby FBI man… Continue Reading
Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) moves on to a different kind of ‘vampire': an alien invasion of body-snatching luminous jelly-fish with a penchant for white suits, silver sports cars and a passive, peaceful, perfect utopia.
Of course, there’s a small resistance force fighting extinction and for everything human; including the right to be hormonally over-excited teenagers, even while the alien police Searchers hunt them down.
If not for director Andrew Niccol and Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, City of Ember) in the lead as dual role Melanie/Wanda, this would all be so much teen fodder. Continue Reading