Shakespeare and opera actor/director Ken Branagh continues his mainstream success (Thor, Jack Ryan) with this lavish live-action spectacular lifted from the Disney and Charles Perrault fairytales.
It’s an entirely conventional re-telling of an orphaned girl and her chance meeting with a mystery prince named Kit in a fairy-tale Ruritanian kingdom; of vast fairy-tale palaces and huge fairy-tale balls, with fairy-tale pumpkin coaches and glass slippers. Cinderella does exactly what it says on the label. Continue Reading
Comedy with no laughs, drama with no dramatic tension and satire that contains no criticism or comment on its subjects, Entourage is a vacuous, pointless, sexist parade of leering, letching and contempt for at least 50% of the population. This is Hollywood as the land of naked ambition and consumerism filled with shallow, vain, self-serving bro-mance boor-doom. As ‘A Good Thing.’
Not even Jeremy Piven’s (Smokin’ Aces) theatrical fireworks as the agent-from-hell Ari Gold (promoted to head of a major studio, still without irony or satire) can save this middle-aged lad’s mag outing of boobs, cars and more boobs, from TV double-episode mediocrity. Continue Reading
While Pete Travis’ (Vantage Point) bloodily excessive re-boot of Judge Dredd exorcises the horror of Danny Cannon’s 1992 Stallone pantomime, it simply doesn’t re-boot energetically enough despite an Alex Garland (Ex Machina) script.
In a post-nuclear Mega City One, the 800m citizens sprawl across an area from Boston to DC that looks all too close to present day Jo’berg (where it was filmed); the police are now the Judges; cop, magistrate and summary executioner in one, a cold elite of ruthless killers, in a city teetering on the edge of lawlessness.
If the Judge Dredd comic strip provided the model for Robocop and the Terminator, then this movie Dredd comes off a poor third behind any number of movie tough guys. Worse still, the script – police going into a locked-down tower block after the drug gangs – comes off a poor second to The Raid, District 13 and any number of knock-off’s. Continue Reading
Sam Taylor-Johnson steers this knowingly hilarious, better than expected Mills and Bondage, adapted from the terrible E L James “best-seller” – somebody still needs to explain that to me – down a surprising feminist path.
Two surprises; it’s not the anticipated exploitation movie, being rather coy about the S&M; and it’s not flat-out terrible; plus a revelation – Dakota Johnson as leading lady Anastasia Steele rises above the material and will be the next Jennifer Lawrence. Continue Reading
This unassuming biopic of British scientist and father of modern computing, Alan Turing, is warmly and delicately told from his time as a schoolboy prodigy to his last days as a convicted, chemically castrated outcast.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Fourth Estate) brings his other-worldly strangeness to the obsessive cryptographer and builder of the code-breaking Colossus machine at Bletchley Park.
British war-time period drama it may be, but there’s invention enough to lift it out of the ordinary, adding drama to the tragedy of the man who broke the German Enigma code. Continue Reading
Farmboy [insert name here] is taken as apprentice by battle-mage [insert name here] to fight evil sorceror [insert name here], and along the way falls for <witch/peasant/princess/delete as applicable> [insert name here].
No, it’s not Eragon, it’s worse. We’re in <generic fantasy land> for Hobbit-y swords, spells and spectacular CGI monsters with a top-notch cast.
All completely ruined by Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) slurring and mumbling worse than in True Grit with a mouthful of cotton wool. Continue Reading
Shy, awkward programmer Caleb wins the company lottery; a week with his reclusive boss Nathan, the brilliant, billionaire founder of the world’s largest search engine, at Nathan’s isolated private estate in the wilds of Alaska.
On arriving, Caleb finds his prize is in fact to run the Turing Test on Nathan’s ground breaking artificial intelligence, to discover if it is truly a sentient being. Not an easy task; the AI is the alluring android-shaped Ava; former programming prodigy Nathan, the Mozart of the Internet, is a manipulative sociopath; and Caleb himself may not be quite the innocent he appears.
Screen writer Alex Garland’s directorial début is a chilly, tense, claustrophobic sci-fi drama of subtle performances concerning the moral and ethical questions of creation, conciousness and free-will. From the very first power-cut in Nathan’s total-surveillance bunker, you know that this is not going to end well… Continue Reading