In a relentless drive to up the ante in Marvel comic-book sequels, it’s only Joss Whedon’s sense of humour that saves this noisy, CGI-laden behemoth from crash, bash and smash tedium.
The script is a load of portentous twaddle about artificial intelligence, monsters, mayhem and extinction-level events, or, put another way, any excuse to run out our current favourite superheroes. It’s an awful lot of epic for your money, and you can tell Whedon has put his usual care into the dialogue, but at nearly two and a half hours, you have to ask; do we need quite so many metal-fetishised CGI robots smashing cities to pieces? Continue Reading
Chameleon actor Tom Hardy (Batman, Legend) turns in a Brando-like performance as Russian war hero turned investigator Leo Demidov on the trail of a serial killer. In a paranoid Soviet state of suspicion and fear, executing its citizens at will, even his schoolteacher wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace – Prometheus, Dragon Tatoo trilogy) is afraid of him.
It’s not easy when ‘there can be no murder in paradise’; even when the latest murdered child – 44th – is the son of his army comrade; the totalitarian state is in denial of murder, even as it executes its citizens daily. This is Soviet Russia at the height of Stalin’s reign of terror, and even a war hero like Leo can be denounced and exiled to a remote factory town after failing to denounce his own wife, a suspected dissident. Continue Reading
This technically impressive Euro-Asian co-production resets the 47 Ronin (the proper story, not the Keanu Reeves disaster) in a fantasy-medieval, multi-cultural version of the Byzantine Empire, looking for that Game of Thrones crossover.
After Morgan Freeman’s (Transcendence, Lucy) nobleman sacrifices himself on principle, Clive Owen (Bourne, Closer) heads the masterless Samurai – sorry, knights – in their revenge mission against the corrupt first minister Giza Mott (Aksel Hennie – Hercules – pitching somewhere between Christopher Walken and Brad Dourif).
Utterly predictable at every step, it’s earnest, worthy, straight-down-the-line – and a bit dull. Continue Reading
In an efficient, and in places, stylish, action thriller, the physically massive protagonist of Lee Child’s novels is replaced by the diminutive and svelt Tom Cruise. Between Knight and Day and various Missions Improbable, Cruise manages to bland-down the titular hero to a point somewhere between Minority Report and TV’s The Equaliser. Continue Reading
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