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
Welcome to the futuristic San Fransokyo, where misfit robotics prodigy (aren’t they all) Hiro takes on his late brother’s project, a medical robot, Baymax. But soon Hiro and his band of misfit science geek friends (aren’t they all) are out to catch the evil genius (aren’t they all) who stole Hiro’s invention and caused his brother’s death.
Disney’s direct re-invention of How to Train Your Dragon is an manga-inspired mashup of The Incredibles and Wall-E; a comic-book romp that has eye-popping action and the now-obligatory flying sequence over a glorious San Fransokyo which steals the show. Drop me off in town to go exploring and pick me up when the super-heroics are over. I can guess the rest – it’s all about family, innit? Continue Reading
Everyone knows Stephen Hawking, the world’s most famous living physicist, author of a Brief History of Time, now so famous that he’s appeared on everything from The Simpsons to Star Trek. He is also the most famous motor neurone survivor.
From his bleak diagnosis in the 1960’s, The Theory of Everything follows the controversial physicist’s career from undergraduate to CBE, via walking sticks, wheelchairs and that world-recognised speech synthesiser. A lyrical, high-gloss movie in the tradition of understated British bio-pics, not afraid to take it’s time on lingering shots, but still managing to capture thirty years of Stephen and Jane Hawking’s lives together. Continue Reading