An adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower fantasy-western-sci-fi-horror series so perfunctory that four hours after I watched it I’d forgotten what I’d seen; generic fantasy with a high gloss finish that reduces the King novels to a mercifully brisk genre romp with good performances and no new ideas to speak of.
Young Jake Chambers has nightmares of a dark tower, a gunslinger and a Man in Black, while New York suffers increasing earthquakes. Except they’re not nightmares, and the Man in Black is a sorcerer trying to destroy the actual Dark Tower that keeps the demons from our universe. And the gunslinger is… a gunslinger. With six-guns made from Excalibur. No, really. Continue Reading
Latest in a long line of alien invasion movies, the badly titled Revolt takes a potful of genre clichés and throws them at buffed-up Lee Pace’s amnesiac special forces soldier. Part Battle Los Angeles, part Cowboys and Aliens (not a good start), with the remainder Independence Day, Starship Troopers and Skyline, Revolt makes the most of its African setting and complex CGI aliens – but that’s about it. Continue Reading
Imagine what Facebook and Google might become in the near future, with a missionary zeal to compel the entire world to share everything, all the time. That’s what David Eggers did in his 2011 cautionary cyber-‘satire’ The Circle, brought to the screen with director James Ponsoldt and the star power of Emma Watson and Tom Hanks.
Cross The Social Network with a cyber-thriller such as, err, The Net and see an uber-Facebook-Google-Apple tech-giant get carried away with itself with disastrous consequences. Continue Reading
When three homesteaders’ wives suffer mental breakdowns in the harsh environment of Nebraska’s Old West, plain spinster Cuddy (Hilary Swank) volunteers to take them back East, relying on dissolute drifter Mr Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to guide them through hostile landscapes peopled by native American tribes and other greedy settlers.
A bleak, revisionist, Western odyssey filled with lost and lonely characters trying to find their place in the world, this character-driven drama erupts into shocking violence in a savage and uncaring land. Continue Reading
Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s 1975 novella is a gloriously black-humoured, retro-sci-fi, dystopian satire. Violent, sweary, trippy and provocative at every turn, the imagined 1970’s self-contained tower block becomes a microcosm of a class system breaking down in the most horrific ways.
A book-end to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, this should be required viewing for fans of the bankrupt Le Corbusier modernist architecture movement. So there. Continue Reading
Freely adapted from Peter Ackroyd’s Victorian murder-mystery, Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Woman in Black) does her usual schtick in pushing the lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid to the fore in the hunt for a Ripper-like serial killer. To be sure, Victorian London was lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid, but this is yet another provocative Goldman script that wallows with perverse delight and glee in all of that.
If, like me, you spotted the killer in the first five minutes, before the full list of suspects was even revealed, then you’re along for an uncomfortable face-slapping with wet red herrings as Bill Nighy’s dour detective re-imagines the crimes with each of his suspects in Hammer Horror-style melodrama. Continue Reading
A long-overdue recommendation of a double-bill with Winding Refn’s Drive, Derek Cianfrance’s (Blue Valentine) three-act drama packs three movies into one; the robberies, corruption, chases and shoot-outs are not the main draw; this is a character drama of lost souls and broken families, with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in some of their best work. Continue Reading