Video game adaptations vary from adequate to awful; who are they aimed at? The players? They’re playing. The non-players? It’s just another production-line action movie to us. There’s no question Justin Kurzel’s (Macbeth) Assassin’s Creed pulls off a technical tour-de-force, using live action where possible to render the rooftop, parkour set-pieces; and the action is top-drawer. But as a story, is it any good?
Assassins versus Templars in a time-spanning tale of genetic memory across five hundred years, with the worst McGuffin in movies, it’s all an excuse for run, jump, dive, kick, punch, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab; and repeat. Only the star power of Fassbender and Cottillard treating it like their earlier MacBeth collaboration keep it on the rails. Continue Reading
Three movies into the J.J. Abrams reboot and the Enterprise crew is finally comfortable in their own skins; boldly going where everyone’s gone before, this is old-school Star Trek, ‘a bit episodic’ (© Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk, now sounding more like Shatner); stranded in an abandoned quarry – sorry, alien planet – with a mandatory British villain (Idris Elba – Prometheus, Thor).
The motivation of space pirate Krall (Elba) doesn’t matter, so long as there’s plenty of CGI mayhem on a grand scale; space battles, crashes, boarding parties, treachery and outstanding heroism in the most ridiculous high-rise, zero-G circumstances.
The dialogue sparkles, it’s hopelessly self-referential to the Star Trek canon, nostalgic in the extreme, but unlike the previous two outings, this Star Trek is actually fun. Continue Reading
Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall) returns as vampire assassin Selene in yet another Underworld Y-A action-horror-snoozefest. It wants to re-invent itself from Blade via Resident Evil to Game of Thrones, but really…?
The cast is an almost all-British affair in the ongoing war between vampires, other vampires, some more vampires and a bunch of scruffy hairy blokes – the werewolf Lycans – with everyone looking for the Corvinus line’s magic blood of invincibility to top the arms race and deliver victory.
With an underwhelming script rehashing more or less everything we’ve seen in the previous four, with added mystical vampire codswallop linking repetitive sword fights and gunplay, it’s hard to get excited about anything but Beckinsale’s buffed leather catsuit and corset. Continue Reading
An exellent sci-fi drama is undermined by its’ own dubious sexual politics, an unecessary thriller-disaster movie twist and the box-office prerogative of leering at leading lady Jennifer Lawrence.
Thirty years into a hundred and twenty year interstellar journey, everyman Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) awakes from hibernation to find himself the only one of five thousand passengers awake on a vast colony ship. Unable to re-enter hibernation, he becomes Robinson Crusoe, a lone, lost soul surrounded by humanity but condemned to die alone – with only the company of a robot bar tender.
Until he commits the selfish act of waking a female passenger Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), condemning her to the same fate; stealing a life equates to murder. The initial romance turns sour when she finds out. But all that goes on hold when the colony ship starts to break down. Like they do… Continue Reading
Two things you need to know about Gareth Edwards tightly-coupled prequel to Episode IV: A New Hope; there’s enough Star Wars-porn to satisfy the die-hard fans; and it’s really another World War Two movie with spaceships.
Inspired by the one-line mention of the small team that stole the plans of the Death Star, Edwards re-manufactures Where Eagles Dare and Guns of Navarone as a space-faring, behind-the-lines mission in which Felicity Jones and Diego Luna lead a rag-tag bunch of rebels to stop the Empire’s planet-killing weapon of mass destruction.
Never afraid of gratuitously over-the-top violence, death and destruction, this is anything but a kid’s fairy story, packed with shoot-outs, dog-fights, big fleet actions, big alien planets and regular rounds of blowing stuff up in gloriously rendered CGI detail: Star Wars reduced to its constituent parts. Continue Reading
Too-short Cruise does the running-jumping-shooting-punching thing, this time ripping off Taken right down to a version of that phone speech to the principle bad guy. It’s a polished version of the middle-aged-guy-with-skills-and-guns alright, but it’s no more than that. Never Go Back? Only if there’s a big franchise pay-check.
Charismatic, but increasingly asexual, Tom Cruise is now such a big movie star that every project he takes on becomes a Tom Cruise vanity project; look how Tom can run, jump, shoot, punch. And how much he now looks like a waxwork of himself.
Ex-military investigator Reacher drifts from case to case and positively trips over this one. His army successor, Major Turner (Coby Smulders – Avengers – holding the screen rather well) has been falsely accused on treason charges. Add in the revelation of a tearaway teen daughter he didn’t know about (an excellent Danika Yarosh), with the bad guys on their tail, there’s a military conspiracy to uncover. Continue Reading
An amusing genre mash-up of horror and classic literature tumbles out of the one-joke, no-budget, B-movie drawer. The cast has a whale of a time turning Jane Austen into the Walking Dead with bonnets, but for all it’s knowing winks and attractive stars, it’s little more than an overstretched French and Saunders sketch.
If you’re in the narrow, venn diagram demographic of classic literature, period drama and bloody body-horror fans, you will appreciate the genre clash, but maybe not all the way to the creaky, Hammer-inflected climax. Continue Reading