J-Law’s dominating screen presence only deepens the question: is Red Sparrow a feminist triumph or an ’80’s video nasty exploitation flick? Whichever it is, under the skin this is a remarkably old-fashioned Cold War espionage caper with only one twist in the switched female perspective and a cliché-o-meter that goes off the chart. Continue Reading
2011’s Real Steel is a Rocky-style Disney/Dreamworks family robot-boxing movie of a Matel plastic tabletop game (Battling Robots) that is so clichéd and daft that it shouldn’t work. And for all those elements, it works so much better than 2018’s Pacific Rim 2: Stupifying. So I’m reviewing Real Steel instead.
In one of those ‘near futures’, ex-prizefighter Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) builds ramshackle, low-end boxing robots for the new hi-tech sport of… robot boxing. Continue Reading
Kiwi Western The Stolen boldly goes where The Searchers, The Missing and Lonesome Dove have gone before, and despite a couple of good tense set-pieces, plods like a flat TV filler.
When her husband is murdered by ex-convict workers who then kidnap her baby, genteel British immigrant Charlotte Lockton (Alice Eve – Star Trek), goes in pursuit to wild frontier Gold Town. Cue general misogyny, battery, violence and abuse on gold-rush New Zealand’s wild frontier. Yep, it’s that kind of Western. 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
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
Seemingly innocent teen Jesse (Elle Fanning – Maleficent) moves to LA to become a model and immediately has to contend with the sleaze and depravity of a town that preys on ambitious young beauties. Attracting a stalkerish makeup artist (Jena Malone – Hunger Games, Donnie Darko), and the enmity of established models Sarah and Gigi, Jesse reveals a harder, darker character beneath her ingenoue persona to join the Women in the Edge of Self Destruction.
Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive, Valhalla Rising) quickly reverts to type to subvert his glossy Indie thriller into something altogether crueller and more perverse, with a shocker of an ending. Continue Reading
As YA-fiction adaptations go, this teen crime drama from Sacha Gervasi (Hitchcock), based on Sam Munson’s 2010 novel, is strictly middle-of-the-road plot cliché, and only star performances from Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz save it from bland disappointment.
When the murder of their black, model-student school-friend is dismissed as gang violence, angsty teenage nerd Addison (Eglort – Divergent, Baby Driver) teams up with best friend Phoebe (Moretz – The Equaliser, Fifth Wave) to investigate in snowy Washington DC.
Indie-inflected, or simply under-budget, November Criminals ambles through twin threads of inept vigilantism and dealing with grief. Rian Johnson’s 2005 Brick, this isn’t… Continue Reading