28 August 2013


Elysium - 'the place at the ends of the earth to which certain favoured heroes were conveyed by the gods after death. A place or state of perfect happiness' and Elysium is just that, well if you are one of the privileged ones to get a ticket up to this flawless habitat. On this world, there is no poverty, there is no illness and there is no tolerance for letting anyone else in. In the year 2154 this all changes, when Max (Matt Damon) takes on a life risking job that will not only save his life but ultimately save the thousands of people who have been ignored on this post apocalyptic earth. 

So let's get one thing straight, this is an action film, no doubt about it. Try to not read too much into it. Yes, this is a fairly politically heavy film, just as District 9 was but I think the entire point of this narrative was to entertain and not give the viewer some deep and meaningful thought process on the way out of the theatre. For me, it was entertaining, the effects were astounding and the camera - well the camera. Just a tad shaky at times which kind of ruined some of the action scenes but I think I can see what the director was trying to achieve when he made those choices (just a shame they made you feel like you were on a roller-coaster). Matt Damon's character becomes quite the hero (bad language and all) when he manages to get the codes to override the whole system of Elysium, letting anyone through the gates. Of course we have the return of Sharlto Copley who worked with Neill Blomkamp previously who plays a deadly sleeper agent called Kruger who certainly brings class acting and comedy to this screenplay. Although everyone on Elysium should be delirious to be living on this utopia, they all seem a little bit uptight - especially Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and John Carlyle (William Fichtner), nevertheless both give performances full of anger and deceit and both get what they deserve. Despite a fairly decent storyline the only thing that didn't work for me was the character development. Even though we are given a bit of back story for the main characters I still felt like they needed a bit of work to really make you empathise with them when they have to go their separate ways.

Overall, sci-fi fans and SFX geeks will not be disappointment, there are fantastic space shuttles, robots and reforming body parts reminiscence of any of Ridley Scott or James Cameron's work. With scenes very similar to Battlestar Galactica and even Star Wars, go and see this film to immerse yourself in this alternate universe. 

Directed by Neill Blomkamp
109mins, 15 (2013)

26 August 2013

The Mortal Instruments - The City of Bones

The world of the supernatural continues to captivate audiences worldwide and why go to the cinema other than to escape into the wonders of another world? 'The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones' gives you the escapism you desire. Angels, witches, demons, vampires and werewolves and a Van Helsing high-breed known in this world as 'Shadow Hunters'.

So where to begin? - I find myself saying in the thoughts of Clary Fray (Lily Collins) after her mother is taken to another dimension and she finds out she has demon hunting blood coursing through her adolescent veins! Phew that's a lot to take in and oh she starts seeing people that no one else can - yep that would be the point I would start to worry. But fear not this teenage girl sure knows how to fight off some dodgy CGI generated demons with a frying pan. Ok, the effects weren't that bad but maybe that was down to the fact that no major production studios funded it - expect entertainment one. Despite that this film creates magic, tension, a few jumpy moments and is a fantastical, stylish feature in every sense. When her evil daddy comes back to claim what he thinks is rightfully his which was last seen in the possession of Clary's mother Jocelyn (Lena Headley) - this is when it starts to get a bit intense. A little too much sword fighting (although great swords, plus these guys look great wielding them!) and not enough time devoted to the history behind these 'Shadow Hunters'. I wanted more. But I do suppose it was aimed at a 'Twilight' watching audience and in that case I'll let it slide and fill in the gaps myself (or perhaps read the book).

With performances from a practically all English cast - Lena Headey, Johnathan Rhys Meyers and Robert Sheehan this script has a lot to offer supernatural fans, children and adult alike if you can ignore the sickeningly cheesy lines between Clary and Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower). With this aside this is a great action adventure adapted on screen for the youth of today. Think 'Harry Potter', 'Twilight' with the tongue in cheek perfectly timed comedy moments of 'Supernatural' and 'Buffy' thrown in and you have it. A refreshing take on non-sexy vamps just be aware of the 'Star Wars' - oh awkward your my sister moment and escape reality - literally. Ideal for Bank Holiday fun. 

Directed by Harald Zwart
130mins, 12A (2013) 

20 August 2013


Yes, this film is about a flight and no it is nothing like, 'Snakes on a Plane' (thankfully).  Director Robert Zemeckis know for 'Forest Gump' (1994) and 'Back the the Future' (1985) teams up with writer John Gatins again to give us a screenplay about a pilot who is struggling with alcoholism, drug use and anger issues - you name it, this pilot's got it. Normal day, normal hotel room except the man who is in charge of 102 souls on the next plane has been up all night with an air hostess, drinking and snorting coke - I'm no pilot myself but I hope the pilot in charge of the next plane I catch wasn't doing the latter the night before!

Despite the above, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washingston) looks fit to fly after a few vodkas on board to get his head straight (bad move). Anyway after all that, there are some extreme weather conditions and a malfunctioning plane that cause Whip to have to crash land in a field to save everyone on board and he does a pretty good job of it to becoming a sort of local hero - until the drink gets the better of him. Of course even though he landed the plane miraculously and his buddies on the inside killed his toxicity report, there was still the mystery of the vodka bottles being empty when drinks were suspended on that particular flight. This is a compelling tale of a man in completely the wrong place at the wrong time of his life. He seems like he is pretty together but then we see how really bad it can get and the seriousness of his alcohol dependency making you want to see him get clean because he is however a very likeable character. Ultimately we see him go down for driving under the influence (no kids drugs and drink don't make you a bad ass pilot), which is obviously not what you want to see happen to the man who just crash landed a plane saving 96 passengers on board. But there has to be justice right? Other than all the serious undertones of the film we have John Goodman (Harling Mays), playing Whitaker's dealer bringing laughter and quirkiness to the screen even when everything's gone to pot.

'Flight' is a drama with an in depth story accompanied by outstanding acting, proving Hollywood can  still produce something other than big blockbusters. Brilliant watch and one I would recommend (not before a flight though) but do be aware of all the 'praise Jesus, he saved us' malarkey embedded within the script. This film would have still been just as powerful without such references.  

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
138mins 15 (2012)

19 August 2013


Over the last decade we have certainly seen virtually everything that can be done with vampires, haven't we?

Well 'Byzantium' to my knowledge doesn't have any sparkling vamps or have bottled blood readily available but brings us a darker, sinister tale of a throw back to when vampires were considered monsters and not the highly desired creatures recent works have created. I have to say that I am a little bias due to having a soft stop for fangs (expect 'Twilight' - sorry just didn't   do it for me) although if you are after a racey supernatural film full of biting and sex then you maybe wondering what you have got yourself in for. Yes, this film has all the above with some very gory sequences but not to the extend of what we have seen previously. The plot is very slow and doesn't really pick up which I, at first, had to persevere with but I am glad I stuck it out. Think, 'Let the Right one in' with the bleak comedic value of, 'Interview with the Vampire' (same director) and throw in two, 200 year old vampires who are trying to keep their secret in the modern world, which isn't kept for long - and of course there are consequences. 

The two leading ladies, Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor Webb (Saoirse Ronan) both bring superb performances to screen, complicated characters that you don't understand nor relate to throughout the film, alas I think that is one of the aspects of the film which makes it so special. To go up against all the recent vampire stories is a feat of it's own but to have such a spin on it really paid off for 'Byzantium'. Trying to survive in the modern world and hide who they are is pretty tricky when you need human blood to survive; but Clara sells herself to make her way and who would look for such a person if they were to go missing eh? Up to a point they get away with it, until the past catches up and poor Eleanor finds their secret too much to handle. I am not going to tell you that you will be hooked after the title's but I will say that if you take in this story, actually listen and think about what is happening, rather than just watch you will not be disappointed by what you have just seen. Blood, sex, deceit, seduction and most importantly the truth of what being a vampire is all about - 'Byzantium' said to be an ancient Greek city, terribly fitting for such an ancient creatures story to be retold. 

Directed by Neil Jordan 
118mins, 15 (2013) 

Welcome to the Punch

Nitty, gritty, British police drama with James McAvoy (Wanted & Trance) taking on a well known criminal by himself, fails but then (kind of) succeeds. And that is exactly what 'Welcome to the Punch' brings to the table (or screen should I say). With a simple yet affective script - this film will hit you with a punch when it comes to finding out that the main characters are in deeper than they ever thought and will have to put their differences aside and work together on this one. 

This film doesn't muck around and gets straight into the action; unfortunately resulting in a police officer - Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) getting shot in the leg within the first five minutes of him being on screen. Nonetheless, despite his sore leg (as and when he doesn't forget about it that is!) when the force get tipped off that the ex-criminal Jacob Sternwood's (Mark Strong) son was involved in a heist gone wrong,  McAvoy with a great London accent (with his eyes bluer than ever) throws himself straight in to prepare for the man he has been waiting for. A lot of people have perceived the film as being long winded and dull but they are clearly harsh critics who do not like a good British production with character development that isn't jam packed full of pretentious direction and tonnes of gunfire and killing. Punch offers something more than the standard cop revenge plot and gets the equilibrium just right when it comes to violence and narrative especially when you find out that everyone you trusted on screen are not what they seem and you find yourself routing for the bad guy when Max teams up with him. Of course this is a plot that we have all seen before and yes it is genetic but by no means unwatchable. Eran Creevy who hasn't done anything profound within the industry yet gives a very good stance when it comes to direction which compliments the stylish soundtrack immensely, giving tension and energy to the long takes lacking dialogue allowing the audience to sit back and work out what's coming next. If you want a good raw London drama with a few set backs, an easy watch and of course not forgetting the greatness of the cast then this is one to see. With a low budget,TV series feel to it, 'Welcome to the Punch' shows us that there is more to producing an entertaining film than just having 2 hours of gunshot and the bad guy goes down - so much more happens here and you will enjoy seeing 'The Ministry of Sound' being destroyed by bullets!       

Directed by Eran Creevy
99mins, 15 (2013)

13 August 2013

The Interpreter

What would you do if you over-heard an assassination attempt on someone quite politically profound, when you shouldn't have because you were somewhere you shouldn't have been? You would tell someone right? Well Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) an interpreter for the U.N. decides to keep this one to herself until she realises that it might have been beneficial if she had told someone! But little do we know that Silvia has a bit of a history with Zuwani, the currently man in power in Zimbawe.

Despite what some of you might think, this film is not jam packed with political twaddle and dwells more on character development and motives. Alongside Kidman we have Sean Penn (Tobin Keller) playing the part of a secret service bodyguard to Silvia when things start to get serious. Apart from Kidman's wannabee South Africa/ Australian (with a bit of English thrown in) accent both actors deliver vibrant performances giving their broken characters feeling again. The amount of detail paid to such a story and effort that went into production is evident on screen. The fact that 'Ku' a fictional language, deriving from two African languages was used throughout (very well by Kidman) and that most of the scenes in the U.N. are actually shot in the United Nations Headquarters thus filming was limited to the weekend shows utter dedication from the entire crew. Thumbs up for that - thumbs down for the predictable twist that you sadly see coming a mile off. If the script was just tweaked a tiny a bit and few more clever deceiving lines to throw the viewer off would have made this political thriller 10 times better. Overall, one that I enjoyed but one I probably won't see again.

Directed by Sydney Pollack
128mins, 12 (2005)

12 August 2013

The Wolverine

The X-Men franchise hits the theatre again with the second installment from the man with claws; Wolverine. Of course we have main man Hugh Jackman acting with claws flawlessly as the rugged, fiery tempered (yet caring) 'I don't take no s**t' kinda guy and certainly brings to the screen everything you would want the Wolverine to be. Working alongside director James Mangold, who has given us some pretty heavy stuff like 'Identity' (2003) and 'Walk the Line' (2005) and equally doesn't shy away from intense emotion in this one (well - as much as adamantium alloy can be personified).

Unlike the last Wolverine flick this one follows the character after the third X-men film and how he copes with Jean's death or should I say doesn't. Many have said that this one was too dialogue heavy and there wasn't enough superhero, mutant action but I beg to differ. I think it was pretty well balanced with some skillfully choreographed marital arts and ninja techniques, which certainly made me want to throw myself into a dojo after watching. Along with all this pain and guilt that Logan is dealing with, as usual something from the deep, dark past re-surfaces and certainly interferes with his grieving (self-torturing) process even though he has a pretty Japanese grand daughter to take his mind of things. Like any action hero film, Wolverine has to protect someone thus overcoming the dangers of such a task, which I found entertaining up until they try to take Wolverine's healing powers and fight him off with a poorly CGI generated, robot samurai made out of adamantium. Not the climatic fight scene I was waiting for! Maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, however after enjoying the previous X-men films and origins alike, I perhaps had slightly high expectations for this one. Despite being a classic Marvel plot-line of Wolverine this is a standard action-thriller (with a few powers thrown in) with a few plot holes and strange Inception-esque dream sequences to get you through. Not entirely what I wanted but fairly entertaining nonetheless.

Directed by James Mangold
126 mins, 12a (2013)         

7 August 2013


Danny Boyle's latest, 'Trance' does exactly what the title states. This film will take you on a roller-coaster of a ride dealing with the human psyche and thus manipulating the viewers state of mind with certain stylistic techniques. I think the most important thing to take away after watching is that it is a Trance and nothing else. Don't expect anything else - just sit and enjoy. 

The script and direction work simultaneously together to create an ingenuous twist to the classic heist format that visually vibrate through your mentality. James McAvoy (Atonement & Wanted) who seems to be the man of the moment, gives another spectacular performance playing Simon an auctioneer (we think) who double crosses a notoriously ruthless criminal, Franck (Vincent Cassel - Black Swan) and makes away with the goods. Except when hunted down, he momentarily forgets the location of a £25 million painting - good one Simon! In order to retrace his steps he resorts to hypnotism to retrieve the art work, oh and to save his arse from the rough guys in town. Rosario Dawson (Elizabeth) brings an alluring and audacious character to life on screen whilst hypnotising virtually everyone. Everyone's playing everyone and everything crosses over, blurring into different frames of mind (literally). To the point where it kind of looses it self and you have to deal with the fact that not only this is a tricky plot but Boyle along side the writers are deliberately throwing you off and distorting your perception on reality resulting in finding yourself (along with the protagonist) somewhere else entirely. 

With a tint of ruthlessness embodied in Boyle's earlier work, 'Shallow Grave' (1994) & 'Trainspotting' (1996), 'Trance' will blow your mind away and shatter your conciousness when trying to keep up with the unreliable narration. This fast-paced, stylish, sexy and full of deception game will keep you guessing throughout and  will linger long after you have left the theatre. One I'll be watching again that's for sure.       

Directed by Danny Boyle
101mins, 15 (2013)    

6 August 2013

Hannibal (TV Series One)

The iconic and even cult psychiatrist (with some cannibalistic tendencies) that goes by the name Hannibal, has been re-invented for our home cinemas. The creator Bryan Fuller has taken the classic 'Red Dragon' novel by Thomas Hardy and created a prequel in it's own right, giving the series a more eerie feel than just playing on the whole eating humans thing. One thing I will say is that this show gives nothing away, I mean absolutely nada. 'Hannibal' will keep you guessing at every turn and even try to throw you off a scent if you think your getting close to finding out the answers to the riddles Hannibal speaks. 

To take on this infamous Doctor, is Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale & The Hunt) - notoriously known for playing the bad guy and here he truly shows us how well he can act in front of the camera throughout the season. The series follows the relationship Hannibal develops with one of his patients, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) - a  young FBI criminologist who is constantly haunted by his ability to empathise and get into the head of serial killers. Definitely enough to make anyone seek out help from a Doctor, shame he got stuck with Hannibal! Hugh Dancy gives us a brilliantly awkward and troubled performance and we physically see the deterioration of his character on screen. Without giving too much away as I really don't want to spoil this one - if you like a good crime drama, dealing with some pretty nasty serial killers, with a cast that has certainly blown my mind then take the time to watch this. With the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Gillian Anderson and even Eddie Izzard all collaborate and tackle this script with sheer intensity and passion. As the protagonist slowly loses his mind, you as the viewer will be thrown into the mind of a troubled man affected by the surroundings of the physiologically unstable world he finds himself in. Every dream sequence is done in such a vivid and artistic manner evoking the intended uneasy atmosphere, that the directors and writers alike deserve every praise they receive. Seriously, one of the best dramas in the last decade and I am already waiting in anticipation for the second series - but I shall be wary of people cooking French cuisine! 

Directed by Various People
45mins, 18 (2013)

5 August 2013

The Conjuring

A creepy old house in the middle of nowhere, a toddler sized scary doll and throw in a couple of experts in all things demonic and supernatural and here we have 'The Conjuring'. Director James Wan know for Saw (2004) and Insidious (2010) brings us yet another dark and horrifying narrative - well for the first half of the film anyway.

The main thing that put me off is that this is based on true events and for some reason, after seeing this I kind of switched my viewer mode from, this is going to make me jump to this is going to be outrageously scary just because someone put that title at the beginning. I think I was half right. Guys, I'm not going to lie I will hold my hands up (literally) to watching the majority of this film through my fingers, slumped as far as I could go into my cinema seat, longing for the scenes containing daylight but once we find out that this house contains an evil spirit of a dead witch who killed her children and hung herself it loses it's way. The Perrons move to this secluded farm house with their 5 daughters to have a fresh start but they are going to have to through a few hauntings, possession and of course an exorcism before they get a chance to start over. Lili Taylor (Hemlock Grove & High Fidelity)  plays the mother Carolyn Perron who gets the raw end of the deal; but Lili really takes this troubled character and runs with it. Alongside everything that is going on, when this event was said to have occurred in 1971, demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren played by Vera Farmiga (The Departed & Source Code) and Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy & Watchmen) came to the rescue and saved the Perron family. I certainly felt a bit safer when those guys were on screen trying to drive away the bad spirits.

'The Conjuring' managed to built tension, create the perfect atmosphere and vibe reminiscent of classic horror, playing on something as terrifying as possession. For the die hard horror fan though the mixture of practical effects and CGI really ruined it and when a chair levitated and someone was being dragged around by their hair - dare I say it, I couldn't take it seriously. If your a sucker for stuff based on a true story and like a good exorcism with (as I said before) one hell of a frightening child's doll then give it a watch. Just be prepared to put up with a glorified ended which seems utterly impossible after everything this family has gone through. Good - just needed that extra oopmh. Oh and be sure to check out any random bruises with the local demon catchers!

Directed by James Wan
112mins, 15 (2013)