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Showing posts from April 21, 2013

Review: Attack the Block

South London nurse Jodie Whittaker must rely on the help of a bunch of stupid young thugs (who all blend together) who mugged her when their neighbourhood is besieged by nasty alien creatures. Nick Frost plays the friendly local weed grower.

Written and directed by Joe Cornish (who co-wrote the Steven Spielberg-Peter Jackson dud “The Adventures of Tintin” with Edgar Wright), this 2011 alien invasion flick seems to have a real cult following, and earned some nice reviews too. Personally, I can’t see what the fuss is about and pretty much hated it and everyone in it. Debut director Cornish (whose real-life mugging by youths helped inspire the film apparently) commits one of the most basic crimes in screenwriting; In order to care about what happens, we must first care about the characters. Either make ‘em really interesting, or make ‘em likeable. Cornish aggressively fails to do either. Young British hooligans aren’t my favourite movie characters at the best of times, but these guys are…

Review: Chronicle

Dane DeHaan stars as high school ‘loser’ Andrew, who has taken to filming everything in his life on a video camera, including the way his bullying father (Michael Kelly) treats him, and even filming his terminally ill, bedridden mother. At a party one night, his much cooler cousin (Alex Russell) and the resident popular student politician (Michael B. Jordan, who despite the name looks identical to Mariah Carey’s wife, Nick Cannon) ask him to bring his camera over to investigate a mysterious giant hole in the ground close-by. Of course, being young and stupid, they go down the hole to investigate, and come into contact with a strange crystal-like object. Next thing they know, the trio find themselves equipped with special powers, able to lift and move things telepathically. At first the trio have prankish fun with this new discovery, and eventually hone their skills further. Andrew also enjoys bonding with his protective but very different cousin, and the easy-going, immensely likeable…

Review: The Avengers

Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the evil brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has obtained the powerful energy source known as the Tesseract (and seen in “Captain America: The First Avenger”). He has also ‘turned’ both energy specialist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgaard) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). The latter is an agent of SHIELD, AKA Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, a peace-keeping organisation headed by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Fury is using the Avengers Initiative to stop this threat. In addition to SHIELD agent Natasha ‘Black Widow’ Romanov (Scarlett Johansson), Fury seeks the aid of several superheroes; Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) AKA Hulk, egotist millionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his Iron Man suit, and of course Thor. Clark Gregg reprises his role as Agent Coulson, Cobie Smulders is another SHIELD agent, Gwyneth Paltrow returns briefly as Stark’s assistant/girlfriend Pepper Potts, whilst Jenny Agutter and…

Review: Absolute Power

Clint Eastwood is Luther Whitney, a veteran cat burglar who chooses the absolute wrong place and time for his latest operation. Attempting to rob a mansion when his plans are interrupted by a young woman (Melora Hardin) and much older man (Gene Hackman), drunk and engaging in some hanky-panky. Being that the man is drunk and a sleaze, he starts to get rough with the girl and things end really, really badly, as two men come barging in and one (played by Dennis Haysbert) shoots the girl dead. And then comes the clean-up and cover-up, because the dirty old man at the centre of all this is none other than the President of the United States (Gene Hackman). And although we only learn this about twenty minutes or so in, it’s not a spoiler, because the film is mostly about the cover-up and the pursuit of wily Whitney, who although unseen at the scene of the crime is soon pegged by just about everyone as the killer. This pursuit involves not only the dodgy Secret Service (who know Whitney didn…

Review: The Way

Agnostic ophthalmologist Martin Sheen receives word that his estranged son (seen in flashbacks/visions and played by Emilio Estevez) has died whilst embarking on a pilgrimage from France to Spain. Sheen travels to France to identify the body, and after having his body cremated, Sheen comes to the decision that he himself will take the trek, even using his son’s gear and backpack. A Catholic French cop (Tcheky Karyo- where has he been the last 10 years or so?) explains the spiritual nature of the trek, but warns Sheen that it might not be the best thing for someone his age. Sheen is determined, however, and heads off, scattering his son’s ashes at certain points. Along the way, he encounters other people making the pilgrimage, though the rather solitary Sheen attempts to discourage much interaction. Yorick van Wageningen plays a jovial, pot-smoking Dutchman, Deborah Kara Unger is an embittered, chain-smoking Canadian, and James Nesbitt plays an Irish writer looking to cure his writer’s…

Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) believes criminal mastermind Moriarty (Jared Harris) is the fiend behind a series of bombings all around Europe that appear to want to promote war between France and Germany. But why? Meanwhile, Sherlock’s friend and confidante Watson (Jude Law) is getting married. You will not be surprised to learn that stag night shenanigans are not the only trouble Sherlock is about to get Watson into as the duo (also aided by Sherlock’s diplomat brother Mycroft Holmes, played by Stephen Fry) try to work out just what Moriarty is up to. Rachel McAdams returns briefly as Holmes’ acquaintance Irene Adler, now in the employ of Moriarty. Noomi Rapace plays a French gypsy fortune teller, and Eddie Marsan briefly reprises his role as the rather humourless Inspector Lestrade.

My fears that Guy Ritchie (“Swept Away”, “Snatch”) would turn the beloved Arthur Conan Doyle character into a pugilistic thug were thankfully not realised in the first of his Sherlock Holmes advent…