Vin Diesel and filmmaker David Twohy wrestle their iconic intergalactic character back to his leaner, meaner roots in this bluntly titled thriller. This movie harks back to what made 2000's Pitch Black such a discovery: one misunderstood man fighting idiotic reactions to real danger. Thankfully, the filmmakers have set aside the murky mythologising of the 2004 sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.
There's a brief mention of things like necromongers and the underverse before Riddick (Diesel) is abandoned on a harsh desert planet apparently populated by only two species: stripy, spiky-haired wild dingos and slimy two-legged scorpion-stinging beasts. Riddick gets to grips with both, even domesticating one of the doggies, then sends a distress signal that is answered by two teams of bounty-hunting mercenaries. First up is a motley crew led by Santana (Molla), and they're soon joined by a muscle-head team captained with military precision by the steely Johns (Nable), who has a secret personal reason for being here. But of course Riddick is ready for them.
All of the characters are beefy hotheads, challenging each other's authority with gruffly shouted taunts. Even as they play it straight, the cast members have a lot of fun with this banter. As Johns' first officer, Sackhoff is clearly in her element as the only female in sight, happily giving the men a taste of their own machismo. Even man-mountain Bautista gets into the fun as Santana's brutish thug, calmed down by Danby's true-believer nice guy. Everyone is sure they can capture Riddick easily, of course, but he picks them off one-by-one until they accept his terms. This heightened human interaction gives the movie a kick of energy that holds our attention even as things begin to feel faintly ridiculous.
Continue reading: Riddick Review
While the premise of this sci-fi thriller feels like yet another of Stephenie Meyer's two-boys-one-girl fantasies, a superior writer-director and cast make this is a stronger film than Twilight. The plot may be rather contrived, but the actors bring out some sharp intelligence in the script to make it surprisingly involving.
It's set in a future time after aliens have snatched the bodies of 90 percent of humanity, eliminating hunger, crime and the environmental crisis. But secret pockets of rebels have avoided being possessed by these white mini-jellyfish beings, and are seeking ways to fight back. So when the alien being Wanderer is implanted in the resistance leader Melanie (Ronan), the head Seeker (Kruger) hopes to infiltrate her memories and find out where they're hiding. But Melanie is stronger than anyone thinks, managing to remain conscious alongside Wanderer, winning her to the rebel cause. She heads to the human's secret desert hideout, where Uncle Jeb (Hurt) renames her Wanda and accepts her into the fold. But some humans aren't so sure, and the Seeker is hot on her trail.
It's deep in this maze of rather too-sophisticated caves that the crinkled romance develops, as Melanie is reunited with her boyfriend Jared (Irons), but doesn't want him kissing her when Wanda is in control of her body. Then Wanda falls for Ian (Abel), and their kissing makes Melanie even more furious. Yes, like Twilight, this film seems to think that kissing is the ultimate expression of human connection, giving this film a quirky four-sided love triangle at its centre. Meanwhile, the more thriller-like plotline builds as the Seeker gets ever closer. All of this is played out very seriously, with almost no offhanded humour or humanity, but the emotions are intriguingly resonant.
Continue reading: The Host Review
That one good character is Doug, played with real depth by Farrell. After a chemical war has left just two inhabitable spots on earth (Britain and Australia), Doug is working as a robotics engineer and living a quiet life with his wife Lori (Beckinsale). But he keeps dreaming about running for his life with another woman (Biel), so he heads to a Rekall memory-implant centre to clear his mind. Of course he instead opens a can of worms, discovering that he's not who he thinks he is. But what's the truth? And who's side he really working for - the totalitarian chancellor (Cranston) or the violent rebel leader (Nighy)?
Continue reading: Total Recall Review
Muscled ladies' man Black Dynamite (White) is a legend in 1970s drug-ridden Los Angeles. When his brother is murdered in a drug deal gone wrong, he teams with his former CIA colleague O'Leary (Chapman) to solve the mystery. He gets help from his pals, the flaming Cream Corn (Davidson) and tough-guy Bullhorn (Minns), and also has time to romance the orphanage activist Gloria (Richardson). And the trail to the killer leads him through the kung fu treachery of the fiendish Dr Wu (Yuan) right to Tricky Dicky's White House.
Continue reading: Black Dynamite Review
Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen play a miserable suburban couple whose marriage is disrupted by an accidental shooting in their living room at midnight. As it turns out, the guy was Daniels' business partner. Allen moves out in disgust and, through a process of self-discovery, figures out that her happy little life was nothing more than a middle class prison. She hides away at her new workplace, in the employ of eccentric millionaire and computer guru Gary Sinise. Daniels sits at home fuming, renting pornography and playing with his gun.
Continue reading: It's the Rage Review
According to the production notes, director Che-Kirk Wong actually had considerable confidence in the project. "The script was very original," explains Wong. "I enjoy doing action sequences, but action means nothing if we don't have decent characters. They're both equally important to me." Is Wong thinking of the same movie I just endured?
Continue reading: The Big Hit Review