Since novelist Dan Brown wrote a new thriller featuring the symbologist Robert Langdon, Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard have reteamed to bring it to the big screen. But this second sequel to The Da Vinci Code feels like a pale imitation of the original. Gone are the clever, fake-academic revelations and rather wacky action antics, and in their place are clues that feel utterly irrelevant, accompanied by fights and chases that are incoherent.
At least it opens well, with Langdon (Hanks) waking up in a Florence hospital without a clue how he got to Italy. Then when a sexy cop (Ana Ularu) tries to kill him, Robert's hot doctor Sienna (Felicity Jones) helps him escape. She also has an unusual knowledge of antiquities, so she travels with him to figure out why he's being chased by the police, an army of World Health Organisation officials (led by Sidse Babett Knudsen), a man (Omar Sy) leading a team of violent goons and a shady businessman (Irrfan Khan). Robert traces all of these shenanigans to the recently deceased billionaire anarchist Bertrand (Ben Foster), who was plotting to release a virus that would kill off half of mankind to halt overpopulation. Is his plan still going forward? Can Robert stop it in time? The next clues are in Venice and then Istanbul.
The settings are gorgeous, and Howard knows how to use them to pack the film with old world elegance. But while David Koepp's script keeps the mayhem moving along whether or not it makes any sense, Howard directs everything at a glacial pace. So it looks like Hanks is in danger of falling asleep at any time, even in the middle of a car chase. There's also the problem that the central premise is utterly preposterous: if you're planning a terrorist attack that will kill four billion people, would you take the time to set it up as an elaborate scavenger hunt? And it doesn't help that everyone in the movie seems untrustworthy. The script sorts the good from the bad as it goes along, but it never matters.
Continue reading: Inferno Review
Ron Howard poses alone and with producer Brian Grazer at the world premiere of 'The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years' held at The Odeon Leicester Square, London, United Kingdom - Thursday 15th September 2016
A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which offers an inside look at Beatlemania, the three years when the best pop band in history toured the world. The messy title is a hint as to how compromised this film is: it's not a proper journalistic look at the band, but rather an approved portrait with the rough edges removed. But with its never-seen footage and lots of great music, it can't help but be hugely entertaining.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr spent years developing their sound before they hit the big time. And when they set off on their first tour in 1963, things immediately went crazy, with unprecedented displays of fan adoration. Fans couldn't get enough of these cheeky young guys from Liverpool, and their irreverent antics during interviews further endeared them to their audience. As they embarked on their first major tour of America, young journalist Larry Kane was sent to accompany them. Initially annoyed at this fluffy assignment, Kane was won over by their talent and the way they stood up to segregation laws in the South. But by 1966, they found that playing concerts in stadiums was simply too exhausting (they couldn't hear themselves above the screaming), so they abruptly stopped performing in public. The rest of their career took place in the studio.
All of this is recounted in a terrific range of home movies, archive footage, snapshots and interviews from the time, plus present-day recollections from Paul and Ringo. Added to this are interviews with celebrities who as children saw them perform, artists who worked with them and historians who examine their talent and impact. With access to this kind of material and a skilled editing team, Howard creates a film that's energetically gripping, offering a perspective on the Beatles that we may not have seen before.
Continue reading: The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years Review
This may look like it's going to be a zany Christmas romp, but it's really a warm exploration of family connections, essentially an American take on Love Actually's multi-strand comedy-drama. At least it has an unusually strong cast and moments of hilarity scattered throughout the story. And while it's never very deep, the themes are strongly resonant.
The Cooper family is gathering for what Charlotte (Diane Keaton) hopes will be one last perfect Christmas together. She knows that her 40-year marriage to Sam (John Goodman) is on the brink, but is ignoring that to plan a massive dinner. Their son Hank (Ed Helms) is stinging from divorce and unemployment, while daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) has picked up a hunky soldier (Jake Lacy) in the airport and asks him to pose as her boyfriend so her family will stop asking about her love life. Meanwhile, Charlotte's father Bucky (Alan Arkin) is trying to cheer up his favourite waitress (Amanda Seyfried), and Charlotte's sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) is delayed when a cop (Anthony Mackie) arrests her for shoplifting.
Narrated with wry joviality by Steve Martin, the interwoven stories are fairly simplistic, but each touches a raw nerve. And the above-average cast brings out the underlying themes without overplaying their scenes. Keaton and Goodman add subtle shades to the slightly undemanding central roles, while Arkin finds a couple of new textures to his usual twinkly grandad persona. Helms and Wilde strike the right balance in their intriguingly unlikeable roles, while Tomei gets the most complex character as a woman who feels like she's merely watched her life drift along. By contrast, the outsiders played by Seyfried, Lacy and Mackie are much less defined, but each actor brings just enough magnetic energy. The most wasted performer is June Squibb, as a ditzy old aunt who's little more than the requisite gross-out relative.
Continue reading: Love The Coopers (aka Christmas With The Coopers) Review
With an appropriately jarring sense of energy, this James Brown biopic acutely captures the Godfather of Soul's iconic musical talents, although the fragmented script undermines any emotional kick in his story. The film also struggles to build up momentum, because it continually leaps between various chapters in Brown's life. Which means that it never quite connects these disparate episodes into one coherent narrative. Even so, Chadwick Boseman delivers an electrically charged central performance.
Boseman plays James from the time he was 16, thrown into prison for stealing a suit in 1949, until his comeback in the 1990s. Raised in a brothel run by his Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer) after his parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) abandoned him, James is in prison when he meets visiting gospel singer Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), who takes him in on his release. Together they form The Famous Flames, gaining small-time success as James catches the eye of a manager (Dan Aykroyd), a record executive (Fred Melamed) and the public. A string of major hits followed in the 1950s and 60s, then James went solo in the 70s before the usual issues of fame caught up with him: money, drugs and guns. But he returned to the stage in the 1990s.
The film completely skips over his Hollywood years in the 80s, which wouldn't be a problem if the decade was so notably missing from the film. As the story skips back and forth through the years, the audience is forced to make sense of the disparate scenes, filling in several holes along the way. Aside from one rather surreal scene in a Southern Gospel church, there's never much of a sense of how Brown found his voice or developed his inimitable style. It also never quite captures his impact on the music industry as a whole.
Continue reading: Get On Up Review
The cast and crew of forthcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up' talk about the legacy of the pioneering entertainer and the impact he had following his spectacular live show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem which was subsequently transposed to his 1963 live album entitled 'Live At The Apollo'.
The stars of James Brown biopic 'Get On Up' including leading man Chadwick Boseman arrive for the New York premiere of the movie which was held at the city's Apollo Theater. The movie is scheduled to hit cinemas in September 2014.
Exhilarating racing action punctuates this true story, which sharply traces the rivalry between two Formula One champs. It's superbly well-shot and edited, with engaging performances from the entire cast. And with only one moment of calculated sentimentality, it's director Ron Howard's most honest movie in years.
The story begins in the early 1970s, when two rising-star F1 drivers clash over their very different styles. Britain's James Hunt (Hemsworth) is a swaggering womaniser, revelling in the rock-star lifestyle. By contrast, Austria's Niki Lauda (Bruhl) is a fiercely detailed technician who loves pushing barriers. They clearly see things they like in each other, so their different approaches on the track develop into a competitive relationship that spurs them to the front of the pack. Over the years, both meet their wives (Wilde and Lara, respectively) and move from team to team as they rise to the top of their sport. And their rivalry comes to a head at the 1976 German Grand Prix when world champion Lauda is involved in a horrific, fiery accident.
Morgan's script is essentially two biopics cleverly woven together to let us see the push and pull between these two iconic figures. Unexpectedly, Bruhl's Lauda emerges as the stronger character, with his grounded approach and sardonic wit allowing Bruhl to play effectively with submerged emotions. By contrast, Hemsworth's Hunt is little more than a gifted good-time boy who isn't worried about his lack of substance. It's a likeable, loose performance (we barely notice the wobbly British accent). Opposite them Lara and Wilde provide solid, subtle support, as do the fine actors who fill out the pit crews.
Continue reading: Rush Review
John Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio) was only 29 when he became director of the Bureau of Investigation (later the FBI), and he ruled supreme until his death in 1972, holding eight US presidents in the palm of his hand with his notorious files of personal secrets. But he also had loyal friends, including his secretary Helen (Watts) and his right-hand man Clyde (Hammer). As a young man, his mother (Dench) instilled in him a hatred of liberalism and homosexuality, so his enemies included Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy (Donovan) and himself.
Continue reading: J. Edgar Review
After his parents are killed in a car crash, the thoughtful young Enoch (Hopper) becomes obsessed with death, attending random funerals and chatting to Hiroshi (Kase), the ghost of a young kamikaze pilot. The at one memorial service, Enoch is rumbled by Annabel (Wasikowska), who pursues a friendship with him. As they become closer, Enoch learns that the sparky Annabel has a fatal illness, which means he can no longer put off dealing with the fact that death is actually part of life.
Continue reading: Restless Review
Jake (Craig) wakes up in the desert with no memory of who he is or why he has a strange metal bracelet clamped onto his arm. He staggers into a dusty town, where the sheriff (Carradine) helps him until he clashes with local bully Percy (Dano), the son of power-mad landowner Dolarhyde (Ford), who has a history with Jake. But when strange airborne "demons" attack the town, Jake discovers that his bracelet is a weapon that can fight them. So Dolarhyde drafts him into a posse to hunt them down.
Continue reading: Cowboys & Aliens Review
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