First-time director Owen Harris boldly attempts a comedy even blacker than American Psycho or Filth with this 1990s Britpop satire, but he never quite gets the tone right. Based on the bestselling novel by John Niven (who also wrote the screenplay), the film lacks a single character the audience can identify with or root for. And since it's impossible to care about the slimy anti-hero, the movie ends up merely feeling mean-spirited.
The slimeball at the centre is Steven (Nicholas Hoult), an A&R man at Unigram Records at the peak of Britpop in 1997. He's had a run of hot new artists, and doesn't let his loathing of pop music slow him down, tormenting his assistant Rebecca (Georgia King), his faithful scout Darren (Craig Roberts) and his matey colleague Roger (James Corden). He's also so determined to get a promotion that he takes things to violent extremes, then becomes even more annoyed when the job goes to his hated rival Antony (Tom Riley). So now all he has left is the search for another vile musician he can turn into the next big thing.
The film has a sleek, snaky energy to it that nicely recreates the cut-throat atmosphere of the period. And Niven has a lot to say about how the music business abuses truly talented artists while promoting inept stars like Steven's aspiring girl band Songbirds. Essentially, this film is a full-on assault on a British society where self-absorbed jerks climb the corporate ladder because they're ambitious, not because they're actually good at anything. The one sense of balance in the story comes from a cop (Edward Hogg), who's investigating a murder but really wants Steven to help him launch his own musical career. In other words, the film is shouting its themes at the top of its voice, rather than letting them hit the target with quiet precision.
Continue reading: Kill Your Friends Review
After several high-profile grown-up movies (from Atonement to Anna Karenina), director Joe Wright aims this Peter Pan origin story squarely at children. So while it's far too manic and broad for adults, this adventure will be the most exciting movie any 8-year-old has seen in years. It's colourful and fantastical, and it thankfully doesn't indulge in reworking the beloved J.M. Barrie stories. Instead, it imagines an action-packed prequel universe.
As German bombs fall on London during the Blitz, young Peter (Levi Miller) is up to all kinds of mischief in the grim orphanage overseen by Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke), who sells bad boys to airborne pirates. Sure enough, one night Peter is taken, sailing into the sky to Neverland, where he is sent to work in the mines for the swaggering, heartless Captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). In the mines Peter is befriended by the adventurer Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and when Peter discovers that he can fly they make their escape. Blackbeard chases them out into the woods, where they take refuge with Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and her tribe, which is convinced that Peter is the child of a prophecy that will lead the fairy kingdom to freedom. But just when Peter learns who his parents really were, Blackbeard catches up with them.
This is an old-school kids' movie, packed with larger-than-life characters and outrageously imaginative action sequences that make the most of the 3D cinematography. Yes, there's so much digital trickery going on that the movie is essentially a cartoon, but it's so vividly explosive that it's a lot of fun to watch. And many of the big set-pieces are genuinely thrilling. There's also quite a lot of fun to be had in the way the story twists the familiar characters around. Obviously, Hook couldn't have always been a bad guy; here he's one of the heroes, and he still has both hands, which hints that further prequel adventures may be on the cards.
Continue reading: Pan Review
It's the mid 90's and the music scene in the UK is booming. Excess is the word of the decade and the music industry runs on a steady supply of drugs, booze and huge amounts of money. Steven Stelfox is a young A&R manager at one of London's biggest labels but in reality it's quite by chance that he's made it. It's a dog-eat-dog industry and when your ideas run out there's a good chance you'll be cast aside. Not wishing to be the next for the chopping block, Stelfox takes his career ambitions to a whole new level. How well would you survive when even your friends are your enemies?
Since its release in 2008, John Niven's book 'Kill Your Friends' has become a cult classic. Niven himself had worked at many record labels and inspired some of the themes behind the story. Whilst the story is fiction and no one was actually killed, many people in the industry draw many parallels to what actually happened during those years.
Igor Strausman is the less thought about assistant of the insane but brilliant Victor Frankenstein. He's as genius as the passionate medical student he aids in experiments, but more rational when it comes to ethics. He does, however, share Frankenstein's obsession with eternal life and becomes equally as excited when they manage to bring a dead animal back to life. This in itself marks a unique scientific advancement, but Frankenstein's morbid curiosity fails to stop there. He wants to be able to create human life, but doing this involves sourcing body parts from mortuaries - and any other place they can find. Igor's timid nature, though deeply involved passion for the project, keeps him from doing his best to dissuade Frankenstein from completing their 'monster', until it's too late. Now they have a rogue beast on their hands, not to mention the police who are out for blood.
Continue: Victor Frankenstein Trailer
Peter was sent to an orphanage as a young boy with nothing but a small metal pan pendant left to him by his mother, who predicted great things for her son. Indeed, he goes on to experience the most exciting childhood anyone could dream to have, flying around on airborne ships from the mystical world of Neverland. And while it may be an enjoyable time, there are still great dangers that lie before him; the most feared pirate in all the land, Blackbeard, is out to bring the land under his tyrannous rule and Peter finds himself a target. Meanwhile, he meets James Hook, a fellow traveller who becomes his friend and protector, and it isn't long before he then bumps into a vibrant tribe led by the formidable Tiger Lily, who reveals to him that his arrival marks the end of the pirates' terror. But Peter is just a boy, and however brave he might be, does he really stand a chance against these merciless villains?
Continue: Pan Trailer
This film may look sleek and urgent, but it never feels like anything more than a run-of-the-mill London drugs thriller. The cast is good, and the imagery is striking, but it never adds anything new to the genre. And it certainly doesn't have the bracing impact of the original 1996 film, which introduced the world to Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive).
It centres on the young drug dealer Frank (Coyle), who with his friend Tony (Webb) is trying to bring a huge stash of drugs from Amsterdam to London. The cops are brutally trying to force Frank into turning in evidence against his supplier Milo (Buric), which puts him in a very bad position. With Milo's henchman (Ferda) breathing down his neck, Frank tries to call in his debts and raise enough cash so he and his stripper girlfriend Flo (Deyn) can get away. But all of his plans seem to go awry, which strains his relationship with Flo because he doesn't want to tell her the truth.
This is one of those movies in which events squeeze in on the central character from every side, forcing him to increasingly desperate actions. And Spanish director Prieto has a lurid visual style that jolts the screen with energy, even if it leaves everything feeling rather superficial. Coyle finds Frank's intriguing edges, playing him as a cocky nice guy whose confidence is beaten out of him. As he becomes a shell of himself, we have quite a bit of sympathy with him. So it's a shame that we never really feel much chemistry between Frank and Flo.
Continue reading: Pusher Review
Jerome is a Premiership footballer living the dream life: a fancy car, loads of money and a hot girlfriend; not to mention the luxury flat he lives in and vast opportunities for his career. It's a world away from the council estate and the grotty life he grew up with as a child.
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The trailer for the fourth instalment from The Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise has arrived! Captain Jack Sparrow once again takes to the high seas in an adventure that's sure to be immensely entertaining. When a beautiful yet deadly woman from Jack's past appears once again, he's unsure of her intentions but once she forces him to join her on the ruthless Blackbeard's ship called Queen Anne's Revenge asking to find the infamous fountain of youth, he knows there's sure to be plenty of danger ahead. Not only that but the captain also finds himself in the much colder climates than he's used to when his quest takes him to London.
Nick (Hassan) is an ex-criminal trying go straight so he can care for his wheelchair-bound mum (Blethyn). But New York gangster Thigo (Jackson), in the grip of the economic crisis, is calling in his loans. Now Nick has 24 hours to come up with ú100,000, or Thigo's goon (Davis) will kill both Nick and his mother. Nick's pal Bing (Dyer) offers to help, and they embark on an odyssey of underground fight clubs, fixed track-betting and drug deals in increasing desperation to round up the cash.
Continue reading: Dead Man Running Review
First-time director Owen Harris boldly attempts a comedy even blacker than American Psycho or Filth...
After several high-profile grown-up movies (from Atonement to Anna Karenina), director Joe Wright aims this...
It's the mid 90's and the music scene in the UK is booming. Excess is...
Igor Strausman is the less thought about assistant of the insane but brilliant Victor Frankenstein....
This film may look sleek and urgent, but it never feels like anything more than...
Jerome is a Premiership footballer living the dream life: a fancy car, loads of money...
The trailer for the fourth instalment from The Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise has arrived!...
Yet another retread of the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, this London crime caper...
Vividly creepy atmospherics and a strong cast set this film apart, although it's ultimately let...