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Cinderella Review


Excellent

The thing that makes this Disney live-action remake so wonderful is the same thing that might put off some audience members: it's a pure fairy tale. This time, the studio has resisted the snarky, post-modern spin that threatened to turn previous live-action remakes (Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent) into pointless Lord of the Rings-style action epics. Instead, this is a genuinely beautiful, surgingly romantic, exquisitely made fantasy.

With only a few minor tweaks, this is the classic story of Ella (Lily James), whose widowed father (Ben Chaplin) marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett). She arrives with her two spoiled daughters Drizella and Anastasia (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger), and when she is also widowed, Ella ends up running the household just to keep things from falling apart. But Lady Tremaine and her daughters taunt her with the nickname "Cinderella" and treat her like a slave, refusing to let her attend the ball thrown by the Crown Prince (Richard Madden). He had met Ella before, and is hoping to see her at the ball, but she only gets a chance to go when her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) turns up with some magic to make that happen. And after dancing with the Prince all night, her sudden disappearance sends him on a desperate quest involving a single glass slipper.

To spice things up, screenwriter Chris Weitz has included a conspiratorial sideplot in which the increasingly wicked stepmother plots with a royal advisor (Stellan Skarsgard) to thwart the Prince's wishes. But otherwise, the film hews closely to both Charles Perrault's 1697 folktale and Disney's 1950 animated classic. This includes lavish sets and costumes that continually take the breath away, giving the characters the same silhouettes as their cartoon counterparts. And within this extravagant design work, the actors are able to create surprisingly textured characters. James' Ella isn't a simple farm girl in need of a man. Madden's Prince is looking for real love. And Blanchett's riveting Lady Tremaine is eerily sympathetic even in her darkest moments.

Continue reading: Cinderella Review

Frank Review


Excellent

While this comedy-drama is sometimes wilfully absurd, it's also exhilarating cinema, telling its story with conflicting amounts of warm emotion and prickly abrasiveness. Irish filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did) is known for keeping his audience on its toes, shifting moods and navigating sharp plot turns. And while it takes a while to get into the rhythms of this movie, it ultimately wins us over entirely.

Loosely based on the true story of English musician Chris Sievey (aka Frank Sidebottom), the film centres on the art-punk band Soronprfbs, which is fronted by Frank (Michael Fassbender), who wears a gigantic papier-mache head both on and off stage. While touring in Britain, he recruits the nerdy aspiring musician Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) to join the band for a gig in Ireland and then stick around to write and record the next album. This means that Jon must figure out how to relate to the bandmates, all of whom seem to have serious issues. Frank's girlfriend is the freaky noisemaker Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and there's also hapless manager Don (Scoot McNairy) and opinionated but aloof musicians Baraque and Nana (Francois Civil and Carla Azar).

Abrahamson lets the film play out in the same utterly bonkers style as Soronprfbs' chaotic songs: veering from subtle harmony to soaring emotion to pure chaos. And through it all there's a remarkably resonant centre as we take this journey alongside Jon, who is played by Gleeson like the obnoxious little brother we can't help but love. Meanwhile, Fassbender delivers a remarkably soulful performance from within that big head, using his voice and body to add layers of intriguing depth. And Gyllenhaal continually surprises by undermining her intensely scary character with unexpected expressions of raw feeling.

Continue reading: Frank Review

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review


OK

There's nothing very original in this spy thriller, but director Branagh gives the film a weighty sense of importance that at least makes it feel important. He can't make up for the flimsy plot or cliched characters, but he can coax shaded performances from the cast to grab our interest. And while the action is never as coherent as a Bourne movie, it at least has a sense of gravitas about it.

For yet another reboot of the Tom Clancy franchise, we go back earlier to follow Jack Ryan (Pine) as he is inspired by the 9/11 attacks to leave his financial studies and join the Marines. Shot down over Afghanistan, he undergoes a gruelling recovery and is recruited by CIA operative Harper (Costner) to work undercover on Wall Street, monitoring terrorist fund movements. A decade later his girlfriend Catherine (Knightley) has no idea what his real job is, so when she surprises him on a business trip to Moscow she ends up in the middle of an operation to investigate shady Russian businessman Cherevin (Branagh), who's behind some sort of imminent global attack.

The film's brisk pace focusses on Jack's motivations all the way through, so we understand his earnest desire to serve his country. Although we can't quite figure out how he developed all these he-man skills working behind a desk in a bank. Not only is he adept at firearms and hand-to-hand combat, but he can ride a motorcycle like a stuntman! Fortunately, Pine's everyman persona makes him easy to identify with and bodes well for future franchise instalments. Opposite him, Costner is marvellously lean and cool, Branagh has terrific lip-less menace and Knightley does her best in the standard underdeveloped female role.

Continue reading: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review

European Premiere Of 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'

David Barron - European premiere of 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' held at the Vue Leicester Square - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Sunday 19th January 2014

David Barron
David Barron
David Barron

Downton Abbey Actress Lily James Takes Cinderella Role


Lily James Cinderella Cate Blanchett Chris Weitz Kenneth Branagh David Barron Simon Kinberg Emma Watson Saoirse Ronan Gabriella Wilde

Lily James will play 'Cinderella'.

The 'Downton Abbey' star is set to portray the iconic princess in Disney's live action adaptation of the traditional fairytale, joining the lines of Cate Blanchett as the princess' evil stepmother.

The film - penned by Chris Weitz and pitched by Aline Brosh - will be helmed by 'Thor' director Kenneth Branagh, who is to be joined by 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' producer Allison Shearmur, 'Jack Ryan' producer David Barron and Simon Kinberg.

Continue reading: Downton Abbey Actress Lily James Takes Cinderella Role

Keira Knightley To Star In Jack Ryan


Keira Knightley Alec Baldwin Ben Affleck Chris Pine David Barron Evangeline Lilly Felicity Jones Harrison Ford Jack Ryan Kenneth Branagh Lorenzo di Bonaventura Mace Neufeld Paramount Pictures Star Trek Steve Carell Tom Clancy

Keira Knightley is in talks to star in 'Jack Ryan'.

The 27-year-old actress will reportedly play the lead female role opposite 'Star Trek' actor Chris Pine in Sir Kenneth Branagh's new chapter of the popular thriller franchise, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

'Lost' actress Evangeline Lilly and 'Like Crazy''s Felicity Jones were auditioned for the part before Kenneth approached Keira, who Paramount had initially considered.

Continue reading: Keira Knightley To Star In Jack Ryan

The Worldwide Grand Opening Event For The

Alfonso Cuaron, David Barron, David Yates and Mike Newell - Alfonso Cuaron, David Yates, Mike Newell, David Barron Saturday 31st March 2012 The worldwide Grand Opening event for the

Alfonso Cuaron, David Barron, David Yates and Mike Newell
Alfonso Cuaron, Bonnie Wright, David Barron, David Heyman, David Yates, Evanna Lynch, Mike Newell, Rupert Grint and Tom Felton
Alfonso Cuaron, David Yates, Evanna Lynch and Mike Newell
Alfonso Cuaron
Alfonso Cuaron

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Review


Excellent

The eight-part saga comes to a close with an action-packed finale that neatly ties up the strands of the whole series and also manages to give its actors some meaty scenes to play with. While it's hugely satisfying, there's also a letdown as we reach the end.

With Voldemort (Fiennes) in possession of the mythical Elder Wand, and four Horcruxes still at large, Harry (Radcliffe) and pals Hermione and Ron (Watson and Grint) know that they have work to do. Breaking into a Gringotts vault is tough enough, but when they sneak back into Hogwarts, they find themselves in all-out war against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. So with the help of adults (Smith, Walters and more) and fellow students (including Lewis, Wright and Lynch), they make their final stand.

After a sort of "Previously on Harry Potter" prologue and a quietly intense opening, the film plunges into the Gringotts heist and barely pauses for breath. Director Yates adeptly juggles action and drama, keeping images razor sharp and making sure the effects work is seamlessly eye-catching (they're also the most consistently high-quality effects in the series). But of course Lord of the Rings-scale spectacle is nothing without great characters, and this film pushes everyone into new territory.

Radcliffe takes on the challenge extremely well, bringing Harry's self-doubt and crippling guilt together with a potent sense of destiny and sacrifice. Of the supporting cast, Rickman, Smith and Gambon get the weightiest scenes, while Lewis and Walters finally have superb moments in the spotlight. And Bonham Carter clearly has a ball with a terrific scene as a shape-shifted Hermione.
Meanwhile, that outrageously starry ensemble fills out each scene, including many who barely utter a word.

As the story propels to the climactic moments, there are a few fits and starts while events recoil and wait to burst forth again. Even though this is the shortest of all eight movies, it feels a little long due to its intensely focussed plot. This means every moment on screen is vitally important, and most are given the chance to play out without feeling rushed. But it also means that, as the ending (and epilogue) get closer, we simply don't want it to end.

New York Premiere Of 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2' At Avery Fisher Hall - Arrivals

David Barron - David Barron, New York City, USA - New York premiere of 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2' at Avery Fisher Hall - Arrivals Monday 11th July 2011

David Barron
David Barron

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - World Film Premiere Held On Trafalgar Square - Arrivals.

David Barron - David Barron, London, England - Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - world film premiere held on Trafalgar Square - Arrivals. Thursday 7th July 2011

David Barron

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review


Excellent

Cranking up the action and emotion, JK Rowling's Harry Potter saga moves into the first half of its extended grand finale. It's a relatively harrowing film punctuated by real violence, and it cleverly starts weaving together both the plot and the relationships.

After the tragic events of the previous school year, Harry (Radcliffe) and his pals Ron and Hermoine (Grint and Watson) know that they can't go back to normal. Instead, they're on the run from Voldemort (Fiennes) and his fearsome Death Eaters. They also have an overwhelming task: collecting the horcruxes that Voldemort has hidden to ensure his immortality. But where to look? And when they find one, how do they destroy it? Then a rebel journalist (Ifans) tells them the story of the Deathly Hallows, which makes their quest even more urgent.

The plot has a very different structure, as our three heroes are propelled by startling events into increasingly uncertain situations. Persistently chased by the bad guys and unable to trust anyone, they are profoundly alone and constantly in danger. We strongly feel their lonely desperation all the way through the film, so when another nasty thing happens to push them further along, it's genuinely unsettling.

Although it feels far too long, Yates and Kloves thankfully mix the dark drama with lighter comedy, allowing the characters to grow organically. Over seven films the story has grown increasingly gloomy but, despite the relentless anxiety, this chapter has an insistent pace, which is helpful since pretty nightmarish things are happening. There's also some subtext in the political storyline, as the villains seize control first of the media and then the government.

By now, the three central actors have settled solidly into their roles, adding subtle edges in every scene. Intriguingly, Grint has emerged as the most complex performer, but all three are excellent. And the who's who of British acting talent around them is fantastic. Stand-outs this time are Nighy (as a slippery politician), Isaacs (as a disgraced baddie) and Mullan (as a vicious security guy). But several others get a chance to shine as well, and of course there's a lot more action to come in Part 2.

The Premiere Of 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 1' At Alice Tully Hall - Arrivals

David Barron and Harry Potter Monday 15th November 2010 The premiere of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1' at Alice Tully Hall - Arrivals New York City, USA

David Barron and Harry Potter

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review


Good
Darker and a whole lot drearier, this sixth Harry Potter adventure centres on a slow-developing mystery, and the filmmakers clearly struggle to give it much pace. It's well-made and watchable, but feels like an intake of breath before the frantic finale.

After the horrific conclusion of their fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Radcliffe) has a solitary summer before being drafted by headmaster Dumbledore (Gambon) into the ongoing war between the wizarding forces of light and darkness. And as year six starts, Dumbledore assigns Harry to get some important information from new potions professor Slughorn (Broadbent) about the Dark Lord's background. He of course does this with the help of pals Ron and Hermione (Grint and Watson), who with Harry are also caught up in conflict more typical for 17-year-olds: raging hormones.

Continue reading: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Review

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix Review


OK

It's gotten to the point where the quality of the films don't really matter: Now I feel like I'm committed to the whole Harry Potter series. I've reviewed the first five now, so by golly, I'm going to stick it out and finish the lot... even though I still can't bring myself to read any of the books. As always, consider yourself warned that I don't know the intricate backstory developed over thousands of pages in J.K. Rowling's writing. And really, I'm happy to keep it that way.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix continues in the tradition of following another year at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry, where Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has faced nothing but grueling struggle after grueling struggle. His most recent year (Goblet of Fire) saw a friend get killed by his nemesis, the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who's gaining more power every day and giving Harry severe nightmares. With few exceptions, his friends have largely abandoned him, and the new term comes with even more headaches in the form of Dolores Umbridge (the perfect Imelda Staunton), sent from the Ministry of Magic to teach the defense from the dark arts class and eventually taking over the school as an iron-fisted, fun-crushing bureaucrat.

After much pottering about (ha ha!), the film finally finds its groove as Umbridge goes too far, refusing to teach magic in the classroom, instead preferring to rely on theoretical knowledge so the students can pass their year-end standardized tests. With Voldemort approaching (this guy is always just around the corner), Harry becomes more nervous that he will be unable to defend himself, finally recruiting a handful of students to his cause to teach them what he knows about magical combat. Together they prepare for the day when they know they'll have to use those skills. (In case you haven't seen any of the first four movies, rest assured it isn't far off: This end-of-movie showdown between Harry and the forces of evil has almost become a cliché that pans out every single time.)

Continue reading: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix Review

Othello Review


Grim
Seldomly have I been so outright disappointed by a film. Othello's problems are numerous, and given the outstanding cast put together for the film (and an admitted masterpiece to work with), it's amazing that this film comes off as being so downright bad.

The story's been around for 400 years. Othello (Lawrence Fishburne) is a Moorish general in the Italian army, and he is the victim of constant prejudice. Desdemona (Irene Jacob) is his Italian lover, and when the pair secretly marry, Othello finds himself the victim of a fiendish plot by his servant Iago (Kenneth Branagh). Iago's motives are also magnified by the presence of young Cassio (Nathaniel Parker), who serves as Othello's right-hand man despite Iago's longer term of service.

Continue reading: Othello Review

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'Green Room' Tops Our List Of 2016's Most Exciting Horrors

'Green Room' Tops Our List Of 2016's Most Exciting Horrors

It joins '10 Cloverfield Lane' and the upcoming ghost story 'The Conjuring 2'.

David Barron Movies

Cinderella Movie Review

Cinderella Movie Review

The thing that makes this Disney live-action remake so wonderful is the same thing that...

Frank Movie Review

Frank Movie Review

While this comedy-drama is sometimes wilfully absurd, it's also exhilarating cinema, telling its story with...

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Movie Review

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Movie Review

There's nothing very original in this spy thriller, but director Branagh gives the film a...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Movie Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Movie Review

The eight-part saga comes to a close with an action-packed finale that neatly ties up...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Movie Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Movie Review

Cranking up the action and emotion, JK Rowling's Harry Potter saga moves into the first...

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Movie Review

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Movie Review

It's gotten to the point where the quality of the films don't really matter: Now...

Love's Labour's Lost Movie Review

Love's Labour's Lost Movie Review

Film musicals are a tough sell these days. It's either the annual Disney animation...

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