A classic British memoir gets the full costume drama treatment with this beautifully crafted World War I drama, although it never quite transcends the "beloved book" tone, remaining so worthy that it only rarely springs to life. The acting is sharp, as is the filmmaking, so it's frustrating that there's so little in the film that resonates with present-day audiences. And as the story sinks into a murky gloom, it's difficult for audiences to stay engaged.
Based on Vera Brittain's iconic memoir, the story opens in 1914, as Vera (Alicia Vikander) begs her parents (Emily Watson and Dominic West) to let her sit entrance exams at Oxford, which simply isn't the done thing for a proper young woman. She also has to convince them to let her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) sign up for military service in response to the conflict breaking out in Europe. But Vera is shocked when her sweetheart Roland (Kit Harington) also decides to enlist along with two close friends (Colin Morgan and Jonathan Bailey). Suddenly the war seems far too close to home for her. So she's provoked to leave university and volunteer as a nurse, serving in both England and France while the war rages around her.
The film's opening section contains a beautiful spark of hopefulness as these young people face the possibilities ahead of them, revelling in their education and then deciding to do their duty for their country. The rising-star cast packs the characters with cheeky humour, high energy and, yes, suitably repressed Britishness. But of course the realities of WWI change everything. Vikander handles this mood-swing very nicely, conveying Vera's resilience as she is bombarded with intense emotions. Her chemistry with Harington is strong, packed with passion. And the surrounding cast is terrific, even if most of the roles are relatively slight. The stand-outs are Richardson as a prickly Oxford professor and Atwell as a feisty fellow nurse.
Continue reading: Testament of Youth Review
It's difficult not to go into a movie like this with a sense of dread, as the beloved children's book becomes a live-action movie with a digitally animated, eerily realistic-looking bear. Thankfully, the task of filmmaking was given to the inventive Paul King (of Mighty Boosh fame), who made the charmingly surreal 2009 comedy Bunny and the Bull and brings a refreshingly unexpected comical sensibility to liven up this film's family-friendly formula.
It starts in darkest Peru, where a young bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has been raised by his aunt and uncle (Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon), who learned about London from a British explorer. Now in need of a new home, the youngster heads across the sea and takes the name of Paddington Station when he meets the Brown family: over-cautious dad (Hugh Bonneville), over-curious mum (Sally Hawkins), sulking teen Judy (Madeleine Harris), inventive pre-teen Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and feisty relative Mrs Bird (Julie Walters). As they help him find the explorer, he has a series of adventures, unaware that the taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) is on his trail, determined to add him to the species on exhibition at the Natural History Museum.
This Cruella De Vil-style subplot would be seriously annoying if King ever let it take over the movie, but it always remains secondary to Paddington's mayhem-causing behaviour and his bonding with the Browns. It also provides some genuine tension in a climactic action sequence in the museum. But most of the film is dedicated to Paddington's comically ridiculous antics, and Whishaw voices him with just the right mixture of curiosity and hapless mischief to make him irresistible.
Continue reading: Paddington Review
David Heyman - Photographs of a variety of stars as they took to the red carpet for the world premiere of 'Paddington' which was held at the Odeon cinema in London, United Kingdom - Sunday 23rd November 2014
It wasn't all about the onscreen stars at the 2014 National Board Of Review Awards Gala in New York; a few highly respected directors and producers also showed their faces at the event including 'Gravity' producer David Heyman and 'Her' director Spike Jonze.
Harry Potter producer set to work on the 'Temple Run' project.
It’s easy to see how games like Bioshock and Deus Ex end up in the news for possible film adaptions, but it’s more difficult to imagine Temple Run – a game that literally involves running and turning – translating successfully from the realm of handheld gaming to the silver screen.
A Temple Run film could be on the way...
But it looks like we won’t need to imagine it, as the popular iPhone/Android game is set to follow Angry Birds into the movie business. In many ways, it’s not really going to be a Temple Run film, per-say, rather an Indiana Jones-style adventure film using the Temple Run franchise to give it a boost from fans of the franchise.
Continue reading: 'Temple Run' Following Angry Birds on the Mobile Game-to-Film Journey?
More like a 91-minute thrill-ride than an astronaut adventure movie, this tour de force throws us out into space without a safety line then thrills us with a series of near misses that take our breath away. Along the way, Sandra Bullock gets to deliver one of her best-ever performances while filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron wows us with his seamless technical wizardry. So even if the plot feels naggingly implausible, we hang on for dear life.
It begins during a Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope with the cheeky team leader Kowalski (Clooney) and nervous rookie Dr Stone (Bullock). Then after the Russians destroy a distant satellite, the field of debris gathers momentum and knocks out communications before sweeping Kowalski and Stone away from the shuttle and the rest of the crew. Tethered together, they decide to make their way to the International Space Station for help. But they only have 90 minutes before they intersect with the debris storm again. And both power and oxygen are running out.
Earth looks so beautiful floating just below them that we are continually taken aback by the fact that this is essentially a horror movie set in the silent weightlessness of space. Every sequence is carefully staged to ratchet up the suspense, which sometimes begins to feel a little overwrought as it continually comes down to another last-gasp moment. But Bullock plays this especially well, letting us identify with her panic and tenacity. By contrast, Clooney is sarcastic and comical, cheering her up with ridiculous anecdotes as he tries to spark her survival instinct.
Continue reading: Gravity Review