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
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?
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Winning first prize in a competition, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is sent to meet the CEO and creator of the company he works for. Arriving at the mysterious private home of the illusive Nathan (Oscar Isaac), Caleb believes that he may have a chance to relax and get to know the man that created the company, and possibly earn a promotion at some point in the future. What he soon realises, is that Nathan has organised this event in order for Caleb to serve as a test subject, used to monitor the progress on of the greatest achievement of mankind to date - a fully functioning AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). As Caleb realises what is going on, he steadily begins to learn about the meaning of being human, all through his interaction with what will soon be mankind's replacement.
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He's worked for the same company for years, and one day he is asked to work late. What his wife doesn't know, however, is that Jim Terrier (Sean Penn), is actually a hired assassin. When his late-night hit goes wrong, he is faced with a sense of morality over what he has done over the year, and how his future is going to be affected by the mistake. After facing his employers, he finds himself unable to leave the mess he created, and when he tries to expose his organisation, they kidnap his wife. Now, Terrier must fight against his employers for the safety of his family - let alone his own life.
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Sometimes, a competition can reward you with more than you bargained for. When a 24-year-old coder for the world’s largest investment company wins the chance to spend a week with the companies CEO, he has no idea what is in store for him. Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) travels into the middle of nowhere to find the retreat of CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), but he soon discovers that the contest has actually entered him into an insane experiment, rather than offering him a reward. Steadily, it is revealed that Nathan has actually developed the world’s first AI, and from there, the world will never be the same again.
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Hector (Simon Pegg) is a top psychiatrist who may appear to have everything one needs in life; a comfortable salary, his beautiful girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) and plenty of friends; but after spending day after day listening to people complain about being so unhappy, he's starting to lose faith in his own advice. Bored of his own routine life, he takes a break from counselling and decides to embark on a round the world trip to uncover the true meaning of happiness. Visiting foreign lands far and wide shows him just how different people's lives really are and far from learning whether or not happiness exists, he begins to discover a new way of thinking. His desperate partner is feeling less than joyful about his long absence, but will his return bring them a fresh dose of contentment? Or will he decide that happiness can't be found within his London home?
Jack Ryan is a young office worker at CIA headquarters whose life turns upside down when his cosy desk job turns into a major physical operation. He's been able to hide his dangerous career from his new wife Cathy for a couple of years, but now that someone is trying to kill him, things get a little trickier. He is enlisted to help thwart a major Russian terrorist plot that threatens the lives of millions of people in all the major cities of the world, but when he makes it to Moscow, he finds a very angry wife waiting for him. However, as things turn out, she has a crafty head on her herself and agrees to get involved with the operation as a diversion, but when her life is suddenly at risk, Jack has to decide where his priorities lie.
Based on the Tom Clancy book series which kicked off with 1984's 'The Hunt for Red October', Kenneth Branagh ('Thor', 'As You Like It', 'The Magic Flute') directs action thriller 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' - the fifth film in the movie series produced by Mace Neufeld ('The Aviator', 'Beverly Hills Cop III', 'Asylum'). David Koepp ('War of the Worlds', 'Angels & Demons', 'Jurassic Park') and Adam Cozad are screenwriters and it will be released in the UK on December 26th 2013.
Jack Ryan is a young CIA analyst who joined Intelligence hoping for a comfortable office job that he could easily cover up so that his wife Cathy, who he met three years ago, won't find out what he does for a living. However, things don't exactly go according to plan and he finds himself being targeted by an assassin while uncovering a frightening plot involving Russian terrorists launching a major terrorist strike at the main cities of the world in a bid to destroy the US economy. He is charged to go to Moscow to stop the conspiracy from going ahead but then finds he has other problems to deal with when his wife follows him and discovers the extent of his deception.
Martin and Claudia are two lawyers who were formerly in a relationship. They are roped into a case together on the defense team of an alleged terrorist, following a tragic bombing in a London market one morning in November. It may be a difficult job to being with, but things don't get any easier when they covertly discover that their client was actually assigned as an undercover spy for MI5 and was supposed to lead them to the bombers before the attack. They soon begin to realise that their every move is being closely watched, and with threats on their life by some powerful people following their investigations and risky suggestions in court, they must escape the controlling force that is the government before they are eradicated - though it could be too late.
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