Don Murphy

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Transformers: Age of Extinction Review


With each film in the Transformer saga, Michael Bay makes it clear that all he's interested in are massive metallic special effects bashing into each other and usually exploding. Because otherwise this is a vacuous thriller without any characters to speak of, no sense of plot coherence and an appallingly simplistic sense of geography. There's plenty in this franchise to enjoy (just watch the original 2007 film again), but Bay takes everything so seriously that only die-hard fans will have any fun this time.

The story picks up five years after the cataclysmic Transformers' battle in Chicago, as Texas inventor and overprotective single dad Cade (Mark Wahlberg) builds gadgets in his rural barn, oblivious to the fact that his 17-year-old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) is secretly seeing 20-year-old Shane (Jack Reynor). Luckily, Shane is a race driver, so he's handy to have around when black ops agents commanded by shadowy CIA director Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) raid Cade's farm looking for an old truck that turns out to actually be Optimus Prime in hiding. This sparks a return to Chicago for more mayhem, followed by a hop to Beijing and Hong Kong, where Optimus Prime and a handful of remaining good-guy Autobots take on the villainous Lockdown. Helped of course by Cade, Tessa and Shane, plus billionaire inventor Joshua (Stanley Tucci).

The new gimmick this time is dinosaurs, building on a prologue showing the real reason they went extinct. This comes back in the climactic battle in the form of Dinobots, ancient Transformers that will have fanboys squirming in their seats with joy while everyone else yawns and looks at their watches, astounded that Bay has somehow managed to stretch this paper-thin story out over nearly three hours of metal-on-metal chaos. As in the earlier films, the action is quite literally cartoonish, purely animated mayhem that's not easy to decipher. At least the humans help keep it vaguely approachable, as they provide running commentary in their dialogue and bounce through the air like plastic action figures who never get hurt.

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New York premiere of 'Transformers: Age Of Extinction'

Don Murphy and Susan Montford - New York premiere of 'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' at the Ziegfeld Theatre - New York City, New York, United States - Wednesday 25th June 2014

Don Murphy

Real Steel Review

Undemanding audiences will love this rousing father-son tale of redemption set amid the cacophonous crashing of boxing robots. But the script is seriously contrived, and the movie is directed without even an inkling of subtlety.

In the near future, Charlie (Jackman) is an ex-boxer who now controls massive robots that have taken over the sport. A stubborn failure buried in debt, he has no interest in his 11-year-old son Max (Goyo), whose mother has just died, but agrees to care for him until his rich aunt and uncle (Davis and Rebhorn) return from holiday. But Max is far more savvy with robots than his dad. And with the help of Dad's lovelorn pal Bailey (Lilly), Max defies Charlie's expectations with his scrapheap robot Atom.

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Picture - Producer Don Murphy (R) and... London, England, Wednesday 14th September 2011

Don Murphy and Empire Leicester Square - Producer Don Murphy (R) and guest London, England - Real Steel - UK film premiere held at the Empire Leicester Square - Arrivals. Wednesday 14th September 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

With his usual disregard for story logic, Bay plunges us into another deafening metal-against-metal smackdown. Fortunately, this film is a lot more entertaining than Part 2, because it has a more linear plot. And it looks absolutely amazing.

With everything back to normal, Sam (LaBeouf) needs a job to impress his impossibly hot new girlfriend Carly (Huntington-Whiteley). Then strange things start happening around him. Again. And soon he realises that the Decepticons are back to wage war against the Autobot-human alliance. But he has to convince an arrogant government official (McDormand) to let him get involved with his old team (Duhamel, Gibson, Turturro and their Autobot buddies). All of this has something to do with a secret weapon that crashed onto the dark side of the moon in 1961, sparking the space race.

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Tranformers: Revenge of The Fallen Review

Michael Bay makes his loudest, most bombastic movie yet (which is saying a lot) with a bloated action sequel so packed with special effects that it's virtually a cartoon. The humans barely register on screen, but it does look pretty cool.

Two years after teenaged Sam (LaBeouf) helped the alien Autobots fight off the evil Decepticons, he's ready to leave for university and start a long-distance relationship with his hot girlfriend Mikaela (Fox). But the Fallen, the deposed Decepticon leader, has other plans. And since Sam is the key to reviving their destructive plan, he's sucked back into the chaos along with Mikaela, his parents (Dunn and White), his new roommate (Rodriguez) and ex-agent Simmons (Turturro). They suddenly find themselves in Egypt, where a massive battle's about to begin.

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Shoot 'Em Up Review

Presenting the recipe for a Shoot 'Em Up cocktail: Mix together a shot each of John Woo, Chuck Jones, and Run Lola Run, a dash of Sergio Leone and the Coen Brothers, add a twist of John Cassavetes' Gloria, shake vigorously and pour.

Michael Davis' Shoot 'Em Up is a giddy, deranged, pumped-up theme park ride in Bullet Land where the bullets fly like rain, bodies drop like hail, and carrots are used as lethal weapons.

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Bully Review

Larry Clark -- who wrote and directed his first film, Kids, at the tender age of 52 and in the process, broke the mold about what we should expect from a movie about teenagers -- returns to familiar ground in Bully, a striking and harrowing follow-up.

A slam-dunk natural subject for Clark, Bully follows the based-on-reality story of Marty Puccio (Brad Renfro), who along with his girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner) decides to brutally slay his "best friend" Bobby (Nick Stahl) as payback for a lifetime of abuse. Set in the ultra-trashy nether regions of southern Florida -- and I mean seriously, beyond-WWF trashy -- there's little to do but drive your car, play video games, have sex, and beat the crap out of your friends.

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Permanent Midnight Review

Well, there's nothing like missing a fad by a few years to show how really behind the curve you are. Permanent Midnight, the new film about the rise and fall... well, mostly the fall... of TV writer Jerry Stahl should prove to be the final nail in the short-lived, and now painful-to-watch, genre: the drug movie.

Perhaps best known as the chief influence behind the TV show ALF, Midnightis a simplistic retelling of Stahl's tell-all autobiography. Ben Stiller, the only remotely passable part of this film, plays Stahl with gusto, but twenty minutes of Stiller going berserk as a strung-out junkie are more than enough.

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From Hell Review

Jack the Ripper remains one of the most enigmatic, heavily-studied serial killers in history. He was brutal, he was clever, he was also never apprehended... or was he? The directing brothers Allen and Albert Hughes take a substantial departure from earlier material like Menace II Society and Dead Presidents with From Hell, a kooky interpretation of the Jack the Ripper case and its associated conspiracy theories.

Based on a series of comic books, From Hell actually focuses on an investigator named Abberline (Johnny Depp), who works the lower-class Whitechapel district of London in 1888. Abberline, in keeping with the presumably sacred rule that any character Depp embodies must be a nutjob, is a Laudanum addict, drinks Absinthe, and has bizarre visions in his sleep that portend Jack's next victim. If only he'd been born a century later, he could have had his own 1-900 number.

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Natural Born Killers Review

Violence got the star treatment in the early '90s. With much of America feeling powerless to stem the crime and gang culture that seemed to be on the rise, we began to react to the ocean of carnage that dominated popular culture. Congress held hearings about violence on television, the finishing moves in Mortal Kombat, and Body Count's otherwise obscure gangsta-metal single "Cop Killer." For a while, blaming the pervasiveness of fake violence for real-world murder and assaults came to be as fashionable as flannel shirts and ripped jeans.

And yet, America kept consuming it. Snoop Dogg sold millions of CDs, video games amped up the gore, and children could quote the grisly details of the O.J. Simpson murder trial as if it were written by Dr. Seuss.

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Review

If anything, what The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (aka LXG) does best is give us an original concept for action heroes: a group of characters picked from famous literary works united to fight a common enemy. Though it bears a resemblance to X-Men, LXG sounds great, but falls far short. The film, based on Alan Moore's graphic novels, is just a bunch of mindless shootouts and half-baked special effects with little, if any, time spent on the unique individuals at the heart of the action.

In LXG the film, a madman named "The Phantom" is bent on turning the nations of the world against each other in one gigantic World War. It's up to the British government to thwart his plan, and they have assembled a handsome crew to get the job done. Leading the group is aging adventure seeker Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) with underlings The Invisible Man (Tony Curran), vampiress Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), Dr. Jekyll and alter ego Hyde (Jason Flemyng), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), and Tom Sawyer (Shane West). Once all the introductions are done, the group heads to Venice to protect the world's leaders from the Phantom's attack during a peace conference.

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Apt Pupil Review

Controversy shrouded the production of Apt Pupil for years. In fact, the setting of the film subtly belies its age: It's set in 1984, for no readily apparent reason other than that was contemporary when it was written. Given its subject matter -- star student becomes obsessed with the Nazi down the street -- a little controversy is expected. McKellan is pretty far over the top in his role as a member of the Hitler Silver club, and the story doesn't completely gel. The dynamic between he and Renfro is fun -- probably the best part of the film. It's a fairly good rental, but little more than that.
Don Murphy

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