Duncan Henderson

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Oblivion Review


Very Good

With elements lifted from virtually every sci-fi classic in film history, this post-apocalyptic adventure feels eerily familiar but features just enough plot twists and emotional resonance to make it enjoyable. Director Kozinski (Tron Legacy) also makes sure it looks amazing, with cool-looking sets and gadgets and an entertaining use of destroyed New York and Washington landmarks.

It also gives Cruise a slightly more internalised character than he usually plays in big blockbusters. He's Jack, a repairman 60 years after aliens blasted the moon to bits, causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Now it's 2077 and the remnant of humanity is being evacuated to Saturn's moon Titan, while mop-up teams help protect giant resource-gathering machines from alien scavengers. Jack works Sector 49 with his partner Victoria (Riseborough), but has vivid, impossible dreams of a life on pre-war Earth with a mysterious woman (Kurylenko). When she suddenly turns up in an ancient spacepod, and Jack discovers a scrappy group of human survivors led by Beech (Freeman), he begins to wonder what's really happening here.

And so do we, since we have begun doubting the entire set-up from Jack's opening narration. Mission commander Sally (Leo) looks very shifty indeed, and there's something vaguely fishy about all of the sleek glass, steel and plastic technology. As Jack's gleaming white leather outfit becomes increasingly murky, so does his simplistic view of his own life. And Cruise holds the film together nicely with an introspective turn as a man who's just enigmatic enough to engage our interest. Riseborough and Kurylenko, meanwhile, get much juicier roles, providing strongly emotional layers to the story. And Freeman and Leo add a bit of class.

Continue reading: Oblivion Review

Battleship Review


Very Good
You'd have to go back to 1998's Armageddon to find another film that so adeptly combines whopping apocalyptic action and corny save-the-planet heroics. Even if this feels like low-rent Michael Bay, it's a definitive popcorn blockbuster: a dumb movie that keeps us blissfully entertained.

Alex (Kitsch) is a smart guy who has wasted his life so, after getting in trouble while impressing a hot girl (Decker), his Naval-officer brother (Skarsgard) drafts him into service. Later on a Pacific Rim war-game exercise, Alex ends up in charge of the only ship nearby after aliens invade earth and put a force-field around Hawaii. Working with his plucky crew (including Rihanna, Asano, Tui and Plemons), Alex must figure out how to out-wit these Transformer-like killers. By the way, the hot girl turns out to be the daughter of the admiral (Neeson).

Continue reading: Battleship Review

The Way Back Review


Very Good
Based on real events that are outrageously inspiring, this epic-style movie is packed with emotion and adventure, although it also feels a little overlong and meandering, mainly due to the narrative itself.

In 1939 Poland, Janusz (Sturgess) is charged by the Soviets with spying and sent to a Siberian gulag. In the middle of the bitter winter, he and six other prisoners manage to escape: veteran American (Harris), hothead Russian criminal (Farrell), helpful comic (Bucur), artist (Potodean), nice-guy Latvian (Skarsgard) and night-blind youngster (Urzendowsky). The first 300 miles to Lake Baikal almost kills them, but they've only just begun the 4,000-mile trek to freedom in India. And they've also picked up a young Polish girl (Ronan).

Continue reading: The Way Back Review

Poseidon Review


OK

34 years ago, The Poseidon Adventure rode the trendy disaster meme of its day to stellar box office and numerous Oscar nominations. Today, Poseidon sits poised to ride the current effects meme to similar financial reward and perhaps some technical nods to boot. What it probably won't see is acclaim for its dialogue, story, or characters, but those laurels largely eluded its predecessor as well.

As with its forerunner, Poseidon opens with an introduction to its namesake, a massive luxury liner, and its passengers, which in this installment include an ex-mayor/firefighter (Kurt Russell), his daughter (Emmy Rossum), her beloved (Mike Vogel), a gambler (Josh Lucas), a jilted lover (Richard Dreyfuss), a stowaway (Mía Maestro), an inevitably hot single mom (Jacinda Barrett), her inevitably adorable tyke (Jimmy Bennett), and a waiter (a completely wasted Freddy Rodríguez). If you think reading a list of these stereotypes is tiresome, watching them establish their personas is more so.

Continue reading: Poseidon Review

Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World Review


Essential
After viewing the trailer for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you might think the film is out of place for its November release. After all, giant epics like this fuel special-effects-thirsty summer moviegoers. Fall is usually reserved for smaller, higher quality films commanding the attention of Oscar voters. 20th Century Fox had originally scheduled Master and Commander for a June release - that is, (I'm sure) until they realized what an extraordinary and award-worthy film they had.

Master and Commander is based on Patrick O'Brian's series of novels called Aubrey/Maturin about the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The film takes place in 1805, when the French rule the high seas. An English vessel, the HMS Surprise, roams the same oceans looking to carry out the official order of intercepting any French ship they encounter. The captain of the Surprise, Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), refuses to accept defeat at the hands of the French and is willing to carry out his assignment at any cost.

Continue reading: Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World Review

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Duncan Henderson Movies

Oblivion Movie Review

Oblivion Movie Review

With elements lifted from virtually every sci-fi classic in film history, this post-apocalyptic adventure feels...

Battleship Movie Review

Battleship Movie Review

You'd have to go back to 1998's Armageddon to find another film that so adeptly...

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The Way Back Movie Review

The Way Back Movie Review

Based on real events that are outrageously inspiring, this epic-style movie is packed with emotion...

Poseidon Movie Review

Poseidon Movie Review

34 years ago, The Poseidon Adventure rode the trendy disaster meme of its day to...

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Movie Review

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Movie Review

After viewing the trailer for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you...

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