Solidly entertaining Christmas movies are so rare that when one comes along it feels like the best gift ever. Perhaps more horror filmmakers should turn their hand to family-friendly action comedies. This one is written and directed by Christopher Smith, the British filmmaker behind freak-outs like Severance and Triangle. But this movie is a pure joy, deploying a warped sense of humour that will have adults laughing a bit more than the kids, who will be caught up in a terrific wish-fulfilment adventure of their own.
In London, Steve (Rafe Spall) has just been released after two years in prison, and his first priority is to see his 10-year-old son Tom (Kit Connor), who lives with Steve's ex Alison (Jodie Whittaker) and her new husband. That same night, Tom finds a beardy man (Jim Broadbent) in the garage who claims to be Santa Claus and needs Steve's help. Steve is more than a little skeptical, but wants to spend time with Tom so heads off on a rescue mission that gets increasingly complicated with every passing moment. Mainly because Santa gets himself arrested while trying to liberate his reindeer after they were caught roaming around the city streets. Coincidentally housed in Steve's old prison, he gets some help from Steve's former fellow inmates (including Stephen Graham, Warwick Davis and Nonso Anozie), while Steve discovers that maybe something magical is going on after all
This may be one of those "find your childhood love of Christmas" movies, but Smith never pushes the sentimentality. Instead, he keeps the story moving with brisk momentum, piling on some hilariously deranged gags along with madcap action set-pieces that include chases, dress-up silliness and, yes, a prison break. The script is tight and funny, including the requisite poo and fart jokes, as well as some more sophisticated movie sight-gags and clever character detail. These people may be faintly ridiculous, but the actors dive in headlong and bring us with them.
Continue reading: Get Santa Review
'Twas nights before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring. until a loud crash was heard in the garage. Nine year-old Tom (Kit Connor) heads out into the darkness and snow to investigate, and to his surprise, he discovers non-other than Santa Claus (Jinn Broadbent), having crashed his sleigh and lost his reindeer. After attempting to recover them, Santa is arrested and sent to prison. Tom confronts his dad, Steve (Rafe Spall), and encourages him to help recover the reindeer, sleigh and then rescue Santa before 24th December, otherwise Christmas will be ruined. Hilarity ensues as the father/son team work against the clock in a desperate attempt to save Christmas for everyone.
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In a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly ice age has taken over the Earth, there are only a few survivors, all of whom have taken shelter in an enormous train propelled by perpetual motion. While the rich and powerful live in luxury at the front end of the locomotive, the poor have been forced to dwell at the tail with limited supplies by the dictatorial Minister Mason. During a routine deliverance of protein blocks, one tail inhabitant, Curtis, decides to round up a rebel army to invade the front, though no-one could have imagined the amount of bloodshed the ensuing revolt would trigger. In a bid to destroy the barbaric class hierarchy this new life has caused, Curtis plots a major act of disaster. It starts to look like the human race really will be the death of themselves.
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We may sigh heavily at the thought of yet another fairy tale blockbuster, but the filmmakers and cast here demand a bit more attention. And sure enough, it's refreshingly smarter and funnier than we expect. There are still the problems of unnecessary 3D and far too many digital characters, but the restless pace and the witty performances make it a lot of fun to watch.
It's Jack and the Beanstalk with added action mayhem, as orphaned farmboy Jack (Hoult) sells his horse for a bag of supposedly magic beans. When one inadvertently gets wet, a massive beanstalk manages to propel Princess Isabelle (Tomlinson) into the realm of the giants, reawakening a legend that had died off centuries ago. So the King (McShane) enlists Jack to join a rescue team of guards (including McGregor, Marsan and Bremner) and Isabelle's intended, the shifty Roderick (Tucci). Up above the clouds, they encounter two-headed giant Fallon (Nighy) and his nasty horde. But rescuing Isabelle is only the first problem they face.
The freewheeling plot zips along without pausing for breath, encompassing massive set pieces and more gritty battles as well as small moments of drama and romance. Meanwhile, Jack and Isabelle cast lusty glances at each other, even when they're in physical peril. Director Singer brings out the energy of the characters to keep us involved, playing on the vertiginous angles of the settings while playfully deploying fairy tale imagery in the sets, costumes and landscapes. it's understandably why he decided to digitally create the giants rather than have actors play them, but this leaves a hole where the monsters should be. Aside from Nighy's more obviously performance-captured face, all of them look like dead-eyed cartoons, which essentially turns the film into a medieval Transformers movie.
Continue reading: Jack the Giant Slayer Review
Even though Charles Dickens' oft-told story is livened up with a terrific cast and sharp script, it's difficult to see anything terribly new about this BBC-produced version. Especially since it comes less than a year after their previous lavish TV production. But there are plenty of elements in this film that make it worth seeing, as the soap-style plot twists and turns through comedy and romance to its action-thriller climax.
After growing up as an orphan with his blacksmith uncle (Flemyng) and high-strung aunt (Hawkins), Pip (Irvine) is given the chance to live as a London gentleman. He's sure that his anonymous benefactor is the barmy Miss Havisham (Bonham Carter), a broken-hearted hermit he worked for as a child. And since he's still in love with her adopted daughter Estella (Grainger), he decides to use his new position in society to court her. But things don't quite go as expected, and his life takes a surprising turn when scary prison escapee Magwitch (Fiennes) latches onto Pip and begins revealing some surprising connections between all of these people.
This faithful retelling of Dickens' novel is packed with coincidences and revelations, as well as the kind of gleefully thorny rivalries that would be expected on Dallas or Downton Abbey. Overloaded with blackly comical intrigue, it's a compulsively enjoyable film that entertains us on a variety of levels as the story develops. Although director Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) never tries anything too flashy. Which means that despite the high quality, the film is straightforward and perhaps unnecessary.
Continue reading: Great Expectations Review
Pip is a young orphan who has a chance meeting with a frightening stranger while visiting the graves of his parents; a meeting which was to be the catalyst a series of events that would shape his future. Not long after this experience, an unhinged, jilted spinster called Miss Havisham asks Uncle Pumblechook (the uncle of Pip's brother-in-law with whom he lives) to find a young boy to provide company for her adopted daughter Estella. When Pip is chosen, he becomes a regular visitor of Miss Havisham who manipulates him into falling for the pretty but cold-hearted Estella as he grows older. When he becomes a blacksmith's apprentice at his brother-in-law's shop, he is approached by a lawyer who informs him that he has been left a large sum of money by a mysterious benefactor and must journey to London to become a gentleman. Little does he know of the surprises that lay in store for him as he discovers that he has so many secrets to uncover.
This seminal coming-of-age story serves as one of the most influential pieces of English literature in history. Originally written by one of the greatest novelists of the 19th century Charles Dickens, 'Great Expectations' has been adapted to screen by director Mike Newell ('Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', 'Four Weddings and a Funeral') and screenwriter David Nicholls ('One Day', 'Starter for 10'). It is due to hit UK cinemas from November 30th 2012.
Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Grainger, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng, Sally Hawkins, Ewen Bremner, David Walliams, Jessie Cave, Ralph Ineson, Tamzin Outhwaite & Olly Alexander. .
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Jack is a young farmhand working for the King. One day, he comes across small bean-like objects, which are described as 'holy relics' from a faraway land. The relics, however, are full of dark magic and could change the world if placed in the wrong hands. Jack is entrusted with them, on the condition that he doesn't lose them or get them wet. Jack is puzzled but accepts the relics anyway.
That night, a terrible storm rages. Jack has left the bean shaped objects on a surface in his hut, where rain falls on them through a hole in the ceiling. At first, nothing happens; then Jack looks on in horror as a beanstalk grows from the ground under his hut. The beanstalk connects the human world to a world where giants roam.
Jack lands himself in trouble when a giant kidnaps the beautiful Princess Isabelle. The King sends some of his best men up the beanstalk with Jack to rescue Isabelle. Their rescue attempts are nearly in vain, though, when the giants wage war on the humans. It is up to Jack to save Isabelle and his kingdom.
Jack The Giant Killer is directed and produced by Bryan Singer, who is well known for directing the films The Usual Suspects; Superman Returns and the X-Men films. The film is based on the British fairy tale; the screenplay for the film was written by Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney.
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Warwick Davis, Bill Nighy, Eddie Marsan, Ian McShane, Ewen Bremner, John Kassir, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ralph Brown, Ben Daniels, Daniel Lapaine and David Frost
Director: Bryan Singer
Release Date: 15TH June 2012
Running Time: TBC
After years of marriage, Alfie and Helena are getting divorced, this is mainly due to Alfie's midlife crisis and lust for a much younger woman called Charmaine. Whilst Helena seeks guidance from a fortune teller her daughter is also facing troubles of her own. Sally works in an art gallery work whilst her husband stays at home hoping to write a novel that repeats the success of his first.