For a low-budget kids' movie, this British science-fiction adventure has an unusually sharp cast, decent effects and an energetic pace that helps to distract from the rather flimsy premise. So even if the story never quite builds a solid head of momentum, it holds the attention due to a dark-edged tone and some entertaining action sequences that give the terrific young actors a chance to shine.
It's set three years after robots invaded Earth, won the war in 11 days and locked all humans in their homes, using human collaborators to enforce this rule. In a seaside English town, the head collaborator is Smythe (Ben Kingsley), who spends much of his time pursuing hot single mother Kate (Gillian Anderson) and tormenting her teenage son Sean (Callan McAuliffe). Kate has taken in three orphaned kids: teen siblings Alexandra and Nathan (Ella Hunt and James Tarpey) and 10-year-old Connor (Milo Parker). And together these four young people figure out a way to short circuit their monitoring implants so they can leave their home. Sean is sure that his father (Steven Mackintosh) didn't die in the war, so he enlists the other three to help find him. And their search gets a boost when they stumble across a group of anarchic rebel veterans living the wild life in an abandoned hotel.
This partying hideout is a nicely raucous touch, even if its pungent innuendo essentially rules young children out of the audience. But this kind of blackly comical touch is more than welcome in a movie that's otherwise rather childish and earnest. Another nice touch is how the human collaborators are called the Volunteer Corps and identify themselves with Nazi-style armbands. And the robots' human-shaped mediator (Craig Garner) looks like a freaky demon-child. All of this helps overcome the film's strong sentimental streak, as well as some production values that are more in line with Doctor Who than a big-screen alien blockbuster.
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When Earth is suddenly taken over by colossal robots from another planet, the citizens of Earth are ordered to stay within their homes as captives or risk a frightful and immediate death. Meanwhile, a young man named Sean Flynn is missing, and wanted by Robin Smythe and his team (who willfully serve the robot race) in connection with an alleged terrorist attack. Implanted in his head is a device that appears to respond to certain signals from the robots and he soon discovers that he has the power to control them. As the biggest threat to robot-kind he must be disposed of, but he is determined to restore freedom to mankind and sets out to build his own army to take back their planet.
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While this odd biopic is a real mess, it's not quite the cinematic disaster snootier critics claim it is. Essentially fan fiction, the script spins a story that has only the vaguest basis in fact, drawing much of its dialog from screenwriter Jeffreys' and book author Kate Snell's imaginations. And if what these people say to each other wasn't so laughably silly, the film's genuinely intriguing themes might have emerged with more force.
We pick up the story in 1995, after Diana (Watts) has been separated from Prince Charles for three years. She still hasn't moved on romantically, and spends most evenings alone in Kensington Palace, making beans on toast and quietly crying herself to sleep. So when she meets heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Andrews), she's relieved that he doesn't treat her like a princess. Over the next two years, their romance develops in secret because Hasnat is a very private man and Diana is the most famous woman on earth. Fed up with the intrusive paparazzi, Hasnat puts the brakes on their relationship. So Diana uses her friend Dodi Fayed (Anvar) to provide misleading headlines and spark Hasnat's jealousy.
Of course, we know their love is doomed for another key reason: the film is bookended by scenes in Paris on the fateful evening of 31 August 1997. But even if this romance has clearly been fictionalised, it offers some intriguing themes that catch our sympathies, mainly due to an understated performance from Watts that occasionally catches Diana with remarkable detail. So it's frustrating that Khan is portrayed as such an icy, uninteresting figure, which means that Andrews never generates any chemistry with Watts.
Continue reading: Diana Review
Princess Diana was most definitely one of the most famous and inspirational women in the world, known to all as the People's Princess. Never seduced by the lure of wealth, fame and royalty, she lived her life for others, but struggled deeply from her own personal troubles; her failed marriage to Prince Charles embroiled in affair scandals and subsequent divorce, the constant hounding of the press and her later romances. When she met heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan, she fell deeply in love, feeling for the first time in years, like a real woman. But it was a relationship doomed to failure with further media attention forcing a rift between them. She could never escape the scrutiny of the media, even while she put all her efforts into her hands-on charity work.
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Princess Diana was known across the world as the 'People's Princess'. Her beauty, dignity and grace, not to mention outstanding generosity led her to be one of the most loved people in the world. The last two years of her life before she passed away following a highly publicized car accident in 1997 were nothing short of a harrowing ordeal. She divorced from her husband the Prince of Wales after a roller-coaster of a marriage embroiled in affair scandals, before embarking on an attempted private relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan who ended it after two years, and being criticized by many for her humanitarian ventures such as campaigning against land mines. This new biopic details her last journeys, loves, trials and tribulations on the 16th anniversary of her untimely death.
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