Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective at generating tension and terror. And it helps that an adept cast is on board to give some weight to characters who are rather thinly written. The script, by Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, keeps everything lean and mean, concentrating on the scary stuff while ignoring any thematic depth or topicality. But director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) keeps it moving briskly.
It's set on board the International Space Station, where a specialised six-person crew is examining new soil samples from Mars. Science officer Hugh (Ariyon Bakare) finds alien life in the dirt, and watches in amazement as the cells grow and cooperate to create an interactive jellyfish-like creature, which schoolchildren on Earth name Calvin. Infectious disease doctors David and Miranda (Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson) are concerned that this life-form remains contained in the lab. So Captain Kat (Olga Dihovichnaya) and technicians Roy and Sho (Ryan Reynolds and Hiroyuki Sanada) set out to lock things down. But of course, this proves trickier than they thought it would be.
What follows is, unsurprisingly, a stalker slasher movie in which the crew members go down one by one. Calvin is a quick learner, and grows into a seriously menacing creature, complete with the silly addition of a kind of evil digital face. It also gets a few corny point of view camera angles. But mainly Espinosa holds his nerve, maintaining a believable sense of the science and the setting as things get increasingly out of control. Each terrifying set piece is followed by a brief moment of silence in which the characters (and audience) catch their breath. This also allows them to add one back story detail per person, in an attempt to stir up some emotional connection. But it doesn't really matter once the violent mayhem kicks into gear again.
Continue reading: Life Review
Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of a mystery may disappoint die-hard fans, but as an astute drama it's more than worth a look because Ian McKellen is simply terrific in the title role. This is a much more complex character than he has been able to play recently either in movies (like the X-men and Lord of the Rings franchises) or television (the nutty sitcom Vicious). The film also reunites him with Bill Condon, who directed him to an Oscar nomination in Gods and Monsters 17 years ago.
It's 1947, and Sherlock is 93 years old when we meet him, living on the Sussex coast where he keeps bees and has befriended Roger (Milo Parker), the curious son of his tough-minded housekeeper Mrs Munro (Laura Linney). As Sherlock teaches Roger about both beekeeping and sleuthing, he is also trying to work out his final case some 30 years ago, which his mind simply refuses to recall. As he relives it in his mind, rather than through Watson's embellished account, all he can remember is a worried husband (Patrick Kennedy) asking him to follow his wife (Hattie Morahan). In addition, Sherlock is also still thinking about the things he discovered while recently in post-war Japan at the invitation of a fan (Hiroyuki Sanada).
The main story and the two flashback sequences are intriguingly intertwined in Sherlock's mind, offering parallel discoveries that help him piece together events that unfold in all three. It's a clever approach that allows McKellen to dig deep into the character as a man discovering that his mind is fading, perhaps into senility. His take on Sherlock is simply fascinating, a witty detective who has always resisted the fictional depiction of him in Watson's stories. And he's also an ageing man who hasn't lost his childlike curiosity, which makes his friendship with the young Roger surprisingly tender and engaging.
Continue reading: Mr. Holmes Review
Since the dawn of time, the Minions have been desperately looking for a master. From dinosaurs, to cave men, to Dracula, to Napoleon, the Minions have sought out the biggest and best of masters from around the world. The trouble is, their optimism and perseverance - while commendable - is nothing compared to their utter ineptitude. The Minions have a terrible problem with either killing their boss, or letting their bosses die in some way. But with the 1960s in full swing and the Minions currently unemployed, they travel to a villain convention to find a new master, and uncover a conspiracy to steal the crown from the Queen of England.
Continue: Minions Trailer
The year is 1947. Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is 93 years old and living in almost total solitude in a farmhouse in Sussex. Here, he tries to keep himself to himself and tend to his bees, but is plagued by the fact that his once great mind has withered away to nothing. He remembers the final case he took, and how he was incapable of solving it. But now, with the help of his housekeeper's son, Sherlock Holmes shall once again solve a mystery.
Continue: Mr Holmes - Teaser Trailer
Time makes a fool of all of us; even the greatest minds will become blunt and lose their power as the years roll on. By the year 1947, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) has reached the age of 93, and lives in solitude in a small Sussex farmhouse, dividing his time between read through his journals and tending to his bees. But when his housekeeper and her son begin to ask questions about his final, unfinished case, Holmes is forced to battle his own deteriorating mind in order to solve a mystery that would once have posed no problem to him.
Continue: Mr Holmes - Clip
It's a wonder why the prehistoric tribe of Minions have managed to survive so long with limited access to their staple diet of bananas and very little in the way of intelligence. But they make it their life's work to follow and serve the most despicable of villains in return for their care - though, as time goes on, it seems there are fewer and fewer baddies left in the world, ever decreasing down to the Minion's own ineptitudes. From dinosaurs to vampires, Minions have always been loyal to the evil they serve, but after each tragic and accidental death, they are forced to move on. Stuck in a tight spot with no master to serve, they find themselves bored and depressed; that is until head Minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob decide it's time to set out on an adventure. Through blizzards and mountains, never-ending fields and deadly oceans they travel until they reach New York in 1968. They hitchhike to Orlando's annual Villain-Con and it's there they find their new mistress, Scarlet Overkill, and their only hope of saving Minion-kind.
Continue: Minions - International Trailer
Hiroyuki Sanada - Celebrities attend Entertainment Weekly's Celebration honoring the 2015 SAG Awards nominees - Red Carpet at The Chateau Marmont. at The Chateau Marmont - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 22nd January 2015
The Minions are a prehistoric race with a love of bananas and not the biggest brains individually. Together, their life's mission is to serve the deadliest villain around - but they are not very good at keeping them safe. From the scariest dinosaurs, Egyptian kings, Napoleon and even vampires, Minions have been around to assist the world's tyrants with their dastardly deeds, but it wasn't long before they tragically ran out of baddies to aid. Bored, desolate and miserable, three Minions named Kevin, Stuart and Bob decide enough is enough and set out to find a new master. Trekking through freezing mountains, sprawling pastures and never-ending oceans, they finally arrive in 1968 New York - 42 years before they met their future partner Gru. It's their they meet Scarlet Overkill - an evil mistress with whom they must band together to save their kind.
Continue: Minions Trailer
A terrific true story is oddly underplayed in this sober, sedate drama about reconciliation and making peace with the past. Strikingly complex performances from Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman help give the film some deeper resonance, even if even it all seems rather under-powered. But the force of emotion in the events makes the film worth a look.
In 1980 Scotland, railway expert Eric (Firth) has defined his entire life by trains. During the Second World War, he was captured by the Japanese and put into forced-labour to build a railway in Thailand. And more recently he met his wife Patti (Kidman) on a train journey. But their marriage starts to collapse when Eric refuses to face up to his torture at the hands of his wartime captors all those years ago, so Patti turns to his war-veteran pal Finlay (Skarsgard) for help. Eventually, Eric makes the difficult decision to return to Thailand and confront his tormenter Nagase (Sanada).
A more Hollywood-style film would play out as a build-up to roaring vengeance, but director Teplitzky internalises the tone, showing us past events in extensive flashbacks as the young Eric and Finlay (Irvine and Reid) try to subvert the young Nagase (Ishida) at every turn. These scenes are eerily tame as well, and only reveal the true horror of Eric's experience when he finally faces up to it himself. Instead, the focus is on his struggle to forgive Nagase, and this gives the film a strongly moving punch.
Continue reading: The Railway Man Review
Kai is a half-English and half-Japanese outsider who was exiled from his homeland, beaten within an inch of his life and enslaved for his heritage. Now he is stronger; an accomplished fighter with an ability to triumph over even the most formidable of adversaries. He is enlisted by a group of samurai warriors to help them regain their land which has been overrun by an infinite army of demons, witches, monsters and giants who have enslaved their people following the dishonourable death of their leader. The forty-seven ronin vow to avenge their master, sacrificing their own lives to attempt to free their compatriots; though as the land becomes more and more sated with savage beasts and ruthless mystics, Kai is left wondering if this is one battle he can't win.
Continue: 47 Ronin - International Trailer
Kai is an outsider, banished from his home, beaten and forced into slavery for being half-English and half-Japanese. He was among a small group of samurais exiled after the dishonourable death of their leader, and now his suffering has turned him into one of the land's most formidable warriors, able to defeat even the largest of beasts. He is enlisted to be part of an army of forty-seven ronin who vow to seek revenge against the infinite army that has taken over their home and killed their master. However, their plan looks almost impossible as the nation is rapidly becoming overrun with a myriad of colossal shape-shifting monsters with the ability to wipe out the ronin all at once.
'47 Ronin' is a fictional interpretation of the real events that happened in Japan in the 18th century, when a small group of samurais sought to avenge their leader. There have been many variations of the story and it has been described as Japan's National Legend. First time director Carl Rinsch is at the helm of this gripping fantasy war film and it has been written by Chris Morgan ('Fast & Furious', 'Cellular', 'Wanted'), Hossein Amini ('Snow White and the Huntsman', 'The Wings of the Dove', 'Drive') and Walter Hamada in his screenplay debut. It will hit the UK on December 26th 2013.
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