This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of the divisions that define society. It's an engaging film, sharply written and directed by actor Nate Parker to pull the audience into the world of a black preacher whose conscience simply can't take the injustice any longer. Some of the themes feel a little pushy, but the film has real power.
It opens in 1809 Virginia, where the soft-spoken Nat (Parker) works as a slave for benevolent owner Sam (Armie Hammer). The two grew up together, so Sam is familiar with Nat's intelligence and passion, and also with the fact that Sam's mother (Penelope Ann Miller) encouraged Nat to read and study the Bible. In fact, Nat is such a great preacher that Sam loans him to fellow slave owners to convey the Old Testament "slaves obey your owners" message. But Nat realises that he can't continue with this after his wife Cherry (Aja Naomi King) is brutally attacked by the cruel slave tracker Cobb (Jackie Earle Haley). And once Nat decides he can no longer support the immorality and injustice of the system, he has little choice but to lead a slave revolt.
Parker's script recounts Nat's life story with telling details, contrasting his engaging courtship with Cherry with the series of insults they suffer at every turn. Living amid such systemic degradation, exploitation and violence simply gnaws away at Nat, and Parker underplays him beautifully, letting the charisma surge quietly under the surface. Hammer is solid as Sam, although his innate compassion leaves Haley to play the villain of the piece. As always, Haley is great at this, igniting loathing from the audience with his first appearance. All of the surrounding characters are played with a lovely sense of realism, adding hints of texture to each scene but never too much personality.
Continue reading: The Birth Of A Nation Review
It didn't seem possible, but somehow this action movie is even more preposterous than its predecessor, 2013's over-serious Olympus Has Fallen. Gerard Butler is back as a Secret Service agent protecting US President Aaron Eckhart, this time in a Taken-style scenario in which they leave America only to be immediately thrown into the middle of a massive terrorist attack. But the script is so lazy that there isn't a moment when any of this is remotely believable.
Events are put into motion when the British prime minister dies of a heart attack and security services only have a few days to lock down London so that the world's leaders can arrive for the funeral at St Paul's Cathedral. Mike (Butler) flies in with his boss Lynn (Bassett) on Air Force One, accompanying President Asher (Eckhart) and a platoon of bodyguards. Then just before the funeral, a carefully orchestrated series of bombings and gun attacks take out five heads of state. Of course, Mike and Lynn get Asher out of the fray, but an army of bad guys led by terror mastermind Kamran (Waleed Zuaiter) pursue them across the city. Back in Washington, Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and the panicky cabinet (including Haley, Forster and Leo) watch all of this unfold on video screens and coordinates a counter-attack.
Even with four screenwriters, the movie makes no real sense. And worse than that, the filmmakers never take advantage of the story's potential or the heavy-hitting cast. There's a line about how all of London's landmarks have been destroyed, but the on-screen destruction is limited to just one of Westminster Abbey's towers. The depiction of world leaders is laughably cliched. And the award-winning actors have nothing to do but stand there looking worried. By contrast, Butler charges around shooting and stabbing everybody who moves in a display of shockingly brutal machismo. Eckhart is more believably reluctant to join in and dispense some violence, but of course he does.
Continue reading: London Has Fallen Review
There's a robust, intelligent tone to this action remake that makes it continually intriguing, even if it's never properly exciting. The problem is that the characters are far too simplistic for us to care about, with moral dilemmas that are extremely cut and dried. Because the premise deals with several provocative themes, it wouldn't have taken much work to beef up the screenplay.
Set in the near future when American military robots patrol the world but are outlawed at home, the story centres on Omnicorp boss Sellars (Keaton), who is determined to sell his robots to the US market as police enforcers. So he decides to get around the law by putting a man inside a robot, drafting seriously injured Detroit cop Murphy (Kinnaman) as his guinea pig. Doctor Norton (Oldman) does an amazing job, building a machine around Murphy with extremely high technical capabilities. But Murphy can't help but worry about his wife (Cornish) and son, and he's obsessed with revenge over his attempted murder. So Norton is forced to use chemicals to suppress his emotions.
In other words, Murphy is actually more machine than man now, and operates at the whim of Sellars and his media spokesperson (Ehle), marketing nerd (Baruchel) and a rabid TV host (Jackson) to manipulate the US Congress to change the law. This greedy corporation gives the film a bite of satire, as does the issue of America's rampant willingness to brutally suppress anyone outside its borders. But without even a shading of complexity, the plot feels predictable and, frankly, rather dull. It's fun to watch everything happen, but our pulse rates never rise at all.
Continue reading: RoboCop Review
This starry drama has documentary realism going for it, although without a single well-developed character it never finds any resonance. By recounting JFK's assassination from a variety of previously unseen angles, we learn some new things about that fateful day in November 1963. Oddly, the script doesn't even focus on the hospital that gives the film its name. That might have helped give the film some focus.
We watch the shooting in Dallas through the eyes of Abraham Zapruder (Giamatti), famously the only person to capture the event on film. He is immediately contacted by a Secret Service agent (Thornton), who helps him process the film and make copies. Meanwhile at Parkland Hospital, two residents (Efron and Hanks) and a tenacious nurse (Harden) are working against the odds to save Kennedy's life. And elsewhere, an FBI agent (Livingston) is following the trail of the shooter, whose brother and mother (Dale and Weaver) have very different reactions to what has just happened.
Writer-director Landesman jumps straight into the events without properly establishing the characters. But it's impossible to feel emotion when we don't know anything about the people we're watching, and we can't feel suspense when we know what's going to happen. So we're left to soak up the details, which are often fascinating (ever wonder how to get a coffin into a plane?). And while the actors are good enough to play the intensity of each scene for all it's worth, the only ones who register with us are Giamatti and Dale, because what their characters go through is more complex than we expect.
Continue reading: Parkland Review
Alex Murphy is a hard-working police officer who lives an ordinary life with his beautiful wife Clara and young son David. However, his life is swiftly turned upside down when a bomb in his car explodes leaving him with 70% burns all over his body. Meanwhile, the multinational corporation OmniCorp who have been sending out robot technology abroad for warfare purposes are now coming up with other ideas; namely to deal with the increased crime rate of Detroit. They create a robot with the intention of programming it to target major wanted criminals, but on discovering Murphy's predicament and seeing how he has lost two limbs from his accident, they decide to kill two birds with one stone by fixing him into the suit so that he's able to continue working as a cop, but with more power than he could ever have imagined. The suit has been created to give him the illusion of free will while being externally controlled, however that changes when Murphy begins to use the suit for his own means.
'Robocop' is the upcoming remake of the 1987 sci-fi action flick of the same name directed by Paul Verhoeven. This adaptation has been helmed by Jose Padilha ('Elite Squad', 'Bus 174') and written by Nick Schenk ('Gran Torino'), James Vanderbilt ('The Amazing Spider-Man') and Joshua Zetumer. It will be reaching UK cinemas on February 7th 2014.
When Abraham Zapruder, a women's clothing manufacturer from Texas, excitedly set up his camera to record the grand arrival of the much-loved President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy in Dallas on November 22nd 1963, he had no idea that he would in fact record one of the most shocking and most watched films in history when the President was fatally shot by a nearby gunman. He became one of a string of unlikely individuals to get involved in one of the world's most publicised assassination cases, along with all the doctors and nurses who were forced to overcome the shock when Kennedy was rushed to Parkland Hospital; the family of the alleged killer, US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald; and those FBI agents who could've prevented the incident when they had Oswald in their grasp.
'Parkland' is a new historical drama about one of the most famous assassinations in history which is set for release ahead of the event's 50th anniversary. It has been directed and written by Peter Landesman who is controversially best known for his New York Times article on sex slavery 'The Girls Next Door' which he later turned into a film called 'Trades' and which was publicly accused of being at least partly fictitious. 'Parkland' is set to be released in the UK on November 8th 2013.
After spending nearly 200 years trapped in a coffin, Barnabas Collins (Depp) is released to rejoin what's left of his wealthy New England family in 1972. The matriarch Elizabeth (Pfeiffer) now lives in the falling-down manor Collinswood with her brother Roger (Miller), her daughter (Moretz) and his son (McGrath), as well as a live-in shrink (Bonham Carter), a caretaker (Haley) and a new governess (Heathcote). But Angelique (Green), the witch who turned Barnabas into a vampire, is still trying to destroy the family.
Continue reading: Dark Shadows Review
In 1752, The Collins family moves from Liverpool for a new life in North America. Barnabas, the son of the family, grows up and soon earns a reputation as a playboy. One day, his antics break the heart of a young woman, Angelique. She reveals her true nature to Barnabas - she is really a witch! She curses Barnabas and turns him into a vampire, burying him alive.
Continue: Dark Shadows Trailer
In 1954 Boston, Ted (DiCaprio) is a US Marshal heading with his new partner Chuck (Ruffalo) to the Shutter Island hospital for the criminally insane. A patient (Mortimer) has mysteriously disappeared, and the head doctor (Kingsley) is acting suspicious. So is everyone else for that matter. As Ted delves deeper into the mystery, which hints at a big conspiracy, he struggles with the implications these events have for his own life, including the death of his wife (Williams) and his experiences liberating Dachau at the end of the war.
Continue reading: Shutter Island Review
In a small Northeastern community, Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) secretly has a huge cult following. A gaggle of housewives, including obvious peculiarity Sarah (the consistently outstanding Kate Winslet), adore Brad from afar as he takes his son to the playground (he's a stay-at-home dad) each day, whispering his nickname between them: "The Prom King." After a dare that leads to a small kiss, Sarah and Brad start spending time together at the town pool with their kids. Rumors fly and the neighborhood becomes a cauldron of suspicion as the town learns that a reformed pedophile named Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley) has just moved back to the neighborhood.
Continue reading: Little Children Review
This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...
Nat Turner was a former slave who on witnessing the scope of slavery across America...
It didn't seem possible, but somehow this action movie is even more preposterous than its...
Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Angela Bassett once again team up in the...
There's a robust, intelligent tone to this action remake that makes it continually intriguing, even...
This starry drama has documentary realism going for it, although without a single well-developed character...
Alex Murphy is a hard-working police officer who lives an ordinary life with his beautiful...
On November 22nd 1963 in Dallas, Texas, the hugely adored President John F. Kennedy was...
When Abraham Zapruder, a women's clothing manufacturer from Texas, excitedly set up his camera to...
'Lincoln' will show the last four months of President Abraham Lincoln's life as he campaigned...