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Independence Day: Resurgence Review

Good

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much of the original cast. (The record may go to the 32 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.) But clearly filmmakers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have long wanted to follow up their 1996 blockbuster hit Independence Day. The result is a big, fast sci-fi action thriller that lacks both the original movie's enjoyably raucous tone and its break-out star Will Smith.

After the events of 20 years ago, America has taken alien technology to heart, improving transportation and military defence, including creating a base on the moon to keep an eye out for returning tentacled baddies. Then an orb-shape ship appears, followed by a new mothership so large that it spans the entire Atlantic Ocean. President Lanford (Sela Ward) turns to the surviving heroes of the previous invasion for help: scientific expert David (Jeff Goldblum), former president Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and mad genius Brakish (Brent Spiner). Meanwhile, a young team of next-generation pilots dives into the fray, including Dylan (Jesse T. Usher playing Will Smith's now-grown son), Jake (Liam Hemsworth), Patricia (Maika Monroe as Whitmore's daughter and Jake's fiancee) and Charlie (Travis Tope).

The film is assembled in standard disaster movie style, quickly introducing characters and their personal little melodramas before throwing them into the mad chaos of this new invasion. Emmerich is an expert at this structure, using it to hugely entertaining effect from Independence Day to Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2014 and White House Down. So it's odd that this film feels so lifeless by comparison. The story rushes past at a breathless pace that never allows the characters or events to gain any real traction with the audience. The only sharp wit on hand this time comes from throwaway one-liners apparently improvised by Goldblum. And the action feels eerily derivative, rehashed from Emmerich's filmography with added elements from Star Wars and Apocalypse Now.

Continue reading: Independence Day: Resurgence Review

Truth Review

Excellent

That generic title obscures a surprisingly complex exploration of the real-life events surrounding the fall of iconic American newscaster Dan Rather in 2004. And while the film's script is rather talky (it's like Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom crossed with George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck), it's strongly made point is too important to ignore. And it features yet another storming, intelligent performance from Cate Blanchett.

She plays Mary Mapes, a producer at the classic CBS news programme 60 Minutes, who just a few months before the 2004 presidential election is working on a story about incumbent George W. Bush's shady National Guard service during the Vietnam War. She has an ace team of investigators (including Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid and Elisabeth Moss), plus the nation's top news anchor Rather (Robert Redford). But after the story airs, Mary is attacked with questions about the authenticity of a series of memos that trace irregularities in Bush's service record. Her boss (Bruce Greenwood) applies plenty of pressure as the controversy gains more traction than the story itself. And the media storm that follows catches everyone by surprise.

This account is based on Mapes' own memoir about these events, which gives the film a personal, as opposed to journalistic, tone. It hints heavily at both government and corporate efforts to discredit the story, putting Mapes and her entire team in an impossible situation. The film also makes it clear that those memos were indeed real, and that the controversy was actually just misdirection. What brings this to life is the revelatory acting from the ensemble cast, led beautifully by Blanchett, who gives Mary a passion for the truth that's fuelled by her inner demons. And the entire supporting cast adds layers of wit and insight, although Redford kind of relaxes on his easy charm as the engaged, engaging Rather.

Continue reading: Truth Review

James Vanderbilt - The British Film Institute London Film Festival - 'Truth' - Fellowship Special Presentation Gala held at the Odeon Leicester Square - Arrivals at Odeon Leicester Square - London, United Kingdom - Saturday 17th October 2015

James Vanderbilt
James Vanderbilt
James Vanderbilt
James Vanderbilt and Wife Amber
James Vanderbilt and Wife Amber
James Vanderbilt

Truth Trailer


Mary Mapes is the producer of CBS' '60 Minutes' and, in the run up to the 2004 presidential election, she's looking for a story for her and her team - including anchor Dan Rather - to chase. The team discovers evidence that President George W. Bush failed to complete the required amount of military service during his time in the Texas Air National Guard during the 70s. It's a story that could truly bring down the right wing government if only they can get hold of some solid documents to support the story. That's when Bill Burkett comes in; he's the former Lieutenant Colonel of the Texas Air National Guard and he claims to be in possession of some papers criticising Bush's lack of attendance for his military service, written by his commander at the time Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian. Unfortunately, in their haste to air the controversial information, the '60 Minutes' team fail to have the documents authenticated - and when several experts out the papers as forgeries, it seems the tables quickly turn on these newscasters in the most devastating way.

Continue: Truth Trailer

James Vanderbilt - Los Angeles Industry Screening of 'Truth' - Arrivals at Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills - Los Angeles, California, United States - Monday 5th October 2015

James Vanderbilt
Tom Rothman and James Vanderbilt
Tom Rothman and James Vanderbilt
Tom Rothman and James Vanderbilt
Tom Rothman and James Vanderbilt
James Vanderbilt

Robert Redford & Cate Blanchett In Talks With 'Rathergate' Producers To Play Don Rather & Mary Mapes


Robert Redford Cate Blanchett George W Bush James Vanderbilt CBS

It's only been ten years since Don Rather reported on a CBS news programme about the Killian documents, which supposedly showed how former President George W. Bush managed to avoid serving his National Service in Vietnam. A film on the subject, and Rather's subsequent departure from the network, is in the works and Robert Redford is currently in talks with producers to play Rather. Cate Blanchett is also thought to be in negotiations to play Mary Mapes, Rather's producer, as Deadline reports.

Robert Redford
Robert Redford is in talks to play Dan Rather in an upcoming film.

Read More: Robert Redford "I Will Never Enter Politics."

Continue reading: Robert Redford & Cate Blanchett In Talks With 'Rathergate' Producers To Play Don Rather & Mary Mapes

White House Down Review


Very Good

This may look exactly like Gerard Butler's over-serious Olympus Has Fallen, but it's actually that film's smarter, sillier younger brother: the one you like even though you really shouldn't. As he did with 2012, filmmaker Emmerich has injected this huge action romp with a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek humour while never sacrificing the overwrought spectacle. So even if it's wildly contrived and ludicrously patriotic, it's so gleefully destructive that we can't help but have a lot of fun.

It starts out as ex-military man John (Tatum) tries to impress his estranged 11-year-old daughter Emily (King) by taking her along with him on a job interview at the White House. At that moment, home-grown terrorists strike, led by a disgruntled security chief (Woods). In the chaos, John gets separated from Emily, and as he looks for her he stumbles across the US President (Foxx). As John and the President work to subvert the villains, the politically savvy Emily is posting videos of them on YouTube, which helps the Pentagon command centre, overseen by security chief Carol (Gyllenhaal) and Speaker Raphelson (Jenkins), keep the nation from falling apart. But it turns out that one of the baddies (Clarke) has a personal vendetta against John.

As always, Emmerich infuses the film with a sombre tone then undermines it at every step with witty irony. Each scene is packed with quirky characters, snappy one-liners, knowingly corny sentimentality and bigger-than-necessary mayhem. For example, he manages to wedge a full-on car chase into the White House grounds, complete with a rocket launcher. At the centre, Tatum and Foxx are a lively double-act, bouncing off each other with feisty energy. Furrowed-brow gravitas is supplied by Gyllenhaal, Jenkins and Woods, while scene-stealers include King's plucky young hero and Simpson's megalomaniac hacker.

Continue reading: White House Down Review

'Independence Day' Sequel Will Go Ahead Without 'Expensive' Will Smith


Will Smith Roland Emmerich Channing Tatum Dean Devlin James Vanderbilt

Two Independence Day sequels have been scheduled to be released in July 2015 probably without the star of the first film, Will Smith. In an interview with the director of the upcoming film, Roland Emmerich (who directed Channing Tatum in White House Down), said Will Smith is "too expensive". He also said it was because Smith is "too much of a marquee name".

Roland Emmerich
Director Roland Emmerich at the 10,000BC Premiere, L.A. in 2008

Emmerich directed the first Independence Day, in 1996. However, after 17 years Emmerich is aware he is not only catering for an audience who remember the first film but for those who "are new" to the concept. Hence if Smith were to appear in the upcoming sequel, comparisons will be too easily made. In many respects this could alienate (excuse the terrible pun) the new audience. 

Continue reading: 'Independence Day' Sequel Will Go Ahead Without 'Expensive' Will Smith

The Amazing Spider Man Review


Very Good
Just 10 years after Sam Raimi's now-iconic Spider-man, Marvel has decided to tell the character's origin story again, using a slightly different mythology. The main difference is the presence of appropriately named director Marc Webb, whose last film was the imaginative romantic-comedy (500) Days of Summer. Sure enough, the interpersonal drama is the best thing about this reboot. Much less successful is the action storyline, which feels awkwardly forced into the film to justify its blockbuster status.

A huge asset here is gifted lead actor Andrew Garfield, who takes on the role of Peter Parker with real passion. Peter is a 17-year-old science nerd in high school who has real depth due to his personal history. Growing up in New York with his aunt and uncle (Field and Sheen) after his parents disappeared, he's more than a little unsettled when the object of his secret crush, sexy-brainy Gwen (Stone), notices him. Meanwhile, he's bitten by a mutant spider and develops some strange powers, which he exercises by chasing down bad guys all over the city.

Continue reading: The Amazing Spider Man Review

The Losers Review


OK
Raucous and colourful, this comical action flick should be great fun, but a lack of plot or character development keep it from coming together. And it's not actually that funny or exciting.

On a mission in Bolivia, a five-man black-ops team is betrayed by their power-mad CIA boss Max (Patric) and left for dead. But they embark on a mission to get revenge and clear their names, with Clay (Morgan) leading techie Jensen (Evans), demolition expert Roque (Elba), driver-pilot Pooch (Short) and sniper Cougar (Jaenada). They also enlist the help of a sexy-but-shady woman (Saldana) as they track Max and his vile henchman (McCallany) from Miami to Los Angeles and try to stop his nefarious Bond-like plan.

Continue reading: The Losers Review

James Vanderbilt Tuesday 20th April 2010 The LA premiere of 'The Losers' held at Grauman's Chinese Theater Los Angeles, California

James Vanderbilt

Zodiac Review


Essential
Talk about a tough sell. David Fincher's most accomplished film to date is a true-crime masterpiece about the Zodiac, an enigmatic serial killer whose random approach to murder terrified Northern California throughout the late '60s and early '70s. Methodical and mesmerizing, the picture flirts with a three-hour run-time, features realistic depictions of senseless slaughter, and builds to an incomplete conclusion that is only satisfying when taken in context (for those unaware, the infamous cold case remains unsolved to this day).

It's also brilliant, the first great film of the year which constructs with painstaking detail a fruitless investigation that grew into an obsession for certain members of San Francisco's media and police forces.

Continue reading: Zodiac Review

The Rundown Review


Weak
The dentist responsible for maintaining The Rundown cast's teeth deserves an Academy Award. Leading man The Rock's flashy grin steals the spotlight from his weight room-generated physique. Seann William Scott must floss three times a day to maintain his dazzling smile. Even Rosario Dawson, playing the leader of rebel guerilla troops, seems to benefit from a tremendous dental plan.

Judging from the amount of time I spent analyzing molars and fillings, you can imagine how exciting I found the action on screen. The Rundown is yet another paint-by-numbers buddy comedy tailor-made for the former wrestler's brawny talents. The story follows bounty hunter Beck (The Rock) into the Amazon on the trail of Travis (Scott), an amateur archeologist and the wayward son of Beck's seedy boss. Travis seeks The Gatto, a solid gold relic reportedly worth millions, and he's racing wealthy land tycoon Hatcher (Christopher Walken) and gorgeous rebel leader Mariana (Dawson) to the loot.

Continue reading: The Rundown Review

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James Vanderbilt Movies

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Truth Movie Review

Truth Movie Review

That generic title obscures a surprisingly complex exploration of the real-life events surrounding the fall...

Truth Trailer

Truth Trailer

Mary Mapes is the producer of CBS' '60 Minutes' and, in the run up to...

White House Down Movie Review

White House Down Movie Review

This may look exactly like Gerard Butler's over-serious Olympus Has Fallen, but it's actually that...

The Amazing Spider Man Movie Review

The Amazing Spider Man Movie Review

Just 10 years after Sam Raimi's now-iconic Spider-man, Marvel has decided to tell the character's...

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The Losers Movie Review

The Losers Movie Review

Raucous and colourful, this comical action flick should be great fun, but a lack of...

Zodiac Movie Review

Zodiac Movie Review

Talk about a tough sell. David Fincher's most accomplished film to date is a true-crime...

The Rundown Movie Review

The Rundown Movie Review

The dentist responsible for maintaining The Rundown cast's teeth deserves an Academy Award. Leading man...

Darkness Falls Movie Review

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The title Darkness Falls is incomplete. Several other things fall as this 76 minute monstrosity...

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