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Alien: Covenant Review

Very Good

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events of 2012's Prometheus. And while this film carries on with the bigger themes about creation and identity, at its heart it actually has much more in common with the film in which he kicked off the franchise, 1979's Alien. Yes, this is a horror movie. It's slickly made and packed with engaging characters, and it gets gruesomely scary too.

The setting is somewhere in space in 2104, as the colonising ship Covenant carries a few thousand sleeping earthlings to a new world, tended to by the android Walter (Michael Fassbender). Then a space flare awakens the 15-person crew, and they hear a rogue radio transmission from a nearby planet that's eerily perfect for colonisation. Captain Oran (Billy Crudup) thinks it's worth checking out, potentially shaving seven years off their journey. First officer Daniels (Katherine Waterston) isn't so sure. But off they go, exploring the spectacular mountainous terrain, where they find a crashed ship and a city populated only by the Prometheus' android David (also Fassbender) and some creepy, acid-salivating creatures that he has something to do with.

The plot plays out like a slasher movie, as the crew members are picked off one by one, starting with the ones we don't know and building up to the starrier cast members. Each main actor gets to invest some back-story into his or her role, establishing relationships and personality quirks that hold the interest. Waterston is clearly the protagonist from the start, grieving over the death of her husband (James Franco in video clips) and showing natural leadership skills. Crudup is the impulsive captain who mellows into someone much more intriguing as the story progresses. And McBride has the other standout role as a tenacious pilot. But of course it's Fassbender who walks off with the film, excelling in scenes in which Walter and David engage in a kind of twisted bromance with nasty sibling-rivalry undertones.

Continue reading: Alien: Covenant Review

James Bond - Spectre Review

Excellent

For his latest adventure, James Bond mixes the personal drama of Skyfall with the vintage globe-hopping action of the previous 23 movies. The result is an epic thriller packed with exhilarating set-pieces and dark surprises. Again directed by Sam Mendes, the film has a meaty tone from the astounding pre-titles sequence in Mexico City to the climax in North African. And it takes its time to build the suspense, mystery and drama in ways few blockbusters bother to do.

After the calamitous events at Skyfall, Bond (Daniel Craig) has gone rogue, following a videotaped message from his late boss (Judi Dench) to track a villain to Mexico, then continuing to Rome, where he woos the grieving widow (Monica Bellucci). Pursued by relentless goon Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista), he travels onward to Austria, he confronts an old nemesis (Jesper Christiansen), whose daughter Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) joins Bond to travel to Morocco to face the shady top boss Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) in his secret lair. Meanwhile in London, the new M (Ralph Fiennes) is fighting to to keep MI6 in operation as new boss C (Andrew Scott) works to restructure British security as part of a global conglomerate.

Mendes stages this on a massive scale, with huge action sequences that are never rushed or choppy, beautifully shot by ace cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema. And it's all underpinned by darker personal drama between the characters, so every sequence features thoughtful conversation, witty banter, more clues to the larger mystery and then thrilling action. And as 007 hops from location to location filling in the bigger picture, the film feels like all of the classic Bond movies rolled into one.

Continue reading: James Bond - Spectre Review

Reeve Carney and John Logan - Penny Dreadful filming in Dublin Castle - Dublin, Ireland - Thursday 25th September 2014

Reeve Carney and John Logan
Reeve Carney

John Logan, Sting, Gordon Sumner, Joe Mantello and Steven Hoggett - Photocall for the musical "The Last Ship" at New 42nd Street Studios - New York, New York, United States - Monday 28th April 2014

John Logan, Sting, Gordon Sumner, Joe Mantello and Steven Hoggett
John Logan, Sting, Gordon Sumner and Joe Mantello

Sam Mendes Signs For ‘Bond 24,’ Though John Logan’s Return Is Key


Sam Mendes John Logan Daniel Craig Barbara Broccoli Javier Bardem

James Bond fans received the news they’d be waiting for on Thursday – Sam Mendes would be returning for the twenty-fourth 007 movie, following the huge success of Skyfall.

Given his theatre commitments, it was assumed that the Oscar-winning director would be unable to helm the follow-up to the biggest grossing British movie in history – though he appears to have found a gap in his schedule to direct the next Bond for an October 23, 2015 release date.

Daniel Craig – often considered the finest Bond actor in history – had delayed his decision to return for his fourth movie, though the return of Mendes will see him don the tuxedo once again.

Continue reading: Sam Mendes Signs For ‘Bond 24,’ Though John Logan’s Return Is Key

Sam Mendes Will Direct Daniel Craig In 24th James Bond Film


Sam Mendes Daniel Craig Barbara Broccoli John Logan Pierce Brosnan Roger Moore James Bond Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Director Sam Mendes will be directing the next James Bond movie. The film is due to be released in 2015. The Skyfall director will work with Daniel Craig, who will be reprising his role as the secret agent. The writer of the previous film, John Logan, will also return to write the next script.

Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes at the Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Press Night, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. 

The dates for release have already been confirmed. UK cinema goers will be able to see the film two weeks earlier than their American counterparts. The UK release date is set for 23rd October 2015 and the US for 6th November.

Continue reading: Sam Mendes Will Direct Daniel Craig In 24th James Bond Film

John Logan and Ali MacGraw - Broadway opening night after party for 'I'll Eat You Last' held at the Booth Theatre - New York, NY, United States - Wednesday 24th April 2013

John Logan and Ali Macgraw
John Logan
John Logan, Bette Midler and Arielle Tepper Madover
John Logan
Bette Midler and John Logan
Arielle Tepper Madover, John Logan and Graydon Carter

John Logan - Premiere of 'Lucky Guy' at the Broadhurst Theatre -Arrivals - New York City, NY, United States - Monday 1st April 2013

John Logan

Skyfall Review


Very Good
Things get very personal for 007 in this high-quality thriller, which keeps us gripped even if it never gets our pulses racing. This shouldn't be surprising, since the director is Sam Mendes, known for more dramatic movies like American Beauty and Revolutionary Road. And he gives the film a deep gravitas that we're not used to in the Bond franchise, as well as coaxing the cast to darkly introspective performances.

That's not to say the action is lacklustre. The opening sequence in Istanbul is a riotous chase through the city streets, across the rooftops and onto a train rocketing through a mountainous landscape. At the end of this, Bond (Craig) is presumed dead while the baddie gets away with a list of Western spies. As he starts releasing names publicly, things get difficult for MI6 boss M (Dench), who is pressured to resign by a government minister (Fiennes). So when Bond returns, M puts him on the case, sending him to Shanghai, where he stalks a mysterious woman (Marlohe) to Macau and meets the camp villain Silva (Bardem). Back in Britain, Silva leads Bond and M on a nasty cat-and-mouse chase that ends up at Skyfall, Bond's ancestral home in the Highlands.

Unlike the usual Bond baddie, Silva isn't remotely interested in global domination or incredible wealth: he has a very personal score to settle, which means that there's no ticking time-bomb underneath the action. In other words, Bond is fighting to save his life, not the planet. Which makes the film feel oddly smaller than we expect. On the other hand, this also allows the filmmakers and actors to develop the relationships more intriguingly than usual. Most notable is the close connection between Bond and M, played with with edgy subtlety by Craig and Dench while Bardem steals every scene with his witty innuendo.

Other characters are strong as well, including Harris as Bond's spy colleague, Whishaw as the clever gadget-geek Q, and an almost unrecognisable Finney as Bond's oldest friend. And Marlohe stirs in the only hint of sex and mystery. Each adds life and energy to the film, as does a continual stream of references to 50 years of Bond movies. Some of these are subtle (a 1962 Scotch) while others get a laugh (that iconic Aston Martin DB5). And along the way, Mendes laces the personal drama with political intrigue and some spectacularly staged action scenes. It's consistently entertaining, even if it's dark and thoughtful rather than exhilarating and fun.

Rich Cline

Coriolanus Review


Good
Actor-director Fiennes sets Shakespeare's military tragedy in a modern-day war setting, which gives it a meaty kick of recognition. But it's such a bombastic film that it's difficult to find much emotional resonance in it.

Amid political and social turmoil, Martius (Fiennes) is a blunt Roman soldier, subduing insurrections in the surrounding kingdoms, making an enemy of Volscian leader Tullus (Butler) but returning home a war hero and crowned Coriolanus.

Despite the help of his military-leader mother (Redgrave), his loyal wife Virgilia (Chastain) and a respected senator (Cox), Martius is unable - and unwilling - to play the political game, insulting both the senate and the public. Banished from public life, he joins with Tullus and sets about conquering Rome his own way.

Continue reading: Coriolanus Review

Hugo Review


Excellent

Based on the Brian Selznick novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Scorsese's first family movie combines a young boy's adventure with a cinematic history lesson. It's a celebration of wide-eyed wonder that's a joy to watch, although the title isn't the only thing that's dumbed-down.

In early 1930s Paris, the orphaned Hugo (Butterfield) lives in Montparnasse station, where he scurries through forgotten passageways maintaining the clocks. He learned this skill from his late father (Law), but an automaton they were fixing is his only reminder of his happier childhood. Dodging the tenacious station inspector (Baron Cohen), Hugo worms his way into the life of grouchy shopkeeper Georges (Kingsley), and has a series of adventures with his goddaughter Isabelle (Moretz). When they learn that Georges is forgotten pioneer filmmaker Georges Melies, they decide to help bring him back to life.

Scorsese tells this story with bravura moviemaking trickery, from whooshing tracking shots to wonderfully inventive uses of 3D. He also peppers the screen with witty references to film history from Modern Times to Vertigo, clips from early cinema and flashbacks to the Lumiere brothers' exhibition and Melies' busy studio. Meanwhile, the main plot unfolds with a warmly inviting glow, sharply telling details and a colourful cast of memorable side characters.
Intriguingly, everyone is a bit opaque; like the automaton, the gears turn but we never really understand them.

Butterfield's Hugo may be consumed by an inner yearning, but he's always on guard, providing a watchful pair of eyes through which we see the drama, romance and slapstick of the station. And it's in these details that Scorsese and his cast draw us in. Standouts are Baron Cohen, who adds layers of comedy and pathos to every scene, and McCrory (as Mrs Melies), with her barely suppressed enthusiasm. As usual, Kingsley never lets his guard down: he invests this broken man with a bit too much dignity.

As the film progresses, the passion for the movies is infectious. Scorsese's gorgeous visual approach and writer Logan's controlled cleverness never overwhelm the human story. And even if Melies' life and Paris' geography are adjusted for no real reason, the film's warm drama and delightful imagery really get under the skin, making us fall in love with the movies all over again.

John Logan - Wednesday 5th May 2010 at Tony Awards New York City, USA

John Logan

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street Review


Very Good
Quite possibly the strangest holiday release since Miramax rolled out its bloodsucking Dracula update in December 2000, Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street reproduces Stephen Sondheim's moody musical as a theatrically macabre vengeance play that gleefully soaks its numbers in gallons of gooey, red stage blood. It's a mesmerizing mess of a film that alternates its high notes with blatant missteps. Yet for all its unmistakable faults, it casts such a complete spell that I'm chomping at the bit to see it again (and again).

Where other studios might have demanded proven singers for the parts, Paramount (bravely?) permits Burton to practice extreme nepotism. The director recruits his better half, Johnny Depp, for the title role of a wrongfully jailed barber who seeks vengeance against a covetous judge (Alan Rickman) and his troll-like lackey (Timothy Spall). As for the role of Mrs. Lovett, it goes to Burton's wife, Helena Bonham Carter. A meat-pie maker, Lovett helps dispose of Sweeney's human victims by turning them into delectable delicacies.

Continue reading: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street Review

Bats Review


Bad
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don't shut up often. But, when the lights go down, my mouth clamps shut... Unless its a complete Z-grade movie like Bats.

Bats is one of those movies where you have to get popcorn just to throw it at the screen. It is one of those movies where you have to make fun of those little kids scared out of their wits three rows behind you on the other side of the theatre. Most of all, however, it is one of those movies where you have to provide a running commentary.

Continue reading: Bats Review

The Time Machine (2002) Review


Weak
Guy Pearce remakes his second film of the year with The Time Machine... and it's barely March. Unfortunately, he had considerably better luck with The Count of Monte Cristo than with this limp retread.

Then again, the original Time Machine wasn't really anything special - a bunch of bad makeup effects and a weak plot. This time out the makeup's better but the story's a total loss.

Continue reading: The Time Machine (2002) Review

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John Logan Movies

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

James Bond - Spectre Movie Review

James Bond - Spectre Movie Review

For his latest adventure, James Bond mixes the personal drama of Skyfall with the vintage...

Skyfall Movie Review

Skyfall Movie Review

Things get very personal for 007 in this high-quality thriller, which keeps us gripped even...

Coriolanus Movie Review

Coriolanus Movie Review

Actor-director Fiennes sets Shakespeare's military tragedy in a modern-day war setting, which gives it a...

Hugo Movie Review

Hugo Movie Review

Based on the Brian Selznick novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Scorsese's first family movie...

Rango Movie Review

Rango Movie Review

Inventive visuals and lively voice cast lift this finely animated film above the fray. So...

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Bats Movie Review

Bats Movie Review

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don't shut up often. But,...

Any Given Sunday Movie Review

Any Given Sunday Movie Review

Football is as engrained in our society's mores as deeply as war, family values, and...

The Aviator Movie Review

The Aviator Movie Review

The mythology of Howard Hughes is quite possibly bigger than the man could ever live...

Gladiator Movie Review

Gladiator Movie Review

"Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?" Hey, who doesn't!?The awe-inspiring trailers for Gladiator...

Star Trek: Nemesis Movie Review

Star Trek: Nemesis Movie Review

Long has held the rule that even-numbered Star Trek movies are good and odd-numbered ones...

The Last Samurai Movie Review

The Last Samurai Movie Review

Towards the end of Ed Zwick's The Last Samurai, Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) washes away...

The Time Machine (2002) Movie Review

The Time Machine (2002) Movie Review

Guy Pearce remakes his second film of the year with The Time Machine... and it's...

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