Julian Seager

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Pan Review

Good

After several high-profile grown-up movies (from Atonement to Anna Karenina), director Joe Wright aims this Peter Pan origin story squarely at children. So while it's far too manic and broad for adults, this adventure will be the most exciting movie any 8-year-old has seen in years. It's colourful and fantastical, and it thankfully doesn't indulge in reworking the beloved J.M. Barrie stories. Instead, it imagines an action-packed prequel universe.

As German bombs fall on London during the Blitz, young Peter (Levi Miller) is up to all kinds of mischief in the grim orphanage overseen by Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke), who sells bad boys to airborne pirates. Sure enough, one night Peter is taken, sailing into the sky to Neverland, where he is sent to work in the mines for the swaggering, heartless Captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). In the mines Peter is befriended by the adventurer Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and when Peter discovers that he can fly they make their escape. Blackbeard chases them out into the woods, where they take refuge with Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and her tribe, which is convinced that Peter is the child of a prophecy that will lead the fairy kingdom to freedom. But just when Peter learns who his parents really were, Blackbeard catches up with them.

This is an old-school kids' movie, packed with larger-than-life characters and outrageously imaginative action sequences that make the most of the 3D cinematography. Yes, there's so much digital trickery going on that the movie is essentially a cartoon, but it's so vividly explosive that it's a lot of fun to watch. And many of the big set-pieces are genuinely thrilling. There's also quite a lot of fun to be had in the way the story twists the familiar characters around. Obviously, Hook couldn't have always been a bad guy; here he's one of the heroes, and he still has both hands, which hints that further prequel adventures may be on the cards.

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Macbeth Review

Very Good

Shakespeare's Scottish play returns to the big screen with earthy energy, visual style and roaring performances. Acclaimed Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) takes an artistic approach that makes terrific use of sweeping landscapes and harsh weather, which allows the cast to put their guts into their roles. Yet while the film looks absolutely amazing, the sound mix is so muddled that anyone unfamiliar with the play will find it difficult to follow.

Michael Fassbender plays Macbeth, an 11th century general who has just triumphed on the Highland battlefield but is struggling internally after he and Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) lost their infant child. So when three witches tell him that he is destined to become king, his wife encourages him to make it happen sooner rather than later. In secret, Macbeth murders King Duncan (David Thewlis) and pins the blame on his son Malcolm (Jack Reynor), who flees in fear, raising suspicion. Now on the throne, King and Queen Macbeth are overwhelmed by paranoia about any hint of a threat to their power, raising distrust of loyal friends like Banquo (Paddy Considine) and Duncan's defender Macduff (Sean Harris). Meanwhile, Malcolm has raised an army in England and is coming back to claim his title.

This is one of Shakespeare's bleakest, leanest plays, and Kurzel gives it an intriguingly expansive tone by setting most of the action outdoors in the elements rather than in shadowy castle corridors. In addition to adding a gritty, muddy kick, this allows the battle sequences to take on a Lord of the Rings-scale intensity. So the effect of this violence on the characters is that much more resonant. Lady Macbeth turns inward, tormenting herself in an extended dream sequence, while Macbeth goes the other way, killing anyone who seems even remotely shifty. But of course they also understand that their ambition and guilt are causing these extreme reactions.

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Pan Trailer


Peter was sent to an orphanage as a young boy with nothing but a small metal pan pendant left to him by his mother, who predicted great things for her son. Indeed, he goes on to experience the most exciting childhood anyone could dream to have, flying around on airborne ships from the mystical world of Neverland. And while it may be an enjoyable time, there are still great dangers that lie before him; the most feared pirate in all the land, Blackbeard, is out to bring the land under his tyrannous rule and Peter finds himself a target. Meanwhile, he meets James Hook, a fellow traveller who becomes his friend and protector, and it isn't long before he then bumps into a vibrant tribe led by the formidable Tiger Lily, who reveals to him that his arrival marks the end of the pirates' terror. But Peter is just a boy, and however brave he might be, does he really stand a chance against these merciless villains?

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Cinderella Review


Excellent

The thing that makes this Disney live-action remake so wonderful is the same thing that might put off some audience members: it's a pure fairy tale. This time, the studio has resisted the snarky, post-modern spin that threatened to turn previous live-action remakes (Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent) into pointless Lord of the Rings-style action epics. Instead, this is a genuinely beautiful, surgingly romantic, exquisitely made fantasy.

With only a few minor tweaks, this is the classic story of Ella (Lily James), whose widowed father (Ben Chaplin) marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett). She arrives with her two spoiled daughters Drizella and Anastasia (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger), and when she is also widowed, Ella ends up running the household just to keep things from falling apart. But Lady Tremaine and her daughters taunt her with the nickname "Cinderella" and treat her like a slave, refusing to let her attend the ball thrown by the Crown Prince (Richard Madden). He had met Ella before, and is hoping to see her at the ball, but she only gets a chance to go when her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) turns up with some magic to make that happen. And after dancing with the Prince all night, her sudden disappearance sends him on a desperate quest involving a single glass slipper.

To spice things up, screenwriter Chris Weitz has included a conspiratorial sideplot in which the increasingly wicked stepmother plots with a royal advisor (Stellan Skarsgard) to thwart the Prince's wishes. But otherwise, the film hews closely to both Charles Perrault's 1697 folktale and Disney's 1950 animated classic. This includes lavish sets and costumes that continually take the breath away, giving the characters the same silhouettes as their cartoon counterparts. And within this extravagant design work, the actors are able to create surprisingly textured characters. James' Ella isn't a simple farm girl in need of a man. Madden's Prince is looking for real love. And Blanchett's riveting Lady Tremaine is eerily sympathetic even in her darkest moments.

Continue reading: Cinderella Review

Maleficent Review


Good

Disney rewrites its own history again with this revisionist version of its 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. As she did with Alice in Wonderland, screenwriter Linda Woolverton uses simplistic plotting and clumsy dialogue to turn a children's story into an eerily dark Lord of the Rings-style effects extravaganza. Fortunately, it's held together by an imperious performance from Angelina Jolie.

She plays the story's wicked witch as a misunderstood hero, a happy fairy who grew up in a magical realm next to a kingdom of humans who were constantly afraid of what they didn't understand. And things take a grim turn when her childhood friend Stefan (Sharlto Copley) brutally violates her in order to become the human's king. Now the two lands are at war with each other, and in a fit of rage Maleficent curses Stefan's firstborn Aurora (Dakota Fanning) to fall into a deep sleep before she turns 16. So Stefan hides her in a country house cared for by three bumbling pixies (Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple). But it's actually Maleficent who watches over Aurora, and as they bond Maleficent begins to wish she could undo that pesky curse.

Yes, this is not remotely the familiar 17th century Sleeping Beauty fairytale: it's a completely different plot that reduces the "sleeping" bit from 100 years to little more than a power nap. It also re-casts Maleficent as a woman who had one brief moment of nastiness, while the increasingly paranoid and cruel Stefan is the real villain of the piece. The problem is that this shift leaves all of the characters feeling shallow and uninteresting. Aside from Jolie's fabulously prowling horned fairy, no one on-screen really registers at all. The terrific trio of pixies are sidelined in silly slapstick, while the Handsome Prince (Brendon Thwaites) is utterly hapless and Maleficent's crow-like sidekick (Sam Riley) is the victim of an over-zealous make-up designer.

Continue reading: Maleficent Review

Muppets Most Wanted - Clip


Kermit and friends are set to go international with the help of their unfortunately named new tour manager Dominic Badguy, with hopes of selling-out major theatres in all the big cities of the world including Berlin, Madrid and London. As usual though, things are not about to run smoothly for these trouble magnets as they are forced to postpone their tour when Kermit becomes under suspicion for robbery. It's bad luck for him that there's another frog in town - the formidable Constantine, who organises a jewel heist with the knowledge that he may evade capture because of his unwitting doppelganger. Constantine tries to pretend he's Kermit amongst the other Muppets in an effort to evade detection while Kermit gets locked up, but will they realise their mistake in time to release their real friend and finish their tour?

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The Muppets Most Wanted Trailer


Kermit and friends return, embarking on an extensive world tour that sees them reach all corners of the globe at sell-out theatre shows in the likes of Berlin, Madrid and London. However, things can't be that easy for these disastrous Muppets as there's always someone out to bring them down; this time, a major organised jewel heist occurs stopping everyone in their tracks when they realise who the culprit is. Constantine, is the world's most dangerous frog, but he becomes even more of a threat by his striking resemblance to Kermit himself. In a horrifying turn of events, Kermit gets locked up for a crime he didn't commit - while Constantine goes about trying to fool his friends into thinking he's the good frog. Will Kermit's friends realise who they've let into their lives in time for justice to be served?

The Muppets return in 'Muppets Most Wanted' - a grippingly funny sequel to their 2011 Oscar winning movie 'The Muppets'. The new movie sees the return of director James Bobin ('Da Ali G Show', 'Flight of the Conchords') alongside writer Nicholas Stoller ('Get Him to the Greek', 'Gulliver's Travels', 'Yes Man'), and it's due for release in the UK on March 28th 2014.

Click here to read - Muppets Most Wanted Movie Review

The Muppets Most Wanted - International Teaser Trailer


Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and friends are up to their usual tricks as they return to our screens which sees them embark on a major world tour, selling out the biggest theatres in the likes of Berlin, Madrid and London. However, as can be expected from the rabble-rousing Muppets, things don't run smoothly and they manage to get embroiled in an organised jewellery heist behind which sits Kermit's mean doppelganger and his equally evil sidekick. When Kermit gets into some serious trouble after a terrible mix up, it's up to the Muppets to once again face their enemies just like they did with oil magnate Tex Richman when he threatened to drill into the Muppets' theatre for oil. Will they succeed once again? Or will their new troubles prove too much for the feisty characters?

Continue: The Muppets Most Wanted - International Teaser Trailer

Thor: The Dark World Trailer


Marvel's Thunder God, Thor returns in the latest superhero blockbuster, Thor: The Dark World (sequel to self titled film: Thor) where he must face his greatest battle to save Earth and all nine realms 'from a Darkness known only to one' lead by the feared Malekith. Thor must risk everything by reuniting with his brother and Avengers Villian: Loki in order to protect his beloved Jane Foster in what promises to be the most thrilling Thor adventure yet. 

The film see's the Return of stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston with the introduction of acclaimed actor Christopher Eccleston as Malekith and Alan Taylor replacing Kenneth Branagh as director. Stan Lee remains Executive Producer alongside Alan Fine, Nigel Gostelow, Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso and Craig Kyle.

Click here to read: Thor: The Dark World Movie Review

The World's End Trailer


Gary King is a 40-year-old still living in his teens and who can't wait to gather up his four friends from his teenage years to complete a pub crawl that they failed 20 years ago as kids in their hometown of Newton Haven. Unfortunately for him, his now corporate, higher-living friends are reluctant to agree though with much pressure from Gary, they eventually relent. However, things aren't exactly as they remember; the townsfolk are acting oddly and they are about to embark on a mission to rescue their childhood home from a threat of galactic proportions. But will they manage to complete their drinking quest and reach 'The World's End' pub as well as save the world from certain destruction?

Continue: The World's End Trailer

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Julian Seager Movies

Pan Movie Review

Pan Movie Review

After several high-profile grown-up movies (from Atonement to Anna Karenina), director Joe Wright aims this...

Macbeth Movie Review

Macbeth Movie Review

Shakespeare's Scottish play returns to the big screen with earthy energy, visual style and roaring...

Pan Trailer

Pan Trailer

Peter was sent to an orphanage as a young boy with nothing but a small...

Cinderella Movie Review

Cinderella Movie Review

The thing that makes this Disney live-action remake so wonderful is the same thing that...

Maleficent Movie Review

Maleficent Movie Review

Disney rewrites its own history again with this revisionist version of its 1959 classic Sleeping...

Muppets Most Wanted Trailer

Muppets Most Wanted Trailer

Kermit and friends are set to go international with the help of their unfortunately named...

Advertisement
The Muppets Most Wanted Trailer

The Muppets Most Wanted Trailer

Kermit and friends return, embarking on an extensive world tour that sees them reach all...

Thor: The Dark World Trailer

Thor: The Dark World Trailer

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston talk about the upcoming 'Thor: The Dark World' in a...

The Muppets Most Wanted Trailer

The Muppets Most Wanted Trailer

Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and friends are up to their usual tricks as...

Thor: The Dark World Trailer

Thor: The Dark World Trailer

Marvel's Thunder God, Thor returns in the latest superhero blockbuster, Thor: The Dark World (sequel...

The World's End Trailer

The World's End Trailer

Gary King is a 40-year-old still living in his teens and who can't wait to...

Thor: The Dark World Trailer

Thor: The Dark World Trailer

Following the dramatic events of 'Thor' and 'The Avengers' which saw Thor battling not only...

Rush Trailer

Rush Trailer

James Hunt is English Formula 1 champion well-known for his hedonistic life of women, alcohol...

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