The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923. Turkey has long denied that this took place, so the filmmakers take a rather soft approach to the story, setting out a romantic plotline with the genocide as a backdrop. So the resulting drama is somewhat uneven, but the events are so powerful that the film can't be ignored.
It opens in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire is collapsing. Mikael (Oscar Isaac) is a young Armenian studying medicine in Constantinople with a promised fiancee Maral (Angela Sarafyan) back home. Even so, he falls for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), who shares his rural Armenian background. But she has a boyfriend, Chris (Christian Bale), who is investigating rumours of war as the Germans arrive to help the Turkish government round up its ethnic minorities. Mikael is soon arrested, but escapes from the work camp to return to his parents (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Kevork Malikyan) and Maral. Meanwhile, Chris and Ana are trying to report the story of what's really happening, and Mikael joins them to help a group of orphan refugees.
Yes, this is a sweeping epic in which there's a lot going on, and it's filmed on a lavish scale. The characters' lives continually intersect throughout the story, and the intensity of the wartime atrocities is seriously powerful. On the other hand, this makes the four-sided romance feel like a melodramatic distraction. The actors are solid, but the earnest tone undermines any real emotional edge. Isaac is sincere and decent, Le Bon is strong and wilful, Bale is solid and cynical, and Sarafyan is lost in the shuffle. Aghdashloo, as always, provides wrenching support.
Continue reading: The Promise Review
Michael is a promisingstudent living in Armenia during the Ottoman Turkish Empire, who agrees to marry a rich woman in return for a dowry than can put him through medical school. He travels to Istanbul where he meets a reporter for the Associated Press named Christopher and his Armenian love interest Ana who grew up in France. It isn't long before a love triangle develops between the three of them which causes tension in their relationships, but all of that ceases to matter when the Empire begins the Armenian Genocide. He manages to get out of serving in the army, but after trying to save a member of his family he gets locked up in a prison camp himself. With his village in danger, all he wants is to rescue his family and his people, and Christopher - freeing himself of his jealousy of Ana and Michael's attraction - insists on helping in their escape.
Continue: The Promise Trailer
Director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven) talks about world of his new film, 'Exodus: Gods and Kings'. The film follows the life of Moses (Christian Bale), and works on "the complexity of his character". Scott also talks about what drew him to the material, namely, the "beauty in the massive scale of it". He discusses the process of using computers to turn four thousand extras look like twenty thousand soldiers. Aside from the battle scenes, we see evidence of the biblical plagues that come from the original story at work.
Continue: Exodus: Gods and Kings - Featurettes
Moses and the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses grew up together as brothers after the former was saved from drowing in the Nile. However, Moses has not forgotten the reason why he was cast into the river; all newborn Israelites were condemned to death by the past Pharaoh for fear of their growing numbers. Now he is enlisted by God to save the Israelites from their slavery at the hands of the Pharaoh's people, but to do so he must turn his back on his brother and friend. The Egyptians fight back as Moses defiantly leads the Israelites on an arduous journey across the desert, while God unleashes a series of horrific plagues and turns their Nile to blood. Egypt face new dangers as God decides that rules need to be laid down for Moses and his people.
Continue: Exodus: Gods And Kings Trailer
There wasn't really anywhere for the story to go after 2008's surprise hit Taken, and this movie quickly proves that. Not only does it have that same appalling moral vacuum at the centre (it doesn't matter how many irrelevant people you torture and kill to rescue your loved one), but the plot becomes increasingly absurd as it progresses. So the only genuine response is weary laughter.
The action picks up shortly after Bryan (Neeson) has recovered from his ordeal in Paris. His daughter Kim (Grace) seems to have forgotten it completely, and soon she and her mother Lenore (Janssen), Bryan's ex, jet off to Istanbul to join him after he finishes a business meeting. But they don't know that the family of the Albanian thugs Bryan killed in France have followed him to Turkey intent on vengeance. They soon grab Bryan and Lenore, so Bryan calls Kim on a secret mobile device and coaches her on how to rescue them. Of course, it gets increasingly messy as the hours tick by.
Perfectly named director Megaton (Colombiana) never bothers to make any sense out of the story, merely charging into each scene with guns blazing and grenades exploding, while suggesting that only unshaven Albanian-looking men get killed in the process. Well, all of them, to be exact. He also delights in presenting shameless stereotypes of Muslims who take their run-down lifestyle with them wherever they go. Meanwhile, the Yanks are efficient and unruffled, speaking in cliched slogans. Neeson sleepwalks through the film, shifting into action mode or hitting the dramatic notes where necessary. Jansson is actually asleep (or unconscious) most of the time. While Grace has the most fun in a series of insane action set-pieces.
Continue reading: Taken 2 Review
There are bound to be very few surprises in a movie that gives away its ending in the title. A remake of a 1965 Jimmy Stewart movie in which the survivors of a desert plane crash build a new makeshift aircraft from the wreckage of the old one, "Flight of the Phoenix" has no surprises at all.
From a guy showing pictures of his wife and kid (uh oh) before the doomed cargo plane even takes off to ferry workers home from a shut-down Gobi Desert oil rig, to the personality clashes as social order disintegrates, to the inspirational speeches that bring them all back together, everything in the story comes pretty much on cue. Even the band of desert marauders who turn up to threaten them arrives just in time to kick off the third act.
Continue reading: Flight Of The Phoenix Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...
Michael is a promisingstudent living in Armenia during the Ottoman Turkish Empire, who agrees to...
Director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven) talks about world of his new film,...
Moses and the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses grew up together as brothers after the former was...
There wasn't really anywhere for the story to go after 2008's surprise hit Taken, and...
There are bound to be very few surprises in a movie that gives away its...