With the tagline "A Star Wars Story", this first spin-off from the saga isn't actually a stand-alone movie. It requires some understanding of the context as it chronicles events that lead directly into 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope. It's also a seriously rousing action film with a riveting cast of characters and a surprising willingness to embrace even the darkest elements of storytelling. In other words, it might be the first Star Wars movie made specifically for grown-ups.
It opens as the Empire is systematically crushing the rebellion, leaving them wondering if there's any point to continuing the fight. Rumours are swirling that the Empire is building a massive Death Star, and rebel Jyn (Felicity Jones) discovers that it was designed by her long-lost father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who sends her a message saying that he left a flaw in the system specifically for the rebels to exploit. So she joins a team to contact him, led by Cassian (Diego Luna), who doubts that Galen is on their side. They're accompanied by pilot Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and the sarcastic robot K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), plus the blind wannabe Jedi Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and his battling sidekick Baze (Jiang Wen). And as their mission goes rogue, they come up against the slimy Imperial Director Orson (Ben Mendelson) and the vicious Darth Vader (again voiced by James Earl Jones).
Director Gareth Edwards (Monster) packs the movie with visual references to A New Hope, cleverly matching the design work by avoiding fakey digital effects in lieu of more practical, battle-scared models and lively settings on a series of new planets and a familiar one. This gives the film an electric atmosphere that's edgy and unpredictable even though we all know exactly how this mission has to end. At the beginning, the plot feels a bit splintered, but the strands come together with power, building a gnawing sense of momentum and some real gravitas along the way.
Continue reading: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
As Guardians of the Galaxy did two years ago, this action romp comes at the Marvel universe from a witty angle that makes it a lot more fun than the overcrowded Avengers movies. This film has a strong central character, a boisterous sense of humour and a relatively simple plot that never gets bogged down in explaining its mythology. Most of all, it's hugely entertaining, with a great cast and head-spinning kaleidoscopic effects.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a top New York neurosurgeon. Arrogant and dismissive, he maintains a friendship with his ex, fellow surgeon Christine (Rachel McAdams). But a car crash puts an end to his rock-n-roll lifestyle when his hands are seriously injured. After medicine fails to heal him, he turns to eastern mysticism, travelling to Kathmandu to study under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). She opens his mind to the magical power around him, and as he develops his powers with the serious, more experienced Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Stephen is pulled into an epic clash with the rebel sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who wants to heal humanity by sending it into a dark, timeless parallel universe.
Despite the gloomy plot, Scott Derrickson directs the film with a very light touch, bringing out cheeky humour in every scene as these whip-smart characters interact with each other. Cumberbatch has probably never had a role that so fully draws on his real-life charisma and wit, and he shines as the swaggering, cocky doctor who has to rebuild his life in unexpected directions. For much of the film he's way out of his depth, which means that the supporting cast get a chance to steal scenes from him.
Continue reading: Doctor Strange Review
Rachel McAdams will star opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Doctor Strange’.
Rachel McAdams has joined the cast of Doctor Strange. The 36-year-old Canadian born actor, best known for her roles in The Notebook and True Detective, confirmed her casting whilst appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday (14th September).
Rachel McAdams at the New York premiere of Southpaw in July 2015.
Continue reading: Rachel McAdams Confirms Her Casting In Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’
Just when you thought no one could come up with a fresh take on the Western, the Danes arrive with this astonishingly earthy and inventive film, shot in South Africa no less. Director Kristian Levring uses all of the usual elements without ever resorting to cliches, which makes the film strikingly involving. Not only are the characters people we can identify with, but their moral dilemmas are strikingly provocative. Especially as the violence escalates.
The story opens in 1871, as Danish immigrant Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) welcomes his wife (Nanna Oland Fabricius) and young son to the American prairie where he has worked for seven years. But on the way home from the station, they are ambushed by outlaws. After a desperate struggle, Jon manages to kill them, but this puts him on the wrong side of the local boss Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who enforces cooperation from the town's mayor-undertaker (Jonathan Pryce) and sheriff-priest (Douglas Hensall). So aside from his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), Jon has nowhere to turn. His only hope of justice is to deliver it himself.
Adding an intriguing layer is the fact that Jon and Peter are veterans of Denmark's civil war, just as the locals are survivors of America's. So everyone has war in their blood. The Danish brothers have vowed to turn their backs on violence and build a lawful society, so the flurry of clashes, kidnappings and killings with Delarue's goons (including Eric Cantona) are tinged with regretfulness. And the script never lets the audience off lightly: in the Wild West, no one is safe. Civilisation has only begun to arrive in this isolated place, but the discovery of oil has replaced old world values with pure, unfiltered greed. Yes, there's a lot more going on here than the usual swaggering Western machismo. And the casting has as much to do with that as the script.
Continue reading: The Salvation Review
In the 1870s, Danish settlers travelled to the US following a brutal war with Germany. One of these people was Jon (Mads Mikkelsen), who travels to America to start a new life with his family. But, having travelled from the frying pan to the fire, Jon's world is ready to be rocked to its very core. When his family is murdered, Jon puts his military training to use, and hunts down and deals out western justice to his families killers. The problem is, one of the men his kills was the brother of a feared outlaw, who proceeds to terrorise a local town as revenge. Jon will be called upon to end the feud he started - but with nothing left, why should he?
Continue: The Salvation Trailer
Shia LaBeouf is well-cast in this freewheeling combination of comedy, romance and action. He plays a scruffy guy with no plans and nothing to lose, lost in a strange culture while falling in love with the wrong woman. It's not a particularly original premise, and much of what happens feels wildly improbable, but the characters and situations are so entertaining that we can't help but hold on for the ride.
It opens in Chicago, where Charlie (LaBeouf) watches helplessly as his mother (Melissa Leo) dies in hospital, asking her what he should do next. Then there she is appearing to him, telling him to visit Bucharest. "That's weirdly specific," he replies, but he follows her advice, and on the flight over has another encounter with a dead person. This one asks him to look up his daughter Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood) and give her a message. Of course, Charlie is instantly smitten, but tries to ignore the fact that Gabi's psychopathic husband Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen) looks easily capable of murder. As does the mobster club owner Darko (Til Schweiger) Charlie has a run in with while out on the town with his youth hostel roommates, two chucklehead Brits (Rupert Grint and James Buckley).
As the title suggests, Charlie feels like death is inevitable for him, especially now that he seems to have caught whatever that kid from The Sixth Sense had. LaBeouf gives Charlie just the right mix of hapless loser and quick-thinking resourcefulness, and his chemistry with Wood is tetchy and fun to watch. Meanwhile, the scene-stealing supporting stars Mikkelsen, Schweiger, Grint and Buckley add a terrific mixture of comedy silliness and dark peril. This seems to be director Fredrik Bond's main goal here: to blend genres from grim drama to sweet romance to goofy slapstick to Taken-style action violence.
Continue reading: The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman Review
Michael Kohlhaas is a horse dealer living a simple but idyllic life with his beautiful wife, children and their quaint home. He buys some carefully selected horses to take home from a nearby town but on the way he is stopped by a greedy local baron who removes several of his horses apparently unlawfully. When Kohlhaas protests his rights, he discovers that his beloved wife has been ruthlessly killed and so he decides, with his whole world crashing down around him, to embark on a fearless voyage of vengeance. While attempting to gather an army to destroy the monsters who ruined his life, he is confronted by his own religious beliefs which tell him he must forgive his enemies. However, is seems Kohlhaas is willing to face the fiery depths of hell for what those enemies have taken from him.
When Charlie Countryman boarded a plane to Bucharest in Romania after a hallucination of his late mother told him to, it became both the best and worst decision he'd ever make. He becomes embroiled in the life of a middle-aged man who dies beside him on the flight and is forced to meet his daughter; a strikingly beautiful cellist named Gabi; with whom he sets out to uncover the mysteries he left behind. Along the way he meets her party-loving friends who welcome him with open arms and he finds himself falling increasingly in love with her. However, things take a turn for the worst when her crime boss husband Nigel shows up on her doorstep with no intention of letting Charlie take her off his hands. Charlie can do nothing but fiercely protect his lover, but to do that, he is forced to lay down his life.
Continue: Charlie Countryman - Red Band Trailer
LeBeouf just can't help peeling his expensive clothes off.
Celebrities tend to think it’s okay to take naked pictures of themselves and put them on the Internet. The thought process is a difficult one to fathom, but enough of them do it do suggest that the vast majority are idiots, attention seekers or quasi prostitutes with no self worth.
Shia LaBeouf in Charlie Countryman
Often, they’re all three.
Continue reading: Shia LeBeouf Bares Nearly All On Social Media, Nothing New
Charlie Countryman is a regular guy who is prompted to travel to Bucharest in Romania after experiencing a vision of his deceased mother. However, along the way, fate intervenes when a middle-aged man dies in his sleep while seated beside Charlie, and he is suddenly embroiled in the case of his death. He meets his striking musician daughter Gabi who he vows to help find out what happened to her father, while getting involved with her party-hard, drug-taking friends. The pair begin to fall head over heels in love with each other, but when her crime boss husband Nigel appears, things take a turn for the worst for Charlie. Attempting to stand up for himself and protect his new lover, he endures several emotional and physical attacks from the ruthless Nigel before realising the only way he can save Gabi; he must die for her.
Continue: Charlie Countryman Trailer
Date of birth
22nd November, 1965
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