Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on videogames. There may have been some hits (like Tomb Raider or the Resident Evil franchise), but none has ever been critically acclaimed. So perhaps reuniting the cast and director of 2015's Macbeth might finally break the cycle. But while there's plenty of whizzy stuntwork, this film never finds a story or characters to grab hold of the audience.
In present-day Texas, death row prisoner Cal (Michael Fassbender) is executed by lethal injection and wakes up in a gloomy fortress towering over Madrid. He's been saved by shady businessman Rikkin (Jeremy Irons), whose daughter Sofia (Marion Cotillard) is a scientist experimenting with DNA memory. Rikkin needs Cal to travel back into his own history using a mechanical contraption called an Animus to find out where his 15th century ancestor Aguilar (also Fassbender) hid the Apple of Eden, which holds the key to controlling human will. But Cal discovers that he is the last in a long line of Assassins who have sworn to protect the apple from Knights Templar like Rikkin or his imperious supreme leader Ellen (the fabulously gloomy Charlotte Rampling).
The idea is a clever one, and director Justin Kurzel keeps the visuals grounded with action that feels earthy and real rather than digitally manipulated. Indeed, the combination of sleek sci-fi thrills with medieval fantasy horror is very cool. But there's one huge problem with the premise: all of the big fight sequences and eye-catching parkour acrobatics take place in distant history. Cal can experience these things, but he can't actually do anything, so there's no peril involved. Instead, we get endless explanations of the technology and historical inter-connections, which never quite make sense regardless of how much the characters talk about them.
Continue reading: Assassin's Creed Review
Michael Fassbender seen with Marion Cotillard, Michael K. Williams, Jeremy Irons and Essie Davis at the New York premiere of 'Assassin's Creed' held at AMC Empire, New York City, United States - Tuesday 13th December 2016
It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with a then-original mix of comedy and supernatural action. Intriguingly, this new film is neither a sequel nor a remake; it's a reboot of the franchise, which loosely adapts the original 1984 premise to all-new characters. Thankfully, the screenplay is smart and funny, and the cast is flat-out hilarious.
It opens as university professor Erin (Kristen Wiig) sees her hopes for tenure evaporate when a book she wrote years ago with her childhood pal Abby (Melissa McCarthy) resurfaces, affirming their belief in ghosts. So Erin seeks out Abby, and discovers that she's still researching the supernatural, now with the sharp-witted gadget maker Jillian (Kate McKinnon). With spirit sightings on the rise in New York, the three decide to launch a ghost-busting business, joined by city expert Patty (Leslie Jones) and bimbo receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). But the apparitions popping up around the city are getting increasingly malevolent, and it's clear that an apocalypse is brewing.
The basic plot is lifted from the original movie, which is referenced in virtually every scene. Most of this is rather distracting, because a more original storyline would have been a lot more involving and the in-jokes will be lost on younger audiences. But it's fun to see the original cast members turn up here and there in random cameos.
Continue reading: Ghostbusters Review
James Purefoy, Christina Hendricks , Michael K. Williams - Sundance TV Celebrates the Launch of Original Scripted Series "HAP AND LEONARD" held at Hill Country NYC - Hill Country BBQ - New York, New York, United States - Friday 26th February 2016
Ashley Smith is heavily addicted to drugs so much so that she has lost custody of her young daughter, who is also without a father following the death of Ashley's husband. She regularly attends a support group, though still struggles to find peace. Another woman in the group gives her a copy of 'The Purpose Driven Life' by Rick Warren, which proves to have a much bigger effect on her life than she imagined. Meanwhile, a violent criminal named Brian Nichols who has just found out he's a father has escaped from his trial at Fulton County courthouse, murdering the judge along the way. As a manhunt gets underway, he bumps into Ashley on her return home and holds her hostage in her apartment. As time wears on, Ashley begins to read the book to Brian who starts to question his actions, and his own purpose in life.
Continue: Captive Trailer
With a strangely simplistic screenplay by William Monahan (The Departed), director Rupert Wyatt and his cast struggle to dig beneath the surface in a meaningful way. Mark Wahlberg does what he can in the lead role as a self-destructive gambling addict, but since he's never remotely likeable it's impossible to care what happens to him. It's decently made, but without strong characters or a resonant message the movie ultimately feels like a vanity project that's gone wrong somewhere along the way.
Wahlberg plays Jim, a swaggering university professor who torments his brightest student Amy (Larson) in front of the whole class. But she knows that he's also unable to pass a blackjack table without losing a small fortune. And it's probably money he owes to someone. Indeed, he's accruing such severe debts to a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) that he turns to his millionaire mother (Jessica Lange) for help, knowing that if she gives him the cash he'll gamble it away before settling his accounts. So he also turns to tough loan shark Frank (John Goodman), who stresses to Jim the importance of paying up and getting out of the betting world for good. But Jim seems incapable of even a shred of self-control.
It's virtually impossible to connect with a character this one-sided. Aside from his literary intelligence, there's nothing remotely redeeming about Jim, so it's difficult to escape the feeling that he's getting just what he deserves. And it gets worse when he starts romancing Amy, a nubile girl barely half his age. Wahlberg never plays Jim as anything but an unapologetic loser who has orchestrated his own misfortune. So why should we care what happens to him? At least the side characters interject a bit of complexity, most notably Lange and Goodman, who command the entire film with just a couple of scenes each. The usually terrific Larson barely registers in an underwritten role that makes very little logical sense.
Continue reading: The Gambler Review
Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a simple man. When he's not abusing illicit substances, he's solving crimes as a private investigator - although those two do sometimes overlap. But as the 1960s breath their dying breath, Doc's life is going to get perhaps a little too interesting for his liking. When his ex-girlfriend shows up one day, Doc finds himself unable to stay unintegrated with the 70s, as his new employer and former lover has him tracking down her new boyfriend and trying to thwart the plans of his wife and HER boyfriend. And if that wasn't complicated enough for him, there's something to do with a mysterious 'Golden Fang'. It's gonna be one hell of a decade.
Continue: Inherent Vice - Extended Trailer
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a private investigator living in Los Angeles during the tail end of the 1960s. When his ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston) reappears one day, she drags him into a complex series of events which will shatter his calm and quite life, and force him into a dangerously hilarious game involving murderous loan sharks, surfers, hustlers, dopers and the mysterious 'Golden Fang'. Her request, such as it is, is to help her new boyfriend, Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) from a plot by his wife Sloane (Serena Scott Thomas) and her boyfriend which will send Wolfmaan to the 'loony bin'. As if that wasn't complex enough, things are only going to get worse for Sportello, as the 70s are fast approaching and ready to turn his life upside down.
Continue: Inherent Vice Trailer
Kill the Messenger follows the real life story of Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), as he stumbles upon the story of a lifetime. When Webb hears that the US government was aware of the exportation of drugs to America, he begins following up the story. This, in turn, leads him to uncover a conspiracy where the CIA imported vast amounts of cocaine to sell in the US in order to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras rebel army. Webb is then faced with the option to leave the story alone, or continue his investigation and put his career, family and own life at risk.
Continue: Kill The Messenger Trailer
After last year's break-out hit thriller, writer-director James DeMonaco is back with the flip-side of the story, which jettisons the irony and and thematic subtlety in favour of in-your-face brutality. This time the account of a night of lawful violence is told from the opposite perspective, poor people who are targeted by sadistic rich people who are trying to cleanse their souls with a bit of grisly murder.
It's set one year later, in 2023 Los Angeles as the annual 12-hour Purge is about to begin. The idea is to cleanse society of its violent urges, but this has turned into an all-out war between heavily armed militias hired by the wealthy to capture poor people for their own homicidal entertainment. As an underground activist (Michael K. Williams) calls for a grassroots uprising, the waitress Eva (Carmen Ejogo) is just trying to get through the night alive with her teen daughter Cali (Zoe Soul). When they're attacked, an unnamed stranger (Frank Grillo) comes to their rescue, and they're soon joined by a couple (Zach Gilford and Keile Sanchez) whose car picked the wrong time and place to break down. Together, these five attempt to escape pursuit by two vicious gangs: lowlife mercenaries looking for fresh blood to sell to wealthy clients and a high-tech army bent on all-out massacre.
It's deeply contrived that these two gangs are deliberately, tenaciously and seemingly supernaturally pursuing these five people, but DeMonaco never flinches, so the audience just has to go with it. Much of the movie consists of massive nighttime street battles, but there are some more deranged interludes that hold the attention much better. At one point, they take refuge in the downtown home of one of Eva's colleagues (Justina Machado), a drunken party that is clearly spiralling out of control even before they arrived. A little later, they are dragged right into a variation on The Hunger Games. And while four of our heroes are running for their lives, Grillo's character has something more violent in mind: he's seeking revenge against the drunk driver who killed his son.
Continue reading: The Purge: Anarchy Review
Watch the short but sweet teaser below
HBO have given us a first peek at Boardwalk Empire’s fifth and final season, which is set to air this September. A menacing sense of violence tingles through the 38-second trailer as Nucky, Chalky, Al Capone, Luciano, George Mueller all play a central role.
And if the stakes could get any higher following season 4’s finale, then the great depression certainly goes a long way towards raising them. Michael K. Williams has already confirmed that HBO’s period gangster drama will take place 7 years after season 4’s ending. Watch the teaser here.
Following the disastrous events in 2013's 'The Purge' which saw a home security salesman murdered in his so-called fortress of a family home, that time of year has come round again and, for another couple, things are going to get even grislier. The pair are cutting it fine as they drive home in the evening ahead of the 12 hour annual Purge, a period in which all crimes become legal (including theft, rape and murder) and emergency services are momentarily stopped. They are confident they can get home in time to lock themselves away once again. until their car unexpectedly breaks down. The sirens blare signalling the beginning of the Purge and the couple find themselves running for lives as some masked Purgers on motorcycles chase them down. Across the rest of the city, total anarchy ensues as the country gets caught up in a patriotic, bloodthirsty fever.
'The Purge: Anarchy' is the grim sequel to 2013 horror 'The Purge' which sees the return of director and screenwriter James DeMonaco ('Little New York'). It's a dystopian thriller about the lengths governments may go to solve national issues (such as population control) and it is set to be released this summer on June 20th 2014.
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