After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise, continuing with this King Kong prequel. It's a ripping adventure, cleverly directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) to resemble a snarky Apocalypse Now remake with added gigantic beasts. And the eclectic cast makes sure that there's plenty of comedy, villainy and heroics to draw the audience in.
It's 1973, and Bill (John Goodman) is taking a pair of scientists (Corey Hawkins and Jing Tian) to an uncharted island to verify reports of prehistoric creatures before the Russians can get there first. En route, they stop in Vietnam to collect a mercenary adventurer (Tom Hiddleston), a photojournalist (Brie Larson) and a helicopter squadron led by Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). But their noisy arrival on the island enrages towering monkey Kong (mo-capped by Terry Notary and Toby Kebbell, who also plays a member of the team). With their choppers grounded, the main job now is to get out of here alive. And after discovering a castaway WWII pilot (John C. Reilly), they learn that Kong is actually protecting the world from far scarier monsters.
The story is told with a blast of dry humour, weaving in lots of sharp banter along with a collection of iconic 70s rock anthems. This gung-ho approach makes the movie energetically good fun, obscuring the fact that it's not particularly deep or meaningful. There are big themes gurgling away under the surface (such as the way blind militaristic action unearths dangers far worse than the perceived enemy), but these things remain subliminal, only barely visible amid the fast-paced action and big effects mayhem. That it all leads to some heavily animated monster-vs-monster destruction is hardly surprising. But when a movie is this light on its feet and so cheerfully frenetic, the audience is really only interested in hanging on for the ride.
Continue reading: Kong: Skull Island Review
It's been four years since Mel Gibson played a lead role in a movie, and with all of the tabloid headlines in the meantime it's been easy to forget how magnetic he is on screen. He's looking rather grizzled in this action thriller from French filmmaker Jean-Francois Richet (Mesrine), but his piercing presence turns what's essentially a cheesy exploitation film into something remarkably gripping.
He plays an ex-con tattoo artist named Link, who lives out in California's Mojave Desert, next door to his 12-step sponsor Kirby (William H. Macy). His home may be a trashy trailer, but he has cleaned up his life. Although his quiet reverie is disturbed by thoughts of his 17-year-old daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty), who has been missing for four years. So he's stunned when she calls him out of the blue for help. Kicking into action, he rescues her and immediately discounts her stories that the ruthless henchmen of her late gangster boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna) are after her. It doesn't take long for Link to realise that Lydia isn't exaggerating, and as they go on the run, he turns to old prison friends (including Michael Parks, Dale Dickey and Miguel Sandoval) for help. Even though he doesn't really trust anyone.
Director Richet doesn't seem very interested in the father-daughter drama at the centre of this film, even though it's far more involving than the madcap action carnage. Gibson and Moriarty do what they can to create some chemistry amid the mayhem, but they only have a few scenes in which they can push their characters a bit further. And frankly after the set-up, the audience needs that to put the violence in context. This is mainly due to the fact that the brutal pursuit is fairly predictable, and the side characters, as well played as they are, are little more than stereotypes.
Continue reading: Blood Father Review
John Link hasn't been the best father, up until recently he's constantly been on the wrong side of the law and usually at the bottom end of a bottle too. Having been in prison, John and his daughter have become estranged, Lydia is actually missing and has been for years. John's only real connection to his daughter is the missing poster he keeps pinned up in his RV.
In recovery and now working a legal job as a tattoo artist, John admits that there's not much he wouldn't do to right the wrongs of his past - including losing contact with his daughter but also says there's very little he can do. When he receives a phone call from Lydia claiming that she's in serious danger, John is glad to hear his daughters voice but also worried about her safety.
As the father and daughter return to his home, John raids Lydia's possessions looking for answers and what he finds leads him to believe that she's in real danger. Lydia informs her dad that she's been living with a cartel leader and that, after accidentally shooting him, his crew is now out for vengeance. John must turn to past associates in order to formulate a plan to protect his troubled daughter.
Based on real events, this sharply well-made film shifts from a rather light-hearted comedy into a horrific thriller. And it feels unnervingly natural as it does so. Where this goes is a bit relentless in its exploration of the darkest aspects of human capabilities, but it's also bracingly truthful. At the same time, it shows the enduring value of an experiment that seemed to go perilously wrong.
In Northern California in 1971, a group of 24 university students respond to a newspaper advert asking for participants in a psychological experiment. On the toss of a coin, organiser Dr Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) divides the young men into guards and inmates, and places them in a makeshift prison where they can be observed. And things start to turn nasty very quickly, as guard Christopher (Michael Angarano) targets snarky prisoner 8612 (Ezra Miller) for extra punishment. The guards also turn on the especially vulnerable 819 (Tye Sheridan). And when the inmates revolt, Zimbardo allows the guards to carry on with their increasingly harsh discipline. But Zimbardo's girlfriend Christina (Olivia Thirlby), herself a psychologist, worries that the situation has gone too far.
It's intriguing, and perhaps obvious, that it had to be a woman who saw through a scenario that had become little more than an out-of-control expression of masculinity. Even more telling, Zimbardo and his team became part of the experiment themselves, as they allowed and were fascinated by the abuse heaped on the prisoners by play-acting guards who let the power go to their heads. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez (C.O.G.) shoots this in an unusually stripped-down style that gives the film a documentary tone. This low key approach means that the pacing sometimes feels draggy, as the intensely internalised suspense cycles around and around again. But what this is revealing about human behaviour is invaluable, and seriously terrifying.
Continue reading: The Stanford Prison Experiment Review
It's 1971 and University professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo wants to try a new social and psychological experiment. The idea was to take 18 young, well-adjusted males and put half in the role of a prison guard and half in the role of a prison inmate. It quickly became apparent that the guards would dominate this situation and take their new job roles to the extreme.
Though all the volunteers know they're being watch by Zimbardo and his colleagues, this didn't seem to make much difference to how the guards react. Not willing to put up with the actions of the guards, soon the submissive prisoners decide to rebel and take matters into their own hands. As the volunteers fall deeper into their new lives, Zimbardo becomes fascinated by the results and how quickly the situation escalates. When rules start to get broken, when should enough be enough?
The Stanford Prison Experiment is a psychological thriller based on true events. The results of Zimbardo's test were published in a book named The Lucifer Effect.
The Stanford Prison Experiment was directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez and stars a number of young actors including Michael Angarano, Moises Arias & Ezra Miller.
'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' is a potential Oscar winner.
Though the movie world was distracted by the box-office monster Jurassic World this weekend, a promising new release was making its own headway. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a massive Sundance favourite and opened to a respectable $210,000 from just fifteen theaters.
Thomas Mann stars in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
"We felt the film was strong enough to go in the summer," said Frank Rodriguez, senior vice president of distribution at Searchlight. "There was no indication ['Jurassic World'] would do $200 million, and that kind of sucked up all the air, but there was still space for us and we got the press and reviews we needed."
Continue reading: Is 'Me And Earl And The Dying Girl' The Next 'Napoleon Dynamite'?
High school can be the worst time for some people, and for Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), it turned out to be especially horrible. His parents inform him that his classmate, Rachel Kushner (Olivia Cooke), has been diagnosed with leukemia. The two make a fast friendship out of a mutual intention to not be sympathetic, but that plan doesn't work out as well as planned. Greg and his best friend Earl make 'bad films' in their spare time, and decide to devote a film to Rachel. Unfortunately, as they specialise in bad films, they struggle to make something that will truly honour her and cheer her up.
Continue: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Trailer
Oprah obsessed Alice Klieg suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder which causes her to be socially awkward, impulsive and stubborn, and she's about to find out that money truly can buy you anything. After winning an impressive $86 million in the lottery, her first port of call is a major TV station, where she pitches an idea for hosting her own talk show. They offer her a slot at a cool $15 million, and she subsequently decides to stop taking her medication and pursue fame and recognition. The only problem is, she sucks at hosting her own show. The producers know they have to do something to save their embarrassment over this fiasco of a deal, but with Alice stuck in her own world and resolutely ignoring advice from friends and family, there's not a lot they can do to help her.
Continue: Welcome To Me Trailer
Made in Germany, this raucous adventure merrily refuses to follow the usual Hollywood route of blanding-down a fairy tale for the lowest common denominator (see both Snow White movies last year). It's still pretty stupid, but it's so unapologetically over-the-top that we're consistently entertained. And it helps that the filmmakers are clearly aware of how ridiculous the plot is, so they push it even further.
The film opens with a horror-style version of the Grimm Brothers' fable, then jumps years ahead as Hansel and Gretel (Renner and Arterton) achieve notoriety as bounty hunters specialising in tracking down and dispatching witches. When they arrive in a small village, they rescue innocent young Mina (Viitala) from the bloodthirsty mayor (Stormare), then vow instead to capture the area's real wicked witch Muriel (Janssen). The sheriff is sure they're con artists, so forms his own posse. Meanwhile, Hansel tentatively falls for Mina, and the duo also meet their teen super-fan Ben (Mann), who joins them as they head into the woods.
Norwegian writer-director Wirkola has created a gonzo action-horror movie out of the familiar bedtime story, complete with wildly outrageous creatures, fiery battles and almost as many explosions as a Michael Bay Transformers movie. Meanwhile, Renner and Arterton strut through medieval Europe like 21st century action heroes, wearing skin-tight leather, head-butting their foes, swearing like sailors and shooting massive guns at anything that moves. In other words, Wirkola's approach is essentially satirical, which allows him to indulge in astounding levels of grisly violence without it ever getting too nasty.
Continue reading: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Review
While this package has all of the key marketing elements to reach the Twilight audience, the film itself is rather a lot more fun, made with some wit and intelligence, plus a cast that's happy to chomp on the scenery. Based on a four-novel series, this film actually has more in common with True Blood than Twilight, with its Deep South setting and the clash between religious fundamentalism and supernatural beings.
At the centre is Ethan (Ehrehreich), a 16-year-old who is bristling against the isolation of his small South Carolina town. His recently deceased mother instilled in him a love of books banned by the town's hyper-religious leaders, and the local librarian Amma (Davis) helps keep his interest alive. As a result, he's more open than the other teens when Lena (Englert) arrives at school. But she's shunned because her Uncle Macon (Irons) is the town's pariah, a landowner whom everyone thinks is a devil worshipper. Actually, the whole family are casters, people with special powers that are designated good or evil on their 16th birthday.
The plot stirs up some suspense as Lena's big day of reckoning approaches. She's terrified that she'll go over to the dark side like her man-eating cousin (Rossum) or, worse still, her spectral mother, who does her mischief by inhabiting the body of the town's most pious housewife Mrs Lincoln (Thompson). This of course gives Thompson two insane characters to play at the same time, and she has a ball with it. As does Irons with the shadowy, snaky Macon. And at the centre, Ehrenreich and Englert both show considerable promise, with their strikingly non-Hollywood good looks and a depth of character that makes the film more engaging than we expect.
Continue reading: Beautiful Creatures Review
After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...
It's the 1970s and Captain James Conrad and Lieutenant Colonel Packard are leading a group...
It's been four years since Mel Gibson played a lead role in a movie, and...
John Link hasn't been the best father, up until recently he's constantly been on the...
James Conrad is a British captain who leads an international envoy to the middle of...
Based on real events, this sharply well-made film shifts from a rather light-hearted comedy into...
It's 1971 and University professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo wants to try a new social and...
High school can be the worst time for some people, and for Greg Gaines (Thomas...
Oprah obsessed Alice Klieg suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder which causes her to be socially...
Made in Germany, this raucous adventure merrily refuses to follow the usual Hollywood route of...
While this package has all of the key marketing elements to reach the Twilight audience,...
Lena Duchannes is a Caster whose family has plenty of dark power between them, but...