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
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
Lena Duchannes is a Caster whose family has plenty of dark power between them, but rather than feeling empowered, Lena just wishes she can be mortal so she wouldn't have to hide and people wouldn't talk about her all the time. When she moves to the small and somewhat conservative town of Gatlin, South Carolina, she finds herself an outcast but is soon noticed by her school mate Ethan Wate who is enchanted by her and the excitement her arrival brings to this ordinary, unmoving town. However, their relationship is compromised by the fact that Lena only has a matter of days left before she is subjected to the Claiming; a process that will decide whether she will turn to the Light or the Dark side of magic. While her uncle does everything in her power to make sure she is claimed to the Light, the all-powerful Sarafine is convinced that she will have great magical supremacy which would better be served in the Dark.
'Beautiful Creatures' is the story of just how much love can conquer and, equally, the devastation it brings. It has been adapted to screen by Oscar nominated director and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese ('P.S. I Love You', 'The Mirror Has Two Faces') from the book of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The fantasy romance will be released in time for Valentine's Day on February 13th 2013.
Director: Richard LaGravenese
Continue: Beautiful Creatures Trailer
You know you're in trouble when a madcap comedy is unable to even raise a smile. And it's worse when it strains to include a sentimentally emotional subplot without grounding anything in believable characters or situations. All that's left is a lot of corny toilet humour and eye-rollingly limp schmaltz. Even a decent cast can't rescue this one.
It all happens on one Halloween night in Ohio, when brainy 18-year-old Wren (Justice) and her oversexed pal April (Levy) plan to attend the party of the year hosted by the school hottie. But Wren's mother (Handler) runs off to her own party, leaving Wren in charge of her mischievous 8-year-old brother Albert (Nicoll), who hasn't spoken a word since their father died a year earlier. And Albert quickly ditches Wren, running off for an adventure with a lovelorn convenience store employee (Middleditch). To find him, Wren gets help from the nerdy Roosevelt (Mann), who has a crush on her.
The premise has potential, blending Adventures in Babysitting and Home Alone along with a bit of emotional subtext. But the screenwriters never make anything of it, instead indulging in startlingly unfunny slapstick, jokes about paedophilia and a sappy streak of half-baked sentiment. All of which means that the filmmakers waste their solid cast at every turn. Justice and Levy make an enjoyable if unlikely duo, while Nicholl is full of unpredictable energy. But the filmmakers manage to subdue the usually irrepressible Handler in a badly underdeveloped role that's still the most interesting thing in the film.
Continue reading: Fun Size Review
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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...