This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor to their previous collaboration Lone Survivor, another true story adapted into a movie that wallows in both heroism and violence. This film recounts the events of April 2010, when a drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana exploded, creating the biggest oil-spill in US history. It's the story of the people who were working there, and while there's a clear attempt to honour the memory of the 11 men who died that night, the cast and crew also want to create an entertaining action-disaster movie.
Wahlberg plays Mike, the chief technician on the Deepwater Horizon, an oil platform more than a half-hour flight from land. As the film opens, he kisses his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter goodbye and heads off for a three-week shift alongside boss Jimmy (Kurt Russell), drilling foreman Jason (Ethan Suplee) and pilot Andrea (Gina Rodriguez). When some discrepancies delay their work, Mike finds himself under pressure from the corporate boss (John Malkovich) to get on with the work and get back on schedule. Under order to ignore some questionable safety tests, they carry on drilling until the well erupts, triggering a massive ball of flame.
After the increasingly tense build-up, the movie becomes a more traditional disaster movie, as characters run for their lives or dive into the inferno to save someone. Some of this is cleverly conceived and played out, including several striking set-pieces. But the main focus here is on rah-rah courage. The most heroic roles go to Wahlberg, Russell, O'Brien (as a driller) and Kirkpatrick (as a crane operator). While Malkovich chomps deliciously and villainously on the scenery. But the most engaging role goes to Rodriguez as a woman who is genuinely terrified about what's happening but still manages to do her job. She's the only person on-screen who feels like a real person, and the irony isn't lost that she's also the only woman among this crew of macho tough guys.
Continue reading: Deepwater Horizon Review
Working with perceptive writer David Magee (Finding Neverand), Ang Lee creates one of the most thoughtful, artistic blockbusters ever made by a Hollywood studio. Although Yann Martel's award-winning novel was considered unfilmable, Magee and Lee have managed to maintain the delicate balance of an awesome adventure story with provocative themes that echo long after the story reaches its tricky, mind-expanding conclusion.
Imaginative teen Pi Patel (Sharma) grew up in a zoo owned by his parents (Hussain and Tabu) in formerly French India. And when hard times come, they decide to pack up and move with the animals to Canada. But the ship they are travelling on runs into a fierce storm in the Pacific, sinking suddenly and leaving Pi as the lone survivor on a lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a frantic hyena, a seasick orang-utan and a hungry Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Over the coming months, Pi and Richard Parker survive due to the challenges of coexisting in such a confined space. And with his Buddhist, Christian and Islamic beliefs, Pi now believes the experience also helps explain the existence of God.
The film adds a framing device as a writer (Spall) interviews the older Pi (Khan), essentially putting both us and Martel into the story. This helps open the themes up in intensely personal ways, while grounding the extravagantly visual ordeal at sea with a quietly involving house-bound conversation. And far from removing suspense, knowing that Pi survives brings out the layers of meaning in ways that are suspenseful and challenging. Everything about the story is infused with the idea of faith in God, with intriguing parallels in the relationships between humans, animals and nature. But none of this is overstated: it's subtle and questioning rather than preachy. And much more effective as a result.
Continue reading: Life Of Pi Review
At the start of the film, Riddick is being chased on a remote, frozen planet by some bounty hunters, whom he promptly dispatches and steals their ship to ride back to the planet of Helios Prime, where their employer was from. Once there, he finds out the bounty was put on him by one of Pitch Black's other survivors, Imam (Keith David, resplendent in flowing robes and a sharp goatee). Apparently, Imam and Aereon (Judi Dench), an ambassador from a ghost-like race called the Elementals, think that Riddick, being a member of the Furion race, will be able to help the galaxy fight off an onslaught of planet-destroying religious fanatics called Necromongers. The Necromongers are on a galactic jihad to bring about something called "the Underverse" and will convert or kill anybody in their path. But, before any of this can really be figured out, the Necromongers' gigantic armada crashes down on Helios Prime and things get really complicated. There's about ten minutes' worth of action that takes place later in a prison which, even now, after much contemplation, still makes absolutely no sense.
Continue reading: The Chronicles Of Riddick Review
Miley Cyrus and Benee add to this wonderfully eclectic array.
We want to speak to the Grammys manager...
This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...
Working with perceptive writer David Magee (Finding Neverand), Ang Lee creates one of the most...