As with the too-early franchise reboot in 2012, this sequel struggles to balance the demands of a teen romance with a superhero blockbuster. The interpersonal storylines are sharply written and skilfully played by the gifted cast, but the eye-catching effects sequences feel like little more than a shiny distraction. Action fans will love the way digitally animated Spidey swings more realistically than ever down the streets of New York, but the fact remains that these scenes are cartoons. And a new template is badly needed for this genre.
It kicks off as Peter (Andrew Garfield) nearly misses his high school graduation to save the city from another crazed nutcase. His girlfriend Gwen (Emma Stone) is fed up, and then crushed when Peter breaks up with her because he's worried about her safety. So she considers taking a place at Oxford University to get away. Meanwhile, Peter is also trying to understand the truth about why his parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) left him to be raised by his Aunt May (Sally Field). But he's interrupted from all of this by the arrival of old pal Harry (Dane DeHaan), back in town to inherit the family business from his dying dad (Chris Cooper) and in need of moral support from Peter.
In each of these three plot strands, Peter faces a significant dilemma that's beautifully played by Garfield as a cheeky, good guy who worries about the darkness all around him. And there's also a nefarious side-plot trying to take over the movie, as nerdy technician Max (Jamie Foxx) is transformed by an electric shock from Spider-man's biggest fan to a spark-emitting villain called Electro. This shift doesn't make sense on any level, and Harry also has a sudden personality change that's badly under-explained, forcing the film into a series of huge action showdowns along with a completely irrelevant aside about two colliding airplanes that feels tacked on to up the human stakes.
Continue reading: The Amazing Spider-man 2 Review
With a strong cast and striking production values, this thriller is sleek enough to hold our interest even if corporate espionage isn't a very exciting topic for the movies. As the title suggests, the film is trying to tap into the fear that our lives are being controlled by technology. But the script never goes anywhere with this idea, instead drifting through the usual plot involving shady bad guys, dark conspiracies and plucky heroics. All of which we've seen far too many times before.
It centres on young technical genius Adam (Hemsworth), who needs cash to pay the medical bills for his ill father (Dreyfuss). Working with his pal Kevin (Till), he goes for a big promotion but is instead sacked by his boss Wyatt (Oldman). The next morning, Wyatt makes Adam an offer he can't refuse: a chance to earn a fortune by spying on chief competitor Goddard (Ford). But this new undercover job brings all kinds of worries as Adam sees shadowy nastiness lurking around every corner. He's also suspicious that a recent one-night stand, Emma (Heard), works for Goddard. And that there's a strange man (Holloway) following his every move.
Rather than explore corrupt corporate culture or the idea that technology has eroded our privacy, the filmmakers create a fairly pedestrian thriller that tries to blind us with fake techno-speak and corny emotions. The plot continually hints that it will get darker and more momentous, but it never does. All of the stakes feel oddly small, the chain of events doesn't quite hang together and the characters never feel like more than rough outlines.
Continue reading: Paranoia Review
A bracingly original approach to both science-fiction and the found-footage genres makes this eerily realistic thriller well worth a look. Director Cordero may indulge in a variety of gimmicky and manipulative tricks, but he keeps everything grounded, as it were, and his expert cast makes sure that we are drawn into the story as it progresses. Which makes the conclusion startlingly intense.
After six months in space, the feed from the Europa One mission suddenly went blank, leaving Earth to wonder what was happening in humanity's first deep-space voyage. Unknown to the mission commander (Davidtz) in Houston, the six-person crew has continued on course to Jupiter's moon Europa, where they plan to explore whether there are conditions that could support life. When they arrive, their landing doesn't go quite as planned, and their experiments reveal things they couldn't possibly have expected. They also finally get a chance to send their video footage back to mission control.
What we're watching is an assembly of this footage, taken both inside and outside the ship as they travel, intercut with the commander's comments. Cordero directs all of this exactly like scenes we've seen from Space Shuttle missions, so it looks all too real, complete with a crew of complex experts. Marinca is terrific as the soulful pilot, with the charismatic Camargo and the curious Wydra as scientists, and the cheeky Copely and the intriguingly shaded Nyqvist as mechanics. This cast of acclaimed actors really raises the bar, adding layers of interest without ever seeming to act at all.
Continue reading: Europa Report Review
Adam Cassidy is a technology whizz who wants nothing more than to take care of his ailing father who is struggling to live in poverty-stricken retirement despite working all his life. He has a low-paid job at a massive technology corporation but is presented with the chance of a lifetime by his boss Nicholas Wyatt who tells him he can make him rich. However, this involves infiltrating the firm's biggest rival business led by Wyatt's old mentor Jock Goddard in a plot of dangerous espionage to uncover their biggest secret. He finally succeeds in obtaining a revolutionary piece of equipment and presenting it to Wyatt, but he finds himself trapped as his boss refuses to let him leave the company as he now knows too much. Realising that he and his beloved father are in danger not only from Wyatt but from Goddard as well after discovering their ploy, he sets out to use what they taught him to destroy what they built.
Based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Joseph Finder, 'Paranoia' has been directed by Robert Luketic ('Legally Blonde', 'Monster-in-Law', 'Killers') with a screenplay by Jason Dean Hall ('Spread') and Barry Levy ('Vantage Point'). This corporate action thriller is set to hit the US on August 16th 2013.
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist for Sweden's 'Millenium' magazine, a monthly publication that has a decent amount of readers. After publishing a shocking expos' on a billionaire businessman, he is sued for libel but loses the highly publicised case and is sentenced to three months in prison.
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Embeth Davidtz Sunday 16th November 2008 P.S Arts 'Express Yourself 2008' held at Barker Hanger Santa Monica, California, USA
Fracture has no excuse to be so lazy, given the actors at its disposal and a setup that should have made this an easy slam-dunk. Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, an aeronautics engineer who's found out that his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is having an affair with police detective Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). Confronting her at home, Crawford shoots her in the head and calmly waits for the cops to arrive. When they do, it's with none other than Nunally at the lead, who's shocked and enraged at finding Jennifer in a pool of blood and Crawford standing there as though nothing had happened. After a quickly-interrupted beating from Nunally, Crawford later confesses and even waives his right to a lawyer. When it's all dropped in the lap of assistant district attorney Willy Beachum (Gosling), the case couldn't seem more airtight, which is good since Beachum can't wait to slip the bonds of lowly civil employment for a well-paying private sector job.
Continue reading: Fracture Review
It's the mid-1970s at a proper boys' prep school in DC, and Kline's Hundert encounters his first splash in the face with the cold water of life outside revered academia when he meets the father of a mischievous underachieving student. The stern dad, a brash U.S. senator, scolds Hundert: "You will not mold my son, I will mold my son". With a dose more sympathy for the kid, Hundert befriends him and watches him turn into a studying machine.
Continue reading: The Emperor's Club Review
Or do you!?
Continue reading: The Hole Review
A genuinely spectacular waste of money -- and about as mind-numbing as you'd expect from a movie which brags in ads that its "R" rating is for violence, gore and nudity -- "Thirteen Ghosts" has nothing going for it beyond its wildly excessive production design.
The star of the movie is an all-glass haunted house, designed by a grandiose and evil ghostbuster (F. Murray Abraham) to be a combination phantasm prison and gateway to hell. The joint has thousands of Latin "containment spells" etched into its transparent walls -- walls which move and shift to reconfigure rooms, thus trapping screaming B-list actors in with half-decayed, psycho-killer apparitions. (In the only worthwhile nod to William Castle's "13 Ghosts" from 1960, the characters have to wear special glasses to see the spooks -- much like the audience did for the 3D-like original.)
The house also has at its center a huge clock-like mechanism of gears and gyro-gadgets, apparently powered by the psychic energy of 12 enslaved spirits, which will open the aforementioned gateway only if one live person is sacrificed to become a required 13th ghost.
Continue reading: Thir13en Ghosts Review
A routine aerial shot swoops down over the grounds of an architecturally classic boarding school while a buoyant, sanguine score bleats with insistently lyrical French horns in the opening moments of "The Emperor's Club." And that's all most moviegoers will need to divine everything there is to know about the picture's musty, fond-memory-styled milieu of plucky, Puckish schoolboys and the dedicated, kindly educator who inspires them.
It's a movie that seems motivated more by a desire to match mortarboards with "Dead Poets Society" and "Good Will Hunting" than by its own story. It's a movie of highly telegraphed archetypes slogging their way through clichés (the off-limits girls' school is just across the lake) and only-in-the-movies moments, like the climactic scholarly trivia contest in which the three smartest boys in school don togas and answer questions on stage about the minutiae of Roman history.
These settings, these characters and this narrative arc -- about a contentious teacher-student relationship -- are so familiar that while the movie is not inept or boring, it never feels real enough to inspire much more than a shrug in response.
Continue reading: The Emperor's Club Review
As with the too-early franchise reboot in 2012, this sequel struggles to balance the demands...
With a strong cast and striking production values, this thriller is sleek enough to hold...
A bracingly original approach to both science-fiction and the found-footage genres makes this eerily realistic...
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist for Sweden's 'Millenium' magazine, a monthly publication that has a...
It is hardly a reassuring sign when one of the more interesting things in a...
There's an old cheap saying that goes "those who can, do; those who can't, teach"....
A genuinely spectacular waste of money -- and about as mind-numbing as you'd expect from...
A routine aerial shot swoops down over the grounds of an architecturally classic boarding school...
The latest Jane Austen novel lovingly adapted to film, "Mansfield Park" features a predictably resolute...