Reviews

Page 1 of 2008  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »

The Giver

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

It's unfortunate that the latest young adult book-to-screen adaptation The Giver is following in the wake of Divergent and The Hunger Games. Although Lois Lowry's 1993 book pre-dates those other stories, it shares startling similarities. After an unspecified world-changing event known only as The Ruin, humans live together in an enclosed, safe, sterile, literally black and white world. The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep, at her most imperious) makes sure that order is maintained and that everyone fills out their specified roles in society once they come of age. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is assigned the rare and privileged task of becoming a receiver of past memories from The Giver (Jeff Bridges). The past is all but forgotten in this world, but The Giver is guardian to all the wonder, joy and hope of being human, but also its darkest memories of murder, war and suffering. Jonas becomes so absorbed by these new feelings, even love, that he rebels against his society... Besides the aforementioned films, The Giver is also a bit like Logan's Run and even Pleasantville. Too many cinematic similarities make it sound less original though. Dead Calm director Phillip Noyce makes liberal use of black and white, washed-out colour and full colour to illustrate the range of emotions that Jonas is going through. The colour changes can be a little disconcerting at times, but they're mostly used appropriately. Unfortunately, the film is a bit wishy-washy in its world-building. We're told that even a basic human emotion like love doesn't exist in this world, yet hate seems to exist just fine. It doesn't really ring true. Noyce seems more concerned about getting the plot rolling as quickly as possible, rather than giving the audience time to adapt to this strange, not-so-brave new world. Old reliables Streep and Bridges are good value, but spare a thought for Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard, who barely register as Jonas' parents. When a film like The Giver opens with no visible publicity or press screenings, it's usually not a good sign. If the distributor can't be bothered about it, why should audiences? Lukewarm stuff, best avoided.

Wish I Was Here

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Has it really been a decade since actor-writer-director Zach Braff's wonderful, highly original debut Garden State? So it seems, but it's a shame that it's taken him this long to deliver a second film, Wish I Was Here. Aidan (Braff) is facing up to an early mid-life crisis. A struggling actor, he has a loving wife in Sarah (Kate Hudson) and two smart kids in Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) and Grace (Joey King). When his father Gabe (Mandy Patinkin) is once again struck down with cancer, Aidan finds his finances tightening and his anxieties increasing. He home-schools his kids, which allows him to spend more time with them. At a crossroads in his personal and professional life, he wants to achieve that elusive thing called happiness... Wish I Was Here is clearly a passion project for Braff. It's partly autobiographical and was co-written with his brother Adam. Like another independent film released this year (Blue Ruin), Wish I Was Here was crowd-funded through the Kickstarter project. Will the 47,000 people who invested in the film be happy with the end result? It would seem so. There's a simple, straightforward, sincere honesty to this film which makes it warm and familiar, like slipping on a pair of old slippers. It's a cousin of sorts to Garden State - it has an off-beat sense of humour (the references to Comic-Con are celebratory rather than mocking) and a joyous celebration of this wonderful, messy thing called life. Even Hudson impresses in what could have been a one-note wife role - it's certainly her best performance in years. The plot does meander at times and could do with a little more focus. However, Wish I Was Here is certainly worth watching for anyone who enjoyed Garden State. Let's hope Braff doesn't have to wait another decade to direct a film. He's got undeniable talent and is good with actors.

In Order of Disappearance

Reviewed by Starbuckie

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Grimly hilarious tale of bloody revenge with the best mad cap over the top villain that I have seen in quite awhile.

The Giver

Reviewed by Starbuckie

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

Interesting idea but very poorly executed.

The Riot Club

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Lone Scherfig's latest film The Riot Club sees the Danish director once again turn her camera on the rituals of British society. Whereas An Education was about a young woman finding her way in a world of older men, The Riot Club is about young men following in the footsteps of much older men. Miles (Max Irons) and Alistair (Sam Claflin) arrive at Oxford and are soon seduced by the privileged world that revolves around it. They're approached by Harry (Douglas Booth) who tells them about the famed Riot Club: a secret Oxford society stretching back over 200 years that favoured hedonism over heads-in-books. As there are two vacancies in a group of no more than ten, Miles and Alistair soon find themselves lost in the wild ways of the club. Things will come to a head at The Bull's Head pub one night, when we see just what makes these snobby elites tick... Adapted by Laura Wade from her stage play 'Posh', The Riot Club is inspired by the real-life exploits of The Bullingdon Club, whose alumni include one David Cameron. One wonders whether The Bullingdon Club might scoff at the rather unsophisticated fratboy antics that these fictional film characters get up to. Most of the antics are contained within an overstretched section set in the aforementioned pub. It gets rather stagey and only serves to highlight the film's origins. That said though, the performances are good - just about the right side of sympathetic, but not too much. At one point, Alistair shouts that he's sick to death of poor people, shortly before he tries to buy one of them off. Just because they're rich doesn't mean they can do whatever they want. It's a cautionary tale about privilege and power and the corrupting influence they can have on the herd mentality of young men. The Riot Club isn't as smart as it thinks it is (Bright Young Things told a somewhat similar story more effectively), but it's a reasonably good film for what it's worth.

A Walk Amongst the Tombstones

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Liam Neeson's late-career re-invention as a man of action continues apace with A Walk Among The Tombstones. This is a stronger, better film than Non-Stop though. New York, 1999. Ex-cop turned unlicenced private investigator Matt Scudder (Neeson) is asked by Kenny (Dan Stevens) to investigate a grisly crime: the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Kenny's wife, even after he paid the ransom demand. Matt investigates and digs up some disturbing truths: this is not an isolated incident and there was a similar crime committed in the recent past. With the help of Kenny's junkie brother Howie (Eric Nelsen) and street-smart kid TJ (Brian 'Astro' Bradley), Matt tracks down the killers and confronts them before they can commit another crime... Based on the 1992 book by Lawrence Block, A Walk Among The Tombstones is a rock-solid, muscular crime thriller. These kinds of stories are quite common in cinema - the clichéd, washed-up ex-cop just about keeping himself from falling off the wagon, sent off on a job that might see him gain redemption. What sets this one apart is a knowing sense of humour, as well as a straight-forward approach to violence: it comes fast and bloody, but doesn't linger on detail too much. Just like on the poster, Neeson is a towering presence in the film, firmly convincing and a flawed hero we can believe in. It's quite a tense film at times too, keeping you on the edge of your seat. It's refreshing to have a crime thriller where the identity of the killers is known early on, thereby allowing more time to flesh out their characters, rather than keep them in the shadows until the final reel. A Walk Among The Tombstones is a very satisfying film that could be Neeson's answer to Jack Reacher. There are other Scudder stories just waiting to be adapted. On the strength of this first film, there's certainly potential for more. Highly recommended.

A Most Wanted Man

Reviewed by Starbuckie

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

It's not boring but does drag on a bit. Hoffman does not look well but still delivers a magnetic performance.

Pride

Reviewed by Starbuckie

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

One of those wonderful British drama/comedies that really really works!

Magic in the Moonlight

Reviewed by filmbuff2011

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

Any mention of magic in the plot of a Woody Allen film will bring back memories of the awful The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion. It's a sign that Allen is going light and flimsy with his scripts, just churning them out to fill his 1-per-year quota. His latest film Magic In The Moonlight should therefore be approached with caution. As it turns out, it's a light but whimsical delight. Berlin, 1928: Stanley (Colin Firth) operates under the guise of a famed Chinese magician, but he also moonlights as a debunker of mediums, an exposer of charlatans and frauds. He receives an invitation from fellow magician Howard (Simon McBurney) to expose the trickery of a new 'talent'. Together they head to the south of France, where young American Sophie (Emma Stone) has cosied up to some rich Americans and is apparently reading their minds as well as working her way into the heart of one of them, Brice (Hamish Linklater). Stanley takes an instant dislike to Sophie, sarcastically mocking her and is determined to expose her act. But there's something extraordinary about Sophie. She's not like any medium he's encountered. Slowly, but surely, she starts to melt that icy heart of his and work some magic of her own... Allen sticks with safe, familiar territory here, not trying anything too startling, like he did last year with Blue Jasmine. Instead, he concentrates on a bright, breezy affair set in a privileged world of afternoon tea, tennis matches, private swimming pools and parties. Although it feels formulaic at first, Allen has wisely decided to hold back on the growing feelings between Stanley and Sophie, even making the significant age gap between them not too noticeable. That's thanks to the sparkling performances by Firth and Stone, whose verbal tennis match and constant sniping at each other is reminiscent of a Howard Hawks screwball comedy. Magic In The Moonlight is fun to watch - it's Allen with his shoes off, but one longs for the now aging director to deliver another Blue Jasmine or Match Point. Perhaps next year. For now, Magic In The Moonlight will do nicely instead.

A Most Wanted Man

Reviewed by vu1999uk

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

While this spy thriller is a slow burn, it still remains a compelling watch thanks to a great script and an even better cast. The late great Philip Seymour Hoffman is fantastic in the lead role but he is well supported, particularly by Rachel McAdams. The tension builds up very nicely to a great finale, which is quite surprising and shocking.

Pride

Reviewed by vu1999uk

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Really good uplifting dramedy that looks at the incredible true story of the Gay and Lesbian Community helping the miners during the eighties. There are lots of great characters, and they all get screen time and a storyline that goes somewhere. Is also very funny. But most importantly it is constantly feel good without getting soppy.

The Boxtrolls

Reviewed by alanhorkan

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

Adults risk being more scared than children with this film, there is some heavy allegory that will go over their heads and smack you firmly in the face. I might have laughed more but for the very serious undertones. A beautifully realised world, great actors, Kingsley and Ayode standing out, and even in more minor roles Frost, and to a lesser extent Pegg making a welcome appearance. It might be a children's film but enjoyable for all.

Page 1 of 2008  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »