Disney’s latest animated feature Frozen ticks the boxes for a children’s film in the festive season. Great songs and a sweet story makes Frozen an entertaining affair.
Anna and her older sister Elsa are close as young girls. As they grow up, Elsa’s icy powers mean she must keep her distance from her younger sister. Anna is determined to track down Elsa however…
Written by co-director Jennifer Lee, Frozen is loosely based on the fairy tale The Snow Queen. The film concentrates on the bond between siblings Anna and Elsa. It is refreshing to see a film such with two female protagonists that does not focus solely on romantic relationships.
The main characters are good overall. The sidekick Olaf imbues the film with humour. The relationship between the sisters is an interesting one. It is most pleasing that the finale goes the way it does; it is a stronger message than the red herring the film dangles to viewers.
There are only two downsides to Frozen. Firstly the pacing could have been tighter. The film ambles around somewhat in the middle section, although it does recover for the finale. Secondly, there is not a strong enough antagonist for create the peaks of drama and tension.
Aside from these factors, Frozen is a most enjoyable movie. The film owes a debt to the musical Wicked. Not only in terms of theme, Frozen’s musical numbers and even the casting of Idina Menzel as Elsa indicate this. This is by no means a bad thing. For one thing, the songs are great in Frozen.
The animation is good, especially in the creation of the palace. 3D could have been utilised more. Casting is good, with Menzel displaying her vocal talents. Kristen Bell is also decent as Anna.
Frozen is not perfect, but it is a enjoyable fantasy with positive messages. Short Get a Horse!, screened before Frozen, is also a lot of fun.
Based on incident concerning the Beat Generation, Kill Your Darlings is a sufficiently entertaining slice of history.
Allen Ginsberg, an aspiring writer, heads of to Columbia with the hopes of furthering his career. Whilst there, he meets Lucian Carr, whose striking personality and attitude strikes the attention of Ginsberg. When a major incident occurs, the lives of Ginsberg, Carr, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac…
John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings features a well-known protagonist, although the film revolves around less familiar events. It is interesting to see a depiction of these famous writers before they became acclaimed.
The film throws up some interesting elements during the course of the narrative. The main incident acts like a catalyst to explore the darker side to their lifestyles. It is almost like a device to consider the young writers’ ideas.
The film posits this period as exciting, and full of intellectual potential. However, Krokidas also emphasises the rivalry and pressure between the group of friends. The film does not offer a rose-tinted view of events; there is a seediness which is inescapable. Pacing in the film could have been stronger. There are moments were the narrative falters, with attention displaced on generating the mood.
Chaos in Kill Your Darlings is projected in a suitable fashion, although there is some repetition in scenes as Krokidas seems to overemphasise his point. The limited budget for the production seems to have limited locations. Music in the film is good.
Daniel Radcliffe offers an assured performance as Allen Ginbsurg. The actor is convincing in the role. It is Dane DeHaan who really shines as Lucien Carr. DeHaan is really exhibiting his range since last year’s Chronicle. Michael C. Hall is also good in a supporting role.
Kill Your Darlings offers good performances and purposeful reproduction of the period. Certainly worthwhile viewing for fans of the writers depicted.
A brand new clip from The Wolf of Wall Street, Muppets Most Wanted and plenty more…
The Wolf of Wall Street
After the excitement for the trailer, here is a new clip from The Wolf of Wall Street. Jonah Hill’s character looks like he could be a lot of fun. Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoirs, The Wolf of Wall Street is out in UK cinemas on 17th January 2013.
Muppets Most Wanted
Following the release of the trailer, here is the poster for Muppets Most Wanted. The film has a lot to live up to, after the success of The Muppets. Muppets Most Wanted is set for release on 28th March 2014.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Here is a clip from the upcoming sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Will Ferrell and his co-stars have done a lot of publicity for the movie, and there is a weight of expectation given that the original has become such a favourite. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues hits UK screens on 18th December 2013.
This poster is just everything. The Hair. The Costumes. The Hair. With an all-star cast, American Hustle is released in the West End on 20th December 2013 and in the rest of the UK on 1st January 2014.
I watched the director’s cut of the original Robocop again recently and it really does hold up well (bar a few dated special effects). What this remake has going for it is an impressive cast (Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton). RoboCop is released in UK cinemas on 7th February 2014.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
After the fantastic posters, here is a new image of Michael Fassbender from X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film blends its predecessor with the previous series of X-Men films, by the casting at least. X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled for a May 2014 release.
This teaser trailer for Disney’s Maleficent reveals little bar the title character. After the success of the musical Wicked and Oz The Great and Powerful, there seems to be a trend for revisiting fairy tales to show the other side. Maleficent is due for release in the UK in Spring 2014.
François Ozon’s Jeune et Jolie is for the most part an engaging if subversive coming-of-age story.
Sixteen-year-old Isabelle spends the summer with her family by the beach. The events of the summer break have an impact on the rest of Isabelle’s year, although perhaps not in the way imagined…
Jeune et Jolie is unique spin on the coming-of-age narrative. The film does concentrate on Isabelle’s journey of self-discovery. Nevertheless, the film focuses on the sexual side of her maturity rather than anything else.
The film posits an interesting question; why would a young, financially-comfortable teenage girl want to engage in prostitution. The answers are not easy to find. Ozon explores this dynamic without offering any real reasoning or explanation.
The result of this lack of rationale behind Isabelle’s choices is a feeling of exploitation. There are some rather graphic scenes in which Ozon does not shy away from depicting Isabelle in unsavoury situations. Jeune et Jolie invites viewers to take a voyeuristic angle; one that most will not feel entirely comfortable with.
The narrative progresses at a suitable pace in the film. The seasons mark an evolution in Isabelle’s growth, from exploration to experience. Jeune et Jolie depicts its protagonist as worldly yet still retaining a sense of youth. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is Isabelle’s relationship with her brother. It is this element that offers the best insight into her mindset.
François Ozon depicts many of Isabelle’s encounters with a level of sordidness. The voyeurism relates to the female protagonist rather than her partners, which is what makes the film seem exploitative. Marine Vacth is well cast as Isabelle. Her ambiguous countenance is perfect for the role. Géraldine Pailhas is also good as her mother.
Jeune et Jolie is contemporary in its approach to the age-old journey to adulthood. Interesting but not always comfortable viewing.
Like many middle films of a series, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire lacks any real resolution. Nevertheless, it is a very entertaining film.
Following their triumph at the Hunger Games tournament, Katniss and Peeta must keep up the pretence of their relationship to protect their families. When their public appearances spark trouble in the districts, the Capitol is determined to take revenge…
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire features a good mix of action, drama and tension. With the way that the plot unfolds, the film could have become a rehash of its predecessor. Thankfully Catching Fire eschews this, offering a fresh take on proceedings.
The set up of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire works well. The film replicates the tension of the first film. However, it also delivers a progression of the narrative. In some ways, it does feel very much like a middle film. Plans are dropped in place that will no doubt materialise in the next instalment. The events in the film are of course important to the overall narrative arc, but Catching Fire lacks the driving force to make it feel like a stand-alone movie. The ending is a little abrupt; it is very much a cliff-hanger to ensure viewers are eager to return for the next part.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire continues from the first film in depicting a highly-stylised dystopian world. Like most decent films of this ilk, the dystopia in Catching Fire is not too far removed from the real world as to be unrecognisable. Costumes in the film are excellent, and special effects are also good.
Jennifer Lawrence delivers a strong performance as Katniss. Stanley Tucci is a lot of fun, while Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks reprise their roles with a good energy.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a decent follow up to The Hunger Games. The next two instalments should over the resolution that this film lacks.
Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers gets a Blu-Ray release. The film is a decent update of the 1956 movie, slightly more concentrated on the science fiction aspects than its predecessor.
Health inspector Matthew Bennell begins to notice that a number of people around him are worried that their family members seem different. The people look identical, but are devoid of emotion…
In Philip Kaufman’s film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been transported from small-town 1950s to late-1970s San Francisco. The update is successful; with viewers of the time more likely to identify with the setting. The modern city setting could have been problematic with the themes of control and isolation inherent in the narrative, but W.D. Richter’s screenplay deals with this effectively.
Pacing is good in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Kaufman allows for a picture to be build of normal life before this begins to erode. The film builds momentum slowly but effectively, taking time for the narrative to develop rather than offering a series of set pieces.
Setting up protagonist Matthew as a health inspector is a wise move by Richter. It allows for scientific explanation to be brought into play in a plausible fashion. Similarly, the vein of paranoia and the uncanny that was so successful in the original film is utilised well here. The sense of isolation and distrust is exemplified by the anonymity of the big city.
Michael Chapman’s cinematography is excellent. The familiar is made uncomfortable in both the theme and visuals. Make up and effects are also good for the time. Invasion of the Body Snatchers features an enviable cast. Donald Sutherland offers a solid performance as Matthew, while Brooke Adams is believable as Elizabeth. Jeff Goldblum shows the beginnings of traits that viewers have come to expect from him.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a competent remake that combines science fiction with horror to create an unnerving experience.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is released on Blu-Ray from Monday 18th November 2013.
Jeremy Lovering’s In Fear is an atmospheric and absorbing horror-thriller. A fantastic debut from the writer-director.
Tom invites Lucy, a girl he has been seeing for two weeks, along to a music festival in Ireland. Before they get to the venue, Tom has booked a hotel for the evening. The couple set out to find their way to the hotel…
In Fear works successfully as a horror film as it is able to maintain tension for its duration. The film generates atmosphere thanks to the setting, sound and Lovering’s direction.
The film functions effectively to hold the viewer’s interest. In Fear sets up the narrative so that it is difficult to tell where the film will go. There is a sense of menace from early in the film, but Lovering keeps the audience guessing as to the threat.
The shoestring budget works to In Fear‘s favour. The minimal settings add to the sense of claustrophobia that builds as the film progresses. Part of In Fear‘s success is the fact that it effectively marries the feeling of claustrophobia with that of isolation. The dynamic between these two fears is exploited to a good degree.
The final act of the film marks a step up in momentum. The film does well to balance atmosphere with more action-heavy sequences than previously depicted. The finale of the film is fitting given the themes played with up until this point.
Jeremy Lovering direction works well to situate the audience with the protagonist. There are plenty of close ups, which do not allow viewers to escape the situation. Similarly, the sound succeeds in generating the unnerving atmosphere. Performances from Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert are great. Both appear incredibly authentic in their growing frustration and fear.
In Fear is a finely executed film. It will be interesting to see what Jeremy Lovering does next.
In Fear is in UK cinemas from Friday 15th November 2013.
The Counsellor is a well executed thriller from director Ridley Scott. Cormac McCarthy’s screenplay really elevates the film above others of the same ilk.
The Counsellor is a successful lawyer for some unsavoury characters. Wanting to maintain his lifestyle, Counsellor gets deeper involved in his client’s drug trafficking dealings. This puts his life with partner Laura in jeopardy…
The Counsellor is competent and entertaining crime thriller. The narrative is not particularly unique; it is the execution that makes the film great.
The dialogue in the film is great. Rather than natural exchanges, the film features a number of monologues. These feel very much in the vein of McCarthy, with characters extolling on life and other meaty subjects. There are some fantastic gems scattered amongst the waves of horror and amusement.
The Counsellor is clever in its placing of key outcomes earlier in the film. Rather than simply clanging hints of what is to follow, these work to build tension. The audience have some idea of what is coming, but it is nail-biting to see who will be involved and how these aspects will play out.
Ridley Scott’s direction is as on point as ever. The Counsellor is a polished film, yet there is a savageness under the surface. This occasionally reaches the brim, and it is at these points that the film excels. The protagonist works as a balanced figure; a normal guy motivated by greed. The time invested in the relationship between him and Laura pays dividends later in the film.
Michael Fassbender offers a solid performance as the title character. He is more convincing the less the character is in control. Javier Bardem is superb in a quasi-comic role, and it is great to see Cameron Diaz do something darker than her usual fare.
The Counsellor is an engaging and entertaining film. The screenplay successfully distinguishes the film from other crime thrillers.
Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs is something of a amalgamation of a horror and a children’s adventure.
With his family about to be evicted by ruthless landlords, young Fool is desperate to save their home. He reluctantly agrees to aid two robbers who plan to rob the landlords’ house, but the three are unaware what lies in wait…
The People Under the Stairs is less traditional horror and more of an adventure. The film has moments of real tension, and there are creepy overtones than run throughout. However, the film does not concentrate solely on trying to scare viewers.
There is a vein of social conscience that runs throughout Wes Craven’s 1991 film. The film pits an impoverished black family against wealthy white landlords who are unconcerned with their tenants’ plight. The People Under the Stairs is much a product of the period that produced it. That is not to say that these social concerns have been completely eradicated, but merely that it seems like a story of the late 1980s/early 1990s. The film is not just about good triumphing over evil, but a sense of justice being delivered.
The People Under the Stairs reveals more about its antagonists as the film progresses. There is enough offered initially to keep viewers engaged. The story behind the house owners is far-fetched, yet not completely implausible. It is this which makes the antagonists most unsettling. There is a cruelty to them which is disturbing. In the final quarter of the film, rationality is eschewed in favour of an all-out rescue mission.
Performances in The People Under the Stairs are good overall. Brandon Quintin Adams is amiable as Fool, while A.J. Langer looks the part as Alice. Wendy Robie brings a decent amount of menace to her role.
Whilst it is dated in parts, The People Under the Stairs is a good horror hybrid that entertains throughout.
The People Under the Stairs is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from 4th November 2013.
Thor: The Dark World is an entertaining follow-up to 2011’s Thor. The film boasts the same blend of action and comedy that seems to be a hallmark of the Marvel franchise of superhero movies.
Thor is on his way to becoming ruler of Asgard, Thor is successfully bringing peace to the Nine Reams. Faced with an ancient and perilous enemy however, Thor must reunite with Jane Foster to overcome the evil that threatens the universe…
Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World has the look and feel of a modern Marvel superhero film. And as such, the film should appeal to fans of the success franchise. The sequel ticks the boxes in terms of entertainment, although there does at times feel as if there is something missing.
The only issue with Thor: The Dark World is that it is almost going through the motions. It is as if Marvel have happened on a winning formula, so superhero films are churned out periodically following this blueprint. On the one hand the films are entertaining, but on the other they lack a bit of originality to really give them a spark.
The narrative of Thor: The Dark World works well to generate sufficient tension, excitement and humour. There is a bit of a lull in proceedings towards the end of the first half, but the films recovers well. Action sequences are big and effects are great.
Chris Hemsworth reprises his role well. There is a particularly gratuitous shot of him which feels cheap. It is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, however, who steals every scene that he is in. The reason why the film is appealing is in large part due to Hiddleston’s performance.
Thor: The Dark World is certainly an enjoyable watch. Hopefully the next film in the franchise will offer more of an individual stamp.