Posted by Ali Gray
at 08:00 on 23 Apr 2014
Paul WS Anderson movie is a disaster movie!" I hear you cry. How very droll. Pompeii is indeed the first movie by director Anderson that's supposed to be a catastrophe - a further step away from sci-fi trash towards period drama following 2011's re-stab at The Three Musketeers. Titanic is the obvious template (love across a class divide against a backdrop of massive loss of human life), but Pompeii has more in common with your BBC1 Saturday afternoon adventure mini-series: it's a curiously bloodless affair, with pretty faces, mild peril, swords, sandals and really rather fetching costumes. Look at that image above and tell me you can't imagine the continuity guy announcing that the next thrilling episode of Pompeii is coming up after Final Score with Gabby and Garth. This is basically my way of telling you that it isn't very good.
I had two criticisms of 2012's The Raid
. First, for all its endless, mesmeric punchkickery, it was a little light on character for me. Second, after I'd nodded off halfway in, as any 34-year-old man presented with a warm, dark room is wont to, people kept on waking me up with spontaneous applause. Not only was I now awake, which is annoying in itself, I'd just missed a really good bit. Two years on, a 150-minute sequel sounded like a great opportunity for a proper kip. But no, director Gareth Evans only had to go and make a wonderful, sprawling, epic crime drama even I couldn't sleep through. The bastard.
As the jovial opening number points out, the Muppets are back, by popular demand. Because that's what they do in Hollywood, even if everybody knows the sequel's never quite as good. Nevertheless, the studio considers them a viable franchise. The tune, happily poking fun at Hollywood's fascination with sequels, is just one of the many self-depreciating, self-aware gags that litter this sequel.
Imagine a world where sexy teens battle against a dystopian landscape, and it's up to one plucky heroine to rise up and overthrow a corrupt governing body. You've just imagined The Hung- Oh no, wait, this is Divergent. And that is probably Divergent's initial problem, trying to overcome the inevitable comparisons with that other book/film that also has a lead girl in it. That and the fact that Theo James' magnificent cheekbones just REFUSE to QUIT. Seriously, you could cut glass with them.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 17:15 on 21 Mar 2014
Starred Up might be the angriest movie ever made. Set inside a British jail as troublesome new arrival Eric Love (Jack O'Connell) joins his lag father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn) on the wing, David Mackenzie's prison drama feels as though it is powered by white hot fury. As the inmates clash, tidal waves of ugly, pointless, misguided anger crash down on one another. The air feels heavy with rage, as if characters breathe in a red mist and can't help acting on it. The inmates of Starred Up are like bombs that could go off at any second, and the movie's fuse constantly threatens to ignite without a moment's notice. Although the director often allows himself to indulge in the violence as his characters do, Mackenzie never loses sight of what's behind the unrest, and why that's way more important than the outbursts themselves.
Just like Stan Lee releases those How To Draw Your Favourite Superhero books, complete with crudely sketched circles and squares that somehow become awesome comic-book artwork in just four 'easy' steps, it is becoming increasingly clear that Marvel is working to a very strictly defined template with its movies. Almost like they've all been storyboarded for years in advance. (*glances at comic collection*) OH.
"I'm the reason people know that Anne Hathaway has a vagina". This line, delivered by the excellent Ken Marino as returning scumbag Vinnie Van Lowe, is just one of the many beautifully written, needle-sharp moments stippled throughout the titular private detective’s return to Neptune. The other fictional Californian 'hellmouth'.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 07:30 on 10 Mar 2014
There are plenty of films that scare you. There are few that leave lasting damage. Under The Skin does not bear its title lightly: it is a film that's so profoundly distressing, it disturbs on a genetic level. On the surface, it is about a female alien interloper looking to harvest the bodies of single men for reasons too ungodly to explain. But burrow deeper and you'll see that Under The Skin is a catalogue of your worst fears: fear of intimacy, fear of nature, fear of being chased, fear of being violated, fear of being outcast. Jonathan Glazer's third film explores the concept of death more intimately than I would have cared for; it's a nightmarish vision that I imagine will haunt me to my grave. Frankly it makes 'Windowlicker' look about as menacing as a Katy Perry video.
Considering the Fast And Furious series has effectively already won the race of the 'fast car movie' genre, do we really need another film about driving? Do we really need more shots of someone shifting a gearstick a dozen times, of feet slamming down on pedals, of screeching, smoking tyres? In essence, is there really a Need for more Speed?
"THIS! IS! SPARTA!" Or rather, "THIS! IS! THE! AEGEAN SEA!" as the next chapter of the pumped-up fight fest that was 300 moves the action to a fresh – and very wet – battlefield. Set during the same timeline of the suicidal Spartans' clash at the Hot Gates, director Noam Murro (with previous 300 helmer Zack Snyder producing) presents the slightly less-exciting but still fun Battle of Artemisium that takes place almost exclusively at sea. Caution: the first two rows may get wet.