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Review: The Raid 2

Posted by Ed Williamson at 11:00 on 10 Apr 2014
The Raid 2
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.

Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Posted by Rob Young at 17:30 on 25 Mar 2014
Muppets Most Wanted
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.

Review: Divergent

Posted by Becky Mather at 07:00 on 24 Mar 2014
Divergent
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.

Review: Starred Up

Posted by Ali Gray at 17:15 on 21 Mar 2014
Starred Up
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.

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Posted by Matt Looker at 21:30 on 19 Mar 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
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.

Review: Veronica Mars

Posted by Christopher Ratcliff at 07:00 on 17 Mar 2014
Veronica Mars
"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'.

Review: Under The Skin

Posted by Ali Gray at 07:30 on 10 Mar 2014
Under The Skin
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.

Review: Need For Speed

Posted by Matt Looker at 10:30 on 08 Mar 2014
Need For Speed
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?

Review: 300: Rise Of An Empire

Posted by Becky Mather at 17:30 on 05 Mar 2014
300: Rise Of An Empire
"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.

Review: Non-Stop

Posted by Ali Gray at 08:30 on 28 Feb 2014
Non-Stop
In the final shot of Non-Stop – spoiler alert – Liam Neeson attempts to crack a smile. It does not look like the smile of a happy man. The poor guy has just spent the last 106 minutes with his face contorted into a permanent grimace; his 61-year-old body presumably ravaged with pain. This is Liam Neeson's life now: playing action hero and paying the physical price. He is now professionally angry and exclusively achy. He's not so much an actor as he is an unofficial Expendable. It's sad to see a once-great actor like Neeson reduced to slugging his way through cheesy B-movies, but Non-Stop at least has the decency to be appropriately ludicrous – and Neeson at least gets to sit down for a bit in this one.
Out this week
+The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (12A)
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+Locke (15)
Our review
+Magic Magic (15)
+The Love Punch (12A)