27 September 2012

TOWER BLOCK- Review

What the hell is it with this year and awesome high-rise siege movies? Whatever it is, I like it- after The Raid and Dredd comes the first movie of the year that actually takes place from the perspective of the beseiged inhabitants of the location, and it's called Tower Block. Hopefully, it will play for longer than a week in some cinemas, or the timing of this review will give you only a little time to check it out for yourself.

The film, written by Severance screenwriter James Moran, begins with a murder on the top floor of Serenity House, a tower block that has been marked for redevelopment. Nobody, except ballsy resident Becky, does anything to try and save the victim, and absolutely nobody talks to the police afterwards. Three months later, only the inhabitants of the flats on the top floor remain in the block, as they await re-housing by the council. However, one Saturday, an unseen sniper in another building begins to pick them off one by one, forcing them to rely on one another to survive the weekend.

26 September 2012

LOOPER- Review

Off the back of last week's sorely underappreciated Premium Rush, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's latest, Looper, arrives with much more fanfare. Whether the wide release, or the participation of Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, undoes its indie cred to some extent, it remains that Rian Johnson's film is getting the bump it deserves in cinemas, as an American science-fiction film with a mid-range budget and tonnes of imagination.

In the latter half of the 21st century, it has become all but impossible to dispose of bodies, and so, using illegal time travel technology, the mobs send their hits back in time, to the mid-2000s, for disposal. Loopers are the personnel in charge of this disposal, contracted on the condition that their loop will be closed when their own future self is sent back for assassination. One Looper, Joe, comes face to face with himself, from 30 years in the future, and fails to finish the job. The older Joe has some other ideas about how the last three decades should pan out, while his present day counterpart runs for his life.

25 September 2012

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET- Spoiler Review

This review contains some SPOILERS. If you're planning on seeing House At The End Of The Street, er... don't, but also don't read on just yet.

Jennifer Lawrence is one of the biggest rising stars of the last few years. She has a few of those major milestones for a young actress under her belt already, having garnered an Oscar nomination, and starred in a comic book movie, but now she's also done the low-rent teen thriller. House At The End Of The Street was pegged for an April release in the US, but there was a delay and a fundamentally altered marketing campaign after its star killed a load of kids in a movie that made over $400 million.

Make no mistake, whatever this once was, it's now an opportunity to cash in on the popularity of Katniss Everdeen. It's being marketed as a supernatural horror film, but it's really much closer to a teen thriller. Elissa and her mother move to rural, small-town America, having caught a bargain on a house that happens to be next door to the scene of an infamous crime. There, Elissa becomes intrigued by their sole remaining neighbour, Ryan Jacobson, whose parents were murdered by his younger sister. Despite her mother's protests, she grows closer and closer to him, and almost comes too close to realise the terrible truth.

24 September 2012

BlogalongaBond- CASINO ROYALE Review

Back when all of this began, when I still thought that Connery didn't have a bad Bond movie to his name, and I knew that Dalton was great in the role, but didn't realise how great he really was, I admitted that Casino Royale was not just my favourite Bond film, but one of my favourite films of all time. As a result of following the rules of BlogalongaBond, I've held off rewatching this for almost two years, and now finally, we're here.

Although I've actually covered many reboots in the course of this marathon, Daniel Craig signals the first outright version of James Bond's origins, as he's first promoted to 00 status, and secondly faces off against a private banker, Le Chiffre. A hedge fund for terrorists is up for grabs in a high-stakes poker game at the titular casino in Montenegro, and MI5 sends in Bond, their best player, to clean out Le Chiffre and bring him in for information. Along the way, he's teamed with Vesper Lynd, a beautiful Treasury agent who begins to make Bond think twice about the life he has chosen.

21 September 2012

THE SWEENEY- Review

This is how Nick Love actually sees London.
With the news that The Sweeney hit the #1 spot at the UK box office last weekend, I thought it was time to brave Nick Love's latest, a reboot of the popular ITV cop drama. As bad as A Touch Of Cloth, the truly brilliant, Police Squad-style spoof of prime-time police procedural dramas from the minds of Charlie Brooker and Daniel Maier, is going to be for any prime-time police procedural drama that hits the small screen in the near future, it's all the worse for this distinctly uncinematic tosh.

In terms of tone, it's The Sweeney in name only. Flying Squad detectives Jack Regan and George Carter operate an elite team of shouty, corrupt coppers from a preposterously swanky high-rise office, which actually appears to be set in The Apprentice, going by the establishing shots. With their M.O. of acting like criminals to catch criminals, they pretty much come across as criminals, and so they also have internal affairs breathing down their necks. Elsewhere, an old enemy of Regan's is taking the piss, and the Sweeney will stop at nothing to sort him out.

20 September 2012

PARANORMAN- Review

Between reviews of Doctor Who and the spate of horror films aimed at children in recent years, I think that this blog has made it abundantly clear that there should be more daring and scary films for a family audience, so I shan't stress the point. Plus, ParaNorman shows that we're clearly getting that kind of film anyway, especially when it comes to the output of animation studio Laika, who previously had a big hit with Coraline.

While that film drew from Neil Gaiman's novel, this one is based on an original script, but with more homage to horror movies and the gruesome pre-occupations of children, than actual horror. I'll explain how this is a good thing in due course, but I mean to say that the film's hero, Norman Babcock has the ability to communicate with the dead, and is alienated by his friends, his family and just about everyone else in his small town, Blithe Hollow. The town is famous for a witch hunt that happened three centuries prior, and Norman is suddenly bequeathed with the duty of protecting the village from the witch's ancient curse.

17 September 2012

PREMIUM RUSH- Review

David Koepp is a screenwriter whose name should probably be better known. In the last twenty years or so, his name has been attached to such films as Jurassic Park, Spider-Man and, yes, alright, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. His work as a director, particularly on his previous film, Ghost Town, has demonstrated that he's no hack, but a stalwart writer who reall gets story structure.

This experience is an enormous benefit to Premium Rush, a breathlessly paced B-movie that recalls the kind of exhilaratingly brief thrill ride that we seldom see in modern filmmaking. It centres around Wiley, an adrenaline junkie bike messenger whose fearless pedalling through all manner of potential traffic calamities makes him one of the best working in Manhattan. One eventful evening, he's called upon to deliver an envelope to Chinatown by 7pm, and winds up being chased all over by a hapless cop, Bobby Monday, who's also interested in Wiley's cargo.

14 September 2012

LAWLESS- Review

John Hillcoat's previous two collaborations with Nick Cave, on The Proposition and The Road, were pretty flipping bleak, and I hadn't thought that there would be much reason to expect any different of Lawless. However, as compared to fraternal tensions in the Outback and the torment of Viggo Mortensen in having to drag his whiny kid about a post-apocalyptic landscape, it's practically a comedy.

Based on The Wettest County In The World, the film follows the true story of the Bondurant brothers, a trio of bootleggers from Franklin County in Virginia at the height of Prohibition in the US, focusing particularly on the youngest brother, Jack. He's  the runt of the litter, left to drive for brothers Howard and Forrest on their moonshine runs, but he starts to get in on the racket when he agrees to supply big-city gangster Floyd Banner. But when Franklin is visited by a new deputy, Special Agent Charlie Rakes, Jack runs the risk of bringing trouble down on his whole family.

12 September 2012

DREDD- Review

Unfortunately delayed from last December, Dredd has finally hit cinemas a couple of months after The Raid, a film with which it shares some narrative similarities. I say that the timing is unfortunate, not for Dredd, but for people who, like me, are going to be intensely irritated by people who insist that it ripped off The Raid whenever it's brought up. And I'm going to be bringing it up a lot- this is really a great sci-fi action movie, and a rock-solid reboot.

In a post-apocalyptic landscape, 800 million citizens of Mega-City One, a huge, concrete metropolis that spans from what used to be Boston to what used to be Washington DC, are on the brink of anarchy. This particular film follows one of the city's law enforcers, Judge Dredd, through a day in his working life. But on this day, he's tasked with assessing Anderson, a rookie Judge with psychic abilities, shortly before a routine investigation leaves both him and the rookie trapped inside Peach Trees, an immense residential high-rise that is ruled by the murderous Ma Ma clan.

6 September 2012

THE POSSESSION- Review

I've included a section of the poster for The Possession above, because it demonstrates how something can be less scary as a still image than it might be in the context of a live action movie. Certainly, this extreme version of a facepalm made me giggle when I first saw it, and with the involvement of Sam Raimi, and his Ghost House Pictures, I had assumed that it was going to be more than the standard demonic possession film, and something more along the lines of the howling, hysterical horror comedy, Drag Me to Hell.

Director Ole Bornedal's film is far more straight-faced than the type of film that Raimi puts out, but neither is it a bog-standard addition to an over-stuffed sub-genre. Whether it is, as it purports, based on true events or not, makes about as much difference as it does in any other horror film that claims that inspiration. Clyde Brenek is a high-school basketball coach who's planning to move for work, away from his estranged family, when his youngest daughter Emily becomes infatuated with a wooden box that he buys for her at a yard sale. It transpires that she has a friend, who lives in the box, and that friend is a dybbuk.

4 September 2012

TOTAL RECALL- Review

Looking at Sony's output this summer, disappointments like Men In Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man aren't going to do their bank balance any harm, grossing hundreds of millions of dollars all around the world. Their big flop of the summer, Total Recall, also happens to be creatively disappointing, and also suffers as a diminishing return to material that has previously been realised very well on the big screen.

Though taking the title of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 film, this version purports to be a more faithful adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Aside from the fact that Colin Farrell gets his ass to Britain, instead of Mars, it does seem like a lot of the beats have come from Verhoeven's film. Factory worker Douglas Quaid spends his days discontentedly assembling the robot police force that keeps the poorest of society in check. One day, he decides to splash out on some memory adjustment at a company called Rekall, planning to be implanted with memories of an action-packed life of adventure, but things don't quite go according to plan.