A lone astronaut working a mining operation on the moon starts seeing… MoreA lone astronaut working a mining operation on the moon starts seeing the face of a young woman and begins to question his sanity. Moon flies very much in the face of contemporary sci-fi. It has a very retro look, complimented perfectly by the use of beautifully crafted miniatures rather than the ubiquitous CGI and this retro feel is carried through to every aspect of the film. The sets are very reminiscent of the original Alien, the scenario echoes 70s eco sci-fi Silent Running combined with the themes of Solaris, it has the ominous electronic countdown of Outland and has a similar plot line to some aspects of Capricorn One; but it does so with such reverance and understanding of the genre it is far from a cheap carbon copy. Sam Rockwell puts in a great performance as the man alone (...?) although I did wish a lesser known actor had been chosen to be the voice of GERTY. All too often it seemed to me like Kevin Spacey was in the next room speaking to him on an intercom instead of thinking of his robotic companion as an entity in itself. It's the kind of intriguing and thoughtful sci-fi that never seems to get made any more and would undoubtedly have been ruined if a major studio had got involved. Maybe it relies just a little too much on its twist, but certainly different and in a very good way.
A group of gangsters kidnap a girl and meet a pair of escaped convicts… MoreA group of gangsters kidnap a girl and meet a pair of escaped convicts in the woods awaiting their boss for instructions. Little do they know that he's an unkillable demon who can re-animate the corpses of their dead victims...Well if that synopsis sounds ridiculous, it gets sillier than that! This is the kind of film where if it were done straight-faced, it probably would've been a disaster. Fortunately it has just the right amount of tongue in cheek humour to make it great fun. It has the same kind of mix of gore and laughs that the likes of A Chinese Ghost Story contains, and as a result comes across as a kind of Asian martial arts version of Evil Dead 2 or Peter Jackson's Bad Taste. Like those films, the budget was obviously tight, so you can spot some wires and there are a couple of ropey effects, but it's all part of the fun. Laugh at it or with it, it's an a musing bag of manga style lunacy and frenetic action that's basically just an excuse for constant fist fights, gun battles and samurai swords splattered with a liberal dose of gore. Unpretentious crowd pleasing nonsense.
In a future where time travel has been invented and outlawed, it is… MoreIn a future where time travel has been invented and outlawed, it is used solely by a criminal organisation who use it to "disappear" undesirables into the past where they are disposed of by hired killers called "loopers". I was very much looking forward to Rian Johnson's foray into science fiction, being a big fan of his two previous films both of which were similar genre homages. Sci fi is a rather more difficult nut to crack however, as most of the concepts it employs can be traced back to a few key examples. In this case, the comparisons to The Terminator in particular, Twelve Monkeys and Blade Runner are obvious making Looper feel a little too referential in way that Brick and The Brothers Bloom avoided. It could also be argued that its monicker could just as easily refer to the many loop holes in the plot which, like many other time-travel conundrums, do not really stand up to logical scrutiny. But taken at face value Looper has a lot to offer; the cast are all great and its bizarre how convincing JGL is as a young Bruce Willis (his conspicuous ladyboy eyebrows notwithstanding). There are also some fine action sequences and the twisting plot keeps you guessing making for a very entertaining diversion. It could have been excellent if the pay off had felt more rewarding - the first half of the film is far stronger as the overly lengthy scenes at the farmhouse compromise the pacing and the conclusion felt a little unconvincing - but as whole its a quality first stab at an intelligent sci fi pot boiler and far better than anything M. Night Shyamalan has done since The Sixth Sense.
When a rogue Federation agent launches a terrorist attack on the… MoreWhen a rogue Federation agent launches a terrorist attack on the highest echelons of its hierarchy, the Enterprise is ordered into Klingon space to terminate him. JJ Abrams turns his revisionist hand to the most beloved of the Trek films, Wrath Of Khan, and does so with some aplomb. Gone are the cheesy trappings of the era in which it was made to be replaced by a more hard-edged, contemporary feel that thankfully tempers some of the more overly juvenile absurdities of the first outing. The rather dodgy re-imagining of the Klingons aside, the production design is immaculate and the sequence on the Klingon home world where Benedict gets Matrix on their asses is gorgeous to look at and probably the best part of the film. Add a darker streak that brings shades of grey to the "Space Hippy Empire" that The Federation had become and some truly spectacular set pieces and the feel of the franchise becomes a little more layered and adult. The greater excesses of Chris Pine's irritating, fratboy persona are toned down and the scene that switches Kirk and Spock's roles from Wrath Of Khan lacks the emotional resonance of its inspiration but aids the three way bonding between the two and the audience immensely. The plot is a little generic and predictable, the tribble resurrection in particular feeling like a bit of a cheap trick but at least it spares us from The Search For Kirk. Into Darkness isn't perfect, but it's the kind of rip-roaring boy's own space adventure that they just don't seem to make any more and I for one am glad to see its like return.
"Extractor" Leonardo DiCaprio who specializes in invading the dreams… More"Extractor" Leonardo DiCaprio who specializes in invading the dreams of others for the purpose of corporate espionage is recruited by an industrialist to "persuade" the heir of a competitor to dissolve his father's company. Christopher Nolan once more produces a mind-bending concept for a genre spanning thriller that is sci-fi, spy thriller and heist movie in equal measure. The alternate reality based structure and gravity defying action scenes are very Matrix-like, the concept rather like Dreamscape (an old Dennis Quaid vehicle with an intriguing concept as Nolan no doubt recognised that was unfortunately compromised by 80s cheese) and execution rather like that of Minority Report. As such I didn't think it was quite as original as everyone else seems to but it is done with considerable style and intelligence and is never guilty of dumbing down for the audience. By the end, the multi-layered story is a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream(!), each with not only their own timeline but timeSCALE too, but thanks to Nolan's sure footed direction it is still relatively easy to follow. The cast are all very watchable, DiCaprio once again proving that he is one of the most versatile leading men around and there are some absolutely eye-popping visuals. My only gripe is that the core of the story centred on DiCaprio's personal problems rather than the more interesting heist thread, meaning that the twist is fairly predictable (by his standards) and at times it did feel to me that he was being clever for the sole sake of being clever. It is supremely entertaining however and I felt that it finished in the perfect way. Basically Inception is the film Total Recall may have been if it hadn't been shit.
An ex-CIA agent, Kung Fu expert and lovin' machine known only as Black… MoreAn ex-CIA agent, Kung Fu expert and lovin' machine known only as Black Dynamite avenges the death of his brother, cleans up the streets and sticks it to The Man in this homage cum parody of 70s blaxploitation movies. Scott Sanders is obviously a connoisseur of the genre as the whole film is pretty much spot on when sending up every detail of its intended target. There is the cast of casually racist and sexist stereotypes, the painfully clumsy exposition, laughably over the top action sequences and ham-fisted pseudo-messages as well as the usual glaring continuity errors, missed cues and clod hopping yet irresistibly funky music score. Michael Jai White not only looks the part but also is actually almost too good at the high kicking martial arts sequences. The one drawback is that it can enter Naked Gun territory (particularly during the fist fight with Richard Nixon!) without being quite funny enough to carry it off but at the same time is not quite clever enough to be a Tarantino/Rodriguez style pastiche. But it is consistently entertaining for its brief running time and will provide plenty of knowing chuckles to fans of Blaxploitation.
Amusingly ridiculous monster b-movie in which a giant dragon goes… MoreAmusingly ridiculous monster b-movie in which a giant dragon goes round lopping off heads in New York City, and yet the NYPD finds it inexplicably difficult to find. The effects are ropey and the whole thing is just daft, but it's tongue-in-cheek enough to be able to carry it off. Just...