Review: Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar

A sci-fi thriller that drags more than it soars, Interstellar finds director Christopher Nolan favouring spectacle over substance. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former astronaut-turned-farmer, is struggling to survive on a ravaged Earth. When a last-ditch attempt to save mankind presents itself, Cooper leaves his family behind for the outer reaches of space.
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Review: Rio 2 (2014)

Rio 2

The sequel to Blue Sky Studios’ smash-hit parrot adventure, Rio 2 maintains the same bright and brisk approach that helped carry its predecessor to a cool $484M box office cume, but lacks substantially in substance and emotional depth. When a hidden tribe of Spix’s Macaw’s are discovered in the Amazon, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and his family – Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their three chicks – leave their domesticated life in search of pastures new. Continue reading “Review: Rio 2 (2014)”

Review: Les Misérables (2012)

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo’s decades-spanning novel Les Misérables has been the subject of countless adaptations since its initial publication in 1862, the latest of which hails from The King’s Speech director, Tom Hooper. He has stripped the tale of ex-convict Jean Valjean’s quest for redemption through revolution-era France down to its core and captured the fraught emotion and difficult subject matter – poverty, prostitution, crime and corruption – through powerful, live on-set Continue reading “Review: Les Misérables (2012)”

Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Eight years after the grisly events that resulted in the death of Harvey Dent, Batman is nowhere to be seen and the city of Gotham has become a place of peace and mutual co-operation under the Dent Act. However, when a ruthless madman named Bane (Tom Hardy) rises from the darkest depths of the world and begins to take advantage of the city’s new-found order, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is forced to call upon Wayne Enterprises’ virtuoso Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Continue reading “Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)”

Third And Final Trailer For The Dark Knight Rises

Warner Bros. Pictures have released the third and final trailer for The Dark Knight Rises – one that promises a more dramatic, emotionally resonant entry into the latest, inherently murky Batman franchise.

Written and directed once more by the partnership of Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises finds Batman (Christian Bale) hunted by the Police Department after taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s demise. However, Continue reading “Third And Final Trailer For The Dark Knight Rises”

Review: Rio (2011)

Rio is the latest animation film from Blue Sky Studios, and features the voice talents of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann and Jamie Foxx.

The film centers on Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), a domesticated macaw from small-town Minnesota, who, when he meets the fiercely independent Jewel (Anne Hathaway), takes off on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with this bird of his dreams.

The peppy, action-packed and convivial screenplay – aside from struggling to sustain the party atmosphere to the end, and falling foul to the well-trodden romantic chase caper, and the trademark slapstick gags – combines charm, thrills, laughs and romance to admirable, sweet avail. It’s not overly complicated, and may feel a tad strained at times, but the approach is sharp enough to keep you entertained throughout.

The characters, including the humans, are under-developed and, no matter how top-notch the voice acting is, the dialogue feels too conventional and flaky to capture audiences attention like other, braver, animation films.

There is, however, one exception. Clement, who voices Nigel, a red-eyed cockatoo, steals every scene he’s in, even delivering a hilarious yet equally fearsome performance as the central villain.

In a technical sense, Rio is simply exquisite, with director Carlos Saldanha ensuring every scene twinkles with a remarkably high level of attention-to-detail. The 3D is crisp, richly attained with a tremendous depth of field, accentuating the glorious, picturesque scenery and wonderfully buoyant animation, and never feeling unnecessary.

The music, ranging from John Powell’s score to original songs by Taio Cruz and will.i.am, was tempestuous, but not always as soaring as you’d expect.

Rio may not be hugely original, and certainly has its share of flaws, but it has a refreshingly light, entertaining feel to it that, in addition to the superb animation and energetic voice acting, should leave you beaming from cheek to cheek.

Review: Morning Glory (2010)

Morning Glory centers on Becky (Rachel McAdams), a hard-working morning TV show producer, who accepts the challenge of reviving struggling show Daybreak.

However, it soon becomes clear that the challenge at hand, including the task of pairing current host Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) with respected newsman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), may be more difficult than even she can handle.

Surprisingly, despite opening with the usual generic rom-com characteristics, this is no predictable rom-com; instead more of a mature workplace comedy.

Director Roger Michell nails the direction, wonderfully transposing the busting and haphazard nature of Daybreak’s workplace to the bright, spacious and orderly environment Becky aspires to be a part of: the dizzy heights of well-rated commercial TV.

Aline Brosh McKenna’s script, in addition, is dynamic and vigorous. It uses some of the better rom-com characteristics and applies them remarkably well to the workplace comedy, increasing the films impact with fast-paced, sharp dialogue and well-rounded, emotive characters.

The performances are strong across the board. Harrison Ford, in particular, is on excellent form as the headstrong Pomeroy, and his sparring with co-star Colleen, played humorously by Keaton, is priceless.

It’s Rachel McAdams that’s the real triumph here. If, say, someone like Katherine Heigl had been cast instead, Morning Glory wouldn’t have the same pizaz it does with McAdams at the centre. Not only does she carry the film with her energetic, sleek and eminent performance, but she lifts it to a whole new level.

As an actress who has consistently delivered performances across a wide variety of genres, McAdams remains one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors. If there’s any justice, Morning Glory will do for McAdams what The Devil Wears Prada did for Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt: propel her to universal stardom.

With a clever, grown-up script and some brilliant performances at work, Morning Glory is able to shred its predictability and become something special.

Review: Love & Other Drugs (2010)

Loosely based on Jamie Reidy’s book Hard Sell: The Evolution Of A Viagra Salesman, Love & Other Drugs is a refreshingly grown-up romantic comedy, one with heartfelt emotion and two compelling, likeable performances.

The film centers on a pharmaceutical rep, Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), who falls head over heels for radiant free spirit Maggie (Anne Hathaway). Together the two people who never thought they would fall in love discover that their intense chemistry is more powerful than any drug on the market.

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are a match made in heaven, each providing compelling, yet contained performances, laden with sexual chemistry. Gyllenhaal’s Jamie, an arrogant, passive and self-depreciating salesman, and Hathaway’s Maggie, an independent, earthly woman scared of losing her being to the aggressive Parkinson’s disease.

Zwick handles the intimacy between Jamie and Maggie extremely well, nailing the complexity of their developing relationship. The dramatic, heartfelt exchanges are dignified, played with emotion and depth, while the sex scenes are fun and inject life, vigour back into the film, balance the tone, never letting it slip into the implausible or over-sentimental.

The tone may feel equivocal at times, but the serious, life-altering disease Maggie bears is meant to be shown as empowerment, something that people come to live with and something that shouldn’t stop people from ultimate happiness, highlighted particularly well by a scene that occurs at a meeting of people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones.

The film, however, does stumble in its conclusion, reverting to one of the common clichés of the genre by tying everything up neatly, renouncing in part the unique feel of the film Zwick strived so hard to establish in the first place.

Love & Other Drugs, despite its faults, is a rom-com that works, mainly due to it’s ambidextrous story, convincing performances, witty script and ever appropriate soundtrack.

Cinema Releases: December 29, 2010

Love & Other Drugs

Director – Edward Zwick

Starring – Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer, Josh Gad, Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt.