Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

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The latest attempt to cinematise Marvel’s dysfunctional superhero family, Fantastic Four is a frustrating shambles, bogged down by a strained narrative and laughable, exposition-heavy dialogue. An inter-dimensional vault leaves four young upstarts – Reed (Miles Teller), Sue (Kate Mara), Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Ben (Jamie Bell) – reshaped with superhuman abilities. Their only hope of recovery is back the way they came from, putting them in direct contact with an old friend. Continue reading “Review: Fantastic Four (2015)”

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Review: Filth (2013)

Filth

The fourth Irvine Welsh novel to be adapted for the big screen, Jon S. Baird’s Filth thankfully bears more similarities to drug-fuelled classic Trainspotting than the lesser successful translations. On the cusp of promotion, intensely misanthropic Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is given the task of solving a brutal murder. Seeing this as an opportunity to prove himself and win back his estranged wife and daughter, Bruce concocts a series of malevolent schemes to turn his colleagues against one another. Continue reading “Review: Filth (2013)”

Review: Man On A Ledge (2012)

Man On A Ledge is, well, apart from being one of the worst titled films of the past few years, a relatively by-the-numbers, cluttered fare that director Asger Leth imparts in a passable, yet ultimately bland, attempt to breathe new life into the tepid thriller genre.

Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), an ex-cop and criminal at large, books himself into a fancy suite at the Roosevelt Hotel, New York. Rather than basking in his luxurious surroundings, he instead chooses to climb out onto the window ledge Continue reading “Review: Man On A Ledge (2012)”

Review: Retreat (2011)

Writer-director Carl Tibbetts makes his directorial debut with Retreat: an apocalyptic home invasion thriller set on a fictional Scottish island.

Martin (Cillian Murphy) and Kate (Thandie Newton), a couple from London, escape their broken marriage to an isolated island named Blackholme, which they visited as young lovers. While at the retreat, the couple attempt to put their past troubles behind them, only for their lives to be thrown into jeopardy when mysterious stranger, Jack (Jamie Bell), winds Continue reading “Review: Retreat (2011)”

Review: The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn (2011)

An avid fan, and the sole person trusted by Hergé to adapt his comic books, Steven Spielberg joins forces with Peter Jackson to bring the iconic drawings to life through the art of motion capture: a method which both filmmakers believe unrivalled for representing the author’s bewitching world.

Combining elements from three of Hergé’s celebrated tales, The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn centres on plucky newspaper reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his attempts to find the treasure of Sir Francis Continue reading “Review: The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn (2011)”

Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Following the overwhelming success of his feature film debut Sin Nombre in 2009, Cary Fukunaga returns with a towering adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s literary classic Jane Eyre.

For those of you shamefully unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, the plot follows Jane (Mia Wasikowska): a mousy governess who, after an unstable childhood, finds employment at Thornfield Hall. During her time there, she develops a beautiful friendship with head housemistress Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench) and a twisted romance with owner Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Continue reading “Review: Jane Eyre (2011)”

Review: The Eagle (2011)

Adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel The Eagle Of The Ninth, The Eagle is an historical adventure film directed by Kevin Macdonald.

Set in Roman-ruled Britain, The Eagle tells the story of a young Roman soldier (Channing Tatum) who endeavors to honour his father’s memory by finding his lost legion’s golden emblem.

A simple story, perhaps, and nothing original in terms of narrative elements, but the opening act is intelligent, fast-paced and engaging enough to maintain the audiences attention. At the halfway mark, however, the narrative shifts a gear, its pace changes and it suddenly becomes a chase film, ending in an uninspired way that somewhat ruins the polished opening setup.

Relying massively on standard cinematic methods as opposed to often cheap and fake-looking state-of-the-art CGI effects, the battle sequences are given a commendable sense of visceral realism. This works in Macdonald’s favour.

The aforementioned sequences are occasionally brutal and bloody, but not overly so. Moreover, aside from one or two mild profanities and the obviously simmering homoeroticism between Marcus and Esca, the film is, to its merit, refreshingly devoid of unnecessary sexual content.

One of the films major flaws is that Macdonald, and screenwriter Jeremy Brock, are too afraid to let the material be about what it should be: violence. Instead, they try too hard to make it into a more intimate character piece, which ends up feeling all too superfluous.

While he may seem like an odd fit, Channing Tatum rises to the occasion and fills the role of Marcus Aquila admirably – as does his co-star, Bell, in his. The dynamic and tension between their characters is outstanding. By combining their individualistic personalities and working together, the audience is allowed a better understanding of their motives, no matter how nonsensical they are.

The performances from the supporting cast – including turns from Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong and Tahar Rahim – are competent enough, but they’re all too disposable to make much of an impact on the overall narrative.

As an historical epic, The Eagle falls short. But as minor escapist fare, with fun, engaging and bold ideas, it unexpectedly succeeds.