X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (M) – Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past logo. Twentieth Century Fox/Marvel

X-Men: Days of Future Past logo. Twentieth Century Fox/Marvel

X-Men Days of Future Past poster. Marvel/Twentieth Century Fox

X-Men Days of Future Past poster. Marvel/Twentieth Century Fox

4 ½ stars
In a word: Determined

If I was ever so apprehensive about a movie in 2014, it was this one. X-Men: Days of Future Past, right from the outset, was a huge risk. Time-travel and alternating timelines, the huge ensemble cast, being a follow-up act to First Class and Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise set up quite a high bar.

It can be so easy to declare the latest film in an immensely popular franchise with an ever-growing fan base the ‘best one so far’. For DOFP, however, this is the only statement worthy of the film. It takes the best elements of every X-Men film so far, and throws them together in a near-perfect exercise of superhero storytelling.  Continue reading

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MALEFICENT (M) – Review

Maleficent poster. Walt Disney Pictures.

Maleficent poster. Walt Disney Pictures.

Maleficent poster. Walt Disney Pictures.

Maleficent poster. Walt Disney Pictures.

3 stars
In a word: Abbreviated

Interestingly, the biggest problem that many Disney live-action fantasy adventure films have had over the past few years is that they’ve all been far too long.

Maleficent problematically suffers from the exact opposite. Perhaps the studio wished to overcorrect its past mistakes with this one, however this is one film that would’ve been serviced well by some more time to play with. Many important parts of the narrative are summed up in brief sentences of narration and there are far too quick leaps from plot point to plot point that could’ve used more deliberate development. Continue reading

NOAH (M) – Review

Noah poster. Paramount Pictures/Regency Enterprises.

Noah poster. Paramount Pictures/Regency Enterprises.

Noah poster. Paramount Pictures.

Noah poster. Paramount Pictures/Regency Enterprises

4 and a half stars
In a word: Human

This is not your God-fearing, narrow-minded conservative grandmother’s Noah. This is not the Noah you learnt about in Sunday School, if you ever went. This is Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. It is dark, it is bold and above all else it is abundantly human.

Astounding visuals and a tour-de-force performance from Russell Crowe as Noah, with highly memorable supporting performances from Emma Watson and Ray Winstone, make NOAH a highly entertaining, above average disaster film.  Continue reading

BAD NEIGHBOURS (MA15+)

Bad Neighbours poster. Universal Pictures.

Bad Neighbours poster. Universal Pictures.

Bad-Neighbours-Poster.jpg_m-Bad-Neighbors-sa

Bad Neighbours poster. Universal Pictures.

4 ½ stars
In a word: Ribald

There is an unacceptable trend amongst comedies, the most egregious culprits of this trend being the R-rated comedies. The trend: compensating for a lack of depth, story and character development with an overabundance of generally stale albeit edgy humor. This is how R-rated comedies fool you into thinking they’re worth the price of admission.

Thankfully, Bad Neighbours bucks this trend and delivers the funniest film of the last year and the most expertly assembled and executed comedy since The Hangover. Continue reading

NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME 1 & VOLUME 2 (R18+)

Nymphomaniac character poster. Magnolia Pictures/Zentropa Entertainments

Nymphomaniac character poster. Magnolia Pictures/Zentropa Entertainments

*Volume 1 and Volume 2 of NYMPHOMANIAC screened at my nearest cinema as a single session with an intermission so I have reviewed the two volumes as a collective whole.*

Nymphomaniac poster. Magnolia Pictures/Zentropa Entertainments

Nymphomaniac poster. Magnolia Pictures/Zentropa Entertainments

Volume 1: 4 ½ stars
Volume 2: 3 ½ stars
In a word:
Volume 1 – Voyeuristic       Volume 2 – Depraved

Director and writer Lars Von Trier’s erotic epic journeys between an artistic analysis of psychologically complex characters and an overindulgent experiment in discomforting shock and overload, the latter being more predominant in volume 2.

Guided by any other hand, this would’ve been an irredeemable smorgasbord of gratuitous excess, but Lars Von Trier knows how to handle controversial subject matter with appropriate direction and tone – although he may get a little too unhinged in the second volume.  Continue reading

WHITE HOUSE DOWN (M) – Review

White House Down banner. Columbia Pictures.

White House Down banner. Columbia Pictures.

White House Down poster. Columbia Pictures.

White House Down poster. Columbia Pictures.

2 ½ stars

If you’re thinking that you’ve seen this movie once already this year you’d be forgiven. Roland Emmerich’s White House Down bears a premise that is a carbon copy of Olympus Has Fallen, a film released earlier this year. However, director Emmerich along with stars Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, offer up a far more thoroughly entertaining film than Olympus – even if it is a bit long in the tooth by the time the end credits roll.

White House Down is about U.S. Capitol Police officer John Cale (Tatum) who, after bombing out on an interview for a position with Secret Service, decides to hang around the White House and take his daughter on the tour. Big mistake. Continue reading

THE BEST OFFER (M) – Review

The Best Offer. Warner Bros.

The Best Offer. Warner Bros/Paco Cinematografica.

The Best Offer poster. Warner Bros/Paco Cinematografica/Transmission Films

The Best Offer poster.         Warner Bros/Paco Cinematografica/Transmission Films

5 stars.

There is so much fun to be had with the title of this film in terms of reviewing it because Italian director Guiseppe Tornatore’s English-language debut The Best Offer is indeed one of the best cinema offerings for 2013. It features an exceptional performance from Geoffrey Rush, the production design is simple yet immensely elegant and beautiful and the score and cinematography both evoke intrigue and awe. The supporting cast of Sylvia Hoeks, Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland hold their own amidst Rush’s marvellous talents and help create incredibly organic chemistry amidst all the characters.

The Best Offer is about an eccentric art auctioneer/collector, Virgil Oldman, who
develops an obsession with an heiress whom has just contacted him personally about an estate she has inherited filled with bygone era items, including furniture and artwork. Continue reading