23 April 2014


There are worse ways to come down from the long Easter weekend than to discover that Joss Whedon has gone and released a new film. Moments after its world première at the Tribeca Film Festival, Whedon announced that his sci-fi romance In Your Eyes could be in your eyes right away, for a $5 rental fee on Vimeo.

The film centres around Dylan and Rebecca, two people who are inextricably connected by a shared psychic connection. Young Rebecca has a sledging accident, and Dylan is knocked out cold, thousands of miles away. Flash forward to their adulthood- he's an under-achieving ex-con in New Mexico, and she's a skittish housewife who lives with her condescending husband in New Hampshire. Once the connection between them becomes more obvious, they are able to converse with one another out loud, and see and feel whatever the other is experiencing.

22 April 2014


There's no real way around the feeling that Transcendence is disappointingly Christopher Nolan-lite. The director may have made a whole bunch of "gritty" reboots of established properties feel like the vogue, with his acclaimed Dark Knight films, but far fewer filmmakers have tried to ape the intellectual blockbuster antics of 2010's Inception. But while the first directorial effort from Nolan's long-time cinematographer Wally Pfister may look just like one of his films, it's nothing like as deep or rewarding.

Transcendence here describes the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses the capacity of human intelligence, and Dr. Will Caster and his team are working towards this very point in their research. When radical, anti-technology terrorists perform an effective, drawn-out and painful assassination attempt on Will, his wife and lab partner Evelyn decides that the only way to save his life is to upload his mind into a computer system, and by so doing, achieving their goal.

18 April 2014


This review is spoiler-free, but will obviously talk about all of the other Spider-Man movies released up to now.
Ten years ago, Sam Raimi made Spider-Man 2, a film that stands up as one of the greatest comic book movies ever made, even after a decade in which Christopher Nolan and Marvel Studios came along and revolutionised the genre. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has much more to live up to than its predecessor, a premature reboot that was roundly and deservedly lambasted as a washed-out, incoherent bash at Spider-Man Begins.

Having dreaded this one all year, it might actually be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. While it's at least as over-stuffed with sub-plots as the interesting disaster that was Spider-Man 3, it's a much livelier and more colourful affair than the previous film. Peter Parker is still angsting over his doomed romance with Gwen Stacy, and the two of them can't seem to actually stay away from each other. Nevertheless, Spider-Man's notoriety has made him a hit with the people of New York, even as his enemies within Oscorp make plans against the webslinger.

16 April 2014


For better or worse, acclaimed first-time directors often seem to run as far in the opposite direction as they can when mounting their follow up film. Like the charming Submarine, Richard Ayoade's second directorial effort The Double seems to take place out-of-time, albeit with more retro-futuristic leanings this time around, and that's really just about the only similarity I can think of.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon James, an admin worker who files inconsequential reports about unspecified subjects, for employers who don't recognise him after seven years of working there. Just about the only thing that keeps him going through his daily purgatory is his attraction to fellow employee Hannah, a girl who works in reprographics and lives in the opposite apartment block. But things get markedly worse for Simon, with the arrival of a charismatic new colleague, James Simon, who is literally the equal and opposite of our bewildered hero.

11 April 2014


Far from feeling impatient about the two-year wait between films, it should be an encouraging sign that Hammer Studios have taken so long between The Woman In Black, which was their first major box office success of the 21st century, and their latest feature, The Quiet Ones. Furthermore, it's very interesting that they've gone with the kind of premise that wouldn't have been out of place between their more recognisable, better remembered monster features, rather than straight into a Woman In Black sequel (which is actually due next February.)

This fits more squarely in the non-literary sub-genre of scientific follies, with Jared Harris standing in for the likes of Robert Powell as the science-y type- no Dr. Frankenstein here, thank you very much. Harris plays Professor Coupland, a university professor with some radical theories about paranormal activity. Set in the 1970s, the film follows his efforts to prove these theories by invoking a demonic spirit called Evey in a disturbed patient, and hoping to prove that there are no ghosts other than those we manifest by ourselves. This works about as well as you would expect, especially after Coupland takes his patient and a bunch of students out to a big house in the middle of nowhere.