29 July 2014

EARTH TO ECHO- Review

LEEEENS FLAAAARE!
At the height of the busy summer season, Earth to Echo has arrived in cinemas with little fanfare. Nevertheless, here's a film that deserves the family ticket fee and more importantly, it feels like it will pick up some cult appreciation amongst its target audience further down the line. I'm prepared to say that time will tell on this one.

The film takes place in a neighbourhood that is about to be uprooted to make way for a new overpass, where three best friends- Alex, Tuck and Munch- are about to be separated for good. In the final week before they all move, their phones start displaying strange signals, possibly caused by interference with the phone network at the building site. They make a bike journey to the source of the signal as their final adventure together and happen upon an alien robot that is attempting to repair the key to its spaceship.

28 July 2014

THE PURGE: ANARCHY- Review

Headed up by powerhouse producer Jason Blum, Blumhouse Productions has been leading the way in cheaply made, highly profitable genre fare since it picked up Paranormal Activity. Of all of its fledgling franchises, (including Insidious and Sinister) the one with the most potential is The Purge and its sequel, the latter of which goes some way towards fulfilling all of the possibilities that it suggests.

For those who are having trouble remembering last summer, the premise is that within a decade, the New Founding Fathers of America have tackled crime and unemployment by arranging an annual no-holds-barred festival in which all crimes, INCLUDING MURDER, are legal for 12 hours. As the Purge of 2023 commences, The Purge: Anarchy follows five people who are, for various reasons, marooned in downtown LA where they would be sitting ducks for murderous gangs and mysterious death squads, if not for the alarming preparedness of one of their number.

22 July 2014

BOYHOOD- Review

"I wanted the whole film to feel like a memory -- how you might feel if you looked back on your life."
- Richard Linklater, on Boyhood

Maybe it's a bit trite to sum up a film in the filmmaker's own terms, but that pretty much covers it. It's Linklater's grasp on his storytelling and craft that shines through in all of his movies, so it's good a place as any to kick off explaining why Boyhood, a film which was shot a little bit at a time over the course of 12 years, covering the formative years of both a character called Mason Jr and an actor called Ellar Coltrane, is so engrossing. It's altogether tougher to figure out where this review should end, but we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

17 July 2014

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES- Review

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a surprise hit towards the end of 2011's summer blockbuster season, with terrific special effects and compelling plotting which married character development and dramatic irony with awesome action and that bit where a gorilla fought a helicopter. Just as that film borrowed from the fourth original film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, so Dawn of the Planet of the Apes borrows from the fifth film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

Ten winters on from the events of Rise, Caesar and his fellow apes have used their augmented intelligence to build a peaceful society in the forests of San Francisco. Mankind has become all but extinct after the chemical compound from the previous film turned out to be lethal to humans, so the apes are surprised and mistrustful when a group of human interlopers appear to threaten their stability. The humans, led by army veteran Dreyfus, are just as wary, having dubbed the pandemic "simian flu". Luckily, Caesar and a human named Malcolm are more pragmatic and together they try and foster a peaceful co-existence between the surviving humans and the thriving apes.

14 July 2014

BEGIN AGAIN- Review

Sometimes, it's fun being a little behind the curve on watching critical darlings. If there's some acclaimed film that I've missed in the past few years, there's no weight of expectation on the next film from the same director, if that happens to be the first one that I see. In this case, Begin Again immediately made me want to check out Once, so there's that to look forward to as well.

John Carney's second musical drama is evidently slightly bigger, transplanted from Dublin to New York. Originally titled Can A Song Save Your Life?, the film opens with a ramshackle open mic performance by Greta, a British singer-songwriter, which is witnessed by Dan, a drunk and depressed music producer. After backtracking and showing how the two of them happened across one another that evening, they find common catharsis for their traumatic experiences with the music industry by recording an album in locations around the city.