23 September 2013

THE CALL- Review

Not so long ago, it wouldn't have been completely out of the question to want Halle Berry to simply go away. Since her Oscar win for Monster's Ball, she's starred in a veritable poo-poo platter of cinematic dirge, from the execrable Catwoman to this year's downright shitty Movie 43. Following after Cloud Atlas, (a film in which it was impossible to avoid acting versatility) is The Call, which is clearly the best star vehicle ever concocted for the actress.

Berry plays Jordan Turner, a 911 call centre operator whose has her confidence shaken by a traumatic call, which ends in her hearing the murder of a young girl over the phone. It's not entirely irrational that she blames herself for the incident, but it's six months later, when she's demoted herself to inducting new staff, that she gets a chance to redeem herself. A teenage girl, Casey, is abducted from a shopping mall, and Jordan ends up on the receiving end of her emergency call. The personal stakes only escalate higher, when Jordan realises that she may have encountered the kidnapper before.

18 September 2013

RIDDICK- Review

To the ranks of "totes emosh" and "bare hilare", we might just care enough to add "fuckin' Riddick" (adjective; fucking ridiculous, used to describe the trajectory of David Twohy's two films after Pitch Black.) Then again, there's little in Riddick, a film in three parts that is itself the third part of a series, to make us care that much.

After the camp juggernaut flop that was 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick, Vin Diesel secured the rights to his breakthrough character and independently financed Riddick, which finds our anti-hero stranded on a hostile planet while trying to get back to his home world, Furya. This "Not Furya" is packed with ferocious wildlife, and an injured Riddick is only just able to sustain his existence there at first. Eventually, he sets off a distress beacon, and winds up with two teams of mercenaries after him, as well as a whole bunch of alien beasties.

17 September 2013

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2- Review

Have horror sequels ever made the story their first duty, once they get past the first instalment? Certainly, the modern genre franchises don't seem to pay much mind to what could be gained from continuing the story. The Saw movies became a gore-soaked soap opera, but the imaginative setpieces always received greater consideration. Paranormal Activity has a fledgling mythology within its helter-skelter continuity, but those films seem more focused on getting the most out of their increasingly familiar format.

In their sequel to 2011's Insidious, James Wan and Leigh Whannell have made a bloody good go of subverting that sense of sequel decay, by going further into the Further, to expand and even improve upon the original. Insidious: Chapter 2 is plainly a continuation from where we left off- Josh and Renai's young son Dalton has been revived from his supernatural coma, but Josh hasn't returned to his own body. There's a malevolent presence there instead, and Josh's nearest and dearest are left scrambling to unpick the mystery behind the family's affinity with ghosts and demons.

9 September 2013

THE KINGS OF SUMMER- Review

Although it means my viewing and reviewing have been skewed towards one particular sub-genre for the last fortnight or so, I highly recommend checking out the same triple bill of coming-of-age movies as I have, in order to cast off from the summer of 2013 and buffer between loud thump-y actioners and the worthy awards season pieces to come. It goes Mud, The Way Way Back, then The Kings of Summer.

In contrast to the heroes of the other two films, Joe Toy lives in a state of emotional warfare with his widowed father, and yearns to be free of his control. Joe's best friend, Patrick, has overbearingly affectionate and embarrassing parents, and harbours similar ambitions. Together with another kid, Biaggio, they run away to the woods and vow to live free of responsibility. They build a house, scavenge for food, and generally get on quite well, considering that they're three dipshit teenagers, fending for themselves.

5 September 2013

MUD- Review

The Way Way Back really is one of the best films of the year, and you should definitely go and see it while it's playing in cinemas. Like, now. Having said that, I'm aware that there have been other celebrated coming-of-age movies this year, and that their releases were smaller than the one that The Way Way Back has enjoyed.

I've yet to catch up with The Kings of Summer, but the other one that really stands out is Mud, a tall tale that takes place in Arkansas, which is now out on DVD and Blu-ray. Two teenage boys, Ellis and Neckbone, row down the Mississippi river to a small island, where they discover a boat that's become lodged in a tree. Their ownership plans are thwarted by the presence of a mysterious man, known only as Mud. He enlists the boys to run errands for him, as he seeks to reunite with Juniper, his true love from the mainland, and escape a troubled past.

4 September 2013

YOU'RE NEXT- Review

Last year, Drew Goddard's genre-bending horror flick The Cabin In The Woods had some of the wind taken out of its sails by trailers that revealed one of the film's key twists. By contrast, You're Next has a bloody good trailer. It's iconic and memorable, without telling you much about the film it's promoting, in vast contrast to most horror movies. And like Cabin, this has a couple of surprises up its sleeve.

The film takes place around a cushy middle-class family reunion in Missouri, to celebrate mum and dad's wedding anniversary. Their grown-up children bring their partners along for the weekend, including Crispin and his teaching assistant girlfriend, Erin. When the house is violently besieged by masked men, all hell breaks loose. But as the attackers soon discover, Erin is particularly adept in rallying the guests to fight back.

2 September 2013

ABOUT TIME- Review

This review contains mild spoilers for About Time, but only if you haven't seen the trailer that's been playing in cinemas; even then, the trailer is not hugely representative of the film.

Fitting neatly with its own timey-wimey structure, About Time occasionally feels like a novel that hasn't been written yet. It has the structure of something that is unerringly faithful to a less cinematic source, but it comes from an original idea by writer-director Richard Curtis. Admittedly, Curtis makes slightly self-indulgent films, but this one is a curious case indeed.

As you'll have seen in the trailer, Domhnall Gleeson plays Tim, a young man who lives with his loving family in a gorgeous house in Cornwall. As he approaches adulthood, he finds himself frustrated by his lack of romantic prospects, but gets a shot in the arm when he turns 21, and his father lets him in on a secret. The male line of their family has the ability to travel back in time, at will, to any moment in their own lifetime. Tim decides that he must only use this power for good, and to get a girlfriend. The rest unfolds a little unlike what you've seen in the trailers.