Monthly Archives August 2013

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Dyatlov Pass Incident - quad posterDirector: Renny Harlin

Cast: Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Gemma Atkinson, Richard Reid, Luke Albright

Cert: 15

Running time: 100mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: The Blair Witch Project gets a middle budget makeover in Renny Harlin’s fun horror adventure.  A group of college kids investigate a real-life mystery from 1959 about the violent, unexplained death of skiers in the Ural mountains. Mixing ghost story unease with bizarre plot twists, this is surely the most bonkers explanation of what may have occurred and knows not to take itself seriously.  A largely British cast works well with the elements and American accents, while Die Hard 2 director Harlin again proves he should be trusted with bigger budgets.

Dyatlov Pass Incident - Gemma Atkinson, Matt Stokoe, Holly Goss, group shotDyatlov Pass Incident - 1959 group shot

The full verdict: Nothing strikes fear in the heart more than the phrase “found foo...

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Elysium - quad posterDirector: Neill Blomkamp

Cast: Matt Damon, Alice Braga, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura

Cert: 15

Running time: 109 mins

Year: 2012

The lowdown: Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 used a benign alien invasion for a barbed allegory on apartheid and racism, lacing the film with stunning action sequences.  His follow-up feature finds him in similar allegorical mood.  A class divide epic between the 1% enjoying paradise on orbiting space station Elysium and everyone else surviving on an abandoned, polluted, impoverished Earth, it retains District 9’s hard-edged grit, but lacks that film’s originality, wit and heart.  Efficient and enjoyable, but not up there with the director’s Oscar nominated debut.

Elysium - Matt DamonElysium - Braga

The full verdict: Elysium looks great...

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FrightFest Memories – Cheers for Fears

FrightFest 4 horsemenPreparing a FrightFest feature for the Sky Movies website last week got me thinking about the festival, now celebrating its fourteenth year.

It’s remarkable to think of the many memories I now have because of crazy days across the August bank holiday weekend.

I became a FrightFester at the first event in 2000, when I had more hair on my head and fewer inches around the waist. That year I only saw the documentaries Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre and Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror. Alan Jones introduced both and prior to An Eye for Horror revealed he’d seen the script for Mother of Tears and a frisson of excitement travelled through the room.

Time ultimately told a sorry tale of how dreadful the closing chapter of the Three Mothers trilogy was, but at that moment the potential of...

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Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo

Evangelion 3 - quad posterDirector: Hideaki Anno

Cast: Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, Akira Ishida, Fumihiko Tachiki

Cert: TBA

Running time: 96mins

Year: 2012

The lowdown: Head scratching ahoy as the Rebuild of Evangelion moves from the five star brilliance of Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance into the abstract bafflement of 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo.  Set fourteen years after the cataclysmic events of part two, creator Hideaki Anno radically shifts the story and invites arguments he’s lost the plot altogether.  Animation and Shiro Sagisu’s score are astounding, but when the completed Rebuild saga is finally compared to the brilliance of the original anime series, You Can (Not) Redo may say it all.

Evangelion 3 - Asuka, ShinjiEvangelion 3 - Kaworu, Shinji

The full verdict: Mid 1990s anime series Neon Genesis: Evangelion wa...

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Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2 - quad poster, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jim Carrey, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse Director: Jeff Wadlow

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo

Cert: 15

Running time: 103mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: Back in 2010 Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass hit cinemas and hit them hard.  Dazzling, daring and gloriously irresponsible, it revelled in and spun superhero conventions, adding a shotgun blast of smarts and more than a little heart.  This energetic sequel recaptures the energetic brio of its five-star predecessor, but wayward plotting, character flip-flopping and budget restrictions bring it down a couple of notches.  Yet, in a year when superheroes grew more brooding than ever, it’s good to have a multi-coloured splash of FU hurled at the silver screen.

Film Title: Kick-Ass 2Kick-Ass 2, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, The Motherfucker

The full verdict: If a Kick-Ass film...

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FrightFest 2013 – Five Days of Fear!

Frightfest 2013 posterNow in its 14th year, for lovers of horror and fantasy cinema Film4 FrightFest is the place to be.

Every August Bank Holiday thousands of film fans descend on the Empire cinema in London’s Leicester Square for five days of fear n’ fun.  And with over 50 movies playing across multiple screens, Frightfest 2013 promises to be another gala year of ghoulish delights.

Cinemagoers this August can expect a bodybag crammed with the most exciting, innovating and enjoyable movies from the UK, Hollywood and around the globe.

Glossy high budget thrills come courtesy of Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges’ comic book adaptation R.I.P...

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Looking for Hortense

Looking for Hortense quad posterDirector: Pascal Bonitzer

Cast: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Kristin Scott Thomas, Isabelle Carre, Marin Orcand Tourres, Claude Rich

Cert: 12A

Running time: 97 mins

Year: 2012

The lowdown: Intelligent, elegant, unfussy drama of the kind that comes so easily to our French cousins, Looking for Hortense will delight those wanting something for the mind to chew over. Jean-Pierre Bacri is Damien, an Asian studies professor having trouble with his father, son and wife, Iva, played in suitably brittle form by Kristin Scott Thomas. Salvation of some kind seems to come from Isabelle Carré’s bookstore assistant, but nothing runs smoothly in this affecting Parisian gem.

Looking for Hortense - Bacri, CarreLooking for Hortense - Dacri, Scott Thomas

The full verdict: Jean-Pierre Bacri gives a pitch perfect performance as an academic who understands the cultural minutiae of the Orient,...

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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson - Sea of Monsters - Quad posterDirector: Thor Freudenthal

Cast: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Douglas Smith, Jake Abel, Anthony Stewart Head, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Leven Rambin

Cert: PG

Running time: 106mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: A surprise second helping of the Harry Potter-esque saga, this time seeing half-human/half god Percy and his pals searching for the Golden Fleece. But, like Jason and his Argonauts, the quest for the fabled blanket is beset by fantastical beasties. Good family fun that zips along at a brisk pace, but has lost some of the big name stars from the constellation that made up the first Percy Jackson adventure.

Percy Jackson - Sea of Monsters - Lerman, Jackson, DaddarioPercy Jackson - Sea of Monsters - Cronos

The full verdict: 2010’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was a passable attempt to fill a rapidly approaching Harry Potter shaped...

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Sharknado posterDirector: Anthony C. Ferrante

Cast: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, John Heard, Cassie Scerbo

Cert: 15

Running time: 86mins

Year: 2013


The lowdown: The “stick a shark in it” bad movie series reaches a fin-de-siècle with Sharknado.  Everything is present and correct; ropey FX, set-pieces unmatched by budget and stars wondering how they ever got here.  Interesting if only to see how far naff effects have come since Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, but let’s call time on these Carcharodon Car-Carry-Ons.

Sharknado - hammerhead attackSharknado - Tara Reid mouth open

The full verdict: How fun can a bad movie be when the filmmakers are in on the joke?

Sharknado cost a reported $1m, but the good folk at The Asylum seem intent on making it look a tenth that amount.

The budget evidently did not stretch to a light meter, the film murkily lurching from shot-t...

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Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives - quad posterDirector: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Tom Burke

Cert: 18

Running time: 90mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: Danish devil Nicolas Winding Refn follows-up crossover hit Drive with a handbrake turn into an even darker alley.  A perverse crawl over particularly jagged philosophical broken glass, the director’s reunion with Ryan Gosling is a hoary old revenge story soaked in graphically Old Testament style justice, refracted through the most gorgeous visuals you’re likely to see this year.  Touched by the madness of David Lynch, the detached solemnity of Stanley Kubrick and the vengeance thirst of Park Chan-wook, this is not one to miss.  Even if some audiences won’t be as forgiving as the man upstairs.

Only God Forgives - Gosling fight poseOnly God Forgives - Gosling Pansringarm fight

The full verdict: It is as if...

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