Thursday, 18 May 2017

Zac Efron is...Ted Bundy?!


In a somewhat surprising casting move, former child star Zac Efron has been cast this week in an upcoming biopic of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Noted documentarian Joe Berlinger will be directing the ridiculously titled "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" as Efron attempts to shake off his teenage typecasting. 


In fairness, Efron obviously has the looks for the role and, as you can see, there is a pretty strong resemblance. What remains to be seen is whether Efron can turn on the darkness when it comes time to stop the charming and start the killing.

What do you think of the casting? Can you see Efron as Ted Bundy?

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Alien: Covenant (2017): Review


Alien: Covenant is a 2017 sci fi horror film. Directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) and starring Michael Fassbender (Frank, Shame), Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs), Billy Crudup (Watchmen) and Danny McBride (This is the End). The film is a direct sequel to Prometheus (2012) and a prequel to the Alien franchise.

Alien: Covenant picks up ten years after the events of Prometheus as the colonist ship (cleverly titled "Covenant") is forced to wake up it's crew a little earlier due to system malfunctions. Served by ship android Walter (Fassbender), Captain Oram (Crudup) discovers that there is a much more habitable planet much nearer to them than their original destination and decides to take a task force to invesigate (what could possibly go wrong?). Aided from the air by pilot Tennessee (McBride, Oram takes second in command Daniels (Waterston), Walter and others down to the surface where they get a lot more than they bargained for in terms of the planets inhabitants, both alien and artificial.

In 2012 Ridley Scott dissapointed legions of Alien fans across the world by promising a prequel that would reveal the fascinating origins behind the revered Alien franchise. What we actually got was a disjointed, confused mess of a film (albeit visually stunning) that barely resembled the orginal franchise and Scott is nothing if not consistent. Covenent is so clearly a response to the poor reception of Prometheus, you can almost hear Scott off set, as the Xenommorph is eviscerating a crew member, shouting "is this what you want?!". Sadly, the answer is still no. The characters are supremely bland, the plot laughably predictable, the horror about as subtle as a brick and the dialogue howlingly bad. No, people were actually howling with laughter in my screening, and I can't say I blame them.

What really breaks my heart is that the great Michael Fassbender bears the brunt of most of this garbage dialogue and tries to carry it off with a scenery chewing performance as the villainous David, but to no avail, and to think, David the android was one of the highlights of Prometheus. The paint by numbers plot is so formulaic that it is clearly one gigantic MacGuffin to get to the creation of the Xenomorph itself, so these pointless prequels can tie up with the original movies. And for what? In what must be an in joke, one of the characters actually speaks the dialogue "none of this makes any sense" and, from the moment the film opened and I saw Guy Pearce returning as Peter Weyland, I knew nobody had learnt anything from the failure of Prometheus.

I never thought I would say this but Covenant is even worse than Prometheus and, to watch a once great director, now a stubborn old man, trying to recapture the glory of his masterpiece is the real shame here. Covenant is like Alien but without any of the suspense, style or atmosphere and truly shows how out of touch Ridley Scott is with the iconic franchise that he once helped to build. Scott continues to dominate the genre of "visually impressive nonsense" and it now seems that the franchise is doomed to float through unimaginative sci fi hyperspace for good. In space, no one can hear you yawn. 

** 2 Stars

What did you think of Alien Covenant? Is Ridley Scott out of touch?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Darren Aronofsky returns to psychological horror


Acclaimed arthouse director Darren Aronofsky gave everyone a mother's day present yesterday in the form of the poster for his surprise new film "Mother!". The film stars Jennifer Lawrence alongside Javier Bardem, Domnhall Gleeson and Michelle Pfeiffer. 


Although it certainly had it's fans, I was no fan of Aronofsky's last foray into the genre with Black Swan. However, with a strong cast and a potentially less melodramatic approach, I could be convinced otherwise. The film is slated for a November release in the UK.

What do you think of the poster? Are you a Darren Aronofsky fan?

Monday, 8 May 2017

New Blade Runner trailer


A full trailer has been released for the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. As well as giving an action packed look at the visually jaw dropping world, the trailer gives us a better look at the characters being played by Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas and, most intriguingly, Jared Leto. Leto appears to take on a creator character (similar to Eldon Tyrell in the original) as we're given a glimpse into how replicants are made for the first time. check out the trailer...


As well as hearing the familiar strains of Vangelis' iconic score, you can see Harrison Ford reprising the role of Deckard and passing the torch to Ryan Gosling's mysterious "Officer K". The burning question on my mind, however, is Officer K a human or a replicant? We'll find out in October

What did you think of the trailer? Do you think Officer K is a replicant?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Raw (2017): Review


Raw is a 2017 Belgian-French horror film. Directed by Julia Ducournau (Mange) and starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf (Tiger Girl) and Rabah Nait Oufella (Girlhood). The film was first released at the Toronto International Film Festival, amidst reports of fainting due to the film’s graphic scenes.


The film follows teenager Justine (Marillier) as she attends her first week at veterinary school. A lifelong vegetarian, Justine becomes subject to the various hazing rituals orchestrated by the older students, including her sister Alexia (Rumpf). One particular task requires her to eat a raw rabbit kidney and, after initially being reluctant, the ritual soon awakens a strange desire for human flesh. As she struggles to conceal her metamorphosis from her roommate Adrien (Oufella), Justine discovers that she is not the only one with a taste for flesh and tries to make it to the end of freshers week without her secret being revealed.


Raw would have to considered one of the most impressive feature length debuts for any director in recent memory. The themes and ideas are actually pretty well worn in horror ie body horror as a metaphor for puberty, cannibal families and comparisons to Carrie (76), Ginger snaps (00) and We Are What We Are (10) are more than fair. Ducournau puts the French post modern spin on the premise, without going as far as the New Wave of French Extremism. Rather than gory, the film would be much better described as visceral in a way that has rarely been achieved since the heyday of David Cronenberg.


Equally as impressive in her feature length debut is young actor Marillier, throwing herself mentally and physically into the role of a teenager being tortured by her own desires and urges. The concept of a vegetarian becoming a cannibal is obviously a rich vein of irony and black comedy and Ducournau wisely peppers this style of humour throughout the script to give the audience a rest after some rather intense sequences. The film is visually stunning and a washed out palette is complimented by some jaw dropping wide angle shots which force the viewer to focus on the slightest of movements like a laser.


Raw doesn’t forge any new ground but it takes reliable horror tenets and weaves them together in a eye wateringly intense experience that you’re not likely to forget soon. As one of the new wave of female directors forcing their way into a male dominated genre, Ducournau certainly has a bright future and has crafted a film of the year candidate on her first attempt.


5 Stars *****


What did you think of Raw? Did you find the film intense?

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Free Fire (2017): Review



Free Fire is a 2017 crime comedy film. Directed by Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Sightseers) and starring an ensemble cast featuring Cillian Murphy (Sunshine), Brie Larson (Kong: Skull Island), Sharlto Copley (District 9), Sam Riley (Control) and Michael Smiley (Kill List). The film was produced by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorcese.

Free Fire opens with IRA members Chris (Murphy) and Frank (Smiley) going to meet with South African arms dealer Vernon (Copley) in an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of Boston. They are accompanied by hapless duo Stevo (Riley) and Bernie and the meeting is facilitated by Justine (Larson) and Ord. Initial tensions over weapon specs and protocol soon descend into violence as it emerges Stevo was involved in an incident with one of Vernon’s crew the previous night. This transforms into a prolonged shootout between the two gangs that lasts most of the movie as they fight to get out of the warehouse alive, and preferably with a briefcase of money.

Free Fire is a return to Wheatley’s (and Jump’s) comedy stylings first flexed in Sightseers, as well as a return to his crime caper debut Down Terrace. Here the action is transplanted to America where a whole mix of accents serve to support the witty script. Murphy, Smiley and Copley all get to use their own accents whereas Riley effects a Bostonian twang. The script is packed with killer one liners with Sharlto “watch and Vern” Copley stealing the show as the pompous, but still somehow affable, Vernon. Riley is also perfectly cast as the scummy junkie who throws the spanner in the works but who you also somehow root for, despite learning of his psychotically violent tendencies.

Unfortunately, there’s not a great deal more to say about Free Fire as not a great deal more happens, and here is where it starts to slip down the mighty totem pole of Wheatley instant classics. Around an hour of the film is simply one group of people shooting at another group of people and, sadly, no amount of pithy dialogue can sustain that. It’s also a pretty bloated cast with, ironically, the American actors Larson and Armie Hammer left trying to play catchup with their international counterparts in between shots being fired. There is a peppering of gore to keep things interesting and a tremendous sequence involving a van driving in circles to a John Denver soundtrack but, overall, the film limps to a close rather than the kind of explosive finale seen in Kill List or Sightseers.

Ben Wheatley is arguably the best director in the UK with a string of tremendous, and varied, films on his CV but Free Fire would have to rank fairly low on that list. A middling film from Wheatley is still better than a lot of directors best efforts and, perhaps, crime films just aren’t my thing (Down Terrace is also one of my least favourite Wheatley films). Free Fire is an amusing romp that, very nearly, kept me entertained throughout, but certainly won’t leave as much of an impression as some of Wheatley’s more bizarre efforts.

*** 3 Stars

What did you think of Free Fire? What’s your favourite Ben Wheatley film?


Friday, 31 March 2017

New WFTPOTA trailer


A 2nd trailer has been released for the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes. Whilst not quite nailing the brevity and impact of the first trailer, this does seem to shed more light on Caeser's motivations against the human militia and, interestingly, indicates some of the Apes have turned traitor and joined up with the humans. Woody Harrelson also gets some cracking dialogue as the Colonel Kurtz-esque character including “Sometimes it is necessary to abandon our humanity, to save our humanity”. Check it out...


This also promises to be the most action packed instalment of the rebooted franchise, after Rise (2011) and Dawn (2014) so skilfully set the scene. This is my favourite franchise of the decade and I can't wait to see the full scale wintery warfare promised in this trailer. War for the Planet of the Apes will (ironically) be released in July.

What do you think of the trailer? Are you a fan of the series?