The star played opposite Alan Rickman, who sadly passed away last year, in the hit 2003 romantic comedy
It might be 14 years since the original romantic comedy, Love Actually, hit our screens but for some actors the death of one of the film’s pivotal stars has meant this year's reprisal has come "too soon".
Emma Thompson won't be reprising her Love Actually role without Alan Rickman
The Red Nose Day special will air on BBC One, March 24.
Rickman died aged 69 in January of last year, after a short, private battle with pancreatic cancer.
In the original 2003 film Rickman starred as a married man, tempted by his young, attractive co-worker, who he eventually buys an expensive necklace for as a Christmas present.
Continue reading: 'Love Actually' Mini-Sequel Will Not Include A Tribute To Alan Rickman
Radcliffe said that shooting scenes with Fiennes, who played Lord Voldemort to such memorable effect, to be incredibly daunting "for a few years".
The British actor, currently starring in Swiss Army Man, fielded questions submitted to People magazine by young readers aged 4-11 and answered them for the latest episode of ‘The Jess Cagle Interview’.
Fiennes’ portrayal of Lord Voldemort is one of the most memorable villains in recent movie history, and Radcliffe said that even Fiennes’ presence on set was “genuinely intimidating” – even more so than Alan Rickman (Professor Snape), whom he found friendly after a short time.
This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot of Lewis Carroll's classic, which sent the heroine into Underland (not Wonderland) for a dark adventure that spiralled into a Lord of the Rings-scale battle. Thankfully this time the odyssey remains personal, centred on lively characters rather than overwrought plotting. And Alice's time-travelling quest is both pointed and engaging.
After captaining her late father's ship on a global journey, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to 1875 London to bad news: her mother (Lindsay Duncan) has made decisions that take her future out of her hands. As she struggles to respond, she is summoned back to Underland to help her friend Hatter (Johnny Depp), who is emotionally devastated by the fact that his entire family has been killed. So Alice decides to help by confronting Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and stealing a device that will allow her to travel back to help the younger Hatter. But she also becomes entangled in the early life of the White and Red Queens (Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway), and the feud that grew between them as young sisters. Meanwhile, Time is terrified that Alice is unravelling the fabric of reality.
The emotional nature of Alice's mission adds a surprising layer of suspense to the entire film, while director James Bobin (The Muppets) adds a breezy comical tone to Tim Burton's stunningly visual designs. Some of the more wacky flourishes don't quite work (such as the "sea of time" imagery or Time's hand-powered vehicle), but the film more than makes up for these with wonderful character details. This lets the actors relax into their roles while cranking up the surreal touches. Wasikowska is great as the plucky heroine fighting for her right to control her own life, a strong point that's made without preaching.
Continue reading: Alice Through The Looking Glass Review
Alan Rickman - A variety of celebrities were photographed as they attended the UK premiere of 'A Little Chaos' which was held at the Odeon cinema in Kensington, London, United Kingdom - Monday 13th April 2015
Cecil Gaines is a modest and dedicated butler at the White House who manages to make for himself a respectable career despite his underprivileged upbringing and cotton farm roots. Starting out as a regular kitchen worker, Cecil soon proves himself to be extremely proficient and works his way up to be the head butler for eight different US presidents. Some of them prove to be discriminatory, treating Cecil with little respect and holding massively differing views to him, but he always remains polite and does everything within his power to care for his employers while keeping any top secret information that he might hear firmly to himself. Meanwhile, he struggles at home with his son; a Black Panther with aggressive views on racial equality who is less than grateful to have a father working for the people that he believes are causing racial oppression.
This story of loyalty and unconditional dedication is based on the true story of Eugene Allen; a butler who similarly lived through years of racial inequality before finally seeing, in his retirement, the election of the first black President, Barack Obama. His story was documented in the article 'A Butler Well Served by This Election' written by Wil Haygood. 'The Butler' has been directed by Lee Daniels ('The Paperboy', 'Precious', 'Shadowboxer') and co-written by Danny Strong ('Game Change', 'Recount') and will be released in the US on August 16th 2013.
'The Butler' boasts a superb supporting cast including Robin Williams, John Cusack, Alan Rickman and Cuba Gooding Jr.
The first trailer for 'Precious' director Lee Daniels' new movie The Butler starring Forest Whitaker has rolled out online. It has always been assumed that Harvey Weinstein believes the film is one of his better chances of tasting Oscars success this season and the trailer certainly appears to confirm that. It stars Whitaker as Eugene Allen, the man who served eight presidents as the White House's head butler. It's over-the-top, patriotic and, well, Oscar bait.
In the mould as The King's Speech and The Iron Lady, the historical biopic is set for release on October 18th - just in time to be wafted under the nose of the Academy. As well as Whitaker returning to a leading role, 'The Butler' boasts one of the more spectacular casts of the year, including Robin Williams (Dwight Eisenhower), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), James Marsden (JFK), Liev Schreiber (Lydon B. Johnson), Alan Rickman (Reagan), Cuba Gooding Jr (Carter Wilson). David Oyelowo (Loius Gaines) and Oprah Winfrey (Gloria Gaines) are among the supporting cast though this one appears to be set up for Whitaker.
Watch 'The Butler' Trailer!
Speaking to Indiewire last year, Daniels hinted that his movie might be a little too focused on awards, "I'm trying to keep it [The Butler] PG13 which is not easy for me. It's very un-Precious and un-Paperboy... I can't go into my bag of tricks on this one [...] I felt like I directed the film in handcuffs and a muzzle," he said.
Continue reading: Forest Whitaker As 'The Butler' Could Be A Recipe For Success [Trailer]
Cecil Gains is a devoted White House butler who grew up on a simple cotton farm where he and other black workers were not treated with any respect by their white counterparts. From a simple kitchen worker, he rises to be top butler to eight different presidents over the course of more than 30 years. Sworn to secrecy over the goings on at the White House, he serves the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson with all the care that he has in spite of their differing policies and the suppression of his race across the country. He rejects his freedom fighter son's distaste at Cecil's job and never once wavers in his respect for his government. He merely stands back, silver platter in hand and watches the progression of racial equality until the day the country's first black president is finally inaugurated.
This is a story about loyalty and commitment based on the article by Wil Haygood, 'A Butler Well Served by This Election', about Eugene Allen; a real butler who showed his devotion to his job over the course of three decades while he and his fellow black civilians went from being the underdogs to top dog as he lives to see the election of President Barack Obama. It has been directed by Lee Daniels ('The Paperboy', 'Precious', 'Shadowboxer') and co-written by Danny Strong ('Game Change', 'Recount'), and has an incredible all-star ensemble cast. 'The Butler' is set to his theatres in the US on August 16th 2013.
Lee Daniels is clearly vying for Oscars glory with 'The Butler.'
The first trailer for 'Precious' director Lee Daniels' new movie The Butler starring Forest Whitaker has rolled out online and Harvey Weinstein's ambitions of taking this film all the way to the Oscars couldn't be more apparent. Whitaker stars as Eugene Allen, the man who served eight presidents as the White House's head butler.
The movie is clearly Oscar bait. Firstly, it's a typical Weinstein movie in the same mould as The King's Speech and The Iron Lady and secondly it's set for release on October 18th - just in time to be wafted under the nose of the Academy. Oh, and there's a pretty strong cast with plenty of Oscar winners and several up-and-coming stars. Robin Williams (Dwight Eisenhower), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), James Marsden (JFK), Liev Schreiber (Lydon B. Johnson), Alan Rickman (Reagan), Cuba Gooding Jr (Carter Wilson), David Oyelowo (Loius Gaines) and Oprah Winfrey (Gloria Gaines) are among the supporting cast though this one appears to be set up for Whitaker.
All the cast shown in no wave portrayal
The first pictures of the potentially dodgy looking CBGB movie have been revealed, showing the film's stars filming in the specially built CBGBs nightclub set up. Obviously the most notable star here is Malin Akerman who is shown as Blondie's Debbie Harry for the first time - she's seen here in the below photo with Taylor Hawkins, who plays proto-punk pioneer and general gadabout Iggy Pop.
Malin Ackerman and Taylor Hawkins
Hawkins of course is a member of a band in real life - the Foo Fighters. The Ramones are another band set to appear in the film, with Joel David Moore, Steven Schub and Julian Acosta set to portray Joey, DeeDee and Johnny Ramone respectively. Twilight star Ashley Greene is also onboard to play Lisa Kristal, daughter of the CBGB owner Hilly Kristal. You can see what she's looking like in the gallery link at the bottom of the article.
Continue reading: First CGBG Movie Shots Revealed [Pictures]
What with Jake Schreier's upcoming movie 'Robot & Frank' scheduled for release in the UK on March 8th 2013 and talks of 'Star Wars: Episode VII' being in the making, we've put together a list of what we think are the best robots that we've ever seen on screen. This is with the exception of cyborgs, human-looking robots, cybernetic organisms and bots from TV programs because, let's face it, we'd be here forever.
Robot ('Robot & Frank')
Continue reading: 10 Of Our Favourite Movie Robots
Little has caused more contention in the contactmusic office than our recent discussion about the Christmas films list! Obviously, everyone has their own favourite, and to them that will always be the top of the list. One thing that became all too clear to us was that - with the exception of Elf & Bad Santa - there really hasn't been too many full blown Christmas films so we'd like to make a plea to Bill Murray and the other Hollywood greats - PLEASE make a new (top quality) Christmas film to join these festive favourites!
I can't say we particularly advocate parents encouraging their offspring to watch films above their age certificate, but it appears we all grew up in houses that didn't really mind what we watched - and let's face it, some of the best Christmas films might have a few boobs or rowdy drunken behaviour... As children of the 80's and 90's, we're fully aware that there's original to some of these remakes, but as is always the way, these are the films we grew up with and as such, they are our favourites.
Enough explanation, in no particular order here are the films we recommend you watch over the holidays!
Continue reading: Top Twenty Classic Holiday Season Christmas Films
Remade from a 1966 romp starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this con artist action-comedy is enjoyably silly but never much more than that. Part of the problem is a lack of chemistry between stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz, and the film focuses on goofy slapstick instead of a coherent plot. So we may chuckle along the way, but it's hard to be interested in anything that happens.
Firth is at the centre as Harry, a London art expert who has a score to settle with his arrogant billionaire boss Lionel (Rickman). So he sets up an elaborate scam involving a fake Monet painted by his talented pal Wingate (Courtenay). But they need the help of a sassy Texan, PJ (Diaz), to make it work, and she doesn't play along as Harry imagines she will. Soon she's flirting shamelessly with Lionel while Harry sneaks around in the background setting up the con and struggling to pay for her extravagant stay in the Savoy. Meanwhile, Lionel is trying to make a deal with a group of hard-bargaining Japanese businessmen.
While the Coen brothers' script bursts with absurd wit, Hoffman directs the film as a mindless farce, missing every chance for black comedy. From the animated Pink Panther-style titles, the tone is light and frothy, the characters are paper thin and the plot's convolutions never seem to amount to anything. Most of the big set-pieces are irrelevant asides, such as a half-hearted scene involving the lion that's featured far too prominently on the movie poster. Or a long sequence in which Firth cavorts around the Savoy without his trousers. It certainly doesn't help that Firth and Diaz never generate even a spark of attraction between them.
Continue reading: Gambit Review
As big movies like Skyfall and Argo open in the USA and UK respectively, it's the smaller titles that are getting the most attention. The British independent drama My Brother the Devil won awards at Sundance and festivals in Berlin, London, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and has garnered four-star reviews across the board from UK critics this weekend. Now the public gets a chance to see it.
In London, the stars turned out this week for the premiere of Gambit, a remake of the 1966 heist comedy. The film's stars Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman and Tom Courtenay were on hand both for the red carpet premiere and a meet-the-filmmakers event at London's Apple Store.
Meanwhile, Helen Mirren has been doing Q&As in London for her new film Hitchcock, in which she plays Alma Reville, wife of Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins). The movie traces the making of Psycho with Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) and Anthony Perkins (James D'Arcy). A new trailer makes it look like a lot of fun. And a probable awards contender too.
Eccentric British/American comedy 'Gambit' premiered in London last night at the Empire in Leicester square. It stars Cameron Diaz, Colin Firth and Alan Rickman, and was directed by Michael Hoffman, with a script written by the Coen Brothers. With a line-up like that you can't really go wrong!
The remake of the 1966 film of the same name follows an art curator (Firth) who is sick of his boss (Rickman) and decides to take sweet revenge, in a variety of hilarious ways, aided by cowgirl PJ Puznowski (Diaz). Despite being written by Americans and directed by another American, it's a very British comedy.
On the red carpet Firth, Diaz and Hoffman spoke to ITN and the Daily Mail, and spoke about the trials and tribulations of working on the film. Cameron and Firth spoke to ITN about the nudity in the film, that has already been widely talked about. Cameron said "nothing's gratuitous, it's all for a purpose." Which was followed by a self-defacing quip from Firth who said: "My legs are there for gratuitous comedy, and they've been shamelessly exploited." Firth only really loses his trousers in the film, but Alan Rickman's character Lord Lionel Shabandar spends some of it in his birthday suit. The making of the film wasn't all levels of nudity, Cameron also got to try her hand at real life cow-girling, in an interview with the Daily Mail she said "I got to do a little lassoing, a little roping on the cattle." Adding, "It was a lot of fun."
Continue reading: Gambit Premier: Cameron Diaz And Colin Firth Talk Nudity And New Skills.
Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, continue their search for Voldemort's Horcruxes - dark magical objects that help the user gain immortality. Having found and destroyed one Horcrux - a locket belonging to Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin - the three friends travel from Ron's older brother Bill Weasley's house by the sea to the wizarding bank, Gringotts and then to Hogwarts to look for the final remaining Horcruxes.
Where other studios might have demanded proven singers for the parts, Paramount (bravely?) permits Burton to practice extreme nepotism. The director recruits his better half, Johnny Depp, for the title role of a wrongfully jailed barber who seeks vengeance against a covetous judge (Alan Rickman) and his troll-like lackey (Timothy Spall). As for the role of Mrs. Lovett, it goes to Burton's wife, Helena Bonham Carter. A meat-pie maker, Lovett helps dispose of Sweeney's human victims by turning them into delectable delicacies.
Continue reading: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street Review
Kenneth Branagh, Alan Rickman, Celia Imrie, Derek Jacobi, Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench and Robbie Coltrane - Kenneth Branagh, Dame Judi Dench, Alan Rickman, Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton, Richard E Grant, Robbie Coltrane, Patrick Doyle and daughters, Emma Thompson, Scott Davies, Sir Derek Jacobi, Jannis Kelly, Anatolij Fokanov, Adrian Lester, Mike Newell, Dan Hill Sunday 28th October 2007 at Royal Albert Hall London, England
It's gotten to the point where the quality of the films don't really matter: Now I feel like I'm committed to the whole Harry Potter series. I've reviewed the first five now, so by golly, I'm going to stick it out and finish the lot... even though I still can't bring myself to read any of the books. As always, consider yourself warned that I don't know the intricate backstory developed over thousands of pages in J.K. Rowling's writing. And really, I'm happy to keep it that way.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix continues in the tradition of following another year at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry, where Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has faced nothing but grueling struggle after grueling struggle. His most recent year (Goblet of Fire) saw a friend get killed by his nemesis, the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who's gaining more power every day and giving Harry severe nightmares. With few exceptions, his friends have largely abandoned him, and the new term comes with even more headaches in the form of Dolores Umbridge (the perfect Imelda Staunton), sent from the Ministry of Magic to teach the defense from the dark arts class and eventually taking over the school as an iron-fisted, fun-crushing bureaucrat.
After much pottering about (ha ha!), the film finally finds its groove as Umbridge goes too far, refusing to teach magic in the classroom, instead preferring to rely on theoretical knowledge so the students can pass their year-end standardized tests. With Voldemort approaching (this guy is always just around the corner), Harry becomes more nervous that he will be unable to defend himself, finally recruiting a handful of students to his cause to teach them what he knows about magical combat. Together they prepare for the day when they know they'll have to use those skills. (In case you haven't seen any of the first four movies, rest assured it isn't far off: This end-of-movie showdown between Harry and the forces of evil has almost become a cliché that pans out every single time.)
Continue reading: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix Review
Vivienne Freeman (Emily Hampshire), a young hitchhiker with more spirit than fear, enters a restaurant, scans it, and picks a man sitting alone to delight with her company. Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman), a laconic Englishman, barely tolerates the intrusion on his quiet privacy with a gabby adolescent and, after displaying what is, for him, considerable patience, rejects her suggestion to ride with him. He leaves, as alone as when he came in, and drives off.
Continue reading: Snow Cake Review
Since birth, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (newcomer Ben Whishaw) has had a curiously strong sense of smell, bordering on superhuman. Born and continuously dropped-off under bad signs, Jean-Baptiste eventually makes his way to Paris where he becomes the apprentice of Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), an elderly perfumer who was once famous for his flourishing scents. Baldini wants to be able to compete with modern perfumers, but Jean-Baptiste has loftier ambitions. After murdering a young fruit girl, Grenouille becomes obsessed with cultivating the scent of women by any means possible. He leaves Baldini and heads for Grasse, the supposed kingdom of scent, where he encounters Antoine Richis (Alan Rickman) and his fiery, redheaded daughter (Rachel Hurd-Wood). It is here that Grenouille perfects away of capturing the scent of women and begins collecting the 12 women that will compose his ultimate scent... by paying with their lives.
Continue reading: Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer Review
But a little oddness is forgivable: Directing a movie is a strange place for Richard Curtis, who's written umpteen Brit-friendly movies and TV shows over the years but hasn't directed one, until now.
Continue reading: Love Actually Review
Welcome back, Potter.
The beloved Harry Potter returns to screens, a scant year after his most debut, with the film version of book two in the unfathomably popular Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Unfortunately, while the Potter-obsessed will likely find few faults with the film, this sequel captures much less of the original's magic. (And while I've not read the books, I understand the same can be said for the second novel as well.)
Secrets finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) back at home with his Muggle family on summer vacation, locked in his room (though no longer under the stairs). Before long, Harry is set to return to Hogwarts -- despite the insistence from his uncle that he is no longer allowed to study magic. But a daring prison break, courtesy of the Weasley family -- including Harry's best bud Ron (Rupert Grint), gets Harry back to school, despite the meddling of a Yoda-like "house elf" named Dobby (very obvious CG). The masochistic Dobby tries to convince Harry that his life is in danger if he returns to Hogwarts -- though in reality his life appears more in danger due to Dobby's "helpful" meddling.
Harry of course does return to Hogwarts, where all his familiar experiences await him. Hermione (Emma Watson) is still the class brain. Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) is still the school clown. Snape (Alan Rickman) is still Snape. The new additions to the cast include a new Dark Arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), a narcissistic wizard with questionable ability, as well as the father of Harry's platinum blonde archrival Malfoy, Lucius (Jason Isaacs).
While the cast is still in fine form (the exception being a shockingly haggard Richard Harris as headmaster Dumbledore; Harris died a few weeks before the film's release), it's the story that is decidedly lacking in this episode. The titular Chamber of Secrets is a legendary room inside Hogwarts fabled to hold a menacing creature. It can only be opened, we're told, by an heir to the Slytherin family. When a mysterious message appears on the Hogwarts walls in blood, Harry begins hearing hissing voices, and students begin to turn up paralyzed. It appears the Chamber of Secrets has been opened -- and suspicions fall on Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) as the heir. Or is it Harry?
What follows is another nearly-three hours of exposition as Harry, Ron, and Hermione attempt to crack this riddle, Nancy Drew-style, while the body count at Hogwarts keeps rising. Mercilessly padded, the movie drags us through ages of all-too-familiar territory: a Quidditch match ends predictably; spells go awry; the trio works on a potion together; one-note characters appear only to say their line and soon exit the story. Finally, invariably first-on-the-scene Harry coincidentally discovers a blank diary -- it's amazing how much coincidence drives the plot -- that leads him on a circuitous path to discover the Chamber, just in time for a final showdown with what looks astonishingly like a miniature-golf hazard.
Jeez, I'm bored just writing about it. So much of Secrets is so unnecessary that my audience was way ahead of the circuitous yet ultimately very simplistic story. Kids spent the three hours running up and down the aisles -- only their parents had the fortitude to stay with the plot. That said, this installment is much funnier than the original, and it has a bit more of a grown-up sentiment to it. Still, it's going to take more than an ominous voice in the walls and a flying car to keep even the most patient adults interested in a three-hour movie.
Chamber of Secrets is enjoyable for many of its stretches, and it's unfortunate that director Chris Columbus (giving up the reins for episode 3) didn't take more chances with the source material, excising the many irrelevant parts and adding in a bit of his own vision. As such, we have a movie that plays out in fits and starts of fun alternating with boredom. Sad to say, the kids will probably want to leave midway through this one and ask you to replay the original on DVD when you get home. Poor Harry, when we see you again (in two years' time), I hope you'll have regained a bit of your magic.
As with Potter #1, the film comes to DVD in an exhaustive and impressive two-disc package, headlined by one of the most aggressive 6.1 channel audio tracks I've ever had the privilege to hear on DVD. This film thankfully makes it much easier to find the deleted/extended scenes, all of which are well worth checking out and add a bit of depth and flavor to an otherwise so-so movie. There are also tons of games for the kids and a few interviews for the adults, including one with J.K. Rowling.
Try putting right down the middle of the course.
David (Alan Rickman) and Alexis (Polly Walker) are suffering through an unhappy marriage where every look and gesture has fifteen shades of meaning, most of it tinted with frustration and hostility. Taking a page from Polanski's Cul-de-Sac, these characters are taking their vacation on a remote island off the coast of Maine.
Continue reading: Dark Harbor Review
Well, with one cancer diagnosis and one death in the first 15 minutes, Blow Dry is hardly the feel-good romance you'd expect. Strikingly similar to The Big Tease, Blow Dry tells the story of a haircutting competition that descends on a small town in Britain. Celebrities (well, celebrity stylists) from around England arrive to compete, and the local boys get into the act as well. But while the drama unfolds with models and shears, another drama takes place among the locals -- largely involving various romances and a singular cancer victim.
Continue reading: Blow Dry Review
"Blow Dry" is a leaden British dramedy about an estranged family of hairdressers reconciling when a big coiffeur competition comes to their small town. Like "The Big Tease" -- a similarly themed English mockumentary that came out last year, delaying the release of this one -- its laughs come mostly from tired flamboyancy stereotypes.
Hairdressers with over-styled, out-of-date dos and David Copperfield-like showmanship bite each other's backs to win what is apparently a prestigious award for clever and speedy hair cutting. Meanwhile a sad-sack local barber (Alan Rickman) enters the competition with his son (Josh Hartnett, "The Virgin Suicides") to face down his former salon partner (Bill Nighy), now the nation's star hairdresser and the dirty-tricking front-runner in the contest.
Besides suffering from the same problems "The Big Tease" had -- basically that it's a cliché-riddled underdog sports movie with a dye job and a limp wrist -- "Blow Dry" is also saddled with a maudlin, comedy-antidote subplot about Rickman's estranged lesbian ex-wife (Natasha Richardson), who is bravely dying of cancer 10 years after leaving him for his hair model (a criminally under-used Rachel Griffiths). Brought together again by the competition, everybody gets busy forgiving.
Continue reading: Blow Dry Review
In his second big-screen outing, adolescent wizard Harry Potter is blessed with enough cinematic magic to overcome several of the very same problems that left last year's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" feeling a little protracted and rambling.
Sure "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" spends twice as much screen time on atmosphere and adventure scenes than on plot and character. But this time around every episode seems relevant, which is a vast improvement over last year's film, bloated as it was with Quidditch matches and monster moments that didn't advance the plot one iota.
Returning director Chris Columbus retains the enchanted ambiance as Harry heads to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his second year of instruction in the black arts. But nothing is ever easy for our young hero, as unseen forces seem to be conspiring against him -- not the least of which is some kind of elusive beast that's loose in Hogwarts' halls, turning students to stone.
Continue reading: Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets Review
Harry Potter is growing up, and so is his movie franchise.Under the tutelage of a new director -- Alfonso Cuarón, known for both children's fare (the 1995 remake of "A Little Princess") and an edgy, insightfully soulful, sex-charged teen road-trip flick ("Y Tu Mama, Tambien") -- the boy wizard has graduated from the world of kiddie movie spectacles with tie-in toys.
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is a film in which depth of character, cunning humor and hair-raising chills come shining through the visual blitzkrieg of special effects -- which are also magnificently improved over the series first two installments. Case in point: a half-horse, half-eagle creature called a Hippogriff that gives "Lord of the Rings'" Gollum a run for his money as the most life-like CGI creation in cinema history.
Beyond just its detailed feathers (which fluff when it shakes) or its golden eyes (which bore holes in the screen with obstinate personality), this winged equine's every movement, from its canter to its peck, is a studied yet natural, amazingly fluid amalgam of the two beasts that were combined to create it.
Continue reading: Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Review
Overly self-indulgent director Chris Columbus could have cut out the entire middle hour of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and if you hadn't read the popular children's book, you'd never know the difference.
A good 70 percent of the picture consists of showy set pieces that don't service the plot (which we'll get to in a minute) so much as obligingly recreate unrelated passages that would be missed by the boy wizard's enthusiastic and possessive fan base had they been omitted.
One 10-minute episode is spent watching a sport called Quidditch, sort of a flying-broom version of field hockey with more than one puck and incredibly intricate rules that go largely unexplained. It's a lot like the pod race scene in "The Phantom Menace" -- irrelevant but spirited -- although with 1/10th the special effects budget. (Oh, that blatant blue-screening!)
Continue reading: Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone Review
Thanks to all the is-it-or-isn't-it-blasphemy controversy surrounding "Dogma," writer-director Kevin Smith has added a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer to the opening of this renegade ribbing of the Catholic church that is so amusing ("...God has a sense of humor, just look at the platypus") it will have audiences in stitches even before the first line of dialogue.
Whether or not you'll think the movie stays this funny will depend on how sensitive you are about your position on the religious yardstick, your threshold for soapbox pontification and what it takes to gross you out.
Smith, the maverick Generation X satirist responsible for ragtag underground hits "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy," makes no bones about testing the limits of irreverence and good taste in this ironically snappy and smart-mouthed theological deliberation.
Continue reading: Dogma Review
Date of birth
21st February, 1946
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