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
The celebrated film, TV and stage actor passed away in January 2016 from pancreatic cancer, and the details of his will have been revealed.
Alan Rickman’s will has been revealed just over four months after he sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer – and it includes a number of charitable donations totalling £100,000.
The famous stage, TV and film actor, famous for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies and also portraying the notorious Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, died in January at the age of 69. Now, his will governing the distribution of his UK assets has been revealed.
Alan Rickman left four legacies to various charities, totalling £100,000
Continue reading: Alan Rickman Leaves £4 Million To His Wife, And £100000 To Charities
Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety of perspectives that bring the moral dilemmas sharply into focus. This includes textured performances from seriously gifted actors who add layers of political, military, legal and emotional meaning to each moment along the way. So the film is continuously gripping, putting the audience right in the middle of the action.
The target is in a suburb of Nairobi, where three of the world's most wanted Somali jihadists are gathering to prepare two young suicide bombers for a mission. British Colonel Powell (Helen Mirren) is overseeing the operation from London, with her American drone pilots (Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox) working in Las Vegas. The hitch is that two of the targets are UK citizens, and one is American, which means that they also need to have government officials in on the discussion. So Lt General Benson (Alan Rickman) is watching with British government ministers (including Jeremy Northam and Monica Dolan). Meanwhile in Kenya, a local operative (Barkhad Abdi) is on the scene. But just as everyone agrees to fire the missile, a young girl (Aisha Takow) wanders into the danger zone.
What follows is a remarkably tense escalation of decision-making, as everyone passes the buck up the chain to avoid making the call themselves. Guy Hibbert's script orchestrates this skilfully, keeping the atmosphere taut while stirring generous doses of black comedy into the interaction between soldiers and politicians. This includes amusing scenes in which Britain's foreign secretary (Iain Glen) is dragged into the conversation while suffering food poisoning in Singapore. Yes, the film has a terrific sense of instant global connections, as its characters work together at a huge distance from each other and from the target of their operation.
Continue reading: Eye In The Sky Review
A sequel to the 90s comedy would have started filming this year.
We are both gutted and relieved to learn that plans to start production on 'Galaxy Quest 2' were cancelled this year in light of the death of Alan Rickman. It's a shame that the world is as yet being denied a sequel to one of the greatest sci-fi comedies on record, but it's definitely for the best.
Galaxy Quest was a cult hit upon its 1999 release
The 1999 cult film was never exactly a blockbuster, but it still has a devoted fanbase. That's why many will react with utter disappointment at news that a sequel to 'Galaxy Quest' was going to shoot this year for Amazon, but the deal was never signed off when Alan Rickman died.
Continue reading: Alan Rickman's Death Ended 'Galaxy Quest 2' Plans
As Alice is once again taken into the magical and mysterious world that she's somehow connected to, Alice finds herself with her friends on the other side of the looking glass. Through Alice doesn't really know why, she's attached to the peculiar world and its inhabitants but her latest visit will put the young girl in grave danger.
The Red Queen has gained a dangerous new ally who is out to find the young blonde haired girl. As the clock ticks and tocks, the game of kings becomes a whole new reality and Alice must find a way to beat her opponents.
Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass is based on the characters from Lewis Carroll's novel and is produced by Tim Burton. The Muppets director James Bobin directs the feature film.
The actress spoke out about him at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards.
Kate Winslet remains one of the most down-to-earth British actresses ever, and proved as much in her hilarious tribute to friend and colleague Alan Rickman at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards, where she landed the best supporting actress prize for her role in 'Steve Jobs'.
Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman worked together more than once
The actress seemed especially emotional when she went to collect her award, first asking the audience to stand and applaud in honour of Rickman, with whom she starred on 2014's 'A Little Chaos' which he also directed. She first worked with him, however, on 1995's 'Sense and Sensibility' where she played Marianne Dashwood.
The actor has previously revealed that Rowling gave him one vital piece of information about Snape when he was cast in ‘Harry Potter’.
Jk Rowling has revealed part of what she told actor Alan Rickman about the character of Severus Snape, which helped him better understand his Harry Potter role. Rickman, who passed away last week aged 69, played Snape in all eight of the Harry Potter movies, ending with 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
JK Rowling has spoken about the ‘little piece of information’ she revealed to Alan Rickman about Severus Snape.
In a 2011 interview, Rickman said that he had a phone conversation with Rowling before taking the role, which helped him better understand Snape’s character and intentions. “Certainly, I did say I needed to talk to (Rowling) before I could get a handle on how to play it, and we did have a phone conversation,” Rickman said.
Watson had posted a quotation of Rickman where he had spoken of his support for feminism, cuing a backlash of fans accusing her of using his death to push an agenda.
The British actress, who played Hermione Granger in all eight of the Harry Potter movies between 2001 and 2011, tweeted a quotation from Rickman yesterday after the news broke of his death at the age of 69 from cancer. It read: “There is nothing wrong with a man being a feminist - I think it is to our mutual advantage.”
Emma Watson has been accused of exploiting Alan Rickman's death to push a feminist agenda
He stars alongside Helen Mirren in a moral-testing war drama.
It's a sad day for the world of film as we lose yet another giant of the entertainment industry, but at least we get to see Alan Rickman in one last live action role with the Spring release of modern war thriller 'Eye In The Sky'.
Helen Mirren co-stars with Alan Rickman in Eye In The Sky
It follows a UK-based military intelligence official, Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), in her mission to capture a group of wanted terrorists in Kenya. With their own advanced drone technology, she and Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Rickman)- led by American drone pilot Steve Watts ('Breaking Bad' star Aaron Paul), are able to spy on their base only to discover that their mission has taken an unfortunate turn of events.
We'll be begging to rewind to 2015 before the week is out.
The New Year has certainly not got off to the best of starts and it is with deep regret that we have to announce the death of another legend of the entertainment industry. Alan Rickman, best known for playing Professor Snape in the 'Harry Potter' films, has passed away at the age of 69.
Alan Rickman dies aged 69
His death will come as a shock to fans, but for his family it was not so unexpected. The actor had been suffering from cancer, and they confirmed that he left this world in his London home with family and friends surrounding him. It was only on Monday (January 11th 2016) that we revealed the death of music legend David Bowie - also of cancer - so it's a pretty morose week for celebrity news.
Continue reading: More New Year Tragedy: Alan Rickman Has Passed Away Aged 69
Drones are now one of the most effective weapons the military have when fighting in battle. Their surveillance abilities are incredibly high quality and make it much easier to find and target individuals who are wanted.
Colonel Katherine Powell has been given a mission to go and find and capture an ex-British citizen who's become an extremist and is meeting with some of the men on the most wanted list. Having been previously connected to a series of suicide bombings, the Colonel tracks down the woman (currently going under the new Ayesha Al-Hady) and makes contact with her superiors to let them know her progress.
Using a multitude of surveillance equipment, Powell soon becomes privy to the terrorists next plans, she discovers that the bombers are planning another imminent attack. Placed in an impossible situation, Powell and her bosses must decide how to complete the mission without the loss of civilian life.
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
The British actor takes the reins for the first time in more than a decade
British favourites Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman have reunited for Rickman’s first film as a director in more than a decade: A Little Chaos. The upcoming romantic drama, which Rickman has also written, is centred round Winslet’s widow Madame Sabine De Barra, a landscape architect who is recruited to design the gardens of King Louis XIV.
Kate Winslet stars as a landscape gardener challening sexual protocols
Rickman plays the French monarch and Matthias Schoenaerts plays master landscaper Andre and Winslet’s love interest within the gardens of Versailles.
Continue reading: Alan Rickman Gets Behind The Director's Chair In A Little Chaos
In the palace of Versailles, a tremendous garden is maintained. One day, the builder and head gardener sees an ordinary woman arriving at the palace, and, throwing aside ideas of conformity, chooses to rearrange some of the garden into something that pleases her. He takes her on with the hopes of updating and adding some life to the traditional gardens, and steadily begins to fall for her. As she finds difficulty integrating into the high society that he is from, he ensures her that, in fact, she is envied by the upper classes for her newness. But when that envy turns into something more, the gardener will have to fight tooth and nail to maintain the garden, their love, and their lives.
Continue: A Little Chaos Trailer
LFF: A Little Chaos - Love gala screening held at the Odeon West End.
Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman - Roger Lloyd-Pack as Barty Crouch, Michael Gambon as Professor Albus Dumbledore and Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape in 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' directed by Mike Newell (2005) - Thursday 16th January 2014
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock open film festival with space thriller, while 1D fans finally get to see their idols in action on-screen. New trailers promise scares, music history, female laughs and a 50-years-later look at the JFK assassination...
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock brought their star power to opening night at the 70th Venice Film Festival on Wednesday. The event launched with the world premiere of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, and the critical buzz has been big for the thriller about two astronauts stranded in space when their shuttle mission is hit by debris. Take a look at photos of Clooney and Bullock attending The 70th Venice Film Festival here.
The big movie in cinemas around the world this week is the documentary One Direction: This Is Us, which has taken a hammering from critics for being far too on-message. But it's likely to keep fans very happy, especially since it reveals things like the fact that Niall Horan strips down to his underpants when he records in the studio. A scene in the film shows him recording this summer's big hit Best Song Ever in his boxers. Find out why Niall says "I sing better naked" here.
Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' has well and truly cleaned up in its first weekend, having earned $25 million at the box office.
The Butler has outperformed all of its rivals upon its first weekend, having been released on 16th August to much nodding from critics and $25 million (£15.9m) earned. The film showcases an all-star cast, who portray a period of dramatic social upheaval in America, set around the life of the not-entirely-fictional butler, Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker).
A Shot From The Movie Showing The Kennedys Meeting The Whitehouse's Staff.
Gaines serves as a butler in the White House for 34 years and eight presidents and uses his unique position to witness important presidential discussions of national civil rights issues as the historical events play out. The movie charts such landmark events as Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the Vietnam war, the Nixon resignation, Obama's presidential campaign and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Gaines' character is based upon the life of Eugene Allen who worked in the White House from 1952 to 1986.
Continue reading: 'The Butler' Gives Competitors The Brush-Off In First Weekend Success
'Lee Daniels' The Butler' has headed to the top of the US Weekend Box Office following its release on Friday (16th). 'Kick-Ass 2', following an onslaught of negative reviews, has achieved 4th place, whilst 'Jobs' has placed at 7th.
Lee Daniels' The Butler has defeated other newcomers Kick-Ass 2 and Jobs in the US Weekend Box Office. The Butler has headed straight to number one whilst Kick-Ass 2 and Jobs have respectively gained 4th and 7th place.
The Butler has made $25 million in its opening weekend and has gained critical praise. The historical epic is inspired by the true story of Cecil Gaines, a black butler who whilst serving at the White House, saw the offices of eight presidents. His life and family form a touchstone for the audience when addressing such historical events as the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Black Power in the US.
Early reviews of Lee Daniels' The Butler have been mixed. The film is released in the US tomorrow (Friday 16th August).
Lee Daniels' The Butler is released today in US cinemas. Early reviews of the historical drama have been mixed although most suggest the film is definitely worth a watch.
The film has been praised by critics for being "both deeply affecting and blatant Oscar bait", according to Claudia Puig of USA Today. Whilst Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal wrote in his review "fiction merges with fact, and finally soars."
Continue reading: Lee Daniels' The Butler Is "Deeply Affecting And Oscar Bait"
Harry Deane is a pretty hopeless British art curator who has suffered years of condescension and disrespect at the hands of his preposterously rich and eccentric boss that is the renowned art collector Lionel Shabandar. Frustrated at his own lack of recognition in the art world, Harry decides to organise an elaborate plot of revenge on his employer by tricking him into buying a seemingly priceless Monet painting that happens to be a fake. As part of his cunning ploy, he travels to the states and meets a stunning, blonde Texas cowgirl who he enlists to help him by posing alongside her grandmother as inheritors of the valuable piece. He takes her to England where Shabandar is immediately taken with her and goes to all lengths to charm her. Harry's affection for Nicole is also growing and his jealousy of the two of them results in more than one embarrassing situations.
This flamboyant crime comedy is a remake of the 1966 Academy Award nominated film of the same name which starred Michael Caine ('The Dark Knight', 'Children of Men') and Shirley MacLaine ('The Apartment', 'Terms of Endearment'). Not only has this 2012 movie also got an all-star cast, it has been written by the multi-Oscar winning writing brothers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen ('No Country for Old Men', 'Fargo', 'True Grit') as well as being directed by Michael Hoffman ('One Fine Day', 'The Emperor's Club'). It's set for release in the UK on November 21st 2012.
The eight-part saga comes to a close with an action-packed finale that neatly ties up the strands of the whole series and also manages to give its actors some meaty scenes to play with. While it's hugely satisfying, there's also a letdown as we reach the end.
With Voldemort (Fiennes) in possession of the mythical Elder Wand, and four Horcruxes still at large, Harry (Radcliffe) and pals Hermione and Ron (Watson and Grint) know that they have work to do. Breaking into a Gringotts vault is tough enough, but when they sneak back into Hogwarts, they find themselves in all-out war against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. So with the help of adults (Smith, Walters and more) and fellow students (including Lewis, Wright and Lynch), they make their final stand.
After a sort of "Previously on Harry Potter" prologue and a quietly intense opening, the film plunges into the Gringotts heist and barely pauses for breath. Director Yates adeptly juggles action and drama, keeping images razor sharp and making sure the effects work is seamlessly eye-catching (they're also the most consistently high-quality effects in the series). But of course Lord of the Rings-scale spectacle is nothing without great characters, and this film pushes everyone into new territory.
Radcliffe takes on the challenge extremely well, bringing Harry's self-doubt and crippling guilt together with a potent sense of destiny and sacrifice. Of the supporting cast, Rickman, Smith and Gambon get the weightiest scenes, while Lewis and Walters finally have superb moments in the spotlight. And Bonham Carter clearly has a ball with a terrific scene as a shape-shifted Hermione.
Meanwhile, that outrageously starry ensemble fills out each scene, including many who barely utter a word.
As the story propels to the climactic moments, there are a few fits and starts while events recoil and wait to burst forth again. Even though this is the shortest of all eight movies, it feels a little long due to its intensely focussed plot. This means every moment on screen is vitally important, and most are given the chance to play out without feeling rushed. But it also means that, as the ending (and epilogue) get closer, we simply don't want it to end.
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.
Cranking up the action and emotion, JK Rowling's Harry Potter saga moves into the first half of its extended grand finale. It's a relatively harrowing film punctuated by real violence, and it cleverly starts weaving together both the plot and the relationships.
After the tragic events of the previous school year, Harry (Radcliffe) and his pals Ron and Hermoine (Grint and Watson) know that they can't go back to normal. Instead, they're on the run from Voldemort (Fiennes) and his fearsome Death Eaters. They also have an overwhelming task: collecting the horcruxes that Voldemort has hidden to ensure his immortality. But where to look? And when they find one, how do they destroy it? Then a rebel journalist (Ifans) tells them the story of the Deathly Hallows, which makes their quest even more urgent.
The plot has a very different structure, as our three heroes are propelled by startling events into increasingly uncertain situations. Persistently chased by the bad guys and unable to trust anyone, they are profoundly alone and constantly in danger. We strongly feel their lonely desperation all the way through the film, so when another nasty thing happens to push them further along, it's genuinely unsettling.
Although it feels far too long, Yates and Kloves thankfully mix the dark drama with lighter comedy, allowing the characters to grow organically. Over seven films the story has grown increasingly gloomy but, despite the relentless anxiety, this chapter has an insistent pace, which is helpful since pretty nightmarish things are happening. There's also some subtext in the political storyline, as the villains seize control first of the media and then the government.
By now, the three central actors have settled solidly into their roles, adding subtle edges in every scene. Intriguingly, Grint has emerged as the most complex performer, but all three are excellent. And the who's who of British acting talent around them is fantastic. Stand-outs this time are Nighy (as a slippery politician), Isaacs (as a disgraced baddie) and Mullan (as a vicious security guy). But several others get a chance to shine as well, and of course there's a lot more action to come in Part 2.
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
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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