With the tagline "A Star Wars Story", this first spin-off from the saga isn't actually a stand-alone movie. It requires some understanding of the context as it chronicles events that lead directly into 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope. It's also a seriously rousing action film with a riveting cast of characters and a surprising willingness to embrace even the darkest elements of storytelling. In other words, it might be the first Star Wars movie made specifically for grown-ups.
It opens as the Empire is systematically crushing the rebellion, leaving them wondering if there's any point to continuing the fight. Rumours are swirling that the Empire is building a massive Death Star, and rebel Jyn (Felicity Jones) discovers that it was designed by her long-lost father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who sends her a message saying that he left a flaw in the system specifically for the rebels to exploit. So she joins a team to contact him, led by Cassian (Diego Luna), who doubts that Galen is on their side. They're accompanied by pilot Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and the sarcastic robot K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), plus the blind wannabe Jedi Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and his battling sidekick Baze (Jiang Wen). And as their mission goes rogue, they come up against the slimy Imperial Director Orson (Ben Mendelson) and the vicious Darth Vader (again voiced by James Earl Jones).
Director Gareth Edwards (Monster) packs the movie with visual references to A New Hope, cleverly matching the design work by avoiding fakey digital effects in lieu of more practical, battle-scared models and lively settings on a series of new planets and a familiar one. This gives the film an electric atmosphere that's edgy and unpredictable even though we all know exactly how this mission has to end. At the beginning, the plot feels a bit splintered, but the strands come together with power, building a gnawing sense of momentum and some real gravitas along the way.
Continue reading: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone Star Wars film which acts as an important subplot to the original 1977 movie 'A New Hope'. In the man film, Luke and his uncle take ownership of a droid sold to them and as Luke cleans the droid up he hears a section of a message left for someone called Obi-Wan Kenobi pleading for his help. Luke decides to find the only man he knows by the name of Kenobi and his mission turns into the story we all know.
The data on R2-D2 memory is the story of Rouge One. The Rebel Alliance are aware that the Galactic Empire are building a humongous super machine capable of destroy vast areas of space and one of their rebel fighters might just hold the key to more information than she knows.
Jin Erso is a loyal member of the Alliance though she often acts as a lone rebel and takes risks greater than her superiors would like. When a fraction of the Alliance learns that Erso's father played a crucial role in building the device she knows that she must track him down.
In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent young woman who doesn't follow the rules, doesn't need a man and sings songs of empowerment. But this story is set in the lush South Pacific, with deep blue seas, verdant rainforests and fiery volcanoes. And that gives it a fresh blast of energy and culture that more than makes up for the lack of proper tension in the rather formulaic story.
On a remote island, Moana (voiced by Auli'i Carvalho) is the daughter of the pragmatic chief (Temuera Morrison) and his sensitive wife (Nicole Scherzinger). Feeling like the sea is beckoning her, Moana is always in trouble, because the islanders are terrified of the dangers in the ocean beyond the reef. But Moana's grandmother (Rachel House) encourages her to follow her yearnings, revealing that Moana is the promised one who will travel to find the exiled demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and return the Heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place, restoring life to the islands. Even though she feels inadequate, she heads off on her quest. And when she meets up with the arrogant Maui, she realises that this is going to be even harder than she thought.
Continue reading: Moana Review
The Galaxy is on the brink of a major war being won by dangerous rulers and only a few fighters stand between the Emperor and his unrelenting army which is constantly surging peaceful plants. The destruction and invasion of any planet who won't agree to the Empire's stringent regulations is all but destroyed.
Jyn Erso is one such rebel fighter who is willing to go to any lengths to fulfil her mission, often landing her in trouble with her seniors but her independent demeanour means that she might be a perfect candidate for an imperative mission - the failure of which could mean the end of the galaxy as its citizens know.
Jyn and a small team of fellow rebels must steal plans for the Emperor's newest and deadliest weapon, The Death Star.
Continue: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer
Moana has spent her life travelling with her family is on the vast blue waters surrounding Polynesia - even when she's on her island home, she can't be far away from the sound of waves lapping the shore. Moana's father is the chief of their small village and he's always know his daughter had a gift not given to most, Moana was a born navigator and now she's about to undertake her first real adventure.
Moana must go and find a fabled island, she won't be alone as the demi-god Maui has found himself taking to the young girl and will help her on her mission.
We all know the story of Luke Skywalker and the legendary Jedi and rebels who fought to keep the universe safe but what about the other Rebel Alliance fighters who were doing their all to protect their freedom? Jyn Erso has never been one to stick to the rules; she's been alone since her teens and doesn't require the protection of others to make her own way. A member of the rebellion who likes to rebel from all authority on both sides of the war.
She has unlimited gumption and a fierce attitude which attracts her to the leaders of her rebel unit. Jyn is ordered to locate and bring back important data on a new deadly weapon that the Galactic Empire is building and beginning to test. The Dark Star is the Empire's new planet destroyer and its secrets are closely guarded by Darth Vader and his legions of fighters all willing to lose their lives in a bid to keep the Empire the ruling force.
Jyn and her small team of fighters set out on a mission that they know they're likely not to return from. The rewards outweigh the risks and Jyn must retrieve the plans before it's too late.
An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who defied McCarthy's communist witch-hunt hearings in the late-1940s and was blacklisted by Hollywood for more than a decade. As written by John McNamara and directed by Jay Roach, the film is bright, funny and emotionally resonant, clearly simplified to make it more involving. And with such a terrific cast on board, it's both revealing and a lot of fun.
In 1947, Dalton (Bryan Cranston) is the film industry's top-paid screenwriter, so of course Senator McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Commission goes after him about his rumoured links to the communist party during the war. But he and nine fellow writers refuse to testify, so they're imprisoned for contempt, denied work by the Hollywood studios and targeted personally by the powerful gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren). To survive, Dalton begins writing under a series of pseudonyms for the B-movie producer Frank King (John Goodman), creating a script factory in his home with the help of his wife Cleo (Diane Lane) and daughter Niki (Elle Fanning). Two of these screenplays win Oscars, and it isn't until Dalton begins writing Spartacus in 1960 that actor Kirk Douglas (Dean O'Gorman) breaks the studio blacklist.
Roach directs this story in a sunny, snappy way that includes lots of smart wordplay and a clear sense of the us-or-them mentality that has defined America since the Cold War. People need a villain to hiss at, so anyone with even a passing connection to communism will do. And Mirren hisses better than most. Her performance is riotously funny and relentlessly nasty at the same time. More textured characters include Louis C.K. as a fellow writer and Michael Stuhlbarg as conflicted actor Edward G. Robinson. All of the actors are excellent, anchored by Cranston's wonderfully prickly Oscar-nominated turn as a bullheaded man who hilariously seizes every opportunity to make an inspiring speech.
Continue reading: Trumbo Review
42 is the true to life story of Jackie Robinson and his rise to the top as one of America's best and most respected Baseball players and the manager of Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, who decided to end racial segregation by enlisting Robinson onto his team.
In 1947, Branch Rickey controversially made a name for himself when he signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. At the time, this kind of behaviour was unheard of, and both Robinson and Rickey were sure to cause problems for themselves - both on and off the pitch. Racism was rife between player on every team including the Dodgers and Robinson's transition was one of the most courageous of its time.
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The trailer for Brian Helgelald’s 42 was released this Thursday, and while the film isn’t getting a lot of hype yet, it looks... cool.
It looks like classic award bait, to be honest. The story of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, hits at a trifecta of notorious award winning genres of film – the inspirational sports flick, the historical drama and let’s not forget the exploration into race relations. Add to that a killer cast, featuring Hollywood hopeful Chadwick Boseman in the leading role, as well as Alan Tudyk, Christopher Meloni and Harrison Ford (seriously). Expectations for this one are high and rightly so.
Naturally, the story of Robinson is one of struggles and overcoming adversity, as critics so often like to describe things. As you may imagine, in a time and place overripe with stereotypes and judgement, Jackie Robinson wasn’t exactly welcome, but he did pave the way for others after him. So, historically accurate or not, the film will certainly cash in on the drama of the story. It may be a bit too early to start the buzz around 42, however, since the flick actually won’t be coming out until April this year. Anyway, when it does come out, this will probably be one to look out for.
Continue reading: 42 Will Cover All The Bases Of Award Success
As a boy, Abraham Lincoln learns from his father, Thomas, that vampires are real. Worse still, it was vampires that took the life of Abe's mother, Nancy, rather than 'milk sickness' as he previously believed. The news, understandably, shocks Abraham, who vows to avenge his mother and hunt down and kill vampires.
Continue: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Trailer
With his usual disregard for story logic, Bay plunges us into another deafening metal-against-metal smackdown. Fortunately, this film is a lot more entertaining than Part 2, because it has a more linear plot. And it looks absolutely amazing.
With everything back to normal, Sam (LaBeouf) needs a job to impress his impossibly hot new girlfriend Carly (Huntington-Whiteley). Then strange things start happening around him. Again. And soon he realises that the Decepticons are back to wage war against the Autobot-human alliance. But he has to convince an arrogant government official (McDormand) to let him get involved with his old team (Duhamel, Gibson, Turturro and their Autobot buddies). All of this has something to do with a secret weapon that crashed onto the dark side of the moon in 1961, sparking the space race.
McDormand is easily the best thing about this film, even if her character has a dramatic personality shift halfway through the film. Malkovich is also terrific (as Sam's offbeat new boss), and Dempsey has his moments as well (as Carly's boss and cause of Sam's inferiority complex). Fortunately, the narrative is straightforward enough to give all of the actors the chance to make their mark, distinguishing themselves above the chaos.
Sadly, the same can't be said about the battling robots. While the first-rate animation has a staggering attention to detail, the deafening battles are still impossible to follow. They amount to an eye-catching display of whizzy effects as clanking robots bash each other senseless and destroy everything around them (Chicago gets the full destructive force for a change). Although at least they fit vaguely into the plot this time.
Meanwhile, lapses in even the most twisted logic are plentiful, including the fact that Sam seems to have metallic Transformer bones to resist injury as he's flung into walls and dropped from high places (not to mention Carly's magical white suit and heels). In other words, it's deeply preposterous and almost painfully boyish, but it's nowhere near as muddled as the last chapter. And besides keeping our eyes entertained, there are some great moments throughout the mayhem.
In recent times Kate and Bill's marriage has been a little fragile. Both are committed to their jobs and their 18 year old son, Sam, is spending less and less time in the family home; the Carroll's aren't the family they once were. When Bill and Kate wake up one morning to hear on the news that someone at their son's college has gone on a shooting rampage, they fear for the safety of their son. With the campus on lock down, the only thing they can do is try and call Sam and check everything is OK, as they wait for confirmation of their sons safety, they are greeted by a knock at the door. Not only was Sam killed, he was the one who took the lives of seventeen people.
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When man first landed on the moon over 40 years ago, their journey was well documented and broadcast on the TV around the world, what we weren't to know was the details of a secret mission the astronauts carried out on the 'dark side of the moon'. What they discovered was beyond their belief, evidence that we're not alone in the universe.
Continue: Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon Trailer
The name of the series comes from the model of spaceship our protagonists travel in. It's an out-dated clunker full of problems but it's a comfortable mobile home that engineer Kaylee (Jewel Staite) affectionately maintains for a variety of passengers who fall in the enormous gap between government (a.k.a. Alliance) official and beggar on the fringe. Captained by Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion, Waitress), the crew flies from one smuggling or delivery job to the next, be they legal or not under Alliance rules, to maintain their independence. Their main objective is to keep food on the table, fuel in the tank, and to stay away from Reavers, hideous beings whose hunger for anything living is never satisfied. By staying on a planet too long they would end up on the Alliance's radar, or end up slaves to a system they don't wish to support, so purposeful vagabonds they are when we join them.
Continue reading: Firefly: The Complete Series Review
The film begins with a very funny gag involving the opening of a casket, not the easiest moment in life from which to wring humor. With it, we are introduced to Daniel (Matthew MacFayden), who is about to bury his father. With the aid of his wife Jane (Keeley Hawes) he must accommodate a gaggle of guests pre-loaded with neuroses.
Continue reading: Death At A Funeral Review
On the heels of 2005's blockbuster The 40-Year-Old Virgin, writer/director Judd Apatow again mines hilarity from the relatably human in a comedy about a one-night stand with unexpected consequences: Knocked Up. Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy, Roswell) joins Virgin alums Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann for a comic look about the best thing that will ever ruin your best-laid plans: parenthood.
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If you're ready to buy in to the writer-as-alcoholic cliché, you should just love 28 Days, which pulls out every stereotype in the book. Sandra Bullock stars as Gwen, the aforementioned drunk writer (living, naturally, in New York City), who ruins her sister's wedding by insulting her during the toast, falling on the cake, and wrecking the "just married" car by crashing it into a house! Off to rehab for her, where she meets a cast of characters drawn so broadly they could populate a sitcom on UPN.
Continue reading: 28 Days Review
How do you mix a 1400s tale of jousting and swordplay with a load of rock music? Very carefully. It all starts as a crowd chants the opening monologue to "We Will Rock You" at the lists of a small jousting tournament, while our squire hero Will (Heath Ledger) finds that his master, a knight on the verge of winning the tourney, has just died. In a fit of passion, he straps on his master's armor and rides into the arena, winning the tournament for he and his two co-squire friends (Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk). Thrilled with the victory, Will opts not to take the money and split, but instead assumes the identity of a phony knight, rockin' and joustin' his way across France en route to "The World Championships" of jousting in London.
Continue reading: A Knight's Tale Review
Robot is inspired by ideas found in Issac Asimov's anthology of the same name, though screenwriters Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman don't follow any one specific novel verbatim. As in the literary works, the robots must abide by the following laws: 1) A robot may not injure a human or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm; 2) a robot must obey orders given to it by a human, except where it would conflict with the first law; and 3) a robot must protect itself, as long as that protection doesn't violate either the first or second law. Of course these rules will be broken.
Continue reading: I, Robot Review
It's no matter, though, as Whedon gets the uninitiated up to speed quick: 500 years in the future, most of the human-colonized galaxy is controlled by the autocratic Alliance, who won a war some time ago against the rebel Independents, now roaming the fringes of explored space. This is where we find the rattletrap freighter Serenity, crewed by a loveable gaggle of rogues who want to be free to wander at will and maybe pull off the occasional crime. The unusually personable crew is led by Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), a sarcastic loner with a not-so-secret heart of idealism. A shambling kind of hero, he's about the best thing to hit movie screens since Harrison Ford lost his sense of humor. Since every good hero needs sidekicks, Mal's backed up by badass Zoe (Gina Torres), her geeky husband Wash (Alan Tudyk), weapons-crazed lunkhead Jayne (Adam Baldwin), and wide-eyed girl mechanic Kaylee (Jewel State). There's also some new crewmates: a doctor, Simon (Sean Maher), who we've seen busting his teenaged sister River (Summer Glau) out of an Alliance research facility where she'd been being turned into a psychotic killing machine. Now River just mopes around the ship, occasionally having psychic flashes, while Simon ignores advances from lovestruck Kaylee.
Continue reading: Serenity Review
By now you've heard about the concept of "A Knight's Tale" and had the time to become justifiably dubious. A 14th Century jousting adventure set to the tune of guitar rock stadium anthems? How could that possibly be anything short of laughable?
The answer is -- well, I don't know exactly. But when, five minutes into the movie, a crowd of peasants at a jousting tournament starts stomping feet in time and bellowing "We will/We will/Rock You!" (and soon thereafter do "the wave"), I defy you not to grin an aw-what-the-heck grin and go along for the ride.
The story itself isn't much more than a dressed-up, time-warped sports underdog yarn, in which the lowborn hero ("The Patriot's" jaunty Heath Ledger) poses as a knight (only those of noble birth are allowed to compete) and becomes the toast of the jousting world. But in the hands of writer-director Brian Helgeland (who helmed "Payback" and co-wrote "L.A. Confidential"), the movie's cliché-spawn chassis is merely a jumping-off point for a jocular, undeflatable, high energy theme-park ride of action, wisecracks and romance.
Continue reading: A Knight's Tale Review
In turning Isaac Asimov's groundbreaking, intellectually and morally challenging series of stories entitled "I, Robot" into a summer blockbuster, director Alex Proyas ("Dark City," "The Crow") has stripped it of even the smallest hint of intelligence or originality. Instead the movie offers only superstar Will Smith as a wisecracking, stunt-driving, guns-a-blazin', future-cop action-hero cliché -- who bears no resemblance to anything in Asimov's book (although there may have been a character with the same name).
Detective Del Spooner may live amid self-driving cars and abundant automatons in the year 2035 (which looks as if it was created on leftover "Minority Report" and "A.I." sets), but he's a shopworn 20th century anachronism -- a newly divorced, rebellious cop (complete with a butt-chewing lieutenant to take away his badge) who has a theory no one believes.
See, Spoon (gotta have a nickname) thinks a robot committed a murder -- throwing his corporate-scientist creator out a skyscraper window. But of course everyone else is downright stubborn about the fact that this simply cannot be. Robots made by the monopolistic U.S. Robotics are hard-wired with three base rules that supposedly make it impossible for them to harm a human being. That safety protocol is why they've become prevalent in homes and menial jobs around the world. (Naturally, no mention is made of the job losses this must have caused.)
Continue reading: I, Robot Review
When Stephen King steps off the pulp horror assembly line, his work tends to turn toward the warm, nostalgic and philosophical -- and the best Stephen King movies have always come from these works.
Set in 1960 Connecticut, "Hearts in Atlantis" is just such a movie, lying somewhere between "Stand By Me" and "The Green Mile" in its heady atmosphere of wonder, mystery, and the rose-colored remembrances of childhood.
It's the story of a young boy named Bobby (freckled, wide-eyed, curly-haired and charismatic Anton Yelchin) who is befriended by an enigmatic boarder living in the upstairs apartment of the house he shares with his acrimonious mother (Hope Davis), a resentful widow left in debt by Bobby's gambling-addicted father.
Continue reading: Hearts In Atlantis Review
Can somebody please stop Ben Stiller?
Since becoming a box-office draw with "There's Something About Mary," the guy has been a horrendous ham, devouring scenery with an eye-bugging, eyebrow-stitching schtick so stale and predictable that his last dozen movies have all included the same gag: slow-motion scenes of Stiller madly mugging while dancing, or running, or playing the titular game of schoolyard pain and humiliation in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."
The only variation in his on-screen persona is that sometimes he's an irritatingly neurotic, hapless chump ("Along Came Polly," "Envy," "Meet the Parents") and other times he's an irritatingly arrogant, mock-sexy-pouting, self-obsessed moron ("Starsky & Hutch," "Zoolander").
Continue reading: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story Review
Director Betty Thomas' name in the opening credits of "28 Days" came as a big relief leading in to what looked like a soft-pedaled, politically corrected comedy about a happy-go-unlucky drunk -- played by button-cute Sandra Bullock -- wise-cracking her way through rehab.
It was reassuring to see that the woman holding the reins was a filmmaker who certainly knows how to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. I mean, if she could make Howard Stern not only presentable but borderline sentimental (and without a hint of saccharine whitewash) in "Private Parts," surely a touchy subject like alcoholism is safe in her hands.
And so it is. Striking a sure-footed balance between its addiction woe and impudent humor, Thomas isn't afraid to scoff at twelve-steppers and include jests of questionable taste while still pulling off a story of a woman's difficult personal journey toward sobriety.
Continue reading: 28 Days Review
With the tagline "A Star Wars Story", this first spin-off from the saga isn't actually...
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone Star Wars film which acts as...
In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...
The Galaxy is on the brink of a major war being won by dangerous rulers...
Moana has spent her life travelling with her family is on the vast blue waters...
We all know the story of Luke Skywalker and the legendary Jedi and rebels who...
The filmmakers behind Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph join forces for this entertaining animated action comedy,...
An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...
14-year-old Auli'i Cravalho from Oahu, Hawaii opens up about being cast in her first ever...
'Dalton Trumbo had gone from novelist to a successful career as a Hollywood screenwriter which...
Oprah obsessed Alice Klieg suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder which causes her to be socially...