Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in the style of a colourful movie musical, but with the songs playing in the background. Everything is choreographed to the tunes, as the cars veer across the road dodging bullets fired in sync to the rhythm. It's pure candy for the eyes and ears, impeccably staged by writer-director Edgar Wright. And we don't mind much that there's not much more to it than that.
The title refers to Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young man who doesn't talk much. Hiding behind sunglasses and earbuds, he's an expert driver raised by his deaf foster dad (C.J. Jones) after his parents died in, yes, a car crash. He's also in debt to Doc (Kevin Spacey) a criminal mastermind who orchestrates elaborate heists with a variety of low-life goons, all with Baby at the wheel. And things are looking up for Baby when he falls for diner waitress Debora (Lily James) just as he pays off his debt to Doc. But first he has to do one last job, working this time with the loved-up Buddy and Darling (Jon Hamm and Eliza Gonzalez) and the unpredictable, trigger-happy Bats (Jamie Foxx).
Scenes play to the beat of the songs on Baby's iPod, and Wright adds clever touches everywhere. Shooting in long takes with elaborately planned-out mayhem, the film ricochets from one sequence to the next, looking seriously stylish every step of the way. It quickly becomes clear that even the super-efficient Baby is soon going to be in over his head, which helps us root for him as the carnage escalates. The likeable Elgort has a lot of fun with the role, enjoying Baby's wordless swagger while including a touch of emotion here and there. No one else gets a chance to add much depth to his or her role, but at least Foxx gets to steal his scenes simply because no one has a clue what he might do next.
Continue reading: Baby Driver Review
Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey star in this comedy thriller.
Filmmaking genius Edgar Wright has returned with another crime comedy epic entitled 'Baby Driver', starring Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey. Based on a previous music project of Wright's, the film is his first US venture and is set to arrive in August.
Ansel Elgort stars in 'Baby Driver'
The film follows a young man named Baby (Elgort) who happens to be an excellent getaway driver. He also has another unusual quirk; when he was a child, he was in a car accident that left him with a permanent ringing in his ears and as such constantly listens to music through his earphones to combat the sensation. It doesn't affect the way he works, however, and he's an indispensable part of Doc's (Spacey) criminal gang.
Continue reading: Is 'Baby Driver' Another Sure-fire Triumph From Edgar Wright?
After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this teen comedy-drama feels like a let down. It's an inventive twist on the usual high school movie, and it has a darkly realistic tone, but where the story goes is rather pushy and melodramatic, straining for a sentimental surge of emotion. It's very well made, and the cast is excellent, but the film is ultimately rather forgettable.
It's set in small-town Florida, where 18-year-old Quentin (Nat Wolff) is trying to focus on graduating and heading to university. He has had a crush on his neighbour Margot (Cara Delevingne) since they were children, but they've drifted apart as she fell in with the rebellious kids. Then one night she appears asking for his help to get even with her cheating boyfriend (Griffin Freeman), giving Quentin the night of his life as they stage a series of pranks. The next day Margot vanishes, leaving enigmatic clues about where she's gone. So Quentin enlists his pals Ben and Radar (Austin Abrams and Justice Smith) to help him find her, and they end up taking a road trip with Margot's best pal Lacey (Halston Sage) and Radar's girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair), following her trail to a blip on a map of rural New York.
The title refers to fictional towns cartographers put on maps to alert them to plagiarists, a metaphor that never quite rings true but adds to the overall mystery. More interesting is the way the story puts a fresh spin on the usual teen-movie themes: peer pressure, wild parties, loss of virginity, the prom, plans for the future. These things are grappled with using a superb mix of humour and angst, giving the cast some very strong scenes along the way. Wolff anchors the film as a late-bloomer who's only just discovering himself, and Delevingne brings a wild allure to her role, even though everything Margot does feels somewhat contrived, which makes her feel like a romanticised memory.
Continue reading: Paper Towns Review
'The Maze Runner' and 'Neighbors' also scooped awards.
It's difficult to argue with the results of this year's MTV Movie Awards victors, who took home their much-deserved accolades on Sunday (April 12th 2015). The top prize of Movie Of The Year went to Josh Boone's adaptation of the John Green novel 'The Fault In Our Stars' - but who else won big at the 2015 ceremony?
Shailene Woodley took home a couple of awards herself; first for Best Female Performance in 'The Fault In Our Stars', and second for Best Kiss with Ansel Elgort. 'The Maze Runner' star Dylan O'Brien also won big, landing Breakthrough Performance, Best Hero and, of course, Best Fight with Will Poulter. O'Brien will reprise his role in the upcoming sequel 'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials'. Meanwhile, Zac Efron's abs in 'Neighbors' predictably won him Best Shirtless Performance, while his onscreen chemistry with Dave Franco made them Best Duo. 'Neighbors' was also the winner of Best WTF Moment, with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne taking home the award.
Continue reading: MTV Movie Awards: 'The Fault In Our Stars' Leads 2015 Winners
A sharp improvement on the original, this second entry in The Divergent Series has a much stronger sense of its premise and characters, which makes it much more exciting to watch. Where Divergent felt gimmicky and a bit shallow, this chapter pushes the characters much deeper, giving the actors a chance to bring them more engagingly to life, which makes the odd set-up more involving as well.
It picks up immediately where the first film ended, with Tris (Shailene Woodley) escaping from post-apocalyptic, segmented-society Chicago with her boyfriend Four (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and their shifty cohort Peter (Miles Teller). Hiding out in the Amity agricultural community, they know that Erudite leader Janine (Kate Winslet) has sent her goons (Jai Courtney and Mekhi Phifer) to find them. Actually, she needs a divergent to open an artefact from the pre-war days so she can rid Chicago of pesky divergents forever. When their location is discovered, Tris and pals head back into the city, teaming up with factionless leader Joanna (Naomi Watts) and getting help from the head of Candor (Daniel Dae Kim) before going to Erudite to face Janine.
The story has a strong push to it, driving these rebels ever closer to a confrontation with their nasty nemesis, and their journey is fraught with surprise wrinkles, vicious battles and some mind-bending imagery. In fact, there are so many dreams, flashbacks and computer simulations that it's not always clear if what's on screen is actually happening or not. But it all looks so cool that we hang on to discover where it'll go next, so the two hours passes briskly, and sometimes breathlessly. The film looks terrific, as director Robert Schwentke keeps the focus on the characters while creating some amazing effects around them, especially in the simulation sequences.
Continue reading: Insurgent Review
Following on from the events of 'Divergent', the mysterious government has discovered a magical maguffin which had the power to create the idyllic future they have always hoped to fulfil. The only catch, is that it requires a Divergent in order to activate it. As the government begins testing any and all Divergents they can find, Tris (Shailene Woodley) is already on the run, and meets up with an army of secret, hidden Divergents. When it is revealed that she may be the only one to truly activate the maguffin, the Divergents rise up as an Insurgency, and take the fight to the government that has oppressed them for too long.
Continue: The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer
There's a fundamental flaw to this multi-strand social media-themed drama: it's told completely from the perspective of older people who are fearful about the possibilities, rather than the generation for whom electronic communication is the norm. It's well-made by director Jason Reitman (age 36) and his cowriter Erin Cressida Wilson (50) from the novel by Chad Kultgen (38), but it kind of misses the point that this is the future of human interaction. So younger (or more switched-on) viewers won't buy the cautionary message.
IR's set in Austin, Texas, where Rachel and Don (Rosemarie DeWitt and Adam Sandler) are each so focussed on finding space outside their marriage that they don't notice that their teen son Chris (Travis Tope) is hanging out with self-proclaimed slutty cheerleader Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia). Her best friend Allison (Elena Kamporis) is starving herself to be like her, spurred on by her mother (Judy Greer), who is doing everything she can to make Allison a star. Meanwhile, Patricia (Jennifer Garner) is desperate to control how her daughter Brandy (Kaitkyn Dever) uses small-screens, especially worried about her growing friendship with Tim (Ansel Elgort), whose father (Dean Norris) is annoyed that he has quit the school football team.
Oddly, the film seems to adopt the adults' fears as its central tone: the internet and mobile phone communications are potentially dangerous, addictive and isolating. But this makes the film feel more like a sermon than a set of intertwined stories. A far more interesting approach would be to explore how communication and relationships are shifting due to the influence of online media. Indeed, the generational aspects to the films various plotlines are the most compelling elements, with clashing points of view between grown-ups and kids. But audience members who believe that mobile phones and social media sites are the future will struggle with the way Reitman presents them as inherently troublesome.
Continue reading: Men, Women & Children Review
Ansel Elgort has landed, potentially, his biggest role yet.
Ansel Elgort, the actor who rose to prominence with his starring role alongside Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars, is set to play the precocious pianist Van Cliburn who famously got caught up in a cold war battle during a piano competition. Cilburn won first prize in the inaugural Tchaikosky International Piano Competition in 1958 but had to overcome a fierce political face-off.
Ansel Elgort will play precocious pianist Van Cliburn [Photo: Getty Images, credit: Ethan Miller]
The competition had been arranged to showcase Russian cultural majesty so a barnstorming performance from a young Texan, 23, didn't exactly fit the narrative. President Khrushchev was forced to intervene to allow judges permission to reward the American.
Continue reading: Star Power: Ansel Elgort To Play Cold War Pianist Van Cliburn
Based on the beloved novel by John Green, this film is so squarely slanted toward teen girls that it is likely to annoy everyone else. Written and directed in a way that never allows even a hint of ambiguity, each scene and line of dialogue is on-the-nose, pushing the audience to a specific emotional response. This of course leaves everything feeling manipulative and false. Even so, the movie is rescued by another wonderfully layered performance from Shailene Woodley.
She plays the 17-year-old Hazel, who has been dealing with aggressive cancer for three years and has only just been stabilised by a breakthrough treatment. As she still needs to carry oxygen to breathe properly, her parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) are understandably protective, but she's happy to get out on her own whenever possible. Then in a support group she meets 18-year-old cancer survivor Gus (Ansel Elgort), who is immediately smitten with her and flirts so aggressively that she finally agrees to be his friend, but nothing more. As she hangs out with Gus and his pal Isaac (Nat Wolff), another cancer patient, she begins to open up to her innermost dreams. So she goes along with a make-a-wish plan to travel to Amsterdam with Gus and her mother to meet the author (Willem Dafoe) of her favourite novel. And the trip changes her life in several unexpected ways.
Sensitive audience members will be sobbing from the beginning to the end of this film, simply because director Josh Boone tells them to. More cynical viewers will find it impossible to believe anything on-screen. This isn't because the plot is bad (it's actually quite thoughtful and provocative) or the actors get their performances wrong. It's because Boone and the screenwriters can't resist punching every note as loudly as they can. It's been so tidily shaped into a cinematic structure that everything feels fake, which makes it impossible for the actors to create characters who could exist anywhere besides in a movie.
Continue reading: The Fault In Our Stars Review
Is TFIOS worth the hype? In a word, yes.
The Fault In Our Stars seems to be emerging as the winner of this weekend’s box office race, after it made teens across the US (and the world) bawl their eyes out for three solid days. That’s what the tweets say, anyway. The film tells the story of a pair of teens living with cancer – the clever and self-deprecating Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and the disarmingly lovable Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). As the two meet, fall in love and go on a life-changing trip together, they discover some truths about life, love and the meaning of it all.. As for the box office stats, well, those are nothing to cry about.
The cast of TFIOS at the film's New York premiere.
TFIOS, adapted from John Green’s bestselling novel (read all his books, if you haven’t already, seriously) is doing amazingly well not just in the US, but also in international markets. The film, which reportedly cost just $17 million to make, checked in at $26.1 million in domestic profits on Friday, and is projected to pass the $50 million mark by the end of Sunday, per Box Office Mojo. In international markets, TFIOS is expected to do even better, although the data is still unavailable at this time.
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