There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the interest as it follows a fine, upstanding man behind bars and transforms him into a criminal mastermind. If the premise sounds familiar, perhaps you've seen Jacques Audiard's soulful 2009 masterpiece A Prophet. Well, this is more like a blow to the head. And by emphasising the characters' thuggishness over anything more nuanced, filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch) seems to betray the fact that he thinks brutality is inherently entertaining.
The story centres on Jacob (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a successful banker with a happy home life with his wife and son (Lake Bell and Jonathan McClendon). Then he's involved in a drunk-driving incident and convicted of manslaughter. And in jail he's adopted by the white supremacist gang, pushed to commit such nasty violence that he cuts off all contact with his family when he's finally released a decade or so later. But he also clearly has a plan now, hiding from his tough-guy parole officer Kutcher (Omari Hardwick) to set up a dodgy operation with former prison-mate Frank (Jon Bernthal) and young military veteran Howie (Emory Cohen). Orchestrating all of this is the big boss (Holt McCallany), who is imprisoned for life.
Thankfully, the actors all add texture to their characters, bringing them to life even if the movie itself seems uninterested in anything beneath the surface. Coster-Waldau is terrific at capturing Jacob's inner decency and steely survival instinct as he transforms from a slick financial analyst into a muscled killing machine. But of course it's his internal journey that is far more interesting. Hardwick and Bernthal are solid as tough guys who feel a bit simplistic. But Bell has some properly steely moments as a woman who simply won't give up on her man even when he tells her to, and Cohen finds some intriguing layers in the quirky, shell-shocked Howie.
Continue reading: Shot Caller Review
As Guardians of the Galaxy did two years ago, this action romp comes at the Marvel universe from a witty angle that makes it a lot more fun than the overcrowded Avengers movies. This film has a strong central character, a boisterous sense of humour and a relatively simple plot that never gets bogged down in explaining its mythology. Most of all, it's hugely entertaining, with a great cast and head-spinning kaleidoscopic effects.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a top New York neurosurgeon. Arrogant and dismissive, he maintains a friendship with his ex, fellow surgeon Christine (Rachel McAdams). But a car crash puts an end to his rock-n-roll lifestyle when his hands are seriously injured. After medicine fails to heal him, he turns to eastern mysticism, travelling to Kathmandu to study under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). She opens his mind to the magical power around him, and as he develops his powers with the serious, more experienced Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Stephen is pulled into an epic clash with the rebel sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who wants to heal humanity by sending it into a dark, timeless parallel universe.
Despite the gloomy plot, Scott Derrickson directs the film with a very light touch, bringing out cheeky humour in every scene as these whip-smart characters interact with each other. Cumberbatch has probably never had a role that so fully draws on his real-life charisma and wit, and he shines as the swaggering, cocky doctor who has to rebuild his life in unexpected directions. For much of the film he's way out of his depth, which means that the supporting cast get a chance to steal scenes from him.
Continue reading: Doctor Strange Review
Before Doctor Strange was ever brought into existence, the man behind the hero was a dedicated neurosurgeon - one of the best of his time who dedicated his life to furthering his profession. When Stephen Strange is in an almost fatal automobile accident, he luckily escapes with his life but his hands are severely damaged and he goes through multiple surgeries in a bid to fix them.
Strange knows that his entire life will be completely altered if he can't fix them; it would most certainly be the end of his career, the one thing he's committed the majority of his time to. Many doctors try to fix his hands but they're unable to give the results Strange requires. In a last bid to find a cure for his hands - or at least find some solace - Steven travels to Napal.
Little did he know it but Steven Strange's life is about to make a drastic change. On a journey of self-discovery he finds himself researching and eventually coming in contact with a group called Kamar-Taj who hold ancient beliefs and have been known to heal people. As Strange is gradually taken in by the group, he finally meets The Ancient One who sees a great strength in Strange. She mentors the Doctor in the mystic arts and shows him his current reality isn't the only one in existence and teaches him how to manipulate it in order to gain great power and protect the world from others who only wish to destroy it.
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following up their lacklustre 2014 action-comedy with a film that's even lazier. While the first one at least had a sense of pacing, with humour that sometimes tipped from idiotic to mildly funny, this movie wastes its cast and premise on a series of witless action sequences, dopey slapstick and contrived relational touches. It's only watchable because Hart is able to make the most undemanding audience members chuckle now and then.
After proving that his video-gaming skills were useful in police work, Ben (Hart) has completed police academy and is working as a rookie, shadowing tough-guy detective James (Cube), whose sister Angela (Tika Sumpter) is marrying Ben in just a week. But before that happens, James and Ben head to Miami to follow a lead in a drug case they're working on. Alongside local tough-girl detective Maya (Olivia Munn), they track down a hacker (Ken Jeong) who has proof that local philanthropist Antonio (Benjamin Bratt) is actually a notorious global black market dealer. To prove that, they have to dive into a series of car and boat chases, plus heists and shootouts that never seem to go the way anyone expects.
The underlying story is exactly the same as the first film: James is trying to prove that Ben is an idiot, while he is actually softening James' rough edges. The difference here is that they know each other a bit better, so are more effective at getting under each others' skin. This means that they're even less likeable than before, and even Hart's non-stop comical chatter is more annoying than it is amusing. There are moments when Hart adds a tiny detail that elicits a smile from viewers, and some of his physical antics are so ridiculous that it's difficult not to giggle, but most of that is simply because it's unbelievable that the filmmakers thought any of this was genuinely funny.
Continue reading: Ride Along 2 Review
These guys give a new meaning to the term brother-in-law. After an eventful case that left James and Ben lucky to be alive, James relaxes his attitude about Ben and finally gives him his blessing to marry his sister Angela. Not only that, but Ben is now officially able to join James in Atlanta's police department having just graduated from the police academy. However, Ben hasn't changed much, and still makes dumb decisions, bringing a lot of embarrassment on to James. He's as jumpy on the trigger as always, with his nerves making him a bumbling but formidable partner, but you can't really blame him this time around when he's got a wedding to plan. If life wasn't stressful enough, the soon to be brothers are forced to team up with Miami PD to uncover a major drugs operation. The only question is, can Ben keep his cool long enough to solve the case? Or will his mistakes screw everything up this time?
Continue: Ride Along 2 Trailer
The 'Boardwalk Empire' actress will take a lead role in Ricky Gervais' satirical comedy for the ever-expanding streaming service.
More details have emerged about Ricky Gervais' forthcoming Netflix project Special Correspondents, with the news that Kelly MacDonald, best known as the character Margaret in HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire', will be taking a lead role in the satirical comedy, TheWrap has heard.
Kelly Macdonald will star with Eric Bana in Special Correspondents
The film, which is written and directed by Gervais, will star Eric Bana as Frank, an arrogant New York radio journalist whose decadent lifestyle hasn't exactly complemented his career. With his job on the line, he goes to the extreme lengths of fabricating front-line war reports from the comfort of his own Manhattan home.
With new writers and directors, this frenetic sequel indulges in silliness with less substance than last time. It's a lot of fun, but also rather forgettable, like the movie's surprisingly unimaginative title (honestly, the sky was literally the limit here). So while we laugh at the constant barrage of jokes and the colourful visual mayhem, there's nothing to engage us on a more satisfying level.
It opens with a recap of the first film, then carries on immediately, as young inventor Flint (voiced by Hader) is thrilled that his idol Chester (Forte), head of super-cool mega-company Live Corp, is put in charge of cleaning up the food storm Flint started. With a secret plan to get his hands on Flint's invention, Chester evacuates everyone from the island community Swallow Falls and offers Flint a job at his headquarters in San Franjose, California. But back home the food has come to life and is threatening to attack the world, so Flint is sent to solve the problem, unofficially accompanied by his pals (Faris' weathergirl, Samberg's surfer dude, Bratt's cameraman and Crews' muscle-cop) and his fisherman dad (Caan).
These characters are so hilariously goofy that we can't help but enjoy the chaos as they return to the island, which has been transformed into a Jurassic Park-style jungle overrun by food-pun creatures like shrimpanzees, tacodiles and watermelephants. The animation is gorgeously detailed, with all kinds of visual gags to match the deranged verbal banter. And the snappy voice cast dive in with gusto. The new characters fit in perfectly: Forte is hilariously slimy, while Schaal (as his talking baboon assistant Barb) steals the show as the only person on-screen who has a story arc.
Continue reading: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 Review
Flint Lockwood is a genius inventor who previously caused chaos in his hometown when he invented the FLDSMDFR (Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator) which turned water into food and nearly caused a tornado of spaghetti and meatballs to destroy the town. Now he wants to go back to Swallow Falls with his friends including his weather intern best pal Sam Sparks, his father Tim and his pet monkey Steve, because the food monsters he created are learning to swim in order to cross oceans and take over the world. On arriving, they find that the abandoned town is now home to Spring Onion giraffes, Shrimp-anzees, fla-mangos. As beautiful as this new land is, they soon find themselves involved in a deadly chase hotly pursued by man (and monkey!) eating giant cheese burgers. Will Flint invent a solution to save the world this time round? Or are they facing Burgergeddon?
The sequel to the 2009 animated comedy 'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs' is now finally set to be released, this time directed by Cody Cameron ('Open Season 3') and Kris Pearn in his directorial debut and John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein ('Horrible Bosses', 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone') coming on board for the screenplay. It will hit cinemas in the UK on October 25th 2013.
With the same teams of writers and directors, this sequel sticks closely to the winning formula of the 2010 original: pile on so much snappy humour and colourful wackiness that no one will worry about the plot. So the film is sweetly engaging and relentlessly hilarious, but there's nothing particularly inventive or memorable about it.
After discovering his less villainous side, Gru (Carell) is now trying to go legit with his sidekick Dr Nefario (Brand) and their horde of mischievous yellow minions. Gru is also enjoying the challenges of being a father to his lively adopted daughters Margo, Agnes and Edith (Cosgrove, Fisher and Gaier). Then he meets the undercover spy Lucy (Wiig) and her boss Silas (Coogan), who ask for his help hunting down the bad guy who stole a secret government chemical. Gru reluctantly takes the job, and his suspicion falls on Eduardo (Bratt), not because he looks just like former fellow villain El Macho, but because Margo is in love with his surly teen son (Arias).
As before, the film mixes cute family sentimentality with wacky cartoon slapstick in which everyone gets smashed, pounded and blown up but emerges unscathed to face the next bit of outrageous mayhem. The violent undercurrents are sometimes a little disturbing, especially when children are talking about murder, but the movie's wildly ridiculous tone constantly reminds us to stop taking anything seriously. Thankfully, we're constantly distracted by the whizzy, action-packed animation, which makes especially witty use of the 3D.
Continue reading: Despicable Me 2 Review
Dwayne Johnson tries to flex his acting muscles in this smarter-than-usual action movie, based on a true story that gets under our skin. He's never played someone as fragile as this, which is fascinating even if the film ultimately can't resist cranking up the action while turning rather preachy.
Johnson plays John, a construction company owner whose bright 18-year-old son Jason (Gavron) is caught in a drugs sting by an undercover agent (Pepper). Jason is facing 10 years in prison, and offered a way out if he can finger another drug dealer. But he doesn't know any, since he was set up himself. So John makes a deal with a federal prosecutor (Sarandon) to find a big dealer himself. He convinces reluctant ex-con employee Daniel (Bernthal) to work with him, contacting a local dealer (Williams) before going after the kingpin (Bratt). But of course things get increasingly dangerous the deeper they go.
While Johnson's acting chops aren't terribly subtle, he's such a charismatic screen presence that we are fully engaged with him from the start. The tender scenes between him and Gavron add weight to the whole story, while the tetchy connection between him and Bernthal keeps the film on a knife edge. By contrast, Sarandon and Pepper are pretty much just scene-stealing sharks using innocent people to do their dirty work.
Continue reading: Snitch Review
Date of birth
16th December, 1963
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