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.
Anna is set to be the fearless Queen of Arendelle, but when her sister Elsa starts suffering the effects of her powers to create snow and ice and manages to cloak the entire city with a bitter winter, Anna realises that it's up to her to deal with it. It's only July, but it's bound to be unseasonal for eternity unless Anna can find her sister - now known as the Snow Queen - and get her to break the spell. She sets out on a treacherous mission to look for her alongside her best friend Kristoff, an ice breaker (quite literally), and his super-friendly reindeer Sven. Along the way they meet the bumbling, nasally challenged snowman Olaf as well as several unwelcome mountain dwellers - but that's the least of their worries when it turns out that Anna's beloved sibling is being seen as a ruthless monster, which she knows, deep down, she isn't.
Continue: Frozen Trailer
What could easily have been a sentimental slog is given a spark of intelligent wit by writer-director Helgeland (A Knight's Tale). This is the story of an iconic figure from American sport who had a massive impact on society at large, and Helgeland focusses on the elements we can most readily identify with while quietly stressing how important and, yes, inspirational this story is.
In 1945 post-War America, most states still have segregation laws on the books, and black baseball players are sidelined in their own league. But Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Ford) wants to break this barrier, and drafts Jackie Robinson (Boseman), making him the first black player in the Major League. Jackie is a determined, principled young man who struggles to hold his tongue in the face of blatant bigotry. But he gets help from Branch and team manager Leo (Meloni), and support from his equally feisty wife Rachel (Beharie). There's also a young black journalist (Holland) who works with him to further both their causes. But it takes Jackie a little longer to win over his teammates.
The film portrays endemic racism as the hideously ugly thing it is: socially accepted cruelty and prejudice. In truth, it was probably a lot worse than shown here, but we certainly don't miss the point. Especially since this kind of abusive language is never heard in today's politically correct climate. And Helgeland also creates complex characters who can't be tagged as heroes or villains, played with cheeky energy by a very strong cast. Boseman oozes charisma in the central role, undercutting what could be a too-saintly characterisation with sensitivity and steeliness. And Ford shines in a rare character role as a cantankerous old guy who simply won't take no for an answer.
Continue reading: 42 Review
Visually ambitious and packed with inside jokes for arcade gamers, this colourful animated adventure is an enjoyable romp but is probably too energetic for its own good. It simply never settles down so that we can sink into its various settings or get to know its lively characters. So in the end we've enjoyed the talent of the animators and the vocal cast, but we feel rather exhausted.
The story is set in a vintage 1980s arcade game called Fix-it Felix Jr, in which Felix (voiced by McBrayer) must repair damage inflicted by Ralph's (Reilly)massive fists. But after 30 years, Ralph is tired of being the unloved villain. He wants to be the good guy for a change, so heads across the room into another game, the combat role-play adventure Hero's Duty. There he's trained by tough-talking squadron leader Calhoun (Lynch) and battles space insects to win a medal and escape. But a killer bug follows him into the candy-themed road-race game Sugar Rush, threatening the balance of the whole arcade.
The majority of the plot takes place here, as Ralph teams up with unloved "glitch" Vanellope to challenge the smiling tyrant King Candy (Tudyk). Unlike the pixellated Fix-it Felix Jr and the virtual reality of Hero's Duty, Sugar Rush is a pink-hued, delicious-looking land of sugary treats. Each of these games, and the transfer station between them, is populated by spirited characters with their own subplots. And there are also appearances by iconic favourites such as Pac-Man, Mario and Q*bert. So with the different animation styles and eclectic ensemble of characters, our eyes aren't bored for a second.
Continue reading: Wreck-it Ralph Review
What with Jake Schreier's upcoming movie 'Robot & Frank' scheduled for release in the UK on March 8th 2013 and talks of 'Star Wars: Episode VII' being in the making, we've put together a list of what we think are the best robots that we've ever seen on screen. This is with the exception of cyborgs, human-looking robots, cybernetic organisms and bots from TV programs because, let's face it, we'd be here forever.
Robot ('Robot & Frank')
Continue reading: 10 Of Our Favourite Movie Robots
Young Abe Lincoln (Walker) is determined to get revenge against the sinister Barts (Czokas), who had something to do with his mother's death. But it turns out that Barts is immortal, so Abe's new friend Henry (Cooper) trains him in how to fight vampires. Meanwhile, Abe pursues a career in politics, marries Mary (Winstead) and discovers that the alpha vampire (Sewell) is using the Civil War as a cover for bloodsuckers to take over America. Along with his intrepid friends (Mackie and Simpson), Abe sets out to turn the tide at Gettysburg.
Continue reading: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review
Dave (Lee) takes all six mischievous Chipmunks on a cruise-ship holiday before their big performance at the International Music Awards. Of course, Alvin (Long) is immediately in trouble, taking his pals Simon and Theodore (Bugler and McCartney) and the Chipettes (Poehler, Applegate and Faris) with him. But Alvin's next stunt strands them all on a deserted island, including Dave and former manager Ian (Cross). On the island they meet treasure-hunting nutcase castaway Zoe (Slate), just as a volcano is about to blow.
Continue reading: Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked Review
Sid, Manny and Diego are doing a good job so far of surviving the Ice Age but now a new danger is threatening to finish them off - continental drift. The three heroes are now living on a small iceberg in the middle of the ocean and they are determined to find the rest of the herd, while trying to work out how it all happened. Unbeknownst to them, the cause of the problem leads back to Scrat and yet another attempt at rescuing his precious nut.
Continue: Ice Age 4: Continental Drift Trailer
Nice-guy Tucker (Tudyk) is fixing up his run-down holiday cabin in the woods with his shy pal Dale (Labine), while nine university students are camping nearby. Around the campfire Chad (Moss) recounts a incident two decades earlier in which a group of kids were massacred right here. So when Allison (Bowden) goes missing, the gang becomes convinced that Tucker and Dale are hillbilly cannibals who have kidnapped their friend. But Tucker and Dale only rescued her when she was injured swimming., and now they can't figure out why these kids are attacking them.
Continue reading: Tucker And Dale Vs Evil Review
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
Alan Tudyk Thursday 11th March 2010 A Knight's Tale actor Alan Tudyk out and about in Beverly Hills Los Angeles, California
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
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
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
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