It's not all about the action
Amy Ryan stars in a new family adventure entitled 'Monster Trucks', where she plays the mom of a high school-age truck enthusiast who one day discovers a huge yet adorable beast living inside his beloved vehicle. It is a seriously action-packed ride, but that doesn't mean it gets swamped by explosions and car chases.
Amy Ryan stars opposite Lucas Till in 'Monster Trucks'
The actress knows that sometimes labelling something an action movie can make it seem generic and unappealing because it always conjures up the same images. Sometimes it's just not engaging; something that Amy likens to being like watching someone playing a video game.
Continue reading: Amy Ryan Says It's The Humour And Humanity That Makes 'Monster Trucks'
Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly action movie. And it's a proper guilty pleasure. From the director of Ice Age, it never takes itself seriously, so disarms even the grouchiest members of the audience with its energetic mayhem and characters. It's very childish, and sometimes rather too cute, but it's also a lot of fun.
In rural North Dakota, an oil drilling company has unearthed something from deep underground. And it's teenage loner Tripp (Lucas Till) who discovers a huge octopus-type creature that turns out to be friendly, intelligent and rather adorable. It immediately takes refuge in the empty engine cavity of the truck Tripp is building, and it provides more power than Tripp imagined. All of which drags Tripp's popular-girl lab partner Meredith (Jane Levy) into the adventure as the oil company boss (Rob Lowe) sends his henchman (Holt McCallany) to find and dispose of the creature before the environmental officials can shut him down. But his chief scientist Bill (Thomas Lennon) is having doubts about killing the two endearing monsters they've already captured.
Yes, it sounds like a premise a 4-year-old might come up with, mixed with an ecological message for our times and some surprisingly impressive digital effects. The script breezes through all of this, as the cast and crew blithely charge forward through a series of laughably entertaining action set-pieces. It's never terribly thrilling, but the scenes are so good-natured that they keep us smiling. Till and Levy are charming heroes, and their strong chemistry is thankfully allowed to simmer in the background. Pepper is initially the film's antagonist as Tripp's harsh sheriff stepdad, but he hands over these reins to an enjoyably evil Lowe. And Lennon provides some nice moments of comic relief as the sensitive scientist won over by these blobby beasts.
Continue reading: Monster Trucks Review
After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride Along movies, Kevin Hart takes on The Rock in this entertaining action-comedy bromance. They make a great couple, as Dwayne Johnson's bulk cleverly contrasts with Hart's tightly wound intensity. Even more enjoyable is that they've essentially swapped roles, with Hart as the straight guy opposite Johnson's awkward goofball.
They play characters who knew each other in high school, when Calvin (Hart) was the king of the campus, captain of every sports team, star of every theatre production, top student and boyfriend of the sexiest cheerleader (Danielle Nicolet), whom he went on to marry. On the other hand, Bob (Johnson) was a badly bullied, overweight kid, who now turns up in town for their 20th reunion as a beefy muscleman. Clearly a little unhinged, Bob is also a rogue CIA operative, hunted by his boss Pam (Amy Ryan) for killing his partner (Aaron Paul) and other crimes he insists he didn't commit. So he ropes Calvin in to help clear his name, but Calvin finds this situation so insane that he's not sure who to believe.
While all of this plays out in a blissfully silly way, there's also a bit of an edge to the movie as it explores the issue of bullying with some gentle nuance that includes racism, sexism and homophobia. So even when it's rude or mindlessly corny, the movie is making a point. That said, the message might have been more convincing without the over-the-top violence that fills all of the action sequences. Thankfully, that never drowns out the terrific chemistry between Johnson and Hart, who bounce hilariously off each other as two men who have been emasculated in very different ways and need to prove themselves. This vulnerability makes both of them easy to identify with, especially as they play with their usual on-screen personas.
Continue reading: Central Intelligence Review
Tripp doesn't like the small town life that's currently encapsulating his life. He's a senior in high school and can't wait to make a break for a fresh start as soon as possible. Tripp is a great mechanic and starts building his own monster truck but what happens next was beyond belief for the student.
As Tripp works on his car, he discovers a monster living inside his car. Initially scared of the oddity, the human eventually warms to his unlikely new friend and realises that he must've come to the surface after a recent oil drilling accident.
Tripp calls the monster Creatch and notes that he's incredibly intelligent and loves dining on large quantities of fuel. With hunters hot on the heels of Creatch, Tripp must devise a way to protect his new friend.
Continue: Monster Trucks Trailer
Robert 'Bob' Mazur is a federal agent who has been assigned the task of going on an undercover mission to infiltrate Pablo Escobar's drug trafficking business that was rife in 1986. In this film we see Mazur pose as a slick money - laundering business man who can be of benefit to Escobar and his company. Emir Abreu acts as Mazur's sidekick after being teamed together in the staff briefing and they set out to infiltrate the gang by drinking and socialising with them, their main target being that of Roberto Alcaino who is one of Escobar's top lieutenants.
Continue: The Infiltrator Trailer
Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package, this lively romp is entertaining enough to amuse the audience even when it veers off the rails. It helps that Jack Black is on board, giving one of his more energetically charged performances, and that the script peppers scenes with smart gags. But an over-reliance on big special effects weakens the movie's big climax, and the breathless pace is sometimes exhausting.
Black plays Stein himself, a reclusive author and over-protective father who lives in a small town with his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush). Then single mother Gale (Amy Ryan) moves in next door with her teen son Zach (Dylan Minette), who is immediately intrigued by Hannah. Despite Stein's warnings, Zach and his new school friend Champ (Ryan Lee) sneak into the house to find out more, opening one of the novelist's manuscripts in the process. Out pops an abominable snowman, who proceeds to wreak havoc in the town. And the next literary escapee, the sadistic ventriloquist's dummy Slappy, is even worse. He sets about releasing all of Stein's fictional monsters into the real world, unleashing chaos on a massive scale. But Zach has an idea that may stop the mayhem.
Screenwriter Darren Lemke and director Rob Letterman have a great time bringing the maximum level of pandemonium to this small town, with a range of outrageous creatures that are both comical and scary. These are rendered in rather obvious digital animation, including a gang of militarised garden gnomes, a slimy blob, zombies, werewolves and a gigantic praying mantis. But the cartoonish sheen is undercut intriguingly by some genuinely tense moments, mainly because Slappy is properly menacing. Black provides Slappy's gleefully sinister voice while hamming it up on-screen as Stein. Minette and Rush are fine as the usual bland youthful heroes with a cute hint of romance between them. And more textured acting is provided in small roles by Ryan, Jillian Bell (as Gale's airhead sister) and Ken Marino (as a lovelorn colleague).
Continue reading: Goosebumps Review
When Bob was at school he was the complete opposite to the person he's grown into. The uncool kid known for being quite rotund is now a lean, mean, killing machine - literally. Now going by the name Bob, he's one of the CIA's main operatives and he's about to embark on a tricky mission.
Coincidentally, one of the most popular kids from his year has also grown up to be a very different person to who he was. Bob calls on the help of one of the old jocks who's now living a far more sedate life as an accountant. Adjusting to a new way of life isn't going to be easy for the former no1 but with the help of Bob, along the course of their journey they might just save the free world from being destroyed.
Central Intelligence is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and will be released in June 2016.
Steven Spielberg takes on the Cold War with a stately, sentimental thriller that gurgles along with quiet intensity, only occasionally finding a real spark of energy. Most intriguing, and important, is the way the film refuses to indulge in the usual moralising, allowing its characters to be complex and confused as they try to do the right thing. Even the Russians are depicted as real people rather than shady villains. And this makes what happens utterly riveting.
Set in 1957 New York, the story centres on lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), who is hired to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) as he is tried for being a Soviet spy. But James is fighting a losing battle against a culture that's determined to convict Rudolf, regardless of the evidence against him. Three years later, an American U-2 spy plane is shot down over Russia, and its pilot Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) captured. So now James is drafted in by the CIA to negotiate a swap: Rudolf for Gary. He heads to Berlin to orchestrate the hand-off, and there decides that he also wants the East Germans to free an American student (Will Rogers) who was wrongfully detained as the Berlin Wall was being built.
Donovan was a remarkable man who tirelessly went far beyond the call in everything he did. He's also a terrific movie character, and Hanks plays him with deadpan honesty, adding shadings to every scenes that make him easy to identify with. This is a likeable person who represents today's political ideal: a tenacious man who ignores partisan politics to do the right thing. The characters around him are less developed, although Rylance offers some strong support as an honest, perceptive man who accepts his fate with dignity. And Ryan has some pointed moments as Donovan's observant wife. All of the actors benefit from the strong screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen and Matt Charman, which stirs plenty of edgy humour into the Cold War tensions.
Continue reading: Bridge Of Spies Review
The cast and crew of 'Birdman' discuss the visionary filming techniques behind the movie in a short featurette. Among them are director, writer and producer Alejandro González Iñárritu, producers John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, and stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Andrea Riseborough and Amy Ryan.
Inarritu explains his initial idea of having the audience see the movie through the eyes of main character Riggan Thomas himself, which resulted in a one-take experience that struck fear in the hearts of the cast who, as Emma reveals, constantly had to be switched on in their roles. We also get a glimpse into the semi-hallucination effects that affect Riggan throughout the movie.
'BiRDMAN (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)' is released in UK cinemas on 1st January 2015.
Riggan Thomas (Michael Keeton) is faced with a serious problem. In an attempt to make himself appear relevant in the new world following his role as television superhero Birdman twenty years ago, he has written a stage adaptation of sixty-year-old book. But his problem is, that the actor hired to star in the production has dropped out. The plays producer, Jake (Zach Galifianakis) is in the process of explaining how much trouble they are in, when Lesley (Naomi Watts) explains that her lover, the famous Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) is ready and willing to step into the role.
Continue: Birdman - Clips
'Birdman' stars Emma Stone and Edward Norton made their arrivals on the red carpet at the movie's premiere held at the 71st Venice Film Festival. The comedy drama is set for UK release in January 2015.
Based on the events documented in West of Memphis and the Paradise Lost trilogy, this drama takes an almost clinical approach to the story. By filling in so many details and covering so many perspectives, skilled Canadian director Atom Egoyan sometimes loses the emotional connection, simply because there are too many punches to the gut. But it's utterly riveting.
The events took place in 1993 in rural West Memphis, Arkansas. After three 8-year-old boys go missing, suspicion immediately falls on four goth 16-year-olds: Chris (Dane DeHaan) has just left town, but the fiercely charismatic Damien (James Hamrick), hapless Jason (Seth Meriwether) and mentally disabled Jesse (Kristopher Higgens) are arrested and charged with murder. The victims' parents (including Reese Witherspoon, Alessandro Nivola and Kevin Durand) band together in outrage. But private investigator Ron (Colin Firth) thinks the police have wrongly accused these teens of being killers.
The story is a shocking account of a miscarriage of justice, as the community turns on kids who simply look a bit funny and the police and judicial authorities refuse to admit that they may have made some serious mistakes. The rush to judgement is terrifying, accompanied with explanations that falsely link the teens to satanic rituals and death-metal music. Egoyan cleverly builds a sense of outrage from the start, as the film mourns not only the young boys' death but also the horror of carelessly ruining three innocent teens' lives in response.
Continue reading: Devil's Knot Review
Devil's Knot is a biographical thriller drama based on the events of the West Memphis Three case directed by Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Chloe) and written by Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose).
Devil's Knot tells the chilling story of three young boys, Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore, going missing in the town of West Memphis, Arkansas. When the bodies are found beaten and murdered, the police and religious people of the town put the blame to a group of teenagers they believed to be Satanists, due to the dark nature of their appearance. After police investigation, three young adults, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., are arrested for suspicion of the crime. These three youths claim to be innocent of the murders, but the citizens of the town want justice for the murdered children and the punishment of the teenagers, innocent or not, seems to be their best answer.
The film will star academy award winner Reese Witherspoon portraying Stevie Branch's distraught mother, Michelle Enos (World War Z, Gangster Squad) as Vicki Hutcheson who was key in the arrest of the teenagers, Academy Award winner Colin Firth as private investigator Ron Lax and Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider Man 2, The Place Beyond the Pines) as Chris Morgan, who was a suspect in the murder case.
You know not to expect something deep and meaningful when a movie stars Stallone and Schwarzenegger, and indeed this is pretty much what we expect: a slick thriller that's utterly preposterous but not quite stupid. But the premise has a certain idiotic charm to it, and there are just enough clever touches to keep our brains engaged.
Stallone plays brilliant security expert Breslin, whose job entails being thrown into maximum-security prisons so he can find the weakness in the system. Clearly unbothered by being beaten and brutalised by guards and inmates, Breslin is backed up by a support crew (Ryan and Jackson) and his business partner (D'Onofrio) back in the office. But now the CIA wants Breslin to check out its new top-secret enemy combatant lock-down. To do this, Breslin must go off the grid. And when he realises that the evil warden Hobbes (Caviezel) isn't playing ball, he teams up with brilliant scientist inmate Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) to, yes, plan an escape.
As the story develops we get the feeling that the screenwriters sat around thinking of ways they could make this prison increasingly impossible to believe. Indeed, one mid-film twist is so incredible that it actually makes us admire the writers' audacity. Arthouse director Halstrom gleefully indulges in all of this silliness, keeping the imagery sharp and cool while name-checking pretty much every cliche of both prison and heist movies. There's even a bit of political context in the way a private contractor is abusing the system to profit from the War on Terror.
Continue reading: Escape Plan Review
Ray Breslin is an expert in structural-security and has been able to break out of every prison he has been placed in using highly skilled and unusual methods. However, when he is asked to design an escape proof prison for the country's biggest life-sentenced felons, he finds himself betrayed when he is subsequently kidnapped and incarcerated by a masked figure in that prison with no way of getting out. It is there he befriends Swan Rottmayer; a smart but aggressive inmate who takes a shine to Ray when he explains his determination to escape. Swan agrees to help, but this time it's going to take more than just clever methods to break free and find the people who double-crossed him.
Continue: Escape Plan Trailer
Fit snug into the mother superior of self-reflexive roles, Angelina Jolie once again finds herself the eye of the storm in Clint Eastwood's epic melodrama Changeling. Armed with her thick, crimson lips, period duds, and that ever-present cloche, Jolie goes all gooey as Christine Collins, a single mother who finds herself a media fulcrum when she denies that a boy returned to her by the LAPD is Walter, her son who had been kidnapped five months prior.
Based on a catastrophic piece of the infamous Wineville Chicken-Coop Murders, which ran from 1928 to 1930, and the ensuing trials that yielded a major ousting of the LAPD's top tier and almost no real answers, Changeling is an exceedingly visual film yet one that lacks confidence in its imagery, relying too often on clunky language and an unsteady lead performance. This is no loose adaptation of actual events: Collins fought against the terminally-corrupt LAPD for years, became a martyr for forced institutionalization, and kept her job as a roller-skating switchboard operator while continuing the search for her lost boy. That's no small feat for a lone woman in the late 20s/early 30s.
After taking the boy the LAPD presented home, Collins begins to document inaccuracies between the delivered boy and her son, only to be brushed off by Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan), the man in charge of the investigation. Support comes in the form of Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), a flamboyant radio preacher who's been hounding the LAPD for years. When Collins finally takes her story to the media, it's Gustav who starts yelling for her return as she is forced into a psychiatric hospital with a gaggle of mistreated women, the most vocal of whom is played by Amy Ryan.
In its third act, Eastwood switches focus to the trial and execution of Gordon Northcott (Jason Butler Harner), the man who kidnapped and slaughtered over 20 children on his ranch in Wineville, one of which was Collins' son. The introduction of Northcott disrupts the tone and mood of the film, stumbling from feminist parable to legal drama. It does permit a final scene between Collins and Northcott, allowing Jolie a final, enraged plea for closure: It's later revealed that Walter might have escaped Northcott's ranch, a fact that's meant to bolster an infuriating feel-good ending.
Changeling, like most of Eastwood's excellent latter-day work, is a classy affair, but one of technical weight rather than dramatic. Shot by Tom Stern, the brilliant cinematographer who has been working with Eastwood since 2002's Blood Work, the director's latest is covered in dehydrated colors and beautifully scored by Eastwood himself with lilting pianos and blustery strings. While Jolie overplays her scorned mother, the supporting cast blends in beautifully, especially Donovan's complexly-composited policeman and Malkovich's propulsive, lively clergyman. Schematically unstable, it's J. Michael Straczynski's woozy script that proves the film's most incapable cog, handling its cerebral and narrative shifts with the subtlety of a race car hitting a speed bump.
At a hulking 141-minute runtime, Changeling suffers from more than its fair share of showy moments, none more egregious than when momma bear profanely tells off the head of the psychiatric hospital. Eastwood's direction is proficient, but he finds it impossible for his actress and his aesthetics to coalesce. Unable to internalize the drama, Jolie engulfs every scene with an utterance of "I want my son back!," often cheapening the meticulous production design, courtesy of the talented James J. Murakami. It's a gaudy, showboat performance, trading nuance and grace for simple presence; I'll eat a small fishing boat if she doesn't get an Oscar nomination. British director Michael Winterbottom tempered Jolie the starlet as another single mother left as residue after a media-centric tragedy in A Mighty Heart by centering on the procedure of retrieval. With Eastwood, however, Jolie's weeping caterwaul reduces a firebrand of corrupt politics into a work of enthused pageantry.
First we're gonna catch this Zodiac guy, then we'll find your boy.
Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...
After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...
Tripp doesn't like the small town life that's currently encapsulating his life. He's a senior...
Robert 'Bob' Mazur is a federal agent who has been assigned the task of going...
The death of Isabelle Reed thrusts her family consisting of her husband Conrad Reed (Devin...
Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...
When Bob was at school he was the complete opposite to the person he's grown...
Steven Spielberg takes on the Cold War with a stately, sentimental thriller that gurgles along...
It's the height of the Cold War and things are getting tense between Russia and...
Zach Cooper has just moved to a sleepy town and is looking forward to getting...
James Donovan is a simple insurance lawyer from Brooklyn, New York whose cases have never...
In 1960, the hard work of many good people was tested greatly. The height of...