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
Although it contains some memorably outrageous comedy moments, this movie (retitled The Brothers Grimsby for North America) is such an awkward combination of gross-out humour, violent action and sappy sentimentality that it never becomes a classic. Sacha Baron Cohen creates yet another lively alter ego as lager lout Noddy, although he isn't nearly as fully formed as the indelible Ali G, Borat and Bruno.
Noddy Butcher lives in Grimsby, northeast England, with his girlfriend (Rebel Wilson) and 9 or maybe 11 kids. His main passions in life are football and beer, then he learns that his long-lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) is alive and working as a super-spy. So Noddy heads to London and crashes Sebastian's latest mission, protecting a model-turned-philanthropist (Penelope Cruz). In the havoc, the brothers end up on the run trying to both clear their names and prevent an impending terror attack. This takes them to South Africa and Chile, as they're pursued by both a villainous thug (Scott Adkins) and a ruthless assassin (Sam Hazeldine) hired by Sebastian's boss (Ian McShane). Along the way, they're assisted by Sebastian's love-lorn colleague (Isla Fisher), locals (including Gabourey Sidibe and Barkhad Abdi) and the gang from Nobby's hometown pub.
The script merrily pushes the boundaries of taste, often with riotous vulgarity. Some of this is so jaw-dropping that it's funny (an unforgettable scene involving a herd of elephants), while other jokes are harder to take (a running gag about HIV infection). Most of the humour centres squarely on male genitalia and anal insertion, which gives the film an oddly homophobic undercurrent that will only amuse the drunken yobs in the audience. More interesting is the wildly astute pastiche of Britain's perceived benefits fraud subculture. But director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter) seems uninterested in this, instead focussing on intensely brutal action, which results in an unusually high body count for a comedy.
Continue reading: Grimsby Review
Truly enjoyable British romantic-comedies come along so rarely (Four Weddings and a Funeral was more than 20 years ago) that there's cause to celebrate this smart, likeable romp. Director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris never try to obscure the predictable plot, but they pack every scene with sharp characters, snappy dialogue and riotous set-pieces. As a result, we're laughing so much that we barely notice that we're also being reeled in emotionally.
The story centres on Nancy (Lake Bell), who is feeling particularly alone while travelling to London and a 40th anniversary party for her parents (Ken Stott and Harriet Walter). Whinging to her sister (Sharon Horgan) on the phone, she is challenged to be more spontaneous. So when she arrives at Waterloo Station and meets Jack (Simon Pegg), who mistakes her for his blind date, she decides to go along with it, assuming the identity of 24-year-old triathlete Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond). As the afternoon and evening roll out, Nancy and Jack get along surprisingly well until they run into both his bitter ex (Olivia Williams) and one of her old school friends (Kinnear), who sees this as his chance to win her over.
While there are plenty of farcical moments on this drunken night out, the filmmakers never play up the slapstick, acknowledging every over-the-top moment with an eye-roll and a pithy comment. Pegg and Bell are simply perfect for these roles: smart, witty, likeable people with questionable social skills. Both characters are a bit beaten down, but they're also open to what life throws at them, so the rather messy journey they take is thoroughly engaging. They also leave much of the crazier comedy to expert supporting players like Williams and especially Kinnear, whose character very nearly steals the movie with his goofy stalker-like antics.
Continue reading: Man Up Review
This is the kind of British rom-com that sneaks up on you when you least expect it and leaves you with a huge smile on your face at the end. It's not particularly clever or sharp, but it's packed with terrific moments that grow on us. And the characters are particularly engaging, making far more of the film than its one-joke gimmick: fat man dances salsa.
Nick Frost plays Bruce, a chubby office worker who was a salsa champion as a child but turned his back on dance after some nasty bullying. Now he learns that his sexy new American boss Julia (Jones) is studying salsa herself, and her flirty manner suggests she might be interested, against the odds. Especially since swaggering office rival Drew (O'Dowd) is after her. So with the encouragement of his sister Sam (Colman), Bruce looks up his old mentor (McShane) and gets to work. His fellow lonely-hearts pals (Kinnear and Plester) think he's nuts, but encourage him. And he finds an unlikely ally in over-eager fellow dance student Bejan (Novak).
Both predictable and rather implausible, the plot certainly isn't what holds our attention here. It's the colourful people on-screen, each played to perfection by a gifted cast. Frost holds the film together with a lively performance that's surprisingly never played as a comedy of embarrassment (he can actually dance). Jones is clearly having a ball, even if generating any real chemistry with Frost eludes her, while Colman lights up the screen in a small role. And the shameless scene-stealers are O'Dowd, as a sleazy low-life straight from The Office, and especially Novak in one of those side-roles that becomes a comedy icon. We want to see a spin-off about him.
Continue reading: Cuban Fury Review
Claustrophobic and creepy, this experiment in contained horror has its moments as just three characters circle around each other. But the approach is almost infuriatingly vague, which eliminates any real suspense. Still, it's sharply well shot and played, with a moody atmosphere that builds a strong sense of uncertainty. And director Lovering is extremely adept at making us jump at something unexpected.
It all kicks off when Tom (De Caestecker) invites Lucy (Englert) to attend a Northern Irish music festival with him. They've only been dating for a couple of weeks, and he's hoping this weekend clinches the deal, so he books a night in a romantic, isolated hotel. But on the way they are thoroughly unnerved by locals in a pub as they get lost on country lanes that, of course, are outside mobile phone and GPS coverage. There's also the problem that the hotel's signs are sending them in circles, and as night falls they wonder if they'll ever get there. All of which badly strains their new relationship. Then they run into a young guy (Leech) in the middle of the road.
With only three actors in the cast, it helps that they're all experts at bringing out subtle layers of intensity in each scene. The film is a riot of stolen glances and verbal jabs. These are people who don't always react in the most helpful ways, and they even seem to surprise themselves with the self-centred things they do. But for Lovering this interaction doesn't seem to be enough, and he shifts the focus to the fact that there's something evil and menacing in the darkness and rain, abandoning the more interesting character tension for random violence.
Continue reading: In Fear Review
After Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Wright conclude their so-called Cornetto Trilogy with yet another riotously inspired exploration of British culture: the pub crawl. And this time it's apocalyptic! But what makes the film thoroughly endearing is its focus on old friendships that are so well-played that we can't help but find ourselves on-screen even when things get very, very silly.
Pegg plays Gary, the ringleader of his band of school pals. It's been more than 20 years since their failed attempt to visit all 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. Now approaching 40, Gary hasn't grown up nearly as much as his friends, so it takes a bit of convincing to get the now-settled Andy, Ollie, Pete and Steve (Frost, Freeman, Marsan and Considine) to reunite for a renewed attempt to drink their way through town. Then after the first couple of pints, they start to suspect that something isn't quite right. People are behaving strangely, as if there are alien body snatchers taking over the town. So to avoid attracting attention, the boys just carry on getting blind drunk on their way to the 12th pub, The World's End.
As in the previous films, Pegg and Wright continue developing the characters and their inter-relationships even as everything falls apart around them. Sure, the end of the humanity seems to be upon them, but there's unfinished business between them that needs sorting out, and besides there are more pints to drink. Along the way, things are spiced up as they meet Ollie's sister Sam (Pike), who shocks Gary by refusing to pick up where they left off. They also encounter a former teacher (Brosnan), the town's crazy old man (Bradley) and a shady guy known as The Reverend (Smiley).
Continue reading: The World's End Review
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who star in the upcoming comedy 'The World's End', talk about the movie's director Edgar Wright in a short featurette. Producer Eric Fellner and stars Rosmund Pike, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan also offer their praise.
The cast and crew of 'The World's End', including producers Eric Fellner and Nira Park, director Edgar Wright and stars Paddy Considine and Rosamund Pike, praise lead actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on their genuine on and offscreen chemistry in a featurette featuring clips of the stars from their movies together including 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Hot Fuzz', 'Paul' and the TV series 'Spaced'.
Even by Ben Wheatley's genre-busting standards, this film is a triumph, centring on comedy and romance in a road movie about two violent serial killers. After the terrific Down Terrace and Kill List, we probably should have expected as much, but this film exceeds expectations at every turn, keeping us laughing and cringing all the way to the fiendishly clever conclusion.
Tina (Lowe) defies her disapproving mother to go on a caravan holiday in northern England with her new boyfriend Chris (Oram). As they head through the picturesque Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, Tina is momentarily shocked when Chris runs down an annoying thug with their car. She decides it must be an accident, but as the body count grows she develops a taste for killing. Meanwhile, their relationship is going through the usual ups and downs as they struggle to live together in the confined quarters of their caravan while Tina's mum continues to pester them. So there are other things besides their homicidal urges that strain their romance.
Wheatley gives the film a cheerful tone that catches us off guard. It starts like a typical British black comedy, with sarcastic humour and romantic undercurrents. And the road trip takes in a series of dazzling landscapes, offbeat tourist attractions, picturesque campsites and even an adorable dog. So watching it merrily morph into something brutally murderous is both terrifying and funny. We begin to laugh nervously any time someone puts him or herself into their path, gasping at the possibilities and then staring dumfounded at where things go.
Continue reading: Sightseers Review
The filmmakers have returned, and corrected many of their mistakes. Hot Fuzz is not only hilariously funny, but every intelligent detail makes sense this time around, and the action is that much more engaging for what takes place because of it.
Continue reading: Hot Fuzz Review
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