After several high-profile grown-up movies (from Atonement to Anna Karenina), director Joe Wright aims this Peter Pan origin story squarely at children. So while it's far too manic and broad for adults, this adventure will be the most exciting movie any 8-year-old has seen in years. It's colourful and fantastical, and it thankfully doesn't indulge in reworking the beloved J.M. Barrie stories. Instead, it imagines an action-packed prequel universe.
As German bombs fall on London during the Blitz, young Peter (Levi Miller) is up to all kinds of mischief in the grim orphanage overseen by Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke), who sells bad boys to airborne pirates. Sure enough, one night Peter is taken, sailing into the sky to Neverland, where he is sent to work in the mines for the swaggering, heartless Captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). In the mines Peter is befriended by the adventurer Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and when Peter discovers that he can fly they make their escape. Blackbeard chases them out into the woods, where they take refuge with Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and her tribe, which is convinced that Peter is the child of a prophecy that will lead the fairy kingdom to freedom. But just when Peter learns who his parents really were, Blackbeard catches up with them.
This is an old-school kids' movie, packed with larger-than-life characters and outrageously imaginative action sequences that make the most of the 3D cinematography. Yes, there's so much digital trickery going on that the movie is essentially a cartoon, but it's so vividly explosive that it's a lot of fun to watch. And many of the big set-pieces are genuinely thrilling. There's also quite a lot of fun to be had in the way the story twists the familiar characters around. Obviously, Hook couldn't have always been a bad guy; here he's one of the heroes, and he still has both hands, which hints that further prequel adventures may be on the cards.
Continue reading: Pan Review
Peter was but a small boy when he was left at an orphanage by his mother, with no belongings other than a small metal pan around his neck. For some years, he grew up with no knowledge of why he his mother left him, but things become clear when he discovers the mystical world of Neverland. 'Pan' takes us back to the very beginning of Peter Pan's story, from his unlikely friendship with James Hook to when Blackbeard was his arch nemesis, fighting in a land above the clouds, where ships sail the air and giant crocodiles lurk beneath the mermaids' lagoon. Soon Peter learns that he was prophecised to return to the land and defeat Blackbeard, with his ability to fly and his unwavering bravery being his only tools. This is a boy who never wants to grow up, but he's about to realise that sometimes maturity and responsibility falls on you without choice.
Continue: Pan - International Trailer
Peter was sent to an orphanage as a young boy with nothing but a small metal pan pendant left to him by his mother, who predicted great things for her son. Indeed, he goes on to experience the most exciting childhood anyone could dream to have, flying around on airborne ships from the mystical world of Neverland. And while it may be an enjoyable time, there are still great dangers that lie before him; the most feared pirate in all the land, Blackbeard, is out to bring the land under his tyrannous rule and Peter finds himself a target. Meanwhile, he meets James Hook, a fellow traveller who becomes his friend and protector, and it isn't long before he then bumps into a vibrant tribe led by the formidable Tiger Lily, who reveals to him that his arrival marks the end of the pirates' terror. But Peter is just a boy, and however brave he might be, does he really stand a chance against these merciless villains?
Continue: Pan Trailer
Solidly entertaining Christmas movies are so rare that when one comes along it feels like the best gift ever. Perhaps more horror filmmakers should turn their hand to family-friendly action comedies. This one is written and directed by Christopher Smith, the British filmmaker behind freak-outs like Severance and Triangle. But this movie is a pure joy, deploying a warped sense of humour that will have adults laughing a bit more than the kids, who will be caught up in a terrific wish-fulfilment adventure of their own.
In London, Steve (Rafe Spall) has just been released after two years in prison, and his first priority is to see his 10-year-old son Tom (Kit Connor), who lives with Steve's ex Alison (Jodie Whittaker) and her new husband. That same night, Tom finds a beardy man (Jim Broadbent) in the garage who claims to be Santa Claus and needs Steve's help. Steve is more than a little skeptical, but wants to spend time with Tom so heads off on a rescue mission that gets increasingly complicated with every passing moment. Mainly because Santa gets himself arrested while trying to liberate his reindeer after they were caught roaming around the city streets. Coincidentally housed in Steve's old prison, he gets some help from Steve's former fellow inmates (including Stephen Graham, Warwick Davis and Nonso Anozie), while Steve discovers that maybe something magical is going on after all
This may be one of those "find your childhood love of Christmas" movies, but Smith never pushes the sentimentality. Instead, he keeps the story moving with brisk momentum, piling on some hilariously deranged gags along with madcap action set-pieces that include chases, dress-up silliness and, yes, a prison break. The script is tight and funny, including the requisite poo and fart jokes, as well as some more sophisticated movie sight-gags and clever character detail. These people may be faintly ridiculous, but the actors dive in headlong and bring us with them.
Continue reading: Get Santa Review
Left behind by his mother at an orphanage, one young rebellious boy always dreamed of finding his mother out there somewhere. That boy was Peter (Levi Miller) and when he is suddenly kidnapped by a flying pirate ship, Pan is whisked off to Never Land by the villainous Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). There, he strikes up an easy alliance with a young James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) while trapped in a mining colony, and the two make plans to escape. In a land of Pirates, Red Indians and Fairies, and all that Never Land lacks is the boy who holds the magical Pan charm.
Continue: Pan - Teaser Trailer
Everyone is familiar with the classic fairy tale of Cinderella. Cinderella lives a mundane life doing whatever her evil step-mothers tell her to do, and all she dreams of is going to the ball and one day a fairy Godmother makes this wish come true and she lives happily ever after.
In 2015, Cinderella will have a new reimagining via Disney who have previously made a cartoon film, telling the story. This version is going to be live action and will star Lily James (Downton Abbey, Wrath Of The Titans) as Cinderella, Richard Madden (Game Of Thrones, A promise) as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett (The Lord Of The Rings franchise, Hanna) as Lady Tremaine and Helena Bonham Carter (Les Misérables, Fight Club) as The Fairy Godmother. Given the war-driven fantasy works some of these actors have been in (namely Blanchett in Lord Of The Rings and Madden in Game Of Thrones), can we expect an element of this in this new Cinderella film? Probably not, but it should still be a fun film at the very least for both children new to the story, and people who'll remember seeing the previous version.
The film is directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh who you may know best for playing Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets, but he has also had great success directing films. A recent example being 2011's Thor.
There's nothing very original in this spy thriller, but director Branagh gives the film a weighty sense of importance that at least makes it feel important. He can't make up for the flimsy plot or cliched characters, but he can coax shaded performances from the cast to grab our interest. And while the action is never as coherent as a Bourne movie, it at least has a sense of gravitas about it.
For yet another reboot of the Tom Clancy franchise, we go back earlier to follow Jack Ryan (Pine) as he is inspired by the 9/11 attacks to leave his financial studies and join the Marines. Shot down over Afghanistan, he undergoes a gruelling recovery and is recruited by CIA operative Harper (Costner) to work undercover on Wall Street, monitoring terrorist fund movements. A decade later his girlfriend Catherine (Knightley) has no idea what his real job is, so when she surprises him on a business trip to Moscow she ends up in the middle of an operation to investigate shady Russian businessman Cherevin (Branagh), who's behind some sort of imminent global attack.
The film's brisk pace focusses on Jack's motivations all the way through, so we understand his earnest desire to serve his country. Although we can't quite figure out how he developed all these he-man skills working behind a desk in a bank. Not only is he adept at firearms and hand-to-hand combat, but he can ride a motorcycle like a stuntman! Fortunately, Pine's everyman persona makes him easy to identify with and bodes well for future franchise instalments. Opposite him, Costner is marvellously lean and cool, Branagh has terrific lip-less menace and Knightley does her best in the standard underdeveloped female role.
Continue reading: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review
Nonso Anozie and Richard Madden - Nonso Anozie and Richard Madden take a break on the set of 'Cinderella' filming in Greenwich. Anozie, still in costume, was also spotted smoking a cigarette - Greenwich, United Kingdom - Monday 18th November 2013
Since this entire story centres on virtual-reality gaming, it's tricky to feel any sense of what's at stake here. But a strong cast and above-average effects work help hold our interest until the requisite dramatic shift takes hold. Along the way, the movie explores some punchy issues such as the nature of true leadership and the morality of war.
It's set in a distant future: Earth has regrouped after an alien invasion, turning to children to harness their quick gaming reflexes and inner fearlessness. Ender (Butterfield) is a 12-year-old who's sure he'll crash out of training like his older sister Valentine (Breslin). But Colonel Graff (Ford) and Major Anderson (Davis) see something in him and send him on to battle school in an orbiting space station. As he shows true leadership potential and a sharp mind for warfare, he's promoted even further, training with iconic hero Rackham (Kingsley) on one of the aliens' former planets. And as he approaches his final exam, there's the sense that the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.
Yes, everything Ender does throughout his training is game related, either with digitally created environments or in a weightless battle globe with other cadets. This adds huge possibilities for the script to grapple with moral issues as Ender faces some staggering decisions. But since it's just a simulation, does it really mean anything? Thankfully, Butterfield is a terrific actor who lends the character a steely interior life that catches our interest. And being surrounded by the terrific Ford, Kingsley and Davis helps. As do some intriguing fellow recruits played by Steinfeld, Arias and others.
Continue reading: Ender's Game Review
Jack Ryan is a young office worker at CIA headquarters whose life turns upside down when his cosy desk job turns into a major physical operation. He's been able to hide his dangerous career from his new wife Cathy for a couple of years, but now that someone is trying to kill him, things get a little trickier. He is enlisted to help thwart a major Russian terrorist plot that threatens the lives of millions of people in all the major cities of the world, but when he makes it to Moscow, he finds a very angry wife waiting for him. However, as things turn out, she has a crafty head on her herself and agrees to get involved with the operation as a diversion, but when her life is suddenly at risk, Jack has to decide where his priorities lie.
Based on the Tom Clancy book series which kicked off with 1984's 'The Hunt for Red October', Kenneth Branagh ('Thor', 'As You Like It', 'The Magic Flute') directs action thriller 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' - the fifth film in the movie series produced by Mace Neufeld ('The Aviator', 'Beverly Hills Cop III', 'Asylum'). David Koepp ('War of the Worlds', 'Angels & Demons', 'Jurassic Park') and Adam Cozad are screenwriters and it will be released in the UK on December 26th 2013.
Jack Ryan is a young CIA analyst who joined Intelligence hoping for a comfortable office job that he could easily cover up so that his wife Cathy, who he met three years ago, won't find out what he does for a living. However, things don't exactly go according to plan and he finds himself being targeted by an assassin while uncovering a frightening plot involving Russian terrorists launching a major terrorist strike at the main cities of the world in a bid to destroy the US economy. He is charged to go to Moscow to stop the conspiracy from going ahead but then finds he has other problems to deal with when his wife follows him and discovers the extent of his deception.
Looks like we need to learn basic humanity again.
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