Until the special effects take over in the final act, this is an unusually gritty, grounded superhero thriller, with characters who are so believable that the wacky science almost seems to make sense. This is Marvel's very first franchise, and the filmmakers are unable to resist the pressure to indulge in an overblown finale, and the digital mayhem they give into is oddly unexciting. So as an origin story, this film is more involving than most, but the superhero action itself feels rather limp.
It opens as an exploration of the school friendship between the misunderstood genius Reed (Miles Teller) and junkyard bully Ben (Jamie Bell), whose teleportation science experiment gets them in trouble. But Dr Storm (Reg R. Cathey) sees that their work solves a problem he has encountered in his own experiments, so he brings Reed to New York to join his well-funded, high-tech team. Working with Victor (Toby Kebbell) and Storm's children Sue and Johnny (Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan), Reed builds a full-size teleporter that succeeds in crossing over to another dimension. And Ben joins the crew for an illicit first voyage that goes spectacularly wrong, leaving Victor on the other side, while Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny emerge with superpowers caused by altered DNA. The big boss (Tim Blake Nelson) immediately starts training them for military action, but Reed remains determined to make things right.
A strong cast helps all of this play out with remarkable introspection, letting each character develop an organic back-story that brings them together as an uneasy team. The inter-relationships are complex and engaging, veering from rivalry to camaraderie. Teller anchors the film with a layered performance as a smart, troubled guy who struggles to maintain friendships as he focusses on his work. Mara and Johnson add some feisty attitude, but it's Bell and Kebbell who provide the spark of personality that makes this crew so engaging. Then both of them become animated characters (Bell as The Thing and Kebbell as Dr Doom) without even a hint of the actors visible underneath. And the movie never quite recovers its momentum.
Continue reading: Fantastic Four Review
After years of work and millions of dollars in funding, Dr. Storm has come up with nothing to show for all his work into interdimensional travel. That is, until the arrival of Reed Richards (Miles Teller), who demonstrates such an understanding of the science they are studying, that the project is finished shortly afterwards. Now Reed, Storm's children Susan (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) are sent to test the machine. But something goes wrong - having successfully travelled to another dimension, the four children are changed forever, in ways they never could have imagined.
Continue: Fantastic Four Trailer
A teleportation experiment malfunctions, leaving four young scientists undoubtable irrecoverably changed. With the steady manifestation of superhuman abilities, the four come together in order to defend the world from an infamous and sinister villain, known only as Doom (Toby Kebbell). Now, the scientist fashion themselves as the first superhero team, with Reed Richards (Miles Teller) becoming Mr Fantastic, Susan Storm (Kate Mara) becoming The Invisible Woman, Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) becoming The Human Torch, and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) becoming The Thing. Together, they must combine their abilities of elasticity, invisibility, spontaneous combustion, and being able to turn into a rock, in order to become The Fantastic Four.
Continue: The Fantastic Four - Teaser Trailer
Strong characters and a vivid sense of life in frontier America give this film a kick of authentic energy that makes it a gripping journey. While it may be a little too serious for its own good, the movie is strikingly shot and played to bring out the gritty tenacity of people who dare to live in such a foreboding place. And a couple of shocking twists in the tale keep us on our toes.
In the Nebraska Territory in 1853, life was so difficult that three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter) in a small community are driven mad by the isolation, desperation and harsh weather. Their husbands are too busy surviving to do anything about it, so the local pastor (John Lithgow) arranges for the strong-willed spinster farmer Mary Bee (Hilary Swank) to escort them back east to civilisation. She needs a "homesman" to help make the arduous five-week journey, so she drafts in drunken scoundrel George (Tommy Lee Jones). During their long trek across the plains, they have a series of potentially life-threatening encounters with the likes of well-armed Native Americans, an interfering opportunist (Tim Blake Nelson) and a cruelly dismissive hotel owner (James Spader).
The characters are strikingly feisty, starting with Swank's fiercely no-nonsense, self-sufficient Mary Bee, who one local observes is as good as any man around. She's also rather annoyingly holier-than-thou, which explains why she's has so much trouble finding a husband to help her. And these three women really push her to the breaking point: Gummer's Bella is consumed by grief, Otto's Theoline moans day and night, and Richter's Gro is a delusional menace. So it's a good thing that Jones provides some comic relief as the rapscallion George, a snarky realist who's the only likeable person on-screen.He also emerges along the way as the true protagonist of the tale.
Continue reading: The Homesman Review
Kill the Messenger follows the real life story of Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), as he stumbles upon the story of a lifetime. When Webb hears that the US government was aware of the exportation of drugs to America, he begins following up the story. This, in turn, leads him to uncover a conspiracy where the CIA imported vast amounts of cocaine to sell in the US in order to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras rebel army. Webb is then faced with the option to leave the story alone, or continue his investigation and put his career, family and own life at risk.
Continue: Kill The Messenger Trailer
George Briggs is a claim jumper who has only ever known a dishonest life. When he finds himself in serious trouble (sat astride an impatient horse with his hands bound behind his back and a noose around his neck tied to a branch), he starts to think this could finally be the end for him. That is until he is found by a lone woman with a wagon named Mary Bee Cuddy who agrees to free him from his plight in exchange for a favour. Living alone, she is struggling to carry out an important personal mission; she wants to take three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa now that their husbands can now longer cope with them. Thus, she asks Briggs to help her on the dangerous five week journey and, despite his serious reservations, he agrees to act as her aide and protector against the brutalities they may face along the way.
Continue: The Homesman Trailer
Emma Watson joins John Krasinski, Julie Bowen, Laura Linney as actors graduating from the school. We look at the other notable alumni.
Like the English elite University hegemony of Oxford and Cambridge, the US Ivy League produces a vast array of talent in various fields. The majority of the political elite pass through the likes of Harvard and Yale amongst scientists, scholars and various minds of significant creative ingenuity.
Watson joins an impressive list of Brown alumni.
Founded in 1764, before the US was even granted its independence from the British Empire, The Rhode Island institution has attracted an alumni that has changed the face of the country, as well as the world, on various levels. Contemporarily, Brown has been a notable site of emerging acting talent, the most high-profile case of which has been Emma Watson’s stint at the academic utopia. We look at a selection notable alumni who have penetrated into the sphere of popular culture as actors and entertainers after enjoying stints at the University:
Continue reading: What Is It About Brown University? Famous Alumni
When news gets round about a gold discovery in the Klondike region of the Yukon, Canada in 1897, it becomes one of the last great gold rushes in history. Bill Haskell and Byron Epstein are two hopeful travellers with an ambition of wealth who travel up to Dawson City (often dubbed 'The Paris of the North') to receive their fortune. However, digging up a life of luxury becomes less straightforward as they are forced to face bitter sub-zero temperatures, gold-digging temptresses and men who won't think twice about killing for profit. Making an easy fortune is one thing; surviving long enough to use it is another.
Continue: Klondike Trailer
James Franco makes his directing debut with this ambitious adaptation of William Faulkner's notoriously downbeat novel. No surprise: it's extremely grim! It's also a bit too cleverly shot and edited to tell the tale from each character's perspective, which means there's no central point to draw us in emotionally.
The story takes place in rural Mississippi in the early 20th century, where the Bundren family have surrounded Addie (Grant) on her deathbed. Her children are all nearby: daughter Dewey Dell (O'Reilly) stays by her side, Cash (Parrack) saws timber for her coffin, Jewel (Marshall-Green) rides his precious horse to clear his mind, and Darl (Franco) tries to keep everyone happy, including youngest brother Vard (Permenter). But their dad Anse (Nelson) has promised to bury Addie in Jefferson, a three-day journey away. And as they painstakingly make their way across the countryside, each of them has a personal issue to deal with along the way.
All of the characters get a chance to narrate part of the film, which lets us see their inner thoughts and dreams and understand the secrets they are hiding from each other. Along with Franco's use of split screens to show scenes from multiple angles, this essentially makes us all-seeing witnesses to the story, unable to dive in and engage with the raw emotions that are churning around everyone. The film is beautifully shot and acted with real soulfulness, but it also feels eerily dispassionate about these fragile people.
Continue reading: As I Lay Dying Review
Addie Bundren is on her deathbed in the Mississippi town in which she lives with her family. However, she has very specific last wishes; she wants to be buried in the town of Jefferson, which is not the most straightforward of arrangements for her children Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell and Vardaman, and husband Anse. Nonetheless, they dutifully make preparations to carry her coffin across county in a wagon but encounter many obstacles in the way from flooding to disturbing family secrets that threaten to tear their once tight-knit family apart. With each of the Bundrens suffering their own problems in their lives, the prospect of laying their beloved mother to rest becomes a burden for many of them and the entire mission turns into less of a dying woman's final request, and more of a test of loyalty.
Continue: As I Lay Dying Trailer
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