4 items from 2015
Director: Neill Blomkamp; Screenwriters: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell; Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman; Running time: 120 mins; Certificate: 15
District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp has the geek world in a tizzy right now over his proposed Alien sequel, perhaps slightly overshadowing the fact that he actually has a new film coming out.
Robo-comedy Chappie is another original blockbuster that blends propulsive action with high-minded science fiction ideas. Whereas the Oscar-nominated District 9 looked at apartheid through extraterrestrials and Elysium tackled wealth disparity, Chappie wears its thematic undercurrent lightly, only scratching the surface when it comes to the growing significance of artificial intelligence.
Familiar faces Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Dev Patel head up the cast, but it's actually South African rap group Die Antwoord (members Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er star as versions of themselves) and Blomkamp regular »
Intelligence, artificial or otherwise, is one of the major casualties of “Chappie,” a robot-themed action movie that winds up feeling as clunky and confused as the childlike droid with which it shares its name. Mashing together various elements from director Neill Blomkamp’s earlier sci-fi pictures (including another prominent role for Sharlto Copley), this South African spin on “Short Circuit” displays the same handheld immediacy and scene-setting verve as its predecessors, but all in service of a chaotically plotted story and a central character so frankly unappealing he almost makes Jar-Jar Binks seem like tolerable company by comparison. Absent “District 9’s” subtle apartheid allegory or “Elysium’s” health-care brief, but offering a bizarre performance showcase for the rap-rave group Die Antwoord, Blomkamp’s third feature exhausts its meager ideas and the viewer well before the end of its two-hour running time. Curiosity will beckon for a few, but this »
- Justin Chang
From early Bond to 21st century sci-fi, here's Ryan's pick of 11 unforgettable villain pairings from action cinema history...
You're generally lucky if a movie has one genuinely great villain in it, let alone two. This is probably because creating a villain takes great acting and writing - it's one thing to create a preening character who stomps around a story doing unpleasant things, but creating a villain who's three-dimensional, witty, scary and above all memorable requires considerable skill.
Every so often, a movie comes along which gives us not one, but two classic villains, with the personality of one complementing the other. A familiar dynamic was once laid out by Steven Spielberg: one is smart and eloquent , while the other is the tougher, more violent of the pair. It's a template that we've seen time and again in cinema, but it's only occasionally that both characters leap from the screen. »
One cannot overlook the plentiful cinematic contributions of Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven, who made waves back in 1973 with Turkish Delight and helmed a handful of notable collaborations starring Rutger Hauer, though they parted ways indefinitely after Verhoeven’s 1985 English language debut, Flesh+Blood. Of course, Verhoeven’s Us big-budget genre work, such as RoboCop (1987) and Total Recall (1990), both spawning recent lackluster remakes, and pulpy neo-noir Basic Instinct (1992) were overshadowed by the debacle that would come to be Showgirls (1995), now celebrated as one of the best worst films ever made. Twenty years after that, with only a few more features since, including 1997’s Starship Troopers, the maligned Hollow Man (2000) and a welcomed return to his native Holland for Black Book (2006), Verhoeven has been mostly an absent figure. In 2012, a mid-length film graced the lineup at the Rome Film Festival, while his long-gestating Jesus of »
- Nicholas Bell
4 items from 2015
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