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431 reviews in total 
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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Exhilarating action can't hide that this is a step down in the series., 22 July 2016

Set three years after the events of Into Darkness, this third entry into the revamped Star Trek cinematic universe takes the USS Enterprise crew even deeper into space where their exploratory mission, not unexpectedly, takes a turn for the worse. Presented more like a stand-alone voyage as opposed to a direct sequel, the wholesale change made amongst the crew – the director, writers and cinematographer from the first two instalments are all replaced – is sorely felt in both tone and execution. There's no sense that any of these characters have changed since we last trekked into the vast unknown with them, despite it being set a few years later, and this film cares little about building on the major relationships already established. So instead of a continuation of the Kirk-Spock, Spock-Uhura, Kirk-Bones story lines that have been steadily growing, our beloved protagonists are plopped into an escape mission that feels rather inconsequential to the overall franchise. New hero Jayla (the magnetic Sofia Boutella) is a shot of adrenaline when she arrives part way through, but the big bad Krall (Idris Elba under heavy prosthetics) is rather underwhelming. Karl Urban's Bones shines brightest from the returning cast with a plethora of hilarious one-liners. Replacing J.J. Abrams in the head job, director Justin Lin (no slouch in the action department with Fast and Furious 4, 5, 6 under his belt) concocts some striking sequences, albeit rarely breaking from the sci-fi blockbuster mould. A first-act aerial ambush on the Enterprise offers some brutal and breathtaking moments, whilst a daring prison-escape set piece is rousing and a grand last-act onslaught (ingeniously incorporating Beastie Boys hit "Sabotage") gets the heart pounding. Boldly going where many Star Trek outings have gone before, Beyond is a massive step down from its modern predecessors and a missed opportunity for further growth of these famous characters. Thankfully the intergalactic skirmishes are exhilarating enough to justify a big-screen viewing.

Great cast ensure it's an interesting character piece., 19 July 2016

Adapting John le Carré novels has become something of a trend this decade, this being the fourth on screen reconstruction of a le Carré adventure after 2011's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 2014's A Most Wanted Man, and 2016 miniseries The Night Manager. This effort, directed by Susanna White from a Hossein Amini (Drive) screenplay, is as slow burning and tightly wound as you would expect, albeit with less thrills or tension than any of the aforementioned works. The unhurried narrative grants the cast ample time and space to develop intricate layers to their characters, who segue in and out of the spotlight, but still hampers them with plot-motivated character decisions that require a leap of faith. There's also one too many clichés to be ignored – a safe house that isn't actually safe, who would've thought! – which unfortunately come to the fore in the otherwise solid final act. The talented cast make it work though; Ewan McGregor teeters between charismatic and sleazy as a put-upon professor, Naomie Harris imbues emotional depth as his patient wife, Stellan Skarsgård is a hoot as a rambunctious Russian gangster, and Damian Lewis' MI6 agent displays complexities hidden behind his stiff upper lip. From a visuals perspective, Danny Boyle's regular cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle brings his usual eccentric flair with bold camera angles and movements, but his soft-focused lensing occasionally gives off a midday-special feel. Missing a killer set piece and/or an unforgettable revelation, Our Kind of Traitor is undeniably lesser le Carré, however the high-calibre acting ensures it's an interesting character piece.

13 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
A funny and exciting modern update., 14 July 2016

In recent memory, there hasn't been as much controversy surrounding a movie as there was for this female-led reboot, with both outrage at the gender swap and apprehension over a beloved 80s cinematic artefact being somehow ruined. Neither concern warranted the vitriolic online attacks of course, especially as we're talking about a light-hearted supernatural comedy, and, after seeing the movie (always the best time to judge a film in my opinion), it's pretty damn good. Not an exact remake of the original, but sticking close to the broad plot strokes, Ghostbusters '16 puts less emphasis on reinventing the story and more on injecting its own kooky spin to the inherently playful tone. There is an impressive range of gags working on multiple levels, some hilariously slapstick and others more subtly tongue-in-cheek, with director Paul Feig even squeezing in a couple of fantastic meta-jokes having a dig at the aforementioned fan backlash. Although this version is clearly comfortable in its own skin, it also slyly calls back to previous outings with cheeky references (logo! vehicle! HQ!) and numerous cameos, the latter ultimately a mixed bag though. At times it is also genuinely spooky (on a PG-rated level), the pre-credits sequence is an especially effective spine-tingler, however the larger the supernatural presence the less frightening it becomes. Where this flick hits its biggest homerun is in casting. The new evil-spirit fighting quartet share a wonderful chemistry: Melissa McCarthy's optimistically rambunctious Abby, Kristen Wiig's cautiously nerdy Erin, Kate McKinnon's confidently cool Jillian and Leslie Jones' assuredly street-wise Patty make a cracking team. McKinnon steals the show though, the long time Saturday Night Live alumni is a revelation in her first major film role whilst also nabbing the most memorable moment with a totally badass action sequence in which she single-handedly takes down a string of ghouls. It's certainly not perfect – the rote city-destroying finale and lame villain ensure that – but it's an exciting and funny adventure that proves to be a worthy modern update. And it's ten times better than Ghostbusters 2 ever was.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Ruins the fun by going too dark., 9 July 2016

Concocted over 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan has swung his way through countless stories not only in literature but also on radio, stage, television and film. So what fresh spin can this blockbuster add to such an oft-told tale? Well, none, it turns out. Firmly set in seriousville, this update anchors itself on a cliché-heavy and wearisome plot – with more holes and contrivances than a Fast and Furious movie – generating an overly solemn tone that saps every hint of fun out of the jungle adventure. Even the action sequences are predominantly devoid of excitement (a train brawl proving the exception); the choppy editing, shaky-cam cinematography and inconsistent CGI ruining the potentially thrilling animalistic fight choreography and uses of slow motion. As the titular ape-raised hero, Alexander Skarsgård brings the requisite physicality to his anger-driven protagonist, but lacks the levity and charm that would've made his Tarzan more likable and worth rooting for. Margot Robbie's Jane has pluck, wits and beauty, yet still requires saving repeatedly thanks to lazy plot devices, whilst Christoph Waltz brings his trademark eccentricity to enliven his villainous role. The less said about Samuel L. Jackson's completely unnecessary and woefully out of place sidekick the better. Despite possessing the tools required to reinvigorate this century-old yarn, The Legend of Tarzan squanders its opportunities with a pedestrian script, messy action and a needlessly dark mood.

The BFG (2016)
4 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Endearing and admirable., 5 July 2016

With sensibilities aligning, Steven Spielberg and Roald Dahl are a match made in cinematic heaven. In fact, they're such a snug fit that it's unfathomable this is the first time the genius filmmaker has tackled the legendary author's work. But tackled it he has, and the result is a beguiling, sweet, and old-fashioned tall tale that wears its heart on its sleeve and veers away from the modern-day mould of action-packed and joke-filled family flicks. Despite grappling with serious themes such as bullying, lost friendship and growing up in foster care, the film is balanced with light-hearted moments that even extend to downright silliness, keeping the mood from becoming too sombre. Spielberg is as Spielberg does though, hence his trademark sentimentality is in full swing here with long stretches of slow and contemplative scenes that, although meticulously and gorgeously crafted, will test the patience of younger audience members. The handful of set pieces may be spread out few and far between, but when they arrive they're nothing short of inventive, exhilarating and superbly executed; assisted by the beautiful and flawless computer effects. Employing motion-capture technology to breathe life into the giants works a treat too, in particular for the eponymous over-sized creature who is gifted a wonderfully heartfelt performance by Oscar-winner Mark Rylance. Acting opposite Rylance is the altogether less-experienced, 11 year-old newcomer Ruby Barnhill, who is highly impressive as orphan Sophie, the precocious and brave young girl who inspires the BFG to take a stand against his bullies. Its languishing pace and ponderous tone might not be to everyone's liking, especially those seeking some simple holiday fun, but The BFG is an admirable and endearing motion picture that'll likely stand the test of time.

7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Spectacular imagery and action make up (partially) for awful screen writing and acting., 23 June 2016

Arriving twenty years after its predecessor took the world by storm, this belated sequel is relying heavily on nostalgia and curiosity to drive up enthusiasm levels. Which is fine, unless the resulting movie is a stinker. Thankfully ID:R isn't a flop, although it ain't going to light the world on fire either. There are two broad elements that sit at extreme opposite ends on the satisfaction scale with this follow-up. At the super-positive end are the visuals and the action, at the negative end is, well, everything else. Let's get the bad news out of the way first. The script, written by a team of five, is dreadful; the plot is initially semi-interesting but quickly becomes derivative and predictable, the alt-futuristic universe has zero depth, and the dialogue is truly, truly horrible. The cast – a combination of young (Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher) and old (Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, William Fichtner) – valiantly attempt to swim upstream against the strong current of poor screen writing, but fail. Brent Spiner is particularly awful as a crazy scientist, a role that should've been cut entirely, however Pullman gets the award for single worst scene for his unintentionally laughable pep talk to… a handful of unknown mechanics. Enough about that though, let's move on to the good news. Visually this blockbuster is utterly spectacular, the sheer scale and ambition of what director Roland Emmerich is trying to achieve is breathtaking, ultimately succeeding in one-upping the original in both size and sheer awesomeness. Both the various spacecraft and alien-tech-infused infrastructure are conceptually intriguing, whilst the nasty otherworldly creatures themselves (especially the Queen Harvester) are superbly disgusting in design and execution. Action-wise there's an abundance of frenetic set pieces to stir up excitement – despite a few aerial dogfights being near on incomprehensible – with a jaw dropping sequence in which the 3000-mile wide alien mothership enters Earth, entire countries be damned, worth the price of admission on its own. Not the glorious Resurgence this franchise was seeking, yet the striking imagery and grand-scale action ensures a certain level of ear-destroying and retina-blasting gratification.

27 out of 59 people found the following review useful:
Charming and amusing., 19 June 2016

Everyone's favourite forgetful fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), is back on the big screen a whopping 13 years after joining Marlin (Albert Brooks) on a quest to find his missing clownfish son. This time, however, Dory takes centre stage. Shifting the focus from Nemo to Dory for this belated follow-up is a no-brainer; it allows Pixar to concoct a new ocean-spanning adventure without feeling too repetitive, whilst cleverly bringing the broader plot full-circle by having the child now looking for the parents. Even with the huge gap between movies, there are still obstacles to be circumvented in order to avoid sequelitis. Most of these are handled with the intelligence and elegance we have come to expect from Pixar, though some hurdles prove to be too big. The story goes to very different places from both a narrative and location perspective, but the messages behind the film – don't judge a book by its cover, spontaneity can be liberating, you can do anything if you try hard enough, etc – are all too familiar. With glorious cutting-edge animation, a string of creative sequences and a barrel-full of laughs, there won't be a single audience member, regardless of age, that'll be bored; yet there's also a lack of truly memorable moments that stop this from being a classic like its predecessor. It goes without saying that Dory is the star of the show, although the range of hilarious supporting characters is impressive. Ed O'Neill's cantankerous, camouflaging octopus Hank and Ty Burrell's self-doubting beluga whale Bailey shine brightest. It might not be in the top echelon of Pixar outings, but Finding Dory is a charming, amusing and thoughtful family flick worth visiting the cinema for.

Warcraft (2016)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Ambitious and energetic., 16 June 2016

For a long time the hype was through the roof for this fantasy blockbuster, not only as a potential Lord of the Rings successor – orcs and dwarfs and wizards (oh my!) – but also as the motion picture to break the pattern of poor computer-game adaptations. Thankfully the resolutely mediocre trailers brought expectations crashing back down to Earth, because if you enter the cinema hoping for a fantasy masterpiece you'll be sorely disappointed. Go in with more restrained anticipation and there's two hours of silly fun to be had. Unlike LOTR there's no set story to adhere to for writer-director Duncan Jones, so the narrative takes the form of an orcs-vs-humans war saga, with the (pleasantly respectable) runtime split equally between the two races. The plot is largely predictable and uninventive – undefined magic powers are lazily employed to gloss over holes – but there's a surprisingly strong focus on character development that lends the movie an emotional side and subsequently increases the stakes at play. Considering the source material, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game 'World of Warcraft', the universe isn't explored or fleshed out as much as it could have been either, with the finale frustratingly open-ended. Of course the action is priority number one though, and there are a plethora of clashes, both big and small, to get the adrenaline pumping. Despite the numerous all-in battles, it's a bone crunching one-on-one fight between two powerful orcs that is the standout. Unfortunately there's an over-reliance on CGI that detracts from proceedings; all of the orcs are created via motion-capture technology and majority of the external environments are entirely digital, feeling particularly hollow. Not the most memorable of beginnings for what will undoubtedly become an ongoing cinematic series; Warcraft is nevertheless an energetic, ambitious and successfully diverting piece of escapism.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Way more entertaining than it has a right to be., 12 June 2016

I'll put it out there nice and early, I enjoyed this movie way more than I should. In fact, everything about this sequel screams disaster, and a betting man would assume I would've thoroughly disliked it. There's the dizzying rapid-fire editing style, the second-tier juvenile jokes, the occasionally clunky CGI, and the bombastic save-the-world final act that makes zero sense. And Megan Fox is the star. In short: this should've been met with disdain. Yet against all odds, I couldn't contain my enjoyment whilst watching it. Perhaps it was giddy nostalgia at seeing Bebop and Rocksteady in all their ugly, stupid glory, or the fact that Stephen Amell actually makes for a suitably badass Casey Jones. Maybe as a Mikey fan from way back, I was just relishing all the wannabe swagger and silly one-liners he dished out, or it was possibly the action sequences that, although sometimes geographically confusing, are orchestrated with confidence and flair. Some set pieces are more entertaining than others: Shredder's highway escape sequence is packed with thrills and an aircraft-then-tank-then-waterfall skirmish is loads of fun, but the overloaded finale goes down a notch. As with the lambasted original, many will be put off by the amped-up, Bay-influenced modern take on the TMNT, but, in an act that defies all logic, I'm coming Out of the Shadows as a fan of this updated franchise.

1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
B-grade thriller with A-grade decoration., 7 June 2016

Dressed up as a cautionary tale about financial greed and wealth dispersion, Jodie Foster's latest directorial effort is really just a popcorn thriller attempting to be more meaningful than it needs to be. Batting above its weight with the Hollywood royalty involved, the film feels most at home when it is building anticipation purely by observing the lead trio reacting within the confines of the hostage scenario. When it strays too far from the beaten path to half-heartedly explore its underlying themes, it comes across as smug, overly moralistic and a tad patronising, bogging down the otherwise fast-paced narrative. There's a surprisingly prevalent comedic through-line embedded into the movie's tone as well, the moments of levity largely working except for the occasionally misplaced gag that undermines the tension. Tinseltown heavyweights George Clooney and Julia Roberts are clearly having a blast in their undemanding roles, the former hamming it up as an arrogant TV show host and the latter playing it cool-as-a-cucumber as the show's omnipresent producer. Intense up-and-comer Jack O'Connell overplays it as the average Joe who decides to hold the wealthy accountable for their deceit, but at least he's given something to do, unlike Dominic West's rote corporate baddie. A B-grade thriller with A-grade decoration, Money Monster is adequate in-the-moment entertainment but nothing more.

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