Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

Non-Stop

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

non-stop-one-sheetAn air marshal is on a transatlantic flight when he receives various text messages that threaten the safety of the plane’s passengers. Unless the airline can transfer $150 million into a bank account, no one on-board is safe.

Say hello to another film where Liam Neeson becomes the heroic figure, which we came to love in Taken and Taken 2. If you’re fan of those two films, you should consider watching Non-Stop, with action-packed scenes and a plot that just keeps on giving.

For some, the idea of having the majority of a film shot on an aeroplane may seem dull, but Non-Stop may turn that opinion around. The film has plenty of twists and turns, with you wondering ‘who’s next?’; something you would most likely find in a murder mystery plot. The storyline isn’t difficult to grasp, so you’re able to focus on the action unfolding as the film progresses.

Liam Neeson has basically carried on his persona from Taken but instead of being a devoted Dad and retired CIA agent, he is an air marshal called Bill Marks. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, because this is a role he is suited well to, which is why he was most likely picked to play the part of Bill. If it’s not broke then why fix it we say.

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Sinister

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Any film that opens with silent, grainy Super 8 footage of a family being slowly hanged by an unseen force utilising the ample leverage supplied by a massive tree branch, is obviously not exactly reaching for the rom-com crowd.

Sinister sees true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and their children Ashley and Trevor move into the house of a murdered family, whilst he investigates the circumstances of their brutal demise, hoping to craft a bestseller.

Once he finds a box in the attic containing a projector and several reels of harrowing Super 8 footage, things take a turn for the tense and grisly. He becomes obsessed with the creepy films and increasingly ignorant to his family’s concerns, and when a certain Mr. Boogie starts making his unnerving presence known, the film sprints towards a terrifying climax.

It’s completely possible that the filmmakers of Sinister were trying to brainstorm a title, then reviewed their terrifying ‘family hanging’ home movie created for the first two minutes, and came up with just about the single-most apt word available in the English language.

Sinister is exactly that; an evil, malevolent encapsulation of horror and fear. However, don’t be concerned that this falls into the ‘torture porn’ category ruled and regulated by the Saw movies. There is in fact very little in the way of gore, and far more of an intense psychological edge, with some truly frightening images given an original spin through that grainy footage. (more…)

Chernobyl Diaries

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine offered a savage reminder of the destructive force and volatile nature of nuclear energy. An explosion at the power plant contaminated a huge area with high lethal, devastating levels of radioactivity, which stand to last for thousands of years. So, in all fairness, going there is probably not wise. It certainly isn’t something which most would count as a fun day out.

Workers in the area are limited in the amount of time the can stay because of the radiation levels, and there is a 19-mile exclusion zone with almost no inhabitants.

Chernobyl Diaries tells the somewhat unlikely story of several holidaymakers who actually want to take a day trip inside the exclusion zone to Prypiat, a deserted town not far from the disaster site.

Chris and his girlfriend Natalie, along with their friend Amanda, are moving through Europe as so many horror movie protagonists choose to do, and they meet up with Chris’ fun-loving care-free and plentifully irritating brother Paul, who lives in Kiev. This genius is the one who suggests an ‘extreme tour’ with local guide and generally large man, Yuri. They take little convincing, and set off with another couple joining them In Yuri’s rickety van which, incidentally, inspires about as much confidence as the sight of a mushroom cloud on the horizon.

We get plenty of shaky-cam treatment, in an attempt to give the whole thing a documentary-style authentic feel, and once they discover a mutated fish you can pretty much guess where it’s going.

The plot is extremely thin, like a brutally starved wafer, so let’s just say they find themselves stuck there and from that point it all gets a bit nasty.

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iLL Manors

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Clearly not content with writing, performing and producing hugely successful multimillion-selling records, and adding acting to his CV when he’s not busy, Ben Drew, or Plan B, has chucked in filmmaking for good measure.

As a huge Tarantino fan (who isn’t?), Drew was always going to give linear, fluid storytelling a miss in favour of something more staggered and challenging. It’s a tricky feat; if it goes well then you feast with Pulp Fiction at the table of tasty treats, but if it goes badly then you eat from the bin with John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.

Somewhat predictably, Drew has opted to tell an interweaving story based on the streets of London, specifically Forest Gate, where he grew up. iLL Manors examines the mindsets, morality and actions of several different characters, with plenty of grit and intensity, manifesting in both mental and physical form.

This might already sound a little similar to other Brit efforts such as Bullet Boy, Kidulthood and the sequel Adulthood, which featured Drew as a supporting actor, but there are plenty of issues to tackle and stories to tell on the streets and estates of London.
During the course of iLL Manors, we meet Kirby (Keith Coggins), a middle-aged drug dealer fresh from a prison term, and his former protégé Chris (Lee Allen), who now runs things around town, clearly possessing the intimidating physique to do so. The two are no longer allies, which has more than a little to do with Kirby’s treatment of Chris at a younger age.

Meanwhile, Ed (Ed Skrein), a drug dealer with a spiky temperament, and his friend Aaron (Riz Ahmed) are in search of the former’s phone, which seems to have been stolen by prostitute and crack-fanatic Michelle (Anouska Mond). As they hunt her down, it becomes clear that she will have to find another particularly grim and harrowing way to replace the cost of the phone, which she denies ever stealing in the first place.

On top of this we have Katya (Natalie Press), a new mother on the run from Russian mobsters who have been using her in a sickening sex trafficking scheme, whilst early teen Jake (Ryan De La Cruz) finds himself accepted into a violent gang, led by a criminal looking to test his young recruit’s immediate loyalty with a brutal task.

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The Hunger Games – Killing time

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

One of the biggest movies of the year has been yet another adaptation, with Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games getting the blockbuster treatment.

In a post-apocalyptic North America, one boy and girl from each of the outer regions of a rich city are drawn to fight each other until only one remains, in a gladiator-style arena bloodbath ruckus. Once drawn from this annual lottery of death, the children and teenagers take part in glitzy ceremonies, presentations and training as a prelude to the ultimate death match, which is watched with glee by the rich city-dwellers.

Bow and arrow enthusiast Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her mother and sister in region 12, and when her sister is drawn to take part in the Hunger Games she volunteers to take her place. She not only has to leave her family, but also her best friend Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth, Thor’s younger brother).

The plus point is that she’s actually pretty good at hunting things with legs.

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Take Shelter – Heavy rain or crazy brain?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

If you’ve seen the excellent Boardwalk Empire then you will probably be familiar with Michael Shannon. His performances in that, the award-winning adaptation of Revolutionary Road and a multitude of other films have more than demonstrated his outstanding talent, and he can be seen as the villain General Zod in the new Superman mega-budget film Man of Steel next year.

He has made great moves in his career, choosing roles that offer a genuine challenge and real test of talent. His decision to take on the role of Curtis LaForche in Jeff Nichols’ modestly-budgeted Take Shelter proved another masterstroke.

Set in Ohio, Take Shelter sees local family man LaForche develop an increasingly disturbing paranoia regarding storms. The intensity of his apocalyptic dreams begin to cause a rift in his family, and he starts focusing all his efforts on building an über-bomb shelter outside their home.

The fact that his mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at his present age does not bode well, and as family, friends and employer all raise concerns regarding his peculiar behaviour, his dream drive his actions, and he stands firm on his belief that a storm of biblical proportions is heading their way.

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The Grey – Nesson goes howling mad

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Ah, Liam Neeson. The trusty Irish powerhouse is always a safe bet, and even in weaker films like The Phantom Menace, Clash of the Titans and Unknown, he still comes out as the star performer and a major redeeming quality of the movie.

His starring vehicles include the vastly underrated A-Team, as well as the excellent Michael Collins, superior thriller Taken and Kinsey, which saw him showered with well-deserved awards and nominations.

As for his smaller parts in films like Batman Begins and Gangs of New York, he serves to add some extra quality which heightens the overall excellence of the finished product.

In survival-thriller The Grey, Neeson plays John Ottway, a man hired by an oil firm to eliminate the threat of wolves to their drilling team in Alaska. We are introduced to him as he considers suicide, writing in quite poetic fashion to his wife to inform her of his general state of mind. He comes pretty close to blowing his head off, but in a nick of time he is needed to do his wolf-culling thing.

Once work is completed, Ottway and the drilling team hop on a flight, but the plane decides to take a short detour downwards, and crashes horribly leaving a handful of survivors.

As if a lack of food or drink, no real shelter, unlikely rescue, several corpses and a relentless blizzard weren’t enough to create a truly grim and challenging situation, a pack of savage wolves decide they don’t like their new neighbours, and begin picking off survivors at will.

Of course, Neeson’s Ottway, the man originally so close to suicide, takes it upon himself to try and guide the men through their predicament, making good use of his extensive wolf knowledge to try and fend off their would-be killers.

Neeson is excellent, embodying the struggle that is buried within a natural survivor who has considered taking his own life. His unflinching morals, impressive instincts and sheer will to fight make for a fascinating character, and help The Grey to become a triumph beyond other similarly-themed survival movies which fail to offer anything genuinely involving.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Remake or rehash?

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Steig Larssons’s Millennium Trilogy consisted of three novels which focused on Lisbeth Salander, a feisty computer hacker with a troubled past who helps a newspaper editor investigate and uncover some secretive and sinister goings-on in sunny Sweden.

The novels received Swedish-language remakes, and the first was particularly well received. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a fast-paced, thrilling and captivating piece of cinema, driven by Noomi Rapace (seen recently in Prometheus and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows), who put in a stonking performance as Lisbeth.

In the first entry, Michael Blomqvist, the editor of Millennium magazine, is hired to find out what happened to a wealthy man’s grandniece some 40 years previous. Blomqvist, in turn, finds the legendary hacker Lisbeth, and convinces her to help him. She is under legal guardianship and has to report back regularly to a man who is basically hideous scum. As she copes with this grotty fellow, she also manages to unearth some fairly horrendous information which will help Michael in his quest for the truth.

Some scenes in the original made for uncomfortable viewing, but it was all there as a key part of Lisbeth’s motivation; the way she acts, with a cold, calculated and distant demeanour, as well as her attitudes towards sex and violence, were justified by story elements which occurred both on and off-screen. It was at times torturous to watch, but at the same time you really rooted for Lisbeth, and Rapace deserved all the acclaim she received and more.

So, with this film being awesome but in Swedish, those marvellous chaps at Colombia Pictures started the process of doing an English-language version. From this point onwards, scepticism shall be rife.

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DVD Rental – Top 10 Favourite Films

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Favourite FilmsWith some highly anticipated, potential mega-hits coming out this summer, including Alien semi-prequel Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, along with the recently released Avengers Assemble, we thought we would find the Top 10 Favourite Films of All Time, as voted by our readers.

We expected some people would dodge the obvious and somewhat clichéd classics, like Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia and, of course, Piranha 3D. We didn’t expect such a great mix of movies, with horror, comedy, action and romance all getting a look-in.

Yes, the big winner is perhaps expected, but there are some surprises in there, and we think it shows the continued diversity of both modern cinema and the UK’s own film fanatics.

So without further rambling, here is the list, counting down from 10.

10. Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s revolutionary sci-fi smash-hit, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, saw Harrison Ford’s Deckard chase down replicants in a dystopian future. Rutger Hauer gave Han Solo a sound hiding, and Sean Young was great as reluctant replicant Rachael.

9. Alien

Ridley again, and with his success rate for sci-fi it seems guaranteed that upcoming Alien prequel-of-sorts Prometheus should be a classic. This 1979 game-changer is often credited with revolutionising the heroine character, as well as introducing the surprise-shock ending which has become a stalwart in horror. And who could forget that famous chest-burster scene? Grim.

8. The Goonies

The Goonies, helmed by Superman and Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner, featured a young Samwise Gamgee (also known as Sean Astin) and friends trying to find the lost fortune of One-Eyed Willie. You wouldn’t need three guesses to work out that Spielberg is heavily involved behind the scenes in this charming family adventure.

7. The Notebook

This surprise entry doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings, as yank at them incessantly whilst showing you pictures of kittens. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams do the unrequited, forbidden love thing, then mum gets angry, then the two separate for years only to stumble upon each other, both faced with a great decision to make. But who is telling the story?

6. Crash (2004)

Not to be mistaken with Cronenberg’s mid-nineties gag reflex test of the same name, Crash is an inventive, compelling and beautifully crafted examination of racial prejudices, told through several intertwining stories set in Los Angeles. It really is a modern classic; funny, gripping, engaging, unpredictable and original, Paul Haggis’ movies is simply a must-see, with stellar performances from the likes of Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe and Thandie Newton.

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The Thing – Snow need to panic

Friday, March 30th, 2012

the_thing_wallpaperThe Thing is a prequel set before The Thing, which was originally a remake of The Thing From Another World, based on a novella which wasn’t called The Thing.

The original novella Who Goes There? told the story of a vicious shape-shifting alien, which had previously crash landed in Antarctica and frozen in the ice. Discovered by researchers, and subsequently thawed, the creature goes around generally causing chaos, violently murdering the protagonists, ingesting their corpses and imitating them individually, thereby creating a sort of whodunit horror.

In 1951, it was given a typically American movie reinvention, replacing Antarctic researchers with the U.S. Air Force. The Thing From Another World was a hit, but the adaptation was rather loose, and in 1982 John Carpenter stepped in and gave us a an intense horror masterpiece which was far more loyal to its source.

The Thing 1982 took the whodunit horror concept and joyfully played with it for an hour and a half. Kurt Russell was brilliant in the lead role of MacReady, and the creature effects were as elaborate as they were shocking. It was horrific, but heart-pounding fun and a riveting watch, as each character tried to work out who had been infected with The Thing, before meeting a brutal demise. Upon being rumbled, those infected would freak out and split into some kind of deformed mess of filth. Grim.

Now there is a prequel; first and foremost, just calling it The Thing, like its predecessor, was a stupid idea. Moving on, there are two ways of looking at The Thing 2011; either it is a loving and loyal tribute to, and story expansion of, John Carpenter’s 1982 effort of the same name, or it is a horrible cash-in. Although if you want to cash in on a movie, best not to wait 30 years. This has been evidenced by the meagre box office takings.

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