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Captain America: The Winter Soldier: *****

Captain-America-2-Scarlet-Johansson-Black-Widow-Chris-EvansRun Time: 136 mins         Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Steve Rogers (Evans) uncovers a conspiracy involving S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap must race against time in order to save the world.

 

The weakest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe returns and ends up being the biggest surprise of the franchise so far.

 

Community Directors Joe and Anthony Russo’s have concocted an interesting premise for a superhero movie. One part tense 1970s influenced political thriller and one part overblown effect filled fantasy blockbuster. It should not work but somehow it does.

 

The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is clearly influenced by political films including Three Days of the Condor or All the Presidents Men. Three Days of the Condor. The story is more character based than previous superhero movies.

 

By doing this Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, are given far more to do this time around and are not just action piece set ups. Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon is a welcome addition and provides many of the more humorous moments.

 

While Robert Redford is clearly having fun in his role. Where the film is letdown is by the one dimensional and forgettable bad guy The Winter Soldier. Evans is also far more likeable and not as annoying as he was in The First Avenger.

 

The action scenes are gripping and tense with thrilling car chases, well choreographed fight sequences.

 

If this is what Marvel has planned for future movies, then we can all look forward to more intelligent superhero movies for years to come.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Muppets Most Wanted: ****

Muppets-Most-Wanted-3Run Time: 113 mins         Cert: U

 

Synopsis: The Muppets go on a European tour with agent Dominic Badguy (Gervais). As soon as they arrive Kermit has been kidnapped and replaced with  criminal mastermind , Constantine who looks like, but does not act like our favourite green amphibian. 

After a fantastic comeback, the Muppets are back again for a sequel, although as Dr Bunsen Honeydew states that “technically our seventh”.

 

Similar to The Muppets, the screenwriters have used a tried and tested idea. While the last film was saving the theatre, this one uses a plot similar to the best muppet film The Great Muppet Caper by using a jewel heist storyline. They have also added an additional character in a Kermit the frog doppelgänger Constantine, who has all the best lines and is incredibly funny.
The script does suffer a little from being crammed with too may ideas and plot-lines that it is sometimes difficult to follow what is going on. There are also many famous or in some cases not so famous faces making cameos that it takes away some of the Muppet magic. Saying that the Christoph Waltz sequence is inspired.

 

The Human characters are a mixed bag. Tina Fey’s silly prison guard, Nadya feels very underused and unnecessary within the story. Ty Burrell has really great chemistry with Sam the Eagle and have some great gags. While Ricky Gervais surprises with an energetic fun performance as constantine’s sidekick Dominic Badguy. He is clearly having the time of his life singing and dancing with Muppets and it feels infectious.

 

Songwriter Bret McKenzie returns with more toe tapping songs with ‘We’re Doing a Sequel’ and ‘Cockatoo in Malibu’ being the highlights. Not all the songs are as memorable as the ones from the last feature, but they are good nevertheless.

 

Director James Bobin throws everything at the screen in terms of gags and visuals and anyone who is a muppet fan will not be disappointed. It may not be as good as The Muppets, but it is by no means a disaster.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Under the Skin: *****

under-the-skinRun Time: 108mins         Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: A beautiful mysterious  woman (Johansson) drifts across Scotland, seeking men for dark encounters, before questioning the purpose of her existence.

 

Odd, disturbing, bizarre, captivating, experimental and totally hypnotic. Jonathan Glazer’s long anticipated adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel is a unique piece of filmmaking and is unlike anything that has been seen in the past few years.

 

Johansson is bewitching in the lead role which is completely improvised. Her performance entails wearing a black wig and red lipstick, while driving a van rigged with hidden cameras in which she approaches real members of the public. It has hard to think of an actress of her calibre and appearance that would approach a role and project like this.

 

The narrative focuses only on the point of view from this outsider, which makes the viewer feel like their the alien as we find it hard to understand what compels this creature to do what she does. It is only when she starts to question her existence and her own sense of humanity that we start to understand this complex individual.

 

Glazer appears to be heavily influenced by The Man Who Fell to Earth, not only in imagery but also in the whole composition with high pictured string siren like sounds and pale toned colourisation.

 

Anyone expecting a Hollywood science fiction thriller will be disappointed. The film is an amazing piece of filmmaking that will make the audience think and decipher for a long time to come, which makes this a rewarding unmissable masterpiece.
 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Sarah’s Room: ****

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Run Time: 94mins                  Cert: N/A
 

Synopsis: When Joe (O’Brien) returns home after being away, he finds that his wife (Colquhoun) has taken in a mysterious lodger( Stanbridge). Is this stranger playing tricks on him or is he slowly going mad.

 

After spending over 10 years in the camera department on movies such as Cloud Atlas, World War & Under the Skin, Grant McPhee makes a giant leap into making his directing debut. Originally entitled ‘To Here Knows When’ this psychedelic ambient drama was filmed over five days at the cost of £4,000.

 

The first thing to notice in this remarkable film is the stunning cinematography. With blinding flashes and quick cuts, the film has a classic 70’s feel to each frame. In fact the piece has the look that is reminiscent of Donald Cammell, Dario Argento and Nice Roeg.

 

The performances of the stellar cast bring extra life to the film. After a fantastic turn in the horror Outcast Hannah Stanbridge shows that she is one of Scotland’s unique talents. Not to be outdone both newcomers Patrick O’Brien gives a powerful and sympathetic performance as Joe, while Colquhoun gives an emotional and compelling performance as his wife who is stuck in the middle of both sides of the situation.

 

The narrative of the story is complex and has many elements going on within the story. None of which are ever fully explained or revealed to the audience. Sadly this is where the film is letdown. While many movies from the 70’s followed this rule, they at least detailed one of story strands. There is nothing wrong with making a narrative ambiguous, but it just takes too many turns making the journey far too confusing to an audience.

 

Overall McPhee’s debut is a stunning piece of filmmaking, with memorable performances. It is hard to believe that a film of this calibre was made with such a small budget and in such a short amount of time. Everyone involved in this production should be incredibly proud of their achievements.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Non-stop *

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Run Time: 110 mins         Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: During a Transatlantic flight, an air marshal (Neeson) is taunted by an unknown terrorist who is threatening to kill passengers on the plane.

 

Liam Neeson returns with yet another terrible turgid thriller, after the dire Taken and Unknown movies.

 

As in those previous films, the actor grunts and squints by yelling in his instantly recognisable Irish brogue. Neeson has become the John Wayne of action films using the set up and plot with the same limited acting range. It is hard to believe that 20 years ago this is the same person that made the classic cult flick Darkman and the unforgettable  Schindler’s list. He is not the only one to blame for this the whole cast phone in their performances including an underused high profile performers including House of Cards Corey Stoll, Boogie nights Julianne Moore and even recent Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years A Slave.

 

The direction is sloppy and the whole pace of the piece is grossly mishandled by director Jaume Collet-Serra, who showed such promise with the chiller Orphan. The script is full of plot holes and involves mostly Neeson typing away at his pager, which becomes incredible tedious as anyone would expect. Even worse gives away the whole whodunnit plot with in the first 10 minutes the film. Not even that but the actual twist in the plot does not make any sense.

 

Lazy, boring and frustrating will make most audiences feel like they have encountered jet lag for 110 minutes.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 

Newsreel (W/e 23rd February 2014)

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Infamous cinematographer Roger Deakins will not be returning for James Bond 24.

 

Ride Along sequel on the way.

 

Avatar sequels to be shot in 4K.

 

A Good Day to Die Hard’s Jai Courtney will play Kyle Reese in the Terminator reboot.

 

The Fantastic Four reboot is to star Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara and Miles Teller.

 

Meryl Streep is to play Emmeline Pankhurst in the drama Suffragette.

 

Will Smith is set to star in an adaptation of Marcus Sakey’s sci-fi/superhero novel Brilliance.

 

The Expendibles 3 director Patrick Hughes, is in talks to helm The Raid, a big screen English language remake.

 

Marvel Studios has started looking for a director for Doctor Strange including Mark Andrews, Jonathan Levine, Nikolaj Arcel & Dean Israelite.

 

The Lego Movie 2 is set to be released on May 26, 2017.

 

The Man From U.N.C.L.E movie set for January 16, 2015 release.

 

The Lego Movie continues to build on success as it keeps the top spot of the U.S. Box-office.

Newsreel (W/e 16th February 2014)

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Channing Tatum is working on the script for Magic Mike 2.

 

Star Wars Episode VII will reportedly shoot for May to September.

 

Chris Pratt & Danny McBride are rumoured for the Knight Rider movie.

 

Darren Aronofsky has won a battle against Paramount over the final cut of Noah.

 

John Singleton is set to direct the long in-development Tupac Shakur biopic.

 

Michael Keaton has confirmed that he is in talks with director Tim Burton about returning for Beetlejuice 2.

 

The Best Film at the BAFTAS is awarded to 12 Years A Slave.

 

The Lego Movie blocks the competition at the. U.S. Box-office.

 

R.I.P. Shirley Temple.

Newsreel (W/e 9th February 2014)

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Pamela Anderson & Mike Tyson are in talks to star in Werner Herzog’s adaptation of DBC Pierre’s prize-winning novel, Vernon God Little.

 

Tom Hardy is in talks to star in the Whitey Bulger biopic, Black Mass with Johnny Depp.

 

Walt Disney Pictures is developing a live-action/CG adaptation of the classic animated series, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers.

 

Jesse Eisenberg is set to star as Lex Luthor & Jeremy Irons will play Alfred in the Zack Snyder untitled Superman/Batman movie.

 

Liam Neeson to reteam with Martin Scorsese for Silence.

 

Chris Pratt has confirmed that he will star in Jurassic World.

 

Bruce Willis & M. Night Shyamalan are to reunite for Labor Of Love. Let’s hope this renews their careers.

 

The Lego Movie builds it’s way to the top spot at the top spot at the U.S. Box-office.

 

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Inside Llewyn Davis *****

 

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Run Time: 105 mins                  Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest film follows a week in the life of 1960s folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). 

 

The film begins in February 1961 when folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is drifting from place to place following the death of his music partner. Over the next week, the audience follows the character as he attempts to gain recognition.

 

The story has a number of twists and remains interesting throughout. Oscar Isaac gives an entertaining and believable performance and remains likeable despite his increasing frustration and anger. The ginger cat proves to be a good accessory on his journey and provides both entertainment and comedy.

 

With her dark hair and aggressive nature, Carey Mulligan’s performance is much darker than her previous roles but works well. Justin Timberlake is pleasant to watch as her mild mannered and unsuspecting partner Jim, while John Goodman threatens to steal the show as obnoxious ageing musician Roland.

 

Isaac, Timberlake and Mulligan all sing live during the movie and perform to a high standard in that respect. The music is reminiscent of the 1960s folk scene and adds realism to the story.

 

The film’s abrupt ending doesn’t conclude anything and leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Despite this, a well written story and top performances make “Inside Llewyn Davis” a masterpiece that is not to be missed.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan