Movie Review – Metropolis (1927)

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Director :  Fritz Lang
Year Of Release :   1927
Principal Cast :  Gustav Frohlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Heinrich George, Fritz Rasp, Theodore Loos.
Approx Running Time : 150 Minutes (Reconstructed Version)
Synopsis:   In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a saviour to mediate their differences.

*******

Perhaps apropos, Metropolis, the film about mechanization and the dehumanization of mankind, has been the benefactor of technology allowing us to view this film in its near-entirety, fully restored. For generations, much of Metropolis was considered lost, following removal of key sequences over the years since its release, before a discovery in South America in 2008 led to one of the most comprehensive restoration efforts ever undertaken on a film. A badly damaged but complete version of the film, dubbed into Spanish, was located; restored now to its original German version, and featuring some sublime image processing and restoration, Metropolis has never looked or sounded this good. With a fully re-recorded orchestral treatment of Gottfreid Huppertz’ original score, and a brand new high-definition master (now available on BluRay), revisiting this masterpiece for the first time since my teenage years was a revelation in how good silent cinema could be.

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Trailer Trash! – Jack Reacher, The Mechanic 2, & Inferno!

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Three new trailers have dropped in the last 48 hours! The first, our first glimpse of the new Jack Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise, a sequel to the original, with this one subtitled Never Go Back. Looks typically gritty. The second, a sequel to The Mechanic, again starring The Stath™, which also looks gritty and violent. And lastly, the third of the Ron Howard-Tom Hanks films from Dan Brown’s hugely successful Robert Langdon book series (The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons being the first), Inferno, which looks gritty and viole- well, like a Tom Hanks movie, really. You can check out all three trailers after the jump!

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Movie Review – Triple 9

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Director :  John Hillcoat
Year Of Release :  2016
Principal Cast :  Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer, Clifton Collins Jr, Michael K Williams, Luis Da Silva.
Approx Running Time :  111 Minutes
Synopsis:  A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.

*******

Fast-paced, energetic crime thriller sees a stunning cast of A-list talent plumbing the depths of wrongdoing in a shoot-em-up slam-bang potboiler that feels like a cousin of Michael Mann’s Heat or Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day. A crew of crooked Georgian cops and a trio of criminals band together to make money doing the bidding of a Russian matriarch, only to find that when she reneges on a deal and asks them to do “one last job”, it all goes south pretty quickly. Betrayal, death, mistrust and revenge swirl like a bloody poison throughout Triple 9’s pulp-styled underworld aesthetic; violent and kinetic, bloody and ripping, and ripe with John Hillcoat’s pulsating direction, this isn’t a film for the squeamish. Triple 9 hits hard, hits often, and although it ain’t the classic it wants to be, is good enough to warrant paying out for such a top-tier ensemble.

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The Grief Structure – A Call to Celebrity Hysteria

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2016 has dealt us all some pretty brutal news for the first half, specifically relating to the untimely passing of many a cinema or musical celebrity. I write this piece off the back of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, who, at only 27 and with a full career of terrific movies ahead of him, was crushed to death by his own vehicle in the driveway of his home in one of the year’s most tragic and unexpected losses.

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Movie Review – Conan The Destroyer

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Director :  Richard Fleischer
Year Of Release :   1984
Principal Cast : Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Mako, Tracey Walter, Sarah Douglas, Olivia d’Abo, Pat Roach, Jeff Corey, Sven Ole-Thorsen, Andre The Giant, Ferdy Mayne.
Approx Running Time :   101 Minutes
Synopsis:  Conan leads a ragtag group of adventurers on a quest for a princess.

*****

Expected sequel to the 1982 success Conan The Barbarian, this Richard Fleischer-directed fantasy epic continues Arnie’s rising-star arc as the legendary Robert E Howard character, albeit with a few new characters to contend with, and a strange malaise hanging over the whole production. While the film features much of the original film’s pulp-styled violence and singularly dimensional plotting and characters, and nonchalantly plants a fifteen-year-old Olivia d’Abo as a sexual object for the audience, Destroyer somehow manages to trip itself up by being a poor imitation of John Milius’ cult classic. I guess as a continuation of the journey began in Barbarian a few years prior, Destroyer had the opportunity to continue the Conan franchise in some compelling new way, but it doesn’t. Wasn’t the literary version of Conan a serialised pulp identity? A bit like James Bond, his adventures weren’t contiguous, and the rotating roster of supporting characters could change from book to book, making the man’s itinerant lifestyle even more isolating and masculine. Unfortunately for this film, it’s a hodge-podge of inadequacy.

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Movie Review – Zootopia

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Director :   Byron Howard + Rich Moore
Year Of Release :  2016
Principal Cast :  Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, JK Simmons, Jenny Slate, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Nate Torrence, Shakira, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Alan Tudyk, Tom Lister Jr, Maurice LaMarche, Raymond S Persi, Kristen Bell.
Approx Running Time :  108 Minutes
Synopsis:   In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

*****

Listen to “Try Everything” performed by Shakira, from the Zootopia Original Soundtrack

The Disney money-train just keeps on chugging. Despite owning virtually every IP known to man, Disney’s recent success in the animated film market, for the longest time driven by Pixar whilst the studio’s own animation division was slumped over their inkwells, struggling to match the 3D CGI juggernauts on the big screen around the globe, has become a phenomenon. Although a few critical missteps were taken early – Bolt and Chicken Little we’re looking at you – in more recent times the studio’s output has rivalled even Pixar and Dreamworks for cross-cultural saturation of the animated marketplace. Tangled saw the second renaissance of Disney arrive, cemented by the ubiquitous Frozen with its showstopping musical soundtrack and strong feminist overtones, as well as Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6; this resurgence continues boldly with Zootopia, possibly the animated film to beat in 2016.

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Movie Review – Midnight Special

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Director :   Jeff Nichols
Year Of Release :   2016
Principal Cast :  Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, Jaeden Liehberher, Paul Sparks, Scott Haze, Billy Slaughter.
Approx Running Time :   111 Minutes
Synopsis:  A father and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers.

******

While it’s easy to suggest that the majority of films coming under the sci-fi label typically feature the crash-n-bash storytelling of explosions, aliens and landmark destruction, it’s even easier to forget that there are many great sci-films out there with something far more intelligent and low-key to say. Midnight Special, the latest film from Mud director Jeff Nichols, is just such a low-key film; devoid of landing alien warships or flag-waving patriotism, Midnight Special’s insular chase motif and intellectual sensibility not to take the audience for granted are a breath of fresh air. Although sporting a title that does very little to sell it, the film is exceedingly well directed, superbly acted by almost all, and offers a cleansing of the palette in time for the onslaught of blockbusting cinematic grandstanding in the form of this year’s other major epic, Independence Day: Resurgence.

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