Avengers: Age of Ultron final trailer crashes in.

IMG_0564.JPG
And just when you thought Ultron couldn’t get any more terrifying…

The latest and final trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron offers yet more evidence as to why we – and our Tesseract taming, Loki loathing, shawarma eating friends – The Avengers, should be very afraid come May.

After the first two trailers it’s safe to say that the James Spader voiced Ultron isn’t one to be trifled with, and there’s nothing in this latest snippet to suggest otherwise.

Certainly the most action heavy of the three trailers, it features even more handbags between Hulk and Iron Man, Ultron’s army of metal motherfuckers and what seems to be a huge showdown involving everyone.

It also has yet another eerie voiceover from Ultron himself, claiming that he was “designed to save the world” and that “there’s only one path to peace -their extinction.” *Trembles*

And with supposed baddies/potential goodies Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) to deal with as well, earth’s mightiest heroes will have more than just shawarma on their plate come the end of this one.

IMG_0565.PNG
Plus whatever happens, the repercussions arising from Age of Ultron will undoubtedly traverse into Marvel’s phase three of films, especially now that Sony’s Spider-Man has officially joined the Marvel cinematic universe.

He (and whoever will be playing him) will all but definitely appear alongside Chris Evans’ Cap and Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, which will pit the star-spangled soldier against the billionaire tin man. I for one, can’t freakin’ wait.

For now though, it’s all about the Avengers and Ultron. Roll on April!

Avengers: Age of Ultron is out 23rd April 2015 (UK)

“This thing – it’s going to follow you.” It Follows review.

American indie-horror film, It Follows, opens to a familiar prospect; an indiscriminate suburban town, a scantily clad teenage girl, an unseen perturbing terror.

You’re thinking you’ve seen this before – just another trashy horror flick.

But the intelligent camera work, slowly panning the dimly lit and sleepy sprawl of this American suburb, tells you different.

An unrelenting drone of low-toned synthesisers have no remorse, before high pitched Psycho-esque tones mirror this hapless teenager’s dread.

Fleeing in fear from this invisible force, the girl drives through the night until we find her alone, sitting at the beach, illuminated only by the headlights of the car.

It’s then that the film sets its precedent, its impending doom, before its title hits the screen.

This is no humdrum horror.

Unsettling, smart and enjoyably inventive, It Follows’ blend of atmospheric horror and coming-of age paranoia produce one of the best films of its genre in recent years.

The story follows (no pun intended) Jay (Maika Monroe), a level-headed nineteen year-old from Detroit who’s discovering life at the cusp of adulthood.

After meeting and having a few dates with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), the young couple have sex in the back of his car.

Bucking the latest wave of poorly made and predictably pants horror movies, (with the exception of last year’s The Babadook), writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s feature is primarily about one thing – sex.

Not wanting to give too much away, as this film’s beauty lies in seeing it without much prior knowledge but, having sex in It Follows comes at a perilous price.

Much like watching that video from The Ring, where the victim has seven days to live after viewing the tape, doing it in this movie results in you being stalked – Terminator style – by someone you perhaps know, a complete stranger, or even somebody you love.

Breakout actress Maika Monroe, who also appeared in last year’s excellent genre hit The Guest, is once again brilliant, giving a performance filled with fright in the wake of her never ending nightmare.

Her character Jay is interesting as well as being utterly believable. Surrounded by her sensible circle of friends and sister, we care very much as to what happens to her, as the film looks to move away from the usual teen horror types.

It Follows works incredibly well in its genre stable thanks to Mitchell’s experimental, yet very simplistic execution.

Long, expansive, suspense-building shots keep the viewer constantly searching the screen for what could be coming over the hill.

Excellent cinematography makes it hard to distinguish where, or when, this film takes place.

Black and white TV sets and old American cars are juxtaposed against Detroit’s decaying modern landscape, distorting our sense of time and place.

This could be the ‘50s, ‘80s or even in the near future.

Also at work here is one killer score from Disasterpeace. Like a brooding mishmash of the Halloween and The Terminator soundtracks, this is perhaps the most haunting thing about It Follows, adding masterful suspense and full blown terror.

It Follows isn’t perfect. Its flaws are mainly to do with story pacing and a somewhat disappointing climax.

But otherwise it’s a horror fans dream come true, and will have you looking over your shoulder for some time to come.

7/10

“God, country, family, right?” American Sniper review.

Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller star in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar nominated drama American Sniper. 

A lot has been said about Clint Eastwood’s latest film, American Sniper, which is nominated for six Oscars including best picture and best actor.

As well as “gripping”, “purposeful” and “entertaining,” one critic hailed the biopic which tells the story of former US navy Seal Chris Kyle, as “heart-breaking and brave.”

Another has stated it as “a film that isn’t merely a war movie – it’s a story of courage, conviction, camaraderie and caring.”

Yet, many have slammed the film starring Bradley Cooper as the most deadly sniper in US military history for its skewed depiction of the Iraq war, encouraging “pro-war sentiments,” and claiming that the movie is essentially, “a propaganda film.”

Social media has inevitably had its say on the film, most notably in a tweet from actor Seth Rogen, saying that it reminded him of the Nazi propaganda film shown at the end of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. He was later made to apologise.

Mr Eastwood himself has even come out in defence of his film, explaining that American Sniper goes as far as to make an anti-war statement, and has “nothing to do” with any politics of any kind.

Divided opinions aside, the film took a whopping $89 million (£59 million) in its opening weekend Stateside, and grossed a further $64 million (£43 million) in its second weekend.

But does it live up to the hype?

In all honesty – no.

Eastwood’s film is certainly entertaining and absorbing; his no nonsense filmmaking as well as Cooper’s brilliantly intense performance undoubtedly deserve praise.

Now a three-time Oscar nominee, Cooper plays Kyle as a man driven by duty, but ultimately torn between his family and his brothers in arms.

However, you don’t need to be looking down the scope of a rifle to see what’s wrong with American Sniper. Apart from its unintentional portrayal of all Iraqi’s as ‘bad guys,’ and completely ignoring the more controversial aspects of Kyle’s life (widely publicised in his book ‘American Sniper’), this ‘true’ story is only a half truth.

The film only touches on Kyle’s imperfections and flaws, highlighted best when he attacks a dog at a family BBQ. Yes he’s damaged from war but we never see him truly exposed emotionally.

Instead Eastwood opts to paint him as the ultimate hero – constantly in control, never missing a shot, and always killing the bad guy.

The film suffers due to this lack of insight and, along with its cheesy Wild West style feud between Kyle and his arch nemesis, an Olympic Syrian sniper, American Sniper ultimately falls short.

Set to be the highest grossing film of 2014 (having opened in the US on Christmas Day), as well as edging closer to being the highest earning war film of all time, American Sniper is certainly one for the history books. Though, it would be found under the subheading of ‘good film,’ not great.

7/10

Star Wars anyone?

The force is strong with the first teaser for J.J Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

If you haven’t seen it already then stop what you’re doing right now. Scroll down, click play and go completely fucking nuts.

Also, where the hell have you been since Friday when the trailer swarmed the internet like a pack of rampaging Ewoks at a Stormtrooper team building weekend?

88 seconds of pure fanboy bliss, these are the first images from next December’s now Disney powered continuation of George Lucas’ epic space saga. And boy they don’t disappoint.

The trailer introduces four new characters, and actors, to the galaxy far far away. Although actual plot details are at this point still as secret as C-3PO’s sexuality, we do know that John Boyega’s (Attack the Block) character, pictured at the beginning of the trailer sweating like a Jedi in a whorehouse, will play a major role.

As will relative newcomer Daisy Ridley’s heroine, shot in the trailer riding a rather hefty speeder.

Golden Globe nominee and man of the moment Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis and soon to be playing the title role in X-Men: Apocalypse) is also featured doing what every Star Wars fan has ever dreamed of. No, not taking a blow torch to Jar Jar Binks, but piloting a god damn X-Wing!

Then there’s that menacing voiceover, recently revealed to be the work of Andy Serkis. You know, Andy Serkis, that guy from The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Planet of the Apes and now bloody Star Wars. Man’s living the dream.

And what about that lightsaber?! And who’s wielding it?! And how good does the Falcon look?!

If you’ve watched the trailer countless times already like myself, you will have no doubt noticed what, or more specifically who, is missing.

Our heroes from the original trilogy of course! Although we didn’t get a glimpse of them in the trailer, they’re all back for another round of space hoo-ha. Recent rumours suggest that Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker will play a major role in proceedings.

Carrie Fisher is confirmed but there’s no word on Leia’s story yet, though I do hope she brings out those snail curls.

Of course everybody’s favourite stuck up, half-witted, scruffy lookin’ nerf herding smuggler Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, is back.

And who’s that in the back there? Oh it’s Chewie! The walking wookie carpet, played by 7″3 Peter Mayhew, is of course, returning.

Also making a comeback is Kenny Baker as Lord of the Droids R2-D2, still telling Han the odds will be Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and, last but not least, legendary composer John Williams will be turning out a brand new score! JOY.

The rest of the cast is also very promising. Joining the aforementioned batch of Star Wars newbies will be Adam Driver, who also featured in Inside Llewyn Davis, the About Time and Frank star Domhnall Gleeson, 12 Years a Slave newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, Game of Thrones’ warrior woman Gwendoline Christie and legend of cinema Max von Sydow.

Whatever happens between now and December 2015, the next chapter in the Star Wars saga is done and dusted and in post-production. We can expect more trailers, more images and more story info than a Tusken Raider can shake his stick at in the coming months. All we have to do is wait.

But, in the words of Yoda – “Bloody wait I can’t.”

“I’m just a mathematician…” The Imitation Game review.

World War II is won with maths and not machine guns in thrilling period bio-pic The Imitation Game.

With an incredible performance from lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch, director Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, is a riveting, albeit rather conventional, historical drama that sheds light on the triumphs of forgotten war-hero Alan Turing.

About the British government’s attempts to break the secret Nazi code ‘Enigma’ during WWII, the film documents the tragic life of mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), from his early years at boarding school to his imprisonment after the war for being a homosexual.

The film begins in 1952 after Alan’s home has been burglarised. Believing him to be a suspicious character, Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear) looks into Alan’s ‘classified’ military history.

Cut to 1941, Bletchley Park and the British Government’s secret radio headquarters. Charles Dance’s rigid Commander Denniston and Mark Strong’s shady MI6 chief Stewart Menzies, explain to Alan and a small group of Britain’s finest maths minds why they’re here – to crack the German’s uncrackable Enigma code, saving countless lives and giving the Allies a slim chance at winning the war.

Intelligent as he is socially awkward, Alan’s disdain towards his fellow codebreakers is curbed by new recruit Joan Clark, played by Keira Knightley, and the two form a close relationship as well as bringing the rest of the group together.

What makes The Imitation Game such a success is that up until very recently most people hadn’t even heard of Alan Turing.

Kept a secret for decades after the war by the government, Turing’s story is a fascinating insight into the life of one of the most important figures in British military history. It has a poignancy that resonates as much today as it should have done in 1954 – the year of his tragic suicide.

Cumberbatch plays Turing as a brilliant mastermind bordering on arrogant, yet immensely emotional, markedly autistic and, most importantly, deeply human.

It’s certainly the Sherlock and Star Trek: Into Darkness star’s finest on screen performance and is worth seeing for the ticket price alone.

The rest of the cast do their jobs well. Keira Knightley’s Joan is rather interesting as the only woman to help break the code. Her quasi-romance with Alan, necessary to keep Joan at Bletchley Park, is fated to fail from the start.

Also worth a mention is fellow mathematician Hugh, played by the charismatic Watchmen baddy Matthew Goode. The Brit should certainly feature more often.

But what lets The Imitation Game down slightly is its by the numbers narrative. We hear of Alan’s ‘indecent’ homosexual acts but we’re never allowed to venture into this part of his life. Plus, a rather unrealistic (bearing in mind the film’s very realistic representation) Hollywood “Eureka!” moment skews its climax a touch.

An Oscar nomination undoubtedly awaits for man of the moment Benedict Cumberbatch. Without him The Imitation Game is only half is good. With him, it makes for a damn fine game indeed.

7/10

“If it bleeds, it leads.” Nightcrawler review

There’s no news like bad news for Jake Gylenhaal’s stylishly slimy anti-hero in Dan Gilroy’s noir thriller Nightcrawler.

Set during the after dark hours of LA’s criminal and concrete jungle, Nightcrawler is the story of sociopathic misfit Lou Bloom (Gylenhaal).

Turning in a career best performance as the film’s chilling protagonist, Gylenhaal, who actually chose to lose weight for the film, is almost unrecognisable as the gaunt and greasy Lou.

Happening upon a severe car accident late at night, Lou discovers the world of freelance videography.

“If it bleeds, it leads” says Bill Paxton’s seasoned cameraman Joe Loder, who’s first on the scene to capture the action.

Lou is instantly hooked.

Getting his hands on a basic camcorder and police scanner, Lou begins to venture into the LA night, lurking behind policeman and ambulance crews filming several violent crimes, car crashes and fires.

Selling his work to the highest bidder, Lou befriends ratings-thirsty news editor Nina (Rene Russo), who appreciates his graphic work and pays him well. He also employs intern Rick (Riz Ahmed), whom Lou exploits at every opportunity.

As the ratings increase so does Lou’s appetite, fuelling his insatiable need to make it to the top with no regards to who gets hurt in the process.

Debut director Dan Gilroy produces a dark and thrilling picture, using the backdrop of the eerie LA night time to create a sense of mysteriousness around every corner.

But of course, Nightcrawler’s centrepiece is the soulless Lou.

With his greased back hair and accidentally fashionable wardrobe, Gylenhaal’s eccentric Lou can be added to the list of infamous movie anti-heroes such as Fight Club’s Tyler Durden and American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman.

Although thrilling and suspenseful, Nightcrawler is dark comedy. Our psycho Lou finds finds his calling in life feeding explicit images of blood and guts news into TV sets. And we want it, apparently.

Shot in stunning noir-ish tones and gripping from beginning to end, Nightcrawler is fascinating, disturbing and executed to damn near perfection.

8/10

“Do not go gentle into that good night.” Interstellar review

Christopher Nolan is a big deal.

The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception director is probably the most celebrated filmmaker of recent times.

His steady rise to near immortality began in 2000 with the influential thriller Memento.

12 years later, The Dark Knight Rises brought to an end one of the greatest trilogies in modern cinema, grossing well over $1 billion worldwide.

Some have compared him to Spielberg; both producing smart blockbusters with box office smashing turnovers.

However, this comparison is more about their status as filmmakers – in that they can both pretty much do whatever the hell they like.

Enter Interstellar – Nolan’s latest and most ambitious film to date.

Starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, Interstellar explores the ideas of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne and his theories on wormholes and time travel.

If Inception’s dreams within dreams within dreams had your brain baffled then Interstellar will fry it, as there’s no hiding from its intellectual and sometimes overbearingly complex narrative.

Set in the near future, Earth’s food resources have been ravaged by disease and its climate has become harsh leading to frequent dust storms and a scarcity of food.

When corn farmer and ex-NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) stumbles upon NASA’s secret headquarters, he is told that unless humanity leaves Earth the human race will become extinct.

Discovering a wormhole orbiting Saturn, which is believed to be the work of extra-dimensional beings, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), reveal that potentially habitable worlds in a different galaxy can be reached by travelling through said wormhole thus, saving the human race from extinction.

Still with me?

Agreeing to pilot the Endurance Cooper leaves his family – and daughter Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law) behind, promising to return to her once the mission is complete.

At its foremost, Interstellar is awe-inspiring and almost overwhelming at times.

Its scale is incredible. As we follow the crew of the Endurance across the vastness of space it’s hard not to feel insignificant, sat in a multiplex theatre in your small town on our tiny planet.

Its pace is relentless and rather annoyingly (and on more than one occasion), the dialogue is difficult to follow. Concentration is crucial, as one lapse is enough to leave you scratching your head and wishing you were somewhere else… watching Batman, maybe.

Accompanied by the perfectly evocative tones of Hans Zimmer’s beautifully constructed soundtrack, Nolan produces some of the most stunning imagery seen in science fiction since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Black holes, alien landscapes and space paradoxes are a wonder to behold, all but enhanced in Nolan’s preferred IMAX format.

Acting wise, McConaughey’s rise to stratospheric stardom has been clear for all to see of late. Here the Dallas Buyers Club and Mud actor turns in yet another emotionally-hinged performance as pilot/father/leader Cooper. One scene in particular springs to mind, as he watches back years of video messages after landing on a planet that for every hour costs decades for those back on earth.

Hathaway adds another weighty performance in her role as Cooper’s sidekick Brand, and Nolan returnee Michael Caine plays scientific genius Professor Brand well enough.

Some noteworthy plot holes aside, Interstellar is a work of art.

There’s a feeling now that perhaps every new Nolan film will arrive with an expectation to outdo his previous.

If so, this will be hard to top.

Interstellar is many things; head-spinning, jaw-dropping and passionate, but above all else it’s an experience.

Go see it.

9/10

You can also read my review here – http://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/what-s-on/film/film-review-interstellar-1-6421954