Thor: The Dark World makes for a fun, forgettable outing in the MCU

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

Marvel Studios is the cinematic juggernaut of our time, perhaps all time.

Spanning eight films over five years, it has so far grossed in excess of $5 billion. Bi-annual releases were common in Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – films ranging from 2008’s Iron Man to The Avengers last year – and, as of 2013, seems likely to become standard practice.…

Schwarzenegger & Stallone are expendable in lightweight prison actioner Escape Plan

2 Stars (2 / 5)

 

Prison Break meets The Expendables.

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger work together as a mumbling, droopy-eyed escape artist-cum-protagonist and a hulking, silver-haired Austrian crook – not much of a change apart from the professions.

The high-tech panopticon in which they find themselves imprisoned is an impressive technical feat; though the eponymous escape plan is a fairly nuts-and-bolts affair.

12 Years a Slave is a stunning and necessary reminder of the insidious evils of slavery

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

12 Years a Slave is the tale of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejifor), a free black man and professional violinist in the mid 19th Century northeastern United States who, in 1841, was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

The third film of Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave feels, from the off, like a more mature approach to “the problem” of slavery than either of its two most immediate predecessors.…

Inside Llewyn Davis: an arsehole’s eclectic journey through the Greenwich Village scene

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

The Coen Brothers might have delved into spiritual music before in O Brother, Where Art Thou, their myth-inspired take on the Depression-era American Deep South, but Inside Llewyn Davis is a far more focused piece of cinema, if never quite as colorful as its predecessor.

For all its ideas, Zero Theorem is simply an entertaining zero-sum game

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

Terry Gilliam’s first film since the ill-fated, but enjoyable Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Zero Theorem showcases the former Python animator’s uniquely discordant worldview, as well as confirming Christoph Waltz as a supreme resource for any talented director.

Does Ayoade replicate the success of Submarine with The Double?

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

The Double, the second film of Richard Ayoade – whose first, Submarine, accrued a BAFTA nom for Outstanding Debut – might not receive enough mainstream exposure to completely revamp his image as “Moss from The IT Crowd“, but as far as offbeat, art-house adaptations of Dostoyevsky novellas go, it’s a cracker.

Gravity is a technically stunning work of (plausible) thematic sci-fi

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

I wrote a piece a while back on how Alfonso Cuarón showed signs of becoming one of the 21st Century’s foremost directors of science fiction – up there with Duncan Jones, Neill Blomkamp, and Shane Carruth – just on the strength of 2006’s Children of Men.

Nebraska: an emotionally resonant father-son road trip

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

A meditative, black-and-white exploration about growing up, growing old, and accepting life’s defeats.

Middle-of-the-road bachelor David Grant (Will Forte) takes his indolent, cantankerous father, Woody (Bruce Dern), on a road trip to collect on a junk-mail flyer for a million dollars.…

Filth is a raunchy, foul-mouthed bit of soul searching for a maniacal James McAvoy

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

The medical standard for Irvine Welsh adaptations is undoubtedly still Trainspotting, made back in the midst of the Britpop era (1996).

Since there have been two further attempts to bring his works to the bring screen – The Acid House and the explicitly titled Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy – but, as with Chuck Palahuik and Fight Club, no one’s been able to recapture the magic.

Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is redolent of Streetcar but never feels like a ripoff

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Cate Blanchett goes Blanche Dubois in contemporary San Francisco.

In Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Blanchett stars as a fragile, nervy Southern Belle. Her performance seems to have been lifted wholesale from her 2008 appearance in Streetcar – and it’s cracking; an assured Oscar nom.…