REVIEW: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets makes imagination boring

1.5 Stars (1.5 / 5)
The space opera is well on its way to becoming my least favourite genre; romcoms included.

Embracing a gaudily frenetic aesthetic may make for a great splash panel in a comic book but it rarely leads to satisfying cinema.…

Arrival is a Möbius strip movie that home-schools Interstellar

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Oh for the days of Close Encounters when we dreamed that first contact would be as elegant as five simple notes.

Arrival, the latest film from Sicario director Denis Villeneuve1, looks at the complexities of communicating with an alien race.1 When twelve mysterious craft appear at sites around the globe, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is drafted in to help start a dialogue with their occupants before China and Russia set off an inter-species war.2 Where do you begin, though, when you know nothing about their language or customs?…

Morgan is a generic sci-fi thriller straight off the assembly line

3 Stars (3 / 5)

A man stands in front of a glass cell, ready to question its occupant; a woman who is not truly a woman. If she fails the test, she will likely be terminated.

Where that scenario provided the focal point of last year’s Ex Machina – a restrained study of trans-humanism and toxic masculinity – in Morgan it is part of a much more generic effort.…

High-Rise is the cinema of concrete and chaos

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

There’s something about the technology-driven dystopias of JG Ballard that appeal to a certain breed of director.

Steven Spielberg’s mainstream adaptation of Empire of the Sun is ironically something of an oddity of an oeuvre encapsulated by the steely paraphilia of David Cronenberg’s Crash.…

Star Trek Beyond gets ahead by going back to basics

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Space is no longer the final frontier in cinema. In fact it’s a bit passé.

Where’s Kubrick’s star-child once evoked the wonder of journeying into the unknown, science fiction has since placed its emphasis more on the inherent risks of interstellar travel.…

Independence Day: Resurgence is a regurgitated mess of sci-fi epic

1.5 Stars (1.5 / 5)

They’ve back, just when we might have dared to hope that we were safe the next wave of big-budget blockbusters with meaningless subtitles sweeps into cinemas.

Just as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice failed to set the world alight by treating its material with undue reverence, Independence Day: Resurgence fails to set the world alight — while narratively doing exactly that — by treating its material with no reverence whatsoever.…

Midnight Special lays its light on us

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

The fourth film of 37-year-old Arkansan director Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special feels like a narrative made to fit its title.

Named for an old folk standard, it follows Roy (Michael Shannon), and his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), a goggle-wearing preteen gifted with supernatural abilities.

In 10 Cloverfield Lane, Abrams et al swing by Maple Street

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

One woman, two men, and an underground bunker. 

As its residential title might suggest, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a far more localized affair than its so-called spiritual predecessor, found-footage monster flick Cloverfield.

Both the output of J.J.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens recaptures much of the old magic, but leaves it to future installments to take the risks.

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

 A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

After the prequels more or less managed to strip the gloss off the franchise1, it seems apt that the opening lines of Star Wars: The Force Awakens refer to a sort of redemption.2

This long-awaited, almost mythical follow-up to the Holy Trilogy3 has the added advantage/burden of returning to the three characters we actually care about; namely Luke4, Han, and Leia.

The Martian: by far the best film to maroon Matt Damon in space

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Are the 2010s the decade that made space travel cool again?

Gravity swept the Academy Awards back in 2013, Interstellar reminded us of the potential wonders of the universe in a way that no one had arguably done since Kubrick – Marvel even got in on the action with Guardians of the Galaxy.…