Review – The Maze Runner

30 Oct

Poster for 2014 young adult actioner The Maze Runner

Genre: Action
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 10th October 2014
Runtime: 113 minutes
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, TS Nowlin
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee 
Synopsis: A group of teen boys find themselves in a mysterious field, surrounded on all sides by a seemingly inescapable maze.

 

For what seems like the millionth time this year, another young adult adaptation with franchise aspirations is vying for money at the box office. With an almost entirely male cast, The Maze Runner separates itself from the likes of Divergent and The Hunger Games, but still packs the same brand of dystopian high concept. It’s not at the top of its genre, but The Maze Runner is still an entertaining and intriguing action-adventure movie.

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Review – Annabelle

28 Oct

Poster for 2014 horror film Annabelle

Genre: Horror
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 10th October 2014
Runtime: 99 minutes
Director: John R Leonetti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard, Tony Amendola
Synopsis: Following a brutal event in their home, a suburban family find themselves terrorised by the supernatural whims of a possessed doll.

 

 

James Wan’s haunted house horror flick The Conjuring made a big splash last year. A sequel is already in the pipeline, with Wan back in the director’s chair after his break from the genre to make the new Fast & Furious movie. In the meantime, though, risible, unnecessary spin-off Annabelle is keeping the franchise alive… just barely.

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Review – Dracula Untold

27 Oct

Poster for 2014 fantasy actioner Dracula Untold

Genre: Fantasy
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 3rd October 2014
Runtime: 92 minutes
Director: Gary Shore
Writer: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Starring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance, Art Parkinson, Diarmaid Murtagh 
Synopsis: Young prince Vlad the Impaler must embrace the darkness of a supernatural power in order to protect his people against a brutal invading army.

 

 

The story of Dracula has been retold and remixed dozens of times since Bram Stoker created the character in the late 19th century. Cinema history is littered with portrayals of the bitey villain, from Max Shreck and Bela Lugosi to Gary Oldman and even Adam Sandler. Fast & Furious 6 star Luke Evans is the latest to don the fangs, in Dracula Untold, which could well be the most boring and disappointing entry in the vampire canon.

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Review – Life After Beth

26 Oct

Poster for 2014 horror romcom Life After Beth

Genre: Comedy/Horror
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 3rd October 2014
Runtime: 89 minutes
Director: Jeff Baena
Writer: Jeff Baena
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, John C Reilly, Molly Shannon, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Gray Gubler
Synopsis: A young man finds his life taking a turn for the incredibly weird when his girlfriend passes away and then comes back from the dead.

 

 

The romzomcom, as a genre, arguably began with 2004’s hilarious Shaun of the Dead. Films like Zombieland and Warm Bodies have since kept the genre alive, but none have reached the heights of Edgar Wright’s modern classic. The latest entry in that arena is the utterly bizarre Life After Beth, from I Heart Huckabees screenwriter Jeff Baena. It’s certainly an experience of a film, if not always a successful one.

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Review – ‘71

26 Oct

Poster for 2014 war thriller '71

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 17th October 2014
Runtime: 99 minutes
Director: Yann Demange
Writer: Gregory Burke
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, Sam Reid, Paul Anderson 
Synopsis: A young English squaddie becomes stranded in the hostile, labyrinthine streets of Belfast when a routine house search goes horribly and violently wrong.

 

 

In terms of recent history, the Troubles is one of the most fertile conflicts for British cinema to cover. Dozens of films have been set during the period, but ‘71 – the first feature from Yann Demange – claims to be more realistic than any of them. It’s certainly a hell of a thrill ride.

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Review – The Equalizer

14 Oct

Poster for 2014 action thriller The Equalizer

Genre: Action
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 26th September 2014
Runtime: 132 minutes
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas
Synopsis: A man with a particular set of deadly skills makes it his mission to help people who have been subjected to crimes and injustices.

 

 

 

Denzel Washington is excellent as a cinematic hard man. Such is his status in the industry that there were few eyebrows raised when he was cast in the film reboot for 80s TV series The Equalizer. Unfortunately for Denzel, those who have seen the film now have those eyebrows firmly in the air.

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Blu-ray Review – Shivers (1975)

13 Oct

Cover art for the 2014 Arrow Films Blu-ray release of Shivers

Genre: Horror
Certificate: 18
UK Release Date: 13th October 2014
Runtime: 87 minutes
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Starring: Paul Hampton, Lynn Lowry, Fred Doederlin, Barbara Steele
Synopsis: In this classic body horror, sexually transmitted parasites make their way around a tower block.

 

Nowadays, David Cronenberg is permanently enshrined in history as a true icon of horror cinema. His work is so recognisable and iconic that it’s common to refer to a work of visceral body horror as “Cronenbergian”. Even as he moves into more dramatic pieces, such as A Dangerous Method and the recent Maps to the Stars, it is body horror that will define his career. 

Shivers was Cronenberg’s first feature-length film and marked the beginning of his obsession with gruesome, flesh-based horror. The 70s shocker has never been seen on Blu-ray, until now courtesy of this new release from Arrow Films.

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