What is cinema for? That is the question one must consider when approaching a film like Gravity which has become one of the most-hyped films of 2013 by fans and critics alike.
If we say cinema is merely a story-telling medium, then there is little to differentiate it from literature. The nuts and bolts of any story told on the big screen can be just as well told on the black and white pages of a book.
No, films do not exist merely to tell stories, and Gravity, which would not work anywhere near as well written down, goes a long way to proving this.
Thor: The Dark World is the sequel to Thor, or more accurately the latest film set in the Marvel universe, which like Iron Man 3 continues its story following on from the events of Avengers Assemble.
It’s hard to think of another film series like that which Marvel has tried to create in recent years. Arguably the X-Men universe comes close with Wolverine and X-Men:First Class spinning off from the original trilogy of films, however, there’s something more purposeful and sure-footed about everything Marvel is doing.
It probably says something that financially the least successful character of the series, The Hulk, is also the most well known. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were not household names prior to their big screen outings, and certainly far less popular than A-Listers like Batman, Superman or Spiderman. However, Marvel has made us think of them as big players now, and this is the context in which Thor comes bounding onto our screen.
Before I begin the review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, I think it’s important to address the issue no other critic seems willing to address: the title. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a ridiculous title, it contains far too many syllables, and you feel you need a long-run up to even start to attempt it. “Anyone want to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2?” you are about to ask, but because of the effort involved you opt for “Anyone want to see Gravity?” instead.
Given its centrality to a lot of people’s life, religion is pretty under-represented on the small screen, whether in a positive or negative way. Perhaps this isn’t that surprising. Movies are a consumer business, and there is little that is more decisive than one’s choice of faith. One may as well make a movie about Manchester United or the LA Lakers.
Philomena is a movie about religion which manages to show both the darkest and most attractive sides to religion without ever feeling preachy or overstating its case.
The (real-life) story concerns Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) a former BBC journalist who has just been fired from his job as a Labour spin-doctor. He happens to come across Philomena (Judi Dench), an elderly lady who wishes to find out what happened to her son after he was sold to a rich American family by nuns in Ireland fifty years before.
Ender’s Game is a much-loved science-fiction novel that has been a long time in the making. A thought-provoking, complex book about highly-intelligent child soldiers being pushed to the limit to try and combat their alien foes, it was called ‘unfilmable’ by the book’s author, Orson Scott Card.
The film opens with a young boy called Ender being chosen to attend Battle School by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford). The school, situated in space, sees the children forming ‘armies’ who fight each other in a kind of zero gravity laser tag in the Battle Room. High hopes are pinned on Ender, who Graff attempts to immediately isolate from his peers as a way of seeing just how good a commander he can be.
Joy. It’s an emotion most film makers would love to illicit from their audience but few truly manage. Of course some scenarios find it easier to provoke such a reaction than others. There’s the joy of seeing two soul mates finally get together, there’s the joy of a new born baby, there’s the simple joy of a child finally getting the acceptance of their peers. Of course such scenarios can quickly feel cheap unless we truly care about the characters involved and the joy is earned.
Joy is certainly the buzzword for this musical based on the songs of the Proclaimers, Sunshine on Leith. Like Queen and Abba, many of their songs are stirring anthems that become irresistible to drink-fuelled customers on karaoke nights in pubs up and down the land. Such a quality is unfortunate if, like me, you have ever lived above one such public house, and 500 Miles can’t help but bring shivers down my spine for that precise reason.
It’s not at all surprising that a film like Captain Philips exists. It is in many ways a (ahem…) Perfect Storm of a film. It has an all-american hero; evil terrorist pirates; and plenty of tense action scenes to boot. Yet because it is a real-life tale in does manage to rise above films of a similar type in its depiction of all these different elements.
Paul Greengrass’ Captain Philips tells the tale of the day the Maersk Alabama was hijacked by a group of Somalian men. The captain (Tom Hanks) much react quickly to events as they unfold doing his utmost to outwit the pirates without loss of his cargo, and especially his crew.