Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider

‘Based on the hit videogame’ is a sentence that has never inspired more hope than trepidation in movie marketing. Generally speaking, these films are quickly produced cash-ins on a popular medium that Hollywood simply doesn’t seem to understand. Even the most prestigious game movies, like Duncan Jones’s Warcraft and Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed, can’t come close to bringing the excitement of interactive media to the big screen, and, sadly, the new Tomb Raider joins the well-intentioned failure club. Hewing too close to its, already very cinematic, source material of the 2013 reboot of the game series, it fails to justify its own existence, especially as it actually does a worse job of telling the story.  Continue reading


Annihilation Review


Alex Garland had already proved himself as a cult sci-fi icon, with the scripts for Sunshine and Dredd by the time of the release of his directing debut Ex Machina, which launched him sky high and left his follow up film a highly enticing prospect. That excitement is more than warranted by Annihilation, a major step up for an already rather excellent filmmaker that stands as the jewel in the crown for Netflix’s movie slate. Released in cinemas in the US and China, the rest of the world has to make do with a streaming only experience, and though that is infuriating for a film that absolutely deserves big screen attention, it should by no means stop you from seeing this visionary, intelligent sci-fi.  Continue reading

Red Sparrow Review

Red Sparrow

With Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! and now Red Sparrow, Jennifer Lawrence is showing an admirable willingness to put herself through the wringer to add star power to projects that might otherwise have proved impossible to get through the studio system. However, where Mother! was a wildly exciting, yet philosophical, work of gonzo lunacy, Red Sparrow is unfortunately a far less remarkable film, notable mostly for a nasty streak a mile wide. The premise ‘Jennifer Lawrence sexy ballerina spy adventure’ should have made for something hugely entertaining, but Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence’s film instead gets too bogged down in torture, rapes, and a drab grey colour palette to be enjoyable.  Continue reading


The Square Review


It’s safe to say that Ruben Ostlund’s The Square was a surprising winner of Cannes 2017’s Palme d’Or. It was up against brutal deep dives into human suffering like A Gentle Creature and Loveless as well as new entries from festival favourites like Robin Campillo’s 120 BPM. Hell, this odd, funny, intriguing, yet slight Swedish satire even beat a Haneke movie on the renowned auteur’s favoured turf. Though there were certainly a few films in competition that would have made more worthy winners (You Were Never Really Here, Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Good Time in particular) it’s hard to begrudge The Square its success, with a proper self-effacing sense of fun coursing through the whole film.  Continue reading


Mute Review


As a rain-slicked, neon-lit dystopian future noir story, Mute obviously owes a huge amount to Blade Runner, and releasing just a few months after the near-universally adored sequel 2049, comparisons are inevitable and unflattering. It really doesn’t help Mute’s case that, as a standalone piece, it’s a confusing, soulless mess. Duncan Jones has been trying to get this project off the ground for 15 years, and it’s clear that, in all that time, something got lost, and the end result (funded and distributed by Netflix) is a tragic series of horribly misjudged scenes with no coherent whole ever taking shape.  Continue reading


Black Panther Review

Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER..L to R: Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) ..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

After his intimate true-story debut Fruitvale Station, director Ryan Coogler made a huge leap up in terms of scale and scope for his Rocky sequel Creed without any visible strain. With Black Panther he’s pulled off the same trick again, taking his place in the unstoppable MCU by hitting the studio’s familiar beats with plentiful style while adding a bunch of new ingredients to the mix. The result is possibly the least Marvel-y Marvel film (though all of their 2017 output could lay similar claims) that earns its status as a genuine cultural phenomenon by not only being hugely entertaining, but an important milestone in black representation in big budget cinema.  Continue reading


The Cloverfield Paradox Review – Slight Spoilers


For a multitude of reasons, The Cloverfield Paradox is a major insight into the future of genre filmmaking. Firstly, its sudden surprise release (just 2 hours after the release of its first trailer) was a successfully bold marketing stunt that will undoubtedly be copied. Secondly, it marks out Netflix (with Mute and Annihilation also on the way) as the home for mid-budget, thoughtful sci-fi. And finally, with a black director and a WOC lead, it’s a clear step forward for its genre in terms of representation. Inevitably, the execution of the film itself doesn’t live up to the hullaballoo surrounding its existence, but this is still a fun sci-fi adventure, far better than the initial critical panning would suggest.  Continue reading