This month I saw a throwback to the biblical epic of the past; two very different dystopian futures; discovered there is life on mars but kind of wish there wasn’t; saw two sequels that didn’t disappoint; watched a man sit in his car for 90 minutes and saw the directorial début of one of the best cinematographers working today.
The Double: A dark satirical comedy based on the novella by Dostoyevsky. Set in a dystopian past/future; Simon James’ already mundane and directionless life is sent into turmoil by the appearance of doppelganger James Simon. Although it seems to have divided opinions with both critics and audiences, Richard Ayoade’s second feature is very different to be equally as good as his début.
Divergent: Set in a dystopian future (film makers really don’t have much hope for the future of humanity!), what remains of society exists in the walled in remains of Chicago split into factions based on human virtues. It has its flaws but works largely because of Shailene Woodley, Shortlisted to play Katniss Everdeen,and at 22 she still looks young enough for the role. The factions don’t exactly make sense but are a perfect metaphor for the adolescence, the idea of fitting in and the choices we make. It’s not The Hunger Games, but it’s the best of the many pretenders. The first sequel is on its way next year.
Noah: We all know the old testament story of Noah. Darren Aronofsky’s telling of the story is a mess, but it is a well acted, stunning looking mess with a great score. I am not really interested in watching it again, but it was enjoyable enough to see once.
The Last Days on Mars: On the last day before being returning home a group of scientists find evidence of life on mars. The movie starts of as an attractive believable science fiction in the vein of Moon (2009) or Gravity (2013) but quickly descends into a by the numbers horror. It isn’t terrible but it is completely derivative and unoriginal. For its faults it does spend its $7million budget well.
The Raid 2: Gareth Evans movie The Riad (2011) worked largley for the simplicity of the plot. Set over one day, a small elite squad of police fighting their way through a building of people who want to kill them to get to the crime lord who owns the block. The Raid 2 takes huge risk by expanding the story out to a full three act narrative set over a couple of years. Amazingly it really works.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Coming so quickly after the first film, that itself came so quickly after the previous trilogy, what more is there to say about Spider-Man? In truth, not a lot. The film has a better villian than the first one and more humour than any of the previouse movies. In the end t comes down to Andrew Garfield making a likeable leading man who has great chemistry with the brilliant Emma Stone. Shailene Woodley mentioned above was cast as Mary Jane Watson but her scenes were cut from the final film, will we see her in the third movie? Felicity Jones has a small part billed as Felicia is this the first look at Felicia Hardy aka Black Cat?
Locke: Ivan Locke is an ordinary man. He is a foreman on a large construction site in Birmingham. The night before the most important day on the build he gets in his car to drive home. At the last minute he changes his mind and gets on the motorway south towards London for reasons that are revealed as the film unfolds. on the way he makes and receives several telephone calls. There is no great crime, no one is killed or kidnapped, just an ordinary man talking on the phone; Sounds dull? It isn’t, far from it, it is actually totally engrossing.
Transcendence: With an estimated budget of $100million and a cast including Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman, Transcendence is very ambitious for what is essentially a B movie. It is also a huge film for a first time director, but despite being a first time director, Wally Pfister isn’t exactly new to the industry. The science is most likely hokum and ther entire plot is given away in the trailer but on the whole it is a good solid B Sci-Fi thriller. Giving Johnny Depp top billing is a little erroneous as the real stars are Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany but they are great. I really don’t understand the drubbing the movie is getting unless given the Christopher Nolan connection people are expecting Inception.
I haven’t seen a bad movie this month. The Raid 2 comes so close to winning movie of the month for being so ambitious in change of direction from first movie but I just can’t stop thinking about the simple brilliance of the film that does get movie of the month: Locke: