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Posts Tagged ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

A look at the cast of characters for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) reveals all the usual DC suspects: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, The Flash, Perry White.  It’s a similar story with Suicide Squad (2016): Harley Quinn, Batman, The Joker, plus a few less well known (to me at least ) Enchantress, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flagg, Killer Croc, El Diablo, Slipknot.  Then you have the other upcoming DC Universe movies : Wonder Woman (2017), Justice League Part One (2017) & Part Two (2019), The Flash (2018), Aquaman (2018), Shazam ( 2019), Cyborg (2020), Green Lantern (2020).catwoma

So who is missing? Catwoman.  I can understand the reluctance to give her a standalone movie following the unmitigated disaster of the Halle Berry vehicle Catwoman (2004), but surely there must be space this most beloved of characters somewhere within the universe.  Although a tricky character to get right, two films have got it very right.   Michelle Pfeiffer in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992) and Anne Hathaway in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (2012).  The brilliance of the two portrayals is twofold; firstly they get both Catwoman and Selina Kyle right; secondly they are completely different to each other making them fight their respective films perfectly.catwoman

Everyone remembers Michelle Pfeiffer PVC catsuit and her fight scenes but some of her best moments are out of the costume, including when she comes back from the dead and meets Bruce Wayne in Max Shreck’s office; or when she is dancing with Bruce Wayne when they both realise who each other is.  The same is true of Anne Hathaway, we first meet her out of costume as a jewel thief and then we get her “there’s a storm coming” speech that features in the trailer, incidentally also whist dancing with Bruce Wayne.  Will there be time for moments like this in a movie with such a large cast of characters as the DC movies seem to be?  However they do it, I can’t imagine a DC Cinamatic Universe without Catwoman, so have to ask the question, is this the one secret they are keeping from us, or are they yet to decide what do with this most tricky of characters?  With a heavy bias towards male characters so far, it is something they need to decide on quickly.Anne Hathaway Catwoman

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In the last few weeks Fast & Furious 7 has gone over $1billion at the world box-office making it the 20th film to achieve the milestone, the others are: Titanic, The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Frozen, Iron Man 3, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Skyfall, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Toy Story 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Jurassic Park, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Dark Knight. But it is unlikely to be the biggest film of the year.  In fact  2015 could be the biggest year for blockbusters ever.

The contenders to join the billion dollar club are:

Fast & Furious 7: $1.2billion and counting!fast and furious 7

Avengers: Age of Ultron has just been released and is brilliant.  The perfect blend of the darker tone seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (that took over $700million last year) and the fun of and the fun we have come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Given the fact The Avengers (2012)  took $1.518 billion, they will be looking for more this time.Avengers Age of Ultron

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens should be a shoe in for the $1billion club.  The original Star Wars (1977) took over $700million, when adjusted for inflation and modern ticket prices it is well over the billion mark and the second highest grossing film of all time.  It won’t be the first Star Wars film to top $1billion, the first of the prequels The Phantom Menace (1999) got there first.Star Wars Episode VII  The Force Awakens

In 2012 Skyfall became the first Bond film to top $1billion, with Sam Mendes returning as a director and Daniel Craig heading a fantastic cast, Spectre could be the second.Spectre

Jurassic Park (2003) broke the billion dollar bracket on its re-release a few years back, adjusted for inflation, it would probably have done it on fist release.  With this in mind and a $150million+ budget the makers of Jurassic World must be hoping for something approaching the billion dollar mark.Jurassic World

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 should be good for around $800million. The final Harry Potter film broke $1billion so I wouldn’t discount the possibility of Mockingjay joining the club too.mockingjay

Minions is a prequel/spin-off to Despicable Me (2010) and is will probably smash the half billion dollars the original film took.  I don’t think it will make a billion dollars but you never know.Minions

Thanks to the licences Marvel sold before Marvel Studios emerged, The Fantastic Four is described as a 20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment release.  It may not be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is riding on their coattails and will be looking for something north of $750million.  The casting looks good, but it’s going to need positive reviews to come close that figure thanks to the week first attempts at Fantastic Four movies.The Fantastic Four

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Radio 2's Top 100 Favourite Albums

I spent a large proportion of the past Bank Holiday Monday listening to a BBC Radio2 poll ranking their Top 100 Favourite Albums. Basically what they did was take their Top 100 Most Played Albums (limited to one per artist) and asked listeners to rank them. The results were often surprising with a top five consisting of:

  1. Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head
  2. Keane – Hopes & Fears
  3. Duran Duran – Rio
  4. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (the only one a lot of people expected)
  5. Dido – No Angel

Ahead of what a lot of people expected including in the top five:

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Queen – A Night At The Opera
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Led Zeppelin – Untitled fourth album

One of my thoughts were that different records live longer in the mind and memory, and possibly the heart than others. For example, I bought No Angel when it first came out (before the Eminem sample made it a hit), I listened to it a lot but haven’t listened to it in about five years. I first heard Rumours and Zeppelin’s fourth album when I was a kid and still listen to them all the time and see no reason why I won’t continue to for the foreseeable future. The conclusion, if they re-do this list in fifteen or twenty years time No Angel and A Rush Of Blood To The Head may not make the top 10 or even the top 100, but Rumours, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Sgt Pepper, Born to Run, Bridge Over Troubled Water and countless other classic albums will still be there.Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Led Zeppelin Bridge Over Troubled Water The Dark Side Of The Moon

This got me thinking about the current and recent movies that will be heralded as classics in the future and which will be forgotten. Skyfall will be watched a lot and may prove to be the best Bond ever but will be dismissed as just another Bond movie. The Dark Knight Rises will survive as part of, one of the best movie trilogies ever, but possibly the weakest link of the trilogy. The Artist may be considered a gimmick. Stoker, Cloud Atlas, We Need to Talk About Kevin and some great foreign language movies like Amour, Rust and Bone, The Skin I live In and In the House may be too obscure for the masses. Moonrise Kingdom is going to age well as is Argo so could be up there in popular opinion. I can’t make my mind up about Drive and Black Swan but hope I love them as much in years to come as I do now after two or three viewings and hope others feel the same about them. Margin Call and Zero Dark Thirty will possibly stand as testaments to the time but possibly not a time we will want to look back on too often or very fondly.Moonrise Kingdom Argo Margin Call Zero Dark Thirty

The conclusion, there hasn’t been a 12 Angry Men, The Godfather, Goodfellas or even Star Wars in recent years, the two closest are probably The Dark Knight and Inception. I’m not saying it is a bad time for film, in fact the opposite, while, the occasional all time classics seem a little few and far between the number of really good movies being made is greater than ever. I just long for a Citizen Kane, The Searchers or Casablanca, we are about due one. Or am I being cynical and some of the movies I have mentioned will find their way to the upper reaches of the IMDB top 250?Citizen Kane The Searchers Casablanca 12 Angry Men

Update:

Want to read more on the subject? Check out THIS ARTICLE that picks up the baton from where I left off.

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Having now seen all but one of the best picture nominations I thought it was time to take a look back at the contenders and a few of the movies that missed out.

Amour: The only nominated movie I haven’t seen yet, I hope to see it on Monday when my local cinema is showing it for one night only.
Will it win? probably not but it will most likely win the best foreign language Oscar.  Amour
Argo: A political drama/thriller story based on real events that is tense and funny in equal measure and at the right times. Set in 1979/80 it often feels like a 70’s movie and is all the better for it, it’s a film that will age well making it a contender as a future classic.
Will it win? It certainly has momentum after its BAFTA and AFI wins. Actors form a large voting contingent and the they like to vote for their own so Ben Affleck’s presence as director could help but he has been snubbed in the Best Director category.

Ben Affleck in Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild: The surprise indie hit of last year by first time director Benh Zeitlin. Stunningly shot fantasy that at its best may be metaphor for the environment and the way we treat it. It is however an esoteric mess of a film that while good, I fail to recognise the greatness others see in it.
Will it win? As a low budget indie movie with a tiny budget and a small gross it has the feeling of the “just glad to be nominated” film of the year.Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained: Where do I start with Quentin Tarantino’s Blaxploitation Spaghetti Western. Set against the backdrop of slavery it makes an interesting companion peace for Lincoln. Its too long and self indulgent to be a great film the violence is poetic and the dialogue sumptuous.
Will it win? The academy seems to want to keep Tarantino at arms length. The movie is more likely to pick up Oscars in acting and writing categories.Django Unchained
Les Misérables: I’m not a fan of musicals but largely enjoyed this one. Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway are great, Russell Crowe is terrible. The pacing and the editing all feels off making a collection of disjointed moments rather than a coherent movie.
Will it win? When it first came out I thought it would win but it doesn’t seem to have any momentum.Les Misérables
Life of Pi: An amazing achievement in film making. Its based on a reportedly un-filmable novel. Large sections of the movie feature a single charter played by an unknown actor. Impossible to film without a reliance on digital effects. On top o all this Ang Lee also makes 3D work to a certain extent. On a negative, how well will it work on the small screen and how many academy voters will have seen it of DVD screeners?
Will it win? I think it’s a bit of a long shot but it is directed by an Oscar winning director.

life-of-pi Lincoln: I have heard mixed reviews of this movie. A lot of people have described it as long and slow, accusing it of been an average film with great performances. I found it engrossing and mesmerising. It isn’t just about Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones who are both sensational, the whole cast is fantastic with a recognisable actor in many of the supporting roles.
Will it win? A historical epic with a near certain best actor, it stands a good chance.Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook: A romantic comedy about mental illness isn’t what you expect for a pest picture nomination. Its possibly a little lightweight given the comparison to the other movies on the list but is elevated by some great performances.
Will it win? It stands a good chance, with nominations in all for acting categories, it has the support of the largest voting block.Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty: The dramatisation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden centred around one woman’s relentless. To make a gripping and story where the audience know the outcome is no easy task but Kathryn Bigelow has done it
Will it win? I think it stands a good chance. Kathryn Bigelow not receiving a best director nomination and controversy over its portrayal of torture will both work against it though.Zero Dark Thirty

The change in rules a couple of years ago allow for up to ten movies to be nominated in the category. Only nine were nominated, who could have taken the tenth place? Here are my top three:

Skyfall: Skyfall is my favourite movie of the year so far, I’m not sure it’s the best movie of the year, but what is best? If you enjoy something more than everything else, who is to argue its that it isn’t the best! To make a great movie within the confines of a franchise is impressive, but Sam Mendes managed to do it within THE franchise. Consisting of twenty-two movies made by ten previous directors, Bond is not a franchise or a movie series, it is an icon of cinema. But to add to the problem, it had become a joke, a pastiche of itself. To make a film within these confines and still following the conventions of the series to satisfy the fans. The great success of Skyfall is that it is rises above all the limitations that were placed on it.skyfall

The Dark Knight Rises: As much as I like Slumdog Millionaire, like every other movie from 2008, it isn’t anywhere near as good as The Dark Knight. The fact that The Dark Knight didn’t win the best picture Oscar is a travesty, it not being nominated wasn’t even a surprise. Sadly the final part of the trilogy The Dark Knight Rises didn’t get look-in either but comic boot movies simply don’t win best picture Oscars, even great ones. Had it been based on a novel by a respected author and feature a hero without a mask and cape there would be no question, it would have received a nomination.The Dark Knight Rises

Moonrise Kingdom: Recognised for its screenplay (where it will most likely lose out to Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained) but overlooked in other categories. It was possibly more Oscar friendly than the other two movies with a charming story and a terrific ensemble cast. The problem, Wes Anderson has long been the darling of the critics but his only Oscar nominations to date are for best screenplay written Directly for the Screen for The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) (Shared with Owen Wilson) and Best Animated Feature Film of the Year for Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).Moonrise Kingdom

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The Oscar for Cinematography is not a beauty contest, it isn’t about how pretty a film looks, it is about how well it is lit and photographed, in the same vein, the best director Oscar doesn’t go to the best film, that’s what the best film category is for! While, the Best picture Oscar is really the sum total of all the awards, the acting, the music, the photograph, the script, the direction and all the other elements that make up a film, the best director Oscar, is based purely on the process of directing. It is worth remembering that although the winners are selected by the Academy membership as a whole, the nominations are made by the academy’s directing branch. In other words, the nominations come from the directors and their contemporaries.

Michael Haneke Benh Zeitlin Ang Lee Steven Spielberg David O Russell

This years nominations are: Michael Haneke – Amour, Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ang Lee -Life of Pi, Steven Spielberg – Lincoln David O. Russell -Silver Linings Playbook. I am yet to see Lincoln and Amour so will reserve judgment on the strength of the category but have selected five directors I would have liked to have seen nominated:

Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
Wes Anderson – Moonrise Kingdom
Ben Affleck – Argo
Sam Mendes – Skyfall
Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Rises

Each of them has crafted a fantastic movie that would have been run of the mill in lesser hands if they even existed. All would have been worthy winners.

Kathryn Bigelow Wes Anderson Ben Affleck Sam Mendes Christopher Nolan

Should Steven Spielberg win it will put him the elite company of : William Wyler and Frank Capra with three best director Oscars and just one behind John Ford with four. Ang Lee has picked up one win and one other nomination in the category previously (Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon respectively), David O. Russell has been nominated before (The Fighter), it is Michael Haneke’s first nomination. Not only is it Benh Zeitlin’s first nomination, it is his first feature.

Whoever loses, or indeed those who weren’t nominated, it is worth remembering they are in good company, despite thirteen nominations between them Alfred Hitchcock (5), Federico Fellini (4) and Stanley Kubrick (4) didn’t win a single best director Oscar.Alfred Hitchcock Federico Fellini Stanley Kubrick

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  1. Skyfall: I wasn’t sure if Sam Mendes would be the right director for Bond, how wrong was I! After seeing a Bond film I have said “that was a great Bond film” on many occasions, its rare to say that’s a great film. That’s why Skyfall makes the top of my list, its simply a great film.skyfall
  2. The Dark Knight Rises: Both the most intimate and the biggest in scale of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Elevated by great casting particularly Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway. A fitting conclusion to what is possibly the best trilogy ever that like all great movies leaves you wanting more.The Dark Knight Rises
  3. Argo: A spy story based on real events is going to be a hard sell but Ben Affleck has done it again. As both star and director Affleck has given us a film completely different to but as good as if not even better than his first two films. Tense and funny in equal measure and at the right times, a future classic.Ben Affleck in Argo
  4. Haywire: Possibly the controversial choice on the list certainly the “Marmite” choice on the list. Steven Soderbergh has crafted a B movie with an A list cast held together by Gina Carano, a former cage fighter with no acting experience. The antidote to modern action movies with frenetic editing an too much CGI.Gina Carano and Channing Tatum Haywire
  5. The Avengers: Joss Whedon has done the impossible. Bringing a disparate group of characters together to create an exciting and entertaining movie with just the right blend of action and comedy. Making good use of all the characters and giving the franchise a future, its far more than I expected from the movie. And he gave The Hulk the best like of 2012.Marvel Avengers Assemble
  6. Killer Joe: William Friedkin’s tale of murder set around a dysfunctional Texas family is often violent and repugnant, but it is also brilliant mainly because of a star turn from a resurgent Matthew McConaughey.Killer Joe
  7. Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson has turned his unique quirky bittersweet eye on a coming of age drama. It is as funny as you would expect from Anderson, but it is more engaging and endearing thanks to fantastic performances from both the recognisable established actors and the unknown kids.Moonrise Kingdom
  8. Life of Pi: I was a little sceptical about seeing this movie, I had heard it was a bit preachy and how interesting can a film about a boy in a boat be? I also hate 3D. I shouldn’t have worried, as previous mentioned; the 3D is the best I have ever seen, the story is great as well as being stunning to look at.Life Of Pi
  9. Rust and Bone: Jacques Audiard follows up A Prophet with a bruising and brutal melodrama. Marion Cotillard is as great as ever as is her co star Matthias Schoenaerts. Sometimes oppressive and hard to watch, at others uplifting but always emotional. A film that needs to find a worldwide audience.Rust and Bone
  10. End of Watch: Written and directed by David Ayer,. Made up of little snippets of the daily life of a pair a of cops (perfectly cast Jake Gylleenhaal and Michael Pena) working one of the roughest beats in South Central LA. A tough, brutal and believable cop film like nothing that has been made in a generation.End of Watch

A note on my selection: I have only included movies from this year. 2011 movies that didn’t reach the UK until this year have been excluded. I will probably do a redux version when I have seen all the 2013 movies in early 2013.

Don’t forget, this isn’t a best of 2012 list, it is it is simply my favourite 10 of the year. So don’t tell me the list is wrong but feel free to share your favourite films of the year.

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Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises are amongst my favourite movies of the year, but between them they cost the best part of the unimaginable sum of half a billion dollars. What can be done with a lower budget? All of the ten films listed below were made for less than $25million and are all the better for the invention and creativity that comes with limitations of a small budget. In a B movie tradition I have discarded indie drama’s in favour of genre movies: action, gangsters, sci-fi and horror.  The other notable thing, is that despite their B credentials they all received a UK cinema release.

Haywire
Budget: $23,000,000 (estimated)
Legend has it that Steven Soderbergh was sat at home late one night channel surfing when he came across a Mixed Martial Arts contest (a cage fight). He was so enthralled with one of the contestants Gina Carano that he diced to write a movie for her. Having never acted before it was a big risk, but we are talking about the director who cast porn star Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience. Taking a different approach for haywire, he filled the supporting roles with talented actors (Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton and Ewan McGregor), but it is the action that really sets the film apart. Forgoing the post Bourne trend of ultra close-ups and staccato editing in favour of long takes and mid length shots with lots of depth of field. It all helps show off Carano’s fighting talents. A love it or hate it film, it has received mixed reviews, personally I love it.

Killer Joe
Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)
Back in 2006 William Friedkin made a criminally overlooked gem called Bug, it was based on a play by Tracy Letts who also wrote the screenplay. The pair re-teamed to adapt a play Letts wrote twenty years ago. Set around a criminally stupid dysfunctional Texas family it is a violent and repugnant tale. Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon are all brilliant but are in the shadow of the real star Matthew McConaughey. Often funny but the humour is truly jet black, this is a seriously fucked up film that many people will hate, again, I love it.

The Raid
Budget: $1,100,000 (estimated)
Welshman Gareth Evans is the unlikely director of this film that highlights Indonesian martial art, pencak silat. Set in a Jakarta tower block controlled by a crime lord a swat team have to fight for their lives as the story of why they are there gradually unfolds. A brutal and violent film that isn’t actually that originally but still manages to feel fresh and new. It isn’t as good, inventive or as memorable as Die Hard but it cost less than £1million, in other words less than the coffee budget from Lord of the Rings.

Wild Bill
Budget: no idea but its British so it won’t be much!
Dexter Fletcher has always been a decent and likeable actor, although never a great one, therefore it many come as a surprise, but his debut feature as a director is brilliant. Given his association with British gangster movies it is natural that Wild Bill would be set in London’s underworld. What’s great about the movie is that it avoids the usual storylines associated with this type of movie in recent years and concentrates on more personal story of an ex con who returns home from prison to find his two young sons abandoned my their mother. Being a farther is the last thing on his mind but something compels him to do the right thing. Fletcher also avoids the pitfall of casting himself instead opting for a whose who of British TV and genre movies.

Killing Them Softly
$18,000,000 (estimated)
This gritty tale of low level mobsters and hit men could have been a disaster. Not a great deal happens, it is filled with scenes of men talking around the issues of the movie. The social and political commentary have earned the movie its greatest praise and largest criticism. Directed by Andrew Dominik and starring Brad Pitt, the pair worked together on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and are both on top form again. And like all great genre movies, it clocks in at less than 100 minutes.

Lockout
$20,000,000 (estimated)
Based on an “original idea” by Luc Besson, I’m not sure there is an original idea in the whole movie and don’t think Luc Besson has actually had an original idea in a long time, but that really doesn’t matter, the movie is great. Its silly and its fun and that’s all it ever intended or indeed needed to be. The plot involves a shady but honest spy type character who is forced to rescue the president’s daughter who is held hostage on a prison in space. So basically its Die Hard meets Escape from New York, in space. The CGI is terrible and the plot is thin but none of this matters, the action is good and the dialogue is often funny. The real appeal is a surprisingly good Maggie Grace and the always brilliant Guy Pearce.

Chronicle
$12,000,000 (estimated)
The surprise low budget hit from the early part of the year. A Sci-fi movie reminiscent of Push (2009) and the TV show Misfits. I’m not a fan of the found footage genre but they get away with on the whole here. It loses its way in the final act but overall it is still an enjoyable movie. The unknown cast are good and the fact they are unknown often works in the movies favour.

Storage 24
Budget: again no idea but its British so will be well within the $25million limit.
I have suggested in the past that Noel Clarke is the most important person in the British film industry at the moment. Actor, writer, director and producer, awarded the Orange Rising Star Award at the 2009 BAFTA’s, he is the writer and star of Storage 24. Ultimately it is an alien invasion movie but without the grandeur of Hollywood movies and scaling it back to a small intimate and personal story. It plays out like a haunted house movie with a great blend of horror, comedy and action. Remembering the golden rule the creature is kept hidden for a long time and when we see it, its pretty good for a low budget movie. Criminally overlooked and underrated.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (aka Get the Gringo)
$20,000,000 (estimated)
Sadly under seen thanks to Mel Gibson’s personal problems and the lack of a cinema release in America. First time director Adrian Gruenberg worked for Gibson as assistant director on Apocalypto, the pair give us an old fashioned story of a getaway driver who finds himself in trouble south of the border. There is a scene towards the end of the movie where Gibson impersonates Clint Eastwood but long before that the film starts to resemble A Fistful of Dollars (1964)/Yojimbo (1961) and is all the better for it. Full of both the action and the dry whit you would expect from Mel Gibson of old. Ultimately it is the story of a flawed character looking for redemption, just like Gibson himself.

The Grey
$25,000,000 (estimated)
A horrible and inaccurate portrayal of grey wolves but a haunting and entertaining movie. Liam Neeson has always walked the line between serious actor and action star, originally leaning more towards actor but more recently falling on the action side of the line. When a plane carrying oil drillers crashes in the freezing wastes of Alaska the survivors are hunted by killer wolves. A metaphor for the destruction of the environment and the power of nature or just a survival thriller. Whatever you get from the movie it is well made and largely enjoyable.

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