Previews: Spark Trailer, Snatched, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions features the new Spark trailer, plus Snatched, Alien: Covenant, and more…

Spark Trailer

Here is thew new Spark trailer. The film is about a teenage monkey who must journey across the universe in order to save the galaxy. The film features the voices of Susan Sarandon, Patrick Stewart, Jessica Biel, and Hilary Swank. Spark launches on to UK screens on 26th May 2017.

Alien: Covenant Prologue

This Alien: Covenant prologue (The Crossing) bridges the gap between Prometheus and the upcoming Alien: Covenant. The clip explains what happened to the survivors of the previous film, and features Michael Fassbender’s character as narrator. The latest film in the Alien franchise also stars Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride. Alien: Covenant hits UK screens on 12th May 2017.

Snatched Clip

Amy Schumer shows off her comedy prowess in this clip from the upcoming Snatched. The film is about a mis-matched mother and daughter who take an exotic vacation together. Schumer is joined by Goldie Hawn, as well as Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack. Snatched is out in UK cinemas on 19th May 2017.

Wilson Trailer

Here is the trailer for new comedy Wilson. The film is about a middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, and Judy Greer. Wilson receives its debut at Sundance London on 2nd June 2017, and will be released  in selected cinemas on 9th June 2017.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Trailer

Following the teaser last week, here is the full trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. In this sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, the Kingsman headquarters is destroyed, leading Eggsy and co to discover an allied spy organisation. Director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman return, as do Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, and Colin Firth. They are joined by Juliane Moore, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, and Channing Tatum. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is scheduled for release in September 2017.

Gifted Clip

Director Marc Webb’s latest film is Gifted. The film stars Chris Evans as a man single-handedly raising his niece (played by Mckenna Grace). The film also stars Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer, and a one-eyed cat (according to the above clip). Gifted will be released on UK screens on 16th June 2017.

Previews: Alien: Covenant Clip, Atomic Blonde, More!

Lots of big films in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including an Alien: Covenant clip, Atomic Blonde, Beauty and the Beast, and more…

Alien: Covenant Clip

This Alien: Covenant clip gives viewers an insight into the crew and personalities in Ridley Scott’s latest film. Michael Fassbender returns in the sequel to Prometheus, and is joined by Danny McBride, Katherine Waterston, and James Franco. Alien: Covenant is set for release in May 2017.

Atomic Blonde Poster

Charlize Theron is striking in this poster for Atomic Blonde. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film is about an assassin who is sent to retrieve a priceless dossier. The film also stars James McAvoy and John Goodman. Atomic Blonde hits UK screens on 11th August 2017.

Beauty and the Beast Clip

Emma Watson shows of her singing ability in this clip from the upcoming Beauty and the Beast. From this brief look, it seems as if a lot will be replicated from the original film, but it won’t be a shot-by-shot remake à la 1998’s Psycho. Dan Stevens and Luke Evans join Watson in heading up a enviable cast. Beauty and the Beast is out in UK cinemas on 17th March 2017.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Trailer

After success with Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, director Guy Ritchie turns his attention to another British fable. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tells the familiar story of Arthur’s rise to power, albeit in an action-packed way. Starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword launches on to UK screens on 12th May 2017.

Ghost in the Shell Poster

The artwork for Ghost in the Shell certainly is striking. Scarlett Johansson stars as Major, a cyber-enhanced human who is tasked with stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. Based on the Japanese manga of the same name, Ghost in the Shell hits UK screens on 31st March 2017.

Their Finest Trailer

Lone Scherfig’s latest film is about a female screenwriter tasked with writing a film to lift spirits during World War 2. Their Finest stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy. Based on Lissa Evans’ novel, Their Finest will be released in UK cinemas on 21st April 2017.

Film Review: The Martian

THE MARTIAN

Ridley Scott provides a timely reminder of why he is such a celebrated director with The Martian. The film is a wildly entertaining science-fiction adventure.

Astronaut Mark Watney is part of manned mission to Mars. When a storm hits the planet, the crew decide to leave, with Mark presumed dead. Mark has to use all his skills to stay alive on the barren planet whilst trying to signal to Earth that he is alive…

Adapted from Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian is an engaging and entertaining film. Drew Goddard was a good choice to pen the screenplay. The script is frequently funny, with a wonderful ease when switching tone. Like Gravity, there could be a worry of how the film will remain compelling, given the premise. However, it does this with aplomb. The contrasting tales of survival and rescue work well to keep viewers engaged and introduce the necessary supporting characters.

Ridley Scott directs the film skilfully, ensuring good pacing over the two hours plus running time. Despite the period of time that The Martian covers, the film never feels as if it is dragging. During the film there is tension, action and amusement. The Martian ramps the pressure up for the conclusion, enthralling the audience for its finale.

Cinematography in The Martian is excellent. Dariusz Wolski photographs the landscape in a way that demands to be seen on the big screen. The sound is also great, from design to score to soundtrack. The latter is an unusual accompaniment, but it works exceptionally well.

Matt Damon delivers a decent performance as Watney, being the sole performer in many of his scenes. The supporting cast are also good, Michael Peña provides the laughs, whilst Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels are well cast in their respective roles.

Ridley Scott proved his talent working in the space medium with Alien. The Martian is a different time of science fiction movie, but one that also beguiles its audience.

Film Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s landmark science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey returns to cinemas. This re-release offers an opportunity to see the iconic film on the big screen.

Charting the progress of mankind and civilisation, mysterious black monoliths appear to influence prehistoric apes in their development, and later astronauts involved in a secret mission, aided by computer H.A.L. 9000…

2001: A Space Odyssey is a prototype for much science fiction cinema that followed. From Alien to Gravity, the influence of Kubrick’s 1968 film is clear.

The film’s multi-act narrative works well. The most compelling section is the middle, and longest, part. The first and third segments are successful on a sensory level. The power of 2001: A Space Odyssey is that it effectively combines a narrative with less linear sequences.

The themes present in 2001: A Space Odyssey exhibit the best in science fiction in that they illuminate and generate anxiety. The non-linear style of the film gives the audience time to ponder the images and ideas they are presented with. Kubrick and co-writer Arthur C. Clarke offer a view of civilisation that several other sci-fi films have played with in the intervening years. This view is presented, allowing audiences to come to their own conclusions, rather than being force-fed a particular viewpoint.

2001: A Space Odyssey still holds up well in terms of special effects, despite being almost fifty years old. Unlike so many effects-laden films of previous decades, Kubrick film does not look dated. The cinematography is fantastic, as is the art direction. 2001: A Space Odyssey has a very distinctive look. The sound design is also on point; the use of a classical score is as striking as it is memorable. Performances in the film are good, particularly Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL.

Science fiction aficionados and casual viewers alike should take this opportunity to see a true genre classic on the big screen.

2001: A Space Odyssey is released from 28th November 2014 at the BFI and selected locations nationwide. See here for full details.

Interstellar Press Conference

Interstellar Press Conference

Last week, the cast and crew gathered in London for the Interstellar press conference. Here is what cast members Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain and Mackenzie Foy, plus director Christopher Nolan and producer Emma Thomas had to say about the film…

On making Interstellar…

Christopher Nolan: My interest in Interstellar was a couple of key things. First was the relationship between the father and the children. I am a father myself and I related to it quite a lot; I found it very powerful. And I liked the idea of combining that with this story that speculates about a potential moment in human evolution where mankind would have to reckon with its place in the wider universe.

Emma Thomas: The thing I love about this film is that it is many things rolled into one. So whilst we were doing the more intimate character stuff, we also had these massive, disparate locations to shoot in. Iceland is an amazing place but a lot of the places that we were in were incredibly remote and incredibly challenging. But I think it really paid off; it’s a lot more fun to watch it than it was to be there in some cases!

On science fiction cinema…

Christopher Nolan: I grew up and what was really a golden age of blockbusters. If you look at Close Encounters [of the Third Kind] and they way it addressed that idea of this inevitable moment where humans would meet aliens, and address it from a family perspective. I really liked the idea of giving today’s audiences some sense of that… One of my earliest movie-going memories is going to Leicester Square to see 2001 [A Space Odyssey] when I was seven years old, and I have never forgotten the scale of that. I saw my first IMAX film when I was fifteen, and immediately I wanted to make features that way at the point. Really for me working on this scale, it’s a long-held dream of mine.

Interstellar QUAD

On working with Christopher Nolan…

Matthew McConaughey: It is a compliment to the process that even though this went on for five months, and there was a much larger scope and scale, when you are acting in a Christopher Nolan film it feels just as intimate and just as raw and natural as most independent films are forced to feel because you don’t have the time. But we had the time and the money on Interstellar, but when you are actually shooting, it is very intimate, and very raw and natural.

Jessica Chastain: I don’t normally do big movies, I’m kind of new to this world. I had always been afraid that jumping on a big budget film, you would lose the relationships in favour of special effects. But the great thing about working with Chris is that it is all practical sets, so you actually have things to react to as an actor, which is awesome. We would do three or four takes, and it’s so incredible because he would let me get it out of my system, try what I wanted to without trying to impose on me something that wasn’t natural. With a very delicate hand, he would come over and just say one sentence… and with that tiny, exquisite note, he would open up my performance in a way I would never have imagined.

Mackenzie Foy: Christopher Nolan is awesome! I want to be a director when I get older, and just to be able to watch him work is amazing and it meant a lot to me.

Michael Caine: You spend your life as an actor making a picture saying “is it going to be going to be a hit? Is it going to be a miss?”. I’ve had six pictures working with Christopher, and every one has been a hit. So whenever he says “do you want to do a movie?”, I say “yes”! He said “do you want to read the script?” and I said “no”! It’s quite extraordinary working with him because he also writes it, and nothing is what it seems. I remember the first time he came to me with a script, he came to my house in the country, he said “I’ve got a movie”. I said; “what is it?” and he said “Batman”, and I thought to myself “well I’m too old to play Batman, what does he want me to play?”. He said; “I want you to play the butler” and I thought about the type of dialogue I would have, what do I say; “dinner is served”? And of course I read the script; it wasn’t the butler, it was the foster father.

On favourite science fiction characters…

Christopher Nolan: It’s got to be Darth Vader…

Emma Thomas: I would have to say Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien.

Mackenzie Foy: Either Darth Vader or Spock.

Matthew McConaughey: Chewbacca and Murph [from Interstellar].

Anne Hathaway: R2D2 and Ripley.

Michael Caine: Sandy Bullock in Gravity.

Jessica Chastain: Mine would be Princess Leia and HAL.

Anne Hathaway: Can I add a science fiction character? Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica. But I am speaking specifically of the new version.

On saving the environment…

Jessica Chastain: I’m vegan, and I don’t think everyone should be vegan, but I do believe that something like meatless Mondays. If everyone in the world gave up meat for one day it would make a huge difference in terms of the carbon footprint.

Michael Caine: I was so poor for so long that I didn’t use anything, I didn’t eat very much, I figured the world owed me a debt so… I am eating very well and have had a big car for a long time!

Anne Hathaway: I try to do a lot of little things in the hope that they are going to add up. I time my showers, I try not to overly consume things, or blindly consume things…

Christopher Nolan: Communal resources, like gathering people in one place, like a movie theatre. So if you go and see Interstellar every evening, you’ll save an enormous amount of energy!

Interstellar is released on Friday 7th November 2014.

Film Review: Gravity

Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is part awe-inspiring, part terrifying, and wholly absorbing cinema.

Dr Ryan Stone is a medical engineer on her first mission in space. When an accident occurs, Ryan and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski are left adrift in space…

Gravity is completely captivating. The film progresses at a good pace. It has peaks of action as well as periods to absorb the protagonist’s reaction to said events.

To a certain extent, Gravity takes on the mantel of Alien’s ‘In space no one can hear you scream’. Instead of otherworldly activity, the premise is a realistic one. Cuarón proposes a horrifying incident, then explores a personal reaction to such an event.

Gravity works because it is about emotions and response. The vast majority of viewers cannot relate to the actual situation presented, but will fully empathise with the response to being in such a life-threatening incident. Despite the setting, Gravity is about human experience.

Despite the premise of the film and the tension that this creates, Gravity provides wonderment in its setting. There is much to admire visually. It is easy to see the attraction of space exploration. In spite of the danger, the film retains this sense of awe.

The special effects in Gravity are flawless. There is not one shot that dies not look completely authentic. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography  is marvellous. The 3D is one of the best uses of the format in live action film.

Sandra Bullock is believable as Ryan; her sense of apprehension is palpable. George Clooney provides good support as Matt.

Gravity offers spectacle, but also delivers in terms of tension, emotion and entertainment. A must see film.

Gravity is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.

Film Review: Prometheus

Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus is imperfect. Nevertheless, it thoroughly entertains throughout its two-hour plus duration.

Explorers Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a clue to mankind’s origins in a remote Scottish location. The pair join scientists and other crew aboard Prometheus, travelling into space to investigate the implications of the clue. When they arrive at their destination, the crew are not sure what to expect…

Prometheus follows a fairly similar formula to 1979’s Alien. The 2012 film does not maintain its predecessor’s sense of anxiety and unpredictability however. Perhaps this is to be expected, it would have been incredibly difficult to replicate the atmosphere generated in Scott’s 1979 film. What Prometheus offers is an engaging science-fiction blockbuster; a decent film of this genre.

Prometheus is a very apt title for the themes that feature in the film. Scott’s film offers a far greater emphasis on belief than the original film. What has been seen as the three tenets of science fiction; magic, science and religion, are explored on an overt level. In this respect, some subtlety would have been welcome. Given the nature of it, science fiction is a genre that inherently allows for allegory. Therefore, themes could have been depicted in a less overt fashion and still have got the point across. Fundamental questions are raised, and it is a little unsatisfying that they are never resolved.

Michael Fassbender is excellent as David, offering the best performance of Prometheus. Noomi Rapace is also good, functioning suitably in the Ripley-esque role. Production values are great in the film. Production design and effects make the most of technological advances, whilst maintaining a look not disparate from the 1979 film. There are a few squeamish moments, but nothing else that would warrant it any higher than its 15 certification.

Given that Prometheus is a prequel made thirty-three years after the original (and following sequels and spin-offs of varying quality), the film is success for what it is. Prometheus was never going to reach Alien‘s zenith, but it is certainly an enjoyable watch.