Film Review: The Current War

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War is a well performed and visually pleasing historical drama. The film engages viewers throughout, building tension in an admirable way.

In the late 19th century, the US is still lit by fire. Inventor Thomas Edison is certain his direct current system is the way to provide electric light to America. Entrepreneur George Westinghouse and his alternate current system compete with Edison to light up the country…

Focusing on the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse in the late 19th century and the race to connect the US to electricity, The Current War takes place at a very exciting moment in history. Screenwriter Michael Mitnick’s narrative chooses to view the race through the rivalry of these two men, with some focus on other key players. 

Film is a historical drama, focusing on key moments in a thirteen-year span. There are some moments of levity, but for the most part The Current War is a serious affair. The film is suitably earnest, although some later moments are not quite as tense as director may have hoped for. The narrative tells us something about these two characters, even if it is not immediately clear. Initially posits the two protagonists as distinct entities; the inventor who wants to do good against the entrepreneur who wants to make money. Predictably, the film is not quite as simple as this, and subverts initial expectations. 

Gomez-Rejon shows some visual flair with his direction. Panning and tracking shots are frequent, perhaps hoping to replicate frenetic setting. The art direction and costumes are wonderful. There is a rich use of colour, and some striking contrasts which are most appealing. Performances solid throughout. Michael Shannon and Benedict Cumberbatch are great as the protagonists. Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Macfadyen stand out in supporting roles. Katherine Waterston is also good in a minor role. 

The Current War should prove rewarding for those with a rudimentary knowledge of the events. Those with more expertise should still find the film most enjoyable. 

Previews: Ad Astra Poster, The Current War, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Ad Astra poster, The Current War, Pain And Glory, and more…

Ad Astra Poster

Here is the brand new Ad Astra poster. The film, directed by James Gray, is about an astronaut who travels to the edge of the solar system to find his missing father. Brad Pitt heads the cast, and is joined by Tommy Lee Jones and Ruth Negga. Ad Astra launches onto UK screens on 18th September 2019.

The Current War Trailer

Above is the trailer for the forthcoming The Current War. Set in the late 19th century, the film is about the rivalry between Thomas Edison and entrepreneur George Westinghouse. The enviable cast includes Michael Shannon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Katherine Waterston, Nicholas Hoult, and Tom Holland. Counting Martin Scorsese as an executive producer, The Current War hits UK cinemas on 26th July 2019.

Pain And Glory Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Pain And Glory. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (The Skin I Live In, I’m So Excited), the film is about an ageing film director and a series of re-encounters. The film, which stars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, will be released in UK cinemas on 23rd August 2019.

21 Bridges Poster

21 Bridges is an upcoming thriller with quite a cast. The film stars Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, Stephan James, and J.K. Simmons. 21 Bridges is a thriller about a New York detective involved in a city-wide manhunt for a pair of cop killers. The film is set for release in UK cinemas on 27th September 2019.

BFI August Season

There is plenty to look forward to at the BFI Southbank this August, leading with a season of Cary Grant films. Classics such as The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, and Notorious will be screened in August. Other highlights include a preview of Pain And Glory and a Q&A with Pedro Almodóvar, and a preview of Netflix’s upcoming The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance television series. More details of the full programme can be found here.

Film Review: The Grinch

Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier’s adaptation of The Grinch is an entertaining affair. The film should prove enjoyable to both children and adults, even if it is forgettable.

The Grinch hates Christmas. When he finds out the residents of Whoville are planning an even bigger celebration for the festive season, he puts a plan in motion to steal Christmas…

Illumination’s The Grinch is the third major adaptation of the Dr Seuss classic, after the 1966 television special and the 2000 live-action film. Directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier have created an entertaining feature; the film hits the spot for those looking for a bit of festive escapism.

The film distinguishes itself from earlier versions with a number of small changes. The title character in this new version is rather more sympathetic, in spite of his grouchiness. Cindy Lou Who meanwhile has a more integral role. Her modus operandi is laudable, even if the character is a little irritating at times. The change to the family setup gives the film a modern twist.

Running at under an hour and a half, The Grinch is well paced and does not outstay its welcome. The humour works well for the most part, even if some of the jokes are clearly aimed at younger viewers. In its more emotional moments, the film is pretty effective at conveying its message.

Benedict Cumberbatch is decent in the title role. Pharrell Williams’ narration is a nice touch, expanding on Dr Seuss’ original text. Rashida Jones is also a welcome addition. The animation is bright and appealing. The sweeping shots, particularly in the introduction, pull viewers into the fantasy world. Music in the film is good, with some alternative Christmas classic included.

With its familiar story, The Grinch offers sufficient festive fun, even if it is unlikely to become a classic.

Previews: The Grinch Trailer, Tully, More!

Lots of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Grinch trailer, The Strangers: Prey at Night, Tully and more…

The Grinch Trailer

Here is the new The Grinch trailer. The upcoming animation is the latest adaptation of the Dr Seuss’ classic. The 2000 live-action film How The Grinch Stole Christmas was one of the highest grossing movies of its year, so it will be interesting to see how this new version fares. Featuring the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, The Grinch will be released in UK cinemas on 9th November 2018.

The Strangers: Prey at Night Trailer

This trailer for The Strangers: Prey at Night reveals little about the plot but a lot of the genre. The film is about a family holiday that goes wrong with the arrival of some strangers. The horror movie stars Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson. The Strangers: Prey at Night will hit UK screens on 4th May 2018.

Tully Trailer

Above is the second trailer for Tully. The film sees director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody reunite with star Charlize Theron, following 2011’s brilliant Young Adult. The film is about a mother of three young children who is gifted a night nanny by her brother. Also starring Mackenzie Davis and Mark Duplass, Tully will be released on 20th April 2018.

Truth or Dare Trailer

The latest film from producer Jason Blum is based on that time-honoured party game. Truth or Dare is about a group of friends who must play the game, with horrendous consequences. The film stars Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey. Truth or Dare is set for release in UK cinemas on 13th April 2018.

Love, Simon Clip

Above is a clip from the upcoming Love, Simon. It gives a pretty succinct introduction to the title character in the film, which is based on the novel of the same name. The film stars Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, and Josh Duhamel. Love, Simon is out at UK cinemas on 6th April 2018.

Film Review: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Marvel’s Doctor Strange offers both entertainment and spectacle. The film distinguishes itself from others in the universe in an enjoyable but respectful way.

Doctor Stephen Strange is a renowned neurosurgeon in New York. When an accident leaves him with life-changing injuries, Stephen embarks on a journey hoping to be healed. He is drawn into a mystical world however…

Director Scott Derrickson swaps horror for comic book spectacle with Doctor Strange. The narrative trajectory is similar to that of other superhero movie. The protagonist suffers a traumatic event, and sets off on a journey to find healing and meaning. So far, so Batman Begins. The film is very much an origins story, detailing the journey from arrogant surgeon to superhero.

Where Doctor Strange differs from many comic book movies is in its depiction of the supernatural. Whereas many of the recent Marvel films have sought to explain the abnormal or superhuman, Derrickson’s film is unabashed in its use of magic. This is a refreshing change, and allows for much spectacle. The film focuses on wizardry and the occult, a stark contrast to the pseudo-scientific explanations of Spider-Man et al. In a way, the film is almost anti-science in its outlook. Stephen is not healed by the medicine he has made a career out of, but by opening his mind to the supernatural.

The protagonist is not immediately likeable, yet slowly grows on viewers. There is a feeling that Stephen needs to be humbled, which duly occurs. The film deals with some big ideas, looking beyond perceived reality. However, the humour is a nice counterpart to this. The visuals in Doctor Strange are very impressive. Special effects and production design are brilliant. There is a real sense of spectacle, this is aided by the use of 3D.

Benedict Cumberbatch puts in a befitting performance as Stephen Strange. He is ably assisted by Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Benedict Wong. Mads Mikkelsen is given little to do.

With an unexpected but welcome climactic scene, Doctor Strange seeks to differentiate itself from other Marvel films. A very likeable addition to the universe.

Previews: Rules Don’t Apply Trailer, Doctor Strange, More!

Lots of film-related goodness this week, including the new Rules Don’t Apply trailer, Hacksaw Ridge, Doctor Strange and more…

Rules Don’t Apply Trailer

Here is the latest Rules Don’t Apply trailer. The film is directed by Warren Beatty, who stars as Howard Hughes. The film is about a relationship between Hughes’ driver (played by Alden Ehrenreich) and an aspiring young actress (played by Lily Collins). Rules Don’t Apply is one of a number of recent films set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, following Café Society and  Hail, Caesar!. Beatty’s film is scheduled for release soon.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Trailer

Here is the new trailer for action-thriller Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. The film is a follow up to 2012’s Jack Reacher. This instalment sees To Cruise return as the title character. I am hoping that filmmakers keep the same tone as the original film, even if there is no Werner Herzog. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back hits cinema and IMAX screens on 20th October 2016.

Doctor Strange Poster

Doctor Strange Poster

Here is one of the Doctor Strange character posters. Tilda Swinton joins a stellar cast (Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Womg, and Mads Mikkelsen) in Marvel’s latest film. Cumberbatch stars as Dr Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who sets out to repair himself following an accident. Doctor Strange is out in UK cinemas on 25th October 2016.

Moana Featurette

Here is Moana star Dwayne Johnson and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda talk about mutual love and respect in this new featurette. The film is about a teenager who sets out on a mission to complete her ancestors’ unfulfilled quest. Moana will be released in UK cinemas on 2nd December 2016.

Fences Trailer

Denzel Washington directs Fences, based on August Wilson’s award-winning play. Wilson also writes the screenplay for the film, which is about a man struggling to raise his family in the 1950s. Also starring the brilliant Viola Davis, Fences is set for release soon.

20th Century Women Trailer

Writer-director Mike Mills follows 2011’s Beginners with 20th Century Women. The film is about three women at different eras of the 20th century. Starring Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women will be released in 2017.

Hacksaw Ridge Trailer

Mel Gibson directs war drama Hacksaw Ridge. The film is about the true story of Desmond Doss, a soldier during World War II who saved many of his compatriots without firing a weapon. Starring Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, and Teresa Palmer, Hacksaw Ridge will be released in cinemas soon.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Trailer

Here is the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film is based on the magical world created by J.K. Rowling. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out in 3D on 18th November 2016.

Previews: Live By Night Trailer, Doctor Strange, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the Live By Night trailer, Doctor Strange poster, and more…

Live By Night Trailer

Here is the new Live By Night trailer. The film is directed and scripted by, and stars Ben Affleck, based on Dennis Lehane’s novel. Set during the 1920s, Live By Night concentrates on gangster Joe Coughlin and the murky world of prohibition Boston. Also starring Elle Fanning, Bendan Gleeson and Zoe Saldana, Live By Night is set for release on 13th January 2016.

Doctor Strange Poster

Doctor Strange Poster

This new poster for Doctor Strange looks wonderful. Benedict Strange stars as the title character in the latest Marvel movie.Cumberbatch plays an injured surgeon who who meets a mentor on his journey to recovery. Also starring Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams, Doctor Strange hits UK screens on 25th October 2016.

Hidden Figures Featurette

Here is a featurette on the upcoming Hidden Figures. Producer Pharrell Williams talks about why he had to get on board with the film, which is about the black female scientists behind NASA’s space race. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. Hidden Figures is scheduled for release in 2017.

Collateral Beauty Trailer

Here is the trailer for Collateral Beauty, an ensemble drama. The film is about an advertising executive who experiences a tragedy, and the colleagues who attempt to help him. With a cast that includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, and Keira Knightley, Collateral Beauty is out in cinemas on Boxing Day, 26th December 2016.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Clip

This clip from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children reveals a little more about the film’s antagonist. Director Tim Burton’s latest film is based on the best-selling novel. Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, and Samuel L. Jackson, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children hits UK screens on 30th September 2016.

Nocturnal Animals Poster

Nocturnal Animals Poster

These Nocturnal Animals posters certainly are striking. Tom Ford writes and directs the film, based on Austin Wright’s Tony and Susan. The film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon. After Ford’s magnificent A Single Man,  hopes are high for this feature. Nocturnal Animals will screen at the BFI London Film Festival in October, and will be released in UK cinemas on 4th November 2016.

Amanda Knox Trailer

Here is a trailer for Netflix’s upcoming documentary Amanda Knox. The film focus on the prime suspect in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox has been convicted and acquitted of the crime twice, and this documentary explores events around the case. Amanda Knox will launch globally on Netflix on 30th September 2016.