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: About Time

About Time

Richard Curtis’ About Time is a comedy drama which is both entertaining and affecting.

At the age of 21, Tim discovers from his father that all the men in his family have the ability to time travel. Tim can use this gift to travel back into his own life history. Tim decides to use the ability to help him find a girlfriend…

About Time is fairly typical of Richard Curtis’ output in terms of themes and style. The film works because the narrative and characters are strong enough to engage viewers.

The narrative utilises the time travel device, relying on it for comic effect for the most part. The characters are developed well enough to appear authentic and to persuade viewers to care about their outcomes. Similarly, the various relationships in the film have an air of authenticity to them; the family dynamics in particular are conveyed in a believable manner.

The themes that About Time revolves around are love, family and life choices. Curtis uses the science-fiction dynamic to convey the important aspects of life and the consequences of choices. The film is certainly a romantic comedy drama first and foremost; the sci-fi aspect is an add on to this.

Although About Time is successful for the most part, the montage at the very end is completely unnecessary. A motif of Richard Curtis, the very ending is cloying to the point of being unpalatable. Curtis makes his point effectively without the need for the device, which cheapens the overall film.

Performances in About Time are good overall. Bill Nighy is perfectly cast as the knowledgeable father. Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams have great chemistry, although it is difficult to believe that the characters have aged as much as they should have over the timespan the film covers.

A well-crafted narrative and three-dimensional characters make About Time an enjoyable watch. A tad too sentimental at times, the film is successful in its aims nevertheless.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of movie stuffs this week, including the latest Man of Steel TV spot, Disney’s Big Hero 6, the Coen Brothers’ latest and a Herzog re-release…

Man of Steel

Here is the new Man of Steel TV spot. Although the film looks exciting, the TV spot fails to answer the question everyone is asking; is Gus Gorman in this latest Superman film? Really, that’s what we want to know. Man of Steel, with or without Gus Gorman, is released in UK cinemas on 14th June 2013.

Big Hero 6

Here is the first look at Disney Animation’s Big Hero 6. I want to live in San Fransokyo, it looks amazing! The film is about a robotics prodigy who finds himself in the grips of  criminal plot that threatens the city. Big Hero 6 is due for release in the US on 7th November 2014.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Ethan and Joel Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis is about a young folk singer in 1960s New York. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake. But who knows, the breakout star may be the cat in the first seen in this trailer. Inside Llewyn Davis is due for release in UK cinemas on 24th January 2014.

The World’s End

Edgar Wright’s latest offering is The World’s End, starring past collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film seems like exactly what one would expect from the trio; comedy and some very strange shenanigans. The World’s End hits UK screens on 19th July 2013.

The Internship

The Internship reunites Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. The comedy is about two advertising salesmen who start an internship at Google. The trailer reminds me of that episode of Friends where Chandler starts an internship at an ad agency and he’s so much older than the rest of the interns. The Internship is out in UK cinemas on 4th July 2013.

About Time

Here is the first trailer for Richard Curtis’ latest film, About Time. The comedy stars Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams and Domhall Gleeson. I’m getting Groundhog Day vibes from the trailer, although I think the film is going to weigh heavy on the whole consequences theme. About Time is released in UK cinemas on 6th September 2013.

Aguirre, Wrath of God

I wish Werner Herzog was narrating this trailer. Werner Herzog should narrate everything. Anyway, the director’s 1972 film Aguirre, Wrath of God gets a re-release as part of the BFI’s retrospective of Herzog in June. Aguirre, Wrath of God will be screened at the BFI and selected UK venues from 7th June 2013.

Film Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a comedy drama that should satisfy the audience it is aimed at. The film is sufficiently enjoyable, although below the surface some of the depictions are troubling.

Following her husband’s death, Evelyn needs to sell her flat to clear her husband’s debts. Muriel needs an operation but the will have to wait six months unless she travels abroad for the procedure. These two ladies form part of a group that travel to India’s Best Marigold Hotel, where everything is not quite how it was advertised…

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel features a fairly predictable chain of events. The opening sequence successfully introduces the main characters succinctly, as well as their reason for travelling. Good performances by the solid cast and sympathetic characters make the film enjoyable.

The problem with John Madden’s film is that the film relies too much on stereotypes and archetypal characters. A few of the main characters appear to adhere to some rigid functions. Furthermore, some of the characters change too much in what is a short space of time, which renders them inauthentic. The turn around of Sonny’s mother, for example, occurs very suddenly, which suggests a failure in plotting.

The depiction of the Indian supporting characters highlight the use of stereotypes. India is portrayed as a country which respects the elderly, which is clearly in keeping with the theme. Nevertheless, the glee with which the Asian characters serve and acquiesce to their English guests leaves a sour taste. Although a spectrum of social classes is depicted in the film, it seems like a sanitised view of the country where the poor are grateful to be acknowledged by the English visitor and the city is brimmed solely with colour and bustle.

Judi Dench offers a good performance as Evelyn. Bill Nighy is cast in a more serious role than he is usually associated with, but the actor does well. Maggie Smith is as strong as ever, while Dev Patel hams it up perfectly as the irrepressible Sonny. Some of the film’s narration is a little bit sanctimonious, but the overall tone is fine.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an entertaining enough film, but would have been better without the disquieting stereotypes.

Film Review: Arthur Christmas

The Christmas film is a heavily populated category. Whether Arthur Christmas will go on to become one of the stalwarts of Christmas viewing remains unclear. Nevertheless, the film is fun family entertainment, and will garner few complaints.

Santa’s yearly mission to deliver presents to children all over the world is a finely-tuned operation helmed by his eldest son Steve. Younger son Arthur meanwhile loves Christmas, and is happy responding to children’s letters in the post room. When the automated operation means a mistake is made, Arthur reluctantly leaves his comfort zone in order to rectify it and save Christmas for one child…

Arthur Christmas successfully combines humour, adventure and emotion to create a film that should please viewers young and old. The comedy in particular works well, with plenty of small asides that should amuse older audience members. Meanwhile, the film does feature some drama, but thankfully this never becomes sentimental.

Arthur Christmas focuses solely on the Claus family, which is a wise strategy. Little time is wasted on auxiliary characters, and there is sufficient development of the main players. Although the narrative requires a child character, she is definitely secondary to proceedings. The emphasis lies firmly on Arthur and his relationship with his immediate family. Arthur Christmas is a sort of coming-of-age story for its protagonist, though this is dealt with lightly.

The only real negative is that the film feels padded out at times. It seems like a shorter narrative that has been stretched to the length of a feature. Nonetheless, this does not diminish too much from the overall enjoyment. The animation in Arthur Christmas is great. 3D also works well, thanks to the quality of the animation.

Arthur Christmas features a the vocal talents of a fantastic British cast. James McAvoy’s voice is very well suited to the character of Arthur, bringing the necessary boyishness and earnestness. Hugh Laurie is also great as Steve, while Bill Nighy is a scene-stealer as Grandsanta.

Arthur Christmas is the perfect film to get viewers in the Christmas spirit. Sarah Smith’s film is unmistakably British, one that holds up well against Hollywood animation.

Film Review: Rango

In an age where almost everything animated appears in 3D, Rango refreshingly does not opt for this route. Although the film is animated and rated PG, it is more likely to appeal to adults and older children rather than younger viewers.

Rango is a lonely chameleon who puts on plays with his toys to entertain himself. When Rango accidentally finds himself in the middle of the desert, he comes across the town of Dirt. Rango takes the opportunity to invent himself as a gun-slinging hero…

Directed by Pirates of the Caribbean‘s Gore Verbinski, Rango is not the typical animated feature. The film does not seem to fit the Pixar/Dreamworks mould of combining adventure, comedy, drama and romance. Instead, Rango is best described as a western. Given its characteristics, this category seems most appropriate. However, like a film such as Back to the Future Part III, Rango will sometimes adhere to conventions, and at other times play on the familiar archetypes present.

Given this western predilection then, it is perhaps unsurprising that Rango is more likely to entertain older audience members than the young children usually targeted by animated features. The film begins rather slowly, which won’t really entice youngsters with a short attention span. Moreover, those expecting a Disneyesque movie may be disappointed by Rango‘s offbeat style.

Although humour is present in Rango, it is a hard push to describe the film as hilarious. The comedy is more self-reflexive, with jokes about performing and genre that are likely to go over the head of some. Elsewhere the humour is quirky, with the film’s narrator becoming involved in the action, for example. The narrative is interrupted on two occasions with sequences that are interesting but bizarre. Nevertheless, they do not help in making Rango enthralling;  the film lacks a good narrative.

The animation in Rango is sumptuous. Nickelodeon, ILM and the other production companies have done a fantastic job with the aesthetics. The detail in particular is amazing. Although animation tends to look better in 3D than live action generally, hopefully Rango‘s inevitable success will attest that not every new feature needs to be produced in three dimensions.

Rango features a host of famous names voicing the array of characters. Johnny Depp is suitably cast as Rango, although it is difficult to ever lose sight that it is Johnny Depp voicing the character. Isla Fisher is decent as Beans, as is Abigail Breslin as the very cute Priscilla. Ray Winstone and Bill Nighy meanwhile conform to their usual bad guy roles.

Rango is a fun movie, and something different to the usual big-budget animated fare. However, the film lacks the heart that would take it from enjoyable to amazing.

Film Review: Chalet Girl

It may not transcend age boundaries in the same way as Mean Girls, but Chalet Girl is still a fun teen movie. With its mix of comedy, romance and drama, the film’s intended audience should not be disappointed.

Kim is stuck in a rut working in a fast-food restaurant in London. When she is offered the job of a chalet girl, she is reluctant to leave her undomesticated father. After taking a leap of faith, Kim is thrust into a world of snowboarding, posh girls and attractive young men…

Chalet Girl is a fun piece of fluff that does not take itself too seriously. The film deals with the usual teenage concerns, and is quite predictable as a result. Nevertheless, Chalet Girl provides a fun journey to its inevitable conclusion. The pacing is good; director Phil Traill never allows the film to drag.

The humour in Chalet Girl will most likely appeal to younger audience members. There are plenty of sight gags, in keeping with skiing theme. Similarly, the romance storyline features all the trials and tribulations of a teen love story. Although it is clear from the outset what the end result will be, there are plenty of bumps along the way.

The characters featured in Chalet Girl are fairly archetypal for this type of teen romantic comedy. Kim is the fish out of water in a world filled with the luxuries of the wealthy. In being ordinary, Kim is a character that most will be able to relate to. She is depicted as being down to earth, a contrast to other chalet girls such as Georgie. The film features a scene where Kim goes for a job interview, competing with young ladies who are well-spoken and immaculate. This sequence does well to emphasise the class difference present in the film, as well as providing humour.

Most refreshing in Chalet Girl is that Kim’s gender is not an issue in pursuing the sport she enjoys. Although Chalet Girl shares a number of parallels with Bend It Like Beckham, thankfully the film is not preoccupied with overcoming obstacles because the protagonist is female. Rather, Kim is able to pursue her interest in snowboarding without it being considered solely a sport for men.

Felicity Jones is bright and well cast as Kim. She portrays the character’s commonness well, particularly in contrast to Tamsin Egerton’s glamorous Georgie. Ed Westwick as Jonny will no doubt pull in Gossip Girl fans, while UK film stalwarts such as Bill Nighy should ensure interest from British audiences.

Chalet Girl may not be an awards contender, but it is still enjoyable stuff. Although the film will primarily appeal to a young teen audience, adults should also find the mindless entertainment fun.