Previews: Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer, Jungle Book and more

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Hunger Games: Mockingly Part 2 trailer, the first look at The Jungle Book and more…

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer

Here is the latest Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 trailer. This preview focuses on Prim, and her relationship with older sister Katniss. Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland et al return for the final instalment of The Hunger Games franchise. Mockingly Part 2 will hit the big screen on 19th November 2015.

Macbeth Poster

Macbeth poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming Macbeth. Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, the film is the latest adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays. The film is directed by Justin Curzel, best known for 2011’s Snowtown. Macbeth is released in UK cinemas on 2nd October 2015.

The Jungle Book Trailer

Well this looks pretty spectacular. Here is the first look at Disney’s live action version of The Jungle Book. The special effects look wonderful, and the film features an enviable voice cast that includes Idris Elba, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson as the terrifying Kaa. The Jungle Book will roar on to the big screen in April 2016.

In the Heart of the Sea Trailer

Ron Howard re-teams with Chris Hemsworth for In the Heart of the Sea. Also starring Cillian Murphy, Benjamin Walker and Ben Whishaw, the film tells the true story of a New England whaling ship in 1820. In the Heart of the Sea is scheduled for release on Boxing Day, 26th December 2015.

Bridge of Spies Poster

Bridge of Spies Poster

Here is the poster for Steven Spielberg’s latest Bridge of Spies. Starring Tom Hanks, the film is about an insurance claims lawyer who is sent on a mission by the CIA to negotiate the release of a captured American pilot during the Cold War. Bridge of Spies will be released in UK cinemas on 27th November 2015.

The Martian Video

The marketing for The Martian is pretty slick, with a series of “training videos” produced, like the one above. With a stellar cast that includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor, it will be interesting to see if the film can replicate the success of recent space-set blockbusters like Interstellar and Gravity. The Martian is out in UK cinemas on 30th September 2015.

Pan Trailer

The latest Peter Pan adaptation, Pan, is about to be released. Starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund and Rooney Mara, the film is directed by Joe Wright. It will be interesting to see how the film measures up against 1991’s Hook. Pan will hit the big screen on 16th October 2015.

Film Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers gets a Blu-Ray release. The film is a decent update of the 1956 movie, slightly more concentrated on the science fiction aspects than its predecessor.

Health inspector Matthew Bennell begins to notice that a number of people around him are worried that their family members seem different. The people look identical, but are devoid of emotion…

In Philip Kaufman’s film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been transported from small-town 1950s to late-1970s San Francisco. The update is successful; with viewers of the time more likely to identify with the setting. The modern city setting could have been problematic with the themes of control and isolation inherent in the narrative, but W.D. Richter’s screenplay deals with this effectively.

Pacing is good in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Kaufman allows for a picture to be build of normal life before this begins to erode. The film builds momentum slowly but effectively, taking time for the narrative to develop rather than offering a series of set pieces.

Setting up protagonist Matthew as a health inspector is a wise move by Richter. It allows for scientific explanation to be brought into play in a plausible fashion. Similarly, the vein of paranoia and the uncanny that was so successful in the original film is utilised well here. The sense of isolation and distrust is exemplified by the anonymity of the big city.

Michael Chapman’s cinematography is excellent. The familiar is made uncomfortable in both the theme and visuals. Make up and effects are also good for the time. Invasion of the Body Snatchers features an enviable cast. Donald Sutherland offers a solid performance as Matthew, while Brooke Adams is believable as Elizabeth. Jeff Goldblum shows the beginnings of traits that viewers have come to expect from him.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a competent remake that combines science fiction with horror to create an unnerving experience.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is released on Blu-Ray from Monday 18th November 2013.

Film Review: The Eagle

The Eagle is a fairly standard sword and sandals tale that eschews grandeur to concentrate on a more personal story. Although the themes seem rather simplistic at times, the film is entertaining nevertheless.

Marcus Aquila’s father was in charge of the Ninth Legion, of which all men vanished along with their gold emblem in the north of Britain. Now a centurion, Aquila is a skilled soldier but carries with him lingering thoughts about his father’s disappearance. When he hears rumours about the eagle’s whereabouts, Aquila travels with his slave Esca across Hadrian’s Wall to try and retrieve it…

The Eagle is less of an epic than a film such as Gladiator; the battle in Kevin MacDonald’s film appears  not as wide-ranging. The focus is squarely on the personal in The Eagle. Aquila is concerned with restoring his father’s honour, and travels with only a slave instead of an army. The film provides no great surprises with its narrative, but there is enough drive and action to entertain audiences.

Jeremy Brock’s screenplay is perfectly suitable for the genre, although the dialogue can be a little hackneyed. Themes in The Eagle are stripped back to basics; the film concentrates on honour and trust. It does not really delve deeper than the surface into these issues. The relationship between Aquila and Esca is built upon these themes. There are definite homoerotic overtones, but these amount to all tease and no pay off, as perhaps is expected.

The battle scenes in the film are graphically violent. It seems that the filmmakers wanted to accentuate the violence of the period. The art direction and cinematography work well, generating a sense of harshness in the landscape that matches the brutality of the violence. The sound design is interesting; for the most part it is good, but veers towards overemphasis in the later battle sequences.

Performances in The Eagle are good overall. Channing Tatum makes a formidable soldier, he is certainly appropriately cast in terms of physique. Jamie Bell adds substance to the film as the slave Esca. He brings a solemnness to the character which is credible. Donald Sutherland plays the wizened old man well as Aquila’s uncle. All the Romans in the film speak with American accents; an unusual choice that is a little distracting at the beginning of the film.

The Eagle is not particularly remarkable or innovative, but it is a decent sword and sandals film. Fans of this genre are unlikely to be too disappointed by this offering.