Stuff To Look At

Plenty of aural-visual delights this week, including The Babadook, Dracula Untold and Serena. And the new trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Here is the official trailer for the first part of the final instalment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. The trailer reveals a little more about the plot, and shows Katniss in full-on action mode. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is released in UK cinemas on 20th November 2014.

The Babadook

The Babadook poster

I saw a trailer for The Babadook recently, and thought that it looked pretty terrifying. The quotes on this poster for the film appear to cement this opinion. Horror The Babadook hits the big screen on 24th October 2014.

Dracula Untold

Here is a clip from the upcoming Dracula Untold. The film is an origins story of the man who became the legenedary vampire. Starring Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper, Dracula Untold hits the big screen on 3rd October 2014.


Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence reunite in Susanne Bier’s Serena. Cooper and Lawrence star as a newly wed couple in the 1920s who build a timber empire. Serena is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival and is released in cinemas on 24th October 2014.

Effie Gray

Here is a trailer for Effie Gray. Starring Dakota Fanning and Emma Thompson. the film tells the story of the marriage between Victorian art critic John Ruskin and his young bride. Effie Gray is out in cinemas on 10th October 2014.

The Judge

Robert Downey Jr. leads an all-star cast in The Judge. The film is about a city lawyer who returns to his hometown where his father, the town judge, is suspected of murder. The Judge is released in UK cinemas on 17th October 2014.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT Nicolas Delort

To celebrate the upcoming release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Paramount commissioned artists across the world to make artworks based on the origins of the turtles called ‘The Legend of the Yokai‘. One of my favourites is the the one by Nicolas Delort. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is released in UK cinemas on 17th October 2014.


I don’t know exactly what this film is about, where the story will go, or why it has been made, but there is a singing volcano! And that is fine by me. Above is a short clip of Pixar’s Lava, which is scheduled for release in the UK in July 2015.

Draft Day

Draft Day is set on, as the title suggests, the day of the NFL draft. Starring Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, the film is about the manager of an American football team and the decisions he makes on that day. But really, the reason to see this film is that Frank Langella (aka Skeletor) is in it. Draft Day is set for release on 3rd October 2014.

Film Review: Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank is a simply charming film. With great writing, directing and performances, Jake Schreier’s film is a real treat.

In the near future, Hunter is concerned about the health and well being of his father Frank, who suffers with memory lapses. Hunter gets Frank a robot to help him around the house. Retired jewel thief Frank is reluctant to have the robot around the house, until he discovers another use for his new companion…

The main reason that Robot & Frank is such an enjoyable watch is because the film is perfectly pitched. Schreier provides the right mix of  humour, reflection and fun. The film never becomes overly schmaltzy, too maudlin or descends into ridiculous caper. Screenwriter Christopher D. Ford has produced a story that hits the right note. The premise is simple yet very effective, with engaging themes.

Robot & Frank develops a good premise into a narrative that captures the viewer’s attention. Characters in the film are believable, and relationships are quite natural. The interaction between Frank and Robot are the real highlight nevertheless. Despite a leap in technology, it is very easy to see how this relationship would be fruitful to Frank. Their scenes together are well written and strike the right balance between being pensive and amusing.

The film features a great central performance by Frank Langella. Strong support is provided by Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler and James Marsden. Peter Sarsgaard was a great choice to voice Robot.

Like many great science fiction films, Robot & Frank is not really about the technology. It may, however, have viewers wishing they had a robot of their own. Highly recommended viewing.

Robot & Frank is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.

Film Review: Unknown

Unknown functions pretty much as The Bourne Identity meets Salt, but sadly is closer to the latter in terms of quality. The film is mildly entertaining, if you can overlook the incredulity.

Dr Martin Harris arrives in Berlin with his wife, to attend a conference. After forgetting his briefcase at the airport, Martin heads back in a cab to collect it, but does not make it there after a car accident. When Martin wakes, he finds that someone else has taken his identity…

The narrative of Unknown is comparable to that of a television special or a made-for-TV movie. The plot appears hackneyed; it is easy to spot the numerous ideas borrowed from other films. The twists in Unknown become more incredulous as the film continues, requiring a healthy suspension of disbelief.

Where Unknown differentiates itself from similar television specials and cements itself as a Hollywood film is in the large-scale set pieces. The stunts and action sequences are well executed, and really help in injecting momentum into the film. As an action film, Unknown works well; it is a pity that a similar level of effort was not put into the script.

The narrative of Unknown is propped up by a number of twists. These are critical to a thriller such as this, but unfortunately each turn makes the film more ridiculous. What does not help is the fact that each revealing piece of information is accompanied by heightened music. It is as if the sound editor is attempting to compel the audience to feel shocked at the revelations. However, this does not have the desired effect, and at times can appear unintentionally comical.

As Martin Harris, Liam Neeson is a watchable protagonist. The role is definitely in Neeson’s comfort zone, and is never a stretch for him. January Jones appears artificial as Elizabeth Harris; she is never really that believable at any stage in the film. Diane Kruger is decent as unwitting taxi driver Gina, although her Eastern European accent is patchy. Frank Langella is underused in Unknown. The veteran actor has such presence; it is a shame that he was not given a meatier role.

Combining the plot of a TV movie with the aesthetics of a big-budget Hollywood film, Unknown fails to hit the target. It is by no means painful viewing, but it is unlikely to win much praise either. Recommended viewing for those who enjoyed Salt.