Previews: X-Men: Apocalypse Clip, The Nice Guys and more

Lots in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a X-Men: Apocalypse clip, Our Kind of Traitor, The Nice Guys and more…

X-Men: Apocalypse Clip

Here is the latest X-Men: Apocalypse clip. Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique watches Ben Hardy’s Angel take on Kodi Smitt-McPhee’s Nightcrawler in a cage fight. It is unclear where this fits in with the plot, but the 1980s setting looks fun. X-Men: Apocalypse is out in UK cinemas on 18th May 2016.

Our Kind of Traitor Featurette

The cast of Our Kind of Traitor discuss their roles in the film in this short featurette. Directed by Susanna White, the film is based on John Le Carré’s novel of the same name. Starring Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris, and Damian Lewis, Our Kind of Traitor is released on UK screens on 13th May 2016.

The Nice Guys Poster

The Nice Guys poster

Here is one of the new poster’s for Shane Black’s The Nice Guys. The film is set in the 1970s and revolves around a hired enforcer (Russell Crowe) and a private investigator (Ryan Gosling) teaming up to solve a case. Also starring Kim Basinger, The Nice Guys hits the big screen on 3rd June 2016.

The Neon Demon Trailer

The Neon Demon has a UK release date. Nicholas Winding Refn’s latest film will hit cinemas on 8th July 2016. The Neon Demon stars Elle Fanning as an aspiring model who moves to LA. Her youth is noted by a group beauty-obsessed women, desperate for what she has. The Neon Demon also stars Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Out of the Shadows. A sequel to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this new film features some familiar faces from the popular cartoon series. Starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is out in UK cinemas on 30th May 2016.

The Shallows Trailer

Here is the trailer for upcoming thriller The Shallows. The film stars Blake Lively as a young woman who takes a surfing trip to a deserted beach. Only metres from shore, she is obstructed by a great white shark. The Shallows is scheduled for release in cinema in August 2016.

Film Review: The Congress

The Congress

The Congress is an experimental science fiction film that has successes as well as failures. It is a shame that the strength of the first third is not replicated in the rest of the film.

Actress Robin Wright is offered one last job, which her agent persuades her to take. Later on, the consequences of her decision effects her in ways she did not consider…

Ari Folman’s The Congress posits an interesting premise: technology rendering real actors obsolete. With the reliance on CGI, this is not too difficult to fathom. It is a fascinating set up, and one that retains the audience’s attention.

The introduction of the animated section still functions effectively. Given that the idea of avatars has been played out in films before, it is interesting to see where Folman will take it. However, the idea peters out. This segment feels overlong and lacks momentum. The audience is given too long to ponder on meagre bones.

The Congress recovers before its conclusion however. The final segment of the film takes themes back to the beginning. The finale feels fitting.

The Congress exhibits some great cinematography. The animated section shows real creativity. Given the premise, there are some amusing nods to the film industry.

Robin Wright is great in The Congress. The role is really interesting, and requires self-reflexivity which Wright delivers. Harvey Keitel is well cast as agent Al, while Kodi Smit-McPhee is believable as Aaron.

There are some great ideas swirling around, but this does not translate into a truly illuminating film. The creativity of The Congress should be applauded nevertheless.

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

Film Review: ParaNorman

ParaNorman is a fun family animated feature that tows the line in being ghoulish without being frightening. The film should be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

In the town of Blithe Hollow, Norman is a young boy detached from the everyday world. Norman can see and talk to ghosts, but no one but his new friend Neil believes him. When his eccentric uncle tells him about a curse, it is down to Norman to save the town…

ParaNorman is an adventure film that is a bit more sombre than most animated features of this type. Humour is present in the film, but is not a constant feature. ParaNorman is not really a comedy. It is not a horror movie either. There are some macabre scenes, but it is never too scary for children.

Norman is an interesting protagonist. The early sequence of him walking to school is great in its ability to encapsulating his character. Themes of the outsider and belonging are played out overtly. There was a danger that the film would get overly sentimental, but ParaNorman eschews this. The film offers a meaningful message without excessive syrup.

There are some great references to the horror genre, that those even with just a passing acquaintance should be able to spot. The credit sequence is fantastic. With its references to old horror films, ParaNorman is almost a homage to the genre played out as a family animated movie.

Kodi Smit-McPhee is well cast as the voice of Norman. ParaNorman is populated with well known voices. Casey Affleck is amusing voicing Mitch, while Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann and John Goodman all do a great job. The soundtrack to the film is also good.

ParaNorman is macabre in places, but its unequivocal message is most positive. A well animated and entertaining family film.

Film Review: Let Me In

A remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In, Let Me In does not stray too far from its antecedent. Although there are a few nice touches added to proceedings, overall this remake seems pretty pointless.

Owen is bullied at school and spends most of his time alone. When a girl moves in next door, he finally has a friend to hang out with. Abby’s arrival, however, coincides with a number of gruesome murders…

Director Matt Reeves follows the blueprint from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and subsequent screenplay, choosing to alter only minor aspects. Unlike the Swedish film, we are thrust right into the action in Let Me In. The film begins at a climactic moment; most of what follows is a flashback.

The relationship between Owen and Abby is endearing, despite the looming danger. It is difficult not to feel sympathy for Owen; the scenes of bullying are quite brutal. Given this environment, it seems reasonable that Owen would want to maintain his bond with his only friend, even after he finds out about her dark side.

There isn’t the same sense of androgyny to Abby as there is to Eli in Let The Right One In. Thus, her assertion that she is not a girl doesn’t have the same poignancy in the 2010 film. Abby is depicted more brutally than her predecessor, but still maintains a feeling of warmth towards her friend. The relationship between the children is convincing; it is easy to see why these two outsiders would bond.

Reeves’ shooting style is fluid, combining the hand-held style of his earlier film Cloverfield with more traditional techniques. Reeves does however make some interesting choices. The face of Owen’s mother, for example, is never shown clearly. The intention may have been to intensify Owen’s state of isolation and the lack of human warmth he receives. Nevertheless, the deliberate obscuring of his mother’s face becomes distracting, and is more reminiscent of Muppet Babies than anything else.

There was something very cold about Let The Right One In that made it so memorable. Let Me In tries to replicate that atmosphere, but is only partially successful. Although the settings are quite similar, there doesn’t seem to be the same sense of isolation that permeates the Swedish version. Despite its 1980s setting, Let Me In does not appear too removed from reality; there is more of an urgency in the film that cuts through the coolness.

Let Me In does offer some highlights, notwithstanding. The performances by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz are great, and the film boasts a fantastic 1980s soundtrack. Let Me In is incredibly bloody; a nod to Hammer Productions’ notorious past, perhaps.

Let Me In is a well-made film but is just too similar to Let The Right One In. Given that the Swedish version was released fairly recently, the new version appears quite futile. If an English-language version was required, surely dubbing would have been a sensible option.