Previews: Patriots Day Featurette, Rogue One, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a Patriots Day featurette, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Silence, and more…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Featurette

Here is Diego Luna talking about working on the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Luna plays Cassian Andor, a Rebel Alliance officer. The Star Wars spin-off features a stellar cast, including Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, and Forest Whitaker. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits UK screens on 15th December 2016.

Patriots Day Featurette

This Patriots Day featurette focuses on J.K. Simmons and the character he plays in the film. Patriots Day is an account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath that followed. Also starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, and Kevin Bacon, Patriots Day is set for release in 2017.

Silence Poster

Silence Poster

Martin Scorsese’s latest film Silence revisits some of the themes prevalent in his earlier pictures. Starring Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuits priests who visit Japan to locate their mentor. Also starring Liam Neeson and Ciarán Hinds, Silence will hit UK screens on 1st January 2017.

Fences Trailer

Here is the second trailer for Denzel Washington’s Fences. This one reveals a little more about the plot and the main characters than the first look at the film. Based on August Wilson’s award-winning play, the film also stars Viola Davis and Jovan Adepo. Fences will be released in selected UK cinemas on 10th February 2017, and everywhere from 17th February.

 

Passengers Clip

Here is a brief clip from the upcoming Passengers, which showcases the special effects that the film offers. Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, the film is about two passengers on a voyage to a new colony who wake up early in space. Passengers jets into UK cinemas on 21st December 2016.

Power Rangers Image

alpha 5 Power Rangers

Here is the first look at Alpha 5 from the upcoming Power Rangers movie. As with other images released from the film, the character looks pretty different from the 1990s TV show.  Alpha 5 is voiced by Bill Hader in the film. Also starring Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston, Power Rangers is scheduled for release on UK screens in 2017.

Hidden Figures Clip

Here is a brief clip from Hidden Figures. It is based on the true story of a group of black women who worked at NASA during the space race of the 1960s. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Kevin Costner. Hidden Figures is out in UK cinemas in February 2017.

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.

Film Review: The Salvation

The Salvation

Kristian Levring’s The Salvation is a suitably entertaining Western. For all its style, however, the film fails to imprint its own mark on the genre.

Danish settler Jon has built a life for himself in 1870s America. Tragedy strikes when his family arrive in the country, forcing on to take matters into his own hands…

The Salvation follows that familiar old Western trope of revenge. The film’s premise is simple; this is a story about pay back. Usually with this type of film, the pressure lies on the execution of the action. Although action sequences function well to accelerate the pace in The Salvation, they not not meet the cathartic need. This is in part due to the lack of character development.

The Salvation offers little in the way of three-dimensional characters. The audience is not really given much of an opportunity to get to know the film’s protagonist. The situation presented in the film’s opening is traumatising to Jon. Yet little personality is given to the character. His brother Krestan is given a little more in the way of depth. The choice to have the main female character as mute perhaps represents women’s place in this era and environment.

The subplot of the land grab offers little distraction. Its inclusion offers reasoning behind the rule of fear. However, this strand is not fleshed out sufficiently. It merely seems like a device to provide some contemporary resonance or reasoning. Perhaps if the central character had been given more depth, The Salvation would have successfully functioned solely on its revenge hinge.

The use of colour is striking in the beginning of The Salvation. The film looks every inch the Western, with a level of authenticity to the look of the Wild West outpost. Visual effects are poor, however. Mads Mikkelsen delivers a decent performance as Jon. Eva Green is a striking figure, whilst Jeffrey Dean Morgan chews scenery as the cartoonish villain.

Ultimately, The Salvation lacks the mettle of a classic revenge story. The protagonist is not enough of a victim, or a hero, for viewers to really root for him. The film plays out appropriately, but lacks significance.

Trailer Round-Up

It’s all about the Avengers: Age of Ultron latest trailer this week, but there is plenty more besides…

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The latest trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron looks ever so exciting. The film has a tough act to follow with the success of its predecessor, but from this trailer it looks up to the job. Avengers: Age of Ultron launches on to the big screens on 23rd April 2015 in the UK.

Mr Holmes

Mr Holmes offers a different take on the famous detective. Ian McKellen plays an older Sherlock Holmes, retired and living in a remote farmhouse, who tackles an unsolved mystery. Mr Holmes is out on UK screens on 19th June 2015.

While We’re Young

Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young sees the writer-director team up with Ben Stiller again. Also starring Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfried, While We’re Young focuses on a middle-aged couple and the disruption in their lives caused by a younger couple. The film is released in UK cinemas on 3rd April 2015.

The Face of an Angel

Inspired by the killing of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy, The Face of an Angel examines the obsession with violent stories, whether fictional or real. Michael Winterbottom’s film, starring Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Brühl, is out in UK cinemas on 27th March 2015.

The Salvation

Mads Mikkelsen is the protagonist in western The Salvation. Also starring Eva Green and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the film focuses on a man who avengers his family, and the consequences of this. The Salvation hits UK screens on 17th April 2015.

Film Review: The Hunt

Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt is a powerful and affecting drama. Its strength lies in the fantastic performances and the fine direction.

Kindergarten teacher Lucas is adored by the children he teaches and has many friends in the small community where he lives. When Lucas is accused of abusing a child, his world falls apart. The allegation has a profound effect on the community…

Writer Tobias Lindholm and writer-director Thomas Vinterberg tackle a difficult subject with The Hunt. Rather than sensationalise the topic, the accusation of child abuse is handled in a thoughtful and sensitive manner. The film does not depict clear heroes and villains, the theme rightly calls for a deeper and more multi-faceted approach than this.

Characters are well developed, even those in more minor roles. The Hunt allows viewers to take a number of different vantage points, although the focus is on the accused Lucas. Dialogue appears natural, and it is sometimes the unsaid which is most affecting. The film evokes strong feelings without there ever being a sense of forcing an emotional reaction or aiming to elicit sympathy.

The direction is responsible for much of this reaction. There are ample close ups, particularly focusing on the eyes. Many of the shots linger, giving the audience time to take in the action and reflect upon it. Meanwhile, the long shots work well to effectively emphasise the isolation of Lucas.

Mads Mikkelsen offers a powerful performance as protagonist Lucas. It is difficult not to be moved by the character, played with such authentic suffering. Annika Wedderkopp is also great as Klara, giving a believable performance despite her young age.

The Hunt is perfectly pitched and finely executed. A moving and thought-provoking film.

The Hunt is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.