Film Review: Allied

Allied

Robert Zemeckis’ Allied is an engaging mystery thriller, even if it is not always satisfying. The film is beautifully shot and reels in viewers thanks to decent direction.

During World War II, intelligence officer Max Vatan encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour in Morocco. The pair engage in a deadly mission in the Nazi-occupied territory…

Directed by Robert Zemeckis and scripted by Steven Knight, Allied aims to hark back to the glory days of the espionage thriller. It is successful in some respects; the period setting is beautifully represented, and there is sufficient mystery to maintain the viewer’s attention. On the surface, the film is very much what is required from a film of this genre. Nevertheless, not every aspect of the film excels under scrutiny.

The central premise of the film is whether intelligence officer Vatan can trust French Resistance fighter Beausejour. This is as true of the first third of the film, as it is the remainder of the duration. The dynamic changes so that this becomes even more pivotal. Allied alludes to a number of other spy films with its central narrative. Although it is not the most original of premises, the narrative functions well to keep viewers guessing.

The second half is where the film begins to slide. In his frantic quest for the truth, Vatan seems noticeably sloppy in his investigation and interrogation. For an intelligence officer, his methods are less than covert. Although the race against time does build some tension, the film certainly could have been more nerve-racking in its final third. The ending is rather sentimental, although it is not the worst of conclusions.

Costumes and production design are great in Allied. Cinematographer Don Burgess shoots the film beautifully. Marion Cotillard is as strong as ever as the alluring but unknowable Marianne. Brad Pitt delivers a perfectly fine performance, although he does not really lose himself in the role.

Allied is a formidable package; a great cast and crew and an appealing-looking film. Under this fancy wrapping, however, the film does not do enough to make its mark on the genre.

Previews: Allied Trailer, John Wick: Chapter Two, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions including the Allied trailer, Moana, John Wick: Chapter Two and more…

Allied Trailer

Brad Pitt has dominated the entertainment news this week, so in good timing the Allied trailer dropped. The film stars Pitt as an intelligence officer who encounters Marion Cotillard’s Resistance fighter. Set in 1942, the film is directed by Robert Zemeckis. Allied will hit UK screens on 25th November 2016.

Moana Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Disney’s Moana. It is Disney’s first film set in the South Pacific. Moana will be the first mainly CGI-animated movie from directors Ron Clements and John Musker. Moana is set for release in UK cinemas on 2nd December 2016.

John Wick: Chapter Two Poster

John Wick Chapter Two

Here is the first look at John Wick: Chapter Two. The film is a follow up to 2014’s John Wick.  The hitman is forced out retirement by a former associate in this sequel. Starring Keanu Reeves, John Wick: Chapter Two is scheduled for release on 17th February 2017.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Featurette

This featurette for Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children focuses on the vision of director Tim Burton. Stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench and others talk about working with the director on this film. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is out in UK cinemas on 29th September 2016.

Passengers Trailer

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in sci-fi thriller Passengers. By slightly more important than them, there are robots in this film. Passengers is about two passengers being transported to another planet on a spaceship. The film will be released in UK cinemas on 21st December 2016.

Annabelle 2 Teaser Trailer

This teaser trailer, or trailer announcement trailer, for Annabelle 2 does not reveal much, except for the creepiest doll ever. The film is about the doll-maker who is responsible for the monstrous creation, with a nun and some orphans thrown in for good measure. Horror sequel Annabelle 2 will hit UK screens in May 2017.

Film Review: Macbeth

Macbeth

Director Justin Kurzel delivers a haunting adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic. Macbeth is a sharp and often brutal cinematic retelling of the play.

Macbeth, a Thane of Scotland, receives a prophecy that he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition, Macbeth is spurred on by his wife to take action to claim the throne for himself…

Justin Kurzel, director of 2011’s Snowtown, has created powerful and evocative cinema with his version of Macbeth. The cinematography, setting, sound and screenplay combine to offer an adaptation that works fantastically on the big screen. Michael Fassbender delivers a commanding performance as the title character. He is ably aided by Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth and Sean Harris as a memorable Macduff.

Kurzel’s Macbeth has been trimmed from the original for the screen, as is necessary given the length of the play. The changes make the duration feel brisk, without losing the essence of the play. There are also some changes to the delivery and set-ups, but those enamoured with Shakespeare’s work will likely see the reasoning behind this.

Macbeth keeps the original Shakespeare dialogue. Whilst this may seem impenetrable, particularly for those less familiar with the bard’s plays, it actually works well within the context. This is because this version of Macbeth relies heavily on the visual, meaning that viewers will be able to follow the story even if they do not understand every word of the dialogue. The screenplay trims a significant amount of dialogue, with images helping to tell the story.

Justin Kurzel directs the action with a brusqueness that suits the overall tone. The film keeps the original period in its setting, and the battle sequences work well to depict the brutality of the time, whilst also mirroring the mindset of the protagonist. Macbeth’s descent into madness is concise but effective. Use of colour and composition in Macbeth is excellent. The sound, employed throughout, is a big element of the haunting atmosphere.

With striking performances and an evocative atmosphere, Kurzel’s Macbeth is a most admirable cinematic retelling of the Scottish play.

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.

Previews: Jurassic World Featurette, Macbeth Trailer and More

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Jurassic World featurette, the trailer for Macbeth, and the latest Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation trailer…

Jurassic World Featurette

Steven Spielberg talks about passing the torch to director Colin Trevorrow in this new Jurassic World featurette. The importance of the cast and crew being fans of Jurassic Park is highlighted in the video, which hopefully means that the new film will pay homage to the original. Jurassic World hits the big screen on 11th June 2015.

Macbeth Trailer

This trailer for the new film adaptation of Macbeth is haunting. Starring Michael Fasbender and Marion Cotillard, this is a period-set version of the Shakespearean classic. Macbeth, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, is set for release on 2nd October 2015.

Song of the Sea Trailer

After it’s Oscar nomination, Song of the Sea gets a UK release. The animated film tells the story of Ben and his sister Saoirse who embark on a journey across a fantastic world. Featuring the voice of Brendan Gleeson, Song of the Sea will be released in cinemas on 10th July 2015.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation Trailer

The big set pieces continue in this latest instalment in the franchise, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. The film sees Tom Cruise reuniting with Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames, plus some new faces. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation will hit UK screens on 30th July 2015.

Terminator Genisys Clip

This clip shows Terminator Genisys paying homage to its predecessors with a famous line. The film sees the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his famous franchise, as well as Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke. A fractured timeline is created when Kyle Reese is  sent back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor. See what happens when Terminator Genisys is released in Uk cinemas on 2nd July 2015.

Previews: Spectre Vlog, Legend Trailer and more

Plenty to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Spectre vlog, the Legend trailer, plus a first look at Macbeth

Spectre Vlog

In this latest Spectre vlog, director Sam Mendes and members of the crew discuss a car chase sequence from the upcoming James Bond movie. You can check out the Spectre trailer here, and more Spectre vlogs are available on the James Bond channel. Spectre hits the big screen 6th November 2015.

Legend Trailer 

Legend is not a remake of the 1985 fantasy classic of the same name. This version of Legend is about the notorious Kray twins. Written and directed by Brian Hegeland, the film stars Tom Hardy as both Kray twins. Legend is set for release in the UK on 11th September 2015.

Aloha Clip

Wedding Crashers‘ stars Rachel McAdams and Bradley Cooper reunite in this clip from Aloha. Cameron Crowe directs an all-star cast, which also includes Bill Murray, Emma Stone and Jay Baruchel. Aloha will hit UK screens on 4th September 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer

The final trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road arrives two weeks before the film’s release. A combination of new and already-released footage, the trailer suggests that the film will be a crazy ride. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road will be released in cinemas on 14th May 2015.

Macbeth First Look

Macbeth

Here is one of the first images released from the new film adaptation of Macbeth. Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, Macbeth is due to make its world premiere at next month’s Cannes Film Festival. The film is scheduled to open in the UK in October 2015.

Poltergeist Featurette

Sam Raimi discusses his horror remake of Poltergeist in the above featurette. Remakes have been a prominent feature of the horror genre for several years now, so this new version of Poltergeist is no surprise. Starring Sam Rockwell and Jared Harris, Poltergeist will hit UK screens on 22nd May 2015.

Moomins on the Riviera Trailer

The Moomins holiday in style in this film adaptation of the comic strips. The English-language version of Moomins on the Riviera features the voices of Russell Tovey and Tracy Ann Oberman. The animated film will be released in UK cinemas on 22nd May 2015.

Magic Mike XXL Poster

Magic Mike XXL Poster

The latest series of posters for Magic Mike sequel Magic Mike XXL makes no secret of how viewers are being enticed. Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello are among those who have returned for the second instalment, alongside newcomers Elizabeth Banks and Amber Heard. Magic Mike XXL will thrust its way on to UK screens on 3rd July 2015.

What Happened, Miss Simone? Trailer

New documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? focuses on legendary singer Nina Simone. The film features previously unheard audio tapes, plus interviews with family members and friends. What Happened, Miss Simone? will make its debut on Netflix on 26th June 2015.

Film Review: Rust and Bone

Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone is compelling thanks to great performances from its leads and a narrative that engages the viewer.

Ali goes to live with his sister, taking his young son along with him. Working as a bouncer, Ali meets Stephanie at the night club after he breaks up a fight. Trying to cope with a life-changing event, Stephanie turns to Ali for friendship…

Rust and Bone succeeds in maintaining the audience’s interest by taking its time to establish the characters and the turn of events. Viewers should attempt to go into the film with as little knowledge of the plot as possible for maximum enjoyment. This way, what occurs is unexpected and even surprising.

From the outset, it is hard to predict the direction the film will take. Director Audiard takes his time in establishing scenarios. Even in the very beginning it is unclear why Ali and his son are making the journey. Rust and Bone‘s narrative unfolds at a natural pace, allowing the relationship between Ali and Stephanie to develop in an authentic manner.

What is great about the protagonists is that they both appear three dimensional. Ali’s consideration for Stephanie is contrasted with apparent carelessness for his son. Similarly, the viewer’s first impression of Stephanie belies her more complex and endearing character. Matthias Schoenaerts is entirely convincing as Ali. Marion Cotillard meanwhile offers a very impressive performance as Stephanie. It is a challenging role, but Cotillard’s strong performance is compelling.

There are some shots in Rust and Bone which feel like style for style’s sake. A few of these could have been omitted or trimmed. Shots in the water however do add something to the film. The score also works well.

Rust and Bone deserves the acclaim that it has received. Not a perfect film, but a very well executed one nonetheless.