Film Review: 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.

Previews: Ant-Man Trailer, Irrational Man Trailer and More

Previews of forthcoming attractions this week include the latest Ant-Man trailer, Irrational Man, Steve Jobs

Ant-Man Trailer

Here is the latest Ant-Man trailer. The film looks like it will have a healthy dose of comedy, and given that the film is about an ant-sized superhero, this will be welcome. Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, Ant-Man hits the big screen on 17th July 2015.

Irrational Man Trailer

Woody Allen’s latest film Irrational Man stars Joaquin Phoenix as a philosophy professor who  gets caught in a love triangle with two women. Emma Stone returns for her second performance in an Allen film whilst it is the first for Parker Posey and Joaquin Phoenix. Irrational Man opens in UK cinemas on 11th September 2015.

Steve Jobs Trailer

Here is the debut trailer for Steve Jobs. The film comes with quite a pedigree; it is directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin, and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen. Steve Jobs will be released in UK cinemas on 13th November 2015.

The Walk Poster

The Walk poster

The Walk is based on the true story of a man who walked between the two World Trade Centre towers in New York. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon and Ben Kingsley, and is directed by Robert Zebecks. The Walk hits the big screen on 2nd October 2015.


The Rocky franchise gets another instalment, albeit with a bit of a difference. Michael B. Jordan stars as the son of Apollo Creed, and sees Sylvester Stallone reprise his role as the boxing legend. Creed also reunites Jordan with his Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler. Creed is set for release on 27th November 2015.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl Trailer

The Diary of a Teenage Girl has already won praise at film festivals this year. The film is about a teenage girl growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s. Starring Bel Powley, Kirsten Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, The Diary of a Teenage Girl will hit the big screen in the UK on 7th August 2015.


New comedy Masterminds tells the true story of a group of idiots who pulled off a $17 million heist. The film stars Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Own Wilson and Jason Sudeikis. Masterminds will hit UK screens on 7th August 2015.



Film Review: Flight

FlightDespite a strong central performance, Flight feels weighed down by its length, pacing and ultimately its execution.

Commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker saves a flight from a catastrophic disaster after a malfunction. An investigation into the crash leads to a troubling discovery. With everyone calling Whip a hero, things may not be exactly as they seem…

Robert Zemeckis’ Flight is a character study. The pivotal aspect of the film is the protagonist’s internal journey. Flight depicts alcoholism with the seriousness it deserves. Nevertheless, it does not rank as a classic film featuring this theme in the same way as The Lost Weekend for example.

Flight has an interesting first third, but by the end the film feels laboured. Whip is an engaging character, but the overlong narrative does not make the film itself compelling. The side strands of Flight are not particularly well conceived. There seems to be a lack of attention given to this element. When a film is as long as Flight is, this is rather important.

Director Robert Zemeckis executes the crash sequence with aplomb. It is tense, and the cutting between the captain’s cabin and the rest of the plane works very well. It is a shame that the rest of the film does not match up to it. Production values are good overall, but the song choices are terribly clichéd.

Denzel Washington delivers a powerful as Whip Whitaker. His performance is certainly stronger than the material he has to work with. John Goodman provides amusing support in a small role, while Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle are well cast in their respective roles.

Flight is by no means a terrible film, but is far from being an excellent one. Denzel Washington is the bright spot.

Film Review: Back to the Future

With an excellent screenplay, perfect casting and a superlative theme song and score, it is not an overstatement to assert that Back to the Future is one of the finest films of all time. It is not a stretch to imagine the reaction of audiences in 1985; the film has retained that rare magic twenty-five years on.

After helping his friend Doc Brown with his scientific experiments, teenager Marty McFly is sent back in time, from 1985 to 1955. As well as trying to get back to the present day, Marty also has to ensure his parents meet as they should, otherwise there will be no future for him at all…

Back to the Future‘s script, by Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis, captures a dose of all the necessities in good measure. Part science fiction fantasy, part action comedy, the film also dips into the teen film and sprinkles a generous helping of retro kitsch. In amongst the plentiful humour is a real sense of peril; Marty’s quest at times seems unlikely to succeed, even though the idea of him failing is unthinkable. The pacing of Back to the Future is faultless; the film moves quickly enough to sustain interest, but at the same time allows sufficient space for character development.

The narrative is a paradox, being simple but also elaborate. Like many other 1980s fantasy and action films, Back to the Future follows a straightforward quest narrative and is linear in its structure. However, the time-travelling aspect is a little more complex than this. Such is the precariousness of Marty’s position, that one wrong turn could alter the fabric of history. Whilst the young protagonist attempts to cause as little damage as possible, at the same time he cannot help leaning on his knowledge of the future; introducing the 1955 contingent to Chuck Berry and Darth Vader, for example.

Michael J. Fox is perfectly cast as teenager Marty McFly. He exudes likeability and has great comic timing. Crispin Glover is excellent as Marty’s dad George in both 1955 and 1985. Christopher Lloyd, however, steals the show as Doctor Emmett Brown. He encapsulates the zaniness that makes the character so memorable.

Back to the Future features a now classic score by Alan Silvestri as well as the indelible theme song ‘The Power of Love’ by Huey Lewis and the News. As well as the music, there are a whole host of other elements that affirm Back to the Future as very much a product of the mid-1980s.

As a film that is itself concerned with nostalgia, watching Back to the Future on the big screen now is a hugely nostalgic experience for those who remember the eighties. For those who do not, the film is a paragon of the original, immensely entertaining and exceptionally popular blockbusters that appeared much more frequently in that decade than they do now.

Back to the Future has been re-released in cinemas to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary.

Film Review: Hot Tub Time Machine

Perhaps the biggest achievement of Hot Tub Time Machine is that it cements Back to the Future as the quintessential time-travel movie. That’s not to say it is a bad film, merely that the influence of Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 classic is abundantly clear.

Oh, the 1980s. Such a wonderful decade. Adam (played by John Cusack) and friends inadvertently time-travel back to 1986, seemingly a year that fundamentally altered the course of their lives. The film follows the gang as they attempt to return to the present day without causing too much upset in as they run into old flames, friends, and enemies…

Hot Tub Time Machine is a very enjoyable film; the trailer does not illustrate some of the funnier moments in the film. The humour is a mix of parody, knowing references, and the gross-out comedy of films such as Animal House or American Pie.

Director Steve Pink does a good job of balancing this humour with more poignant moments that progress the film’s narrative. The allusions to other films are unmistakable, and Hot Tub Time Machine does the right thing in overtly mentioning some of them. The references stretch as far as casting, with Chevy Chase making an appearance, as well Crispin Glover, who appears in both the present and the past, in another nod to Back to the Future.

With an intertextual film that pays homage to the 80s such as this, it is surprising there is no covert reference to the fact that its leading man became a star in this very decade. Nonetheless, Hot Tub Time Machine works well to produce a feeling of nostalgia for those who remember the decade, and to offer a kitsch depiction to younger audience members well versed in 80s-retro  culture. Special kudos for the soundtrack too, which features an array of both well-known and cult 1980s tunes.

Sure, Hot Tub Time Machine is a corny film. The plot is predictable and the dialogue sometimes crass. But it is also extremely entertaining; surely the sole aim for a flick such as this.