Director: Rob Cohen Screenwriters: Scott Windhauser, Jeff Dixon Director of Photography: Shelly Johnson
Cast: Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ralph Ineson
Synopsis: A coastal town prepares for a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane which brings with it the opportunity for a daring heist targeting $600 million in treasury funds.
Hurricane Heist Review:
Trash cinema at its most absurdly frivolous, “The Hurricane Heist” combines “Sharknado” vibes with “Geostorm” schlock, miraculously coming together a smidge better than both movies as self-awareness adds a laugh to the end of every impact. Unfortunately the resulting triumph comes with a bitter turn as the film’s naturally witless mode of address crowns it the standout amongst only the worst examples of its kind, a badge unable to be worn with honour in a film aware of its own shortcomings yet unable to prove itself as a competent action movie with an engaging concept.
To laugh at oneself comes with the territory here but the movie’s straight-to-DVD vibe leaves viewers in permanent limbo, unsure whether to laugh or cry in the face of such ineptitude while relishing the stark entertainment value of the film’s ridiculously overplayed tornado robbery. The “Frankenstein” of disaster movies, brought to life by jolts of thunder and lightning, “The Hurricane Heist” crashes cars and chases storms, staring into the eyes of oncoming doom and making the resulting trajectory abundantly clear in all of its underestimations.
The question here is how to judge a movie like “The Hurricane Heist” which goes out of its way to be scoffed at and ridiculed yet fails to become absurd enough to earn the title of parody. Supervised by Rob Cohen, the man behind disasterpieces “DragonHeart” and “Stealth”, the movie shows no signs of ever becoming a worthwhile action bonanza, feeling more like a paracinematic confusion without enough sharks or monsters to justify its discount aesthetic. Confidently presented with a lack of reshoots apparent in its ability to live up to its trailer, “The Hurricane Heist” refuses to be humiliated by its idiotic screenplay, focusing instead on the dynamism of disaster and turning friends, colleagues, brothers, and strangers into mere pawns in a game of destruction.
Ghost Stories - Global Trailer - In Cinemas April 6 - YouTube
Directors: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman Screenwriters: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman Director of Photography: Ole Bratt Birkeland
Cast: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse
Synopsis: A cynical professor who has dedicated his life to debunking paranormal activity finds his beliefs tested after connecting with an idol from his childhood who reveals that all might not be what it seems.
Ghost Stories Review:
Standard and irritating as a mash-up horror with the cheek to feign originality, “Ghost Stories” reworks pre-existing frameworks in a candid format, taking its time to reveal monsters whose presence falls flat in a film where atmosphere takes precedence over comprehension. Allegorical and insular, the movie implores us to cower upon the reveal of its true meaning and yet it becomes almost impossible to appreciate due to the sheer contrivance of its scares, filling every conceivable moment of action with elusive figures in dark places, the majority of whom can be mocked more effectively than they can ever be truly feared by those familiar with horror convention.
A marketing success from Lionsgate yet one with the potential to become a notable big screen disappointment, “Ghost Stories” reveres its own concept, the essence of which stays hidden mostly until the final act where a shift in perspective takes the film in unforeseen directions. While undoubtedly bolstered by its final moments, the movie suffers heavily as a bloated scare flick, giving us very little to write home about for the majority of its runtime as clichéd bumps and jumps send viewers to sleep before Dyson and Nyman truly tuck into the meat of their subject matter.
Smarter than a first glance suggests but dumber than it strives to be, “Ghost Stories” is a metaphor without a hook, a film lacking pizazz or likeability while attesting the prevalence of clichés within an already saturated genre. Suffering from the same ups and downs as a throwaway anthology horror, “Ghost Stories” scatters its puzzle pieces confidently but wears itself down to a nub of its original potential, giving viewers one final eyeroll before closing the door on a concept that deserved to be unpacked with a little more excitement than that of a late-night television drama.
A Quiet Place (2018) - Official Teaser Trailer - Paramount Pictures - YouTube
Director: John Krasinski Screenwriters: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski Director of Photography: Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe
Synopsis: A family targeted by creatures with a highly developed sense of hearing are forced to live and communicate in complete silence, finding themselves tested while their lives hang in the balance.
A Quiet Place Review:
A masterclass in conceptual minimalism made simple yet effective by the sheer tautness of its central predicament, “A Quiet Place” pickles basic storytelling in bottomless suspense, observing a family’s day-to-day attempts at survival while faced with a grisly threat lurking in the forest. Ruthless on the hunt for fresh meat, the film’s monsters prowl like nightmare carnivores, exhibiting “Alien” traits while close encounters afford their terrified prey the potential antidote for survival. Always one step ahead of the game, the film addresses plot holes with a genuine concern for what’s to come, overthinking slip-ups to the point of madness as the likelihood of being discovered only increases with each step in the right direction.
Accepting that sacrifices of varying degrees must be made along the way, “A Quiet Place” begins on a brutal note, setting the tone for a universe where danger peers around every corner, learning from missteps in the past while a small cast of characters suffer and study their enemy without a wink of sleep at their disposal. Sensational in every scene, eclectic treasure Emily Blunt steals the show as the tight-lipped housewife crumbling behind the silence, stifling screams and bleeding alone as perpetual risk provides little opportunity for composure or respite in the face of almost certain annihilation.
Practically wheezing with unease in scenes building towards inevitable pain, “A Quiet Place” offers the Grindhouse to match the grief, facilitating violence while fashioning a handful of reasons to care about its terrified characters. Never over-complicated as scattered plot points work slowly towards a viable outcome, the film matches effect with affect, becoming an unexpected tearjerker with compassion for defenceless humanity, making viewers aware of their own vulnerability while chairs creak, popcorn packets rustle, and coughs echo throughout a packed screen. This is filmmaking at its finest and most chilling, a look inwards at the essence of fear with one-note simplicity.
Year of Release: 1973
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Screenwriters: Allan Scott, Chris Bryant
Director of Photography: Anthony B. Richmond
Cast: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason
Synopsis: Following a tragic accident which claims the life of their youngest child, an architect and his wife move to Venice where they are met by two sisters, one of whom claims to be able to see their dead daughter.
Don’t Look Now Review:
A film about anguish, love, and scarred memories playing out in an eerie setting which morphs to the shape of a grieving couple’s worst nightmare, “Don’t Look Now” ripples and reverberates in the presence of overwhelming tragedy, smartly observing an unstoppable spiral into hell which begins with a now iconic child death sequence. Terrifying in subject matter alone, the movie is unashamed to address unspoken issues, pairing catastrophe with clairvoyance in a bumpy marriage thriller which sees explicit love-making written to balance out a naturally gloomy temperament.
Observing an horrific parallel in harrowing opening and closing scenes, “Don’t Look Now” embodies the feeling on impending doom in a single image, haunting its own consciousness in the build up to an unforgettable twist. From lifeless bodies pulled from lakes to glass shattering in the lead up to certain trauma, the movie foreshadows and suffers alongside Sutherland’s tormented architect, adopting a curse which haunts his every move. Jumpy and sharp with intentionally abrasive qualities, “Don’t Look Now” manifests pure fear out of personal agony, revealing a premonition even more devastating than its shocking prelude as a lost father struggles to rationalise his grief while becoming blind to the silent killing spree taking place across the street.
Heightened by the confusion of foreign dialogue, “Don’t Look Now” shapes its suspense to amplify an already occurring language barrier, creating a sense of unease through muddled communication in a post-traumatic nightmare with danger around the corner. Creating distance through shared space, visionary director Nicolas Roeg explores the isolating qualities of the Venice canals which separate streets into echoing passageways where water tricks the eye and confuses the ear. While unnamed characters observe through windows, failing to provide assistance in the face of certain risk, the film leaves a single man utterly alone in all the chaos, trapping him in swirling misfortune as the certain victim in one of the most powerful finales in film history.
Love, Simon | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX - YouTube
Director: Greg Berlanti Screenwriters: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker Director of Photography: John Guleserian
Cast: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner
Synopsis: A teen struggling to come to terms with his identity searches for meaning in burgeoning romance while navigating the pressures of high school and family life.
Love Simon Review:
An e-romance with “Breakfast Club” zest, “Love, Simon” is an instantly iconic teen treat for a new generation of misfits, sipping from red solo cups, stealing carnival kisses, and cheering from the bleachers with a rousing love for all that came before it. Quick-witted, sincere, and ready to face each and every hurdle that adolescence has to offer, the movie expertly normalises same-sex romance through a new-age Ferris Bueller, volunteering Simon as the humble and self-conscious everyman who just so happens to be gay. A future staple with infectious energy, the film finds the coming-of-age in coming out, making history in each of its even-tempered scenes and leaving viewers with a spring in their step at the behest of a heart-warming and heartfelt story.
Coming home intoxicated but always before curfew, “Love, Simon” trades friction for family values, finding warmth in the cosy space between a mumsy Jennifer Garner and goofball Josh Duhamel whose honesty as imperfect parents humanises the supposed teen enemy. Obliviously supportive of their troubled son, the film’s parental unit become the comedic backbone to serious themes, grounding transitional phases with compassion and honesty while imperfectly navigating the obstacles of parenthood.
Bounding with contagious affection for everyone in its paper chain of flawed characters, “Love, Simon” pushes Simon’s internal battles outwards, rendering his struggles human and universally relatable when placed against an abundance of interpersonal obstacles. Situated firmly in the space between adolescence and adulthood, the film captures youth in revolt with “Boyhood” brilliance, striking arrows through hearts and perusing social media, excavating both the good and the bad in life’s most crucial stage of development. One for the ages and a memorable moment in the history of teen cinema, “Love, Simon” is an unmissable treat that’ll leave you with a giggle in your belly and a tear in your eye.
UNSANE | Official Trailer | In theaters March 23 - YouTube
Director: Steven Soderbergh Screenwriters: Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer Director of Photography: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah
Synopsis: Tricked into being confined to a psychiatric ward, a young woman struggles to come to terms with the truth surrounding her committal which may or may not have been concocted by a crazed stalker who follows her every move.
The smartphone alternative to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with a faultless lead performance from British treasure Claire Foy, “Unsane” sees yet another ambitious project headed by established filmmaker Steven Soderbergh who retains a professional eye from behind an amateur lens. Exceeding the experience of those who may have been more conservative in their exploration of uncertain madness, the film reminds viewers that Soderbergh and co. have an expertise that transcends the hesitations of the everyday student filmmaker but it’s in their overarching stylistic competence that the cracks of a misguided thriller begin to show. While the film’s creative team has no qualms about finding the right atmosphere, it’s in their very dabble with madness that paranoia becomes a synonym for artistic ambivalence, producing an underexplored and conceptually stale horror movie with a dull temperament.
Undeniably nutty but rendered immemorable due to the directions taken in a patience-testing story, “Unsane” shuns the potential of its set-up, finding mediocrity in mania as a wonderful low-budget experiment dissipates into a padded melodrama with an obvious twist. Rendered dumb and passionless by the very nature of its story, the film struggles to balance suspense between opposing lines of thought, pointing consistently to a single outcome while having the nerve to end on a predictable note. Full of potential but lacking narrational vigour, “Unsane” sees all conviction driven into the ground by stodge and sterility; a truth made real not by the limitations of an iPhone 7 but by the fundamental shortcomings of a dozy concept.
ISLE OF DOGS | Official Trailer | FOX Searchlight - YouTube
Director: Wes Anderson Screenwriter: Wes Anderson Director of Photography: Tristan Oliver
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton
Synopsis: A group of city pups living rough after being banished to a vast garbage dump embark on a daring adventure when a lone pilot crash-lands on their island in a desperate bid to locate his lost dog.
Isle of Dogs Review:
A picture-perfect pup pic with cross-cultural stamina, “Isle of Dogs” is a socially diverse and brilliantly assembled adult animation, plotting like an old-school prison movie while revelling in the symmetrical bliss of a Wes Anderson picture. Combining haikus and ancient samurai lore with a pet-centric escapade across a perilous trash dump, the film translates the bark and reels in the bite, rendering humans less anthropomorphic than animals with table-turn precision. Loyal to a handful of misfits who willingly risk their lives in order to track down a fellow canine, “Isle of Dogs” picks its favourites and stays by their side, adding a warmth and breadth to a story that could so easily have been lost under the severity of Wes Anderson’s cool and clinical mode of address.
Straight-faced comedy with punchlines hidden in the darndest of places, “Isle of Dogs” is an ironically inclined and artistically inspiring episodic bonanza, proving impossible to dismiss as a creative endeavour while also potentially divisive for audience members who are yet to trawl through the director’s canon. Proportional perfection with a ridiculously astute code of conduct, the movie sits firmly within Wes Anderson’s pre-established symmetrical universe, leaving no room for chance or error in a film where even the tiniest of details have a grander purpose. From petals floating the breeze to a dog treat shared between many, “Isle of Dogs” leaves us in awe of its poignancy, transforming characters of all species, the impact of which is never lost in translation.
READY PLAYER ONE - Official Trailer 1 [HD] - YouTube
Director: Steven Spielberg Screenwriters: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline Director of Photography: Janusz Kaminski
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn
Synopsis: In a dystopian near-future where virtual reality grips the hearts and minds of a struggling world, a young hero steps forward to complete a seemingly impossible mission left behind by the creator of the world’s most intoxicating hyperreal miniverse.
Ready Player One Review:
An immersive case of Spielberg fever which’ll have you eagerly reaching for the 3D glasses in scenes of pure escapist bliss, “Ready Player One” is a film for anyone and everyone, an unforgettable night at the movies for audiences young and old and a treat for nerds gleefully dabbling in a game of spot the reference. Hemophilic with postmodern blood, the movie bleeds citations, becoming a densely intertextual work of art that’s both futuristic and lodged firmly in the past. Paint pot filmmaking with an ‘80s soundtrack, “Ready Player One” geeks out with style, rejoicing in each inquisitive moment of fun and transporting us back to the places we always wanted to explore.
Universe-building at its most affectionate and efficacious, “Ready Player One” pulls out all the stops, shunning the allure of another gormless franchise by impressing viewers in the here and now. Made with a trilogy of potential while charging forth into battle like “Return of the King” on speed, the movie establishes itself with exceptional frankness, convulsing with excitement as Spielberg’s inner fanboy runs rampant in a film with utter adoration for cinema. An uncommon sight in an era where big budget toy commercials rule the largest chunk of the mainstream market, “Ready Player One” refuses to sell out in expected ways, prizing excitement over the dollar sign at the end of the race while believing in the power of entertainment to pay off in the long run.
Made to be consumed with an open mind, “Ready Player One” offers a host of fun for those willing to suspend their disbelief, exchanging plausibility for an Avataresque journey into the unknown in a story adapted as the “Tron” or “Spy Kids” of a thumping new era. From classic monster movies to iconic horror, “Ready Player One” bursts chests and destroys cities, holding a boombox above its head in a handwritten love letter to history with an insatiably futuristic appetite. This is what we go to the cinema for and if this level of filmic mastery continues it’s why we’ll keep going back for more.
DEAR DICTATOR Official Trailer (2018) Michael Caine, Comedy Movie - YouTube
Directors: Lisa Addario, Joe Syracuse Screenwriters: Lisa Addario, Joe Syracuse Director of Photography: Wyatt Troll
Cast: Michael Caine, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes
Synopsis: A misfit teen with a love for old-school punk rock becomes pen pals with a foreign dictator who arrives on her doorstep seeking refuge during a time of crisis.
Dear Dictator Review:
Honest about the face of revolution while consistently witty as an absurdist comedy with a self-aware viewpoint, “Dear Dictator” is a militant mickey-take with an impossibly amusing concept, a film in which hardcore punk, milk-boarding, and Katie Holmes getting her feet licked quite remarkably come together in a coherent structure. Brutal in inference with oppression and rebellion forming the backdrop for an unlikely friendship between teen and tyrant, the movie humanises social outcasts, adopting skewed morals while detecting an overlooked link between anarchy and autocracy.
Capturing an imperfect relationship between mother and daughter with tumultuous yet hilarious scenes of discord in the family home, “Dear Dictator” examines motherhood with “Freaky Friday” precision, retaining a sense of humour in priceless battleground moments involving a seemingly mismatched duo. While both sides fight for compassion on their own terms, the film provides the perfect excuse for the pair to find common ground, introducing the titular dictator to them both and dissipating their forever-feud in moments of unexpected warmth.
While undeniably bonkers and easy to dismiss as a frivolous probe movie, “Dear Dictator” puts its silliness to good use, imploring viewers to read between the lines in a film far too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Brimming with nods to music, movies, and movements, “Dear Dictator” is surprisingly tasteful in its choice of references, turning Israeli beauty queen Odeya Rush into an angsty American whose rebellious nature fuels an obsession with the past and all of the anger that it has to offer. Built on stereotypes but humanised by intentionality, the movie imparts life lessons on every character, bridging the gap between power and punk and tearing down preconceived notions of companionship in a politically-charged climate.
Director: Roar Uthaug Screenwriters: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons Director of Photography: George Richmond
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas
Synopsis: The origin story of adventuring archaeologist Lara Croft who follows a trail left behind by her dead father which leads her to an island housing a cursed tomb with potentially deadly powers.
Tomb Raider Review:
Cinema’s first run-in with the post-2013 Lara Croft who trades her iconic buxom figure for a more intriguing backstory, “Tomb Raider” remains faithful to the franchise’s bold new aesthetic, revitalising a familiar character with a freshness made effortless by the stark difference between the old and the new. Surprising viewers who fondly recall the glory days where Angelina Jolie’s breasts were plastered front and centre around the world while looking to avoid the simplistic and somewhat crass pleasures of Toby Gard’s original characterisation, the film opts for a sweeter, more charming rendition of its tank-topped hero, exploring her vulnerability without undercutting Croft’s sheer strength and determination in the face of possible death.
Pushing Alicia Vikander to the peak of fitness but hitting a brick wall due to the limitations of her small frame, “Tomb Raider” finds other ways to excite its audience, gawping at spectacle rather than physique in explosive action sequences with breath-taking death drops. Seemingly aware of the fact that this is by far the film’s most impressive element, director Roar Uthaug turns our eyes into gamepads, reproducing familiar moments for gamers on a far grander scale. From a mad dash through the streets of London to a death-defying parachute jump, “Tomb Raider” excels amid challenge and danger, pumping adrenaline wherever necessary while trailing viewers through the action on ground level.
Bookended by clunky cutscenes lazily included as the film’s necessary introduction and conclusion sequences, “Tomb Raider” shines in its middle portion alone, locating a bizarre McGuffin which becomes the saving grace in a story heading straight for the toilet. Bulked out heavily by scenes that would’ve made last years “The Mummy” a gazillion times more palatable, the film knows how to play its cards without fumbling the ball, making its lack of plausibility feel somewhat irrelevant when placed alongside scenes defined by their undeniable entertainment value.