Tag Archive: science fiction


Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back together again for the third in their “three flavours Cornetto” trilogy. After the massive success the trio have had with zombie flick Shaun of the Dead and cop film Hot Fuzz, expectations are set high for their attempt at science fiction; can The World’s End possibly be as good as the two films that preceded it?

Simon Pegg (who also shares writing duties along with Wright) plays Gary King, an alcoholic who is desperately trying to recapture his lost youth by returning to his childhood town of Newton Haven to complete “The Golden Mile”, a twelve bar pub crawl ending at The World’s End which the group never managed to finish first time round in 1990. To do this, Gary reunites his old friends, who just so happen to be some of the best actors in Britain which certainly does no harm to the film: Andrew Knightley (Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan). Against their better knowledge the group decide to rejoin Gary for this mission, but when they get to Newton Haven they realise that they may be Earth’s only hope against a mysterious enemy.

The World’s End begins with a quick round up of the backstory: we are given glimpses into the five friends’ school and social life and a brief roundup of their first crack at the Golden Mile and how unsuccessful it ended up. Whilst there are a few sniggers here and there it serves less as a tool for comedy and more just exposition. It is not until Simon Pegg appears on the screen that the big laughs arrive and, to be honest, with Pegg on screen the laughs never seem to stop. His performance is up there with the best comedy performances of all time, he lives within the character, his charisma is unmatched and everyone can empathise with him: this is a guy who (it seems like) never wants to grow up, he’s trying to relive his youth, be the free spirit that he longs to be and not fall into the organisation of civilisation. It’s a great character turned brilliant by Pegg’s performance, cementing him as Britain’s best comedy film export of the modern era.

While the laughs are big, the action is also blood pumping. The five central actors aren’t necassarily people you would associate with being action stars or even carrying out any form of major fight scene but they more than hold their own here. Pegg and particularly Nick Frost excel themselves in the action sequences which are handled every bit as well as the comedy moments. The two best fight scenes are the ones that take place in the toilets, which allow for great fights in such a confined area, and in The Beehive against Pierce Brosnan (what is Pierce Brosnan doing popping up here?) and the townspeople.

It’s impossible not to like The World’s End. A lesser film would have lost it’s way when taking the turn from straight out comedy to science fiction but this is something that Edgar Wright embraces. Breadcrumbs are left all over the place, foreshadowing the reveal and, what’s more, you’re made to really care about the characters and believe in these people which also helps you go along with their journey. Even before the science fiction element occurs and the five friends are sat around, catching up there’s a lot to enjoy just because of the realistic element to it. It does feel like you’re sat in the pub with them: they’re just five normal guys in a pub, easily recognisable and easy to enjoy.

The World’s End is very close to a perfect comedy: it has likeable characters, great charisma and flair, wonderful performances from great actors, jokes that never end, running jokes that continue throughout, references back to Hot Fuzz which is a particular enjoyment and it has Simon Pegg in the form of his life. However, the end (quite ironically) is where the film falls from perfection.

Once at The World’s End, the heroes are confronted with the leader of this invasion (voiced by Bill Nighy) and there is a lot, and we’re talking huge speeches here, of exposition to get through. It seems like Wright and Pegg have tried to create a well rounded villain with a real motive which doesn’t quite pay off (and this comes right after the reveal of Gary King’s motives for wanting to return which is surprisingly touching and not really given enough time). Instead of giving a 2D villain with some plan you’ve heard before you’re confronted with the leader of this invasion talking out all of his plans and reasons as to why this has taken place. Credit has to go to the pair for attempting this, for trying to be different but it just never really brings the punch that you’re anticipating throughout the rest of the film. Luckily, Pegg and Frost do provide enough laughs in this segment that you can sort of overlook it but that let down does tarnish the film slightly.

Saying that though, it seems almost impossible to deny that this is a comedy film very close to perfection and one of the best British comedies of all time.

My Rating: 9/10

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Deciding what films to see this month is going to be one tough task. With big blockbusters being released as well as lower budget story heavy features. There’s something for everyone to go and see in June.
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The Stone Roses: Made of Stone – 5th June

Shane Meadows’ documentary about the Manchester rock band is a must see for any fan!
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After Earth – 7th June

I remain unconvinced by this but Will Smith guarantees box office success whether the film is good or not.
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The Iceman – 7th June

The first of two Michael Shannon films released this month; praise has already been high for his performance here as Richard Kuklinski.
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Man of Steel – 14th June

And Michael Shannon plays the villain in Warner Bros. latest attempt to reboot arguably the most boring superhero ever created. Guaranteed box office smash and looks to be the Superman film people have been crying out for.
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Much Ado About Nothing – 14th June

If like me, you are a fan of Marvel and Shakespeare (I appreciate that isn’t a cross section many people anticipate) then Joss Whedon’s take on the famous Shakespeare play is a must see. With Clark Gregg and Nathan Fillion this is the modern sci-fi fan’s biggest wet dream.
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World War Z – 21st June

All the hype so far has been about the poor CGI and uninteresting posters. It’ll be interesting to see if Brad Pitt still has box office appeal – I’m not so sure.
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Despicable Me 2 – 28th June

If you’ve been to the cinema a lot lately you’re probably sick of seeing the teasers for this film, but you have to admit, it does look pretty good. And everyone loves those little minions!
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This is the End – 28th June

James Franco. Seth Rogen. Emma Watson. Jonah Hill. That guy from Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine. The funny one from Parks and Recreation. Milky Way. I want to see this.

Later this year Ender’s Game is set to be released to an audience that is already planning to boycott the film. The threat comes due to Orson Scott Card’s (the author of the original novel) controversial, to put it nicely, views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage; the author is set to earn some royalties from the film and some fans are unwilling to line his pockets, quite understandably. Just how serious these threats are remains to be seen, but for now lets just focus on the film itself. Here’s the trailer:

If you can’t tell from that, which you really can’t, what the storyline is, it is thus: 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. With this synopsis comes the promise of all out science fiction glory with special effects and battle scenes that will only be worth seeing on the big screen.

Now, obviously a brilliant cast does not always make a great film (Ocean’s Twelve, Alexander) but it doesn’t help to bring together many critically acclaimed actors, actresses and crew members, so who’s working on this?
Oscar winner Gavin Hood – 2006: Tsotsi won Best Foreign Language Film
Oscar winner Ben Kingsley – for his performance in Gandhi, seen in Ender’s Game sporting an interesting facial tattoo
Oscar nominee Harrison Ford – in my opinion over rated and very dull, but each to their own
Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin – Best Supporting Actress in Little Miss Sunshine
Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld – a young actress with a HUGE career ahead of her
Oscar nominee Viola Davis – Leading actress in The Help and Supporting Actress in Doubt
Basically, not a bad cast on paper!

But the film really hinges on the performance of Asa Butterfield in the lead role of Ender himself. He has previously appeared in Hugo and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and audiences do seem to have taken to him so far, now it is his time to carry a major franchise. Surrounding him with all of the talent mentioned above won’t damage his performance either and can only be a good thing.

The special effects from the trailer look pretty good, however the second half of the trailer does seem to tail off and become a little dull compared to the jumpy, action packed introduction. Ender’s Game does seem very similar to The Hunger Games which, based on its premise, should have been a lot darker in tone than it was; Ender’s Game seemingly takes a pretty darker approach than you would expect and could win many fans for that alone.

I am not entirely convinced by Ender’s Game just yet although I am interested in it. There just seems to be a certain spark missing. Hopefully, towards the release date promotion and marketing will be cranked up and the executives will be doing all they can to make Ender’s Game look as good as it can.

Gravity Trailer

UK Release Date: 18th October 2013

Stars: Alfonso Cuaron (director), George Clooney, Sandra Bullock.

Plot: Astronauts attempt to return to earth after debris crashes into their space shuttle, leaving them drifting alone in space.

So basically the trailer is just a scene from the film, presumable from the beginning of the film as we get to witness the debris crash and the trauma that ensues. Presumably the rest of the film is going to be just as dramatic, if not a little bit more.

Director Alfonso Cuaron has been nominated for three Oscars: none of them for his direction however. Two were for his writing and as he did write the script for Gravity as well then we could be looking at a good piece of drama. With the release date being October he could be looking to get into the minds of the Academy too with this one.

Call me cynical but, purely judging by the trailer, I can’t see this being very good. I love George Clooney and I want him to be brilliant but Sandra Bullock is too much of a hit and miss actress to pique any interest for me.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

With J.J. Abrams set to direct the new Star Wars film it is as yet unknown whether he will return for the inevitable conclusion to his finely crafted trilogy that has successfully reinstated Star Trek as one of the most important science fiction franchises in the world. Has he left behind a good legacy with Into Darkness?

Star Trek Into Darkness picks up with Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) and his new crew, at least new in this franchise, already on a mission on the pre-civilisation planet of Nibiru; it is clear right from the off that the crew of the USS Enterprise are not going to be without danger as Spock’s life is immediately put on the line. Luckily, he survives and manages to carry on with the rest of the film. Where eventually they run into John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who just so happens to be Star Trek’s arguably most famous villain, Kahn. Kahn is carrying out terrorist acts that turn this film into an emotional chess game between Kirk and Kahn as the two battle it out in a test of will, strength and heroics as they battle to save their respective crews: only one side can win.

“Let’s go get this sonofabitch”

The first thing you notice about Into Darkness (and one of the most significant things) is that it does not feel like a sequel: the film immediately places you at the heart of the action with little knowledge of the previous film (or even Star Trek in general) required to enjoy the film. The whole of the Enterprise crew is back including Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto), Sulu (John Cho), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and none of the characters come off badly with each one, even Chekov (Anton Yelchin) having their moment in the spotlight; it would have been nice to have seen Uhura (Zoe Saldana) do more, however as her character does feel less like an equal crew member and more like a pawn to try and evoke some emotion in Spock, something she doesn’t really do that well.

The old faces are joined by new additions such as the incredible Benedict Cumberbatch and the almost pointless Alice Eve. Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Kahn is really spectacular; this is the greatest villain that will hit the screens this summer and is the most memorable in modern blockbusters, as far as my memory serves me anyhow. He poses a serious threat to Kirk and his crew on a mental and physical scale. Right from the off he gives you the creeps and it is clear his plan is very well thought out.

“You should have let me sleep”

The action takes place at a quick pace, occasionally slowing down to give the audience some breathing space and for the characters, mainly Kirk and Spock, to talk their problems through which does sometimes border on the line of good or bad writing; but that can be forgiven as you can guarantee whenever something feels stale Into Darkness shakes things up (quite literally), the amount of times they get attacked off guard id pretty suspicious for a craft of such high technology. But the action scenes are spectacular, right off the bat from Nibiru, to the home of the Klingons on Kronos, right up to the final fight scene between Spock and Kahn.

With such a lot hanging in the balance for Kirk, Spock etc. it seems imperative that there is humour injected into the story and that comes in the, predictable, forms of Bones (Karl Urban) and Scotty. This story centres on Kirk and Kahn but the majority of my attention was on Bones, coming out with quality one liners and throwing around metaphors like they were going out of fashion: he’s a treat every time he comes on screen.

“Damn it man! I’m a doctor not a torpedo technician!”

Into Darkness closes with the USS Enterprise about to embark on a five year mission. Is this five years a hint at how long it will be until we see the third chapter of this Star Trek revival? If so, maybe Abrams will be back on board. Part of me doesn’t want to wait so long but part of me longs for the return of Abrams to finish what he started!

In my Iron Man 3 review I claimed that Iron Man 3 could be the best blockbuster of the summer. Well all that’s changed now: Star Trek Into Darkness will not be topped.

My Rating: 9/10.

Stars: Robert Schwentke (director), Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Robert Knepper, Mary-Louise Parker, Marisa Miller.

Plot: A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

I read the plot and I thought that it sounded like a pretty good idea. The casting I’m not a fan of; anything with Ryan Reynolds in (other than 2 Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place) is usually just pretty annoying and below average. And you’d think after two unsuccessful attempts at a comic book movie he would have stayed away from a third, but anyway…

So it looks as though R.I.P.D is just a Men in Black replacement that we don’t really need or want. I haven’t read the graphic novel but this could have made for some good drama, but instead is filling a need for popcorn action. Sure, the special effects look good but anything that could have made this a good film has been thrown out the window in place for the stupid.

And speaking of stupid… the fact that Reynolds and Bridges actually look like other people? What’s seriously the point of that being in the film? To add in a few really awful jokes? I can’t see how that would be a good device to use in this film.

So yeah, all in all, a pretty poor trailer… I think I smell a flop.

UK Release Date: 20th September 2013

Stars: Neill Blomkamp (director), Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Alice Braga, Diego Luna

Plot: Set in the year 2159, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

This is the very hotly anticipated film Elysium. So hotly anticipated thanks to the brilliance that was Blomkamp’s debut feature film, District 9. He again teams up with the incredible Sharlto Copley (although in a supporting role this time).

Technically, this trailer is superb. As a futuristic science-fiction film it is important for audiences to believe the world in which the film is set. The trailer for Elysium instantly introduces us to that world, with the wealthy living a perfect life where cancer can be cured just by laying in a simple machine. Utopia.

While the audience are placed with Matt Damon on Earth, the complete opposite. Damon’s character is equipped with an incredibly powerful weapon and embarks on a mission to Elysium in an attempt to bring peace to the two worlds. There is a little action, a great view of the beauty that the film will bring and enough of an introduction to wet the appetites of audiences.

In the coming months, expect more and more of Elysium to be seen as it is sure to make an impact at the box office and with the critics. Here’s hoping Neill Blomkamp is not a one hit wonder.

April sees the biggest film release of the year so far, as well as the latest Ryan Gosling feature.
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Dark Skies – 3rd April

From the director of the not too successful Priest and Legion comes Dark Skies. It adds nothing new to the horror genre but should be a good ride for any fans of recent horrors like Insidious.
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Spring Breakers – 5th April

This has been getting a lot of attention because all of its publicity relies on seeing four girls in their bikinis, two of them being former Disney stars Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. The actual film itself doesn’t look that interesting at all, but I’m sure some people will like it.
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Oblivion – 12th April

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Cruise had a little flop on his hands here. I’m just not sure there’s much room for these films at the minute, and with Will Smith’s After Earth out later this year people may rather just wait for that. They seem to be pretty much the same film anyway.
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The Place Beyond the Pines – 12th April

It should come as no surprise that both Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper have both been earning great reviews already for their performances here. Just see for yourself, this will be brilliant. Guaranteed.
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Iron Man 3 – 26th April

The film, the story, the actor, the character. This is a movie that needs no introduction. The big blockbusters begin here. Iron Man 3.

1939 saw the release of arguably the most iconic film of all time: The Wizard of Oz. Since then, no film has really managed to touch audiences as much as this and influence pop culture in such a fashion. The red slippers, the yellow brick road, the Wicked Witch of the West, the cowardly lion, tin man without a brain and a scarecrow without a heart are all easily recognised and associated with The Wizard of Oz. So why on Earth have Disney decided to try and even come close to the original with Oz: The Great and Powerful.

It should be noted that Oz: The Great and Powerful is not a direct prequel to the 1939 film. It is in fact a prequel to the original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz due to some complicated copyright business. James Franco is Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, a small time magician/con artist who is transported to the magical land of Oz, where he meets three witches and is said to make the prophecy come true and become the king of Oz.

James Franco is an actor who seems to love trying to add strings to his bow, however as any good huntsman will tell you one string is all a bow needs. Fantasy is the latest in a long line of genres Franco has had mixed success in along with comedy, drama, science fiction, superhero films. And it has to be said that fantasy is not a genre Franco looks at all comfortable with. Based on this performance alone I would be surprised if anyone ever let him loose with CGI again; his vision and hands and everything else was all over the place. His performance was elevated thanks to actual on screen actresses in his presence and when this happened (particularly in the scenes with Michelle Williams) Franco actually looked like a professional actor.

The beginning of the film, set in black and white and pushed back into a smaller frame in homage to the original film, is poor at best. Supposedly set in 1907 the dialogue and persona of the characters really lets Oz down. I found it hard to get into the film with poor performances for the first fifteen minutes or so and Oz being quite frankly, a very hard character to like.

As the film goes on Oz: The Great and Powerful does appear to get better but it has more ups and downs than Oz’s hot air balloon ride that got him there. The problem with this being a prequel is that the audience already know where the story leads, but in this case it feels as though the producers of the film have no idea where it is going. On the surface, though, there is a lot to enjoy thanks to incredibly well put together CGI displays and the intricate work done on the flying baboons is fantastic.

The supporting cast does very little to help the film with the exception of Michelle Williams and Joey King who both perform their roles as well as they could. This isn’t a performance that Mila Kunis or Rachel Weisz can be proud of and either with their characters being rather poorly written and just firing information at us as if they were telling us every single thought which we really do not need to hear. Zach Braff as Oz’s first real friend Finley the monkey provides a few much needed laughs but there are a lot of jokes that really miss the mark… by a lot.

There is already a sequel in the works but it is going to need a much better script, much better performances and any sign of a sense of direction because you won’t find that in Oz: The Great and Powerful.

My Rating: 5/10.

Two years ago the Harry Potter saga came to an end and now it looks as though two of it’s lead stars, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, have found themselves a new franchise each. Daniel Radcliffe is in final negotiations to play the role of Igor, Frankenstein’s assistant, who the story is set to be based around (despite the fact that this character does not appear in the original novel). Emma Watson is set to become Disney’s next princess as she is in final negotiations to play Cinderella in the new adaptation (a basic retelling of the original story) directed by Kenneth Branagh. Cate Blanchett will be playing Cinders’ wicked stepmother.

In general casting news, two of my most anticipated sequels in the coming years have added new (and old) cast members. X-Men: Days of Future Past has now confirmed that Halle Berry will return as Storm along with several other former characters. As well as this Omar Sy has been cast and speculation is rife that he will be portraying the time traveling mutant Bishop (although it might be more likely he will be cast as an evil human leader). And in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes news: the brilliant, incredible actor Gary Oldman has joined as a human revolutionist, meaning it’s safe to assume that the troubled sequel is in safe hands after all.

Good news for comedy fans as FOX has give the go ahead to Let’s Be Cops, a story of two friends looking for more out life and so they pretend to be cops; but when they get involved with a real lief gangster the game gets real. Let’s Be Cops will be directed by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door) and will star Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings) and Jake Johnson (New Girl).

If they cast Max Greenfield too they’re onto a winner!

And finally… this week has seen Transcendence really get a shift on with their casting as it seems to be one of Warner Bros. top priorities at the minute. For anyone who doesn’t know Transcendence will be the directorial debut of Oscar winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. The plot is pretty complicated but it centres on a scientist whose brain is uploaded into his creation, a supercomputer with the potential to think for itself, after he is assassinated by anti-technology terrorists. Johnny Depp has been cast in the lead role and this could see the resurgence of his career at long last! Also added to the cast this week is Paul Bettany (A Knight’s Tale) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3). Transcendence is one of the most exciting science fiction films in production at the minute and is set to start shooting in April with a 2014 release date on the cards.