sci-fi

Godzilla

May 24, 2014
Elizabeth Olsen in 'Godzilla' (2014)

When Godzilla rose out of the ocean in 1954 and proceeded to trash Tokyo, no-one could have foreseen that he would still be wreaking havoc 60 years later. The durability of the “king of the monsters” owes something to the personality he developed in the 1960s, and something to his connections with nuclear energy, which … More


The Zero Theorem

May 17, 2014
Christoph Waltz in 'The Zero Theorem' (2013)

After cutting his teeth with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Terry Gilliam is habitually viewed as a maker of dark, fantastic comedies. The truth is that he makes essentially bleak films festooned with comic touches, like Rococo decorations on a coffin. The Zero Theorem has been mooted as the third part of a dystopian trilogy, along … More


Transcendence

May 3, 2014
Johnny Depp in Transcendence (2014)

With poor attendences in the United States and disastrous reviews, Wally Pfister’s Transcendence is set to be the biggest hi-tech, mega-budget, sci-fi flop since After Earth, last year’s misbegotten star vehicle for Will Smith and son. It’s not an entirely fair comparison because Transcendence is a much better film. Its failure is not due to … More


Divergent

April 12, 2014
Shailene Woodley in 'Divergent' (2014)

After spending a couple of hours at The Grand Budapest Hotel any other movie might seem humdrum. Neil Burger’s Divergent has the bigger problem of standing directly in the shadow of The Hunger Games, already an established franchise in the lucrative Young Adult market. I’m beginning to feel I’ve been wasting my life writing film … More


RoboCop

February 22, 2014
Joel Kinnaman in 'RoboCop' 2014

RoboCop redux generates seriously diminished expectations. How could one expect anything but a travesty of Paul Verhoeven’s original RoboCop of 1987? The big budget remake of Verhoeven’s Total Recall was possibly the most execrable Hollywood production of 2012, so one could only brace for the worst. It is with relief and surprise that I can … More


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

November 23, 2013
Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games: Catching fire' 2013

Panem et Circenses was the Roman formula for keeping the population happy. In Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games novels, Panem (bread) is the name of the dystopian society in which the story is set. The circuses are the Games themselves, in which a boy and a girl from each district are chosen by lottery to partake … More


What Maisie Knew & Elysium (+ film festivals)

August 24, 2013
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When Henry James published What Maisie Knew in 1897, the straight-laced mores of the Victorian era were already beginning to unravel. The Edwardian period would be more permissive, more prepared to confront social and sexual issues that had previously been taboo. James had a talent for describing scenes of great moral complexity without condoning deviations … More


The World’s End & Greetings From Tim Buckley

August 3, 2013
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There could hardly be a better setting for a movie called The World’s End, than a provincial English town. Regardless of the picturesque, ‘ye olde’ touches, many of those who spent their childhood in these soulless hamlets have fled like refugees from a scene of social disaster. It may not be entirely coincidental that director, … More


We Steal Secrets, A Gun in Each Hand, Pacific Rim

July 13, 2013
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If ever you had a sneaking feeling that Julian Assange was not the ultimate hero and martyr of our time, Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets will turn suspicion into certainty. The portrait of the WikiLeaks founder that emerges from this documentary reveals a man whose quest for truth has become an exercise in personal propaganda. … More


Man of Steel & Everybody Has a Plan

July 6, 2013
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When comic book heroes are turned into sensitive brooding souls, there is something twisted in our culture. We’ve seen a tortured Batman and now an angst-ridden Superman filled with anxiety about his true identity and how people might react to his superpowers. To complete the psychological profile the new Superman has a difficult childhood. He … More