The huge international success of Rashomon in 1950 had cemented Akira Kurosawa‘s reputation as the most famous Japanese filmmaker in the world, and given him an enormous amount of clout for his future projects. Having had great success with that period piece, Kurosawa decided to make a true samurai film, something he had never done before, and so was born Seven Samurai, the most expensive and technically ambitious Japanese film ever made at the time. Despite going massively over schedule and over budget, the nightmare of its production eventually paid off with probably the best film of Kurosawa‘s career, and one of the greatest films ever made.
In 1971 US psychologist Philip Zimbardo ran a sociological study known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. The idea of the experiment was to see how a diverse group of people would respond to being placed into the positions of prisoner and guard in a prison. The experiment was stopped after only six days after the guards began inflicting psychological torture on the prisoners. The study lead to a 2001 German film Das Experiment being released, the success of which lead to an English language remake in 2010 called The Experiment.
The potent combination of Hollywood nepotism and a quickly fading directorial star provide the backbone of science fiction action drama After Earth. In the future, the human race had to evacuate Earth and move to other planets, which brought them into contact with a race of alien hunters who can ‘literally smell your fear” known as the Ursa. Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) is a young cadet training to be a ranger like his legendary father Cypher Raige (Will Smith). His test scores are exceptional, but he has problems controlling his emotions in the field, so his father, about to announce his retirement, decides to take him for extra training. However after a freak incident causes the ship to crash, an Ursa down in the bowels of the ship gets free. Injured during the crash, Cypher sends his young son out into the wild to retrieve a distress beacon in the hopes that help will arrive before they both die.
You either go down the serious route with monsters movies or take a more tongue-in-cheek approach. Grabbers is definitely in the latter camp and what a hoot it is, an uproarious blend of Jaws, Alien, Tremors and Father Ted that serves up generous helpings of both shocks and laughs.
Picture the scene. It’s October 2011, and Joss Whedon is taking a holiday from post-production work on The Avengers. Having spent a a lengthy period working on one of the most hotly anticipate movies for years, dealing with the stresses of huge expectations from the legions of fans (and as we know, expectation is the root of all heartache*) and working all the plot strands into a coherent whole, he finally has a little time on his hands. So, what does he do with it? Does he buy a load of booze and sit back, relax and enjoy a well-earned Angel, Firefly, or Dollhouse marathon? Or does he turn his house into a movie set, invite most of the cast of the aforementioned shows around, and shoot a version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in twelve days?
Man of Steel is a bold, brash and greyish-blue attempt to reboot the superhero character who kick-started the comic book film revolution comes off the back of a huge wave of hype thanks to a The Dark Knight Rises-type of marketing campaign. With panning shots of fields in Kansas, wobbling close-ups of everyday items and a directorial eye that leans in the quiet moments away from the action, you’d be forgiven however for thinking Man of Steel has more in common with Terrence Malick than Zack Snyder.
The Seasoning House is the first feature from Paul Hyett, a make-up and effects maestro previously known for his gore and creature designs in such films as The Descent and Attack The Block. His directorial debut is a gritty, atmospheric feature, but one with some intensely troubling issues that make it difficult to recommend.
Blade Runner was a genre-defining film. Made at a time when the world’s technological capabilities were increasing quicker than our ability to use them all properly, it tapped into all those futuristic dreams (or anxieties) that characterised societies across world. Even the futuristic-sounding musical score by Vangelis was carefully crafted to add to the fantastical atmosphere of the film. More than that though, the film broke visual and narrative boundaries, combining dystopian cityscapes, outlandish costumes, an esoteric but poetic script and a whole bedrock of sedimentary layers of sub-text and meaning. It touched on issues to do with the anxieties of urban sprawl, the nature of artificial life, corporate power, social stratification and the very nature of life and death.
Monsters Inc. was the fourth feature film to be released by animation giant Pixar. A critical and commercial success, it has taken over 10 years for the follow-up to be released in the form of a prequel Monsters University. Reuniting the original cast along with newcomer Dan Scanlon as director it is the fourteenth film released by Pixar.
The zombie apocalypse has been the one of the most popular forms of world-ending cataclysm for some time. In fact it’s now so embedded in the public consciousness that if it turns out to be a rogue asteroid or the arrival of aliens that ends our rule on the planet, a lot of people are going to be very disappointed. It is surprising then that Hollywood has taken so long to catch on in terms of big summer blockbuster. That is in part to the long-delayed Brad Pitt passion project World War Z. Based on the self-help book of the same name, World War Z has been stuck in something of a production Hell for years with script changes and re-shoots pushing the budget up and up ($400m), while expectations continued to rise with them.