Arguably the greatest American literary work, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz-age love tale The Great Gatsby has seen four previous film adaptations all of which failed to capture the essence of the famous novella. These bring us to director Baz Luhrmann and his attempts brings his undoubted eye for style and excess to this latest version, reuniting with Leonardo DiCaprio for the first time since he’s imaginative take on Romeo + Juliet.
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“From the makers of Ice Age” blazoned the poster for Blue Sky’s new animated film Epic and much like their previous global box office success, this is a mixed bag in terms of quality. Following the success of Brave, it is to no surprise that lesser quality incarnations would follow. What Epic does have going for it are its visuals. Lush, rich and mesmerising to look at, if there’s a better looking animated film in 2013 I’ll be surprised. Sadly as anyone who has grown up watching animated films will tell you, looks fade. It won’t be long before this level of technology seems ordinary and the legacy of films like Epic relies on the depth of character and strength of story-telling. This is where it all falls apart.
Apparently turning 21 entails a shaggy-dog story of misadventures including tampon-scoffing, runaway balls and concluding your alcoholic enlightenment with a circumcision by teddy bear. 21 & Over screams, or rather drunkenly hollers, ‘live life to the fullest!’
The Fast & Furious films have to be one of the more interesting franchise stories. Blowing out the gate with the mediocre original before going off the boil with two pretty terrible sequels, it was given the breath of life by director Justin Lin and with the best instalment of the lot Fast & Furious 5. It became a global money-spinner, and thus with the melodrama turned up, the overly macho series rolls coolly into its London-based sixth episode, Fast & Furious 6.
Dead Man Down revolves around Victor (Colin Farrell), a bodyguard for a vicious kingpin named Alphonse (Terrence Howard), who has been receiving various letters with parts of pictures, notes, and various other threats, and is slowly closing in on them. Victor must unravel the secret of who is threatening his boss, why, and how it connects to a mysterious woman (Noomi Rapace), who has taken an unusual interest in him.
When JJ Abrams announced that he was going to reboot the Star Trek franchise, few could have imagined just how spectacularly he would have succeeded. Taking the term ‘reboot’ seriously, he created an alternative timeline in which the established narrative could be bent, modified and in some cases obliterated. Star Trek Into Darkness builds upon this idea and presents a fully-fledged adventure for the crew of the USS Enterprise.
Richard Linklater’s Bernie was completed in 2011 and had its debut at the LA film festival. It wasn’t until April 2012 that it had a limited release run in the USA, and now, another year on, it is finally arriving on screens in the UK.
The release schedule is not the only curious thing about Bernie. Based on a true story (and in this case it seems that for once, a film ‘based on reality’ has stuck fairly close to the actual events – though the facts differ depending on who you listen to) Bernie is Bernie Tiede, a small town mortician in East Texas. Played by Jack Black, dialling down his act by many notches, Bernie is a gentle, generous soul – committed to the church and the community and believing that his role as mortician, funeral director and general comforter of the bereaved is just what the Lord had in mind for him.
The small town of Schenectady near Albany in upstate New York is known as ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ in Mohawk language. This is the setting for Derek Cianfrance’s new movie, the follow-up to 2010’s Blue Valentine, in which he again teams up with Ryan Gosling for a tale of fathers and sons, violence and consequences.
When the original Iron Man was released in 2008, it was the first Marvel film to have been produced and created by the comic book leviathan independently from other studios. It must seem unthinkable to fans now that it could have been anything but a success, but at the time it represented a big financial outlay on, if we’re honest, one of the lesser comic book characters, with an unproven leading man and director. Fast forward 5 years and Marvel films have a release schedule in ‘Phases,’ Robert Downey Jr. is a bonafide A-lister and the super friends release, The Avengers is one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Step forward Shane Black, the writer of Lethal Weapon and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to take over from Jon Favreau in launching phase 2 and the long road to The Avengers 2 with Iron Man 3.
If you want a movie about hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking”, watch the documentary Gasland. If you want a drama about fracking, then you are fortunate Hollywood’s oft self-righteous piety will turn any ‘special interest politics’ into a film. Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land, written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, is, for the most part, more than just a preachy vehicle for environmental evangelism, with just a glance at its vital statistics you are left with little illusion as to what is in store for you; strong performances from an excellent cast, an engaging script with good characterisation, a pleasing depth of personal development and a firm yet schmaltzy middle finger to capitalism from the humble ‘everymen’ of Rust Belt America.