Early Man (Cinema Review)

PG – 89mins – 2018


 

KICKS AND STONES

Premier League heavyweights Tom Thor: Ragnarok Hiddleston, Eddie Fantastic Beasts Redmayne and Maisie Gold Williams headline a stadium-sized voice cast of homegrown funny-men and women, including Timothy Spall, Mirium Margoyles, Richard Ayoade, Mark Williams, Rob Brydon, Johnny Vegas, Gina Yashere and Simon Greenall (what do you know, there’s enough of them to make a football team!!) in this stop-motion Claymation feature from Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep creator Nick Park.

… Keep Scuttling!

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Thor: Ragnarok (Cinema Review)

12A – 130mins – 2017 – 3D


 

GLADIA-THOR, READY? REVENGERS, READY?

In recent years, Disney and Marvel have become notorious for the short leashes on which they keep their directors. Even if your name is Edgar Baby Driver Wright, if your Ant Man passion project doesn’t toe the corporate line, you’re out. Likewise, Lord and Miller were recently ousted from the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off because their take on the Kasdan’s script was too irreverent. The body double twist which capped off Iron Man 3 was derided for making a mockery of Marvel lore, while Joss Whedon has openly held his hands up to the difficult production on 2015’s Age of Ultron, a sequel which too often went for a gag.

… Keep Scuttling!

Kong: Skull Island (Cinema Review)

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12A – 118mins – 2017 – 3D


 

FURRYTALE KINGDOM

While a recent preparatory re-watch revealed that some of the more ambitious CG wizardry has not aged as well as the titular giant primate himself, I still get swept up in the rollicking sense of old school adventure Peter Jackson imbues his King Kong adaptation with. This character-introducing reboot – the second entry after Gareth Edwards’ 2014 opener in Legendary’s MonsterVerse – shares none of the same cast or crew with the Lord of the Rings helmer’s 2005 bum-number, but I was still excited to return to Skull Island – a lost world where monsters reign supreme.

… Keep Scuttling!

High-Rise (DVD Review)

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15 – 114mins – 2016


A TOWER BLOCK IN ENGLAND

“Looks like an unconscious diagram of some sort of psychic event.”

A duel between the social classes living on their respective floors of Jeremy Irons’ architecturally quirky self-controlled tower block descends from a surreal and anachronistic fever dream into an all-out dystopian orgy of decadent mayhem.

“It was a huge children’s party that had got out of hand.”

Navigated by Tom Crimson Peak Hiddleston’s calmly stable and doctorly new tenant, an invitingly intriguing first half of cleverly multi-layered satire is let down somewhat by an ugly and nigh-unwatchable chaotic conclusion comprising a cavalcade of callousness and cruelty as the community living outside of state control decays into primal darkness (“What of the horse?” “We’ll eat it”).

“It takes a certain determinism to row against the current.”

Those of a weak constitution be warned, but for all of its sinister edges and violent intensity, visionary director Ben Kill List Wheatley’s bold adaptation of author J.G. Ballard’s acclaimed social commentary must be applauded for its bravery.

Darkly humorous and skilfully edited into a nightmarish concoction, for all its unbearableness, High-Rise is uncompromising filmmaking which begs for and rewards return visits – if you dare.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4 stars

Crimson Peak (DVD Review)

15 – 119mins – 2015


TRIP THE LIGHT PHANTASTC

Having taken a scenic detour to the Pacific Rim via Middle Earth, acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) returns home to the horror genre with this sumptuously beautiful love letter to gothic masterpieces. The back cover of last week’s region 2 DVD release boldly boasts that legendary scribe Stephen King bestowed the film with the impressive twofold accolade of “Gorgeous and terrifying”.

Well, Mr. King is half right. For Crimson Peak is intricately crafted and adorned with dazzling precision, a true archetype for set designers and light technicians in the industry to aspire towards. The screen is never anything less than a feast of towering bygone architecture, swirling snowstorms, portentous phantoms, maelstroms of moths and precisely-orchestrated plays of light and shadow.

But for all its jaw-dropping visual shimmer, the story is a slow and unsatisfying slog, with the stuffy aristocratic air and over-choreographed atmosphere zapping any tension or chills. Budding ghost story author Edith Cushing (Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska) narrates the deepening mystery surrounding the dilapidated Allerdale Hall and its inheritors, but by signposting any paranormal activity you are no longer shocked by their arrival, no matter how ghastly their appearance or unnatural their gait.

As more is revealed of the true intentions of clay-mining baronet Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom “Loki” Hiddleston) and his brusque sister Lucille (Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain), the apparitions increase, but become ever-more redundant to the resolution of the plot as an influx of stabbings dominate. For such an otherwise tame horror, del Toro does shock with a profuse amount of blood (well, the colour is in the title), with one early scene in particular sickeningly brutal and unnecessary.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars