Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage
Box Set contains: 3D Extended Edition, Blu-ray Extended Edition, Digital Extended Edition, Special Feature Discs
It’s almost that time of year again, folks. Yep, the nights are drawing in, small skeletons and ghouls will have knocked on your door, pestering you for E numbers, and the great big festival of materialism – I mean, peace and goodwill – is just around the corner. Which can only mean one thing; we’re due another visit to Middle Earth, fast. Those of you who cannot wait until mid-December to rejoin Bilbo’s quest can satiate your thirst for dwarves, adventure and miniature burglars by investing in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition on 3D and common/garden Blu-ray. The cool kids all have 3D TVs these days, do keep up. Even if you’ve only just transferred from VHS to Digital Versatile Disc, invest in this box set anyway. £20 doesn’t buy much these days, but when it can buy you a rip-snorting film in three mediums, nine hours of special features and 25 minutes of never-before-seen footage, it does seem a bit of a no-brainer, even if you’re a Hobbit-hating Nazgûl. In my opinion, this extended edition represents one of the best value for money box sets ever.
Franchises have never had it so good. Next year, there are 12 major franchise installments coming out in the cinema- sequels from big hitters, like old giants Star Wars and young up-and-comers Hunger Games, reboots from Mad Max and Jurassic Park (ish), and another installment in an endless set from James Bond or Fast and Furious (now with increased brevity, as simply ‘Furious 7′). Plus, the endless Marvel machine judders on with Avengers 2.
Critical opinions are divided. Sure, some have been well-received, like the Marvel series as a whole. But others- perhaps rightly- reject what they see as a colonization of the multiplexes by loud, brash and boring blockbusters. Aside from the aesthetic problems presented by the films, another problem remains: how are you to keep track of what’s showing when?
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist & Paul Reiser
Ambition, dedication, determination. How far will people go to achieve their ultimate passion in life? It’s a question raised in many films but in such a conventional manner that one just tends to forget about it and concentrate on the other aspects. When it’s made the main focus though, that’s when the true verification is present. Sometimes something as simple as drive or ambition can prove to be just as intense as the use of violence or action in a film. Whiplash is a great example as to why.
Andrew Neyman (Teller) is a promising young Jazz drummer who enrolls himself into a competitive music school because according to him it’s the best one in the world and he wants to be the best Jazz drummer that ever lived. He also wants to impress tough-to-please music instructor Fletcher (Simmons) who initially inspires Andrew but pushes his students to the limit to reach their full potential.
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston & Anton Yelchin
It’s about- because of course it is- eccentric loners having pithy conversations about mostly meaningless, cool-sounding junk. It’s by Jim Jarmusch, what did you expect? The more pertinent question is whether there’s something beneath it. In this case, there is.
Adam (Hiddleston) lives in dilapidated Detroit, in a run-down home on the outskirts of town. Surrounded by rock-and-roll bric-a-brac, the closest thing he has to a friend is Ian (Yelchin) – a well-meaning fellow, but not exactly on Adam’s level. Meanwhile, in Tangier, Eve (Swinton) wakes in her book-filled flat and walks to her local café, to meet with Kitt, who provides her with her fresh blood. By the way, that’s the reason they have so much cool stuff, are so cultured, and only hang around at night- they’re vampires. After a brief call with Adam, Eve realizes he is depressed, and decides to join him in Detroit. Unfortunately, her sister joins them soon after, with dire consequences.
A complaint we hear all too often these days is “cartoons just aren’t as good as they used to be.” Putting aside how ridiculous this statement is when it comes to movies (How To Train Your Dragon 2 is arguably one of the best films to come out all year), lets look at TV. Growing up I was obsessed with shows like Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, great imaginative and just the right mix of kid and adult humour. Guess what? Cartoons today still have these great factors and more. This month, Cartoon Network releases 3 DVDs that prove why we should all still be watching cartoons. Check after the jump for reviews. (more…)
Directed by Yann Demange
Starring Jack O’Connell, Killian Scott, David Wilmot and Sean Harris
‘71 tells the story of Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell), a young British soldier that is left behind by his unit in Belfast after a small riot. We follow hook’s survival to return back to his barracks before he is captured by ruthless Provisional Irish Republican Army members.
Yann Demange is a person that should be on everybody’s ‘directors to look out for’ list. It may come as a surprise to many after viewing ’71 that it is Demange’s cinematic debut (he also directed a large chunk of Channel 4’s acclaimed Top Boy) His great sense of intense urgency is one to be recognised, the sophistication and confidence conveyed in the handling of the material is that of a veteran filmmaker. Demange manages to achieve the near impossible, of creating an informative action packed adrenaline induced film while upholding the political intent and awareness without becoming preachy. The characters are so well developed that they seem to drive the action forward rather than the other way around.
Jack O’Connell’s portrayal of the young, oblivious but determined everyman Gary Hook is one of the best of the year, O’Connell almost makes it seem effortless in going smoothly from naivety to dismay, reflecting Hook’s shocks and revelations through subtle facial expressions and realistic reactions to the horrors and corruption of war.
Directed by Brian Knappenberger
If the name Aaron Swartz doesn’t mean much to you, watch The Internet’s Own Boy. Brian Knappenberger’s intense, through-provoking documentary might make your brain melt with its subject matter, but you’ll be grateful nevertheless. Assange, Snowdon and Manning have taken all the headlines recently, but The Internet’s Own Boy suggests Swartz’s legacy could well be more powerful.
Like all good documentaries, Knappenberger’s film tells a compelling yet tragic story well. Fitting into the political tech-thriller niche made popular by Hollywood releases The Social Network and The Fifth Estate, The Internet’s Own Boy traces the life of Swartz from precocious toddler and schoolboy computer whizz to rebellious hacktivist. Of We Are Legion and Not Your Average Travel Guide fame, Knappenberger successfully mixes slick graphics, candid interviews and poignant archive footage in order to tell Swartz’s tale. It’s easy to watch films like this and get carried away with the impassioned pronouncements made, not to mention the stirring soundtrack and haunting home video clips. Yet The Internet’s Own Boy reminds you of what Swartz himself would have said – always question, always think, always ask why.
Before Paul Walker’s tragic and untimely death last year he starred in Brick Mansions – an American remake of French parkour extravaganza District 13.
The film is released on DVD and Blu Ray on 8th September and you could be the lucky owner of a free DVD copy.
All you need to do is head to twitter and retweet this tweet and if you’re name is selected we’ll pop your prize in the post and have it delivered right to your door.
This competition closes on Sunday 7th September at 9pm so get retweeting!
Directed by Rowan Joffe
Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth & Mark Strong
Amnesia is a condition that clouds the human mind, causing severe short term memory loss. It’s also a condition that plagues cinema and has spawned its own tedious sub genre – the memory-loss thriller. Rowan Joffe’s adaptation of S.J. Watson’s novel Before I Go To Sleep doesn’t exactly offer a breakthrough or an antidote for the disease, instead it feels like a case of maddening deja vu. This is essentially Memento without the brain or 50 First Dates without the heart – It’s a somewhat hollow piece of work.
Christine Lucas (Kidman)wakes up every morning remembering nothing that has happened since her twenties and her stoic teddy bear of a husband Ben (Firth) has to explain day in day out that her condition is the result of a brutal attack. This routine carries on as an unbroken loop until Dr Nasch (Strong) sticks his chiselled nose in with some information that will turn her world on its empty head. In order for Christine to cling onto her memories she must record video messages on her camera which she can then watch back the next day, a device which proves to be a way less visually stimulating version of the tattooes in Christopher Nolan’s peerless masterpiece).