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dombrewer

I very rarely, if ever, leave comments on here any more, but I'm absolutely compelled to do so having read other comments tonight describing this film as "boring", "overrated" and "unfocused".

At a guess these reviewers didn't see the film in the cinema, but easily distracted at home on Netflix... checking text messages, having conversations, pausing for comfort breaks. And that's why the Netflix producing model is a travesty of film-making. If you didn't experience the film in the sharpest definition, filling your whole vision, and heard the 360 degree sound design as it was made to be presented then you didn't really see or hear this film.

The gradual build of the opening hour allows you to care for the characters by stealth, you grow to love Cleo and the children as they unquestionably love each other, and by the time of the earthquake, student uprising, hospital, restaurant table and beach scenes you'd need a heart of stone not to be gripped, scared or heartbroken. This is cinema as pure empathy and compassion, a heartfelt love letter and an evocation of childhood both intensely personal and universal.

Just magnificent work, and worthy of every award coming its way.
2 years 9 months ago
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dombrewer

About the same as Quentin previous efforts. Well made provocative absurdism. Oizo soundtrack, some jokes land some don't, some performances better than others.
3 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

"The most terrifying film you will ever experience..." ha ha ha... No.

Interestingly, for a film that seems to have a problem with women (as they are the subject of the majority of the violence and source of much of the fear) there's a moment in the final reel when the film theoretically passes the Bechdel test as two characters have a brief exchange about souls... before one of them gets a chainsaw in the face.
5 years 4 months ago
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dombrewer

I can't believe Spielberg read this script and thought "I have to make this movie". Bursting with implausibility, sentimentality, casual racism and flat humour, as well as being a two hour advert for Burger King. It's terminal all right. An absolute turd.
5 years 10 months ago
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dombrewer

"Mafia? I shit 'em!"

Bless you, Bob Hoskins.
6 years 3 months ago
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dombrewer

This short scared the life out of me when I saw it on TV when was a kid - although I could remember the look of it I had no idea what it was called, so I'd not seen it again until today. What a perfect little horror film.
6 years 4 months ago
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dombrewer

For a film so determined to labour the point that lust for gold is bad thing it's so ironic that the only reason this overblown, shoddily written CGI-fest is a trilogy is... a lust for gold.
6 years 10 months ago
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dombrewer

...and lost it again. Fickle fortune demands I finally watch the remaining Tarkovsky's I haven't seen.
8 years 4 months ago
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dombrewer

Just been awarded my first ever Platinum award on ICM for completing a top list.... it's not much I know, but I'm pleased. ;)
8 years 4 months ago
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dombrewer

An unconvincing and routine B-Western from director Charles Vidor starring Glenn Ford as "Cheyenne" Rogers, a bank robber who turns up to do a job too late and turns hero after reuniting with his old outlaw pal Steve, now Sheriff of the town, played by Randolph Scott as well as falling for the pretty stable girl Allison (a pretty and pleasingly forthright Evelyn Keyes). There's some fairly plodding comic relief from Cheyenne's reliably thick partner-in-crime "Nitro" Rankin (Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams) and Edgar Buchanan as the Allison's conniving Uncle Willy, a mail driver who is responsible for the robberies along with the town's corrupt banker. The tone veers awkwardly between tense showdowns, romantic interludes and a standard bar room punch up/shoot out with some incongruously broad slapstick from the bartender determined to save his precious stock. There's a notable stampede sequence and the Technicolor cinematography looks good, if uninspired, but this is a very minor entry in the canon of 40s westerns, as well as for Glenn Ford and Vidor who reunited for the classic "Gilda" several years later. Missable.
8 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

This was my first Nanni Moretti film - topically I was inspired to watch on the night of the election of the new Pope Francis - and I very much enjoyed it.

In the first instance there's a strong sense that what we see behind the closed doors of the Vatican is a fascinating and entirely feasible process of the actual meeting of the cardinals to choose their next spiritual leader in a semi-documentary style. The surprise of a relative outsider being selected to take the position results in Michel Piccoli's gentle cardinal having a crisis of confidence as he is due to step onto the balcony of St Peter's to greet the massed faithful. His refusal to accept the role he has been given leads to the summoning of a top psychiatrist (Moretti himself, in a comically acerbic performance) who is not permitted to leave until the crisis is resolved. Unable to break through as he is not permitted to ask personal questions of the human representative of God, he sends the man anonymously to the second best psychiatrist in Rome (his ex-wife), and in the process the old man gives his guardians the slip and goes on the run, falling in with a group of actors rehearsing a Chekhov play, and belatedly begins to remember and experience richer experiences than he had allowed himself in his previously devout position. Meanwhile, to avert disaster, a ruse is established to convince the remaining cardinals that their Pope-in-waiting is still in his state rooms via carefully fluttered curtains, while Moretti sets up a volleyball tournament in the Vatican courtyards to help pass the time. A good deal of humour comes from the light hearted sending up of the venerable old men as variously competitive, bickering, cheeky and dotty, not to mention leaping into the air for the odd vital drop shot in slow motion, and that humour nicely sets up the seriousness of the predicament facing Piccoli - a man faced with enormous responsibility who has realised almost too late what he's been missing all his life. A very enjoyable, humane and surprisingly affecting film.
8 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

Zoltan Korda's version of Kipling's classic stories sadly fell short of my expectations - partly because the source material is very loosely adhered to, and partly because the high production values come at the cost of decent character development and a compelling script. The first half of the film concerns the story of Mowgli and his revenge on his nemesis - the tiger Shere Khan - but after that the tension sags drastically as semi-comic trio of greedy villagers attempt to loot the treasure of a fabled lost city and destroy each other in the process, and then most of the jungle.

Sabu, a wonderful find for Hollywood in the 40s and brilliant in "The Thief of Bagdad" two years before is also good here, perfectly cast as the boy raised by wolves (but strangely civilised and fluent in English in no time at all upon returning to his village). It's unfortunate that the rest of the cast, inevitably, are hammy character actors in blackface - none can match the raw charisma or vibrancy of Sabu in the central role. The animal "performances" are varied, some are trained animals like Shere Khan the tiger, Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther, some clumsily manipulated models like Kaa the snake and a large, very clunky crocodile. The special effects on the whole are primitive, but the sets are brilliant, particularly the hidden city which meets a spectacularly fiery end at the film's climax. All in all a very mixed bag, but ultimately falls short of Korda's other adventure films of the era, as well as the charm and drama of the Disney adaptation.
8 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

This was the first feature length film of the brilliant stop motion animators The Brothers Quay, based on the now recognised classic but largely forgotten turn of the century novel "Jakob Von Gunter" by Swiss author Robert Walser. For a film so concerned with the surreal dream world between waking and sleeping it seems appropriate that I started to watch the film late last night and found myself almost hypnotised - half awake and half asleep for the majority of the second half of the film, to the point where I wasn't sure as I opened and closed my eyes if I was watching or dreaming the events on screen. Re-watching the whole thing again tonight properly confirms what an excellent piece of work it is.

On a superficial level there is a great deal to enjoy if you are prepared to accept the strangeness and inevitable confusion of not instantly understanding what you are seeing (it makes a lot more sense on a second viewing) - the black and white cinematography with constantly shifting focus and plays of light across the walls is stunning, as is the art direction and soundtrack/sound design - most of the film is post-dubbed for a further distancing effect. The performances are mesmerising too: Mark Rylance, easily one of the greatest actors currently working in theatre but sadly mostly absent from cinema, brings his customary sense of playfulness and eccentricity to the central role - equal parts Kafka hero, silent German expressionist and Buster Keaton. His early scenes entering the institute and in the classroom are a delight with wonderful comic subtlety and awkward realism. Alice Krige is also brilliant, looking radiant throughout and bringing effortless grace to her role, silently drifting through the corridors with her deer-leg stick, trying to keep her passions in check. Mention also to Daniel Smith who plays the ever present assistant/pupil Kraus with an odd, half-smiling menace.

It is perhaps a little too long, apparently the Quays thought so too, as the plot thins out and the surrealism takes over, but there are real depths to be discovered here; much like entering the pine-cone strewn deer mazes of the inner institute - doors lead back on themselves, it's easy to get lost, but it's a beautiful, sensual and unsettling walk.
8 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

There's some confusion that arises from the title of this latest Chinese martial arts film - both in the original Chinese and in the Western alternative. The Chinese title "Wu Xia" is the genre name for all this type of historical, often romantic, martial arts dramas from China - but any chance of this film being good enough to somehow represent the whole genre falls far short. The Western title is also strange, as there is never any reference to the central character being likened to a dragon - the only reason I can think of for the choice of word is to make people think of Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" that exploded the Wuxia genre into Western consciousness in 2000. The dragon here is also hidden, but comparisons with that great film (and the excellent run of films that followed it to our cinema screens, including Zhang Yimou's brilliant "Hero" and "The House of Flying Daggers") are harmful as well. It not a patch on those films in any respect, visually, story or performance wise, and ten years on this feels a lot like treading water.

Donnie Yen plays Liu Jinxi, a simple paper maker and family man living in 1917 rural China, who gets caught up in a robbery of the local general store and through supposed blind luck manages to kill both the criminals. The investigation headed up by Takeshi Kaneshiro's Xu Baijiu uses a sort of "C.S.I: Yunnan Province" approach to discover the truth - spoiler

Yen is a pretty good actor as well as a highly accomplished martial artist so his transition in our eyes from slightly dopey husband and father spoiler. Kaneshiro's has a harder time as the supposedly super smart detective, master of physiology, because the character is essentially an unlikeable jobsworth whose relentless investigation directly leads to a lot of unnecessary death and destruction, not to mention some of his smart ideas turn out to be rubbish. And that's where most of the problem lies - the story is ridiculous, and events in the last third of the film ruin an intriguing set-up. There's a string of events that induced inappropriate laughter in my screening - spoiler Some of the cinematography and art design is impressive, but there's an overuse of slow motion, and CGI rushing around inside the human body as nerves snap and hearts stop which isn't as impressive as director Peter Chan seems to think it is. Not a good representative of the Wuxia genre, whatever the title is.
8 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

This is very possibly one of the oddest films I've ever seen, and I'm pleased I caught it on the big screen among a crowd of similarly minded cinema goers; intrigued, amused, appalled and baffled in equal measure.

This Mexican "acid" Western was a massive underground hit and was a favourite of John Lennon who brought it to greater attention in America, and ended up influencing later surrealists like David Lynch. If you like your Westerns peppered with large doses of Christ allegory, copious blood, physical deformity, massacres, clowning, midget sex, transvestitism, self-immolation, homosexuality, castration, Russian roulette, randy old women, suicide and lesbianism this is definitely the film for you. Apart from all that, which is all entertaining enough, I found the constant graphic images of animal death quite repulsive - horses and donkeys lie around disembowelled, owls and goats are crucified, piles of rabbits twitching and dying, crows blown to pieces - which definitely affected my overall feelings about the film, but it's a unique, insane vision, part crass 70s exploitation, part religious investigation, part Spaghetti Western (or perhaps Burrito Western?), part blackest comedy. This was my first experience of Jodorowsky, but it certainly won't be my last.
8 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

An extremely enjoyable "traditional" Western with a strong script from director/adaptor Richard Brooks, excellent cinematography from the ever reliable Conrad Hall and a great cast all on fine form - essentially it's the story of four mercenaries for hire (leader/tactician Lee Marvin, demolitions expert Burt Lancaster - both veterans of the Mexican revolution - tracker/bowman Woody Strode and horseman Robert Ryan) who are employed by a rich Texan (Ralph Bellamy) to cross over into Mexico to retrieve his kidnapped wife (Claudia Cardinale) from a notorious Mexican bandit (Jack Palance).
Of course it's not as straightforward a mission as that, clearly signalled from the get-go by the protagonists' connection to the bandit and signs that the good guys and bad guys aren't so clearly defined. Given the date of release and the cast involved I was half expecting a darker story and a grittier conclusion - perhaps a touch more Peckinpah blood and cynicism - as it happened it's an exciting, often witty but harmless adventure in two fairly equal halves; finding the kidnapped wife and then the race to get her back to her husband before the bandits catch up with them. Lancaster ends up having the most to do and effectively steals the film as a cheeky, amoral chancer who has the best lines and the best scenes - his one-man stand off against the remaining bandits to buy his colleagues time to reach the border stands out, as does his flirtation with the always easy on the eye Cardinale. The end is something of a letdown in terms of the dramatic stakes where quips are more readily traded than bullets, but it's a finely made, easily digested Western nonetheless.
8 years 5 months ago
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dombrewer

This hard to find Herzog documentary is currently available to view on Youtube in six parts - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEFrOmqnktQ (part 1)
8 years 6 months ago
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dombrewer

This short animation, originally a DVD bonus feature, sits between the first and second "Kung Fu Panda" movies chronologically as well as critically - it's nowhere near as funny as the original, but is more entertaining than the limp sequel, so it's worth watching if you liked the former even if you were disappointed, as I was, by the latter. It's really perfect for kids as it has a simple but positive message about the best way to become an highly effective killing machine.

Po takes a class of young bunnies in their first Kung Fu lesson and attempts to explain the skills his five animal comrades had to learn to become Kung Fu masters - patience, self belief, compassion, humility etc etc. The animation style of the five flashbacks is 2D, the wraparound story 3D, and both look good and work well - and Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman return for vocal duties. A perfectly respectable 26 minutes if you like your animation harmless, fat, furry and black & white.
8 years 6 months ago
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dombrewer

I have to confess I had no intention of watching this film, but was visiting my parents and it was on the TV, so I started half-watching it with them (honestly, waiting for them to get bored and go to bed so I could put a real film on) but got drawn in with wide-eyed horror as it inexorably wore on. I was under the impression it was some terrible hour long made for TV movie, once shown never to be repeated, not an actual feature length film made for cinema release but a friend on Twitter put me right as I jokingly mentioned I was watching Burt Reynolds playing King Lear. He described it as "one of the worst films ever committed to celluloid". It actually had a film premiere. It was given a Royal command performance for the Queen.... what the fuck.

It's hard to know at times whether the title of this film isn't actually an admission of the production company as to the quality of writing and directing team, but just so you know it's about a fading Hollywood action movie star (Reynolds, seemingly drugged throughout) whose dodgy agent (Charles Durning, what a terrible waste) books him into doing some Shakespeare in Stratford, but "o ho!" not with the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon... no, Stratford Twatfordshire with the local amateur dramatics company, which includes British stalwarts like Samantha Bond, Imelda Staunton and Derek Jacobi (miscast as it happens, as he is completely unable to pretend he can't act). High jinx ensue as the American has to accustom himself to life in Middle England. Why he doesn't instantly leave when he discovers the truth is a detail I've forgotten, but it was probably very compelling. Comic highlights include the overheard sounds of a sports massage through a bedroom door being mistaken for sex by Reynold's over eager landlady - ooh, missus! There's also a stupid twist where Burt's estranged daughter appears out of the blue from America to replace Cordelia in the production. Hugs all round.

There's no getting away from the fact this must be the worst interpretation of "King Lear" ever seen on film, manages to be roundly insulting to both professional and amateur actors, and could well be the nadir of British comedy films. It's boggling to think anyone who read the script before or during production thought otherwise. Oh, one parent did give up, the other one liked it. So, there you go, highly recommended.
8 years 6 months ago
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dombrewer

This sorely underrated nautical cold war thriller crept in under my radar - I had no idea beyond the basics what it was about and that is surely the best way to watch a thriller like this.

Ever reliable Sidney Poitier plays photo-journalist Ben Munceford, sent to write an article about the USS Bedford currently patrolling international waters and her uncompromisingly authoritarian Captain Findlander, played by co-producer Richard Widmark in what must be one of his best screen performances. There's great support from Martin Balsam as the new doctor, eager to contribute and out of his depth, and Eric Portman as the German commodore lending tactical support to his old enemies, and a nice little cameo from Donald Sutherland as well.
The tension ratchets up superbly as Finlander's obsessive disciplinarian, annoyed by the civilian poking around on board his ship and disobeying his orders, pursues a Russian sub that has violated territorial waters and then evades his grasp - knowing the enemy sub can only stay submerged for 24 hours he is determined to be there when it surfaces, even if that means driving his whole crew, already on a knife edge, to exhaustion. spoiler We are lucky that the Cold War is done; this film was released in 1965, just years after the Cuban Missile Crisis almost saw warheads raining down on America and Russia - the audience would have been all too aware of how close something like this could have happened. Well worth hunting down.
8 years 6 months ago
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dombrewer

This satirical comedy from Jean Renoir seems to have an ardent following but for my tastes his great run of films of the latter part of the 1930s ("La Grand Illusion", "La Règle du Jeu" & "La Bête Humaine") seem a very long way off here. There are strong traces of the silent movie tradition of the previous decade not yet shaken off, with long static takes and unimaginative framing, and the overt comic acting is sits firmly in the theatrical. Much of your enjoyment of "Boudu" would depend on your opinion of Michel Simon's titular performance as the boorish and obstinate tramp that the well-meaning but hypocritical middle-class bookseller Lestingois rescues following a suicide attempt. Simon spends the whole film stumbling around the set, rolling his eyes as if he were drunk and causing anarchy in the household of his benefactor which I found both profoundly annoying and more than unnecessarily mannered. There are some unwelcome traces of misogyny too spoiler There are hints of later wonders Renoir would accomplish - the real scenes of Parisian life beside the Seine are a fascinating snapshot of the city in the early 1930s and spoiler, but it's a slight story, far less impactful in its satire of the liberal middle classes than it probably once was and often hard work thanks to an abundance of gurning in the central role.
8 years 6 months ago
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dombrewer

This lengthy documentary from Martin Scorsese is a love letter to the Italian films he grew up watching on a tiny television set with his Sicilian grandparents in New York or with his father or friends in the local cinema, and was inevitably influenced by as a young filmmaker.

Scorsese's passion for film is obvious, and infectious - hearing him passionately discuss and dissect some of the great films of world cinema is like having the best ever film lecturer explaining to you the wonderful naturalism of De Sica, showing the way Rossellini constructs a narrative, or pointing out a favourite scene of Fellini or a favourite shot by Antonioni. It's addictive.

For films you've already seen it's great to share his thoughts and experiences (personally I put films like "Bicycle Thieves", "Umberto D" and "L'Avventura" in my all time top films and his shared enthusiasm is a pleasure) for films you haven't it's a treasure trove of future experiences, although in the downside he doesn't shy away from giving away the plots and showing the ends of the films he chooses to concentrate on. In some cases you could reasonably say some of the pleasure of discovering the film has been well and truly taken away - spoiler indeed.

It made me wish that Marty would do some more long documentaries to complement this and his extended investigation of American film, he's so convivial and insightful a guide. One for lovers of Italian film as well as for those who should be.
8 years 6 months ago
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It baffles me how this film came and went from screens in 2006 with barely a whisper - it's a bracing, genuinely funny satire with a very serious point to make. Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph are perfect as Joe the dimwit army private and Rita the prostitute chosen to take part in a hibernation project which goes wrong and sees them woken up 500 years in the future when the human race has devolved through the increased reproductive rates and dominant genes of the laziest, stupidest people on the planet. It's a world where the president is a pro-wrestler, Starbucks is now a sex shop, oscar winning films are just 90 minutes of farting, the most successful TV show is "Ow, my balls" on "The Violence Channel" and vitally world crops are failing because all the water has been replaced by corporate endorsed energy drinks. Joe becomes the smartest man on the planet and has to help fix the world before finding a way to get back to his own time.
It's all extremely low brow and the stupidity of the future human race, mostly swearing and fart jokes, can get up your nose, but that is entirely intentional. You only need to look around you to see the early signs of what Mike Judge is poking fun at and simultaneously fearing. It's a surprisingly depressing film for a ridiculous sci-fi comedy, but worth seeing nonetheless.
8 years 6 months ago
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dombrewer

There's comes a point in Edward Zwick's latest in a line of epic, beautifully shot forays into muddy warfare when you realise you are watching a load of nonsense, even though it's billed as a true story. You just know, without having to look up what actually happened that aside from character names that the majority of the action and incident is just tumbling randomly out of the mind of a screenwriter, filling in the blanks of characters and events now long lost in the woods. So it proves.

The Bielski brothers did indeed hide out in the Belarussian forests from the advancing Nazi forces, and formed a partisan unit that survived on its wits for two years and saved the lives of over a 1000 Jews who travelled, lived and fought with them. Those facts are given a Hollywood pong in this glossy, over long, overly earnest, blockbuster. The best thing is the cinematography, particularly in the winter sections - the sunlight glinting off snow through the trees is gorgeous. The biggest problem without a doubt is the casting of Daniel Craig; not only does he blend in effortlessly with the wooden scenery, his accent is truly embarrassing. Many of the accents are, as well as being inconsistent with each other - Liev Schreiber sounds the most convincing, Jamie Bell does his best. Allan Corduner looks and sounds like he's just stumbled in from a stage production of "Fiddler on the Roof".
The accented English is dispensed with when the characters speak to the Russians in the film, further confusing and distancing the audience from reality. As soon as the "jewish" accents come out again it sounds ridiculous.

There are more exciting WW2 resistance films, and there are a more historically accurate ones too. For a genuinely thrilling (fictional, based on true events) account of partisan groups during the second world war I'd highly recommend you read Primo Levi's stunning novel "If Not Now, When" and give this a miss.
8 years 6 months ago
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dombrewer

Joseph Kosinski's follow up to the stunningly created but critically mauled "TRON: Legacy" manages to paper over some of the gaps that previous sci-fi epic struggled with. That was patchy in plot, rather confused in character and pace and while simultaneously being one of the best looking (and sounding) big budget sci-fi films in years. Stupidly I read the reviews and missed it at the cinema, but was determined not to make the same mistake here. My expectations were high for "Oblivion" - the beautiful glossy black and blue neon has been replaced by the cool grays and whites of polished steel and glass - a technological utopia floating above a wrecked planet - almost a sort of negative image of "TRON". There was never any doubt that "Oblivion" would look spectacular, but impressively this film scores highly in the character, plot and dramatic stakes too, with only some wobbles in the script department - it would have been genuinely brave to dispense with the expositional narration for example and let it unfold, but that would be to forget that this is a blockbuster, not an arthouse film. You would be forgiven for thinking otherwise at times given the slow and steady build up and plot as much driven by characters as events.

Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) play clean up operatives left on earth after war with an alien species resulted in one half of the planet falling into chaos after the destruction of the moon, the rest obliterated by nuclear weapons. Their mission is to protect the huge generators converting seawater to energy before shipping off to join the rest of the survivors on one of Saturn's moons. The empty, eerily beautiful planet and Jack's day to day process of fixing the failing guardian drones (which are brilliantly designed and extremely menacing) is interesting enough but things take dramatic turns as Jack is repeatedly haunted by dreams of pre-apocalyptic earth, the Empire State Building and Olga Kurylenko's Julia, only to then find her in an escape pod that crashes to earth and what he believes to be true about the planet and himself swiftly begin to unravel.

This is smart movie-making, and lovingly crafted from start to finish - it is admittedly derivative of a good number of other films, but I never felt to its detriment. It roundly borrows concepts and themes from films like "The Matrix", "Solaris", "2001" and "Moon" (just as many of those films borrowed from each other) but creates something curiously satisfying - I was involved throughout and won over by the commitment to serious science fiction with something to say beyond the nifty hardware and the potentially show offy remnants of earth's buried monuments. It helps that the performances are strong - Cruise does well in what is probably his best film in half a decade, and Riseborough is excellent as his partner - when the whole truth is finally revealed late in the film it becomes clear that she was just as haunted by her memories of the old earth and had a tragic ulterior motive for keeping quiet about it. The true fate of Jack and Victoria packs a punch. Kurylenko, Melissa Leo and Morgan Freeman fill up smaller but pivotal roles with their respective beauty, professionalism and gravitas as expected.

Thought provoking, suitably epic, gorgeous to look at and listen to, thrilling when it needs to be, and with strong emotional interest... basically everything I'd ask from a sci-fi. I'm looking forward to watching it again.
8 years 6 months ago

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