Leo DeCaprio ( Titanic ) and Joseph Gordon Levitt ( Looper ) are hi-tech thieves who steal secrets from their victim's head. To do this, they have to enter the person's subconscious and interact with their dreams - a dream within a dream, as Edgar Allen Poe put it.
Our heroes are hired to do the impossible - to plant an idea in a man's mind. Their target is Cillian Murphy ( Batman Begins ). They recruit a team that includes Tom Hardy ( Star Trek: Nemesis ) and Ellen Page (the girl from Juno).
As an added distraction, Leo has the same subplot he did in Shutter Island - he is haunted by the death of his suicidal wife. This time she is played by the French actress who (like Tom Hardy and Gordon Levitt) appeared in Nolan's next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises ).
As with all good Film Noirs, something goes wrong and our protagonist must go on the run. His future self (Bruce Willis, who already did this in Twelve Monkeys ) comes back, on a Terminator -like rampage to kill The Rainmaker and save the future.
The problem with this story is the number of shocking coincidences. Our hero blunders into the families of TWO suspects, both within handy walking distance for him.
The result is a contrived mess full of temporal paradoxes. Unfortunately Time Travel in fiction only works in ways that the writer feels benefit the plot. Nobody cares about getting it to make sense any more. If reading this paragraph gives you a sense of deja-vu, either you are a time traveller or else the facts in it are true of so many Time Travel stories that it tends to get repeated a lot.
Matt Damon ( True Grit ) is a US Politician who meets Emily Blunt , an English ex-pat ballerina in NYC. But a group of supernatural entities (angels in all but name) who can alter reality have been ordered to manipulate his destiny and keep him apart from the woman. They call in Archangel Terence Stamp ( Phantom Menace ), who isn't afraid of using extreme methods.
Each segment is told in a different fashion - melodrama, comedy, action-adventure and so on. The SPFX are incredible, and the make-up (which allows the cast to play different age groups, and even different races) is awesome.
The Cast themselves are incredible. Halle Berry is her Oscar-worthy awesomeness, as always - but the real knockout is Tom Hanks ( Green Mile ). He conveys a series of different characters (or different takes on the same character) that are entirely convincing, and show his incredibly diverse range.
When our hero is not reliving the 8-minute time loop, he is trapped in a capsule - like Ryan Reynolds in Buried, communicating with an Erin Grey lookalike in full military dress uniform via a computer interface.
This is a nice take on time travel - it has some interesting limitations (reminiscent of 7 Days ) and works on a number of levels. There is a love story, a 24-style anti-terrorist plot, and a scifi setting where the science is actually part of the plot. The excellent script is topped off with a competent director and a great cast - there is no weak link.
Denzel is a dreadful cop. He's so keen on following a suspect that he charges off alone to do what is obviously a two-man job. The result is that he causes multiple traffic pile-ups, involving god knows how many civilian casualties.
As things get more and more convoluted, it becomes obvious how much the writer/director owes to Twin Peaks . Other good news is that this Indie film actually has the courage to let the female cast show their breasts in the sex scenes - unlike The Roommate , a recent dire mainstream Hollywood effort.
Rachel McAdams is the title character, wife to Mr Bana. She sticks with him through a dozen miscarriages, because his offspring time-jump in the womb. Can they successfully carry a child to term?
The other problem is, because she can see flashes of his life in a non-chronological sequence, she sees him bleeding from a lethal-looking gunshot. But he cannot change his fate, so he is doomed to live out the inevitable.
The title character is born with a strange medical defect - he ages backwards. Eventually he looks like Brad Pitt ( Fight Club ), and falls in love with ballerina Cate Blanchett . In real life the actors are about the same age, but here thanks to make-up they age in opposite directions. As time passes in New Orleans and Benjamin is seemingly unchanging, one is reminded of Interview with the Vampire .
Typical of Fitzgerald's work, this is a slow and tedious drama. UK Comic 2000AD covered this idea in a 3-page Future-shock This is dragged out to over two hours, in an era when 90 minutes is about average for a film.
The first twenty minutes of the story is spent setting everything up for the 1950s. Conveniently for Marty, everyone middle-aged spent the entire day telling him what they did in the EXACT WEEK he gets sent back to. All he has to do is not interfere with the timeline. Can he do that? Well, he ends up having to play matchmaker with his own parents ( Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover - Charlies Angels ) or he will disappear from history, and can never go Back to the Future.
This is a wonderful piece of film-making that works well on every level. Yes, the exposition-filled First Act seems clunky - but this is a comedy-drama, it should not be taken too seriously. What seems amazing is that the 1980s Marty would fit in so well almost 30 years later, while by travelling 30 years into the past he is completely a fish out of water. The 1950s is as foreign to him as it would be to us. In all fairness, Life on Mars did that with the 1970s. But it still makes the mind boggle
Once Marty and Doc are together again, the duo must re-enact the events of the first film, but in the wild west instead of the 1950s. Also, instead of Marty trying to discourage his own mother's romantic attentions, Dr Brown starts a burgeoning romance with schoolteacher Mary Steenburgen .
There are plenty of references to the previous films. Marty meets his ancestor, who looks just like him - and for some strange reason his wife looks like Lea Thompson ... meaning Marty's parents were cousins! Marty poses as Clint Eastwood, and re-enacts one of the most famous scenes from the spaghetti Western series.
There is an element of character development in this installment. Marty always gets riled when bullies insult him or challenge him - will he mellow out into a more Nineties type, and prevent the terrible personal future that awaits him in Back to the Future II ?
The girls fantasise that the drafty old Victorian Asylum is a more comfortable prison - a Moulin Rouge-style bordello where they are unjustly imprisoned, and our heroine only has 5 days to escape. And when she dances ...
The heroine goes into a deeper fantasy, a dream within a dream - like Inception ! This is a World War One analogy, there the girls dress like Japanese school-girls embracing girl-power (think Kill Bill meets DOA: Dead Or Alive ) must slaughter armies of steampunk zombies, and stray orcs left over from Lord of the Rings ... Like 300 , but with girl-power.
But is it anti-Feminist? Every female character is powerful and positive - the only dangers are fantasies, remember? (or are they?) The male characters are negative - with the exception of the mentor (Scott Glenn - Silence of the Lambs ) and a cop at the end (Ian Tracey). But the males are supporting characters, functionaries. This movie more than passes the infamous Bechdel test. But it shows that female empowerment is a male fantasy. And that seems to have created a negative backlash.
In short, this is a love-it-or-hate-it film. In this reviewer's opinion ... watch it yourself, make your own mind up!
The middle section centres around Balthazar Getty ( ), a young man who gets seduced by a femme fatale (also played by Patricia Arquette ). She is the moll of gangster Robert Loggia (best known from a similar role in Scarface).
The problem with this as a film noir is the surreal undertones that confuse matters.
A scientist investigates a farmer's claim that aliens and cultists inhabit a mountain near his remote farmhouse. He is completely genre-blind, making every cliched mistake in the book. But Lovecraft's works are probably the SOURCE for most of the cliches, so we have to give it a bit of leeway. The execution is excellent, taking us from suspense to a dramatic climax that grows effortlessly from Lovecraft's premature ending.
An American OAP goes missing. His son goes to Germany to find him. A German OAP tells him an incredible story ...
Back in the 1930s a meteorite hit a remote farm. The rock from space dissolves into the ground, mysterious, creepy and suspenseful descent into insanity and horror.
The film was shot in black and white, which works well since the story is set in the 1930s. Also, since the story is about an alien - imperceptible - colour, we cannot expect to actually see it.
The climax - the colour itself finally appears - involves great SPFX. But it is too in-your-face to fit in with the relatively low-key film. The script is good enough, though - the confusions are tied up in a nice little twist.
This ties in with the original film in a surprising way, providing additional backstory to the demonic haunting occurance.
The story follows a pair of latino teenagers in a working class area. They suspect that their neighbour is a witch. This follows on from the previous film, where the demonic entity was linked to a coven.
This is adapted from a novel, but there was actually a British TV version in the early 1990s. Despite being adapted by Jane Goldman ( Kick-Ass ), this version is actually a bit disappointing. It has been inflated up for the big screen, giving the ghost a lot more screen time. The original was a masterpiece of suspense, where the ghost was sometimes heard but rarely seen. This time, the sounds are more akin to the Lewton Bus, when it is all just a fake scare. The ghost itself is seen regularly, about as frightening as CGI can get (i.e. not at all). And the ending? Well, the facts have been altered so the tone is not so bleak. Basically, a dumbing-down for the mass-market audience who want a happy ending.
The ghost can apparently read the minds of her victims, as well as possessing them. The young lady teacher (the Final Girl horror movie trope) has a secret she once had her own child up for adoption, and never found him. One of the boys in the class has been orphaned, and he also gets special treatment from the ghost.
The problem with this film is that it is basically just a ghost story. There are a lot of jump-scares (AKA the infamous Lewton Bus) but while ghosts can make you jump, they really cannot do much to you. Except in the inevitable over-blown climax, but that is a different matter. The truth is, as with all ghost stories there is a lot of suspense but no pay-off.
The pair get trapped in a snowdrift on a lonely mountain road. They start bickering as they fall apart under the strain. This is one of the better things about the film - the Blair Witch Project type examination of a group under stress. They enounter ghostly figures - first some mysterious hooded monks, then a vicious Highway Patrolman.
As well as an unoriginal script, the film is also let down by choppy editing.
The film is basically a rehash of 1408 , with predictably excessive use of the untruthful narrator. There are one or two powerful scares, but once it becomes apparent that the characters' perception of reality is corrupted beyond all recognition by the mirror itself the whole story becomes essentially meaningless.
A young boy is haunted - not by a ghost, but a Dream Demon, like something out of Nightmare on Elm Street . His mother ( Rose Byrne ) tries everything. They eventually have to call in parapsychologist Lin Shae .
The parapsychologist team have info on a haunting when he was a child. Lin Shae was the original investigator.
A family (including five daughters) move into an old farmhouse. They eventually explore the basement ... Yes, this is a trope that has already been done in Cabin in the Woods , and this should advise you what kind of film this is. The director also made Insidious , so the suspense level is high. But there is nothing really original or surprising in it.
This film has been condemned as anti-female, because the antagonist is the ghost of a witch-woman. But with strong roles for a couple of critically-acclaimed actresses (both aged over 35), this is about as good as it gets for a film set in the Seventies.
A family (two sons and two daughters) move into an old house. They play with a ouiji board ... Yes, this is a trope that has already been done in The Exorcist , and this should advise you what kind of film this is. The director manages to keep the suspense level is high. But there is nothing really original or surprising in it.
The husband has abandoned his family, so when spooky things happen the mother ( Frances O'Connor ) calls in a couple of Ghostbusters - Patrick Wilson ( Watchmen ) and Vera Farmiga . As befits the Magic Negro trope, the outsiders happen to be experts in the exact same superstition of the demon. The Ghostbusters work for the Roman Catholic Church, so it turns out that the demon is a Catholic one. Surely it should be an Anglican Episcopalian one, since that is the State religion of England.
This is only partly found footage, so like Insidious the pseudo-realistic feel means the writers can use the usual cliches.
Our heroine is an expert in fraudulent hauntings, in 1922 England. The land is still suffering from the loss of life in the First World War. She is summoned to investigate a haunting in a remote country house. The result is a stack of references to other ghost movies.
The house is now in use as a boarding school for young boys. Dominic West (The Wire) is the Headmaster, and Imelda Staunton (a vicious teacher in the Harry Potter series) is the cook.
This was Peter Jackson 's adaptation of a popular novel. It is a divisive film - made to cash in on a book, it is uninspiring as a stand-alone piece.
The sub's dead Captain seems to be haunting the vessel. Specifically he is targeting the senior officers - Bruce Greenwood ( The Core ), Scott Foley (Scrubs, The Unit) and Holt Mcallany ( The Losers ). Luckily, the Final Girl has Matthew Davis ( Vampire Diaries ) on her side. Yes, there are a lot of very pretty (and unrealistically well-groomed) folk on this boat.
Despite the overly attractive main cast, the director ( David Twohy ) does a great job with the visuals and the atmospherics. The spookiest aspects come from the script, written by Darren Aronofsky . Unfortunately, the submarine set was built 33% larger than a real submarine. This facilitates access for the cameras and crew when filming. However, it undermines both the authenticity and the claustrophobia of the unique environment.
Was the remake of Halloween worth watching? Or Assault on Precinct 13? Disk Jockey Selma Blair is a poor replacement for the original ( Adrienne Barbeau ), and the rest of the movie is similarly disappointing.
Our protagonist is Elizabeth Olsen - taller and more buxom than her sisters, and already being spoken of as a potential Oscar-winner. She, her dad and her uncle are fixing up their decrepit holiday home. The house has been targeted by local criminals in the past, so all the windows are boarded up. Combined with the fact the power is shorted out, and the sun is setting, means there is no light to speak of in the house. The lonely, remote house with no land-line or cell-phone coverage, plays the perfect venue for a suspense/horror film. It is a Cabin in the Woods.
The middle Act of the film consists of the protagonist being chased through the darkened labyrinth of rooms by unseen stalkers. This was done so much better in George Clarke's film The Last Light . Is she up against bloodthirsty hill-billies or murderous ghostly presences? She does not care, she just blubbers like Heather Donahue in Blair Witch Project .
The climax has a twist ending. Yes, how predictable. There are three other films mentioned in this review, and all three are better than this one. Its redeeming feature, other than the buxom protagonist, is the real-time aspect.
Ron Silver ( Time Cop ) tries to save her. He is a Parapsychologist, and he plans to freeze the demon with liquid nitrogen!
This is yet another Steven King piece, ruined by dumbing-down for the mainstream audience.
Five years later, the girls are discovered. They are nearly feral, but after a few weeks with a shrink they are suitable for suburban living again. Their uncle (Nicolai Coster-Waldaj - Game of Thrones ) gets custody of them. But they spend most of their time with his girlfriend Jessica Chastain . Yes, with a couple of exceptions (men who are quickly written off) the cast is mostly female.
This was produced by Guillermo Del Torro , and has his trademark creepiness. However, despite being spine-tingling it is actually a PG-13, due to its low body count and lack of gore. Thus it unhappily straddles two worlds (not unlike the ghost herself) too scary for a family film, too bloodless for a full-on horror.
The Exorcist and his camera crew go to a small farm in Louisiana. En route, they interview some locals like in Blair Witch Project and end up hearing tales of a satanic cult. Of course, they ignore everything they hear. After all, since the exorcist is a fake they assume the demonic possession is fake too.
Things get creepy soon enough. The combination of night-time shooting and gun-toting rednecks hostile to strangers is enough to guarantee that, even without the supernatural element.
The film starts slowly, with repeated use of fake tension to make it seem suspenseful. We see things from the protagonist's perspective, so we are unclear (until the end) as to whether she is insane or if the demonic events are actually happening.
Nell, the possessed girl from the first film, is the sole survivor of a blaze that apparently killed her entire family. She is unscathed, although thanks to daylight she seems to have aged about ten years.
It is several years after the events of the first film. Reagan ( Linda Blair ) is an attractive young teenager, trying to get on with her life. She has to see a psychiatrist ( Louise Fletcher ) for her bad dreams, but on the surface she has gotten over her possession.
An exorcist priest (Richard Burton - Medusa Syndrome ) is assigned to investigate Reagan's exorcism, which was the last case of his mentor. His interviews with her (using a machine with flashing lights that apparently allows people to merge consciousnesses or something) allow the seamless integration of scenes from the original film.
The backstory of the demon is completely different from the other movies in the series. In this it is called Pazuzu (as in the gargoyle from Futurama ). Apparently Pazuzu is the demon of the air, the embodiment of a massive locust. The priest becomes obsessed with the demon, and travels to Ethiopia to find the demon's first victim (James Earl Jones - Conan The Barbarian ).
So what is so bad about it? The actors tend to stare into the camera a lot. Some of the dialogue is particularly dreadful. Also, the musical score by Ennio Morricone is typically overwrought. Worst, Director John Boorman reputedly hated the script.
The climax owes something to previous efforts like The Exorcist . Unfortunately, the film-makers lacked the budget for anything more than a bit of dodgy blue-screen work. And some pea soup, of course.
He winds up in New Zealand, where he shacks up with Xena - a young Maori woman, not Lucy Lawless . A demonic ghost hunts down and murders everyone he tattoos. His only option is to find out who the ghost was, and appease the undead spirit.
This is billed as This year's Sixth Sense . From that, one gets a sense of predictability. A supernatural thriller with a twist in the end? The same route has been ploughed by all four leading stars lately: Olsen's big break was the disappointing effort Haunted House , Murphy did Redeye , Weaver was in Cabin in the Woods , and (if you go back a few years) DeNiro was in Hide & Seek . If anything, this particular twist is unforeseen despite being foreshadowed. But it is ultimately a bit unsatisfying. As if the whole thing really didn't amount to much. The ending of Sixth Sense makes you re-interpret the entire film, and allows you to enjoy it on subsequent viewings. This effort ends on something of a non-sequitor.
Five people get trapped in an elevator. It turns out that one of them is the devil himself, come to claim the souls of the unwary.
The blood is mostly off-screen. While one might laud the use of suspense instead of a reliance on gore, the reality is that in this case the film seems anti-climactic as a result.
His wife ( Charlize Theron ) hangs around with Tamara Tunie , and begins to hallucinate. Is she going insane? In truth, she did a better version of this in The Astronaut's Wife . However, this story is focused on Keannu - the small-town boy being corrupted by the temptations of the big city. He finds himself fantasising about co-worker Connie Nielsen (who looks just like Dina Meyer ).
This was produced by Sam Raimi , who wrote and directed the far superior Drag me To Hell . That film featured Gypsy magicks, whereas this one has Yiddish mysticism. Both are examples of the Magic Negro cliche, where any non-mainstream culture is only involved insofar as its purported magical concepts.
The result is quite a let-down. Supernatural possession in the American suburbs was done to death by the Paranormal Activity series, and this effort is not in the same league. Quite disappointing, in all.
A young woman motorist has a creepy encounter at the Kilometre 31 road-marker outside Mexico City. Her twin sister investigates the ghostly goings-on.
The ghost in this case is La Llorona - also used as freak-of-the-week in Grimm. In an interesting stretch, the river she haunts flows past the mile-marker, and through a storm drain under the city.
The problem seems to be that the TV show Supernatural has ruined this entire genre. The Winchester brothers would sort this all out in 42 minutes, plus time for advert breaks and the end-credit sequence.
The ghost of former headmaster MC Gainey ( Lost ) and his demonic sidekick start to bump off pupils and staff. Victims include School Librarian Charisma Carpenter , in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene that wastes her talent.
As an American author, she moves into a remote house in England. There she has visions of people being brutally murdered.
As with many terrible horror movies, the individual behind this effort both wrote AND directed it. That said, there is actually a nice twist ending