The first Iron Man was the surprise hit of 2008 and propelled Robert Downey Jr back into super-stardom. It was the first movie from Marvel Studios, the Marvel comic group’s own production company, and was hailed as a huge success. So just two years after the first movie, Robert Downey Jr is back as the eccentric billionaire Tony Stark. But is the sequel any good? Well, no. Not really.
The original Paranormal Activity was a great revisionist horror. Adapting Val Lewton’s classic less is more philosophy, the film dealt in suspense rather than cheap pay-offs, in drama rather than violence and in fear rather than gore. In short, it worked because the audience cared about the characters and didn’t know what was coming next. Wanna take a guess at why the sequel fails?
Based on the infamous Burke And Hare murders of 1827, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis provide a darkly silly romp through Edinburgh town aided by every British celebrity you can think of. Go on, think of one. Was it Michael Winner, or Paul Whitehouse? It doesn’t matter, they’re both in there. Though it doesn’t have the cult brilliance of Shaun Of The Dead or the gloriously bizarre sting of The League Of Gentlemen, it’s nevertheless gorily enjoyable stuff and if nothing else, it’s lovely to see Jessica Hynes (neé Stevenson) back on our screens. Not so much good writing as canny use of cameos, Burke and Hare will nevertheless just about satisfy most comedy-loving Brits. After all, who doesn’t love seeing Ronnie Corbett in a funny hat, eh?
A dark, ambitious re-imagining of Swan Lake, with the classic ballet itself handily packed inside like an instructional Russian doll, Black Swan is visually and psychologically mesmerising. A master of suspense, Aronofsky’s sumptuous direction ensures that we never lose concentration for a moment – which, actually, may be just as well. For all its beauty, upon closer inspection it may be that there’s less originality present in Black Swan than the reviews would have us believe. But does it matter? Probably not.
Director Peter Mullan serves up a gritty account of life in Glasgow in the 1970s, aided by a brilliant cast and savvy music choices. The tale follows a young innocent slowly drawn into the violent world of the Neds (non-educated delinquents), its just a shame the director didn’t pick up any of the ever-present knives and slash away at the overly flabby screenplay.
In American Football – the opening credits of The Blind Side inform us – the highest paid player is the Quarterback. The second highest player is the Left Tackle – as the first bill you pay might be the mortgage, but the second is always the insurance. Now for anyone not American (a spectrum that very much includes us), this poignant opening message is kind of lost. But what emerges in the preceding film is an uplifting true story that emphasizes a message of the importance of protection, loyalty and trust. Which we’re pretty sure is what the Left Tackle thing is about. Yeah, we totally speak Football!
Kick-down, touch-up and homoerotic falling down!
A young woman faces a terrifying ordeal in J Blakeson’s accomplished feature directorial debut. The Disappearance Of Alice Creed is an edge of seat thriller that by its simple design – three characters trapped predominantly in one location – could easily have started life on the stage. The intimacy of the set-up works in the film’s favour, forcing Blakeson to develop his protagonists to sustain our interest and the dramatic momentum.
Five seasons in, and we’re still guiltily addicted to the demon-based trials and tribulations of the Winchester brothers. Mixing ghoulish plots, high tension, tongue in cheek comedy and damn fine cheekbone acting, we defy anyway not to get some form of dark pleasure from this genre-defying scare-fest.
A confident distilling of a brilliant novel, Never Let Me Go manages to capture the haunting beauty of Kazuo Ishiguro’s creation without ever giving in to cinematic indulgence. Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield give mesmerising performances as lovers forced apart by tragic circumstance, and even Keira “act from the chin” Knightley gives that emotion thing a whirl.
Marketed during its Edinburgh Film Festival run as “the Afghanistan war film that renders all others unnecessary”, Restrepo is the work of two war correspondents who’ve seen more action than most. An artfully documented account of 15 months embedded in Afghanistan’s deadly Korangal valley, this film captures the highs and lows of warfare from the viewpoint of the men who were there. An intimate account of friendship and firefights in one of the world’s most dangerous environments.