Saturday, 28 September 2013



The Runner/Runner Experience.

91 Minutes. Starring: Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie & Ben Affleck. Director: Brad Furman.

BEN AFFLECK IS GOING TO PLAY BATMAN! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?! Now, breathe, let that thought escape your mind as you watch his new film. Don't hold up your hand above his chin on the big-screen and try and picture him as the Dark Knight. Besides, let's stop all this internet hate for a second and just think how good he could actually be donning the cape and cowl. As an older, weathered Batman he may just give Snyder's 'Man Of Steel' sequel what the fans have been waiting and wishing for. Plus, playing his hand here as a corrupt online poker game owner he shows between private jets and yatchs he's got the suited and booted look down to play Bruce Wayne. After impressing everyone and reinventing himself in all eyes with his trio of incredible directed films ('Gone Baby Gone', 'The Town' and the Oscar winning 'Argo'), Affleck's super popularity has taken a dark turn like he was playing 'Daredevil' again. Still, with a solid, 'Boiler Room' like hot performance in this thriller that's right on the money, Affleck looks to turn everything around before proving everyone in the D.C. universe wrong, whilst bringing the house down.

It always wins here and in this picture it's Justin Timberlake's house. The former N'Sync star is having quiet the year, coming off a 'Suit and Tie' collaboration tour with rap king Jay-Z and a smart sequel to his big album of the year ('The 20/20 Experience') coming this week. It's clear this former teenage hearthrob is the king of hearts once again, but can the pop prince act? After his stealing performance in 'The Social Network' the facebook and Twitter, newsfeeds say yes. He even showed he had the classic comedy chops in many television skits before his 'Friends With Benefits' really made his movie relationship serious. Now after 'In Time', J.T. plays the right hand in a cool, slick Brad Furman thriller that uses intimidation and the internet over bruises and bullets. It's a new age-even in the action genre-one where musicians can make movies and through them all, Timberlake hits the highest note. With this, his two albums and his tour, the man who was away for some time has made quite the return that might just make for his biggest year yet. Now it won't just be the billboard charts that are singing his praises, but the blockbuster ones too.

The featured guest spots of this play are great for the record too. British actress Gemma Arterton is back again ready to show she belongs back in the circuit of the hardest working, young actors. Look and acting the part the woman who was in everything should expect more scripts on her table soon. While 'The Falcoln' otherwise known as Anthony Mackie continues to rise and spread his wings too. Perfect here, detected as a cop, the man who's about to join 'Captain America' has had quite the year with 'Pain & Gain', 'Gangster Squad' and the forthcoming 'Fifth Estate'. The guy who made his name in this game with his moving performances in 'The Hurt Locker' and 'The Adjustment Bureau' is like a young Morgan Freeman, with a great voice and a presence that just exudes confidence and respect. This is this mans moment and the top award worthy supporting player won't have to wait long before its his name footing the bill. If anyone here from Batman to the pop star who wanted to play the Riddiler is rolling the dice the right way, it's the Falcon we should all marvel at.

This all makes for one super slick, flossed and glossed film that takes you away from the boxer short and box of pizza world of internet gambling to the glitz and glamour of Costa Rica. Still, below all that sun and shine there's a lot of grit and grime. Below that too is corruption in this movie and in it's interweaving story you may find some shallow water, but what this film lacks in depth it makes up for in some tense tricks of the trade which shows just how cool 'Oceans Eleven' could have been if made darker. Brad Furman's gamble for the most part plays and pays off here. After turning the pages of Michael Connelly 'Lincoln Laywer' into Matthew McConaughey's real, grand return, the new director follows with a film on the other side of the law that still passes the bar. It's not his best score, but he still managed to turn his chips into money, showing Timberlake can lead and Affleck can take a back seat and act in something that he hasn't directed. With gorgeous girls, cool cops, velvet slick villains and a kid in the middle of it toeing the line between the bad side and trying to do the right thing we have a decent roll at a spin that avoids the snake eyes. Sure it's not the biggest win of the year but it's a decent hand. TIM DAVID HARVEY.



The Zodiac Bones.

153 Minutes. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo & Paul Dano. Director: Denis Villeneuve.

This film should come with a parental advisory sticker. Any parent who watches this crime thriller will be locking up their daughters like father's of wayward teenage girls. 'Prisoners' isn't some inmate flick behind bars, instead its a film about the kidnapping of two young daughters by someone you want caged that will leave you more than concerned, strained and emotionally exhausted over it's almost three hour run time. Sounds awful right? Well know this detective drama of epic emotionally evoking proportions is arguably one of the best, albeit brutal films of an incredible 2013. Just think of the 'Zodiac' investigation film of years back, with similar taught themes and textures this long film really draws you in and through the lives of the detective and families looking for these lost girls. Between whistles and RV's this warning blowing drive through the hearts of family matters is an angel and demons story that takes you through heaven and hell before you've even had time to miss your mouth with the popcorn. If you don't feel attached morally to this one you might want to rewrite your list of priorities.

The 'Zodiac' starred and showed just how good an actor Jake Gyllenhaal was and is before he hit a hot streak of 'Source Code', 'Love and Other Drugs' and another cop thriller 'End Of Watch' to end his patrol last year. Far from 'The Day After Tomorrow' or the end of his career, Gyllenhaal was the obvious choice for lead detective in this investigation. Playing Detective Loki (yeah, I know) with avengance but no mind or word game crossing to the marvelled dark side. Jake assembles his 'Brokeback' best acting skill set to deliver an innermost, inspired performance behind those jail-house tattoos and slicked back cop hair. Armed with a badge, gun and beat up Lincoln town cruiser, whose open door alarm rings out his loneliness and solitary work this aesthetic is a metaphor for the small-town restriction of police poverty. It's clear he's graduated from 'Zodiac' paperboy cartoonist to the real lawman enforcer ready to solve any head case before him, no matter how maddening or muddled the maze. His place next to the DiCaprio's, Pitt's and Gosling's of pretty boys turned matured, great male actors is sat perfectly here, looking good. From being a truly 'beat' cop to breaking down along with the strands of evidence can our detective pull it all together like the actor playing him has done for himself?

Hugh Jackman certainly hopes so, matching Jake's incredible performance and upping the emotional and anger ante as the father of this picture. Gripping his Wolverine claws into a powerful performance and a woodsman's beard, this pickup driving, boot-cut, checked American family man just shows how far someone will go to get the people they love back. No matter how deep, dark and disturbing it gets. Jackman just may be the movie man of the year. After proving he could act and sing in 'Les Miserables' he steps it up to an even higher note here after recharging 'The Wolverine' in Tokyo, Japan ahead of next years 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past'. Following his 'X', co-star Halle Berry's impressive crime abduction thriller 'The Call' this week, Hugh brings a storm of his own to this windy Winter picture. Next year looks to be great for the Australian but Hugh can only top this years holy trinity of big blockbusters with more than this. This being bold and bleak, from opening this film with a stoic lords prayer to looking like he's about to give everyone in his way their last rights. Jackman yet again shows the real, great actor behind the adamantium with an artillery of emotional and passion ammunition. Now will you agree at how far his character crosses the line as Jackman draws another one under his Academy worthy career?

The all-star, incredible cast and performances don't end there...and the awards for these Academy nominated thespians may not either. The ever rising talent of Viola Davis and Maria Bello are magnificent as the mothers in this piece, while person of interest Paul Dano is disturbingly great as the accused abductor extending his character actor range as he does every other parts rage. There's more to this line-up with Terrence Howard who shows an incredible, quiet-storm, emotionally intense performance as a father bulking and breaking down under the pressure. The man who gave 'Crash', 'Harts War', 'Four Brothers' and 'The Brave One' more fight with his emotional punch returns to the critic and award recognition that should have never been relinquished. Than there's the ever age and appearance changing, chameleon Oscar winning 'Fighter' Melissa Leo. After translating some depth to 'Oblivion' from a digital console and making every role she's called on her own she ages and hits the lonesome cigarettes not gracefully but sensationally. All the parts of this picture are what make it a massive maze of script turns and spine tingling cold burns. Leo's fighting son Mark Wahlberg executive produces his best work this year after an incredible 'Broken City', '2 Guns' and 'Pain & Gain' 2013 which looks to lead to a great 'Ted' and 'Transformer' sequel 2014. Behind the scenes the man who starred in 'The Lovely Bones' abduction drama helps craft one of this years hidden treasures of Academy gold movie making.

From the rain and snow soaked fall of a blue-collar American suburban aesthetic to the stricken lives of it's subjects this story is more harrowing than moving. Sure that doesn't sound very enjoyable, but any film looking to deliver a powerful, real-world, real-life message will have to write one deeper than this if looking to get through to their audience. Some of this unfinished business and loose ends make this feel like some 'No Country For Old Men' but this is how real and raw it gets. Not everything ends with a happy, closure tied Hollywood bow. Hard to watch or write, this film is necessary in warning people about how and what can happen in extreme circumstances of desperate measures, making us look at life and ourselves. After shooting down every bad guy in the Wild West in his youth, Clint Eastwood dedicated some of his directorial movies into exposing and teaching us about heinous, cruel crimes to children ('Mystic River' and 'Changeling'). Sort of like a mission that next great actor turned director Ben Affleck did with his very first movie ('Gone Baby Gone'). Here, both greats would even have trouble matching the investigational and emotional heights of this one. The snakes and ladders of this suspenseful, taught and tense, Denis Villeneuve next great director confirming, race against time and crime picture is no game. 'Prisoners' takes no easy route to its ending and is one of the most arresting dramas you'll ever be locked in with. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 27 September 2013



Dudes In Black.

96 Minutes. Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, Marisa Miller & Robert Knepper. Director: Robert Schwentke.

Some films are so bad...they are actually good. In a comic-book, sci-fi fans, fantasy dream movie year that has seen box-office flops like the Smith family spaced out affair 'After Earth' and Johnny Depp's Tonto ride with Armie Hammer's 'Lone Ranger' turn out to actually be decent movies anything that has R.I.P engraved on it critically can still score more than a D for effort. This Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds comic-book, sci-fi fantasy is the perfect film to be lost in all the science fiction and comic heroes that have turned a page this year, but it's also the perfect nonsense film that doesn't take itself very seriously in a brilliant but bleak year of comic-book, science-fiction films that if they don't have the word 'Dark' in the title they are named things like 'Oblivion' or 'World War Z'. Sheesh! This is no guilty pleasure, but actually a bit of fun for your Friday to give you a break from all of those end of the world, apocalypse scenarios...although they are fun...and there is some of that here too. In a film that would have been embraced with open arms in decades gone 'R.I.P.D' should find itself welcome with the likes of 'Men In Black and 'Ghostbusters' (there's even some 80's 'Footloose' meets 'Beetlejuice' for your entertainment). Still it's not aliens or spooks that Bridges and Reynolds A.D.cops have to deal with...but the dead.

Yep...zombies again...technically. More like the dead walking the earth instead of facing their judgement day like Arnie in 1992. Still, this time the undead theme is funner and fresher. Besides when it comes to these two cops they 'aint afraid of no ghosts or the worst scum of the universe. Leading this picture with a 'True Grit' stetson and a 'Django', Waltz twirl of a moustache is the dude and the legend that is Jeff Bridges. No, this film doesn't stand for 'Rest In Peace Dude', but 'Rest In Peace Department', please abide. Still, the alive talent of Jeff bridges the gap between this film being good and bad. Tieing this film together like a Lebowski rug, the man of the year plays this wild west lawman in the modern day perfectly to the tip of his hat. Funny, favourable and above all him, Bridges yet again proves he's the man, drawling and drawing his way to being this films top gun like T.C. Originally Zach Galifianakis was offered this role, but that would have been one bad hangover when compared to the great cowboy actor that is the crazy heart of the mumbling and grumbling Bridges. Doing his thing the Sinatra way his classic charisma is only charmed more by one thing.

That's his chemistry with co-star Ryan Reynolds. As these two dead cops get a new lease of life tracking down other 'deado' dudes with 'MIB' guns and chicken tikka masala (yep, that's right, just wait until you see it in Bridges beard), Reynolds trademark comedian sarcasm is the perfect plate for Jeff's insanse game that he serves up. Droll and dry as ever Reynolds goes back and forth with the one-liners in this buddy dead cop film that breathes some life back into that two men in a police car genre. With action smarts and the look and cocksure confidence of a young cop this is the perfect partnership. Still, dead cops can't just patrol around earth like they own the place without some undercover. That's where their avatar disguises come into play making for some hilarious new identites in the form of supermodel Marisa Miller and 'Waynes World' legend James Hong, undubbed and with a banana. One of the films funniest moments may have been spoiled in the trailer, but there's plenty more stupid laughs, great, grand graphics and amazing action and sensational set pieces to dig up here. Just think this is one of the biggest flops of the year that everyones wrote off and left for dead. Sure it's far rom the best film of this great year but it's also quite a distance from the worst.

That's thanks to a cast of bodies that keep this film away from the grave. From rising talent Mary-Louise Parker who after earning her 'Red' stripes, beat out Jodie Foster for this role to Stephanie Szostak who has been steadily building her impressive movie resume over the years ('Dinner for Schmucks, 'We Bought a Zoo' and this years 'Iron Man 3'). For T.V. fans there's also Kurt's dad from 'Glee' (or Mike O'Malley as he's known to the goverment) and still the best thing to happen to new milleniuum television drama and 'Prison Break' , in the ever slick and sick Robert Knepper. If that wasn't enough then it's also great (albeit weird) to see Kevin Bacon rolling in a film these days, instead of commercially before it...but we do miss those Bacon's, especially 'Apollo 13' Bacon. Also the beautiful backdrop of a brilliant captured Boston in the Summer does for this film what it did for 'What's Your Number' and countless Affleck and Damon flicks. Altogether a great cast, fun action and silly jokes that dont take itself so seriously save this film from being a stinking disaster. Sure a film where investigations are carried out with Indian food isn't going to be one that curries favour with everyone. Still, as promising as it is peculiar you're always going to have fun when one of the films subplots has Jeff Bridges mourning the loss of his hat, whilst seranading us all with an accordion. Dude, you know that could save anything from being a travesty. Try not to tense up. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013



Storm Lines.

96 Minutes. Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Imperioli & Michael Eklund. Director: Brad Anderson.

Hello. Let me tell you about the call that changed Halle Berry's destiny...and let me tell you yes I am shamefully paying homage to the Backstreet Boys, but after James Franco and the guys did it in 'The World End' this year who isn't? The call that made Halle this year wasn't the one from Marvel and the 'Days Of Future Past' movie which looks to take the X-Men back in time and give her Storm character and career a second wind next year. No, right now it's traced to the 'The Call' that is getting great reception this year as Berry's 911 operator takes her from a career emergency into a real connection (and with her fellow mutant Hugh Jackman digging his Wolverine claws into this weeks arresting 'Prisoners', intense crime drama may be the new calling card for this original first class). It's time to pick up on something critics have been trying to put down. Are you with me? Please hold.

911 do you hear me? Yep that's tight Halle is on the line as the first response to an emergency and in this situation her desk job is anything but comfy. This is one tense situation room. Hung up, wrecked and racked with guilt after losing a kidnap victim on the other end of a line, our lead is disconnected with everything but who could have taken this innocent victims life. Unable to pick herself back up until a call that's all too similar comes through, will the person on the other side of the phone put an end to her closure? This movie is a race against the line that really shows the stress, panic, procedure and strategy that goes into an emergency call before the services of the law come into play. This is more than a behind the scenes manual of how this all works in this advanced age. Especially with it's clever ways of turning a desperate situation into a solved one that is anything but paint by numbers. This is a fresh ideal script for a diluted and recycled movie time. Now this is how it's really done.

Berry is back, bold and brilliant. Showing the brains she's always had behind the beauty, this is a matured and focussed performance. This is the most helicopter blade hovering tension you'll get not playing the latest 'GTA' on this world wildest highway ride. With a birds eye, directors view between the roads and skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles at night, to the tune of every emergency call on a Peter Parker like radius beginning that would make Michael Mann proud this is another Californian crime classic. Just like Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise showed in the taxi confides of 'Collateral', Berry proves that drama and tension can even be evoked from a seating position...albeit a braced one. With words refreshingly replacing weapons and hope calling in on fear this really will leave those able to hold the line on the edges of their gripped arm-rested seat. Halle would have helped make this movie one of the years best If released a decade ago, but even between all the Science Fiction and comic books of today the definitive drama created and crafted here makes this inspired independent picture stand out on it's own operation.

The little black book of the cast-list is full of familiar and favourable faces (the 'Bad Boy' and 'Goodfella' Michael Imperioli) too and with a vile villain (Michael Eklund) and a vulnerable victim (Abigail Breslin) all the individuals incoming on Berry's dial are set to make this a cord wrapped around fingers tense affair. Still it might be beat cop Morris Chesnut who wins over this patrol. The still young but veteran talent is having quite the comeback year after helping Jason Bateman track down his 'Identity Thief'. Now as a love interest and another strand of investigation to this service to call and response this is far from the end of watch for this actor. Cop this now because in years time this film will be called on for DVD and T.V. re-watches. Sure some parts may have you looking away from the call leaving a disconnect, but modern thrillers of horror and investigation don't come up with fresh leads like this. From 'Arlington Road' modern day, American suburban, aesthetics to a gripping taught tale of darkness lying beneath the L.A. shine, this is one Hollywood picture set to put it's star back on the digital times GPS map. Now to those trying to call time on the leads lines career...if you need help please try again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013



Thormula 1.

122 Minutes. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Natalie Dormer & Olivia Wilde. Director: Ron Howard.

Red Light.

Gentelmen start your engines...because this one fires on all physical and emotional cylinders. It's 'Rush' hour and sorry Paul Rudd and the rest of the 'I Love You Man' rock fans we aren't talking about the eighties band. Let's take it back another decade to 1976. Let's put Richie Cunningham in the directors driver seat and take a ride with a film that shows the best blockbusters of this brilliant and Sci-Fi/superhero creative year haven't run out of road. With a rush of gasoline to the engines, this high octane motored film is even too fast and too furious for that seven lane strong franchise. Thanks to the incredible path of direction laid out by 'Apollo 13' and 'A Beautiful Mind's' Ron Howard it's all happy days for Formula One fans and petrol heads. Howard's finished line product gives us the best Formula One flick since the moving documentary of late legend Aryton Senna. This biographical film and it's spot on portrayal of McLaren and Ferrari rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda is the closest and realest thing you could possibly get to being in the same lane as 'Senna'.

Red Light.

In pole position is Chris Hemsworth who could own the fall season of movies with a hammer and an engine. Next month will see him assemble his Avenger hammer for his third outing of the God of thunder 'Thor' in 'The Dark World' which sets to light up the magnificent Marvel universe once again. Still, this month Hemsworth switches his game of realms for a game of roads, taking his throne as one of the best new young actors who vibrates as many returned calls from casting agents as he does hearts. Jenson Button may just have a Formula One pin-up rival in the form of Hemsworth's perfect portrayal of womaniser, drinking, live fast and drive hard late legend James Hunt. Swaggering with the cocksure confidence of his 'Star Trek' son Chris Pine in the first fronteir film, this guy goes from the comic-book darkness to the light in 60 seconds. From the accented jokes to the puncuated charisma, James would be proud of Chris for the chemistry shared between character and the real thing. With every confident smile and anxious lighter flip, the Huntsmen has it down as Hunt. Still the potential leading man of the year has more to deal with than the scheming Loki.

Red Light.

That would be in the form of Niki Lauda who is given a chameleon like covering by Daniel Brühl. After giving 'Bourne' an 'Ultimatum' and showing he really was an 'Inglorious Bastered' the bold Brühl is seriously funny and sincerely dedicated as Lauda, the ying to Hunt's yang. The ice to the fire of his competitor, the essence of this true story between the two rivals with a respect deeper than everyone-including themselves-first saw is captured the right and earnest way by the director and his two subjects. From the peaks of the podium to the tragic lows of life risking crashes, Brühl gives Lauda's legend and legacy the due respect and diligence it deserves. Holding nothing back this actor could battle his co-star for an Oscar to the Academy Award finish line like the films two characters did for real on the track. Forcing each other to step up their game, Hemsworth and Brühl show more than just picture perfect and mannerism mastered parallels to their roles. What else from a director that mastered the 'Frost/Nixon' divide?

Green Light.

If you don't know the inspired and influential story about one of the greatest rivalries in motor sports and the life threatening time of Formula One and it's bomb on wheels cars and graveyard named tracks then it's time for a history lesson played out perfectly on film. We won't tell you anything because this classic film needs to be experienced as much as the real life accounts need to be learned. Formula One fan or not, you don't have to be a gear head to get around this one. Sure the race scenes are incredible, but anyone who is a fan of amazing action set pieces will feel the sight ravaged, rain soaked tension of this one. Behind all the burning rubber and screeching tyres, as well as the perfect seventies capturing from the clothes to the logos is a real human side to the story which shows just how much honest, emotional heart and soul goes into the competitive fire and will of those behind the wheel of a race car. With great support from Olivia Wilde and Natalie Dormer through the chicanes of love and loss this film is the Pit. Still it's time to shake and spray the champagne for the three men who take the podium and this car film to a whole other circuit. Caps off to Howard, Hemsworth and Brühl it's a trophy year for these winners. Still not up to speed?



Monday, 16 September 2013



Olympus Has Fallen Again.

131 Minutes. Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gylenhaal, Jason Clarke, Joey King, Richard Jenkins & James Woods. Director: Roland Emmerich.

Ok, candidates there's a new Presidential race on in Washington D.C. It was fitting that 'Law Abiding Citizen' was on television the other night as this year Gerald Butler and Jamie Foxx go head-to-head once again in their fight for the White House...albeit in different movies. After Butler defended former Gotham City candidate Aaron Ekchart's president in 'Olympus Has Fallen' while one-time president of 'Deep Impact' Morgan Freeman looked on, Jamie Foxx now proves himself a worthy election as a peaceful and powerful president in this Obama changed world. Foxx may not be playing Barack or have the Will Smith ears to do so in a maybe forthcoming Spike Lee biopic, but the man who unchained Big Will's 'Django' role (Smith was offered but committed to 'Men In Black 3') shows some parallels. We aren't making this a race issue either, this President wants to be the next Lincoln (or maybe a fictional 'West Wing' Martin Sheen one) and whatever he is, he sure is a good one in a great way to end a big blockbuster Summer season of superhero and Sci-fi smash, red hot movies

Now Channing Tatum may not be Bruce Willis, but here the Hollywood hunk dons the string vest to show the next Willis in Gerard Butler that he can protect the President too, even if he didn't get that secret service job. The man who's career really took off with '21 Jump Street' shows he has action smarts as well as acting ones and that funny bone. More than just romantic comedy fodder or the 'Side Effect's of shaking it for change in a Steven Soderbergh picture (for the record we loved both the aforementioned and yes, shamefully 'Magic Mike'), Tatum mans up like that Simpsons boxer character of the same name punch for punch. He shows he's a heavyweight talent and his charisma and hilarious, brotherhood bond chemistry with President Foxx (for more search 'Channing all over your Tatum'...I know right!?) and his Air Force Jordan's are inspired. Straight out of the Foxxhole and into the line of fire, Jamie shows that the singer/actor is still one of the best in a year full of leading men candidates.

All this presidents picture men are brilliant too. From valuable veterans like James Woods and Richard Jenkins, to a gang of perfect psycho criminals led by 'Lawless', 'The Great Gatsby' star and next great character actor Jason Clarke and perfectly peculiar camped up computer nerd gone 90's bad Jimi Simpson. There's even a smart, cute kid, (Joey King) a die-hard but easy on the muscles, White House tour guide (Nicholas Wright) and many more action staples, including Maggie Gylenhaal's presidential aid that really could have helped her old 'Dark Knight' flame and 'Olympus Has Fallen' president. That would leave her in the wrong-albeit good movie-this one may have been the chicken to Olympus' egg, but it still shows the White House can fall just as good here. 'Olympus' has not sent it down. Between bullet rounds of action and an ammunition of comedy, 'WHD' has turned an inconvenient release to it's one-upped advantage. Man this film is cheesy, but boy do they know it and you'll love it. If you missed those big, bold Hollywood hot blockbusters of the 90's than this one should get your vote.

'Independence Day's' Roland Emmerich sure knows how to blow up the White House again...and pay homage albeit to himself. Still the man who gave us '2012' and 'The Day After Tomorrow' is not facing the end of his career as we know it...and he's doing R.E.M. fine. He's even taking a reboot return trip through the 'Stargate' three times over. That could be thanks to the dividends paid here by him throwing big bucks, explosions and everything into this film that makes your perfect popcorn Friday night whether in cinemas or DVD players. As this film goes nuclear that comedy jokes match the action jukes from back-seat rocket launchers to front lawn mowing down gardening. It's refreshing that a film about a critical issue doesn't take itself too seriously, bloody or brutal. What results is a film that takes off instead of being a scud missile. None of the action misfires and once this film takes itself to task it can be forgiven for being cheesy. This 'Die Hard' meets 'Air Force One' 'Rock' tight and tribute affair is all action, comedy and some heart as the White House has never looked or gleamed better. Washington, the city beautiful has never looked quite the picture as well, from the moving monuments to the magnificent mall. Sure, especially after 'Olympus Has Fallen' this film may be a rolling cliché, but it's an even more entertaining one. When it comes to pure popcorn movies for your excitement the ever likeable Channing and Jamie step it up for 'White House Down'. Now in this Hollywood, heavyweight, billboard boxing match the only question is, has Olympus fallen to Foxx and Tatum?.TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Thursday, 5 September 2013



Franchise Furious.

118 Minutes. Starring Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo & Karl Urban. Director: David Twohy.

"I don't know how many times I've been crossed off the list and left for this 'aint nothing new", grunts Riddick, in Vin Diesel's hallmark baritone. It's clear for actor and subject it's getting personal in this one. For years critics wrote off Vin Diesel-who entered the new millennium with fast cars and dark goggles-once he swapped the petroleum and darkness for kids movies and pacifiers. Still, despite everything Vin's Diesel power is still here and in the tank. After rebranding the 'Fast & Furious' in 2009 and motoring on to a sublime sequel in the 'Italian Job' meets 'Oceans Eleven' all-star 'Fast Five', Diesel refuelled and burned all notions he was 'Expendable' like the rest of the ageing action-heroes and 90's genres. Times look to be getting even better for Vin who has truly earned his parking space on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and is linked with the 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' sequel as well as another Marvel comic-book 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'. If that wasn't enough he's set to keep his head shaved to play the legendary bald detective Kojack. Still, that's the future, right now Vin joins maybe fellow Avenger Robert Downey Jnr's 'Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes' by having two major franchises running strong. 'Fast & Furious 6' showed everyone this year that there is no running out of road and a seventh installment filming this fall looks to take it back to the 'French Connection', 'Bullitt' chases of classic car movies.

It's clear you can't stop the ignited Diesel when his engine is running and gunning. He's really injected the nitrogen into his fast paced return to the Hollywood race, which he's ahead of without running the risk of crossing the line. Before he gets back into the driving seat however, it's time for him to go out of this world with his 'other' franchise. It's time for another chronicle of 'Riddick'. Before he even started 'The Fast and Furious' career vehicle, he hit with another franchise catered to him. Riddick became a cult character in the dark space horror classic 'Pitch Black' in the year 2000 of the new millennium. Then came 'The Chronicles Of Riddick' which delved deeper into the story, throwing money, Judi Dench and tea cups at a big blockbuster. Some critics left for earth, but the cult status was enough for an aesthetically attractive animated movie ('The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury') and two vivid video games ('Escape from Butcher Bay' and 'Assault on Dark Athena') which Vin has valiantly been a part of (most actors would bolt or demand more dollars, but Diesel had more sense). Now in a stripped down, low-budget, almost minimum wage (actors wage that still big bucks) film that looks like a cool, graphic video game in itself, Vin and director David Twohy take it back to the essence and formidable formula of 'Pitch Black', albeit with some 'Chronicles' hallmarks, to hunt down the perfect picture for the trilogy.

In a science-fiction, comic-book year that's seen Avengers, Men Of Steel, X-Men, Star Trek's and great original future science-fiction worldly ideas like 'Pacific Rim', 'After Earth', 'Oblivion' and Matt Damon's current trip to 'Elysium', 'Riddick' sits perfectly and pretty next to them all like his latest 'Fast' run. Different from the rest and with it's own legend, this survival guide/man-hunt still has enough block to bust it's way next to the big-budget films that sinks it's spends. Vin Diesel is on the form of his career too, facing down middle-age and any foe and scaring and scarring them all. This one man (and the cutest and coolest alien dog, shades of 'I Am Legend' companionship here) muscles up, fights and strives and survives through it all. Any threat foreign (all the amazing alien life out there), or domestic (a gang of humans playing for blood). On his own, Vin narrates and traverses the beginning of this picture and it's planets landscape perfectly and against them all he proves he's still the man. Funny and with other literal punch-lines to bruise more than just egos the action-hero idea is far from just moved planet. He's got a lot to deal with too and we aren't just talking about all those crazy crafted creature fears. There's 'Bad Boys 2' despicable villain Jordi Mollà and a buff, old Robin Thicke looking Matt Nable between the blurred lines. As well as the moxie of Katee Sackhoff and another Rock like WWF legend to wrestle with in Dave Batista (which steps up 'Fast Five's' wall-breaking fight club).

There's also great apperances from great character actor Bokeem Woodbine with his own brute baritone, R&B singer Keri Hilson (yep, that was her getting knocked down) and Karl Urban's legend from 'Chronicles'...although we would have loved to see more bones of the 'Star Trek' and new 'Dredd' star. This is a good way. With an indie feel the film dubbed 'Dead Man Stalking' in its screenplay stages, rewrites Riddick the right way following the trend and bringing the character and story back to life. From superb space ships, to brilliant bikes, the vehicles and awesome aliens help keep this fims velocity in a whole other world. Still, the nature of this beast is Riddick's revenge and the darkest, purest path of this character that has been explored vividly by Vin and the video game market for over a decade. As Vin laughs to himself and bangs his chains against the bars like a calling chant to the Gods it's clear this star has the mettle to make this franchise and film his own again. It's all trademark smiles now for the gruff warrior who's seen through the dark times to return to the light of a big success pay day and year. It's Riddick's world and Vin is playing his part like 'Pitch Black' was illuminated for the first time once again. To any critic out for the actor and character's bounty, who thought he couldn't do it again, shifting a gear from his toy car world..."time's up". The hunter will always emerge from the shadows and reveal what he's truly made of. "Now you aren't afraid of the dark...are you"? TIM DAVID HARVEY.