Chronicle – 5/5

Chronicle

In short:


Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is going through a particularly rough time. He’s seen as the school nerd and his family life is even worse. Persuaded to go to a party by his cousin Matt (Alex Russell), Andrew then follows classmate Steve (Michael B. Jordan) into a mysterious chasm that has opened up nearby. Inside, the trio find something unbelievable… A few days later, the teenagers realise they have amazing superpowers. At first they do small tricks in front of one another, then they progress to impressing crowds at school. The more they use their powers, the stronger they become, but this comes with its own dangers.

What we think:

With invention, humour and a brilliant execution of ideas, Josh Trank has kick-started our interest in themes we had little time for before. Quality stuff.

The word out there:
Empire: A stunning superhero/sci-fi that has appeared out of nowhere to demand your immediate attention.
Total Film: Josh Trank’s savvy sleeper buffs up superhero and hand-held thrills. Believable then bad-ass, it isn’t wholly original but it does brim with emotion, imagination and modern implication.
Little White Lies: Only a cruddy saccharine ending spoils this otherwise fast and frolicsome sci-fi thriller.
The Telegraph: [Josh]Trank whips through Max Landis’s storytelling with such addictive speed, it’s like consuming several whole seasons of Heroes at a gulp.

Release date:  1 February
Runtime: 83 mins
Rating: 12A

Young Adult – 4/5

Young Adult.

In short:


Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a teen fiction writer, living in an apartment in Minneapolis, and avoiding calls about her next deadline. She decides to escape her rut by heading home to Mercury, the small town she grew up in, and attempting to recapture the heart of her high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson). Only problem is, he’s married and has recently sent out a mass email notification about his newborn baby. Still, Mavis doesn’t see that as a problem. A chance meeting in a bar reunites her with Matt (Patton Oswalt), who warns her off her plan to break Buddy and Beth (Elisabeth Reaser) up, but nothing seems to affect her determination.

What we think:
Unfiltered and unflinching, it’s a shame ‘Young Adult’ missed out on Oscar nominations, because Theron’s layered mean girl performance is certainly deserving.

The word out there:
Empire: Smart, honest, sickeningly funny and supremely well judged in the writing, direction and acting.
Total Film: Theron gives a fearless performance in a dark comedy of no manners that’s as acerbic and mordant as Juno was warm and embracing.
Time Out: There is a raw honesty here rare in movies, and it’s very funny too – excruciating at times.
Sky Movies: Perfectly balancing credibility and mental instability, Theron gives her surprising depth.

Release date: 3 February
Runtime: 15
Rating: 93 mins

Carnage – 3.5/5

Carnage

In short

:
There’s been a bit of trouble at the local school. A young boy has fought with a friend, and ended up being bashed in the head with a stick. His parents, Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) have invited the parents of his assailant around to talk the matter over. When Alan (Christoph Waltz) and his wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) arrive, however, the facade of parental concern begins to fade. Each carrying their on cross to bear, and each with his or her own view on the matter, the group go about trying to settle their differences in an ‘adult’ manner. Quite how different that is to the way their children solve their problems remains to be seen.

What we think:
It’s absolutely ridiculous, and visually it doesn’t stray too far from its theatrical origins, but ‘Carnage’ delivers on its title with plenty of witty observations, chaotic emotion and even some low-brow gags crammed in.

The word out there:

Empire: A quartet of pitch-perfect performances from a cast uniformly at its career best, together with a director on shockingly mischievous top form, this is a shot of pure, exhilarating cinematic malice.
Time Out: It’s an acting face-off, yet Polanski harnesses any thespian one-upmanship to make it integral to each character’s need to dominate a deteriorating scenario.
The Wrap: The term “funcomfortable” has been applied to the squirmy brand of comedy perfected by Ricky Gervais and Larry David, and the all-too-brief “Carnage” features enough sphincter-tightening comic moments to last an entire season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.
Den Of Geek: If you like the idea of a bunch of adults bickering, getting drunk, crying and intermittently throwing up, then by all means go and see it. For me? I just couldn’t help but feel it was a bit of a waste of time.

Release date: 3 February
Runtime: 80 mins
Rating: 15

Man on a Ledge – 2.5/5

Man On A Ledge

In short:


Former cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) has been sent to prison for a crime he is adamant he didn’t commit. Trapped behind bars, he is desperate to prove his innocence and soon concocts an audacious escape plan. At his father’s funeral he starts a brawl with his brother Joey (Jamie Bell), and in the ensuing mêlée he flees. After holing up in a hotel, he finishes his breakfast and heads out onto the ledge outside. As he threatens to jump the police move in and he requests negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks). Could all this be building up to a mega-complex plan to clear Nick’s name? One involving a madcap heist? Surely not.

What we think:
It’s hardly top notch Hollywood fare, but there’s a few laughs and some decent thrills to be had if you can weather the lazier levels of plot at the start.

The word out there:
Total Film: Dumber than its title and less exciting than its poster, this spectacularly silly thriller starts with a sky-high concept and soon plummets towards preposterousness.
Sky Movies: One pulse racing leap from the building is worth the ticket price alone and while this won’t be remembered as any kind of classic, it’ll do until the next ledge-of-the-seat movie comes along.
WhatCulture: It plays out with the unfussed proceduralism of a network TV pilot, and despite some solid supporting work, Man on a Ledge is a forgettable, if competently-made heist thriller.
IndieLondon: The film does eventually become utterly ridiculous… But it’s generally fun while it lasts in a braindead, popcorn entertainment kind of way.

Release date: 3 February
Runtime: 102 mins
Rating: 12A

Martha Marcy May Marlene – 4/5

Martha Marcy May Marlene

In short:


Martha a.k.a. ‘Marcy May’ (Elizabeth Olsen) has spent the last few years in a cult in rural America, working the land under the steely gaze of its charismatic leader Patrick (John Hawke). Subject to his sexual whim and a brutally patriarchal regime, she almost lost herself entirely: and decided to flee. Turning to the only person she can, her estranged sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), Martha tries to shake off her past. But, tormented by memories and unable to adapt to regular society, Martha sinks into introversion and soon begins to wonder whether she has really escaped at all.

What we think:

A brilliantly constructed story and powerful performances stir deep psychological undercurrents that will affect you in ways you’ll dwell on long after you leave the cinema.

The word out there:
Empire: Rough around the edges and too ambiguous for some tastes, this is grim but clever, insidiously creepy and affecting.
Total Film: A stunningly assured, elegantly crafted and profoundly disturbing portrait of a traumatised mind, MMMM rockets Durkin and Olsen to the top of the ‘ones to watch’ pile.
Time Out: Once we’ve got over the frustration of this promising film’s abrupt ending, we’re left with the feeling that you can escape a cult but you can’t escape yourself.
View London: Superbly written and featuring a pair of potentially award-worthy performances from Olsen and Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene is a genuinely chilling and powerfully moving drama…

Release date: 3 February
Runtime: 102 mins
Rating: 15

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – 3/5

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

In short:


Having already been to the centre of the Earth, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is no stranger to adventure. So when he discovers a signal being broadcast from a far off island, Sean is eager to crack the code and potentially find his absent grandfather Alexander (Sir Michael Caine). Unable to stop Sean, Hank (Dwayne Johnson) spots an opportunity to bond with his normally reserved stepson and together they set off on a journey that will take them to a mysterious ‘fantasy land’. To get there, Hank hires the only man crazy enough to venture into the dangerous storms around the island (Luis Guzman), who brings his beautiful daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) along for the ride.

What we think:

A solidly entertaining follow-up to the inferior ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’, this outing benefits from better 3D and Dwayne Johnson stepping into the shoes of Brendan Fraser.

The word out there:
The Daily Express: One of the unexpected pleasures of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the sight of a veteran Oscar-winner flying through the air astride a giant bumble bee.
Empire: Massively throwaway, but funnier and more likable than the first entry. Mainly that’s due to an A-list pairing that’s as inspired as it is demented.
Sky Movies: Ultimately, it’s a good-old fashioned action romp – there’s no mystery about it.
Digital Spy: It’s a lot more entertaining than you’d expect, but don’t go in expecting anything revolutionary.

Release date: 3 February
Runtime: 94 mins
Rating: PG

Jack and Jill – 0/5

Jack and Jill

In short:


Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) is a successful advertising exec living in Los Angeles. He leads an idyllic life with his beautiful wife (Katie Holmes) and two young children. But every year he dreads the Thanksgiving visit of his loud, needy and generally ‘outrageous’ twin sister Jill (Adam Sandler). This year her arrival comes at an extra stressful time, as his company has been issued with an ultimatum by big client Dunkin’ Donuts: get Al Pacino for their next commercial, or lose their business entirely. As Jack desperately tries to cope with his sister’s antics, a strange series of events shows how she might be able to help him out, and also reminds him of how valuable the love of a twin really is.

What we think:
There are next to no laughs, an acting legend is desecrated and we’re forced into watching advert after advert so that Sandler can top up his already-exorbitant earnings with a free holiday and a lifetime supply of Dunkin’ Donuts.

The word out there:
Total Film: A step up from Grown Ups – but that’s hardly saying much – Sandler’s brash, unpretentious and unsubtle family comedy might be more enjoyable if it wasn’t so mean.
Time Out: The film is merely a series of random celebrity cameos and shameless product placements (in one case, both – thank you, the guy from the Subway advert!).
E! Online: The many poop jokes, over-the-top stereotypes and Sandler’s cringe-worthy falsetto are packed into the (mercifully) short 90 minutes.
Film School Rejects: Now, the joy radiated by the younger, energetic Sandler is gone, leaving only the wreckage and the sad specter of a once top-notch talent desperately clinging to the glory days of yore.

Release date: 3 February
Runtime: 91 mins
Rating: PG

[Via Yahoo]

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