Archive for April, 2015

 

 *** This review contains spoilers ***

After a knock back by a self made foe, Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor and other superheroes team up to stop the new threat with the help of gifted twins to save the Earth from a global catastrophe.

The Age of Ultron a sequel to Avengers Assemble and linked to the other recent Marvel film outings is a more satisfying superhero film than its predecessor thanks to some further character development, genuine emotion and the introduction of Ultron, perfectly executed by James Spader. Both Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Wanda and Pietro Maximoff are great in their roles. 

Director Joss Whedon manages to tap into the style of Iron Man 3 and Winter Solider giving this addition more of a human edge. There is a clear gap between the two outings and no exposition is required to see where the characters are at. Paul Bettany with some great makeup design is a fine addition as Vision and the closing assemble of the new Avengers crew including the likes of Falcon and War Machine is interesting.

Danny Elfman’s music score is memorable and heightens the on screen robot action setups accordingly as the team look for Loki’s weapon, then later take on Ultron and his minions. Whedon and team like the first inning manages to integrate the comic book action with the drama and visual effects effortlessly. 

Here Jeremy Renne’s Hawkeye gets much more screen time and storyline, Mark Ruffalo returns as Hulk/Banner alongside Robert Downey, Jr. (who again steals the show as Tony Stark even when looking for secret passages), Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson. A few sub- characters including S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter also appear. While not perfect, the story feels more heartfelt and its biggest strength is its pacing, for such a long film it never lags and it remains pretty close to the early comic book spirit and roots. 

Packed with more hit and miss one liners, outstanding effects (although I still feel Hulk is a little off) and great comic book characters it sets it up nicely for the next instalment with its tag on Thanos teaser ending.

  A state of the art robot is damaged, becomes self aware and must chose his own path of right or wrong.

Reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner theme, Chappie is another defining film about what it means to be human. Borrowing the interesting elements and some design cues from Robocop, I-Robot and Short Circuit 2 to name a few it displays more of director Neill Blomkamp’s visual panache. 

With a nod to He-Man it is very much about morales. It has a fulfilling narrative, intelligence, artificial or otherwise, it is one of the better of robot-themed action films that starts with a Bambi like childlike droid brought to life by excellent effects and Sharlto Copley who shines amongst the unscrupulous characters. It’s fast paced, meaningful, compelling and should hold the A.I. crowd or action viewers attention.

As with the recent smaller budgeted film Automata it has interesting concepts with themes touching on child soldiers, drones and gang pressure to name a few. From the beginning to the fitting closing it peaks intrigue. While cartoonish in places with its shootouts and ‘bad guys’ it has grit, ragged edges and realism synonymous with Blomkamp’s work. It’s has a good score and fantastic earthly effects and the location shoot sells it. 

Chappie’s dirty grimy world has lots of subtext and plenty to say, which maybe overlooked, even if a little paint by numbers it’s amalgamated ideas and presentation makes it a must see science fiction film.

Something’s gone bump in the archives! Blood Hunger characters Lucia vs Iliana. 

   

  *** This review may contain medical research undead spoilers ***

A group of medical researchers develop a serum intended to assist coma patients but it actually can bring the dead back to life.

In the first act a laboratory is closed down just as a team is on the cusp of a new discovery, reminiscent of elements Flatliners and Hollow Man and naturally Frankenstein with scientists playing God, it’s a paint by numbers affair but stylishly filmed by director David Gelb with its moody lighting, torches and strobe effects in the modern laboratory interiors and it has some computer generated effects to match.

With a small cast ensemble it’s finely acted, Sarah Bolger is good as Eva who is documenting the experiments, notable is the creditable Olivia Wilde as Zoe, American Horror Story’s Evan Peters shines and there’s a cameo from Twin Peaks Ray Wise. The second act takes a turn In direction after an accident and a team member is brought back from the dead allowing them to use 90 percent of their brain with neurological extra sensory powers – telekinesis, enhanced hearing, psychic powers and the like. Just like Deadly Friend and the aforementioned movies you know it’s not going to end well but it’s entertaining never the less.

With music by Sarah Schachner the base and pulse like score add to mood of Gelb’s dark tone. The third act touches on thought projection with the director offering some abstract imagery with A Nightmare on Elm Street style coupled with Event Horizon consequences to the team as they are picked off one by one by Zoe. Gelb even throws in some CCTV footage segments and Ring/Grudge/Shutter chills for good measure.

Written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater they offer some logical convincing scientific dialogue but the story as you can tell from the comparable amount of films mentioned it doesn’t scream originality. While the twist in the closing doesn’t offer any earth shattering kabooms to those familiar with the genre it’s a decent update on an age old interesting subject and really showcases what a talented actor Wilde is proving she can shoulder a film effortlessly. Gelb, Dawson and Slater do give a refreshing nihilistic ending which teases a welcomed sequel debatably  more enticing that its parent.

Overall The Lazarus Effect is a mash-up of ideas with a universal interesting theme in which Bolger and Wilde’s performance shine in the darkly lit sets.