EAGLE EYE (12)
D: D.J. Caruso
Dreamworks/Paramount/Goldrest (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci & Pat Crowley)
W: John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz & Dan McDermott
DP: Dariusz Wolski
Ed: Jim Page
Mus: Brian Tyler
Shia LaBeouf (Jerry Shaw / Ethan Shaw), Michelle Monaghan (Rachel Holloman), Julianne Moore (ARIIA), Rosario Dawson (Zoe Perez), Michael Chiklis (George Callister), Anthony Mackie (Maj. William Bowman), Billy Bob Thornton (Tom Morgan)
Enemy Of The State for a new generation of cinemagoers, Eagle Eye stars Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan as two strangers who are forced to work together after receiving a telephone call from an unknown woman who is tracing their whereabouts through technology.
Though the movie ticks over at an entertaining pace, it's almost impossible to ignore that every single plot device has been borrowed from another, more superior movie and this was simply rushed through the Hollywood conveyor belt of moviemaking to try and make a box office star out of Shia LaBeouf while the iron was hot.
EDDIE THE EAGLE (PG)
D: Dexter Fletcher
Lionsgate/Marv/TSG/Studio Babelsberg (Adam Bohling, David Reid, Rupert Maconick, Valerie Van Galder & Matthew Vaughn)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2016
W: Sean Macauley & Simon Kelton
DP: George Richmond
Ed: Martin Walsh
Mus: Matthew Margeson
Taron Egerton (Michael 'Eddie The Eagle' Edwards), Hugh Jackman (Bronson Peary), Iris Berben (Petra), Keith Allen (Terry Edwards), Jo Hartley (Janette Edwards), Christopher Walken (Warren Sharp)
This lighthearted biopic of Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, who rather cruelly became the butt of many jokes after his great failure of finishing last at the 1988 Winter Olympics, is very much presented in the same format as 1993's Cool Runnings, which is another film to hail the achievements of people who weren't archetypal Olympic athletes.
The film starts with Edwards as a young boy with a dream of becoming an Olympian, and after being cut from his local skiing team, he exploits a loophole so he can represent Britain in the ski-jumping event. The only catch is- he's never participated in the event before, and with the help of a disgraced former professional, overcomes the obstacles to get to the Winter Olympics, where he still fails to earn the respect of his peers but won the hearts of the crowd by encapsulating the 'can do' spirit of the games, especially as an amateur who competed for the sake of his own ability, regardless of his chances of victory, and for him, breaking a personal best and Great British record was enough to cue the celebrations.
Like most films based on true life events, liabilities are taken with facts, and Hugh Jackman's character is completely fabricated for the benefit of the plot. In real life, Eddie Edwards' struggle was a lot more difficult and he felt that each jump could be his very last as he trained for his chance. The biggest negative of the real life story is that changes to Olympic rules following Edwards' debut ensured its practically impossible to follow in his shoes (or skis, in this instance).
As for the film, it's a wonderful feelgood comedy, with a brilliant lead performance by Taron Egerton, who has the real life Eddie's mannerisms nailed to an absolute T.
D: Paul Verhoeven
SBS/Pallas/France 2/Canal+ (Saïd Ben Saïd & Michel Merkt)
🇫🇷 🇩🇪 2016
W: David Birke [based on the novel "Oh..." by Philippe Duran]
DP: Stephane Fontaine
Ed: Job ter Burg
Mus: Anne Dudley
Isabelle Huppert (Michele Leblanc), Laurent Lafitte (Patrick), Anne Consigny (Anna), Christian Berkel (Robert), Virginie Efira (Rebecca), Charles Berling (Richard)
Isabelle Huppert deservedly won a Golden Globe award and received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her lead performance as Michele Leblanc, a businesswoman in the games industry who is the victim of rape following a home invasion, opting not to report the crime to the police due to a bad experience with them in the past.
In the days that follow, she is harassed by her attacker and she grows increasingly suspicious of the men in her life, including her best friend's husband whom she was having an affair with. Her relationship with her family also becomes stretched and she develops an obsession with a young handsome neighbour.
It's difficult subject matter, which has been tackled before in a far more exploitative way, but director Paul Verhoeven delivers in quite a tasteful way, making a parable between violence in real life and violence in the media both being welcomed into our homes.
The film was met with controversy upon its release, especially from feminist groups who found the topic distasteful and offensive, and though it is an audacious theme to undertake, it is done in the best possible taste.
EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (EL ABRAZO DE LE SERPIENTE) (15)
D: Ciro Guerra
Diaphana/Buffalo/Caracol/Ciudad Lunar/Dago Garcia/MC/Nortesur (Cristina Gallego)
🇨🇴 🇻🇪 🇦🇷 2015
W: Ciro Guerra & Jacques Toulemonde Vidal [based on the diaries of Theodor Koch-Grunberg & Richard Evans Schultes]
DP: David Gallego
Ed: Etienne Boussac
Mus: Nascuy Linares
Nilbio Torres (Young Karamakate), Antonio Bolivar (Old Karamakate), Jan Bijvoet (Theo), Brionne Davis (Evan), Luigi Sciamanna (Gaspar)
Embrace Of The Serpent details the adventures of two journeys through the Amazon, both of them thirty years apart, the first set in the early 20th Century and the second around the 1940's.
Karamakate, the last tribesman of his people, reluctantly agrees to guide a German scientist and his companion, once a local of the area, to the whereabouts of a sacred healing plant, but upon the journey, Karamakate sees the detrimental effects that westernisation has had on the rainforest, both with the harvest of rubber and other crops & the dwindling numbers of the indigenous.
The second part of the story sees the same journey take place when Karamakate is a much older man, his memory and knowledge fading, guiding an American botanist to the same fabled plant.
The film does a magnificent job in taking the viewer on its journey, using washed-out black & white photography as it presents South American cultures which can now only be read about in books.
Critically acclaimed, this became the first Colombian-funded film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
Don't expect Apocalypto (qv), this is far more artful and subtle with its depictions.
THE EMOJI MOVIE (PG)
D: Tony Leondis
Sony/Columbia (Michelle Raimo Kouyate)
W: Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel & Mike White
Mus: Patrick Doyle
T.J. Miller (Gene Meh), James Corden (High-5), Anna Faris (Linda Jailbreak), Maya Rudolph (Smiler), Steven Wright (Mel Meh), Jennifer Coolidge (Mary Meh), Patrick Stewart (Poop)
In 2017, the world seems to have become so technology-obsessed that there's even a movie which will brainwash young children that this is the way the world should be interacting, not with words, but with emoji symbols which are now a feature of smartphones 😒.
The story takes place in a schoolboy's smartphone, in the city of Textopolis, where anthropomorphic emoji's go about their daily lives. The happy emojis are always happy and the sad emojis are always sad, which is practically the running joke of the movie.
New to this society is Gene Meh, who isn't sure how to emote and thus becomes targeted as malware by the phone's security settings.
The biggest problem with the film is that it celebrates the technology-obsessed society in which we live and therefore becomes a marketing ploy as the main characters have to play a game of Candy Crush so they can escape persecution (this scene actually goes as far as telling us all the entire rules of Candy Crush, probably so we all download it).
There's little to no point criticising this movie though, since it made back its production budget four-fold during its cinema run, mostly because it's easy to market an animated movie to young children and their parents during school breaks.
Some films I just can't give a mark out of ten to.
THE END OF THE AFFAIR (18)
THE EQUALIZER 2 (15)
D: Antoine Fuqua
Sony/Columbia/Escape Artists (Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Denzel Washington, Alex Siskin, Steve Tisch, Antoine Fuqua, Mace Neufeld, Tony Eldridge & Michael Sloan)
W: Richard Wenk [based on the television series created by Michael Sloan & Richard Lindheim]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Conrad Buff
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams
Denzel Washington (Robert McCall), Pedro Pascal (Dave York), Ashton Sanders (Miles Whittaker), Bill Pullman (Brian Plummer), Melissa Leo (Susan Plummer)
Based on a British television series, the first Equalizer movie was released in 2014 and, despite being reasonably entertaining, was totally forgettable, despite a solid lead performance by Denzel Washington.
This is actually one of the rare instances where a sequel is better than the first movie, and as a standalone film, it isn't important to have seen the first film to understand this one, so long as you understand the basics of the character Washington plays.
As Robert McCall, Washington is an every man, working for a mobile-based taxi service (no, not that one) as well as moonlighting as a vigilante who helps those who can't help themselves. The film wastes no time getting into a thrilling opening action scene before getting into a subplot involving McCall helping an impressionable black teenager from going down the wrong path. Meanwhile, an assassination in Paris is investigated by McCall's former colleague, who is subsequently murdered and it isn't long before the same hitmen come gunning for him.
The plot is a little hackneyed and the subplots a little too goody-goody, but Washington's performance and some well directed action sequences carry the movie very well.
Considering this is Denzel's first sequel in a career spanning nearly 40 years, you can assume that he wouldn't have taken on the work if he didn't think it would be a good movie.
It's far from perfect, but it's a big improvement on the first movie.
EVIL DEAD (18)
D: Fede Alvarez
Tristar/Ghost House/Film District (Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi & Bruce Campbell)
W: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues [based on the screenplay by Sam Raimi]
DP: Aaron Morton
Ed: Bryan Shaw
Mus: Roque Baños
Jane Levy (Mia Allen), Shiloh Fernandez (David Allen), Lou Taylor Pucci (Eric), Jessica Lucas (Olivia), Elizabeth Blackmore (Natalie), Jim McLarty (Harold)
There's a few movies made during the 1980's which could have probably done with a modern makeover. Unfortunately, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead is not one of them. The original film, shot in 1981, may have rudimentary effects and incredibly low budget production values, but the fear factor, horror quotient and suspense still hold up very well, and these are things which cannot be improved merely by throwing money at them.
The plot is practically the same, centring around a group of teenagers who visit a cabin in the woods, discover a book on witchcraft and unleash evil spirits upon themselves, although this version includes backstory for moronic audience members and throws in a subplot about drug addition for absolutely no reason.
The worst thing by far about this is Sam Raimi's involvement as producer. One for the money, at the cost of one's legacy. Poor.
EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (18)
THE EXTERMINATOR (18)
D: James Glickenhaus
Avco Embassy/Amsell/Interstar (Mark Buntzman)
W: James Glickenhaus
DP: Robert M. Baldwin
Ed: Corky O'Hara
Mus: Joe Renzetti
Robert Ginty (John Eastland), Christopher George (Det. James Dalton), Samantha Eggar (Dr. Megan Stewart), Steve James (Michael Jefferson)
Some may know The Exterminator as one of the "video nasties" of the early 1980's, or even as a banned movie, but both claims are exaggerated.
This vigilante crime thriller takes some inspiration from Death Wish & Taxi Driver, starring Robert Ginty as an ex-Vietnam veteran who vows revenge when his friend is killed by a street gang and subsequently goes berserk on the seedy streets of New York City.
Repulsive and very cheaply made, notoriety was achieved through a nasty-looking beheading scene in the film's opening moments as well another gruesome scene involving a industrial-size mincer, the latter of which was used in a copycat murder case on the streets of America.
An undeserved sequel followed four years later.