JACK FROST (PG)
JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (12)
D: Edward Zwick
Paramount/Skydance (Tom Cruise, Don Granger & Christopher McQuarrie)
W: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz [based on the novel 'Never Go Back' by Lee Child]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Billy Weber
Mus: Henry Jackman
Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Cobie Smulders (Maj. Susan Turner), Aldis Hodge (Capt. Anthony Espin), Danika Yarosh (Samantha Dutton), Patrick Heusinger (The Hunter), Holt McCallany (Col. Sam Morgan)
Jack Reacher returns in this disappointingly by-the-numbers sequel, which fails to live up to the excitement of the first film, despite having a far more experienced director at the helm in Edward Zwick.
The story follows the ex-military detective as he contacts an old colleague for a meeting, only for her to be accused of espionage and himself a target for assassination. They go on the run, along with a teenage girl who may or may not be Reacher's daughter, and try to identify who framed them, leading to a weapon trading conspiracy at a superior level of the armed forces.
The action scenes are well choreographed, but the plot wastes a lot of time on shaggy dog elements which don't bring any tension or progression to the story.
Overall, the film is nothing more than bang average and Tom Cruise is beginning to look a little too old for these shenanigans.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (12)
D: Bryan Singer
Warner Bros/New Line/Legendary/Original/Big Kid/Bad Hat Harry (Neal H. Moritz, David Dobkin, Bryan Singer, Patrick McCormick & Ori Marmur)
W: Darren Lemke, Dan Studney & Christopher McQuarrie [based on the traditional stories "Jack The Giant Killer" and "Jack & The Beanstalk"]
DP: Newton Thomas Sigel
Ed: John Ottman & Bob Ducsay
Mus: John Ottman
Nicholas Hoult (Jack), Eleanor Tomlinson (Isabelle), Stanley Tucci (Lord Roderick), Ian McShane (King Brahmwell), Ewan McGregor (Elmont)
Despite being originally titled Jack The Giant Killer, this is not a remake of the 1962 fantasy film. It is rather a re-imagination of the fairy tale Jack & The Beanstalk and a folk tale from medieval England.
Anyone familiar with the fairytale will know the majority of the plot, but a bit of romance is shoved into this story, with Jack climbing the beanstalk to enter the land of the giants to rescue a princess, rather than steal gold eggs.
It's quite unfortunate that the film was given a 12 age rating, since the only people who are likely to get any enjoyment from this film will be below that age. For everyone else, it's pretty run-of-the-mill, with inexcusably bad visual effects considering the cost of production was reportedly $195 million.
D: Pablo Larrain
Fox Searchlight/Wild Bunch/Why Not/Protozoa (Darren Aronofsky, Juan de Dios Larrain, Mickey Liddell, Scott Franklin & Ari Handel)
W: Noah Oppenheimer
DP: Stéphane Fontaine
Ed: Sebastian Sepulveda
Mus: Mica Levi
PD: Jean Rebasse
Cos: Madeline Fontaine
Natalie Portman (Jacqueline Kennedy), Peter Sarsgaard (Robert Kennedy), Greta Gerwig (Nancy Tuckerman), Caspar Phillipson (John F. Kennedy), John Carroll Lynch (Lyndon B. Johnson), John Hurt (The Priest), Billy Crudup (The Journalist)
Chilean director Pablo Larrain's biopic features a better performance than it does a story, though there aren't enough superlatives to describe how magnetic Natalie Portman's is as former First Lady Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy.
The plot adopts a non-linear route as an unnamed journalist probes Jackie with questions on how she remained dignified and graceful following the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy.
Wisely steering clear of conspiracy theories and politics, the film focuses solely on a widow's grief and though Jackie may have lived at a very famous address, she was very much a human being.
Kudos also have to go to the production designers who recreate 1960's Washington perfectly, as well as the costume designers who completely recreate Jackie Kennedy's wardrobe.
The plot isn't particularly engaging, especially in a slow-building first two acts, but the lead performance of Natalie Portman is nothing short of tour de force, capturing the accent and mannerisms to absolute perfection.
JACOB'S LADDER (18)
JAGGED EDGE (18)
THE JANUARY MAN (15)
JASON BOURNE (12)
D: Paul Greengrass
Universal/Captivate/Perfect World/Pearl Street (Paul Greengrass, Gregory Goodman, Frank Marshall, Jeffrey M. Weiner, Ben Smith & Matt Damon)
W: Paul Greengrass & Christopher Rouse [based on characters created by Robert Ludlum]
DP: Barry Ackroyd
Ed: Christopher Rouse
Mus: John Powell & David Buckley
Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Tommy Lee Jones (Robert Dewey), Alicia Vikander (Heather Lee), Vincent Cassel (The Asset), Julia Stiles (Nicolette Parsons), Riz Ahmed (Aaron Kalloor)
The studio still has money to make from the franchise, but since The Bourne Legacy wasn't as successful as they hoped, this sequel reverts back to type and follows the same blueprints laid down by the original trilogy (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy & The Bourne Ultimatum).
Secret agent Jason Bourne is brought out of hiding when CIA secrets are unearthed by his former associate Nicolette Parsons, making them both a target for assassination.
The plot simply goes through the same motions seen before, but only in a really boring way, bringing none of the cunning, intrepid skill or brilliant choreographed action scenes with it.
A cash-grab. Nothing more, nothing less, with an ending open for yet another promise of adventure dangling on the horizon.
JAWS 3-D (15)
JAWS: THE REVENGE (15)
JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (18)
THE JAZZ SINGER (PG)
THE JERK (15)
JERSEY GIRL (15)
JETSONS: THE MOVIE (U)
THE JEWEL OF THE NILE (PG)
JIMMY HOLLYWOOD (15)
JOHN CARTER (12)
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (18)
D: Chad Stahelski
Lionsgate/Summit/Thunder Road/87 Eleven (Basil Iwanyk & Erica Lee)
W: Derek Kolstad
DP: Dan Laustsen
Ed: Evan Schiff
Mus: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard
Keanu Reeves (John Wick), Riccardo Scamarcio (Santino D'Antonio), Ian McShane (Winston), Ruby Rose (Ares), Common (Cassian), Claudia Gerini (Gianna D'Antonio), Laurence Fishburne (The Bowery King), Peter Stormare (Abram Tarasov)
John Wick: Chapter 2 starts where the first movie left off and wastes no time as the former hitman goes about beating up the bad guys to get his stolen car back. If you want character development, that's all you're gonna get.
Wick is then visited by Santino D'Antonio, the gangster who allowed Wick to retire on the condition that he is granted one last favour... and now is the time for that favour to be extended.
The hitman reluctantly travels to Rome to carry out his mission only to become double-crossed and find himself on a hit list when he returns back to New York soil.
Storywise, the plot of this sequel has many of the tropes you'd come to expect from this kind of genre (unlike a man exacting revenge for the murder of his dog) although it does become increasingly silly as the film goes on.
As with the first film, the action scenes are brilliantly choreographed and directed, assisted by some rather amazing cinematography for an action movie, as well as exhilarating music and good editing.
The film leaves it open for chapter 3, expected imminently...
D: David O. Russell
20th Century Fox/Fox 2000/Annapurna/TSG (John Davis, Megan Ellison, Jonathan Gordon, Ken Mok & David O. Russell)
W: David O. Russell & Annie Mumulo
DP: Linus Sandgren
Ed: Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Tom Cross & Christopher Tellefsen
Mus: West Dylan Thordson & David Campbell
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy Mangano), Robert DeNiro (Rudy Mangano), Edgar Ramirez (Tony Miranne), Bradley Cooper (Neil Walker), Diane Ladd (Mimi)
Jennifer Lawrence received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Joy Mangano in this biographical comedy-drama about a working class mother with a humble upbringing who went on to become a self-made multi-millionaire due to her invention of a mop which sold in its thousands after featuring on the home shopping network QVC.
Considering most the movie is about a mop, it does manage to stay engaging, despite some issues with the narrative meandering from time to time.
It's obvious that some of the story has been fancied up and dramatised for cinematic effect, landing somewhere between Erin Brockovich and a rags-to-riches fairytale, but it also crams in some message about feminism and female empowerment, which is immediately dropped when Bradley Cooper's dashing TV executive gives Joy a little push up the stepladder. Thank God for Prince Charming.
Besides some finicky little details, it does end up being a joy to watch.
JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG (PG)
D: Stanley Kramer
United Artists/Roxlom (Stanley Kramer)
W: Abby Mann [based on his 1959 teleplay]
DP: Ernest Laszlo
Ed: Frederic Knudtson
Mus: Ernest Gold
PD: Rudolph Sternad
Spencer Tracy (Judge Dan Haywood), Burt Lancaster (Dr. Ernest Janning), Richard Widmark (Col. Tad Lawson), Maximilian Schell (Hans Rolfe), Werner Klemperer (Emil Hahn), Marlene Dietrich (Frau Bertholt), Montgomery Clift (Rudolph Peterson), Judy Garland (Irene Hoffman-Wallner), William Shatner (Capt. Harrison Byers)
Spencer Tracy may have received top billing, but this is an ensemble piece where nearly every actor involved puts in a tour de force performance, with Maximilian Schell winning the Best Actor Oscar for his work.
This fictionalised recreation of the Nuremberg trials has Tracy's judge presiding over the tribunal, where four German judges sitting in the dock for the alleged crime of sending people they knew to be innocent to prison and POW camps, where many met their deaths due to the Nazi regime of WWII.
The courtroom element of the movie engages the plot for most of the running time, and its these scenes which are completely engrossing, dramatically important and incredibly harrowing.
Directed by Stanley Kramer, who has history of being quite heavy-handed with political messages in his movies, is quite reserved and low-key with his execution here, knowing when to take a step back and when to deliver a devastating punch.
There are a handful of scenes taking place outside the courtroom which the film could have done without. They don't serve the plot and only seem to have made the cut because they give Spencer Tracy a little more screen-time.
It is very much an actor's movie though, Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland being the absolute standouts. Abby Mann's screenplay also deserves recognition, particularly for the lengthy speeches in the final act.
Very close to being a masterpiece, if only some nip & tuck was performed on the unnecessary scenes.
JUDGMENT NIGHT (18)
JULIET, NAKED (15)
D: Jesse Peretz
Universal/Focus Features/Bona Fide/Rocket Science/Los Angeles Media Fund (Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger & Jeffrey Soros)
W: Evgenia Peretz, Phil Alden Robinson, Jim Taylor & Tamara Jenkins [based on the novel by Nick Hornby]
DP: Remi Adefarasin
Ed: Sabine Hoffman & Robert Nassau
Mus: Nathan Larson
Rose Byrne (Annie Platt), Chris O'Dowd (Duncan Thompson), Ethan Hawke (Tucker Crowe), Megan Dodds (Carrie)
Based on Nick Hornby's novel, Juliet Naked isn't nearly as risqué as it you may assume, for it's a romantic comedy with issues dealing with growing older, regret, passion for music and obsessive fandom.
Rose Byrne plays Annie Platt, the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan, a teacher who spends his spare time preoccupied with the musical career of Tucker Crowe, an obscure American rockstar who cut his career incredibly short under mysterious circumstances while promoting "Juliet", his only album. Bernard blogs about the singer's work on an online forum, and the film itself opens with some exposition about the Juliet album, explaining that Crowe penned the songs following a relationship breakup.
One day, Bernard receives a package containing "Juliet - Naked", a demo version of the album containing unreleased tracks. He immediately blogs about it, much to the chagrin of Annie, who gets her revenge by posting her own review of the music, which annoys Bernard but wins over a fan in Tucker Crowe himself.
The reclusive singer and Annie begin communicating with each other and a transatlantic relationship blossoms between them and the singer's secretive history becomes more and more apparent.
Though the plot is a little contrived, the story is very charming, helped by some witty dialogue and good performances from the three principal leads, especially Ethan Hawke who really captures the energy of a faded, self-loathing rock star living with deep regret.
Author Nick Hornby also wrote another novel based on music obsession which was adapted into a movie (High Fidelity, 2000) and this could be seen as the same story but from the woman's perspective.
Adapted in a rather televisual style, it might be worth waiting for on the small screen - but Nick Hornby's fans should certainly give it a watch.
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (12)
D: Jake Kasdan
Sony/Columbia/Radar/Seven Bucks (Matt Tolmach & William Teitler)
W: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner [based on the book "Jumanji" by Chris Van Allsburg]
DP: Gyula Pados
Ed: Mark Helfrich & Steve Edwards
Mus: Henry Jackman
Dwayne Johnson (Smolder Bravestone), Jack Black (Shelly Oberon), Kevin Hart (Franklin 'Mouse' Finbar), Karen Gillan (Ruby Roundhouse), Alex Wolff (Spencer Gilpin), Madison Iseman (Bethany Walker), Ser'Darius Blain (Anthony 'Fridge' Johnson), Morgan Turner (Martha Kaply), Nick Jonas (Jefferson 'Seaplane' McDonough)
As someone who wasn't a huge fan of the 1995 film Jumanji, I wasn't as up in arms as some people were when the news leaked that the adventure would get the 21st century treatment.
This is neither a sequel or remake to the original film, but rather a reboot for the Snapchat generation, who wouldn't have been born when the 1995 film was released. It doesn't continue the story and it doesn't really recycle the same plot device. Instead, it places a group of schoolkids within the environment of a computer game, where the take on the appearance and characteristics of their avatars and need to win the game in order to escape.
The transition of the game from board format to game console is written in quite a lazy way, as is the Breakfast Club set-up where the group of mismatched students discover the game whilst undertaking their punishment. It's in the environment of the game where the fun starts, with a geek taking on the appearance of Dwayne Johnson, the jock becoming the wimpy Kevin Hart, the teen princess finding herself in the body of Jack Black and the shy girl stealing the show as the Lara Croft-esque Ruby Roundhouse.
Better writing could have made this a much better film, but it's still perfectly enjoyable, even though it doesn't have any real ties to the original film or Chris Van Allsburg's book. It honestly could have just been called "Welcome To The Jungle", but Hollywood Studios don't like to gamble, and thus had to have some nostalgia tagged to it in order to make it more successful.
JUMPIN' JACK FLASH (15)
JURASSIC PARK III (PG)
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (12)
D: J.A. Bayona
Universal/Amblin/Legendary (Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley & Belen Atienza)
W: Colin Treverrow & Derek Connolly [based on characters created by Michael Crichton]
DP: Oscar Faura
Ed: Bernat Vilaplana
Mus: Michael Giacchino
Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Rafe Spall (Eli Mills), Justice Smith (Franklin Webb), Daniella Pineda (Dr. Zia Rodriguez), James Cromwell (Sir Benjamin Lockwood), Toby Jones (Gunnar Eversoll), Ted Levine (Ken Wheatley), Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm)
If 2015's Jurassic World is considered a weak retread of the original Jurassic Park, then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an incredibly weak retread of The Lost World, with added stupidity, cringeworthy dialogue and pointless subplots shoved in for good measure.
Bryce Dallas Howard reprises her role as Claire Dearing, the annoying CEO from Jurassic World, except in this film she runs a charity for dinosaur rights (seriously), campaigning for the lives of the various species abandoned on the island site as a volcano threatens a violent eruption that will kill anything left behind.
She teams up again with old flame Owen Grady, when she accepts an invitation to return to the island to save the dinosaur species, and they are both told that saving a velociraptor is key to their mission.
Cue bad guys who want to bring deadly dinosaurs back to the United States for no other reason except money and the rest of the plot is pretty much paint-by-numbers.
Director J.A. Bayona, with his background in horror, brings a darker vision to the franchise, and although there are a handful of interesting moments, you're likely to have already seen them in the trailer.
This is easily the weakest of all the Jurassic Park movies, full of irritating characters and terrible dialogue to the point that it's become clear that big Hollywood studio blockbusters are more concerned with having a diverse and inclusive cast rather than having an exciting storyline.
Even Jeff Goldblum is wasted in a cameo role which is completely separate to the main story and one of the (ridiculous) plot twists seems to be wedged in for no reason as it goes absolutely nowhere except to set up yet another sequel.
Definitely one of the worst films of 2018.
JURY DUTY (12)
JUSTICE LEAGUE (12)
D: Zack Snyder (& Joss Whedon)
Warner Bros/Ratpac-Dune/DC/Atlas (Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg & Geoff Johnson)
W: Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon [based on the comic book by Gardner Fox]
DP: Fabian Wagner
Ed: David Brenner, Richard Pearson & Martin Walsh
Mus: Danny Elfman
Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince / Wonder Woman), Ezra Miller (Barry Allen / The Flash), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry / Aquaman), Ray Fisher (Victor Stone / Cyborg), Ciaran Hinds (Steppenwolf), Henry Cavill (Kal-El / Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane)
Following the disappointment of Batman vs Superman and the contrasting elation of Wonder Woman, I wasn't quite sure what my expectations would be for Justice League, which brings together all the big DC superheroes to battle the bad guys.
It's fundamentally important to have seen BVS and Wonder Woman before watching Justice League, and it's not possible to review this without spoilers for the forementioned (especially Batman vs Superman)
The film wastes no time with an opening action set piece, as Batman fights an alien being, who are popping up all over the world following the death of Superman. It soon emerges that they are scouts for a powerful being called Steppenwolf, who is seeking three powerful boxes entrusted to certain superheroes, with which he schemes to create his own apocalyptic world.
Bruce Wayne wastes no time assembling his team, although Aquaman and Cyborg are both initially reluctant to join.
Even when the five superheroes do unite, they are out of their depth against the demonic villain and plot to resurrect Superman, which may not bode so well for Batman.
The build up is a bit of a mess, settling for comic relief from Barry Allen (The Flash) rather than any serious character development, but when everything is all set up for the big showdown, it does have moments of excitement.
As a complete package, it's far from perfect, and Marvel don't have to worry about being knocked off their perch as the Superhero behemoth. Some of the effects are shoddy, especially the digital erasion of Henry Cavill's moustache and the CGI bad guy, who is a very one dimension character. Still, it isn't nearly as bad as its reputation would suggest.