The award-winning digital steampunk series Riese: Kingdom Falling is now playing at www.syfy.co.uk/shows/riese. The story follows Riese, a wanted princess of the Kingdom of Eleysia that has been overthrown by a powerful society called The Sect. The evil empress Amara has proclaimed Riese a traitor, who must evade her pursuers with nothing but her wits and the help of her wolf companion, Fenrir.
Kevin Macdonald, the British director who brought us the likes of Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland and State of Play suffers his first major misfire with his latest offering The Eagle; an adaptation of Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical adventure novel The Eagle of the Ninth. A sword and sandals piece, The Eagle follows Marcus Flavia Aquila (Channing Tatum), a Roman legionary who seeks to restore honour to his besmirched family name by recovering the symbolic golden eagle, which his late father lost in battle, along with his whole legion (the ninth), during an infamously ill-fated attempt to conquer northern Briton.
It is incredibly rare that a director of sheer quality is able to hone his or her talents expertly enough to achieve the unimaginable and produce a masterpiece upon debut. Few have managed it but those who have are now among Hollywood’s studio elite as a result. Bryan Singer with The Usual Suspects, Quentin Tarantino with Reservoir Dogs, the Coen Brothers with Blood Simple and now the extremely exciting David Michôd with his astonishing feature debut Animal Kingdom.
Shakespeare’s plays have been told in many forms, in particular Romeo and Juliet which Baz Luhrmann brought to vivid life in 1996 with Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes embodying the titular characters for a generation of film fans. Then the tragedy was relocated to Verona to give it zest while retaining the original dialogue, for this very British production the twist on the famous tale is the warring Capulets and Montagues are gnomes living in rival gardens next door to each other. With producers including David Furnish and Elton John its got plenty of stars behind the animated adventure, however there’s very little life in it beyond the child-friendly introduction to the work of William Shakespeare.
No matter which way you look at it, despite the fact that it seems nigh on impossible, the Coen brothers appear to be getting progressively better – like a pair of maturing cheeses if you will.
Tom Hooper’s period biopic of King George VI’s abrupt appointment to the throne arrives on silver screens fully formed and totally deserving of all the recent plaudits it has received.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is still the most watched TV show in the world and its 10th landmark season begins after the infamous departure of Grissom (William Peterson) and the arrival of Dr Raymond Langston (Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Laurence Fishburne) as he hits the ground running in the CSI hot-seat.
Better late than never – here’s our Zap Bang! editors’ runs down of the films of note for them in 2010…
Sofia Coppola’s most popular and award-winning film, Lost in Translation, saw Bill Murray wander Tokyo as a deleaguered movie star looking for a sense of purpose. Murray’s charm hadn’t has such a deserved vehicle for his increasingly wry humour – combined with the sprightly Scarlett Johansson Coppola struck a chord with audiences. Everyone felt for Murray’s actor slipping into limbo as Johansson offered a sembelence of reality. With Somewhere she tries to repeat the trick, this time with Stephen Dorff the actor, though this time he’s a hugely bankable action star already besieged by ladies who needs to snap out of a party lifestyle that might not seem lonely at times, but at others it is soul destroying.
Todd Phillips became the king of frat comedy thanks to Old School back in 2003 and last year’s The Hangover was another example of how well he depicts adults getting themselves into sticky situations without reaching for the easy option of grossing out the audience. With Due Date he apes Planes, Trains and Automobiles by putting a father-to-be’s travel plans in the fate of an unlikely stranger who tests his nerves and patience to the limits in a bid to be home in time to see his first born into the world, but falls short of recreating a pairing as strong as Steve Martin and John Candy in the comedy classic. Its not the leading men who can’t fill their shoes that lets this movie down, rather it’s a weak script fighting for laughs.
Director David Fincher has a thing about male obsession – he’s obsessed with the condition of men becoming so engrossed in a pursuit that their lives become dedicated to and often destroyed by their obsession. Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac focused on male characters who were fixated on the dark recesses of the mind to the point they clouded their own. To group The Social Network with his past work might seem extreme – the setting up of Facebook, the world’s largest social networking website with 500 million users, would appear on the surface to be a simple tale of a few geeks getting together wanting to make friends. But never judge a book by it’s cover, they say, and it’s fitting that Facebook harbours more dark recesses than you might expect.
For those of us who have oft pondered, perhaps on a drastically lonely, rainy day, what the pros and cons of artificial insemination might be, Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s The Switch is a hilariously unconventional place to start. Confident, successful Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) has decided, in lieu of numerous failed relationships, that her desire to become a mother mustn’t rely on the unlikelihood of finding Mr Right. Thus, to reassure herself that her plan to find a sperm donor is the right choice, she confides in her neurotic ex-flame, best-pal convert, Wally (Jason Bateman).
Movie fans who believed that the torture-porn genre had nothing left to offer but another execrable Saw sequel should check out the refreshing new movie from writer and director Tom Six, The Human Centipede (First Sequence). Though far from perfect, it delivers more than one might expect for a movie that has been hyped for its shocking and graphic content.
Hollywood’s desperately unoriginal propensity for remaking or ‘revamping’ anything it can get its filthy rich hands on charges onwards and just about upwards with Joe Carnahan’s The A-Team. Carnahan’s back catalogue includes such mindless actionfests as Blood, Guts, Bullets And Octane and the two Smokin’ Aces films, so it comes as no surprise that his take on The A-Team is similarly testosterone-fuelled.
Back in the days of Hollywood hard-hitters and henchmen it was perfectly acceptable for action movie stars not to say very much. Our heroes (and our villains) had names like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Bronson, Darth Vader, and the TX-32. They were big; they were beautiful, and very, very dangerous. That said, they did have their limitations and ‘Yo Adrian!’ was about as close as they got to a complete sentence.
However times have changed and we now demand more from our movie stars. Sure we still want their muscles and power but we also expect them to arrive on screen with a modicum of intelligence and a morsel of grace. Cue Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, the dynamic duo who together forged Jason Bourne; a hero of the everyman that would go on to redefine our definition of the action hero forever.
For those of us forever wishing we were brave and motivated enough to fulfil our distant dream of ascending the world’s greatest peak, award-winning director Anthony Geffen’s The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest provides an engaging and educational insight into the type of drive, passion, vigour and sheer pig headedness required to achieve such a feat.
CSI: Miami is back with a seventh season of murders on the east coast. Famed for making forensic science high gloss entertainment, the new series is out to buy on DVD from Monday, June 7th. If you’re new to CSI: Miami, help catch up with these character profiles of the regular characters.
If you like your films packed full of tense action and martial arts mastery then look no further than Ninja Assassin, out now on Blu-ray, DVD, On-Demand and Digital Download on 17th May. Produced by the combined creative geniuses of the Wachowski Brothers and Hollywood hot-shot Joel Silver, Ninja Assassin tells the story of a young assassin named Raizo (Rain), who turns his back on the Ozunu clan that raised him in order to seek revenge for the heartless murders they committed against those he held dear.
Now we all know that one should never knowingly double-cross a ninja, especially when they’ve been trained in the art of death since the age of six. However some movie mugs just will not learn. So what better way to celebrate the release of this visually stunning, blood filled tour de force, than to remember the most awesome action films that have schooled us in the art of ‘who not to mess with’ throughout the years.
The French got accustomed to the Hollywood term ‘biopic’, short for ‘biographical picture’, following Olivier Dahan’s 2007 film La Vie En Rose which was inspired by the life of French singer Edith Piaf. Joann Sfar, author of comic strips, here makes his director’s debut with Gainsbourg and claims he did not want to direct a biopic.
With Drew Barrymore’s big time acting debut now a distant memory and E.T. firmly filed under the “All Time Classics” section in every film guide ever, it seems apt that its once cherub-like child star is back and wowing everyone with her directorial debut Whip It.
On October 6th 2000 the world was forever changed when an American crime drama television series premiered in the US. That series, CSI, follows a group of Las Vegas criminalists as they uncover physical evidence to solve a range of crimes. It became the most watched show on TV by 2002, and has since become a phenomenon still going strong after 10 years. For all you newbies out there, here’s a catch up ahead of the release of season nine on DVD and Blu-ray this Monday, March 1st. Without wasting anymore time well start with those immortal words… “Previously on CSI”.
Pascal Alex-Vincent’s debut feature looks at a fraught brotherly bond. Having recently lost the mother they never met, identical twins Quentin (Victor Carril) and Antoine (Alexandre Carril) leave their baker father behind and make the journey to Spain to say their final goodbyes. Due to their lack of funds, the eighteen year olds end up hitch-hiking from their small French village to Barcelona. Siblings always argue, but the tension is central to Quentin and Antoine’s loving connection. A true case of they can’t stand being together, but apart is even more daunting. A twisting an turning emotional rollercoaster of a journey sees the pair separate en route with varied consequences.
Winner of the Special Youth Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Jean-Claude Brisseau’s social commentary on neglected youth is as relevant in 2010 as it was in 1988. Bruno (Vincent Gasperitsch) is a quiet boy who has just moved into a run-down high rise with his never present mother. His mother needs to work all the hours possible in order to give her son any type of life, meaning their only communication is through letters. Starting a new school, Bruno befriends resident trouble maker Jean-Roger (Francois Negret). Jean-Roger has an equally troubled background. His Grandfather (Antono Garcia) is bed-ridden with terminal illness, whilst his father Marcel (Bruno Cremer) is a gun crazy drunk annoyed at his eldest son Thierry’s (Thierry Helaine) determination to break the family mould. Thankfully, Bruno’s teacher (Fabienne Babe) recognises his potential and tries to take him under her wing.
Marie (Judith Davis) is an inexperienced country girl moving to the big bad, scary city to study piano at the conservatoire. Naive, innocent but attractive, it is inevitable that Marie will be the focus of many a wandering eye. Thankfully she will not be entirely alone as she starts this exciting yet scary chapter of her life. Marie will be moving in with Emma (Isild Le Besco), her icy childhood friend. Emma’s father has recently passed away and her artist mother allegedly moved to New York, leaving her alone in the family’s luxurious Lyon apartment. The childhood friendship waned when Marie failed to return phone calls, prompting a frosty reception from the mysterious and sombre Emma. However, in the excitement of starting at the Conservatoire de Lyon, France’s second most prestigious music school, Marie’s innocent excitement allows her to get lost in her situation.
There haven’t been many films in recent years that have been able to match the bullet count or sheer enjoyment factor of Smokin’ Aces, in fact most recent action films have been more Romeo than Rambo. So if you’re an adrenaline junkie in need of a need fix then fear not as the Smokin’ Aces gang are back in the sequel Assassins’ Ball, out on DVD and Blu-ray on 25th January.