Anton van Beek  |  Oct 17, 2011  |  0 comments

Forget Baz Luhrmann’s flashy contemporary update of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise got there first with this magnificent bigscreen musical. Fusing The Bard’s most popular work with superb music, inventive dance choreography and expressionist production design, the film charts the doomed romance of two star-crossed lovers belonging to rival gangs competing for turf on the streets of New York. While the two leads are pretty anaemic and the story falls flat between songs on a few occasions, it’s more than made up for by the astonishing dance routines and memorable tunes.

Anton van Beek  |  Oct 16, 2011  |  0 comments

While he’s been a mainstay of DC Comic’s superhero pantheon since 1960 (in this incarnation, at least), you’d be hard-pushed to say that Green Lantern is a particularly recognisable name for most people. As such, this sci-fi blockbuster had its work cut out not only introducing its hero Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) and his supporting cast, but also establishing the concept of the inter-galactic police force he ends up working for, the Green Lantern Corps. Add to that a melodramatic back-story and two separate villains and its no wonder that the film struggles under the weight of its ambitious scope. But what’s surprising, given all of that, is how thin and uneventful the film ends up feeling. While the space stuff looks great, but most of the action takes place on Earth and looks ordinary and unexciting by comparison.

Anton van Beek  |  Oct 16, 2011  |  0 comments

Having made a name for himself with horror fans with the surprisingly effective ultra-low budget shocker Zombie Virus on Mulberry Street in 2006, director Jim Mickle has stepped up his game for this even more impressive follow-up flick. Playing out a bit like The Road, albeit with monsters lurking around every corner, Stake Land follows a small group of survivors as they try to reach safety in post-apocalyptic world overrun by a vampire epidemic. 

Anton van Beek  |  Oct 08, 2011  |  0 comments

Writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan changed the face of modern horror with their low budget 2004 hit Saw. However, since that ingenious debut the filmmaking partnership has struggled to come up with a concept as fresh or inventive (remember we're talking about the original Saw here, not the franchise that followed), serving up first the derivative haunted ventriloquist dummy flick Dead Silence, and now this curious mix of subgenres. Initially playing out like a haunted house flick, Insidious then transforms into a possession movie before finally heading out into the Dreamscape-like territory of astral projection. As you might expect, it doesn't exactly hang together comfortably, but there are at least a few good scares along the way.

Anton van Beek  |  Oct 03, 2011  |  0 comments

Claiming to be 'inspired by true events [that] occurred on June 5th 1992', War Games tells the story of a group of friends who head out into the wilds one weekend in order to mess around with Airsoft guns (an alternative to paintball that still allows adults to act like little kids playing war, but without the messy stains on their clothes). During the lengthy game, one of the girls from the group goes missing and a search of the local area uncovers a creepy slaughterhouse. Faster than you can yell 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre' the youngsters discover that they're being hunted by a psychopathic trio of local ex-soldiers who are playing their own war game - one where the ammo is live and the outsiders are likely to end up dead.

Anton van Beek  |  Oct 01, 2011  |  0 comments

The Alien Anthology boxset is quite simply a must-have for any self-respecting home cinema buff. Not only do you get two bona fide Five Star classics – Ridley Scott’s original Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens – but it also includes David Fincher’s horribly underrated Alien3 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s half-baked Alien Resurrection. Okay, so the latter can’t compare to the first three films in this legendary sci-fi/horror series, but taken as a whole the Alien saga remains one of the most exciting, fascinating and enduring genre franchises around and it simply has to form a part of every self-respecting home cinema fan’s collection.

Anton van Beek  |  Sep 30, 2011  |  0 comments

While Terminator 2 might have introduced audiences around the world to the possibilities of computer-generated effects, it was Steven Spielberg’s 1993 smash Jurassic Park that truly revolutionised cinema. Seamlessly mixing CG visuals and life-size models, this bigscreen adaptation of Michael Crichton’s sci-fi bestseller convinced audiences around the world that dinosaurs walked still walked the Earth, and in the process transformed the visual effects industry almost overnight. And while the film itself suffers by comparison to Crichton’s darker novel (and some of the dinosaur info is extremely suspect – not least the oversized Velociraptors), taken on its own right, it’s an entertaining thrill ride full of wonder and terrific dinosaur effects.

Anton van Beek  |  Sep 23, 2011  |  0 comments

Dystopian, Blade Runner-esque futures are ten-a-penny in videogames. So it's hard not to feel a little jaded when yet another title turns up promising to take you into a perpetually overcast near-future version of our world, populated by sinister big-business types and shadowy conspiracies. But it's worth remembering that the original Deus Ex set the benchmark for the action-role-playing-game genre when it hit the PC at the turn of the Millennium. And, remarkably, this third entry in the series manages to match, if not top that lofty achievement.

Anton van Beek  |  Sep 19, 2011  |  0 comments

As far as movie taglines go ‘Inner city vs outer space’ is pretty damn snappy. Incredibly comedian-turned-filmmaker Joe Cornish has delivered a debut movie that more than lives up to it. 

Anton van Beek  |  Sep 16, 2011  |  0 comments

The undisputed king of the Biblical epics, William Wyler’s Ben-Hur may have turned 50 a couple of years ago, but it remains as fresh, exciting and spectacular as ever. Charlton Heston’s son Francis sums the film’s success up best in one of the accompanying extras, saying, ‘Ben-Hur, in a sense, I think was the first modern epic. It was realistic. It was, at times, gruesome. It had characters with flaws in them. It was complex. It was character driven-not event-driven’. And the film’s lasting impact can be felt across the past half-century of cinema, from the films of David Lean to The Phantom Menace’s pod race.