Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – 2014

dawnIn the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race.

DirectedMatt Reeves

Stars:  Gary OldmanKeri RussellAndy Serkis

No question that this sequel moves straight into my top ten films for 2014.

Exceptionally shot with astounding special effects in part thanks to performance capture king Andy Serkis this is a film that delivers.

10 years on and with the epidemic wiping out most of the world’s population humans are very much becoming the minority species.

A small band of immune survivors still hold out hope that there are others out there and look to make contact with anyone who might be listening.


The apes have now settled deep in the San Francisco forests building their own fully functioning civilisation led by chimpanzee Caesar.

What makes this film rise above (sorry) the first is much of the attention focuses on the apes and deep rooted character development.

Caser is supported by fellow performance capture actor Toby Kebbell who plays Koba. An ape with a chip on his shoulder after years of being tested on. His dislike for the human race is made obvious to his best friend.

Their simmering relationship is one of the highlights of the film as they battle they decision whether to stay hidden in peace or go to war.

With James Franco gone (albeit making a cameo via archived footage) the human ape relationship is centred on Malcolm (Jason Clarkeand Caeser, who are bonded by a begrudging truce for peace.

It’s a film that soaks up tension extremely well. Grand battle sequences are cut between emotional and compelling moments interlocked by a very well written script.

The technical aspects of the film are simply stunning and the large set-pieces make for cataclysmic viewing. Caeser’s army arriving on horseback in a show of force to their human foes is captivating. As is the vertigo wincing finale and attack on the human stronghold.

This is was everything a summer blockbuster should be and is most certainly a template to follow.

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What did you think of the film, did you think it was better than the first film? Leave a comment and let us know what you think?

Grave Encounters – 2011

grave encountersFor their ghost hunting reality show, a production crew lock themselves inside an abandoned mental hospital that’s supposedly haunted – and it might prove to be all too true.

Directed: The Vicious Brothers

StarsBen WilkinsonSean RogersonAshleigh Gryzko

Even though it has been done to death over the last few years there is still something unnerving about found footage horror.

Now and again I like to go back and dip my toe in it, if anything for the enjoyment of scaring myself shitless for a few minutes.

Recently I came across Grave Encounters. For the first half it’s a tense thriller the second it completely looses it’s way, nothing more than abject horror.

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The premise is too good to be true. While taping an episode of their ghost hunting reality show a group of paranormal investigators get a little more than they bargained for inside an abandoned mental hospital.

Watching an empty space in the dark via night vision camera may seem like flogging of a dead horse but as an audience we still find ourselves hypnotised.

The standard set up unravels brief character development, although we don’t really care too much as we know they aren’t going to be around for much longer.

As the group move from one room to the next with increased frustration that nothing is manifesting itself the shit really hits the fan when they discover they can’t actually get out.

Cause for panic as each one is picked off leaving one loner to discover the horrors the hospital is hiding.

It’s not all bad. The acting is more solid than most and there are some good scares, many however are all too predictable. It’s safe to say that found footage genre is here to stay, all that needs to be done is to weed out the good from the down right awful.

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What did you think of the film, leave a comment and let us know.

The Inbetweeners 2 – 2014

Inbetweeners_2_Movie_PosterJay, Neil, Simon, and Will reunite in Australia for a holiday.

DirectedDamon BeesleyIain Morris

StarsSimon BirdJames BuckleyBlake Harrison

It’s as straight forward as you could possibly want it. Three lads go to meet up with one lad in Australia.

It’s a sequel people begged would happen and they got their wish. There is not an ounce of disappointment as banter levels are raised.

Jay is on a gap year down under and catching up with the guys via email he let’s them know he’s up to his neck in clunge and making a shit load of cash as a top night club DJ.

All complete bullshit of course. But it’s delivered in a brilliant continuous shot that opens the film.

For the others the chance to break the monotony of their current lives could not come soon enough.

Will who is decidedly more unpopular than ever, Simon looking to escape his psychotic girlfriend and Neil who is, well, same old Neil all feel that the time is right to go travelling (or on holiday).


It would be hard to review this without going into too much detail and if that were the case some of the best gags and laughs would simply be ruined. So I’m going to keep my mouth shut.

That said Damon Beesley and Iain Morris do their best to make sure this adventure leaves a lasting memory with some exquisite scenes and class gags.

The cast all deliver as you would expect and there are a few nice supporting additions (Will’s Mum for one).

Given the success of this a third film would seem likely, but it’s going to take something pretty special to top it on almost every level.

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What did you think of the film, leave a comment and let us know.

Starred Up – 2014

starred upA troubled and explosively violent teenager is transferred to adult prison where he finally meets his match – a man who also happens to be his father.

DirectedDavid Mackenzie

StarsJack O’ConnellBen MendelsohnRupert Friend

Prison dramas don’t get much grittier than this. Not since Scum has there been one with as much brutal tour de force.

Eric (Jack O’Connell) is ‘starred up’. A term used to describe violent young offenders moved straight into an adult prison.

Once he gets inside he comes face to face with the only person that might be able to control him, his father Neville (Mendelsohn).

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It’s a major part of their relationship as Nev’s parental tactics involve the cruel to be kind method. It’s the only way that Eric is going to survive and the only way he will walk out in one piece.

Eric finds some solace in Oliver (Friend) whose anger management sessions are a place to unleash a tirade of resentment. It places him within a group where any other individual might find themselves out of their depth, Eric takes it full on.

The film itself is written by Jonathan Asser, a former prison psychotherapist who worked in HMP Wandsworth. So he more than anyone is able to inject the film with a massive sense of realism.

The prison violence can be hard to watch  but you don’t find yourself turning away from the screen. The brutality an integral part of the story.

It’s not shrouded in Hollywood gloss and is shot with graphic precision. Mendelsohn’s performance is excellent playing the psycho and his delivery is spot on. Friend is also a joy to watch and a real talent. The Homeland star making imprints into the acting elite.

However, this is very much O’Connell’s film and it’s not hard to see why he is fast becoming a standout actor. Grabbing this role in a vice like grip he battles with his own personality, the adoration from his father and a corrupt system who want him eradicated.

It does’t paint the prison system in a particularly good light but then prison isn’t supposed to be a holiday camp.

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What did you think of the film, leave a comment and let us know.

The Last Days on Mars – 2013

last days on marsA group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.

DirectorRuairi Robinson

StarsLiev SchreiberElias KoteasRomola Garai

Another B-movie, straight to DVD space horror that had the chance to be truly terrifying but ended up falling flat on its arse.

A group of astronauts are winding up their last few days on the red planet as they wait for the next team to arrive.

When one of them makes a scientific discovery in the form of a new strain of bacteria they head out to claim it for themselves putting the entire crew in danger.

There is nothing unique here that hasn’t already been tried before, if this was to succeed at all then the execution had to be better.


Visually it ticks all the right boxes with set design and location being winning points. It’s the lack of originality that is the most frustrating.

The cast is not given any credible dialogue and it’s as dry and barron as the planet that they are standing on.

Step back and look at it for what it is and you’ve got zombies in space. The acting is run of the mill and no one in particular stands out as personality cliches run thick.

If the crew of the Nostromo had a reserve team this lot would fit the bill perfectly.

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What did you think of the film, leave a comment and let us know.