Blade Runner 2049 – review

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Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, a grandly ambitious slow-burning sci-fi, received rave reviews on its release last year, the critics charmed by its intelligence and thoughtful approach. Yet I found myself underwhelmed by it, turned off by its absurd and trite final act. His new film, Blade Runner 2049, is history repeated in more ways than one. A follow-up to the 1982 classic Blade Runner, in which Harrison Ford’s cop hunted rogue android ‘replicants’ across a dystopian near-future Los Angeles, Blade Runner 2049 is on occasion genuinely captivating, yet ultimately begins to wear out its welcome.  Continue reading “Blade Runner 2049 – review”

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IT – review

Stephen King’s 1986 novel IT, and particularly its Tim Curry-starring 1990 TV adaptation, helped create a whole generation of coulrophobes thanks to its creepy central villain, Pennywise the dancing clown. Now Andy Muschietti’s feature film adaptation of the lengthy book’s first half (a sequel covering the second half is in production) aims to reignite those fears all over.  Continue reading “IT – review”

Gaming Retrospective – Silent Hill 2

The immediacy of video games as a medium in many ways lends itself to horror. After all, the player’s on-screen avatar is, in a way, an extension of themselves in a way that a movie character is not – you control them, you make their choices. In a weird way, those horrors onscreen are happening to you, and this often gets the heart pumping and the pulse racing in a way that watching a film as a passive observer just doesn’t manage. The Resident Evil games and movies might both share a taste for campy dialogue, B-movie thrills, and action set-pieces, but only the games are ever truly frightening. Continue reading “Gaming Retrospective – Silent Hill 2”

Gaming Retrospective – Deus Ex

In 2000, video-game storytelling was still largely in its infancy. The plots in most titles, if there were any plots at all, tended to be thin threads connecting each action sequence, offering the barest context necessary to push your character from level to level. There were exceptions – the likes of Final Fantasy VII and Planescape: Torment, released in 1997 and 1998 respectively, were light-years ahead of anything else released at the time. But if Deus Ex wasn’t the first title to offer a complex, thought-provoking storyline with well-developed characters, the way it told that story was revolutionary. Continue reading “Gaming Retrospective – Deus Ex”

Dunkirk – review

Christopher Nolan has directed some spectacular films over the years but his last feature – the tedious, bloated and seemingly endless sci-fi snoozefest Interstellar – was, without exaggeration, one of the worst films I’ve seen in a long time. So for the first time in the career of a director I’ve always admired, I approached Dunkirk with something like trepidation. Was Interstellar just a blip, or was it indicative of a director who’d lost his touch?

I needn’t have worried. Dunkirk is a simply extraordinary piece of film-making. Continue reading “Dunkirk – review”

The Big Sick – review

The American science-fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once defended his genre of choice from the claim that “90% of science fiction is crap” by retorting that “90% of everything is crap.” In recent years, it’s sometimes felt like the romantic comedy genre has been trying to go for the full 100%. With each fresh insipid and unfunny title, a new Bridget Jones’s DiaryFour Weddings and a Funeral or When Harry Met Sally felt further and further away. What a relief then it is to have that bad run ended by this thoroughly charming Judd Apatow-produced Sundance favourite: The Big Sick is comfortably the best rom-com in years. Continue reading “The Big Sick – review”

The Best Zombie Movies Ever

Few film-makers can be said to have defined a genre the way George A Romero, who died this week at age 77, did for zombie films. While he wasn’t the first director to make a movie featuring zombies (earlier films tended to cleave more closely to the Haitian voodoo zombie myth, beginning with 1932’s White Zombie), his Dead trilogy (NightDawn, and Day) popularised the now-standard image of zombies as flesh-eating corpses risen from the grave. They also established key genre rules, such as that a zombie bite is fatal, and that the only way to kill one is to destroy the brain. Virtually every zombie film, TV show, video game and book released since Night of the Living Dead owes an extraordinary debt to Romero. But after so many years, how do his movies stack up against the genre’s best? Here’s my list of the ten best zombie movies of all time.  Continue reading “The Best Zombie Movies Ever”