The weight of expectation looms large over Creed II. Ryan Coogler’s Creed masterfully revitalised the Rocky saga back in 2015, turning what was once a franchise on its last legs into one of Hollywood’s most anticipated narratives. With Coogler passing on directing the film due to a little movie called Black Panther it’s Steven Caple Jr. who fills what are now gargantuan shoes, and while the sequel doesn’t scale the heights of the original, that’s more of a testament to Coogler’s achievement than any failings of this hugely satisfying sophomore effort.
Read my full review on Den of Geek.
I attended I, Tonya’s UK press conference. Read my report for Screen Words here.
I interviewed Evan Narcisse – writer of the Rise of the Black Panther comics – for Sci-Fi Now. Read it here.
I reviewed Black Panther for Den of Geek. Read it here.
I also wrote about it for the Daily Mirror, a national newspaper.
I interviewed April Reign for Den of Geek. Read it here.
While Wonder Woman is technically the fourth entry in DC’s Extended Universe, in many ways it’s a movie of firsts. The most prominent novelty – the fact that it’s the first female superhero movie to be directed by a woman – has been an oft-noted distinction in the build-up to the film’s release, and the feminist lens is apparent throughout. But what stays with you long after the credits roll is the movie’s heart and hope. That’s a first that DC fans like this writer have been waiting on for four years from the DCEU, and Wonder Woman has it in spades.
Hey readers! AMONymous here.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here – life has been a bit crazy for me these past few months – and I’m aiming to change that in the near future. One thing I couldn’t deprive people of was my annual Summer Blockbuster AMONtage, which has grown in popularity from year to year.
Doing these edits takes me a lot of time, but the fact that I got more messages about it this year than in times past was both humbling and motivating. You can now see the fruits of this year’s labour below. Let me know what you think (and be sure to share if you enjoy it!).
Happy new year readers!
I hope you’ve all had a great holiday season and are ready for the new year. 2016 is going to be HUGE for AMONymous, and a couple big changes are in the works.
Firstly, I am now going to be doing a lot more on-camera content for AMONymous. The website will still be updated, but if you want to be ahead of the game you’ll want to be subscribing to my YouTube channel here. Secondly, the content will be much more varied and regular. In addition to reviews, there will be plenty of features, interviews, competitions and much more!
To that end, here’s my top 10 most anticipated films of 2016. It’s going to be a great year.
As we come to the end of The Hunger Games franchise, it feels a little strange to think that it only started out in 2012. Having efficiently cranked out an instalment each year for the past four years, it will go down as one of the swiftest (and successful) quadrilogies of all time. Whether it will go down as one of the best will likely be discussed in the coming months, but director Francis Lawrence can take pride in having concluded the series on a strong note. If Mockingjay: Part 1 was the calm, then Mockingjay: Part 2 is the angry, depressing, but no less compelling storm.
From the classic 1953 Disney animated adaptation to Steven Spielberg’s Hook in 1991, many filmmakers have tried to reinvent J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan on the silver screen with varying results. The latest director to walk the plank is Joe Wright; giving us a new origin story for the boy who wouldn’t grow up, the occasional entertaining set-piece can’t stop Pan from being a forgettable, CGI-overloaded mess.
Having given us movies such as Alien and Gladiator, there is a certain amount of excitement and expectation that typically surrounds a Ridley Scott production. With a recent output that consists of Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Counsellor, and Prometheus, those expectations have not been merited or met. Thankfully the director is back on form with The Martian, a fun and smart sci-fi which will have you laughing more than most comedies.
From Orson Welles in 1948 to Roman Polanski in 1971, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth has undergone many stage and screen adaptations in its 400 year plus history. The latest attempt to translate it to the silver screen comes from Justin Kurzel. It’s only the second feature from the Australian director, but he accomplishes an impressive feat in distinguishing his take from all that has come before it. It’s just unfortunate that much of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter is undecipherable.
There are few composers working today who are as prolific as Harry Gregson-Williams. A veteran of over 20 years, his impressive career spans television, video games, and films such as the Shrek and The Chronicles of Narnia franchises.
Last August we were invited to the world famous Abbey Road Studios where Gregson-Williams was finishing up his score for The Martian, Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated fall blockbuster. We were lucky enough to see 15 minutes of footage set to his musical cues, with the quickly catchy theme being employed in interesting ways. The finished product is sure to be a memorable addition to both Scott’s filmography and Gregson-Williams’ discography.
Before that aural treat, we had the opportunity to sit down with Gregson-Williams, and during the course of our illuminating tête-à-tête the composer talks about working with the Scott brothers, the process of creating a score, and why working on franchises can be tricky. Have a read below.
Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield make for an unlikely yet compelling duo in Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, a powerful two-hander of a thriller that loses none of its impact despite its heavy-handed nature.
After a tone-setting tracking shot which features the body of an evictee who shot himself during the course of a foreclosure we meet Dennis Nash (Garfield, sans Spidey spandex for the first time since 2010), a construction worker whose trade has been hit hard by the financial crisis. With bills mounting up and no money to pay them with, it’s not long before ruthless real-estate broker Rick Carver (Shannon) is knocking at Nash’s door and evicting him, his Mother (Laura Dern) and his young son (Noah Lomax) out of their home. Desperate to get his family out of their now squalid accommodations, Nash reluctantly accepts an offer to work for the very man who evicted him in the first place.
Near the end of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the sequel to Wes Ball’s decent YA adaptation The Maze Runner, the main character declares “I’m tired of running”. It’s a telling piece of dialogue that can be applied to this overlong sequel, which is sorely lacking in the necessary character and narrative legwork. It makes for the worst kind of middle chapter; one that you have to watch, but isn’t really all that compelling.
We immediately rejoin Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scoledario) and the other Gladers who are now being transported to a remote complex following their escape from the maze. While his compatriots are all too happy with finally having hot showers, a bed, and more provided by the shifty man in charge Janson (Game of Thrones’ Aiden Gillen), Thomas is instantly suspicious of their new surroundings. It isn’t long before his instincts are proved correct, and the film’s best scene sees Thomas and the Gladers escaping the underground facility, emerging into the desolate and unforgiving Scorch.
Things start simply enough in Nima Nourizadeh’s American Ultra as we meet Mike (Jesse Eisenberg), an unmotivated stoner who works at his local cash and carry and lives with the girl of his dreams Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). Their lives are turned upside down when it comes to light that Mike is actually a highly trained sleeper agent created by the CIA, who have just targeted him for termination. To survive against deadly government assassins led by power mad agent Yates (Topher Grace), Mike must put his newly discovered set of skills to good use.
When discussing the distinguished pantheon of hip hop greats, it would be impossible not to mention N.W.A. Their 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton – which features the incendiary anthem ‘F**k tha Police’, a statement track which feels sadly timely given recent stateside events – had an unquantifiable impact on the evolution of hip-hop. As such, you’d be hard pressed to find worthier subjects for the music biopic treatment, and in translating their story to the big screen director F. Gary Gray has produced a fittingly raw and powerful film.
2015 has been a great year for spies at the multiplex. Not only have the movies been entertaining, they have all offered different takes on the espionage genre. Kingsman: The Secret Service brought back the cool gadgets: Spy was a hilarious comedy: and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation set the bar high for action. Enter Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: based on the spy-fi NBC TV series (which aired from 1964 to 1968), it has all the stylistic elements you’d expect from the director, benefitting more from the chemistry of its cast than its storytelling or action.
Paper Towns is the second of John Green’s highly popular books to get the silver screen treatment. The first to make the jump to celluloid was the 2014 hit The Fault in Our Stars, in which Nat Wolff played the blind friend to Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s lead characters. Whereas that was more of a supporting role, Paper Towns sees Wolff graduate to leading man status and his talents are all the better displayed for it.
I took part in a roundtable discussion ahead of the movie’s UK release, and while Green spoke of comparisons to John Hughes, Wolff discussed who he’d like to work with in future and how the Pokémon theme song found its way into the film. It’s all been transcribed for your reading pleasure below.
After Tim Story’s Fantastic Four films ended with the catastrophe that was the Galactus cloud, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only way was up when it came to depicting Marvel’s first family on film. Indeed, there were plenty of reasons to be excited for Josh Trank’s reboot: the director had previously made Chronicle – a fun and interesting take on teens with superpowers – and Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell and Miles Teller have all impressed in previous projects. So it is doubly shocking and disappointing that the fourth try at a live action Fantastic Four barely stacks up to Story’s aforementioned films, let alone the high standards we’ve come to expect from comic book movies today.
Though the focus of Ava Duvernay’s Oscar-nominated Selma is rightfully on Martin Luther King, throughout there is a great emphasis on how a collective group can accomplish great change. Just as King was surrounded by a host of great men and women, so to is Selma’s star David Oyelowo aided by a terrific ensemble.
One of its members is Carmen Ejogo, who plays Coretta Scott King for the second time in Selma. Ahead of the film’s home entertainment release, I spoke to the actress about meeting Coretta King, black actresses in Hollywood, and much more.
It would have been easy for Avengers: Age of Ultron – the sequel to Marvel’s franchise mega-hit Avengers Assemble – to rest on its laurels. Thankfully, Avengers 2.0 improves on its predecessor on many fronts even if it doesn’t fully recapture the magic of the 2012 endeavour.
Whereas it took a little while for Avengers Assemble to get going, the opposite is true for the sequel. We begin with a Bond-esque opening skirmish between our heroes and HYDRA cronies that ends with the recovery of Loki’s scepter and a party to remember. But when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) attempt to use the power of the scepter to jumpstart a peacekeeping program, the inadvertent result is Ultron (James Spader), a highly intelligent robot hell-bent on human extinction. Making matters worse, Ultron joins forces with powerful Maximoff twins Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).
With Fast and Furious 7 recently released and Avengers: Age of Ultron just around the corner, this week felt like the perfect time to drop my annual Summer Blockbuster AMONtage. I hope it gets you as excited for summer movie season as I am!
This is just the first part of an AMONymous relaunch of sorts, so stay tuned for a few more updates later this month. For those interested, this post will be updated on the weekend with a little bit more about my process when it comes to making these videos. For now though, sit back, relax and enjoy!
To celebrate the release of FAST & FURIOUS 7 in IMAX, my friends at IMAX have kindly given me three pairs of tickets to see the film at your nearest IMAX cinema.