Now You See Me 2 – Review

by Laura W

Magic and mystery. Mystery and magic. It works (or in some instances, it doesn’t). In the case of Now You See Me 2, the combination of the two works.

Well, for the most part, it does. With the additions of Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe to the film, and the film taking place, basically, around the world, how could it possibly top its predecessor?

A year after their outwitting of the FBI and pulling off one hell of a stunt, the four horsemen are down a member (in the form of Henley) and are in hiding, awaiting further directions from The Eye, a secret society of Magicians. The three men, plus new member, Lula (an illusionist) are finally given a new task. The task ends them up in China, where they are blackmailed into stealing a computer chip by corrupt businessman Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). They accept the job, while creating and hatching a plan to expose an old enemy.

The film, overall, is ridiculous and outlandish, mixed with occasionally dull and unnecessary subplots and characters. That being said, it is because of the ridiculousness alone, Now You See Me 2 actually works and is, by far, one of the best sequels of the past 10 years.  The viewer, despite some silliness, gets everything of the first and then some.

Let’s look at where the film goes wrong. Boring sublets, irrelevant characters that add nothing to the central story and a few dull moments – what else do you need? Here, have an example. A subplot dealing with Mark Ruffalo’s character, Dylan Rhodes, who got his revenge against Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) in the last film after  blaming Rhodes for his father’s death sees Bradley get the upper-hand. The only reason this subplot holds any sort of substance within the film is because of the brilliant acting of Ruffalo and Freeman. They play off each other brilliantly and it shows. Otherwise, it really had nothing to do with the central story. The time spent on this subplot could have been used to either improve the terribly written script for the villain, or used for more illusions.

We must also acknowledge the complete waste of talent that is Daniel Radcliffe. His character is unnecessary, badly written, and just cringeworthy. We’ll put it down to bad directing, with crappy dialogue, and a teensy bit of bad acting. We know there had to be some sort of villain, but it could’ve been handled so much better. There is also a further plot with Woodey Harrelson and a bad wig that is so strained that you can’t help but feel sorry for Harrelson.

With the nitpicking aside,  the film, overall is worth it. One scene in particular, that deals with the Four Horsemen stealing a computer chip, is worth the money alone. If it’s available in 3D, go for it. It is that brilliant that it must be seen to be believed. The final “action” sequence, if you can call it that, needs to be witnessed on the big screen, there is simply no other way.

The magic and illusions are just as good as the first. It may have helped that famed illusionist David Copperfield acted as a consultant, so we know the things we see are legit. The general plot, without the stupidity, is good, the twists and turns as enthralling and the visuals alone worth dropping money for.

Lizzy Caplan is a brilliant addition to the cast, and it’s like she has been there right from the get go. Sadly, it’s very easy to forget Isla Fisher was in the first one, because Caplan more than holds her own. Jesse Eisenberg, Harrelson (awkward story aside) and Dave Franco are just as spectacular. The nice thing about this film is, minus Radcliffe, that no one particular cast member outshines the other. They support each other.

Now You See Me 2 is, even with its unnecessary subplots and a badly written character or two, still a spectacular magic show. It’s not too often we get a really decent sequel, but in this case, we have a gem. It obviously has left some sort of impression, as when I was walking out of the theatre, fellow audience members were still trying to figure out how they managed to pull off spectacular tricks. Go see it.

Now You See Me 2 is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

The Best of 2016 So Far…

We’re exactly six months into a year of fantastic films, and a lot has come our way. From the most fantastic blockbusters to the stirring independents, those who have little faith in the industry only have to peer backwards to see that there have been some stunning films already.

As we head into another fantastic year, let’s take a look at the highlight of films that have already come our way.

The Nice Guys
by Robbie Jones

“With so many people calling for more original films in Hollywood, it’s amazing that this film didn’t do better than it did. The Nice Guys is an outstanding effort from Shane Black; by the far the wittiest film of the year, with joke after joke hitting every time.

Set in the seventies, The Nice Guys sees Russell Crowe as the straight-laced heavy Jackson Healy who punches for hire and Ryan Gosling as the aforementioned investigator March who is hired to track down a young girl named Amelia. When an old and wealthy woman confuses the girl with her porn star niece Misty Mountains, who suspiciously died the week before, the pair find themselves embroiled in a ploy that puts their very lives in danger. Which is more disconcerting when March’s rambunctious young daughter tries to help solve the mystery and also becomes the target of people trying to cover up a crime.

Of course, the jokes wouldn’t be half as funny if it wasn’t for the comedic timing of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, the two leads who have exceptional chemistry together, though the show is stolen many times by Angourie Rice as Gosling’s young daughter.

The Nice Guys is hilarious and intense, with not only a great sense of humour but also some fantastic action sequences, an exciting climax, and a sweet 70s vibe.”

10 Cloverfield Lane
by Sean Narborough

“In a world of remakes, reboots and adaptations, it’s very difficult to find a film where you can go in completely blind, not know anything about the film and have it be an absolute mystery. Although, this year, the “spiritual successor” to Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane, managed to do all three and actually ended up being a fantastic film in the process. After a young woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is involved in a car accident; she wakes up in an underground bunker with Howard (John Goodman) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), with Howard claiming that the outside is unsafe after a chemical attack. But is Howard telling the truth or does he have darker plans for him and Michelle?

10 Cloverfield Lane is a suspenseful masterpiece, with great Hitchcockian levels of tension. The film is always making you wonder who is telling the truth, if everyone is who they say they are, and what has really happened on the outside. The performances by the whole cast (there’s only about 5 credited actors in the whole film) are incredible to watch with the stand outs being Winstead, who channels her inner Ripley to survive everything she encounters and Goodman in a performance so eerie and creepy, it’s hard to look at him the same way again. The music, which is created by Walking Dead composer Bear McCreary, helps to raise the level of fear and tension throughout the film, always keeping you on the edge of your seats, as you wonder what is going to happen next. Dan Trachtenberg’s first feature is a wonder to behold, helping to launch the Cloverfield name more as a brand than a franchise and in a year of disappointments at the cinema (I’m looking at you Batman V Superman), 10 Cloverfield Lane is breathtaking, micro-budget gem of a film that surpasses many of the bigger budgeted blockbusters of Hollywood.”

by Jennifer Drewett

“Upon witnessing the gigantic hype around Deadpool, scepticism set in. Over-hyped movies tend to be pretty disappointing because they get blown up to ridiculous standards before completion. Naturally, there were nerves going into the cinema screen to watch Ryan Reynolds slip into the infamous red and black outfit. Thankfully this hyped film didn’t disappoint. It was an intriguing film that kept you hooked from start to finish.

It walked the fine line between being witty and funny with real character development. One moment the audience is laughing at his antics with a stuffed toy unicorn, the next they’re relating to his vulnerability and his insecurities. It makes the film more than just a silly romp. It makes it an important piece of cinema that many film professionals can learn from. The mixture of God’s Perfect Idiot, Some Asshats, and The Real Heroes here makes for a very enjoyable experience that remains engrossing with every watch.”

Tale of Tales
by Sarah Cook

“Fantasy movies have dried up into sequels or over-stretched books and yet filmmaker Matteo Garrone has reinvigorated his genre with the beating heart of a sea monster. Intertwining three different stories about a jealous mother, a kidnapped Princess and her flea obsessed father, and a King trying to woo an old woman, Garrone has masterful and sublimely worked the tales without overbearing them.

With such evocative images that capture the essence of Baroque black wit and sumptuous performances by the likes of Vincent Cassel, Shirley Henderson, and Salma Hayek that create this stellar film. Tale of Tales is enchanting and powerful, pulsating through you until the very end.”

Civil War
by Jennifer Drewett

“2016 is only half way through but there have been some pretty Earth shattering blockbusters that have been released already including the divisive World of Warcraft movie and the ever controversial Batman v Superman. There is one film that, for me, blows both releases away without breaking a sweat: Captain America: Civil War. The massive battle royale between some of the most beloved Marvel comic characters brought to film that had a major ideological differences that are still being debated by audiences to this day.

Whether you’re on Team Cap with me or Team Stark with many others, all fans of the film can agree that the fight sequences and the build-up made the film worth the price of admission. There was plenty of visual shock and awe to accompany the emotional stakes packed into the film. Action and the reason to care combined perfectly here to create something of true brilliance.”

Green Room
by Sarah Cook

“Following on from Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier creates his most devastating film yet. Starring the late Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart, the film revolves around a punk band who unwillingly play for a bunch of Neo-Nazis. Things get worse when they witness a murder and are trapped by the gang who wish to dispose of the witnesses. With phenomenal performances by Yelchin and Stewart (you’ll never look at Picard or Xavier in the same way, Green Room is an utterly compelling and visceral thrill ride.

With Green Room, Saulnier curves into the fear and relishes the thick unease, juxtaposing the quick attacks against the slow and agonising wait the survivors have to take which enhances the experience completely. Pulsating with fear and glorious revulsion, Green Room is this year’s ultimate thriller.”

Sing Street
by Sarah Cook

“John Carney is a cinematic and musical genius and her furthers his portfolio with the completely rambunctious Sing Street. Revolving around a boy who, to escape his public school bullying and divorcing parents, starts a band to woo the affections of a local girl he has fallen for.

The energetic happiness that beams throughout you as you skip merrily from the screening is unparalleled in this year’s collection of gritty superheroes, damned dramas, and the misery in between.  Certainly, that spirituous effervescence that waves excitable and determined emotion through you way past the credit roll is unique to Carney’s cinematic portfolio. Not without the ebbs of devastation flowing underneath this inspirational ditty, Sing Street is power song, a fist pump, and a charge for something greater than the one life has given you. Its hope and courage; rolling with catchy tunes and a beating heart that makes the world a little bit brighter…”

Embrace of the Serpent
by Sarah Cook

“The undeniable transcendent black and white film is the tale of two stories, separated by time, but slither and coil around one another in an enriching and devastating film. The movie revolves around the last Amazonion Shaman, Karamakate, who wishes to tell his story to two foreign scientists as they hunt for a rare and exotic plant to save the life of one, ravished by illness.

You’ll be hard pushed to find another movie with such finesse and perfection. The whole cinematic outing knows how to silently and gently move you then throw you completely into madness without a single pause. The tender yet brutal thoughts on colonism and the loss of culture bound throughout the film, rolling through your mind long after the credits, themselves, have rolled on. Embrace of the Serpent is an evocative movie experience and one that will stay with you long after viewing.

Make sure you go submerge yourself in this commanding film, give it the audience that it deserves.”

Midnight Special
by Anne Hunt

“It’s a plot that we’ve seen before, back in the classic 80s sci-fi government chase films like ET and Close Encounters but writer/director Jeff Nichols infuses it with enough heart that it becomes somewhat of a love letter to vintage Spielberg rather than a rip off. Some would compare Midnight Special to Nichol’s other acclaimed supernatural feature Take Shelter, but this one puts that element to the forefront to drive the story rather than it being a backdrop.

Despite the science fiction component, the exploration of the limits a parent goes for their child is what really propels this film alongside fantastic performances by Michael Shannon. There are some memorable spectacular scenes including what seems to be a meteorite shower at a petrol station and the breath-taking visuals in the crescendo of the final act. Amid a tirade of superhero films, sequels and reboots at the moment, Midnight Special is a breath of fresh air, a welcome piece of genuine art and labour of love.”

Florence Foster Jenkins
by Georgia Sanders

“Unable to play the piano since contracting syphilis and damaging the nerves in her hands, Florence – played by the ever-perfect Meryl Streep – takes to singing as an outlet for her musical passions; despite her lack of skill in the area. A combination of her wealth, large entourage of friends, and tirelessly devoted husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), ensure that she never receives an honest word’s feedback – that is, until her ambition gets the better of her, and she books herself in to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Rarely does one come across a film that is filled with such overwhelming joy and yet such devastating sadness. The quippy and soulful script leaves us both laughing and ugly-crying within moments of each other, with classy comedy – sometimes in as little as a masterful look from Grant. Enveloped in all of the glamour and wonder of the era, Florence Foster Jenkins beams with laughter, tears, new friends and inherent solidarity. It is an utter joy to witness – and like the very real quote from both Streep, and the real Florence herself states – “they may say (she) couldn’t sing, but they’ll never say (she) didn’t sing.”

What have you enjoyed? 
Let us know! 

East End Film Festival: The Kettling of Voices – Review

The other day, I attended my first demonstration and march. In the wake of Brexit, a result I didn’t want, the state of the UK is trembling, threatening to crumble into the channel and disappear forever. The urgency within me and the sorrow I felt since that infamous vote on Friday pushed me to take a stand alongside fellow like-minded folk who seriously, just, wanted to stay in the EU.

Regardless of how the media and opposition portrayed us, the whole rally was a peaceful unison of those desperate to fight back against the government that was strangling our nation. Luckily, for us, no violence or excessive force was used.

Unfortunately for others, there is often a backlash against their protest and often, it is at the hand of the government and police force.

The Kettling of Voices revolves around the 2010 Student Protests which saw days of demonstrations and the fall out of their struggle with police. With violence erupting on both sides, the focus of the documentary looks at brutal tactics of the police who sparked bigger flames throughout the protest, especially with the titular practise of “kettling;” forming a ring over the crowd and denying the civilians access to water, food, and hygienic facilities.

There is no denying that the way the police force tackle protests is a little uncouth which make for an invigorating watch at times. Any video footage of folks in throes of political and angry passion, just wanted life to be a bit fairer, sends cascades of shivers and rage down your spine. Especially when you see the tactics of those around them, hitting young students, causing bedlam, and insulating them in this dire, claustrophobic situation. The damaging effects both political and physical (one man had to have surgery after his concussion) show that the government and the police force still haven’t tackled how to deal with public outage of this type.

The biggest problem with this film is the one-sided nature of it. From the video footage, you can see the peaceful protesters and the understandable anger from students but you can also see outlier folk wishing to cause trouble. Overlaying clear narrators saying that everyone was united with people causing havoc or clearly there because they were whipped up in the bedlam of it causes concern. And definitely makes the second half of the film dull. Hearing the same side explain exactly what happened with footage becomes rather slow and plodding, as with most documentary films. The music is also overtly dramatic, taking away from the visceral and real emotions beating in the heart of the students and protestors.

Let’s be clear, however, I am not saying that The Kettling of Voices is anti-police or disparaging the protest. I was a student when they were happening and I fully support the cause. What I am saying is that without balancing or furraging further into the history of the protests, the movie settles on one tedious stream. A galliant effort from Chester Yang and some powerful scenes here do make an intriguing watch, and one to watch if you want to uncover just how violence progresses.


The Best of…David Cronenberg

There is no lie that I am one of the biggest supporters of this man.  There is no director quite like David Cronenberg and there will never be again. His intense visual spectrum of the humanity of horror is alluring, disturbing and quite frankly, impeccable. Transcending the horror genre and portraying nightmarish stories with a slick visceral vein, Cronenberg has vastly bent the rules to perforate our dreams and make us basically scared of everything. And that Canadian genius is being celebrated today for his 75th Birthday!
 Trust me, this was hard to choose.

Honorable Mention: Maps to the Stars which is blisteringly brilliant.

Dead Ringers (1988)

Jeremy Irons is such a wonderful and prolific actor who has voiced menacing lions and kings. It’s natural that a movie with two of him in it will set hearts and minds aflame. However, underneath the rugged Irons’ double act is this intellectual thriller about twin brothers who use their uncanniness to woo women to disastrous effect. Cronenberg’s psychological drama is effectively terrifying, and Irons’ portrayal of both brothers is wonderfully perverse and tantalising, allowing us to explore the range of twins set about by jealously and vindication.

The Fly (1986)

Remakes are tricky because on the one hand, hearing how all the movies most beloved are being transformed into something new can seem preposterous; but it has been a practice long before now that has given us some of the best cinematic treats. The Fly (the 1986 version) is a critically-acclaimed piece of terror that subverts the gaze of the audience into a graphic nightmare. Starring Jeff Goldblum as scientist Seth Brundle who slowly turns into the titular creature after an experiment goes wrong. The Fly‘s sickening visuals are Academy Award-winning (Best Makeup & Hairstyling) and Cronenberg’s tragic love story, as well as the thematic debilitation of disease, makes it teeming with maggoty goodness.

A History of Violence (2005)

Proving that the iconic Cronenberg flare can be adapted to any genre, his attentiveness and human excavation tactics are paramount in this stunning crime drama. Starring Viggo Mortenson, A History of Violence centres on Tom Stall, owner of a small diner, living a simply life. When two robbers enter his premises, he is thrust into the limelight after killing them. Not only must he confront the act he has just committed, but he must also deal with his shaky and violent past. The fright here comes from a trip into a violent soul that had previously been placated. It’s a stirring piece that received worldwide acclaim and is an astonishing, outstanding film.


Crash (1996)

Delving into the other side of sexual activity is yet another of Cronenberg’s cult classics, offering us scenes of quaking human erotica. Based on a novel by J. G. Ballard, this disturbing yet evocative film has sliced critics down the middle: those who herald it as a masterpiece; and to those who lambasted it. Concentrating on a group whose fetish and desires manifest from car crashes, the journey into their dark urges and, indeed, the memorable sex scenes will stick to your mind for years to come especially as the sexual activity goes hand-in-hand with violence and death.

Videodrome (1983)

There isn’t enough words in the world to describe how stellar Videodrome is. And attempting a third, fourth or fifth time may be preposterously repetitive, but it is teeming with incredibleness that it will never get tiresome.Videodrome revolves around porn and snuff, as TV channel head Max Renn discovers a particularly vicious tape that may or may not be real sexual violence. As he descends into the world of “Videodrome” it soon takes him over and as he is plagued by terrifying images, his body becomes the hub for the “Videodrome” movement. Combining sexual politics, power-plays and horror, the movie is a tantalising piece of fiction. Long live the new flesh!

Happy 75th Birthday, David Cronenberg

Frightfest 2016 – Line-Up Announced!

Fans of horror continue to flock to the dark heart of London to celebrate, well, the dark heart of cinema. Yearly, each summer, gore obsessives and thrill chasers submerge themselves into the grittiest and deathly films that filmmakers unearth from hell. This year, after moving from the West End to Shepard’s Bush to accommodate for the growing number of fans, Frightfest looks to be their best year yet.

The festival, which runs from August 25th to 29th, has a mount of horror highlights for you to whet your bloody appetite. The opening film sees the European Premiere of My Father Die and sees Sean Brosnan direct a brutal revenge thriller. Closing the festival is Sang-ho Yeon’s first class thrill-ride Train to Busan about a locomotive filled with the dead.

My Father Die
Between the two events, there are a whole body heap of films including Italian horror film Monolith, Phillip Escott’s Cruel Summer, the deadly House of Salem, Canadian chiller Blood Hunters, and a trashy remake of Blood Feast. As for British filmmakers, there are twelve UK premieres from Marty Stalker’s shock doc Hostage to the Devil to Shaun Robert Smith’s sublime Broken. Furthermore, First Blood is dedicated to home-based directors such as Hallow’s Eve and The Creature Below.

Big screen antics include director of The Guest and You’re Next’s Adam Wingard’s intense The Woods and Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusak’s Stephen King adaptation Cell.

We could sit here listing the mass of amazing films on play here but head over to their website to see what’s on. I don’t know about you but we are dying to see them all.

What are you looking forward to most.


The Best Of…Daniel Bruhl

Daniel Bruhl is one of the most gifted actors to come from Germany. The thirty-something actor become a household name in his homeland and has since been lifted into further prominence by appearing in a number of Hollywood films. From war biopics to comedies, Bruhl has tackled a fortuitous amount of roles and enriched them with absolute accomplishment.

To celebrate his role in historical drama The Colony, which is out in cinemas now, we take a look at Bruhl’s best work.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Sparking a whole stream of memes, Bruhl’s Helmut Zemo is probably The Avengers best villain. Despite contending against a puny God, a really embarrassed Nazi, and an apocalyptic robot, Zemo challenged the team on an emotional level, cutting them to the core without the use of spells or mutants. To avenge his family, after they were crushed in the Sokovia incident, Colonel Zemo head out on a mission to their apart Tony and Steve, especially when he former finds out the truth of his parents death. Sinister but not over-bearing, Zemo works best because his drive is visceral vengeance and it is utterly human. Played ruthlessly well by Bruhl, Zemo is a masterful manipulator until the very end.

No Regrets (Nichts Bereuen) (2001)

One of the earliest performances for Bruhl and one which set him on a stellar career. It’s not hard to go back and see the seeds of talent begin to blossom in this movie. At merely 23 years old, Bruhl crafted one of his most intricate performances as Daniel, a man who pines for his old classmate and creates a memorable stunt to get her attention. Helping Bruhl win the coveted Breakthrough Performance award at the Bavarian and German Film Awards, the actor leaped into stardom and would soon see a cultivated career begin to grow.

Rush (2013)

Playing opposite Chris Hemsworth is no easy feat. After all, the charms of the Australian and talents would eclipse a lot of ordinary actors. But Bruhl isn’t that kind of an actor – he is extraordinary and portraying Formula 1 famous racer Niki Lauda solidified his status in the English speaking film industries. Nominated for a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and most importantly, an Empire Award for Best Supporting Actor, Bruhl;s captivating performance as Lauda is one of the best in sporting dramas. Graceful, passionate, determined, Bruhl’s Lauda caught the right balance between survivor and competitive sportsman that was wonderfully complemented by Hemsworth’s James Hunt. A cracking and evocative sports film, Ron Howard’s biopic is a must watch.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

For many, this is how we come to know Bruhl. Quentin Tarantino’s “What would happen if the Americans killed Hitler?” film is often lamented as one of his weakest and yet it’s still stellar. Especially because it introduced us to the excellent Christoph Waltz and, of course, Daniel Bruhl. Here he plays Fredrick Zoller, a German soldier who defeated a troupe of allied forces single-handedly. Celebrated in his country, his antics are now heading to the big screen with Zoller playing himself. As he tries to woo the French cinema manager of the premiere, he uncovers a plot to kill Hitler. Cheeky yet serious, Bruhl’s flirtatious and commanding office certainly won over many people.

Salvador (2006)

Daniel Bruhl is multilingual. That’s right, as if he can’t get any better, he can speak seven different languages. Whilst the rest of you are gurning your way through one, he can speak seven. Damn.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because of his award winning work in Spanish thriller Salvador. He plays the lead character, Salvador Puig Antich who was the last person executed by garrotting under the corrupt dictatorship of Francisco Franco in 1974. Though the film itself was poorly received, the man was celebrated – nominated for dozens of leading actor awards and winning at the Barcelona and Seattle International Film Awards. A must see depiction of the titular fateful man, Bruhl encompasses the struggle of the country as well as the character.

Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

Yet again another award winning film, Bruhl’s phenomenal work in Good Bye Lenin! is a must see, not just for fans of Bruhl, but for all audiences alike. The film revolves around a German boy who sets up a scheme to help his mother get back into good health after she fell into a coma witnessing his arrest. As she stays unconscious through the fall of the Berlin and the rise of the German Democratic Republic, Alex tries to keep the secret from her as long as possible – fearing the shock would be fatal. Delicately funny and utterly emotional rich, Good Bye Lenin! is stirring work from Bruhl.