Message from the King – Clips & Trailers

After being one of the best things about Captain America: Civil War (which is tricky because nearly everything in that film was so goddamn amazing,) Chadwick Boseman looks to set the world aflame. Judging by his standalone follow up film Black Panther, his world domination seems sure enough.

Until then,  however, we have to gander at his talents in thriller Message from the King. 

The film revolves around a young man who finds out his sister was murdered. He then has only six days to avenge her.

Also starring Alfred Molina and Teresa Palmer, this could be a riveting and great affair. With initial reviews looking good, we cannot wait for Message from the King. 

What do you think?


  • Message from the King is out later this year

Another Mother’s Son – Review

Some would argue World War II has been done to death on the silver screen.

Yet, Another Mother’s Son is a tad different from the norm. At the forefront this is a fascinating, eye-opening and at times terrifying narrative exploring a part of history that all should be subjected to in order to learn from. Director Chris Menaul takes on this based on true events story penned by soap writer Jenny Lecoat and provides us with a compelling tale of bravery.
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The story follows Louisa Gould (Jenny Seagrove) whom, amongst the rest of the Island of Jersey is caught under Nazi regime and in a time that simply wasn’t easy for anyone. With both grown up sons out fighting the war Lou runs a local shop that keeps her village running, well on rations at least. When a close friend asks her to take in an escaped Russian POW (she names Bill upon not being able to pronoun given name) and help hide him from the dreadful, animalistic ways of the Nazi’s, her thoughts are with her sons and, for that reason, she simply cannot refuse this man clothes, shelter, and food. By doing so, however, she is constantly on edge and at times the tension that hangs in air after a knock on the front door is too much to bear. As her brother Arthur (John Hannah) finds out and people around her discover her secret a strong bond is formed, yet this bond can be so easily broken with a slip of the tongue to the wrong person.

John Hannah tackles his Arthur with ease and plays an essential role in this tale. Working in the post office where the Germans receive tips of who and where villagers are hiding people they shouldn’t, just as Lou does he can’t help but try and conceal such information from these ghastly people – until it is sadly too late.  Ronan Keating, nope not Diane Keating you did hear that correctly, showcases his talent as an actor and of course a singer. You have to give the man credit – when first seeing such a name attached to what one would say is a pretty heavy going subject matter it really could have gone either way. Thankfully, Keating proved himself and was a great assist to the cast here as the teacher come cousin that helps Lou as much as he can in protecting Bill.

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Above all else, this brings a real sense of humanity and loyalty to our screens. With such events taking place, divided neighbourhoods that were once to close that now bicker about things out of their control it is hard to loose ones way and simply be selfish in such a situation. However, this is where Lou proves herself – against all odds she sticks to her guns even if it does cost her everything imaginable.

Another Mother’s Son is a profound little film. With only a few clichéd moments that warrant a seat shuffle or an eye roll, this provides a heartfelt message that truly resonates.

Another Mother’s Son is out this Friday, 24th March 2017

The Fits – DVD & Blu-Ray Review

The human mind is interesting, especially when it comes to mass hysteria. The shared experience of imaginary threats that develop into physical convulsions, and fainting is unusual and has happened for centuries. Often seen in the Salem Witch Trials, there have been 31 different periods of this phenomenon that range through different genders, ages, and religious sects and could be anything from biting to laughter.

Inspired by such strange occurrences as the Dancing Plague (where Romans danced for days and days until they died) and the 1965 Blackburn epidemic, brand new independent film The Fits uses mass hysteria to explore femininity and friendship in pre-teen girls.

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Directed by Anna Rose Holmer, who earned the Someone to Watch award at the Independent Spirit Award with this film, The Fits revolves around a young tomboy named Toni who spends her time boxing with her older brother. Entranced by the school’s dancing troupe, she offers to join the incredible talents. However, surrounded within the clique, she struggles to be accepted and her further attempts to get involved with the crowd starts to isolate her from her previous sporting teammates. When the girls are stricken by a mysterious convulsing illness, causing unexpected seizures and fainting spells, Toni is further pushed to find acceptance.

Anna Rose Holmer’s command of the atmosphere in this daring and, ironically, confident debut feature is spectacular. The imposing moments of silence that allow lead actress Royalty Hightower to brood and grow within the quiet of her character showcase the capabilities of the writer, producer, and director. At only 72 minutes run time, The Fits terrifically bellows with adolescent confusions and a struggle to ebb along with the popularity flow. Holmer’s task of re-producing mass hysteria for the big screen and fitting it into a captivating coming of age story works marvellously well. With an eye for great shots that encompasses the stirring emotions within Toni, The Fits is an established and riveting drama.

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Imbued with skill beyond her years, Hightower is a capable lead. Her quiet ferociousness and her beguiling acting skill immerses you into this story of fitting in. The equanimity that she displays with her curiosity whilst also being able to convey a temper, a wit, and an individuality. Her tranquil performance is reminiscent of Alex Hibbert in Academy Award winning Moonlight: Both displaying emotion and growth without using dialogue as a crutch.

Though some will pull similarities between The Fits and Carol Morley’s The Falling – after all, both deal with girls overcome by a spree of fainting with no apparent causation – the two films are both separate in their tone and setting. Whilst the period drama of the latter is almost bewitching in it’s magical realism, Holmer’s former is a city based modernised look at the hysteria. They both, however, deal with female childhood as it blooms into pubescence and then adulthood in manners that are authentic and strikingly so.

With The Fits being both poetic and powerful, Holmer, indeed has promise as a director to watch.

The Fits is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Three Empire Awards 2017 – The Winners

Thought awards season was over? Think again! Empire, the world’s biggest selling film magazine, hosted their annual awards, sponsored by Three, which celebrate the best films of 2016 as voted for by the public. So, who took home gold this year?

Well, as it is voted for by the public, you can say goodbye to Oscar contenders like La La Land (which took only one prize for Best Soundtrack), Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight, for these are the awards that fans get to vote for, and the people have spoken. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them took home the most awards, bagging Best Production Design, Best Make Up and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design, and Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne. While the Harry Potter spin off may have taken home the most awards, it was Star Wars spin off Rogue One that took home the biggest awards, with Best Film, Best Director for Gareth Edwards and Best Actress for Felicity Jones under it’s belt.

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It’s a time for fans to rejoice when their favourite blockbusters can win awards, but I imagine there are many who call Bullshit Artist on the fact that The Greasy Strangler took Best Comedy over Deadpool and The Nice Guys. Don’t get me wrong, The Greasy Strangler is a weird, wonderful, completely uncomfortable comedic masterpiece that deserves the award fully, but Deadpool was a huge fan favourite, cropping in just about every best of the year list imaginable, so the fact that it didn’t win even with such a large following is quite shocking. Still, it did take home Best Screenplay, which many would agree it deserves. Another surprise would be mediocre sequel Jason Bourne taking Best Thriller over the critically acclaimed likes of Captain America: Civil War, Hell or High Water, and Nocturnal Animals. Looks like Bourne still packs a punch with audiences. So Marvel missed out on this award, but did pick one up for Best Visual Effects for Doctor Strange, which was easily Marvel’s most visually ambitious film to date. Rounding out the genre awards were Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi which went to the much deserving A Monster Calls, and Best Horror which went to The Witch, also taking home Best Female Newcomer for star Anya-Taylor Joy.

Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake took home the awards for Best British Film, with Daniel Blake himself Dave Johns winning Best Male Newcomer. Keeping it British, Oasis documentary Supersonic took Best Documentary and The Night Manager won Best TV Show. In the realm of animation, Finding Dory took home Best Animated Feature, against stiff competition from Your Name, Anomalisa, Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana, and the short that preceded Moana, Inner Workings, took Best Animated Short. Moving away from films altogether, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End unsurprisingly won Best Video Game. Man, how did it win against the gripping story and unbelievable game play of Fifa 17?…

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Wrapping things up, Tom Hiddleston was named the Empire Hero (which is ironic considering his most acclaimed role is a villain), Leon director Luc Besson was named Empire Inspiration, and Sir Patrick Stewart was named Empire Legend, and I don’t think anyone is going to argue with that.

That’s it for the Three Empire Awards 2017, did your favourites win?

Let us know in the comments!

Arrival – Review

by Ren Zelen,

The success of Sicario (2015) has created interest in Canadian Director Denis Villeneuve’s body of work (Incendies 2010, Prisoners 2013, Enemy 2013) and a desire to see how he will tackle the science fiction genre in his latest feature Arrival, particularly so since he was absent from its premiere at the London Film Festival and busy shooting Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s milestone sci-fi film.

Working from Ted Chiang’s short novella ‘Story of Your Life,’ writer Eric Heisserer and director Villeneuve introduce us to Arrival’s central character, Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams). We first meet her alone in a lakeside house with only memories of her past life for company. Louise has suffered a personal trauma, outlined in the movie’s opening minutes. Her deep-seated grief has made her objective, imperturbable and removed from the troubles of everyday life.

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An unforeseen complication however, is the sudden arrival of mysterious, pod-like spaceships in twelve unrelated locations across the globe. Louise is a respected academic in language and linguistics, and is recruited by the US Government, represented by Forest Whitaker’s Colonel Weber, to join an elite team whose apparently impossible task is to work out a way of communicating with the aliens. With the help of theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) her mission is to enter the creatures’ craft and learn their intentions.

Louise is intellectually gifted and exceptionally intuitive in the field of language and communication. Many of the most engaging scenes are essentially about Louise’s breakthrough in her communication with the aliens. The creatures themselves are realized in a truly striking, foreign and unusual way. I don’t wish to diminish the effect by describing them too clearly, but they emerge from a sea of fog like Lovecraftian monsters, vocalizing in sonorous tones like underwater behemoths.

Louise hits on the method of using visual aids which provides some arresting images, as the alien ‘alphabet’ is expressed in smoky circles dotted with irregular inky splodges that appear to be crammed with meaning.

Initially the science and language teams in all locations are plugged into an international video conference so that they can collate and share their knowledge and discoveries. In the outside world uncertainty, panic and kneejerk-reaction violence become widespread. Looting and the inevitable gun-toting discourse breaks out. As Louise and her team make progress communicating with the alien race, on earth, humans prove less adept at communicating with each other.

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Soon, the more paranoid and pugnacious nations, in this case China and Russia (not the US of course, which has never acted aggressively) prepare to attack the heptapods (as the aliens come to be known) before the heptapods attack them. Communication and co-operation between nations breaks down.

As mankind teeters on the verge of chaos and war, Louise, Ian and their teams race against time to clarify the responses they have received from the heptapods – and Villeneuve has an inventive, truly sci-fi reveal up his sleeve to demonstrate how Louise is able to break through the barriers of difference.

The more Louise learns about the heptapods, the more we learn about her. When Arrival outlines Louise’s attempts to ‘translate’ the language of the extra-terrestrials it provides what all good sci-fi should – gripping ideas that offer perspectives on our own existence.

The movie becomes increasingly complex, rippling out questions like the circles of the alien alphabet – how much, or how little, are we humans aware of the progress and patterns of our own lives? How does our past influence our future? What is a beginning and what is an ending, or are these actually false concepts?

Amy Adams gives an appropriately muted performance, keeping the story grounded when the ideas threaten to get too lofty. There is a tragedy in Louise’s life which mirrors Sandra Bullock’s damaged astronaut in Gravity and hearkens back to the lonely curiosity of Jodie Foster in Contact, but Louise is more contemplative and speculative, edging her way into the unknown while negotiating her way around the military and Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg) an obstructive CIA operative.

Arrival, as all Villeneuve’s films, is intelligently and effectively crafted. The cinematography is by Bradford Young (Selma, A Most Violent Year) and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score, taking its cue from the visual images, is powerfully emotive or an eerie hum.

Villeneuve avoids many of the excesses of CGI. We have none of the whizz-bang action of sci-fi explosions and laser guns, or the impressive glamour of space suits or slick sets, opting instead for clumsy HAZMAT gear and mundane and familiar equipment and technology. Instead Arrival offers us ideas to ponder upon, sometimes stretching the profundities and offering no ultimate answers – striving to express the inexpressible perhaps, but weaving its own complex structure that instigates post-film contemplation and discussion – and that is all that any decent filmmaker can hope to do.

Arrival is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!