Outcast: 'A Darkness Surrounds Him' Review

Robert Kirkman's latest show gets off to a flawed start.

Confirmed: John Boyega to Star in 'Pacific Rim 2'

Boyega joins the sequel hot off the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Box Office: Ninja Turtles 2 Suffers in Anti-Sequel Summer

TMNT 2 is the latest sequel to bring in some disappointing numbers.

Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood's military drama is an impressive achievement.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Watch: 'Ghost in the Shell' Gets First Full Trailer

The first full trailer for the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation dropped yesterday. The movie has been at the centre of a so-called 'whitewashing' scandal, after Scarlett Johansson was cast in the role of Japanese character Major Motoko Kusanagi. The trailer has elicited mixed reactions from fans of the original manga books and animated films. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!


Box Office Briefing: 'Shut-In' Gets Shut-Out of an Otherwise Strong Weekend

Doctor Strange held on to the number one spot at the North American box office with an impressive hold. Dropping just 49.5% in its second weekend (the third-best second week hold of all the MCU features), the film brought in a total of $42 million. This brings it to a global total just shy of $500 million, meaning it is fast-approaching Ant-Man's lifetime gross after only three weeks of release. Don't be surprised to see a Doctor Strange sequel announcement in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Denis Villeneuve's thoughtful sci-fi feature Arrival also came out of the gates strong. The film, which stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, opened with $24 million. This is the highest debut for a Villeneuve picture to date (his previous work includes Sicario and Prisoners), while this is also a better-than-average opening for Amy Adams. Indeed, this is her biggest opening weekend since The Muppets which opened to $29 million back in 2011.

While Arrival had a healthy opening it still found itself settling for number three, thanks to a very impressive hold for Dreamworks' Trolls. While the critical reception for the film has been lukewarm at best, with a second week drop of just under 25%, it appears there is much audience interest in this film loosely based on the iconic toys of the 1980s.

Hacksaw Ridge and The Accountant also performed well in their second and fifth weekends respectively, while the low budget holiday-themed comedy Almost Christmas had a solid opening of $15 million. The only other wide release was Naomi Watts' Shut-In, which proved to be the weekends one sore spot. It pulled in just $3.6 million, proving to be another disappointment for Europa Corp following the summer's bizarre comedy Nine Lives.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Review: Doctor Strange (Spoiler-Free)

Doctor Strange is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and brings yet another classic super-hero to the party. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a world-class neurosurgeon whose work is some of the best in his field, but all this success has made him arrogant and selfish. After being involved in a terrible car accident (caused entirely by his own reckless driving), Strange's hands are seriously injured and he is unable to perform surgery. His desperate attempts to heal eventually lead him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who opens his eyes to a world of magic and endless possibilities.

Doctor Strange stumbles out of the starting gate with an opening act that brings little new to the table. The title character initially comes off as little more than a less likeable Tony Stark, and the supporting cast take some time to grow into their roles. Additionally, in the film's first half many of its attempts at humour fall flat, with numerous jokes more likely to be greeted with awkward silence than thunderous laughter. Fortunately though, the further this movie gets into its two-hour runtime the stronger it becomes, with its final impression being that of yet another satisfying super-hero epic from Marvel Studios.

There are a lot of interesting new ideas in Doctor Strange which make it well worth the price of admission. For starters, the visual effects are some of the most mind-bending ever put to film and ensure that this movie lives up to its name. Initial fears that the visual style would draw too heavily from the likes of Inception are unfounded; while there are certainly moments that are reminiscent of that 2010 hit, Doctor Strange puts enough new spins on these ideas (sometimes literally) that it successfully crafts its own identity.

Also, without spoiling anything, this movie has a fascinating final battle sequence which is a very inventive departure from what is usually seen in the genre. Genuinely unexpected and refreshingly original, this finale could be used to argue against the view that super-hero films have nothing new to offer.

Something that the MCU movies have consistently struggled with is a lack of compelling villains, with Tom Hiddleston's Loki being the only one to leave a lasting impression. Doctor Strange's main villain Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), doesn't reach the giddy heights of Hiddleston's charismatic trickster but is in the upper echelon of MCU baddies. With a clear motivation, personality and an intimidating look he shouldn't be as easily forgotten as some earlier villains have been.

Mikkelsen does well in the role and most of the cast is similarly strong; once they get past their aforementioned early wobbles Cumberbatch and Swinton bring some great performances, with Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo also deserving of praise. One weak link would be Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, a role which fails to develop outside of the generic love interest archetype.

Overall though, despite a troubled start and a few rough edges the finished product is an entertaining movie, one which should please both fans and newcomers alike. The initial shortcomings are redeemed by an exhilarating second half which offers some fantastic action sequences, and ends in a clever and satisfying way.