• Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

    Attempts to launch film franchises based on video games have almost always ended up falling apart. This is a shame, because the source material being used is often quite rich, and full of narrative potential.

    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time doesn't know what to do with said potential. While certain elements of the games are present, such as the Dagger of Time and the Prince's acrobatic skills, they've been repackaged within a generic action-adventure film that has no…

  • Warcraft

    Warcraft

    Warcraft is an incredibly ambitious film. It tries to introduce a massive world, tons of lore and a wide cast of characters to an entirely new audience, all while clearly being designed to eclipse all previous attempts at video game films. Does it succeed in its lofty ambitions? That's actually not an easy question to answer.

    The adoration that director Duncan Jones has for the source material is evident within the first few minutes of the film. From the designs…

  • Smashed

    Smashed

    ★★★★★

    Films about recovery from alcoholism or other types of addiction have to both tell a compelling narrative and avoid coming across as preachy public service announcements. Luckily, Smashed accomplishes both of these things.

    The film's greatest asset is main star Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who delivers the best performance of her career. Helped by an excellent script, the way that her performance brings life to the story of alcoholic elementary teacher Kate Hannah is vibrant, charismatic and emotionally engaging. The film's…

  • The Duchess of Malfi

    The Duchess of Malfi

    One of the few plays of Shakespeare's time to not be completely overshadowed by the great Bard over the centuries, John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi has endured as one of the great macabre tragedies of the Jacobean period. Even though it was written four hundred years ago, Webster's play can still be very effective, as shown by this latest interpretation.

    One of the oldest and greatest female roles of the English literary canon, the Duchess of Malfi is a…

  • Make It Happen

    Make It Happen

    A movie can survive many flaws, but a movie with a poor main character is guaranteed to fall apart. Without a connection to the protagonist, the audience will leave the movie dissatisfied every time.

    Make It Happen has the opposite problem. The protagonist, Lauryn Kirk, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is the only thing about the film that works, and it's everything else that's the issue. Granted, Lauryn isn't actually all that interesting on her own merits, being a fairly…

  • Fantastic Four

    Fantastic Four

    As the quality of superhero films continues to grow, there was a general assumption among fans that the time of absolutely terrible entries in the genre was behind us. Well, Josh Trank proved everyone wrong with this monumental trainwreck.

    This film makes no secret of the contempt it has for the source material, taking a dour, monochromatic and depressing tone that stands in stark contrast to the bright, colourful and optimistic tone of the classic comics. But even taken on…

  • Ex Machina

    Ex Machina

    ★★★★★

    The reason that science fiction has become the most resonant genre of storytelling in the twenty-first century is because our contemporary culture is inundated with the desire to explore scientific possibilities. Gathering knowledge, conducting experiments and learning about the unknown are fundamental to the core of humanity's drive as scientific secularism becomes the primary mode of culture, which makes science fiction more relevant than ever.

    This is why Ex Machina is not just a fantastic film, but an essential one.…

  • Cape Fear

    Cape Fear

    Psychological thrillers can be immensely satisfying films when done properly, because they allow us a view into why people come into conflict. As conflict drives narrative, so does psychology drive human beings, and thrillers of this sort can interrogate very complex and interesting ideas about the way we think.

    Cape Fear is a movie that wants to deal with these ideas, but doesn't quite take them far enough. That's not to say that it doesn't work as a revenge thriller…

  • The Disappearance of Alice Creed

    The Disappearance of Alice Creed

    Minimalist films are some of the riskiest to pull off. With a tiny cast and a tightly controlled narrative, a single misstep can throw the entire enterprise off-balance. However, The Disappearance of Alice Creed took the risk, and it pays off brilliantly.

    What makes the film work is that it is structured very similarly to a theatrical play, carefully introducing its pieces and containing itself within mostly a single location that the audience becomes intimately familiar with. There is no…

  • Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

    Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

    Does this movie work as a movie? Sort of, but not fully. Does it work on its own terms as an inherently self-aware gonzo-style action film with no real ambition beyond reckless entertainment? I would say so.

    Witch Hunters makes no attempt to even try to sell itself as more than it is, and this gives the film a quality that so many other similar films released in the last few years lack: a sense of being completely unpretentious. It's…