Review: Godzilla (2014)

After his low-budget sci-fi drama MONSTERS became a hit on the festival circuit, director Gareth Edwards was given the job of reviving Toho’s most famous franchise, and he doesn’t stray far from his earlier film’s successful template. As before, glimpses of prehistoric behemoths lumbering across the skyline play second fiddle to the human drama taking place on the ground. At its best, this new GODZILLA delivers a big screen spectacle anchored in the real world but flecked with flourishes of Lovecraftian horror; yet its parts are more interesting than the whole.

Full review: Godzilla 2014 | TAKE ONE

Review: Blue Ruin (2014)

BLUE RUIN is a stripped-down conveyor belt of tense and twitchy action, and announces the arrival of a first-time director with plenty of promise. Jeremy Saulnier’s low budget revenge drama may not have much in the way of plot or characterisation, but it is a superior specimen of the ‘lean and mean’ school of thought: aiming to keep the audience on the edge of their seats with a minimum of fuss or pretension, and with an ever-present threat of violence hanging in the air. A strongly sympathetic lead performance from Macon Blair as a man both created and destroyed by an ongoing cycle of violence goes a long way to keeping things interesting.

Full review: Blue Ruin | TAKE ONE

Review: Locke (2014)

Joining a select group of films distinguished by confining themselves to a single location (see also: LIFEBOAT, PHONE BOOTH), LOCKE is less a Hitchcockian thriller than it is a subdued, emotionally-driven drama which just happens to take place entirely within a car. In fact it is more audacious than either of its aforementioned brethren, as we only ever see one character onscreen – that of Ivan Locke, played by a bearded and be-Welshed Tom Hardy. The only other characters are voices at the end of his phone (played by a surprisingly strong supporting cast), and it is through these conversations that we learn why Locke is making this particular journey.

Full review: Locke | TAKE ONE

Review: Starred Up (2014)

Led from the front by an astonishingly aggressive performance from Jack O’Connell, STARRED UP gives the British prison film exactly what it needs: a kick up the arse. A gripping look at life behind bars in a UK prison, as well as an examination of a father-son relationship on life support, David Mackenzie’s film is a welcome reminder of what British cinema can accomplish when it has something vital to say. Even though the script eventually succumbs to stock characters and contrivance, STARRED UP offers a disturbing portrayal of criminals who are all too used to being forgotten on both sides of the fence.

Full review: Starred Up | TAKE ONE

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

After a slight stumble with Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s ambitious cinematic universe project gets back on track with this robustly entertaining follow-up to Captain America: The First Avenger. By upping both the political and action stakes, and giving plenty of time to each of the various supporting characters, directors Anthony and Joe Russo have delivered a slick and exciting espionage thriller that engages the brain as much as the adrenaline. It may not be perfect – the action is a bit choppy, and veers into overkill towards the end – but this is still a strong entry in what is unquestionably a golden age of comic book adaptations.

Full review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Film @ The Digital Fix