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Features Live Action Movies

Detour

Director – Christopher Smith – 2016 – UK – Cert. 15 – 97m

****1/2

Should I stay or should I go? Smart thriller wherein a man’s life is literally split in two as he chooses between an ill-advised road trip to Vegas or staying at home with his hated stepfather – now on DVD and VoD

Opening with a lengthy, single locked off camera shot title sequence of a woman pole dancing, this then switches to law student Harper (Tye Sheridan – Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg, 2018) visiting his comatose mother in hospital. He’s convinced his stepfather is cheating on her using out of town business trips as a cover. Hitting a bar to drown his sorrows, he overhears a conversation in which Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen – Brooklyn, John Crowley, 2015) explains how his girlfriend Cherry shot a man who cut her face. Johnny Ray berates Harper for eavesdropping and drags him to the pole dancing joint where Cherry works and whisky gets Harper talking.

Brief echoes of Strangers On A Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) are played up in the film’s trailer (at the bottom of this review) as Johnny Ray offers to take care of his stepdad at a price.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Alien: Covenant

Director – Ridley Scott – 2017 – US – 15 – 122m

*** 1/2

The latest Alien franchise entry is an effective horror sci-fi, teeming with shocks, scares and twists, but it lacks the mythological depth of Prometheus and the twisted sexual connotations of Alien – in cinemas on 12th May 2017

This is Ridley Scott’s third Alien movie as director. His second Alien (1979) prequel or first Prometheus (2012) sequel – take your pick – is more like the former than the latter. On the one hand, its sci-fi ideas are more coherent and in line with other Alien franchise outings; on the other, unlike Prometheus it doesn’t periodically throw out lots of new ideas mining some of Alien‘s unexplained elements. Yet it does refer back to Prometheus.

A civilisation of charred or petrified bodies amidst otherworldly, ancient classical architecture suggests Scott is revisiting the Roman world of Gladiator (2000) or toying in his head with a film about Vesuvius erupting onto Pompeii. Again, take your pick. [Read more]

Alien: Covenant was out in UK cinemas on 12th May 2107, when this piece was originally written for DMovies.org.

Trailer:

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Animation Features Movies

The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rouge)

Director – Michaël Dudok De Wit – 2016 – France / Belgium / Japan – Cert. PG – 82m

*****

From the get-go, this is not your usual 2D animated film. The Red Turtle is slow-paced, has no dialogue and is certainly not aimed at children. Yet there’s nothing here you wouldn’t want kids to see, as its PG certificate testifies. Whether young minds would be spellbound or bored I wouldn’t like to say. Nor is it Studio Ghibli’s usual home-grown, Japanese fare being a French-Belgian production by a Dutch director based in London. Nor does it start off where you might expect.

A man adrift in a powerful, stormy grey sea is separated by some distance from his overturned, small boat. There is no indication of how he got there, and no flashbacks explain later on. Rather, the character reaches dry land and must survive there alone.

The story functions as an effective fable about adulthood and life. Michaël Dudok De Wit and his team brilliantly develop the character of the man through the various challenges he must face… [Read the rest]

Review originally published in DMovies.org, May 2017, to coincide with the film’s UK theatrical release.