Thursday, 28 November 2013

2013 Top 10 Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction

Starburst Magazine have asked all their contributors to come up with their top 10 of 2013. Starburst are a magazine dedicated to horror, fantasy and science fiction so all the movies picked have to fall into those genres. Also because the issue that looks back on 2013 has to be printed and ready to be published before the year comes to an end, only films released from November 2012 to November 2013 can be included.

That means yes to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and no to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. As it happens, I'm haven't even included An Unexpected Journey into my top 10 of the year anyway. However it did just miss making this list along with Safety Not Guaranteed, This is the End and Elysium.

So here are my top 10 horror, fantasy and science fiction films of the past year. Click the titles to read my full reviews:

10. Grabbers (Reviewed at Static Mass Emporium)

"Like a happy drunk, it appears effortlessly entertaining. More importantly it sobers up nicely when something more than lairy laughs are required of it. As the characters get increasingly inebriated, Grabbers manages to up the terror while also upping the comedy. No film that’s this funny is ever going to scare the pants off the audience but it does manage making exciting look easy. Go see it inebriated and have a laugh along with the tanked up characters. You might not wet yourself with fear but if you get pissed enough before hand, you’ll probably piss yourself laughing."

9. Star Trek Into Darkness

"The action and special effects are spectacular but never overwhelm in the same way as some of the more CG assisted scenes in other summer blockbusters (namely Man of Steel). All in all Abrams has nailed the reinvention and whether he chooses to return for a third Star Trek film or not, he has set the franchise up beautifully for further adventures. Let's all cross our fingers and hope that he can he can do the same for the galaxy far far away... "

8. You're Next

"Aussie stunner Sharni Vinson is the biggest reason to watch You're Next and her character Erin is quick to fight back when the masked men come a-knocking. She is endlessly resourceful, smart, strong and sexy and you will root for her right to the vicious end. As the body count surges and spikes, Vinson's Erin is forced into action; not just action but brilliantly brutal violence. The other victims might be infrequently sympathetic but screaming and shouting at each other does provide some darkly comic moments."

7. Iron Man 3 (Reviewed at Filmoria)

"Tony Stark might be battling demons, making Iron Man 3 slightly darker, but the trademark wit is still present and Robert Downey Jr. gives another performance that effortlessly demonstrates why Iron Man has become the leader of not only the Avengers but also Marvel's Phase 2 and also a bold and brilliant start to summer blockbuster season."

6. Gravity

Technically astounding, utterly gripping, but a little lazy in the story department.

5. Cloud Atlas

"Cloud Atlas is incredibly ambitious, an impossible adaptation that manages to capture the essence of the book and improve it with a streamlined and smart narrative structure. The directors have created breathtaking, visually astounding different worlds, taken a potentially pretentious idea and visualised it on a grand scale, both entertaining and intellectually stimulating."

4. The World's End (Reviewed at Filmoria)

"Instantly quotable and with some of the best profanity ever written, The World’s End is a great way to spend your last night on Earth."

3. Evil Dead (Reviewed at Filmoria)

"Relentlessly gory, with some of the most inventive and disgusting scenes of self-mutilation ever seen on screen; this is Evil Dead for the torture porn generation but far more fun than that sounds. Never quite as scary as the original, it makes up for this with shocking amounts of splatter-tastic violence."

2. Life of Pi (Reviewed at Static Mass Emporium)

"Life Of Pi has taken eleven years to get from page to screen but is absolutely worth the wait. Ang Lee has created an unbelievably cinematic treatment of the novel. Though the film itself takes its time getting to the heart of the story, the cinematography is spellbinding, the score is stirring and newcomer Suraj Sharma gives a heartfelt and compelling performance as hero Pi. Just don’t expect it to turn atheists into believers."

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Reviewed at Starburst Magazine)

"The romance is starved of oxygen by the grim mood of the first half but finally sparks begin to fly until it positively crackles by the end. Building to an electrifying climax, this is one of the best science fiction sequels since The Empire Strikes Back."

What were your favourites of the past year? 

By the way, the worst of the year booby prize goes to Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem which I was overly generous to when I gave it 2 and half stars at Filmoria.

Sunshine on Leith Premiere

Thanks to Tastic Film I got the opportunity to attend the premiere of Sunshine on Leith a while ago. We were in the press pit with all the other media vultures begging for scraps of information from all the glitzy stars in attendance. As well as director Dexter Fletcher and stars Jane Horrocks and Kevin Guthrie, we got to interview David Tennant and Jonathan Ross and I even got to meet Will Poulter, the breakout star of We're the Millers and upcoming young adult adaptation The Maze Runner. 

I've been keeping a close eye on Poulter ever since seeing him in Son of Rambow, laughing my ass off at his South African accent in School of Comedy and watching him grow (and grow and grow and grow) into a very talented dramatic actor in Wild Bill and then hold his own with Jennifer Aniston in comedy We're the Millers. Here's a lovely picture of me getting totally over excited about meeting him: 

I didn't get the chance to interview Mr Poulter but seeing Jonathan Ross and David Tennant floating around and shooting the breeze felt like too big an opportunity to miss. They were also joined by Arabella Weir (from The Fast Show) and the trio made for a very amusing interview discussing amongst other things what Ross' wife Jane Goldman is working on, Doctor Who's 50th anniversary and we even got round to mentioning the film Sunshine on Leith! 

It was a super star studded event held at BAFTA and I also saw the likes of Richard Curtis and Dermot O'Leary in attendance. I was hugely tempted to run around and take photos of all of them but I'm pretty sure I'd have got kicked out of there quick as you can click your fingers. The Proclaimers whose music is used throughout the film were also there but I didn't get the chance to interview them.

Back of David Tennant's head, Jonathan Ross, Dexter Fletcher, and Arabella Weir

Still it was very exciting to be in the presence of all those celebrities and here is my review of Sunshine on Leith. Unfortunately all the interviews are not yet up at Tastic Film but I'm sure they one day will be.

Middle Earth Envisioned book review and Insidious Chapter 2 DVD review

This month at Starburst Magazine I have been contributing more than ever. I have written a review of the book Middle Earth Envisioned, reviewed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and contributed to the 2014 movie preview that went in the December issue which you can purchase here. I also contributed a DVD review of Insidious Chapter 2 and am very optimistically in the process of trying to secure an interview with director James Wan. There is a very tight deadline for this interview and James Wan is extremely busy with Fast and Furious 7 so perhaps I should not be so optimistic but I can't help hoping that I'll get to have a quick chat with the guy who made Saw.

Here is a snippet from my review of the Middle Earth Envisioned book and please be sure to check out my full review here and consider adding this to your Christmas list if you are a Tolkien fan.

"Middle-earth Envisioned is not for readers who are only interested in Peter Jackson's films or casual Tolkien fans. It is an exhaustive illustrated history of all those who have attempted to bring Tolkien's writing to life. Unless you are already a Tolkien know-it-all who speaks Elvish, you are bound to find plenty here that will leave you inspired to search the internet for further evidence of the weird and the wonderful adaptations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings."

 As for Insidious Chapter 2, here is a snippet and click here for my full review:

"It is an admirable attempt to tell a deeper story and reward fans of the first film but by the end it's sadly lacking in the scare department."

It was a shame as I really quite liked the original but this one was a bit of a mess. It will be an eve greater shame if this really is James Wan's last horror film. Here's hoping he returns when he gets finished with the Fast and Furious franchise.

2014 Movie and TV Preview

The latest issue of Starburst Magazine has recently hit shelves and you can order it directly from Starburst here.This month is mostly about a preview of horror, fantasy and science fiction films that are on their way in 2014. I contributed short pieces on lots of the films you can expect to see next year. It might not be quite as exciting as the ridiculously stuffed 2015 slate but 2014 still has many surprises in store and plenty of reasons to get excited. Here are the ones I wrote about for Starburst. Check out the magazine for full details and more:

[REC] 4: Apocalypse which you can expect to reanimate the seriously scary franchise.

Seventh Son:  Will it become a huge (13 books!) franchise or falter at the first hurdle?

Maggie: Arnie plays a father who must over see his daughter's slow transformation into a zombie

Hot Tub Time Machine 2:  John Cusack jumps out of the tub for the sequel with Adam Scott instead dipping a toe in

Pompeii: A disaster movie of Titanic proportions with Game of Thrones' Kit Harrington and his ridiculous abs.

Transformers:: Age of Extinction Mark Wahlberg and others have signed up for a three picture deal suggesting Age of Extinction is definitely not going to be the end of this franchise.

Divergent: Just in case The Hunger Games isn't enough dystopian future teen rebellion for you, why not try Divergent?

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 will be released a year apart with the first hitting in 2014.

These are only the tip (or bottom) of the iceberg so pick up a copy of Starburst today for more on what will be filling screens in 2014. Other potential highlights include:

Robocop, Noah, Game of Thrones Season 4, Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Maze Runner, The Walking Dead Season 5, Interstellar, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Green Inferno, Tusk and Wolf Creek 2.  

What are you most excited to see in 2014?