The Uninvited

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Emily Browning and Arielle Kebbel star as Anna and Alex, two sisters with a special bond, who have to try uncover the mysterious past of their new soon-to-be stepmother, Rachel, played by Elizabeth Banks.

Anna is the quiet sister, the meeker one.  However she is also the one that is haunted by visions beyond the dead and broken memories and dreams of the night her mother died.  Anna ultimately had to spend time in a mental institution from the loss.

When Anna returns home, she is “welcomed” by Rachel, but Anna is reluctant to play “house” with her.

As Anna starts to rebel against Rachel’s pressence, Alex acts like a mediator for the family, while always staying close to Anna’s side, protecting her.

When Anna researches her haunting visions, she come across a story about a murder of a family and how a young woman was thought to be responsible.  Clues lead to Anna realizing that woman could be Rachel.

Anna and Alex try to gather enough evidence to out Rachel and her past, however Rachel’s not going down without a fight.  Being a trained nurse, Rachel manages to drug Anna, and keeps her locked in her bedroom whilst her father is away.

Will the sisters manage to overcome Rachel or will the “evil step mother” prevail again?

‘The Uninvited’ was based on a Korean movie called ‘The Tale of Two Sisters’ and for it’s genre, it definitely has it’s moments.

With an interesting narrative, the audience is given the opportunity to put the story together piece by piece, making it much more interactive and involving than just the regular teen/youth horrors.

8/10

 

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Promised Land

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Director Gus Van Sant goes back to directing Matt Damon in the small town drama, Promised Land.

Damon plays Steve Butler, a salesman for a large gas company who is paired up with fellow sales woman, Sue (played by Frances McDormand).

Steve’s catch phrase seems to be “I’m not a bad guy”, and he does seem to have a heart and a conscience too.  However he’s so used to what his job entails, he’s almost on auto pilot, working off his scripted one-liners to gain the trust of the small town folk.  Steve and Sue’s mission is to get as many of the residents as possible to sign off on their properties and land that they own, hoping to gain some much needed cash back from the company as promised by the sales people.

But then in steps Dustin Noble (played by John Krasinski), who claims to be a representative of a small environmental group, wanting to educate the townsfolk on the potential destruction the gas company has caused to other towns.

Dustin not only makes Steve and Sue’s job more difficult, but he also intrudes on the romance Steve has begun with a small town teacher.

From Steve’s uncertainty to why he does the work he does, to Sue’s more apathetic attitude and her own home sickness with being away from her son, this film is as much as a character study as it is a study on the effect and power large corporations have with people these days.

7/10

 

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Now You See Me

 

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Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco, star as 4 very different magicians/mentalists/con-men, or whatever you want to call it, who come together to form the dynamic magic team The 4 Horsemen.

The film starts off as you would expect, introducing the 4 characters in their own element, making their means of survival, each by using their own “magical” talents.

Then each of them finds a tarot card of some sort, a message, telling them where to meet, which they all do.

After their brief introductory exchanges, they realize they were all brought together for a reason.  To perform a huge heist (similar to that of Ocean’s Eleven).

So the team dazzles it’s audience, often showering them with a rainfall of money too, or paying off their debts, increasing their bank balances.

Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent play the cops trying to catch the magician ensemble, albeit unsuccessfully.

There’s of course a big twist at the end.  But it’s still not enough to warrant the bland nature of this film.  The magic acts are impressive, at times it’s like watching a David Blaine spectacle on the big screen, but apart from that, don’t expect to be wowed.

Fisher and Eisenberg’s performances are far from their best.  While Franco (yes, he is indeed James Franco’s little brother) is also forgettable.  Harrelson and Ruffalo pull most of the movie’s weight.  However the chemistry between Ruffalo and Laurent is pretty much non-existent, making their character’s love story completely unbelievable.

What the film does provide is the important theme of hope and imagination, something a lot of us lack these days and if you can suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours, you might find yourself once again a believer in magic.

5.5/10

 

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The Impossible

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Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in ‘The Impossible’, a film about the 2004 tsunami that hit Thailand.

Maria (Watts) and Henry (Ewan) are a couple on holiday in Thailand with their 3 sons.  As they are blissfully relaxing poolside, everything goes quiet for a moment, birds fly away and the screams from afar begin… the tsunami has hit.

In amongst the chaos, the family get separated.  Maria gets a serious leg wound injury but somehow manages to stay close to her eldest son.  They ride the violent waves, swerving in and out of debris, the cinematography on this part is amazing.

After the water subsides. Maria and her son Lucas wonder along the island and stumble across a lone child who they help.  The three climb a tree for safety.

Locals soon find them and take the injured Maria and her son to the local hospital which is overloaded with disaster victims.

Upon request from his mother, Lucas takes on the task of finding lost family members and reuniting them with the rest of their family in the hospital.

Unfortunately, for potentially such a great story to retell, the writing in this film fails to impress.  Firstly, the coincidences are so far fetched that it really does make the whole plot unbelievable, not to mention the lagging dialogue which seems to repeat and re-establish everything that is boring and mundane, and when they do try to dig a little deeper it just sounds too contrived.

The lead actors, Watts and McGregor are definitely competent and deliver good performances, however the writing doesn’t do them any favors.

4/10

 

 

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