Picture it. Hollywood executives discuss their next mega money maker and among the melee of buzzwords, margins, and other business bollockry is the go-to selling point for any sequel: make it bigger. Independence Day Resurgence gets the green light and kick starts a global marketing campaign that drives home the fact that more than anything else this belated sequel will be bigger than the 1996 original. But they didn’t stop there. Continue reading Independence Day Resurgence Review
Set in 1971, The Conjuring dramatises the real life tale of married paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. While planning for retirement they are approached by a family who claim there is something evil in their new home and after some deliberation the ghost hunting duo decide to embark on this unique case unaware that it would be the most terrifying of their entire careers.
Tiptoe through the tulips
During a sorry era where even dull, clichéd mainstream creations such as Paranormal Activity were being lauded, James Wan’s exceptional Insidious emerged as a timely reminder of the quality audiences should expect from a horror film. Wan’s bold horror was fully deserving of its critical and financial triumphs, but no amount of success could quell audiences’ fears when a sequel was announced. Unlike his Saw franchise, that grew weaker with every subsequent release, Wan returns to direct a terrifying follow up that lives up to the expectations of its predecessor.
A film of two halves
Derek Cianfrance’s follow up to his emotionally gripping Blue Valentine had fans immediately excited after it was revealed that the American filmmaker would be reuniting with Ryan Gosling. Much like the Golden Globe-nominated performance he previously provided in Cianfrance’s anti-romantic Sundance-hit, the Hollywood heartthrob is the driving force behind this ambitious project. Sadly, he’s also the only memorable part of it.
Five of the best examples of people pointing guns at each other for your cinematic entertainment
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The Mexican standoff tests the nerve of characters and audiences alike – and when used effectively this fierce plot device can instantly increase the tension in any scene. Here are some examples of intense stalemates that are sure to leave you on the edge of your seat.
Due to the nature of the trope every clip featured here contains spoilers and adult content.
Where better to begin than with the definitive Mexican standoff; the iconic sequence that made the device so popular. In the concluding part of Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy the three titular characters square off in a graveyard with Ennio Morricone’s operatic score providing the perfect backdrop to this breathtaking finale. On a technical level their guns aren’t drawn so you could argue that this doesn’t qualify as a standoff, but the speed of these quick-drawing gunslingers means they are at a mutual disadvantage even with their guns holstered.
A Mexican standoff can occur in a range of shapes and sizes, from singular tête-à-têtes to mass free-for-alls; even army against army. Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan features what is arguably cinema’s largest standoff as a squadron of Allied soldiers stumble upon numerous German soldiers. This scene is not only worthy of inclusion for its size, but it also offers a variation of how a standoff is resolved, in this occasion by a fortuitous third party – in the form of another squadron of ruthless American soldiers.
In films less willing to freely kill off significant characters, Mexican standoffs are resolved in a civilised manner, with all characters realising the suicidal position they face and agreeing to drop their weapons. However, this scene in Tony Scott’s hyper-violent, bittersweet love story ends in typically brutal fashion with a massacre that puts an end to key supporting characters.
Armed with their unique referential humour and witty intelligence, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg expertly dissect the conventions of the Mexican standoff in this hilarious scene. As the assembled survivors begin arguing whether to kill Shaun’s recently infected mum, a standoff breaks out to exacerbate the issue. With two weapons trained on one character, another character claims that the standoff is unfair so the character hands her his weapon to even the odds.
Aside from possibly John Woo, the greatest exponent of the Mexican standoff is Quentin Tarantino, who has featured the plot device in the majority of his films. While the intense finale of Reservoir Dogs, or examples from Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained could be included, I’ve opted for the sublime pub scene in Inglourious Basterds for its powerful performances and jaw-dropping tension, but also on the basis that it provides two for one. After the initial standoff ends in bloodshed, the two surviving soldiers, Lieutenant Aldo Rayne and a young German officer Wilhelm, begin arguing whether their current situation is a Mexican stand off or not. This innovative sequence is a perfect example of Tarantino’s style, where he executes a narrative convention expertly in one breath, before satirising it only moments later. In a film brimming with iconic scenes it’s this one that towers above the rest, and not only for the line “Say auf Wiedersehen to your Nazi balls!”.
A bitter end
Ten years ago in a flat not so far away, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were humble British television personalities until Shaun of the Dead launched their cinematic careers. Three years later, and despite immense expectation, they surpassed their previous success with the superior Hot Fuzz. A further six years later and the prodigal sons have returned with the final part of their Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy; The World’s End. Sadly, as victims of their own success, they are unable to go one further and this flat attempt provides a far from fitting conclusion to what could have been one of cinema’s greatest trilogies.
Prolific action writer David Koepp makes his fifth directorial appearance with Premium Rush, an adrenaline-fuelled vehicular action thriller that innovatively swaps the engine for pedal power.
A bad day for Die Hard.
Six years ago Len Wiseman found relative success with his attempt at reviving the Die Hard franchise from its twelve year cinema absence. While an ambitious combination of old-school heroics and new-age sensibilities never quite works in Die Hard 4.0, there are at least the familiar high-octane action set pieces to appease the fans and make it a watchable, yet inferior addition to the franchise. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the fifth, erroneously titled venture, A Good Day to Die Hard.
Rewriting the romantic comedy playbook.
With a near two-decade long career of critically acclaimed, but quietly released films, David O. Russell was regrettably little known within the UK. That was until the American director created what many regard as his most significant film, The Fighter. The compelling character study embedded within that biographical sports drama gripped audiences and increased Russell’s audience and popularity. So, expectations were high for his follow up film, an adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel Silver Linings Playbook.
Proof that you shouldn’t judge a film by its title
An influx of unimaginative titles have plagued modern cinema and the resulting releases carry a sense of negativity long before the house lights are even dimmed. These marketing misconceptions are frequently present within mainstream horror and unfortunately House at the End of the Street falls under this same shadow of audience’s preconceived aversion. However, much like The Cabin in the Woods, there’s a lot more to this film than the title suggests.