Ghost in the Shell | Spoiler-free Review

When Ghost in the Shell debuted in manga form in 1989, we were living in a pre-Internet age – a time of William Gibson cyber-punk fiction, the personal computer held infinite potential and the year 1999 still felt like the far-flung, robot-filled future. It was a pre-The Matrix time. It was a more innocent technological age.

Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

It’s long – too long by a good hour. And the chroma key (green screen) moments still fly in the face of otherwise sterling production values. Why? Who knows. It deviates from the core story with lumpy stretches of exposition and wholly invents action scenes solely to provide popcorn-chewing moments late in the film. The…

Review: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

The long-awaited return of moustachioed lothario anchorman Ron Burgundy is a disappointment; it’s as forced and puffed up as his hairdo – a series of stitched together gags that form an incoherent story about the perils of manipulative media. It should know; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is all about manipulating old set-ups and leveraging…

Review: ‘Iron Man 3’

When Robert Downey Jr.’s opening monologue kicks in over ‘Iron Man 3’s smartly edited opening sequence, the standard is set for a tonally different Marvel Comics film adaptation. You can thank veteran action film director Shane Black for that. His previous catalogue reads like a how-to guide to crafting smart, sexy action – itself exactly…

Review: ‘Django Unchained’

Quentin Tarantino, a name synonymous with extremely well written, impeccably considered and very provocative filmmaking, returns with yet another revenge tale. This time, Django Unchained tackles slavery and sets it against a ‘western’-genre backdrop. This is a wonderful film – it is, but once in a while someone needed to tap Q on the shoulder…

Review: ‘Skyfall’

After the unsettlingly poor ‘Quantum of Solace’ in 2008, fans found little solace of their own in the prospect of another dud for superspy James Bond. Four years on, ‘Skyfall’ picks up the torch and redeems a franchise that always seems one film away from wearing out its welcome. Sam Mendes (‘American Beauty’) takes the…

Review: ‘Shadow Dancer’

Not that things have ever been smooth-sailing for Ireland’s divided religious communities, but apparently the early 1990s were a fairly unpleasant time. ‘Shadow Dancer’, an adaptation of author Tom Bradby’s novel of the same name, follows Colette McVeigh, IRA member and young mother, as she is swept into the inner workings of MI5’s league of…

Review: ‘Lawless’

Nearly as potent and ballsy as the gut-rot moonshine being peddled in the film, ‘Lawless’ is clearly a Nick Cave product. It would take a man of his trademark darkness and viciousness, in partnership with filmmaker John Hillcoat (who also directed the 2005 Cave-written film ‘The Proposition’ and 2009’s bleak ‘The Road’), to craft something…

Review: ‘Dredd 3D’

Verdict: awesome. You can pretty much stop reading at this point if you want. ‘Dredd 3D’ is undoubtedly one of the strongest action movies of 2012, inventive in ways that will surprise you and pleasingly gritty and violent for fans of the 1970s comic book series on which it’s based. It also shares a plot…

Review: ‘On The Road’

Jack Kerouac’s arguably most noteworthy work, ‘On The Road’, is a rambling quasi-autobiographical account of his early-20s life as a beatnik writer in search of …something. Inspiration, hard work, a sexual awakening – perhaps the American Dream, preceding Hunter S. Thompson by a good 20 years. That part’s never really clear—and perhaps that’s why this…

Review: ‘The Watch’

What makes you laugh? What makes a comedy actually funny? How do you quantify humour? These are hard questions – and ones that I’m stuck on, because I didn’t think ‘The Watch’, ostensibly a harmless, if provocative, comedy film, was very funny. It wasn’t humourless (I mean, everybody knows the money is in dick and…