1960s 3D 5th Wave 60s 70s Culture 80s Cinema A Night of Horror AAustralian film Action Activism Adaptation Adelaide Film Festival Adventure Advocacy African American Age of Adaline AI albanian Alien Abduction alien covenant aliens Alpha alt-right altzheimers amazon American Amitabh Bachchan Animal Animation anime anthology Anti-vaxx Ari Gold Art Asia Pacific Screen Awards Asian Cinema Australian film AV Industry Avengers Bad Robot BDSM Beach Boys Berlinale BFG Bianca Biasi Big Hero 6 Biography Biopic Blade Runner Blake Lively Blockbuster B-Movies Bollywood Breast Cancer Brian Wilson Brisbane Bruce Willis Camille Keenan Canadian Cancer candyman Cannes cannibalism Cannon Films Cesars CGI Chapman To Character Actors Charlie Hunnam Charlize Theron Chemsex China Lion Chinese Chloe Grace Moretz Chris Hemsworth Chris Pratt Christchurch christian cinema christmas Christopher Nolan Classic Cinema Clint Eastwood Close Encounters Cloverfield Comedy Comic Book Coming-of-Age Concert Film Conor McGregor Conspiracy Controversy Crowd-sourced Cult Cure Dakota Johnson Dance Academy Dardennes Brothers darth vader Debut Deepika Padukone Depression Disaster Movies Disney Diversity Documentary doomsday Dr Moreau drama Dunkirk Dustin Clare Dystopic EL James eli roth Elizabeth Banks Entourage Environmental Epic Erotic Cinema Extra-terrestrial Extreme Sports faith-based Family Film Fantasy Father Daughter Feminism Fifty Shades of Grey Film Film Festival Flop Foreign found footage French Cinema Friendship Fusion Technology Gareth Edwards Gay Cinema Ghostbusters Ghosts Godzilla Golan Globus Gothic Graphic Novel green inferno Guardians of the Galaxy Guillermo del Toro Gun Control Hacker Hailee Steinfeld Han Solo Happiness

Entries in Adaptation (3)



Stars: Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Billy Bo Thornton, Haley Joel Osmant, Perrey Reeves, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rex Lee, Debi Mazar, Ronda Rousey and Emily Ratajkowski.
Writer/Director: Doug Ellin.

Watch the trailer here.

Rating: 3/5

The Y-chromosome fever dream that is the world of Entourage heats up from frame 1 in series creator Doug Ellin’s bigscreen adaptation of his hit property.

A barely-clad Nina Agdal, the most current incarnation of supermodel hotness on the planet, gives a sly grin as her binoculars focus in on Turtle (Jerrry Ferrara), Drama (Kevin Dillon) and E (Kevin Connolly) speeding towards the multi-million dollar party-cruiser moored in the azure playground off Ibiza. The boat belongs to Vinnie (Adrian Grenier), who has bounced back from a fleeting flirtation with marriage by bedding Agdal.

The supermodel knows that, like all of us who have followed the lads through their LA adventures over eight HBO seasons, Vinnie is really only a complete man when conjoined with his ‘bros’. When the lads are unified, this long-in-development, short-on-narrative feature is at its best, too; like much of the west coast movie scene, it is high on boisterous personality and lavish adherence to base instincts.

But Ellin’s more expansive take on Hollywood life has not transitioned to the 2.35:1 scope seamlessly intact. The punchy energy and ironic verve that was the trademark of the 30-minute episodes is gone, replaced by some meagre plotting that sees the boys seeking the sweetness of romance and ushering them into the responsibilities of growing old.

Vinnie’s $100million directing debut, a wannabe-tentpole called Hyde has been shepherded through production by ex-agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who has graduated to studio head and rolled the dice on his old client’s vision of a blockbuster. None of this rings very true, which is at odds with the insider smarts that was one of the most endearing traits of the series. Needing fresh funds to finalise the film, Gold heads for Texas to woo financier Billy Bob Thornton, who puts his scumbag son Haley Joel Osmant in charge of the decision-making. Contrived machinations (mostly to do with the allure of it-girl Emily Ratajkowski) threaten Vinnie’s film and Ari’s job, as is to be expected.

As Vinnie’s business manager and first-time producer, Connolly’s E does very little of either, instead lumbered with a ‘babies vs boobs’ subplot that introduces some down-home moral goodness into the seething immorality of everyday A-list excess (perhaps to appeal to a broader movie-going base than the basic-cable followers of the series). Detractors who have wanted to nail Entourage for some borderline misogyny over the years get plenty of ammo in the form of two sexy starlets, who connive to frighten E into thinking he has fathered an unwanted child and caught an STD in the process.

Turtle romances cage-fighter Ronda Rousey, playing herself; Drama gets a few laughs doing what Drama does, struggling to build a career in the wake of his hotter, younger brother (as good as Dillon is, this should be the last time he plays an idealistic acting hopeful). Other series regulars (Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rex Lee, Perrey Reeves, Constance Zimmer, Debi Mazar, Rhys Coiro) are all shoe-horned in; celebrity cameos abound.

Just as Time Warner resurrected its other HBO cash cow, Sex and The City, so to it does with Entourage. Given the general mediocrity of both, their bigscreen re-emergence hardly seemed warranted; only time will tell if Entourage earns its existence as Sex... did. Marketers will reaffirm that this “is one for the fans,” and it certainly is warmly familiar (and, yes, this three-star review is unashamedly seen through the rose-coloured glasses of a fanatic). The brand will gather a second wind, DVD box-set sales will get a jolt, and Vinnie’s crew can now fade into the pop-culture ether.

One hopes they don’t make the same sequel-mistake as Carrie and the ‘girls’ made. The next real-world step for these ‘boys’ will be settling into the comforts of their wealthy west-coast lifestyles, firming up career opportunities and foregoing their wild ways in favour of maturity. If they don’t, it would be sad. And I wouldn’t want to watch it.



Stars: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini, Rita Ora and Marcia Gay Harden.
Writer: Kelly Marcel; based upon the novel by E.L. James.
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson.

Rating: 3/5

There is hardcore porn to be had in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s much-hyped adaptation of the E.L. James publishing behemoth, just not the kind that went down in the saucy pages of the authoress’ lit-phenomenon. What the bigscreen visualisation lacks in graphic sexual detail, it more than makes up for in lavishly shiny materialism; Fifty Shades of Grey is wealth-porn, of the most base and immoral kind.

We meet our heroine, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) as she nears the end of her English Literature course. The buttoned-up, tightly-wound wall flower has paid her own way through college, her middle-class upbringing a normal one steeped in a solid work ethic and positive maternal figure (Jennifer Ehle). Stepping up to help her sick roomie BFF Kate (Eloise Mumford), Anastasia agrees to interview the enigmatic socialite Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a chiselled-jaw millionaire telcom exec, and an oddly defined attraction forms between them.

‘Ana’ learns very early on that Christian is a psychologically damaged individual who will offer no long-term, emotionally stable co-existence. Yet she indulges herself in her own fantasy life, embracing the opulence of his 1% lifestyle. That comes at a price – she must adhere to his demands of male-dominant sexual submissiveness. Whether in his lean, muscly embrace or, as the ‘relationship’ progresses, chained to his dungeon wall taking a gentle flogging, she smiles and gasps and moans, like a soft-core B-movie queen. Yet her most heartfelt sensations stem from those breathless, pulse-quickening first glimpses of his helicopter, collection of cars or shimmering steel-and-glass apartment.

The actors have an ambiguous, edgy chemistry that serves the film well. Johnson grows into her character convincingly as the narrative progresses, bravely baring all when required to do so; Dornan plays Christian with an icy stare and rigid formality, reflecting the character’s need to be in total control. British director Taylor-Johnson’s last foray into cinematic sexuality was a short segment in 2006’s very ‘European’ anthology, Destricted, in which a young hunk pleasures himself to climax in the desert. Her latest take on the ‘alpha-male’ archetype is not too dissimilar; Christian is also a bit of a wanker, surrounded by a barren, lifeless landscape, in this case the shiny boardrooms and penthouses of an appropriately grey Seattle.

Over an hour in, we get the first glimpse of how close the film will align itself to the books stark intimacy. But, barring one spontaneous bedroom bout of highly-energised action, the overly-choreographed raunch is mildly titillating at best; the baring of bottoms and boobs with the occasional glimpse of down-there hair is played with an earnestness that gets a bit giggly at times. The decision to launch the film internationally at the Berlinale may backfire, with continental audiences bound to roll their eyes at the exaggerated sexual melodrama played out in Christian’s ‘playroom’. Thankfully, scripter Kelly Marcel mostly reins in the florid ridiculousness of the novel’s ripe dialogue, yet somehow let Christian’s plaintive cry, “I’m fifty shades of f**ked-up” slip through.

The most lasting impression is the nonchalance with which the production refuses to acknowledge the arrogance of the rich in this post-GFC world; when Anastasia asks Christian about his conglomerate’s philanthropic endeavours, he states without irony, “It’s good for business”. Seamus McGarvey’s glistening cinematography and David Wasco’s extravagant production design celebrates the excesses of the rich like few films have dared to in recent years. This is a world that recalls the ‘Greed is Good’ mantra of 80’s yuppiedom; an America that has cast aside the ‘all for one’ goodwill of post 9-11 western society and rediscovered the tenets of the ‘Me Generation’. There are thematic echoes of American Psycho and Bonfire of The Vanities, but not a drop of those much finer works’ knowing, satirical skewering of gaudy wealth.

It may be perfectly sufficient that, above all else, Fifty Shades of Grey captures the shallow essence of its source material. It is an indulgent guilty-pleasure of no consequence whatsoever, preferring to forego the deeper ramifications of a dark sexual lifestyle in favour of a franchise-starting origin story.



Writers/Directors: Helene Giraud and Thomas Szabo.

Rating: 3.5/5

The bigscreen adaptation of co-directors Helene Giraud and Thomas Szabo’s French TV hit is a charming adventure that only stumbles when it favours an increasingly expansive plot over its delightful six-legged stars. Which won’t matter one bit to the under 10s, for whom this unlikely, sweetly-told tale of friendship in the insect world will prove irresistible.

Giraud and Szabo stumbled upon a cottage industry when they launched the first series of six-minute shorts in 2006 chronicling anthropomorphised insect life in the French countryside (the film’s backdrop is the woods of Provence). To date, the pair has produced 78 mini-episodes; all are sans dialogue (as is the film version), ensuring easy transition into a global marketplace that now numbers over 70 territories. The step-up to cinema-sized coin was inevitable and has proven audience-friendly; Minuscule is already one of 2014’s top-earners, with Eu14million banked domestically.

The theme of family is established early, when a pregnant woman enjoying a picnic with her beau abandons her blanket of food to dash to the hospital. Jump cut to a birth, but not the one expected; instead, we are under a vast leafy frond and witnessing three ladybug eggs pop open. The new winged family set out on an exploratory adventure, only to have one little one become separated. All alone, his misadventures in survival lead him to the blanket, where he inadvertently befriends the leader of a black ant food-scouting regiment.

With the ants balancing a tin of sugar cubes and the wee ladybug along for the ride (a damaged wing renders the poor critter flightless), a cross-paddock odyssey is undertaken to return the bounty to the ant’s home. Dangers abound (including one very scary lizard, when viewed from the ant’s perspective), not least of which is a determinedly evil red ant platoon led by the film’s villain. The red ants are continuously denied some sugar (both good guys and bad almost falling victim to an ant life’s many dangers, including fish and motorcars) until they can take it no more; the reds launch an all out assault on the black ant hill.

It is this third-act/ninety-degree turn into a Lord of the Rings-style ‘castle siege’ that betrays the elegant, character-driven warmth of Minuscule; the wonderfully expressive eyes of the key protagonists and the major threats posed by minor obstacles are all the narrative needed. By the time the warring ant armies drag slingshots, fireworks and a bug-spray can into battle, audience empathy and interest has waned. One senses Giraud and Szabo were unsure of how to upscale the story as convincingly as the visuals; the narrative hiccups when our ladybug hero/heroine must travel back to the rug, becoming side-tracked into an unnecessary encounter with a spider and frog.

In every other respect, Minuscule is an enormously entertaining adventure. It effortlessly finds more engaging interplay and laughs amongst its handful of tiny, wordless characters than the entire cast of most recent smart-mouthed US animation efforts.