In Cinemas: 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' (2014) + 'Boyhood' (2014)
2010's dragon-based Viking coming-of-age adventure 'How To Train Your Dragon' was a revelation, and arguably the finest animation that year - the same year that 'Toy Story 3' was released. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, return for a second instalment which sees the Viking chief's son trying to find his place in the world before being faced by the villainous Drago Bludvist, intent on domination through his dragon army.
Writer-director Dean DeBlois tries up to the emotional ante, compared to the original film, but there's a sense that we're simply going through the motions. 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' (★★★) nonetheless excels in its visually sumptuous flight scenes - one of the rare occasions when viewing in 3D is actually beneficial. Ultimately though, there's something a little hollow about this sequel. It's bigger, but not better.
There's already some awards buzz for visionary director Richard Linklater's latest feature, 'Boyhood' (★★★★½), and understandably so. Filmed over the course of twelve years, the character drama follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) through his early years until his first steps as an adult. It succeeds where Michael Winterbottom's five year project (2012's 'Everyday') failed.
Linklater's achievement comes in the naturalistic and affecting manner of 'Boyhood' - his ability to take ordinary happenings and present them in a poignant manner. The occasional deliberately overstated moment appears but the contrast is welcome, and we soon return to the relatively placid life of Mason. Driven by excellent central performances across the film, notably from Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater, 'Boyhood' mocks the artifice of its approach - casually immersing the viewer in a wonderfully familiar world. Majestic.
Incoming: 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' (2014)
Rupert Wyatt's 2011 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' took many by surprise - a remake with some substance. Critics are suggesting that its Matt Reeves-helmed sequel 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' (out today in UK cinemas) is even better. Years after a virus ravages the world's population, ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis doing his mo-cap thing) is confronted by a remaining group of human survivors, with war looming.
At Home: 'The Armstrong Lie' (2013) + 'Non-Stop' (2014)
Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on one of sport's biggest scandals in 'The Armstrong Lie' (★★★), available for a limited time on 4oD. Conceived as a portrait of Lance Armstrong's unexpected 2009 Tour de France comeback, Gibney's documentary transforms in light of the subsequent doping revelations surrounding Armstrong and several of his previous team-mates.
'The Armstrong Lie' offers little to anyone who took a keen interest in the saga as it was developing, although serves as a reasonably useful chronicle of the time and showcases the ease in which people were seduced by Armstrong's lies. However, the documentary does a disservice to non-dopers like Graeme Obree and Scott Mercier (who made the right choice at personal cost, and whose appearances would have been welcome) by making Armstrong seem like the "fall guy" - someone who frustratingly still doesn't feel that he was a cheat.
After his rebranding as an ass-kicking, name-taking sexagenarian, Liam Neeson seems to have become the main guy for B-movies. Now he's doing it on a plane in 'Non-Stop' (★★★½), out on DVD now. Sadly there aren't a load of snakes. Neeson plays an alcoholic air marshall on a long-haul flight. Because that's always a good combination. He receives threats by text message - somebody will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is paid. It's an excuse for Neeson to abuse his fellow passengers, which soon leads him to be suspected as the terrorist.
Initially, it's fairly smart. Neeson's detective work is as subtle as the fasten-seatbelt light, but tension is maintained as passengers drop off in increasingly mysterious ways and the terrorist is clearly in control. It's not long before the 'Sherlock'-style on-screen text taunting goes from effective to tiresome, and soon it reaches a daft conclusion where Neeson defies physics to save the day. Oh, Julianne Moore is in it too, but she's utterly pointless. An entertaining watch for Neeson fans, but ultimately forgettable.
TV & Movie News
The 2014 Emmy nominations were recently released with 'Game Of Thrones', 'Breaking Bad', and 'Fargo' among the most well-received TV efforts. The Guardian discusses the nominees, as well as the snubs.
Speaking of 'Fargo', another big-screen-to-small-screen adaptation is looming in the form of '12 Monkeys'. Watch the trailer here. In the opposite direction, we seem to be getting a new 'Power Rangers' film.
There's a short new trailer for Batman origin story, 'Gotham', airing from September in the US. 'Doctor Who' also has a new trailer for its forthcoming new series, which you can see above - Peter Capaldi's Doctor seemingly a more dramatic take than his recent predecessors.
Perhaps most excitingly is the latest trailer for David Fincher's 'Gone Girl', starring Ben Affleck as a man put under intense scrutiny after his wife disappears. The film will be opening the 2014 New York Film Festival, and watch the new trailer below.
Find previous On Camera columns here. Contact us on film(at)fadedglamour.co.uk.