Saturday, 22 April 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 23rd - 29th April 2017

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Dev Patel does on 23rd April - check out my tribute to this Birthday Lad turning 27, at the end of this feature.

Do you also share your birthday with a well known, highly regarded & famous Actor or Actress; share your special day with a Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, Singer/Songwriter or Composer of repute; or share an interest in whoever might notch up another year in the coming seven days? Then, look no further! Whilst there will be too many to mention in this small but not insignificant and beautifully written and presented Blog, here are the more notable and noteworthy icons of the big screen, and the small screen, that you will recognise, and that you might just share your birthday with in the week ahead. If so, Happy Birthday to you from Odeon Online!

Sunday 23rd April
  • Lee Majors - Born 1939, turns 78 - Actor | Producer | Singer
  • Michael Moore - Born 1954, turns 63 - Producer | Director | Writer
  • John Hannah - Born 1962, turns 55 - Actor | Producer
  • John Cena - Born 1977, turns 40 - Actor | WWE Wrestler
  • Dev Patel - Born 1990, turns 27 - Actor | Producer  
  • Judy Davis - Born 1955, turns 62 - Actress
Monday 24th April
  • Shirley MacLaine - Born 1934, turns 83 - Actress | Singer | Producer | Writer | Director
  • Barbra Streisand - Born 1942, turns 75 - Actress | Producer | Director | Writer | Singer | Songwriter
  • Richard Donner - Born 1930, turns 87 - Director | Producer | Actor | Writer
  • Dijon Hounsou - Born 1964, turns 53 - Actor | Producer | Director  
Tuesday 25th April
  • Al Pacino - Born 1940, turns 77 - Actor | Director | Producer | Writer | Singer
  • Hank Azaria - Born 1964, turns 53 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer
  • Talia Shire - Born 1946, turns 71 - Actress | Producer | Director
  • Renee Zellweger - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actress | Producer | Writer | Singer  
Wednesday 26th April
  • Joan Chen - Born 1961, turns 56 - Actress | Producer | Director | Writer
  • Jet Li - Born 1963, turns 54 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director
  • Kevin James - Born 1965, turns 52 - Actor | Writer | Producer
  • Channing Tatum - Born 1980, turns 37 - Actor | Producer | Singer  
Thursday 27th April
  • Kevin McNally - Born 1956, turns 61 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer  
Friday 28th April
  • Ann-Margret - Born 1941, turns 76 - Actress | Singer
  • Bridget Moynahan - Born 1971, turns 46 - Actress 
  • Penelope Cruz - Born 1974, turns 43 - Actress | Writer | Producer | Director | Singer
  • Jessica Alba - Born 1981, turns 36 - Actress  
Saturday 29th April
  • Michelle Pfeiffer - Born 1958, turns 59 - Actress | Producer | Singer
  • Uma Thurman - Born 1970, turns 47 - Actress | Producer | Writer | Singer
  • Phillip Noyce - Born 1950, turns 67 - Director | Producer | Writer | Cinematographer | Actor
  • Daniel Day-Lewis - Born 1957, turns 60 - Actor
  • Jerry Seinfeld - Born 1954, turns 53 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director | Singer
Dev Patel was born in the north-west London borough of Harrow to mother Anita, a care worker and father Raj an IT consultant. His parents are of Indian Hindu descent, both born in Nairobi and emigrated to England separately in their teenage years, first meeting in London. Dev attended Longfields Middle School and there he experienced his first acting role in a school production of 'Twelfth Night'. From there he attended the state secondary Whitmore High School in Harrow and graduated with top marks in his Drama General Certificate of Secondary Education. He then completed the Advanced Subsidiary Level qualification in Drama in 2007, whilst working on his acting debut for the television teen drama series 'Skins' in which he starred as Anwar Kharral, a British Pakistani Muslim teenager in the first two seasons. At this point Patel had no professional acting experience, and gained the role because his mother saw a casting advertisement in the newspaper and took him along to audition. The show ran for seven seasons and was critically acclaimed, picking up seven award wins and thirty other nominations.

On the strength of his performance in 'Skins' he was cast after five auditions in his big screen debut in 2008 in the role of Jamal Malik, the main character in Danny Boyle's highly acclaimed 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Made for US$15M the film grossed US$378M and the film picked up eight Academy Award wins including Best Picture and Best Director from its total haul of 151 award wins and 120 further nominations. The film well and truly put Patel on the map after only his first big screen outing, with numerous award wins and nominations coming forth too for his performance.

This was followed up in 2010 by M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Last Airbender' in the role of Zuko, based on the animated television series 'Avatar : The Last Airbender'. The film garnered generally negative press and Patel was nominated for a Razzie Award, even though critically his performance was seen as one of the films redeeming features. Made for US$150M the film grossed US$320M and despite the adverse Reviews was a commercial success.

Next up was an eight minute short film 'Commuter', also starring Charles Dance and Pamela Anderson, and filmed entirely on a Nokia E8 smart phone in HD to promote the launch of the phone in the UK. This gave way to 2012's 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Directed by John Madden and with a cast that included Bill Nighy, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Ronald Pickup. Patel starred as Sonny Kapoor the young man who has designs on owning and managing his own retirement hotel in India. The film cost US$10M to make and grossed US$137M at the worldwide Box Office and it picked up four award wins and another 22 nominations. Patel and the ensemble cast would reprise their roles in the follow up film in 2015 also Directed by John Madden and adding David Strathairn and Richard Gere into the mix. 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' was again made for US$10M and grossed US$86M at the Box Office.

Between these two 'Exotic Marigold Hotel' films there was the Stephen Elliott Written and Directed 'About Cherry' in 2012 with James Franco and Heather Graham about the San Francisco porn industry, and then 'The Road Within' in 2014 also starring Zoe Kravitz, Robert Patrick and Kyra Sedgwick, about the young teenage inmates in a behavioural facility to cure the main characters of various ailments ranging from Tourette Syndrome, to OCD to eating disorders, how they escape and take a road trip as a consequence. 

This was followed up by the HBO Produced 'The Newsroom' television series which ran over three seasons from 2012 through to 2014 and 25 episodes. Patel starred as Neal Sampat in all 25 episodes alongside Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer and Olivia Munn amongst others. The show was well regarded and picked up nine award wins and another 32 nominations. 2015 saw Neill Blomkamp's near future, Johannesburg set 'Chappie' also starring  Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, and Sharlto Copley as the mechanical Police droid 'Chappie' and Patel as its designer and engineer Deon Wilson.

2015 also saw 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' - the biographical drama telling the story of the pioneer Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan as portrayed by Patel and his friendship with his mentor at Cambridge University during WWI, Professor G.H.Hardy as played by Jeremy Irons. The film also starred Toby Jones, Kevin McNally, Stephen Fry and Jeremy Northam and received positive Reviews.

'Lion' came next in 2016 and is still to be found playing in some cinemas. Directed by Garth Davis and telling the true story of five year old Saroo who gets separated from his beloved brother in Khandwa, India and is inadvertently transported 1,500kms to Calcutta. After several adventures, later he is adopted by a Tasmanian couple played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham and grows into young adulthood, attending Hospitality Training College in Melbourne having lost all contact and connections with his family and his native homeland. This is his story of how the grown Saroo Brierly retraces his roots to relocate his family back in India using Google Earth. The film was made for US$12M and has so far grossed US$135M and has been critically acclaimed having been nominated for six Academy Awards including Patels first nod as Best Supporting Actor, four Golden Globes including Patels nod as Best Supporting Actor too, five BAFTA's including the win for Patel as Best Supporting Actor, two SAG nominations including Best Supporting Male Actor and five AACTA's including the win again for Patel for Best Supporting Actor. The film picked up 31 award wins and another 75 nominations. 

Next up for Patel is 'Hotel Mumbai' currently in post-production for a release later this year. Directed by Anthony Maras and Co-starring Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs this films tells the true story of the victims and survivors of the devastating attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India in 2008. 

All up Patel has seventeen Acting credits to his name and one as Producer on the upcoming 'Hotel Mumbai'. He has so far accumulated seventeen award wins for 'Lion', 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'The Road Within' and a further 32 nominations. Patel was in a long term relationship with his 'Slumdog Millionaire' Co-Star Freida Pinto from 2009 through until 2014.

Dev Patel - Taekwondo champion having achieved a bronze medal at the 2004 Action International Martial Arts Association World Championships in Dublin; has already achieved much in just nine years of screen time and without any professional acting tuition; is a grounded Londoner who knows his strengths and weaknesses, and keeps it real as evidenced by his accolades garnered so far. Happy Birthday to you Dev, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 21 April 2017

LAND OF MINE : Tuesday 18th April 2017.

'LAND OF MINE' is a Danish/German Co-produced foreign language historical drama film that I saw earlier this week. It had its Premier at TIFF in September 2015, and was released in its native Denmark in early December 2015 and only in the last three weeks has this highly acclaimed inspired by real WWII events offering arrived into Australian cinema's off the back of 26 award wins and nineteen further nominations including a Best Foreign Language Film nod at this years recent Academy Awards. Directed and Written by Martin Zandvliet, this film cost US$5.2M to make and has so far grossed US$2.2M.

Telling the true WWII story of the days immediately after the surrender of Germany in May 1945 when a group of about 2,000 German Prisoners of War were handed over to Danish authorities and sent out to the west coast. Here they were forced to clear up to two million land mines buried in the sand along the coastal beaches there, laid by the Germans when they occupied the country, believing that the Allied Invasion would take place there.

We are first introduced to Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (Roland Moller) waiting in his Jeep at an intersection when a column of captured German soldiers of all ranks passes by. The Sergeant waits and waits at the intersection and then drives down the road in the opposite direction to which the Germans are walking. He pulls his Jeep up abruptly and reverses ten meters or so, jumps out, and picks out a German soldier carrying a wartime souvenir of a Danish flag and promptly starts to relentlessly beat him up violently and without any remorse. Such is the Danes hatred of the Germans for occupying their country for the past five years, and what right did that German soldier have to steal the Danish flag! This sets the tone for the film that will unfold, and gives us the measure of the man. We then see the Sergeant pacing out demarcation lines on the beach according to a map of where 45,000 land mines are buried in the sand on the area of beach that he is to supervise the clearing of.

Next up we see thrown together teams of young German soldiers, mostly teenagers conscripted by Hitler in the closing days of the war. They are in a training camp learning how to diffuse land mines - the type of which are buried in the coastal sands they will shortly be sent to clear. They at this point are under the command and the training of Captain Ebbe (Mikkel Folsgaard), who has even more contempt for the Germans and cares not if they live or die.

Once their training is complete, the German lads, some of them no more than boys, are tested on live land mines in a bunker against the clock. Speed is of the essence for the authorities, while staying alive and in one piece is the priority for the young lads. The scene where one by one the boys enter the bunker carrying a live land mine which they have to diffuse is edge of your seat stuff, as one by one they come out some smiling, some shaking but all sweating from their ordeal. It is their first of many such ordeals from which many will perish or carry permanent life changing injuries.

With their training complete, the lads are sent off to the west coast where they meet for the first time with the hard nosed, uncaring, brutal Sergeant whose contempt for the Germans is set in stone, and as such he is determined to treat them with zero tolerance and zero sympathy.

He tells them that his strip of beach contains 45,000 buried land mines and if they each clear six mines every hour they will be able to return home to Germany in three months as free men. The reality is though that many of his team were teenagers and all were ill equipped to get down on their hands and knees and carry out such dangerous work day in day out for three months with little sustenance, cramped and makeshift sleeping conditions, and nowhere to clean up.

Every day the Sergeant marches his team down to the beach to dig for mines. This task seems like an endless one as the team inch along the beach side by side on their bellies prodding beneath the surface for hard metal objects that must be diffused. As each mine is located, so we see shaking hands very gingerly pulling out the detonator pin, which for the most part meets with success, but along the way there are failures as well resulting in casualties and severe life threatening injuries sustained. Sometimes it's freak accidents and sometimes it's booby trapped mines too that cause the explosions, and when they do come, it's almost with a sense of relief from the tension being played out on screen.

Each early evening the team are locked inside the confines of their hut where they sleep off the stress, the fear, the anxiety of the day. Tensions mount within the team as they suffer from acute hunger, from the mood swings of the Sergeant, and from the personality clashes within their own ranks. As the team grow increasingly hungry scavenging for food which makes them sick, and weary, so the Sergeants feelings towards his young charges starts to soften.

As time passes the Sergeant comes to appreciate that his team really had nothing to do with the wartime German occupation of Denmark, and he begins to show sympathy towards them - securing them rations of bread and potatoes, organising a beach soccer game, showering them with clean water and providing pain killing medical aid to those injured. He warms especially to Sebastian Schumann (Louis Hoffman) who stands out as the natural leader of the group, and with whom he has open conversation and shares a joke or two.

In the final analysis the beach is cleared of 45,000 mines. The team that remains are on clean up duty aided by others loading all the diffused land mines onto the back of a truck for removal. Sharing jokes and light hearted banter about their future lives once they return to Germany, one of the lads becomes just a little too slack with loading the munition onto the truck. The resultant explosion sends truck parts, bodies, sand and a thick plume of black smoke up into the air leaving a huge burned out crater in its wake. The majority of the team perish, leaving only four surviving out of the original team of fourteen.

As the four remaining, including Sebastian, board the truck to begin their journey home and to freedom so the authorities have over-ruled that decision on the strength that they need more experienced Germans to clear more land mines elsewhere on the west coast, and as such they are forced to stay behind. The Sergeant pleads with Captain Ebbs but to no avail - the orders have been given and they must be followed, and after all, they're only Germans and 'if they're old enough to go to war, they're old enough to clean up after them!'. The Sergeant finds the decision to be unjust given the commitment originally made, the sacrifices he has seen in human life as a result of his mine clearing operation, and the determination seen in his young men. And so, the Sergeant engineers their release and secretly defying orders takes them to a drop off point 500 metres away from the German border, where they are released and run toward their freedom.

This is an intense, at times confronting, emotionally charged film that you can't help but feel invested in. The body of Actors give convincing  performances especially Moller as Sergeant Rasmussen and Hoffman as Schumann, and also adding weight are the roles of identical twin brothers Ernst and Werner Lessner played by Emil and Oskar Belton respectively and Helmut Morbach as played by Joel Basman. A little known story that turns the tables on the Nazi's as the downtrodden, persecuted and punished in the aftermath of the War making the captive the captor and ultimately a hero from the antagonist. This is believable, engaging throughout, beautifully shot in muted tones and a relevant story of tragedy, tension, compassion and the human spirit that needed to be told. Of the 2,000 or so German POW who were ordered to clear the beaches of their own laid landmines, more than half either died in the process or suffered serious injury during the five months in took to clear the beaches completely - more than were killed during the entire five year Nazi occupation of Denmark.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 20th April 2017.

With the release of 'Raw' this week (as Previewed below), I thought I'd spend a few sentences overviewing the Cannibal genre of exploitation films. This sub-genre would sit right up there as the most controversial, most often banned as 'video nasties', and most often depicting acts of graphic violence more often than not dispensed with cannibalistic natives in some far away remote jungle in the deepest darkest depths of the Amazon, or Papua New Guinea, or Vietnam, or some secluded island. Films exploring flesh eating cannibals preying on lost tourists or anthropologists, geologists and scientists on some kind of fact finding mission first began to emerge in the early '70's courtesy of Italian and Spanish filmmakers. The first film to emerge in the genre as it has come to be widely known today was 1972's 'Man from the Deep River' by Italian Director Umberto Lenzi, who also went on to helm 'Eaten Alive!' in 1980 and 'Canbibal Ferox' in 1981. Another Italian Director  famed to starting the genre is Ruggero Deodato who released 'Jungle Holocaust' (aka 'The Last Cannibal World') in 1977, and followed this up with 1980's infamous 'Cannibal Holocaust' which is considered one of the most controversial and brutal movies in the history of cinema, and which was seized, banned or heavily censored in many countries, and still to this day remains on the banned list in fifty countries. He released 'Cut and Run' in 1985 too. The late '70's and early '80's were the 'golden era' of cannibal movies that included 'The Hills Have Eyes' in 1977, 'Mountain of the Cannibal God' in 1978, 'Cannibal Apocalypse' and 'The Cannibals' in 1980, 'C.H.U.D.' in 1984 and 'The Green Inferno' in 1988 by which time the cannibal genre had almost become a thing of the past. Mainstream cinema picked up the genre, dusted it off, polished it up and started to throw more money and bigger names at these productions in the '90's which saw the likes of 'Silence of the Lambs' and its various spin-offs all featuring one Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. Then there was 'Alive', 'Delicatessen', 'Ravenous', 'The Road', 'We Are What We Are' and most recently 'Bone Tomahawk' and 'The Neon Demon', and in between time reboots of 'The Hills Have Eyes', 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Green Inferno'. Of course there are a heap of others to dine out on at your leisure, and if your thing is sinking your teeth into a nice juicy rare steak with a glass of Chianti, then you may want to start with 'Raw'! Read on for more.

This week there are six new cinema releases to tempt that movie going dollar from out of your wallet, kicking off with a French acclaimed coming of age horror film that might just convince you to turn vegan . . . or maybe not! Then there is a backpacker thriller as a young Aussie lass gets banged up somewhere in Germany with little hope of escape it seems, before three octogenarians decide to take the law into their own hands by staging a daring bank heist to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. We then turn to a WWII film within a film as the Brits turn their hand to propaganda to lift the hearts and minds of their war torn country, followed up by disparate and dateless wedding guests bonding when they least expected it, and wrapping up with a bunch of early teenage kids and the rapidly growing product of an experiment gone wrong.

Be cordially reminded that when you have sat through your film of choice in the week ahead to share your movie going experience with your like minded cinephiles here at Odeon Online. Leave your relevant, pertinent and concise thoughts, opinions and views in the Comments section below this or any other Post as to any of those films as Previewed here, or as Previewed and Reviewed between these earlier Blog Pages. We'd love to hear from you, and meanwhile, enjoy your film.

'RAW' (Rated R18+) - this highly acclaimed French/Belgian coming of age horror film is Written and Directed by Julia Ducournau, cost just US$3.8M to make and was Premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in the International Critics Week section where is took out the FIPRESCI Prize (International Federation of Film Critics). Since then the film has picked up another nine award wins and seven nominations from around the festival circuit, and was released in the US in early March, and in France a week later. Despite its 'horror' tag much praise has been heaped on this film that is as much about family, relationships, and discovery as it is about carnivorous cannibalistic tendencies. The film is fairly graphic in its content which may be shocking for some viewers, but needs to be taken in the context of the films subject matter.

The story here centres around shy, introverted life long vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) who upon arriving at veterinary school for her first day at College is subjected to a hazing ritual with all the other new freshers that sees her amongst other things doused in blood and having to wear blood soaked whites to her lectures, and consume a lump of raw meat that she is told is a rabbits kidney. This marks the beginning of Justine's transformation from vegetarian to meat eater, but her carnivorous cravings start to go much deeper than sausages, burgers and fillet steak as she develops a taste for human flesh that starts with her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) accidentally snipping off her own finger with Justine being on hand to have a taste of the dismembered digit. From this point there is no looking back at those by gone days of baba ganoush and felafels, as Alexia shows Justine the means of satisfying her hunger. In the meantime, there is Justine's sexual awakening, the bond and in turn the rivalry that develops between the sisters upon discovering their mutual interest, the revealing truth about their parents, the backdrop of young adult life at College and Justine's evolution as she discovers her true identity in life.

'BERLIN SYNDROME (Rated MA15+) - Directed by Australian Cate Shortland, and based on the novel of the same name by Melanie Joosten, this film tells of Aussie backpacker Clair (Teresa Palmer) who arrives in Germany and meets up with handsome local guy Andi (Max Riemelt) and has a one night stand. Waking up the next morning however, she soon discovers that the charming, gregarious Andi is not all he seems as he keeps Clair locked up in his apartment while he goes off to work as a teacher. Clair's nightmare of forced captivity and Andi's obsession with the holidaymaker soon spills over  as Clair comes to realise that he has no intention of ever letting her go. Filmed in Melbourne, Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, released in Australia this week, the US in early May and the UK in early June, this film has so far received generally positive Reviews.

'GOING IN STYLE' (Rated M) - here Actor, Producer, Screenwriter, Comedian and Director of this film Zach Braff offers us a remake of the 1979 film of the same name that was back then Written and Directed by Martin Brest and starred George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg. Made for US$25M the film has so far grossed US$35M and stars three senior citizens with an average age of 80+ as played by Michael Caine as Joe, Alan Arkin as Albert and Morgan Freeman as Willie who are also life long best buddies. When their respective pensions are cancelled as a result of their former employer being bought out and restructured, the three old guys face new challenges. Joe faces the prospect of homelessness with his daughter and granddaughter and Willie is suffering from kidney failure and needs surgery. Joe witnesses a back robbery and is so inspired by it that he hatches an idea to rob the very bank that holds their pension funds and reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Aided by John Ortiz as Jesus, a man of questionable background but who is prepared to show them the means of conducting a bank heist, Matt Dillon as Agent Hamer who investigates bank robberies, Christopher Lloyd as Milton their ultimate alibi and Anne Margaret as Annie, Albert's love interest, this film shows that there's life in the old codgers yet, and that you can teach old dogs new tricks.

'THEIR FINEST (Rated M) - Directed by Lone Scherfig and based on the Lissa Evans 2009 book 'Their Finest Hour and a Half', this WWII drama film is a film within a film as The British Ministry of Information set about making a morale boosting propaganda film about the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Battle of Britain and Hitler's devastating bombing raids on London. As bombs continue to rain down on London, the cast and crew of the film work frantically to produce their film designed to lift the spirits of the nation, boost confidence in the war effort, and spur the country on to victory. Gemma Arterton stars as Catrin Cole, the scriptwriter hired to brings a woman's touch to the proposed film, and Jack Huston as Ellis Cole her husband; Sam Claflin as Tom Buckley, the dashing film Producer; Bill Nighy as Ambrose Hilliard the former screen idol Actor with Richard E. Grant and Eddie Marsan all adding weight to this highly praised film.

'TABLE 19' (Rated M) - unlike the eagerly awaited often frequented 19th Hole at a golf course, 'Table 19' is the complete opposite for a bunch of disparate no hoper wedding guests relegated to the back where single and dateless entities are confined to the last table in the room farthest away from the official wedding party, who secretly hoped they would decline their invitations. And so it is with this comedy offering Directed by Jeffrey Blitz, Produced by Shaun Levy, Written by Jay and Mark Duplass and made for just US$5M. Here Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick) is one of those guests who was unceremoniously dumped two months before the big day by the Bride's brother and Best Man, Teddy (Wyatt Russell). Deciding to attend, having been the original choice as Bridesmaid she duly finds herself transplanted to the back of the room with five other guests - Jerry and Bina Kepp (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow respectively), Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori), Jo Flanagan (June Squibb) and Walter Thimble (Stephen Merchant) - all of whom have a story to tell and their own reasons for attending the wedding. As these stories are revealed, Eloise comes to realise that she has things to learn from her fellow disenfranchised guests, and that you can't judge books by their covers! The film was released in early March in the US, has so far grossed US$4M and received mixed Reviews.

'MY PET DINOSAUR' (Rated G) - released in Australia on 22nd April, this Aussie family film is Directed, Produced and Written by Matt Drummond, was filmed largely in and around the Blue Mountains area west of Sydney, and tells the story of young lad Jake (Jordan Dulieu) who accidentally creates a new friend when an experiment he is working on goes awry. The creature of his creation begins to grow at an alarming rate, and it become increasingly difficult to keep his new pet a secret from his fellow townsfolk. Together with his friends and new girl in town Abbie (Annabel Wolfe), Jake and Co. it seems are not the only people who have an active interest in this mysterious cheeky dinosaur, but so too are some others keen to get their hands on it. Also starring David Roberts, Beth Champion and Joanne Samuel.

Six Easter holiday week films to keep you entertained at your local multiplex or independent cinema that range from very adult horror but all done in the best possible taste, to tense confinement thriller, to senior citizens on heist duty, to war time propaganda film making within a film, to unlikely guests at a wedding learning a thing or two about themselves and each other, and wrapping up with a family offering of dinosaur proportions. Share your movie going thoughts with us here, and in the meantime, I'll see you somewhere sometime in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 16th - 22nd April 2017.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Claire Foy does on 16th April - check out my tribute to this Birthday Girl turning 33, at the end of this feature.

Do you also share your birthday with a well known, highly regarded & famous Actor or Actress; share your special day with a Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, Singer/Songwriter or Composer of repute; or share an interest in whoever might notch up another year in the coming seven days? Then, look no further! Whilst there will be too many to mention in this small but not insignificant and beautifully written and presented Blog, here are the more notable and noteworthy icons of the big screen, and the small screen, that you will recognise, and that you might just share your birthday with in the week ahead. If so, Happy Birthday to you from Odeon Online!

Sunday 16th April
  • Ellen Barkin - Born 1954, turns 63 - Actress | Producer
  • Claire Foy - Born 1984, turns 33 - Actress
  • Anya Taylor-Joy - Born 1996, turns 21 - Actress
  • Martin Lawrence - Born 1965, turns 52 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director
  • Lukas Haas - Born 1976, turns 41 - Actor | Singer | Songwriter  
Monday 17th April
  • Nick Hornby - Born 1957, turns 60 - Writer | Producer
  • Sean Bean - Born 1959, turns 58 - Actor | Producer
  • Jennifer Garner - Born 1972, turns 45 - Actress | Producer
  • Rooney Mara - Born 1985, turns 32 - Actress | Producer  
Tuesday 18th April
  • Hayley Mills - Born 1946, turns 71 - Actress
  • Maria Bello - Born 1967, turns 50 - Actress | Producer
  • America Ferrera - Born 1984, turns 33 - Actress | Producer
  • Britt Robertson - Born 1990, turns 27 - Actress
  • James Woods - Born 1947, turns 70 - Actor | Producer
  • Rick Moranis - Born 1953, turns 64 - Actor | Writer | Producer
  • Eric Roberts - Born 1956, turns 61 - Actor 
  • David Tennant - Born 1971, turns 46 - Actor
  • Eli Roth - Born 1972, turns 45 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director  
  • Edgar Wright - Born 1974, turns 43 - Director | Writer | Producer | Actor  
Wednesday 19th April
  • Tim Curry - Born 1946, turns 71 - Actor | Singer
  • James Franco - Born 1978, turns 39 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer | Singer
  • Hayden Christensen - Born 1981, turns 36 - Actor | Producer
  • Ashley Judd - Born 1968, turns 49 - Actress | Producer
  • Kate Hudson - Born 1979, turns 38 - Actress | Producer | Director | Writer | Singer  
Thursday 20th April
  • Jessica Lange - Born 1949, turns 68 - Actress | Producer | Singer
  • Leslie Phillips - Born 1924, turns 93 - Actor | Producer
  • Ryan O'Neal - Born 1941, turns 76 - Actor 
  • Andy Serkis - Born 1964, turns 53 - Actor | Producer | Director | Singer 
  • Nicholas Lyndhurst - Born 1961, turns 56 - Actor
Friday 21st April
  • Charles Grodin - Born 1935, turns 82 - Actor | Writer | 
  • Toby Stephens - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actor | Writer | Director 
  • James McAvoy - Born 1979, turns 38 - Actor | Producer
  • Andie MacDowell - Born 1958, turns 59 - Actress | Producer | 
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw - Born 1983, turns 34 - Actress | Singer
Saturday 22nd April
  • Amber Heard - Born 1986, turns 31 - Actress | Producer | Singer
  • Jack Nicholson - Born 1937, turns 80 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director | Singer
  • John Waters - Born 1946, turns 71 - Actor | Writer | Director | Producer 
  • Lee Tamahori - Born 1950, turns 67 - Director | 
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan - Born 1966, turns 51 - Actor 
Claire Foy was born in Stockport, Manchester, England to mother Caroline - a pharmaceutical company employee and father David Foy - a sales consultant. She is the youngest of three children, and with sister Gemma and brother Robert grew up in Manchester and Leeds. The family moved to Buckinghamshire because of her fathers job relocation, and at age eight her parents divorced. At twelve years of age Claire attended Aylesbury High School for Girls, before going on to Liverpool John Moore's University where she studied drama. She also trained for a year at the Oxford School of Drama, graduating from her studies in 2007, after which she moved to a shared house in Peckham in south-east London.

While studying at Oxford, Foy took roles in several stage plays. In 2008 she scored her small screen debut in a pilot episode of supernatural horror series 'Being Human' which continued its run over five series. That same year she also took a single episode on the BBC's long running medical soap opera 'Doctors'. Later that year she gained the lead role in the fourteen episode mini-series of Charles Dickens 'Little Dorrit' as Amy Dorrit alongside Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Courtenay, Andy Serkis and Eddie Marsan. This led to a role in the two part mini-series 'Terry Prachett's Going Postal' with Charles Dance, David Suchet, Andrew Sachs and Timothy West. This was followed up with made for television film 'Pulse'.

In 2011 Foy secured her big screen debut in the fantasy action adventure film 'Season of the Witch' with Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman and Christopher Lee. That same year came drama film 'Wreckers' with Benedict Cumberbatch, and four episode mini-series 'The Promise' in which Foy took a leading role. Made for television film 'The Night Watch' was released too in 2011, and then 'Hacks' seeing out the year. In between time there was nine episodes over two series of the updated to 1936 London era 'Upstairs Downstairs' as Lady Persephone Towyne which ran from 2010 through to 2012. This led to another television mini-series running across six episodes in 2012 'White Heat' with Sam Claiflin, Jeremy Northam and Juliet Stevenson.

'Vampire Academy' followed in 2014 with Zoey Deutch, Gabriel Byrne, Olga Kurylenko and Joely Richardson, and that same year 'Crossbones' - a nine part mini-series set during the 1700's pirate years with John Malkovich as legendary pirate Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach. Later that year was biographical drama film 'Rosewater' with Gael Garcia Bernal as Iranian/Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari. Two episodes on the four-part mini-series 'The Great War : The People's Story' followed, and then Foy lent her voice work talents as the Narrator on drama documentary 'Frankenstein and the Vampyre : A Dark and Stormy Night' recounting the story of the evening in 1816 which led to the creation of Frankenstein and the first modern vampire story.

Highly acclaimed historical drama 'Wolf Hall' aired over six episodes in 2015 with Damien Lewis as King Henry VIII, Mark Rylance as his trusted advisor Thomas Cromwell and Foy as Anne Boleyn - the second wife of the King. The series also starred Bernard Hill, Tom Holland and Jonathan Pryce and picked up eleven award wins and 42 nominations including the Golden Globe and BAFTA for best limited television series.

This was followed up by a role in 'The Lady in the Van' with Maggie Smith, Jim Braodbent and Alex Jennings, and then her Golden Globe and SAG Award wins for her on the first season of the critically acclaimed Netflix production 'The Queen'. Here she plays the young Princess Elizabeth who ascends to the throne as HRH Queen Elizabeth II and charts her early years up to the mid/late 1960's. Her run however, will come to an end after Season Two concludes as Foy hands over to an older actress to portray the maturing Queen. Season Two is currently in production and goes to air later this year.

This brings us up to date, with love story feature film 'Breathe' due for release in October this year. Starring Andrew Garfield and Foy in the lead roles as husband and wife, this true story of Robin Cavendish is Directed by Andy Serkis and tells the story of how Cavendish became an advocate for the disabled after being diagnosed with Polio at age 28 and given three months to live. He was 64 when he died, confined to a wheelchair and could only breathe by artificial means having been paralysed from the neck down, but this didn't stop him! In between time there have been several stage play appearances over the years including most recently as Lady Macbeth opposite James McAvoy in 2013's 'Macbeth' production at London's West End Trafalgar Studios.

In 2014 Foy married British Actor Stephen Campbell Moore whom she starred alongside in 'Season of the Witch', 'Pulse' and 'Lady in the Van', and with whom she has a daughter, Amalia, born in early 2015. All up Foy has 22 acting credits to her name, she has two award wins for her performance on 'The Crown' and eight other nominations mostly for 'Wolf Hall' including a BAFTA nod.

Claire Foy - a star on the rise and increasingly in demand; has already achieved much in just the nine years since her breakout role but was never sure of her acting abilities when she worked in supermarkets and dead end jobs growing up; is a home girl at heart and is still getting used to being in the spotlight. We'll keep watching Claire as your star shines brighter and in the meantime Happy Birthday to you, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 13th April 2017.

With the release of 'The Fate of the Furious' as Previewed below, this mega sixteen year long running franchise that has so far grossed over US$3.9B from combined production budgets for the first seven feature length films of US$759M, I thought it timely to provide a quick summary of the franchise today, in chronological order.
* Film #1 : 'The Fast and the Furious' released in 2001, Directed by Rob Cohen, took US$207M from a US$38M budget.
* Film #2 : 'The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious' released in 2003, Directed by Philip G. Atwell, is a six minute short film connecting the first and second films.
* Film #3 : '2 Fast 2 Furious' released in 2003, Directed by John Singleton, took US$236M from a US$76M budget.
* Film #4 : 'Los Bandoleros' released in 2009, Directed by Vin Diesel, this twenty minute short film provides a back-story for the characters and events leading up to the oil truck heist at the start of the fourth film in the series.
* Film #5 : 'Fast & Furious' released in 2009, Directed by Justin Lin, took US$363M from a US$85M budget.
* Film #6 : 'Fast Five' released in 2011, Directed by Justin Lin, took US$630M from a US$125M budget.
* Film #7 : 'Fast & Furious 6', released in 2013, Directed by Justin Lin, took US$789M from a US$160M budget.
* Film #8 : 'The Fast and Furious : Tokyo Drift' released in 2006, Directed by Justin Lin, took US$158M from a US$85M budget and was released as the third film in the series.
* Film #9 : 'Furious 7' released in 2015, Directed by James Wan, took US$1.52B from a US$190M budget.
* Film 10 : 'The Fate of the Furious' released in 2017, Directed by F. Gary Gray, and made for a reported US$250M.

And so to this week where we have five new movie offerings with which to tempt that cinema dollar out of your pocket. We kick off with the eighth feature length instalment in a franchise that is now sixteen years old and has brought in mega bucks for the studio behind this high octane, all action, pedal to the metal series. This is followed up by a Sci-Fi comedy featuring a hard drinking party girl who discovers she has something in common with a Godzilla like creature running rampant in Korea; and then a psychological thriller about a personal assistant and gofer who thinks she sees dead people, but is only really searching for one! We then go to a historical true telling of a courtroom drama that unfolded in the mid-'90's surrounding the denial that the Nazi Germany Holocaust of WWII actually occurred, and then wrapping up the week with a French and German foreign language tale of the aftermath of WWI as a grieving woman meets up unexpectedly with a former close friend of her recently killed in action fiancé and the bond that is forged between them, despite the challenges of the time, nationalities and other personalities on the periphery.

As usual, you are here cordially reminded that your constructive, relevant and timely views are welcomed when you have sat through your movie of choice in the week ahead. Simply record your opinions and observations of your film experience by leaving your Comment in the box below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and see what you've got to say about any film as Previewed below, or as Reviewed and Previewed between these humble Blog pages previously. Meanwhile, enjoy your cinema experience in the coming week.

'THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS' (Rated M) - also known as 'Fast and Furious 8', 'Fast 8' and 'F8', this mega franchise never seems to stop rolling, and so it is with this latest instalment in a line of Fast & Furious films that had its humble beginnings back in 2001 and has gone on to rake in a staggering US$3.9B from the first seven films, and has spawned two short films, video games, toys and model kits, a theme park ride and possible spin-off movies down the track. Following hot on the heels of 'Furious 7' released in 2015, Directed by James Wan and taking a huge US$1.52B at the worldwide Box Office making it the sixth highest grossing film in history currently, here we have this eighth offering this time Directed by F. Gary Gray, and released in the US this week too following its Worldwide Premier in Berlin last week. All the usual cast that we have come to know and love have returned together with a few new faces to add further gravitas to the already ensemble cast.

This film carries on from where 'Furious 7' left off. We see that Dominic Turetto (Vin Diesel) has settled down to a life of domesticity with his newly wed wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and are enjoying their honeymoon together in some far way secluded paradise no doubt. The Brian and Mia characters from the previous films have retired and are out of the game, and the remaining crew have been pardoned and are spread far and wide doing their respective thing. Just when you think the guys were finally getting their lives back in order, enter a criminal mastermind to throw the proverbial brown sticky smelly stuff at the fan! Her name is Cipher (Charlize Theron) who successfully manages to corrupt Dom against his family, his allies and those he is closest to, by coercing him back into a life of crime, from which there seems to be no means of escaping. The crew reassembles and will be put to the test like never before. Also starring Dwayne Johnson returning as Luke Hobbs, Jason Statham returning as Deckard Shaw, Tyrese Gibson returning as Roman Pearce, Kurt Russell returning as Mr. Nobody/Frank Petty, with Helen Mirren, Scott Eastwood and a bunch of others . . . oh, and not to forget a whole cavalcade of expensive sports cars, souped up vehicles, guns, explosions, car chases, crazy fight sequences, technical gadgetry, a tank and a nuclear submarine. 'F8' is sure to fuel the appetite, drive bums on seats, and accelerate the Box Office spend of any self respecting fifteen year old lad who gets off on high octane senseless action fare.

'COLOSSAL' (Rated M) - this Sci-Fi comedy film is Directed and Written by Spaniard Nacho Vigalondo and it Premiered at TIFF back in September last year before its US release last week. Here, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a hard drinking, party hard girl, who can't hold down a job, or a boyfriend either it seems, and after being dumped by her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) and kicked out of his Manhattan apartment, she decides its time to return to her home town in a last ditch attempt to regain her life and start afresh. Back on her home turf Gloria reignites her friendship with childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who just happens to be the owner of a bar, and where he spends the majority of his time hanging out with his best buddies and locals Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell). Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in downtown Seoul, a giant scaly monster is wreaking havoc in the streets like something akin to Godzilla. As the world watches on in disbelief, Gloria from the comfort of her suburban lounge room, inadvertently makes a connection with said scaly monster. In time she comes to realise that when she makes a move, so the monster thousands of miles away replicates those moves identically. How can this be, what does it mean and what must she do to stop the death and destruction of innocent Koreans?

'PERSONAL SHOPPER' (Rated MA15+) - this psychological thriller is Directed and Written by Frenchman Oilvier Assayas and the film Premiered at Cannes last May in competition for the Palme d'Or where is shared the Best Director Award, before its release in France in December and in the US in early March. Here American Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is a personal shopper for wealthy clients buying clothes, accessories and taking care of lesser tasks mostly in her home city of Paris, but her shopping trips often take her to London too and other European centres. Maureen's twin brother died recently and they both shared a genetic heart condition. Before he passed away they made a pact that whoever would go first, would then reach out from the other side and make a connection somehow with the surviving sibling. They both believed they had the ability to connect with the spirit world, but his powers were stronger than hers. Upon visiting the house where her brother died she starts to sense a presence, which manifests itself moreso with text messages, strange sightings and things that go bump in the night from an unknown source. The film has received positive Reviews, and some are saying it is Stewart's best performance to date.

'DENIAL' (Rated M) - here we have a true story historical drama Directed by Mick Jackson based on American author, Deborah Lipstadt's book 'History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier'. The film dramatises the 1996 Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case, in which Lipstadt, a Holocaust scholar, was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. In English law the burden of proof rests with the accused, and so Lipstadt and her legal team must fight to prove that the Holocaust did occur. Starring Rachel Weisz at Deborah Lipstadt an American Professor of Holocaust Studies, Timothy Spall as David Irving a Nazi German Scholar and Tom Wilkinson as Richard Rampton the Barrister and Andrew Scott as Solicitor Anthony Julius working for Lipstadt to prove the case for the Holocaust. The film Premiered at TIFF in September last year, was released in the US in late September and in the UK in late January this year, has so far gained generally positive Reviews and has recovered just over half of its US$10M production budget.

'FRANTZ' (Rated PG) - this French and German Co-production is Directed by Frenchman Francois Ozon and is a drama film set in the aftermath of WWI in 1919 and is based on the 1932 American film 'Broken Lullaby' Directed by Ernst Lubitsch which was in turn based on a 1930 play by Maurice Rostand and its 1931 English language adaptation by Reginald Berkeley. The film Premiered in Paris in July last year before its wider release in France in early September and Germany later that same month. It picked up a Venice Film Festival and a Caesar Award win and was nominated in several other categories at these same Awards. Set in the German town of Quedlinburg in 1919 young German woman Anna (Paula Beer) is mourning the death of her fiancé Frantz (Anton von Lucke) who died in combat a year before. One day, Anna is shocked to discover that his grave is visited by Adrian (Pierre Niney), a Frenchman claiming that he and Frantz were friends in Paris before the war. In time the two form a bond as Adrian recounts fond memories of his time spent with Frantz, despite certain ill feeling towards the Frenchman's presence in the town given the scars of the war are still deep and fresh. Nonetheless as their relationship develops Anna follows Adrian back to Paris in the hope of discovering more of his world, understanding him, and determining if her feelings toward him are genuine, or simply a rebound from Frantz. Filmed in black and white with splashes of occasional colour for emphasis.

Five very different cinematic choices this week, and whether you like epic big screen action, courtroom drama, historical foreign language drama, Sci-Fi comedy or psychological thriller fare, there is sure to be something for you to get your cinema ticket clipped in the week ahead. Don't forget too to share your movie going views with us right here, when you have done so. In the meantime, I'll see you somewhere, sometime in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Monday, 10 April 2017

GHOST IN THE SHELL : Tuesday 4th April 2017.

'GHOST IN THE SHELL' which I saw earlier last week is a Japanese media franchise that had its origins way back in 1989, having been published as a series of comics aimed squarely at the youth and more mature male market written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow, which is the pen name for manga artist Masanori Ota. The works under this title have subsequently led to two theatrical anime movies, two anime television series, an anime television movie, a theatrical live action movie, and several video games. The original premise told of the fictional counter-cyberterrorist organisation Public Security Section 9 (a special-operations task-force made up of former military officers and Police detectives) led by protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi in mid-21st Century Japan. Here, computer technology has advanced to the point where many members of the public possess cyberbrains, technology that allows them to interface their biological brain with a variety of networks. The level of cyberization varies from basic minimal interfaces to almost complete replacement of the brain with cybernetic components, in cases of severe trauma. This can also be combined with various levels of prostheses, with a fully prosthetic body enabling a person to become a cyborg. Major Motoko Kusanagi, is such a cyborg, having had a terrible accident as a child that ultimately required her to use a full-body prosthesis to house her cyberbrain.

With that lesson over, this live action version finally hits our screens after some time of dazzling Previews. Directed by Rupert Sanders in only his second feature film outing after 2012's 'Snow White and the Huntsman', this film was released in the US at the end of March, having Premiered in Tokyo a fortnight earlier, was made for US$110M and has so far recouped US$125M and has garnered largely average Reviews.

This adaptation centres around Major (Scarlett Johansson) - the first of a kind cyber-enhanced human who has been perfectly engineered to be the ultimate soldier who exists only to stop the world's most dangerous notorious criminals. After an impressive opening credits sequence in which we see Major produced and ultimately come to life, we learn that in this near future world 73% of all humans have some sort of technological enhancement - these can take the form of limbs, eyes, internal organs for enhanced vision, strength and stamina and intelligence. Hanka Robotics is the world leading cutting edge company and the forefront of augmentative technology, and they are working on a secret project to develop an all mechanical synthetic body, or 'shell' that houses a human brain containing the mind, memories, the soul, or 'ghost', hence 'Ghost in the Shell'! The test subject is Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) the only survivor of a cyberterrorist attack that left her body trashed and beyond repair, but her brain intact and fully functional.

Doctor Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) is Mira's designer and she objects to Hanka's determined CEO Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) to weaponise Mira against future terrorism threats, but she reluctantly agrees, because really, what else can she do? We then fast forward a year, and the fully functioning weaponised Mira has now secured the rank of Major at counter-terrorist bureau 'Section 9'. Major now works in a tight knit unit of similarly cyber enhanced humans to varying degrees -  Batou (Pilou Basaek), Togusa (Chin Han) and Chief Daisuke Aramaki ('Beat' Takeshi Katana) - the latter being the Chief Executive Director of Section 9. Major and her team successfully thwart a terrorist attack at a Hanka business conference dinner, destroying a rogue robotic geisha after it murders a hostage.

Back at Hanka HQ the now defunct geisha robot is being examined, where it is determined that it was hacked by an unknown presence known only as 'Kuze'. The Major takes it upon herself to break with normal protocols and 'dives' in the geisha's artificial brain, which could be potentially very dangerous, as it proves to be with the unknown Kuze launching a counter-hack. This causes Batou to disconnect her from the robot geisha, but not before she has determined that the location of the hack is from a Yakuza nightclub. The Major and her crew converge on the club but a trap has been set, during which an explosion occurs costing Batou the sight in both eyes, and significant body damage to the Major's shell.

Kuze is systematically taking down Hanka operatives, and following the murder of a senior researcher,  Major comes to the conclusion that Doctor Ouelet is next on the hit list. Batou has now had surgery giving him pair of telephoto X-Ray vision eyes, and the Major has had a full body overhaul making her as good as new. They rush to locate Ouelet who is under siege from two garbage collectors who are under the mind control of Kuze. One of them is taken out by Batou and the other is captured alive still under the control of Kuze, and interrogated by the Major.

Togusa is able to trace the location of the hack, which leads them to a place where a large cohort of humans are all linked together creating a network of intelligence. In the ensuing fray the Major is separated from Batou and Togusa and is captured by Kuze (Michael Pitt), who reveals himself to be just like her, but a failed predecessor to the experiments that ultimately created her - the project known as 2571. Kuze is sympathetic to the Major and means her no harm, instead urging her to question her own human memories to seek out the truth to who she really is and how she came to be. He then frees her, and escapes into the night.

Seeking the truth the Major confronts Ouelet, who confesses that she was the 99th test subject, and the only one of the previous experiments to survive. At this point Cutter decides that the Major has become too much of a liability and a risk to the future project and that she must be terminated, and that Ouelet should switch her off for good. Instead Ouelet gives the Major a stimulant serum and an address which will help answer her questions as to her origins and helps her to escape the Hanka HQ. Cutter shoots Ouelet dead and advises Aramaki that the Major has gone full rogue, cannot be trusted and is to be terminated on sight.

The Major traces back the address given to her by Ouelet. This leads her to a dense high rise apartment block that is occupied by a widowed mother whose only daughter disappeared a year ago, was subsequently arrested and then took her own life in custody. Her name was Motoko Kusanagi. Meanwhile Cutter's henchmen all try to take out Batou, Togusa and Aramaki who all thwart the attempts on their respective lives, while the Major follows her human memories to the place where Motoko was last seen alive. Once there, she meets with Kuze again and together they recollect their lives of just over a year ago as anti-enhancement protesters who were abducted by Hanka as test subjects for the cyber experiment project.

Cutter has been tracing the Major, and remotely deploys a 'spider-tank' to take them both out with heavy artillery once and for all. Ultimately Kuze perishes at the hands of a sniper from Section 6, but not before the Major was able to disarm the spider-tank by ripping out its motor, costing her an arm in the process. Batou and Togusa come to the rescue, better late than never, while Aramaki shoots Cutter dead. Later, repaired and back to full fighting fitness, Major Mira Killian is getting used to her true identity as Motoko Kusanagi, and embraces her mother, before returning to her day job at Section 9.

'Ghost in the Shell' is a visual feast for the senses - all futuristic heavily stacked urban development, bright neon lights, holographic advertising billboards, and cyber enhanced bodies at every turn. There will be inevitable comparisons to 'Blade Runner' and there are nods also to 'Terminator', 'Robocop' and even 'The Matrix' that will keep you amused and entertained as you seek out these references and keep a watchful eye on the storyline which is really rather basic when you distill it down. That said, Johansson plays her character well, but for a film that explores what it means to be human amidst mad scientists, megalomaniacal Chief Executives, terror plots, brain transplants, body hacking and futuristic metropolis Asian life, then this is all too lightly skirted over in favour of the CGI and the action which is well realised and delivered I hasten to add, but how true this is to the original source material only you can determine, if you know it, and if you really care!

-Steve, at Odeon Online-