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Terminator Genisys trailer – reaction

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It’s hard to believe, but it is now thirty years since The Terminator was unleashed on the world, a film which secured Arnold Schwarzenegger as a major box office star beyond his previous success as Conan and also launched the career of writer/director James Cameron whose astonishing resume includes Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), True Lies (1994), Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009). The T-1000 also thrived, with a further two sequels, Rise of the Machines (2003) and Salvation (2009) and spin-off television show The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-9).

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser - reaction

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It was the film which took everyone by surprise, even the studio who released it who had little faith in it, but in the summer of 1977 Star Wars defied all expectation to become a global phenomenon. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi followed and made good on the promise of a wider universe of bolted together technology filled with exotic species ruled by a great evil and the band of determined rebels who sought to restore freedom to the galaxy.

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Jurassic World trailer – reaction

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Jurassic Park broke records upon release in 1993 and ushered in a new era of summer blockbuster movies. Based on the 1990 novel by Michael Crichton, an author whose many novels also inspired the films The Andromeda Strain (1971), The Terminal Man (1974), Congo (1995), Sphere (1998) and Timeline (2003) as well as directing Westworld (1973), soon to be remade, and Coma (1978) among others. Inevitably, sequels followed in 1997 and 2001, but with significantly diminishing returns against rising budgets, while still successful, silence fell on the raptors of Isla Nublar. Now, almost a decade later, those famous gates are about to open again, and the team have had a peek inside…

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Interstellar

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Already a divisive director, Interstellar might be Christopher Nolan’s most contentious film yet, partly because of the demanding complexity of its script and its intimate yet epic scale but also because of flaws throughout that make it an occasionally less than smooth ride to the stars which requires faith from the viewer that he will pull the strands together in the final act. Some may feel he failed in this task, while others will disagree and see it as a successful balanced whole.

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Filmed in Supermarionation

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Film stars age; that is the nature of things. Even though their great works remain unchanged, celluloid portraits kept in the attic which may look better to modern eyes through restoration efforts, they only serve as evidence of how the flesh has decayed down through the years. Even the best preserved cannot hold back the wrinkles indefinitely, yet Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, of unspecified age (one should never ask a Lady!) upon her television debut in September 1965, remains utterly unchanged almost half a century later.

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The Editor

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A most distinct subgenre of horror, the Italian giallo films often looked beyond the hot passions of the Mediterranean to American pulp thriller novels and Hollywood for inspiration, combining the elements of mystery and suspense of directors such as Alfred Hitchcock with a distinctly homegrown enthusiasm for graphic violence and bloody death caught between the gloriously coloured lights of the victims’ public lives and deep shadows of the killer’s soul.

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Horns

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One of the most prolific writers of modern times, the works of Stephen King have become a film genre among themselves, his diverse styles breeding a veritable catalogue of adaptations, sequels and spinoffs. From the cinematic classics of Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976), The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) and Christine (John Carpenter, 1983), all based on major horror novels to the more mainstream Stand By Me (Rob Reiner, 1986) and The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994), both drawn from short stories in the collection Different Seasons through to the sequels to The Lawnmower Man, Sometimes They Come Back and the unending harvest of Children of the Corn, it seems every available work has been filmed, sometimes multiple times, so why has it taken so long for the Joe Hill, King’s son, a writer of similar style and content, to reach the silver screen?

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The Questor Tapes

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The name of Gene Roddenberry is understandably synonymous with Star Trek, a show which endured many setbacks before it went on to become the world’s foremost television science fiction franchise, not least of which was the delay of two years between production of the original pilot episode The Cage in 1964 and the first broadcast of The Man Trap in 1966 featuring an almost entirely different crew aboard the USS Enterprise.

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What We Do In The Shadows

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So overused it has become within the horror genre that found footage is now almost an unconscious parody of itself, though lacking the one crucial element without which parody cannot function: a sense of humour. With almost the sole exception of the excellent self-mocking Trolljegeren, the badly framed casts of most found footage films remain miserably po-faced, which is why it is such a relief that despite almost a collective millennium in the tomb the flatmates who choose to reveal What We Do In The Shadows are a step ahead of their peers by doing so in the form of a mockumentary.

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The Machine

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A favourite of Hollywood since the days of the HAL 9000 in 2001 A Space Odyssey and Colossus of The Forbin Project, the boundaries and blurring of lines between human and artificial intelligence and the conflict arising between those disparate yet linked entities has been explored more recently in Transcendence and more successfully in Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, but with strong notes of Blade Runner and Nineteen Eighty-Four in his debut feature film, Welsh born writer/director Caradog W James brings the issues  closer to home with The Machine which stands its ground in sterling British form.

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The Pact II

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In the manner of the Ourorboros, the snake which consumes itself, perhaps more than any other film genre it is horror which suffers from that most pervasive Hollywood horror of its own: the unnecessary sequel. Marked by an intelligent script and confident performances, The Pact was an unexpected surprise of 2012, a film where the supernatural aspects served as the window dressing of a more conventional serial killer thriller, the hunt for the assailant known as Judas.

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ABCs of Death 2

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The concept of the first volume of The ABCs of Death was simple: an invitation extended to filmmakers the world over to submit a short film based around an assigned letter and the theme of death to be included in an anthology with twenty five other directors. With a variation in quality as extreme as some of the inclusions, some directors used the international platform to get themselves talked about not for the quality of their work but by how shocking they could be, a tiresomely juvenile “look at me!” approach which only served to distract from the genuinely innovative creations around them.

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