‘All the Money in the World’

All_the_Money_in_the_WorldSolid and somewhat imaginative telling of the kidnapping of 16 year-old Paul Getty in Rome in 1973: the downside of having a grandfather, John Paul Getty, who was the richest man in the world. He was also one of the tightest and refused to pay the $17 million ransom.

Director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien) famously reshot scenes featuring the old man, replacing shamed Kevin Spacey with a superb Christopher Plummer (Beginners, A Beautiful Mind). His cold intransigence leaves Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Manchester by the Sea) as Paul’s desperate mother just that – constantly on the edge of desperation and frustration.

Scott certainly takes liberties in the telling of the story and its entertaining enough. But bottom line, as a whole its quite a minor achievement.

Rating: 56%

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‘Alien: Covenant’

3229948-alien+covenant+ka+promoIt’s not the most coherent of the Alien/Prometheus films and, at times the action seems a little rushed after an overly slow intro, but Alien: Covenant is nothing if not spectacularly crafted.

Thrills and (literally) spills abound as the synthetic David (a sublime Michael Fassbender – Prometheus, 12 Years a Slave) looks to creation and immortality. But the real story of course is the virus that evolves into the deadly creatures – and what’s low in number in Alien: Covenant is still enough to create carnage on an unchartered planet and aboard the colony ship, Covenant.

Ridley Scott (The Martian, Alien) plumbs the same scares from the original to great effect along with several references to earlier films in the franchise as the action keeps on coming and the gore count keeps on rising.

Rating: 62%

‘The Martian’

martian2015Huge, sweeping, optimistic – yet convincingly grounded in an understandable reality: if something goes wrong, it needs to be fixed. And being stranded alone on Mars means something has gone seriously wrong.

Robinson Crusoe retold in space, with Man Friday the returning crew who mistakenly left a quietly impressive Matt Damon (Saving Private Ryan, The Bourne Identity) behind for dead. Visually stunning – as one would expect from director Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Gladiator) – The Martian is hugely entertaining with more than its share of tension and comedy. It’ll certainly be up there come January when the Oscar shortlists (particularly the technical categories) are announced.

Rating: 79%

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’

hr_Exodus-_Gods_and_Kings_16Ridley Scott’s latest is, as you would expect from the director who bought us Prometheus, Blade Runner and Gladiator, a true epic.

Huge battle scenes, sumptuous Egyptian palaces, revolting slaves, a cast of (computer generated) thousands result in an entertaining spectacle, even if at times it slips into something of a stolid retelling of the Biblical Old Testament story of Moses (Moishe) leading the Hebrews out of Egypt to Canaan. Some of the scenes are genuinely exciting while Christian Bale (Moses) and Joel Edgerton (Ramses) do what they can with a somewhat solemn life-long friendship that suddenly turns.

Rating: 59%