The Woman in Black is the first lead role for Daniel Radcliffe since he shed his Harry Potter glasses for the last time. He plays Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer sent to the English countryside to settle the accounts of a recently deceased woman. The woman in question owned a lavish Victorian house who people insist is haunted by a vengeful spirit. Kipps, dealing with the tragic death of his wife, finds himself caught up in the snare of this hostile ghost, who seems to strike against the village children whenever she is seen.
Ciarán Hinds plays the wealthy landowner who refuses to believe his own child’s tragic death was anything but an accident. There are also the subdued villagers who live in deathly fear of the evil spirit that lurks in the old house, which add mystique and liven up the film.
Unlike most horror movies made today, The Woman in Black relies on traditional suspense and a brooding atmosphere. Shock through gory violence is replaced by simple noises and long shadows, even as the ghost seems to occupy the house. The film is expertly designed to terrify, allowing for some truly incredible moments of classic horror. It’s no surprise that Hammer Film Productions, which is famously known for its horror movies, produced this thriller. Certainly a movie worth seeing if one wants to jump out of their seats.
THE VOW, A.K.A. The Notebook’s sequel, is based on the true, contemporary story of Kim and Krickett Carpenter—an American couple, who go from average to extraordinary when they’re faced with a car accident, memory loss, and heart break.
Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum take on the role as the Carpenters and audiences watch the newly married couple try to recuperate after a serious car crash. McAdams’ character awakens from a brief coma in a seemingly normal condition, except for the fact that she has no memory of her husband. Audiences then go on a journey with Tatum’s character as he tries to win his wife’s heart back. Although what follows is a series of predictable events, both leads deliver solid performances with chemistry to boot.
The film comes across as contrived and unbelievable at times, because of Carpenter’s somewhat spiritual and endless love for his wife. Anyone who isn’t a sucker for romance might find themselves slightly annoyed watching the film, but romantic movie lovers won’t have to double check their ticket voucher to know they’re watching the right film.
OUT OF ALL the Marvel related-properties that have been turned into feature length films, Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage was probably the least likely to get a sequel. Five years later, one has miraculously emerged, titled Spirit of Vengeance. Despite its failings on multiple counts, it is a remarkable improvement over the original.
Now don’t be fooled—this is still not a good movie. The script is bland, the story is generic and forgettable—something about the Ghost Rider having to protect a little kid from getting possessed by Satan or something—and most of the actors on screen seem totally lost, not knowing whether to take the material seriously or to play it up for camp value.
This film is saved thanks to the directing team of Mark Neveldine and Bryan Taylor, who liven up the paint-by-numbers proceedings. Using their signature weirdness and insanity, interesting handheld camera work, trippy visual effects, and a full commitment to letting Cage chew up all the scenery, the duo accomplish the near impossible. This bizarre aesthetic alone makes the sequel much better than its predecessor, which lacked any shred of this creative energy.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is not a quality film that can be compared to the likes of other Marvel products like Thor or Captain America, but it has its own bizarre, B-movie charm that some may enjoy if they are in the right state of mind. Just don’t expect Cage to be joining the ranks of The Avengers any time soon.
IN A CONTINUATION of his string of Oscar-worthy movies, Denzel Washington stars in the latest action film, Safehouse, alongside Ryan Reynolds. Tobin Frost (Washington) is a wanted international criminal and former CIA agent. After receiving confidential information about CIA agents, he hopes to wrangle some sort of money from the agency, but he isn’t so lucky. As armed men are chasing him, Frost is forced to surrender to the U.S. embassy in South Africa. There he meets Matthew Weston (Reynolds), the housekeeper of the safehouse, and his journey begins.
Though the car chases, prolonged shooting scenes, and witty conversations become redundant in most recent action movies, Safehouse takes a fresh spin on the genre by attempting to go behind the scenes at the CIA. It shows the isolation the agents face, how their lives are filled with lies, and how cutthroat and manipulating corporations can be.
Audiences will become sympathetic to Weston, who is trying to remain innocent, faithful to his job, and deal with his home life—namely his girlfriend Ana Moreau (Nora Anezeder).
While the movie is not Washington’s best, it certainly is Reynolds’, and the duo’s credible acting and on-screen chemistry makes the film an entertaining way to pass a couple of hours.