The Divergent film series – based on the Young Adult trilogy by Veronica Roth – immediately felt like a cash-in on the success of The Hunger Games film franchise. Divergent is painful in its complexity: set in a typical YA post-apocalyptic future, Tris (Shailene Woodley) must navigate the walled city of Chicago, where factions are systemized by certain characteristics – Erudite is made up of the intelligentsia, Dauntless are warriors, etc. Initiates take a test…
Articles by Mark Barber
In 2013, audiences were treated to two movies involving hostage situations in the White House: Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen and Roland Emmerich’s White House Down. The former performed well enough at the box office to merit a sequel, while the other languished in obscurity, likely due to its director’s notorious incompetence. And yet, much like its predecessor, London Has Fallen shows that in terms of quality, White House Down triumphed where Olympus had fallen.
Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas had a terrific output in the 1990’s: the gothic comic book adaptation, The Crow, and the superlative neo-noir/sci-fi film Dark City. Since then, however, Proyas has made few noteworthy cinematic contributions, and his latest, the 3D fantasy/adventure film Gods of Egypt, is abundant in imagination but lacking in novelty.
British filmmaker Philip Ridley’s The Reflecting Skin hasn’t screened in Toronto since its Canadian premiere at TIFF in 1990. Given its vibrant formalism and unconventional approach to genre, Ridley’s first feature simply may have been unable to find a broader audience. However, the film works well for cult film audiences.
The Witch is an unconventional horror film in execution and in subtext. Rarely do horror films so actively interrogate colonial and contemporary gender politics in such an illuminating and liberating way.
Burr Steers’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies arrives at an awkward time for horror mash-ups.
The sad state of the parody film is reflected in Fifty Shades of Black, the latest from A Haunted House director Michael Tiddes and Scary Movie alumnus Marlon Wayans. A spoof of the Fifty Shades of Grey film released last year, Fifty Shades of Black relies mostly on an inventory of aged pop culture references and unfunny scatological humour rather than interrogating the problems with its source material.
Stonewall quickly came and went. It was played at TIFF last year, and screened in the U.S. markets for a short time. Critically and popularly reviled, Roland Emmerich’s pet project is completely different from his usual disaster films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. Indeed, Stonewall is a heavily whitewashed take on the famous New York riots that played an integral part in formalizing the LGBTQ equality movement.
The Hateful Eight is, fittingly, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film, and by far his weakest.
By: Mark Barber Chris Trebilcock’s The Dark Stranger understands that the power of horror is derived in part not from its tonal seriousness but from its ability to confront the issues in ways that are creatively charged. Taking on the issue of depression, The Dark Stranger might take some flak for what at times feels like a facile exploration of depression. However, Trebilcock deserves praise for creatively literalizing the demons we face as a means…