Unfriended and Far from the Madding Crowd lead the new cinema releases & trailers – w/e May 1st 2015

unfriendedThis weekend there are six new films out for you to choose from: cyber thriller in Unfriended, period drama in Far from the Madding Crowd, spidery horror in Monsters: Dark Continent, comedy/drama in Elsa and Fred, Mad Max-isms in Bad Land: Road to Fury, and Sesame Street‘s finest in I Am Big Bird.

Unfriended is a new horror film which sounds like it’s going to be something to do with Facebook, but it isn’t.

While video chatting one night, six high school friends receive a Skype message from Laura (Heather Sossaman), a classmate who killed herself exactly one year ago. A first they think it’s a prank, but when the girl starts revealing the friends’ darkest secrets, they realize they are dealing with something out of this world, something that wants them dead. Told entirely from a young girl’s computer desktop, Unfriended redefines ‘found footage’ for a new generation of teens.

Also starring Cal Barnes, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson, Shelley Hennig, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Mickey River, Moses Jacob Storm and Jacob Wysocki, Unfriended – aka Cybernatural (its US title) – alas, doesn’t look particularly brilliant. Click on the poster for the full-size image.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!


Far from the Madding Crowd tells the tale of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching willfulness; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor. This timeless story of Bathsheba’s choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love – as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.

Also starring Juno Temple and Jessica Barden, directed by Thomas Vinterberg, and with a screenplay by David Nicholls from the novel by Thomas Hardy, period dramas aren’t my bag, but if it’s yours then this one might be for you.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!


Monsters: Dark Continent is a follow up to Gareth Edwards’ 2010 original, after which he went to make the new Godzilla movie, but while I thought this sequel was also going to be directed by him, it’s instead been directed by Misfits director Tom Green.

The synopsis simply states that a soldier enters the infected zone of the city to find his comrade, and it stars Joe Dempsie, Sofia Boutella, Johnny Harris and Kyle Soller. Also, it was first teased last mid-May, then due for release in Sept 2014, then the November, and now almost a year on from its teaser debut… something isn’t quite right.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!


Elsa and Fred tells the tale is the story of two people who at the end of the road, discovering that it’s never too late to love and make dreams come true.

Elsa (Shirley MacLaine) has lived for the past 60 years dreaming of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: the scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’ at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it, but with Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroianni but with that love that took so long to arrive. Fred (Christopher Plummer) has always been a good man who did everything he was supposed to do. After losing his wife, he feels disturbed and confused and his daughter decides that it would be best if he moves into a smaller apartment where he ends meeting Elsa. From that moment on, everything changes.

Elsa bursts into his life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live — be it more or less — is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. Fred surrenders to Elsa’s frenzy, to her youth, to her boldness, to her beautiful madness. And this is how Fred learns how to live. When he learns about Elsa’s terminal illness, he decides to make her dream come true and takes Elsa to Rome to reenact with her the famous scene at the Fontana di Trevi.

Also starring Marcia Gay Harden, Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap), Chris Noth (Sex And The City), George Segal, James Brolin, Erika Alexander and Wendell Pierce (The Wire), while it’s not the greatest idea for a film ever – and it’s also a remake of a French film, it does look like an engaging comedy/drama.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!


Bad Land: Road to Fury

Set in a near future when water has become the most precious and dwindling resource on the planet, one that dictates everything from the macro of political policy to the detailed micro of interpersonal family and romantic relationships. The land has withered into something wretched. The dust has settled on a lonely, barren planet. The hardened survivors of the loss of Earth’s precious resources scrape and struggle.

Ernest Holm (Michael Shannon) lives on this harsh frontier with his children, Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Mary (Elle Fanning). He defends his farm from bandits, works the supply routes, and hopes to rejuvenate the soil. But Mary’s boyfriend, Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult), has grander designs. He wants Ernest’s land for himself, and will go to any length to get it. From writer/director Jake Paltrow comes a futuristic western, told in three chapters, which inventively layers Greek tragedy over an ethereal narrative that’s steeped deeply in the values of the American West.

Overall, this looks a little like Mad Max (post-apocalyptic landscape, ‘Road’ and ‘Fury’ in the title) and The Rover, starring Guy Pearce. I’m not 100% sure if it works overall, though.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!


I Am Big Bird profiles Caroll Spinney, the 80-year-old puppeteer who has been behind Sesame Street‘s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show’s first season. Relying heavily on Caroll’s incredible archive of home videos dating back to the 1950s, this film captures how the love radiating from Caroll has created a worldwide cultural icon and answers why he can’t say goodbye to the characters he cherishes.

It’s also available to buy on DVD from June 1st.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!


Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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