Ready Player One (2018)
Genre: Adventure
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Lena Waithe, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance
Duration: 140 minutes
Class: 12A
KRS Releasing Ltd

Steven Spielberg returns to the big screen with a sci-fi adventure film based on the 2011 bestselling novel of the same name by Ernest Cline.

The story is set in 2045, when the world is on the brink of chaos. But the people have found salvation in the Oasis, a virtual reality universe created by the ingenious and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance).

When Halliday dies, he leaves his fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the Oasis, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When a young man named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

While receiving generally good reviews, especially for its visual spectacle, some critics lamented about the lack of depth and emotion of its main characters. One of these, Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair, wrote: “Because Spielberg seems as eager as Wade to get back to the digital fantasy world he’s created, a lot of the human element is elided or glossed over.”

Phil de Semlyen of Time Out wrote: “It’s a CGI-heavy fantasia that will pop your eyeballs but, giddy as it is, it never quite sells its characters or gets much purchase on your emotions.”

Other reviews were, however, more positive.

Jonathan Pile of Empire magazine wrote: “Spielberg has seemingly done the impossible: balancing sugar-rush nostalgia with an involving story to create a pure, uncynical, cinematic ride that recaptures the magic of his early films.”

And the critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: “Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg’s strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography.”

The film is being released internationally, including Malta, tomorrow.

IMDB: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Empire: 4 stars

Peppa Pig gets to meet the Queen in her big screen adventures.Peppa Pig gets to meet the Queen in her big screen adventures.

Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience (2017)
Genre: Animation
Director: Mark Baker
Voices of: Emma Grace Arends, Alexander Armstrong, Stara Bal, Jo Brand, Tony Byrne, Judy Flynn, David Graham
Duration: 72 minutes
Class: U
KRS Releasing Ltd

Children’s favourite character  Peppa Pig  is out on the big screen this Easter with a series of previously unreleased episodes and musical interludes by Peppa, her brother George and their friend Daisy.

In these episodes, Peppa goes on her first holiday to Australia where she has a barbecue in the Outback, learns how to surf, visits the Great Barrier Reef and learns how to throw a Boomerang.

When she returns to England she learns how to ride a bike, meets the Queen, goes to the zoo, travels on a canal boat and learns different ways to dance to music.

The film is obviously targeted at toddlers and they should not be disappointed.

Jonathan Dean of the Sunday Times (UK) said “it’s as faultless and funny as fans have come to expect” and Stuart Heritage of The Guardian called it “a gateway drug for a new generation of cinephiles”.

IMDB: 4.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Empire: N/A

Philip Ng engages in a fight of a lifetime with Yu Xia in Birth of the Dragon.Philip Ng engages in a fight of a lifetime with Yu Xia in Birth of the Dragon.

Birth of the Dragon (2017)
Genre: Biopic
Director: George Nolfi
Starring: Billy Magnussen, Yu Xia, Philip Ng, Steven Roberts, Riley Wood, Terry Chan
Duration: 95 minutes
Class: 12A
KRS Releasing Ltd

The martial arts action film, directed by George Nolfi – who wrote the screenplays of The Bourne Ultimatum, The Sentinel and Ocean’s Twelve among others –  is a fictional account on the supposedly true story of how young martial artist Bruce Lee challenged kung fu master Wong Jack Man in 1965 in San Francisco.

The story follows a young Lee (Philip Ng) who is trying to make a name for himself while working as a martial arts instructor in 1964 San Francisco. When he meets Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia), he challenges him to a no-holds-barred fight that became the stuff of legend.

Critics lambasted the movie. Chris Hewitt of Empire maga-zine wrote: “Almost certainly the second worst thing to happen to Bruce Lee, this toothless and tame movie doesn’t even come close to capturing the great man’s dangerous charisma.”

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it “an unconvincing, romanticised take” on the incident, “almost like a superhero ‘origin myth’ story” and Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter described it as “an inferior effort that fails to do justice to both its central character and provocative premise”.

Wendy Ide of the Observer (UK) said: “The fight sequences are slick but this is a soulless slog.”  And Edward Porter of the Sunday Times (UK) commented: “I sometimes felt more like I was watching the pilot episode of a 1980s TV show – a cheap action-adventure series in which the cheerful kung-fu teacher Bruce Lee would come to the aid of someone pestered by bad guys.

The film, presented at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, was released in the US last August. It has since grossed $6.9 million in box office sales domestically.

IMDB: 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Empire: 2 stars

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