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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 09.14.15] apocalyptic scifi thriller

A project that we've been tracking longer than almost any other is the adaptation of J.G. Ballard's "High Rise". Vincenzo Natali (Splice) was originally attached, but his vision of an exclusive tower on an island in the ocean never launched. Then Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) and Tom Hiddleston came on board and everything just seemed to click.

The film just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and the reviews are rolling in. Reactions to the film are decidedly mixed from comparisons to Snowpiercer to some outlets calling the film a "mess".

Here's what people are saying following the film's premier.

"From a cinematic standpoint, "High Rise" has much in common with last year's "Snowpiercer," which imagined a post-apocalyptic future where humankind has been consigned to a moving train. While Bong Joon-ho tracked the battle of lower class residents battling to the front of the train, Wheatley finds his characters literally angling for upward mobility.

But "High Rise" derives most of its appeal less from plotting than sheer anarchic glee. The director clearly gets a kick out of establishing the absurdly posh interiors of the building — a glass elevator that displays its passengers in a string of infinite reflections, the aforementioned storybook roof deck — and demolishing them. Like "Snowpiercer," the movie takes a thin allegory and realizes it in such vivid terms that it remains thoroughly enjoyable even when in veers into a messy pileup of absurd twists."
-- (Indiewire)

"High-Rise is a rich and fascinating mess. But it is a mess. Wheatley and Jump have turned the lean, lucid architecture of Ballard's prose into a baggy, disjointed, sprawling grand folly of a movie. The biggest disappointment is an almost total lack of menace and humor, key selling points in all their previous films.

There are inevitable echoes of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange here, plus overt nods to more obscure British cult movies including Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment."
-- (THR)

"... a flashy and frequently incoherent adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s towering 1975 social critique, in which the low-budget British genre innovator seizes the excuse to play with professional-grade actors, sets and camera equipment, while taking a wrecking ball to many of the novel’s brightest ideas." ( -- (Variety)

"Wheatley wades into the prescient 1975 text, delivering a complex, fluid interpretation which is respectful and almost-faithful while still being its own beautiful, crazed beast.

Wheatley’s film has a lively rhythm, a highlight of which is Portishead’s version of the ABBA song S.O.S. In a money shot, a man sails off the roof, but the block is not stunned into submission, and the parties just ratchet up a level."
-- (Screen International)

"The most disturbing part of Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise is how utterly normal its apocalypse is. Society slowly collapses into brutality and hedonism and anarchy and it’s just another day, as sane or insane as any other. Ho-hum. Pass the plate of dog, please? Who’s next in line for a lobotomy?" -- (Crave Online)

Recommended Release: Crash

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