Reviews & Rants, Films for You?

  1. Flags of our fathers
    [29/dec/2006] Score: 7/10
    I might have given it a higher rating but for the usual “heroic” image American film makers cast over all their Great Moments in (Hollywood) History, and this one’s one of the greatest visual images that invokes heroism beyond the norm in American mythology, the raising of the american flag during the Pacific battles.
    Here it is treated realistically with care by Clint Eastwood and deserves suitable respect.
    Verdict: Uplifting.
  2. Night At The Museum
    [28/dec/2006] Score: 6/10
    This film was slow to get going for an adult viewer. What began as a “jerk” movie of one man acting the idiot gradually transformed into a sweet all-family entertainment.  A short, simple film no way to overstretch the mind this is perfect holiday viewing for children of all ages who just want to sink into something warm, and preferably without the Santa Claus outfits.
    Verdict: Perfectly preserved exhibit.
  3. Eargaon
    [22/dec/2006] Score: 4/10
    At the very end of the year we reach the dregs of the bottom of the barrel of cheap rip-off scripts that copy every formula you can imagine from all other smiliarly themed stories.
    If you’ve seen Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and all other similar fantasy youth-on-a-quest stories then you’ve already seen Eragon, only with far, far better results.
    And THIS got a budget!!??
    Only works for children who haven’t seen all the rest or want another dose of cute dragons.
    Verdict: ‘ere and gone, forever, I hope.
  4. Casino Royale
    [24/nov/2006] Score: 9/10
    The only really distinctive reason I didn’t give this stunning, new-start, refreshed and invigorated Bond movie a full 10/10 score was the lack of a good signature tune. For the last decade or so the Bond movies have lacked that really distinctive, wickedly sexy style of signature song we’ve heard from the earlier films, now it’s all bland pop sung by poppets. It may be good for music sales, but they’re nowhere near as memorable as the earlier songs and don’t create that special Bond movie mood that make the whole experience that more magical and distinctive.
    Verdict: OO Heaven
  5. Starter For Ten
    [15/nov/2006] Score: 6/10
    Coming of age romantic comedy set in the world of British university life in the 1980s (another 1980s story in such a short time, hmmmm).Pretty well predictable in the storyline and style, meet girls, get laid, (almost) find wrong girl(s), make mistakes, etc.
    The only distinctive feature about this teen story is that it wasn’t an American Californian teen dream of high schools, drugs and other silly nonsense.
    Verdict: A victory score.
  6. Romanzo Criminale (Crime Story)
    [8/nov/2006] Score: 5/10
    An Italian movie that tells the story of four young thugs growing up in Rome during the 1970s and 80s and taking the city’s crime community by storm, while getting mixed up in all the politics and corruption of the era.  While not a “perfect” story, with so many of the standard conventions of these stories, it does offer you a glimpse of that time and place.
    The only problem with any film like this is the difficulty in tracking the characters through the language barrier, and the final sequences of the story seemed to become wrapped up in so many rapid developments that there was no real understanding of who was doing what to whom and why – the characters changed so much that I lost track at the end of what actually happened
    Verdict: A crime not to watch it.
  7. The Departed
    [14/oct/2006] Score: 5/10
    After a few hours to think about this I find I was disappointed.  While it offers all the promise of all the great Scorsese movies this lacked any of the features, the depth and sophistication you’d expect.
    Too many Hollywood coincidences in the plotline to be believable (would both opposing characters really meet and even fall for the same girl?) and if you are going to deal with gritty reality of crime then you have to accept that some times someone manages to escape the situation, but here there was no sense of redemption or escape.
    In the end this looked more like a cynical Hollywood style exploitation movie than a good, solid well-written drama.
    Verdict: Departed – RIP.
  8. The Devil Wears Prada
    [7/oct/2006] Score: 6/10
    It’s a chick flick, it’s got lots, really lots, of glossy chicks, flicking their hair, skirts, heels and whatnots around flouncing and flaunting around glossy offices and glossy cities.  So, a complete and total antidote to all the “serious” dramas and “gritty” nonsense around.  Just lean back, take a long deep breath of Channel No.5 and drown in all the dishy lovelies.
    Oh, yes, it’s a pure, glossy, traditional, success story.  And in the dim, dull world we’re all living nowadays a good antidote for all the nonsense we see, hear and read in the media.
    Verdict:  You look Absolutely Fabulous in Prada.
  9. Hoodwinked
    [29/sept/2006] Score: 7/10
    Okay this is pure kiddie fest… except… well, it had me laughing out loud a few times so it must have been doing something really good. And it was.
    This remake of the Red Riding Hood tale turns it all upside down and pulls it inside out to give you a hilarious story for children of all ages.
    This is a good example of how a story can be revitalised and while some of the jokes and japes were over-the-top for children’s understanding it moved along briskly enough for the errors to be ignores (would young ones wonder what the Laser-in-a-castle joke was all about?).
    Verdict: Squirrel this one away.
  10. DOA – Dead Or Alive
    [16/sept/2006] Score: 6/10
    I first mistook the title to mean “Dead On Arrival” but found it more alive than I originally expected. This is pure nonsense video game turned movie, that easily makes it above the deadzone of all those that have gone and been forgotten before it.
    While the script leaves something to be desired at times and the eye candy of non-stop bikinicladness may seem tired and repetitive to older viewers it did have enough surprising humour and quirks that lifted it above the norm for these kind of movies. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon.
    Verdict: Alive And Kicking.
  11. Crank
    [2/sept/2006] Score: 6/10
    Fast, bang, speed, freaky film for anyone and everyone who wants a dose of adrenaline and the kind of quirky humour in the midst of disaster no Hollywood actor would touch (can you imagine any West Coast “A” lister in a scene getting naked and making love to his girlfriend in front of a crowd?).
    For speed and inventiveness Crank has buckets of energy and more to throw across the screen and drive you through heart-wrenching action after action.
    The fact that the story keeps up the pace and humour throughout says a lot to the ambition not to be more than it is – pure power overdose
    Only disappointment is how are they ever going to write a sequel, as a sequel is surely going to be in the minds of the money-men?
    Verdict: Stimulating.
  12. A Scanner Darkly
    [19/aug/2006] Score: 7/10
    Any film based on a Philip K. Dick novel has to be approached with care. You won’t find Hollywood glamour down the psychotropic mean streets that Dick trod to bring us his tales of a twisted and distorted future American and A Scanner Darkly takes us there rather than the typical glamorisation of the future.
    Here’s a world increasingly being destroyed by the appearance of a fashionable new drug that twists and turns your mind around until you’re not sure if your still looking through your own eyes or out the back of your head.
    While recent fantasy films have built up upon computer graphics A Scanner Darkly offers an entirely appropriately, bold and twisted view of the world as all the imagery, shot live originally, is translated into animated sequences to bring you the same feel that’s probably going through the burnt out heads of every character here.
    Through this the actors has created impressive performances that make each character stand out despite the distorting effects of the visual style.
    As for the storyline, the sudden sharp turn at the end is excellent plotting, but then what can you expect from a master storyteller like Dick?
    Verdict: Visionary.
  13. My Super Ex-Girlfriend
    [18/aug/2006] Score: 5/10
    From some opinions I’d read and heard this was not all that great a movie, so I was surprised by the crowd watching it when I went to see it yesterday, and I liked what I saw.
    If you are looking for a light-hearted antidote to the smug coolness of Superman then here’s the perfect answer.  Taking it seriously was left at the door when making this movie of a superhero with all the fragility of a woman scorned when she goes on the rampage in fury at being dumped by her ex-boyfriend.
    I’ll bet Superman never had that problem, but then he’s a boy so what doe he know about “feelings”!?
    Unlike the other “Super” movie, and a few others of its ilk My Super Ex-Girlfriend doesn’t go in for enormous streams of special effects and computer graphics. Where I was overwhelmed by those in Pirates of The Caribbean and impressed by those in Superman, that fact that only the shark scene (man chased by shark in his apartment!) stuck out and wasn’t as noticeably excessive as others, shows how a lighter touch can have a greater effect on the final production.
    Verdict: You’ll believe a bitch can fly.
  14. Miami Vice
    [5/aug/2006] Score: 7/10
    We’re back after many years since the last of the TV series, back rolling in glossy cars, through glossy night clubs and scenes, and glamorous girls hanging on the arms of bejewelled men, and that’s just the cops.
    This is a very fast-paced story, as fast as the cars, boats and planes that everyone is driving, sailing, flying, that throws you straight into the middle of everything to race on into the night and the action to come.
    And a lot of action, especially the queasy camera work as it tosses and throws you around just like the thrill ride you’re on, watching the story unfold.
    Very little time is spent here in long dialogues when a few brief moments of action can express a thousand words as director Michael Mann carries you along that long dark road to dawn.
    Only little question, how did the baddies find out about the cop’s wife/girlfriend to snatch her if he was deep undercover, and yet still keep thinking he was his undercover persona?
    Verdict: Perfectly chilled, drink it.
  15. Superman Returns
    [3/aug/2006] Score: 6/10
    Don’t treat Superman Returns as a stand-alone story.  There are enough references back to the earlier Christopher Reeve films that this really is a “return” and  not a true fresh start; and returning with new computer graphics add a special lustre and texture that isn’t excessive (see Pirates below) and just adds to the overall sense that you really could believe a man (super-) can fly.
    There are the usual slight problems with reintroducing the storyline after so long, explaining what’s happened and reestablishing the characters.  Once again the baddies, Lex Luther is back too by the way, get all the good lines and expressions and the goodies have to stumble along being “noble” (Hollywood style), so we don’t get the kind of real-life questions when both Superman and Clark Kent return on the scene at the same time (hmmm, no one seemed to have noticed that one, maybe it’s a Special Power to hypnotise??).
    One of the problems of any Superman story is that you can’t get into “real” expressions without exposing the characters more to a broader experience.  How does Superman “feel”, is he so cold all the time, or is it just his alien demeanour, and if so then can the writers explore those aspects?
    I expect there will be more Super stories to come, and only hope they can avoid the temptation to rack up the thrills and special effects and look more to developing the characters within a story; even more interesting with Lois’s little boy around…..
    Verdict: Krypton alright!
  16. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
    [13/july/2006] Score: 6/10
    Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of Rum, and other rum doings and goings on.  Here’s part two in the amazing story of the Pirates of the Caribbean tales.  A tall-masted tale if I ever saw one!  Ha-harrrr!
    And a jolly fun story it was too all around. Of course, there are a few faults in all the running and chasing around, I felt that the use of computer graphics was excessive at times with all the “horrible monsters” and pirates on the loose, especially Davy Jones’s crew, and I think there were a couple of scenes early in the film that wouldn’t be suitable for young children.
    The story doesn’t set out to be a single conclusive tale. We all know that there is another film to round it all off (for now) and this current story plays out more like a fast chase towards the middle, lots of chasing and fighting going on, and very noisy (the children will love it all), but still a sense of a good ride but also incompleteness.
    Verdict: “Pieces of eight, for the next one, I cannot wait!”
  17. X-Men 3: The Last Stand
    [25/may/2006] Score: 5/10
    When I saw the first X-Men film I was left with a sense of unfulfilled expectations.  A relatively short 90 minutes doesn’t do justice to such a complex and unusual group of characters.  Compared to Spiderman the X-Men films have always suffered this lack of character and situation development.  The Last Stand is no different, perhaps even worse in offering up such enormous challenges to the characters and offering us instead just a templated piece of Hollywood disposable nonsense of special effects (good), noisy chases, (okay) and intriguing characters (utterly wasted).  Here is story that goes straight for your wallet, not your heart or mind.
    As a story so much is left unexplored. Here was a missed opportunity for an epic and dramatic story, a good three hour movie could have been had, but instead we’re served up with a mere hundred minutes to cover so much territory.  No wonder I was left empty at the end.
    As for setting up the plotline for another film, well if painting yourself into a corner is the only way to show your superheroic film-maker talent for escaping then I will congratulate the writers and director(s) for getting themselves out of this tight corner. But on past experience I don’t expect it to happen.
    Verdict: X-Men 3 : RIP.
  18. Mission Impossible III
    [20/may/2006] Score: 5/10
    When I saw the first MI film I thought how amazing it was that you could fit a helicopter down the Channel Tunnel, but now the MI team have out done themselves with flash-bang implausibility.  With its heady mix of misogyny in which two relatively innocent women are slaughtered, and its nod to “Team America: World Police” in its gay American destruction of European heritage (The Vatican) MI tries to cram in so many references to other sources.
    Need computers? The MI team abound with them, want to use you brain to solve a problem or produce a better story? The MI team will go find that brain for you, after an awful lot of chasing around.
    If you want an explosive mix of silliness and nutty plotting then MI-III is as good a way to spend a couple of hours as you can ask for; but by the end of it even I was tapping my feet in impatience at the predictability and the endless stunts, with even more silly computers popping up everywhere.  Can’t these American spies solve their problems without resorting to a local branch of “PCs R Us?”
    I used to love the original “Mission Impossible” TV series in which “Jim” and his hand-picked team would confound their enemies with their clever subterfuge and misdirection, but now it’s all more like an armed raid by a gang of dumb bank robbers.
    Verdict: A mission implausible.
  19. V for Vendetta
    [18/march/2006] Score: 7/10
    It’s about time someone remembered what autumn in Britain is really all about, not the merry chase after stupid American Halloween horrors, but the darker, nastier and far more political celebration of Bonfire Night.  On November the Fifth, when Treason and Plot rule and parliaments burn.
    Hope somebody’s warned Tony Blair about this film, maybe he’d like to ban it in case it gave us all ideas about terrorism?
    Verdict: A great sparkler.
  20. Aeon Flux
    [18/february/2006] Score: 5/10
    I’ve got to confess a bias here because when I first saw the Aeon Flux cartoons off MTV I knew they’d make a great film, and I wanted to make it. In the meantime we have this.
    This is pure and simply an “eviction from the garden of Eden” story, take the story of Genesis and wrap it up in a science fiction package, reinforce those good old Hollywood favourite middle American values, add a variant of the virgin birth sub-theme, and Aeon Flux is what you get.
    The science fiction story is a good subject, but the execution lacks a certain sharper edge I hoped to see. This may be to do with wanting to create the image of a future utopian society (always a dull place to live) then liven it up with a few snakes in the grass and a need to introduce a strong female action character and an intelligent subject.The end result leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating the characters and their motivations.
    Verdict: Blunted.
  21. Zathura
    [15/february/2006] Score: 6/10
    For children everywhere and adults who still remember those old fifties science fiction films of rocket ships and bug eyed monsters ruling the universe.  An imaginative and wonderful children’s adventure story.
    Verdict: Rockets Away!
  22. Underworld:Evolution
    [24/january/2006] Score: 5/10
    You really needed to see and remember the first film to understand what was going on in the second.,or buy them on video and watch them back-to-back as a single story about vampire evolution turning full circle through hundreds of years.
    Verdict: Another one bites the dust.
  23. Jarhead
    [17/january/2006] Score: 5/10
    Been there, (to war with the Marines), done that (got shouted at by the Sarg’t Major), got the T-Shirt (khaki green). ” Full Metal Jacket” for the Next Generation.  Anything new?  Erm, well, less cynical than its predecessor, less dramatic?  Great for the armchair heroes we’ve all become with our TV wars and video games.
    Verdict: “Hup! SIR!!”