Reviews & Rants, Films for You?
- I Am Legend
[29/dec/2007] Score: 6/10
And also known as “I Am A Repeat” as this is at least the third time I’ve seen the famous science fiction/horror novel”I Am Legend” turned into a movie, and if you’ve seen one version you’ve seen them all.
The story remains the same, a reversal of the original Drecula theme, of a lone human vampire hunter hiding in his “castle” in a world of vampires out for his juicy blood.
Up-dated for the modern world, the vampires being rather more CGI hyper-active, in a desolate empty landscape of New York city (shades of “28 Days Later”), this offers a good retelling for a new generation of viewers who haven’t yet seen Charlton Heston (“Omega Man”) or Vincent Price (“The Last Man On Earth”).
The only problems in this version are the usual glaring technical plotline questions typical in any Hollywood film, like how another survivor manages to cross to Manhattan Island when there are no bridges, and why doesn’t another nearby community of surviviors hear the hero’s radio calls for three years and come to his aid?
Verdict: A good nibble.
- St. Trinian’s
[22/dec/2007] Score: 6/10
E’ gads sir! What are standards in this world coming to when the girls’ hockey team of St Trainian’s put on such a poor show! I think this needs a STRONG LETTER to The Times!
Indeed I cannot say say stronger than to suggest that perhaps the educational standards of this esteemed establishment for young ladies has certainly lowered its hard and demanding liberal standards to permit so many feeble and weak girls to addend! How can such girls look up to their elders and seize the opportunities the world presents them on their entry to the adult world when they’ve lacked such a poor start in their lives?
I can only assume that we were not permitted to see the full truth by the weak lilly-livered socialists currently inhabiting our glorious parliament and that the true story will eventually be revealed, however it may upset those of a weaker disposition.
In the meantime, sir, I shall have to award this film one or two fewer votes that I might normally have been aroused to grant it.
[14/dec/2007] Score: 8/10
And such an enchanting, sweet film. Rather than poking fun at the idea of an overly-sweet Disney cartoon-turned-real-life, the producers and writers have kept the kind of natural innocence in the story that allows cartoon characters to pass easily into the real(?) world of New York and produced a great fun film for the family at Christmas.
- The Golden Compass
[8/dec/2007] Score: 6/10
Although this will be agreat crowd-pleaser for younger audiences who will be impressed by the spectacle to a point there are, I feel, huge holes in the story and charater development which deserved more attention.
Even if that would have lengthened the film, to Harry Potter proportions, it ought to have been done.
Here though the holes, a lack of depth and explanation which I suspect has been left out from the original book, give the story a hurried sense which ought to have been avoided as the producers try to cram the story into too small a time frame.
Verdict: Needed better navigation.
[1/dec/2007] Score: 5/10
Forget any sense of realism, this is nothing more, or less, than a frentic race through videogameland as a totally amateur Hollywood-style assassin blends into the crowds with his huge bald barcoded head, and blasts everyone in sight with even huger guns.
Although it lacks any depth (were the writers in a pre-Hollywood writers’ strike?), the film is nicely paced to race you from action to action, scene to scene without a thought for any sensibility. Perfect candyfloss for a damp Saturday afternoon movie.
Verdict: A hit, for those not yet men.
- August Rush
[23/nov/2007] Score: 10/10
All right, maybe I shouldn’t give this slushy romantic family film a full score but who’s to know when cinema audiences will be difficult to find for this magical Fairy Tale of New York (had to get that one in) about a nice Irish boy musician meeting a beautiful American girl musician one night in NY and conceiving of a beautiful child progedy they know nothing about until he grows up and creates the song that will bring them all together.
Problems abound with the film including Robin Williams giving us his interpretation of a musicial “Fagin” leading a gang of unruly talented street children, a wasted opportunity where more depth could have offered us reasons for his behaviour barely hinted at in the story. With other clear themes from Dickens the story lacks pure originality, but compensates for this with its magical beauty and the whole theme of music running through our souls and destinies carries you along to the end.
Verdict: Perfect composition.
- American Gangster
[17/nov/2007] Score: 8/10
Many people are comparing this with all sorts of other gangster films, whether Goodfellas, or The Godfather, they want to tell you this is as dramatic and intense as those other great films. It isn’t.
When I finished enjoying this long drawn out, richly detailed drama about New York gangsters my final thought was about “Serpico”.
This is in a sense a far more detailed, cooler, but still remarkably good tour through the 1960/70s rise of drug lords in New York. More authentic, being based on a true story, than the other US gangster movies, this gives you the grit that they lacked, no vast dramas, just the story of the rise and fall of the first moder major drug king and all the corrupt police who supported him.
Verdict: Cold bloody killing.
- Beowolf 3D
[15/nov/2007] Score 10/10
This is where it all began. If you’re looking for the inspiration for every Hollywood adventure, every great, and tall, tale then the 1400 year old Anglo-Saxon “Begwolf” is the beginning.
Nobel deeds that turn sour, battles against monsters, a hero’s quest, and deep dark seduction. It’s all here for the enjoyment in glorious 3D.
Verdict: Monstrously good.
[14/nov/2007] Score 5/10
If you want nice gentle acting, magnificent photography and subtle direction without all the crash, bangs of a “youth” move, then “Silk” is a gentle romantic story for you.
However, (spoiler ALERT don’t read on if you don’t want your enjoyment spoilt) it’s also a formulaic Victorian romance – involving rather wet characters who Do Rather Well in the world, then Suffer Tragically with the failure to have children, wander aimlessly through life before she dies of consumption (well, in most Victorian romantic tragedies it’s consumption).
So in a sense this is just as standardised as any regular Hollywood fare.
Verdict: Candy-Flossy, nice girl, but she died tragically.
- Lions For Lambs
[13/nov/2007] Score: 5/10
A lecture for all liberal Americans and a standard journey through the enduring American theme of Americans facing up to the fact that while all the rich white folk sit in their palatial homes and wonderful careers, whether college lecturer, senior journalist or ambitious politician, it’s the dirty skinned ones from their endless poor ghettos who die for the glory of white America.
Oh, and if you’re a serving soldier don’t laugh too loud at the Hollywood heroics of their fighting characters, we both know it’s complete nonsense.
Verdict: Lamb chops are tastier.
- Good Luck Chuck
[11/nov/2007] Score: 5/10
In an attempt to out-gross and out earn the grosses of American Pie, Good Luck Chuck thrusts deep into more than apple pies for its thrills, and while there may be a few moments of humour and adolescent sex (boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, etc.) in there the overall effect is an uninspired plod through the same old fields of not-so-imaginative romantic sex comedy., with the usual embarrassing moments, the usual failure to communicate and talk to each other that would avoid all the problems, the usual overacting stupidity, the usual race to get the girl at the end, etc., etc.
Verdict: Chuck it.
- Planet Terror
[10/11/2007] Score: 8/10
The second (first?) half of the “Grindhouse” movie duo from Tarantino and Rodriguez, this delayed and extended version of Robert Rodriguez’s contribution is closer to the crackly low budget styling than Tarantino’s and invokes memories all the trash-budget Sci-Fi zombie movies of the long lost age of the Grindhouse movie.
If you just want a trip back to that age, or you want a little trip to broaden your own film experience this is a fun way to do it.
Don’t take it seriously, but use it to inspire your own experience or your own ambitions in film production.
Verdict: Ground down and polished.
- Elizabeth: The Golden Age
[5/11/2007] Score: 8/10
Ahh, those were the days, when men, and women, were men, and small religious nuts really were small religious nuts, and not just “misunderstood”, easy to slaughter on the high seas by the might of the plucky English navy, and the odd huge storm.
None of this stupid political correctness or worry about the “innocent victims”, just get out there and chop their heads off, spike, them drown them, and so many other wonderfully simple ways to put the world right, bring down empires and build your own.
Of course we can’t have that nowadays, but it’s always nice to dream, and this is a dream, but once a reality, and we did win. (Bet New Labour in Britain would have had something to say about that!)
However, in all the glory of the special effects as the Armada got it in the neck from plucky little England I did feel that the scriptwriters were being overwhelmed by the visual impression of the film and could have done with a touch of the Shakespeare about them to match equal to the glory of the vision that was the beginning of Britain’s 300 year Golden Age.
- 30 Days Of Night
[3/11/2007] Score: 6/10
Nice vampire film, but although this has been billed as a new style for the new century of vampire films I found it very difficult to get my head around the idea of a hundred or so people managing to hide out for a month in a town that’s supposed to be infested with vampires, who obviously seem clever enough to ensure the town is isolated, then fail to conduct a thorough search of every building once the feasting begins.
As for the townsfolk. Like the vampires they seem to have left their brains behind when they moved to this town, because the story leaves so many questions and silly little details hanging around begging for answers, like – why go to a general store for food, etc., and not pick up some spare weapons, knives, axes, chainsaws, etc., especially as they had days to plan their move?
Verdict: 30 days of dimness?
- Nancy Drew
[2/11/2007] Score: 6/10
Forget your disbelief, just leave it at the door and enjoy this silly fish-out-of-water tale of young girl detective hitting big bad city of the angels.
The pace and the fact that everyone treats it seriously makes the suspension of disbelief that a fifteen(?) year old girl could out-fox adults at every step of the way so easy to accept.
Unlike my previous review The Dark Is Rising, Nancy Drew shows you can create a nice little story as long as you just carry the story along briskly, don’t try to over-stretch your audience’s disbelief and imagination, and take them of a nice ride.
Verdict: All Agents and Managers in Hollywood are evil.
- The Dark Is Rising
[30/10/2007] Score: 5/10
Derivative, exploitative and just good enough for many younger audiences, but not for a wider family, this story of a young boy finding he’s the last of the Old Ones (why are they always the last, and not the middle, or the first, or anything else, but the last, what happened to the rest of them?) and sent on a mysterious quest to find clues the thingies to save the world against The Dark.
As usual the goodies are all po-faced and wooden, and the baddies get all the good lines (they must have stolen them, that’s why they’re the baddies, boo-hiss!).
This will work for some younger ones until they get around to the wonders of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but with those latter majesties to enjoy any other youth/family fantasy has to stretch itself in new ways or with new subtleties.
Verdict: A dark future for many a scriptwriter I see.
[27/10/2007] Score: 6/10
This is a Michael Moore film, so forget any thought of objectivity and embrace the biases of this campaigner against all things greedy and Republican that is rotten in America. Here we have the wonders of the US medical system, the richest in the world, that leaves the destitute and poor to fend helplessly for themselves.
That Michael Moore then highlights other services around the world, like the British National Health Service, with an idealised glow that remains ignorant of the faults and failings any decent Briton could discuss at length, is only the product of his primary objective – to waken the people of America from their illusions and apathy and maybe, somewhere along the line, see them too benefit from a more civilized system of humanitarian health care.
Verdict: Oh look! A flying pig!
- Eastern Promises
[26/10/2007] Score: 7/10
Another quirky, low profile and gritty thriller from Director David Cronenberg in the style of “A History Of Violence”. If you’re expecting something dramatically glossy then the first twilight gray gloom of London ought to dissuade you of that illusion; and if you want a clear definitive conclusion to the story then seek elsewhere, but a small scale story about small people in a big situation, seen only from their point of view will satisfy you all the way.
This shows that you can create a great story from a small amount of material without the need to over-dramatise anything.
Verdict: Promises kept.
[20/oct/2007] Score: 8/10
When I first sat down to watch Stardust I was expecting an average fantasy tale, probably not up to the standard of a Harry Potter plot, but still good enough to pass the time, but as time passed and the story unfolded I was surprised by the pace, the wit and the style of a film that invokes that old-style fantasy story we’ve not seen since at least The Princess Bride.
Though some of it will go over the heads of the youngest in the audience this is a great story for children of all other ages and those who never really grew up.
- The Last Legion
[19/oct/2007] Score: 3/10
Avoid this ridiculous mish-mash of Hollywood-style “legend” as they try to mangle the Arthurian fantasy with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. But if you have to watch it then seriously suspend your disbelief and pass a couple of hours while you wait for something important.
Verdict: Load of cobblers.
[15/oct/2007] Score: 10/10
For originality can you beat the idea of a rat that wants to cook in a top Paris restaurant, and succeeds? And for suspension of disbelief: the humour, the drama, the swift pace of the story, the wonderful animation? All right, so this is a daft story idea, but it’s also a great piece of entertainment and a perfect way to spend a happy afternoon, and above all it doesn’t fall into the pit of sentimentality at the end.
Verdict: A Five Star serving *****
- Resident Evil: Extinction
[13/oct/2007] Score: 6/10
Zombies, people who have spent five years fighting zombies and make all the traditional mistakes (do they teach this in American schools – “Being Killed By Zombies 101”), big evil corporation dominating, the remains of, the world, and sexy babes slashing their way through it all.
Nice continuation of the first two films and a nice little twist at the end, but nothing spectacular.
Verdict: “The Zombie Formula!”
- The Heartbreak Kid
[8/oct/2007] Score: 5/10
There’s just something about Ben Stiller’s occasional over-the-top antics that doesn’t work for me. I don’t mind the bulk of his performances, but in every film he has to just overdo it. I guess it’s the American taste for the clown rather than subtle humour and romance which demands such behaviour, but it spoils what could be a good film and breaks the spell of a good story.
So it is with The Heartbreak Kid. I think it’s something to do with being a Neil Simon story from a few decades ago that still leaks through, the glaring mistakes, the gross misunderstandings when people just fail to explain themselves, we’ve seen so many times before. Perhaps with less knowledgeable, younger audiences this would be a good story, but somewhere along the way I got bored with all the predictability.
Verdict: Heartbreaking opportunity missed.
- Day Watch
[6/oct/2007] Score: 7/10
Second story in a trilogy of Russian Good v. Bad, vampire movies, and they just love trashing Moscow, what, don’t they like their home city?
Forget a Hollywood or any Western trasher/slasher bloodfests, this is more about the spiritual battle, of choices made and lives lived from their results.
Verdict: Bloody good.
- The Kingdom
[5/oct/2007] Score: 7/10
This is an extended and simplistic episode of CSI: Saudi, all about gung-ho Americans saving the lives of the Saudis from big, bad terrorists. Like all good heroic American films of the genre no one important dies, just everybody else. There’s the usual shouting loud at foreigners, and looking butch and really cool while up to you your elbows in mood mud, some racing around looking dashing, then a big finale, that’s it, end of story.
Now, if you ignore all that and look closely you will find a complex sympathetic portrayal of the Saudis and their situation.
Verdict: Shot well.
- The Brave One
[2/oct/2007] Score: 6/10
Exactly how “brave” is it to buy a gun in America and go on a killing spree?
This is a nice, comfortable fantasy story, glossy and sophisticated for those who live in New York are too stupid not to go down the park on a dark night and wear casually stylish Gap/DKNY clothes, the kind who think their high-paid careers protect them from the hunger on their doorsteps.
Well hey, it’s American so when the dream is disturbed you just go get yourself a gun and start shooting (why didn’t they think of that before going down that dark alley?).
So if you like your movies silly and glossy, and violent, but with a cute chick, then this is for you.
Verdict: Bang on entertainment.
- Michael Clayton
[29/sept/2007] Score: 7/10
A cool slow, paced and delicate attack on American’s favourite hate figures (apart form all the other hate figures) namely lawyers and big corporations (sorry, I mean evil big corporations).
If you like a good courtroom thriller, intelligent, and classy then this is one for you, unless you’re a lawyer or the MD of a big corporation.
Verdict: Right on the mark.
[25/sept/2007] Score: 6/10
If like me , you watched some of those trashy silly, low budget American films of the sixties and you part enjoyed and part cringed at their crass budgets, and their imagination on less than a shoestring then this is a perfect celebration from the master of grossed-out movies and who adores all those movies.
Like any connoisseur of the art, Tarantino gives us his unique interpretation and let’s the blood flow freely; but if you’re looking for a top-notch Tarantino film then look elsewhere. That’s not a criticism of him but of the critics who complain he wasn’t offering them their expectation, rather he was, as intended celebrating the sixties.
Verdict: Beyond the Vanishing Point.
[22/sept/2007] Score: 5/10
Like many films for the teen audience, this takes an older story (usually Shakespeare) and retells it for a younger audience, with added bikini clad girlies.
This is Hitchcock’s Rear Window for teens. a teen trapped at home all summer bored, begins spying on his neighbours, especially Miss Bikini 2007 next door (how come they always live next door, why not in the next street?) then stumbles on “Something Weird” in his other neighbour’s behaviour.
Never mind telling the police, or his mum, he’s off in his own teen hollywood fantasy hero world to save the day.
- Shoot ‘Em Up
[20/sept/2007] Score: 7/10
This should really be called a sequel to that earlier non-stop adrenaline rush “Crank”. Just turn on the hormones, female as much as male, and what a lot of female hormones are slushing around, and you’re running wild through the night, with babes, in both senses, and guns.
I have no idea why a man at a bus stop suddenly turns into a superhero with a gun, must be something to do with all those female hormones wafting around.
Verdict: Well shot babe.
- Run, Fat Boy, Run
[8/sept/2007] Score: 6/10
A romantic comedy with more comedy, less romance, and spare the slush Can’t be an American one, must be British, and golly gosh, look, a nasty American rotter out for our hero’s fair maiden.
And rising to the challenge is Brit slob, who of course makes a complete ass of himself then, kind of, wins the girl and lives, happily.
Verdict: A fun run.
[1/sept/2007] Score: 6/10
I’ll give this a moderate award for not being a regular Hollywood spy film (they just can’t do spying as good as the British) and based on a true story helps in a way as this tells the final months in the investigation to one of American’s biggest spy scandals that cost the lives of until number of agents around the world as one American traitor unraveled decades of work.
As it is based on reality the writers and producers are restricted in what they can say and how, but they do pull off a good thriller about betrayal and the kind of people who do it.
- Knocked Up
[30/aug/2007] Score: 5/10
This is supposed to be a romantic comedy and totally implausible, even more than regular romantic comedies, in introducing a glamorous girlie to a superslobby nerd. No, it doesn’t work. The whole theme of romantic comedies is that we’re supposed to like both parties and yearn for them to get together, not want to sit and shout at the girl to run for the hills or want to smack her for getting into such trouble in the first place.
Verdict: Knock it off!
- The Bourne Ultimatum
[18/aug/2007] Score: 6/10
Taking the final lap around the block running with Bourne we see this story conclude his own recovery from his loss of memory while the super-agents of America are able to track his every move yet never catch him.
How come they can always put agents in place anywhere in the world (don’t passport control know when to stop a huge army of men with big black briefcases and long sweeping coats from entering the county?), they have every computer you can name and instant blueprints on every building in the world and can tap into every security system you care to name, and still can’t catch him?
Makes you wonder.
Verdict: Ultimately, the end?
- The Hoax
[8/aug/2007] Score: 5/10
Based on a true story about one man’s scheme to write a fictional biography about one of the worlds’ greatest recluses, without realising he was dealing with one of the world’s greatest political players, and was chewed up and spat out as a result.
Can you really create a charming film about such sleazy goings on? If nothing else it’s a good lesson in the dangers of trying to take on the really big boys and their really big games.
Verdict: The truth.
- Evan Almighty
[8/aug/2007] Score: 5/10
I don’t mind a good comedy, even one about god appearing to tell you to save the world, and all the lumber to build an ark suddenly turning up, but then to have the character try to keep it a secret from his family? Why? Doesn’t he love and respect them?
As for a warning about a flood, in the middle of the country. Surely someone intelligent enough to have excelled in his career in TV reporting and politics, well, okay, maybe just your average person, would have taken a look around and noticed the huge dam at the head of the valley and started thinking seriously about all that lumber?
Verdict: Thank god for, well, god.
- The Simpsons
[28/july/2007] Score: 8/10
The world’s most loving, loyal and dysfunctional family come to ruin the world then save it from pollution and an excess of doughnuts.
[21/july/2007] Score: 9/10
This is hysterical, fun, entertaining, fast-paced, nonsense, a racing laugh through the drama of the end of the world if the evil robots get the thingy before the good robots. Great for all grow up boys, and some girls, with a huge toy box of guns, tanks, planes, big, huge, enormous cars, and cute girls.
Great entertaining interpretation of the original kiddie show.
Oh, and I would have given this 10/10 for pure entertainment, except the producers, as in Die Hard 4.0, featured a fat computer geek, which cost them one point.
Verdict: A transformation.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
[14/july/2007] Score: 10/10
I’ve not given a ten out of ten for entertainment for a while but I felt that the textural depth of the story’s presentation, briskly moving through so many characters and developments in just over two hours and appealing to children of all ages deserved some acknowledgement.
The story is a darker one than previous trips to Potter’s Hogwarts, and might not have suited the youngest children, but then again I’m sure those who’ve grown up with the wee Wizard will have matured enough to handle his latest adventure.
If there has to be a criticism I felt that the story was more abbreviated than I suspect the book, many characters, many situations all vying for that limited time onscreen and only a few were permitted their opportunity to rise above the race through this adventure; but that’s what books are for.
Score: A wizard story!
- Die Hard 4.0
[7/july/2007] Score: 7/10
Computer terrorism to terrify the timid masses.
When I went to see this earlier today I told a friend that if this film contains a typical Hollywood stereotype of a computer geek – overweight nerd living at home – I’d downgrade this film by at least one point. Which is what I did.
Ever since Hollywood discovered nerds, and the awesome power they wield over the rest of the world, they’ve been portrayed like this. I first came on this anti-nerd culture in Jurassic Park and I see it hasn’t been remedied.
As for the rest of the Die Hard story, great fun with some an added curiosity – that John MaClean’s daughter actually looks like his daughter, by which I mean instead of getting in some useless blonde here the actress bears a resemblance to the original characters of the first film and adds an interesting twist of realism (just an aside really but interesting).
The rest of the action is darkly humorous and over-the-top, with two great imaginative stunts involving aircraft versus ground vehicles.
As we’ve come to know and enjoy in Die Hrds films the baddies are predominantly euro-baddies and the goodies are all-American superheroes. What more can you ask for, there are even a couple of sly hints at James Bond in the dialogue and acrobatic action.
Verdict: Keep moving, Die another day.
- Shrek The Third
[2/july/2007] Score: 5/10
There are too many characters, too many quick changes of action and scene, and too many adult references for this to work as a purely children’s entertainment. It’s fast, noisy and has a nice simple fairytale-like story, but also lingers on a a few adult scenes and themes that will bore children, or adults with infantile minds – teenagers and politicians).
I realise that the Shrek audience are not really the littlest children it’s aimed at but the older children who already know all the original fairytales (preferably the Grimm and not the Disney versions) and enjoy the jokes at the expense of the original stories, but I have a sense that there’s a little too much adult story drifting in there when an alternative writing of a few scenes could have made the same point without boring the youngest in the audience.
Shrek is still great fun, but raced through so much, so quickly I got dizzy at times.
Verdict: Third time unlucky?
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
[16/june/2007] Score: 6/10
Where other comic books transferred to the big screen develop the characters and their lives the Fantastic Four focus on the comic book, and comic, action of this four super heroes. For example we have no development or exploration of the relationship between Mr Fantastic and Invisible Woman before we’re launching into the wedding ceremony, compare that to the three films that Spiderman/Peter Parker has spent wooing and agonising over Sarah Jane.
A brisk, brief story, only 90 minutes, sweeps us through the story as a steady pace getting down to the action of saving the world and wrapping everything up nicely, for now.
This is a nice, undemanding, compact story with a few of the usual Hollywood flashes, and a quick flash of a nude Invisible Woman to satisfy the boys in the audience, to keep it going. Want more? Go visit your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman.
Verdict: Fun 4 all.
- Ocean’s Thirteen
[8/june/2007] Score: 6/10
Nothing jumps out about this cool and clever caper movie, better than the second Ocean’s film, but not as good at the first, where we had a chance to see and enjoy all of the eleven with their own distinctive skills. Here we know everyone and their talents but somehow seem to have lost some of the adventure along the way, we know they’re going to rob the casino, we know it’s going to be a clever trick, so just sit back and enjoy the fun.
It did deserve two viewings for me to catch on to everything that happened with such a fast, complicated plot and such a large list of characters, were there thirteen, or was that fourteen, or fifteen??
Verdict: Bet on it for a fun time.
- Wedding Daze
[1/june/2007] Score: 5/10
Should this have gone straight to video, or was it released as a light-hearted and fluffy antidote to this summer’s almost endless stream of big, bold, expensive sequels? Either way Wedding Daze is a sweet little silly romantic story of boy meets girl, and gets her. With just enough hiccups along the way to the wedding chapel to ensure they really are made for each other the story spins along without a single controversial bone in its body. And best of all, it’s not a sequel!
Verdict: I’m in a daze of delight.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
[26/may/2007] Score: 6/10
After the rubbery computer special effects of the second Pirates movie this third and final(?) one in the series brings everyone out to play at Pirates, with a lot of Yo, ho ho, but not a bottle of rum in sight (must think of the kiddies in the audience). If you want value for money from your movie ticket then Pirates III is a great investment in your nearly three hours, and with its slightly unexpected (I was enjoying myself too much to think about it all) finale it leaves the door open for the slim possibility of further Pirates to zoom over the horizon in the future.
Some scenes were a mite too long, but you have so many characters, each deserving their moment of heroic daring-do, there has to be time for them all, and the producers have to show where their huge investment went.
Not as original or inspired as the first film, but then we all know too much about our favourite pirates to be surprised by all they can get up to the story surges through a huge scope like a good galleon surging through the waves in pursuit of her prey.
Verdict: A jolly roger good show.
- The Painted Veil
[19/may/2007] Score: 6/10
Just for some relief from idiot scripts we have something classically adult and dramatic. A lonesome, soulful love story set in that distant age of British Empire when “bright young things” left for far shores to make their fortune or do “good works” on behalf of the local peasants, and then mostly end up dying of “something nasty”. Well, it makes a relief from a happy ending.
Verdict: Reality behind the veil.
- 28 Weeks
[12/may/2007] Score: 5/10
It’s a zombie movie with all our safety and trust placed in US troops. Which is another way of saying, look out, duck, take cover and then run for your lives as that pesky rage virus is about to leap out and get all the people who survived its previous outing, despite all the efforts of the US of A to firebomb and blast London into sterility.
If you like your zombie movies cut fast and violently then this one serves up the main course from start to finish; but if you prefer something more intelligent then switch your brain off well before watching this one. (Why do they always leave infected zombies alone in unguarded and unmonitored rooms where just anyone can stroll in and let them loose into the very heart of your community of survivors? How can zombies follow you for hours without you noticing, then suddenly pop up from nowhere to bite you just as you relax?)
Verdict: Leaves me in a rage.
- Spiderman 3
[4/may/2007] Score: 8/10
It took a couple of visits to get the full extent of the story and the sheer size and movement amongst all the varied characters. From brining in new enemies and the parasite symbiant Venom to Sandman and Spiderman’s confrontation with his friend and enemy Green Goblin jnr, this throws so much character progression at you that you feel as if the writers were just trying to grab everything they could into a last final fling at the Spiderman franchise. They weren’t.
This Spiderman continues the story of Peter Parker and his relationships, with friends, enemies, lover and workmates. In a sense it can be seen as one on which he begins to grow up and establish himself in the adult world, faces up to temptations and fails to understand women (normal life then).
It may seem a lot to handle in one film, where the pared down confrontation of Spiderman v. Octopus in S2 appeared much simpler, but then there is a lot to deal with and with Spiderman’s life expanding we see the story stretching in new areas, especially as Peter Parker’s ego is given full vent in this, from public adulation to intense and violent revenge against his enemies.
The core of this story is relationships, if you look through everything else, the fights, the enemies, at its heart this is a young man learning to deal with people and his own power. And making the kind of messes we all do.
- Reno 911! Miami
[1/may/2007] Score: 4/10
We all need a few idiot stories about Americans on the loose and this is the year’s fine upstanding antidote to all the cop shows where serious hardened professionals solve the most intricate crimes with unlimited forensic science and special effects budgets. I just about stayed through it.
Verdict: An arresting experience.
[30/april/2007] Score: 2/10
Put it this way, I walked out halfway through this dreary British crime and revenge “thriller”. Predictable and so slowly paced that even I couldn’t be bothered waiting to any kind of climax on it. I appreciate it was produced on a tiny British budget and former X-Files lead Gillian Anderson did her best to play posh English girl, but this just didn’t hold the attention, didn’t grip, didn’t do anything, and the whining male lead character was just too unsympathetic to accept.
Verdict: Straight out of my head.
[28/april/2007] Score: 6/10
A nice little premonition type movie that doesn’t fall too deeply into standard CIA paranoia conspiracy and treats its main protagonist with more sympathy than just a tool to be hunted down and used for other’s benefit.
The advantage, granted through the use of modern special effects, is that ability to convey to the audience how someone with the ability to see a couple of minutes into their own future life would use such a talent, seeing all the possible outcomes of any action they take. This allows you to understand and enjoy using such a talent.
So, the problem? There is one big hole in the story and that’s the key driving force behind much of it – the relationship between man and girl he meets in the diner. There is no real exploration or explanation into this aspect, how is he connected so strongly. As she’s the key to so much that subsequently occurs I found it a major gap in the plot that nothing really happens to answer this questions. She’s just the token motivation and nothing else, yet without here nothing else can happen.
Verdict: Talent, without a heart.
- Alpha Dog
[25/april/2007] Score: 5/10
The true tale of rich white trash in the hood. Over-pampered middle class white kiddies playing white niggers for want of any culture or lives of their own, and the culture of drug-induced selfish pleasure pursued by parents and passed down to their brats.
No sympathy with any of them.
But a relatively good film exploring a mental and spiritual wasteland.
- The Reaping
[23/april/2007] Score: 5/10
This begins well as a story of science versus superstition and the plot throughout suggests that reason will win over religion.
Shame it doesn’t and instead turns into a regular plotline of weird hicks in the sticks doing things that are sick, with the tradtional ending opening on a door into a sequel (if anyone can be bothered).
Nicely played, but in the end a dissatisfyingly dull production, it’ll pass the time with Hilary Swank’s lovliness as the main, only(?), attraction.
Verdict: Unimpressed with this harvest.
[21/april/2007] Score: 7/10
This is more intelligent than the average courtroom drama and Anthony Hopkins devours his character with such dialogue and detail that you just sit back and delight in the flow of the story.
And it’s as predicable as any regular TV Colombo episode as we see the evil doings at the beginning then have to work out whether the cops and DA will solve the crime the way we did half-way through the movie.
This shows what you can achieve with a reasonably intelligent script and a good budget producing an above-average detective thriller without the aggressive melodramatic shootouts and wild car chases thrown into many of them nowadays.
Verdict: A cracking good story.
- Curse of the Golden Flower
[16/april/2007] Score: 4/10
One way to look at this title is to imagine it’s a Woody Allen movie. Another way to look at the film is as a standard soap opera – a family in dispute, tearing itself apart in squabbles across the generations.
That’s about it.
If you’ve seen one Flying Leaping Bounding Tiger Dragon movie you’ve seen them all. Sumptuous sets and attention of mythological detail with thousands of troops slaughtering each other doesn’t make up for a more entertaining story.
[15/april/2007] Score: 7/10
Although a derivative story about loyalty, betrayal and redemption this story a far more than just a straight-to-video action thriller we see churned out on a regular basis. Exploring the profession of the sniper and the threats posed to modern leaders from enemies both internal and external it gives us a non-heroic, sympathetic view of military people and their loved ones serving their country irrespective of the corruption surrounding them.
It has all the hallmark elements of a regular thriller, but managed to exceed them with its depth of details and its careful avoidance of many simplistic story and action tricks.
Verdict: Well shot.
[6/april/2007] Score: 4/10
This film doesn’t just insult your intelligence, it takes it behind the pub for a good kicking then throws the remains in the canal.
Any science fiction enthusiast is advised to switch his or her brain off as the beginning and treat this as a silly comedy film. All the standard features of almost every Hollywood movie are there: loss of communications with Earth, computers that talk back then fail (the Apollo missions to the moon only needed a handful of circuits compared to modern technology), radios that break, no backups, spares or failsafe technology, a vulnerable spaceship that breaks at the first hint of trouble and an egotistical, dysfunctional crew of half-brained idiots led by a weak inexperienced commander who couldn’t even spot a clue if it was written on the deck with fluorescent paint and big arrows pointing at it.
Star Trek fans and teenagers might take this seriously but no one else.
(Footnote – I now plan to write my own response to this script, a thriller that will give you an intelligent adventure and not more mush like this.)
- Amazing Grace
[5/april/2007] Score: 4/10
A worthy cause, remembering the first step in the British abolition of the slave trade, is lost in a confusing storyline that bounces from one character and scene to another with little to hold and draw the viewer into this complex, dramatic, historic turning point.
What ought to have been a strong narrative of one man as the spokesman of a great movement ends up in a directionless mess.
So did it meander that I wandered off half way through.
[24/march/2007] Score: 8/10
This retells, in comic book style, the legendry story of King Leonides, his three hundred Spartans and the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian invasion, and it shows exactly how cinema and modern techniques can create a stunning memorable visual impression as legendry as the story itself.
Using the latest state of the art for the production it is a visual celebration of the eternal myth of a few standing against many at a turning point in history. The way all the Persian characters are grossly enlarged against the plucky little Spartans, the story is partly told in voiceover by the narrator, just as such a story would have been told from town to town and city to city over the last two and a half thousand years, the film has been produced a a stark, Spartan, style the evokes those ancient times in our own mind’s eye.
- Sleeping Dogs
[17/march/2007] Score: 6/10
A wickedly nasty black-comedy that pushes the movie boundary a little further all about the sexual experience of one girl growing up and leaning about life, and how sometimes you really should let sleeping dogs lie rather than face the eruptions that come from revealing all.
[16/march/2007] Score: 5/10
While I enjoy a good spooky story like everyone there seemed to be a little less imagination here than we should expect in a world saturated with ghostly, spooky, psychic stories. By now the chief character, played by Sandra Bullock, should know when she’s being given a chance to alter here destiny from all her vivid dreams, but she spends most of her time sleep-walking through every experience.
I suspect that we have here a post-9/11 theme of pre-destination and loss to satisfy American audience’s hunger.
Verdict: I can see it coming.
[10/march/2007] Score: 4/10
It’s yet another, low budget, loud-mouthed London gangster movie.
- The Science Of Sleep
[22/feb/2007] Score: 4/10
surreal adventure of a man permanently lost in a world of his own imagination and still seeking love in the real world. Bit like the rest of us.
- Hot Fuzz
[17/feb/2007] Score: 6/10
One man can save the world, of little tiddlington, or wherever, as a tough super-successful cop from London is transferred to the remotest, sleepiest village you can imagine because his success was embarrassing his bosses.
What begins as a quiet village soon turns into something nasty in the undergrowth as the local yokels reveal their dread dark secret.
- Blood Diamond
[21/jan/2007] Score: 7/10
At first I though this would be another silly Hollywood appeal on behalf of poor, innocent middle class protest groups to stop the world trade in something that helps poor people survive in the third world, like drugs. But I was surprised to find a more richly details and realistic story about the trade in diamonds and how it paid for wars and revolutions in Africa during the 1990s.
Perhaps next they can make one about the war for oil in Iraq to pay for poor innocent American corporations: Blood Oil?
Verdict: Bloody good.
- Miss Potter
[10/jan/2007] Score: 6/10
Inspiring, gentle biography of Beatrix Potter, her efforts to achieve independence in the repressive world of Victorian England (hasn’t changed a lot) through her unique writing of children’s stories. although I’m sure much more could be said about her this story of Miss Potter certainly provides one source of hope for anyone else who wants to follow her example of personal achievement and how she used her success and wealth for the wider common good of preserving the beauty of the English countryside.
Verdict: Bunny bountiful.
[6/jan/2007] Score: 6/10
Now the dilemma with reviewing this is that while we have a richly detailed view of life in the Mayan civilization in the final days before the arrival of European conquerors, and a dramatic story of a native tribe’s doom, we also have too many uninventive plot devices for our hero. Whether a handy trap in the jungle to catch your pursuers unawares, a convenient waterfall to evade capture, or the local (there’s one near every evil castle) eclipse of the sun to scare the high priests everything in the screenwriter’s bag of tricks is pulled out, dusted off and laid out for all to see. Did I mention the evil portents and the Prophetic Witch?