Reviews & Rants, Films for You?
- Bedtime Stories
[31/dec/2008] Score: 6/10
Some of this will bore children, its adult theme of selfish greed, learning from experience, romance and relationships will pass them by, but that’s restrained sufficiently to avoid distracting them completely from the silly, childish, fantasy world created by the storyteller and still makes a reasonable afternoon out for the family.
[30/dec/2008] Score: 7/10
Promoted as a grand drama of the outback in the early years of world war two this misfires on that point only because the promoters got it so wrong – this is a fun, silly, dramatic over-the-top comicbook adventure tale in the old tradition of Saturday movies. With everything thrown in from the grand vistas of the outback, through the wacky and excessively enthusiastic Nicole Kidman’s English Mistress, and on to the magical mysterious aboriginal blackfellas on walkabout. throwing in assorted baddies and eccentric British Colonials and you have plenty to amuse and entertain you, as long as you don’t take it as seriously as some reviewers and promoters.
Verdict: Magically romantically dramatically Australian.
- Yes Man
[27/dec/2008] Score: 7/10
A great satire on that American obsession for self-improvement, as long as you follow the lead of the current fashion guru or motivational speaker to replace one set of delusions, your life, with another, your new life.
Verdict: Yes! You can enjoy it!
- A Bunch Of Amateurs
[22/dec/2008] Score: 7/10
In the ancient traditional style of Olde Merrie England, the fine and ancient world of English comedy, here we pay a visit to the quaint village of Stratford, not that one the other one, and that great game of Clash Of Cultures, wherein “A Notable & Famous Thespe Shall Do Battle With Village Idiots For Our Entertainment!”
And so it comes to pass that after Painful Starts, after Confusions, and Ill-communications, Misunderstandings, and much more, an Understanding Will Arise, and Great Wonders Ensue.
Verdict: Verily I say, ’tis quite good.
[20/dec/2008] Score: 6/10
Amidst a cloud of female hormones in the audience, burbling like an overflowing brook at the sight of the male star, I sat to gaze in wonder at this vampire tale. I wondered what all the fuss was about, I wondered at how to raise money for my script if I could up with something so soppy and daft, and I wondered where was Buffy when you needed her?
Verdict: In the twilight everything is dim.
- Madagascar Escape 2 Africa
[19/dec/2008] Score: 7/10
If I wanted to show children a good example of petty bickering between idle friends then the four heroes of this animal tourist trip to Africa with the nutters from New York is a perfect lesson in silly squabbling; and if I wanted to show them a great example of hard work, enterprise, innovation and sheer genius, then I’d take them to see the penguins and monkeys in action.
While to story slips up here and there with a few too adult and American cultural references that will fly over the heads of the children in the audience the optimistic fun of the whole thing should keep them all engaged for a good, quite hour and a half.
Verdict: Life’s a Zoo.
[18/dec/2008] Score: 6/10
One of those strange innovations in recent years, a story that gets its core inspiration from recycling other stories and mashes lots of their themes together, as magic tongues turn words in a thousand storybooks into reality. This is great for younger children who haven’t been too exposed to the printed word and deed, and who might be inspired to set out on a quest of their own down to the Great Library of Wonders, but will appeal less well to older, better read children in need of more innovative originality after being exposed to the likes of Harry Potter.
Verdict: The Power of the Word.
- The Day The Earth Stood Still
[12/dec/2008] Score: 4/10
If there was ever a good way to observe the dumbing down of our society over the last fifty years then a clear comparison between this idiot movie the the more mature and intelligent original highlights it to perfection.
A senseless mishmash of American-centric Hollywood nonsense (I didn’t see the world stopping still?), here any sense of an intelligent story has been abandoned in favour of glossy and superficial special effects, and wise scientists are discarded in favour of a hot-headed, trigger-happy military.
As for the message the alien is supposed to deliver? Well that gets lost in the post somewhere between here and the Outer Magellanic Cloud.
Verdict: The Day The Earth Lost Its Brain.
- Transporter 3
[6/dec/2008] Score: 7/10
Another trip in a hot car, with a hot girl for some hot action. Transport yourself to a world where real men rule with grit, skill and determination and the baddies are simple and stuffed from the moment they say “I need you to transport something for me”. A perfect antidote to a cold, damp winter afternoon.
Verdict: Respect The Driver.
- Body Of Lies
[22/nov/2008] Score: 6/10
A pretty, glossy, action-packed, racy, by-the-numbers topical middle eastern spy film of Americans lost in the maze of intrigue and cross-cultural miscommunication and misunderstandings while fighting the evil el-kyddah, or whatever it’s spelt. As usual the “innocent” younger one gets his life twisted and twirled around as he finds himself at the end of the same techniques he’s used on everyone else just as America has become bogged down in Iraq, trapped in ancient ideas and cultures it barely understands.
Verdict: Spy harder, please?
- Zack and Miri Make A Porno
[17/nov/2008] Score: 3/10
Romantic comedies are the most difficult stories to write, and you can tell how difficult in this over-the-top nonsense. If you like this kind of slacker/dummy movie, about a group of twentysomethings stumbling through and struggling to survive their own air-headed lives then this is the film you need to stupefy your brains, but if you want something a little sharper, funnier and more subtle then this is NOT for you. In the end lots of sex and nudity doesn’t make a great comedy, just an embarrassing mess.
Verdict: Limp and sexless.
- Max Payne
[15/nov/2008] Score: 6/10
Comic book nonsense, comic book visual style and simple action with little attempt to dress up the characters or flesh out any relationships. These thinly sketched characters (why does a woman take any role in this, what’s her background, just to look pretty and show up with a gun and the right moment?) race through the drugged-out gloom of their own misery and try to fathom out why Max’s wife was murdered (why does the cop’s wife always get murdered, don’t cops know any better to protect them??). Despite all this, it’s a reasonably satisfying story the keeps up the pace and glosses, and races, over the cracks to a reasonable conclusion.
Verdict: Max. pain, min. think.
- Quantum of Solace
[1/nov/2008] Score: 9/10
This is not a distinctly new Bond film, but a continuation of “Casino Royale”, taking the action immediately on from where it ended with Bond racing through Italy in a powerful non-stop chase that follows all the leads he gathers from the mysterious power-brokers behind his lover, Vesper Lynnd’s, death through to it’s final conclusion and a satisfactory end.
Like Casino Royale it takes the new up-date and very gritty Bond further into the realm of spies rather than gadgets and girls, although both remain present in their own modern fashion.
The key problems with the film are its slight mimicking of elements in the Borne Identity, suggesting either a writing team or director who wasn’t as creative with his handling of action; but apart from this you have a shorter (at 105 minutes), tighter Bond movie that ties up the loose ends of the earlier one and adds more beef to the new Bond, in readiness for the next installment.
Verdict: More than a Quantum of Quality.
- Burn After Readings
[18/oct/2008] Score: 5/10
Second of today’s spy films rushed out before 007 kills them all.
If Eagle Eye (below) was “The Government Knows Everything, and They’re Watching You”, then Burn After Reading is “The Government might sort of know something, but they’re not sure what it is, and anyway it’ll probably all go away in a minute”.
This is the other extreme of government “intelligence” in which a series of interconnected events and fundamentally daft, “ordinary”, characters incapable of holding a civilized conversation that would have prevented any of this occurring, lead through a growing accumulation of confusion and mishap, then all blows away in the wind of events.
A bit like the real world then.
If you wanted a truly great Coen brothers film this wasn’t it. Seeming a little too obscure in a way and not as coherent a story as you might expect from past experiences of their work it still has a few thoughts to offer. As for the performances of the A-list stars recruited in this. Hmmmmm, not quite sure they really fit the normally down-to-earth quirkiness of a Coen Brothers film – a little too over-the-top for my tastes in this.
Verdict: Intelligence community?
- Eagle Eye
[18/oct/2008] Score: 7/10
The first of today’s spy movies.
If you want your spy movies filled with races, chases and blown away faces as masks are torn away and everyone races to save the world (America) amidst a non-stop fury of explosions and shoot-outs, then this blazing race to the finish is for you. A thrill ride through the normal paranoia of big brother gone mad as a secret terrorist agency sets two innocent Americans into motion under the threat of death ever looking over their shoulders as they race through the country commanded like pawns by a mysterious voice on the phone to some unknown destination.
If you suspend your disbelief, or just send it out to the pub for a couple of hours, then this nonsense is great entertainment. Revisiting those long-ago but never forgotten themes of 1984 big brother infiltrating every technical gadget you own (I’m still waiting for my watch to start giving me instructions) and able to penetrate even the most obscure computer system in a flash (hello, is that my watch telling me something? what’s that? tick, and tock?) the seemingly omniscient power of computers are everywhere in everything and under control of…
Verdict: Keep an Eye out, they’re watching.
[17/oct/2008] Score: 2/10
This is a mess of a film that mimics Tim Burton’s dark fantasy animation work without the sense of an audience and an integrated storyline.
If this film is aimed at children the many references made to Hollywood monster films, the Hollywood insider gags and references, the grown up American slang and numerous other aspects of the story will be too far beyond their comprehension.
And if this is aimed at adults the silliness of the plotline, which veers from dark comedy (sort of) to, well, silliness, will be below them.
The fact that the theme is supposedly dedicated early on to the pursuit and reward of evil deeds doesn’t help endear it to anyone wanting to take children into it.
- The House Bunny
[11/oct/2008] Score 6/10
I went to see the film on the basis that it was written by the same people behind the witty romantic comedy “Legally Blonde”, but here sheer blondness seems to have won over any attempt at nurturing an intelligent character as she parades naive innocence like it was the latest high street fashion and she was its Queen Here’s a former bunny girl being as sweet and cute as a mountain of sugar coated chocolate bunnies, as she struggles to make some kind of sense of the big wide world beyond the Playboy Mansion, and very little else
Having said that the predominantly, and surprising, teenage girl audience audience seem to have enjoyed themselves.
Verdict: Hop along to take a bit.
- City Of Ember
[11/oct/2008] Score 6/10
A moderately good children’s adventure film if you don’t stop to ask too many questions and if you haven’t seen all the other better adventure films in recent years, like the whole DVD set of Indiana Jones or most of Harry Potter.
The premise is daft in setting the world inside some kind of enormous underground refuge from the outside world gone mad due to some unknown disaster; but the idea of keeping hundreds or thousands of people safe and ignorant smacks of stupidity in the real world if you ever want to prepare them for the eventual restoration of mankind. As for leaving a string of elaborate and silly clues in the hands of one person, and written in easily destroyed paper for 200 years suggests some things aren’t worth saving, like all the planners behind such an idea.
Verdict: Take a little ride down here.
- How To Loose Friends & Alienate People
[4/oct/2008] Score: 8/10
Another story inspired by a true story (see The Duchess). Apart from the obvious predictable element in every good romantic comedy this anti-romantic comedy fulfills everything you’d want in a couple of hours’ fun, and hysterical laughter, and if the ending seems a little contrived to wrap it up properly remember it’s based on a true story, and that was the true outcome.
Verdict: Take your friends, and keep them, with this.
- The Duchess
[2/oct/2008] Score: 8/10
Inspired by the true life of the 18th Century Duchess of Devonshire, a Princess Diana cultural icon of her times, this is a remarkable insight into one high class woman’s experience of the age before female liberation. Informative, mesmerising and entertaining in equal measure and recommended for anyone wanting something more than the usual Hollywood nonsense.
Verdict: A classy lady.
- Righteous Kill
[27/sept/2008] Score: 5/10
A morality story of cops become corrupted by their own power and the frustration of dealing with an inept judicial and legal system, taking the law into their own hands until they find the edge of their world unraveling. Having two major film stars doesn’t make it any better, in this generally over-dramatised story full of so many red herrings that you need a trawler to scoop them all up from the sea of confusion.
Verdict: Missed target, missed opportunity, kill it.
- Death Race
[27/sept/2008] Score: 8/10
We’ve seen the Great Futuristic Escape often before – the innocent man convicted and sent to The Hardest Prison In The World (of America) before making his dash for freedom, but that doesn’t make it any less fun when combined with some talented production skill, a neat little story, some very hot cars and equally hot girls, and the fun begins.
Verdict: Race for it before it vanishes.
[26/sept/2008] Score 6/10
And so we see once again the great myth of the West – where do all the people live? Think about it, as you trot through this gentle western in the “Olde” style, of a town dominated by a Big Corporation (rancher) and plucky little cops ride into town to save the day, even if they have to bend or break all the rules to do so; but where do all the people live? I mean, where in these symbolic western towns we see in every recent film are the houses? We have the barn and the saloon, the sheriff’s office/jail and the barbershop, the general store and the church, plus the little railway station, but where are the homes for all the folk who use all these shops? Are all the plucky townsfolk homeless, or are the living 18 to a room in the only single house I saw in this film, we need to know these things, while the determined grit of the sheriff beats the bad man.
Verdict: Head for the sunset.
[26/sept/2008] Score 7/10
This is a good educational film to warn your teenage daughter what’s going to happen to her when she demands a gap year, buy it for her seventeenth birthday, along with a year’s subscription to a karate training course.
It’s also a great movie for Americans, featuring as it does all their current hate figures, the Arabs and the French, and a wonderful upbeat, fluffy Californian Dreaming ending.
Verdict: Quite taken by it all, but make sure your daddy is a CIA agent.
- Tropic Thunder
[24/sept/2008] Score: 8/10
Surprisingly great satire of the whole Hollywood process, because unlike many “gross” American comedies it’s just restrained enough to avoid overdoing it, keeps up a good steady pace throughout and what a great dance scene from Tom Cruise.
Verdict: Thunderous applause at the Oscars – in your dreams!
[16/sept/2008] Score: 7/10
This is Guy Ritchie’s film, version three, involving, as it does, a thingy, this one being a painting, that’s lost amidst a veritable flood of colourful Cockerney characters replete with guns and ammo, a very bad Mr. Big who gets his comeuppance and an assortment of slightly sinisterly silly Foreigners, this time Russians.
So there you are, the Guy Ritchie gangster game, great fun for all the family, gang, mob and all your mates, chums, lads, guys and the occasional doll.
Verdict: It rocks guv, and it’s dun’ sorted, again.
- Pineapple Express
[13/sept/2008] Score: 8/10
Portrayed as a comedy I came, on watching, to see this as a detailed clear insightful documentary on the lifestyles of white middle class West Coast American entrepreneurs struggling to earn a living in the desolate landscape that is LaLa land.
Over several days we follow their attempts to earn a living, form friendships and relationships and engage in a series of competitive activities with other entrepreneurs of their ilk, before we leave them to their ongoing adventures and discoveries in life.
Verdict: An express trip to, somewhere else.
- Bangkok Dangerous
[11/sept/2008] Score: 5/10
And very normal and familiar it is too, the standard tale of the assassin who suddenly realizes there’s more and better to the world than murder, and finds his awakened conscience is the cause of his downfall. Well, if you haven’t seen the story before it makes a good couple of hours to while away on a damp afternoon.
Verdict: Hunting for the danger.
- Get Smart
[3/sept/2008] Score: 6/10
Not as bad as I thought it would be, the rise of a not-so-smart secret agent to save the day when all around him can’t. Expecting it to be another way-out, wild and wacky comedy I find it had a little more restraint and maturity than I would have hoped for, and this, with a few good gags, raised it in my view.
- Babylon A.D.
[30/sept/2008] Score: 5/10
A euro-mess of a movie that throws a variety of well-known science fiction princess-in-peril storylines and ideas at you and leaves you dissatisfied at the rather wet, inconclusive ending. Was the hero’s journey all that worthwhile?
Verdict: A quest to nowhere.
- Hellboy: The Golden Army
[23/aug/2008] Score: 7/10
Here’s the big boy from hell giving everyone hell and leaving my hearing ringing for hours afterwards in an endless, breathless chase to stop a big army with his big stone fist, his big red hot babe by his side and lots of mystical mythological nonsense spinning out from the screen along way as they race, chase, dash and flash their way to confrontation with a big army of big magical kind-of-robots.
See, I said it would all make sense at the end, with some nice loose ends and threats of “dire things to-come” for us all to worry about in the next Hellboy, coming soon to a big screen near you?
Verdict: Give ‘im a gold.
- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
[9/aug/2008] Score: 6/10
Yipee! Another Saturday afternoon matinee candyfloss Mummy movie. Big, noisy, non-stop chasing/being chased by Mummies, thousands of them!!
Never mind the script – mummies, chase, die you mummy!
- Kung Fu Panda
[7/aug/2008] Score: 6/10
What’s this another “journey of discovery into the land of Kung Fu” movie, so soon after the other one? At first I thought it’d be a bit too childish for me, but surprisingly intelligent was this movie, grasshopper. Might encourage the children to act it all out at home, so put your potted plants in a safe place, and try to teach them that you can solve your problems without violence.
Verdict: The Lo Fat One Fights.
- The X-Files: I Want To Believe
[2/aug/2008] Score: 7/10
It’s an X-files story, no great movie chasing around, but a solid and spooky, FBI cop thriller that takes our favourite X-Files investigators that little bit further in their characters and their yearning to believe in something bigger and better than themselves, a bit like real life then.
- The Dark Knight
[25/july/2008] Score: 9/10
Think of a cool, dark crime thriller, with some added eccentric characterisation. Don’t think of a comicbook story, but of an increasingly dark, twisted, psychotic monster taking you for a long roller coaster ride, to your doom.
Just about sums up this increasingly dark story that takes you from the heights of optimism and leads you into the alleyways you’d prefer to leave in your nightmares; but done with such a cold, clinical intensity.
Only thing I felt wrong with this were the occasional slips into idiot script city – why do the police make such fundamental errors like not searching a threatened building or a ship for huge tanks of hidden explosives? Those points might have done with a few minutes of additional explanation?
Verdict: Knightly knight.
Cute little robot saves humanity (a.k.a. the last blubbery survivors of New York city). Shows you what being left alone on a planet for several hundred years can do to your mind, and the horrifying dangers of letting robots do all your work.
Children and all us who love a cute robot will enjoy it no end, and most of the little children will even catch the intended adult humour over the fate of mankind.
Verdict: A warning to you all.
- Journey to The Centre Of The World – 3D
[14/july/2008] Score: 6/10
Great special effects, the first flourish of the future of some cinema production, and a moderate adventure story into the “centre” of the world. Erm, geologists might want to shut their eyes or please keep your laughing down to a minimum.
Verdict: Hot and rocky, hot technology, and rocky story.
- The Forbidden Kingdom
[11/july/2008] Score: 7/10
Nice adventure through the myths and realms of Kung-Fu from the tales of the Monkey King to the modern monkeys struggling for survival in the Big American city. Nice to keep up the old Kung-Fu lessons rather than all the gunfire and explosive action of the modern world in this story of growing up.
Verdict: Discover a little of the Forbidden Wisdom.
[5/july/2008] Score: 6/10
I was expecting to be disappointed by this movie after all the reviews in the press but was pleasantly surprised to see if unfold into an interesting and different look at the superhero genre. Not as humorous as I’d have expected the initial humour of the beginning turns gradually into a maturity as the character of Hancock comes to realise his “true identity” and his destiny in the world of mere mortal men.
Don’t expect massive confrontations, well one, but a well-contained story revolving all around Hanock and his self-discovery.
Verdict: Hands up for Hancock.
- Female Agents
[3/july/2008] Score: 5/10
At first I thought this would be a deeply serious and adventurous story of the French Resistance in the last few days before the Invasion of Normandy and Liberation of Europe by the Western Allies; but this is just a female “Dirty Dozen “, as a handful of hand-picked women (why just women??) are rushed urgently over to France to rescue a British agent.
If you want to pick hole in the story I’ll lend you a pickaxe.
Verdict: Get a better agent.
[28/june/2008] Score: 8/10
Young man discovers he’s a born super-assassin. Perfect Saturday afternoon viewing for all Hoodies out there dreaming of their first gun, and yet, this seemingly comic-book story does have its serious side which lifted it above the crowd for me – the theme of taking control of your destiny and making a better life for yourself.
Shame it had to teach the lesson by suggesting you can only take control with a gun.
Verdict: A blast!
- Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
[27/june/2008] Score: 8/10
The four children, the destined Kings and Queens of Narnia, return to Narnia only to find it in ruins after centuries of neglect and a war threatening to engulf their beloved world. Everyone gets to play soldier and kill lots of enemies and monster, and you wonder why children nowadays are obsessed with fighting?
Verdict: Princely .
- The Incredible Hulk
[14/june/2008] Score: 6/10
If you saw the earlier Hulk film a few years ago then forget all about it. Here they have reproduced the Hulk story, abandoning any direct link with that earlier film and refreshing the character and his background in what seems to be a set-up for another comicbook hero franchise, especially with such hints as the secret agency SHIELD recently featured in the Iron Man film and other hints.
For this reason alone the story doesn’t do justice to the character of David Banner or the Hulk, as it seems only to be setting itself ready for things to come, and this is what left me feeling slightly empty with the story; but then what is the Hulk/Banner but a man/monster in a permanent state of internal agony, and here we are to share every moment of his turmoil.
Verdict: Hulking around.
- Gone Baby Gone
[13/june/2008] Score: 6/10
At first, and as I watched the film, I felt that here was a strong story, detailed, very much down-to-earth rather than high gloss Hollywood nonsense, with great urban street characters played for all they’re worth by some great actors. But then I began to see the first inklings of trouble and as the body count increased and the quality of the story slowly slipped into Hollywood land I felt cheated.
Although the story and the playing was great it still held little hope of the future for any of the characters and seemed, once again, to say that you can only solve your problems with a tremendous amount of irrational bloodshed.
Verdict: Gone off.
- Superhero Movie
[12/june/2008] Score: 5/10
The first spoof superhero this year, with Hancock soon to follow, this is a pretty straight rip-off of the first Spiderman story, and while that’s not a bad idea for the less imaginative audience, or producers, it’s still not the best way to create a spoof story based on all the nonsense you see in every one of these comicbook-turned-movie tales.
As for the humour. if you likes Airplane (I did) then you’ll probably love this (I half did) with a few great gags and many a painful one.
Verdict: Splat! (Watch the film, you’ll understand.)
[7/june/2008] Score: 7/10
If you like your historic stories told with the mythic qualities of a religion then this is for you. Telling the strangely endless series of trials and tribulations of the first Great Khan of the Mongols, Temudjin, who seemed to have been hit with a permanent curse of bad luck according to this film, it leaves any conventional narrative behind in exchange for a series of Moments In The Life of this Heroic godlike character.
Read between the lines, translate mythological moments for what probably happened and you’ll get some idea of what the man went through to become the first Great Kahn, Genghis Khan, but here hero-worship takes centre stage over the story of a man.
Once you’ve accepted this then it’s down to understanding how one man could fight trough a life of adversity to become such a leader as the world has rarely seen.
Verdict: Mysteriously magnificent.
- Nim’s Island
[30/may/2008] Score: 6/10
This is a girl’s film, girls of all ages loved this when I went to see it (for research purposes you understand) and as such seemed to satisfy the tomboy adventurousness in girls of all ages. But it is not a boys’ film, irrespective of the age of the audience, and as such misses out on a wider commercial audience; but with so many huge boys’ films taking up all the screens (an eleven screen multiplex with only five films on!? (Indiana Jones, Speed Racer, Iron Man, What Happens In Vegas and this one.)) this is a welcome relief for anyone wanting a nice, simple desert island adventure film with cute animals and big bad pirates! Problems, well some of the elements seemed more adult in nature, and the story’s split between that action on the island with Nim and her hero’s journey to come to her aid did cause my some discomfort from a continuity point of view – here were two stories, one more adult than the other, trying to share the same film.
Verdict: An island all of its own.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
[24/may/2008] Score: 7/10
Few Indiana Jones fans will criticise this, and most will accept that it’s a story perfectly apt for the time it’s set in – the 1950s, communist paranoia, evil commies threatening world civilization and other weird happenings.
Equally most people will accept that it isn’t the most original way of telling the story, rehashing many of the stunts and themes from the earlier movies; but also remaining mature enough to acknowledge and play with the fact that the leading characters have aged and changed in the last twenty years.
It could have done with being a little shorter by not dwelling too much on past times and events and characters lost to time, but still a good night out for all.
Verdict: A flying success.
- What Happens In Vegas
[22/may/2008] Score: 6/10
A kind of average, predictable romantic comedy with little extra to recommend it above the ones we’ve seen for the last few years other than the idea that in this plotline we see mix-matched couple find each other marry then battle it out to discover “True Love”. A nice little twist but spoilt by having both characters act like 5-year olds rather than grown adults.
Verdict: Should have kept it in Vegas.
[21/may/2008] Score: 5/10
Hectic, frantic, visceral horror/chase movie through the desolation of a post-apocalyptic Scotland (what, does the writer have something against Scotland?). Suspend disbelief in the usual formulae of an “elite” military-scientific team who seem to be made up of the dregs at the bottom of the last barrel in town, with the worst equipment they could find in a museum on a shoestring budget, issued with a couple of bullets each, without backup or heavy support, supported by corrupt politicians, and you have a good way to giggle through a couple of hours of blood and gore.
Verdict: Bloody good.
- Speed Racer
[9/may/2008] Score: 7/10
I had few expectation of the film but went to check and was wonderfully surprised by the energy and passion of this simple youth story, its dynamic and imagination animation and non-stop storyline.
Verdict: A winner.
- Iron Man
[3/may/2008] Score: 10/10
I confess to a bias for Iron Man since a child and my own dreams of writing a movie based on one of my favourite comic characters (an arms dealer as hero, how wacky can you get?). Here the writers have given Iron Man the same quirky one-liners I dreamt of producing, and far exceeded my own expectations with a real appreciation of the character, his situation and the humour that naturally flows out of it.
Verdict: Tough to beat.
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
[28/april/2008] Score: 6/10
If you like your comedy gross and American, with whining men and silly women, plus lots of sex, then this slightly twisted semi-romantic comedy is just for you. The only issues i have with the story is that it doesn’t seems to be one or the other, neither a straight romantic comedy nor an American-gross/sex comedy, but veers between the two styles and never really settles, bit like life then.
Verdict: Watch it, and forget it.
[25/april/2008] Score: 5/10
This isn’t a great film, and despite a wonderful cast perhaps ought to have been straight-to-video, with a standard core theme of confidence trickery that you could see coming miles away and too cool a style to arouse any passion in the viewer there wasn’t enough to engage despite all the sex on show. and how can a character who appears out of his depth throughout suddenly deepen enough to survive to the end?
Verdict: Con and gone.
- Street Kings
[23/april/2008] Score: 6/10
Okay, so it was a cop film set in the usual cop paradise of LA all about corruption and a kind of redemption; but I found the central premise of butchering your way though all-comers and every opponent a little too excessive for my styles. Then again I guess it will work perfectly for a predominantly teen/youth audience.
Verdict: King with a tarnished crown.
- In Bruges
[22/april/2008] Score: 8/10
A very simple idea, just lie low from an assassination in the most boring, dullest, anonymous town in Belgium, and for a black comedy it was a delight to be given an opportunity to travel to new places and see new faces, before…. well, that would be saying too much, and Bruges doesn’t have all that much to offer… does it?
Verdict: A wonderful break from the routine, visit Bruges today.
- Fool’s Gold
[21/april/2008] Score: 4/10
If you’ve seen “The Deep” or even “Into The Blue” then you’ve seen at least two far better tropical treasure-hunting films than this. Enough said.
Verdict: Don’t be fooled.
[19/april/2008] Score: 7/10
Just because they have brains enough to get into top American colleges, doesn’t mean they’re bright enough to retain self-control when this bunch of students discover a knack for counting cards in the game of (whatever you want to call it – 21, Blackjack , Pontoon0 and beating the House, until they loose it all.
Verdict: House always wins.
[12/april/2008] Score: 7/10
Exuberant and glamorous telling of the start of American football (that’s the game where they don’t use their feet a lot), invoking the gay style of movies from the Twenties.
Verdict: Head this way for a fun family time.
- The Spiderwick Chronicles
[22/march/2008] Score: 5/10
This is more a taste of Never-Ending Story than Harry Potter and feels a little too sweetly twee and over-invented with it’s endless stream of magic creatures.
It’s a reasonable Hollywood way to introduce younger children to such stories, but it does come over as far too Disney instead of Brothers Grimm, and where Harry Potter struggles and manages to live with his home life and conditions, here, like all true Americans, there seems an endless agonising dialogue about their feelings, family life and growing up – too much preaching for me.
- Step Up 2 the Streets
[21/march/2008] Score: 7/10
Vibrant youth dance film that offers little but delivers all you could want for youth, power, passion and the freedom and expression of dance. As inspiration and uplifting as many another such film Step Up 2 is perfect for all those young or young at heart who still feel the beat.
Verdict: Step Up 2 be counted.
- The Cottage
[15/march/2008] Score: 5/10
There was something wrong with this formulaic slasher, horror movies, not disturbing in the story as it’s got most of the features of a standard monster-in-the-woods horror, but something was missing. It took me a while to understand – it mixed its genres a little too much, beginning with comedy, drifting through stupidity into horror it never seemed to know where it was going or what the final message was supposed to be.
Verdict: Leave this cottage unoccupied.
- 10,000 B.C.
[14/march/2008] Score: 4/10
To say the word dire would be appropriate, as Hollywood once again throws its uncritical and dumb audience into a mish-mashed world of nonsense concocted by some producers who seemed to get all their history and archeology out of a “UFOs built the Pyramids” book.
Treat this as a mindless quest story and ignore the history, or pretend it’s set on another world far, far away, and you might get away with enjoying yourself, but start asking questions, like how come the pyramids are being built 8,000 years before they were actually built, and you’ll realise you’ve just wasted your good money on a daft film.
Verdict: $100,000,000 wasted?
- Vantage Point
More like disadvantage point in this every-so slight story wrapped in an elaboration of conspiracy as we see the same event repeated, repeatedly, through the eyes and cameras of so many different characters, all bearing witness to an assassination plot against the US President.
As usual American secret agents seem to have free run of the place, snatching peoples evidence, shooting up everything in sight without the slightest thought to the fact that they’re in another country or what the locals may think of it, or what they might do, so in this we can still see that wonderful inspiration”Team America: Secret Police”.
With the flimsiest storyline and the fastest of paces you don’t realise until later that the whole sequence of events lasts no more than forty minutes in real time and leaves so many loose threads dangling in very thin air. Verdict: What’s the point, again?
[5/march/2008] Score: 6/10
I think the other word here is “predictable” – a standard cop/serial killer plotline complete with the ridiculous and unrealistic confrontation at the end where good overcomes evil, after the ubiquitous series of stupid actions by the good guys (a supposed brilliant FBI cyber-crime investigator and computer expert who allows her own child to download files from the net and her home computers to be hacked!?). Apart from that, if you can just about suspend what little disbelief you have left then you ought to be able to enjoy the ride.
- The Bank Job
[1/march/2008] Score: 10/10
Did I say this was magnificent yet? Oh, right, well it was, so there, good and sorted. This British film about a particularly British tradition, gangs robbing banks (no one else really does a good bank robbery), based on a true story of a robbery bigger than the Great Train Robbery keeps up a steady black comedic pace from start to finish.
Verdict: Superb job.
[23/feb/2008] Score: 8/10
Nowhere near the intellectual and artistic cinema delights of recent weeks but still true to its core values of brute warfare from John Rambo. This latest (and last?) story is a simple rescue mission with few depths other than the stupidity of missionaries wandering around a battlefield (must be a message in there somewhere?).
It’s a Rambo film, so you get all the blood and action you want, in a brisk story that doesn’t try to linger on anything else, and for that it’s perfect entertainment for all its fans.
Verdict: Hot Shot.
- There Will Be Blood
[17/feb/2008] Score: 9/10
This film makes you appreciate what a world of weak little girlies we’ve all become, whining and agonising over a sore toe and a little headache, when only a century ago it took men and women who were as hard as nails to claw civilization out of the rock and dirt of the new world.
This is a long, slow agonising struggle of one man to climb the ladder, physical and metaphorical, of success in his battle for survival. No great passionate arguments, no glamorous fights, flights, or more, just the dirt, the grit and grim of the real world.
Just might not be suited for the little children amongst you.
Verdict: Bloody amazing experience.
[16/feb/2008] Score: 5/10
They have it easy these pretty little almost-teen superheroes. No matter how stupid and dumb they are, and they really are dumb and stupid, their magic powers will always help them out of trouble and with one bound they will be free. Ah well, until we see some intelligent superheroes we’ll have to settle with all this vacuous eye-candy.
[13/feb/2008] Score: 10/10
I don’t know what to say about this film, Juno can’t keep her gob shut in here never-ending successful battle towards adulthood, an adulthood that seems at times to transcend the conduct of most of those around her.
Verdict: Beautiful work, babe.
- National Treasure: Book of Secrets
[9/feb/2008] Score: 6/10
If you like a good old fashioned Saturday matinee movie for the children to enjoy you’ll love this huge pile of hokum.
A ludicrous story and great actors sleepwalking or over-acting throughout leads eventually to treasure in this utterly stupid drama as they race around the world like an over-grown version of a Scooby-do story. And that’s it, not even a good baddie to deal with.
- Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
[6/feb/2008] Score: 10/10
I haven’t seen a good Victorian melodrama for so long that it was a wonderful surprise to be reminded of that long lost genre of maidens in distress, adults living under bleak clouds of despair, and wicked uncles, guardians, etc, up to evils doings with the aforementioned fair maidens, not forgetting the valiant, albeit daft, hero racing to the rescue.
Once you get over the fact that it’s a musical you can loose yourself in the dark dealings of barber and baker butchery.
Verdict: A cut above the rest.
[2/feb/2008] Score: 7/10
Godzilla meets 9/11 meets Friends.
What more can I say about a group of like, way totally pretty y’know, young people, who all seem to have really, really cool, like, apartments in the heart of Manhattan, and then get eaten by a big monster from the Unknown?
And should I go into the utter tastelessness of featuring a whole stream of scenes mimicking the horrors actually experienced in 2001 on 9/11, how many New Yorkers had to leave the cinema at that point?
Apart from that it was quite entertaining, wondering which of the beautiful little boys and girls would get squeezed, squashed and eaten next, and trying to figure out which was the worse monster, the creature demolishing the city, or the idiot behind the camera.
Verdict: Monstrous hype.
[1/feb/2008] Score: 7/10
This is a cute story, about a cute doggie who turns into a cute superhero, because of a cute little mad scientist, who gets very naughty with lots of funny looking drinks and things, and anyway, it was really cute to watch this. And if I have some children in there watching it with me I’ll bet they would have had just as good a time enjoying the world being saved by a cute puppy.
And somehow I have this tiny little voice at the back of my mind saying “if only the world was run by the dogs instead of going to the dogs…”
- Aliens v. Predators: Requiem
[19/jan/2008] Score: 2/10
Avoid these creatures like the plague, run for your lives or they’ll turn your mind to jelly in your fury at what they try to get away with in this miserable excuse for an AvP film. These hideous scriptwriters (were there scriptwriters!!??) have just cobbled together a mishmash of your favourite scenes from the previous Alien and Predator film franchises then threw a few dollars in special effects at you to convince you that this is good enough for your money.
I can’t tell you how bad this film is compared to, well, most others and I can only assume the writers took their money and ran for the hills after delivering this ridiculous, unimaginative exploitative script.
Any 15-year old could have done better and it reminds me of the last time I laughed out loud during another science fiction movie – Sunshine, and after that I set out to write a better one myself (hmmm, wonder what I could do with AvP…?).
Verdict: The the cinema, everyone can hear you laugh.
- No Country For Old Men
[16/jan/2008] Score: 10/10
This film is slow, deliberate, careful. A study in murder and mayhem without the fancy adolescent hysteria of less literate feature films it draws you slowly into a story of pursuit and cash, each character is spare, stripped down with little study in them but what is, enlightens and draws you on through killing after killing.
Verdict: No film for teenagers.
- Charlie Wilson’s War
[12/jan/2008] Score: 10/10
Forget the usual film-with-a-message with its long drawn-out explanations for the dumbed-down community of viewers, here’s a film about the Afghan war in the 1980s that treats its audience with enough intelligence to know what’s happening and to enjoy the subtitles and frailties of real people in the real, not film fantasy, world.
No mock heroics, no superheroes in lurid costumes, just a group of good people who were lucky enough to be in the right places at the right time in history.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks
[9/jan/2008] Score: 6/10
A tall fun-filled children’s tale that hints at but doesn’t distract with adult themes, like those slushy kissy moment, adult greed and other grown-up stuff. So settle back and enjoy the antics of three hyper-active chipmunks whirling through the life of one little suburban man.
And that’s the reason to see it, to learn how to craft a fun-filled story for youngsters without any of the usual adult touchy-feely moments, without any explanations or diversions from fun, fun, fun.
Verdict: Great monkey business.