Reviews & Rants, Films for You?
- Sherlock Holmes
[27/dec/2009] Score: 7/10
Boisterous, comic-book style Sherlock Holmes locks horns with evil masterminds in the heart of Victorian London and wicked plots ensure to overthrow The Empire, eh-gad!
Might not quite appeal to traditionalist, but for fun-filled adventure in grimy streets through to the glittering heights of Society you can’t go wrong.
Verdict: Catch this while the game’s afoot.
- Avatar 3D
[19/dec/2009] Score: 8/10
Should also be known as “Dances With Blue People”. Much-anticipated “revolution in 3D” appears like many other 3D films from the last couple of years, albeit with added polish and multiply-added budget.
The story is relatively convention but satisfying for all that, and the visual feast does it good service, with the occasional reminder of those great Chris Foss science fiction illustrations from the 1960s and 1970s.
If you are looking for a comfortable film then this will sit well with you, but the better SF film of the year was District 9.
- St. Trinians 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold
[18/dec/2009] Score: 6/10
The raunchy and wild young ladies of the esteem school for girls have returned for a new term and find themselves in hand-to-hand combat with an evil corporate bandit out for long lost treasures.
While there were a few good jokes and scenes along the way the big mystery was why they promoted pop starlet Sarah Harding as a star, when her character appeared to have so little to do, so little to say, and appears without any effective explanation for her presence, leaving a mystery almost as big at that in the story.
Verdict: Mysteries abound.
- Law Abiding Citizen
[4/dec/2009] Score: 4/10
This starts well as a psychological thriller and terror story or revenge, slips on a banana skin and falls into a pile of dog poop to leave a stinking mess of a standard and silly “action” story at the end.
From the good beginning I was hoping to see a subtle exploration of injustice, and an intelligent ambiguity at the conclusion, the kind where “he got away with it, but…”. Instead a supposedly “super-intelligent strategist” appears to make a series of mistakes even a cadet wouldn’t make (leaving a money trail even a regular spy could follow, and not laying booby-traps or alarms in his lair??) all to ensure that, in a spectacularly stupid ending, “justice is done, and seen to be done”.
And the lesson to this – corruption and connivance always wins in the end.
- Twilight: New Moon
[24/nov/2009] Score: 7/10
Well, if you don’t know about drippy, dopey, bleak and black teen angst already then you will after watching this episode in the Twilight Saga (it’s always a saga with teens) as our little heroine ventures further into the world of the monsters and glittery people (a.k.a. vampires), mesmerised by their dark brooding moodiness and teen angst.
You do have to wonder about her attitude when passing a whole line of people queuing up for slaughter and not saying a word of warning to them.
Verdict: Howlingly good fun – woof!
- The Informant!
[20/nov/2009] Score: 7/10
Mild-mannered mad scientist embarks on the ultimate dream ego trip to become a superspy on behalf of God, Justice and The American Way. in this giggle of fumbling and stumbling confusion over who did what in a scandal of corporate corruption and greed, that eventually netted the US government over $500 million in fines.
Verdict: Blow your whistle over this one.
[14/nov/2009] Score: 4/10
If you love your action loud, fast and nonsensical then this rollicking adventure of Americans will fill up a good few hours with all you need for this happy season.
This is a story of biblical proportions about the people of Americaland, who are faced with a biblical catastrophe that threatens to end the world, of Americaland.
Led by bold and plucky American scientists, and the visionary leadership of their biblical President, they embrace their biblical fate with all the gusto of heroes facing another biblical Flood, as they embark on great cruise liners built by the Chinese and head into the sunset for their retirement in a nice hot sunny climate.
The end, of Americaland.
Verdict: A biblical disaster.
- Harry Brown
[13/nov/2009] Score: 6/10
A standard old-man-seeks-vengance film set in grimy gloom of a typical British housing estate long forgotten by the government once the scum of the Earth have been dumped there.
It lacks a dramatic bite or deep character you might want but has a reasonable sense of values about standing up for yourself against the decay all around.
Verdict: Vote Brown.
- Jennifer’s Body
[10/nov/2009] Score: 7/10
What at first appears to be a standard silly shock-horror American teen angst high school film acquires a deeper darkness as it reaches out with a bloodied knife to its climax. Slow to start but reaches its point in the end.
Reminds me of that other dark teen film “Ginger Snaps”.
Verdict: Nice body, shame about her eating habits.
- The Fourth Kind
[10/nov/2009] Score: 7/10
Supposedly based on “true events” it’s better to say it’s truly a story, interweaving the conceit of using video clips from what’re claimed to be real interviews to awaken your fear with their sudden howls and screams of terror.
Anyone wanting to verify any of this will soon discover the truth of The Forth Kind is pure fantasy; but it still makes for a good little thriller for all that.
Verdict: Kind of “Out There”.
- The Men Who Stare At Goats
[7/nov/2009] Score: 5/10
Psychic spies, remote viewing and new age army tactics. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be funny, and there were a few laugh-out-loud moments, but something didn’t quite fit. I think it was the never-ending suggestion that “this is based on true stories”, and the surreal adventure through Iraq, with the bulk of the story told in flashback, that left me disoriented with the narrative.
You may find it differently, and this is more like the real world.
Verdict: Who do you need – Goatsbusters!
- Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
[23/ct/2009] Score: 6/10
Where’s Buffy when you need her, or has society turned so much on it’s head that murderous, bloodthirsty vampires are now the new teen rebellion and flavour of the moment?
Following eagerly hot on the heels of the “Twilight” series of book/films we now have a junior series for those who haven’t yet grown up enough to appreciate teen angst and sex in all its subtly insane flavours.
The Cirque series offers younger audiences the chance to thrill at being “big bad vampires” with none of the emotional and psychological implications, like having to eat people, abandon your home and families, live forever in fear of being hunted down by baying mobs of pitchfork-wielding local yokels, etc.
Verdict: Stake this one out if you love that kind of thing.
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
[17/oct/2009] Score: 7/10
A surreal, fantasy adventure through the minds of the eccentric circus of characters traveling around the fringes of London led by the immortal Doctor Parnassus. Erm, what more can I say, a feast of adventurous action that will suits most tastes for something more than normal.
Verdict: Zen in the clowns?
[10/oct/2009] Score: 7/10
“Shaun of the Dead” goes to America, with guns, big guns, and girls, and zombies, big fat American zombies, at the all-you-can-eat zombiebar.
Combining American road movie, with zombies and coming-of-age, and guns and gags, this has it all for the avid zomiest.
Verdict: Feel free to walk this way.
[2/oct/2009] Score: 5/10
There’s a law in Hollywood that all spaceships have huge ducts for aliens to crawl down, and really bad lighting so you can’t see them coming, oh and the designers in this space universe never seem to build anything intelligent enough to survive disasters, sabotage, aliens, etc., etc – they must have bought their ships from the lowest bidder.
The only distinction here is that they’ve tried to create a standard “trapped in the haunted house” theme with some semblance of science behind it and less of the body count you find in regular thrillers. If you want a simple, fun run-about-and-scream film then this will fill in the time while you’re waiting.
- Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
[2/oct/ 2009] Score: 8/10
A nice, cheerfully enthusiastic film all about mad inventors, nubile assistants and what happens when everything you try to do for the world ends up in the wrong hands. A great way to both encourage and warn youngsters of the value of enthusiasm combined with science, and a warning to take care, especially when trying to mix bats and rats.
Verdict: I predict a storm of fun.
[22/sept/2009] Score: 6/10
“The Running Man” for the lifestyle and dangerous generation. If you’re an addict of shoot’n’slaughter video games, or lifestyle online communities then this enthusiastic celebration of all things playful will fill your time for an entertaining couple of hours of nonsense.
And it even has a message – don’t trust Big Corporations – oh sorry, that another lifestyle, for Americans.
Verdict: Plug in, tune on, turn off, turn out.
[12/sept/2009] Score: 5/10
A pretty-looking, glossy, stylishly photographed, by-the-numbers-book of predictable nonsense involving the usual stock characters translated from “anywhere you want” to Antarctica and behaving in the normal idiot script fashion with so many plot holes you wonder why the entire production didn’t fall through them and freeze to death, hopefully.
Verdict: Wipe out, of your memory.
- Sorority Row
[12/sept/2009] Score: 5/10
Five stupendously stupid teenage girls end up at the wrong end of various implements of death in revenge for a college prank gone wrong. Yes, welcome to the world of the Central California College of Stupid, which appears to be inhabited solely by scantily clad, jiggly, giggly girlies with nothing on their minds other than how to be “sisters” to each other and party pornographically, very graphically, and endlessly, I wonder what they study at this school, Sex, Smiles & Makeup?
Verdict: A sorry row.
- Julie And Julia
[12/sept/2009] Score: 10/10
The Joy of Soup, and Stuffing, as the erotic and exotic art of cooking is explored in this enjoyable feast of fun and French fry-ups. Forget the feminine angle, and just relax as you’re taken through a wondrous world of creative cousine.
- District 9
[5/sept/2009] Score: 9/10
If you hear me spitting, it’s to get the grit out of my mouth. This is a dynamic, fast, gritty, dusty, dirty and undignified film without a inch of Hollywood gloss coating to be seen anywhere.
Forget the high-technology, spectacular special effects of a typical science fiction movie, this is grander and grubbier, treating not the spectacular, but the matter-of-fact nature of humans and aliens confronting a very un-traditional, and very unspectacular, form of first contact.
Obviously drawing deeply on conditions in South Africa’s own years of social and racial history, this story visits the same agony in an entirely new and very imaginative way, reminding us all that we still have a long way to go in our own Human Adventure.
Verdict: Gorgeously gritty.
- Broken Embraces
[28/august/2009] Score: 7/10
You’ll need a tolerance for slow subtle European drama for this one. A nice taste of spice; but does Pedro Almodovar love making Penelope Cruz look bad, or crazy or worse? It certainly brings out her ability as an actress compared to the Hollywood fluff she’s handed so often, but I wonder if it’s taken her to the other extreme?
Verdict: Embrace it and let it feed your soul.
- The Hurt Locker
[28/august/2009] Score: 7/10
Just men fighting, dying, trying to survive in the middle of an endless battlefield of hidden dangers. No great character dramas but a good solid action film for all the boys, and the boys who love their toys.
- Inglourious Basterds
[24/aug/2009] Score: 6/10
Once upon a time… in a universe far, far away…
All right! Pay ATT-ENTION! My name is Lieutenant Critic, thats Loo-tent, Cry-tic, and I am here to recruit One Good Audience, for this movie. This is not a SOFT movie, this is NOT a euyo-peen movie, this is a GODDAM A-merican movie! Hup!
There WILL be much over-acting, there WILL BE much blood-shed, there WILL be LONG dia-logs.
Dis is a REAL mo-vie from that GREAT Di-rec-tor Taran-, Tar- a gentleman of Eye-talian extraction – but an A-merican!! Hup!
There WILL be destruction of MYTHS, there WILL be con-fusion, SCALPS will be taken as people run from the cin-ema laughing!
Yoo WILL enjoy this movie! You WILL tell your friends to go see it! You will NOT be dis-appointed!
Verdict: Basket Case!
- G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
[11/aug/2009] Score: 6/10
For the children, this is the Team America World Police Mutant Ninja Live Action Figure Collection. Collect your toys now and make up your own stories as you go along.
A fantastic, non-stop action sequence of stunts and toys for you to play with in your own home, and begin with this loud lark, ripping inspiration straight off Team A. and so many other thrilling moments of the USofA saving the world, with Really Big Guns, and toys.
Verdict: The Rise of Toy Sales .
[31/july/2009] Score: 8/10
Early expectations of a dull and predictable story were exceeded enough to gain extra points in this small, tightly confined science fiction thriller set on a remote mining outpost on the far side of the moon. One man alone, coming to the end of his contract and anticipating a return to his family discovers a secret about the base and its maintenance computer that unravels all he’s thought about his work.
Although the storyline unfolds in a seemingly predictable manner there are enough twists to surprise any audience who’ve had experience of the genre.
Verdict: Go, visit the moon.
- Ice Age 3
[31/july/2009] Score: 7/10
Children in the audience laughed, and that alone is good enough for a great entertainment in this third fun-filled adventure of the wackiest and weirdest herds of animals this side of the ice age.
Only niggle? I’m becoming exhausted with over-enthusiastic Hollywood American characters and their endless stream of one-liners and in-jokes, but most children wouldn’t notice.
Verdict: For all Ages.
- Land Of The Lost
[31/july/2009] Score: 5/10
“That was rubbish” according to one five-year old in the audience, and I couldn’t agree more with this slapdash over-eager, egomaniacal example of why children won’t want to grow up to be idiotic eccentric scientists who spend most of their time shouting at the world and their discoveries, less time thinking and the rest of the time mugging up to their audience.
What could have been a good family adventure is spoilt by the loud-mouthed nonsense, the too-adult jokes for children and the too childish gags for adults. The storyline was equally hit-and-miss, veering from infantile children’s adventure aliens, through to scenes with strong references to drugs and sex that doesn’t appeal to either market.
If this was aimed at a specifically young teen market it might work, but that leaves the rest of us cold.
Verdict: Get lost, and don’t come back.
- Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
[15/july/2009] Score: 9/10
Welcome to the Dark Side as Harry Potter enters the sixth form at Hogwarts and dark deeds are planned, conspired and set in motion. But it feels unfilfilling, if that makes sense, the story could have done with more time to flesh out some of the moments and secondary charaters and situations in more depth, such as why Harry is so fascinated with the power of one particular book. However, restrained to two and a half hours, it’s still a memorable story, in preparation for the climatic battle to-come.
Verdict: Read the book, for secrets within.
- Public Enemies
[9/july/2009] Score: 6/10
Yes, I know, it’s a Michael Mann film so it ought to earn higher scores, but remember, I score on entertainment not wobbly camerawork and close-up documentary drama style.
So for pure entertainment do I want to see yet another American folk hero/gangster dying in a hail of bullets?
Erm, no. Without meaning to insult the American culture for their bloody history and endless heroic gunfights I wonder whether there’s a better way in the world, to make the world a better place than seeing yet more bloodshed? We know how it’s going to end, we know Dillinger traced a bloody path across the heartland of the American depression, and we know he might have had cause in a world gone rotten with corruption and desperation, but we don’t find any of that explored as the anti-hero is given full reign to blaze away with machine guns for our entertainment.
Verdict: It gets the bullet.
- Sunshine Cleaning
[1/july/2009] Score: 8/10
While the ending is telegraphed well in advance this gentle comedy-drama leads you along with a friendly hand that makes a favourable contrast to many of the films I’ve taken in during the last few months. It doesn’t pull away too much from the struggles of ordinary people dealing with the need for work, to earn a living away from the bright fantasies of the Hollywood (not American) Dreamworld and making what they can of the world and what it offers.
Verdict: Cleans up well.
- Year One
[28/june/2009] Score: 7/10
A brisk and sharp comedy taking a pointy stick to prod at everyone’s favourite biblical stories, bursting some illusions, and much-inflated ideas, along the way, without pausing as it races out from the Garden of (Somewhere or other) into the heart of the old testament with two of god’s crudest and rudest creations.
If taking the children, at times you might need to clamp your hands over your child’s ears.
Verdict: Go forth and multiply, your murders, and mutilations.
- Blood: The Last Vampire
[27/june/2009] Score: 4/10
A crude sketch of a vampire flick that seems to draw almost all its inspiration and writing from a comic book on which it’s based. With little effort to create any but the briefest outline of characters we are rushed through to the climax without really knowing or caring much about them. Although the premise suggested an interesting storyline, in line with, say “Underworld”, that’s not what came out of the production process.
Verdict: Bloody lazy production.
- Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
[20/june/2009] Score 8/10
For battles with robots, and hot girls you won’t find a better candidate entertainment to-date this year, and it does compare well with the first Transformers film in its humour and mix between human and robot elements; but here there’s too much emphasis on the robot action and I’d suggest it’s one fight too long as the story seems to virtually leap and bound like an over-energetic robo-bunny, from battle to battle to battle to battle to battle, oh look, a hot girl, to battle in a noisey, breathless race to the climatic – battle.
Verdict: Needed, Return Of The Editor.
- Red Cliff
[13/june/2009] Score: 6/10
I felt just a little bemused and exhausted after this epic history tale from ancient China, too many battles(!?), and characters, sweeping across a vast screen and mixed with the typical spirituality of all Chinese, in harmony with nature and each other.
Based on a true battle, and key transition point in Chinese history, with plenty of liberal romantic interpretation down through the last eighteen centuries, it is still a spectacular epic.
Verdict: Hang on to the edge of your seat.
- The Hangover
[12/june/2009] Score: 6/10
At first I felt the real fear was that there really are complete, juvenile jerks like this in the world who deserve everything they get, but slowly, if you can sit through the early start, the story develops, a little, more maturity into a great comedy of celebration gone insane.
Verdict: Painfully embarrassing laughter.
- Drag Me To Hell
[8/june/2009] Score: 5/10
A horror of the old school without a surgically or sadistically sliced and diced bikini model girl in sight, thankfully, and hilariously funny at times as it builds up to the climatic end.
Verdict: Be nice to little old ladies.
- Terminator Salvation
[6/june/2009] Score 9/10
For almost non-stop action blasting through the hellswept lands of John Connor’s destined nightmare, which he and his mum had done so much to avert, this is the story the critics complain about but which fits well into the whole Terminator genre.
How can you really tell a story of John Connor the way you can when introducing new characters, in this case Connor’s future father Kyle Reece?
If you expect the whole story to focus on Connor you’ll be disappointed. We’ve already met John twice, we know his background, his personal struggles, his strong wife and it’s never going to be easy to tell Hollywood style one-man-alone action stories about the “leader of the world-wide resistance”. However, this does serve as another step in Connor’s destiny, the turning point, as he is finally revealed as the prophetic world leader he was always destined to become.
This is the beginning of his ascendancy.
But, if you want a truly original Terminator story you might be a little disappointed at the lack of more subtle originality when this one crams in so many obvious references to such recent SF movies as “Transformers” and “War Of The Worlds”, plus all the old familiar signs, sounds and lines we’ve come to enjoy.
Verdict: He’ll Be Back
- 12 Rounds
[30/may/2009] Score: 7/10
A silly race through the city as a cop who tries desperately to save his girlfriend all on his lonesome from an insanely daft mad, Irish-sounding bomber. So if you like this kind of popcorn nonsense like me, or you enjoyed the superior version “Die Hard With A Vengeance”, then you’ll love this forgettable slam-bang rollercoaster ride.
[28/may/2009] Score: 5/10
This is a great little British teen high school horror for the teen market who haven’t seen all the other American teen high school horror films of a gang of “popular” bullies receiving their comeuppance from the ghost of their victim.
Verdict: Formulaic fun.
- Night At The Museum II
[22/may/2009] Score: 8/10
For silly but fun magical family entertainment, after the previous review, you can do no worse than snuggle down to enjoy a Night At The Museum II. Returning to the magical world of magic, and museums, we are embarked on a journey to some big city museum, which doesn’t seem to have very many alert guards or alarm systems, CCTV, etc., to save the Lost Artifacts Of The Little Museum.
Verdict: Enjoy your culture.
- Angels & Demons
[16/may/2009] Score: 7/10
This film should come with the following warning: “Any similarity to the real world is purely coincidental.”
A diabolical plot, and I don’t just mean the story, of an evil and ancient conspiracy to undermine and subvert the power of the Throne of God, brought to you secretly by the Knights Templar Film Company, in conjunction with 9/11 Film Finance. This takes a terrible toll on your suspension of disbelief, but if you can struggle through the sniggering you ought to enjoy yourself in this rush through the pretty scenery of the beautiful city of Rome, as the conspiracy is slowly and methodically exposed by a pair of learned academics – as another conspiracy!
- Star Trek
[9/may/2009] Score: 7/10
One of the things I dreaded about this before watching was that the producers would do a “Star Trek High” style of movie, bringing all the characters together as teenagers to save the universe. They, just, about, thankfully avoided that temptation, but it’s a very close miss, and I’m still not quite sure why the Federation would give a crew of semi-experienced teenagers and young adults control of a flagship of their fleet, but I guess there was less time in the final script to develop the characters through a few more years of maturity, bringing them together more realistically.
There are two reasons why I downgraded Star Trek from what is a good thrill-ride, and both owe their origins to “Galaxy Quest”, so if you know that wonderful satire of the whole SF cult community you’ll have a clue to what I mean.
The first of these is the “big mysterious alien super-technology device” which appears here as “Red Matter” a weird material with special properties; and the second is the “why the hell to they have THIS on the ship!?” scene in which we see the intrepid crew of Galaxy Quest, oops, I mean the Enterprise, have to confront an apparently useless but challenging part of the ship to make their escape, in this case the plumbing system.
From a writer’s point of view they are both useless and unimaginative devices, which appear to say the screenwriters of Star Trek lack originality and/or are paying an over-enthusiastic humorous tribute to Galaxy Quest, and all that came before it. And that made me sad to think about what was otherwise a good piece of entertainment.
Star Trek will also surprise the viewer in introducing the whole genre anew. In the same way Casino Royale rewrote and restarted the James Bond movies, so Star Treks starts afresh, proposing a new parallel universe with a new history to-come, when they use time travel to unravel everything we’ve come to know about the characters and their universe, for example the origins of James T. Kirk, the fate of Vulcan, and so on.
This, in a way, is the good part, as it will offer future writers the opportunity, if they can restrain themselves, of developing a new plot for the whole, new Star Trek universe, but will upset the expectations of many existing fans.
Verdict: Go, carefully.
[8/may/2009] Score: 9/10
My only quibble with this is, why do these kinds of films nowadays endlessly feature female characters in the lead role? It appears as if boys are being pushed aside from taking the lead in any fantasy adventure (remember “A Series of Unfortunate Events”?).
Apart from that this is an excellent, spooky, eerie story with an all-pervading sense of menace throughout that will remain in the imaginations, and some nightmares, of children, and some gown ups, for years to come.
Verdict: Button onto this one.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
[3/may/2009] Score: 7/10
Like previous X-Men films this one suffers from an overdose of product “X” and a lack of time to develop it. Rushing through the excellent story of James Logan’s (“Wolverine”) origins, from the nineteenth century to today it gives us such a breadth of experience that we can lose track of some of the story and miss the in-depth details; and like previous X-Men films it wants to throw more characters at us then we can safely handle, leaving you feeling empty of the experience of knowing these others; but then that is probably to plan – to introduce each new character through their own “origins” film?
Verdict: Howlingly good fun.
- State Of Play
[28/april/2009] Score: 8/10
A standard, tense journalist/paranoia/conspiracy movie taking you, once again, into the lofty heights of power in America and down to the gutter politics of the press and onto the street as “heroic” reporters race to uncover the Truth, Justice and Assassination the American way to meet a deadline.
Verdict: Playfully paranoid.
- Crank: High Voltage
[18/april/2009] Score: 9/10
Zap, crackle pop, goes the Crankman in this second high powered energizer plotline of complete, brilliant nuttiness. With perhaps a little too many trips and reunions with old friends it still buzzing along as a lightning pace to a burning finale.
- Race To Witch Mountain
[17/april/2009] Score: 5/10
If this is intended for children then view it as aimed at young teens rather than pre-teens. With too much focus on the adult characters and their activities it plays too old for younger children, although I’m sure many will enjoy the adventure, however I felt it didn’t have enough in it for them to enjoy and identify with as well as they could have.
Verdict: Which age group is this aimed at?
- Fast & Furious
[11/april/2009] Score: 8/10
Set before the events in “Tokyo Drift”, it’s got hot girls, in very tiny clothes, it’s got hot cars with huge motors, it’s got the hot action of a Formula One / World Rally Stage. Yep, all boxes nicely ticked off.
Would have given it an extra point, but for the slightly formulaic storyline at time with all the stock “Good Cop, Bad, Cop, Idiot Cop” characters well-represented.
Verdict: Hot, hot, hot, vroom-vroom-vroom!
- Let The Right One In
[10/april/2009] Score: 7/10
Ignore Hollywood’s glossiness, this is a slow, steady creep in the night, as a new girl in the neighbourhood sets out to give everyone a bite and coldly steal the heart of a lonely young boy being bullied at school, to devour his soul.
With the lightest moments being the attacking pussy cat scene, and the swimming pool finale. this is a harsh, unglamorous, cool, slow progression to the destruction of lives all around.
Verdict: Chilly, and tasty.
- Dragonball: Evolution
[8/april/2009] Score: 6/10
For fun-filled, colourful nonsense, this is the week’s candyfloss feature for all comicbook-loving teens in the world. Keeping a simple, steady pace throughout it explores all the usual themes desperately in the hormone-driven forefront of all teen boy brains: girls, fighting in the school playground and trying to make sense of the world under the tutelage of a wise elder, and then a quest to maturity and adulthood.
Verdict: Grow up, or die!
- Monsters V. Aliens 3D
[6/april/2009] Score: 7/10
If you know and liked the typical 1950s Sci-Fi alien invader/horror/ blobby movie then you’ll love this almost-children’s version. With plenty of jokes at the expense of every past movie of the genre it will appeal to everyone; but if you think this is just a children’s film, or you want something for the children there are still a few of those adult moments that will go over the heads of most of the audience below the age of 13.
Verdict: Monstrously good fun!
- The Boat That Rocked
[4/april/2009] Score: 8/10
While Serious Socialists and suchlike were rioting in the streets, and concerning themselves with radical politics in parliament the majority of the British were just rocking around the clock, albeit to the Strident Disapproval of their “betters”.
A young man sets out on an adventure a small boat, and stumbles on a boat load of rock ‘n’ roll addicts obsessed with bringing the word of Rock to the poor blighted people of Little England (and I’m not talking about the current Little E.) despite the oppressive efforts of its government (no, not the current one) to deny their fun.
Verdict: Rock On!
[28/march/2009] Score: 5/10
You will gasp in amazement as the Revelation Dawns on you!
What begins as an intriguing, quirky and spooky thriller with one man racing alone to save people from predictions of disaster (they all do that in America, never telling the world, just racing off to save people on their lonesome, hasn’t he heard of the internet?) descends into a farce of hysterical and religious nonsense.
Why all the pebbles, are they invitations to salvation, your special token to escape, or just a red herring, a decoy to divert your attention as the terrible truth dawns on you – it’s as daft as a brush?
Is it divine revelation, or an evil conspiracy by alien childnappers?
So many holes and so little time to probe them all. Nice special effects, intriguing set-up but very silly resolution.
Verdict: Now you know the truth – avoid this disaster.
- Lesbian Vampire Killers
[24/march/2009] Score: 5/10
Hmm, loud-mouthed “humour”, interesting retro-theme, not very sexy girls. Yes, welcome to a typically British attempt at comedy-horror. Oh, well, it passes the time.
Verdict: Stake it out.
[21/march/2009] Score: 9/10
I do love a good caper movie, and this is a good on as two sneaky ex-spies try to take on the “big boys” in the game of industrial espionage. It does telegraph it’s ending a bit too early, you can see what’s about to happen and wonder why these former professionals didn’t see it coming or take a bit more care, but their self-obsession and greed blinds them to the obvious until it’s too late.
Verdict: Doubly good fun.
- Flash of Genius
[20/march/2009] Score: 9/10
Thoughtful telling of a “true story” of one man’s fight against the Ford Motor Company after they steal his invention and what happens when you have to stand alone against a huge company. A good warning for all inventors.
Verdict: Sheer genius.
- Paul Blart: Mall Cop
[18/march/2009] Score 6/10
The over-enthusiastic idiot as hero is a staple in many Hollywood comedies, and this one just pulls it off without going too far into dumbness or even dumber, even if you do want to give him a good slap from time to time.
Verdict: Cop this one.
[7/march/2009] Score: 10/10
There are some films you can enjoy again and again, and others you find so memorable, so well-composed, you don’t need to see them over and over, they just stay with you. Watchmen is one of those, just a single watching and you don’t feel any need to repeat it for fear it’ll spoil the memory.
A long ambitious film Watchmen tells the story of a gritty, dirty little alternate world to ours in which masked “heroes” fight against masked villains. There are few super-powers on show here, just people who have pushed themselves and their world beyond the edge and now live to, perhaps, regret the world they’ve created, and its impending doom.
- Gran Turino
[28/feb/2009] Score: 8/10
Clean and simple this is another great Eastwood movie, clean and clear good versus bad, which isn’t all that bad in this modern age of cynical ambiguity, fighting over the souls of the young.
It lays the religious themes on too heavily for me, but the overall quality and smooth flow of the performances and story make up for that.
- The International
[27/feb/2009] Score: 7/10
A slickly glossy corporate conspiracy, revenge story of evil corporate bankers, this time, trying to dominate the world, and a couple of plucky rebellious cops trying to expose and stop them.
Yippee! The goodies win in the end… or do they? In this modern age of cynicism, when unreliable politicians are happy to share the same beds with equally unreliable bankers you have to wonder, who really wins?
Verdict: A bunch of merchant bankers.
[21/feb/2009] Score: 4/10
Take a bunch of teen superheroes and a what appears to be a bunch of teen scriptwriters, and you have Push. This is a semi-coherent muddle of under-written and over-produced comicbook nonsense, lots of action and little intelligence. I don’t mind the premise – kiddies with superpowers – but I dislike the lack of explanation, a top secret government agency that appears at times to be too nice for words, a sequence of events that lacks explanation, and I can’t be bothered even spending time on the rest of it.
Looks like they were writing this in anticipation of sequels to answer all the questions, but the lack of common sense suggests there won’t be a penny spent on one, hopefully.
Verdict: Push off.
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
[17/feb/2009] Score: 6/10
Ah, that Great American Intellectual Adventure, a romantic summer in Europe, getting humped by dusky and husky artists and catching all the sights of Culture. Then back to the Good Ole US of A for the rest of your life lived in total regret for all the opportunities you missed to make your life different from the Christian Norm.
But Woody Allen does it so well. My only question is: has Scarlett Johansson been sent to the Woody Allen School For Neurotic Actors? She certainly sounds like she’s been taking personal lessons from Mr. A.
Verdict: Nice story, nice acting, from Penelope Cruz.
- Bold 3-D
[13/feb/2009] Score: 6/10
A nice entertaining funabout with a wacky doggie that’s been tricked into thinking it’s a superhero hound. Although obviously aimed squarely at the pre-teen youth market the constant swings to Hollywood in-jokes about the movie industry make it uncomfortable to watch and I wonder whether the children really understand all the more adult nonsense being presented here?
The reminds me of a few other recent children’s animations that suffered the same “Hollywood problem” too much over-the-top idiom, too many adult or Hollywood in-jokes, and all loudly distracting from the story.
If you ignore these swings and focus on the core story there’s a nice little adventure of loyal doggie trying to get home to loving owner and discovering himself along the way.
Verdict: Bolt to see it.
[11/feb/2009] Score: 8/10
A drama translated from the stage and clearly bringing with it the power of good writing, good performances within a constrained location. No running around shouting, just a tense and intense battle of wills between the two characters.
Verdict: Undoubtedly good.
- Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
[4/feb/2009] Score: 7/10
Beautiful people in a beautiful city, enjoying one romantic night to discover Love together. The beautiful adolescent dream of adventure, friends, love and freedom to learn about yourself and the world, the dream of poor boy and rich girl. Awwwww, cute!
Verdict: Play on.
[24/jan/2009] Score 9/10
A simple, intense, constrained drama about the interview of former US President Richard Nixon by seemingly naive British journalist David Frost and the traps and tricks they set for each other in the making of one’s career, and the breaking of the other’s.
- Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
[23/jan/2009] Score: 8/10
Slash, bang, wallop, and lots of camp acting and slurring of words as they dribble over buckets of blood! Yes, it’s another undie bloodbattle between the nasty, snarling baddies and goodies (you decide depending on how you’re cheering for at the time – the Werewolves versus the Vampires, ‘ray!
- Slumdog Millionaire
[19/jan/2009] Score: 10/10
Funny, sad, romantic drama set in the slums of India, rising all the way up to, well you can guess the rest, beautiful babe, battle against the odds, evil baddies, rousing music and exotic dance. Bollywood meets Hollywood, what more can you ask for in this great uplifting fantasy?
Verdict: Deserves every penny of that million.
[17/jan/2009] Score: 6/10
Yes, I know Mickie Rourke is supposed to be putting on “the greatest performance of his career to-date”, but… this is generally a very understated, almost sleepy drama that follows the “won’t change, can’t change” old formula of a man trapped in his circumstances and unable to fight his way out of them, and while that may reflect the experience of most people in the world, it just seems as if he’s going round in circles, slowly.
Verdict: You go wrestle with it.
[10/jan/2009] Score: 7/10
Another of those great true war rescue stories of Jews surviving the horror of the Nazi holocaust (the Nazi mass extermination of 6 million Jews and over 5 million gypsies and peasants from Europe, if you haven’t receive a good lesson in history from your run-down school and pacifist teachers).
This is the story of those who escaped into the forests of Eastern Europe and fought back to survive the war. Led by three modest brothers who didn’t tell their story until long after the war .
Anyone who has seen the Russian film “Come and See” will recognise a couple of snippets here and the film doesn’t make the true heroes into anything spectacular, just a handful men struggling to do their best, so don’t expect great battle scenes or over-dramatization.
Verdict: Remember them all.
- The Spirit
[3/jan/2009] Score: 5/10
If you liked Sin City you’ll like this, less. It looks like someone was taking to many of the wrong kind of spirits when writing or making this disjointed, overly-surreal, mish-mash of a movie and it could have done with someone rewriting it to bring a more coherent and intelligible storyline in. The over-the-top performance from Samual L. Jackson doesn’t help – you really don’t know WHY his character is behaving like this so that adds to the surreal confusion.
I appreciate this is supposed to be comicbook action, but looks like it was taken straight off the page without passing through the production process.
Verdict: Lacks cinema spirit.
- Che: Parts 1 & 2
[1/jan/2009] Score: 8/10
The biography of communist guerilla fighting legend Che Guevara, from the earliest days of the Cuban Revolution, through to his final days attempting to bring the Revolution to the peasants of Bolivia. Seeing the whole film in one single sitting was a wonderful experience, if you like that sort of thing, but not suited for anyone just craving another shoot-em-up action thriller. This is reality, the grit, the dirt, the mud, the struggle for years to overthrow a despotic regime, and the making of a cultural hero of the 1960s.
Verdict: A long, arduous struggle, to the very end.