Reviews & Rants, Films for You?
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
[27/december/2011] Score: 7/10
It’s impossible to watch a “Mission” without wondering if they’re having a laugh at your expense or inviting you to share in the fun, I still can’t get over the first MI film’s helicopter-in-a-chunnel stunt. In this IM episode at least they have the jokes in all the right places – in front of you to share in the silliness – and that makes it all the more enjoyable for a ride through the world of wonder-spies (more silly gadgets than a superspy like Smiley, or Bond, or Palmer, or Quiller); and I still don’t know what a protocol is supposed to mean.
Verdict: Impossibly silly fun.
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows
[18/december/2011] Score: 9/10
Just a continuation of the witty, intellectually stimulated boys-own adventure of Sherlock clashing horns with the almost equally intellectual Moriarty from the first film and every moment is one to savour and enjoy as Holmes drags and unwilling Watson from honeymoon to a chase across Europe as they try stopping a world war.
Verdict: Brilliant Dr Watson!
[18/december/2011] Score 8/10
Beautiful fantasy adventure for children following young Hugo in his attempts to realize his father’s dream, survive against the odds in a hide-and-seek game with the authorities and much more. If there is one small flaw it’s the seeming over-obsessive enthusiasm for the magic of the early days of cinema, which seems at times to detract from the children’s adventure into a university-grade lecture on cinema history.
Verdict: Magic Lantern.
- The Thing
[3/december/2011] Score: 7/10
A direct prequel to the earlier “Thing” movie from John Carpenter telling the events that led up to that story, the discovery of the Thing and the destruction of that first science station. My only question would be this: how come all these scientific research stations in Antarctica are equipped with explosives, guns and flamethrowers?
Apart from that it’s a standard trapped-in-a-wilderness-cabin-with-a-monster movie with fun, thrills and chills in equal measure as you try to guess “who’s the monster” in each scene.
Verdict: Icy welcome to visiting aliens.
[26/november/2011] Score: 7/10
If you’ve seen one American film based on a true story about sport and the plucky middle American working class heroes fighting against “the man” the big bosses, tradition, etc., and coming up with new ideas that everyone laughs at until you rise to the heady heights of success and acclaim by your peers, then you’ve seen them all.
Verdict: Hand me the ball, I want to throw it at someone.
[23/november/2011] Score: 6/10
If you’ve seen on American film about evil vigilantes conspiracies involving everyone in your neighbourhood who is involved in fighting crime when you wife is daft enough to walk alone unarmed down a dark street at night, then you’ve seen them all. And if you haven’t then here’s one to teach you all you want to know about conspiracy and all that.
Verdict: trust no/every-one.
- Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part One
[18/november/2011] Score: 8/10
Fighting all conventions in Hollywood this part begins with a wedding of such soppiness and dopiness you just wish a vampire would come along and fight to the death with Buffy to cheer the place up. Until you realise that Buffy married a vampire and is living happily ever after and half the members of this wedding congregation are vampires!
We all know about the Twilight Saga by now, and what a long drawn out but mesmerising saga it is as girlie finally gets her “man”(?) and goes on a one-night stand/honeymoon with him (something to do with getting over-enthusiastic when bonking a bunny that makes a vamp a little destructive to bedroom furniture) before finding she’s got a bunny-eating bun in the oven (something to do with.., you get the idea…).
The fact that the bun is a Bad News Bun, and could burst out any minute now like an over-eager but really cute Alien, makes all the doggies in the woods howl the full moon down, before they run round in circles chasing their tails.
The end. The big climax to what all this builds up is due next year, if you can bear to wait.
Verdict: She’s Alive!!!!!!
[12/november/2011] Score: 5/10
Fantastic, heroic, nonsense in glorious 3D as a mishmash of Greek myth and mything bows and arrows turn up to amuse and bemuse in this colourful comicbook rendition of something that might have been in the heroic Greek tradition, but isn’t.
Nice effects, mistreated with a simple and thin story.
Verdict: Dead and dust.
- The Rum Diary
[11/november/2011] Score: 8/10
Through a drunken haze a junior journalist comes to realize the cynical truth, that at the bottom of a bottle is empty, and so is your life unless you find something more substantial to live and work for, like a hot blonde girlie.
Verdict: A good rum do.
- Machine Gun Preacher
[6/november/2011] Score: 7/10
Based on a true story and life of one man, former American Hell’s Angel, turned Christian missionary, who struggles to maintain an orphanage in Southern Sudan and protect the lives of children facing kidnap or murder by a terrorist group.
Worthy, but a little under-acted, without that special human centre a good sob-story would give you.
Verdict: Gunning for god.
- In Time
[5/november/2011] Score: 6/10
There are certain standard American plotlines you must have to thrill the audience. Begin with a hero who is clever enough to dodge the hardest criminals and police cameras, but so dumb he neglects his most precious family. Add the senseless (see previous point) death of a beautiful woman as “motivation”. Throw in a few fortuitous meeting with just the right and wrong people to drive the hero to his destiny. Wrap nicely in pretty bows of ribbon and cute wrapping paper.
Remember this is an American story, so make the hero an “ordinary working Joe”, and make the baddies, “the evil corporation”. Don’t forget the Bible belt so throw in plenty or religious references about fate, life and not living beyond “your time” (whatever that’s really supposed to mean).
If you ignore the glaring, gigantic holes in the plot of a supposedly futuristic society without protest movements, without cell phones, without political pressure groups opposed to oppressive control over the new economy, without a free press to expose the truth, and so many other errors, then you have a nice basic futuristic thrill-chase story, but little else.
Verdict: Spend a little time on it for fun, but look after your mum.
- Tower Heist
[4/november/2011] Score: 6/10
Caper crime “heist” comedy as, in the great American tradition, a group of ordinary working men set out to fight the evil corporation in the form of the fraudster on top of the tower. Perfectly reflecting the modern experience after so many banking collapses and so much despair around America.
A few good jokes and japes fill the time nicely, while the conclusion reinforces the ideal that robbery is bad all round.
Verdict: A few golden moments.
- The Ides Of March
[29/october/2011] Score: 8/10
If you want something with more meat on your dish, meat for your mind to chew on, something with more depth and subtle drama than the over-excitable adventures of other current films, then this is a dish to serve up for yourself.
Political intrigue and realism as illusions and dreams turn sour under the temptations of sex and power, a story that’s as old as politics and human society, and as current as the next batch of victims on the alter of ambition.
Verdict: A dish best served cold with a clear head.
- The Adventures Of Tintin
[28/october/2011] Score: 6/10
I don’t think this should really be seen or sold as a children’s adventure, more for the adult children or older ones who would understand all the jokes and the storylines.
Apart from the excessive noise and seemingly endless clashing chases towards the climax the one part of the plot I thought will go over the heads of all the children is the theme of drunkenness. Not something to be treated too lightly and not something to be a focus, even though it is in the original stories of Herge.
[28/october/2011] Score: 8/10
And here we stand, astride a stage of wonder and mystery.
I, your narrator, will bring you into a tale of tragedy, of politics, power, assassination, murder, rebellion and a faint justice for noble intentions bent by corruption to its dark ends, failed only through time’s patient erosion.
Here then we stand, a stage and a history unfolding its dark curtains to glimpse, possibly, through the eyes of time’s magnifying glass, a truth that one man, by named Shakespeare we know him, of writings and doings, in that long past time when a Queen strode England’s fair destiny and men vied for her Power and Glory, when those who might try to open the eyes and minds of common folk must use guile and indirect means to sway those hearts of their fellow men.
So, a story is told, of a man who did write from the stance of his knowledge, talent, education and wisdom, then did use the name of another, one Bill we know today, to pass his works to the common people, to us today and all of our most ancient descendants until the end of time. A man whose true identity even today might be cloaked by the mists of time and records burnt or lost or too buried to be known to our scrutiny, except for those few, those patient and diligent few, who cast onto the stage of life, the suggestion that perhaps there is more to tell, more truth to reveal to our good fortune of understanding, that one-day a man’s true name be revealed as writer and scribe of plays, poems, sonnets and more and thus, perhaps, he finally will be applauded by the audience, that “man we know as Shakespeare”.
Verdict: Mysterious, enlightening, thoughtful, these words and more.
[22/october/2011] Score: 8/10
If you ignore the Hollywood hysteria from some of the characters then this becomes an excellent dramatised description of the reality, the political and scientific methods, behind any kind of likely large-scale epidemic of disease breaking out comparable to the Spanish ‘flu of 1918.
Following the entire process of the disease, its discovery by hundreds of hard-working researchers and investigators around the world as they fight for the survival of millions in the search for a cure, and the tolls it brings to many of them.
It won’t be suitable for anyone looking for a simplistic story focussed on a single character as it strives to span the world and the entire process from the very fist victim, “Patient 1”, through the families, the scientists, doctors, heath authorities and their pop critics on the sidelines. But if you want story the sweeps you around the world and helps you understand the reality, the struggle, the complexity and the human elements in these kinds of events, then this is an excellent popular lesson that we all ought to consider as the beginning of any deeper interest and education. And a reason why something like the British National Health Service should never be neglected to the point of financial and scientific ruin that it can no longer handle such threats.
Verdict: Bug everyone to go enjoy it.
- Real Steel
[22/october/2011] Score: 8/10
Rocky the Robot.
Well, that’s one way to look at this as plucky little underdogs and their semi-ruined robot, struggle to the top to take on the big bad Boss ‘Bot in the Big ‘Bot Match.
Just like “Rocky” you expect at any moment for someone to scream out “Adrianne!!!”
Throwing in a few stereotypes about negligent fathers and aggressive/troubled sons slowly coming together through shared interests can be ignored if you just want to enjoy the fun of big metal robots punching each other to pieces, with a few hot girlies along the way for the dads in the audience.
Verdict: Punches its heavy weight.
- Johnny English Reborn
[19/october/2011] Score: 9/10
The great British spy story is back, and after you’ve seen Smiley in Tinker Tailor, you can pop around to his witless sidekick for some light relief as Johnny English, last resort of MI7 (where MI6 put their useless spies), tries to thwart some plot or other.
Great laugh-out loud comic moments helps lift this above the typical slapstick nonsense and its ability to not take itself too seriously makes it a great piece of fun for everyone who has come in out of the cold.
Verdict: The name’s Born, Re-born.
- The Three Musketeers
If you’ve seen previous versions of this famous tale, then you’ve never seen anything like this piece of totally over-the-top mad, candyfloss nonsense that’s fun enough to fill a happy hour or two as you giggle or relax in front of the screen.
The visual impression has the sense of style from a classic painting and the imaginative flare owes its existence to a parallel universe or some drug-induced director’s wildest fantasies.
Verdict: Takes your imagination aloft.
- The Debt
[6/october/2011] Score: 7/10
A tightly restrained spy/revenge drama that holds you close but keeps you at a cold distance. Good spy drama if you ignore the silliness in the plotline – the Israeli Intelligence Service Mossad aren’t that clumsy and I suspect they’d have a dozen bold solutions, but that wouldn’t have led to this kind of long-drawn out agony of guilt and uncertainty.
Verdict: Owe it to yourself to visit once.
- Red State
[1/october/2011] Score: 7/10
Blackly comic satire of all things the American Bible Belt enjoys – guns, worshiping god, persecuting homosexuals, or anyone else, driving neighbours off their land to steal it, death and sex. While it takes a while to get going it unfolds a nice little dark humour, but might not be for everyone’s tastes, not does it have the fluid efficiency of a major film production, jumping quickly from one action to the next.
Verdict: Red alert, watch it, it’s a blast.
- Killer Elite
[24/september/2011] Score: 4/10
A bunch of assassins are sent out to kill several members of the SAS, that’s the Silly Acting Squad who can’t shoot straight even if their lives depended on it. With lots of mysterious chasing around, lots of silly intrigues and more you can bet your disbelief will have you laughing by the end, if you don’t walk out on it before then.
A top assassin who retires to the remote country outback, but “they” can still find his address and phone number and girlfriend????
Verdict: Kill It.
[24/september/2011] Score: 8/10
If you love the coolness of a Michael Mann movie, or you remember the classic “Driver”, then you’ll enjoy this modern version on the same theme – an unnamed character who drives getaway cars for gangsters offers to help out a neighbour and become mixed up in an increasingly violent intrigue to a bloody outcome. Totally implausible story (he just happens to live near a gangster?) but the near-psychotic emotional chill surrounding the driver grip you to discover whether he has any human feeling.
Verdict: Ice cold winner.
- 30 Minutes Or Less
[21/september/2011] Score: 5/10
And thirty minutes may be all you can stand if you prefer your humour with a little more intelligence. But, if you prefer it loud, nonsense, about dumbed-down suburban idiot wannabe bank robbers, using idiots as their proxies, in an idiot town in the middle of idiot-nowhere, then this may be just the film to give you that fine sense of satisfaction in knowing that somewhere, sometime that really are people louder, dafter, more uselessly stupid than you are.
Verdict: No money back guarantee in dumbsville.
- Troll Hunter
[11/september/2011] Score: 9/10
Last week we had Apollo 18 with its fake documentary style. In comparison to that nonsense Troll Hunter is an imaginative fun adventure following the documentary report of a group of film students chasing clues about a mysterious hunter in the northern wilds of Norway, and discovering that there is more than just snow waiting if you go down into the woods today.
Mind yourself out there, in the bleak loneliness.
[11/september/2011] Score: 7/10
If you ever watched Luc Besson’s “Leon” you might have wondered what happened to the little girl when she grew up. Here’s your answer, in a way as we follow the story of a little girl growing up to become a hit-woman in revenge for her family’s deaths. Not a bad story, but a little too glossy and glamorous with a few silly plot lines, like how could she make all the mistakes and risk her new family towards the end of the story, surely she’d be more professional than that?
Verdict: A limited hit.
- Kill List
[5/september/2011] Score: 3/10
For everyone who misses the Wicker Man’s fiendish friends, here’s another go at it. It must be something in the air with the new government in power here, all that corruption, satanic rites and so much more fun and games in the dungeons of Parliament.
It does take it’s time getting going and ploughs through to the ending, so you might have left before reaching the climax.
Verdict: Kill it.
- Apollo 18
[5/ september, 2011] Score: 2/10
There’s a reason why no one has gone back to the moon since the Apollo landings – it’s because the place is full of Hollywood production companies making a pile of dirt from it, that and the giant man-eating spider rocks. Suspend your disbelief that anyone could get the money to make this.
Verdict: Give it a rocket.
- Fright Night 3D
[2/september/2011] Score: 4/10
A remake of a 1980s story that doesn’t appear to have taken the latest social networking ideas and internet availability into account, so we have a gang of isolated teenagers from the local High School and all-night-vampire’s eatery witnessing wicked events, and not one of them appears to have any friends or anyone on the internet to spread the word, to post their video evidence and mobilise the townsfolk in protest.
And the lesson her is that you must try to keep up-to-date with the latest trends if you want to be taken seriously.
Verdict: Frighteningly dull.
- Conan The Barbarian
[27/august/2011] Score: 5/10
A sword twirling competition between young fit Conan, and some old bloke who’s got the edge for most of the event as they clash like titans in ancient times, amidst ruins of even more ancient worlds, myths and magic.
If you can stand the explosion of noise and hormones, with bulging muscles overwhelming your brain cells, if you enjoy young firm breasted, half-naked slave girls or warrior women with good stabbing action, then this endless race, chase and face-to-face slinging, stabbing and swearing (“I swear by the almighty, pointy steel thingy that my dad will Get you!”, and, “I swear my dad’s sword is bigger than yours, so there!”) then you’ll have a fun time with this.
Verdict: Toys for the Boys, Barbaric, and Babes!
- Cowboys & Aliens
[19/august/2011] Score: 6/10
The name’s Bond, Cowbond.
Well, that’s what it look like at first as plucky cowboy with high-tech gadget strapped to his arm wakes up in the middle of the desert without a clue to his identity before he ride into town to save the local townsfolk from the evil cattle baron, then fights some
indians andaliens and bank robbers.
I’m surprised there wasn’t a kitchen sink attack in there, but maybe I missed it and it’s in the Director’s Cut due out whenever.
For silly hokum fun this fills the bill, but anything more and this isn’t the town for you.
Verdict: Get out and Dodge!
- Super 8
[6/august/2011] Score: 7/10
Junior Cloverfield as ET tries to go home.
So there you are, after all the hype and build-up over the last year or so, a nice little film about a lost alien in an alien world (and 1960s/80s-style Hollywood Middle America is certainly alien to most people, even in America).
Verdict: Super, for eight year olds?
- Captain America
[29/july/2011] Score: 8/10
A good old-fashioned gung-ho American war hero in the comic book style that they haven’t tried to ruin, keeping it in its historic era (World War Two) and maintaining a brisk pace throughout, with no dawdling or attempts to explain everything, this is a perfect way to treat its subject and a great bit of fun for everyone to enjoy.
Verdict: Heroic translation to film.
- Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2
[16/july/2011] Score: 9/10
Well, can’t give it 10/10 can I, being as it’s only half the story (Part 1 last year) and tries to squeeze in as many past characters and plot conclusions as possible with less explanation then you can say “Whizz-o!” with a sweep of a little wand?
Having said all that, it does an admirable job of completing this exceptional saga that has taken so many years to reach its wonderful conclusion.
I’m not going to talk about the story, you have to have read the books or enjoyed the previous seven films to understand anything, and if you didn’t then it’s too late for you.
Verdict: Sweeping saga ends with a flash of magic.
- Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
[2/july/2011] Score: 8/10
A little too much effort at the beginning to explain the disappearance of one bimbo and replace her with the other, upgrading from a brunette to a blonde (looks prettier in front of all the explosions), but for all that distraction it’s a better story, with a richer narrative, than the previous film in the series, giving more time for human characters to develop and recover the humour of the first Transformers movie (play “spot the Spock joke” with your friends).
Do, of course, ignore the illogic (not the Spock joke) of the historical elements of the story and the huge glaring plot holes, like how did the bad robots know to remove the gadget thingies in the 1960s, and what were they doing there all this time but not participating in the events of the earlier films? Little details.
Verdict: Transformed for the better.
- Bad Teacher
[21/june/2011] Score: 8/10
So, for fun romantic comedy in bad taste this should serve to fill your time, a teacher who doesn’t care about her students, until realizing their success could lead to her own ambitions, and sets out to do everything she can – no holds barred.
Verdict: “Watch this film.”
[18/june/2011] Score: 3/10
First there were zombies (“… of the Dead” variety, etc.), then there were hyper-active zombies (“28..” strain, etc), and now we have vampire zombies, that’s the dumbed-down variety we can expect from the land of the dumbed-down – Hollywood Middle-America, where you’re either part of a reclusive rapist religious cult, armed to the teeth to “bring it on” with Armageddon, or you’re on the run from all of the above.
And what a dreary post-apocalypse (again) horror we have as a dull and depressingly daft assorted collection of the lost wander through the new wilderness on their way to salvation, wherever that’s supposed to be.
There’s one lesson anyone in a post-apocalyptic movie should learn, and that’s never, ever, leave the worst baddie tied up to be killed, while you drive off into the sunset. You know, for certain that this is BAD NEWS and the baddie IS going to rise up and bring hell and damnation down on everyone you love. Cut their heads off, fine, burn them to ashes, and cut their heads off, better, burn them, cut them and bury the pieces in salted ground even better, but don’t, ever, leave them staked out while you wander off grinning and thinking you’ve succeeded.
Verdict: Big Mistake.
- Green Lantern
[17/june/2011] Score: 6/10
A little dull at times, if you’ve seen enough accidental superhero movies, to know that he’ll fight against “his destiny” and all that, and struggle to rise above his situation to embrace “responsibility” then fly away and abandon The Girl.
So what’s “super” about these heroes?
Verdict: Usual hero.
- X-Men: First Class
[4/june/2011] Score: 7/10
As with all X-Men films you’re left feeling rushed at the end of this and although it offers a great prequel-style introduction to the birth of the “X-Men” and the mutant battles, it still leave you feeling that you’ve been swamped with a veritable zoo of mutants to pick-your-favourite from, with little time to go into depth of character from any one of them.
Despite this it’s more than most candyfloss superhero films for the summer and leaves you with the feeling that character has played a greater role over mutation this time around, which is better then endless lightning battles.
Verdict: Full marks for the class of ’64.
- The Hangover: Part II
[28/may/2011] Score: 7/10
If you want another tripped out trip through the drunken and debased world of four thick Americans who couldn’t learn the lesson of the first film, then enjoy this funny and distasteful tale.
Verdict: I don’t remember anything.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
[19/may/2011] Score: 6/10
Can Captain Jack Sparrow carry a whole adventure all by himself, will his eccentricities and distinctive style hold you in his thrall for over two hours?
No, not by this example.
Without the direct straightness of Keira “The Frock” Knightley and Orlando “The Sword” Bloom you’re missing two of the key factors in a good pie recipe – the meat and the pastry.
Too much spice can make anyone sick and bored, wanting some substance, and despite the imaginative flair of the action, direction and character acting there is a that down-to-earth comedic connection that stopped the earlier Pirate films from drifting off into a total fantasy.
If you just want to enjoy the ride and be amused then there is enough to keep you going, but you might feel like wandering out from time to time as it sags occasionally.
Verdict: Needs a new cook.
- Attack The Block
[14/may/2011] Score: 6/10
While some people, critics in snobby newspapers, may complain about a story of criminal children being made the heros, they miss the point.
This is a story of a gang of feral teenagers doing what teenagers have done, more or less, for millennia in urban society, struggling for survival until they reach maturity. The only difference here is the struggle happens to be against another, invading gang of aliens bent on destroying their community unless the children can rise to the challenge.
And rise they do, in their own fashion.
Verdict: *&!”$%ing Ace innit!
[13/may/2011] Score: 8/10
Documentary in full and glorious 3D about the world famous Isle of Man TT races. If you can tolerate the rough down-to-earth language and the roar of motorbikes on the most dangerous course in the world appeals then this is perfect for you.
[10/may/2011] Score: 3/10
For some people this comic-book nonsense and mishmash of futuristic and religious mythology will appeal to their yearning for dramatic action. For the rest of us the mishmash will send your mind spinning with all the nonsense drawn from a score of better sources and inspirations.
Verdict: Needs forgiveness, if you have any to spare.
- 13 Assassins
[7/may/2011] Score: 9/10
For all those who enjoy a good Samurai bloodfest and yearn for another “Seven Samurai”, here it is, almost twice over. Unrelieved violence from end-to-end in the brutal politics of preindustrial 19th Century Japan as a group of honourable men set out to rid the country of the impending threat of a sadistic (Shogun) even if it means breaking from all their historical vows and traditions.
In the same mythic over-the-top fight traditions of all those famous Kurosawa movies, this looks like it’s trying to make up for all the years when we haven’t seen sight of a samurai with more, fighting, more blood and more eager chopping of nearly everything in sight.
Verdict: See it chop chop, but not on a weak stomach.
[6/may/2011] Score 10/10
With the energy of Bourne, or a good Bond film, and the sensibilities of a European spy film, this avoids many of the simplistic traps of a purely Hollywood pop entertainment while remaining true to those action-adventure spy drama as young Hanna embarks on an intense violent coming-of-age journey to confront her origins and those responsible.
Remarkable for the easy and fluid way it switches from sudden surges of intense dramatic combat, to a road trip on Hanna’s journey of discovery, of herself and her past.
Verdict: Daughter of Bond?
- Red Riding Hood
[27/april/2011] Score 5/10
Assuming you’re a teenage girl and you’re waiting for another Twilight, then slip into this comfortable red gown while it comes along and take a bite out of this werewolf fantasy based on the fairy tale of big bad wolves and innocent girls wandering alone deep in the dark woods.
A bit too slushy and wet for the rest of us.
Verdict: A nibble to keep you going in the Twilight era.
- THOR 3D
[25/april/2011] Score: 6/10
Young boy throws tantrum with his daddy’s big hammer and is sent to the naughty planet as a punishment, where he meets cute girlie, until his gang of friends come to join him for some fun. Meanwhile his naughtier brother misbehaves at home and wrecks the house.
Throwaway script of coming-of-age story with lots of big special effects that appear too gloomy for words.
Verdict: New kid on the block.
[24/april/2011] Score: 5/10
Nice performances all round for a remake of the pervious version starring Dudley Moore. And if you’ve seen that one the reason for coming to this is to enjoy the over-the-top Russell Brand performance in dramatic contrast with tersely understated Helen Mirren.
Verdict: A small rich performance, and money can buy you happiness.
- Fast & Furious 5
[ 21/april/2011] Score: 7/10
A direct follow-up from the previous film, and completely ignoring Tokyo Drift (please, everyone ignore Tokyo Drift) as the adventurous high-speed crooks play the heroes again with a bunch of crooked cops and mastermind drug dealer.
Using cars like children’s toys, throwing them around the desert without a scratch and tossing a ten ton vault around like it was a bouncy castle are just some of the fun elements, add the normal supply of hot girls and lots of screechy tires and you have a great time. (And more to come hinted at the end.)
Verdict: Furious fun.
- Tomorrow, When The War Began
[9/april/2011] Score: 6/10
Teenage fantasy, that doesn’t include wizards or flying, talking animals; but does contain, hot girls, hot trucks and hot guns, as mysterious evil Far Eastern countries gang up on plucky little Australia to seize control of all its wonderful assets for themselves, with only a small gang of local teens to stand in their way.
Has “exploitive film series” written all over it.
Verdict: Go Skippy!
[5/april/2011] Score: 5/10
If you love cute bunnies (they make great cooking in a pie or stew) then this is something to enjoy; but it doesn’t have all the right ingredients for a true childrens’ film with too much adult-oriented silliness to fit the likely prime audience, unless your audience is the Russel Brand & Bunny fanbase.
The stew of these adult characters and ideas, mixing with children’s characters and the alien nature of purely American Easter Bunny cult, makes for a poor meal for all but a few in the world.
Verdict: EB = Edible Bunny.
- Killing Bono
[3/april/2011] Score: 8/10
Painfully funny “true story” of the life and times of Bono the U2, the greatest rock band in the world, of the time, as told from the other band from Dublin, who would be best described as hopelessly useless, but shared the ambition and dream of fame and glory. This is for everyone who has ever dreamed of success and glory in life, only to see it all go to someone else.
Verdict: Luck of the Irish.
- Source Code
[2/april/2011] Score: 7/10
A nice piece of science fiction in this mad scientist, time travel style of romantic detective story that builds up to a dramatic revelation and conclusion. Contains a little less Hollywood silliness than normal and deserves some credit for that.
Verdict: What would you do to change the world in 8 minutes?
- Sucker Punch
[2/april/2011] Score: 8/10
If you read some of the reviews, the critics have become lost and confused in this bold, dramatic comicbook/video game styled, steampunk movie of bad and mad girls trying to escape from a twisted and cruel mental asylum. What the critics appear to have missed is the underlying theme, that if you dig down inside yourself deep enough you can find the strength and answers to escape, if you’re prepared to fight for it.
Verdict: Fight, for your survival and sanity.
- The Eagle
[27/march/2011] Score: 5/10
I’m bored with silly Roman quest stories as Marcus (they’re always called Marcus) Sillius Haircuttus has to restore family honour, or something equally daft, and fight lots of “barbarians” (who always turn out to be far brighter and don’t engage in butchering other people for fun in an arena), and the camerawork is getting queasy, like we’re all at sea.
Verdict: Carry on Roaming.
[26/march/2011] Score: 7/10
Almost dropped a point on this and was going to give it a lower rating but it just about picked itself up at the end of this story fulfilling the Great American Dream of drugging yourself silly to become a Superhero.
A new medical advance is used to enhance a man’s mind, but doesn’t appear to enhance his intelligence, so you get the kind of plotline that can only be created by someone who wants us to enjoy the ride and switch our minds off, which is a contradiction to the heart of the story, as the character missed some of the glaring steps he ought to take to take advantage of his entire situation, like: why not write a second book in a week to raise a million dollar advance; why not just be patient for a few days of hard work to leverage small success in the stock market into big success instead of going to a loan shark; and why didn’t he investigate the source of his success, its supplier, its side-effects and more? Dummy.
Verdict: “Do drugs” for dummies.
- The Lincoln Lawyer
[18/march/2011] Score: 8/10
Briskly-paced legal/detective movie. If you’ve seen a few others, such as “Jagged Edge” you’ll have a good idea about the style, but it doesn’t detract from the content, which is a well-played story, that takes you along at a good pace.
Verdict: Legal manoeuvres in the dark.
- Chalet Girl
[18/march/2010] Score: 8/10
A “traditional” Cinderella story, of young working girl meeting and running off with her “Prince”. The only difference to add more substance is that this isn’t a silly piece of candy-coated Hollywood fluff, has some nice jokes and a bit more down-to-earth grit that you normally see from those films, which wins it additional points in my view.
Verdict: Apres Cindy.
- Battle: Los Angeles
[11/march/2011] Score: 5/10
War of the Worlds, meets Independence Day, meets all the rest, and throw in all your favourite shoot-the-aliens-invading-Earth video games and you have a juicy, dumb grunt 90 minutes of full-filled shoot, chasing, shooting, chasing and more shooting-the-bugs movie.
Verdict: Brain-dead bug war, survive and go to next level.
- Fair Game
[11/march/2011] Score: 6/10
Based on the true story of crooked American politicians destroying the career of a loyal and devoted CIA worker, and her network of agents, merely for their own aggrandisement. We have the same in Britain, with scientific advisors in Britain driven to suicide, but I can wait for that one.
Hammering the story and the point home as hard as possible this tells of dishonesty trying to destroy anyone voicing an alternative opinion, and how to get away with it all. So who was the real villain, an American President bent on war or a tyrant who was supported by the West for decades?
Verdict: Lesson in politics, sit up and pay attention!
- The Adjustment Bureau
[5/march/2011] Score: 8/10
A nice romantic fantasy of love winning against all the odds opposed to them, so if you’re looking for a science fiction film (based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick) then you have to look elsewhere. However, for everyone who has ever felt that someone is messing around with their lives or ambitions and controlling their destiny here’s one possible explanation.
Verdict: Needs no adjustment to enjoy it well.
[4/march/2011] Score: 3/10
A group of elite super-assassins, with a reputation for never having failed in a mission over many decades, make every schoolboy mistake in the book and are thwarted by a combination of a simple road accident, the only mobile phone in the world that can’t make a connection anywhere in the city, a plucky woman taxi driver and an old retired secret policeman.
- Drive Angry
[26/february/2011] Score: 7/10
If you want your guns, girls and cars loud and blasting at a furious pace with heavy metal music bursting your ears, with a quirky sense of black humour, then here’s your dream come true in one session.
Forget any sensibility, this is what they call “high octane” entertainment.
Verdict: Drive in to see it now.
- I Am Number Four
[25/february/2011] Score: 6/10
Let’s be generous and realize this is for uncritical, dumbed-down younger teens and it’s not a Harry Potter film now that series is coming to an end.
So you have a handful of “gifted” survivors of some vast space disaster who have inherited a great destiny (like Harry), but, they haven’t been taught how to use their powers or any survival skills (unlike Harry), they have a bodyguard armed with a pointy knife (unlike Harry) , they don’t know how to use a pointy knife to defend themselves (unlike Harry), they’re all alone in the world (unlike Harry and his gang) and the baddies, a gang of tattooed hulks, have few brains and lots of big, really, really big guns (unlike Harry).
I don’t know exactly how an entire world of aliens can be destroyed leaving just nine survivors (minus the first three who get hunted down one-by-one), but we’ll ignore that huge hole in probability for the viability of the story (maybe they’re just decoys for the rest of the real survivors?).
Apart from all that I think you get the idea – a little quest for survival and stumbling, like most teenagers, through growing up with no help from adults.
Overall this is a good piece of entertainment, if you ignore the glaring errors and silliness of the situation.
Verdict: I am not Harry.
[19/february/2011] Score: 6/10
I know I should give this a higher score for it’s SF content and whatnot, but there were times when it slipped a little over the top in its geeky enthusiasm for the genre and the subject of UFO aliens stranded on Earth. Apart from that a good all-round bit of flying saucer fun.
Verdict: UFO to see this.
- Yogi Bear
[15/february/2011] Score: 5/10
“Well Bo-bo, looks like we’ve got ourselves in a bit of a mix up here, are we a family entertainment or do we bore all the lovely little kiddies out there with lots of the grown up mushiness.”
“I don’t know Yogi, what do you think?”
Verdict: “I think we’re brighter than the aver-age bears! So let’s go to another cinemaa!”
- True Grit
[12/february/2011] Score: 7/10
If you’ve seen the earlier John Wayne movie you’ll find much similar, and much different, with that fine Coen Brothers grittiness and attention to detail and authenticity, plus a lot more bantering humour, to add meat and grit to your enjoyment.
Verdict: Grittier, and wittier.
- Morning Glory
[1/february/2011] Score: 6/10
Excessively enthusiastic young woman, bats her eyes, flashes her smile and, like a chipmunk on too much caffeine, succeeds in the magic of turning a small team of squabbling workers into a “family” of successful professionals. And she gets laid a lot on the side.
A nice little not-too-romantic comedy about television news in America, Hollywood style.
Verdict: Lessons in life, loving and laughing.
- Barney’s Version
[28/january/2011] Score: 8/10
A man takes big drink, a big cigar, another big drink, stumbles, drinks and smokes through a lot of work here and there, while drinking some more, and gets a lot of love out of life while screwing a lot of it up. In other worlds just what the rest of us are living too, with variations on the drinking.
Verdict: Cheers, for grown-ups.
[28/january/2011] Score: 9/10
If you haven’t seen a “traditional” Disney animation for a while, then here’s a quick recap. Take a dark old style traditional folk tale, mix with a table spoon of sugar, thrown in some songs, and cute magical animals who seem to be able to understand what humans say, add some sugar, sweeten it with bright cheerful colours, and a murder.
The murder might not appeal to the very youngest children, but they do love their sweets. There are one or two adult moments, of touchy-feely angst, you wouldn’t find in older style stories, but the children can take a break there and suck their cinema sweeties before it’s back to the action, songs and more sweets.
Verdict: Very sweet.
- The Green Hornet
[15/january/2011] Score: 7/10
As long as you can withstand the loud humour then this is a fun-filled couple of hours of semi-anti-hero nonsense; but have you ever noticed how all these American heroes, Batman, Iron Man etc., are all the spoilt trust fund children of successful families?
At least the green hornet plays it well – spoilt and stupid.
Now where’s the hero for the grubby generation? Hmmmm, might write that myself.
Verdict: Don’t get green with envy at their wealth, they’re still idiots.
[14/january/2011] Score: 7/10
Typical American “true story” of working class justice as innocent man is framed for murder by the police and his sister sets out to break him free, by becoming a lawyer and taking on the system. It took her eighteen years, which is a bit longer than a typical Hollywood nonsense (see The Next Three Days below).
Verdict: Inspiring, but you’d have to have a strong conviction to slog through it.
- Season Of The Witch
[8/january/2011] Score: 3/10
Take a standard script of tormented grubby heroes on a quest for redemption and mix in some comic book fun, then give it to a group of monkeys to write, and this is the silly nonsense you get for your, meagre, money. A mediaeval fantasy about Knights on a quest, fighting demons and monsters (church and devil, you choose which) to protect the world against the plague.
Verdict: Seasoning, take with a pinch of salt.
- The Next Three Days
[8/january/2011] Score: 5/10
Almost a plodding build-up to a prison escape story, as a “typical” family man, fights for the freedom of his innocent wife convicted of a murder that only a bunch of idiots would approve of on the thinnest of evidence a forensic scientist would have thrown out of court. Add a series of mishaps as he acquires the hard edge and skills needed to help his wife escape, a sudden desperate last-minute change of plans and then a hair-raising, or hair-brained, race through city street to escape the police, and it all adds up to an entertaining, but not eventually fulfilling couple of hours.
Verdict: Good if you’re on day-release from reality.
- The King’s Speech
[7/january/2011] Score: 10/10
Based on the true events of the accession to the throne of King George the 6th and his tremendous struggle to overcome a lifelong speech impediment, brought on by mistreatment as a child, as Britain faces enormous danger of war and massive changes in society.
Verdict: Crowning achievement.