Reviews & Rants, Films for You?
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
[31/december/2013] Score: 8/10
Well, after watching the dire high definition (HFR) version I thought it was worth a second viewing in standard 3D and much the better experience for it. Same story, similarly overly-long as it stretched the story to exhaustion following the little Hobbit and his Dwarf chums in their intrepid quest to meet Mr Smaug.
Without the distractions of the HFR version (you really could see the joins) there’s time to concentrate on the story if you’re able to hold together all the threads that are unfolded before your eyes, if you can keep track of all the characters and their inter-weaving plots, plans, and schemes, or just plain adventures.
Now we wait for the concluding battle(s) to resolve it all.
Verdict: Not so Desolate.
- All Is Lost
[28/december/2013] Score: 3/10
If you want to learn how NOT to sail around the world and deal with an emergency then this is a superb instruction in what not to do.
With great expectations shipwrecked on a woefully underused star actor and script that flounders around drift in its own style I voted with my feet half-way through and hope the sharks finished off what was a weak attempt at an ocean survival story.
Having read many such a story in the past I’m disappointed that none of the real spirit of survival at sea came through this tall tale. In many of those stories ordinary people survive against herculean odds by focusing on their actions, taking charge of their survival and striving day-to-day to maintain their sanity. Here though was a man alone, miserable, adrift in the ocean and probably in his life, and dragging us, the audience, down with him.
It may sound like a great challenge, a great actor who has to rely on physical performance over dialogue but there as no resulting engagement with the meagre audience I shared this viewing with before I bailed out and paddled to safer shores.
Verdict: Sinking without a trace.
- 47 Ronin
[26/december/2013] Score: 5/10
A heroic legend amongst the Japanese for the true ideal spirit of the Samurai is trashed by Hollywood when mixed with a magical/romantic plotline from a cheap comicbook and that’s about all I can say for something that could have been better produced with one of the great Japanese directors.
I almost felt like whipping out a sword and slashing the screen before running screaming from the cinema screaming “Banzai!” at this tosh.
Verdict: Slash this one.
- The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
[26/december/2013] Score: 10/10
Don’t let any previous interpretation of the Walter Mitty story deter you, this is an almost predictable, sentimental, adventurous, romantic story that’s perfect for the holiday season and all those who dream of great personal adventure against the odds and the chance of success in life when you’re prepared to step out of the narrow confines of “normal” life.
Verdict: Everyone’s secret revealed with joy.
- Anchorman 2 The Legend Continues
[21/december/2013] Score: 7/10
An aquired taste and then it becomes addictive for its blind stupidity the anchorman that IS Ron Burgundy returns to our screens as he enters a new decade, and new disturbing revelations – women, “Black” women in charge!!!
The terrifying journey of self-discovery continues as passions simmer, bubble and burble, sometimes over-boiling, as new media formats arrive and as one man, drunk and drugged on his own glorious fame, ascends to tumultous heights and haunting depths in his own stupidity and masculine arrogance.
Here IS the Legend that is, completely daft as a brush, and we’ll be interviewing THAT brush as soon as we hear from these sponsors…
Verdict: The news, with balls, big BALLs, and bigger tits!
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (HFR Version)
[14/december/2013] Score: 5/10
I don’t know how really good or bad this film is because I stumbled into the HFR projection version. For those who don’t know HFR is the next ambition in “improving” the realism of film by doubling the number of frames per second (48 instead of 24), but for a fantasy tale like The Hobbit it left much to be desired and spoilt what could have been a great experience.
For the story it felt too long, winding a long elaborate path through a score of themes, characters and locations merely to prepare us all for the concluding climax due out next year and build up a greater association with the Rings trilogy and it’s drama.
It appeared at times as if a handful of unnecessary characters were being thrown in for fun or just to fill up the minutes in what is well over two and a half hours and this became tedious to slog through at times. But if you want a realge, long, adventure, especially when it comes out in disc format, extended version and all, it will be worth all the money and time you spend on it for you and your family.
My review of HFR techinque I’ll leave elsewhere. I’ll have to revisit the film and see a “standard” projection to focus on the story.
Verdict: A long and winding road, to where?
- Kill Your Darlings
[12/december/2013] Score: 7/10
The agonising perversions of repression in the illiberal age before the 1960s storms of social revolution as the first generation of social rebels begin to rear their heads in America in 1940s.
Excessively intellectual and academic a small lofty clique of fledgling writers converge and swirl around each other for one moment in time that will result in death and the birth of the “Beat Generation”.
Only a few will appreciate the drama of this particular story, but the theme of teen rebellion beyond the edges of conventional society for these pretty rich boys is a universal one in human nature.
Verdict: March to this Beat?
- Saving Mr Banks
[11/december/2013] Score: 10/10
Possibly a true story, possibly another wave of the Disney magic wand, and possibly a wonderful film for grown ups who still enjoy a fairy tale.
This is not a children’s story, but one about children, about creating magic for millions in the hope of casting a spell to ease past pain and suffering.
As always in any magical story there is a journey of self discovery, and a large spoonful of sugar, to find an answer to the quest. And tears fall.
Verdict: Did I say magical?
[10/december/2013] Score: 8/10
Clumsy ex-cop leaves all his secret identity and records lying around so a big gang of vicions bikers (some bikers are quite nice, but don’t tell Hollywood) can come and destroy his life in revenge for his undercover work.
Lots of fighting, chases, shootouts to save the little girl.
That about covers all the numbers, but it’s just a little more grown up than many of these tales, a hint of literary depth you won’t find in many such films, so characters have more chance to blossom.
Verdict: A home with character.
[6/december/2013] Score: 9/10
A new even-more-Disneyfied version of the old tale of the “Snow Queen” with added music, romance, adventure and cute creatures; but at least the animals aren’t talking in this one, so that’s a relief.
It’s not a long, overblown saga, just a straight adventure just fun, music and long enough to engage and entertain children of all ages, as predictable as snow falling in winter for adults and a magical, playful adventure for all children, this will warm all hearts this season.
I’d give it ten out of ten but for the fact that it’s not an original story, so at least one point for the original storytellers, and the rest for Disney’s production team.
Verdict: Heart warming.
- The Family
[28/november/2013] Score: 8/10
Ever so slightly predictible but beautiful blend of Luc Besson and Martin Scorsese in a brisk gangster movie that bows to many of its predecessors. It’s set in the heart of the surly French countryside with the inevitable New York gangster and his family in tow hiding from Mafia assassins hot on his trail, it leads to the inevitable conclusion that blows the heart of the little French village apart with no Hot Fuzz in sight to save the day.
If you’ve seen and enjoyed “Lilyhammer” you’ll have a taste for this fish-out-of-water style, albeit with more of the Besson blow-out conclusion.
Verdict: A grown up family outing.
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
[24/november/2013] Score: 7/10
It’s the middle of a trilogy and events must be set in motion without final definitive resolution, so there’s a sense of confusion over the developments in this story as the foundations are laid and lines are drawn to prepare for what’s to come. Once again, little girlie Katniss must enter the Games Arena to fight for her life without sensing the underlying tide of change in the world around her, we, like her see hints, but no sense of deeper emotion. On first appearances there is that lack of terror and emotion we might have felt in the first film at the events rush around her towards her doom and much-anticipated death in the arena.
The feeling is that the producers have tried to capture as much as they can of the original books but still thrown out a lot of explanation and depth that might have made an impact on our understanding of how the story unfolds.
Verdict: Doesn’t light up my day, needs a book to understand it all.
- Don Jon
[21/november/2013] Score: 10/10
Despite the suggestion this is a sex-obsessed exercise in male video masturbation it unfolds into a frank, open and gradually maturing account of a man’s discovery of the rich world of emotional and sexual commitment to love not just endless false sex, playing around with himself and empty shallow one-night stands.
For creating this the writer / director / Lead should be commended and awarded and applauded.
go watch it for the sex if you have to, but enjoy it for the evolution into a surprising adult maturity.
Verdict: Recommended for all adolescents, of whatever age.
- The Counsellor
[16/november/2013] Score: 5/10
For unremitting gloom, despondency and despair this is your trip to the dark side for this weekend. And a great warning never to visit the USA or Mexico is this is anything to go by in this blackly twisted snuff movie, as most of the characters either snuff each other out or snuff their lives, hopes and dreams of the future out in their pursuit of the American dream of greed.
A cool, calculating dissection of the blackest aspects of the illegal drug trade across the Mexico-US borderlands, there are no heroes here, no salvation, no hope for any better future than running for your life or loosing it in a brief butchery by whatever means are available.
An ensemble film the assembly is coldly dispatched one by one as treachery turns to torture and terror. In its own sense this is just as fantastical and silly as the inverse, the hero who never suffers a scratch or the warrior who extracts bloody revenge. Don’t expect any fast chases, heroic action or battle, this is “just business”.
Verdict: You’ll need counselling after this.
[9/november/2013] Score: 10/10
How to score this when it comes with such a good reputation from other reviewers?
For technical attention to detail that brings the experience of living and working in space to life in a way that’s not been seen since “Apollo 13” or “2001: A Space Odyssey”?
For the drama of two people desperately struggling for survival alone without help from far below?
Or for the mistakes that every engineer and astronaut would point out if they were in a really irritated mood?
Ignore it all and just lap up a really new visionary approach to “real” space stories and not the endless comicbook superheroes or ships swirling through space. This is a breathless, dramatic, human story with a bold setting that deserves everyone’s attention.
Verdict: Don’t let go, of this one.
- Blue Jasmine
[8/november/2013] Score: 10/10
An antidote to endless comicbook superheroes this wry drama tells the downfall of one self-obsessed New York society woman following her husband’s scandalous financial dealings. The ultimate opportunity for a handful of actors to show their talent, and neuroses, before the camera in their characters’ ups and downs.
A straight-forward drama, of people struggling with love and life and suffering from all their decisions with the right kind of justice for those who deserve it the most.
Verdict: Blue, and bluer.
- Escape Plan
[6/november/2013] Score: 6/10
By-the-book action movie starring two senior citizens from the good old days of Hollywood action movies, here returning to the tried and true tale of escape against almost overwhelming odds from all sides, raising the age old question – who do you trust, who can you trust?
As usual the only escape is through endless gunfights and such mind-bogglingly intriguing methods of technical trickery as to bend your mind out of shape.
Verdict: Escapist fun in the “old”, last generation’s, tradition.
[1/november/2013] Score: 10/10
The second true story of the week to inspire your hope in humanity.
There is a dark evil in the world, and I don’t mean comicbook evil like Thor, I mean the institutional evil of big religions and politics who “know best” for all the vulnerable, innocent victims of their heartless authority, lust for power and greed.
This is the story of one woman’s experience and how one, quite reluctant, hero is enlisted to overthrow a tyranny that enslaved and abused young women in Ireland for decades, snatching away their babies and selling them to the highest bidder.
This is not modern underground human trafficking, but legally and religiously approved trafficking by the Catholic Church in the babies of young women made pregnant, partly by passion, mostly by ignorance and lack of support in their society.
Despite this terrifying and traumatic experience Philomena managed to remain steadfast and strong in her devotion to a son torn from her by the traffickers and sold to Americans, and, after decades of searching, managed with the help of her reluctant hero, to uncover the truth of his life and the conspiracies against him and his mother by a callous church.
Verdict: Justice comes in the end, to those who fight for it.
- One Chance
[31/october/2013] Score: 8/10
A true story to inspire and enrich everyone’s soul.
It’s been on TV for years, the success of small town mobile phone salesman Paul Pott’s rise to fame and glory in the world of Opera after entering a TV talent show. Despite year’s struggling to become a great opera singer one obstacle after another is thrown in his path from school bullying onwards to challenge his dream, until one day he sees one final chance, one final opportunity to reach for the stars and transform his life forever.
Recalling many of the “true stories” of the past, following struggle n poverty to final glory, this treads the tried and true path to its anticipated conclusion.
Verdict: One man’s opera.
- Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2
[31/october/2013] Score: 5/10
Many children will love it, some of the in-jokes about Silicon Valley internet technology companies and “evil” technology geniuses, might go over their heads, but the rest is by-the-book adventure of a gang of friends on an adventure in a very uniquely wild jungle facing the challenge of whether they help destroy it all or fight to preserve its cute wonders. Go on , guess which they opt for.
Verdict: A great chance of humour and fun for all.
- Thor: The Dark World
[30/october/2013] Score: 10/10
This is another in the ongoing series of super superhero films from the marvellous Marvel Studios following the next thrilling and wildly loud and wittily funny thrill-ride of the “God” Thor and all his little godling chums on Asgard plus the puny little humans back on Earth struggling to make sense of it all as an evil darkness is unleashed from the demonic dungeons lying in wait just under the heart of Old London Town (amazing how much evil there is lurking under London in all these films, and that doesn’t even include Parliament, must make a note to avoid the place).
For character development and witty writing this has everything going for it, but then they have decades of development to rely on. The real talent here is seeing how well they’ve managed to produce such a great tall tale and compact it into a mere two hours.
Verdict: Heroic endeavours.
- Ender’s Game
[26/october/2013] Score: 10/10
At long last a “classic” successful science fiction novel arrives on the big screen and shows people more than just a few caped crusaders fighting the evil demons of the Hell dimensions, or other such nonsense. However, the more intelligent elements of the film might skip right past many audiences who are just seeking a quick thrill, a glorious battle and simplistic characters.
It brought laughs to many of the children in the audience when I attended so it does strike a chord with their sense of playground battle humour in all the experiences of young Ender’s struggle for survival in the hell that is any school.
This is intelligent drama, a world devastated by war and twisted by its after-effects into a brutal society recruiting its children to fight war games in preparation to take on a mysterious implacable enemy in deep space.
I feel this will be a success for those young enough to appreciate both the intelligence, the school playground drama and Ender’s struggle to grow up far faster than any child in our modern world.
Verdict: War is not game.
- The Fifth Estate
[22/october/2013] Score: 10/10
For mesmerising drama and and engrossing story that holds the attention this can’t be beaten. That’s if you’re in any way interested in international politics, intrigues and press freedom around a group of slightly twisted enthusiasts for “freedom at any costs” even if it means disregarding any respect for individual human life, which will be sacrificed in the name of the new religion. Blending the desire for a more “open” world society and an arrogant contempt for “traditional” values and press codes one geeky maniac sets out to tear down the falls of secrecy on government and corporate lives.
Good or bad depends on your understanding of personal liberty, respect for life and the battle against the huge modern corporate organisations in business and government attempting to bring about Orwell’s world of Big Brother secrecy and managerial repression.
Verdict: A grey area of shadows.
- Captain Phillips
[19/october/2013] Score: 9/10
Bold, dramatic retelling the true story of one hijacking in the Indian Ocean of an American merchant ship in 2009. Victim of the rise in ocean piracy off the coast of Somalia due to the enormous rise in desperate poverty amongst its fisherman (then it gets really complex).
This follows the dramatised experience of the ship’s Captain in his confrontation with the pirates and all the events that followed during the next few days.
SPOILER: There have been criticisms about the film’s accuracy. Read the Director’s response here: Director’s Response. And another professional opinion is here: Maritime Executive Report.
Verdict: Sail through this one carefully.
[15/october/2013] Score: 5/10
For surreal drug-trips into the netherworld of the unconscious there’s nothing like an angry young Scotsman, and if you find the thought of the police/cops/fuzz/pigs nothing but disgustingly contemptible then this is your perfect snort.
And that’s about it, one man’s descent into madness if you can piece the story behind his fall and enjoy being as tripped out as he then this is for you.
Verdict: A trip with the Scottish filth.
- How I Live Now
[14/october/2013] Score: 8/10
A coming-of-age story for teen enthusiasts of the style of Hunger Games and so many other apocalyptic themes in our modern age as a bunch of hippy-kiddies discover a harsh real world outside their little happy, hippy, fairytale home struggle to come to terms with it all.
This lacks the fantasy elements an audience will find in Hunger Games, as it throws you deep into the terrors of the unknown, an unknown enemy, the helplessness of being tossed like a leaf on the winds of change and more. Perfect to teach youngsters that it’s not all light and roses.
Verdict: Search for a better way to life.
- Sunshine On Leigh
[13/october/2013] Score: 8/10
Great fun, wit and humanity in an uplifting story of love, loss, romance and more. If you love the music and any song and dance then this will keep you going for a good couple of hours.
Verdict: Sunshine and showers.
- Lone Ranger
[4/october/2013] Score: 4/10
The best role in this film went to the white horse.
For the rest of the film this appears to be a sliced and diced selection from a range of other more inspirational films, with flavours and spices from “Once Upon A Time In The West”, “Pirates Of The Caribbean” and even one moment straight out of “Lord Of The Rings”, and I’m sure, although real fanatics could correct me here, that the final rail car chase appeared in a Buster Keaton film!??
Perhaps that was the intention, to invoke many of the great moments in cinema history, but it felt like a mashup of too many themes and ideas flooding your senses just for the fun of it all.
The story structure also makes it difficult to continue the series if anyone ever hoped to do so. A rule of creating a good series is – never give the ending, of their lives, away.
Verdict: Alone on the range.
- White House Down
[2/october/2013] Score: 4/10
A vicious bunch of Republicans hold the American President’s White House for ransom to change the future destiny of the world.
Oops! Sorry, that’s in the real world.
This, is just a wacky, wild and way out wild west adventure romp as a lone hero left alone in the White House fends of evil Hollywood criminals and traitors while all the arrayed forces of security and safety, police, special forces, tanks and thousands of civil spectators stand idly by outside watching it all on their TV sets and smartphones until one little girlie saves the centre of global world civilization (of America) with some patriotic flag-waving.
Verdict: A bunch of girlies.
[2/october/2013] Score: 5/10
If you believe there is a magic fairy in the world saving lost souls and lifting them up to a wonderful place of happiness and joy, then best not watch this comic-book action because you cannot escape the corrupt cops and other evil-doers and injustice even in heaven, or wherever.
[14/september/2013] Score: 10/10
For grown-up drama and a complete lack of superheroes in silly costumes nothing beats grown up men in costumes racing high performance cars around tracks and enjoying the pleasures of beautiful women, fame and fortune.
So if you love the sound of a twelve-cylinder engine roaring in your ears and the real heroes of the world motor racing circuit this dramatic and true story will thrill you better than all the silly costumed caped “wonders” of American comicbooks put together.
Telling the race between two of the greatest drivers of the 1970s, James Hunt and Niki Lauda, this doesn’t spoil you with silly simplicity. There are no villains, no super-baddies, just men racing against each other and themselves to the edge of death and the thrill of beating it back every time.
(Spoiler: Be aware that this is only part of the story, of human achievement, mutual respect and intense professionalism.)
Verdict: Rush to see it before it roars into the sunset.
- Only God Forgives
[13/september/2013] Score: 2/10
This is a film that thinks it’s as cool as a perfectly crafted ice cube, but in the process forgets that ice is best served in a crystal glass with a fine whiskey by a beautiful woman in a gentleman’s bar, not just thrown in your lap to masturbate all over.
Indifferent to any familiar sense of plotline and dramatic story the film’s director appears obsessed with paring away anything other than the raw sense of an emotion and a “moment” in time, lots of which are strung together, one paused after another in a string of icy moments that lack any familiar narrative flow.
I can imagine a thousand and one critics smiling in delight at the slow, some will say plodding, story, unfolding in a stylistic fashion that lingers only on those moments deserving the director’s attention and ignoring the common audience’s desire for a more familiar flow.
In my experience, having missed its earlier release last month, I watched three members of the small audience walk out in the first forty minutes as this story failed to hold their attention.
I thought there might be a redeeming feature in there somewhere, but found not, but score only on the one or two brief moments of dramatic performance worth a modest attention.
Verdict: Only a god might forgive this one.
- About Time
[7/september/2013] Score: 8/10
Let’s us take a whimsical trip into that wonderful fluffy fantasy world of London(ish) rom-coms and follow the delightfully twee and heart-rendering tale of well-off professional and slightly arty and eccentric folk in one family who have a magical talent for time travel and use it to savour the gentle and genteel delights and subtle flavours of life all around them, growing and maturing through true(ish) real life experience in love.
Forget using your powers to save the world, that’s far too complicated for these essentially well-grounded and mature folk who learn that often life is all about the small details of every-day living.
Verdict: Awwww, sweeeet!
[5/september/2013] Score: 7/10
If there are any immutable laws and lessons from the Wonderful World Of Riddick it is that: (a) every planet has a single, all-consuming predatory life form and nothing left to eat but you, so always carry a big gun, lots of ammunition and really good body armour; (b) they only come out in the dark, so always carry a big torch or come back in the morning; (c) Riddick always has this tendency to loose most or all of his “friends” and pets, so go and live on the other side of the planet from him, or preferably an entirely different planet, a long way away.
Here’s comes Mr Bad Luck again, abandoned on a hell-infested desolate world (much simpler on the special effects) to struggle for survival (where did he learn all this clever stuff!!?) and await rescue/captivity (not sure which comes first there).
A good reboot, after his “Chronicles” and something that was expected if the Hollywood machine was to grind out a sequence of similar journeys into Pitch Black rather than explore the evolution of a super-warrior. Here remains a man lost and alone on the fringes of the universe, struggling to survive but without direction, without a future or destiny.
Verdict: Pitched back into blackness.
[24/august/2014] Score: 9/10
I think we all know where we’re going from this, the dramatically, and theatrically, stark and bleak contrast between the brilliant and aloof wealth of the richest in the world, or over it, and those scrabbling in the filth and dirt that’s been left behind. We’ve been through this saga often before, as one grubby rebel eventually manages to dramatically, and theatrically, overturn the established order and bring a better world to “everyone” else.
I think Jesus was one of the first to be made famous by this tragically flawed story, of self-sacrifice against almost overwhelming odds.
For a dramatic adventure SF film it makes a vital carrier for an important message, but back in the real world, without all the theatricality, there are many, many shades of grey (and not just the kinky sex ones) to dealing with all the problems the world faces.
Perhaps for another time?
Verdict: To reach the Elysium fields you usually had to die and be lifted up to heaven. See this before you do.
- We’re The Millers
[23/august/2013] Score: 7/10
A family as fake as everything on American TV ever since the invention of the Traditional American Family, is created to smuggle a van load of drugs from Mexico into the US with middle-of-the-road playful results. A nice “safe” story that doesn’t go the dark extremes of the reality of drug smuggling or the silly slapstick comedy nonsense of such a set-up it plays it straight and safe to throw up some good gags along the way.
Verdict: Take a roadtrip with the Millers.
- The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones
[21/august/2013] Score: 6/10
There has been a big demand in Hollywood to find a new replacement for “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” to fill the “Young Adult” audience market. This isn’t it.
The unfortunate problem with this as with other similar recent attempts to launch a new popular film series (“Percy Jackson” & “Beautiful Creatures”) is their desire to sweep you totally into a near-alien world of magic, mages and monsters.
So enthused and excited by this story they have to deluge you with too much sensory information and action, with set-battles, then throw a score of themes at you before you can absorb the first introduction to the setting.
In the desperate need to establish all the varied and many characters and their relationships right away, plus all the magic and settings, the history and background to everything, they don’t give you time to become seriously engaged with the characters enough to care for them.
For this the story is average. Good enough to pass the time with some fun elements, but also plenty of confusion and questions, like how easy was it for the young girl to go from ordinary girl next door to black-leather-clad demon-hunter in high heeled boots!? And no one really noticed?
If a series like this were to be developed it would need more patience to nurture the characters and the audience. Consider by contrast the Potter/Twilight stories, slow burning fuses leading to a single explosion at the end.
If that had been rewritten to focus almost entirely on the first act, stretched and explored in-depth, to build up the tension, add the details of the characters and their settings, it might have worked far better to establish a series, or be abandoned at lower financial risk if the audience hadn’t called for more.
Verdict: Low flash, small bang, little bite.
- Kick-Ass 2
[17/august/2013] Score: 7/10
Taking the self-appointed vigilante/costumed “hero” idea of the first film to the extreme here’s the latest fashion in urban wear as everyone and his dog, seems to be dressed in the latest on-trend too-tight-lycra in fluorescent colours, or black latex.
This is what happens when the geeks try to rule the world and get the whole idea completely wrong, but in the most comic and comicbook fashion.
Comedy is one of the few subjects, along with mathematics, that shows the real truth of the world, and here we see the truth in the broad light of day behind all costumed “heroes” (can you now imagine Batman strolling down the street in daytime without laughing?).
Verdict: Do The Vogue.
- 2 Guns
[17/august/20134] Score: 7/10
A buddy cop movie, we haven’t seen one of those for a long time and it is well worth the wait as two undercover cops team up to uncover the truth behind the conspiracies that everyone seems to be playing against them in a huge drug and money deal of spies, smugglers, sexy girls and secrets. Add the comedic dialogue to keep you skipping lightly through some of the most important issues in the world today and you have a delight of nonsense to fill your time.
Verdict: Buddy buddy, goodie, goodies.
- Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters
[9/august/2013] Score: 7/10
If you don’t know of Percy he’s the boy who’s daddy is an ancient Greek god, and mummy was a human and he now lives in a really cool endless summer camp for all the children of the Greek gods. I guess the other gods’ children have other camps, but that’s another story.
Unfortunately summer camp is often threatened by really jealous monsters and so Percy and his really cool gang of best friends forever (BFFs) have to go on a really cool adventure and stab lots of bad guys and monsters to save the world of the Greek gods (fortunately he doesn’t have a major economic crisis in Greece to deal with so that’s all right).
For nice simple summer school break entertainment for younger audiences with plenty of good special effects this serves the youngsters well without straining the brain too much with any deep philosophical adult nonsense, just go, search, stab a lot, save world. Easy, if you’re a demigod.
verdict: Monstrously fun for all the family.
- Red 2
[2/august/2013] Score: 6/10
Standard, very tongue-in-cheek, wry and spry spy comedy that begins with a bang and ends with a bigger bang and just enjoys the ride between the two. If you enjoyed the first you’ll like this trip to the silly side of spying, with guns, and bombs, and stuff.
Verdict: A boom.
- The Heat
[1/august/2013] Score: 7/10
Surprisingly painfully funny at times that lift this buddy-cop comedy above the line of expectation. If you immerse yourself in the experience and just giggle along with it you should have a great time.
It’s as predictable as you can predict, but the real fun is extracting the painfully silly characters from the uptight one to the slobby one they’re played straight and true to their nature, no mugging to the camera or any other self-aware nonsense.
Verdict: Hotter than expectation.
- The Wolverine
[28/july/2013] Score: 10/10
Compared to a lot of the high concept SF/Fantasy/comicbook films that have been out recently this is maximum entertainment at minimum worry. No worry about the plotting, the pace the style or content, with the gritty filthy Wolverine starting at his most primal in a cave deep in the woods and bursting forth from there with every growl and slash of claws you could wish for against all the bad, high born or lowlife.
Touching on the Wolverine’s humanity following the loss of his love-unfulfilled for Jean Grey (he’s a dog, going after another man’s wife), his immortality after a century of life and the offer of a escape from endless life, loss and battle, he’s confronted with the choice to fight or fade away.
Go on, do you really think he has a choice? Do any of us?
Verdict: Sharp as claws.
- Frances Ha
[27/july/2013] Score: 5/10
Very much for the connoisseur of that special brand of New York movie pioneered by Woody Allen, following the twee delights of that certain type of people who went to college, got a kind of rather nice education them moved into a expensive apartment somewhere on the Isle of Manhattan paid for by daddy’s trust fund or an obscure job, part-time, in the arts which appear to pay for only one trip to Paris each year because you’re too poor to afford anything else.
Oh, then throw in a lot of chattering talk about the inconsequentiality of life and love with a quirky central character who has an irritating innocent breeziness that wafts through like a light breeze on a warm summer afternoon.
Then shoot it all in black and white.
Verdict: Absolutely so lovely and perfect.
- The World’s End
[23/july/2013] Score: 6/10
Satirically poking fun at all the heroes fighting alien invasion and winning by appealing to the “we’re human, we will not be enslaved” scenario while backfiring in spectacular form, this is a drunken brawl through small town England against alien invaders fought off by the plucky drunken nobility of ordinary men on a night out on the town.
It does start to get tiring at the beginning while we follow five former “lads” return to their much-hated home town to embark on a mammoth pub crawl, but pick up when the crawl turns into a race for survival battling aliens robots intent on the betterment of mankind, whether we like it or not.
- Pacific Rim
[13/july/2013] Score: 8/10
Giant robots battle giant alien monsters from a parallel dimension for the fate of the universe of the
USAPacific with only a handful of plucky boys and girls in their big robots standing in the way of fate of America and associated Pacific countries where the producers hope to sell this film.
With huge expectations for the success of the film based on its comparably huge budget everything hangs on whether enough people will go to watch it. If you love a “Go-devil” style movie that has an excess of technical detail, a vast new toy range due out before Christmas and an almost endless series of giant robot battles then this is perfect for you and your boy children.
Add a light-hearted “mad scientist” sub-plot that brings much needed humour to the situation and it comes to a reasonably good time to switch your brain off and be amazed at how much money was spent on near endless shots of immensely expensive sets, locations and scenes.
(Although it has given me a great idea for two alternate versions that I must work on later.)
Verdict: Big Robot Independence Day.
- The Being Ring
[12/july/2013] Score: 7/10
Another group of spoilt brats (see “The East” below) spending their endless dream time snorting drugs and the drug of fame in LaLa Land, chasing a dream beyond the scope of their lives by stealing everyone else. But what else is there to do for those with no challenge to their lives, but seek the illicit thrills of petty crime?
We don’t get really deep into why these brats turned to crime, but you can enjoy their “adventures” plundering the wardrobes of the excessively rich and famous-for-it and be amazed as how easily the children found it.
Verdict: Do the crime, do the time. Then make a movie of it.
- The East
[11/july/2013] Score: 5/10
A group of spoilt brats of middle class management families launch their own eco-protest group to bring down America’s favourite hate figure – “Big Corporations” -and in the process attract the attentions of an undercover investigator who slowly turns sympathetic to their cause as it becomes increasingly violent and radical.
So, we were due for one of these after so long without the once-a-decade trip to the potty protest people and here’s your trip to “The East”. The key to this version was in seeing how the uncovering took place and the result, but overall it appears a little on the dry side, lacking a passion and originality we might have hoped for. All middle class brats turn into hippies and live of daddy’s trust fund/abandoned cottage and try to live as poorly as possible to show their “true working class” credentials without understanding the real needs of the underclass, to act intelligently or demonstrate higher moral values than just throwing a tantrum because the world “isn’t fair”. Only the undercover character eventually shows the intelligence born of nature and education that shows an alternative path to the same objectives, but it takes oh, so, very long in reaching there.
Verdict: Head East before it’s too late and they’re all arrested and sent home to mummy and daddy.
- Now You See Me
[9/July/2013] Score: 7/10
A light brisk crime caper thriller involving a gang of street magicians involved in some elaborate tricks and illusions as part of a deeper message that slowly unfolds throughout the story amidst a huge pile of red herrings that point in every direction, and misdirection.
There’s plenty of entertaining magic along the way and as much fun in exposing “how they did it”, but it should be treated as light thriller, not comedy and not a darker, edgier story as you can see the various set-ups coming if you pay enough attention.
- Spike Island
[24/june/2013] Score: 8/10
There are traditional coming-of-age themes in many films, but few produced in Britain nowadays and fewer still outside London and tapping into enormous cultural shifts in recent past.
Spike Island has all these ingredients in a well-honed story of one monumental moment in British cultural history and all the people it touched at the heart of the Manchester music scene of the 1980s.
As it traditional we have a group of rebellious youngsters coming together for the love of one thing, music, and finding real life getting in the way of their dreams and they come of age in a world that was being transformed around them through domestic, social, cultural and political revolution.
- Despicable Me 2
[23/june/2013] Score: 6/10
If you’re mad for minions and hyper-active super-cute little girls then this is a perfect way to pass the time with your children for an hour and a half, but once again the Big Hollywood Animation Mistake rears its head when it gets into the realm of adult themes and feelings. In this case the romance of “Dru” the lead character and supposed all round bad-guy-turned-good whose life and lack of romance turns the story into something the youngest in the audience won’t understand or appreciate – the “euyck!” moments as every child will tell you.
This plays through for about the middle third of the film, which begins and ends with far more fun and comedy, minions and tiny sugary children included, and makes up for most of the laughs and “evil bad guy” action. Unfortunately that slow middle tends to disrupt a potentially more exciting experience.
Verdict: Euyckie moments, and minions!
- World War Z
[22/june/2013] Score: 6/10
If you love zombies then you’ll probably love this, but I felt there was something wrong with this which didn’t fit well.
Firstly you have “instant zombies” that turn in just a few seconds, then you have racing zombies (the new zombie fashion since “28 Days Later”, then you have a hero with some kind of “mysterious” past that always hinted at but never quite thoroughly explained and who appears to be able to travel with the world with some degree of ease, but is also so accident prone that everyone he comes into contact with either dies or turns zombie.
There is a kind of inevitability in the story, you know that the town, city or building that has defences will be overcome the moment he arrives and he’ll manage to escape, each time after killing off most of his companions and then making a hair-raising leap to safety, before crashing into another situation with the the new improved racing zombies snapping at his heels.
And while he can leap and fly to safety there’s a terrible lack of communication around the world which would suggest that zombie plague has reached everywhere, except a few chosen lands, almost instantly without a word of warning leaking to the press, the internet or the phone.
Meanwhile scientists stumble, literally, looking for a cure, never to find one.
(My “Dead” trilogy concept will show what and how something better can be produced.)
Verdict: Zombie writing at its worst.
- Before Midnight
[21/june/2013] Score: 8/10
One for the connoisseurs of good writing, subtle drama and gentle romantic plots as we return for the third time to the story of Jesse and Celine in their stroll through life, love, adventure, philosophy and whatever they stumble on along the way, just like everyone.
You won’t enjoy this if you want fast chases, giant robots or gunfight at the okeydokey, but for the touch of reality and romance in Europe this is a perfect holiday break from the battlezone that is much of modern cinema.
Verdict: Take a walk with love.
- Man Of Steel
[14/june/2013] Score: 7/10
Or man of really stupid alien race who screwed up their entire history and ruined their entire planet despite awesome intellectual and scientific power. A bit like American Republicans gone mad?
And that, the “alien” part, is what makes Superman stories slightly off-kilter. He’s sooooo superior and aloof that there’s not the natural connection we might have for the flawed and cranky characters like Iron Man or Batman.
We all appreciate he has to keep up his facade, and there are nice elements of play between him and the eternal Lois, and his mum, but somehow there’s still that sense of disconnection that can make this a more objective and less emotionally engaging story.
We see him in his early life, growing up, adventuring around the world, but there too is that underlying restraint. Even though at times he does “let loose” we don’t see it or feel it within him, we’re not there with him or engaging with his deeper sense of justice or call to action that drives him to rescue the flawed humans (the truck incident is probably the best highlight of this point).
And when Lois helps him save the world, not a word of thanks!??
As for hiding his true identity? Let’s just say that if one cub reporter can uncover it how easy is it for specialist agencies or billionaires (hello Lex, we’re calling your name!).
Verdict: Superior, but not super.
- After Earth
[8/june/2013] Score: 0/10
Yes, nil out of ten.
Do you know how many good stories there are out which would do good service to a talent like Will Smith, and what are we treated to but a ridiculous mash-up of nonsense dredged from the mind of someone with no understanding of the science element of Science Fiction? Fiction, yes, there’s a lot of it here, but so laughable I almost walked out, but stayed to note all the idiocies.
What a list of lunacy, and someone paid $130 million to produce this!!??
Verdict: After this?! Anything, please!
- Behind The Candelabra
[7/june/2013] Score: 8/10
Oscar contest entries for next year’s Lead Actor should now close (if this film wasn’t classed by the Academy as a TV movie! So it’s off to the Emmy Awards for this one?). It deserves an award for the performance of Michael Douglas taking a totally camp over-the-top portrayal of the equally camp and over-the-top Liberace during the free, fun and fantastical 1970s/80s with romance, pretty boys and filthy fun. And not forgetting best Supporting Actor to Matt Damon (but only at the Emmys, not Oscars)?
Verdict: So gay, in every way!
- The Purge
[1/june/2013] Score: 6/10
Settle down with your clipboards and start ticking off the standard features of this middle class family facing up to the gritty reality of their oh-so comfortable idealistic life as it’s swept away in a torrent of violence in the American tradition, just like the last time.
We’ll begin with overly-enthusiastic and over-bearing head of the family in conflict with the stroppy older teenage girl who “hates” him. Now let’s have the younger nerdier more introverted son of the house, who has “dark” thoughts, and the patient hard-working homely mom, who is too friendly and patient for words.
Now we’ll throw in the excessively suspiciously Stepford neighbours and unleash hell on all of them with a night of delightful violence for the entertainment of all television viewers across the Land of The Free-to-Kill.
Verdict: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of your neighbours with a big gun, it’s the American Way???
- The Great Gatsby
[31/may/2013] Score: 8/10
Finally got to see this film after so many decades avoiding its “classic” status of “great literature”. So essentially this is two rich men fighting it out over a girl who is only interested in a successful rich man taking care of her while the narrator, who appears to have everyone’s secrets, fails to step in and resolve the situation before it results in death and tragedy, all the background of a world gone insanely liberal in the midst of repression of drink and the euphoria of a post-war age.
Verdict: Crazy days with crazy people in well-deserved version of an all too human story.
[31/may/2013] Score: 9/10
A highly stylised idealistic, innocent, romantic comedy set in small-town 1950s France to the backdrop of the exceptionally competitive world of typing, which will be a mystery to most people, but becomes a magic here in the hands of this story.
Verdict: It should be more popular.
- Hangover III
[25/may/2013] Score: 7/10
Less Hangover and more leftovers as the greatest party in town finally comes to an end, all loose ends are tied up in a nice bundle for the bride to throw on to the next generation and the wolf pack disappears into the night as we all howl at their loss.
Don’t expect another wild party with this one, but a completion of storylines already begun in the previous two adventures as the wolf pack revisit old haunts and confront the consequences of their past behaviour and the ongoing “problem” of man-child-idiot Alan, who is very kind to animals, once he figures out how they work.
Verdict: A good cure for any morning after the very bad night before.
- Fast & Furious 6
[17/may/2013] Score: 8/10
For humour, nonsense, and very fast cars racing around the streets (children don’t do this at home, there’s no room in the kitchen) this remains the undefeated champion of ultimate moto-bling.
Forget the plausibility of the stunts and chases, just sink into the near-endless racing from point to point as crimes are committed and undone, all for justice and Team America Car Police (who appear to have an open license to storm through every city in the world touting guns, flouting local laws and commanding local cops as if they were a law unto themselves).
Verdict: Furiously Fun.
- Star Trek Into Darkness
[11/may/2013] Score: 9/10
As long as you really, really suspend disbelieve this is a very well-paced adventure as we follow the kiddies of Star Trek High (Space Cadet Academy) as they launch into a new grown up adventure with daddy’s spaceship, which they dunk in an ocean, break lots of rules and nearly trash and crash after going out of bounds despite daddy Starfleet’s warnings.
Never mind that Starfleet seem to be the only force around, not a mention of any police involvement in catching a Very Bad Boy, whether in deep space of chasing through a city (were all the cops having a day off?), this remains just a plain old high speed fun-about.
For those with very long memories there are plenty of references made to “past” events, characters and situations to keep you thinking and talking for hours to come and revisiting to see if you missed anything.
Verdict: Into the darkness of the cinema to beam up to this adventure.
[10/may/2013] Score: 8/10
One of those rare and wonderful coming-of-age adventure o a few boys in the American Deep South, where rivers are huge, stories wild and the heat simmering as they confront the grown up world at home and outside, in love and all its wonderful and terrible confusions and consequences.
Verdict: Lovingly muddy river.
- Dead Man Down
[6/may/2013] Score: 8/10
Intriguingly twisted tale of love, violence, revenge and redemption with the kind of twists and turns both expected in the traditions of these stories and distinct in their interpretations as two neighbours fall into a conspiracy of murder and justice.
Verdict: More alive than dead.
- Look Of Love
[1/may/2013] Score: 7/10
This appears more seedy than perhaps the story deserves, with the endless supply of beautiful and bountiful girls distracting you as the story of Phil Redmond unfolds through the 1960s onwards in revolutionising the idiotic British morality and sexual repress of its post-Victorian era through the permissive sexual revolution and the rise of the “erotic”/porn empire that made his the richest man in Britain.
Forget the “smut” of the time and consider how much he did to rip away the curtains of the discreet middle class hypocrisy of previous ages to expose the true sexual delights on the rampage.
But the price was perhaps far too much for one man to pay.
- Iron Man 3
[27/april/2013] Score: 9/10
What appears to be the conclusion of “The Making Of Iron Man” trilogy, leaving the question open to the future this retains the humour of the previous films and develops the character of Iron Man further following the pain and suffering of his previous adventures and battles, which are now beginning to tell on his behaviour. You’ll have to pay attention to the psychological elements as the story races through one comic gag after another appealing to both adult and child audiences in a brisk adventure twisting through a range of expectations to overturn them all.
Whether this will lead to further stories and spin-offs (Rescue has yet to make a full appearance) remains open to discussion and some very good story-writing to keep up to these high standards.
Verdict: Keep taking the Iron tablets.
- Love Is All You Need
[21/april/2013] Score: 5/10
A bit of an acquired taste, that witty and eccentric Danish humour in this predominantly sub-titled romantic-comedy, with more emphasis on the dramatic goings on at a wedding in the heart of Romantic Italy.
More for grown-up audiences than the majority appeal of a typical hysterical Hollywood concoction or the “London Lovies” of the “Four Weddings on Notting Hill” gang.
Verdict: Is Love all you need?
- Olympus Has Fallen
[20/april/2013] Score: 3/10
Just for boys who like nice noisy toys. You really have to admire the enormous talent and dedication of the cast and crew in this amazing pile of tosh. How they manage to keep a straight face in this mixed-up mash-up of a kind of down-market “Die Hard…” with the over-the-top flag-fluttering patriotism typical of the New America, post-9/11, will remain a mystery.
The story is simple: apparently the only man left alive in the White House, manages to fight his way through all the baddies while the idiot generals and politicians outside stumble through a decision-making process that a 7-year old could defeat with one snap of their fingers. Meanwhile all the elite forces American can muster hesitate outside worried, I guess, about fussing their nice crew cut hairstyles and do virtually nothing to enter the House or assist the one-lone-hero.
As usual in all this daft fantasies the Mr President of this one is hunkered down in the super top secret bunker every Hollywood writer supposes is actually built under the House, and not the rapid escape tunnel actually used to whisk a Mr President away to safety in the nearby US Marine Corps barracks.
One day someone will write a sensible and dramatic story of this ilk that will be far more intelligent and plausible.
Verdict: Better entitled – Implausibility Rises.
[13/april/2013] Score: 8/10
There’s bound to be “Something Wrong” in any film or story where the characters start of in clean, perfect conditions doing a good job in service for a great ideal, and when it’s a couple, man and woman, you can sit back, close your eyes and just imagine the hiss of a snake slithering through the grass on its way to bite them hard and deep.
And so it begins, in the beginning there was man and woman and a world dying of “Something Very Bad”. The rest you could imagine for yourself, but the brisk and bold pace of this takes you on that familiar journey of discovery, horror and final hope.
- The Place Beyond The Pines
[12/april/2013] Score: 7/10
Really three stories slowly unfolding in one prolonged drama spanning sixteen years as we successively follow, crook, cop and children from the first moments of action through to the final departure to repeat history or create a new better life away from everything that leads up to and through the lives of these entwined characters.
A cool story that occasionally leaves you as heartlessly remote as the characters and the camera racing down long roads to nowhere, destruction or hope.
Just one little problem – I still don’t know what “The Pines” had to do to the story. I need a better map.
Verdict: Take a ride to this Place.
- Jack The Giant Slayer
[9/april/2013] Score: 7/10
A good adventurous retelling of the old English fairy tales of Jack and the Giants, of slaughters and slayings, beanstalks and baddies, poverty and princesses. Well-deserved treat for all the children and many adults who still love a good fairy tale and wish we had a few giant slayers around here today to take on the modern monsters.
Verdict: Full of beans.
- The Croods
[5/april/2013] Score: 8/10
Not quite “One Million Years BC”, more like “A Million Light Years Away From BC” in this animated prehistoric adventure and coming-of-age story for a family discovering that there’s more in the world than just the view outside your cave. A lesson millions around the world could learn today if they were paying attention and one worth giving to children.
Forget any kind of accuracy in this silly but bold, colourful adventure that might just awaken interest in children wanting to learn what “really” happened in the past as it kind of blends a mixture of basic anthropology, cute cartoon characters and creatures, and the added spice of geology gone wild (how is it that so many cave people/creatures (“Ice Age”) seem to suffer from endless geological eruptions, catastrophes, and other disasters on a near-daily basis?)
Verdict: Croods, not so crude.
[30/march/2013] Score: 8/10
If there is one lesson to learn here (spoiler) it’s that women have you wrapped around their fingers as one tightly-wrapped man struggles to remember where he left the loot and one woman tries to unravel it all for him.
As hidden agendas abound this is a heist movie with the taut edge of a fine tightrope being stretched to its final breaking point and keeps up the pace through to its twisted end.
- The Host
[29/march/2013] Score: 7/10
Starting out as what appears to be another teen romance with a twist that replaces vampires with aliens, this turns gradually into a competent science fiction drama of successful alien invasion in the style of “Body Snatchers” and the American romantic, and false, dream that we can all be saved with a little “love” and a plucky crew of young underground resistance fighters.
Only mystery is how exactly did the first aliens successfully take over the first humans? Maybe for another story?
Verdict: Pay host to this in your schedule while you can.
- G.I. Joe: Retaliation
[27/march/2013] Score: 5/10
Something more for “Joe” enthusiasts, and there are a lot of those around. Combining the usual comic-book heroics and totally implausible action and plotlines into a brisk, noisy adventure that throws most of the previous film’s development away in favour of a simpler and more straight-forward counter-conspiracy action gun-fight. For example, the superhero combat suits so well-used in the earlier film are almost completely absent here, as, I suspect, this would have reduced the entire action sequence to one brief and successful fight. The superhero elements too have been split out to a sub plotline to keep the fighting soldiers free of the distractions from “magical” heroism.
Verdict: GI Joke?
- The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
[21/march/2013] Score: 5/10
Some people in the audience laughed at this, there were only nine of us so is that a good response (over a quarter of the audience) or a bad one (only nine, as far as I recall).
One of those painfully “funny” comedies of tragically inept Americans shouting and over-acting wildly to reach an audience deaf to subtlety or intelligence, OR was this the slapstick comedy at which they so excel?
If you stick through it you might, like me, enjoy the climatic culmination of this “zany” “comedy” of stage magicians, illusionists and extreme “magic” that just about redeems the story.
Verdict: Incredible, really incredible, in so many ways.
- Red Dawn
[17/march/2013] Score: 5/10
The perfect advert for all Americans to go out and buy more guns than a third world country in the middle of a superpower-sponsored civil war, when the plucky, pretty and powerless teenage heroes of the only town in America without enough guns is invaded by the poorest nation on Earth with a magic anti-capitalist weapon that causes all America’s entertainment to switch off and make them face up to responsibilities in the real world, in the ultimate team sport: WAR!!!
If it wasn’t for those “goddam commies” what would Americans do for fun on a weekend? So if you’re tired of another shoot ’em up video game and got past level ten boredom then pop down to your local cinema/video store before they sell out, or all the lights go out all over Americaland.
The rest of us can just sit back and watch the game from the sidelines, the way America did in world wars one and two.
Verdict: What to choose, an Armalite or Kalashkinov? Buy them both!
- The Paperboy
[16/march/2013] Score: 6/10
Really, really trying to be good entertainment, this “literary” drama often appears more like an over-played comedy as silly sex and acting scenes pop up for the cast to get their teeth or other appendages into.
It sort of makes sense, in the twisted deep south of American of the 1960s, with a mixture of steamy sex repression vying for attention with sadistic racial repression, and if you’re kinky for that kind of thing then this will suit you perfectly.
Verdict: Raw naked acting.
- Welcome to the Punch
[16/march/2013] Score: 8/10
A relentless breathless pace races through the dramatic consequences of one armed robbery in London and the key characters as they confront deeper crimes and conspiracies in the murky streets of Old London Town, where Old School crooks clash head-on with new-age crooks.
Verdict: Punching well above it’s weight.
- Side Effects
[14/march/2013] Score: 8/10
If you thought you knew everything about conspiracies over the development and use of new drugs in the land of happy drugs (America, in the pursuit of happiness) then here’s an insightful and eye-opening drama to alter your perceptions and twists your reality one little notch at a time.
- OZ the Great and Powerful
[12/march/2013] Score: 8/10
Declared to be a kind of prequel to “The Wizard of OZ” this tells the story of how he, “Oz”, came into the Land of Oz to free the people and become the wise sage as foretold and destined, with his unique brand of magic.
You might have the earlier 1939 film still in mind but this is a good way to renew the dream of the Yellow Brick Road and other paths to a better world for the modern age where fewer songs and better drama are in vogue.
Verdict: Wonderful tall tale.
[9/march/2013] Score: 8/10
An old-school heist thriller with two solid and competent stars to take on the roles robber and the girl who’ll help his revenge against those to betrayed him. Nothing seriously distinct from a score of other movies but does a good job for all concerned.
Verdict: Robbin’ in the ‘hood.
- Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
[2/march/2013] Score: 7/10
For totally silly comicbook fun and dazzle on a Saturday afternoon this fits the bill. For a serious retelling of the old tale of dark deeds deep in the woods with witches and naughty children then you’d best look elsewhere.
Verdict: It’s a blast.
- Broken City
[1/march/2013] Score: 5/10
We’ve seen so many downtrodden heroes and poor private eyes in Americaland fighting the good fight against evil big nasty City Hall corruption we ought to be able to sleepwalk through this story as we turn every familiar corner and visit all those dark, shadowy haunts we’ve seen before. For that it’s a nice satisfying stroll down memory lane.
Verdict: Give is a vote, but of little note.
- Cloud Atlas
[23/february/2013] Score: 9/10
Not for the faint-hearted this complex interweaving of several plotlines spread across centuries of time from the past, present and future will challenge those who want a simple and straightforward tale; but the story of challenge, trial and final achievement of the human heart against adversity each in their own unique ways will enrich everyone’s experience.
The only small irritation for me is the usual repetition of many of the common almost melodramatic themes of stories past and present (and possibly future) to draw you in and reinforce ideas about how to behave and conduct your life in a “traditional” manner. When characters have a chance to use intelligence they clearly possess they opt for the simplest answers for the audience’s emotional engagement and manipulation.
Verdict: The map is not the territory of the truth of the heart.
- I Give It A Year
[20/february/2013] Score: 7/10
About as predictable and painfully funny as all the RomComs from the makers of “Four Weddings”, etc., etc., etc., and as enjoyable as we see a kind of “what happened next…” story of after-the-RomCom in the first year in a marriage of a “perfect” couple. Enjoy the sudden bursts of humour, the painful truth that all is not “perfect” and marriage takes hard work, and sometimes you find real love in the process.
Verdict: Give it a little of your time.
- A Good Day To Die Hard
[16/february/2013] Score: 8/10
Not the “deepest” intellectual or intelligent of the Die Hard films but this Die Hard sweeps you in and through one noisy adventure with the family McClane. We’ve already met and seen Big John in action so there’s less time spent on background and character-building and more on shooting things with big guns, exploding things with big bombs and other stuff with big, mean bad people.
Verdict: Good day to you too.
- Beautiful Creatures
[13/february/2013] Score: 8/10
With more acting and passion than a whole series of Twilights, but without the soppy crying teen angst of a whole shelf of Twilight tissues, this attempts reasonably well to fit the huge gap on your nearly-dark-bookshelf-converted-to-film now that Potter and Twilight have dawned.
Attempting to avoid the “w” word they call themselves Casters, but not the little wheels under your chair, which adds to the silliness quota. “Witches” would still be acceptable anywhere in the world outside the middle American bible belt.
The outstanding distinguishing feature here is the complete lack of any tall, dark handsome character in favour of literary ones with, erm, character, setting a good example of how learning by reading is better than learning nothing by banning books (which is a lesson repeatedly hammered here).
So, the big question (no, not about sequels, there ought to be one or two of those) – who or what are the “Beautiful Creatures”, fluffy bunnies, butterflies, or ..?
Verdict: Casts a good spell.
- Wreck-It Ralph
[12/february/2013] Score: 10/10
Suspend your adult forebrain and let your inner child come out to play and this is a really enjoyable, silly, daft, fun colourful film for all the family with a child at their hearts.
All about rebellion, goodies, baddies and happy endings, with monsters and big guns, and some yucky kissy stuff.
It starts off with a few adult themes of psychotherapy at Baddies Anonymous that most youngsters may not understand, then heads for the hills of adventure that everyone can love and enjoy, unless you really don’t like pink fluffy candyfloss hills and annoyingly loud, bright and breezy little children.
Verdict: Game on!
- Warm Bodies
[10/february/2013] Score: 10/10
Owing more to William Shakespeare than George Romero this is a Romeo & Juliet romantic comedy with zombies (Zom-Rom-Com?) that begins with a really sweet self-aware zombie growling through the ruins of the world with his friends out on the town for a “meet and eat” with the remaining survivors and goes from there in to a whole new zombie world of discovery and awakening.
An imaginative twist on the zombie and R&J themes for teen markets or anyone who enjoys a good joke well-told by the masters of the art.
Verdict: Eat..! Love..! Play by any other name.
- Bullet To the Head
[6/february/2013] Score: 4/10
Young assassin, old assassin, rogue policeman, excessively violent crooks, crooked cops and one girl. Add a conspiracy, betrayal and lots of explosives, ammunition and hand-to-hand fighting. So yes, we’re watching by the numbers plotline for some simple noisy entertainment.
Verdict: Shoot me.
[2/february/2013] Score: 7/10
Drunk saves the lives of most people onboard an aircraft, and is punished for it. For this is a standard American morality-of-law tale although I suspect in the real world there’s be a little bit of leniency in the final outcome.
However, the drama underlying it and the performance of the lead makes for a good story worth a trip.
Verdict: Fly here before it flies away to video.
[28/january/2013] Score: 5/10
You will have to be a devotee of American history to appreciate this long winding rambling road to the ending of slavery in the midst of the American Civil War, focussing more on the political dealings that made this a momentous event in American history.
Verdict: For Americans.
- The Last Stand
[27/january/2013] Score: 5/10
He’s back! The Schwartzenegger, or however it’s spelt, man with big guns, short lines or dialogue and lots and lots of bullets in a quiet small sleepy town in the American borderlines where a lunatic drug baron sets out on a huge and utterly stupid ego trip to reach safety from the reaches of law and order.
Demonstrating clearly what too many drugs to do your intelligence the daft dealer ignores a quick flight to safety, avoids anonymity and screams like an enraged eagle, or vulture, or some other mythically symbolic birdie, for the border and blasts his way through anything that stands in his way, until he reaches the impassable obstacle of Mr S. standing in his way.
Verdict: Don’t do drugs.
- Zero Dark Thirty
[26/january/2013] Score: 6/10
Sorry to say this is a long story squeezed into a short(ish) film and leads you through the highlights of ten years in the search for the destruction of Osama Bin Laden (OBL to his enemies). This documents only the highlights in such a long story then focuses it down around a lone fictional CIA agent pursuing the faintest leads to reveal the location of OBL and the daring raid that ended his reign of terror.
Verdict: Patience is rewarded.
- Django Unchained
[19/january/2013] Score: 7/10
Comic-book “cowboys” shooting and blasting their way through the Deep South in the brief short days before the American Civil War in search of bounty and freedom for one slave amongst so many others.
Accept it for what it is, no historic treatise here, just an adventure of two wild men through their time and place to the accompaniment of lots of shooting.
Verdict: Cry freedom, and shoot the f***kers!
- Gangster Squad
[12/january/2013] Score: 7/10
We’ve visited Chinatown, and we’ve read the LA Confidential, now it’s time for the dumbed-down trash of LA to return us to the 1940s LaLa Land where corruption rules and good men have to be as bad and dumb at the bad guys if the City Of The (Fallen) Angles is to survive, and the bad girls as still in possession of golden hearts and slit skirts up to here. As predictable as a clockwork mouse under you boot this has all the thrills, spills and nastiness you’ve all come to expect and it delivers in spades (digging the graves).
Verdict: Gunning for you.
- The Impossible
[1/january/2013] Score: 8/10
Recalling the catastrophic and tragic tsunami at the end of 2004, this is based on the true story of one very lucky family who managed to survive intact through the devastation and stand testimony to the enormous power of nature, the spirit of survival and the blind luck in those savaged by this and comparable events.
There’s never anything to really criticise or comment on events and films of this nature, just a solidly good performance and richly detailed in bringing the events to everyone’s attention and remind us all of the real nature of disaster when we moan about our day-to-day lives.
Verdict: We can all learn to survive.