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25 reviews in total 
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Versus (2000/II)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A revelation, 14 November 2002

Words cannot describe how cool this film is. Imagine blending John Woo, Yuen Woo Ping, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson into one uber-director and you have Ryuhei Kitamura. Great cinematography, great editing, great sound, cool and quirky storyline, suitably over-the-top acting, gross effects...just absolutely fantastic.

Watch it sober and it's great. Watch it drunk and it's a revelation.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
If you can adjust to the style, it's awesome., 22 July 2002

Clearly many viewers disliked this movie. Passionately. Chances are the same people hated Armageddon. Passionately. Michael Bay has a distinctive style which produces powerful reactions - either you go with it and enjoy the rollercoaster ride, or it doesn't work for you and his style comes across as shallow and painfully cheesy. IF you let yourself dumb down and take in the visuals instead of expecting a war movie in a similar vein to all the other recent attempts, you should find huge enjoyment in the film. Indeed, it was the second highest grossing film of 2001 behind Shrek which suggests it can't have been hated by everyone.

Personally, I think expectations were too high with people looking for another Titanic/Saving Private Ryan. The first hour is admittedly a little slow, but this is the price for the BEST 45 mins of action ever put to screen. This is the only film I've ever seen where the CGI is almost always indistinguishable from the real stuff. Somehow Lord of the Rings won the Visual Effects oscar instead, despite having some fairly poor effects at times. The hour of light-weight romantic build up gives the battle scene greater power by having such a strong contrast between the frivolous love story and such a momentous historical tragedy - especially in the recent Director's Cut which restores all the battle violence that was originally trimmed for the necessary PG-13 Theatrical rating.

The last part of the film was heavily criticised for it's apparent ridiculousness and what looks like a heavily contrived upbeat conclusion. However, the Doolittle raid is portrayed fairly accurately (most of Alec Baldwin's dialogue is a word-for-word copy of Doolittle's actual speeches). As far as the nastier details of the campaign are concerned (e.g. Japanese treatment of captured pilots), financial pressure from the Japanese market forced some omissions. As far as the somewhat contrived love story is concerned - blame Disney. They only agreed to put up the huge budget on the condition that a love story was included.

Basically, if you go with the cheese, the film is immensely powerful and entertaining. If you are just too cynical, or unable to enjoy "dumber" films, then there is little chance of making it through the entire film without vomiting.

Bay's style, like Tony Scott or John Woo, is highly distinctive and quite probably an indication of the style that will become more popular over the next few years as audience intelligence and attention spans continue to decrease. Perhaps then, Pearl Harbor will be more appreciated. Currently it is simply too uncomfortable a mix of Bruckheimer dumb action/romance and serious war film for most people. Those of you who haven't seen it, try the Director's Cut - you might like it.

Zombi 3 (1988)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Zombi 3, Zombie Flesh Eaters 2: whatever the title, it's a lot of fun., 6 March 2002

It was Alan Partridge who so wisely pointed out "Zombies are by their very nature inconsistent" and Zombi 3 seems to have this pearl of wisdom at its heart. All the ingredients are present for a perfect Italian zombie film - dire script, bad acting, bad dubbing but terrific amounts of gore. Many may cite Zombie Flesh Eaters as the better film, and even one of Fulci's best, but this follow-up has many less moments of tedium. To have Bruno Mattei take over direction was an inspired choice given his fantastically amusing direction on the older 'Night of the Zombies' AKA 'Zombie Creeping Flesh'. Sometimes we see the traditional Romero-style zombies who plod along slowly in a rather un-threatening, retarded sort of way, then at other moments we see the living dead running, wrestling, and incompetently wielding machetes. In the latter stages of the film they miraculously develop the ability to talk culminating in the frankly bizarre situation of having a zombie DJ spewing out zombie wisdom on his zombie radio station. Could this be an attempt at social comment? Probably not.

What is so admirable about this farcical logic is the fact that the director just doesn't care - he just gives them whatever characteristics suit that particular scene. Ironically this lends strength to some of the scenes since there is very little chance that an audience expects a severed head to fly out of a fridge and start munching on a man's neck. Likewise, who could have guessed that some dry ice bubbling up in a river could result in a woman losing her legs? How many other films dare to have a flock of zombie birds attack a coach load of girls? And who could not be repulsed by seeing a zombie fetus attack a woman while bursting out of the womb? Such endlessly strange and surprising scenes keeps the audience guessing as to what peculiar event might happen next. 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' is limited to a few key moments such as the eye-gouging and the zombie vs shark scene, 'Zombie Holocaust' had its outboard motor vs zombie head, 'Night of the Zombies' had the twin-thumb-eye-gouge and 'City of the Living Dead' had the gut-vomit and head-drill but Zombi 3 has enough strange and memorable moments to beat them all.

Out of all the Italian zombie films, this one seems to have the most sense of its own stupidity and instead of trying to give it a sense of plausibility, the makers just go with it and have a lot of fun. I doubt anyone will find the film scary, but for pure consistently absurd entertainment, this one's at the top of the genre. The script is terrible, the acting awful, the music dreadful and the film sucks on most levels. Absolute genius.

(The film is released in the UK in March 2002 under the title 'Zombie Flesh Eaters 2' and is uncut.)

Incredible, as long as you've read the book..., 9 December 2001

After many years spent directing mediocre/awful films, Chris Columbus has finally found his fated place in cinema. "Harry Potter..." (thankfully) bears little resemblance to Home Alone but is far more reminiscent of the wonderful mid-80s years when Columbus was writing the likes of "The Goonies", "Gremlins" and "Young Sherlock Holmes" while Spielberg produced them. Like these older films, "Harry Potter..." isn't condescending to the younger audience both in its material (scary moments and violence) and its length.

Columbus and Kloves clearly made the (correct) assumption that most children who see the film will have read the book. With that in mind, they manage to cover a huge amount in the 2 1/2 hours that could well leave new-comers in the dark. Even at this length, however, there is still a good deal missing from the film, most noticeably Peeves the Poltergeist who was cut out at the last minute. Personally, I feel that the film could have spent a further 10 or 15 minutes showing more of the everyday life of Hogwarts covering more lesson time thus allowing for more animosity to develop between Malfoy and Harry, and between Ron and Hermione before the troll incident. With any luck, the DVD might provide us with some of the missing material.

Overall, the film has shown the potential for an incredible series which, at least for the younger viewers of today, could certainly rival the Star Wars series. Indeed 2002 is set to stage an epic battle of sequels - Star Wars II Vs Harry Potter 2 (as well as Lord of the Rings 2). Judging by the Phantom Menace, "Chamber of Secrets" is looking far more promising than "Attack of the Clones"...

34 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
Pure Genius, 30 July 2001

Brass Eye is a quite awesome achievement. As I write this review, most of Britain's press is up in arms over the recent one-off episode which satirised the particularly sensitive subject of paedophilia. The majority of people claim that it is simply sick to even attempt to make a comedy based on such a theme. However, while not for the easily offended, Chris Morris' style has always been to approach serious issues using interesting methods. This particular episode managed to make some very interesting points, often highlighting the gross inconsistencies in the way in which crime and taboo subjects are dealt with.

A great deal of the humour comes from Morris managing to get celebrities to say the stupidest things. The fact that they are so easily convinced to speak such nonsense, highlights the ignorance and paranoia surrounding the whole subject. Amongst other things, we are told that paedophiles can feel children's faces via computer screens, that they occupy an area of internet the size of Ireland, that they can make toxic fumes rise from keyboards to make children more suggestible, that, genetically, they have more in common with crabs than people. At one stage, Kate Thornton tells us with utter seriousness that HOECS games are used by paedophiles to interact with children. It is quite incredible to see these people saying such things with such belief.

Other highlights include the Eminem spoof, JL B8; a story about a cheeky cockney ex-paedophile who does bus tours of his 'old haunts' - a brilliant spoof of the way the press treats the old east-end London gangsters these days; and an on-going news report showing a crowd lynching a paedophile when released from prison and burning him in a wicker phallus: scarily reminiscent of the mobs that ran wild in Britain in summer 2000.

To dismiss this or any other episode in the '97 series as sick and utterly unamusing, is to display an ignorance or unwillingness to address the very serious issues being dealt with. Just because there is humour involved, does not mean the issues are being sanitised - it actually makes them more poignant.

Impressive for a threequel, 20 July 2001

Threequels are not famous for their originality or even quality but with Jurassic Park 3, the creators have managed to produce an ideal summer blockbuster: light-weight plot, engaging characters (despite their shallowness) and plenty of action. While it's doubtful that it's going to be anyone's favourite in the series, it should please fans of both previous films.

The wonder element from the first film is still there as we see herds of 'nice' dinosaurs but given that it's all been done before, director Joe Johnston wisely gives us more of the humans versus dangerous dinosaurs scenarios that made the Lost World so much fun.

The script could have so easily descended into humourless cliches, but there is a pleasant tongue-in-cheek sense of fun present the whole time which is significantly aided by such a strong cast.

The one main advantage the film has over the first two is a likeable child character. This kid is not just there to scream - he's survived on the island for 8 weeks, knows his stuff and is generally more composed than his parents.

The main problem with the film was the ending. It finished just when I was expecting one more climactic dinosaur encounter. To top it off, someone turns up alive who clearly should be dead, which had the distinct smell of test screening re-shoot about it.

Aside from these two quibbles, the film was exactly what I'd hoped for - a rollercoaster ride which is immensely fun while it's happening, but leaves little impression afterwards.

15 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Titanigeddon, 1 June 2001

Before seeing this film it is important to note the following:

1. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer 2. Directed by Michael Bay

Conclusion: Expect a high concept storyline, a script laden with testosterone, stunning visuals edited within an inch of their life, a rousing soundtrack (preferably by Hans Zimmer), a bit of humour, a bit of sadness, and a HUGE amount of "God bless America".

With this in mind, and with all expectations of a thought-provoking, 'sensible' film thrown away, Pearl Harbor is the ultimate summer popcorn movie. Clearly, not everyone likes this type of film, and if your enjoyment of a film depends on the script and the quality of acting then this film could quite possibly make you ill. I think it's reasonable to say that if you didn't like Armageddon, you'll hate this. That's not to say that fans of Armageddon will necessarily like this as much.

In Armageddon, Bay had 2 1/2 hours to try and fit in as much action as possible and the tone was decidedly tongue in cheek. With Pearl Harbor, Bay and Bruckheimer have tried to go more serious by following the Titanic-approach of a doomed love-story. While this does produce a more emotional ending, it comes at the price of action and pacing. The first hour deals mostly with romance and really could have been cut down a bit. We get some relief with the English/German dogfight sequences which are the first suggestion that we are going to witness something truly breathtaking later. In fact, though this first hour and a half feel slow and tedious at times, this makes the Pearl Harbor attack all the more exciting by contrast.

The 35 minute attack is incredible with Bay's kinetic action style finally given a chance to shine. There are similarities in technique to Saving Private Ryan but so what. There are more than enough highly-original shots to compensate for the seen-it-before stuff.

After the attack, the film never slows down again, since it tones down the romantic plot and concentrates on the more traditional Bruckheimer "let's kick the bad guys' asses" plot. Consequently, the film becomes decidedly more Armageddon-y with numerous rousing speeches, heroic slow-motions, tough training for a dangerous mission, and an upbeat ending tinged with tragedy before the credits role accompanied by a cheesy, charts-friendly, love anthem.

Ideally, the love story could have been shortened at the start because Bay is an action director and romance has never been a strong point in Bruckheimer films. In fact, like the Rock and Armageddon, it is the male bonding that produces the more powerful emotional connection.

Pearl Harbor is at the top of its genre - big, loud and, assuming you can switch your brain off, very emotionally powerful. It is not a Titanic, it is not a Saving Private Ryan and to compare it to such films is unfair to the intentions of the film-makers. It is an action film and Michael Bay has yet again proved that in this field of visual entertainment, he is the best of the best.

Rambo III (1988)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
The essence of 80's action, 6 May 2001

Rambo III stands as a prime example of the sentiment behind the action films that became so successful in the 80's. It has NO pretensions of being anything more than mainstream action fare. Whether it's deliberate or not, the writers have made the character of John Rambo nothing more than a cartoon action hero - he embodies everything that is 'American macho'. This completely over the top (no Stallone pun intended) superhero is thrown into a wonderfully over the top story, where there's never any doubt he'll win and little chance that he'll have too much trouble in his task (a leg wound and a hole through his stomach are just an opportunity to show how incredibly tough and resistant he is). The action scenes unashamedly adhere to the 'Hollywood guide to entertaining violence' (probably in existence somewhere) and the viewer is exposed to endless guns, bullet hits, tanks, guns, sweat, helicopters, guns, dead extras, muscles, guns, explosions, blood and guns. Which is, of course, incredibly good fun to watch.

The story is fantastic in it's simplicity - nasty bad guy in charge of evil communist army is cruel to local rebels so good old Sly has to penetrate converted mountain base, rescue his friend and destroy the entire opposing army. Marvellous. The ultimate action-adventure that could be written by an excited 5 year-old.

This could have been incredibly boring given the horrendous script and there are times when it is in danger of becoming like one of the billions of B-movie action films that grace the bottom shelf of video shops these days, but Stallone's hyper-macho performance and Peter MacDonald's direction keep things lively. To be fair it's probably Vic Armstrong who is most worthy of praise for coordinating what are undeniably some of the most amazing battle scenes ever, combining helicopters, horses and an unbelievable amount of explosions. I doubt in the modern days of CG that we'll ever see this many pyrotechnics in one film again. So, well done Mr Armstrong for keeping the film firmly in the A-movie category.

Obviously, just given the film's title, people should know what kind of film to expect and anyone, like me, who is capable of ignoring a bad script and disengaging the brain, should relish the visuals and have a fun hour and 40 minutes.

8/10 for being so completely over the top.

17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Look out! It's a rubber raptor!, 29 October 2000

Here in England, we've not had the pleasure of seeing Carnosaur 1+2 and the film is just titled "Primal Species". Without the precedent of such un-doubtedly classic prequels, I had no idea what the film would be like (except for some guesswork based on the video cover).

Nothing much needs to be said about the film except that it is one of the worst of the worst of the worst films ever. Not that that's a huge criticism. It's extremely entertaining. To be honest the sight of those men in rubber dinosaur costumes was funnier than many proper comedies. Equally funny is the swat team leader's constant smirk and attempts to sound hard. The main death's were enjoyable too, firstly because the sight of fake monsters chewing on people is funny, and secondly because it meant that another annoying character had been wiped out.

For an alternative night's entertainment, I would recommend this in a double-bill with something like Demolition University. You'll laugh till you ache or simply fall asleep. Either way, you'll be happy.

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Universally Pants: Boredom and yawns, 26 October 2000

[Just in case you don't know, this is an 'un-official' sequel to Universal Soldier. The 'proper' sequel is Universal Soldier: The Return.]

To make a decent, or semi-decent action film, a budget is somewhat obligatory. With Universal Soldier II, someone clearly forgot this rule or squandered the whole thing on getting Gary Busey, Jeff Wincott and Burt Reynolds to humiliate themselves. (The lack-of-budget theory is backed up by the end credits which say 'sponsored by Canada' or something equally silly.)

To be fair on the film, some people do look like they're trying. Matt Battaglia looks desperate to pretend he's acting, and the woman has a good go at delivering her dodgy lines. The director appears to have made the most effort by using numerous camera gimmicks to liven up the non-action. Sadly, these gimmicks are off-putting, look stupid and just highlight the boredom of the boring bits (i.e. 90% of the film).

The most enjoyable aspects of the film, were a) Gary Busey (who seems to be developing a very strange vocal problem) acting badly and b) Burt Reynolds (unseen most of the time) putting on the WORST irish accent of all time and also acting very badly.

Seen as a double-bill with Universal Soldier III, and with a healthy dose of alcohol, this could be a good evening's entertainment, but only in a so-bad-it's-actually-bad-but-funny way.

Perhaps a triple-pack of Universal Soldier II, III and 'The Return' could be marketed as some sort of torture weapon.

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