Reviews written by registered user
Rich B

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285 reviews in total 
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The Island (2005)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A very poorly executed idea with problems throughout the movie, and a very poor DVD offering, 5 February 2006

The Island, supplied by LOVEFiLM DVD Rental, was nominated on The Movie Blog Readers Awards 2005 in the category of Worst Execution of the Best Plot, and for good reason too. The film may sound like a superb concept, but the realisation is pitifully poor and this DVD does nothing to help it along, neither do the ample talents of Ewan McGregor or Scarlett Johansson.

Movie: The film starts of really strongly, and promises much from its well crafted plot. The style is slightly removed from Michael Bay's typical blockbuster as we are treated to slower progression of characters and the questioning of McGregor as Lincoln Six-Echo against his reality.

Then, typically, things turn into a big Bay action fest with formulaic plot changes that you can see a mile off. Let me say that I have nothing against those movies because I actually really like The Rock and Armageddon, they're great fun. Yet when you have such a great futuristic plot filled with excellent possibilities, turning it into standard action fare seems quite a sad and easy path to take.

You see half way through the movie it turns into set pieces which are badly thought through and harshly edited. For instance, take the highway scene where Echo pushes train wheels off the back of a flatbed truck. Those would be train wheels for the magnetic trains that run without wheels that we saw a few times at the beginning of the movie or the fast car used in a high speed chase later in the movie is racing along one second and then the immediate scene after which is tracking the car shows the door wide open, raised in the air, as these doors do. What just happened there? Then there's the jet bike sequence, and we seen these bikes for well on half their screen time before you can actually see that there's a second person on the bike, mounted at the rear.

Typically the close cropped camera work, far too fast cuts, and harsh editing make these action sequences difficult to follow. Sure it's not as bad as some of the Bourne sequences, but this is tough to follow in places.

There's similar issues all the way through that make you think there have either been some serious continuity errors, someone hasn't been thinking of the universe in which the movie is set and checking all the story changes, there's been some harsh editing, or indeed all of the above.

There are some saving graces though, and I'm not talking McGregor's American accent, although the moment when he confronts his real self and he has a Scottish accent which he mimics is very amusing. No, Johannson fares very well here, as does Djimon Hounsou, let's just say they do the best with what they have. I mean how can you deal with lines such as "I like it with your tongue" in the middle of a romantic kissing scene? I get that they haven't kissed before, but it sounds corny as hell and comic.

Picture: 2.35:1 Anamorphic: The picture was sharp, although the colours were slightly drained and the contrast harsh throughout.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: A good audio track, some great LFE during the action sequences, but a DTS on such an action film could have been better, that and some subtlety!

Extras: TV Making of Featurette, DVD-ROM Extras: I actually just thought that there was a single featurette on here which was extremely poor, so after a quick look I sent it back. However I'm now led to believe that there is a full audio commentary from Michael Bay hidden away on the PC DVD-Rom section.

Well I never saw it and it's not because I didn't try. I put the DVD into my PC and it attempted a straight install of its own player. Since I already have my own free player I cancelled it and attempted to access anything new on the disc - nothing was visible. Nowhere did I see the mention of the audio commentary now being enabled, perhaps I missed it, but if you're going to offer it only on the PC side don't force an install of your own software and make the features plainly visible.

Overall: A very poor movie with a botched up DVD offering. Hidden audio commentary, forcing install of it's own DVD software, is just not on. Poorly put together and a not very enjoyable movie at all.

Sky Blue (2003)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Visually and audibly stunning, but thin on characterisation and carrying a few childish traits, 4 February 2006

Movie: The story is strong and filled with interesting characters, yet despite the breadth and depth of the story the characters are kept light and you don't really feel as though you do anything more than scratch the surface of them, which is a real shame as they they seem as though they could be given so much more life and reality with some more backstory.

There were a couple of moments that didn't do the film much justice, one was that some of the character voices had the usual anime style of being just a tad over acted, and the others, which are all too typical in anime and manga, cute animals and unusually annoying children. It feels as if the film is pulling between two genres when these sort of styles are brought in. On one hand they are trying to create an adult themed cartoon, and on the other you have voices and characters straight out of Pokemon.

This bothers me, because if they had managed to focus on a pure adult animation then this movie would have increased in estimation, but although these failings are not bad enough to really harm the film they do affect it. Still, with all this there's something that just takes your mind away from it all the time, the visuals, they are stunning.

The backgrounds to just about all of the scenes look fantastic, and some of the sequences were stunningly created and looking really beautiful to the eye. Careful consideration has been taken about where to place the viewer, and how to recreate the actual movement of a camera through the scenes. Nowhere is this more apparent than the opening scenes with the bike racing through the outside world, it's a wonderful piece of animation.

Picture: Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic: Very sharp and clear picture, the colours tended to be duller due to the nature of the story, but when colours arrived they were strong. During the fog scene there was very little evidence of the grading effect you see in lower quality encoded DVDs and digital signals, it was very smooth and you had to really look to see this effect. Overall an excellent picture reproduction.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS: The DTS audio was utterly brilliant being delicate, crisp and clear. During any action sequences the audio was loud and bold and very spacious, travelling around the speakers with the action. The full effects of DTS were used with audio coming from all around you, which was helped by the thoughtful positioning of the camera in regards the action and therefore where the sound and movement would be coming from. There was a good use of silence too which heightened the actual sound effects when they arrived. The soundtrack was wonderfully chosen and matched the movie superbly, with the final scenes elevated by the chosen operatic piece which was quite stirring.

Extras: None.

Overall: Although there are a few more annoying aspects of anime creeping in here with some not so strong voice acting and childish animation, overall the movie is good. What really makes it is the fabulous animation combined with the excellently visualised camera movement. It truly is a feast for the eyes, and when the DTS audio is layered above it you're sucked into the world so easily. Yet for all those good points the story is left quite light and brushed over, especially with the lead characters who are hinted at being deeper than they really are. There was so much to explore here and yet it's been ignored. Definitely worth a viewing if you are a fan of such movies, otherwise you might find this visual feast a tad less satisfying.

Munich (2005)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Harrowing and brutal with superb performances and amazing realism, it's a harsh but excellent movie., 1 February 2006

Controversy around Munich has been apparent from its announcement, and the unusual move by Spielberg to not talk about it or pamper to the Press has raised expectation and the very controversy he has sought to avoid. Then we began to hear that some critics didn't like it, and that the movie was biased towards or against one viewpoint. As usual I approached this movie with an open mind, and my Scottish viewpoint.

The first thing to say is that this movie firmly belongs on the Schindler's List side of Spielbergs work and nowhere near the E.T. side. I'm sure you have guessed by now that it is a serious political drama, but by this I mean it is hard, harrowing and at times quite a brutal movie. The journey will bring you downwards, not upwards to a nice fluffy conclusion, and not even leave you with much hope. Its showing in the clear light of day how messed up, manipulative, blinded and cold human beings can be. Be warned, it's a tough movie and not an easy afternoon viewing.

One of the amazing things that Spielberg manages to attain in many of his movies is the level of authenticity. Nowhere is this more apparent in this movie with the style of filming, costume and the writing. Blending real footage with reconstructions which look as genuine as actual news footage, keeping costumes as in the period but without resorting to 70's cheese, using actual camera equipment and styles that represent those used at the time, all combine to give a harsh but very real look and feel to the movie.

That is one of the big positives of the film. It's extremely realistic and with that comes the tough and often brutal representations of events from history and the book the movie is based on. Nothing is sugar coated here for Hollywood audiences, and no better places is this shown than with the scenes of murder. From explosions to shootings, they are all portrayed openly and as they would be in real life. Fraught with tension, understated, and meeting death face on. If you are looking for an easy ride in this film, or some shock entertainment, then you are sorely mistaken.

I felt that this was quite surprising for Spielberg, even though he has tackled tough subjects in the past, this seems to push the representation of the darker side of reality even more. At times viewing the movie becomes almost uncomfortable to watch, but you're drawn to it like watching a reality show, or news footage.

Despite the subject matter there are still a few moments of traditional Spielberg creeping in. There's nothing that harms the movie, but they do illicit a groan and hurt the odd scene for me. One such moment is the where the Isreali and Palestinian argue over a radio station, and what brings them together is the compromise over American music.

This probably meant nothing when filming it, and the track was chosen because it was universally know and recognisable, and I really do hate looking for connections in other peoples work when there need not be. Yet it does certainly feel as if there is something being made of this moment, but it's twee and seemingly contrived. Thankfully, there are few moments like this, and you are returned to reality with a bang.

I have to say that I feel no bias in this film at all. Spielberg shows that all sides have their level of bloody mindedness and futility from Isreali to Palestinian, even the CIA and the KGB are shown as lost in their own types of hatred, self deception and self fulfilling agendas.

The acting is of the highest quality from all of the leads. Bana redeems his pitiful Hulk performance, and Craig shows us what a fine actor he is although definitely not a master of accents - this performance bodes well for Bond. Hinds provides another excellent performance which at times is quite chilling.

All these actors give top notch performances being strong, striking and intense. Craig, to some degree, but mainly Bana give the most emotionally charged and altogether confused performances which seem very human and with identifiable pain. Bana's slow change during the latter stages of the movie is particularly worth mentioning.

Hinds though, shouldn't be crowded out by these other actors. He brings perhaps the most grounded and real performance, and the moment of recognition of this actor when he first appeared on screen was a joy. I've seen him before and was struck by his performance, and this hits home again in Munich. His connection with Avner seems heartfelt, and his through the movie I was captivated by his character.

The movie does a great job of highlighting the futility of the ongoing and escalating acts of revenge, and how these slowly eat away at those involved, destroying who they once were. I say that thinking of all sides involved through the movie and not looking to either Isreali or Palestinian alone.

My understanding of the final events of the actual hostage taking in Munich does lay some blame on the handling of the attack on the terrorists. Yet there is no hint of this anywhere, and if I were to point any finger at this movie suggesting it was showing something or some group in an improper or inaccurate light it would be that very operation. It does not appear in the movie and indeed it portrays them as innocent victims.

However, this would have surely detracted from the belief of blame in the movie, and after all as Spielberg says, this is not a documentary it's a movie based on real events.

As I've said, this movie is tough, harsh and very realistic, resulting in a sometimes brutal portrayal of events. It's not easy watching by any means, but it is a very excellent and moving film.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful performances, writing and stylish filming make an excellent movie., 31 January 2006

Going into Walk the Line it's fair to say I knew nothing about Johnny Cash other than the Ring of Fire song and one of my more eccentric school friends who was into his music while most other kids were reading Smash Hits and watching Top of the Pops! So I wasn't sure what to expect and how the movie would affect me, and like most of the prospective audience I was attracted by awards hype, reviews and the always strong Joaquin Phoenix.

I was also lucky enough to see the screening in the Gold Class of the cinema when no other Press has turned up until fifteen minutes into the movie. So the extended introduction of Walk the Line reverberating through the underseat base and the wonderfully filmed opening sequence projected onto the huge screen really hit me with force. The opening is both visually and audibly superb. Building tension, setting the tone perfectly for the movie, and defining the circular nature of the storyline.

That's one of the excellent things about this movie, the story. It's superbly written and brought to the screen. A cliffhanging moment of tension created from the outset using visuals of Fulsom Prison, the Walk the Line introduction and no real words. I have to say this is one of the best movie opening sequences I've seen in a long time. Powerful and attention grabbing from the first second.

The entire movie is beautifully filmed and visualised, recreating the era with ease and taking you to those moments even if you haven't lived through them or were even born. It's full of well framed shots often with a slow moving tracking move, giving it a very natural and authentic feel. None of the filming or set-ups are anything more than is required and never pulls you out of the movie.

Then there's the music, music I was just not aware of, which makes its affect on me even more astounding. I'm now singing Cash songs in my head, the day after the movie and I'm awaiting arrival of some of his records. I now may well be a Cash fan, and that's through both the music of Cash and the performance and singing of Pheonix.

It's something that should never be a great consideration for acting talent though. If he or Reese Witherspoon had mimed their way through this movie would their acting performances be any less? I doubt so. However they do sing all the songs and authentic or not they are excellent and convincing performances. Hence the soundtrack release with their own recordings.

Singing aside their performances as actors are amazing and the chemistry between them is as real as anything I've seen or experienced.

Pheonix gives a stunning performance of intensity and burning passion. He's a totally tormented character and to be quite frank, thoroughly unlikable in the movie, yet you are drawn to his performance and find a connection through his suffering, redemption and through the relationship with June Carter played by Witherspoon.

She also gives an emotionally charged performance, one which is worthy of her accolades and awards. Yet I can't understand why Pheonix has not been as recognised. In my eyes his performance is the winner in this film, but she successfully casts off any of her previous light roles and proves she is a real actress of weight and stature.

Robert Patrick is also well cast and gives a powerful performance as the father of Cash. He starts as a drunk but then gives through to a hard and unyielding man. It's a similar performance to his Terminator role, although much more human! Seriously though, he does pull off the role well and set against Pheonix you feel the tension hurtling off screen.

There are some very notable scenes between the three of them. When Pheonix as Cash discusses his dead brother with Carter it's a strong and emotionally poignant moment. A scene in direct contrast to this is the Thanksgiving stand off against his Father which explains so much about the character of Cash and indeed of his abuse of himself. In fact this movie does help to show you how someone can come to abuse themselves through such things as drugs and alcohol. His journey through this common and often misunderstood path is clearly shown and explained through clever and intelligent writing, direction and performances.

Overall it's a strong and emotional movie filled with excellent characterisations and performances. The story is very well written and transferred of screen. However it's not entirely without issue.

The sequences of touring felt slightly longer than necessary and although the on stage performances were great with some excellent songs, I did feel that similar ground was being covered in the later stages.

Still, through these scenes the relationship between him, his family, wife and Witherspoon continue to be built upon and it does leave with a good understanding of them all.

The ending does seem to fill you with some level of twee-ness but there is absolutely no arguing with it - it's factually based and I've heard that this couples love for each other was that strong a bond.

Without a doubt I'd recommend this movie even if you aren't a Cash fan or have no idea what his music is like. For the first time in a long time I actually want to go and see a movie a second time. Well worth watching.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A strong revisitation of the classic, although quirkier and slightly updated., 29 January 2006

The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder in the lead is somewhat of a classic for many people, and much like with The Planet of the Apes, I just didn't think it should be remade, or indeed could be.

Yet in this version the story is very close to the original and only deviates in some places.There's the same degree of oddness as well as good fun but also there's an added adult level to play to which is rather quite effective.

The whole movie proves to be very close to the original except for the ending which takes the story in a new and altogether well fitting direction.

Johnny Depp is surprisingly good as Wonka. I have to say that when I first saw and heard him in character I made a mental comparison to Wilder and rejected him immediately. Yet during the film he managed to pull the character off really well portraying stupidity alongside a calculating, almost malevolent quality. He certainly has captured a completely quirky and non-grown up persona.

Freddie Highmore is also very good, not being too sickly sweet but capturing that childhood innocence very well. The other children stand strong alongside him, but none truly shine.

One of the notable things about the movie is the addition of a new family and Golden Ticket winner, the TV family. To modernise the movie the child is a mind of information and has assembled it all through watching TV and also playing videogames. It's slightly twee in the concept, but it works well.

Although there are these tweaks and updates to the story, it's not harmed the movie any and still retains a lot of the feel of the original. You feel the emotion when Charlie shares his Birthday chocolate bar with his family or when he finally finds the Golden Ticket, or even when Wonka meets his Father against and we understand some of his quirks.

Tim Burton has done a good job and given us a very entertaining family film and pulled another excellent performance from Depp. A very good revisitation of the story, surely set to be the replacement on the Christmas TV list.

11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly good movie with a strong performance from the Rock, the new action hero and actor., 29 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First off, I'm a huge Arnie fan. I love the action flick and my hero of action is Arnie with Willis coming a close second. So when I heard that Welcome to the Jungle represented Arnie handing the mantle to some WWF wrestler I was extremely disappointed, how could anyone entertain me as Arnie had?

Well I never did see Jungle, but I have just watched Walking Tall and met this Rock fella, and you know what? I'm impressed. If this is the guy to carry on what Arnie did, I'm with him all the way.

Movie: In this movie Rock can act, and act well. He's big and really grabs a hold of the action hero role, but on top of that he's personable, engaging and very believable. He has a great screen presence, his lines aren't delivered flat, there's not any overacting and he's very real in the role.

What's more surprising is that Johnny Knocksville isn't that bad either. I've heard many negative things about this guys acting, but in this movie he doesn't do too badly. Sure, he does look a little awkward in some scenes but overall he's very competent.

Neal McDonough who I last saw in the TV show called Boomtown is, if it wasn't for Rocks surprising performance, the star of the film. Essentially playing his character from Boomtown but without any of the good characters aspects, he's mean and ruthless here, a part he plays superbly well.

The story does have an older more western or fifties feel to it, and this stands it in good stead making it feel less like a modern action movie and more of a character based story. Something it carries off really well and helped by the large performances of the actors involved. It also does a good job of building tension and developing the story at a good pace.

There's a good filming style in the movie, simple and realistic, helping the feel of the movie along leaps and bounds. That seems to come through on everything from the camera work to the dialogue and from the fight scenes to the sometimes excellent editing - most memorable as the Rock drives through town after his second Casino visit. The fight scenes benefit most from this style, giving a wide view of very realistic hand to hand fighting which often turns out to be quite brutal. The characters pick up anything to fight with and there's no stylish moves here. They are tough, vicious and the characters get seriously hurt.

Picture: Widescreen 2.35:1 - Anamorphic In keeping with the realistic tone of the film the picture is filled with natural colours and lighting, nothing is over saturated and it's clear and sharp throughout.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 - The audio is good and particularly strong during some of the fight sequences. It also features a soundtrack which matches the setting and tone of the film well.

Extras: Audio commentary from director Kevin Bray, director of photography Glen MacPherson and editor Robert Ivision, Audio commentary with star Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Alternative ending, Outtakes, 'Stunts' featurette introduced by The Rock, Photo gallery, Theatrical trailer

The deleted scenes and outtakes are interesting but not that entertaining or overly informative, apart from the Rock's accidental breast grab. The same applies to the alternative ending which is a little bit funny, but nothing revealing about the editing decisions.

The audio commentaries are the strong part of this DVD offering, with one from the Director, Director of Photography and Editor, and the other from the man himself, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Although the filmmakers commentary is informative, the commentary from the Rock is as much of a surprise as the movie itself. It's both amusing and insightful for the movie making process as well as the person himself. Surprisingly humble, self depreciating and open, the commentary lets you get to know the Rock as well as a ton of facts about the movie and the actors. This guy can talk!

Overall: I saw the first comment about this movie on IMDb and it slates it, calling it a mindless action movie. Quite frankly that's rubbish. This movie has a lot more to it that most action flicks and has a fair chunk of characterisation over them too. It's quite a morale tale, as well as one based on a true life story, and apparently it's quite true to the real story. However it does have its fair share of action, but something that stands out for the movie is the realism in which it is portrayed and shot. There are still some traditional action scenes, but for the most part it keeps it grounded and tells a good tale that does give you a warm feeling. Entertainment with a good message, I like it.

Also, for your consideration, is the performance of the Rock. Not only does he prove himself to be a great action hero, but he also surprises you in his acting ability. I was wholly taken in by him and really latched onto his performance. Don't forget we also have the delights of McDonough as his adversary.

It's well shot, well acted, and a good entertaining story with more meat than you would expect. Don't write this off as a simple action movie, look deeper, give it a chance, and check out the audio commentary by the Rock.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
An excellent adaptation with superb effects. Very entertaining., 29 January 2006

When going to see this movie there were two things that were with me as baggage walking through that darkened doorway, thankfully I managed to leave both right there allowing me to enjoy the movie. One was the animated film I saw when I was a child, and the other was the hype and associated comparisons to Lord of the Rings both by Author association and Hollywoods new found love of the trilogy.

Neither affected the viewing of the movie and I was drawn into the film from the opening scenes. I can quite honestly say that even if I had been affected by those pieces of baggage, or indeed carried some of the religious argument into the cinema, I would still have been pulled into the movie just the same.

The story grabs you from the opening scenes of the Blitz and the performances of the children pull you right in. Immediately you understand the group dynamics and personalities of the children. That's one of the amazing strengths of this movie that carries from beginning to end, the storytelling.

Despite the huge effects and locations the real power is the story itself, pulling the classic book down into a manageable movie and yet keeping the moralistic tale filled with believable and identifiable characters. The movie does this amazingly well.

The acting is superb too, which helps the audience succumb to the tale. In particular the children are the shining stars of the film, with Georgie Henley as Lucy shining the brightest. There's a fine line between a young child star overacting and pulling off a strong performance of a childs' naivety, and she walks that fine line perfectly.

Skandar Keynes as Edmund is another character who is very ably acted, he portrays the petulant child well. Through this performance you can actually understand how he comes to his betrayal and you empathise with the range of emotions as he realises what he has done and how his young family have been affected.

Liam Neeson as Aslan was an interesting choice. Originally I had heard that this was to be voiced by Brian Blessed and that due to, allegedly, changes in his voice from dieting he was swapped for Neesom. Now this choice seemed poor for me, the voice of Blessed is strong and commanding and I didn't feel that Neesom carried the gravitas that could carry the role. How wrong I was. Neesoms voice was perfect for the part of Aslan, projecting warmth and strength wonderfully well.

The acting across the board is really good with Tilda Swinton proving to be a very strong and foreboding White Witch. Other roles, such as James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus and voices like that of Ray Winstone as Mr Beaver, are very well acted and totally immersive.

The effects are stunning in this movie, although there are a few moments where the green screen effect is apparent. What makes the larger creature effects so good is that they are combining CGI with costume and make up, combining reality with make believe. The only slight stumbling block of these effects is during the full scale battle scenes when CGI takes over totally and some of the more natural textures and movements are lost. However its not a huge setback and your eye is only distracted by it if you are watching very carefully, while you're absorbed by the movie you're likely not to notice.

The battle scenes are choreographed very well be they live action or CGI. Flowing and fantastically detailed, the larger battle scenes do not end up as a mess of creatures and body parts. I was reminded of the battle scenes from The Last Samurai which were almost graceful in the way they played out.

There are obvious comparisons with Lord of the Rings during the battle scenes, the sheer scale and epic feel of them as well as the multitude of mythical creatures, but that's where it ends. Sure there are many connections and similarities, but these are two altogether different tales and hugely different movies.

Something else I noticed on this movie - and usually when this aspect of a film is so noticeable it's a bad thing - was the music. Music should compliment the story, said the composer of The Crimson Rivers soundtrack, it should not try to overtake and retell the story. Likewise it should not disappear into the audio track and not have some form of impact.

The music for this movie hits these statements firmly on the head. It matches the movie perfectly and every scene it touches, it helps to build emotions and heighten tension, and bring the audience back down when the pace slows.

I have to say I was surprised at the ending. The temptation to create it in an overly romanticised manner or dwell upon the successions to the throne is avoided and instead we are treated as adults and the conclusion moves on more to setup the second movie. Oh, and a spot of advice, stay to watch the credits.

This movie belongs alongside The Lord of the Rings and holds great hope for the remainder of the trilogy.

Bus 174 (2002)
19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Dramatic, insightful and excellently crafted. One of the best documentaries I've seen., 27 January 2006

When I rented this movie I had no real idea what to expect. I had no prior knowledge of the event or of the documentary itself, and all that I was going on was another viewers review on my DVD rental queue, the rating itself, and the tagline - that the bus was hijacked and broadcast live on television.

It's also hard hitting. The team behind this documentary have done an amazing job to bring the story and the messages to the front of the film, and it's amazing just how well they do it.

Movie: The documentary hit me probably harder than any other documentary has in my life. One of the most interesting and compelling things about this is the way its structured as a movie. It builds tension and sets clear sides of good and bad guys. Then it begins to look at the characters involved and as the events occur in the actual footage they trigger investigations into characters and their past.

It's here where the film is most effective, using the real life footage from the News Stations to underpin the story, holding it together from opening to closing shot. The footage is also used as an indicator of when to jump to outside footage, be that from interviews of those involved from experts, friends and family. It's superbly pulled together.

This movie is charged with more emotion and suspense than many thrillers, and that can count against it too. You have to keep remembering that this is reality, not a movie, because it is so well delivered and paced that it can begin to feel as such.

To begin with your sympathies lie wholly with the hostages as the whole situation appears to be like any other hijack, but this alliance soon changes as the filmmakers begin to reveal the truth behind the hijacker and the situation.

Slowly, as you learn more about the hijacker you are also shown more about the Police, Street Kids, Prisons, and the mess the Country has found itself in. It's not only eye opening, it's emotionally strong and provides for a none too easy journey. A journey that should be taken and known.

It is perhaps the ending which is the most harrowing and shocking, although attention needs to be firmly kept on the equally shocking moments that brought us there. The slaughter of the Street Children by the Police, the overcrowded jails which make Guantanamo seem like a holiday camp, the Police corruption and finally the poor and destroyed life of Sandro do Nascimento, the Street Kid and hijacker.

The filmmakers have done an excellent job both in the editing and the initial structuring of the documentary. They've expertly pulled the audience to the drama of the situation and used that to highlight the real issues of their country in one of the most effective, thought provoking and intelligent documentaries I have ever seen.

Picture: Widescreen 16:9 The picture range sin quality as you would expect with the varying news sources used for footage. The quality ranges from traffic cameras to hand-held digital used in the exploration of Nascimento's past, of the Street Children and the interviews with those involved. So although the quality can be poor at times, it all adds to the realism and the actual footage feel of the film.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 As with the picture the audio varies in quality, but when it comes to the interviews it is clear, nothing more is needed here than the offered digital stereo.

Extras: The Making Of Bus 174 (30 minutes), Additional interviews (40 minutes), Assistant director Alexandre Lima's Social Frontiers photography exhibition, Interview with director Jose Padilha, Trailers

The Director gives a very insightful discussion on the movie, the process of making it, and ultimately life in Brazil for the less fortunate - the Street Kids who are so neglected and abused by society. You really do get a sense of pride in his Country and at the same time a sense of shame at what it is becoming. The discussion and insight into the movie and the process behind finding out about Nascimento and the Street Kids is quite in-depth, giving a good understanding of what is involved in making such a strong and unbiased documentary.

The additional interviews are even more eye opening and informative, not to say emotional. It's surprising just how informative they are and even without editing them down to the normal bite-sized interview snippets. Everything you'd want to know about the subjects in the movie are covered in these four interviews and from differing viewpoints, with Politics, Brazilian life and living on the streets at the forefront.

Overall This documentary ranks high in the top five I have seen to date. It's informative and insightful, providing the World with a view of Brazilian life we've never seen before and never been given the chance to understand.

It's a hard hitting and emotional film which presents to us the common and media portrayed view of what Nascimento is, slowly and carefully revealing his past to show the pain, hardship and mistreatment he and other Street Kids have received.

Dramatic and insightful, this film is one that should not be missed. It doesn't just show us about the Brazilian Street Kids either, it tells us more about the oppressed people of the World and how they can come to turn against the forces that created them. We need to understand them and to help them before they become like Nascimento.

Hulk (2003)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Very poor film. Badly written, badly acted, underused and out of place actors, and some crazy scenes., 4 January 2006

I'd heard bad things about this movie, but still I wanted to see it. I thought so highly of Jennifer Connelly in The House of Sand and Fog and was interested to see how she fared alongside a much talked about Eric Bana whom I'd seen in Chopper before. Plus it's Hulk by Ang Lee, that was enough to grab my interest.

What a mistake. It's a bad, bad movie. Poor Connelly merely walks around looking bemused and misused with a terribly flat, two dimensional performance while Bana is dull, fixed and very out of place, it was as though he didn't even try acting. Well done to Sam Elliott and Josh Lucas for giving it a good go, but they just can't pull away from the very poor performances of the others. Even Nick Nolte is way over the top here, and it's a comic movie, that's saying something! Performances aside, which really constitutes most of the mess, we have some ridiculous scenes for the Hulk itself. Attacked by a giant killer poodle, leaping miles in a single bound, and managing to reenter Earth's atmosphere and crash into the water without much more than a splash and a shake of the head? Okay it's Hulk and it's comic, but come on now, this is a farce.

Most of the scenes with the Hulk himself are dark, and the killer for most of the fight scenes is that it's too dark and you can't see what's going on. This is really evident when we see him fighting the killer dogs, then again with the final fight against the main creature of the movie.

The whole contrived storyline with this creature is bizarre, the fact that it takes on the shapes of things it touches and absorbs but yet only when it suits the story. When it starts changing into rocks and water showing it can't seemingly control itself is bizarre when not two minutes ago it was wearing clothes, walking around and sitting on a seat without ill affect. The whole idea of it turning into water is daft anyway, surely the Hulk would just stand there and just get wet? Again, not that you can see what's going on during these scenes.

It deserves a mark for two reasons though. One is the editing and post production work that makes a lot of the scene transitions and framing feel like a comic book, I actually quite liked that as it wasn't totally hiding from the source genre, it was embracing it and making it part of its own. The second is the work earlier on in the movie to build characters and try and focus on the inner angst of Banner, this was a good way to go but unfortunately the writing and the acting is just so two dimensional and weak that it just seems to be wasting yours and the movies time.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good fun, characters return with an interesting twist, perhaps even better than the original., 4 January 2006

I couldn't actually believe that I hadn't seen Toy Story 2 when it popped up on Television at Xmas, it seemed so long ago and since I enjoyed Toy Story so much there was no reason not to have seen the follow up. Yet I hadn't, for some strange reason it had dropped off my list of what to watch, so I sat down with a glass of something nice and red and returned to the world of toys.

There's nothing too different about this movie from the first apart from the storyline itself, the characters and their voices are all the same, and they've recaptured them perfectly for this movie. Probably the only negative point of the similarity is the animation, CGI has moved on since Toy Story and it shows a little here, however what is good is that the animation of Toy Story has a unique quality to it and even if you were to see a few seconds without any recognisable characters you would know it was a Toy Story movie. So although the animation appears slightly dated (especially seeing it years after release) it does help to pull you into that world again.

Cleverly though the writers have looked at the world of toys and looked for other challenges that they would face if they really were alive, and they've come up with some superb ideas. They've created situations and scenes that are extremely imaginative and yet so obvious (if you were a toy), and what they've pulled out of these are some great performances for the characters and actors, and some genuinely funny moments. Often with a sequel you are treated to an inferior story and less laughs (with a comedy anyway, with other genres you often get more laughs!) but what they've done here is to raise the bar over the original Toy Story, and frankly it was something I just couldn't believe they could do.

The characters are genuinely lovable and understandable, it's all too easy to get attached to them and be pulled into their world. Before long you find yourself caring for them and you'll be feeling their highs and lows, and even a small lump in the throat at times.

There were a few nods to other movies in here, again I won't spoil it by listing them, but they added to the adult factor of the film, something which Pixar has really managed to comprehend. They manage time and time again to make a movie which appeals to both children and adults together without any clash of the two. It will certainly be interesting to see where the Disney only sequel will go.

Overall it's a very satisfying movie giving you everything you want from a good family movie, whether you be a kid or an adult, or even somewhere in between, it's a great fun movie with some good laughs, and definitely on a par if not better than the original.

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