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388 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Mainly atmospheric sound effects, 23 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Omit the sound effects and what have you left? Not very much.

If you watch this film alone at night you'll find it pretty scary. Especially the knocking on the door. It's hard to know which door it is. Is it the door in the film or is it your own? The knocking starts again. It's quite frightening. Hang on to your seat.

There is little dialogue which is a pity because it's hard to understand what's happening. Sure, we know it's night time and there's a young couple making love in a house but who are these masked strangers determined to enter and why? It happens that the couple have an old shot gun on an upper shelf which the man uses in self defence. The intruder collapses with a nasty wound to the head. If you are of mild temperament you may wish to throw up when the camera gives you a close-up of the wound. Shattered flesh is not pretty.

Apart from that incident most of the time is spent searching for shadowy figures among the trees outside. The couple try to escape in their car but the car is rammed by another which appears out of the darkness. Another unexplained incident.

When the girl is left alone in the house she seems to spend an interminable time creeping around with a carving knife in her hand. Stupidly she throws back the curtains and there's a threatening face at the window. Screams and more screams.

In the end a couple of school boys passing on their bikes find the couple bound and bloodied on the floor. One of the boys moves forward to touch the woman. What better way to end this creepy film than another loud and terrifying scream?

Ladder 49 (2004)
Just enough excitement to lift it above average, 28 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is about courage and comradeship and the constant concern for our endangered loved ones. A fireman's lot is a life fraught with danger as he faces raging fires day after day. Hell on earth, you might say.

Jack Morrison (Joachim Phoenix) is the main character of our story. A brave man willing to risk his life to save others. A truly courageous man to be sure, but he is just one of many. His comrades work as a team leaning on each other for help in every desperate situation.

Viewers will enjoy the exciting fire scenes of which there are about half a dozen. Rescuing a man from a window sill high up on a skyscraper, falling through a roof into billowing flames, carrying a young girl overcome with smoke down stairways choked with flames to the safety of a waiting ambulance…. These are just some of the incidents that Jack's wife watches on her television set. She dreads the day he may not come home.

On the whole the burning buildings look fairly authentic although I thought some of the flames inside the buildings appeared to be appropriately placed jets of burning gas. The oxygen masks were very loose fitting and I wondered how efficient they would be in the smoke-filled rooms. Actors talking through masks are difficult to hear and I had some problems here, but I got the meaning.

There is a tearful ending at a funeral service when Captain Mike Kennedy (John Travolta in a supporting role)) recounts the courage of all firemen inviting the congregation to stand in their honour. He remembered the day when Jack Morrison started as a rookie fireman sweeping the floors when things were quiet and handling the nozzle of the hoses when in action. From those early days he climbed the ladder to recognition for his courage and unforgettable bravery.

This film will make every fireman feel good about himself, although he may have a quiet chuckle at some of the techniques used in fighting fires in buildings on the point of collapse.

Flawless (2007)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Flawless! The diamonds perhaps. The film? I don't think so!, 25 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The members of the Diamond Corporation would have a great laugh at this film while watching the antics of a janitor (Michael Caine) and top executive ( Demi Moore) planning the theft of diamonds from the Corporation.

The characters played by the stars are convincing enough but the actual story is completely unbelievable.

The hundreds of million dollars worth of rough diamonds are stored in a room behind a massive door that can only be opened when the combinations of three locks are known. Having discovered the codes our somewhat nervous thieves conspire to work together on a plan which requires clockwork precision. She is to telephone the security officer who is watching all rooms on digital screens at a precise moment to distract him from his job. At that moment the janitor with utmost accuracy opens the security door to the diamonds. If that were not unbelievable enough he then scoops up buckets of rough diamonds and flushes them down into the underground sewer to be recovered later. How improbable! There is a nervous moment when the janitor having finished the job and having just left the building is called back You think that this is the end of his little plan, but no….one of the executives wants him to clear a toilet which happens to be blocked. You guessed it ….by a massive cut diamond. Are we meant to take this seriously? On the positive side the film sets are smartly presented with the staff of cutters and polishers all in black suits entering the building in military precision. The processing of the rough stones is interesting and of course the final diamonds are so magnificent. I enjoyed this part of the film.

The voices worried me a bit. I know Michael Caine likes to do a Cockney accent which immediately puts his character into a certain social strata. As for Demi Moore she spoke with an American accent which I found difficult at times. English sub-titles would be a great advantage and would have made the story easier to follow.

Flawless? The diamonds perhaps; the film? I don't think so!

Great title for an intriguing film, 22 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You probably have not seen anything quite like this before nor would you want to see lots more based on a similar theme. But for the moment this turns out to be quite intriguing, rather original and so absorbing that it seems that you yourself are actually a part of the proceedings. Just imagine, if you can, lying helpless completely paralyzed except for the fact that you can blink just one eye. Would you welcome a quick death or would you want to communicate with others if such an event were possible?.

This film portrays a man bent on publishing a book by the slow process of choosing letters that are spoken to him simply by blinking his eye once for yes and twice for no. The words are written down by a secretary, the words become paragraphs, the paragraphs pages, the pages chapters. A slow process to be sure but what an accomplishment.

At one stage I thought I saw his lip quiver, a slight noise in his throat. Could it be possible I thought that he might be at the beginning of the road to recovery? A wishful thought indeed. A stupid thought. Here was a man imprisoned in his own body like a mariner in a diving bell.

The story line is limited. Not much can happen to a paralyzed man lying in a hospital bed. But he can hear the doctors and carers talking and his memory can take full flight as he recalls happier days. There is a scene where two men from the telephone company come to connect a telephone to his bedside so that he can hear his wife speak. The sarcastic remarks of the installers are cruel indeed.

Enjoyment is hardly the word to describe this film. Involvement is the word I think. When the film is over and the credits roll you will be a somewhat different person having become so involved in the details of his care.

Much praise must be given to the script writers who had the job of presenting the story in an interesting way. I found the dribbling of saliva from the twisted lips a down to earth detail and the rolling of the eyeball an amazing interpretation of frustration (and a little bit scary).

The reverse motion cinema-photography at the end puts everything back together again Or so it seems. If only our problems could be fixed so easily. This is a true life story and the man involved died soon after his book was published.

A quite remarkable thoughtful film. Congratulations to all concerned.

Makes you think, especially about meat pies!, 10 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dark shadowy streets and poorly-lit rooms introduce us to a gloomy Dickensian atmosphere which is maintained through most of the film. Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) is not a cheerful fellow. How could he be? Judge Turpin who once condemned him to prison has stolen his wife Lucy and their little daughter Johanna.

Mrs.Lovett(Helena Bonham Carter)who sells meat pies is one of his few friends. She has a spare room above her shop which she says would make a good barber shop. Some say Sweeney is the best barber in London. He probably is. Certainly better than Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen). So Sweeney sets up shop which meets with Mrs.Lovett's approval.

This horror musical is a story of revenge as Sweeney sets his sights on the Judge luring him to his barber's chair where a quick shave promises an opportunity to slit his throat. Mrs.Lovett enters unannounced and the opportunity is lost. Sweeney's fit of uncontrollable rage makes him more determined than ever as he plunges into despair on the point of madness.

Art decoration and costumes are award winners for this film as are the principal players for their perfect characterizations. Most of the dialogue is sung in this Sondheim musical. Half sung half spoken and with a Cockney accent is a triumph for the actors. "My friends" has a sinister appeal as Sweeney gloats over his shiny cut-throat razors; "Johanna" his daughter is captive in the Judge's house. "While I'm around" is one of my favourites.

At the depth of his madness Sweeney makes alterations to his barber's chair so that he can tip it backwards after murdering his victims. The bodies are directed to the basement where the human flesh can be put through a mincer and the bones discarded into the blazing furnace. The pie shop flourishes with its popular meaty pies. Mrs.Lovettsays it's a shame to waste the meat, it being quite expensive and hard to come by.

Some people might not appreciate the bloody mess as Sweeney hacks at the jugular veins of his victims. It is not a pretty sight. However I find the basement scene where the human mince disgorges from the mincer even more horrifying. Add to this the complaints from residents of the awful smells issuing from the premises and we get a fair picture of the situation.

There is some relief from the dreary atmosphere when Mrs.Lovett dreams of a day by the seaside. The screen is suddenly filled with sunshine and joyous colours so different from the world in which she lives.

This is a splendid production, well put together with every detail attended to. Some might argue that in certain scenes there is too much detail. But there can be no argument that the Sondheim musical has been transferred from the stage to the screen in the most admirable fashion.

1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
It's a devilish boring film, 9 January 2009

I was drawn to watch this movie because of the somewhat amusing title and I noted it was a film by Sidney Lumet. Will I never learn? I have always said that you can't judge a book by its cover and you can put movie titles into the same category. I was hoping for a gripping thriller. No such luck. While I can't fault the acting, the characters they played were rather boring and I found it quite an effort to stay awake. I would have appreciated some sub-titles as my hearing is not the best, but if I understood every word, it would still not be a major film for me. I cannot understand why any reviewer would give this film 10/10. That indicates a perfect score; and in no way is this film a piece of perfect entertainment. I liked the robbery in the jeweller's shop. It was tense and believable. The best part of a very ordinary film. The double shoot out was great. Pity the film did not end there. Sorry Mr. Lumet, but that's how it is with me.

Willow (1988)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A baby's smile lightens up a dull and uninspiring film, 6 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story starts well. We find ourselves in a land of little people…. A happy lot living peacefully in idyllic beauty. Just like in the Bible story of Moses floating down stream in a basket, a baby is found on the edge of the river. What's to be done? The problem is that it's not a baby of the little people so someone will have to take it safely back to the land of the big people. Unfortunately the evil Queen has been told of the arrival of the promised child whom she believes will usurp her power over the earth. She calls on her soldiers to find the child and kill it. Didn't Herod have a similar idea? Is this going to be a story based on the Bible? A dwarf called Willow has the unpleasant job of carrying the baby to safety beyond the river through dangerous territory. The evil Queen's soldiers are everywhere so it won't be easy. Willow is a bit of a magician at heart and the wizard has given him some advice. The rest of the story is an adventure as Willow and the baby overcome every imaginable adversity.

When Willow reaches the vicinity of the Queen's castle he is in grave danger of the Queen's wrath and cruel intent. Despite their numbers the soldiers are indeed sadly lacking in military manoeuvres. Willow and the baby keep dodging the soldiers as a fierce battle rages around them. I found these battle scenes uninspiring. They did not excite and continued for far too long. The two headed monster brought some relief but on the whole the final overthrow of the Queen should have been much more gripping.

The baby has a sweet smile and will warm many hearts in an otherwise dreary film. The character Willow is a man of good and kind heart and has a good rapport with the baby. Val Kilmer plays a likable rogue among the big people. The character of the Queen is nicely portrayed as one of the most cruel and evil kind. The remainder of the cast fit nicely into the fantasy. The weakness is the unimaginative aspects of the story. On the whole very disappointing.

10,000 BC (2008)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Extensive credits give some idea of the work involved in this imaginative tale., 29 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a task it must have been to write about events which might have taken place so long ago. Personally I would not know where to start. While not original, a love story might add a little interest to a series of exciting events. Such is the case here.

The writers borrow ideas from the old Testament (the tribe in question is waiting for a messiah who will lead them to peace and victory over their wild neighbours) as well as from George Bernard Shaw's "Androcles and the Lion" (Androcles removes a thorn from a lion's paw and the lion remembers his kind action). There are other ideas used many of which we have seen before in other films.

I think most of the reviewers have been too critical of this film. Forget anachronisms, I say. Just relax and enjoy the expansive sets, huge casts and non-stop action. Let your imagination take over. It's just an exercise in what might have been.

Steven Strait is a bit of a charmer in the leading role of the young man who saves his tribe. Unafraid of the gigantic mammoths and huge cats, he well deserves the white spear for his bravery. But high marks go first to the film's director who had some mighty big tasks in putting all those wild tribes into believable situations such as fighting the mammoths or building the pyramids.

I was sorry his girl friend got a nasty spear through her body, but I'm not telling what happened after that except that the tribe had a Wise Mother who seemed to know the answers to all life's problems.

One of the criticisms not mentioned by others was the fact that I felt the costuming was a little too modern. The climatic changes were a bit puzzling with flooding rains and snow storms and sandy deserts. A huge problem for the wardrobe designers, I would think. Scenes of the slaves building the pyramids would be more effective if they were lashed with whips on their half-naked bodies. I think generally speaking all characters should have worn less clothes and clothes that had been roughly put together considering 10000 BC is a mighty long time ago.

Get Smart (2008)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Not funny. Not clever. Not smart., 24 December 2008

I enjoy a good comedy but this one has something missing. I guess it's the lack of a good script I have to admit I did not see the original TV series. I watched "Get Smart" on DVD but scarcely raised a laugh. There's lots of action but no substance. Most of the scenes are forgettable. The dance with the fat lady led to nothing. Slightly amusing was the secret service agent Max seeking something hot from a street stall bakery. Then he was eavesdropping listening to a couple of Russians while making staccato squirts into a urinal , stopping and starting as he listened to their plotting.. At least that episode was original. Perhaps the most exciting sequence was secret service agents getting tangled in a banner flying high in the sky "Suicide. Don't do it".. Over all the effects were quite well done, but the story was no more than a collection of unrelated adventures. The actors were easy on the eyes but deserve better. Sometimes I think that the actors get more fun out of the so-called comedy than the paying audience.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fact versus faith, 17 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story centres around an event that took place in Peru when five people crossing a rope bridge fell to their death. The question then arose.......Was it a chance happening OR was it an act of God? Brother Juniper a man of the cloth attacks the problem in a factual way by door knocking the friends and relatives of the victims and compiling a biography of each individual in the hope that all five may have something in common. When the resultant volume fell into the hands of the Spanish Inquisition, Brother Juniper was found guilty of heresy and subsequently burnt at the stake with all his books.

Early in the story we see the swinging bridge high up above a treacherous looking ravine. It is quite ominous and frightening. I for one would never dare to cross it.

Thornton Wilder's story of the five victims who for various reasons were in the party ready for the crossing is really heavy going. I watched the DVD a second time for a better understanding, but with no English sub-titles I missed a lot of the dialogue. Basically the film covers the cross examination of Brother Juniper's activities with flashbacks showing details of the lives of the victims. I am not sure if it was the script or the poor editing but I got terribly confused with the characters at times. Robert de Niro as the Catholic Archbishop was unrelentless in his pursuit of the confiscation of the observations recorded by Brother Juniper. The Church he said was built on steadfast faith on which Brother Juniper seemed to cast doubt and should therefore die..

Costuming and sets were excellent. I found the linking of the scenes somewhat haphazard and consequently difficult to follow. The final scene in which the frayed ropes of the bridge finally give way is utterly terrifying as we watch the travelers drop to their death in the waters at the base of the ravine. We knew it was about to happen as the tight ropes begin to split and open but at what precise moment the bridge will snap keeps us on the edge of our seat. . I give an extra mark for this scene.

Summing up, a good subject but needs to be retold in a more expert manner.

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