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Underworld (2003)
Okay but not as good as Ultraviolet. (Contains Spoilers)
3 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Just watched the Extended DVD tonight... as a film Underworld was alright, I guess. I liked how my sympathies changed from the Vampires' POV (mainly because you're supposed to identify with Selene initially) to the Lycans' as the film progressed. Once it becomes clear that Lucian is trying to achieve a peace between the Bloods and the Lycans, his goals become more admirable. Even Kraven, from this perspective, seems more sympathetic - although he is an intrinsically craven coward (excuse the pun).

On the minus side, everyone's inability to shoot straight really irked me. I mean, who trained these people? A stormtrooper? Also, there seemed to be no real world impact on this centuries-long war between Vampires and Werewolves; I was thinking as Kahn's men invaded the Lycan base: where's all this hardware coming from? How can you have a mass shoot-out in a public subway and nobody Official bats an eyelid? Everything just seemed completely divorced from 'everyday life', as though this was just a private war that didn't affect normal humans any. I mean, if you you saw some chick dressed in a tight, shiny, PVC catsuit and long PVC trench-coat would you just walk on by? In fact, the Vampires didn't seem that different from humans, except they have pointy teeth and can't go out in the day. Running water is supposed to harm Vampires, yet in UW rain doesn't affect them and Selene can survive driving her car into water. Also, I couldn't work out what the Vampires were supposed to be doing when they weren't trying to kill Lycans. What are their motivations? Just hang around looking bored and sexy? They appeared to have invented a synthetic blood stock, so they don't need to prey on humans - again another way in which the characters are 'divorced' from Real Life, it doesn't affect them and they don't affect it. Clearly there's some sort of group politics going on, mainly in the way there are two (three?) Vampire covens and the leaders (Viktor, Amelia, and Marcus) take it in turns - in accordance with the Covenant - to rule. But rule what exactly? It almost seemed like Vampires wanted power for power's sake, especially Kraven and Erika.

At least Lucian and the Lycans had decently explained motivations imo, the need to create a half-Vampire, half-Lycan hybrid that would end the blood feud - something that he had tried through conception with Victor's daughter and when that failed though finding the untainted Corvinus virus. He seemed almost pleased when he saw that Selene and Michael were falling in love as it meant his dream would (possibly) outlive him.

Watching the film I couldn't help comparing UW unfavourably with another modern updating of the Vampire legends, and for my money, the best modern-day depiction of Vampires remains the UK mini-series, 'ULTRAVIOLET'. (Check out: for details.) There the Vampires had much better motivations behind their actions, which made them more believable. Also, rather than resorting to 'dodgy science' with ultraviolet 'irradiated fluid' bullets, the humans in 'Ultraviolet' used carbon bullets, an echo of the wooden stake through the heart idea - and they were better shots too. :-) One of the things that makes Ultraviolet 'cooler' than Underworld is that it kept the whole 'Vampires don't cast reflections' thing, which UW junked, and also added electronic media to the mix, so Vampires don't show up on CCTV, photographs or electronic voice transmission, such as mobile phones. It doesn't have the Matrix-ish wirework and interminable gun battles that feature in Underworld, but it does have a first-rate storyline, terrific performances from the cast, a chilling score and is well worth checking out if you ever get the chance to grab the DVD.

Underworld was good, but imo it could have been better. 6/10
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A revelation in old school epic film making
9 October 2004
Although I'd seen LoA on TV many, many years ago, I finally sat down with the Restored Director's Cut DVD and it was frankly a revelation to see how they used to make epic movies before the days of CGI and special effects. Strange to think that this film was made more than 40 years ago and yet it still towers over a lot of much more technologically advanced films that have come out in the last 5-6 years since 'The Matrix' supposedly raised the bar on film making.

In some ways LoA has lots in common with modern epics like Lord of the Rings (particularly the first half with the long journey to Aqaba), but when you consider that everything in LoA was filmed 'live' so to speak (well apart from the shoot of the sun in the desert, but that was because the real sun kept burning the celluloid film in the camera) then you begin to appreciate the mastery that went into making this film, which must count as David Lean's masterpiece imho.

In todays world, where we've seen developments like Weta Digital's Massive software(for creating huge CG armies), John Gaeta's Bullet Time, or Sky Captain with its CG Sir Laurence Olivier avatar, etc. the idea that Lean went into the desert to shoot the mirage scene 'as is' or the charge into Aqaba with real horses and riders, etc is just amazing. (You also get a similar sense of this old school film making in Sergio Leone's 'The Good the Bad and the Ugly' when you hear how Eli Wallach was very nearly decapitated while filming one scene near a railway line.)

Easily scores 10 out of 10 just for the sheer audacity of the film-making process.
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Examine the director's aims behind the film not just the content
10 January 2001
This is one of (if not THE) most controversial films Peter Greenaway has ever made. Having become something of a media darling, first with "The Draughtsman's Contract", but mainly after "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" and "Prospero's Books" the British media turned against Greenaway when "The Baby of Macon" was released in 1993. This fact is all the more ironic since the central theme of the film is the danger of celebrity and the way in which people are built up so they can be knocked down at a later stage in their careers.

"The Baby of Macon" is not necessarily an easy film to watch and many viewers may not find it to their taste, due in part to the powerful imagery Greenaway utilises within the film. The infamous gang rape of Julia Ormand's character is what everyone comments on, although I think it's very well handled and for the majority of the time the camera focuses on the other characters around the stage (a similar process to the way the camera pans left to a corner of the warehouse when Michael Madsen slices the cop's ear off in Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs") rather than the rape itself.

It seemed to me at the time (as it does now) that the majority of film critics who dismissed the film missed the point of it all. All too often so-called popular film critics merely discuss films in terms of whether they personally enjoy them or not, rather than examining a director's motives and aims in making a particular film and whether those objectives have been achieved. In my opinion, Greenaway does succeed in hitting his marks in "The Baby of Macon" and manages to make some very important points about society in a powerful and challenging film, which will not however leave the viewer with that 'feelgood' feeling that they get from a film like, say, "Titanic".
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Thanks Dad for introducing me to a brilliant movie
9 January 2001
"Where Eagles Dare" was one of the first films that my father took me to see at the cinema when I was a boy in the 1970's. Back then I was 100% caught up with the on-screen action and loved every minute of it. Now 25+ years later the film holds the exact same thrills for me as it did then. I always list it as one of my 10 all-time favourite films.

I had no idea who Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood were at the time I first saw "WED" but I thought they were marvellous in the film. A few years later the BBC started showing it on TV (usually at Christmas!) and I always watched it each time it was on. Some years ago I was able to buy the Widescreen video of "WED" and now I can watch it whenever I like!

The music is absolutely brilliant and I often find myself humming the stirring main theme from time to time.

Not only did "WED" introduce me to Burton and Eastwood (two of my all-time favourite actors) but also to the novels of Alistair MacLean and many of his other films, such as "The Guns of Navarone", "Bear Island" and "Breakheart Pass" (all of which I recommend).
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