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Colombiana (2011)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
It's a hit with me!, 9 September 2011

COLUMBIANA by Director Oliver Megaton (Transporter 3) tells the story of a young girl, who after witnessing the cold-blooded murder of her parents by a rival drug cartel boss vows to reap revenge on their killers.

In a brisk, but action-packed opening to the film, 9 year old Cataleya escapes the fatal mob hit on her family – and takes refuge with her uncle in California. Here she makes plain her desire for revenge and asks her Uncle (also a mob boss) to "educate" her in the ways of the mob.

As Cataleya gets more adept, and skillful in her trade, she (in addition to working for her uncle as a hit-woman by day), then also starts to take out members of the mob that murdered her parents in her part time.

Cataleya soon becomes so successful at her "trade" that she has taken out 22 gang members in 4 years – which raises alarm bells – and soon she is on the radar of the police, the FBI, SWAT, and the various mobs.

Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek XI, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl) excels in the lead role, she is very sexy, is a very able actress, and plays Cataleya so adeptly, that you would have thought that this was a role specifically written for her. She commands every scene she is in, with grace, style and vigour – to make the part one of the strongest women's lead roles I've seen for ages. This is an actress that will go far.

Credit should also go to Amandla Stenberg who plays an excellent role in the portrayal of the young Cataleya.

COLUMBIANA is 107mins long, is a PG-13 certificate and will be on general release from Friday, 9th Sept 2011, and is well recommended as a good action thriller with a twist.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
You'd be a silly monkey to miss this film ..., 8 August 2011

The new movie RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES by Director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) is effectively a prequel to the "Planet of the Apes" and tells the story of a lab that performs genetic engineering on animals to try to get a cure for Alzheimer's – and of the consequences that occur when things go dramatically wrong …

A dedicated scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to discover a cure for Alzheimer's Disease by performing tests on apes.

One of these chimpanzees "Bright Eyes" soon becomes the "star of the show" of the medical trials and exceeds all expectations for the new drug ALZ-112 – which has been developed to try and slow down / prevent Alzheimer's and shows highly advanced intelligence … until a problem happens in the lab and she goes on a rampage and is killed. Unknown to the lab owners – Bright Eyes had just given birth to a baby "Caesar" – who like his mother has also inherited all the good things about the new drug – only this time without the bad side-effects. Caesar is smuggled out of the lab to protect him when all the other chimps have been ordered to be destroyed.

Meanwhile in the lab, ALZ-113 soon supersedes the original drug – but, it has one very unknown, dangerous side-effect in that it is airborne, incredibly contagious and highly toxic to humans.

As he grows, Caesar displays extra-ordinary intelligence – far exceeding even the intelligence of his mother and of humans of a similar age. Will decides that the results on Caesar are so conclusive that he will treat his father (John Lithgow), who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's with the same drug … which initially not only stops the disease – but starts to actually reverse the symptoms – until side-effects start appearing … Meanwhile, Ape sanctuary owner John Landon (Brian Cox) – is compelled to take in Caesar after he attacks a next door neighbour that has been abusing Will's father.

Caesar ultimately discovers where he came from and now knows why he has become so intelligent – and devises a plan to get more of the ALZ-112 drug to give to his fellow apes. Caesar soon takes control of an ape army. Soon Caesar uses his superior intelligence and skills to overthrow the brutal zoo keepers and arranges a mass break-out from the Ape Sanctuary and make their bid for freedom …

John Lithgow (Cliffhanger, Shrek series, 3rd rock from the Sun) and Brian Cox (Manhunter, Troy) are giants of the acting world – but even these heavyweights were completely overshadowed by the performance of ANDY SERKIS (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Sex and Drugs and Rock n' Roll, King Kong, The Hobbit) as Caesar – who totally stole every scene he appeared in …

James Franco (127 Hours, Eat Pray Love) as Will, and Freida Pinto – (Slumdog Millionaire) as the love interest Caroline give good sound performances along with Tom Felton as Dodge – the brutal zoo keeper

The use of CGI created monkeys is very good and convincing especially for the close up shots and the battle scenes). The facial expressions and mannerisms of the actors far exceed anything that has been seen before – they are really believable.

Though most of these events – especially the portrayal of the monkeys by Andy Serkis and Co. is so convincing that you feel compelled to be on the monkeys side!

I feel that RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES could easily kick-start the flagging Planet of the Apes franchise – hopefully, they would all be films of the high quality and caliber of this film.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is 105mins long, is a PG-12A certificate and will be on general release from Thurs 11th August, 2011

Risen (2010)
3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
It's gonna sock it to ya ..., 15 July 2011

There was a good atmosphere in the audience at the start of this film as it was introduced by Stuart Brennan – who plays the lead role in the film, the part of Howard Winstone, with the promise of a Q & A session after the film with director Neil Jones and Stuart Brennan.

RISEN by director Neil Jones, and written by Jones and Stuart Brennan, is the moving, true story of the rising talents of an the young boxer Howard Winstone (later to become an MBE), the boy from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, who was rapidly rising the amateur featherweight ranks as a fighter of some standing with a fearsome right hand …

The future beckoned great things for young Howard until a tragic accident in his workplace that saw him lose the top half of three of the fingers on his right hand … But, even such a cruel twist of fate was merely a temporary set back for Howard, who, when goaded on by his parents, teamed up with boxing trainer Eddie Thomas (himself a former European Welterweight champion) who taught him an alternative way to fight, so that he could still compete in the boxing ring.

Through sheer guts, and determination, and using his new fighting style Howard continued to be successful, being unbeaten in 6 years and winning 83 out of 86 amateur matches. Howard soon turns professional and after another 24 straight wins, he gets a shot at the British Featherweight title against Terry Spinks, which he wins and then goes onto be champion of Europe.

Soon, the next big hurdle is the Featherweight Championship of the World ...

What makes this film stand out is the performances of the characters in the leading roles – Stuart Brennan is excellent as Howard Winstone, John Noble is very convincing as the trainer Eddie Thomas, and Grainne Joughin as Howard's Wife Bennita – there are some fine performances all round by a very well chosen cast.

I say now, that I am not really a fan of boxing – but this film has a lot more to it than that … it shows remarkable courage, determination against tremendous odds and set-backs, it has some quite emotional sequences – even during "the thick of the action" – my favourite stand-out scene was during the third World title fight against Vicente Saldivar – when the world, the crowd and everything else just seemed to fade away … leaving just two giants of the ring slugging it out in slow motion with a backing track of Beethoven's moonlight sonata … it was really quite an emotive scene …

The Direction was sensitive to the subject matter (the Director also hails from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales) … the scenery and ambiance was great, music, acting all pretty accomplished.

In the Q & A session after the film, we met, listened to, and asked questions of Director Neil Jones and Stuart Brennan, who both wrote the screenplay … they were very open to questions and they told us of the difficulties (mostly due to funding) of making this five year labour of love … and it was obvious to all there the passion that these guys had for this film and the subject matter … and it certainly shows through in the finished result. The fight scenes were really quite intimate as well with some very close up camera action – and we assured that the actors really did make contact on several occasions – they weren't just acting ... and some of that blood was real!

I would recommend RISEN to fight fans and for those that would want to see a really well told biopic of a truly courageous, remarkable man … Howard Winstone MBE.

RISEN is 90mins long, is a 12A certificate and will be on general release from May 2011

Stake Land (2010)
18 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Not a film to sink your teeth into …, 8 June 2011

STAKE LAND from Director Jim Mickle this vampire / zombie horror flick tells the story of an unstoppable vampire / zombie plague epidemic that spreads across America (and I presume the world?) … and our band of gallant survivors have to battle their way through the hoards of zombies through to "New Eden" (Canada) where the plague hasn't yet taken hold … hmmm ... now where have I heard this plot line before ? (28 Days Later, I am Legend, and numerous others) …

Within the first two minutes, Martin's family is killed by zombies, and he himself only survives because of the intervention of a mysterious stranger "Mister", a self-styled vampire stalker / executioner … who comes to his aid.

Mister and Martin realise that their chances are better together than apart … so they strike up an unlikely partnership … in their quest to get to New Eden.

Their journey leads them through remote towns of America's heartland, to other fearful survivors that cling together in rural pockets, fearful of nightfall (when the vampires attack).

Cautiously moving ever north, using back roads, avoiding populated areas they pick up rag-tag stragglers along the way, including a nun (Kelly McGillis) who they rescue as she is being attacked by rapists, Belle – a pregnant teenager, Willie – an ex-marine and Peggy the sole survivor of a family that was attacked by the vampires.

Another danger they face is the Brethren, a fundamentalist militia headed by Jebedia Loven that interprets the plague as the Lord's work. Jebedia and his followers consider Mister as a mortal enemy, as one of the rapists Mister killed was Jebedia's son.

So much for the summary / pretext of the story, now to the REAL part of the review … this film (which is really being "bigged-up" by a huge advertising campaign is a bitter disappointment … it is a real pile of drivel …

Whoever wrote the music score for this film needs shooting … it was totally inconsistent with what action was taking place … the direction, script, casting, acting, editing and photography were truly woeful …

There really is nothing positive to recommend this movie The ONLY actor to any semblance of credibility was Michael Cerveris – who played the role of Jebedia Loven the twisted leader of the "Brethren"

Everybody else should rapidly remove this movie from their CV's if they would like to work again …

STAKE LAND adds nothing new … it's a very poor film, it is not even scary … it went down well in the US (Quelle surprise!) … but that probably says more about American tastes than the quality of the film

I expect this film to "bomb" over here … word of mouth will not sell this film ... it is definitely not a film to sink your teeth into …

Thor (2011)
14 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
It helps if you are hammered ,,,, 20 April 2011

THOR (The God of Thunder) is the latest 3D comic book super-hero roll-out from the Marvel stables – Directed by KENNETH BRANAGH (Wallander, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), the film tells the story of the enigmatic, powerful, but ultimately flawed warrior god

After peace has reigned for millennia between Asgard and the Frost Giants after a brutal war, there is an attempt made to try to steal back the Frost Giants source of power from Asgard – this ignites the fury of Thor and his buddies (the Warriors Three and Sif), who take it upon themselves to teach the Frost Giants a lesson (much against Odin's warnings) … and it all goes horribly wrong …

Odin is incensed by these actions and Thor is cast out of the mythical realm of Asgard by his father and sent to live in punishment amongst humans on Earth without his super powers for his recklessness in re-igniting the ancient feudal war against the Frost Giants.

Once on Earth, Thor realizes that he has lost his super-powers – and meanwhile in Asgard, Thor's adopted half-brother Loki schemes to take control of Asgard from Odin by covertly teaming up with the Frost Giants

Unknown to Thor, his most dangerous adversary is much closer to home than he thinks …

CHRIS HEMSWORTH (Star Trek, Home and Away (TV)) plays the title role, he should be a hit with the ladies – but his acting is a bit wooden …

The only real acting of any note is by ANTHONY HOPKINS (who else?) who plays Odin the ruler of Asgard, father of Thor and his adopted brother (and nemesis) Loki (played menacingly well by TOM HIDDLESTON), and IDRIS ELBA who plays Heimdall the defender of Asgard and the Bifrost (Rainbow Bridge) is also pretty awesome

RENE RUSSO plays Frigga wife of Odin, queen of Asgard, and NATALIE PORTMAN plays Jane Foster an Astrophysist and is the love interest – apparently Natalie had accepted the role before reading the script – and that doesn't say a lot about her judgement …

Although it's not in the same league and certainly doesn't have the same gravitas as the recent Batman movies, THOR is basically a bit of fun ... there is no real story line of any note to worry about … it has some good effects, some comic moments, some bad acting and some of the 3D stuff works to make things interesting … so, as long as you are content to switch off thinking for a couple of hours it's a pleasant enough way to pass the time …

I think THOR "should" be successful (even just for the kids toys and merchandise) and It looks very much like there will be a sequel or two in the offing – it has potential … so hopefully when they get a better story line (and maybe a different director) then this franchise may be worth revisiting …

THOR was originally shot in 2D format but has since had some 3D enhancements added, and some of the 7.1 Surround Sound Dolby effects are very good.

THOR is 114mins long, is an PG-13 certificate and will be on general release from Friday 6th May, 2010

Limitless (2011/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Compelling viewing ..., 22 March 2011

Directed by NEIL BURGER (The Illusionist), LIMITLESS is a fast-paced thriller that tells the story of hopeful, but failed writer Eddie Morra (played by BRADLEY COOPER) – who, during a chance meeting, discovers a new drug NZT48 that expands his minds capacity (from the usual 20%) so much he can use his brain up to 100% with much greater efficiency …

Eddie then starts on a rapid upward spiral in everything he does – succeeding at all tasks that he puts his mind to …

Pretty soon Eddie realizes that the drug is starting to change everything about himself – and he realizes that he has become "super focused" and has a "total recall" of everything he has ever read, seen or done, an ability that he uses very successfully to his profitable advantage … and business tycoon Carl Van Loon (ROBERT DE NIRO – The godfather, Raging Bull) is quick to recognise Eddie as the ultimate money making machine …

But, not everything goes well … and soon after suffering from some of the drug's side-effects, and the realization of his growing dependency on his "fix" … Eddie decides to find out more about where the drug comes from – meanwhile, Eddie's success is getting noticed in some very seedy quarters by mobsters who also want part of the action …

After seeing BRADLEY COOPER in The A-Team, and the Hangover (both fairly effortless / "passable" movies – with little thinking required), I wasn't expecting much from him in this film … but, as it turned out I was very impressed … it has a good plot, is thought-provoking and has plenty of twists and turns (akin to Usual Suspects / Memento) to surprise the audience along the way … I think it is Cooper's best film so far … which bodes well because he is in pretty much every scene of this film – and in some scenes there is even more than one of him in the scene!

Top marks should go to the script which was very well written, the direction very well paced and structured, the camera work and visual effects were excellent, the music also builds up the tension nicely in this finely crafted thriller.

Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro are convincing in their roles, and they were ably supported by a fine supporting cast – specific mentions go to ABBIE CORNISH (Bright Star) as Lindy, ANNA FRIEL (The Street, Bathory) as the brief ex-wife Melissa, ANDREW HOWARD – as the very convincing "baddie" Gennady, and JOHNNY WHITWORTH as the ex Brother-in-Law Vernon.

I noticed from the credits that Bradley Cooper was one of the Producers of LIMITLESS, so he is really putting his money where his mouth is … and in this instance, I believe he has made a very wise investment … and I would expect LIMITLESS to do very well at the box-office … I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of the biggest grossing films this year …

LIMITLESS is 105 mins long, is a PG-13 certificate and will be on UK general release from 23rd March 2011

Monsters (2010)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Infectious ..., 4 March 2011

We saw this film MONSTERS in a great atmosphere (at the Royal College of Surgeons), Jameson's Irish Whisky were sponsoring the event as part of their Jameson's Cult Film Club series - and there were some very "happy" people around … there was a lot of war / military zone type decorations up in the reception area and the bar … a lot of the staff were in anti-contamination suits and gas masks – really getting into the swing of the theme of the film – which was based on a 200K "Infected Zone" quarantined off between Mexico and the US … that was full of new life forms - monsters from Mars !

To get us more in the mood … before the show started were treated by some of the staff, to a "live" mock interview by a "CNN reporter" talking to two tourists who had just "experienced" travelling through the "Infected Zone" … (quite comic really!) …

This was followed by a Q&A session with the MONSTERS Director (GARETH EDWARDS) and the films editor COLIN GOUDIE – who told us more about the making of the film and what they were trying to achieve …

The premise of MONSTERS is that six years ago, NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life form began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an "INFECTED ZONE". Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures"......

Our story begins when a US photo-journalist Andrew Kaulder begrudgingly agrees to escort a wayward tourist Samantha Wynden – (who just happens to be the daughter of his boss), through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.

There is no real story / plot as such – and you don't actually see any monsters until quite late into the film – the idea is more about the build up of "suspense" as to what will happens when they eventually come across the monsters – rather than the monsters themselves (a big tribute to Jaws here – as mentioned by the Director in the Q&A before the film started) … and that the fact that the creatures moved around mostly at night – meant a lot of suspense build up was achieved with sound effects … this could make the film appear a little dark on occasion …

Whitney Able (as Samantha) is very pleasant on the eye and acted quite well considering what she had to work with … and should go onto better things … Scoot McNairy (as Andrew) was a little more rough around the edges but was fine in this film. An interesting sub-plot of MONSTERS is the growing relationship between these two main lead characters.

All other characters in the film were un-credited and were basically locals hired by the director on the days of shooting – and were just asked to play themselves – or to act out scenes that the director wished to shoot that day …

The cinematography is pretty much "hand-held" throughout, following the action through the eyes of the couple themselves and always on the move – which adds to the build up of tension

I actually quite liked MONSTERS … but I wouldn't class it as a main stream film … I think Jameson's were quite right to class MONSTERS as one of their "cult" films – because … with this audience, that was really "up for the gig" it went down VERY WELL on the night – especially for the way that the whisky, the pre-amble interview, the décor, the whisky, decontaminations suits, the whisky, gas masks, Q&A session with the Director and Film Editor … all set the ambiance so well, it was all really well received … oh, and did I mention the whisky!

MONSTERS is 94mins long, is an R certificate and will be on general release from 1st December 2010

15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Comedy and emotion ... across the cultural divide ..., 21 February 2011

WEST IS WEST, directed by ANDY DE EMMONY continues on from the 1999 hit film East is East (which was set in 1971).

It is now 1976, in Salford, Manchester, England, and remaining members of the Khan family soldier on through their in-house, on-going struggle of the elder family members tradition Pakistani values and beliefs vs. the youngsters who were born in Britain and have an avid acceptance into the British culture …

In the midst of this turmoil is the story of Sajid the youngest of the children who is now a teenager and is enduring some serious bullying at school …

Many of the original cast from East is East make a welcome return including OM PURI as George Khan, LINDA BASSETT as Ella, JIMI MISTRY, as Tariq, LESLEY NICOL as Auntie Annie, and EMIL MARWA as Maneer and the film introduces a new face to the ongoing Khan family story AQIB KHAN as Sajid Khan.

George Khan is still very much acting as the family dictator – enforcing his beliefs upon his family – much to their disdain … it is especially bad for Sajid and events soon come to a head, and George believes it would benefit him to take a trip to Pakistan to instill some much needed cultural discipline … in fact most of the film is set in rural Pakistan …

Sajid, as expected, is uncomfortable and feels very much out of place in Pakistan … and has much difficulty in fitting in … the surprise however comes in the dramatic change that comes over George when he sees Mrs Khan No 1 (played very convincingly by ILA ARUN) and family in the Punjab, these are the wife and daughters he had abandoned 30 years earlier when he left to go to England. We soon discover that it is actually George who is most changed by the visit.

Pretty soon, George decides to make up for some of his many, many shortcomings and decides to build a house and re-work the land … Sajid finally starts to bond with some friends …

The pace of the film slows a little at this point … but only for a short while that is, until the ominous arrival from England of Ella Khan (Mrs Khan No 2), along with the hilarious Auntie Annie who swiftly follow to sort out the mess George has created – both past and present

There is an especially good scene between the two Mrs. Khans (past and present) … who have a very moving dialogue (one only speaking Punjhabi, the other only English) … but all that needs to be said is expressed with emotion and body language … it is superbly acted, and to me … it's the best moment in the film

I found WEST TO WEST to be an enjoyable, moving sequel – and recommend it highly … especially likable to those that enjoyed EAST is EAST.

WEST IS WEST is 102mins long, is a 15 certificate and will be on general release from Friday 25th February 2011

Yogi Bear (2010)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Family fun that is better than your average film ..., 7 February 2011

YOGI BEAR IN 3D is a new film from director Eric Brevig, is a tale about a documentary filmmaker Rachel Johnson (played by ANNA FARIS) who travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a project for the parks 100th anniversary and soon crosses paths with Yogi Bear, his sidekick Boo-Boo, and Ranger Smith.

This is a 3D live action movie with added CGI characters for the bears -with the voices of the main characters Yogi Bear (DAN AYKROYD – Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers) and Boo Boo (JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – The Social Network).

The city is in financial trouble and smarmy Mayor Brown (ANDREW DALY) wants to close down the loss-making Jellystone Park and sell it off to logging companies to make a profit and to get himself re-elected …

Ranger Smith (TOM CAVANAGH) is told that he has just one week to raise the 30K that it will take to save Jellystone Park from being closed down Yogi Bear and Boo Boo now have to postpone their constant hunt for visitors picnic baskets in order to team up with Rachel and Ranger Smith in order to raise funds to save the park – and they start a campaign to advertise the 100th Anniversary of Jellystone Park with flyers and a Firework display ...

Meanwhile, the Mayor gets wind of the anniversary celebrations and has secretly promised the Chief Park Ranger job to the naive junior Ranger Jones – if only he were to prevent the festivities from being a success …

I would say that YOGI BEAR IN 3D is a good family film for all ages – especially appealing for the younger generation, and some of the 3D effects work very well ...

Try to get there early if you can, as there is another enjoyable 3D short film called "Rabid Rider" that precedes the main film and features Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner …

YOGI BEAR IN 3D is 80mins long, is rated a PG certificate and will be on general release from Fri 11th February 2011

True Grit (2010)
Doesn't always hit the target ..., 3 February 2011

TRUE GRIT is a Coen Brothers re-make of the classic 1969 movie that starred John Wayne.

In this new adaptation, Oscar winner JEFF BRIDGES (The Big Lebowski, TRON, Crazy Heart) takes the reins in the lead role of US Marshall Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn, an aging bad-tempered bully of a man, now well past his prime … who seems more interested in whisky than in law enforcement.

Rooster's life is plodding along at his preferred languid, mellow pace until he is confronted by a 14 year old schoolgirl Mattie Ross (ably played by newcomer HAILEE STEINFELD), who hires him and then demands that he bring to justice Tom Chaney – a member of the "Lucky" Ned Pepper gang and the killer of her father. Mattie is very determined and gets her way to ride along with Rooster on his quest (much against his better judgement) …

Along for the ride, is US Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (played by MATT DAMON – The Bourne Trilogy, The Departed, The Talented Mr. Ripley) who is also after Tom Chaney – for the killing of a Senator up in Texas. The rest of the film is really about the adventure of the pursuit of the Lucky Ned Pepper gang

Although some of the performances were good (noteably Hailee Steinfeld), I thought that Matt Damon in particular looked quite miscast – he really didn't look to comfortable or convincing in the role of LaBoeuf … and I got the feeling that the "baddies" just weren't bad enough … on occasion they were just too darn polite.

I gather that Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld have been Oscar nominated for TRUE GRIT, I feel that might be a tad ambitious.

I was looking forwards to TRUE GRIT, but I found that this film was an almost word for word remake, hardly anything was different to the original – no extra dimensions seemed to have been added or improved upon. On it's own merits as a standalone film, I would have scored TRUE GRIT higher, BUT – due to the fact that this is a re-make of an existing film classic – by the usually very talented Coen Brothers, I really don't believe that it added anything to the much better original – I am dropping the score slightly to 7/10.

TRUE GRIT is 110mins long, is a PG-13 certificate and will be on general release from Friday 11th February 2011

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