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29 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Single thanks, no return., 19 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The problem with boxetting is that the thought purpose of the scheduler is lost and shows like this need to stand on their own.

Beowulf was shown on a Sunday at roughly 6pm on the main commercial terrestrial network in the UK a spot normally taken up by game who re-runs or many moons ago 'religious telly'. The time slot may have suited the show, but watching it at random times during the week from a hard drive meant that it just did not connect.

The casting of Beowulf was interesting and to my knowledge this was my first sight of Kieran Bew in the lead. He played the hard/soft approach that Harrison Ford refined in the Indiana films very well but he was never fully believable as the hero of the Shieldlands. Joanne Whalley did her best in a scene chewing role as Rheda the Yarl - head honcho - of the Shieldlands, mixing the cod lines with the various action scenes as well as an actress with her level of experience should. Gregory Fitoussi as Razzak the Warrig prophet enjoyed himself greatly with his bad boy role and lit up each of his scenes with his mischievous delivery. And finally Edward Hogg as Varr, as Rheda's counsel, had a stand out performance passing menacing comment in a manner that mixed Robert De Niro with Julian Clary. Beyond that the acting was no better than day time soap standard for which the directors must play their part in being named and shamed.

The show itself seemed to be hamstrung by its time slot and the modern need to be all things to everybody with unrealistic feminine heroes and a box ticking balance of cast members. Money had clearly been spent on this show as the sets and costumes were of high quality and even the CGI was credible in most cases, especially in the scenes that involved any interaction with the real life characters. The humanization of Elvina's (Laura Donnelly) son was especially well done.

But sadly Beowulf was a punt at the Game of Thrones market which largely failed. The back story of Beowulf and his hidden familial secret, the struggle for power between Rheda and her brother Abrecan (Elliot Cowen), the good vs evil battle between the mudbornes and the red bloods and even the love and lust triangle between Beowulf, Elvina and Slean (Ed Speleers) took too long to develop.

I stayed with this until the final credits on episode 12 but thought of bailing before then. The final battle which straddled the last two episodes was well played but if there had been more of this early on the show may well have kept its audience and got extended.

Clearly the producers were confident of telling more yarns and the final scene with Razzak in the temple of the giants hinted at something worth waiting for, but we will never know. The show has been cancelled.

It is a shame when shows like this get the shunt as it only encourages programme makers to play things safe with more reality or quiz shows. But unfortunately the safe nature of Beowulf is what killed it off. With no edge and a clear target towards the 12 rather than the 15 rating Beowulf will have to rise another day.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Great Scot!!, 1 September 2015

I missed the Playhouse pilot (Miller's Mountain) partly because the 'comedies' that I did see in that season were awful and therefore I never got as far as this one.

So, coming to Mountain Goats fresh I was surprisingly pleased. I am English, but have always had a liking for Celtic humour (Still Game, Chewin' The Fat, Rab C) so warmed to the characters early on. Although to be fair the relationship between Conor and his mother, in the first episode, was more akin to Last of The Summer Wine humour and somewhat tiresome a times. But, three episodes into the first series I am enjoying Mountain Goats greatly.

It is clear that the production team had the concept clear in their head from the start and the mix of study work and exteriors is well worked to provide a depth to each of the weekly set ups.

The acting is, as you would expect, from a comedy of this sort best described as 'broad'. There will be no calls from the RSC but that has been the problem with far to many comedies of late where the fun as been replaced with introspective study rather than belly laughs.

Mountin Goats follows the theme of 'Mrs Brown's Boys' and Miranda. Just get the laughs, no matter how stupid the set up. And no, I am not claiming that Mountain Goats is in their class, but it delivers a good belly laugh every few minutes therefore it does it's job.

The cast work well as ensemble headed by Jimmy Chisholm as the titular lead from the pilot. But for me it is the deadpan delivery of his lines by David Ireland that works for me. His 'vajazzle' scene was very funny.

I like this and I want more if it. Fingers crossed that the Beeb gets enough 'numbers' to enable BBC Scotland to fund a second series of this show.


Cuban Fury (2014)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable fayre, 3 May 2015

I heard Nick Frost promoting Cuban Fury on its release and heard the stories about how he had to gather together enough money over a lengthy period to get his project off the ground. When I listen to interviews like that you do tend to lean a bit towards the producers and in this case the star (he wears two hats) for the hard work in getting a non studio non blockbuster to the screen.

But then you often realise why American television produces so much 'made for TV' film fodder, because in America this film would not have made it to cinema release. This merely highlights how low the true British film has fallen since the great days of British comedy, such as Ealing, and even to a degree, the Carry Ons.

Cuban Fury is OK, no more. Nick Frost is OK, no more. There is a reason why actors form teams and that is because they play a foil for each other, and in Cuban Fury Nick Frost has to carry the film which neither he nor the script is capable of. Frost's foil, as such in this film is Chris O'Dowd, but in reality his is the love opposition in Frost's hopes of getting the hand of Rashida Jones. So O'Dowd is working against Frost for the entirety of the film and his over the top lothario is so poorly acted, developed and scripted that his time on screen is time that is more annoying that fun in what is meant to be a comedy.

The story surrounds Frost's infatuation for Jones when she joins his Company as Head of Sales. His infatuation is further enhanced when he realises that she enjoys Salsa, a format that Frost was a champion in before he was bullied out of it in his teenage years. Love has no boundaries however, and Frost is determined to woe this women with his rusty skills and returns to his old mentor, played by Ian McShane, to see whether his now larger and less lithe physique still has the old magic.

As is usual in this kinds of films the 'little man' must battle adversity to win his girl, and in some amusing pre-climax dance scenes that it was Frost does. The fight scene between him and O'Dowd is more akin to West Side Story than Rocky and is very amusing and well edited. But the premise only cast your mind back to another similar British film of recent years, namely Run Fat Boy Run, which did this 'boy tries to win girl' storyline so much better.

The film has a great cast of British characters with McShane definitely becoming a new Oliver Reed for scene stealing. Also worthy are Olivia Colman as Frost's former dance partner sister and Kayvan Novak who steals most of the scenes he appears in.

This film is OK, but could have been so much better.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Turned off, 4 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having seen the first two in the series I though I'd chance on Wrong Turn 3 when it was shown on a cable station recently. Oh well, you win some you lose some.

I knew that Wrong Turn 3 had been made for video so did not have any great expectations but it was quite clear that the producers had no real link with their predecessors in the franchise. The first Wrong Turns gave as much screen time to the mutants as the main characters and certainly Wrong Turn 2 gave some development as to why and how the mutants came to be, even though this was also a straight to video offering. Also the first two films were story driven with the first being an old fashion 'teens get lost' premise whereas the second was a satire on the reality survivor shows which seem to fill the schedules these days. It was clearly a cheaper affair but the writers clearly had some nouse and added lightness to the script that Wrong Turn 3 misses completely.

It was no surprise to find that, according to IMDb, Connor James Delaney has not had his name attached to any other production since he got a pay cheque for this effort. If he got paid by the expletive he did quite well out of the deal. If he got paid for a coherent story then he is probably still paying backing the producers for breach of contract.

Wrong Turn 3 quite clearly does not have the budget of its predecessors and this probably explains why the majority of the story takes place at night to hide the limited production values. The cast is the regular mix of B-movie unknowns with my interest only piqued by an early US role for Janet Montgomery whose American accent holds up better than the rest of the UK based cast whose accent drift around the world as they deliver mono syllabic lines interspersed with tiresome fight scenes, all the better for the fact that their white t-shirts are splattered with red 'blood' as they have been fighting with a meat grinder.

And the story, for what it is, involves a group of inmates who are being transferred to another penitentiary early to prevent a planned break out. On their way they get knocked off the road by our friendly mutants and the rest is the standard run of the mill 'which one do you think will make it to the end' storyline. The writer and director add to the overall boredom by creating tension between the lead inmate Chavez (Tamer Hassan) and his nemesis Floyd (Gil Kolirin). The end result is that there is no tension. It is the constant third rate banter between these two as others around them die in fairly average fashion that makes this film very boring indeed. It is like watching two old blokes arguing over a wet paper bag.

Declan O'Brien clearly has an agenda to fill in his role as director, and I see as writer of Wrong Turns 4 and 5, but this agenda does not include engaging with the audience.

This is poor fare and if you have to waste 90 minutes of your time there are better ways to do so.

In Fear (2013/I)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Effective Scare Fest, 25 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


I was scanning the TV pages and this film had a great write up so I thought I would give it a chance as I rate the reviewer and although it was a 'smaller' film than I expected, I was not disappointed.

The IMDb fan base scores this as 5.5 at time of writing which I think is far too low.

I have scored this as a 7 because for a long time I found a true chiller that had me on the edge of my seat. Far bigger budgets try to fill the screen with CGI and sudden shocks and fail because of the compromise to sell to the market.

The film is produced by Big Talk whose TV CV is high end but that does not always transfer to the big screen. That this film debuted at Sundance speaks highly of its aspirations and it certainly would have made a good B flick in the days when you used to get two solid films for your money at the cinema. It was not that long ago either.

The story surrounds a young man and a young woman who are heading to an isolated hotel for an engagement. The fact the engagement is celebrating two weeks rather than any thing extensive becomes clearer as the film unravels and the lack of intimate knowledge becomes key to how they react to each other, especially as the hotel is more non existent than isolated.

Travelling by car our two young friends are guided on their path by a faceless person in a land rover. All seems good after the land rover departs and the couple head towards the hotel, but not long into the journey 'sat navs' and maps become pointless and the road signs seem to just direct them in circles.

As darkness descends and it becomes clear that they are being targeted by one if not more unsavoury characters the couple try and escape the tight country lanes but without any joy as the car's fuel tank heads towards empty.

This was the first time I had seen Alice Englert on screen and I found her performance very good adding layers of emotion and complexity in a very easy manner as the film became a roller-coaster of fear towards its conclusion. The young man is played by Iain De Caestecker who many will know as 'Fitz' from 'Agents of Shield' but who first came onto my radar in a BBC production called 'The Fades'. He can often play many of his roles with a wide mouth had a certain intensity that he kept just under the his main performance making a final scene somewhat surprising.

The film has a third player whose role is well beyond spoilers so I will merely mention that Allen Leech, yes he of Downton fame, is suitably nasty and very believable.

I've checked through IMDb and have no real knowledge of the writer/director's (Ian Lovering) previous work, other than an episode of Sherlock, but that really is a Moffat/Gattis affair to be honest. I just hope that Lovering did not base this on reality.

The ending provides a few unexpected twists and overall, as I mentioned I think the IMDb scores are too low.

Worth a watch.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Rainy Day Wonder, 24 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

BBC TV has been filling its schedules with a host of B&W fillers in recent weeks. A number of them I have never heard of and would never want to hear of. The Dark Mirror was one of those unknowns, or so I thought. As the story unfolded it dawned on me why I knew where the story was heading before the curtain closed on the ending credits..........I had seen the re-make in the 80s when the commercial network used to hover up the big name TV movies from America.


Thankfully I have no long term memory of how Jane Seymour played the role as Olivia de Havilland is very good in this 85 minute noir treasure as the mixed up twins one of whom is a murderess. She is aided by some clever effects work for the time and a dapper Lew Ayres who plays the psychologist who must help the police solve a teasing crime of identity as the witnesses suddenly realise that their certainty is less certain when the twins are revealed.

The use of ink spots and polygraphs make this quite a modern themed film and there are one of two moments of impeccably sparky dialogue amongst the cast that lifts this film well above the normal short reelers of its time.

Beyond the main two cast members Thomas Mitchell provides able support as the cynical detective puzzled but determined to close the case. His ramshackle look is the kind of cop that modern day sleuths try and copy, but Mitchell fills those gumshoes with ease.

Finally a mention for Dimitri Tiomkin's score which has the peaks and troughs of emotional strings in all the right places and has been parodied so many times since.

A worthy watch on a rainy day.


Horsemen (2009)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Horse****, 7 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like Dennis Quaid I really do and I know that actors make films with the best intentions an cannot be held responsible for the final product, but his performance in Horsemen was as mixed up as the film.

As the opening credits unwind during the opening reveal of cult carnage the words 'produced by Michel Bay' did make me shudder but I convinced myself all would be well. The Rock was a good film after all. How wrong I was.

I also read after having watched the film that it had endured extensive re-shoots. I did not need telling but was grateful for the confirmation. The thing is, if this was meant to be a better version that the original, then how bad was the original?

The story about a series of murders being committed in a manner which mirrored the Horsemen from the Book of Revelations is convoluted and patchy. Quaid and his side kick Clifton Collins Jnr. wade through the crimes failing to make any clear headway until one of the victims daughters reveals herself to be one of the Horsemen. The daughter is played by Ziyi Zhang who at no point passes for a teenager even though she does her best to do a sucky thumb performance but seriously a 30 year old playing an 18 year old is a stretch especially for a limited actress like Zhang.

The set pieces for each of the murders are quite well staged but the film is so shabbily edited that there is no fixed reference point within the film for the viewer to empathise with or for.

I read that this film debuted straight to DVD in the UK and US. Says it all really. Use your time better and go wash your hair.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Why the lack of love for this show?, 17 March 2013

The current average score for this show is 5.4 which seems somewhat unfair considering 'How I Met Your Mother' has a 8.5 average score and should have been put to rest a long time ago.

Animal Practice is showing on ITV2 in the UK and has a good time slot of 8pm and deservingly so. It arrived on this channel without much fanfare and I caught sight of it during a channel flick and was lucky to catch the pilot in a re-run slot.

I have not seen anything else of Justin Kirk's work but I like his performance in this. His timing and delivery tread a suitable caustic between the comedy and mild drama elements of the show. I particularly liked the episode where we got to visit his relationship with his mother.

Tyler Labine is a favourite comedy foil from other shows like Reaper and Invasion. His goofball approach is its useful sharp self here and he and Kirk play off each other well.

The lack of any hint of a laugh track also helps the watcher also make their own judgment on what works and what doesn't and I find myself laughing at the intended point with ease.

The final icing on the cake for me is the comedic use of 'Dr' Rizzo. Is this character what got the show cancelled? Is there too much reliance on Rizzo? Maybe, but I can't say that seven episodes in Rizzo grates on me. In fact I enjoy the Rizzo moments greatly.

I see that the show got canned after eight episodes in the US, ITV2 will at least be showing all thirteen and I will be watching until the end.


Flight (2012/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Denzel delivers, 30 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To me 'Flight' is an intriguing film in that it was not abundantly clear as to its target audience. Overall the film does work partly because of strong performances by the cast and good pacing from the Director (Robert Zemeckis).

Denzel Washington plays Captain Whip Whittaker who it is quite clear from scene one lives life on the edge. Bearing in mind Whittaker is an commercial airline pilot this is probably not exactly something he would like to mention on his CV. And he does not. Whittaker likes drink, drugs and women but this does not appear to affect his ability as a pilot and it is clear that the in flight crew are used to the drill of 'coffee and headache pills' before take off.

However, on one fateful day, after another heavy night with his current 'squeeze' who is also one of the in flight crew, God appears to test Whittaker's mettle. He finds he is saddled with an unknown 1st Officer and conditions are not exactly conducive for taking 106 people into the air in a steel cigar full of fuel. Whittaker spooks his 1st Officer by some unconventional flying to find 'clear sky' and hardly keeps his confidence high by having a mid flight doze. All seems well though until the plane starts its final approach and things go badly wrong with the plane proving that it should never have left the ground in the first place, storm or shine. Even with his foibles Whittaker still proves that he is a top pilot and brings the plane in to land with minimum loss of life.

So that is that.

Well not really. This is the point where the film moves from action to melodrama and the other plot line which had been tracking that of Whittaker and his team aligns. Nicole (Kelly Reilly), an addict, and Whittaker meet on a stairwell of the hospital for a sneaky smoke. Relationships are formed and soon Nicole is living with Whittaker but it is an uneasy relationship as Nicole fights to lose her demons and Whittaker seems happy to continue along a personal path of destruction. Even more so after the crash.

Key to Whittaker's life choice is the impending court case that results from the four fatalities from the fated flight. Was Whittaker incompetent through intoxication or was it truly 'The Hand of God'? A rather queasy visit with Whittaker's 1st Officer in hospital hints at the latter, the National Transportation Board though has other ideas.

Zemeckis gets strong performances from his cast and also shows that he has a sense of humour in the placement of various songs within the film, with Marvin Gaye warbling "What's Going On?" as Nicole decides to unexpectedly seduce Whittaker and "A Little Help From My Friends" as Whittaker is spruced in readiness for the NTSB hearing. John Goodman as Harling Mays the supplier of Whittaker's vices ("I'm on the list !") provides some excellent, almost scene stealing, cameo moments, but this is Denzel's film and he is worthy of star billing for his solid and certain performance.


The Chaser (2008)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Eye catching and enthralling, 6 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have a wide selection of Asian films on my shelves, the majority of which are of the horror genre and the majority of those Hollywood then glossed up and failed to convert into a viable end product.

Asian thriller tends to work the other way with the attempt at a Hollywood genre generally looking messy or just stupid.

The Chaser is a true exception.

The opening scene of the film where we witness one of the call girls meeting up with one of her clients appears nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, as this scene unwound I began to think 'here we go again', but Hong-jin Na, in his debut picture, uses that intriguing but mediocre start as a solid base around which the rest of the film unfolds.

The performances in this film are generally. The supporting actors have a few OTT arm wavers reminiscent of certain Stephen Chow films but the main performances, the guys who we see on screen the most, are, in the main, solid. The only exception being the guy who played the character 'Meathead'.

At first you care not for the fact that Joong-ho (Yung-seok Kim) seems to think that his call girls are being sold to other pimps. He's a pimp, we should not love him. And his crusade to find the owner of the magic '4885' number does appear bent more personal wealth than interest for the girls. But then, Mi-jin (Yeonh-hi Seo) goes missing and in his thick eared approach to find Mi-jin, Joong-ho discovers that Mi-jin's disappearance has left her daughter Eun-ji 'home alone'. Out of character, but key to the film, Joong-ho takes Eun-ji into his indifferent care. One scene where the fate of Mi-jin is unsuspectingly laid out in the presence of Eun-ji is particularly upsetting.

As Joong-ho attempts to find his 'property' he aided and abetted by a Korean police force that would be better suited to some kind of farce. Incompetent, lazy, disorganised............these are some of their better adjectives. Joong-ho's fate with the police is not helped by the fact that he is a disgraced copper himself who looks for help within a paranoid organisation more concerned, it would seem, about self interest, than solving crimes and banishing evil.

And there is much evil in this film, from Joong-ho himself as a struggling pimp, to the state prosecutor who seems more intent on being a defence attorney, to the main evil of the film, Jung-woo Ha, played expertly by Young-min Jee.

The story meanders slightly at the start of the last third of the story which knocked a mark of for me, but it was a minor complaint for a film that captured my attention for the full 2hrs.

I'd recommend this film without hesitation.

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