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alembic

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23 reviews in total 
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23 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Now available as "special edition" DVD ... go get it., 5 June 2004
7/10

Well it's been 2 years since I last posted a review for this movie... I have just purchased the "Special Edition" version mainly because at last there is a wide-screen DVD version now available! This was one movie that suffered very greatly from a standard T.V format transfer ..... Now in wide-screen,it is possible to see the cinematography as it was intended to be viewed from the original Super Panavision format,even though there is still some "enhanced" format alteration to bring it into line with 16:9 ratio and luckily it was shot in Technicolor,which was easily the best analogue colour system around. Perspectives can now be seen as intended and the beautiful sets and the dance routines look vastly better... you can actually see all the dancers ! Take for instance one scene in Caractacus Potts windmill laboratory,where he shows Truly Scrumptious one of his inventions with which he intends to transmit "pictures and sound".....in the standard format half of the shot is missing so the machine cannot be fully seen and it makes no sense.. however in wide-screen you can see the "picture" and also the whole machine; so now you can enjoy one of Emmet Rolands fantasy machine creations in full. All through the movie the scenery and sets are set up framed with objects in the foreground and back ground which lend to perspective and depth of the image. The sound track seems also to have been worked on .. in previous releases the children's voices seemed to "squeak" but now they sound much more natural. You can see how much we have been missing with previous releases and it is a lot. The Special Edition also has some featurettes on the making of the movie and other related information plus a lovely booklet as well.

As to the movie itself .... it has never lost it's magic for me. I see reviews which pan the musical numbers or say it's too long or that

after seeing it as an adult they were disappointed from what they remember as a child ... but is that not the point ? It is a movie for children and/or those adults who can still view it remembering the child in themselves. It has no coarse language , no mindless violence (except the pantomime variety).. no cynicism ...just fun. In short it is a type of movie that Hollywood can no longer make because they no longer know how ... so it should be treasured more for it. People criticize Dick Van Dykes "American" accent but I find it not intrusive at all ... in fact he would probably have been better off using his normal voice in "Mary Poppins" than attempting the cockney accent which he obviously had some difficulty with.

Kids love this movie .. let them be the judges.

Thank-you Cubby Broccoli ..we miss you. Thank-you Ian Fleming / Roald Dahl / Richard Maibaum and Ken Hughes. Thank-you Ken Adam ... a genius in design for Chitty.

The Alamo (1960)
22 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
Great ! See it and then judge. Not 100% historically accurate., 14 August 2003

I'll come clean.. I really liked this movie.... O.K there will be those who decry it for historical accuracy and some of the liberties taken with the depiction of some of the characters etc...... but at the end of the day this movie is entertainment and I have sure seen movies a lot worse than this. Likely if all the events and persons were accurately presented , the result might well have been a boring lecture/travelogue. Instead there is the "Duke" John Wayne in true John Wayne style and his able cast giving us a rousing movie and with loosely enough facts to make it believable. Imagine the reaction of moviegoers of the day, if John Wayne was not the larger than life John Wayne in turn playing the even more larger than life Davy Crockett ! Movie-goers of the time who expected to see the style of John Wayne got exactly that. Likely in America where "remember the Alamo" is of much importance, any movie-maker would have his work cut out to please everyone - Wayne's effort should be judged on the attitudes of the time and his personal battle to get the movie made at all.

As purely entertainment in the western/action style this movie stacks up. There are those who mention the "slow" segments ... what do you want 167 minutes of cannon fodder and gore ? True the movie portrays events from the American viewpoint, yet Wayne does pay homage to the gallantry of the Mexican forces.

The musical score is also very memorable with a haunting main theme.

Big mythical heroes, big scenes, and big fun .. enjoy .

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Better than Episode 1, 26 July 2003
8/10

Sometimes it's hard to realise that "American Graffiti" was directed by the same George Lucas who is now serving up Star Wars. There's a sort of corporate feel about him these days .. lot's of young eager computer jocky's under his leadership but turning out a product that does not seem to really grab you such as in the "hands on" days of the original Star Wars. Maybe George will give us this last movie , close the book and heave a sigh of relief that he will not be expected to produce any more Star Wars episodes.. likely 6 movies is enough to make any person to want to move on.

I don't know... but I kind of feel that George is too wrapped up in the CGI.. ILM world ... and has forgotten to step outside once in a while and see real people and real objects. Lucas and ILM undoubtably produce the best GGI work that is around these days and the technology continually improves .. but it does not substitute for the real thing in my view. It used to be that CGI was used in a supporting role where physical limitations or situations made it impossible to film in any other way. These days it seems soon that entire movies will be made using CGI only , with the actors subjegated to studio blue screen type inserts. Sure, you get total control but isn't it like processed food where the flavour is lost ? Not to say that Attack Of The Clones is bad..... in fact I rate it much better than Phantom Menace. Perhaps I long for the old "real" sets and clunky props..... the original Star Wars has not yet been bettered by other offerings in the series.. Maybe because of the chaos of production and uncharted waters in those days where filming processes/techniques had to be invented more or less on the spot to bring the ideas to the screen... they still look good today. Somewhere the old chemistry/fun vapourised in favour of slick CGI. The only real blunder in the new Episodes in the introduction of "Midichlorians" as little bugs that float around in your bloodstream... if you have lot's of these little mites you become great Jedi. Gone is the mysticism and good vs evil in the universe and personal challenge.. now bug squatt. Still if Espisode 3 is as much improved as 2 was from 1 then we will be in for a treat. Hopefully George Lucas will give us something special for the Star Wars swan song.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A great ride, fun,great visuals., 1 July 2003
8/10

To all the critics..... O.K if you want Shakespeare, go find some. This movie does not pretend to be anything else other than a great adventure romp. All-right, so there are more and bigger holes in the plot than the holes in General Carnabie's Mosquito plane....but to quote Richard Burton..." a hole is a hole is a hole as they say". Get over the cranial whinging and sit back and enjoy for heaven's sake. Having got that off my chest the main reason for this review is that at last this movie is to be released in DVD format and wide-screen no less ( only region 1 it seems ). This is cause for joy since those lucky enough to own BIG BIG screen systems will enjoy the great shots of the Bavarian (supposedly )Alps and the terrific opening sequence of flying through the mountains.

All these shots suffered of course on most tiny T.V screens in normal format. A YOUNG Clint Eastwood get's nice screen time and works well with Richard Burton ( who by the way "sure has a lot of women stashed around this country " according to Eastwood ). There are no obscenities nor close-up shots of entrails.... not needed.. the movie stands by itself. Yes, yes of course only 4 allies can beat 1 million Germans, etc but who cares ? Get the goodies out of the fridge and wind the volume up and be swept along. Some call this movie a "cult movie " .. if so, well OK but it's a pretty big cult. Enjoy

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Beats "On her Majesties Secret Service" for worst Bond ever., 1 July 2003
2/10

I felt moved to add some more comments. I wondered what it was about this movie that I really hated ( I tried to like it ) : At first I wondered whether it was the awful plot ? The incredibly BAD CGI effects ? The stupid amateurish and abysmally horrid editing ? Lack of feeling for the franchise by the producers? Was there a script around anywhere someplace ? The "let's get as much product-placement time and ram the inevitable PC game down their throats while we've got 'em trapped " mentality ?

I am certain that if Cubby Brocolli were still around he would have made damn sure that none of those who made this trash would have got within 500 miles of one of his pictures. Cubby actually had some personal interest in what he was making .... what has happened ? Remember the days when you had true film-makers ? Those folks who made a lot of money , sure..... but BOY did you get a great ride...and you wanted to go back and see the movie all over again.

Then I realised that now all has been surrendered to $$$$ ... the "keep feeding them bland and boring until they think the rubbish we serve up is actually good " syndrome.

Look at how many attempts to re-make classic 60's/70's and the occasional 80's into movies that have ended in efforts that would make a home video producer think he was Cecil B DeMille.... soul-less inane lazy film-making with total lack of respect to the poor sods who end up watching and worse paying $$ for their tripe.

Star Wars for example did far better with the old blue screen , bad contrast and rubber puppets than the later slick CGI... sure you can go places with CGI that you can't with analogue.... trouble is that you KNOW it's CGI....and bad CGI is always worse than bad analogue. Star War seems more REAL due to the lack of CGI..they actually had to work HARD to deliver that classic movie. Perhaps the producers of CGI figure that they don't have to bother with set design and maybe extra $$ are saved in payment/insurance to stunt people etc. Perhaps they delude themselves that we don't notice ?? The movie industry wonders why movie patronage is falling ... well when you target ONLY the teen/ween market with rip-off product then you get what you give.

Back to the subject .. Bond was always that rare thing.. a character with very wide age appeal ( albiet biased to male ).... at this rate Bond will be even a rarer thing..... still around after DAD. It is incredible to see the producers allowing the huge Bond franchise to be mauled and trashed in this way. Sadly Bond may not survive this.

Producers this is your wake-up call.

2 out of ten. Only gets 2 because of moneypennies scene at the end..... thankfully there was an end.

7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Disappointing - messing with the formula. Some spoilers., 28 June 2003
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A disappointing effort - like eating a big meal but being left unsatisfied at the end of it. Using the same analogy , it's like certain fast food chains trying to dish up new twists and neglecting the tried and true main menu. I think perhaps the director who best understood what the James Bond formula/franchise was all about was Guy Hamilton who's general attitude was; let's have action, let's have girls, let's have gadgets and let's have FUN. Perhaps Lee Tamahori was stuck with material over which he had no control and had to make do with what he was given , but the result for Die Another Day is an uneven and at times just plain silly movie. I love Bond movies and I tried hard to like this one but I was left disappointed. Perhaps the problem with producing a Bond movie lies with the character himself ; Bond has to be believable but not too real ; he has to be an expert spy but not a super-hero ; he has to have girls but not be a selfish womaniser ; he has to be above all a loyal agent..it's a fine line ,not to be crossed over. Pierce Brosnan is by far the best actor around these days to play the role of Bond but I wonder if he himself will be having doubts about further outings as Bond ? Brosnan seems to be very sincere to the Bond character but given what has been presented this time he might be weighing up the risks to his career if another example such as this is offered up to long time Bond fans. I suspect that another poor example could spell the end of the Bond saga.

Summary : Stunning opening scenes of surfing , beautifully filmed leads to silly Everglades type hover-craft being used as military vehicles by some cardboard cut-out Korean bad guys. Bond is captured and supposedly tortured for months by the Koreans but is then released on a prisoner exchange - strangely suffering no long term ill effects except a long beard. Then we find that Bond is now considered useless and to have cracked under torture. M ( the incredibly under-used Judi Dench ) then coldly tells Bond that he is no longer a double 00 . Of course we are expected to appreciate that M expects Bond to go maverick and uncover what is going really going on. Trouble is that it's been done before - didn't work very well then and doesn't work very well now either. Next we are presented with some hot diamonds and an orbiting laser satellite - gosh where have I seen that before ? Q now played by John Cleese ( again shamefully under-used in a tiny role ) presents Bond with an INVISIBLE Jaguar.... oh dear. I wonder if Jaguar are wondering if this product placement will lose sales due to the laughably clumsy handling of their product. Instead of exciting scenes with Bond in a great car we get bad CG effects and no feel of the car at all... Of course the special Bond wristwatch is presented , but in such a ho-hum way with a flippant line by Q " bring this one back unlike the other 20 ".. problem is that in this movie it REALLY is ho-hum..... Maybe that's what the problem is .... were the makers of this movie just plain bored ? Pierce Brosnan does his best and tries to bring credibility. Halle Berry is beautiful but is given nothing to work with .. her charm and comic talent are just wasted. Judi Dench .. squandered. John Cleese may as well have stayed home.. squandered. Rosamund Pike has genuine screen presence but seems she can't be fitted in to give her a chance. Toby Stephens has great snarling charm but his scenes are overwhelmed by the background noise.. he could have been used much more effectively. Actors need to be given room to act.. here they are steamrollered.

It's like someone was let loose in the effects room but no-one was checking the product. Silly forward repetitious rushing camera shots...... Some really bad CG effects... this is a movie not a PC game. Bond comes off as a bad super-hero rather than "our man". The result is that the movie-goer is left detached , uninvolved. It's like a series of clips glued together but not a coherent whole. Some VERY good moments do not save the rest - my favourite is the scene with Moneypenny and her virtual James Bond realising her fantasies .. genuinely funny. Sorry guys better luck next time.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Excellent film., 5 April 2002
8/10

Cleverly made animation feature film. A nice balance is made between the "cutesy warm fuzzies" and the more serious "message" aspects of the film. Neither aspect is allowed to overwhelm the film. This excellent offering is enjoyable by all ages (a hard thing to accomplish these days ). A clever mix of C-G animation and traditional Warner Bros style animation makes for an impressive look on screen. Great voice characters by all the cast ( but I think Harry Connick Jr steals the show as "Mr Cool" Dean McCoppin ). Best of all it has a great story-line and snappy dialogue. The DVD version includes behind the scenes material for the buffs. Fresh , snappy , cool - what more could you ask for ? Enjoy !

X-Men (2000)
A pleasant surprise !, 3 April 2002
10/10

I really had no expectations that this film would be even be modestly good, so it was a pleasant surprise to see a very well made film unfold. Perhaps some fans of the comic strip may find too many variables, however as cinema entertainment it hits the spot. With inevitable comparison, to some of the Batman offerings, I tend to like X-Men better. The Batman offerings seem more ponderous and overblown compared to X-Men, and somehow despite it's comic-strip origin X-Men seems to appeal on a more adult level. Much of this is due to the deftness and light touch of the Director. Great C-G work ( this is one genre where C-G really works well ) alongside very good "real" sets makes for an excellent looking film. Patrick Stewart at last gets a chance for once to unleash his screen presence ( shamefully squandered by the Star Trek folks ) and does a great job. Teamed against the awesome Ian McKellen these two add the sinister darker aspect of the film. Hugh Jackman (looking eerily like a young Clint Eastwood in many shots) and the rest of the cast very ably fill the young cast roles. Oddly I had heard very little about X-men and it would seem it has been greatly underrated. From the look of things, it appears that this was intended to be the first in a series of X-Men films. I hope this team gets a chance to bring us some more good fare. Enjoy !

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not a total waste but could have been much better., 26 January 2002
5/10

I am a fan of the big action war film that used to be made in this era , (I do not condone nor promote war - but these films do depict great and spectacular moments of world events - as entertainment). I have a seldom watched copy of this offering in my library. Overall I am left with the feeling of being short-changed, as I am sure many of the cast may have felt as well. Since this film is based on actual events , it would be expected that much more attention would have been paid to climate/battle ground and realism etc. This film cannot seem to decide what genre it is. As a result it sprawls and much dramatic tension is lost. With the opportunity provided by a big budget and very experienced cast a much grander spectacle should have been the result. It's not all bad and many portions of the film stack up with the best but it's very patchy indeed. The script leaves mighty slim pickings all round and even an actor of the calibre of Henry Fonda can't do much with it. Everyone seems a cartoon cut-out. The closest to anything of real dramatic depth is the relationship between fanatic Colonel Hessler ( the normally excellent Robert Shaw who tries hard here with what he's given ) and Corporal Conrad ( Hans Christian Blech who somehow manages to pull off a very good performance ).

It's just plain sloppy and a waste of good talent and money. What a true shame. However it is saved somewhat by its visual size so it is not a total waste of time. I cannot recommend it as a great film but it is one of those that if you enjoy the genre, you must see even if only once.

Das Boot (1981)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Very realistic excellent film. Get the directors cut., 7 January 2002
9/10

For those of us ( majority ) who have never set foot on a modern submarine let alone a World War 2 SUBMERSIBLE it is not possible to comprehend the living hell these U-Boat crews endured - ( U-Boats had to surface frequently to replenish air, and use diesel engines to surface patrol and recharge batteries, therefore were not true submarines such as a modern nuclear sub today ). This film comes closest of all offerings lately to show what it was really like. Horrific depth charging, poor food and air, were a U-Boats mans lot during the closing stages of the war in the Atlantic. The "Happy Time" was definitely over for U-Boats as Allied warships employed ASDIC underwater sonar and new depth charge techniques to inflict terrible losses on the U-Boat forces. Director Wolfgang Peterson went to great lengths to ensure as accurate as possible portrayal of the lives these men lived and it was a demanding if ultimately rewarding shoot for the cast. All the cast members do a fine job. If you thought U-571 was good (and it's not too bad )stack it up next to Das Boot and see just how good Das Boot really is. See the extended Directors Cut with re-mastered audio , and preferably on DVD. If you like this film genre you will not be disappointed.


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