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19 reviews in total 
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The Rover (2014)
Way better than the synopsis suggests, 4 February 2016

I was surprised at just how much I liked this film. At first glance it looks like Mad Max. Set in a post apocalyptic near future in Australia, a man pursues a gang, leaving behind him a trail of death. But it is so much more than that. Whilst it certainly does more than nod at Mad Max, the characters are much more complicated. And whilst the motive behind Max's doggedness is clear from the start, the reason why the protagonist in this film is so hell-bent on getting his car back isn't revealed until the final scene. The violence is reminiscent of a Tarantino road movie, but the characters are much deeper and more believable.

Eric is taciturn, answering almost every question with a question of his own. He kills without a moment's hesitation. He is dogged beyond obsession, asking the same question over and over until he gets an answer. And for what? A gang steal his car, and he is prepared to kill anyone and drive for days to get it back. Why? Despite a big clue half way through, we don't realise it's a clue until the final moments of the film.

Robert Pattinson is the co-star in this movie. Cards on the table, I don't like him. I found him creepy beyond belief in Twilight, and Cosmopolis is the worst film I have ever sat through, but in this film he portrays a simple but conflicted man-child with conviction and sympathy. Damn it, I didn't want to like his acting, but in this he is actually good.

A word of warning, don't watch this at 2 am after a bottle of wine. The director isn't afraid to put in sequences of people sitting still, staring into their own angst, or creeping around buildings in silence. It's a film you have to be alert in. It's not a film you can zone out during the quite bits and still understand what's going on when you wake up.

It's that rare thing, a violent sci-fi film that actually makes you think and surprises you with the ending.

Nothing new to see here, move along, 4 May 2015

Stallone agrees to test a high security prison. All hush hush and under the radar, so of course nothing is going to go to plan. Cue bromances, prison riots and sadistic guards.

Think of all the prisoner films with the tough guy unjustly imprisoned. Think of any original take on the genre then throw those those thoughts away.

Formulaic thriller. All the good guys are good, all the bad guys bad, 'twists' well telegraphed and of course there's always time for a bon mot when killing a baddie. Arnie phoning in his performance I'm afraid, and Sly being, well, Sly. Not memorable, not one I'll watch again.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
An understated gem, 30 April 2015

An interesting film with buckets of charm. It focuses on Mr. Heep (Paul Giamatti), a stuttering caretaker of a small condo which has seen better days. He cares for them like the father of a dysfunctional family, killing bugs and fixing lights. When he finds a young girl, frightened and vulnerable, in the swimming pool he takes pity on her. From there he is drawn into a world of myths and fables where the young girl's life is in danger and he must assemble the unlikeliest crew of heroes to help her return to her world.

The characters in the film are for the most part eccentric and distinct, all of them 'good' people, even the irascible newcomer, although unaware of their own talents. The comedy is gentle and I started to identify with many of the characters. The voice-over at the start grated a little, giving the backstory which for me gave away too much of the plot to come, but that aside I was so glad I stumbled on this little gem

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Loved it, 19 January 2015

This is a drama set against the early years of PCs, but please don't let this put you off. As an IT worker I loved the references to the industry at the time, the little jokes you get if you knew the characters and events, but the technology, whilst not dumbed down, is incidental. What counts is the drama.

The three central characters are each flawed in their own way, incapable of achieving great things on their own, but the series charts their rocky road together as they fight together (and often against each other) to launch a ground-breaking new PC.

It was difficult at first not to make comparisons between the two male leads and Jobs and Wozniac. Joe Macmillan is a salesman driven be his own demons, determined to lead a team into greatness, despite not being technically minded. He is unprincipled and evangelistic, scamming and lying his way, even when there is no need to lie. He manipulates engineer Gordon Clark, coder Cameron Howe and everyone else into following his path. As the series unfolds we catch clues as to why he's driven, and why he exited IBM so abruptly.

Clark is an engineering genius, not sharing the sales vision but in his element solving hardware design problems. However, his marriage and his sanity is shaky, and he dislikes and mistrusts Macmillan's shallow non-technical drive.

Howe is a little bit of a stereotype coder, a rebel, anarchic, able to really only connect with the logical world of code. She is both attracted to and repulsed by Macmillan.

Over the series we see the characters grow, their relationships with each other and with the other's in their lives evolve and change. I started to care about these people, even the ones I didn't like that much.

Enjoyable on its own, if you can get a little insight into the PC world at the time, it will enhance the viewing. If you can lay your hands on The Triumph of the Nerds, do so. Not only is it a fascinating and entertaining documentary, it adds to this series. For example, you never see the Apple advert, but if you know it, when one of the characters remarks the girl looks just like Cameron, you know exactly what he means.

Chef (2014)
6 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Nothing new, 25 June 2014

I can't help but think a lot of favours were called in to make this. Robert Downey Jnr was of course brilliant, but he appears in a single scene for 5 minutes, and I had no idea why he'd help the ex husband of his ex wife. Dustin Hoffman doesn't appear after the 1st 15 minutes. Ditto his early love interest, Scarlett Johansson.

No surprises in this road trip, estranged dad spends time with his son movie. And everything ends wonderful in the last reel, for no apparent reason.

But yet again we have a Hollywood film where a gorgeous woman is in love with a fat guy. How many films have there been when the fat girl has a gorgeous guy? (OK, so I'm watching Taxi at the moment. Queen Latiffia excepted).

Even Shallow Hal had Gwynneth Paltrow pretending to be fat.

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon, but overall I was left with the feeling I#d seen it before. Great for food porn, but not foe anything else.

Noah (2014)
7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Seemed to go on for 40 days and 40 nights, 7 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are some top-notch actors in this, and their performances were on the whole very good. What let it down was the ridiculous plot and script. It felt more like Lord of the Rings 4 than anything else. Fallen angels (though they didn't seem to be able to decide if they were good or bad) were nothing less than Ents, minus the leaves. Even their voice sounded like Treebeard. The world, pre-flood, appeared to have dragon-dogs, greyhounds covered in scales and other mythical creatures.

Ray Winstone struggled to get any depth from the 2 dimensional leader of the orks - sorry, I mean king of the men, as they burnt trees in order to forge weapons to fight the vegan Noah family.

Russell Crowe did well to portray a man tortured to the point of insanity by his obsession and devotion to The Creator, even if the writers threw in bits of Abraham and Lot into his character. I felt let down, though, when after nearly murdering his grandchildren, driving his son out of the family and abandoning his wife to get drunk in a cave, all he had to do was come back and hold his wife's hand to be immediately forgiven and loved again.

In summary, splendid acting, awful plot and execution.

6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Unoriginal, 28 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Er Indoors made me watch City of Bones. First off I am aware that I am not part of the target demographic, being an adult, male and with a partner. I've also not read the books, but a film should stand on its own regardless of whether you've read the book/played the game/eaten the cereal.

The plot revolves around good versus evil, and a young girl trying to decide which of the boys totally in love with her she should go for. One's a vampire, the other a semi-mythical being. Sound familiar? It's Twilight ripping off Star Wars. I love you. Oh, but ew, you're my sister. Luke, Jon, whatever your name is, I am your father. If you defeat me, I shall become more powerful than you can ever imagine. Oh, I'm torn, I love the vampire and I love the, um, angel thingy. Werewolves vs vampires, yeah. Let's fight with sabres. Pause for two minute lead up to kiss.

I swear to God watching that drivel I could feel the acne returning. Not worth watching if you're over fourteen or male.

Byzantium (2012)
173 out of 209 people found the following review useful:
Please, Hollywood, take note..., 7 June 2013

... This is how to make a vampire film.

I find it difficult to fault this film. The plot is intelligent and engaging. No one is entirely black or white. The heroes are flawed and complicated, the villains, for the most part, have motivation and even sympathy. I found myself rooting for the murderous, vampiric prostitute as much for the innocent girl trapped into releasing those tired of life.

It's really two films, one set 200 hundred years ago, one in the present time, with many of the same characters and the same location, Hastings, once a fishing village, now a tired seaside resort.

The actors are very good, particularly the leads. As a resident of SE England, I recognised many of the locations. The ending was perhaps a little predictable, but still satisfying.

Don't go see this if you like your vampires to sparkle, but if you liked Let The Right One In and gritty drama, go watch it.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
JawDropping, 6 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is ballet, racked up to the nth degree. It follows the search by a young woman for an aerialist with whom she has fallen in love at first sight. As such, the plot is basic in the extreme, but that's not the point. The point is to wonder at the feats and the showmanship that defies belief.

The film consists of a series of montages as gymnasts perform feats of such power, skill, courage and beautiful grace that I found it literally incredible. At times I found it hard to believe that what they were doing was physically possible. For example, two female trapeze artists swing high above the ground. One dives headlong, and they catch each other with their feet, the one held upside-down by the feet of the other. Amazing enough if they had carefully positioned themselves so, but do do it as one fell had me questioning how that was physically possible.

The set pieces were balletic, even when dancers contorted themselves into eye-watering positions. Each move appeared fluid and effortless, even though beyond the range of any normal person.

I also enjoy the mechanicals, equipment and props that all added to the effect without detracting. A yurt, for example, transforms into a flying machine, the wings acting as naturally as a bird's, but operated by two of the cast, in plain view but somehow invisible at the same time.

The action was very, very clever, but the vision had me wondering what sort of experimental drugs the designers were on. It is a truly surreal experience.

For once, I enjoyed the 3D. It was well done and actually enhanced the experience.

My one criticism is that, although only 91 minutes, it seemed longer. Some of the set pieces tended to drag on. The vertical fight scene, for instance, whilst a very clever idea and well executed, began to drag after a few minutes. I would have preferred some of the scenes to be shorter, with a wider variety of acts and scenes, but that said, it was well worth the money and time to see.

8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
I wanted to shower after this, 29 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Released within days of the Sandy Hook massacre, this opens with the apparent random shooting of innocent people by a lone gunman in a car park. At the very best, that's tasteless in the extreme. The 'hero', Jack Reacher, then sets about beating up and killing bad guys. Shooting is too good for one, so he throws aside his automatic rifle and stamps the man to death. The film ends with him executing a crippled, unarmed man. I'm no prude, and like an action film as good as the next man, but the theme of this film played down to the very worst of American culture. It celebrates violent death. At one point Reacher tells the bad guy he's no hero, and I have to agree with him. He's a psychotic killer, although, of course, he only kills bad guys.

This is quite aside from the ridiculous miscasting of Cruise in the role. At one point the detective asks a receptionist if anyone is staying there who could kill a girl with one punch. She singles out Cruise's room. Why? He may be a fine actor, but does he really look like someone who can kill with a single blow? I feel dirty for having sat throw this.

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