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5 reviews in total 
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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Saving Private Ryan Meets Groundhog Day In Power Armour, 23 June 2014

I loved this movie. Clever, spectacular, moving, funny and violent. Loads of action. Flawless special effects. Huge battles. Hideous aliens. A platoon of totally convincing obnoxious British squaddies with shoulder mounted smart cannon.

The mind-bending narrative is gotten across fairly clearly but you do have to think hard, though thankfully not as hard as Twelve Monkeys which actually gave me a headache. Every performance is spot-on and I think Cruise is getting better as he gets older. Amidst all the gory hyper-violence his sense of humour is perfectly judged enough to make you believe in the character.

I think Tom Cruise is the only A-list actor who consistently picks good sci-fi scripts. This one is brilliant.

Skating On Thin Ice, 1 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cosmic disturbances are causing a new ice age, spontaneous heart attacks and Ugandan levitation, but John still takes time out from flying to work in Calgary to stop over in New York so his champion ice skating soon-to-be-ex-wife Elena can sign divorce papers. She is so good that her performances earn enough money to support an entourage of 50 in luxury hotels all over the world but they have discovered she is dying of heart failure and so have ordered 3 clones from Eastern Europe so they can kill her and work the clones in continuous 8 hour shifts, but the hit goes wrong and the assassin shoots all 3 clones instead by mistake. With their old friend Michael's help John and Elena flee to Russia by train but get off at the wrong station and freeze to death. Meanwhile John's brother Marciello is trapped in the sky, unable to land his plane anywhere because of the ice age and an overdose of anti-fear-of-flying drugs, and so cannot deliver his report to the UN on the cosmic disturbances, which due to brain damage caused by the drugs overdose he believes are caused by a love shortage.

Dredd (2012)
586 out of 697 people found the following review useful:
Perfect Dredd, 7 September 2012

I'm a huge fan of the comic 2000AD and the character Judge Dredd since 1979, and this film completely satisfied me. They changed all the right things and kept all the right things. Director Pete Travis tackled the problem of filming a comic book by making something that looks nothing like a comic book and more like an action movie shot on location, with a simple linear plot that keeps rolling and never slows down.

Megacity 1 is made markedly less futuristic than the comic in order to become so believable that it is hard to tell where the real slums of Cape Town end and the CGI kilometre high city blocks start. I have an uncomfortable feeling that in less than a hundred years cities like this may actually exist.

The comic Judge's uniform works on paper but can't in real life - giant golden eagles, shoulder pads and bronze name badges hanging off a leather one-piece body suit would sag, wobble and look daft. The movie gives us body armour that looks like it actually gets used whilst keeping the helmet exactly the same. The effect is striking and believable, like everything else in this film.

The plot revolves around a drug which makes time seem to slow down a hundred times, the perfect excuse for scenes of ultra slo-mo explosive bloody (and beautiful) anatomically correct violence that earn this film its 18 rating. Not a kid's movie at all. Every supporting actor looks like they came out of a gang documentary, scarred, nasty, sweaty and mean. Lena Headey totally kicks ass as the ruthless gang lord Ma Ma, calmly relishing the deaths of her enemies, eyes sledging from narcotic addiction.

In a way this is Olivia Thirlby's movie, since she gets the character arc, rookie judge Cassandra Anderson assigned to Dredd for evaluation and finding herself on a very steep learning curve. She is vulnerable, spikey and tough as called for, vital to the movie in order to balance Dredd.

How do you play Dredd? He is the opposite of a character. He has no personal arc, never changes or grows. He has no sense of humour, the comic finds that by placing utterly deadpan 'ol stony- face in ironic situations that reflect off him. And where do you find an actor prepared to wear a helmet obscuring everything but his mouth and chin for the whole 95 minutes? Karl Urban must be a huge fan himself to play the part so right. One reviewer described his performance as "ego-free" and it is. I didn't see Urban anywhere in this movie, all I saw was Dredd.

Me and Dredd-heads everywhere thank you Karl. You smashed it.

The Future (2011)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sam Beckett's Cat, 22 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A retarded couple decide to adopt a cat and arrange to collect one from a sanctuary in a month's time when it has finished medical treatment. They are warned that if they fail to collect on time it will be euthenized. Realising that this awesome responsibility will mean the end of their old lives they decide to live the next month as if it is their last. He quits his old job and finds an even worse one, while she quits hers and seeks fame as an internet sensation, failing miserably. She either consoles or punishes herself for this with a shallow sexual relationship with an older creep who makes his young daughter dig her own grave then buries her in it up to her neck at night. Her depressed boyfriend consoles himself by confiding in an octogenarian philosopher, and the moon. They are both so absorbed by their own pathetic little problems that they miss the deadline and the cat is put down.

The cat knows nothing of any of this, only that it is going to be adopted some time in the near future. In its occasional monologues to us it describes its joy at knowing that soon it will be taken home by a kind, caring couple and that it will never be cold, or wet, or hungry, or lonely ever again. After death it describes its surprise at finding itself, in spirit, still in the same cage, apparently for ever.

I'm a cat lover and this broke my heart. As soon as the film finished I found my cats and made a huge fuss of them to cheer myself up. They thought I had gone soft in the head.

Samuel Becket wrote plays about people like this, infuriating because of their inertia, their complete inability to move forward with their lives and find joy, or even authentic misery. His plays only make sense to me if I decide that these are not characters but thoughts inside someone's head. His plays are about unproductive thought, the ideas that stop us from finding the will power to seize control of our own lives and instead make us weak and passive. The pathetic 30-something couple are a circular internal monologue that cannot be defeated through discourse, an ego game that can only be abandoned altogether by an act of will. The cat is a baby, a better job, a better house, a move to another town, or anything that promises the possibility of change, unless it is forgotten about because the thinker cannot rise above his/her ego games.

The cat is The Future.

Cat lovers: does that help you to feel any better?

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Must Try Harder, 15 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I usually only revue stuff I like so that I don't sound like a whinger, but for Touchwood I'll make an exception.

Dr Who fan since '63... wanted to like it... etc etc. But this is the problem - slack writing.

The 3 families are in control of everything? And they didn't notice The Silents (also in control of everything)? And Torchwood didn't notice them in 200 years of planet-saving, even with all their alien tech & ability to hack any computer? And Captain Jack never read a history book? This was NOT a temporal incursion, or even alien, just an episode from human history, so he has NO excuse for not knowing. Either they still control the world in A.D. 5050 or the whole incident was considered too trivial to be worth writing about. He keeps saying that "the twentieth century is when it all changes" without being able to remember even the vaguest details of how. Maybe he's just thick.

What planet is this happening on? Old Dr Who used to be on planet Earth but this planet has had so many First Contacts it's not the one I live on any more. It has seen Slitheen crash in the Thames, worldwide armies of ghosts followed by Cybermen materialising in every home, Daleks swarming over London, 1/3 of the human population hypnotised into standing on precipices, webships destroyed over London, the American President disintegrated by alien balls (just before the paradox machine sang, remember, and therefore so will everyone else), the Titanic swooping over Buckingham Palace, worldwide toxic smog destroyed by flaming sky, fat walking across London and being beamed into a giant Close Encounters Of The Third Kind spaceship, a hospital taken to the Moon, a sky with no sun and loads of alien planets and a full scale Dalek invasion with flying saucers thrown in, New York destroyed, entire 2012 Olympic crowds vanished, everyone on Earth turned into The Master Race, Atraxi threatening planetary destruction via every radio on Earth, every human child hypnotised and now worldwide immortality for months.

Would anything still surprise us? I mean, in Touchwood World now, if someone came up to you and said "I was abducted by aliens last night" you wouldn't make polite noises and carefully slide away you'd probably say "Really? Which ones was it this time?" and be really interested and swap stories.

World-changing plots are okay in a one-off feature film but in a series they leave the audience punch-drunk. In RealWorld any attempt to expose The Three Families would be dismissed as paranoid fantasy but in TouchwoodWorld people are so traumatised by now they must be ready to accept anything. "A worldwide conspiracy to control governments through the banks? A manipulated recession? Is that all? No aliens? PHHthhhbbb...."

TEN episodes and then we see a huge red crack and ABSOLUTELY NO BLOODY EXPLANATION!?!?! That is crueller than enslavement by Dalek invasion or surgical Cyberconversion. When I realised that that one single question was being very deliberately not answered if possible I might have actually given the writer a slap and I'm not at all a violent person. Come on. No explanation at all? Really? Not even a hint? SLAP! 2 whole episodes trying to expose gas ovens? That's a journalist's job, not one for a crack team of alien-hunters lead by a bisexual immortal from the 51st century. And nobody seemed that bothered anyway. They're incinerating hopeless cases? Damn, and I would have wanted to keep them lying around. Forever.

Sorry, but I could not have cared less about Gwen's dad. Given the chance I'd have lit the damn match myself. Face it, he wasn't getting any better.

What was all that about blowing up blood banks? Were the family feeding it blood to control it? Would have been nice to have been told, instead of having to write half the story myself in my head.

If the miracle/blessing/missing/blericle went right through the planet how come its crack was vertical? What was on the other side of that thing? What was at the top? Did it go right through the Raknoss ship at the Earth's core? Or the Silurian colonies in the Earth's crust? Bad design. And I think RTD's subconscious fear of cracks is starting to get out of control. Or was it some kind of subconscious admission? "There is a giant, unfillable CRACK in this story!"

The world's biggest secret behind a spare door in a restaurant and they let the old lady keep the key? Had it been in her family for generations? Why not brick it up? Or padlock it on their side? Why wasn't it more clearly labelled "Intruders' Entrance"?

Half the CIA being traitors working for a load of rich bad guys I can totally believe. And Bill Pullman was excellent.

I feel better now.