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Scary, atmospheric, excellent
This is a film which really deserves the reputation it has achieved over the years.
The earliest adaptation of the Dracula story to still survive, this movie has such power that lots of the conventions and characteristics of vampires accepted today were actually set up this film and not from the novel which spawned it, the aversion to sunlight being one.
Aside from the character name changes this is a fairly faithful adaption of the novel. The most memorable character is of course Count Orlok, played to perfection by Max Schreck. He really personifies the pestilence he carries in his wake and makes the viewers skin crawl with his staring eyes, long clawlike hands and ratlike appearance. Also particularly striking is Knock the estate agent who, even before he became Orlok's servant, looked completely deranged. Hutter's wife is memorable for her terrible acting but then at this point in history, film was still a fairly new medium, so this can be forgiven.
The filming locations are stunning and fit the mood perfectly and it is extraordinary to think that today ninety years later most of these locations remain unchanged.
The version I watched had sepia tinting throughout and I'm not sure who wrote or performed the soundtrack, although it sounded like it was played on synthesisers with cellos as well. The DVDS was released by Eureka videos, so maybe for some readers this will clarify which soundtrack it was. Although it was a little out of place in some of the sequences especially towards the end, for the most part it fitted in well. Having said that, I, like most viewers, would have liked to have heard the original, but since this is now lost, it wasn't to be.
This is a major piece of motion picture history and simply must be viewed.
Casino Royale (2006)
Much tougher than before
No doubt about it, you really don't want to annoy the new James Bond. Daniel Craig's Bond will kill you if you get in his way.
This reboot to the series was a risk that really paid off, bringing James Bond up to date and ditching about 40 years of continuity on the way. The one remaining Ian Fleming book finally gets made by Eon after many years waiting.
Daniel Craig portrays a much tougher, more impulsive Bond who in many ways is less sure of himself than before. Judi Dench's M seems much more ruthless than in the previous films, especially when she looks Bond right in the eye with an almost motherly expression on her face and threatens to kill him.
The film itself has a brilliant story with goodies, baddies and everything you would want from a Bond movie. Martin Campbell is one of the best Bond directors and he doesn't disappoint here.
You should watch this now!!!
Death Wish 3 (1985)
Is it meant to be a parody or not?
The second sequel to Death Wish sees Paul Kersey return once again to New York to visit his friend, who is killed shortly before Kersey arrives. Once Kersey gets there and sees what happens he swings into action once again.
Is this meant to be a parody of what had gone before, or did Michael Winner just get carried away? There are so many OTT things here, including Kersey's ability to beat everyone he meets in a fight, no matter what their size. Another is the face paint the baddies wear, as if to say ,"Yep, in case you didn't realise, I'm a criminal". You also have Fraker looking weirder than a Martian, his ability to summon gangsters from anywhere and of course his eventual demise with a rocket launcher.
Despite, or perhaps because of this, it is hugely enjoyable, very entertaining and zips by very quickly. For once, Kersey is not on his own, and I particularly enjoyed when it showed the locals getting tooled up ready to fight back.
Death Wish II (1982)
Not quite up to the original but still pretty good
A few years after the original and Paul Kersey is happily living in LA. His daughter and housekeeper are murdered and he takes up arms once again.
There are a number of differences here, chief among them is Kersey going after specific people and not criminals in general like last time. This took away that unusual element present in the first film, but then this is a sequel not a remake.
Because the feel and tone are quite different to the first, it was a good idea to have Ochea back to provide a more tangible link.
Kersey has become much more brutal this time, taunting his victims first although he still makes sure they are dead and not just wounded.
Perhaps some of the nudity was a little OTT, but it's not on screen for very long.
Not as good as the first, but still very entertaining.
A worthy successor
The Two Towers continues the Lord of the Rings epic where the first film finishes and does a brilliant job.
This movie plays a much bigger role in helping the viewers to get to know the characters better. Much more background is provided for Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli are explored in much greater detail. Merry and Pippin have some of the best scenes and Tom Bombadil is indirectly referred to. The realisation of the ents on screen is stunning.
Once again Peter Jackson's eye for selecting a great cast is demonstrated here brilliantly. Casting Orlando Bloom in particular was a huge gamble but it paid off magnificently. Brad Dourif is perfect for the role of Grima as is Bernard Hill.
The scenes at Helm's Deep are probably the hugest scenes in any film ever made but what you see on screen is nothing short of spectacular.
The only gripe I have is Legolas sliding down the steps on the shield. This looked a bit silly to me but it is only in the film for a few seconds so it doesn't really spoil anything.
Death Wish (1974)
Bronson's Finest Hour
Gripping tale of Paul Kersey, a liberal architect,who takes revenge on the criminals of New York after his wife is murdered and his daughter left catatonic from an attack in their apartment by a bunch of random thugs.
Bronson is particularly good at portraying the generous liberal Paul at the beginning of the movie and how he changes into the steely ruthless Paul at the end. This is one of several things which make this film stand out and make it just a little different from other similar movies. For example, the original attackers are never seen again, elevating Paul's subsequent actions from simple revenge to all out war against the criminal underworld of New York, which has the knock on effect of scaring off the other criminals and making the general populace tougher. I especially enjoyed the part where the building foreman says about the mugger he and his crew caught, "Well we roughed him up a little," and the news reporter then says, "the mugger had two broken arms, a broken leg and cracked ribs" or something like that.
Also good is how it shows the evolution of Kersey's various reactions to his circumstances from being afraid to hold a sock of coins, to being sick after he shoots his first victim, to actively going out and flashing his money around, attracting potential muggers so he can kill them.
Bronson's facial expressions are exceptional, looking genuinely surprised and shocked by his potential muggers while at the same time shooting them, sometimes twice to make sure they are dead.
Another point that makes it stand out from the norm is that Paul's getting away with it is not a result of a sympathetic detective telling him he has a five minute head-start or something like that, but is officially sanctioned for reasons that make perfect sense.
OK so the rape scene is brutal, but I would say necessary and in the context of this film justified. The son in law Jack Toby is so annoying that in real life any self respecting father in law would beat the living crap out of him. Something I can't understand is why Jack keeps calling Paul Dad. Is this an American tradition? In Ireland, where I'm from, men generally call their fathers in law by their first names and call their own fathers Dad.
Although now that I write this, I'm just wondering if the character was made deliberately annoying to throw Paul's toughness into sharp relief and also if his passivity and willingness to do nothing is there to provide a counterpoint to Paul's decision to stand up for himself and therefore a stimulus for his actions. In this context, the character is exactly what is needed.
I loved this film far better than I thought I would, I could watch it over and over again and I, provided you're not too easily offended, would recommend it to anyone.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
One of the best war films ever made
This depicts the second world war as no other film had before. The first twenty five minutes really drives home the futility and brutality of war as well as the incompetence of the bomber commanders in not clearing the beach a little more.
For me the sign of a good movie is that it seems shorter than it's running time. This movie is nearly tree hours but seems nowhere near that long.
The performances are all very good with fine memorable characters and the only jarring note for me was at the end when the captain tells Ryan to Earn this. Maybe I just didn't get it, but I felt that it put an awful burden on Ryan who would have been haunted by the fact that all these soldiers had died to save him, especially when he didn't want to be saved.
Other than that it is an excellent way to spend a few hours.
One of the best films ever made
This is without doubt one of the greatest films ever made. Transferring the gargantuan story of the Lord of the Rings was a task many thought impossible, and it is strange to think that Peter Jackson, until then not known for producing particularly big films, manages so well.
Jackson has an exceptional eye for knowing who would suit a particular role. Based on his appearance, Viggo Mortensen would not be the obvious choice for Aragorn but in the event he is perfect for the part. Elijah Wood is spot on as Frodo as is Sean Astin for Sam. Special mention must go to Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Christopher Lee finally achieved his ambition to be the Lord of the Rings films. Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler are both suitably ethereal as the elven women.
The sets and propwork are outstanding and if I ever get enough money I am going to build a hobbit hole just like Bilbo's. also particularly striking were the Black Riders.
One small gripe I had, and it's only very minor, was the way some of the names of places were pronounced. Whereas most characters referred to Mordor, pronouncing it as it is spelt, both Gandalf and Elrond seemed to pronounce it Mokodor. Also, Galadriel referred to herself as Galadthriel for some reason. Still, these are only minor matters.
Absolutely brilliant from beginning to end.
Music and Lyrics (2007)
Just finished watching this on TV an the first word that springs to mind is harmless. It's not normally the sort of thing I would watch but my wife wanted to see it so I thought I'd watch too.
The two leads play the roles they tend to play most often, with Grant being the English posh bloke who stutters a lot, and Barrymore the klutzy innocent. Extremely lightweight, the film avoids crossing the line from whimsical to pointless by having a number of very funny scenes, mostly involving Alex's early career.
The parallels between the fictional characters and their real life counterparts could not be clearer, short of stating that Cora is Britney Spears and Alex and Colin are Wham.
Not for everyone, and very light, it's entertaining enough if you like that sort of thing.
Long wait but overall was worth it
It's been a long time coming but finally the fourth Indy film is here. If I'm honest I think that possibly if this had been released only a few years after Last Crusade, it would not have been as successful as previous entries in the series because, let's face it, the story's not as good as the first three. And I blame George Lucas, who although he has some great ideas, interferes too much in other parts of film-making at which he is not as good as he thinks he is.
Another thing going against this film, something that no one could do anything about, is that the expectations were so high that no film could live up to them. Perhaps when Indy 5 comes, expectations will be more realistic.
Harrison Ford looks amazing for a man who is 65, even though he is a Hollywood actor whose livelihood depends on his keeping in good condition. In fact, although the producers and Ford made a conscious decision not to gloss over the fact that Indy is getting on in years, there was no need, due to Ford's physical condition, to ladle it on quite as much as they did.
With regard to the other characters, Ray Winstone's Mac doesn't really add anything to it. OK, he was necessary to make the scene where they nuked the fridge work, but a supporting player, similar to Alfred Molina's character at the beginning of Raiders would have done the job equally well, and then the character could have been gotten rid of. Is he a double agent? Is he a triple agent? Does anyone really care? He just wasn't needed.
Mutt makes an interesting son for Indy, continuing, as Spielberg et al point out in the DVD special features, the trend of the Jones men having sons who are to say the least somewhat rebellious. Shia LaBoeff gets the right balance between having a son who is too meek and having the character being too rebellious.
Irina Spalko doesn't seem to be the type of part that Cate Blanchett would normally go far, but since she is one of the best actresses ever to have worked in Hollywood, she plays the part perfectly. Karen Allen plays Marion Ravenwood exactly them same as in Raiders, so she can't be faulted either.
Despite it's faults, Indy 4 is highly recommended.