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Theo Robertson

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13 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Come With Me If You Want To See Matt Smith In A Total Mess Again, 2 July 2015

Away back in 1984 James Cameron brought us THE TERMINATOR which I consider to be the great science fiction film of the 1980s . A low budget indie film with a very high concept and one of the tightest screenplays you will ever see . With hindsight one of the reasons was it owed a lot to John Carpenter and Cameron and Hemdale found themselves in hot water with Harlan Ellison who took out a lawsuit claiming plagiarism , a lawsuit that was settled out of court . Despite the controversy the original film has stood the test of time and still shows that a great screenplay makes for a great film . That as the problem with all the sequels - they sacrificed intelligence for spectacle and despite the second film having a massive amount of fans who rate it the highlight of the franchise I found it overblown and meandering . Truth be told the original movie doesn't lend itself to a long running franchise . GENISYS might just prove my point


If you've seen the trailer then unfortunately you've seen the film . Not the whole film of course because the trailer contains all the best bits . And runs for two minutes . And the whole film runs for two hours . How's your arithmetic ? If nothing else the trailer is a marketing success since it'll intrigue you as to how it ties in with the previous four films and then it'll kick you in the teeth by totally disposing of everything that happened in these movies while slavishly and unimaginatively recreating many of the same set pieces from the previous movies . Sarah Connor is still the mother of John but now she's best friends with a T-800 now called "Pops" who is her guardian angel and they're now time travelers who flit between alternative time-lines which doesn't begin to make the slightest bit of sense . I had to constantly keep checking with this site to see if Steven Moffat was behind any of this because the film plays out like one of his DOCTOR WHO scripts that's painfully convoluted and gives the impression it's being written as it's going along . Internal logic is totally ignored such as a character referring to microwave ovens despite the character being too young to have known a time when microwave ovens were in existence

Everyone can make up there own mind towards the cast but gut instinct tells me that if you remember Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn from the original you will instantly dislike Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney as their replacements . Courtney especially is dreadful but to be fair to the actor he's nothing more than a plot device in a film and is written with that function in mind . Compare him to Biehn and he's playing an entirely different character . Arnie is Arnie but you're left thinking it's one last pay day before he walks off in to the sunset and the much anticipated casting of Matt Smith is disappointing since he's reduced to a walk on part but he'll feel at home in this mess of a movie . The only decent performance is by Jason Clarke as John Connor and that's probably by default

In summary TERMINATOR GENISYS is a cynical money making exercise by Hollywood to ditch the previous movies and start all over again . Despite the lawsuit by Harlan Ellison the original TERMINATOR owed much to the 1972 DOCTOR WHO story Day Of The Daleks . GENESISYS is similar because it owes much to the Matt Smith / Steven Moffat era of DOCTOR WHO . Don't be surprised if the next film in the franchise sees Sarah Connor battling a middle aged Scotsman

62 out of 127 people found the following review useful:
Predictable But Very Enjoyable, 14 June 2015

Scientists and corporate companies never learn do they ? Surely Universal Studios cant be so short of money that they need to resurrect a franchise that finished fifteen years ago ? That said dinosaurs have an absolute fascination to humans in general and children in particular and I used to love these dinosaur movies courtesy of Ray Harryhausen and who can forget the classic DOCTOR WHO story Invasion Of The Dinosaurs where the population of London has to get evacuated due to the sudden appearance of papier mache reptiles . In short you can't go wrong with dinosaurs if you're after mass commercial appeal . Despite the dangers of flogging a dead horse Universal are probably playing things a bit safe by bringing out another franchise film

And play it safe they do . There's not a lot of originality on display here and much of the first half plays out as you might expect it . These greedy corporate capitalists have changed the balance of nature by opening a theme park featuring animals that died out tens of millions of years ago and worse than that they've modified the dinosaurs so that not only do you think you're watching a retread of the original JURASSIC PARK movies complete with the same musical soundtrack you're also watching a reworking of The Company from the ALIEN movies . This is also reflected in the rather one note , thin characters who populate the story

At this point you might start worrying Universal fleeced out of the price of a cinema ticket and you're getting more of the same that you got with the first three films but the saving grace here is just how nasty things get . My problem with the second JP is once the action switches to mainland America there's not much in the way of a high body count , This is certainly not a problem here and director Colin Trevorrow knows what the audience wants and gives it to them by the bucket load as numerous faceless red shirt types suffer all sorts of spectacular deaths . It might sound a little bit mean but I was surprised as to how enjoyable the action scenes were . Spectacular deaths and dinosaurs ? What more do you want from a blockbuster ?

Stir (1980)
Perhaps Not The Best Aussie Prison Drama After All, 9 June 2015

This is a film I've wanted to see for a very long time indeed . I used to visit a site dedicated to prison movies and you can visit the same site by clicking on the external links on this very page . The webmaster thought STIR was "The best Australian movie by quite some distance" . This is a strong claim to make since the 1988 movie GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL DEAD is an outstanding , unforgettable piece of bleak nihilistic prison drama . Perhaps not the best feel good movie ever made , but a total antithesis to the wildly overrated THE SHAWSHANK REDEPTION but any movie that someone can claim is better than GHOSTS is well worth checking out . Unfortunately STIR seemed a contender for most obscure Aussie film ever made and searched online for it but no luck . Well until that was I chanced upon on a certain site - YT you know what I'm saying - earlier today and watched it . I'm guessing because I wanted to watch it for so long there was an ever so slight feeling of disappointment as the end credits rolled

I can see what the film is trying to do . There's an ambiguity at play and this is reflected in the title

Stir: Noun . Slang word for Prison

Stir: Verb . Slang word for To cause trouble

And yet everything ends up a little too black and white lacking in any ambiguity . The inmates "Crims" are by implication fairly low level criminals with the story focus centering on China Jackson who's doing a six month stretch for shoplifting while the guards are almost universally violent , fascistic brutes . There also rather one dimensional and their sadism seems over done to say the least . One can understand and perhaps even cheer such violence if it was inflicted upon child murderers and sex offenders but shoplifters and people helping themselves to a till ? The film does take sides a bit too easily . The credibility also takes a dive as to the amount of violence being inflicted upon the prisoners . If this happened in real life the average victim would have internal bleeding , broken bones and probably fatal injuries . I know Aussies pride themselves on a tough , butch image but the violence is totally over the top and means it ends up being an "Ozploitation" film

This is a pity because despite wanting more out of STIR it is fairly ( Pun alert! ) captivating . The cast led by a very effective Bryan Brown do their best with the slightly thin material they're given to work with . Best performance is by Max Phipps as a guard seeking a redemption of sorts but the rather black and white obvious screenplay that an environment of violence breeds violence and counter violence blunts the performances and means in my opinion GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL DEAD remains the greatest Aussie prison film I've seen so far

Spy (2015)
52 out of 125 people found the following review useful:
Hitchens Was Right - Women Are So Not Funny, 9 June 2015

My favourite person over the last decade has been the late Christopher Hitchens . Divisive , polemical and explosively controversial he was best known for taking on the men of God and constantly winning in his own take no prisoners style . One almost forgotten polemic is his Vanity Fair rebuttal that "Women are not funny" . Suffice to say I didn't disagree with this opinion and do recall getting in to something of a heated internet debate on this . No hard feelings on my part because it's just the internet and isn't all that important but I still stand by with what I said in that I don't find women funny and SPY does absolutely nothing to change my mind and that Hitchens is right

It's interesting that much of the marketing material in Britain has made a big deal about SPY starring well known names of Statham , Law and Byrne . A clever marketing ploy because Melissa McCarthy will be treated with blank expressions and mutterings of "Who ? " . After seeing SPY all I can say is her relative obscurity this side of the Atlantic is well deserved and hope it continues for a lifetime . Ms McCarthy is chubby , unattractive and SPY uses her as a star vehicle to deconstruct the James Bond franchise and all those other espionage thrillers . She also constantly puts her metaphorical foot in it , swears a lot and is probably even more unfunny than the other 3.5 billion woman walking on the face of Planet Earth today . That is really saying something believe me

This is a pity because as a spy spoof SP works relatively well . I saw the straight laced , po faced SURVIVOR last week and truth be told I probably had more fun watching SPY than I did watching that . The espionage element is fairly well done , tough you have to suspend disbelief that a cutie played by Byrne would be in league with the murderous misogynists of Al Qaeda but you're not supposed to take things seriously here , and Jude Law and Jason Statham have a whale of a time sending themselves up , a fact that they're able to communicate to the audience and I wonder if this has everything to do with SPY being popular with critics ? .Regardless of this SPY suffers from being a comedy vehicle for someone who simply is not funny

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Nice Little Nail Biter, 9 June 2015

Turin a former officer in the British Army who was dismissed from the outfit sixteen years earlier decides to take his revenge on the military by planning and carrying out a payroll robbery at his former barracks

British films from this period tended to lag behind their American counterparts on many levels and a common criticism was that "British cinema was radio with pictures" . It's interesting this film was released a couple of years before ZULU which even today is probably the epitome of what can be termed British Hollywood and that several cast members , Baker ,Magee and Edwards featured in both films , but in its own way A PRIZE OF ARMS is low key but an involving heist thriller

Now heist thrillers are rather formulaic and often rely on double cross and triple cross . Not so here where the characters are stealing money for themselves and are therefore reliant on themselves . Made in the early 1960s when National Service had just ended in Britain it's set in a time when people had an ambiguous mindset towards the military . You can see both viewpoints from this film . Pilfering was a common occurrence in a conscript army and the trio of thieves seen here are just taking things one step further , but at the same time the military isn't shown as stupid or inept either . Perhaps most tellingly there's little violence used and the heist is carried out via very careful planning just like you'd get in the military and just like in conflict the careful plans go out of the window as the first boot lands on hostile territory . This is what makes A PRIZE OF ARMS a memorable heist thriller - it's well written with several points where you gasp "How are they going to get out of this one ? " and when a film makes you worry that a bunch of spivs might get caught red handed this must be viewed as a success

15 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
An Effective Horror With Very Little Gore, 9 June 2015

I hadn't seen the first two films in the INSIDIOUS franchise but this didn't seem to matter because the third film is a prequel and apparently a self contained one so have watched and judged it on its own merits

There's not a lot of originality going on here . A supernatural thriller featuring a demon of sorts haunting a house or specifically terrifying a young teenage girl . Call for a psychic and some paranormal investigators and see what they uncover . You've see this before slightly redressed a few times but to be fair what INSIDIOUS CHAPTER THREE does it does very efficiently . It's nice to see a horror film in 2015 that doesn't feature a zombie apocalypse filmed guerrilla style or out and out torture porn . There is an old fashioned clichéd feel to this movie and that isn't meant in any way negatively . It's the old technique of filming something in almost total darkness , the soundtrack is silent , and silent and silent and BANG something not of this world shoots in to frame and blaring or creepy music shatters the silence and the audience including the member writing this jump out of their seat . It also helps if the heroine has had a nasty accident and her legs are in plaster meaning it's going to be very difficult to make a fast getaway if a faceless horror creeps in to her bedroom

Perhaps not a masterwork or ground breaking piece of horror but what INSIDIOUS CHAPTER THREE does it succeeds in doing very well as a Friday night multiplex horror film . Perhaps the best compliment I can I can pay it that despite suffering from a lack of originality parts of it did remind me of the original POLTERGIEST from 1982 which backhanded or not is still quite a compliment

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Boyle And Garland Should Sue, 9 June 2015

Oh a zombie apocalypse ! Just what the world needs - not . You can understand why they're popular with low to no budget film makers because all it needs to take one is a small handful of extras , a quiet morning to film on some deserted streets and you've got a movie , one that you've probably seen a dozen times and were probably bored by the second , third or fourth time

So what's so different about this one ? you may ask and in reply all I can say is not much at all . If you've seen Boyle and Garland's 28 DAYS / WEEKS LATER there's very little new here . In fact the story starts with a young man waking up on a beach and the entire early segment is structured exactly like the beginning of Boyle's film on a mis en scene level except it's set in Brighton instead of London . Even the music is similar to 28DL . The only time the film goes its own way is in an inferior manner where the uninfected do illogical things like have a house party ! I know Brighton has a reputation for hedonism but this is too much on a credibility level . It also copies the illogical plot turns of 28 DL where a wimpish middle class student is able to kill battle hardened squaddies with his bare hands . I know Britain's military reputation has plummeted after Iraq and Afghanistan but you'd think a soldier would get the better of a student once in a while

Searching on the internet I found out DARKEST DAY cost less than £1,000 to make , was shot over a long period of time . In other words it's a labour of love Unfortunately as an audience member I am under no obligation to love any film . It might have worked better if it had a bigger budget , a more developed screenplay and a better cast but you could say that about most films that aren't Hollywood blockbusters

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Someone Put This Dog Of A Film To Sleep, 9 June 2015

Some people may have very fond memories of this film and you can perhaps see why . This is the film that's famous - or infamous depending on how you look at it - for "the werewolf break" where the audience are allowed to discuss who they think is the werewolf . First of all can you imagine watching this at the cinema in 1974 and some smart arse shouting out "I saw this last week and it's (Insert character name here ) . Secondly you have to care who the werewolf might be and on first showing I couldn't have cared less . In effect THE BEAST MUST DIE is a whodunit and like every story in that genre there's only any real value in watching this type of story once and that's where this film fails


In fact the whole is constructed in to constantly pulling the rug out from under the audience . Take the opening scene where Tom Newcliffe is on the run through some remote forest . Played by Calvin Lockhart Tom is black his pursuers are white and being a 1970s film that can mean only one thing - a modern day lynching but don't jump to conclusions because Tom is a multimillionaire playboy big game hunter type and he's invited a group of people who he believes one is a werewolf . Who is it ? You decide at the werewolf break

Another problem is you really don't care about these characters . Lockhart himself is a fairly lousy actor and gives the impression he's playing the role as Peter Wyngarde would while stoned . Peter Cushing sleeps walk through the entire film , Michael Gambon looks like a German porn star and acts accordingly while Tom Chadbon looks like a Swedish gay porn star and acts accordingly while Ciaran Madden doesn't do any acting accordingly or other wise unless it involves screaming . In fact the nest performance comes from the German Shepard dog whose name is probably called Fido and even he can't give a very good performance as a werewolf . Yes that's right the werewolf is actually played bog which is as every bit as unconvincing as the day for night scenes . Who is the werewolf ? Who cares !

I Don't Know What It Is, 9 June 2015

A bunch of military paratroopers descend on a freefall flight and as a group from NATO wait for them to land they disappear in to thin air

A good opening hook and as the film continues you get the impression that the production have no idea to develop the film outside of the opening hook . In fact despite being a science fiction B movie you get the feeling the production crew are wanting to make a James Bond film and the premise does feel Bond like in many ways . Patrick Allen as Bob Megan is basically channeling Bond as he lights up a cigarette and eyes up every piece of skirt in sight . George Sander is a surrogate M while Neil Connery could easily be a surrogate Q How pathetic is that ? They couldn't get Sean Connery to star in THE BOY STEALERS as Bond but as a way of compensating for this they got Sean's brother !

One genuinely does wonder if at early draft stage THE BODY STEALERS may have been conceived as a straight forward esponaige thriller and rather late in the day became a science fiction genre movie ? Certainly there are scenes that remain confusing such as the culmination of a scene where Jim Radford pursues the mysterious Lorna and the rushed explanation of the ending . Quite often THE BODY STEALERS makes the top ten worst science fiction lists of people who have seen it . It's possibly not that bad and for a B movie the production values aren't all that bad simply because it is very talkative and therefore isn't reliant on special effects , but the problem is the screenplay is painfully under developed and its only al highpoint after the effective opening scene is a government minister being worried about Scotish nationalists repopulating the Highlands

Perhaps Too Close To The Book To Be A Total Success, 7 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Newly released convict Jimmy Smith meets Gregory Powell on the off chance . Showing friendliness towards Jimmy Gregory suggests staying with him for a while and very soon they get involved in criminal enterprise via armed robbery . While planning a robbery their car is stopped by two plains clothes policemen and the lives of all those involved is about to change


Joseph Wambaugh's books are very compelling and you can see why Hollywood was very hasty to adapt them for the big screen in the 1970s . THE CHOIR BOYS was adapted a couple of years previous to this film and Wambaugh hated the big screen version of that novel so decided he was going to be in total charge of the adaptation of THE ONION FIELD based on his book of a real life murder and with hindsight one thinks the author of the original source might have been a little bit too hands on

As I said Wambaugh's works are compelling and none more so than THE ONION FIELD . The book gives heavy detail on the lives and history of the protagonists and antagonists and peripheral characters . There's an awful of ground to cover and you can get away with that in a large book but not so in a two hour film . Much of the detail is by excised for the film version but even so there's a bit too much in the way of characterisation . The film follows the lives of Smith , Powell and surviving officer Karl Hettinger after the murder of Ian Campbell . In other words there's a bit too many characters and incidents for the film too focus on in an entirely successful manner , a fact reflected in the comments where a common complaint is the pacing especially in the second half where Smith and Powell use every piece of small print in criminal legislation to beat the death penalty

Not to be too hard on THE ONION FIELD I first saw this away back in 1983 and I was very impressed with it indeed . Much of the strength of the film is down to the performance of one man , James Woods , an actor I don't think I'd heard of before but whose career I avidly followed and whose performances have never disappointed me . He's ably assisted by an ensemble of talented performers in the shape of Savage , Seales, Danson , Cox and Lloyd . A fine cast indeed but Woods totally dominates the film and with playing Powell you can see why Seales character of Smith was easily taken in by him .

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