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Theo Robertson

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One Twist Too Many, 17 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It seems odd a film starring Michael Douglas has received such a limited release . Douglas as you may remember was one of the biggest names in Hollywood . The characters he played were rarely likable but always manly , perhaps too much so . But if you wanted someone to play an Alpha male control freak Douglas was the guy to hire and with this film BEYOND THE REACH he still shows what he's good at


Based on a novel by Robb White BEYOND THE REACH has already been adapted to media back in 1974 as SAVAGES a television movie when America made very impressive and thrilling TVMs . The concept of the premise wasn't all that original when White wrote his novel being a remake of sorts of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME and THE NAKED PREY . The premise involves Ben a young trekking guide being hired by a businessman called John Madec to take him on a hunting expedition to the Desert and because of a fatal accident Ben finds himself being stalked by Madec

Frenchman Jean Baptiste Leonetti does very well in showing us the inhospitable environment of a dry merciless arid desert . The best time of year to watch this is on a cold winter evening because you actually feel the heat blazing out of the screen . Ben being slowly tortured to death by the cruel , burning sun is what works best in this thriller though it should be noted that after a while you start noticing Leonetti overdoes the close ups a bit too often but this is only a minor criticism and for the most part you know you're watching a very good thriller . There is a major problem and that is the production team don't keep faith in the simple premise of "Man being hunted in the desert" and when the film reaches its natural climax there's an extra ten minutes nailed on at the end that feel they belong in an entirely different film all together which is rather perplexing and means BEYOND THE REACH ends up becoming a good thriller instead a very good one

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
Instantly Forgotten, 17 April 2015

The original KICK-ASS was a deconstructionist black comedy that revolved around mortals wanting to become superheroes and was a relatively big hit . Now let's be honest here and confess much of the marketing had a cynical edge where an eleven year old girl goes around slicing and dicing bad guys . Cue lots of outrage from moral guardians that this marks the end of Western civilization as we know it while anyone with the slightest bit of curiosity would queue up at the cinema to see what the fuss was about , Cynical indeed but at least the original was a good film of sorts mainly thanks to director Matthew Vaughn whose work I've always enjoyed and doesn't make enough films for my liking

This sequel sees Vaughn as producer and is replaced in the director seat by Jeff Wadlow . KICK-ASS 2 has the same look and feel as the 2010 movie and yet there's something missing which I can't put my finger on . One thing that isn't missing is the cynicism of having a bunch of teenage geeks swearing , make sexual references and get involved in acts of comic book violence . Your parents won't approve of this boys and girls but it's not necessarily a reason to go and rush out to see it

I've written this review immediately after seeing KICK-ASS 2 and yet I can hardly remember a thing about it . I recall enjoying it at the time flaws and all and now that the credits have finished there's nothing that stuck out in my memory which might tell you something

Alone (2015/VI)
East Meets West With Possibly The Worst Of Both Worlds, 17 April 2015

Hindi horror film ? Not something you see everyday and wondered what the cultural differences between this and a horror film from the West would be . If nothing else being a Bollywood movie it means it's guaranteed to have some really hot Indo-Aryan chicks to drool over

To be fair it's very difficult to change the formula of a "scary scene" and the opening sequence uses every clichéd convention we see in the horror genre . A woman alone at night wanders in to a deserted building . There's mystery involved . A flash of lightening and the booming sound of thunder . That should warn the woman something nasty is going to happen and even scary music blaring over the soundtrack isn't a subtle enough warning so she goes in to the deserted building . Something follows her and she turns and screams at the unseen figure behind her

Cut to opening credits

It's an old technique you've seen a million times before and ALONE follows the same pattern . Scary bits are made scary simply by using loud noises over the soundtrack . Being a Bollywood movie it's very loosely plotted and there's musical inserts . I haven't seen a lot of Bollywood but there is a sex scene which might not seem explicit to Western viewers but I suspect pushes the boat out in restricted Bollywood terms . As for everything else it's what you will expect

Lost River (2014)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Let's All Shout David Lynch At The Top Of Our Voice, 17 April 2015

I went out of my way to see Ryan Gosling's directorial debut simply because it featured Matt Smith in a pivotal supporting role . Now I couldn't stand Smith in the title role of DOCTOR WHO . His performance was as a hyperactive eccentric in shouty wouty mode flaying his arms around trying to cram as many words as possible in to a sentence . For the life of me I can't remember seeing Smith in anything else so thought I'd watch this to see how versatile Smith is

Bad idea because he spent much of the film in shouty wouty mode screaming "HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY" at the top of his voice . Is there some sort of Equity rule that the only person allowed to shout is Matt Smith ? I was ready to jump to the conclusion that Smith is incapable of communicating to the rest of the world in normal tones and to be blunt I was ready just to switch the film off and go to bed but persevered and to be fair I was rewarded by a not unimpressive performance by Smith who oozes understated menace as the villain Bully and the scene where he meets Rat outside the service station does hint that if Smith has the right material he has all the potential to be a very dynamic and impressive actor

It's sad to report that casting Smith is the only success Gosling seems to have in this directorial debut . I really have not got a clue this movie was about . Something to do with a single mother trying to keep her house and her task is made more difficult with a pervy bank manager and something about a teenage boy befriending a cute teenager called Rat and both of them falling on the wrong side of Bully . Anything else was beyond my own comprehension . Gosling seems heavily influenced by David Lynch and Michelangelo Antonioni and if you're a film maker that's as smart as being influenced by LSD . Include a trippy scene because it seems like a good idea and don't bother with narrative story telling because that's only something worthless proles like and the less people that like your film equates with it being a better film . Sorry Ryan but that's not how things work and confused , confusing pretentious art house cinema is not why people go to the movies . What cinema was invented for was visual storytelling and you can have all the flashy beautifully shot visuals you like but if you've confused , disjointed screenplay that only the screenwriter understands as to what is happening and why it's happening then that can only be a failure . Maybe an interesting failure but still a failure

Tame When Seen Today But Remember The Context When It Was Made, 17 April 2015

The Hammer horror movies are rather forgotten these days . This wasn't the case when I was a child . In those days we only had three channels and a horror film being broadcast was something of event television for myself and my young peers . One problem though was that unlike the Universal horror franchise featuring Dracula and Frankenstein the Hammer movies would never be shown in any sort of chronological order which meant that for this viewer it didn't have quite the continuity that the Universal films had . Regardless of this Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were icons of our generation if only because they meant a horror film was being broadcast on Friday or Saturday night . Event television indeed

This is the first Hammer Dracula entry . Hammer first started to adapt popular radio and TV serials for the silver screen and buoyed by the success of the first two Quatermass films the studio realised the genre of horror was a massive cash cow so the studio became the world leaders in this genre . Directed by Terence Fisher undoubtedly the studio's best in house director this film shows the Hammer style at its best . It's rather stagey and talkative and seems rather quaint today but this is part of a timeless charm the better Hammer movies had . The production design and costumes are worthy of the best period drama and even in this early stage of its development we have a cast resembling a repertory company . This was because British studios blacklisted actors who consistently appeared on television , a medium that was seen as a fierce rival and competitor for a cinema audience

Another thing that has to be taken in to account is that in the context it was made the Hays code in America was strictly enforced which meant films in Hollywood were very restricted in what they could show on screen . Hammer might seem very restrained to the point of being bland when watched in the 21st Century but not so in 1958 when you saw blood , red blood , in colour which would have undoubtedly shocked audiences back in the day and would have caused outrage amongst moral guardians . Taking all this in to account this version of Dracula remains very entertaining and atmospheric once you get past the posh accents and intrusive music

Greyhawk (2014)
Well Acted But Lacking Substance, 17 April 2015

A former British serviceman blinded in action loses his guide dog

And that's the plot of this gloomy British drama . Reading the brief summary it's a case of that particularly recent British phenomena known as "Grief whoring" . Ah the good old days of this when young soldiers would be killed in Afghanistan and massed crowds would gather with individuals having a contest to see who could wail the loudest on behalf of a dead person they had never met . I don't want to sound all nasty and cynical but I've always found this a very unhealthy and worst of all hypocritical attitude and one wonders what these people do with their free time now that NATO involvement is over and more crucially the TV cameras are no longer at Wootan Basset ?

Like I said I'll try not to be too cynical and in its favour GREYHAWK doesn't go overboard with tear stained teeth gnashing and other manipulative tricks . Director Mike Pitt and screenwriter Matt Pitt have made a relatively poignant film centered around a rather unsympathetic protagonist .Mal played by Alec Newman and written and played so that Mal never comes across as a victim . Instead he is understandably a bitter and twisted man

Also to be fair to the production team for a film lasting an hour and a half with an absolute threadbare , wafer thin premise everyone has been able to do the very best they can do and the film does have genuine social consciousness about it . The downside is that it also shows the need that if you're making a feature length film you need a strong plot to drive it so as something that would have worked as an excellent short film just becomes an average feature length one

Generic Thriller Not Based On A TV Show, 17 April 2015

Oh THE EQUALIZER , where a limey who used to work for the CIA has now branched out in to freelance work where if you have a problem with criminals you can hire him and he'll sort out the problem while taking a large fee while giving you long lectures about why it's a bad idea to get involved in crime on any level , including being a victim of crime . If I remember correctly the show started forgetting to include the criminal angle and just became a social conscious show that went as far as equating a child who got HIV through blood products as being the same as an adult alcoholic . The adult in this episode was conducting a violent lynch mob campaign against the child and his mother and you've got this type of moral equivalence being brought in to a show it's time to bail out . It's probably a forgotten show in this day and age and if it's remembered at all it will be remembered for a slightly misleading title sequence which gave the show a hook it didn't deserve and a great and funky theme tune by Stewart Copeland

This is a film version of the 1980s series but isn't really . The lead character is called Robert McCall and that's the only real connection between this and the TV show . McCall now works in a warehouse and gets involved with a prostitute involved with the Russian mafia and this posse of Russian bad guys are coming to America in order to have a monopoly on the American criminal dream . In other words it's a completely generic thriller where if you changed the name of the central character you would not for a moment fall out of your seat and gasp " Hey wait a minute this is just like that show from the nineteen eighties starring Edward Woodward . I do hope for this film company's sake there aren't any lawyers watching" . It's also rather nasty and violent which again is not in keeping with the source material which was terminally talkative but this isn't necessarily a recommendation

Never Better Or Worse Than Mediocre, 17 April 2015

After seeing HOOLGANS AT WAR which is in my opinion the worst British film I've seen in a very long time if not ever I thought I might be suffering pangs of conscience . As soon as I wrote my review people who had never worked on that film no siree thought I'd been disingenuous to a degree seeing as the other reviewers who couldn't possibly have worked on that film in any capacity whatsoever guv thought HOOLIGANS AT WAR was more deserving of a nine or ten rating . These same people also highly rated a movie with a mouthful of title LOTTERS , TOOTERS AND SAWN OFF SHOOTERS which suspiciously has an overlapping cast . I came on to this page and found yet another host of people were rating this one while claiming the positive reviews could only have been written by shills . Let's be honest here , these type of reviews are easy to spot , but if there's a chance that any movie could possibly be worse than HOOLIGANS AT WAR this might just be the one

To be fair LOOTERS is nothing more than a mediocre British crime flick but to be fair it's nothing less than this also . It does have a student film look about it but to give the director(s) the benefit of the doubt this might be trying to emulate realist cinema . Certainly you can't say it looks like it was filmed on a mobile phone . It's not a glamorous film either and does show the fall out to innocent people that violence brings and once somebody decides to impulsively take that road they find it's very difficult to leave due to other people . The subtext doesn't entirely work as presented here

The whole screenplay needed a bit more development especially the insults and one liners which momentarily seem amusing when written down but across as annoying on screen and also shows signs of purple prose . What realthings down is that the actors just aren't good enough and with a better cast it could been a much better film . As it stands it's just mediocre

Affectionate Parody, 17 April 2015

I have criticised the American film industry for having a lack of imagination . Reboots , franchises . car chases , explosions and CGI . To be fair this type of movie sells and never kill a golden goose . The British film industry deserves some criticism too along the same lines . Guy Ritchie comes along and all of a sudden every British release features mockney gangsters calling each other "Slag" and a few other naughty words . An off shoot of this was the football hooligan film where instead of gangster running around with shooters we had variably dressed blokes who follow West Ham FC ( They're always ICF West Ham fans ) running around with Stanley knives . If you've seen one you've probably seen them all . That said I did think RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER was a gritty hard hitting thriller that mixed the Brit gangster thriller and hooligan film very well

THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY starts with a direct referential spoof of the climax of that film and is genuinely funny , along with having a couple of cameos of the usual suspects who appear in these type of movies . This is to be honest the highlight of the movie because I was expecting a few more of the mockney celebrity cadre to appear throughout the movie . This unfortunately doesn't happen but for what we get , an affectionate low brow lampooning of hooligan and gangster films it works relatively well . There might be a previous knowledge of other films required from the audience in order to get the jokes but let's face it guys if you've seen a British film over the last 15 years it will be one involving either gangsters or the ICF

12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Perhaps The Worst British Film I've Seen In My Entire Life, 14 April 2015

Sometimes I get the opportunity to watch a newly released film for free . I almost feel guilty about this sometimes . Almost . Honestly I do and when a new British movie comes out like last years heart pounding thriller '71 the least I can do is give it my support and hand over my money at the cinema and feel a burst of jingoistic pride that I've contributed to British film making . If I don't do this once in a while I feel I've committed an act of high treason so just imagine how I felt when I didn't pay to see HOOLIGANS AT WAR . Guilty with a capital G-U-I-L- T and Y . As soon as the opening credits finished I started becoming aware of something - if the makers of this piece of unwatchable compost don't recompense me 40 minutes of my life I wasted watching this they should be hanging their heads in utter shame

The film starts with a flashback to a British army camp in Bosnia 5 years ago and involves a battle scene . This will be in 2010 . SFOR had been replaced by EUFOR six years earlier and despite having never set foot in the country I can tell you there was no fighting between local militias and EUFOR soldiers going on in 2010 . I'm pretty sure Bosnia no longer has local ethnic militias that the country was notorious for in the 1990s . I suppose we can overlook this and the totally amateur production values if it sets up the story

Hold on there's another flashback after this as the basic training regiment in the mess hall . Mess halls at these locations are normally large halls crowded with young men in their late teens and early twenties with a hairstyle of number two at the sides and back and a number four cut on top . Not here where there's an intake of about a dozen men and they're all aged in their late twenties to mid thirties with various hairstyles and many of them are obvious salad dodgers who'd have trouble walking to the bus stop never minding lumping sixty pounds of equipment on their back up a steep hill . They're so hopeless at trying to convince us they're soldiers they wouldn't even get in to the local airsoft club because even they have standards . In fact the acting is so bad I wondered how any of them managed to get in to the Equity union . I'm not saying the acting is bad what I'm saying is that it's non existent and the casting must be some sort of joke

In fact the whole movie must be some sort of joke ! Sorry did I say movie ? I should have said "thing" and just left it at that because I'd be misleading you if I give the impression that this is going to get any distribution deal . HOOLIGANS AT WAR is obviously shot on a camcorder with a non professional cast and feels like it's trying to parody the likes of Guy Ritchie with a freeze frame and a voice over explaining who the character is . That's the only bit that really works but truth to be told it's really stealing someone elses idea . Really I know it's a cliché when people say "worst movie ever" but this is possibly the worst British film I've ever commentated on in all my years on this website . I've always been fair when reviewing a movie but there is not one saving grace about this film which I turned off after 40 minutes . Believe me if I don't watch a film until the end credits comes up that tells you everything. If someone got out an I-pod and filmed their drunken mates ad libbing an unscripted story as it went along then that would be a more satisfying cinematic film than the thing going under the title of HOOLIGANS AT WAR

I am now owed 40 minutes of my life back and I know that the makers of this thing have visited the page - they're ones who gave it a rating of more than one out of ten !

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