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badajoz-1

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206 reviews in total 
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Wild (2014)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Poor script lets down a valiant effort, 10 May 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The book is apparently the memoirs of a trek along the 1000 mile Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed after her life fell apart following the early death of her mother. The hike and writing about it became a catharsis and redemption for her. The film is an attempt to show a fairly ordinary woman, who goes badly off the rails, who then walks herself back to reality and a normal life. Reese Witherspoon gives it her best shot in the lead role. Despite being a little small for the role, she wholeheartedly shows her body off and indulges in a few rude sex scenes as she falls from grace. She looks in great shape, and her admirers will not feel short changed! But the script dwells far too long - in flashback - on the past, and encourages you to dislike her character. She lets down a good husband, and her mother's memory. The walk requires the lead to suffer, review her life, gain some new insights, and finally to reach some sort of redemption. On all fronts the screenplay short changes us. She suffers a bit, but you do not get a real impression and feel for the three month hike. Personal insights in diary form are notoriously personal and often cliché-ridden. Cue for mumblecore acting to quickly waltz over any embarrassment! Redemption, if you're not paying attention, comes again in a minute long mumbling voice over that says everything in her life ended happily!!!!! It does not work overall and, therefore, is a disappointment. And the original photos taken on the hike (shown over the final credits) of Cheryl show her happy and smiling! Um... The direction is adequate, photography good, and the supports played well, but that script by Mr Hornby - get back to North London watching Arsene Wenger fail again and again to find your mojo. This is awful stuff. If you want a feel for what a long hike can do for relationships, watch again and again the scenes near the end with the three young men. They are odd but believable because they show the impact of a long arduous hike together, which Ms Witherspoon's character never quite manages.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A Poorish Sequel with little new to say, 5 March 2015
4/10

The first film was bright, pretty truthful about old age, and extremely watchable. This is a surprise sequel made because the first made so much money - and it shows. There is a lack of invention, very poor script, anodyne characterisation, and, worst of all, the plot line and meat of the film all belong to tele/film land rather than to real older people. You can see why middle aged, middle class film critics are praising it. There is little of the worries of old people (eg death, families left behind in UK, reflections on the past), India is a sanitised OK place (no hot climate, no crowds, no dirt) so they can go on expiating colonial guilt, no racism (such bad form and only for Mail readers), and the themes and tropes all belong to familiar cinematic conventions - eg infidelity, second marriage, unrequited love and no money worries! So the piece is really only held together by two of our greatest thespians - Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, while the subplots would disgrace 'Midsomer Murders!' What a wretched disappointment of a movie. This really does patronise the grey audience it is aimed at. Real life or any approximation of it is totally missing. While the Bollywood elements are just a tack on to meet the criticisms of the first film by those middle aged critics again - not enough representation of India, dahling! Oh really!

64 out of 101 people found the following review useful:
Stupid, aimless, empty, dreadful and DERIVATIVE non-spectacle, 10 February 2015
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Brothers are no longer, and their films are getting worse by the movie. This drivel is supposed to be about a wretched anglo-Russian girl (Kunis) who miraculously has the same genetic imprint as a millennia-old royal just dead in outer space. The royal was part of a family looking for profit from creating life on suitable planets which are then farmed for their body fluids to produce immortal bath salts for those who can pay. Cra* concept and an even worse script, direction, and character development has resulted! It is all CGI, but for what? The characters are totally uninteresting. Even the evil offspring of the dead royal, who just ooze 'orribleness and are of course played by British actors (including star of the moment Eddie Redmayne!), are one-dimensional. The hero, half wolf, half man, Channing Tatum, remains stony faced and just jets about on a set of gravity boots better than Superman! The only interest is Sean Bean and whether he will last beyond the second reel. From the trailer he looked certain for an early demise but he keeps hanging on! The script is just a series of bang crashes, and scenes of jeopardy for our two leads and how are they going to get out of them - yawn, yawn! The CGI is boring inside two minutes. And the whole film is a derivative sham. You will recognise 'Star Wars' 'North by North West' 'Jurassic Park 2' 'Superman' 'Flash Gordon' and particularly 'Dune' as well as many others. Oh, it is truly awful!!!!!!!!!!

Brother and sister - give up film making now and save the industry from another mega ($170M) flop!

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Boring procedural overtaken by events, 2 February 2015
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You have all heard of a police procedural, well, this is a CIA procedural, until the killing of Osama bin Laden just before release meant the film finishes on a high of US Seals celebrating executing an old man as if they had won the Super Bowl! Presumably it was meant to end on a real low note of the heroine working for 11 years to find bin Laden, but not succeeding! I started watching with anticipation. So immediate scenes of US callously torturing countless Arabs ( all excused by the need for revenge for 9/11 - 2,000 - how many innocent killed at Hiroshima?), before heroine (with permanent pained and liberal disapproving look played by Jessica Chastain) introduces a little more subtlety. Don't bother trying to catch the inaudible dialogue, it is pure mumblecore and irrelevant - US filmmakers believe you do not want to know or care about the identity of the various Arabs being tortured. This is a procedural and it boringly drifts along with subtitles showing the different locations (more important than the Arabic characters?) where the various torturing takes place.

Frankly I gave up after 40 minutes and turned to a tenth repeat of 'Foyle's War!' I then watched the end - or should that be two ends? The proper one finishes with a downbeat assessment of 11 years of faithful, hangdog failure, and your career is safe as a minor operative. Then suddenly we are in Afghanistan/Pakistan watching a fully togged, lit up Navy SEAL unit helicoptering in to kill and then steal the body of bin Laden. And guess who gets to visually identify the corpse? Yes, our heroine, the minor operative. Crass and at odds with the rest of the film.

This is really a dramatized documentary for TV. Clichés crowd in from the director and scriptwriter, as well as twitching facials from Ms Chastain instead of acting still. It is a boring non-event except to an American audience, as the early torture criticism (?) is overwhelmed by the final section. To show how bad this film is. After bin Laden is dead, Ms Chastain leaves on an huge transport empty plane - "You can go anywhere" and the dreaded utterly predictable visual from Ms Bigelow comes - the huge ramp of the plane closes (Yes, closure for the heroine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!) Oscars for direction and screenplay - please!!!!

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Not As Clever As It Thinks It Is!, 31 January 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A good film, a decent attempt at trying to make a 'Man In Search Of His Own Identity' movie like Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni etc did in the 60s and 70s. It does it through the painful struggles to stage a play on Broadway allied to the agonies and ego of a washed up, former superhero actor trying to go legit. The medium of the last chance for a fading thespian has been done before, but not for a while. Remember Bette Davis and Ann Baxter going head to head in the early 50s? What makes this film stand out is the artifice of the film (until the very end)apparently being shot in one long continuous take! It works brilliantly, but overpowers the film. The script is good in parts, but is repetitive and fairly mundane with little depth. Actorly tantrums and one-upmanship do not make for a two hour movie these days. The acting is good, but bound by the limits of the story, eg Edward Norton's character is real on stage but all an act off it - and we are supposed to care! The film takes pot shots at Hollywood - how brave! - but apart from repeatedly going on about cartoon superhero movies and celebrity there is little here but a moan that falls short of a rant. The 'right on' bits about the impact of social media seem arch and merely included for the movie to look relevant to today. But this film is trying to do something worthy, and everyone, except the scriptwriters, are doing their best. It is worth seeing but too high hopes and the hype will leave you flat.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Rather Dull Historical Biopic that never really convinces, 14 January 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is a decent enough attempt to present a quite interesting time in Danish history, when with an unhinged King on the throne a 'Man of the Enlightenment' tried to force through his new ideas as Chief Minister on a very conservative, almost feudal, society in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Oh, and by the way, Struansee (Chief Minister played by Mads Mikkelsen) was conducting a lusty affair with the young Queen from England/Hanover. (Played by 2015's It Girl Alicia Vikander). Of course, it all ends in tears, and the conservative court triumphs and overturns all the progressive work done by the reformers. It is a good presentation of the romance, but the budget looks thin in places; the court itself is never fully portrayed; the so-called progressive ideas are barely illustrated; their impact on the people never demonstrated; Ms Vikander never convinces by looks or acting that she is a Princess and brother to the King of England; and it all feels far too modern and sloppy. The worst illustration is the King and Queen's first night together. He pushes himself upon her, which she rejects like a 2015 modern woman who says 'no' at the last minute. But then the king saunters over to the other side of the bedroom, orders her to bed and get undressed. Without a murmur, Ms Vikander gets into bed and strips off to become pregnant immediately! The script is dull and plodding, while the direction is absent without leave. Characterisation is minimal, except for the role of the King, but even here things are not clear enough. History is altered to favour the lovers, and the film is far less than it should be.

7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
De Mille (twice) and Chuck Did It So Much Better, Ridley., 7 January 2015
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really do not know why this film was made - it is just such a boring mess! I know the director Ridley Scott would have been brought up on afternoon long epics in the Fifties and Sixties, and it would appear that he thinks he can do them better for modern audiences, eg Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and this concoction. But he is terribly terribly wrong. He makes long movies with some thrilling visuals, true, but his films (since Blade Runner) have mostly lacked anything like a decent script and absolutely no characterisation. And here it happens again. The story of Exodus is re-imagined with an existential, faith all over the place Moses troubled like some latter day Marlon Brando figure in On The Waterfront; Ramses is some SS thug from a concentration camp circa 1943; and God (after a nod to the burning bush) is represented by a young boy. None of this works at all! So why bother, Sir Ridley? The classic confrontations between a rampant Old Testament Charlton Heston and a proud, domineering Yul Brynner are replaced by silly, sly meetings between Bale and Edgerton down in the stables, where Bale sympathises with his 'brother' but apologises for all the plagues because God is so vengeful! Most of the dialogue is confusing, and other smaller matters like the character of the High Priestess ( who must be putting the cause of female bishops in Africa back another millennium by being such a cheeky chops!) and the role of the Palace females who pop in and out to no effect (how Sigourney Weaver had the cheek to take the money I don't know). No, don't go to this mish mash, unless you want to see Scott take more than a few swipes at rampant Zionism and the irony of modern day Israel oppressing the Palestinians. Instead sit back and revel in some real old fashioned spectacle with the King of the Epics - Charlton Heston - as he frees his people from tyranny - all with a commentary from Cecil B de Mille himself in the remake of 'The Ten Commandments.' There is no tapping out on stone here at the dictation of a lad of those commandments, but a full blooded bolts of fire from Heaven,

13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Peter Jackson's CGI boreathons tumbled at last, 24 December 2014
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At last THE END of Peter Jackson's mind and bum numbing CGI so-called epic spectacles. They have become increasingly repetitive, dull, uninteresting and smugly self- satisfied at their own success. Scripts are shallow and full of plot holes, as they vainly struggle to catch the fine timbre of say 'Ben Hur' or 'El CID'. That the director and his writers fall short is due to elongation, greed and a belief in their own legendary status. It is called hubris. The plot is simple -dragon killed, orcs are on the rampage, and King Dwarf goes mad a la 'Sierra Madre.' Cue overlong battle between five armies for the treasure! Since when do Stephen Fry's miserable plebs constitute a fighting force? Yes, you guessed it - the Orcs almost win hands down until a drawn out fight sees their barbarian leader downed and a Dr Who arrives with the Eagles - Roman Legions - to sweep all before them (just like the ghost army in LOTR! Oh dear, this really is a fresh film! Various lines are tied up to lead onto the main book/film, except what happens to all the treasure? Terribly unsatisfactory, only illuminated by the odd bit of acting from messes Freeman and Armitage, who deserved better from this lazy, long drawn out, over hyped children's serial.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dull homage to Ealing and Rank comedies of the Fifties, 22 December 2014
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is not meant to be realistic - hence pay no attention to the liberal PC naysayers ringing their hands about poor Yemen and incorrect dialect. Just believe me this film is dull, tedious, and totally derivative. It is meant to be a gentle, wistful comedy/drama about some not very realistic subject. The sort of thing Will Hay and Alec Guinness did for Ealing Studios in the 40s and 50s, and Bill McKenna did for Rank in the late 50s. So a rich Sheikh asks a doubting Euan MacGregor to build a salmon fishing river in the mountains of Yemen with the help of Emily Blunt as PR Manager. Both are attached, but the main thrust of the plot is will they get together. Something you lose interest about halfway through! A huge subplot is the involvement of UK government through foul-mouthed Kristin Scott Thomas playing the PM's Press Secretary looking for a good news story. This is now so hackneyed and predictable that it just grates dreadfully. The script is poorish, full of plot holes ( who built the dam and when?), the direction slow and often lazy, and the acting sluggish and rather disinterested. The only shining light is Rachael Stirling playing MacGregor's wife, who acts everybody else off the screen in a short cameo. Boring in the extreme - it totally fails to draw you in to its idiosyncrasies.

49 out of 71 people found the following review useful:
Good enough but historically sketchy, 21 November 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a good enough movie, but skirts around the true story in order to make a clunky point about a genius hounded to death for his homosexuality. The plot is simple. Britain is losing the war and desperately needs something to have a chance of survival. Cracking Nazi codes to stop attacks at sea and in the air might just tip the balance. Step forward the secret decoding establishment at Bletchley Park, where expert mathematicians and linguists are recruited to try and break the famous codes sent via the German Enigma machines. And step forward one Alan Turing of Cambridge University, resident if gay genius played by Benedict Cumberbatch. To break the codes apparently Turing invents a machine to do this. Of course, this is all nonsense -the Poles had built machines previously to do this work and had broken Enigma, but with increasing sophistication they no longer had the resources so handed over their work to the British, along with a captured Enigma machine from the Wehrmacht. So tension mounts as Turing uses tons of money on a new (sic) totally innovative machine which does not seem to be quick enough. On the way an overly attractive Joan Clark (played by Keira Knightley), a double first, helps out and gets engaged to Turing, while silly old Commander Dennison played by Charles Dance tries to close down the machine!!!!! Eventually a chance remark and a realisation of something bleedin' obvious puts Turing and co on the right track. Just time for - we must not use all information or Jerry will know we have broken his codes, so little chat about who is saved and who isn't, which is pretty peripheral, before getting to the climax where Turing is chemically castrated by an unfeeling and totally ungrateful country. The thriller elements are okay, but Turing can do no wrong except tell Clark to leave Bletchley, which gets short feminist shrift! Oh dear, the script cannot help itself from being so terribly 21st century liberal in its preachy parts. A pity some other unsung heroes like Tommy Flowers and the Poles do not get a mention! The acting is fine all round, the direction serviceable, and it works at its own level, but the one man band tub thumping with Cumberbatch twitching and not looking directly at people (obvious Oscar material like 'Rain Man') really does a disservice to the great team effort of the wartime code breakers. Remember, an even more advanced, valve-based machine for breaking codes was developed with little participation from Turing by a working class GPO man - Tommy Flowers, who used his own money to finance it. Hope his story is not overlooked just because he was straightforwardly normal!


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