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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
BBC at its finest, 19 June 2009

This three-part war drama is definitely the best thing to come out of the BBC in years. Superb writing from Peter Bowker is what really drives it home. An incredibly powerful and original story, combined with Nick Murphy's clever yet subtle direction are a perfect combination.

Then there's the acting - perfectly executed. A great performance from James Nesbitt (as always) as well as Stephen Graham and Warren Brown, who deserves a special mention for some particularly emotional scenes - his agent's phone is going to be ringing off the hook now! The story seamlessly skips in time, often showing 'Three months later' etc. When this happens so often in shows, people can become confused and lose connection with story and characters. In OCCUPATION however, this is not the case. Rather than throwing layers of exposition and lesser moments at the audience, the story remains fast-paced throughout. At no point do you feel cheated in what you see, as the audience is given the freedom to resolve certain story elements for themselves.

It's a must-see for everyone (war fan or not). Packed with great characterisation, strong storytelling and powerful emotion, OCCUPATION is a landmark in British television. Hopefully there will be many more dramas like it in the coming years.

Watchmen (2009)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Everyone watches the Watchmen, 8 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

They said it couldn't be done - turning Alan Moore's graphic novel into a film. I can see why. The source material is rich and visually overwhelming. But they were wrong. The film produces on more than one level.

We open with the ageing Comedian (Morgan) in his place. Suddenly the door is smashed down and the style is set. Instantly we see Zack Snyder's stamp on the film, with trademark slow down then speed up action and brutality. In a short but powerful confrontation, The Comedian is killed. Obviously we sympathise with the brutally murdered hero, but in a series of flashbacks we begin to realise he is all not all he appeared. The effect of this is that you don't know what to think. Should I feel sad about this? Should I be glad that bastard's dead? It's a great trick that echoes throughout the film - are the Watchmen good guys or bad guys? The answer - they're human.....well.....apart from the big naked blue guy.

Speaking of - in this alternate decade, the world's first superhero has been discovered - Dr. Manhattan (Crudup) and he is essentially a god. With the world under threat of nuclear attack from Soviet Russia, Dr. Manhattan is America's best defence (and weapon). Crudup doesn't have much chance to display great acting talent, but what he does is fine.

The real great acting comes from Haley - anti-hero Rorschach and Patrick Wilson - Nite Owl II. To say Haley is covered in a mask for 90% of the film, an incredible amount of emotion is revealed, even when smashing a butcher's knife into someone's skull. And when he is de-masked about half way through, you instantly believe that the weak-looking man is the hard-as-nails vigilante. Wilson provides a fair bit of light comedic relief but also delivers great emotional moments. He's really a character we can relate to.

But for me the Oscar goes to Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Maybe I'm biased because I loved him in SUPERNATURAL, but he's on top form. He does a great job of portraying the Comedian as a bad ass, gun totting warrior with no care for human life. And just when you think you've got him figured out, he starts crying! An excellent performance and I have no doubt that Morgan's phone will be ringing non stop over the next few years.

The script is ambitious to say the least. I'm unsure as to how much is from the original comic (I suspect most of it), but nevertheless, it's a grand story. I was never bored. Probably because I had no idea what was going to happen next. This was done mainly by the fact that we're in an alternate timeline. Anything can happen (including President Nixon's nose growing larger!) Direction-wise, Snyder has done what's expected - created a visual masterpiece. Tense action, grand landscapes, CGI camera work - it's all there. In 300 (Snyder's other big film, if you've been asleep), this got a little repetitive, but here I was thrilled throughout. None of the sheer brutal action (and believe me - there's some majorly brutal violence) is unjustified. Knees shatter, bones crunch, elbows burst through flesh - you name it, it's there. All justified, all amazingly realistic.

Dialogue-wise, it's smart, witty and insightful. With talk of saving humanity from themselves by killing them and corruption of the system, it's very political. The best line of the movie however, comes from Rorschach (straight from the comic) - "All the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'save us'. And I'll whisper...'no'" All in all, WATCHMEN is the most ambitious comic book adaptation to date and it delivers on all levels. If I had one problem with the film, it's that bloody tiger! I'm assuming it's from the novel and you'll see what I mean when you watch the movie (which you have to do). There's no reason for that tiger to be there. Fortunately, it's only on screen for about a minute.

It's a must-see for comic book fans and 'normal' folk alike. If you thought THE DARK KNIGHT was a good, powerful movie, you ain't seen nothing yet! Also see if you enjoy looking at a giant blue penis.

Taken (2008/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Neeson makes Bond look like a schoolboy, 27 February 2009

Liam Neeson in an action role. He is not the actor you'd instantly cast. But it's done so well. Neeson plays Bryan, a retired "preventer of bad things". From this movie, we learn that being the "preventer of bad things" means being able to beat this shite out of anyone in under 10 seconds. But when Bryan's daughter is kidnapped, Bryan is forced out of retirement.

It's not a new idea, but the way it's executed is. The way the plot develops and how the characters grow is the appeal of the movie. We really want Bryan to succeed but at the same time, we have doubts as to his brutal methods. Is it right that he tortures a bad guy who is absolutely terrified? As Bryan's daughter is kidnapped, we are shown an extremely powerful scene. I won't spoil it for you but it's easily one of the best in cinema.

As Bryan rips through Paris, he takes out bad guys in extremely realistic fashion. There are no fancy kicks or drawn out fights. Bryan uses logical attacks - hit the throat or head until they stop moving.

Having said that, there is one lengthy fight. There is one guy in the entire film that lasts more than 20 seconds against Bryan. It works so well because when half a minute has passed, we're thinking "Erm...ok Liam, hurry up." The result is an edge-of-your-seat battle with hardcore moves. Does Bryan survive the fight? That's the question I was dying to find out throughout. And more importantly - will he save his daughter? All in all, TAKEN is an action-filled thriller with very strong emotion and powerful themes, coupled with incredible acting and beautiful direction. A must-see for any thriller fans, whether you're into action or not.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Doesn't insult the viewers - great stuff, 27 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the first episode of this and it didn't look like anything special. Then a few eps later, it really picked up. Fast-paced and pretty well written, this is a killer animation show.

There are some episodes in particular that make very interesting viewing. If you've ever wanted to see the future world of the X-Men in animation, this is it. For me, that's the best part.

There's a pretty good Nightcrawler episode as well, and Cyclops has one of the best. For me, there's a little too much Wolverine. We discover some origins and such, but we've seen it all before - comics, other shows, films. However, this is done better than previous animations, so it's worth a watch.

For me, this is the best X-Men animation (after Hulk vs Wolverine). It's a great recipe and it's the characters that drive it forward - as is the case with any great TV show. Wolverine is the big hitter and there's still that problem of him not being able to kill anyone in a cartoon, so he ends up slicing doors and throwing people. Nevertheless, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Professor X make up for it.

Without giving much away, anyone who likes a guy called Bishop will enjoy the show after a few eps ;) Happy watching