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59 reviews in total 
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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Inferior to 'Another Earth', 23 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 2011 two films arrived on the scene in which a second earth/earth like planet appears in the sky. One of these was Mike Cahill's 'Another Earth', with the second one being lars von trier's 'Melanchola'. Unfortunately the Cahill film was almost totally overlooked as he is a little known director, and his film had few 'named' stars in it (Brit Marling being the lead - a case of "who she"?!), whilst the lars von trier's film was packed to the rafters with big names and faces - Keifer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, and of course Kirsten Dunst. It was trier's film that got all the praise and awards, but my question is why? This is a rambling, self indulgent shambles of a film in which actors mumble their lines making it almost impossible to follow what they are saying, the camera jerks all over the place in style that became outdated after the final episode of 'NYPD Blue', and what narrative there is appears to centre around some of the most annoying, horrid white middle class moaning minnies you could ever wish to met! I wish I could find something positive to say about this film - I really do (and I assure you I am no stranger to obscure, frustrating films as a loyal member of my local film club where such films are bread and butter to us!) but, beyond the fact that Dunst, as always, looks beautiful, there really is nothing I can find. This obscurity for the sake of obscurity - a form of film making beloved by certain critics who live in the bubble of film festivals and press screening but who rarely have to rub shoulders, and experience the views of, the great unwashed - just the characters in this film.

No, if you want to see a film in which a second earth has affects upon the people on this earth then avoid this like the plague, and do yourself a favour and go watch 'Another Earth' instead, a vastly superior film in every way!

45 out of 75 people found the following review useful:
Pretentous, self indulgent nonsense!, 5 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So, this sound engineer goes to Italy to act as an effect expert on an Italian horror film. Whilst doing his job the constant repetition of hacking melons, recording screaming women, crunching leaves underfoot - added to the problems of trying to get reimbursed for his travelling expenses - drive him... well, does it drive him mad, or is what we are watching real (within the content of the film) or is itself a film being made about this sound engineer who goes to Italy to act as an effect expert on an Italian horror film.

Now, there are some good things to be said about this film - Toby Jones as said sound engineer, about whom the film may be about or not as the case may be, is very good, and the use of sound is well done - but, having laid out a most promising situation, and apparently leading to a shock ending, the film suddenly disappears up its own backside. At one point - SPOILER ALERT! - an actress comes in and, when asked to speak her lines, starts to quote from a letter from home that the Toby Jones character has received. Then Mr Jones starts speaking in Italian as the film begins to repeat itself... and... well, by this time I had totally lost the plot and was looking at my watch wondering how much longer I had to endure this nonsense.

There are some films which get caught on the festival/critical merry-go-round, and garner awards by the truck load, coupled with glowing reviews which other critics, not wishing to swim against the tide, endorse. Yet when these films are watching by genuine, fee paying members of the public the reaction is totally different, and a completely - more real - idea of the film emerges. This is one such film, one beloved by the critics, yet disliked (or at best met with indifference) bu the viewing public. Certainly when my local film club screened it the general reaction was "what on earth was all that about"! No, I'm afraid this is pretentious, self indulgent load of nonsense, loved by critics and wannabe intellectuals who think they can read much into such rubbish, but hated by the real cinema goer!

59 out of 79 people found the following review useful:
An American Battle Royale!, 26 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the future all wars have ended, but famine and poverty still remain in a new North Amercia, which has been split into 12 Districts. To appease the people, and pay tribute to the fallen, Capitol City have devised The Hunger Games, in which 2 children from each District are chosen to fight to the death live on TV.

The film follows the fortunes of the two chosen from District 12, and we see them whisked off to Capitol City - a pastel coloured "Willy Wonka" style place in which the people wear outlandish costumes, have bizarre haircuts and live seemingly empty and decedent lives. Here they are treated like royalty, and trained in readiness for the games.

Eventually the children are pitted against each other and the game begin. It is here that the film begins to remind one of the Japanese classic of a few years back 'Battle Royale' - but without as much blood or violence. As the game progresses the rules begin to change to attain an ending which is pleasing to the masses, rather than those "playing" the game, and new elements are thrown in to ensure excitement and "fun" for the viewers.

The film takes a long time to really hit its stride - the opening sequences seemingly go on forever - and there is no doubt that this film owes a big debt to 'Battle Royale', as well as nods to the original 'Rollerball' (in as much as war has been outlawed and violence has become controlled and organised for the entertainment of the masses) and even 'Logans Run', but it has enough in it to make it a stand-up, worthwhile film in its own right. Not the least of these is the way in which TV is shown to become cynical and exploitative, where - in much the same way as the Ancient Romans had their "Blood and Circuses" - love and death are merely elements in mass entertainment.

The production is very good - the future Capitol City looks amazing - whilst the acting ranges from excellent (the young actress playing the lead role is very good), to screen chewing (Woody Harrleson eats his heart out!!). The other thing about the film is its length - at almost 2hours 30minutes there is no doubt that it is just too long! A good half hour could have been lost without losing any of the tension or drama. Worth seeing definitely, but make sure you watch it in a comfortable cinema (or else take a cushion!)

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Hammer back doing what they do best!, 8 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a kid growing up in the UK the Independent TV sector was split into regions, with HTV being the regional channel where I lived. Each region had a good deal of control over their own programming, and Monday nights were always film nights in the HTV region. As these were relatively late night showings (around 10:30pm) these films were almost always horror films, which meant either classic Universal, American International Pictures or, of course, Hammer Horrors. It was the Hammer films that I enjoyed most - Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt etc etc, so it was sad to see the studio go into such decline. But now with this wonderfully atmospheric haunted house story (plus the remake of Let The Right One In, and one other whose title has escaped me for the moment) the studio - or at least the company that has taken over the legendary name - is back to doing what it does best, scaring the life out of film goers the world over!! This film has all the hallmarks of a classic Hammer film, the old village full of unwelcoming locals, the local pub with an even more unwelcoming feel ("We're packed to the rafters all week" - even if Kipps is the only guest to be seen!), the bleak landscape, and, of course, the wonderful old house (usually on top a hill, but in this case on an island that gets cut-off from the mainland by the incoming tide twice a day).

Into this arrives the aforementioned Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe in his first big post Harry Potter role), looking into the estate of the late owner of the old house. As he looks into the papers etc he finds more than he bargained for, and then the "fun" really begins as the ghost of the title character starts to weave her evil presence over the proceedings.

As the mystery over the Lady In Black begins to unravel the atmosphere builds and the shocks come fast - although not so fast that you don't have time to catch your breath between screams! Daniel Radcliffe handles his role very well (and shows a lot of promise for a good post Harry career), and the supporting cast - full of good old British character actors like Ciaran Hinds, all play their parts to the full.

The ending has been described as "Hollywood", but personally I felt it fitted in well and showed a certain amount of redemption (impossible to fully explain without giving the ending away, which I do not want to do here).

This is not your blood and guts type horror, rather one based on character, story line and atmosphere, and is well worth a visit if you like being scared out of your seat! Whilst this may not be the Hammer of Bray Studios etc, it is good to see the name back emblazoned on the big screen again, and doing what Hammer do best... BOO!

Haywire (2011)
13 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
A thriller that dares to be different!, 31 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If your idea of a thriller is all wham-bam-thank-you-mam, cut, cut, cut with music blaring all over the action then this is most definitely not the film for you! If, on the other hand you appreciate superbly filmed sequences shown with few cuts and largely sans music, and a plot which is allowed to develop across the whole of the film, rather than being explained within the first 5 minutes, then again 10 minutes later, then again 20 minutes in etc etc then maybe this is more your cup of char! Gina Carano - apparently a kick-boxing champion who has never acted before - plays the beautiful Mallory - a freelance former marine employed by an agency who carry out missions that Goverments want doing but don't want to be seen to want doing - who,following a seemingly successful mission in Barcelona, finds her world tumbling apart around her ears and believes her employer Kenneth (the ever excellent Ewan McGregor) has doubled crossed her in someway.

All this takes place against backdrops as diverse as the aforementioned Barcelona, Dublin, and New York - all used to great effect, mainly by using not the all-too familiar tourist areas but rather back streets and sides roads etc. The action can be seen as being on the stately side, but this allows for the plot to unravel in an intelligent way - this is a thriller that engages your brain as well as your gut! - and there are more twists and turns than a Beatles song about long and winding roads! Once again Soderbergh has delivered a film that takes a clichéd and formulaic situation and subverted it into something more than a mere thriller. For those with ears to listen and eyes to see there is a lot here to engage with, and will leave you, like me, feeling satisfied and happy with a film that dares to be different, but, as I said at the start, if you simply want a film for which you leave your brain at box office try elsewhere!

17 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Visually Interesting but..., 16 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First up I have to admit that as a kid I was never a big fan of Tintin - he was always that strange kid in a comic book from some other place! - so, with no great expectations regarding this film, I approached it with an open mind.

What I discovered was a film that, although visually very interesting, seemed confused and muddled. First off Tintin is, as I understand it, a Belgian boy reporter, so why were all the characters in the early market scene talking in mock cockney al-la Dick Van Dyke and doing deals in pound stirling and why were all the big houses seemingly a mix of North European Chateaux and English Country Houses? Next the story line starts off with an interesting premise - a mystery hidden within a model ship - but soon descends into a flimsy excuse for dashing from one big set piece to another - including a totally bewildering sequence in Morroco with tanks and bazookas etc (were these left over from the war, or is the story line set during WWII? If the later then where were the Nazis? etc), and by the time any real conclusion is reached I felt so exhausted by all the chases, explosions, pirates, opera singers who can shatter glass (like I didn't see that one coming from a mile away!) etc I no longer really cared! And of course there was the now obligatory open end allowing for the inevitable follow up! What so disappointed me about the film was the fact that this came from Spielberg, a past master at such fast paced adventure films. It seemed that he was not certain himself as to which film he was making - an animated version of a world-wide classic series of books or an animated version of Indianna Jones? There were odd little clues littering the film (a tail of a crashed plane in the dessert with a swastika on it, the aforementioned tanks etc) that seemed to suggest the later but the whole enterprise became so muddled that I guess in the end it didn't really matter.

Finally, for all the marvels of the animation this was, for me, a film without soul. The character of Tintin was just a cipher (as I believe he is in the books), Haddock was just a buffoon, the Thompson Twins plan silly and the other characters utterly forgettable! The only character I came away really like was Snowy the dog! For all the hype this is basically, like this years version of The Three Musketeers, a film that may keep the youngster quiet for a couple of hours, but one that made me feel like "ok, watchable but so what"!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not a review!, 2 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not a review of this excellent horror film, just a note to say the IMDb has the films the wrong way round! It has the poor remake (2005) with the cast list etc for the original, and vice versa! This is the first time I have come across this with IMDb and am most surprised to find this!

As for the original film, it still packs a very strong punch after all these years, and the scenes inside the cellar are particularly effective - and as for the ending, well it out Carries Carrie for a shock that I had totally forgotten about!

Well, I guess it did turn out to be a mini review after all - but please, good people of IMDb, get the dates on the films the right way round!

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Excellent use of 3D effects, 19 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Being of a certain age, and without children, this is one of the classic Disney films I have never seen, but the opportunity arose to finally getting around to watching it when my mother, who is into her 80's and disabled, said she would love to see it. With the help of a very good friend, a veteran of the industry, we went to one of Bristol's (England) out-of-town multi-plexes and, for the grand total of £0.00 (or, if you like, $0.00!!!), sat back and waited for the fun to begin! The film is big, brash, colourful, and total predicable of course. Rightful pretender to the throne is framed by nasty old Scar, leaves, meets good friends, is persuaded to return, fights nasty old Scar, and Simba takes up his rightful place as King of the Pride. All very Disney, very good triumphing over evil, good guys getting their rightful dues, baddies getting their due comeuppance etc. What raises this above the level of most other animated films of this kind is the quality of the animation - quite superb - some great characters (the farting Warthog is fantastic, Scar suitably nasty, Simba proud and upright, etc), and some excellent songs - Circle of Life has, of course, become a children's classic song! The version I took my mother to see was the newly released 3D one, and I have to say that I was very impressed with how Disney had turned a 2D film into a film with great depth and scope. It did not always work as well as it could have, some scenes still looked a little flat, but certainly when the birds were flying overhead, or the camera was swooping down onto different characters, then the effects were excellent, and really added to the enjoyment of the film.

If you have yet to catch up with this film then I would highly recommend you go and watch the 3D version - it is very well done, and worth the admission price - unless you are like myself and know the right people to gain free admission!!!

Jane Eyre (2011)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Gothic romance at its very best, 21 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having seen endless adverts for this film on TV my mother was very keen to go and see it, so, with the help of a very good friend, I arranged a trip to a local multiplex so she could watch the film on a nice big screen, with good sound etc.

As she is disabled I had to go with her and my friend, and I have to admit that I was a little fearful that I would sit in the cinema and be bored to tears. What surprised me was that far from this happening I was drawn into the dark, Gothic world of Miss Eyre, Mr Rochester and, of course... Well, that would be giving the game away! What impressed me the most with this film was the way in which it was photographed. Unlike previous version, all bright and breezy and well lit houses etc, this has a washed out, misty feel for the exterior scenes, whilst a lot of the interiors are filmed in candle light, so there are plenty of dark corners and shadows in which secrets lurk and things remain hidden.

In terms of the storyline I was impressed by the way the director manages to condense Jane's past into a few telling scenes from her rejection by her Aunt, and her unhappy school days - all of which helped shaped her into the feisty woman that Mr Rochester discovers has been employed as governess to his French speaking ward. Mr Rochester is all smouldering looks and hidden pasts - and it is, naturally, the growing relationship between these two that make up the main body of the narrative. All the performances are excellent, but mention must be given to Jamie Bell as the pastor who, like Mr Rochester, has eyes only for Jane, and Dame Judy Dench who brings great statue to her role as the housekeeper.

The film does have moments were things drag a little - some of the early exchanges between Jane and Mr Rochester go on a little longer than they should - but these are few and far between, and overall the film moves at a pace perfect for the unfolding drama.

If you like your romances Gothic and with a hint (and more!) of danger, then I would highly recommend this film. And, if like me, you have bad memories of dull 1970s BBC style Sunday afternoon serialisations of great classic novels, go along and see how such a great book can be treated on the big screen!

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Well crafted bit of nonsense!, 30 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Final Destination films are never going to win any major awards, nor will they stretch your intellect much beyond that of working out who is next to be killed in a nasty manner, but what they are is well crafted bits of nonsense, and FD5 is no exception to this.

The rules remain as before - a group of mainly good looking youngsters survive a big disaster after one of them has a premonition of its occurrence. Here the big start is massive bridge collapse, which is filmed in a wonderfully realistic fashion, and the chosen few escape, only for death to... well, if you have seen any of the previous FD films than you know the rest! What tends to lift this particular edition of the franchise above the rest is that the characters are much more believable (well, within the context of the film anyway!), and the tension is handled with style (I was really gripping the seat during the kitchen scene!) The one thing that was bothering a little throughout the film was the question, why was it set in 1979? This did not appear to add anything special until the final twist at the end, which for any fan of the series is well worth waiting for (and I am not going to give it away here!) If you want cultured intelligent horror then stick with the likes of Del Torro, but if you want a thrill ride which will drench your mega bin of popcorn with dollops of the red stuff (and I'm not talking Burgandy here!) then this is a Saturday night special for you. Personally I can not wait until all 5 are released in a Blu-ray box set in time to make my Christmas viewing a tad more exciting!

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