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Dead Snow (2009)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Simply excellent!, 27 November 2009

First of all you're going to have to excuse the pun; but this is one seriously cool picture. It is stylish; well written; brilliantly acted; genuinely shocking; wonderfully gross; and absolutely hilarious! I'm not joking folks, this made me laugh more than any movie I've seen all year. If you need a comparison then think 'Shaun of the Dead'... but from Norway...with Nazi zombies! Or think 'Evil Dead'...from Norway...with NAZI ZOMBIES!! And if you're thinking to yourself something like: "Can I sit through a foreign language film, let alone a low-budget foreign language horror film?", then I understand your reservations; but I can only assure you that you will not regret taking the time to watch. And give it a fair chance. The Americans might have the funds, and the British might have redefined the genre with '28 Days Later'; but this is by far the finest example of the genre made for many years, and certainly the best Nazi/Zombie crossover ever made. Love it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"...a thoughtless by-the-numbers Resi knock-off...", 13 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

> More than 20 years have passed since John Russo's feud with George Romero finally spawned his uniquely comic take on the zombie genre; but whilst 1988's Part 2 kept the spirit of the original alive, and the third instalment took an unusual but welcome departure that in essence paved the way for smoulderingly sexy undead-anti-heroines in the early 90s (not least Resident Evil's Alice), the most recent additions to the franchise would well leave anybody that may have questioned the quality of Romero's work in light of Diary of the Dead feeling that their criticism was groundless when this is what's being produced as an alternative. > It's literally only minutes before we get our first glimpse at what we're all eagerly anticipating from a series that last got a sequel when plaid was still in fashion, and surely enough the characteristically B-Movie approach to horror storytelling is present and correct as those ill-fated barrels fall once more into the hands of a malevolent weapons developer whose intentions are for his paymasters world domination at any cost. The predictable narrative focuses around Julian (John Keefe), a High school student who in the company of his arson obsessed younger brother (Alexandru Geoana), have lost both their parents during their employ at Hybra Tech: a veritable Walmart meets the Soylent Corporation amalgamation whose unhealthy yet secretive interest in the undead inevitably leads to trouble for all concerned. Of course what nobody could have possibly seen from a mile away was that the same malevolent weapons developer just happens to be Uncle Charles (Peter Coyote), the primary care giver to the unfortunately doomed orphans who fall into his care. > However despite this perfectly acceptable, albeit far-fetched re-introduction to the series, the request for "brains" from cloudy eyed monsters begins to fade like a distant memory while we, the viewing audience, are pushed back from the edge of our seats and are forced to endure the monotonous antics of a predictably clichéd menagerie of practically indistinguishable teenagers as they attempt to sloppily lay down the building blocks of a decidedly familiar world permeated in all facets by the series unscrupulous answer to Resi's Umbrella Corporation. Queue one minor motorcycle accident later involving Julian's bestest bud (Elvin Dandel), and his reportedly suspicious death leads our hapless heroes to dig a little deeper, finding that he is in fact alive and well in the custody of Uncle Charles. Sure enough this leads them to discover the nature of his ungodly "research", and to Necropolis, as well as the realisation that the death of Julian's parents may not have been so accidental after all. > Of course what I have failed to mention thus far is that the story is excruciatingly slow to get started, and despite an initial offering, it feels like some considerable time before we really get another glimpse of any action; a tremendous downfall for a movie that has one primary responsibility in that it should be ready to deliver hordes of zombies from as early as feasibly possible. Even when the so-called action can be said to begin when the startling gravity of the situation first strikes our heroes, a moment that most films of the genre share, the resulting confrontation left a questionable taste in my mouth as what is usually a tense and horrifying moment as moral deliberation by usually peaceful everymen is quickly outweighed by the need to survive, was instead replaced by an eagerness to seemingly murder two eccentric hobos in a sewer without ascertaining the danger they posed. Even this moment was fairly lacklustre however with no member of the cast looking remotely fazed by exploding heads or the possibility of walking corpses. Their reactions here were largely indicative of their portrayal throughout the entire piece, and left me yearning for the over-the-top and cartoonish frolics offered by O'Bannon's original. > Even quicker than a reanimated body can suck out the innards of a skull, it became painfully clear very early in proceedings that everything that was so lovable about the original instalment has been entirely lost; replaced instead with a moodier and more serious atmosphere that not only feels artificial and ultimately prevents an audience from being drawn in, but that fans simply do not expect. However even this unsuccessful change in style and execution thereof does nothing to distract from rudimentary problems stemming from the bland and mediocre dialogue as the cast of forgettable no-names, with as much acting prowess on screen as your average High School drama class, go through the motions as they churn out their lines without an iota of impact. > Overall what we see on screen is dull and predictable, and what action there is on offer is largely samey and unimpressive. Attempts to cover up this failing and educe some tension with a heavy-metal soundtrack are laughable, and not unlike the amateurish offerings from 17 year olds found in almost any Media class. It is only fair to say that for what was clearly a low-budget production many of the special effects were passable if not a little underwhelming, and the zombie make-up was to a far greater standard than I had expected. I even managed to squeeze out an otherwise suppressed titter when an homage to the original reared its head when one of the ghouls used a radio to request that someone "send more security guards" as the outbreak finished snacking on the clerk at the front desk. In short however, Return of the Living Dead IV: Necropolis can be described as nothing more than a thoughtless by-the-numbers Resi knock-off executed by a director with limited experience and stunted vision as attempts are made to cash-in once more on a tired series. I get the distinct sense that the fifth instalment, filmed simultaneously as its numerical predecessor, will be just as disappointing. I dare say I will find out shortly enough as much like the waning zombie genre itself, I am a glutton for punishment…

Day of the Dead (2008) (V)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Why a whole day when 10 minutes is too much?, 9 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Whilst a generation of sandal-wearing anti-disciplinarians have instilled into our consciousness the notion that there are no stupid questions, I like most rational people am of the school of thought that dictates quite the opposite; and not only that, but a stupid question must warrant a frank and scornful reply if we are to avoid such occurrences in future. The same can be said about bad movies warranting reviews of a similarly disdainful nature to save people like myself the time it takes to sit through one of these filmic abortions. Of course such tirades wouldn't exist without fuel from Hollywood's worst (a true shame for the deeply cynical among us); but these idiots need to know that you simply can't partly digest a known classic, regurgitate it along with a lot of bland methodology, mould it into something close to its original form, slap a name on it that the viewing public will respect and recognise, and have a box-office smash on your hands as a result. And yet this frankly pale imitation of a movie, let alone George A. Romero's seminal 'Day of the Dead', is absolutely the type of profiteering amateurism that could well give a cinephile a stomach ulcer. It really is difficult for me to decide what I liked least about this "remake" of 'Day of the Dead'. The list of failings is after all rather lengthy. The most noticeable failing of course (and the purpose for the quotation marks) is that this bore almost no likeness to the original in any way, except of course for Stark Sands embarrassing monkey impersonation as 'Bud', the zombie with a heart of a gold. This incidentally comes nowhere close to the understated brilliance of Howard Sherman's delivery of 'Bub', the fully actualised representation of the link between the living and the undead in the original. I came very close to naming Nick Cannon's overconfident portrayal of the painfully clichéd Black bad-ass who knows all too well "what we be talking' 'bout" as the biggest blight on this picture; however I would then have to ignore the terrible sound that often detracted from the impact of the action; the shoddy direction and amateur camera-work which often left me feeling confused about what was happening on screen; the hints at back stories that led nowhere; and the incredibly lazy and pedestrian dialogue which did nothing to reflect the wit and tension of Romero's, instead seemingly replacing it as a means to do nothing more than move the story onwards towards its excruciatingly inevitable conclusion. Let us not forget however the rather unnecessary attempt to rewrite undead mythology which will jab at the purist within us all. At times I was left feeling like I could have been watching something as equally foreign to the genre as 'Predator' or 'Ghosts of Mars' as veritable super-zombies planned attacks on our hapless heroes with military precision, even working together to achieve a common goal, and snatching a certain member of the cast from above like 'Alien'. Of course whilst the drama school dropouts seem to be flailing both in-front of and behind camera, let us not overestimate a veteran of stage and screen such as Ian McNeice. His frankly awful accent, which seems to shift back and forth across the Atlantic, is only dwarfed by his incomparable size. Ironically his ability to pile on the pounds is the only quality he seems to possess which would convincingly allow him to play your average American. Even Ving Rhames however, who was needless to say a welcome sight very early in proceedings, was heavily underutilised and killed off far too soon, even despite the important role that Joe Pilato's 'Captain Rhodes' played in the original story. Frankly I hope that Mr. Rhames' early demise was most likely a card he himself played to keep his time in production to an absolute minimum for very obvious reasons. I'm afraid to say that whilst the failings were many and numerous, ultimately what won for me was how some talentless nobody who has directed a couple of crappy teen dramas, and some hack that has done nothing but write scripts of the same calibre, can be left to play around with the usage rights to a classic horror picture like 'Day of the Dead'. From start to finish this was a chronicle of screw ups on every level, and yet what infuriates me is that it still hit the shelves because the unwitting public won't know how much it sucked until after they've already bought the DVD. What has clearly worked against the suits here however is the invitation we were all given to tear this thing apart the minute they tried to cash-in by associating this picture with Romero. It seems that where Zack Synder's 'Dawn of the Dead' will be hailed as a true labour of love from a fan of the series, this will do nothing but remind us that 99 times out of 100 a remake will leave a bad taste in our mouths that even human flesh would go a long way to quell.

The Mummy (1999)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Something wonderful, 25 March 2009

Sometimes it can be very easy to put your finger on why you think so highly of a movie. It's not too hard to sound pretentious as you deconstruct every nuance, and I can't help but think that perhaps it would have been easier to write a review of 'The Mummy' after the first few times I saw it. Unfortunately some ridiculous number of watches later, all I know is that I feel this is a modern children's classic that I absolutely adore. I get the distinct feeling that 'The Mummy' and the sequel 'The Mummy Returns' will be replacing Indiana Jones post Christmas dinner when the family gather around the television to lose themselves in something wonderful. I would recommend this to anyone.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
I couldn't even make it through the whole movie..., 25 March 2009

Surely in order to give an unbiased and fair evaluation of a movie you have to see it in its entirety. However the very fact that I was incapable of enduring this farce is testament to how truly dreadful this was. In my defence I watched it for almost an hour and a half during which time I was able to observe the unfurling of a tired and mediocre plot lifted from its successful predecessors, coupled with strangely convoluted dialogue which attempts to deepen the whole affair to no avail. Add to that a complete lack of atmosphere despite its potential, and a group of actors who appear to have been forced at gun point to participate, and you have what could be considered to be the worst major release of the year. Brendan Fraser looks very unhappy in his reprisal of Rick O'Connell, and if this is due to sharing his screen time with the awful Maria Bello instead of the captivating Rachel Weisz then you can't blame him. Bello, born in Pennsylvania it would seem, sounds as English as Nelson Mandela; but this is not the extent of her failings, and if anything this only emphasises how completely useless she is in a role truly embodied by Weisz. Of course Luke Ford, the now fully grown Alex O'Connell, could have made the character his own; but instead has as much charisma as a cactus. Of course when you consider the fact that he looks like he could be Fraser's brother rather than his son, the illusion is somewhat shattered from the outset. Jet-Li meanwhile may as well not have been in the damn thing. Spending a huge proportion of the movie (roughly 80%) in a CGI guise, he has little impact on screen. Yet when he sheds this computerised skin he has none of the presence or malice that was so apparent in Vosloo's portrayal of Imhotep. Needless to say, Jet-Li barely even phoned this in. It looks like he got a secretary to do that for him. Director Rob Cohen has much to answer for: Namely the death of a wonderful series. It seems that he has relied almost solely on patching up this crap-fest with CGI. Clearly the franchise has always relied on the use of such methods due to the very nature of the story, but when you consider that the original was released in 1999 and looked more solid and impressive visually, you have to wonder how big the budget was and what they spent it on. Most probably it was Fraser's fee to actually put his career in such jeopardy. In summation it's hard to believe that 'The Mummy' was once considered to be the new Indiana Jones. In truth it may be harder to believe that they actually thought releasing 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' was a good idea. Needless to say, even the latest Indy abortion still puts this to shame. Overall, I would suggest that anybody wishing to torture their eyes and ears, and waste their hard earned cash as they do it, should get a copy of 'The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor'; or as I will now be affectionately calling it, 'The Mummy: The Bad One'.