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San Andreas (2015)
Despite giving this movie a 7 out of 10, it was pretty bad. I like Dwayne Johnson and I love disaster movies, hence the 7/10, but be prepared to suspend all sense of reality during this dismal serving of ego-centric poo. This is a movie for teenagers, young teenagers at that, and certainly not for anyone looking to immerse themselves in anything close to realism. The acting was fine, the special effects were pretty good, and the suspense factor was high, but the story was AWFUL!
If I did not know better, I would say this movie was made in a rush, as though someone at the top was about to drop it, so the producers hacked it together as quickly as possible. Come on Dwayne, you can do better than this, I have seen you do it, so stop taking on second rate roles and step up to the plate where you belong. This movie does not do you credit sir.
Judge John Deed (2001)
A work of art..
I find myself somewhat astonished at the BBC's recent production of Judge John Deed. And it is a feeling I have not been subject to in a very long time where British television productions are concerned. Simply put, this is a work of pure genius, and there it is. This coming from a man with the utmost suspicion of our judicial system and the officers set up on high to enforce such an institution, and yet, I am in constant agreement, albeit to my own amazement, with the antics both of the judge and his underlings, and the way in which the court system is so succinctly depicted in this on-going series. Having happened across the DVD's by mistake, and eventually taken the time to view the contents, despite my reservations of having an age old storyline supporting the injustices of our political bodies, their avaricious motives, and the long standing old-school nepotist constitution forced upon me yet again, I instead found myself almost instantly engrossed by the in-depth characters, the surprisingly believable story lines, and the outright exceptional scripting.
Unlike many of the mainstream drama's that the BBC have a tendency of vomiting into unsuspecting audiences sitting rooms, without any concern for the damage they might be doing to our sense of rectal restraint and gag reflexes, Judge John Deed is without doubt a complete and utter reprieve for the British Broadcasting Company. Not only does this exquisitely crafted drama give the concept of a truly fair and just British legal system, doing it's utmost to defend the rights and privileges of victims and criminals alike, but it is not afraid to show how the Executive, i.e. the presiding governments long arm of political interference, the British police force, and the CPS (Criminal Prosecution Service) allow their personal departmental agendas and blinkered drive to gain convictions at any price, and indirectly perverting the course of justice.
As a complete layman, I have little insight into what really goes on in our courts of law, other than what I find regurgitated in the local press, of which most I am well aware, is dramatised for the sole purpose of selling yet more over-inflated tabloid drivel, or accompanying propagandist putrescence. Yet, in spite of my long standing cynicism for the pretence we all commonly refer to as 'The Authorities', I suddenly find myself comprehending the inconceivably difficult and complex responsibilities our high court judges must face, and deal with on a day to day basis. Of course this is only a drama, and yes it is played up for obvious entertainment value, however I hate to admit it, but I have learned more about how our legal system works and operates through the contents of the first fifteen episodes of Judge John Deed, than I have throughout my entire life living and working in the United Kingdom. I am shocked to say it, in fact I would go as far as to say I am entirely astonished, that a simple television program could sway my tainted opinions quite so much, and with such compelling dynamism, that I have actually begun to have some real faith, however small, in our British judiciary.
I have to hand it to G.F. Newman, and the production team of One-Eyed Dog. Between them they have smashed through the monotony of drab, mind numbingly inept, and the endlessly anal-retentive montage of legal drama's, we as an audience have had to endure from so many other would- be purveyors of truth, and actually delivered an honestly frank and genuinely sincere rendition of reality, without compromising the real meaning of entertainment in the process. This series should be presented as a part of every law school curriculum, a core module and de-facto benchmark of what is expected of every lawyer, solicitor, barrister and judge in the United Kingdom, not to mention our somewhat errant ministers of parliament at present. This drama's stark acceptance that people, no matter their redoubtable positions, are still human beings, and can still make mistakes in their private lives, but making little difference in the court room while common sense, an unbiased conviction to seek out the real truth, and still offer up authentic, honest-to-god verdicts and sound justice, is a joy to behold. No one is above the law in Judge John Deed's courtroom, CEO's, MP's, even other judges; they all come under the hammer of John Deeds (Martin Shaw), insurmountable intellect and fair minded ethics.
Suffice to say, I love this series and endeavour to get my hands on the rest of the episodes thus far unseen. Congratulations to the BBC, and the entire cast of Judge John Deed. You have made this unbeliever think twice before speaking out against the 'system' without first thinking about what I really do know, and what I don't. You have dared to stand out from the crowd on this one, and I applaud you for it. Ignore the criticisms, the winging companies, who even now seek to curtail the truths and facts of the products this series has openly exposed to the light of day, and long may you continue to reveal the notorious sabre rattling of our ruling political bodies, to put money before the citizens who have given them such misguided trust.
Avatar = AMAZING! Avatar in 3D = MIND BLOWING!!!
Avatar in 3D! AMAZING! Plot = 100% PERFECT! Storyline = 100% EXCEPTIONAL! Graphics = 100% INCREDIBLE! Special affects! = 100% MIND BLOWING!
Whether it was the fact that I watched this movie in 3D that did it, or just the fantastic saga unfolding before me I cannot truly be honest, but what I can say is that this movie just blew me out of my seat! Having attended the cinema with little knowledge of the film and its plot, due to several of my friends insisting that I join them for a Christmas gathering, I went along with absolutely no expectations or awareness of what Avatar was really about. Hell! Am I glad I did! The action was never so much that you felt overwhelmed. The story unfolded with fable-like elegance. The 3D affects never got in your face, or had you wondering if they were about to jump out and kick you in the teeth at every opportunity, but rather fully complimented and perfectly balanced the entire motion picture. Even the acting was very well performed, with Sigourney Weaver portraying her role with that time honoured perfection she brings to every movie. Zoe Saldana simply gave it her all and made a staggeringly convincing alien and a performance she should be very proud of, while Sam Worthington seems to be going from strength to strength with each new role he takes onboard. If you haven't seen this movie yet, GO! GO NOW! It's worth every penny and more, and if you can see it in 3D then believe me SEE IT IN 3D!!!!!
Star Trek (2009)
Clearly this new Star Trek is not for the purists, those that feel that absolutely nothing should ever change from the original series, and nothing should ever diverge from the ongoing ideals, steadfast beliefs and unswerving viewpoints of Trekkie and Trekker traditionalism. However, I can certainly say that am blown away by this latest offering and thoroughly enjoyed every action packed, pulse raging, sci-fi second of it.
And before I find myself shot down by the Star Trek fraternity for not towing the devout Gene Roddenberry line, I should mention that I was indoctrinated into Star Trek back in 1972 when I was four years old. I waited on tender hooks in the 1980's for the release of Star Trek the Next Generation, watched every episode of Star Trek Voyager during the 1990's with avid interest. I engrossed myself in Star Trek Enterprise with joy, and even tried to keep up with Star Trek Deep Space Nine. I own every Star Trek motion picture and consider myself to be a real fan, not a Trekkie or even a Trekker, but someone who simply enjoys Star Trek because it was good.
Yes this new motion picture is a tangent away from the original Star Trek series. Yes it does deviate from the established character doctrines and the classic good verses evil and we all live happily ever after outcome, but why the hell not? Lest it missed anyone's attention the last motion picture, Star Trek Nemesis, did not fair quite so well at the box office, and Star trek Enterprise was brought to a close after only four seasons. Why, because Star Trek has become predictable, unsurprising, and dare I say it, humdrum, but not for much longer it would seem.
Yes I found myself laughing and chuckling throughout the movie, and yes I was swept away by each panoramic shot of a new Enterprise, so adeptly replicated for the twenty-first century audience that it defies any kind of criticism from the Trekkie/Trekker perfectionists. I found every character, from Spock (Zachary Quinto), through to the dumb burly security officer was eminently portrayed, with exceptional performances by Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Karl Urban (Bones). Even Leonard Nimoy clearly enjoyed his part in this mind-blowing feast of special effects, stunningly crafted sets, and fast paced cinematography. Even the hand phasers that have been perfectly redesigned, combining the old with the new offer a science fiction geek like myself the chance of seeing a Star Trek as it should have always been, not the cardboard and balsa-wood archetypes of the 1960's that are woefully outdated.
Chris Pine was simply outstanding in his role as the young captain Kirk, a character so historically entrenched in the minds of all Star Trek fans it seems impossible to imagine anyone else but William Shatner playing that part. Yet within minutes of his appearance I was not only able to accept this youthful usurper, but found it difficult to separate the idea that Chris Pine was not indeed William Shatner himself, somehow magically rejuvenated just for this movie. Again, Zoe Saldana who played Nyota Uhura was tremendous, still sporting that bizarre earpiece that has always denoted Uhura's position as communications officer, and just as stunning as Nichelle Nichols in the original series. Admittedly the relationship between Nyota Uhura and another well known bridge office was something of a difficult twist to accept, but it still brought something special to the new Star Trek.
Congratulations J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman you have done the impossible and done it well. I and all of my friends are once again in awe of Star Trek and biting our fingernails in anticipation of the next Star Trek blockbuster movie. Don't disappoint us.