Reviews

17 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Abduction (I) (2011)
3/10
A movie that's as badly directed as it is acted.
29 September 2011
Lautner plays Nathan, a seventeen year old guy who seems to live two separate lives. He is the popular adrenaline-seeking kid who rides to school on car bonnets, gets drunk at house parties, and has unspoken feelings for the girl next door, Karen - overacted here by Lily Collin. He's basically Mr 90210, with less cash.

But then there is the other side to Nathan. Behind closed doors, he regularly spars with his father in physical battles that become increasingly aggressive and relentless. He also suffers from insomnia and bouts of rage, issues that he discusses with his therapist, Dr Bennett (Weaver) in regular counselling sessions. In short, he is a mixed up young man.

And if life wasn't tough already, it's about to deal him one more major bad hand. When assigned to work with Karen on a project about missing kids, Nathan's life comes crashing down around him, when he sees his face staring back from one of the ads. Suddenly he has to deal with the fact that his parents aren't who they say they are, that his whole life is built upon a lie, and that everything he thought he knew, he didn't.

It's no surprise then, that he is rather preoccupied by the time the bad guys arrive to get him. Men with guns turn up, Nathan does a runner with lusty Karen in tow, and what ensues is a cat and mouse chase across the country. It usually sees the youngsters get to one place, a phone call gets tapped, and then they move on. Then some foreign guy turns up to beat them up, they beat him up. They move on. It's quite straightforward really. Predictable to a 't'.

That's not to say that it's not entertaining. Remember in the '90s, those action movies where the ability to act was a 'would like', and the ability to kick the asses of Eastern European villains was a 'must have'?

Well, those action movies were EVERYWHERE. A corrupt government or body take on one guy who is pretty good at high kicks, and which typically ended in some mass chase-cum-action sequence, set in a massive public forum such as a football game or a crowded theatre.

That is the standard of movie we're talking here. And if we consider Lautner's performance at that level, then he didn't do too badly at all. He may still have the acting prowess of Joey Tribbiani from 'Friends', but there's also something rather watchable about him.But, my guess is that this wasn't supposed to be seen as a B movie. It feels like a botched attempt to put together a Bourne movie aimed at the teen market. But the Bourne movies appealed to the teen market, so why dumb the formulae down? One of the big failings of 'Abduction' is that rationale and reason becomes so diluted, that you have to throw all common sense out of the window, for this movie to hold together.

But that's the least of the worries. By far, the biggest problem with this movie was the script and direction which was absolutely diabolical.

The camera work seems very lazy. When chatting with his therapist, the camera just pans back and forth, back and forth between Nathan and Dr Bennett, as if the man behind the lens is filming a wedding. Scenes in the gym with the Nathan and his pals, have so much happening on screen that you don't know who to look at. But with Lautner skipping up and down off centre, in a vest and short combo, you can imagine where my eyes were focused.

The worst part - or funniest part, depending on how I look at it - was that you never felt you were watching a natural performance from anyone involved. It felt SO staged throughout. In fact, this is the first time that I have watched a movie at the cinema and literally felt like I could input the director's comments at every appropriate moment.

"Taylor, hold her in your arms. Kiss her head. Now look up to the sky." What makes me feel like this is more a direction fault is that it was not exclusive to Lautner. Even acting legend, Sigourney Weaver moves like a spasmodic marionette, and whilst she delivers her dialogue, there is no real emotion behind them.

With lines like "I hate balloons" followed by a dramatic pause, you can understand why she might not be investing everything in to this rather underused character. But if she wasn't happy with the script, she'd have not taken the role.

The romance between the two youngsters is supposed to be fledgling and, to give them their dues, there is chemistry there. However, when the pair aren't getting amorous, the dialogue is laboured and riddled with clichés that leave you either laughing out loud, or cringing in to your seat.

Karen: Two days ago, we were high school kids. That seems like a lifetime ago.

Nathan: That's because…(pause)…it was.

As the pace picks up, Lautner actually leaves the cocksure Nathan behind him, which comes as a relief, and indeed shows some actual character progression. A few big bangs, and action sequences are thrown in to the mix and those also help to maintain general interest levels, entertaining the audience for fleeting moments in time.

However the final denouement is a real let down. No originality. No risk. No surprise. The bog standard, by-the-book ending is as lazy as the direction and I left the cinema feeling a little bit cheated. If 'Abduction' had presented itself as the kind of movie that it ended up being, I'd have known what I was letting myself in for. This is a no-frills B-Movie. Don't let the supporting cast make you think otherwise.
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Firewall (2006)
4/10
Haven't we seen all this before?
1 April 2006
The only thing this film had going for it was it's ability to shock me with it's incredulous dialogue, storyline and casting.

Firstly, I think casting directors aren't so concerned with reality anymore. The opportunity to have HArrison Ford on board for this vehicle was obviously paramount. I am sure that there are many 40-somthing actors who would have been better suited to this role. It is almost sad watching someone in his 60's hobbling about trying to save his family before being beaten up by someone less than half his age. Anyway, so Harrison is too old to be the father of a 7 yr old, the husband of Virginia MAsden, and the hero of this movie. If anyone really expects us to believe that he would be able to see out the heavies in the way he does, it makes you wonder what audience they are appealing to. There is no denying that Ford is a terrific actor. However the performance was on autopilot and the monotone with which his character speaks sent me to sleep on a number of occasions. Well, that and the clunky script which limped from one incredulous scene to another. There was no spark between husband and wife, and the only subtle, understated and therefore standout performance, was that of the role of Janet the secretary. Unfortunately with the dialogue these actors were given, it would have taken a miracle to pass it off as true. Bettany put in a career worse as the bad guy and his decisions to scare Harrison Ford by eliminating a few of his own gang members, thus putting Ford's character in a stronger position, almost had me laughing.

By the time the show staggered to it's predictable, banal conclusion, I was almost transfixed to the screen. Ford is so picky and methodological when picking scripts it makes you wonder how this ever appealed to him.
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Timeline (2003)
2/10
Proof that sometimes the critics get it right
14 January 2005
I try not to be too influenced by what movie critics write about the new releases but probably do listen more than i will admit to. However, i still rented out this movie, thinking that being based on a Michael Crichton novel, it cannot be that bad. But here is one movie that deserves its awful reputation. Is it the horrible horrible acting? Is it the historical inaccuracies? Is it the gaping holes in the very predictable plot? Well yes. Pretty much. All of these reasons make Timeline an often hilarious yet ultimately dreadful viewing experience.

The plot centres around the transportation of an archaeology professor (Billy Connelly) back to 1357, during the middle of the England/France 100yr war. It is down to his team of younger excavators and his unenthusiastic son, Chris (Paul Walker) to go back and bring him home.

Frances o connor, as the Professor's assistant Kate, in particular stands out for one of the most hammy and immature female portrayals i have ever seen. You want to try and blame it on the script but even that cannot be excused for her over-dramatic and pi55 poor performance that makes Paul Walker appear to be Oscar worthy, which of course he isn't. I would suggest that if Walker does want to be taken seriously as an actor, which he has stated more than once in many interviews, he would be best to choose his films a lot more carefully. Here, he does not prove that he can handle leading a film. In fact, he himself seems embarrassed, pulling all kinds of faces as he hides behind the other characters in the shadows.

Anna Friel is yet another woefully miscast actress, who takes the role of French Lady Claire. Now, maybe it is because i grew up watching her as lipstick lesbian Beth Jordache in Liverpool soap Brookside, but as a french graduate, i certainly am able to say that her accent is pitiful and incredibly stereotypical. Maybe, to make it easier for her to grasp, they only give her a few basic lines in French such as "allez, Allez" and then suddenly her knowledge of the English language suddenly improves tenfold and her accent comes and goes in spasms. Why oh why can the producers not hire authentically French actors. Most of them speak better English than the Brits do French. Added to this the complexities in the development of the British and French language and we have many horrible historical inaccuracies. They simply did not speak the same language that is spoken today.

I am not even goosing to mention Billy Connelly's humiliating role as an incompetent and dawdling professor that surely ranks as his personal career low. It is enough to say that this film is pure trash and to watch it would be depriving yourselves of 2 hours when you could be putting out rubbish, poking your eye out with a needle or fantasising over Martina NAvratilova.
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Raising Helen (2004)
6/10
Baby Boom For The 21st Century with Spoilers
8 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Gary MArshall at his best can produce some sweet romantic comedies that tick every box of the genre (Pretty Woman). HOWever, at his worst, he can take that formula, and allow insipid excuses for rom coms to filter through into the system (ie Runaway Bride).

With Raising Helen, Marshall has gathered some of his old favourites from the aforementioned movies, the formidable Joan Cusack and the reliable HEctor Elizondo and replaced Julia Roberts and Richard Gere with the fresh faced Kate Hudson and John Corbett. Wisely done, for the audience is used to seeing Corbett with another blonde, curly haired do gooder in Sex in The City, and so it is quite easy to see the connection between the romantic leads. However the romance in the movie provides a backdrop in a movie that Marshall himself describes as his tribute to motherhood.

Helen (a perky and likable Hudson), a high flying assistant in a fashion company finds her world torn upside down when her sister and brother in law are killed in a car crash, and she is left custody of her 2 nieces and nephew. During the course of domestication, Helen predictably finds support and love in the strangest places along the way. Joan Cusack of course puts in another layered performance full of comedy and empathy, outstripping anybody else who dares act alongside her, this having a slightly detrimental effect on the less experienced Hudson. However, Hudson does hold her own effectively and tries her best to bring to life a script that is quite reminiscent of Diane Keaton's Baby Boom; Successful career woman who gets saddled with kid(s), struggles to cope, moves to new area, falls in love etcetera etcetera. Maybe it is an unfair comparison but Raising Helen unfortunately falls somewhat below the marker held by its predecessor and the romance again seems to depend on the audience's familiarity with Sex and The City's Carrie and Aidan. I find it hard to believe that Corbett was cast for his charisma and unique talent. He doesn;t bring anything extra to the film, which is a shame as the character could have been a little more punchy and been more of a match for Helen. Instead he comes across as downtrodden and under the thumb. You kinda want Helen to get it back on with bubble wrap model.

So Raising Helen seems to lack its own identity. Relying on a trusted formula, trusted actors and seen before stories, it does come across as a safe film which is harmless enough and pleasant to watch but with no real bite and lacking in imagination
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Troy (2004)
7/10
Disappointing
5 June 2004
This film is not actually poor. However, with the huge publicity surrounding it, i really wanted it to be better than it was.

The cinematography was awesome, the score was subtle, the story itself is compelling but the problem was that it lost something in its delivery. In actual fact, it got a little bit boring about an hour and a half in to the film which is neve good when you are only half way through!! There were moments of excellence, for example the results of Achille's cousin's battle, the revealing of the Trojan Horse (breathtakingly accurate) and the battle scenes..well though they seemed to be all very similar, they were stunningly choreographed.

Petter O'Toole proved that he is one of the greatest actors around as the King of Troy and Eric Bana was a revelation in his post-Hulk role as his son, Prince Hector. Saffron Burrows, usually not the best actress of her generation, pulled off a smaller role with adeptness and Brad Pitt was of course..well..Brad Pitt (average acting-wise yet physically commanding when on screen).

BUt then you get to Orlando Bloom and Diane Krueger...Neither of the pair is a bad actor but the chemistry between them is so lacking that it almost had me shouting at the screen. I also found it hard to come to grips with the relationship between Hector and PAris's cousin and Achilles, her captor. I know that in such circumstances, hostages can become attracted to their keeper, yet the fact that he was an arch enemy who was killing her family and friends off with one blow of his mighty sword just seemed a little off the mark..However, i suppose this is all based on teh story that has existed for years so it cannot be changed. And if i caught a glimpse of Pitt's body sweaty and naked, i would hardly turn him away - women will get a glimpse through the eyes of Jennifer ANiston!

SO, yes - a remarkable story. Nicely executed with some bravura performances but on the negative side a little bit slow and poor casting of two of the pivotal central roles leads to a disappointment if you were expecting 100% excellence throughout.
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Zoolander (2001)
7/10
Worth it for the good bits!!
3 June 2004
Zoolander is not comedy perfection, nor is it a total waste of space. In fact it comes in just above average because when it is funny, it is laugh out loud funny. Not surprisingly, when you have Ben Stiller turning in another great performance! He is a bit of a master at this type of role though and some may say that it gets tiring seeing the same kind of humour being churned out again and again. People were turning against Jim Carrey and Robin WIlliams for the same comedy showcases again and again before they defied expectations and went against the grain. It shows that they can do more than just comedy and gain a betetr critical reception for it!! Anyway back to the subject - Zoolander is a little reminiscent of the Austin POwers movies with its over the top set pieces and pantomimic villains however it works when the storyline is just as ridiculous!

Stiller plays Derek Zoolander, a male model who's star is falling whilst OWen Wilson (Stiller's regular sidekick) rises to international fame as Hansel, the stealer of Zoolander's Male MOdel OF The Year crown. They are both portrayed as stupid himbos who have to rely on the brains of a female Time Magazine reporter when Zoolander is brainwashed to kill the Malaysian prime minister by a villainous fashion designer (Will Ferrell, deliciously camp).

Part of the joy of this film is watching out for the cameo appearances..Jon Voight, Winona Ryder and Builly Zane have larger roles whilst you can also see Victoria BEckham, Paris HIlton on the down side!! The scene when Zoolanders mermaid advert is screened in a miners village with his dad and brothers [present is priceless and probably my favourite part of the film but also look out for the calendar and the MAgnum...You will be trying hard not to laugh..

Give it a go. Great performances, lively show pieces, a good soundtrack and it aint exactly a long film film - 80 minutes! whats wrong with a bit of familiarity now and again anyway?
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Halloween II (1981)
7/10
Its a cracker!!
3 June 2004
Like some of the other reviewers, i agree that it is best to see this installment as an extension of the first film.

On reception, i am sure it could not have even compared to the original's suspense building tension and camera work. Afetrall, by the time that the sequel had been released we had also been given the Friday 13th saga and so it was becoming a bit commonplace. Lookin back in retrospect though, we are able to see that the two fit together nicely, the sequel in some ways even going to surpass some of its predecessors features..

The body count for example is a lot higher so those of you who like their slashers to have lots of inventive and fun death scenes, you will enjoy!!

death by scalding swimming pool? Check! death by blood being drained through a drip? Check! death by syringe in the eye? Check

Ouch, ouch and double ouch!!

The explanation of the relationship between Michael and Laurie is very credible yet sad but the performances of the main characters are strong. Sure, some of the bit players tend to read their lines as if they are porn stars but we dont mind that because it is a staple ingredient of a horror film..you need the cheesy boys and girls who get naked and then die horrible deaths (see swimming pool reference above). The only thing i really wish was that you could feel a little more involved with some of the doctors and nurse because half the time you are just waiting for em to peg it. With films such as Scream, teh secondary characters are developed as much as the leading roles..and it makes tehir deaths even more poignant. Also, how did Jimmy actually die in this film? can somebody please answer me that question!!?

Overall a good sequel, that is still enjoyable to watch!
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Pixote (1981)
10/10
Heartbreaking
19 May 2004
The violent death of Fernando Ramos Da Silva only eight years after the completion of this film, only adds to the poignancy of dierector BAbenco's powerful message. The film is split into two halves - the first in a reformatory where a group of youngsters are abused and violated by the violent law enforcers and guardians. The second backdrop is the city where they are confined instead by their own actions and morality, which includes mugging, pimping and killing different characters who enter their lives.

The differing gender and sexual roles in the film allow for constant changes in the characters as they interact with other people. Particularly interesting is teh character of Lalica, a transvestite who is mother and lover to some of the children. Her reaction to the arrival of Sueli, a prostitute is both poignant and tragic.

There is no happy ending to this story and i reccomend to watch it with caution as there are some very uncomfortable scenes to watch especially in teh opening twenty minutes. But whilst watching it, it is important to remember that this is not just a fictional tale. The actors are not trained professionals but instead boys selected from the streetsof Sao Paulo. They actually lived this life that is portrayed so vividly on screen and in da Silva's case, died at the hands of the police who are depicted so brutally. A documentary? A piece of fiction. It borders on both but it certainly makes for heart wrenching material and is a film that actually leaves you breathless and thinking long after having watched it.

10/10
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The Fluffer (2001)
7/10
Keep it up!!
28 April 2004
I handed in my dissertation last Friday and had been trying to get hold of this film for some of the research as it was on homosexuality in the movies..Typical that i found it today for a couple of quid in one of thos esmall video shops that you stumble upon!! So to the movie itself:

It does not have a very strong storyline, just a basic unrequited love plot but hey, that kinda does ok for most films these days. The difference here is that it is set in *shock horror* the (gay) porn industry. OK so we have had films set in the porn industry before..like boogie nights but this is a simpler tale and i don't think it attempts to be much more. The acting is not as cardboard as some people have made out and the two male leads equip themselves well. Its not the best movie around but its one of those nice little independent movies that pleasantly surprises you when you manage to track it down and i got a lot more satisfaction outta this movie than i did watching The BUtterfly Effect, just the other week!
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6/10
Slightly disturbing
25 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I will start with my praises of this film- Firstly, it is a good idea and carried out in a logical way that is not presented as confusinly as it could be. Secondly, Ashton Kutcher is actually not that bad a lead.. i wasnt one of his biggest fans but he has convinced me that i should at least give him a chance and will not be writing off any of his future films by his association! However, he did pretty well in the butterfly effect and equipped himself more than averagely.

NOw for the negatives and a few SPOILERS: Although the idea of being able to change the present by changing the past is a good one, i find it difficult to sit through these kinda horrific flashback images of paedophilia, child killers and victims, cancer victims, limbless people, mental health problems,gay prison bullies, drug addicted prostitutes... You can't half help feeling that it is for effect..I mean - its gonna be more interesting than just having boring nice scenarios to keep replaying but when these did come, i just thanked god that it had lightened up. The guy who wrote this script apparently came up with Final Destination and it is a shame that the twisted humour from that film did not make the transfer. The only time i laughed was when Kayleigh's brother was a twisted demeted dog killing psycho kid and the next he was a religious prep boy - that was just sheer disbelief. Some of the plot lines dont match up and i would tell you which ones if i could really remember - thats the main problem. Its got a good cast and a good premise but it loses itself in its desperation to stand out and thus becomes a muddled vehicle for Kutcher and Amy Smart to carry on climbing from.
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