Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
First of all - I love horror films. The recent distaste for so-called 'torture porn' (a horrific example of lazy journalism if ever there was one) is lost on me - I enjoyed Hostel as much for the social commentary as the horror scenes. If someone wants to debate the rights and wrongs of this recent sub-genre, then fair enough - I will happily sit down and argue my views that this is a legitimate form of entertainment, often revealing some form of social commentary (albeit not always, obviously). I often enjoy these arguments, and by the end both participants have (at least in my view) gained an insight into the differing views on the genre.
This might seem like a strange way to start a review, but bear with me. I like the debates. What I don't like is being lectured to. What I especially hate is being lectured to by a film that shows me elaborate scenes of torture before screaming at me that I'm wrong for enjoying it. And that is the problem with untraceable.
The premise is intriguing. A website springs up online, inviting online viewers to 'kill with me'. The more people log on, the faster the victims dies. About as subtle as a brick. But even taking the film at face value has it's problems - whilst some of the torture scenes are well-thought out, there is little to no suspense. Whilst one scene involving the lead character and her daughter does gnaw at the stomach, it's dissipated all too quickly. The victims are either unlikeable or anonymous enough to garner no sympathy, and the concept of cyber crime is never a good one. Watching a computer hacker is about as interesting as a screensaver, and is usually followed by streams of unintelligible dialogue. Note to scriptwriters - you can put in as many long words as you like to make yourself feel clever, but it doesn't always make the film better. Technology is used as an explanation for all plot holes, until it hits the ridiculous extreme as the bad guy hacks INTO A CAR. The villain himself is another ridiculous character, with a back story that was clearly an afterthought.
However, I've given this 3 out of 10. Mainly for Diane Lane, who puts in a good performance, and some inventive scenes. But even at the end, the film cannot help but batter you with its moralising, shouting at you for enjoying the torture scene it's showing you. Frankly, it would have been better if it had just been shouting "BAD! BAD! BAD! BAD! SICK! BAD!" over a picture of a gopher being hit with a hammer. Avoid.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Nice fights, shame about the plot.
I'm writing this as a long time lover of the Bond series. Despite my skepticism about the reboot concept, I thoroughly enjoyed Casino Royale. Unfortunately, QoS does not live up to it's predecessor, although it is far from being a bad film.
A smart and fast-paced opening starts the film well, setting the action shortly after the events of Casino Royale. Bond is out for revenge, and this is reflected in some very brutal action scenes, which surely push the 12A rating imposed by the BBFC. Hints are dropped about mysterious groups, which will surely become a plot point in future films.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the only point behind QoS. The plot involves a lot of political squabbling over the treatment of third world countries that frankly feels like it has been written by a Year 12 Marxist sociology student. Whilst Mathieu Amalric provides a suitably slimy villain, you feel that the role is wasted. The shadowy Quantum feels like a sub-par Spectre, and we can only hope their role will be beefed up in future films.
However, it's not all bad. Fight scenes are excellently choreographed, and there are some touching scenes between Bond and Camille. The series continues to go darker, and we can hope that this future films will be better executed than this effort.
Worth a watch, but it could have been handled so much better.
El orfanato (2007)
Beautiful & Terrifying
Part of what some are describing as a new wave of Spanish Horror (as influenced by last years superb Pans Labyrinth), The Orphanage sees director Juan Antonio Bayona take over duties from Guillermo del Toro, who is wearing the producers hat this time round. The result sees one of the most beautifully filmed and yet utterly terrifying films to grace the cinema screens in recent years.
The plot concerns a woman called Laura, who has bought the orphanage she grew up in, intending to reopen it as a special school. She has moved in with her husband and son, who soon begins to open some of the mysteries of the past...
To go in to any further detail would do this film a disservice. This film has been lovingly shot and edited in the style of old ghost stories. What scares there are - and believe me there are some - are shown with subtlety and atmosphere, which makes it all the more terrifying when they happens. The atmosphere is tense and creepy throughout - a far cry from other recent horror films, and all the better for it.
The film echoes Pans Labyrinth in terms of style and (in a loose sense) plot. Del Toro may have been producer, but you can see his handywork on screen. However, this is not a bad thing, and Bayona should have a good career ahead of him. A strong (and gut-wrenching) ending ties the film up nicely, and the film will remain with you for a good long while after you leave the cinema.
Saw IV (2007)
Has Saw run out of steam?
About this time of year in 2004, I went down to the cinema to see a low-budget horror film called Saw. Dark, disturbing, it got under your skin and had me walking about of the cinema open-mouthed with a shock ending. Three years later, I found myself walking to the cinema again, this time dizzy with expectation. I was desperate to see Saw IV. Having loved the previous films, and with an irresistible ending of the previous installment, I couldn't wait. So many questions needed answering, so many threads to be tied together...
As I said, I left the cinema in 2004 open-mouthed. I remained in this state throughout the walk home (which got me many strange looks on the way, it has to be said). I left the cinema this afternoon very disappointed. Were the questions answered? Some, more were asked. Were the threads tied up? Not a hope. But still... the irresistible ending... surely there must be something there? No. The storyline goes off on a tangent, pushing the conclusion to Saw III in the background. As for the new traps, there's a couple of good inventions, but nothing as sinister as before. Tragically for Saw IV, the film seems to have lost it's invention.
There are good moments. A glimpse into jigsaw's past is always welcome, although there's not much that we haven't seen before. References to previous films are always a nice nod to the fans, and the acting and direction are very good.
Sadly, there's just too many flaws in this film. The ending is poor, and the main story just doesn't make enough sense in places - you're left wondering exactly how senior FBI agents can be that dumb in a couple of places. An ignored storyline and a lack of invention do not bode well for Saw V. I'm hoping they learn from the failures, and get back to doing what they do best - a group of people placed in extra-ordinary and inventive situations. Get back to the dark industrial hell of the previous films, and they have a chance. The invention of the Saw films is what has lifted the series above the normal "madman with a knife" dross, and I'm hoping they can get back on form.
I'd read a series of reviews that claimed that this was the funniest film ever. I'd heard stories of people collapsing their lungs laughing in the cinema. The blurb on the front cover from magazines I respect told me to expect a laugh riot. I'm wondering how any of these stories happened - this film is a pathetic childish mess.
There were three scenes I enjoyed in this film - the rodeo scene, the camper van scene (both exposed ignorance, which is what the film should have concentrated on), and the kidnapping scene at the end (very funny). However, in between these good moments, we are subjected to sub-Farrelly humour. Naked wrestling around a hotel? Hilarious. An endless series of jokes on masturbation? My sides, they're splitting. Carrying your faeces into a dinner party? And so on. I understand that the point of the film was to highlight ignorance, racism and fear of foreigners. Why the film felt it necessary to embarrass a dinner party but carrying a bag of faeces to the table and invite a prostitute to the table, I will never know. I get a feeling I don't want to.
As with Ali G, Baran Cohen has proved that he cannot carry a character for more than 5 minutes. I'm hoping this will see the end of him and his 'wacky' characters, but experience and a sizable box office makes this unlikely. Please avoid this dismal rubbish.
Dark, sick, twisted... and hilarious
Described as Shaun of the Dead meets The Office, they're not far wrong. A team of office workers are sent to a retreat in rural Hungary in a team-building exercise. Completely unaware that there may or may not be something nasty in the woods...
Born out of one mans hatred for commuters, this is a nasty, gruesome, bloodthirsty, dark little film. It's also as funny as hell. Tim McInnery turns in a great performance as the boss who above all else, insists on team work and team spirit - think David Brent only even more unbearable. The rest of the cast aren't just fodder either - they are all characters that you'll recognise. The smug guy who think's he's bigger than the company. The cocky guy who couldn't care less about the team. The office weasel, sucking up to the boss despite the fact that he will never become management.
The film isn't so much laced with dark humour, it's more dripping in it. If you like films where you're laughing even though on every level you know you shouldn't be, this is the film for you.
Guy X (2005)
Apparently Guy X doesn't mark the spot. (very very very mild spoilers)
Open at an army base in the middle of nowhere. Jason Biggs steps off a plane, to discover he's a victim of mistaken identity, shipped to the wrong army barracks. An interesting premise? Yes. A cue for comic misadventure as he attempts to escape? You'd think so. And whilst Guy X has funny moments, unfortunately they are few and far between whilst this film tries to decide what it wants to be. Plot lines are built up and then discarded in favour of other non-sensical ideas. The promising initial premise got lost between the mess of subplots fighting for attention. By the conclusion, with nothing answered and no satisfying ending, you'll wish it had just picked one and stuck with it. Too late.
The Producers (2005)
Not as good as the original
One of the joys of going into a film with low expectations is that you can only be pleasantly surprised. And whilst this was better than I though it would be, it was still far from perfect. As a standalone film, it may have worked better, but the 1968 version is one of the funniest films I've ever seen. This is partly due to the manic energy that Gene Wilder puts into Leo Bloom, which haunts Matthew Broderick. Even in the new scenes Wilder's absence is noticeable, but the scenes from the original feel like they're missing something. However, the rest of the cast manage to avoid unfavourable comparisons. Nathan Lane carries off Zero Mostels role superbly, and Will Ferrell is everything you could want from a crazed Nazi on the run. Uma Thurman goes against type to do superbly well as Ulla, and Gary Beach carries off an extended role for Roger DeBris.
The main problem though, is that the original was a tightly plotted fast moving caper. This version on the other hand is slower paced and overlong in places. And why mess with the lyrics for Springtime for Hitler? Insanity.
However, some of the added songs work well and add humour to some of the dryer moments of the original. So worth watching, but keep a copy of the original handy to remind yourself how great it is.
Hit and miss
I really wanted to enjoy this one. I great cast made up from shows I love, an interesting premise - what could go wrong? Well for starters, a lack of a decent plot. There's a flimsy storyline about three couples getting their (insane) dream weddings, and the preparations that lead to the wedding, but this appears to be nothing more than a narrative thread so they could decide what order to have the jokes in. Secondly, all the couples only have one joke. Admittedly, for two out of the three couples it is a funny joke, but it wears thin towards the end and could easily have been trimmed to make the film lighter. However, one couple (Josef and Isabelle) are just relentlessly annoying, their story falling flat. Finally, all the actors appear to be playing their sitcom roles. Martin Freeman plays his character as at least a relative of Tim from the office. Steven Mangan is Guy from Green Wing. The guys from Peep show are their characters, Jimmy Carr is Jimmy Carr. Only Jessica Stevenson is allowed to make a new character from herself, nowhere near to Daisy from Spaced (which, would've made an interesting addition to the film). But whilst I love Green Wing, The Office and Peep Show, it doesn't mean I want to see these characters merely transferred to film. However, despite these criticisms, the film is funny, with scenes that had me laughing loudly in the cinema. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near as good as it could've been with more work, more jokes and original characters.
The Magician (2005)
Funny, character-led little gem (spoilers)
OK, so this film may be derivative. It owes a hell of a lot to Man Bites Dog, and more specifically The Last Horror Movie. But I enjoyed both of those, and this story about a hit-man who hires his film student neighbour to make a documentary about him is a) as dark as coal and b) funny as hell. There are differences between this film and the afore mentioned inspirations though. In Man Bites Dog and the Last Horror Movie, the protagonists were crazed killers, who attacked for no reason, and attacked constantly. In this, only 2 people are killed. The story is based around one of the leads 'jobs', and is indispersed with events and interviews based both before and after the job. The writing is both entertaining and moving, as the lead considers himself a man of some morals, just with a rubbish job. He goes and helps a friend take revenge on a former colleague who robbed him, because he considers it the right thing to do. He kills another friend in cold blood, because he believes it the right thing to do for his friend. Twisted logic and morality, but it's refreshing to find out why he kills. The film is worth seeing if the opportunity arises, and whilst it is a black as coal comedy, it's one that can make you think. And it's always good to see a film about killing where killing isn't the main feature.
House of the Dead (2003)
Actually, not that bad
First point. This movie is rubbish. Complete rubbish.
Second point. It knows it's rubbish and does not try to be anything more than rubbish.
It's dire, but it's fun. A world where the fishermen are creepy and speak of evil prophecy? A world where a rave costs a $1000 boat ticket? A world where the dumb yet cute teenagers run around in tight/no tops? Welcome to House Of The Dead. A world that can exist without such things as plot or script, and just focus on killing zombies. And to be honest, good for them! This isn't high brow art, this is dumb enjoyment, and a fun way to kill an hour and a half. You don't need a massive IQ, you just sit down, relax and watch the inevitable dismemberment as a bunch of dumb teens get what's coming to them. OK, so it has plot holes the size of planets, and characters who act with the most frustrating stupidity. So what? The game was a dumb shoot-em-up, why should this be any different? Splicing in clips from the game adds to the computer game feel. So does having death clips where the screen turns red following flashbacks of the characters action. So why discard this policy after the first couple of kills? This is my one major complaint about the film. But apart from this, if you are looking to disengage brain and enjoy a perfectly serviceable horror film then here you go. And in an age where horror films appear to have lost their sense of fun (I'm talking to you Jeepers Creepers and Ginger Snaps) or are verging on the point of ridiculous (Cherry Falls), this film is beyond vital. Other directors, stop acting like we care about the characters!
Final point, I watched this and Oceans Twelve today. One was a perfectly enjoyable film. The other disappeared up it's own arse with it's pretension. No surprises which is which.
Having fun won't make you blind. Enjoy this film.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
So-so (beware, spoilers)
I went into this film with magazine reviews racing round in my mind. Not that good, they said. For obsessive fans of the originals and teenagers only, they said. Personally, I ignore such reviews. They are often done by serious minded critics, and films like these are not for serious minded people. They are for people who want light entertainment. I stand by my theory, though AvP did test my faith. It's not a bad film, but not particularly good either. I was disappointed by it. The previous Alien films (yes, even resurrection) were, in my opinion, good films. Aliens is one of my favourites of all time. They are very well written, and all follow a simple formula. They have a small group of people who are thrown in an unescapable situation, and get picked off one by one. The same applies to predator. And this means the characters have to be strong. However, AvP deviates from this formula. The characters are irrelevant, given second place to the carnage. Often one-dimensional, we don't even know most of their names. A short film already, ten-fifteen minutes back story would have been useful. A previous history between Lex and Weyland would have been wonderful. Whilst we're on the subject, Weyland was a completely wasted character. The founder of one of the most powerful companies on earth, the prototype for the Bishop droid, and not a word on his history. Inexcuseable. And killing almost all of them off in a very short space of time is a waste. Far better to kill 3 or 4 off at one point and then to kill them one at a time. However, it's not all bad. The fight scenes are fantastic and seeing the alien and the predators fight still thrills me. But like the rest of the film, the fight scenes are far too short. The aliens fail to convey the same menace as they have done in previous films (despite the fact that this is the first alien film i've seen on the cinema screen). The characters are a lot prettier than in prior films though, Anderson has done a nice job of remodelling them. It's a pity that during kills, we have to flick back and forth, in order to get a small rating. Overall, not a bad film. The fight scenes make up for the lack of characters and the pyramid is a nice touch. But (and please take note of this for the sequel fox), we desperately need some better developed characters. We want to care when they die! We want to feel what they're going through! That's why we go to films. Giving a character a couple of kids isn't enough.
The film of 2004
I am not an easy person to please when it comes to films. I am picky, I gripe at minor points, I'll happily rant about something for hours. So it was an incredibly nice surprise to see this low budget shocker. Having gone to the cinema on a whim, I had the choice between this or Resident Evil 2. I stand by my choice. The acting, whilst a bit shaky, seemed to fit the mood of the film. The story was inventive, the bad guy the most interesting movie villain since Se7ens murderer. In fact, probably more interesting. The camera work was amazing, using fantastic techniques to highlight panic, and the film was filled with enough misdirection to keep me guessing throughout. And then we get to the ending. Wow. I'm not sure I've seen a better ending. As I was walking to the cinema, I was even moaning about conclusions in recent films, and how difficult it is to end a story in a satisfactory manner. But then having seen this, my faith is final acts has been restored. As the credits rolled in the cinema, I was sitting there, open-mouthed, trying to comprehend what I had just seen. It took me most of the walk home, it was that good. Put simply, this is easily the best film made this year. And to not see it is an act of masochism. 10/10
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Of course I wasn't expecting a masterpiece. You'd be stupid to do so. What I was expecting was a fun and entertaining way to kill two hours. And it definately delivered on that front. From the 'finding nemo' style story to the fantastic effects, this film was... fun. Too often in recent films, we've had too much plot development in films that we don't go to for the plot. And whilst there is a hint of plot in this, you get the impression that plot was the last thing on the directors mind. Instead it was more a case of 'Hello America, meet destruction!' The film is better for that. Sure, it's not Shakespeare but it's a good laugh.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
As I begin to write this, I notice that 4'277 IMDB users have rated this film 10/10. I fail to imagine why and blame the use of hallucinagenic drugs. This film is terrible. I say 'Praise be!' in the summary because it is over.
This film shows how terrible a trilogy can go. Granted it should not take all the blame, Reloaded was also dire. Two crimes against cinema, especially considering that 'The Matrix' was one of the best more imaginative films of recent years. Why was this? - Interesting premise - Characters we cared about - Fantastic plot twists - Visually stunning techniques that had not been seen before Had the sequels delivered these then the series would have worked. But no. Interesting premise? Somewhat, but made too complicated with needlessly added philosophy. A better premise would've been the hunt for Zion rather than trying to defend it against poorly animated machines. Characters we care about? No. Morpheous became a parody of his former self. Neo and Trinity became irritating, due to bad acting. Several other minor characters came into the fold with no plot development or decent storylines. Why everyone keeps going on about Monica Bellucia I don't know, she was only in it for 5 minutes. Plot twists? Meet an incredibly linear storyline. Stupidly, the chance for such a twist (a matrix with in a matrix - dodgy but doable, and redeemable) was passed over with nary a mention. Visually stunning techniques? No. A brief kung fu scene in reloaded that was inferior in every way to the original, and then several fights made with incredibly bad CGI, made worse by the release of Kill Bill and the House of Blue Leaves. What do we have? In fairness, there were some good set pieces. The mech scene was interesting and kept my interest for a bit, but it went on for far too long. The final fight scene between Neo and Smith wasn't bad in visual terms. Not great but not bad. However, it went on far too long as well. They fly apart, they crash together. They fly apart, they crash together. The visuals get wasted, the scene is boring, my bum hurt and I was waiting to get out of the cinema.
A wasted premise. 2.5/10
Sex Lives of the Potato Men (2004)
Question: Could this be the worst British film in ages? Answer: Actually, no
I went to see this the other night on the back of the Daily Mail review. I say review, I mean they were ranting about it on their front page. "Why was this film made?" they screamed, raising my interest in the film a fair bit. So that night, when my mate asked me if i felt like seeing a film, the review plus a lack of interest in anything else out at the moment prompted me to suggest this. And I saw why the Mail hated it so. Sex, smut, innuendo and general filth and depravity from the offset. And yes, I haven't laughed so much in a long time.
For those wondering, I do not consider myself low brow - in fact my taste in film can border on Stalinist. I do not subscribe to the Farrelly brothers school of film (gross out gross out make them barf), in fact I normally detest films of that nature. I cringe with disgust at them. So whats the difference between them and the Potato men?
THE SEX LIVES OF THE POTATO MEN IS FUNNY
Yes, there is smut and filth. But, it's presented through a series of jokes that are funny. The cultural elite led by Mervyn Bragg may disapprove, the Mail will continue to rant for weeks about this no doubt. But who cares? This is simple humour about a group of working class lads having serious problems in their sex lives in a series of situations that I find amusing. So to answer Mr Bogule's question as to whether this is the worst British film ever - no, far from it. Go see unless easily offended.
Married with Children (1986)
Why? Why why why why why?
I've just had the misfortune to watch this show, and it's not an experience I ever want to repeat. Appaling predictable jokes that aren't funny, with canned laughter going along syncophatically, and some audience whooping whenever anyone comes on screen or there's any sexual reference. Is this the pinacle of American humour? If so, I really worry about the state of your country.