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garynorton

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28 reviews in total 
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Prometheus (2012/I)
2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
The Alien marketing hook without the pay-off, 1 June 2012
7/10

2093AD, following the discovery of alien star maps on Earth, a scientific space expedition to seek out the origins of man, ala Chariot of the Gods, arrives at LV223 (NOT LV426!). But is everything as it seems..... Ridley Scott has wisely lambasted the idea of a straight sequel/prequel to Alien/Aliens, as they had been done to death. However, he felt he could re-visit some of its most stunning-but previously unexplained images-a derelict spacecraft,cargo and "space jockeys". The issue I had was that by delving into the same territory and using parts of Alien as a hook to draw interest-there was some expectation of xenomorph action. Alas not. The first act is slow and lacks the tense atmosphere that Alien/Aliens had from the start. However, it is beautiful to look at and the concept of finding the origins of man is nicely laid out. This is it's own beast, so why follow the old traits of success. When the landing party start to investigate a strange mound structure and its interior-things start to get more interesting. However, the pacing and tension are no way near as well balanced and sustained as Alien/s. The comparisons are unavoidable-the makers are using the Alien canon to tell the tale but fall short of their aspirations. Now, there are some very good things here.I Fassbenders android, is superb. Is he seemingly as ruthless as Ash from Alien, or the hidden good guy of Aliens? Or just morally ambiguous? Rapace, Theron and Elba are also of a decent standard. However, the Prometheus's crew are fairly one dimensional cut outs overall, partly due to the extra baggage of the origins idea and because there are 17 crew members. Also the script and characterisations are in no way as naturalistic as the Nostromo ensemble had in Alien. Individually, even the main cast members lack character arcs-aside from Fassbender.

On the bright side, there are two very near classic gruesome scenes which tap into the Alien ideology. Its just a shame that Ridley Scott didn't hire another script writer to come in to hone and polish the third act. It becomes muddled, characters seem to be expelling exposition in a matter of a fact way to make up for the lack of explanation elsewhere. I still enjoyed the film overall, but the individual moments of brilliance do not make a classic, consistent piece. The 3D is very good,as it was filmed with this in mind. Whatever Ridley Scott was intending to create is given a nasty dose of the comical with Guy Pearce's old man prosthetics and undermines the realism and attention to detail gone before it. The last act has its moments but leaves behind a muddled batch of half baked ideas which the two script writers seem to want to just offload. I saw the origins and motives of the Space Jockey engineers long before the writers drop them haphazardly into the film. The few new ideas introduced-aside from a broader explanation of the space jockeys-are left unanswered.

am being very critical but as you can see my mark is not too harse. Visually it is stunning to look at- Its more a case of I had to hold this up for comparison with the first two classic movies- which it owes its origins too.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
You would be crazy to miss it.......If you like survival horror, 3 March 2010
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Improving on the original Romero "classic" (as some call it) is not hard. The original had a shoe-string budget which-combined with poor acting- gave it an almost most 70's porn film production value. That aside the central premise is solid and this remake executes it well.

An army bio-weapon, code named Trixie, is accidentally dumped into a small everyday Americana white picket-fenced homes in a farm town's water supply. Once ingested Trixie sets off a "viral" madness which grows exponentially out of control....

The thunder has been stolen from this concept in recent years- the "28 days/weeks double being the most significant- but there is no use in complaining about that when you have flogged to death horror franchises and their rebooted efforts on the horizon every other month! Jason, Michael and Freddy please take note.....

The film focuses as much on the military containment efforts- and the "clear-up" process which has shades of the Third Reich's final solution. These elements are more emotionally affecting than the well made horror action set-pieces, as the real horror is being treated like cattle by your own; ring-fenced with razor wire and bar-coded without explanation.

What would have improved the film? A little more focus on the initial townsfolk, a flamboyant one take tracking camera shot of various acts of murder, madness and odd behaviour in the town- weaving through homes, back out into the street etc, just for a minute or two to give it scope. Another element which is played on, but not fully examined is "Do I have the virus or do you?" paranoia. This could have created a truly unsettling atmosphere and racked up the tension even more.

One missed opportunity: I have an indeliable memory of a scene from the original. Although this version is flawed, it still had one of Romero's ace scenes in it- Picture if you will.... The view from inside the gas mask of a soldier who finds one of the locals in the infected town; a little old lady, smiling-rocking back and forth in her chair. The soldier is concerned, urging her to come with him and leave the house. She gets up- seemingly in total compliance- & whilst still smiling, drives the knitting needles into the soldier! Now that could have been left in as a homage to the original. The ending of this remake has no real surprises, left open for an unnecessary sequel, but this film is a decent afternoon's popcorn entertainment horror flick.

Avatar (2009)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Avatar! Any new embodiment of old ideas., 23 February 2010
9/10

Cameron has successfully created a new level for cinematic visual creativity and I hope other film makers grasp the obvious technological advances on show within this film. Any lover of Sci-fi/fantasy will love this and its a joy on the eye from start to finish. The story itself is the weakest element-but no disaster. It does come across like Pocahontas! Native Indian girl falls in love with one of the invaders etc.However, one plus point of having a simple story is you can focus on the visuals on show and having time to learn the ways of the Navi inhabitants along with the hero, "Jake Sully", gives you that experience. The 3D is very good and does add to the spectacle. Cameron has fallen back on some old ideas from Aliens;- such as the Amp-suits matching the loaders on board the U.S.S. Solaco, the mercenary forces/equipment that mirrors that of the Colonial Marines, the gutless corporate scum-bag embodied by "Selfridge" is a doppelganger for Aliens "Burke". I strongly recommend a viewing and cannot wait for the chance to see it at an IMAX theatre-and to have a good rummage through the Bluray when its available.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wearywolf......, 23 February 2010
5/10

The costumes and look of the film are good, but the overall result is somewhat lacking in all departments aside from gore. Considering the well documented troubled production issues, its a wonder anything watchable remains. These troubles include: The original director leaving for "creative issues"; Joe Johnston rushed in to fill the directorial chair with expectations to stick to the original production deadline (with a reduced budget); discounting Elfman's original Gothic soundtrack and re-scoring with a synthesized modern score-then reverting back to Elfman! Studio "suit" interference resulted in this nearly being put down with silver bullet prior to its completion! The funny thing is, the studio then decided to have re-shoots which extended the productions deadline and increased the budget. Why didn't they stick with the original director and let him have his way in the first place? The film is a watchable diversion, but as you exit the cinema-there is no lasting impression. The characters relationships seem to have been left on the cutting room floor, there is substance to the love that Del Toro and Blunt are supposed to have developed for one another. The "twist" ending-if it can be called that as its so obvious and silly also grates. One big issue for me were the werewolf transformations. When you consider a master FX craftsman, Rick Baker, was brought on board (with his Oscar-winning knowledge & experience "American Werewolf In London" practical and mechanical effects), how can the results here be so average? "AWIL" was made in 1981 and nearly 30 years later this movies transformations are very "yeah, whatever." I have read Baker's barely concealed comments on the powers that be influence-not sure if he means it was the studio, the director, or both-but he should have been given total control over these areas. Why bring a top notch make-up and practical FX guy to oversea average CGI tosh?! Someone owes Mr Baker another shot at his own title......

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Day We Got Another Half Baked Remake, 17 December 2008
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The original has dated (unsurprising given the passing of 57 years- especially where Sci-fi had barely found its legs in terms of concepts and fx). The remake fails to correct the originals issues for a modern audience, as well as lacking cohesion and common sense. Why does an alien civilisation- which obviously cares about the environment, right down to the smallest of organisms- lack any emotion? Why have another alien observe and research mankind for 70 years-only to have him right off 6 billion people in a global genocide? All passed onto Keanu's "Klaatu" verbally, in a couple of minutes over a coffee in MacDonalds?!! The very same "observer" then contradicts himself stating he loves us but can't explain why. Gee, thanks-we were kind of relying on you to convey some serious issues but you are old and feel lucky to be amongst us-just can't be bothered to prevent total Armageddon. I did like the references towards the biblical; Keanu walking on water, the sphere animal "arks", the nanabot locust swarms of destruction. However these touches were few and far between. Klaatu has a massive decision to make, but why he needs to "feel" anything about the sense of loss that Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith have gone through to realise the Earth is worth saving is beyond me! I thought thats what all alien technology and long years of observation and study was for! I also hated the wordless exit of the alien presence-I wanted Klaatu up on his soap box telling it like it is. The director was not going to have a Gort (robot protector) of any kind, but changed his mind during the making. Just as well, otherwise this would have been even less exciting. Also, I don't want to lay into the young boy ,Jaden, (Will Smiths son) but he was awful in this and could only have got this act under "its not what you know-but who your Dad is" screen test challenge.....

Iron Man (2008)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Transformers, but with "heart"!, 1 May 2008
8/10

I read a few Iron Man comics- it had its moments- but it was never a major buy on my hit-list back in the day....So its credit to the writers,director Favreau and the wonderful turn by Robert Downey Jr, that this film hits the mark so well. The pithy one liners fly back and forth, the practical & visual effects are seamlessly integrated and the secondary characters all decent. Aside, that is, from the insidious cardboard cut-out Taliban-like fundamentalists! It could have had more action maybe, but I think they are leaving a trump card when it comes to the inevitable-and welcomed- sequel. Jeff Bridges fleshes out a fairly straight forward,"I thought you were on my side" bad guy part. The other supporting cast of Paltrow and Howard are also very likable. But this is Downey's show and he plays his "Bruce Wayne for Real" part with relish and quick fire wit. If you are interested to sit through the end credits you will also get to see a famous Hollywood players cameo-introducing future possibilities for the Marvel Universe.........

Poorer for the fact it rips off another, 1 May 2008
3/10

I got this movie confused with another, as they both were made within 4 years of one another! Mind due how was i to know that TWO low budget films had been made about zombie Nazi's rising from the water!! This film might have lots of nudity-but even frat-aged pubescent boys will groan at this trash. This was made in 1981 but the better film made in 1977 deserves a watch. Starring Peter Cushing of all people, it had various names, Shock Waves, Almost Human and Death Corps! It is much netter, still cheap and daft-but I remember it being quite effective. If this kind of thing floats your boat then see the new "Outpost" film released this year (2008), its rather good!

Outpost (2007)
8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Effective Low Budget Horror, 1 May 2008
6/10

A well produced, horror flick that follows some many traditions in this field. A good "hook" script idea with a poorly thought out, daft explanation. Too many horror films-when dealing with out of this world concepts-do exactly the same. Lets have a brief 10 minute exposition of the just read out from the script by a leading character! Still, it has some creepiness and fairly good cinematography, a muted. bleached colour/contrast (ala Saving Private Ryan). The plus points are the enemy-shadows of their former selves; shadows of SS army ghosts (or ae they?). Aside from the problems with the "lets quickly make up an explanation" theory thrown in, the main problems are as follows: The mercenaries seem to made up of a spectrum of foreign soldiers-which is fine-but the accents of some are amusingly bad! "You can be sure o one ting. No-bod-dy gives a foook about oz!" says the "African" guy. The accents didn't totally kill the films "playing it straight" approach, but did bring out a wry smile!

Unlike Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers effort, this film lacked any sense of humour at all and might have been better for a "Hicks" type character from "Aliens" to have a mordant black sense of doom and humour. There seems to be one Irish soldier employed for this purpose but most of his lines fall fairly flat for the most part, although he is merely unrecognisable from the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost "Spaced" series, where he played (a v.funny) cycle courier with a mind messed by drug use! Overall, the visual design was very good despite its obvious budget constraints, such as the ghost/zombie elements-notably the Nazi approach from the back-lit tree-line. Are they underfire, or not? Well worth a watch then but I walked away feeling that it could have been so much better. I think the writer of this might have been influenced by a few films but...... Many years a go (back in 1977) I went to see cheap schlock horror movie starring Peter Cushing, about a zombie U boat crew who rise from the depths to kill the cast one by one. It was quite effective for the time-probably a bit daft and tame now-but the memory of it stayed with me. Shock waves, Almost Human and Dead Corps were the titles it ran under.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Made By The Dead more like......, 28 March 2008
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It may have zombies and the title of a Romero movie-but this film isn't anything like in his league. The similarities between the original are (thankfully) sparse. The Army involvement and "Bud" the pet zombie.

I am not sure what is intended with this addition-is it a follow-up to the superior remake of Dawn of the Dead? Probably not-but they should have got someone else apart from Ving Rhames to play the Army guy,it merely confuses an already messy film.

The story is very haphazard and everything is thrown into the mix early on- like having Keystone Cop speed staccato editing of fast moving zombies. It does not build up or make use of any sense of tension. Talking of "sense"- the character service the inane plotting despite totally contradicting their previous actions and beliefs. The "You can see I am a Rap Artist 'cause o' my attitude" Salazar character very nearly shoots Bud, his comrade when he is bitten. Cue a stand-off discussing why they should off him forthwith. However, when Bud becomes a zombie-everyone including Salazar lets him be: FOR NO REASON!!

The director eventually tries to offer up a solution and explanation by throwing in the "it was all are own fault, playing God and creating a virus" idea, straight out of the equally terrible Resident Evil series.

So much of this film derives from other sources- not necessarily a bad thing- but none of it improves on it or adds anything remotely new. Low points include: When zombies are firebombed, you get sub-standard Blade style explosions of ash. Bored of zombies walking slowly-lets crank up the speed of the film a little and have them run around like super-fast polio sufferers. Silly running not bad enough for, eh? Why not have them scurry up walls and run across the ceiling like spider-man?!! HOW???!!!! Since when did becoming one of the undead turn you into Peter Parker? The worst thing is despite all the blood and gore and running around- it was simply boring.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Original Fatal Attraction.............., 19 March 2008
10/10

Bearing in mind this was made in 1971 and was the first directorial effort of Clint Eastwood, its a pretty wonderful thriller. Okay, so it is a little dated in its 70's style, but you will be hard pressed to see a more effective, entertaining, knife-wielding lunatic female- and that includes Glenn Close's turn in Fatal Attraction. The obsessive, Evelyn, who latches onto Clint's free-loving womanising DJ, is superbly played by Jessica Walter. This has a touch of Hitchcock about it to me and was certainly a mature choice of movie for Eastwood, whose career was still in its infancy focused toward the all American anti-hero.

My comparisons to Fatal Attraction are inevitable, since the basic premise is the same:- F.A. mirrors "Misty". Guy thinks he can have sex as he pleases, discarding the woman soon after. Woman has an obsessive screw loose and by the end its a fight to death.

Check out the cleaning lady who disturbs the rejected lunatic lover, cutting up Eastwoods clothes.Ouch!


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