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31 reviews in total 
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6 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Great adaptation of the book, 3 September 2010

This is a great Australian movie, and not just because it's a faithful adaptation of a well-loved book. The action feels realistic and doesn't take over the whole movie, and there are some real edge of your seat moments. For a movie about the beginning of a war, the violence is actually minimal, but it's appropriately shocking and disturbing when it does occur. It's exciting and well-paced: you're not waiting for it to end, or waiting for something to happen.

Most surprisingly, for a cast of largely unknown young actors (Australian soapies don't count), the acting is pretty good and you really feel yourself being pulled along with these kids. There are a few cringe-worthy moments, but generally they sit well in their characters and give genuine and quite touching performances. Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings) was especially good, playing the moral and religious character without making her seem uptight or old-fashioned.

I'm glad that John Marsden turned down so many offers (over a 100) to turn this story into a movie, it's a real testament to his credibility that he wanted it done properly, he wasn't just out to make money. It's the little touches that I liked. When Ellie looks at an cartoon mural in town showing English soldiers confronting Aboriginal people at First Contact, there's a subtle reminder that Australia actually has been invaded by strangers before.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Proof that the popularity of Top Gear lies in its presenters, 17 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The basic concept of Top Gear is to talk about cars in an entertaining way that attracts even those who know nothing about cars. The hosts are the ones who make the often rather boring car stuff funny and interesting, and it is for this reason that the Australian version fails. Charlie, Steve and Warren are pale imitations of their British counterparts.The ideas are OK, testing utes in a mine for example was a good use of the Australian setting. But the problem is that the presenters just aren't funny. Their jokes feel forced and consistently fall flat. Warren is like that old moustached uncle whose history lessons and bad jokes you try to avoid at Christmas. Charlie tries to be the elitist arrogant version of Jeremy Clarkson but lacks the same biting wit. Steve at least seems to have expertise as a driver and as the youngest, is the most appealing. But he's not that funny either.

The British version succeeds because the banter between the hosts feels natural and the situations (although often set up or scripted) are believable. This is not the case in the Australian version. Take for example tonight's episode where Warren "randomly" stops mid-trip to look in an antique shop. Comically, the other hosts drive off. It didn't look spontaneous, it looked contrived.

Fans of the original will be disappointed.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Same old same old, 16 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just like the first movie, Prince Caspian is like a poor man's LOTR. I don't want to make sweeping comparisons just because they are fantasy films, but anyone who has seen the LOTR series cannot fail to see the blatant similarities. Trees save the day, a river rises up magically to sweep away the enemy? These things may very well have happened in the book but it just felt like we'd seen it all before. I don't think the Narnia movies do anything particularly new or inventive in the genre, apart from adding Chrisitian overtones (which seemed even more obvious in Prince Caspian).

The battle scenes lack any tension (partly because the Telmarines aren't as good an enemy as the white witch) and the main characters are once again mostly irritating. Peter might look the part but the way he talks makes him sound effeminate. At least the actors playing Lucy and Edmund have improved. Susan.....the love story seemed frustrating and felt a bit half-hearted, like the writers wanted to explore it further but were obviously constrained by Lewis' story.

The Golden Compass deserved a sequel, Chronicles of Narnia did not. I hope this is the last of them.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Too slow to get going, skip it and watch the third movie!, 4 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really didn't like this movie. For many people, this is their least favourite book in the Harry Potter series, but I don't think that's why the movie is so painful. It is unfortunate in having a a really poor director.

Dobby is the CGI Potter equivalent of Jar Jar Binks, I thought he was terrible. It's ironic that I imagined Dobby very much as a gremlin type of creature in my head, and Chris Columbus was actually a writer for Gremlins! If he'd made Dobby into a Gremlin, I think I would have liked him much more.

As a small but annoying detail, someone should tell Rupert Grint that acting consists of more than a breaking voice and raised eyebrows. That boy's range consists of confused and scared, which coincidentally involves the same movements of his furrowed brow.

Now there are obvious, practical reasons why screenplays differ from novels, you are working with a much smaller time-frame, some scenes are difficult to translate to a visual medium, sometimes a scene will have to be changed or represented differently to create the same tension or dramatic effect. It's understandable.

What's not understandable is the writing and directorial decisions for most of Chamber of Secrets. Many of the scenes are ponderous and slow, the dialogue is forced and perfunctory, there is no sense of tension or building mood. I'm so glad Chris Columbus was replaced as director, he just doesn't seem to be able to get any sparks out of the story or his cast. It might look good but it's just so slow paced, I just can't get over it! There are too many times when Rowling's original dialogue is ignored and the scenes changed for no apparent reason at all. When real lines are included, they are taken out of context or not used properly at all. It makes me wonder if the actors read the book at all. Mrs Weasly is just a caricature, when she tells Mr Weasly that Fred, George and Ron rescued Harry, her acting makes me cringe, its such a pantomime performance when she is supposed to be really mad!

But perhaps the best example of how the movie completely fails to represent any spirit or essence of the novel is when Malfoy is revealed as the new Seeker for Slytherin and insults Hermione. He calls her a mud-blood, one of the worst and most insulting names for a muggle-born, and yet in the movie it barely gets a reaction. There's no outcry from anyone but Ron, who after a good two seconds of awkward silence says, "You'll pay for that one Malfoy, east slugs!" (almost lazily and with very little rage or indignation!). The idea of 'bood purity' is the central concern of the novel, but it's just not explored well at all in the movie. There' barely any passion in the performances, and it makes for a painfully boring and watered down version of the novel.

This is the worst Harry Potter movie out of the four so far made. That said, it does have some redeeming features. I cannot fault the final dramatic sequence within the Chamber of Secrets itself, it's a place not graphically described by Rowling but one which comes to life in the movie, the pipes, the caves and the dramatic entrance door for example. It was sufficiently scary, Harry being chased through the pipes was one of the few really tense scenes of the movie! I thought the diary sequence was done very well, the boy playing Tom Riddle, Christian Coulson was fantastic, brimming with power, arrogance and complexity, easily the best performance of the lot.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Carrey is such a classic, 16 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

OK I know this movie is a bit silly to say the least, and pretty gross in parts, but you gotta hand it to Jim Carrey there's few who could do it as good. Ace Ventura is such a knob but Carrey makes you love him.

The scene of the rhino 'giving birth' has to be one of the funniest if not most disgusting scenes from any of Jim Carrey's films. And he does it so well! Coming out like a new born calf, naked frightened and slimy. Gross but oddly compelling.

There are so many times I find myself rolling on the floor laughing in Ace Ventura, for example at the 'monopoly guy' ("Do not pass go, do not collect $200!) or the projection room scene in the consulate when he just sits down in front of the projector (I don't know why something so simple could be funny I'm laughing at it even now!) and to when he does shadow puppets to the Consular's nipples!

Its not high brow, its pretty disgusting and the plot is barely important, but Jim Carrey is funny, his expressions, his energy and the complete randomness (the monster truck for example, or him bumping up and down in the jeep when the road is completely smooth) and I find him likable.

If you're not a fan of Jim Carrey and don't enjoy his style of comedy, then what are you even doing looking at this movie! Most people probably hate it, but I still think Jim Carrey is more original and unpredictable than some of the terrible imitations. I'm looking at you Rob Schneider! 'The Animal'?. please.

"Lost" (2004)
6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Great show because it's like nothing else on TV, 28 May 2005

What makes Lost so good? It's not a crime drama, so straight off the bat its radically different from half of what's on TV. Secondly it's not a reality show, its not a competition and it doesn't do makeovers. That alone should make you watch it.

It's unpredictable, it has a diverse range of characters, a mystery and enough sexual tension between the two leads to at least keep it going for another season. The premise has it's limitations, they are on an island and at some point will probably have to get off thus ending the show, and it could fizzle out when the romantic subplots are inevitably realised. But the writers are an inventive bunch, the flashbacks distract us from the fact that it's still the same island with not much going on and if Alias (the other successful show of J.J Abrams) is anything to go by, they'll think of a way to keep the viewers guessing.

I am hooked on Lost. I recently decided to boycott all crime dramas after getting sick of seeing various lawyers, detectives, crime scene investigators, coroners and navy detectives all essentially doing the same thing. With the same two-dimensional characters for that matter. So basically I have nothing to watch. Except Lost. And I hope there are more new shows that are just as inventive and original.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant, actually on the same par as the originals, 20 May 2005

What can I say that hasn't already been said by the cult fans? Well I don't have any of the merchandise, I couldn't tell you what planet Hans Solo came from and I didn't bring a light-saber to the movie theater but I would still call myself a fan of these movies. And I wasn't disappointed. The special effects were awesome as usual but I think thats come to be expected from Lucas. The main improvement from Episodes I and II was the characters. Hayden Christensen has improved dramatically since Attack of the Clones, the dark side really works for him, he's no longer a whiny teenager he is a more complex and powerful young man. Quite scary too. Ewan McGregor makes a good Jedi, he's cool calm and collected but he actually provides some of the lighter moments in the film too. And R2D2! He really had some good scenes this time, it's amazing how much personality they can put into a plastic box that beeps. He had me laughing and cheering, just like Yoda. Yoda is so much better in the first three movies, all his fight scenes always get a great reaction from the crowd and you have to love the little green guy. And green is the best light-saber colour. Except maybe for Jedi Windoo's purple.

This last installment focuses more on the emotional development of Aniken which I think makes it much more interesting than the previous two movies. It's not just a movie about special effects or fight scenes (though those are also really good) it's quite psychological, it explores the themes of fear, grief, loss and love. It provides the perfect framework for the original trilogy which I think is important, it was going to be a challenge for Lucas to successfully link them together but I think he's achieved relative continuity. Continuity not just of the plot but of the characters.

I would have given this movie 10 except for one thing, the dialogue between Padme and Aniken was at times cringe-worthy. I just don't think Lucas is very good at writing romance. I don't think the actors felt particularly natural with it either. But this is only a minor detail in an otherwise thrilling movie.

Like I said, I'm not a massive Star Wars fan but I thoroughly enjoy the movies and I think this episode will somewhat reconcile Lucas with fans who had been disillusioned after The Phantom Menace.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Funny, even if you are not from Britain, 1 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I live in Australia, and we don't get the BBC so I have never seen Newsnight Review or some of the other British shows Dead Ringers take off. I do however, watch this show religiously, and I still laugh at those parts because they are funny even by themselves. The host of Newsnight review: "You've lost the remote again haven't you?" And it contains so much other material as well.

While all the actors are great I think Jon Culshaw is best. Culshaw's impressions of George Bush and Tony Blair are hilarious. He takes 'bushisms' to a whole new level. And while he may not look exactly like George, he captures what everyone finds funny about him. The stupidity, the immaturity, the inexperience and the ignorance. And the material is new, original and funny, even though so many jokes have been made about Bush.

I love that Dead Ringers takes off David Starkey and Simon Shauma, I mean these guys are historians! Well known ones maybe, but historians nonetheless. I'm not sure if it was Starkey or Schauma that Culshaw pretended to be when looking to renovate his house complete with 'turrets and a moat' under hidden camera with a poor unsuspecting builder. I was on the floor in tears laughing. And the hidden camera stuff with Doctor Who...him going in to a tanning salon and speed dating! Brilliant! The actors obviously know the people they are taking off because how they transform themselves is amazing sometimes. I mean Jan Ravens is the only chick but she can be convincing as any woman! The yachtswoman Ellen scenes are one of my favorites, particularly where she cleans her house. Complete with narration of course.

What makes 'Dead Ringers' stand out from other parody shows and comedians who do impressions, is that it is so much more sophisticated and clever. It actually makes intelligent and witty jokes about current and relevant political issues, the comedy doesn't come from just making a funny voice (which is seen as remarkably clever on Australia's Rove Live) it really shows how well the writers know what they are taking off. It isn't just a stupid sketch show, but it can still deliver a few cheap laughs, like Andrew Marr's giant arms, which I'm told actually look really long on TV.

So give it a chance, even if you have never watched the BBC. You soon get to love the characters and laugh at them anyway, such as Kristy Wark the news reader, "My milkshakes brings all the boys to the yard, you're damn right they're better than yours, I could teach you, but I'd have to charge.... More on that story later..."

"The 4400" (2004)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Don't bother. Flashy and shallow., 15 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have seen the mini series that is the start of this series. And it was the worst mini series I have ever seen. Horrible special effects, terrible acting and a predictable storyline. The boys girlfriend falls in love with his brother. The returned guy has special powers but won't use them to save his cousin, as if it wasn't blindingly obvious that he was meant to.

It pains me to criticize an Australian actor, but Jacqueline Mckenzie is crap in this. Her accent is so fake.

It may have been an interesting premise, but the execution was painful. It was unwatchable. Thats all I have to say. Just don't bother with it. I'm not even going to watch the rest of the series with such a bad start.

3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
OK for if your bored and in a really good mood., 5 January 2005

For Richer or Poorer is very predictable. There's no denying it. It's not a particularly well thought out movie and it's not very believable. But I was able to stand it, because there was nothing else on television and when Tim Allen isn't making that stupid Ogh Ogh noise from Tool Time he is actually mildly amusing. It was light it was fluffy and there were massive sausages.

I'm ashamed to say I actually laughed at this movie. Kirstie Alley falling on her butt, Tim and Kirstie arguing, I don't know, the big horse. If you are going to watch it, don't have any expectations. And I wouldn't bother paying to see it., but hey if it comes on TV on a Sunday night and it's a choice between CSI reruns and this, I'd watch this.

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