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85 reviews in total 
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Krampus (2015/I)
2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Competent if confusing Christmas horror, 4 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

But forget comedy, because it just wasn't funny. At all. Young Max gives up on Christmas because his horrible dysfunctional family are just horrible and dysfunctional.

The good bits... the creatures are cleverly and creepily realised. Krampus is a Christmas devil you would be scared of. It's an interesting idea.

The bad bits, the family characters were terribly clichéd. The actors tried, but there really wasn't anything for them to work with. Hands down the best character was Omi, but even she broke character to tell them all the tale of her childhood encounter with Krampus in perfect English, she had only spoken German up to that point. Another character has to cover this strange and clumsy gear change with an awkward line which said "Ah English, I thought so."

The ending was beyond strange. I couldn't work out if Max had succeeded or not. Overall, somewhat disappointing.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Dreadful, what were they thinking?, 13 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I went into this film with the decision that I was going to give it a chance. Unfortunately my resolve faded fairly quickly. How can something so short seem so interminably long? The story, yet another origin story (why do we need to keep rebooting with the origin, we all know how the four were made) was fairly original, I grant you that, but the execution? Terrible. Much has been made of how good Chronicle (director Josh Trank's previous feature) was. I saw Chronicle, and stylistically speaking, this is almost a retread. As though Trank has one original idea and he was going to mix up the elements a little and apply the result to the Fantastic Four. The problem is that this is Marvel, this is a long-established story with much loved characters that were almost unrecognizable. The tone was quite dark, however it was also dull and lifeless. The four leading actors were bland and unremarkable, it was hard to care about their fate. Only Victor Von Doom offers us anything like the twisted personality that Von Doom is supposed to be. Unfortunately his screen time is limited, and making him a borderline creepy stalker, to counteract the maybe romance between Reed Richards and Sue Storm (that goes absolutely nowhere) was just pointless. Miles Teller never comes out of sulky teenager mode, there's no fire or passion, he's just one note, as Reed Richards, that's almost an unforgivable sin. Jamie Bell looks really uncomfortable as Ben Grimm, he is a fine actor, but the script gives him nothing to get his teeth into. The Storm siblings have been re-written as an unnecessary socially modern family, with Sue being adopted (has nothing to do with the plot, and really only serves to flag up the complete lack of chemistry between Kate Mara and Michael B Jordan. As siblings they seemed to barely know each other. So disappointed in the film, that's £13 and one hundred minutes of my life wasted.

0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Has the wow factor with strong feelings of deja vu, 11 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed the film, but after the long anticipation, the actual event was a little bit of a let down. Essentially, the plot of the 1993 original has been given a make-over. You have all the same characters, in slightly varying numbers, doing pretty much the same things which guarantee the same result. It is as though twenty-two years later, the makers of the park have learned nothing from the original disaster. Sequences of remarkably similar unfortunate events happen in the same way to drive the story forward.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard do their best, but the plot is a thin thing to hang a maybe future romance, some in peril children (nephews this time), a lot of dino-action and a strange sub plot which has the curiously militaristic security of InGen relying on Raptors to chase down the park's newest out of control creation.

I wanted to be thrilled, and sometimes I was. There were plenty of jump-scares, and the indominus rex is stunningly realised, but the sense of deja vu detracted from the overall effect. It's fun, and it's a good way to spend a couple of hours, but lower your expectations a little. You will enjoy it more.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Terrible. Simply terrible., 2 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I realise that the networks like to test things out, and that many, many pilots get made each year... My question is, out of all the shows you piloted, what made you pick this one to buy episodes?

Action, comedy, crime... These are the genre tags. And sure, we have action, lots and lots of action, a lot of it seemingly contrived for Jacky Ido's character to drive his super souped-up taxi and catch the bad guy.

Comedy boils down to hideously awkward situations where people talk about sex. The situational comedy (I could tell the points where I was apparently supposed to laugh, I just failed to get started) just wasn't funny.

Crime. Now here we get to the deliberately unfunny and really quite depressing part of the program. The juxtaposition of unfunny sex jokes versus some quite brutal crime was uneasy to say the least. Mob hits on characters versus Cat's mother oversharing her planned dirty weekend with Cat's Captain... far from funny, creepy and really inappropriate.

Desperately uneven pacing, a lead female character who is miserable, bad-tempered and aggressive 99% of the time, split from FBI husband, French taxi driver who's a brilliant driver because he was ONCE (one time only) a getaway driver for a bank robbery, a best friend who turns out to be evil kingpin... there are so many sins in this writing I am at a complete loss where to start.

Eleven out of twelve episodes follow this lumpy formula, but then we have the twelfth episode where the entire feel, writing, characterisation changes. I think the final episode is the biggest sin of all. It crams so much into it's 43 minute run time, it's unbelievable. And every single character is on a crash course to oblivion. There are literally so many threads crammed into each minute it becomes a joke.

A completely lost opportunity, I love Besson's work, have done for years, and if this was supposed to be based upon one of his films the show developer and script writers have clearly misunderstood everything. A shame, because I wanted to enjoy this, and I found myself despising it the further in I got.

"Caprica" (2009)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fascinating glimpse into the world before Battlestar, 26 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I loved this series. I came to it late, after it had been taken off air, and wish it wasn't. I did find the origin stories interesting, Eric Stoltz played it perfectly, balancing the emotions of Graystone the father with Graystone the ruthless businessman, and with Joseph Adama's unwitting help sewing the seeds of the cylon wars to come. I did find his actions curiously cold and calculating in how he obtained his daughter's avatar programme to fuel his business deal. The Adamas storyline for me was the more affecting, the struggle to fit in, with Joseph Adama doing everything to leave his Tauron life behind (including changing his name), but still unable to quite let go, in contrast to his brother Sam's refusal to leave his home world behind, yet both of them growing closer in adversity, and Sam becoming almost father to his nephew as Joseph struggled with the loss of his wife and daughter. Polly Walker's icy turn as Clarice Willow a stand-out amongst fine performances that made up a very satisfactory drama.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Terrible, 17 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A cast that tries its best despite what has to be the weakest script in creation. Some dodgy CGI. Unfortunately the leading actress does not convince, Felicia Day's expression basically remains exactly the same throughout, and her chemistry with her fiancé is almost non-existent.The pluses, the villain is excellent, sinister and menacing enough without being too hammy, and the premise, it's a good one. That was the most frustrating part of the film, the potential to be good, if strictly B Movie hammy, was utterly wasted in the rather lacklustre direction and a script that kept running out of ideas. Even the action scenes lacked propulsion. The climactic fight was mostly anti-climactic, and with the conclusion to that fight being pretty much telegraphed before it began, using the great circle method of ending a story (grandma dying whilst killing a werewolf kicks off the opening scenes child Red picks up a silver knife, ending the film with grandma dying is supposed to pack an emotional punch, because now Adult descendant Red has to decide what she is going to do about fiancé who killed grandma) only works if there have been enough emotional punches along the way to set up their final tragic encounter. There weren't. By this time you are actually rooting for the fiancé who was dragged into this mess by Red in the first place. She kills him. But she's been bitten. The final scene is clearly supposed to be a few years later and we see Red reading to a little girl on the couch. Presumably this is Red's little girl by dead fiancé, but when we last saw Red she was bitten, so she's a werewolf? At this point it was impossible to care. I love hammy creature features, but this didn't even slip into the 'so bad it's good' category.

I want to say "Don't blame the actors...", 17 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like romantic comedies, occasionally (war movies and sci-fi are my go to normally). I know people are inclined to pan her, but I like Jennifer Lopez, and she has pulled off many fine and occasionally very funny performances in films as diverse as Angel Eyes and Maid In Manhatten. But here everything is forced. She's having a perfectly wonderful time, but the smile never quite reaches her eyes.

I like Alex O'Loughlin too. He's caught a couple of bad TV breaks losing out on two series before striking gold with Hawaii Five-0. He's a fine actor, when he's paired with someone who gets his style and gives him something to play against.

This, in a nutshell, is my problem with this film. Firstly, it must be said, the script is beyond terrible. It is very difficult to make cheese romantic or funny. This script does neither.

Artificial insemination as the punchline... laugh... I thought I'd never start.

The essence of romantic comedy is that the couple should sizzle. Alex is a handsome and athletic leading man, taking his shirt off and sitting on a tractor... sorry, one this is a horrible hackneyed and embarrassing cliché, two, other than goat's cheese and his inexplicable turn at night school (never really explained why he's going to night school to be an accountant but hey, they needed to give him something to do), he really has almost nothing to work with. He tries to give flesh to his character, Stan, and the script never makes Stan more than a cardboard cut out. Alex simply isn't the kind of actor who can work with nothing. Frustratingly, there are occasional glimpses of what might have been if he had anything to work with.

Jennifer Lopez is an attractive woman with a great body and a pretty face, and yes, she can act... but this turkey... she is just going through the motions. The script has the feel of having been written for her. It has very clear milestones, which it gleefully ticks off and moves on to the next predictable trope. Again, she is capable of far more, and the script offers her nothing.

Secondly, if ever there was a mis-match, this pairing is it. They are both pretty, pretty people, they have their own unique charms, but nothing about their romantic encounters sizzles. It is unforgivable in a romantic comedy that the leading couple have no chemistry.

There are some amusing moments, they are few and far between. Too few, and far too far between. The plot is lazy. It's a shame, because on paper it could have been fun. It's just painful.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Refreshing, 5 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A reboot that takes a different view, but does not trash the spirit of the original series. I adored the original series, I grew up on it, so I did have misgivings about Hollywood's habit of taking an old, well-loved series and giving it a do-over. This reboot is great though, gripping and fun, and it doesn't fall into the trap of attempting to recreate the original while still paying homage to the original. This 5-0 is a thoroughly modern experience. Leads Alex O'Loughlin (McGarrett) and Scott Caan (Danno) are perfectly matched and the series' success is largely due to their charisma and on-screen chemistry. With the beautiful Hawai'i locations, this is high octane fun at its best.

8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
NO.!, 13 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Originally, I came home from the theatre and gave this a 6. I enjoyed it marginally more than the other blockbuster. But I have come to realise that 6 is unfair to the other movies I've given a 6 to, and the absolutely dreadful and badly cut together script for this film dials it down to a 4. Not even the dream team of Sir Patrick and Sir Ian with their mini-mes, McAvoy and Fassbender can drag this film up. Hugh Jackman is a great tough guy. He has made Wolverine his own, and usually that would be a good enough reason to watch, but not this one.

The good. The CGI is spectacular.

The bad. The plot. It leaps about from seventies to the future. Backwards and forwards, half the time the timeline of the story is so fudged you don't actually know what is happening. For instance, you clearly see Bobby (Iceman) die. Killed by the robots. But a little later he's alive and well. This is apparently caused by the few embattled X-Men leaping back in time so that they were "never there".

The hook is Logan going back to the 70s to prevent Mystique killing Trask. Because if she kills Trask (who designs the robots), after his death they take her DNA and are somehow able, because Trask's design exists to make his design really work just from a basic prototype. Trask really, really hates mutants. In fact his fellow mutant-hater Stryker comments on this. The reason for Trask's hatred and cruelty to those different to himself are completely unclear. We know why Stryker hates mutants. But Trask. No idea, and his answer to Stryker's question doesn't explain anything. It also seems a very strange hook to hang the story on. A scientist in the 70s develops a rabid hatred for mutants, and unilaterally creates a robot to destroy this one MAYBE threat. (Which wasn't any kind of threat until he started tinkering).

The CGI is spectacular. It is big, loud and utterly summer blockbuster. But without the humanity in the film, and the message that Xavier is more humane than most humans, we did actually get from the first movie thank you very much, without any real honest motivation for what Trask was doing, and the dizzying leaps back and forth in time this film is hard to follow or care about the fate of the characters. I have nothing against Jennifer Lawrence, she's a fine actress, but Rebecca Romijn's natural grace and calmness would have made for a more interesting protagonist. Jennifer simply isn't as graceful or as magnetic. (At least in this film). Mystique's reactions to the files she finds in Trask's office safe seem curiously out of character for the beautiful and deadly Mystique.

This is supposed to be a superhero movie. On this showing there was nothing that super, and certainly not that heroic about the film. Jossing every single thing that went before also seems to be an error of judgement. Watching it, I was basically praying for it to end. Not the way I want to feel about an X-Men film. Thoroughly disappointed.

Godzilla (2014)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
CGI trumps plot and script, 13 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I get this is blockbuster, designed to put bums on seats to watch a spectacle. And boy is it spectacular. The problem is that the characters are basically one dimensional and the script is a thin series of clichés designed to fit between the epic CGI set pieces. Where the '98 Godzilla trumps this one, you actually care about the fate of the characters, their motivations are clear and make sense, which renders the final battle more interesting. This Godzilla has all the elements, the giant creatures, the embattled humans, the "son of dead scientist" fighting for his life and the lives of countless others. Him randomly meeting a lost child in the subway, an incredibly clumsy device, the child's parents surviving the attack of the mutos, without apparently messing up their clothes or hair... and then we have the deal breaker (at least for me), this IED expert whose job is to defuse bombs gets on an aircraft and becomes an instant expert in the HALO jump? Pardon me? The biggest problem is that the bits of humanity that happen in the gaps between CGI are not long enough for us to get much of a handle on the characters, and the general level of unfocused-ness about the plot makes it very hard to care about their ultimate fate. The actors do their best, but ultimately, when I got up to leave at the end, I didn't feel invested in the outcome. Big, noisy, but curiously detached and despite the huge set pieces not actually that thrilling. Disappointed.

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