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Shallow Grave (1994)
Hilarious, violent, and slightly disturbing - masterful low-budget filmmaking
'Shallow Grave' marks now-Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle's directorial début, and also shows Hollywood actors like Ewan McGregor before they found great success. The first thing to note, then, is that those involved in 'Shallow Grave' have been propelled from this humble, independent British film to massive, big-budget blockbusters in just a few years.
The second thing to note is that the plot is simple - almost too simple. However, Boyle easily keeps the excitement up, right up to (and especially) the final shot.
The film is about three friends. From the first scene (a wonderful montage), it is not hard to deduce that these people are unpleasant. They trick and make fun of potential flat-mates just to fulfil their twisted, sadistic pleasures; we watch with surprising glee as they effortlessly humiliate unsuspecting Scots. However, one applicant catches their attention; an intriguing man named Hugo. When they find him dead in his new room, however, things start to get dark.
Hugo came with a suitcase full of money. After deciding to take the said money, things get darker.
Paranoia, suspicion and deception run riot between the three; disposing of the body makes a particularly grisly scene, despite no blood being shown; Boyle teases the viewer and creates an almost over-the-top situation. Like so much of 'Shallow Grave', it teeters on the edge of laugh-out-loud humour perfectly.
The performances are top-notch; McGregor plays the unnervingly flippant Alex perfectly; Kerry Fox is brilliantly cast as the stuck-up, selfish Juliet and Christopher Eccleston is fantastic as the paranoid, sensible(ish) David. They have great chemistry together and they manage to bring sympathy to what are, in essence, horrible people.
The real stars, however, are behind the camera. Boyle creates a quirky, almost surreal world, photographed with just enough satire by Brian Tufano. There are some truly ingeniously shot scenes, perhaps most notably being one involving holes in the ceiling and a frantic David. What Boyle manages to do is tear your feelings - you want them to get horribly mutilated because they are a sick bunch, but at the same time you want them to get away with it because, for reasons unbeknownst to you, you can sympathise with them.
Maybe it's because you feel sorry for them being dragged into it. Maybe it's because you like mean people. Or, maybe it's because you're not sure you'd do any better. Whatever it is, you will enjoy it (and will probably argue with someone about the ending).
The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)
Not Bad... Could Have Been Better
This film had a lot of pressure mounting on it when it was announced. Everyone loved the show because it was superbly written and aptly acted, with great characters that one can relate to, so, if the movie was bad, the writers and actors would go from hero to zero.
Thankfully, that has not happened.
The Inbetweeners Movie is not a disaster. It is still very funny, still aptly acted and the jokes are still superbly written. Best moments include Neil's dancing, Jay's constant lies and horribly vulgar expressions and Will's witty narration.
The story isn't great, but that's not what anyone sees it for. It follows a standard pattern that isn't (and shouldn't be) very interesting, because if the writers got caught up in the story, it would lose humour.
One thing a film of a TV series should be is bigger than the show. The Inbetweeners Movie does this; they are in Malia, which is the furthest the characters have been since the school trip to the sea. They spend most of their time in awe of the clubs and parties; they have never seen anything like this before and neither have we. So that aspect is well done.
Where it falls down is when it tries to be more than it is. An example of this is Jay and Simon's discussion about university; it was one conversation that lasted about a minute, so, when the film does not complete this hanging thought, it leaves the viewer a little disappointed. They should have avoided the matter altogether, but leaving it like that is even worse.
Another fundamental error on behalf of the writers is how where in the series the characters were always together, in the movie it is more about their individual stories. It is called 'The Inbetweeners' not 'Will, Simon, Jay and Neil'. They spend a lot more time away from each other than they do in the series, and this is not good, as the funniest lines are always between each other.
All in all, 'The Inbetweeners Movie' is definitely not bad. It is extremely funny, classically un-PC and fans of the sit-com will enjoy it, though will not be able to ignore the disappointments in regard to the characters.
Very Very Well Done
The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring is an achievement. There is no doubt about that. The beautiful sweeping shots of the perfectly captured (from the book) landscapes to the brilliantly done hobbits and fantastic visual effects, it is impressive.
However, it is not without it's flaws. It is, at the end of the day, too long. Some scenes are just not necessary (the random 'lady of the woods' scene comes to mind) and I can't see why they weren't cut from the final edit. Other problems include Orlando Bloom, who always looks as if he's about to start laughing throughout the film, and Gimley, who's lines desperately try to inject humour but badly and in all the wrong places. Also I'm struggling to see why Gimley is even there, as he always seems to be more of a hindrance than a help.
However, these things do not bring this movie down far enough to be any less than excellent. Sir Ian McKellen is a good Gandalf, wise, knowing and suitably grey. The visual effects are stunning even today, and as I say the hobbits are extremely well done, as how they look so much smaller than everyone else. Sean Bean is brilliant as the good, but weak minded Boromir and does, in my opinion, the best performance in the whole trilogy.
But the best thing about this film is the direction. The fight scenes are well orchestrated, with sword shwinging and axe flinging all round, but not in a distasteful way. The landscapes are beautiful, the jaw- dropping shots of characters galloping across huge open planes on horseback are outstanding and the orcs are definitely gruesome enough to deserve more than a PG rating (in my opinion). The scenes with the baddies are dark, the scenes with the goodies are noble, and the overall feel of Middle Earth is achieved well thanks to Peter Jackson's direction and Andrew Lesnie's cinematography.
Overall, it is certainly an excellent film, even if it is not perfect, and I hold it as the best LOTR of the trilogy. Watch it.
Not Very Good
I know I'm not the first to do this, but i feel it's necessary to mention T2. I recently watched it, and I can tell you now that this movie is unwanted. The ending to T2 (I won't tell you what it is) is one of the most satisfying movie endings I have ever seen, and is up there with films like Saving Private Ryan and the Star Wars saga. This film takes the main idea from the first two (the 'changing the future' theme) and simply throws it out of the window. When this came out we were like: "Hang on? Rise of the machines? But it ended in the last one!" And so begins one of the many problems with this movie.
1) James Cameron. I see why he avoided this; they basically got his work and flushed it down the loo; claiming their's was better.
2) Arnie. He was brilliant in T1, perfect in T2 (his smile at the minigun still goes down as pure genius in my eyes) but he has simply run out of steam. He was old, human and dull in T3.
3) It wasn't a Terminator movie. Sure, it has Terminator in the title, but so does Terminator Salvation, and that's about as far from a Terminator film as you can get (while still using the same setting). I actually didn't mind TS, because it didn't pretend to be a Terminator film. This, however, did, and failed. I mean, it's a 12!
4) The characters. I didn't feel connected with any of them. Sorry to bring it up again, but in T2 Sarah and John Connor were brilliant, with Sarah's slow realisation about the machines and her transformation into someone less crazy and John's childishness showing through his hard outer shell were brilliantly portrayed, both with acting and writing. In this though, both were lacking in style and substance, and I found myself actually getting annoyed with John.
5) A female Terminator. Don't mean to be sexist, but come on!
Watching this movie left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I am disappointed with the people behind this film for messing with such cinematic brilliance created by the first two. However, some action scenes pretty well directed, and the humour was quite funny in some places, but not T2 funny, like "He'll live". It was an uncool funny. for those reasons, it just wasn't very good.
this movie is called thunderpants. it is about someone who breaks wind a lot. and yet many people seem to only see a boy continually breaking wind.
the fact is, this movie has been misunderstood by most people. where they see a ridiculous and unrealistic story, I see a quirky, silly, and surprisingly un-fart-related tale of a boy trying to find his friend and them both fulfilling their ambitions. it does not show a story solely about flatulence; it uses flatulence as a basis for telling the story of the two best friends.
the acting is second rate, the plot is suitably silly, and I love the 'green theme' that is shown throughout. At some parts, it is actually very sad (but surprisingly, these seem to have been ignored by most people).
in my opinion, it tells the story really rather well. it doesn't take itself too seriously, it has some very big names in it, and it's really a shame that no-one seems to get it.
The Expendables (2010)
Shame on you, IMDb users, for such an outrageously high rating for possibly the worst film I have ever seen.
For such an awesome cast such as Stallone (good in First Blood, I was hoping for a similar performance), Jet Li (kung fu legend), Bruce Willis (Die Hard), etc. this movie really stinks. I am a fan of gory, foul-mouthed action movies, but this just did not deliver.
Stallone was boring, his face looks melted and so was his character's personality; melted into one big vat of awfulness. Jet Li was also boring; his Kung Fu skills seemed simmered down into a cup of tedium.
and as for Bruce Willis, I might sue the makers of the poster/DVD cover. HE WASN'T IN IT. two, maybe three lines was all he got. I couldn't even tell if he was on form or not.
I was dreading this part of my review. the script. for the dialogue was so so so so so so so so so so so so BAD it was pretty much unwatchable. the characters were just meaty idiots seeing how many people they could kill (and extra points for lack of realism!). at one point there must be about half a second delay before a bullet hits someone after it is fired out a gun less than a metre away. that's about the speed i can fire an elastic band.
there was also no humour, no funny lines, no action hero classic quotes such as 'I'll be back'. it was just drivel.
this leads me on to the camera-work. hang on, WHAT Camera-work? the action scenes were so dark and shaky I didn't know who was going to shoot who next, or whether I was going to shoot myself.
the message of my review is this. STALLONE, GIVE UP. YOU CAN'T MAKE MOVIES. YOU CAN ACT IN WELL WRITTEN ONE'S, BUT YOU CAN'T MAKE THEM. ALSO, WHOEVER FUNDED THIS FILM, YOU SHOULD GO INTO HIDING. THIS IS UNVORGIVABLE.
there. I've said my bit. watch this film at your peril.
X: First Class (2011)
A really great REBOOT
First of all, this movie is a reboot, NOT a prequel, of the X-Men franchise. This means that, according to movie law, it doesn't have to be awful! Yipee!
X-Men: First Class is the story of the start of X-Men. It is set during the cold war, when Charles Xavier and Eric (aka professor X and Magneto) meet.
It is important to mention that this movie does not have Wolverine in. Yes, I hear you say, how can you have an X-Men film with no Wolverine? That's like cereal with no milk! (and if you eat cereal without milk, you're weird) But there is no gaping hole in the movie, as it is like no other in the franchise.
The beginning is actually set during the holocaust, when Eric's powers are being discovered. Throughout the movie his anger and pain from his experiences come through in the form of a thirst for his tormentor's blood.
However, Charles Xavier's pretty care free youth seems to reflect his calm attitude. It is actually a surprisingly impressive performance, as his interaction with the other characters (especially Eric) is really very convincing. His mentoring makes him seem like that really good teacher you had in school.
The dialogue, I admit, is sometimes quite weak, but on the whole the script is solid. The direction is also solid, with some very tense parts (usually involving a rather angry Eric) are pretty edge-of-your-seat.
On the whole, this movie is very enjoyable. It's not flawless, it's not jump-up-and- celebrate good, but I would definitely recommend it, as I really liked it. Not much goes wrong in this great cold war/superhero movie.