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182 reviews in total 
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Humongous (1982)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Quite interesting if rather bloodless little slasher, 19 November 2006

Humongous has been largely forgotten amongst the glut of 80s slasher flicks. However,that is a shame. It's certainly no masterpiece,not even of the slasher genre,but it's quite interesting and better than quite a few of the other,similar films released around that time.

It opens with a brutal rape,and it almost gets the movie off on the wrong foot as although not that graphic it's hard to watch. Then we jump forward to the usual small group of young people discovering an island. Much time is spent of them wondering about,which does make the film a little slow,but there is a fair amount of suspense,sometimes underlined by the synthesizer score,which shouldn't work but does. As has often been said before,the film is too dark,but some of the photography is pretty good,which makes one wonder if the darkness was a deliberate experiment which didn't quite come off.

This movie was obviously {well,in the versions I've seen} heavily cut,during the killings we cut away just before we think we'll going to see something nasty. There's just about enough suspense to almost compensate,and the acting isn't too bad,but gore hounds will probably be disappointed. The climactic scenes are pretty exciting though and even though you still don't get much of a look at the monster,this is actually quite effective.

There's a underlying element of sadness to Humongous which is provided by the film's back story,and it's perhaps this which most sticks in the mind. Nothing in the film is especially remarkable,but it does have it's interesting elements. It certainly deserves a proper,uncut DVD release,and far more than some of the other films of this type which already have been!

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Daring experiment for the Bond series which mostly succeeds very well, 16 November 2006

I'll admit something first up. I enjoyed the much-criticised Die Another Day, Yes,the Madonna song and CGI were awful,but as a ramped-up,escapist action movie it certainly did the job. However,Casino Royale is a different beast altogether. The opening sequence is is black and white and shows Bond shooting a man,with flashbacks to Bond's first,decidedly messier,killing interspersed. Both the violence and Daniel Craig's intensity are quite shocking. After the eye-popping title sequence,cleverly based around cards,and a perhaps unusual but good title song which does grow on you,we are thrown into quite simply the most stunning action sequence done in years,as Bond chases a man up and down scaffolding,on top of a crane and through an embassy. It's undoubtedly over the top,but really is thrilling,and seeing Bond fall and get hurt a bit is refreshing and helps maintain,just about,believability.

It's possible that action wise the film never tops that scene,but the other three action sequences are all excellent and have superb editing that is fast,furious yet still lets you see what is going on,a lesson to some of today's other action directors. It's almost a throwback to the 60s Bond editing,only quicker. There was a sense in the 80s and 90s that maybe the Bond style of action was a little outmoded,it had certainly been imitated to death. Here,Bond becomes leader of the pack again,and the other upstarts need to keep up.

Daringly,the two and a half hour running time is not devoted to more action but chiefly two other things. The lengthy poker game IS long but maintains suspense even of you're not sure what the rules are and is broken up every now and again anyway. Then there's Bond falling in love. The World Is Not Enough and The Living Daylights had flirted with genuine romance for Bond but On Her Majesty's Secret Service up to now is the only real Bond love story. The time given to Bond's romance with Vesper Lynd is unusual but it needs the time allowed it to become convincing ,and,eventually,moving. After all,the main thrust of the film is not Bond fighting bad guys,or even playing an important poker game,but Bond becoming Bond,and this is brilliantly conveyed throughout.

It is this aspect in which Craig really succeeds. Yes,he is rough and ready at first but that is the film's character. He grows and matures throughout the film,and when he puts on the tux he's earned it and certainly carries it off better than Timothy Dalton,whom Craig is probably closest to. Perhaps the film's villains and girls are not as memorable as one might hope for,but here it's Bond whom you remember,whom the film revolves around,and for this film that's exactly as it should be.

Possible Casino Royale might be embraced by die-hard Bond fans more than general action movie goers,what you won't get here is constant action,silly gadgets,corny laughs {though there is humour,and in exactly the right places,such as during the otherwise horrible torture scene}. What you do get is an artistic triumph,a daring experiment that almost completely pays off,that takes us closer to the character of James Bobd than any other film. Roll on the next one,and definitely with Craig....

Spiders (2000)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Undoubtedly poor by most standards,but taken as a simple B-Movie more enjoyable than you may have read, 2 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not many people have much to say about this movie that is good,which is maybe to be expected. However,what do they really expect from a tiny budgeted movie about killer spiders starring nobody you've ever heard of,which went straight to DVD? I bought this film for £1 from my local Tesco. I knew what I was going to get and got it. Solid B-Movie fun,no more,no less.

Most of the first hour is set in an underground base,which obviously saved on the budget,but the endless scenes of the heroes creeping around or running from something get monotonous and make the film resemble a very old Dr Who episode padded out to feature length. Still,the actual mechanical spider effects are pretty good and in some ways no less realistic than some of the CGI you see everywhere in big budget films. As for the dreadful CG explosions in the film,I've definitely seen worse in recent films where there is probably less of an excuse for them to be bad. Somewhat disappointingly,there are only two spiders {my DVD back cover at least implies there are loads}.

The climax of the almost Kong-sized second spider rampaging through Los Angeles really isn't badly done considering the budget the filmmakers had to work with. The silly climax,with the heroine hanging out of a helicopter with a bazooka,is quite exciting. Obviously,script,direction and acting throughout are mediocre. There is little real atmosphere,in fact most of the film looks flat and TV-like. But honestly,as I've said before,what did people really expect from this? Watch it for what it is,a B-Movie for the uncritical,and you might quite enjoy it.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Dawn of the Dead meets The Mummy? Hardly,but passable trashy fun if you lower your expectations considerably, 2 August 2006

The title of this very low budget Egypt/US co-production suggests a melding of the mummy movie with the zombie movie that was extremely popular around the time of the film's release. Dawn Of The Mummy only partially fulfills this expectation. After a gory flashback opening to ancient Egypt and a somewhat amusing scene where people stagger out of the mummy's tomb with gored-out faces {and who exactly committed this dastardly act is left unexplained,because the mummy has yet to be awoken},very little happens for nearly an hour. The dialog and acting is pretty poor and it's obvious that much of is to to pad out the running time,although there is a little bit of tension at times.

Then at last the mummy and his zombie followers are awoken and it's mayhem typical of Italian horror potboilers of the early 80s-eye gougings,flesh eating,etc,although nothing that would probably shock today's viewer. The mummy,who looks a lot like the one Christopher Lee played,seems to show up all over the place so much that one wonders if he teleports himself,and the film's geography is really screwy. Still,there is a little bit of {intentional} humour,such as somebody asking why do some clothes on a market stall possess Made In Hong Kong stickers, and the climactic bloody rampage through a village is well staged,after which the film abruptly stops,as it they ran out of film.

Director Frank Agrama doesn't show much skill and fails to make the most of some scenes,like the zombies rising out of the sand as the sun sets-just think how good some other directors of zombie movies like Lucio Fulci would have made this scene. Dawn of the Mummy is not a very good film,even on a fun trash level,and it really show how good something such as Fulci's Zombie really is. Still,there is some fun to be had....if you're patient.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Potentially deep and involving drama partially dissipated by over length, 9 July 2006

The Man In The Gray Flannel is one of those films that would work very well at around two hours. However,at two hours and a half,it feels stretched out and much of the emotional investment is lost. Which is a shame. The basic idea,of a man who has to decide which is more important to him-his career,or his family,is one which is probably important to a great many people,as is the secondary plot element,which is guilt over something done in the past.

Indeed for the first hour the film does work very well,as introduces Gregory Peck's character,his family,and every now and again flashes back to events in the Second World War which made him the troubled man he is now {shades of Peck's starring role three years before in The Snows of Kilimanjaro!}.Bernard Hermann provides some especially beautiful music for Peck's affair with an Italian girl. The transitions are well done although one battle scene looks rather unconvincing these days.

However,the rest of the movie is something of a slog,as Peck wrestles with what is important in his life as he begins a new,high-powered job. It's not quite boring,because of the often superb acting-the best is Fredric March,as Peck's new boss,who has chosen success in business at the expense of everything else,and who barely notices he has a family. Shades of Citizen Kane maybe-what may it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul? However,far too much time is spent on certain things-a document Peck is involved in drafting,for instance,and a completely unnecessary subplot about who has the legal rights to a large home. All this only succeeds in dispersing the drama,and when the wartime romance subplot is briefly re-introduced right neat the end,it is dealt with far too abruptly.

Some re-editing would really have improved this movie-if not cutting,than maybe spacing the flashback sequences more evenly through out rather than in the first third. As it is,there is a lot that is worthwhile here,and it does make one think about what is important in life. Question though-were we really made to dislike Jennifer Jones' character so much?

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Uncomfortable but brilliantly acted and directed drama on a difficult subject, 9 July 2006

The War Zone is a shattering,powerful film dealing with a very difficult subject. It's not exactly an easy film to like,but than incest is not a nice subject,and it's easy to see why generally it's still not a subject that is portrayed often in cinema.

Set for the most part in one house and revolving for the most part around it's four inhabitants,one might expect a dull,uncinematic kitchen-sink kind of movie,but any worries are almost immediately dispersed by the beautiful and bleak shots of the Devon locale,the rocks and waves especially seeming to comment on the film's story and characters. Throughout the film,director Tim Roth lets many scenes play out in almost silence,aware that a look can say as much as five pages of dialogue.

Immediately one is grabbed by the film,the tension is extraordinary as you know things are not right in the family. Although there is one main plot thrust which builds up to a truly shocking scene,throughout there are other hints about about other things which may or may not be going on. For example does the son actually have sexual feelings for his sister? Does the mother actually suspect from the beginning? Did the father,well,I won't spoil one especially disturbing suggestion at the end. The important thing is these are things that were put there and sometimes only register on an almost unconscious level. Roth and his writer treat the viewers of the film as intelligent adults,and one person's interpretation of one thing might be different to another persons's.

Ray Winstone,who sometimes seem to get by on just grunting and swearing,gives a marvellously complex characterisation-those who think he is too 'normal' and nice miss the point. Tilda Swinton isn't really in the film enough,but perhaps the biggest kudos would go to the two children,playing extremely difficult roles. Which brings me to the central 'rape scene' in the film. It's not the sort of thing which anyone should want to watch,and maybe the point could have made just as well with the camera just focusing on the character who is witnessing the event. Still,Roth deserves credit for having the guts to go ahead and not compromise.

Despite the central main subject matter,there are moments of love and compassion in this film,although don't expect a happy ending. Some things are resolved,but one gets the feeling other unpleasant things could easily take root,may have already done so,in the characters. Essential viewing,but be warned-you may feel like you need a good wash afterwards! And please Tim Roth-make another film!

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
The great Guiseppe Tornatore's somewhat forgotten cinema debut,an effective if familiar gangster saga, 18 March 2006

The first feature from Cinema Paradiso man Guiseppe Tornatore,this is quite unlike his other films. It's a fairly generic but solid gangster saga along Scarface lines,and is loosely based on fact. There's little of the beauty and lyricism you would expect from Tornatore,but he proves himself perfectly adequate to the demands of the mob genre.

With a very strong performance from the erratic Ben Gazzara as the anti hero of the title {especially good in the latter sections when he starts to lose his mind},it's your basic rags-to-riches-to-comeuppance story,and indeed there is much that is very familiar. Nevetheless,there are a few original touches,such as having Gazzara's character rise to the top using his brains rather than violence and do it mostly while he is stuck in prison. Having his sister co-run the business with him is also a novel touch,and politicians are shown to be as crooked as the gangsters. The surprisingly low key ending is also very well judged.

Moving at quite a fast pace despite it's two and a half hour length,there are plenty of the expected brutal stabbings and shootings,well staged if a little repetitive. One very bloody murder in a shower is especially memorable,yet here as in some other scenes,we actually don't see all of the gory detail,just enough to make it effective.

Il Camorrista is a little choppy and has the odd awkward edit,as if it had been cut down from a much longer film. Still,gangster movie fans will find plenty to enjoy,and the film deserves more than the current UK DVD,which has shoddy picture quality,is badly dubbed and fullscreen!

30 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Neglected Biblical spectacle is great fun for fans of the genre, 11 March 2006

Sodom and Gomorrah was a big flop when it was released and has been almost forgotten since then. This is a shame. It's certainly no classic like Ben Hur or Spartacus,and it has the obvious flaws many films like this share-corny dialogue,women's make-up and hair which betrays the decade the film was made in,to name but two-but if you like this kind of film it's very entertaining and worth a watch. At times you could swear De Mille directed it,but it was actually directed by Robert Aldrich,a real curio in his career.

The first hour does dawdle along a little,but the middle of the film contains a very lengthy battle sequence which is extremely impressive. In these days of CGI,it's great to see hundreds of REAL people fighting on the screen,and it's great the way the battle is in stages and shows various tactics by the two sides instead of just being a chaotic mess. The climatic destruction {well,it's based on a well known Bible story, so I don't think this is a spoiler!} of the twin cities of Sodom and Gommorah {although we only seem to see Sodom} is still quite a well achieved spectacle,in fact technically the film still generally holds up,except for a few very unconvincing shots when an army is engulfed in water.

Those who find some of the film a little heavy can enjoy the odd touch of vivid sadism {people on a wheel lowered into fire,a prisoner threatened by a blind man whose armour produces spikes when he breaths} and plenty of references to the 'sins' of the Sodomites-nothing is explicit,but things such as incest,sexual servitude and lesbianism are certainly hinted at. Yet the Hebrews,by comparison,are such a dull humourless lot,one might occasionally sympathise with the Sodomites,and this was maybe intended. As with most of Aldrich's films,it's actually quite cynical,and doesn't take easy sides.

Stuart Granger is fine as Lot but it's the underrated Stanley Baker,as the scheming Astorath who chases anything in a skirt, who gives the stand-out performance,memorably corrupt. One should also mention Miklos Rozsa's superb score which ranks along side his other classic scores for related films like Ben Hur and El Cid. He superbly evokes the period and setting whilst providing a gorgeous love theme and a number of other great themes. Of course it's very melodramatic,but it suits the film!

Sodom and Gomorrah exists in several heavily cut down versions which may quicken the pace but are extremely choppy,often cutting into scenes when they are obviously half way through. The full 155-odd minute version is sometimes shown,and is available in some countries on DVD,but really demands a proper,remastered,etc. release. It's really worth seeing,as long as you like this kind of stuff of course!

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Impressive pre-Crouching Tiger fantasy action and romance hindered a little by......Free Willy, 22 February 2006

When Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon came out,critics fell over themselves praising it as being new and fresh. Whilst it is undoubtedly a good film,the fact is that they had been making films like that in Hong Kong for many years,with warriors jumping around the screen in tales of romance and honour. Moon Warriors is a good example. It has it's flaws,with one element rather laughable,but it still demands quite a bit of respect.

The action is really as good,maybe it's a bit more obvious the characters are on wires,but in terms of martial arts skill it's actually better, and just as visually great to watch. Highlights include a display of kites that suddenly somehow turns into a ninja attack,a possibly Macbeth-inspired 'moving trees'sequence,and gorgeous Hong Kong babes Maggie Cheung and Ania Mui battling it out with swords.

Despite what you may have heard about films like this,it certainly isn't all fighting. A great deal of time is given to the love element,and there are perhaps too many montages to the sentimental theme song {as usual,the translated words on the subtitles don't really work}. Howvever,the film retains that melancholic romantic feel present in many other Hong Kong fantasy movies of the time {such as The Bride With White Hair and Saviour of the Soul}.

Unfortunately there is a subplot of a WHALE which is the hero's best friend,and it's just laughable. Some versions of the film even have outtakes at the end of star Andrew Lau with the thing. Still,there's plenty in the film which is worthwhile. It's really quite extraordinary what Hong Kong filmmakers used to conjure up on what were usually tiny budgets and rushed productions.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fine fantasy adventure for all the family,and a worthy adaptation of the book, 22 February 2006

Although sadly considered by quite a few to be just a kid's movie,a kind of juvenile Lord of the Rings {and mind you,what's wrong with that?},this is a terrific fantasy epic that may feature children as the protagonists but is certainly not childish. Whilst C.S Lewis did indeed write his books for children,the makers of this film adaptation of what is not the first but easily the best known book have carefully steered the film away being simply for children to it being a great film for all the family. Of course if you're the sort who would laugh as talking animals and the like,it's not worth you seeing this film,but do you hear many adults say,for instance,The Wizard of Oz is rubbish and just for kids?

Opening dramatically if a little discertainly with planes bombing WW2 London,the film proceeds at a leisurely place,introducing the young protagonists and us to the land and denizens of Narnia gradually,but the pace gradually gets faster and faster until the final battle,an eye-popping sequence featuring more mythical creatures than you can imagine.

Worried readers of the book have nothing to fear,the film is quite faithful and even,dare I say it,improves on the book at times. The children are characterised better,and a few sequences are added in the middle section of the story to bump up the pace. Only one major scene from the book near the end,where a spell is cast and 'things' come to life {I can't say more as I try to avoid spoilers} is disappointing and falls far short of it's potential.

The acting of the children is excellent,although Tilda Swinton gives the stand out performance as the scary but oddly sexy White Witch. The special effects are mostly great. I say mostly,because while the effects team have pulled off a few miracles such as with the talking lion Aslan {a CGI creation so convincing he cane almost be mistaken for a real lion},there is the odd element which appears to have been rushed,such as two instances of DREADFUL back projection {how could they?} and a scene involving a frozen lake and falling ice {one of the 'invented' scenes} which also suffers with poor direction. Al Adamson {of Shrek 1 and 2} sometimes shows his inexperience with live action,although he generally does an okay job.

While the action is conspicuously bloodless,there is quite a bit more darkness in the film than one might expect-very young kids may be scared by things such as the Witch's wolf servants,and the ritual killing of one of the film's characters three quarters of the way through is surprisingly disturbing. Some may even see disturbing sexual elements in the scenes between Edmund and the Witch who is trying to seduce him to what George Lucas would have called 'the dark side'.

Generally though,this is a fine fantasy adventure movie that certainly bodes well for any future films of Lewis' books and,despite complaints to the contrary,is no more 'Christian' then Lord of the Rings. Don't expect Lord of the Rings or,indeed,Harry Potter,and you'll find much to enjoy.

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