Reviews written by registered user

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28 reviews in total 
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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
It's all about smiles and cries, 24 September 2016

I love westerns and hey, hey, I'm a fan of Aontoine Fuqua, I like Denzel Washington and I don't mind Ethan Hawke one bit; I'm also a fan of the original, which I've seen a bunch of times, but I didn't mind this being remade one bit.

From my intro, I was looking forward to this and went in with high hopes, certainly the trailer looked mighty impressive. I gotta say, I enjoyed it, though it didn't quite reach the heights I was hoping for.

In an age where big screen, big budget westerns are a rarity, I'm not gonna complain. Some of this really impressed me and some of it didn't, but I do have to say that films from fifty years ago + have a tendency to have a good story, cast and performances, but the action and effects just don't or can't reach or have the intensity or grittiness that you can get today; and in that regard this was much more impressive.

It's a pretty unambiguous film, the bad guys in black hats, the villain, an out and out sinister type with no redeeming qualities at all. The seven cast and characters stood out, but we don't learn or know or need to know to much about them, the bad guy is just too bad and has to go.

Some of the big shootout was a little cluttered and not done so well; and just when I was thinking wouldn't it be cool to have the original theme in the closing credits..I wasn't disappointed.

Some nice touches by Mr Fuqua. This wasn't a great film..but it is a cool film. Definitely worth checking out for entertainment value. Probably the most fun I've had at the cinema for a while.

90 out of 165 people found the following review useful:
Bigger, badder and more spectacular..but.., 22 June 2016

Just seen this and was looking forward to it. It was big and dumb, but a bit of fun. Check in your brain at the door.

Everything is grander than last time, though it's also sillier and much more absurd; but what else is to be expected? No shortage of cheese, corniness, plot holes and continuity errors, but if you know what you're in for you shouldn't be disappointed.

Gotta say, I wasn't disappointed by any stretch and enjoyed it, but it doesn't improve on the original and is very, very cluttered. 7/10. Worth checking out if you don't take either your movies or yourself too seriously. Enjoy.

Armadillo (2010)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Raw, relevant....real., 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In an age of a declining number of war films and an increasing number of any such movies being agenda driven, the war documentary has or can perhaps fill a void of sorts. One of the strengths of such a work can be the realism that is portrayed, more and more frequently a major focus of recent war films like Saving Private Ryan or Black Hawk Down, yet no matter how hard a movie with actors tries, what's happening on screen isn't real and can't match the reality of a piece like Armadillo.

In that regard films like 'Restrepo' and 'Armadillo' can be compelling viewing, no actors and generally a 'warts and all' insight into going to war, both these pieces providing ammunition to both pro and anti Afghanistan opinions. I found Armadillo to be fascinating viewing, perhaps principally because it isn't American, doesn't portray Americans and gives one an insight into proceedings well removed from the propaganda of either side of the debate.

So young Danish kids like tattoos, watching porn and talking crap, undoubtedly little removed from kids in most other western or probably most cultures. The freedoms and excesses of western society are illustrated, perhaps merely to further fuel the resolve of those they are fighting against, but it doesn't seek to gloss over anything and the boys all want to bag themselves a 'Talibob' before they go home.

The complications, frustrations and barriers to getting their job done are all highlighted, not knowing who the enemy are, not able to deny areas to the enemy consistently, having the enemy able to keep better tabs on them despite their own technological advantage and having to work with a deeply mistrusting and unreliable and uncooperative populace, many of whom express fear of reprisal for dealing with the soldiers.

In that regard, both the questions of should the west be there and can the mission be completed aren't or aren't able to be answered and the film doesn't appear to really try and tackle those questions, criticised by some 'enlightened' individuals apparently as pro-war and pro-American propaganda merely because it doesn't.

The villager that tells the soldiers that he isn't able to help them because the soldiers and Taliban are fine because they have their guns, yet the villagers are stuck in the middle and he would get his throat cut by the Taliban certainly suggests that the locals do have a problem that perhaps requires or warrants some outside intervention, perhaps akin to a local neighbourhood terrorised by a gang, but it is apparent that there is no easy or imminent solution, though having the gang on the back foot or with a little competition on their hands was not necessarily a bad thing.

The climactic action of the film and the subsequent controversy around such further fails to offer any conclusion; and opinions on such will likely fall somewhere between ideology and reality. Without a doubt it must be a lot safer to cast judgement sitting thousands of miles away from the comfort and safety of an armchair. Certainly I'm inclined to agree with the guys that have to put their head in the enemy trench to see what's what.

All that aside, as mentioned, I found this compelling viewing as an insight into both modern military and the realities of the situation in Afghanistan, seen through the eyes of a nation I doubt anyone would ever describe in this day and age as warmongers. It raises several questions that aren't or can't be answered, leaving plenty to contemplate or debate afterwards for people on both sides of the fence. Excellent documentary and recommended viewing.

17 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Yes we have no bananas!, 3 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just caught this on opening night having let the kids choose between 'Rise of the POTA' and 'Captain America'. I can't say I was disappointed at all, having gone in with no expectations at all of being blown away, but being something of a fan of the original film series and concept.

'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' is a bit of a mixed bag, part hit and part miss. It has a few plot holes and implausibilities, but the story is solid enough and it certainly doesn't mock or insult the original Planet of the Apes film, the premise merely swapping a self-inflicted nuclear holocaust for a man made virus, perhaps an updating of the times.

It's a little lightweight in the violence or scary department, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's clearly made with a wider audience in mind with no sex, no bad language and the rough stuff toned down from what it might have been.

The ape mayhem doesn't really take place until nearer the end of the film and while it's certainly not the reason I'd suggest you go and see this film, because it's pretty much covered off in the trailer, the lead up to it and 'Apeshank Redemption' lead up behind bars, from whipping boy to top dog in the yard was the high point and very well done, if a little formulaic.

The lowlight of the film was definitely the perhaps mandatory 'damned dirty ape' line which unfortunately was nothing less then cringe worthy. I may be being a tad harsh in giving this 6/10, but I'm a tough marker and there's no 6.5 to click on. Definitely worth a look and it gets a pass mark, but it won't leave you in awe.

Ashanti (1979)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Well, it certainly isn't Lawrence of Arabia but.., 21 May 2011
7/10 wasn't all that bad. 'Ashanti' has contrivance, plot holes, implausibility and more, not to mention plenty of cliché and stereotyping, while a single sentence can describe the plot; 'White husband pursues across Africa his hot black wife and her abductors who intend to sell her into slavery to wealthy Arabs'. Done. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but actually I found this quite watchable and pretty entertaining.

Certainly it isn't great and I may even be being slightly generous in giving it a seven, but it was pretty light, didn't seem to take itself too seriously and if other viewers don't take it too seriously either then I doubt they'll be disappointed. Sure, this will never make any 'must see' list, but it wasn't a waste of a couple of hours and Michael Caine was far too harsh in his own criticisms of it. He must have had bigger expectations of it being some epic which it didn't live up to.

It's worth a look.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do to your country., 11 July 2010

Sat down to watch this one not really knowing what to expect and am happy to report I was pleasantly surprised. I was very conscious of the possibility of some left leaning, sympathetic film maker still entwined in their rebellious socialist student ideology and out to glamourise the title group as some gathering of 'Bonnie and Clydes' or disaffected heroes fighting the good fight.

A brief rundown for anyone that might not know, the film tells the story of; the rise and fall of the 'Bader-Meinhof Gang' or 'Red Army Faction' in West Germany in the late 60's and 70's, ostensibly as portrayed in the film, a collection of middle class idealistic young people outraged at western 'facism', determined to see the mistakes of the past (Nazism) not repeated and setting out to bring about change by violently forcing and imposing their ideals on the rest of the world in order to bring about 'change' and more fairness to the oppressed.

As an aside I thought they and their behaviour presented collectively in the film as every bit as bad as that of their predecessors of the 30's & 40's whose attitudes and ideas they were so 'determined' not to see flourish again. This film actually struck me as rather neutral in terms of its presentation of the key figures and undoubtedly there will be some who see the B-M G/RAF as out and out villains (as I'm inclined to do) but there'll also be plenty of people who, if not supportive of or rooting for our 'anti-heroes' may be at least sympathetic to their ideals at some level.

I certainly don't know enough to comment on the historical accuracy on show although there are a whole lot of things happening through a rather long film and I got the feeling that the director wanted as little as possible to sweep up off the cutting room floor afterwards and therein lies the strength of the film which goes into plenty of detail.

I found none of the central characters to be particularly likable or endearing and as a result didn't bat an eyelid when they suffered any misfortune or negative consequence of their actions, though I don't know if that was intended by the director or writers. The psychological makeup of the real individuals, their real characters, personalities and motivations aside (and more appropriate for some other forum), I was generally rather impressed with the performances on display, the actors none of whom were previously known to me.

As a story it was pretty well told and as a film I it was very well done. Certainly an excellent film to show to any students of history or politics and sure to invite plenty of subsequent debate and discussion around the protagonists and their respective merits or failings.

Highly recommended.

.45 (2006)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not nearly as bad as it's rating., 2 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Grabbed this one out of the bargain bin, with little expectation or idea about it, not having heard of it. I'll start by saying I was pleasantly surprised and even more surprised at the low rating of this film on here. Look, it isn't brilliant, there are some not so good, even bad bits, some corn and plenty of cheesy dialogue not to mention some funny parts, but there are also some very well done, even powerful scenes as well.

The film has three parts, the first being a character study of an urban white trash couple, both of whom I thought were fairly convincing, Jovovich looking the part, while 'Big Al' looking something like a fat, bloated uglier version of Russell Crowe plays a slovenly fat pig, small time crim and bully to perfection and seemed to have plenty of fun doing it.

After some earlier hijinks, the tone of the film changes, moving into a domestic violence expose with a psycho partner and this is where the film excels. The scenes of domestic violence are powerful and comparable to 'Once Were Warriors' in terms of the sensory assault and shock of the violence, intimidation, degradation and dehumanising treatment meted out and the acting of both leads and the dynamics of their relationship is highly believable. The prolonged and sustained assault that features alone makes this worth seeing for the impact on the viewer, but you couldn't call that bit entertaining.

Unfortunately, having taken a turn for the better and setting itself up as something more memorable, it then degenerates nearer the end in trying to be clever, perhaps overdoing the scheming, manipulation and surprises in Jovovich trying to escape the abusive relationship, little of which you couldn't see coming and much of what the film could have done without. In spite of that, I was impressed with it overall, especially not having had high expectations and it's a lot better than a 5.5, the subject matter perhaps putting some people off. It was certainly a worthwhile part for Jovovich contrary to what some people have suggested and she did herself no dis-service accepting this role.

I laughed, cringed and sat speechless through different parts of this film and enjoyed most of it. Oscar material this isn't, but it's worth checking out if you're not too squeamish or prudish. Definitely not one for children though.

Better than Expected, 30 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I picked this one out of the bargain bin and had no great expectations at all, thinking the only good thing about it may be the price. I was pleasantly surprised. This certainly isn't great by any stretch, but it's not that bad. For the military aficionado it might be disappointing and I'd certainly suspect, as a lot of people have mentioned, that the military adviser on this film (if there was one) didn't really have any leverage in terms of being able to bring any credibility to the Iraq scenes.

How they let themselves get set up for the ambush in the first place and both why they pursued the insurgents so far and why they went right through the middle of the cemetery not knowing where the bad guys were amongst the headstones spoke volumes about this aspect of the movie very early in the piece. That's not what the film was about however and I don't think the director was either trying to make an accurate military actioner or make any statement about the rights or wrongs of the conflict in Iraq at all.

What it was about and what it acknowledged was that being at the coal face of such a situation and what is experienced has a profound impact on the person involved, regardless of whether the individual returns physically unscathed or not. In this regard I thought this film did pretty well. I suspect that it was likely pretty accurate in its portrayal of how things are different for veterans when they return, regardless of the particular conflict, how they struggle to relate to people who can never understand their experiences and how those at home struggle to relate to them.

I was previously no fan at all of Jessica Biel as an actress and assumed both her and 50 Cent had been cast purely to get bums on seats. While 50 Cent didn't disappoint in that regard, he was passable, though a bit too stereotyped as an angry black guy with a big mouth. Alba along with Samuel L. Jackson both turned in what I thought were fairly powerful and credible performances. There were some rather powerful and emotional scenes regardless of any cliché and without any first hand knowledge, I found them to be pretty credible as returned war vets struggling to fit in and relate to those around them.

That said, some of the situations seemed a little bit forced and the resolutions for each of the four main characters followed were disappointing, all except 50 Cent's character being shown on the road to redemption and/or recovery. I don't believe for a second that such problems could begin to be ironed out so quickly and the 'happy' endings of the film for me undermined much of what I thought was some credibility established earlier.

I thought it rather apolitical, but a huge number of 'critics' I would suggest possibly dismiss it on the basis of not being far enough to their respective viewpoints, regardless of which side of the fence they're on. This is no masterpiece but I would suggest worth a look for a couple of very good performances, certainly better then it's IMDb rating would suggest.

14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
One of the most underrated films ever., 19 September 2009

If there's one film I can think of that's unfairly maligned, underestimated, underrated and under appreciated them it is 'The Green Berets'. This is a war film made in the 60's, by John Wayne and accordingly displays those production values and attributes. It's biggest mistake appears merely to have been made about the conflict in Vietnam. Had Wayne instead chosen to make this a WWII film about American special operatives then it would undoubtedly be a highly regarded and classic war film.

With a neat cast and characters, especially Jim Hutton who I'd suggest was perfect for his role, 'The Green Berets' I would also suggest shows pretty accurately, the make up, doctrine and activities of U.S. Special Forces at the time; more experienced professional soldiers with specialised skills and training including in linguistics, medicine and the like, able to live alongside and amongst indigenous peoples and help to win their 'hearts and minds' and providing humanitarian and medical assistance as well as recruiting and training local militias.

This film showcases who those guys are and what they do to an audience many of whom would have (both at that time in the 60's and now) very little idea about that sort of thing. Of course there's an element of propaganda in it but has there ever been a war film made during the actual period of any particular conflict that it portrays that isn't? That continues even now with films like 'Redacted' and the like which appear to be rated by people largely by the films adherence with their own particular philosophies, ideals and views on the particular conflict or issue.

Too many 'critics' perhaps bought up on an overblown diet of subsequent 'guilty' 'nam films might express disbelief that there were actually professional soldiers in this conflict and not just dope smokin', rock n rollin' sh!t talking' & baby killin' conscripts with 'one foot in the grave' that were also at the business end of proceedings in Vietnam. If one can get over themselves and their lust for this movie to display some retrospective guilt, shame and acknowledgement of wrong, this is a pretty good war movie.

I would suggest that the portrayal of the attack on the US compound and the subsequent battle for such exceeds the equivalent scene in Apocalypse Now, although it mightn't be as 'cool' without Jimmy Hendrix blaring through the night and no one knowing "who's in charge here"?

Of course it's not perfect and maybe some of the Green Berets are a little too old, carry their rifles funny and walk far too close together when in the bush, but it's a John Wayne movie (and one of my favourites). Some people do need to get over themselves though. Maybe it was filmed in the U.S, but then a lot of Full Metal Jacket was shot in London. Disregard all the nonsense from people who probably dislike all war films except Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and Saving Private Ryan; unless you require mandatory exploding limbs and arterial spurting, 'The Green Berets' is worth checking out.

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Not quite cutting the mustard., 26 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'd never heard of this film at all but snapped it up when I saw the cast and read the back of the jacket. Suffice to say it didn't quite live up to expectations and once again proved the age old adage of 'don't judge a book (or a DVD) by its cover'. Watchable for the most part, this is a film that adds up at the end to a little bit less than the sum of all its parts. I guessed correctly that the director was pretty new to this game and I must say those behind the scenes did pretty well to secure Liotta, Garcia and Asante for this.

In a nutshell, when the Taliban attempt to form an alliance with a powerful northern Mexican drug cartel, supplying drugs in exchange for being able to use their smuggling network, they attract the attention of US intelligence agencies and the covert ops heat is brought down on them (or so it appears). At the same time there's a power struggle for control of the cartel amongst the heirs apparent to the throne. Little is seen of officialdom and we are instead treated to local operatives/soldiers of fortune and their controllers south of the border.

There is no shortage of violence, tempered by the character of Liotta, a man haunted and tormented by the female victim of a previous hit. Naturally he's seeking some kind of redemption which is nicely and conveniently laid out at the end of the film along with a twist that merely serves to undermine much of any credibility previously established throughout the rest of the film.

The film is short of dialogue and any real character development, instead relying on visuals and the score to create atmosphere, set scenes and keep the story moving along, Some of the editing and camera work seems a bit attention deficit disorder orientated as well, with perhaps a time limit of a couple of seconds placed on any one shot. I didn't find it too much of a problem but I know that it's a major annoyance for some people.

This film was let down badly both with the twist ending and the inclusion of a 'Taliban' plot, both of which were unnecessary and I thought damaging to the credibility of the rest of the film. Not only that, but after an hour and a half or so of portraying Tijuana as a seedy sh!th0le full of thugs, thieves, gangsters and hookers, the director had the audacity to insert a big 'what a wonderful place Tijuana is and what wonderful people live there' message just at the start of the closing credits. I thought this summed up the whole project quite well, not quite doing what the makers thought they were doing.

Worth a look, but not a must see.

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