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Prometheus (2012/I)
37 out of 62 people found the following review useful:
Do androids dream of better scripts?, 14 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Prometheus is a pretentious, well acted, poorly scripted pile of wan*.

I entered this film with diminished expectations after hearing a few bad reviews but my expectations were not diminished enough. I had been expecting a slower more thoughtful film than Alien or its successors, but what I had not been expecting was a insipid, vacuous plot full of asinine characters.

The story takes a plunge right from the start into the big questions; on a seemingly primordial earth a suicidal alien (one of the Engineers or Space-Jockeys as they were known from Alien) commits suicide by drinking some black-goo on the edge of a waterfall and tumbles into the water where his DNA is deconstructed and then recombined by the goo.

Later in Scotland, with a plot device straight out of 1994's Stargate: ancient paintings are found from different cultures around the world all depicting a race of aliens (Engineers) and a constellation of stars with which to find them. This finding propels a crew of scientists across the galaxy in search of the depicted aliens and is bankrolled my mega-corp Weyland represented by the inhuman Vicars and the grown-up AI David. The science team is led by the archaeologists who found the drawings presumably because experts in ancient human art will be immeasurably useful for a first contact! But wait, there is an explanation here, they are proponents of an idea that people were created by these aliens (Engineers) and share some kind of common culture with them. David the android is then given the task of deciphering the roots of every language on Earth while the others whisk across the galaxy so that he can communicate with the aliens (Engineers) on arrival.

The big picture here is a particular take on Panspermia - in this case with an emphasis on the 'sperm' - with giant white, suicidal, elephantine helmeted aliens (Engineers) taking on the roll of the architects and creators of life. (I suppose it's not that much more ridiculous than a black box.) So with that big question out of the way in the first 5 minutes of the film we are left with a number of further questions: is our creator god, who created our creator, how does our creator feel about us? And the answer is: who cares? The problem with the rest of the film is that these kind of big questions need to be handled intelligently not penned in crayon. Just throwing questions at the audience with smattering of mythology does not an intelligent, engaging film make. But the biggest obstacle here is that the characters are just unbelievably stupid. Like their mothers were drunk the whole way through pregnancy stupid. The characters are more stupid then the characters in AVP:R, more so since the characters in AVP:R are supposed to be stupid teenagers, these are supposed to be scientist on a trillion dollar expedition to a new planet to find the origins of life.

Probably the quickest way to convey the unremitting catalogue of idiotic decisions taken by the characters is to list the good decisions made, so here it is: Vicars the supposed bad character wants to quarantine the definitely infected character outside the ship. That's it - one good decision! That left me with more fondness for her than the rest of the cast.

The rest of the crew are a bunch of helmet removing, location forgetting, black-goo swigging, door opening, infection hiding, snake petting imbeciles. Which brings me back to the Engineers. When the crew finally meet one in the flesh it turns out he is not a benign creator but a wrathful one. And frankly at this stage I would be as well. If I had put in the effort to create and nurture a new race I would be inconsolably pi**ed off that they had turned out that inane. From this point forward I was hoping that the Engineers would take off and bomb the Earth out of existence for everyone's sake.

Aliens has always relied on a certain amount of sexual queasiness to create its visceral shock, but it has always been a suggestion; in Prometheus it's out there. "How do you know it's a girl?" The reason I ask because it looks like a fricking giant pulsating dong! With the amount of shock moments delivered through betentacled oral penetration and gnashing vaginal consumption I began to worry Ridley Scott had decided to produce 'shokushu goukan'. But really it was the clumsiness with which all of this was handled that shocked me.

Honestly I am surprised by the lack of critical response on the IMDb for this mess. I have seen some serious mental somersaults and post hoc rationalisation being undertaken by the fanboys such as "the characters are supposed to be stupid. Weyland deliberately hired idiots because he wasn't interested in the successful outcome of the expedition." Seriously? He decides to fly across the galaxy with a crew of idiots; is that not the plot of Coneheads? The current high IMDb rating reminds me off the high rating of the Phantom Menace shortly after release. In the end you'll be out on your own having given the Phantom Menace 10 out of 10 stars.

I can only imagine it will only be a matter of time before Damon Lindelof's name becomes toxic; I look forward to that day.

4 out of 10

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Test-Drive Comparison of Film-Making Gimmicks, 6 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It has been noted that the one thing people are really interested in is people. The whole history of culture and art stands in testament to this fact. So it beggars belief why anyone would decide that the one perspective we have really been missing all this time is a bullet's. Watching a film from a bullet's perspective is like viewing the first world war from the perspective of the ground where Archduke Ferdinand was shot. Sure it has a necessary role to play and even a small share of the action, but it's completely beside the point.

It is therefore somewhat refreshing to see a new perspective come this time not in the form of a munition but a video-camera. OK, a video-camera doesn't whiz round the screen or allow you to bend time in an ever so nifty way, but it does do one incredible thing. It forces you to make a film about people. This mainly boils down to the fact that a video-camera is limited to being picked up by one person and recording another from roughly the direction of the first. The result, a film with not one slick bullet-tracking shot to be seen; which we can agree is a good thing.

Which is why I find myself drawn to the inescapable conclusion that Cloverfield is like a hydrogen airship; it is a really neat idea that is unfortunately also a total disaster. As it turns out, when it was noted that "the one thing that people are really interested in is people", what was meant was "the one thing people are interested in is people more interesting than themselves", and it is in this respect that Cloverfield fails with gusto.

This is because Cloverfield coats itself in the banality of an authentic home-movie like a seal coats itself in the Arctic Ocean. It immerses itself in it, rolls in it and playfully flaps a flipper just to see what will happen. For the first half-an-hour of the film very little does happen. Where it's not happening is New York, in a party - which is like one of those New York parties you've heard about filled with exciting intelligent people who have interesting, insightful things to say, except that it's not. It's a party filled with people who don't have anything interesting to say at all.

So when the party is interrupted by a multi-storey alien who insists on eating the guests it's a welcome change. This is a feeling that will no doubt be familiar to anyone who has been to a party in New York. And with this the focus changes to the toing and froing of the party's survivors pursued by the hungry, hungry aliens. At least I assume they're being pursued because the aliens are hungry; quite what they are up to remains somewhat of a mystery.

And so it ends, and I find myself thinking again about bullets and how perhaps they're not so bad after all, and I find myself wishing that film-makers would just exert some self control, and thinking wouldn't it be nice if for once they thought not "can I do it?" but "should I do it?"

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Die, 11 August 2007

Die Hard 4.0 is a dinosaur of the 80's action genre. But what people forget is dinosaurs are awesome. They are big, loud, fearsome and they explode! Well, they should explode for my analogy to work because everything in Die Hard 4.0 explodes - cars, planes, helicopters, buildings, the White House, gas terminals, trucks and a whole lot of computers.

I was worried when | went to see Die Hard 4.0 that I would find it difficult to watch a film with Bruce Willis in his 50's as an action hero but when I started watching it I found that this was so far down the list of things that were completely unbelievable that it really didn't matter. And Bruce as John McClane didn't try to be the strongest or fastest or most dangerous he just does what he does best - doggedly refuse to die.

But what surprised me most about Die Hard 4.0 was the injection of a bit of 21st century style into the self consciously 80's plot. John McClane finds himself in a high-tech world of computer intelligence agencies is out of his depth - he doesn't know how to use a computer. He has to face a highly skilled team of terrorists, hackers, martial artists and free-runners amongst others. And he does so with his usual of dry whit and determination.

Die Hard 4.0 is a refreshing after a spate of overly long comic book sequels that take them selves to seriously. It's nice to have a film that has fun with its genre.

Thoroughly over the top fun - 7.5/10

Apocalypto (2006)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
What a load of Mayans, 27 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film has come under quite a lot of criticism about the "extreme" violence shown in the film and its historical in-accuracy. I find myself feeling that I need to defend it on both these counts.

Historically In-accurate True Or False?

The main point that is brought up against the film is that Mayan civilisation collapsed around 900AD and therefore had not existed for around 700 years at the time the film was set (which would be quite a blunder!). This however is not correct (Well from what I can tell from Wikipedia ;) ). The Mayan civilisation is still around today - in some form. It underwent a collapse around 900AD moving from its most prosperous "Classic" period to its "Post- Classic" period which survived up until Westerner settlers invaded.

What is wrong with this film is that the styles of buildings, rituals and historical details seem to be picked at random from different periods of Mayan civilisation. It appears that Mell Gibson has tried to compress the whole decline of the Mayan civilisation, all 700 or so years into about a week and a half!

Extreme Violence Or A Night In With The TV?

I'll say it from the off set this film does not live up to its reputation for "extreme" violence. Whilst it does contain a respectable amount of spurting blood but this is not much worse that something you would see on CSI or ER. The fighting is less stylised than most films, mostly involving picking up the nearest blunt weapon and bludgeoning someone with it, but most of the violence is inferred happening of camera. People have mentioned scenes of people being raped, this does not happen. I'm not suggesting this doesn't happen in the film but that it is never shown. They don't even put the sound of screaming in to tell you that it is happening it is entirely left up to your imagination.

It is the sacrifices that most critics seem to be criticising. These are mostly shown from the point of view of the Mayan towns people standing at the bottom of the temple steps which is a long distance away from the sacrifices. The main exception to this is when a bloody heart that has been taken from one of the victims is held aloft which is shown close up, but I seem to remember this being done in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which was a PG!

What it does contain in abundance is brutality and savagery. It is impressed and re- impressed upon the viewer that the Mayan peoples were savage, both in appearance and their behaviour. They shown to be sadistic, killing for sport or getting pleasure out of the suffering of others. This does not happen in an isolated way it is the whole driving force of the film. From the murdering, raping (yes I know what I said...but my imagination definitely stretched as far as there being rapes) and pillaging carried out by the Mayan soldiers to the trance like ecstasy of the jeering crowds at the temple steps and the bloodthirsty hunt for the films hero, Jaguar Paw.

Special consideration is given to the simple hunter / gatherer tribes men that are the focus of the films story. They are exempted from the cruelly that drives the men of the Mayan civilisation by living out a slightly oafish existence in balance with nature and the forest. It is these tribesmen that the film follows in particular Jaguar Paw who is the son of the village chief.

Historical Nightmare Or Popcorn Classic?

For all its faults its historical confusion it must be said that Apocolypto does look great from the wildness of the forests to the bleak landscapes of the limestone mines and Mayan temples. With that comes a fast paced action (chase) movie with a stroke of historical colour - inaccurate as it may be. This could be an enjoyable film if it weren't for one flaw in its production.

That flaw is the constant contempt shown by the film makers for the people that are its subject. It seems to be an all out attack on the Mayan civilisation. The characters that are portrayed are not people but stereotypes of savages, and their mindless aggression eventually becomes comical. The climax of the film says it all where the Westerners arrive rowing ashore from their galleons in their clean white clothes, carrying crosses.

9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A long time ago in a galaxy made of CGI..., 26 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Warning, this unquestionably contains spoilers. (How can it contain spoilers when we know the ending? By quoting wholesale from the script. I have done this because it is the best way I can think of to demonstrate how bad this film is, letting it speak for itself.)

Lets start with my favourite line from this film: "I have seen a security hologram of him killing younglings!" Watch Ewan choking back that smirk as he delivers this dross. You get the feeling that this could have been written by a child and possibly by a child who had not seen the original 3 films, as the attempts to mesh the events of these films together are half hearted at best. "Wipe these droids memories!" oh! and get Ben Kenobi whilst your at it and do his too. In fact just wipe everyone's memories as they all seam to have spent years in each others company 20 years before episode 4.

Many of the pivotal plot lines are so clunky as to be unbearable: "From my point of view the Jedi are evil." The Yoda speak in particular is milked until it becomes utterly comical. "Been mixing up the subject and object you have!"

The locations and sets are so varied that they just appear confused. This leaves you with the impression that little more thought was put into picking them than someone deciding it would be 'cool'. The computer graphics which constituted almost all of this film were often reminiscent of the early interactive computer games featuring 4th rate actors superimposed on top of ray traced backdrops.

There is also a lot of American patriotism in the film that to me felt extremely out of place. "My allegiance is to the republic to democracy!"

The only account I can make for people apparent enjoyment of this is that peoples expectations have been so lowered by the last 2 miserable offerings that this didn't seem so bad. Also the ending is good, but as the ending of this film is the only thing that has been in place since the originals it does it little credit.

With this said I should reflect on the positive points of this film: I unreservedly enjoyed the John Williams score at the start and end.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A decent horror, 8 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you have not seen this film don't read this review or come to that any other reviews. Just go and see it. The less you know about the film beforehand the better.

This is an extremely atmospheric and disturbing film. The first scene cleverly lulls you into a false sense of security only to reawaken you from it with a sharp shock that will leave you reeling for the rest of the film. Making good and frequent use of the sudden jump and with just enough psychological edge to have your nerves well frayed by the time they begin their descent into the caves' claustrophobic depths.

The story follows an all girl group of adventure sport enthusiasts, as they embark on a subterranean bonding session to try to patch their relationship. In particular it focuses on the relationship of the 3 central girls, which has become strained after the opening events of the film. They are joined by 3 others, two Swedish sisters and a cocky Irish teenage protégé. But the girls' confidence soon begins to evaporate as they quickly run into trouble down in the caves, and their situation suddenly becomes much worse when they realise they are not alone in the dark.

The group's all female makeup appears to be a conscious decision by Neil Marshal to set it apart from the laddishness seen in his previous film 'Dog Soldiers', and to distance the main character from Martin Sean's character in 'Apocalypse now'.

Unusually for a horror film the emphasis is on the relationship between the girls, providing much of the films tension. A considerable amount of time is spent at beginning of the film developing that tension, which makes it all the more interesting later on watching the girls' relationship crack as they are put under increasing strain in the caves. This builds to an ending where you are as concerned about what they might do to one another as to what the monsters might do to them.

This has a plot that has you thinking throughout and probably for a good while afterward. It trusts the audience to come to conclusions in their own time. The number of comments left on the IMDb show that it has stuck in people's minds after the film has ended. The reason for the final twist, in particular, is not immediately obvious but becomes apparent when you consider the double meaning behind the films title.

The modern horror genre is a complicated one, with so many categories: psychological horror (Psycho/Seven), minimalist Japanese horror (The Ring), slasher (Halloween), ghost story (The Sixth Sense), zombie (28 Days Later), disaster (Alive), and monster movies (Aliens) to choose from. The Descent manages to combine elements of all these into a genuinely disturbing whole.

Troll 2 (1990)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Not the worst movie ever made (or second worst), 28 November 2004

My continuing search for the worst movie ever made has led me to Troll 2, but I have taken a wrong turn with this film. This is not the worst film ever made - it's not even close! For a movie to be truly bad it should have no entertainment value. This film was highly entertaining in its woeful attempts at acting, dialogue, effects.

All the reasons mentioned elsewhere in the comments section are precisely why it is so entertaining. It does however deserve credit for Connie Young's performance, which is one of the worst annoying kids I have ever seen. 'It Goblin spelled backwards!' Also special mention should be given to the Goblin Queen whose eyebrows each deserve an Oscar. And someone Grampa's age should know better.

So where do I go now in my search? 'Manos' the Hands of Fate!