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MarcusCrassus

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23 reviews in total 
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Could Have Been Great, But Chooses to Narratively Sail Away Into The Ether, 20 May 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Never to return. The look of Berberian Sound Studio is gorgeous and the sound is marvellous, but the script goes nowhere. If the film had kept things simple, a man overcome by his immersion into the horror of exploitative giallo, then the film would have been a marvel, but the plot unravels (yes, reflecting the central character's state of mind, etc.) to the point that you regret the time investment you have made in watching it. Indeed, while probably very deep and surreal, the last quarter of the film just seems as if the script wasn't finished when production was greenlit and no ending was conjured before the final day of shooting. I have no problem with oblique endings (Lost Highway is fabulous), but this just dwindles away, which is a shame given the earlier promise. Sometimes just telling a story is all that is required, and Berberian Sound Studio just needed to do that.

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A Swiss Cheese Extravaganza of Plot Holes, 20 May 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hailed by some as the best film ever, I found The Dark Knight Rises to be a shambles and a poor end to a supposed 'epic' trilogy as, at its end, the viewer is left with so many hows and whys at the end, such as: If Batman has been off the scene for years, how come Bruce Wayne is so battered and maimed? Who has he been fighting? And if so, how does one leg brace cure him? How does Bruce Wayne get from the desert prison back to Gotham City? How does he shrug off a deep knife wound and jump out of the flying typewriter (that's what the 'plane' looks like to me - the design in the film is horribly clunky and visually indistinct) over the Gotham river unobserved and unscathed so he can then jet off with Selina? Who indeed is 'Catwoman' (she is never called that)? What is her story and how does she have such incredible fighting skills? I would like to have seen that as Anne Hathaway shines in the role and is the only bright spot in the entire film. Also, would EVERY single Gotham cop go into the sewers? Really, ALL of them? And then they all just languish underground (quite happily, by the looks of it) for three months before being freed to engage in an A-Team-style battle with Bane's mob (loads of gunfire, but hardly any hits). Indeed, where are the illustrious denizens of Arkham Asylum during Bane's reign? (Oh, yes, we briefly see Scarecrow, so that's that sorted, then). Meanwhile, in the sunny hellhole prison of darkness, Bruce was either lounging in bed or suspended from a rope during his tenure there, so, bar some pressups, where does he suddenly find the power to knock out the seemingly unstoppable Bane? And then, finally, we have 'Robin' who is just an average-sized cop with no specialist skills or knowledge, so what is he supposed to do with the Batcave? It took Bruce Wayne a lifetime to become the Dark Knight, what is a cop going to do with the cave and its technology? Or perhaps Bruce Wayne left a helpful note, who knows? As an ending to the trilogy, TDKR is deeply unsatisfying and has a script that closely resembles swiss cheese. To be honest, I didn't think that Batman Begins was much cop, either, but that had Liam Neeson and The Dark Knight had the tour-de-force presence of Heath Ledger, but TDKR only has the charisma-free Tom Hardy mumbling unintelligibly and hardly any Batman. Oh, and the plot is pretty much the same as a Bond movie.

This Film Was Diced Rather Than Cubed, 18 May 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The original Cube was an innovative exercise in how to tell an engaging and original story with a limited budget and an even more limited set. Cube 2: Hyphercube, alas, fails to capitalise on such established promise and becomes boxed in by banality. Without any puzzles for the protagonists to solve, Cube 2 is pretty much a number of random individuals climbing in and out of the same room for one and a half hours until it all just ends. The actual end 'twist' doesn't really make much sense and the use of early CGI is ill-advised as it takes away the claustrophobic and visceral element of the first movie and replaces it with 'Crystal Castles'-like shapes that seem super-imposed on victims rather than actually impaling them. As such, in place of enigmas we get repetitive routines, although the zero-gravity love scene is something novel, I suppose. The murder of numerous parallel copies of characters is an amusing motif, too, but the film needed more of such touches to really make its mark. Not terrible, then, but not innovative like its predecessor, and it is a shame that such promise imploded.

A Howler., 7 May 2015
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There is an art to making bad horror movies that are a pleasure to watch due to their badness, but Strippers vs Werewolves is simply bad. Howlingly bad, in fact. OK, it is meant to be a horror-comedy and not to be taken seriously, but that (as John Landis masterfully demonstrated) is also an art, and this film misses the canvas by miles. It is not funny, scary or effective in any way and is generally an amateur affair. The tricksy split screen and use of strange animated stills is annoying and unnecessary. The make-up effects are rudimentary and make the villains of the piece look less like werewolves and more like 19th century pub owners with muttonchop sideburns and big ears, while the much-heralded 'strippers' don't actually strip (I've seen Emmerdale episodes that are more daring). On a positive note (yes, there are one or two positive notes - literally one or two), it's always great to see the marvellous Sarah Douglas on screen and Alan Ford is a class act (now Cockneys vs Zombies is a good comedy-horror), but they deserve better than this shaggy-dog story.

Often Beautiful, but Tonally Uneven, 7 May 2015
8/10

Based upon a British series, Sensitive Skin presents an affecting and strikingly-filmed based upon the reflective angst of ageing and progressing through middle age. However, while centrally a drama, there is also a seam of comedy, and this often provides narrative problems as the central actors, Kim Cattrall and Doug McKellar (playing spouses Davina and Al) often seem to be in two completely different shows. With regard to McKellar, he is frequently caught up in zany and wacky sitcom-style farce, while Cattrall is part of a meditative and emotional drama, and Cattrall wins out. Her scenes are often starkly beautiful and her performance is stellar, but then they are undercut by jarring and unrealistic comedy antics. It is obvious that Al and their son Orlando are meant to exacerbate Davina's angst, but the tonal shifts make the series uneven. More focus on Davina's point-of-view would have elevated the series, but, it is still affecting and effectively produced - I just would have liked to have seen more of Davina and her world-view.

Less Would Have Been Much More, 13 April 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If Burton had scaled back the action to include only Barnabas, Angelique and Victoria/Josette, then the film would have worked 100% better than it does. But, he tries to shoehorn many of the elements contained within Dark Shadows the series (which runs to countless episodes) and, as a result, the film collapses with ghosts and werewolves aplenty thrown into the chaotic climax. The film looks great and Eva Green is as marvellous as ever, (with Depp in camply amusing form, but in a role that he basically sleepwalks through) but the tone is all over the place. One minute the film is Gothic horror, then it's slapstick comedy, then it's all Austin Powers 'man-out-of-time' farce and then finally, sadly, an empty and noisy CGI-fest. Furthermore, Chloe Moretz and Helena Bonham Carter give the film little to nothing (not their fault as their characters are just not fleshed out enough and Moretz's supernatural contribution is simply too little and way too late in the game to give anything but palm-slaps to the face on the part of the viewer) and so they just take up valuable screen-time. Perhaps directors shouldn't remake shows that they love, as it seems to seldom pan out well.

Nikola Tesla was told what to invent by Aliens!, 9 April 2015
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of course he was. It is totally obvious. Or, perhaps, just reaching here, he was an absolute scientific genius who should be celebrated for his extraordinary achievements and vision? Not according to Ancient Aliens. I watched the Tesla episode last night and wished they had just produced an informative profile of Tesla, but it is the History Channel, so why would they do that when they can have a motley crew of 'experts' to claim (sans evidence) that a mere human could never come up with alternating current and must have been in the employ of extra-terrestrials. At one level Ancient Aliens works well as high comedy, but it is supposed to be a history show and the disclaimer given endlessly by the narrator of "ancient astronaut theorists believe" gives the show license to say anything it likes. And it does! Sure, a fig leaf of propriety is given with the odd PhD-bearing physicist, but most of the 'experts' simply intone wild and baseless speculation as fact with no competing objective voices allowed. Thus, all references to 'flying chariots' in religious texts mean alien spacecraft, fortuitous rainstorms in the American War of Independence were E.T. interventions, and Tesla, paltry human that he was, could not possibly have had the scientific vision he had without alien communication and guidance. Even CCTV and the iCloud gets linked with Watcher angels who were, of course, actually aliens. Oh, yes, I almost forgot, the Sphinx is not only an ancient teleportation device to Orion's Belt, but it has a twin structure on Mars AND is the repository for the ancient wisdom of Atlantis. Where is Dr Sheldon Cooper when you need him!

Tarzan and the Ballads of Benji, 20 October 2014
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not even Tarzan could defeat Benji and his interminable songs, however! What is there to be said about Tarzan and the Mermaids that hasn't already been said by the other fine reviewers on this site? Probably not a lot, but having caught this on TCM just this week the film is certainly a bizarre adventure. Given that the running time just tips the 60 minute mark there is substantial amount of padding on show (which never bodes well), from the long narrated intro (which also gives the villains' game away from the off), the various aqua pursuits of the island folk (although the cliff diving is thrilling, it must be said) and then the exploits of Benji. If Benji's full-length songs don't eat up enough screen time, then there is Benji preparing for and then engaging in a sea joust. Of the songs, it's interesting to note the pained but humouring faces of Jane et al when Benji treats them to his ditties - a bit like visitors enduring a friend's insistence that they sit through their 'talented' child's piano recital and who act all polite when all they really want to do is scream "ENOUGH!". Anyway, Cheetah has the right idea and nicks Benji's guitar early on, but sadly he is ordered by Tarzan to return it.

Oh, and Benji is supposed to be a river postman, but he can't even get that right and forgets the only letter that he has to deliver to Tarzan Towers. Luckily, he has no qualms about invading privacy and having read it previously conveys, in the form of verse (cue five more minutes of Benji action), its contents from a now England-based Boy. Although, given the sketchy information Benji communicates, Boy is clearly living student life to the max and not missing the jungle one bit.

Anyway, aside from no mermaids, we get the lovely Linda Christian as Mara, a crook pretending to be a God (who wants to marry Mara, which would rathar give the non-God game away on the wedding night, I'd have thought), George Zucco walking around an Aztec pyramid a lot (with some cool star-shaped shell necklace bling), and a secret island that curiously leads directly to Tarzan and Jane's gaff by river and only takes 10 minutes to get there by canoe (as Tiko, Mara's true love, also demonstrates when he randomly shows up at Tarzan/Jane's tree-top manor). So, a guilty pleasure, for sure, if you can survive Benji and his songs. But that is a big 'if'.

It Has No Logic, But It Has An Avalanche and It Has Sharks, 29 July 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What is there to really say about Avalanche Sharks? The premise is ridiculous and so, duly, is the execution. There is a mountain and there are ghost sharks (possibly, not quite sure about the precise ontology of the sharks), and there are numerous victims of said spectral fish. At the most obvious level the film is entertaining as a cheap and poorly-conceived cash-in on the 'where-is-the-most-unlikely-place-a-shark-can-strike-from' low budget mania that has emerged of late, and on that premise it is worth a watch. However, the film has no real logic and is ultimately really random in its approach. For instance, the film opens with three distinctive characters, but then pretty much forgets about them, and the climax is perhaps the most random solution I've ever seen (also involving a very random character). And what of the characters? Well, you get a marine biologist who never utters anything remotely biological (and sharks on a mountain really should pique at least some professional interest, regardless of the tragic back-story), the usual unscrupulous mayor/businessman who won't close the mountain, a ranting 'You're all doomed!" old mountain man, and a hilarious 'marine' who keeps telling people that he is a marine (but who displays very little military prowess). Oh, and one of the best performances I have seen in a film of this type: a man who, as a result of seeing his girlfriend eaten by the sharks, has a religious epiphany and renounces drugs in favour of universal love (I'll leave it to you to see how that pans out). However, the CGI is actually not too bad at all and nobody is taking the proceedings very seriously (except the marine character, boy, he takes things seriously). All in all, then, the bar is set low, but with a title like Avalanche Sharks, what do you expect?

Fright Night 2 (2013) (V)
Wastes Its Best Vampiric Asset, 6 July 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very strange film. I expected a remake of the original Fright Night 2 only to find that it wasn't that at all. Then I assumed it was a sequel to the remake, but as Charley Brewster had no knowledge of vampires or Peter Vincent, it wasn't that, either. OK, so how about just being a fun trashy horror film with an absolute knockout lead actress as a seductive vampire? Well, yes and no. Jamie Murray is marvellous and the saving grace of the film, and her performance partially rescues the affair. However, she needed to be featured more and her character been allowed to cut loose more extensively. As it is, the film misfires in the belief that the audience will be rooting for the drippy and charisma-free Charley and his vapid girlfriend, an ex-Coronation Street luminary (I'll skip over 'Evil' Ed, as should you) and I'd have been quite happy to see Countess Bathory triumph! As for 'Peter Vincent', Sean Power isn't Roddy McDowell (or David Tennant for that matter) and we'll leave it at that. Also, the Countess Bathory angle is confusing as Gerri ultimately has three forms: the seductive 30-something Gerri, a wizened Gerri who needs to bathe in blood to get back her youthful visage, and a monstrous vampire form. Of the latter, if that is what a vampire truly looks like then why does she age in her human guise? It doesn't make sense, but since little does in the movie I don't suppose it is worth pondering. So, more Gerri and less moping Charley and Fright Night 2 could have been an effective B-feature. But it isn't. Oh, well, there's always the next season of Defiance.


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