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The Artist (2011)
Lovely, flawless film.
Every once in a while a film comes along which is so charming, so feel-good and so flawless that you leave the cinema feeling happier than when you went in. The Artist is a once in a generation piece of film-making which will hopefully pick up the Best Picture Oscar.
We've been bombarded with remakes, sequels and based-on-a-comic films for years now, there's a general lack of imagination and an overuse of CGI. Films sometimes have multiple script-writers and you just know that things have been tweaked and changed to please preview audiences of teenagers. The Artist takes us back to a time when cinema was about entertainment, when new technology was used to improve things rather than swamp the product with an 'aren't we clever with computers?' attitude.
It has moments of great humour and great poignancy, many of these moments enhanced by a mere facial expression from the fantastic Jean Dujardin (Best Actor Oscar with any luck), ably supported by Berenice Bejo and ....Uggy the Jack Russell in a scene-stealing performance. The great music score, of necessity due to the lack of dialogue, takes a central role and it works beautifully.
It's a lovely film, brilliantly executed and deserves whatever accolades it will surely gain.
Predator 2 (1990)
Nasty, foul mouthed garbage
You'll need a shower after watching this. It's gratuitously foul-mouthed, with every character trying to out-macho the rest. Each of the cops is so nasty and unsympathetic, you'll soon find yourself rooting for the Predator - in killing all these obnoxious individuals (drug dealers, gang members etc) the big fella seems to be doing the world a favour. That he also takes out most of the rest of the cast too, is just a bonus.
The original had pace, style, suspense and a cast you cared about. This has none of those. It's dark, deeply unpleasant and boring.
The ending is OK, it just comes 2 hours late........
Not half bad.
It's not Shakespeare, but if you want that, go and see Shakespeare. Too many reviewers seem to forget that this is just a 50's style B-Movie with updated effects, it doesn't have pretensions other than to be enjoyable. On that level it works fine. It's better than Independence Day precisely because it is spare on script and characters, ID was spoilt by too many silly and annoying characters and ridiculous plot devices. This doesn't aim for any more than focusing on a small group in peril and it's all the better and believable for it. The special effects are stunningly good, shown, refreshingly, in full daylight rather than the usual dark / rainy shots (which seem designed to hide any flaws). There's no attempt to explain the arrival of the aliens and it's great to see a film of this type (Cloverfield aside) which doesn't go for the simple, happy ending.
Good fun and worth 90 minutes of your time.
Too many of the negative comments come from people who appear to have misunderstood the idea behind the film. If you want to see a monster film showing a wider viewpoint, a clearly explained plot, and a nice neat Hollywood ending, see Godzilla (actually don't, it's cr*p), Jaws, Alien, or any one of the hundreds of such films churned out since the original King Kong. Cloverfield was always conceived as something different. The whole film is seen from the point of view of only a few people, who have no real clue what is happening and experience the mayhem first hand, filmed on their Camcorder, and as such the action is, for the audience, very realistic and believable. Echoes of Orson Welles' famous "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast are clear and the film is far superior to the rather annoying "Blair Witch Project". As in that film there is the feeling throughout that, if I were the protagonist, I'd have ditched the damn camera and run like hell within the first ten minutes - it is simply unbelievable that he would keep filming at some points. Nonetheless, a terrificly successful experiment in making something unlike any other film you've ever seen. Treat it like a theme park ride rather than Godzilla 2 and you'll be hugely impressed.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Solid but wobbly
Not a bad sequel in many respects. At least it opens out the story more, where the original sadly abandoned the global consequences for a chase around a small stately home. It's fast moving and generally well done film but I have a message for the director - I own a camera tripod. It cost about £20 and it stops my photos being blurred and jerky. If he would like to buy it from me to use in his next film, I can be contacted 24/7 ( I may increase the price a tad - sorry mate ). In future, audiences can then avoid having to sit through endless minutes of fast-cut jerky mayhem where you have no clue what is happening and to whom. It may add to the atmosphere and action in short bursts, as in the first film, but flogging it for too long just makes the viewer nauseous and you lose track of the story. That aside, a pretty good effort all round. Remember mate, tripod £45, no offers. OK?
The Prestige (2006)
No magic, just cheating
In a film about magic and illusion, isn't it a shame that the makers cheat the audience who have waited patiently for the clever reveal. It's not so much a case of "how did they do that, it's impossible" as "that IS impossible". There's no magic trick at all, the whole conceit relies on a sci-fi teleporter/cloning machine which does not and never has existed. Well acted, well staged and filmed but the whole idea of the magic trick ending with a "prestige" is lost because, in this film, the trick has no prestige, just a sparkly device which, you feel, has been invented by the film-makers because they couldn't think up a clever ending. Twists and tricks are great in movies, provided they are believable and inventive. Doing the impossible is merely treating the audience as idiots.