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The Machine (2013)
Good sci-fi romp massacred by the music
Sci-Fi is one of the most poorly represented genres in cinema... especially in the last 25 years.
All the other 'types' of movies have hundreds of titles to choose from so we don't see the same thing over and over... but not science fiction.
Sure there are plenty of science fiction films that have been made but they are almost all rubbish.
If you look at a list of top 50 sci-fi movies from any website (including this one) you'll find that there are almost non on the list that were made in the last couple of decades.
The Machine bucks this trend by actually being a very watchable story. Unfortunately it's not 'listenable.'
The incidental music sounds like it was ripped from an episode of The Equalizer. It's a bloody awful, over-synthesized noise.
That's why I deducted 2 stars from what would have been a worthy '9' star flick.
The whole grating 80's noise made the film too difficult to properly enjoy... although I did watch it twice because (without the torturous grind of the moog) it was an excellent story.
Enjoyable fantasy yarn...
I don't know how this six part fantasy-drama slipped past everyone. It was a decent and enjoyable romp through the afterlives of two seemingly normal people.
Maeve and Mark meet different ends and come together in a kind of semi-earthly limbo. They can talk to people they have never known but what is said is almost immediately forgotten. They can't communicate at all with anyone they knew during their lives.
Each episode wraps up nicely, although there is a six part story to keep track of.
The dramatic twists focus around the relatives and friends of the two deceased protagonists. The seemingly bad are actually revealed as good and the angelic have secrets to hide!
The chemistry between the leads seems a bit forced at times, but it's a minor quibble which didn't disturb the general course of events too much.
Like another reviewer (There are only two so far!) I watched all of the episodes back to back propped up on a pillow!
I was often wishing that they would have had fun with their abilities but the series takes itself quite seriously and there aren't any laughs to be had at all.
The crisp direction meant that each episode was over without me realizing that an hour was up, so despite the lack of humor, I still came out the other end satisfied and happy that I'd watched it all.
Äkta människor (2012)
Best Sci-Fi TV Program in years!
The reviews already posted are accurate and well reasoned. There's no point in repeating them.
I found out about this series whilst reading reviews on another similar program on American TV called 'Almost Human.' I mistakenly downloaded a few episodes of that and couldn't get past 15 minutes of the first episode. It was dire... I mean really puerile, infantile and deathly embarrassingly crappy!
But instead of stabbing myself in the eyes, I decided to give "Äkta människor" a try...
It's the best ten hours of Sci-Fi telly I have seen since New Zealand TV released "This Is Not My Life" a couple of years ago. Check that one out if you love sci-fi that is aimed for a focused, intelligent audience.
Watching Äkta människor is like reading an Azimov book.
If subtitles are too much of a hassle for you, then you won't like it... If you like guns and bombs and computer generated gizmos, then you won't like it... If you are an American currently enjoying the stupid 'Blacklist' or equally insulting 'Almost Human' then you won't like it... if you are under 25, you won't like it...
If you like thoughtful, intelligent sci-fi, you'll love it.
Bounty Killer (2013)
Mad Max... but better!
Only two reviews? Wow! This is the first movie of the year (2013) that hasn't annoyed me in some way.
The only way I can think of to describe this movie is to say that it's like being 15 years old and reading a really great comic book.
It's huge fun and all way over the top. Perhaps the frenetic pace and 'blaxploitation' style of cinematography won't sit easy with some... but for me it was the first movie of the year that I sat through without rolling my eyes at the stupidity of it... which is in a sense ironic because this caper is as daft as they come!
The film embraces every cliché of the 70's grindhouse era of B movies and comes through with a fun filled, classic romp.
Beverly D'Angelo and Gary Busey play small parts with relish and there are a few other faces you'll recognize, too.
Stick around for some bloopers during the final credits...
First rate fun!
Worthy drama of early WW2
"The Imitation Game" is about a headstrong and intelligent teenager, Cathy Raine, (played by one of Britain's national treasures, Harriet Walter, CBE), and takes place during the early stages of World War Two.
Defying her family and fiancé, she joins the short lived ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) to 'do her bit' for queen and country and also to escape the maddening boredom of her life at home. Her personality is caught between the Suffragette movement which gave women the vote and 'women's lib' which gave them an opinion to go with it!
She unwittingly gets transferred to Bletchley Park as a punishment for kneeing a publican (bar owner) in the nuts, where she is put on 'general duties.' But her quest to find out what she's been doing for the war effort leads her into trouble...
It's a BBC drama made in 1980 so you can expect a top notch cast and high production values. There are plenty of faces you'll recognize. The mournful piano melodies of Mozart keep everything together. Even 33 years on it still holds up very well.
It saddens me that there's just one review (mine) for this timeless and important piece of art and hundreds for some of the most forgettable dross on TV! Anyway, worth a watch if only to see Hyacinth Bucket in an army uniform!
Warm Bodies (2013)
Best (color) Zombie Movie I've seen
A wicked sense of humor elevates this movie but the other aspects are all strong, too. Evil monsters called 'The Bonies' are genuinely scary, the comedy is funny (and well hidden in parts) the drama and love story are convincing.
If you like 'An American Werewolf In London' then you'll like this.
My hopes were low... I don't like zombie movies and teen flicks just annoy me, but the opening narrative from the leading man soon had me in a different mood altogether.
Highly intelligent script, comedic timing and a superb direction are the icing on the cake. Much funnier than (the massively over-rated) Shaun Of The Dead.
The irony of R (Nicholas Hoult) looking at a magazine with Kim Kardashian on the cover with a confused expression on his 'Edward Scissorhands' face is priceless. But I have a feeling that it's intent will fly above the heads of it's intended audience.
...and finally, a shout out for the terrific sound track. Any movie that finds time for a classic Bob Dylan track (Shelter From The Storm) is all right by me, and there are another 20 or so audio clips that were all funny, appropriate and most importantly of all... NOT ANNOYING!
A Sense of Guilt (1990)
A Sense Of Guilt is a gripping drama which has aged quite nicely over the past 25 years. Although it was sent out by the BBC in 1990, it has a late 70's feel to it.
Trevor Eve is at his best here, playing the part of a writer, Felix Cramer, approaching middle age and suffering from writers block. But his other bodily functions work just fine as he launches into an intense affair with the 18 year old daughter (Rudi Davies) of his best mate, Richard (Jim Carter.)
She's on her way to Sussex university and is seemingly a well adjusted, smart teen falling hopelessly in love with a manipulative and altogether nasty piece of work played with skill and restraint by Eve.
Both these middle class families are a bit... complicated and have various problems outside this affair but when the young Sally gets pregnant the simmering tensions of fragile friendships are put to the test...
Sexy Evil Genius (2013)
Terrific play... engrossing film...
Why hasn't this movie gotten more reviews? (11 at the last count!) Well, it went straight to DVD, that's why. But that's a shame because it's a corker of a script and deserves a wider audience.
A capable cast leads the audience through a twisty turny plot involving the ex-lovers of Nikki, a 'sexy evil genius.' She gathers them together in a bar for mysterious reasons that she baits them with through their meeting... but nothing is as it seems and no-one can be sure whether or not she's telling the truth. Come to think of it, there are questions of 'the truth' about her ex-lovers too.
Key to the story is the question of her sanity, the veracity of which is cleverly shuffled throughout the dialog. What is real and what is imagined... what is believed to have happened and what has actually happened.
The state of Nikki's mental health (don't call her Nik!) would explain her motives but we never know what that is or what they are till the end.
The ensemble cast all help create an electric atmosphere but when Katee Sackhoff is let off her leash she steals it.
If you enjoyed the intelligent screenplay, brisk pace and edgy atmosphere of Glengarry Glenross then you'll get a pleasant evenings entertainment from this.
Life's Too Short (2011)
The Special (March 2013) is special!
(A minor spoiler foots this review.)
There are enough comments on here that do the series fair credit but this is a review of the special that aired in March 2013.
It's the best episode so far and is an hour long. Warwick Davis, a brief appearance by Gervais and Merchant, a splendid performance by Val Kilmer and the trio of England's supposed heroes of a past era of TV entertainment (Shaun Williamson, Les Dennis and Keith Chegwin) join forces with the brain dead secretary and dreadful accountant to deliver a laugh out loud treat...
...but the real screaming genius of this episode is Keith Chegwin. Why on earth he isn't signed up for more acting performances and comedy roles is anyone's guess, but in this episode of Life's Too Short he owns the whole show. His face can convey more laughs when it isn't even moving than probably any other actor working today. If he doesn't get some kind of a nod during the awards season then there is an injustice going on.
His teaming and timing with Williamson and Dennis is masterly and the three of them provide a showcasing of talent. There's more comedic genius in these three than there is in the entire casts of the all the dreadful situation comedies that have been churned out on TV in the last five years. I can think of no exceptions.
Also - Gervais and Merchant show that they have lost none of their ingeniousness when they are writing together... long may they run.
My only quibble was the way that our three heroes turned their backs on Warwick at the end... however it was a move that propelled the whole wrap up so I suppose I can't complain.
WPC 56 (2013)
Z Cars is on... Put the kettle on, love!
The beautiful Jennie Jacques plays the lead role of WPC Gina Dawson. Although the series revolves around her there are many intelligently woven threads in the plot that give all the other players a good chunk of airtime, too. None of them disappoint, either. Things wind up nicely after five episodes but there's still a little wriggle room for another series and I, for one, hope that their is.
After all the time and trouble that the producers, cast and crew went to, to get this right I'm surprised that this was aired just after lunch during the week where probably not many people got the chance to see it. That was an extremely irresponsible decision by the faceless suits at the beeb who think they know something about television.
The story is well paced and intelligently laid out. The details, language and props were first rate and appropriate. The cast, photography and script were also all top notch. This is intelligent television drama... something the Americans are becoming good at and which we Brits have rather lost our way on.
Much, much better than that dreadful garbage, Prime suspect.