Reviews written by registered user
jandcmcq

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13 reviews in total 
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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Where were you Alfie?, 29 December 2012
6/10

I am giving 6 stars because I have been a long time fan of Les Mis since attending the premier of the show in Sydney in 1987 starring Normie Rowe, Debbie Byrne and the memorable Philip Quast as Inspector Javert. And I am being generous because of the enormous effort all of the crew have obviously put into this film and for the actors' acting performances. BUT I believe the creators have made a gigantic fatal error in the whole concept of the production. Instead of being the "not to be missed", "most brilliant film of the year" it has turned out to be just "worth seeing" and a "very commendable effort".

I am sure when the film was being conceived they must have first asked the question - Is the film a drama or a musical? Or is it a combination of both? To me what carries Les Mis is the wonderful heart rending MUSIC and SONGS. And great songs should be sung by great singers. Yes, I know there are commercial considerations and the star appeal of actors in various countries can make or break a movie. Was this the reason the producers have gone in the main for actors even if some have claims to be able to make a reasonable effort at tuning their vocal chords to lyrics? The answer to the question of drama or musical for Les Mis the film is evident in the screenplay as the spoken words versus the singing words could be counted on one hand. And Messrs and Madams producers, some of the songs in Les Mis are extremely demanding, even for trained opera singers and despite the fact that the actors tried their guts out, I am afraid they were given an impossible task.

I recognize doing it live with actors was very courageous and sure the actors poured their hearts out, but how they did it in the days of "South Pacific", "Kiss Me Kate", "Carousel" and "Oklahoma" with Howard Keel, Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson and co was much, much more effective. And they didn't need a camera stuck in their face to pick up the sound or visual cutaways to distract from the off tune notes. Don't get me wrong I love Hugh Jackman and his performance in his own version of Oklahoma was outstanding - but the challenging vocal range required for Jean Valjean!!! And Anne Hathaway deserves praise for a gut wrenching "I dreamed a dream" but I don't think it will get 115 million hits on YouTube.

There was one notable exception to the rule of natural singers v actors trying to be singers and that was Samantha Barks who also played Eponine in the "Les Misérables in Concert the 25th Anniversary" who demonstrated how a song could be sung by a singer with "On My Own" and what a startling contrast to the rest?

But the greatest shame of all was that the real star of the 25th anniversary London show who made the Jean Valjean role his own and who raised rapturous applause to every song he sang, who could have made the film great, was missing in the film's casting.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Death never even got warmed up., 31 January 2011
3/10

Did I get this right? Brad Pitt got paid $15 million for making this movie???? Well they say the bigger the scam the easier it is.

A pity, because Brad stuffed this movie up completely. He was the only one of an otherwise great cast who could not act. Loved Claire Forlani. Where has she been hiding? And Anthony Hopkins can always carry a scene with his formidable screen presence.

Interesting concept for a plot but a very, very SLOW death. If you record this and then watch at 3 times the speed you might be able to stand it. But definitely the greatest piece of miscasting I think I have seen on the screen.

Loved to have seen a real actor in the main lead. Clive Owen would have been great or some-one like George Clooney. But I guess there are lots of guys and girls that drooled over Brad.

Brad, I can only say I hope you donated most of your fee to the White ladies.

23 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
Basil Rathbone must be turning in his grave, 24 January 2011
1/10

It's elementary Guy - keep it simple and develop your characters with a plot that people can relate to.

I am trying to think where this film went wrong and I have reached the conclusion that it was just about everywhere.

What the hell Jude Law was doing in this load of tripe I will never know but you could say that his talent was completely wasted in endless predictable action and fight scenes.

If there was ever a one joke or one theme movie this was it. My God, didya ever guess that Sherlock Holmes has an amazing power of deduction? If you didn't, Guy Ritchie demonstrated this to us five hundred and ninety five times.

And Guy if you cannot come up with a feasible plot and have to ham it up - it HAS to be funny. And your villains HAVE to make you scared. My 8-yr-old grand-daughter was more frightened of Mrs Tweedy in Chicken Run than she was by Lord Blackwood in over-baked pad of codswallop.

I can only say that Basil Rathbone must be turning in his grave.

Robin Hood (2010)
130 out of 241 people found the following review useful:
Good, but the sequel can be great., 14 May 2010
7/10

I enjoyed this movie and was impressed by the amount of detail Ridley Scott puts into his productions.

Yes, it could have been better and I think some of the areas where it failed to meet the excellence of Gladiator were:

* Plot – too convoluted, better to keep it simple and the hate more intense between the goodies and the baddies. * Character development – there was virtually none for the Merry Men. If Little John, Will Scarlet and co are in the movie, please give them something meaningful to say. * Editing - I think the movie fell down in this area and the narrative seemed stunted and disjointed at times. Perhaps the material was not just there in the first place? * A lack of passion – Russell Crowe in particular was too low key in his role but was not the only one. And Russell, I did get confused at times as to what part of old England you came from.

But there were some that put much more into it such as Cate Blanchett and Max Von Sydow (good to see this great old actor can still perform) and the movie did have many good points. It was certainly a lot different to what I expected and some of the sets and scenes were outstanding. Watch for the dazzling credits. Looks from the ending there will be a sequel and with a few improvements, I think it can be great.

Avatar (2009)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Deserves Academy Award for Best/Worst? Stereotyping, 10 January 2010
5/10

I must admit I was in shock and awe when I listened to the jargon in this James Cameron flight of fantasy whether I was in the invasion of Iraq or a couple of klicks away from Vietnam.

But there is no question that he deserves the academy award for the best (or worst? – depends which way you look at it) stereotyping of goodies and baddies and good v evil Hollywood blockbuster storyline that I have ever seen.

Absolutely full of commendable creative artwork and effects but WHY, oh why taint it with a script full of ridiculous political innuendos and statements? Cannot any-one develop characters in Hollywood these days? Or write an intelligent futuristic screenplay along the lines of Space Odyssey 2001 that holds you in real awe and at the same time challenges you to make some lateral thinking.

The only character development in this film was that of the hero who grew a tail. But maybe Cameron is waiting for the sequel when no doubt son of hero will appear to carry on the good fight. What will be in Pandora's box I wonder? Seeing as we have killed off Iraq, Vietnam, Mining and the War against Terror perhaps we will see the end of Global Warming when the Sky People return and start breathing out their CO2.

74 out of 129 people found the following review useful:
Forget After Viewing, 1 December 2008
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After thoroughly enjoying Fargo, I came to this well reviewed movie with as lot of expectation and left very disappointed.

I remember seeing the "Trouble with Harry" which seems like a million years ago but still remember laughing my head off. It had characters that seemed real, a ridiculous but interwoven plot that somehow was hilariously credible and side splitting humor all the way though.

"Burn after Reading" had none of that. Some of the overacting was atrocious especially from Pitt and McDormand and to be honest Pitt's exit from the film came none too soon. There was little plot structure and some branches ran off into in-explicable dead ends. The only characters I found worth watching were Malkovich who tried to inject some life into it, the sincere gym manager who contrary to Pitt deserved some more lines and the dry humor of the intelligence agents. The Coens really love violence. Maybe they should try making a movie without it. I felt in this one it was only there to relieve the boredom.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Did not work for me, 6 October 2008
3/10

For me this film did not work for two main reasons: The first was that the screen play and script did not transpose from novel to film. They were fuzzy and clichéd and completely un-life like. The script was like a series of motherhood statements from the book rather than what people would really say. The actors certainly did their best and the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Robert Penn Warren (which I have not read) no doubt was very well written but it was to no avail.

The second was the complete miscasting of Sean Penn as Willie Stark in the lead role. I must admit that I am not a real Penn fan and on the contrary to what his co-actors said I believe his repertoire is very limited. I watched this film on DVD and enjoyed the bonus material much more than the film itself. The piece on Governor Huey Long upon which the book was based was totally absorbing and just watching Long for a few minutes was far more gripping than the 128 minutes of Penn's swaggering overacting.

One thing that did attract my attention with Long was his uncanny resemblance to actor John C Reilly and I am sure that this actor would have been far more effective in Penn's role. What a shame, this had all the makings of a great film.

Please give us some more of this type of film!, 3 July 2008
9/10

I found this film to be very moving and poignant holding my full attention and gripping my emotions for its entire length. Somerset Maugham no doubt based some the "Painted Veil" on his early career as a doctor in the London slums and later on his visits to the Far East. But director John Curran and actors Watts and Norton have convincingly extracted from Maugham's story the powerful relationship between a man and a woman torn apart by human weakness then finding each in the depths of poverty and the heights of human sacrifice.

Edward Norton seems to have captured most of the accolades for his portrayal of Doctor Walter Fane fighting cholera in China in the 1920's. And he certainly does a great job. But for me it is Naomi Watts who deserves an acting award for her portrayal of the selfish, spoiled and unfaithful wife who is later to learn the true meaning of existence.

What a delight to see a good film without death defying stunts, cars crashing through plate glass windows and a trillion bullets going off every 3 minutes. All you need is a good story, competent actors, professional direction and something that the audience can relate to. "The Painted Veil" has all of these ingredients. Please give us some more of this type of film!

7 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Crocodile Dundee Meets Eddie the Eagle in Utah, 1 July 2008
1/10

As quite an avid fan of Anthony Hopkin's work this film descends to many surprising lows for me like:

1. It must be the worst film he has ever appeared in.

2. It has to be his most awful attempt at an accent which I believe was supposed to be New Zealand (but sounded like a cross between Yorkshire, Australian, Cornish and a bit of his natural tongue - Welsh). OK, Burt Munro also had a funny accent but hardly any-one knows that so why not keep it simple and don't confuse the audience.

3. I know biographies are normally as dull as dishwater but this is the corniest and most predictable plot (if you could say there was a plot) I have ever seen in movies. Just about every scene is as subtle as Crocodile Dundee in New York or Eddie the Eagle on the ski slopes. Mr Director, you do not have to ram the points you are trying to make down the viewer's throat – try reading Jane Austen. I am sure that we could have us worked out Burt Munro's character without the "Wiggles" type scenes spelling it out for us time after time after time after time.

4. I am giving this movie one star purely for the dedication of the petrol heads at Utah in the final scenes when the action actually woke you up and made you take some notice. I am sorry but if director Roger Donaldson worked with Anthony Hopkins on "The Bounty" in 1984 he hasn't learned one tenth of what his Captain Bligh has.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Even in Battersea, Batasi was great, 7 November 2006
8/10

I remember seeing this film when it first came out and recall it made an impression on me as a young man. Saw it again last night on Fox Classics during war film week in the first week of November and it impresses me even more.

Since the first viewing I have experienced a military career in the air force and as a trainee pilot our WOD (Warrant Officer Disciplinary) could have been RSM Lauderdale to a tee. They just seem to know all about life and know what to do or say in any situation. And they have a wonderful innate knowledge of the big picture as well as the most intimate attention to detail. I am sure that this type of military rank was a vital cog in winning every war that has ever been won.

Loved the script - why, oh why, don't the smash, crash, wallop Hollywood script writers look at these old classics and learn how to put an interactive character piece together which can keep you on the edge of your seat without having cars smash through plate glass windows? Richard Attenborough certainly earned his BAFTA for his performance not only for the way he delivered his lines but his visual representation to every bat of his eyelid and twitch of his moustache.

My only criticism is the fact that being low budget it is quite obvious that it was shot in England especially when you can see English trees and houses in the background in some of the scenes. If only it could have been shot on location like "Zulu" it could have been even greater. But then again the strength of the film is the script and how cleverly it covered the type of dilemma which we still face to-day. Makes me wonder why it has never been done on the stage – or maybe it has.


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