Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
The Shining (1980)
Masterpiece in suspense and terror
It's almost 4 decades since the release of 'The Shining', yet it's still cited to this day by many as the best horror film of all time. While there have been many great horrors released since, it's difficult to make a case for any of them being as terrorising and relentlessly tense as 'The Shining'. This is the mother of all horror films and, unless something truly groundbreaking comes along that completely reinvents the genre, it always will be.
Jack Nicholson's performance in this film is one of the best I've even seen from an actor. Watching his character slowly losing his mental sanity is terrifying to watch, especially since it's so realistically portrayed by Nicholson. 'The Shining' is a relentlessly frightening film and the final sequence is comfortably one of the most terrifying, and most memorable, in film history. This is a must-see for horror fans, and highly recommended for film fans in general.
Darkest Hour (2017)
Great portrait of a great man
I've seen a few Churchill films/documentaries before but 'Darkest Hour' is nothing like any of them. This film does more than just tell a story, it's a fascinating portrayal of Churchill's character, his traits, habits and even his brutal sense of humour. While the film details the events of Churchill's rise to power, the entertainment value comes largely from learning about the man himself.
Credit must go to the brilliant Gary Oldman who captures Churchill's character to a tee. Everything from his voice and body language to his subtle mannerisms is perfect, and it's easy to forget that you're not watching the man himself. The highlight for me was Oldman's stirring version of Churchill's famous 'we shall fight on the beaches' speech. 'Darkest Hour' is a great portrait of a great man, highly recommended for those wanting to learn more about Winston Churchill.
Super 8 (2011)
Distinctly average sci-fi thriller
'Super 8' starts off promisingly enough, but after the initial scenario is set (in spectacular fashion), the film's lack of ideas are quickly exposed and it nose-dives fast. Technically it's very impressive - well produced and the CGI/special effects are excellent and realistic, but visuals only get you so far. When you dig beyond the surface, there's nothing impressive about 'Super 8' at all. It's no different to 90% of other sci-fi films that have come before it.
It's a distinctly average sci-fi thriller that borrows virtually all of its ideas from elsewhere. Despite all the action sequences, explosions and other special effects, the generic, shallow plot and uninteresting characters make it a completely forgettable film. The glowing reception it received on release is baffling, especially from the critics. 'Super 8' gets an average 5 from me.
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Simple tale of friendship and loyalty
'Dances with Wolves' is a good example of how far a simple story can go. This slow-burning, low-key Western is a heartwarming tale of friendship and loyalty. It's a film with a purpose and a big heart. The focus on plot and character development is always refreshing to see and the stunning scenery and cinematography make it a pleasure to watch.
While the film has a lot going for it, there are a few noticeable weak spots. I can't help but feel Kevin Costner is more comfortable behind the camera directing than on screen. While his performance in this film is okay, a better actor would have done Dunbar's character more justice. There's also the excessive running time, which is felt at times due to the slow nature of the film. That said, these are only minor points in what is a special and memorable film.
Julie & Julia (2009)
Pleasant but shallow and weak
There isn't much wrong with 'Julie & Julia', but there isn't much going for it either. It's a pleasant yet bland biographical drama film that bores just as much as it entertains. The story is weak and just not interesting enough to be made into a film, though it is partially rescued by Streep and Adams, who bring personality and energy to their roles.
As a biographical film, perhaps it would have been a better idea to focus on Julia and give a more detailed account of her life and career. Instead we have two stories running parallel, neither of which are properly explored, and the films suffers for it. Overall, 'Julie and Julia' is a pleasant but bland and uneventful drama.
It's okay for what it is
I'm no fan of the 'found footage' format and have never understood the popularity of the original 'Blair Witch Project' movie, but I honestly don't think 'Cloverfield' is as bad as some of the other reviews would have you believe. The film is exactly what you expect it to be, a first person thriller full of scares, screams and CGI. It's unoriginal, uninspiring and unspectacular, but it was never intended to be in the first place.
If you can put your brain into neutral for an hour an a half, 'Cloverfield' is a decent if unremarkable piece of entertainment. Okay, the constant camera movement is nauseating and the characters dumb and annoying, but it functions well as a cheap sci-fi flick. 'Cloverfield' is nothing new and nothing special, but it's okay for what it is.
Murphy & Lawrence comedy masterclass
It's strange how this is one of Eddie Murphy's least popular and least well-known movies, yet I'd consider it to be one of my favourites of his. 'Life' is a great comedy movie, with a funny plot and an entertaining bunch of characters, but it also carries a deeper meaning and is just as much a tale about friendship and social injustice as it about making the audience laugh.
The on-screen relationship between Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence is without doubt the best part of this film. Individually they are great actors and funny guys but their performance together in this film was one of the most memorable and enjoyable of any comedy movie I've seen. The characters are at the forefront of everything that happens in this film and every laugh comes from them rather than the story. 'Life' is underrated and deserves more recognition, especially as an Eddie Murphy film.
Cool, stylish Norwegian thriller
I recently saw the screen adaptation of Jo Nesbø's 'The Snowman' in cinema and thought it fell well short of the story's potential, so when I recognised Nesbø's name next to another Norwegian thriller while browsing, I thought I would see if this one did his novel more justice. 'Hodejegerne' is a slick and stylish production, a proper Scandinavian thriller with plot twists in abundance.
The story is intelligent and well told, hooking the viewer from first few dramatic scenes and gaining momentum as it goes along. The characters are also intriguing, with the main character being unpredictable and very difficult to read. Depth of character and plot is becoming something of a rarity in film these days, so 'Hodejegerne' makes for a refreshing change. This is a decent, compelling Norwegian thriller, and another impressive Scandinavian production.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Joyful Christmas classic
While dozens of Christmas films roll off the production line every year, very few manage to capture the festive season, and the audience's hearts, quite like 'A Christmas Story'. This 80s classic is a real crowd-pleaser, a film that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age or film taste, which explains its continued popularity with TV networks.
Ralphie is a character we can all relate to, because we were all that kid a Christmas once. The film gets his character spot on and the events that take place in the film will bring back a lot of memories for the average viewer. For such a shallow storyline the film provides so much enjoyment and, although there are other films I would rather watch over the festive season than this one, it remains a classic to this day and will always be up there as one of the Christmas greats.
Great story but the film left me cold
True stories are always the best stories and Chesley Sullenberger's is certainly an extraordinary one. The film tells the story of the pilot of a doomed flight, whose skills and quick thinking saved all lives onboard. It's a remarkable story, though I do feel the film didn't do it full justice. It felt more like a quick fix rather than a proper account of the events that occurred. Too much of the film is set in the aftermath and as a result, it isn't the heart in mouth drama that it should have been.
Tom Hanks is excellent, as he always is, though I much preferred him in the similar 'Captain Phillips'. His character was a lot more vulnerable in that film and it also did a much better job at building tension. While there is certainly tension in 'Sully', it is restricted to only a few scenes and the cutting back and forth doesn't help at all. Overall, not a bad film, but I was expecting something a lot better.
Fascinating and successfully chilling
'Zodiac' is a compelling and very well-made film focusing on an amateur detective's investigation into the infamous Zodiac killer, whose identity remains a mystery to this day. It is rare for a factual crime film to go into such detail about events that took place in real life, but 'Zodiac' ensures that all of the key points of this case are covered. As a result, the film is nearly three hours long, but every scene serves a purpose and the running time is never felt.
The graphic scenes of murder at the very start of the film do a good job at setting the scene, throwing the audience right into the case and creating a tense atmosphere from the get go. The tension rarely lets up, with the pacing of the film ensuring that there's always a new plot development around the corner. The acting is also very good, with Jake Gyllenhaal delivering the stand out performance and probably a career best from him. An excellent film all round, highly recommended for those who enjoy true crime stories.
Timeless Christmas classic
There are very few Christmas movies, or movies in general for that matter, that I could watch over and over again without getting sick of. 'Elf' is one of those movies. We're approaching the festive season as I write this review and, being such a crowdpleaser, this movie is already appearing in TV listings everywhere. It seems to grow in popularity year on year and it's hard to believe that it's been 14 years since its release.
Will Ferrell without doubt makes the film what it is. He gets his character spot on and provides plenty of laughs for adults as well as kids. There are some hilarious individual scenes and the movie as a whole is just great fun, which is what Christmas movies should be. For sheer entertainment value, 'Elf' is without question one of the best.
Life of Pi (2012)
Beautiful in every sense of the word
'Life of Pi' is without doubt one of the greatest cinematic achievements of the decade. It is visually mesmerizing, so rich in detail and jawdroppingly realistic. I regret not seeing it at the cinema when it was first released because I think films as visually arresting as this one really need to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated.
There's more to this film than just CGI and special effects though. The story is just as beautiful as the visuals are and, unlike some of the other CGI heavy films of recent years, it has a plot with substance and characters with depth. 'Life of Pi' is a beautiful film both inside and out. Cinema doesn't get much better than this.
The same old jokes, over and over again
I think everybody would have known what to expect from an Ed Helms road trip comedy. It's full of silly gags, ridiculous situations and eccentric characters. The problem is that there's nothing in this movie that hasn't already been done before. It's funny the first time, but when the same jokes are repeated over and over, they start to wear thin.
'Vacation' works as a time-passer, it's watchable and despite the lack of originality in the humour it does provide the odd decent laugh. Comedies like this are mass produced nowadays and unfortunately this one will soon be forgotten about. Just another generic comedy movie packed full of the same old jokes.
The Patriot (2000)
Mel Gibson's world of pure imagination
For a so-called historical drama, 'The Patriot' seems to care a lot less about presenting the facts and reality of the events of the American Revolution and more about smearing the British through lies and deception. Not only are the events portrayed in this film misleading and historically inaccurate, but some are completely fabricated. In one scene, a British soldier burns a church full of Americans to the ground, something that never happened during the revolution.
Presenting these events in a fictional context would be bad enough, but including them in what's supposed to be a true and accurate historic account is dangerous. It's also completely unnecessary, what exactly was Mel Gibson trying to achieve by distorting the truth, other than to vilify British soldiers? Unfortunately, Gibson's political bias shone through in this film, which is a great shame because it had potential.
Gran Torino (2008)
Impressive character-driven drama with a memorable ending
If there's any Clint Eastwood film that sums up his jack of all trades reputation, then this one has got to be it. There's nothing that the guy doesn't do, and this peculiar yet powerful character study is the perfect example of that. 'Gran Torino' is a very smart and hugely enjoyable drama film with a brilliant ending that tops off what is a truly great story.
It is a story built on characters and friendship where you would least expect to find it. The character development is excellent, rarely will you find such a convincing and diverse bunch of characters that work so well together. The film's strength is definitely in its simplicity, with the stripped back, raw approach complementing the storyline perfectly. 'Gran Torino' is an impressive character-driven drama with a memorable ending.
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
An effective but bloated thriller
'The Hunt for Red October' is a solid production all round. The cast is excellent, the script and writing very good, the whole film is constructed in a very effective way and it has no problem building suspense. It's one of those films that is very difficult to fault, yet doesn't leave much of an impression. Solid and effective but quite unremarkable and dare I say forgettable.
It's a strange one when you sit through a film, seemingly enjoying it in the moment, only to feel underwhelmed on reflection. The only explanation I can think of for why I feel that way about 'The Hunt for Red October' is the somewhat bloated running time. While the film is effectively suspenseful and never in danger of becoming boring, maybe it would have been more viewer friendly if it hadn't exceeded the two hour mark.
Cidade de Deus (2002)
Bold, brutal and simply brilliant
'City of God' or 'Cidade de Deus' is one of the most realistic and brutal gangster films I have ever seen and without question one of the best foreign language films ever made. Set in the slums of Rio, it gives an shocking account of gang culture in a city where crime and violence is the natural path for most young people growing up in deprived communities.
The way in which the story is told, from Rocket's perspective, contributes enormously to the film. The narration, combined with the realistic storyline and characters, means 'City of God' plays more like a documentary than a crime/drama film adapted from a novel. There's no shortage of violence and some of the scenes are very hard-hitting, but 'City of God' is well worth the ride. A bold, brutal and simply brilliant film.
The Number 23 (2007)
By far the worst of Jim Carrey's movies
I'm a big fan of Jim Carrey and am normally happy to watch any film of his. This one being the only exception. 'The Number 23' is the first Jim Carrey film that I have watched and hated. It is centered around a conspiracy theory that, in itself, is just plain ridiculous. I couldn't take any of it seriously.
Aside from the stupid plot, 'The Number 23' is also a tediously dull movie. It moves at a snail's pace at the best of times, in fact most of the time it does no moving at all. It's repetitive and goes nowhere. Less than half an hour in and I already couldn't wait for it to finish. Carrey himself doesn't do much wrong, but he doesn't exactly shine either. How can he with such dreadful material?
The Town (2010)
Good balance of storytelling and action
For a film with such a dull and uninspiring title, 'The Town' is surprisingly bold and original. It effectively balances an interesting and engaging storyline with some great action sequences. Heist movies are always at risk of being generic and repetitive but this one ensures that never happens with an original, convincing plot and an interesting bunch of characters.
The crime genre has become increasingly stale and action-obsessed in recent years, so 'The Town' deserves credit for focussing on story and character development as much as action and violence. Great action films with credible plots are hard to come by these days, but 'The Town' is one of them.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
An all style production that quickly runs out of steam
'Murder on the Orient Express' is the latest addition to the ever growing 'style over substance' club. A film that is beautiful to watch, with no shortage of stunning mountainous scenery, but beyond the surface, it lacks much of what is expected from a whodunnit mystery thriller. If anything, the visuals work to the film's disadvantage. Cutting away to a shot of snow capped mountains in between scenes doesn't exactly help to build and hold any sort of tension.
The pacing is also too slow for my liking, with the murder and subsequent whodunnit mystery taking too long to arrive. Even as the mystery starts to unfold, there's a lingering feeling that the film is cruising along and never really gets up to speed. For production value, 'Murder on the Orient Express' is excellent, but visuals aren't enough for a film like this, especially when you consider the material they were working with.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Fresh and original, but not as frightening as I expected
'The Blair Witch Project' is known for popularising found footage films and it remains to this day by far the most popular in the found footage sub-genre. It's inventive approach makes it a must see for horror fans and it remains fresh and original to this day. It also makes for a refreshing change to the generic, overproduced, jump scare filled horror films of the modern day.
That said, for a film that is included on so many 'scariest films of all time' lists, it wasn't as frightening as I was expecting. The tension and suspense is all there but it ultimately comes to nothing and I did feel a sense of disappointment when the credits rolled. 'The Blair Witch Project' is an engaging and refreshingly original film, but it just didn't scare me as much as I wanted or expected it to.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Damon's career defining performance
'Good Will Hunting' is one of the best known and most popular films of the 90s. It's a powerful, moving drama about an unlikely friendship and features some of the best and most memorable acting performances of that decade, including a career defining performance from Matt Damon as the title character.
It's easy to become emotionally involved in this film as you naturally want the main character to succeed. The friendship he forms with Robin Williams' character is hugely enjoyable and even despite the slow pacing, the story is engaging enough to hold the viewers attention throughout. While not a personal favourite of mine, it's easy to see why 'Good Will Hunting' is loved by so many people, and deserves its reputation as one of the best films of the 90s.
Foreign Exchange (2008)
Like a cheap and humorless version of Superbad
There's no shortage of teen comedies out there to choose from, too many in fact. Despite the occasional gem, this genre is renowned for mass producing crap. Movies like 'Foreign Exchange' are exactly why teen movies in general have such a bad reputation. It plays up to each and every negative stereotype of the genre.
This is basically just a bad rip-off of 2007's 'Superbad'. Its attempts at humour are much the same, only 'Foreign Exchange' lacks the characters and wit to pull most of the jokes off. The failed humour combined with the predictably crap and wafer thin plot make 'Foreign Exchange' another cheap teen comedy to avoid.
Shot Caller (2017)
Competent, well constructed thriller
If you can overlook the terrible title, there is much to like about 'Shot Caller'. It's a very polished production with a solid, believable plot and some excellent acting. The film has a very moody atmosphere and is well-paced, with the plot developments and twists timed for maximum impact. It is also very well written and is constructed in a way that keeps the audience compelled throughout.
The film contains some fascinating and unpredictable characters, all of which feel convincing and properly thought out. Main character 'Jacob' in particular is intriguing and very difficult to read. The film is high on tension and, once it finds its rhythm, has no difficulty holding your attention until the final scene. In what has been an underwhelming year of film for far, 'Shot Caller' stands out for getting most things right.