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The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Nothing special, but decent.
I've just come back from seeing it, my verdict. Good, not quite as good as Iron Man but still pretty decent and definitely better than Hulk 2003. Edward Norton was great and a better Banner than Eric Bana, Tim Roth also made a great Villain, and I thought Liv Tyler was on par with Jennifer Connely.
The script was good and the story wasn't dumbed down too much like I thought it might've been. There's depth to the character of Banner and the way they made him a fugitive on the run in search of a cure brought it closer in tone to the series.
The cgi effects I wasn't overtly impressed with even though they are cool, the hulk didn't look anymore realistic to me than he did in 2003. It was good to hear him speak in this one, especially as Lou Ferrigno provided the voice, just like he did in the 90's cartoon series, but I thought they could have let him talk a bit more to help give him more of a personality. They certainly tried to make him a lot more scary in it with his animalistic growling etc and he does make the previous version seem tame in comparison.
The action was at it's best during the end battle between the hulk and the abomination, it was quite quite long and the most exciting part of the film.
The thing I liked best about it, being a fan of the original series was the references, they were quite a few of them.
Although overall not a perfect film, it's still quite satisfying and more entertaining than the previous Hulk film.
Superman II (2006)
A refreshing alternate vision!
After just seeing the movie, I'm glad to say I really enjoyed it. As it opens and we get the view of Krypton from the opposite side, I was annoyed that we only hear half of the Planet Krypton theme, and I thought it was some sort of bad omen that there would be lots of similar things that would annoy me, but actually there wasn't much that I didn't like.
The Jor El scenes were really well done, even though the scenes with Lara in Lester's cut are fine, Brando's Jor El really elevates them and to me comes across as more emotionally charged, because the relationship with Kal El and his holographic father was established in the first movie, unlike the relationship with his mother, also there's no pay off to that relationship, where as with Jor El's sacrifice there is in this version.
The screen test footage scene really surprised me, it worked far better than I'd imagined, the editing of those 2 separate screen tests is so well done, that without the changing of Reeve's hair style you wouldn't notice any other real discrepancies.
The Metropolis battle works so much better without the gags too, and the one bit that was left in, the man on the roller skates works alright and isn't too much because it's not accompanied by a host of other campy gags. The little Donner additions like Superman smashing through the torch of statue of liberty and the extra few flying shots, look so cool, far better than any over the over top cgi flying scenes in Superman Returns, that zoom across the screen so fast you can barely notice them.
I don't miss the exclusion of the Paris sequence at all, except for the alley change, but this I accept as necessary for this version. The scene with Non smashing his way through the Daily Planet is also so much more effective in this version, the sound effects really make him sound like an unstoppable behemoth.
A few things I didn't like, there were plenty of lines towards the 2nd half that I noticed were dubbed even though these lines appear with the original actors voices in the Lester cut. though on the whole I liked the new sound effects, there were bits I found more effective in Lester's version, such as the Superman deflecting Zod's heat vision with the side view mirror. Also I do see now why people have complained about cutting from small scenes with Lois and Clark/Superman with large scenes of Luthor, the problem comes from using as little Lester footage as possible. Those romantic scenes at the fortress of Solitude should have been longer, adding Lester's soufflé scene would have been fine as it's in the original script and would have padded out those scenes abit, also Superman's fetching of the flower really is a scene I feel should have been left in.
The problems with the edited music tracks were somewhat jarring in some scenes too, besides the opening like i've already mentioned, the way its edited during the opening credits too is so obvious, but in a lot of scenes we have Williams music replacing Thorne's exact rendition of those cues and I liked that.
So overall there were a few things I missed in this cut, but I'll always be able to view them in the original theatrical cut, on the whole it worked better than I thought it could and it's a real delight to view all these alternate scenes, so I really enjoyed the Donner Cut.
Archer's Goon (1992)
Sadly forgotten but very entertaining!
This was such a great children's programme, directed by Marilyn Fox the same lady who gave us the wonderful 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', its a shame it has been virtually forgotten now. 'Archer's Goon' is based on a equally good book by Diana Wynne Jones. It begins memorably enough with the arrival of a big thuggish person called the goon into the Sykes Household. He demands that the father Quentin Sykes (played by Only Fools and Horses's Trigger aka Roger Lloyd-Pack) hands over his two thousand words to Archer. It turns out that the town in which the Sykes live is run by seven megalomaniac wizard siblings, and Archer is the eldest. Quentin refuses to write another two thousand words which is sought after by all the wizards and the goon decides to stay in the Sykes home till Quentin delivers. The whole story is mainly seen through the eyes of Howard Sykes, the son, and the many plot twists and turns in the story are very imaginative and never predictable, we just don't get children's TV like this anymore!
Worth watching for the epilogue alone!
Excellent documentary, the part that details the restoration of the original Time Machine prop is interesting enough, but the new epilogue to the original movie which reunites's Rod Taylor's George and Alan Young's Filby is nothing short of incredible, it succeeds flawlessly in revisiting the quaint familiar Victiorian world of the original, not only through the great emotional, character driven performances but also through the reuse of Russell Garcia's fantastic score.
All in all I think I can say that Time Machine: The Journey Back stands as the greatest homage to a classic movie ever made, perfectly complementing the original movie.
The Big Sleep (1946)
Bogart is the definitive Philip Marlowe!
Along with The Maltese Falcon I believe this film is one of the greatest film noirs ever made. Humphrey Bogart is Philip Marlowe, and although he never played the role again, I picture him as Marlowe in all of Chandler's other novels when I read them. Lauren Bacall and Martha Vickers also do a great job of portraying Vivian and Carmen Sternwood.
Even though this is not the most faithful of books to screen stories that have been made, it captures the spirit of the novel perfectly, especially because of Bogart's portrayal of the cynical, yet chivalrous private eye.
One small criticism however I think it was such a great shame that the film makers decided not to have Marlowe narrate the story as in the original novel, with Bogart's, deep, cynical hard boiled style voice, it really would have been wonderful.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Film noir Classic!
A truly excellent film, in my opinion it is the greatest film noir ever made, and also one of the most faithful novel to screen adaptations I've ever seen.
The cast truly makes this film, I can't imagine any better casting than Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade and Sydney Greenstreet as Casper Gutman especially.
Not many films could pack so much suspense and tension in a scene with little action to speak of, that takes place for the entire third act in Sam Spade's apartment, but the verbal wit demonstrated by Bogart and Greenstreet along with the equally good performances of Peter Lorre and Mary Astor truly livens up what could really slow down the pace of a lesser movie.
The Time Machine (1960)
Classic movie, even greater than the novel
This is really an excellent movie, one of my favourite and in my opinion one of the few cases of a movie adaptation surpassing the original novel, which great as it is with it's powerful social commentary, the movie is more entertaining.
An element of the story I particularly like and think is very well done, is the friendship of George and Filby, science fiction tale aside, this story is a great depiction of what true friendship should be about.
Russell Garcia's music score really adds a lot to this film, it vividly brings to life the quaint Victorian era and adds power to the friendship of George and Filby through the haunting 'Filby's theme'.
Entertaining, but doesn't capture the spirit of Narnia
I would say that although this movie has it's entertaining moments, it can't hold a candle to the old BBC and animated versions. Although the music was quite good in the new movie, it lacked the great theme which conveys the magic of Narnia in this old TV version and also the animated version which also has a nice theme, a big mistake I thought to open the movie with an Alanis Morissette song. Without a truly great magical theme I never got the sense that it was even Narnia that the children went to whenever they went through the wardrobe.
I'd heard that the new film was a very faithful version of the book, but when I saw it I thought it was far from that to me. Virtually every line from the book had been altered and it was so corny to hear Ray Winstone's Mr Beaver use of cockney slang "geezer". The way Mr Tumnus constantly referred to Lucy as "Lucy Pevensie" was also very annoying, seeming as in the books the children's' surname isn't revealed until after The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. However both the old BBC version and the animated version, take virtually all their lines from CS Lewis's book. I don't know whether I'm too picky being a Lewis fan but to me even the way the children were shown to be riding talking horses in the film was like heresy, not only are they not mentioned to ride talking horses in the book, but also in The Horse and His Boy, we are told that no Narnian would ever dream of riding a talking horse because it was seen as derogatory to them, Bree only allowed Shasta to do it because he needed him to escape from Calormen.
However all being said it was nice to see with a bigger budget and improved effects, a more realistic depiction of talking animals, and a truly stunning battle scene at the end, unlike the few pathetic animated creatures that are used for the flimsy battle at the end of the BBC version, but at the end of the day faithfulness to Lewis's book is far favourable to superior effects and action.
Soylent Green (1973)
A realistically depicted dystopia
Truly amazing film, the concept as a possible prophetic vision of the future is frightening. A world vastly overpopulated, unbearable heat due to the damaged ozone layer, and all our natural resources spent. In this nightmarish degenerate society we have the great Charlton Heston as a likable film noirish style detective trying to fathom the truth behind a murder, opposite the film noir legend Edward G Robinson turning in a fine last performance.
One of the images that will always stay with me from this film, is the masses of people that populate the stairwells and the way in which Thorne (Heston) has to hop through them every time he uses them.
The movie's use of music is note worthy too, although it contains no score in the usual sense, The opening theme is good, and the subsequent snatches of music we here in Simonson's apartment, and especially the Beethoven pieces in the euthanasia clinic are outstandingly atmospheric.
Ben Hur (2003)
Homage to a classic
This new animated adaptation of Ben Hur, has but one thing to recommend, namely the voice of Charlton Heston. It is delightful to hear his distinguished voice as he reprises his Oscar winning role. The animation is rather on the crude side by Disney standards but as long as you don't watch this expecting too much you won't be disappointed. Having a running length of 75 minutes however liberties have to be taken with the plot as it progresses quickly from scene to scene, although it is supposed to be the most faithful version of Lew Wallace's tale to date.
Highlights include the sea battle and of course the chariot race sequence which are enhanced through cgi but yet again they are only short segments.
Of the other voice actors none are distinguished, but that doesn't matter much as Heston carries the movie and makes it more accessible for a young audience. It is particularly nice to see the role of Christ expanded upon from what we see of him in previous versions.
DVD features though few are nice as we see Heston talking behind the scenes although he looks extremely unwell and frail.
Over all this new animated tale is a small treat for fans of Heston and the story of Ben Hur.