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11 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Cult Status?, 17 March 2014

Somehow, after seeing The Zero Theorem I have a little niggle that this particular Terry Gilliam film will not reach the status of Cult Movie.

Mr. Gilliam filmmaking meritocracy has given us plenty to pick our brains'. His pedigree has surpassed the test of time and continued to thrive on their own individuality. As a visual-auteur, Mr. Gilliam has made what can be best described as cult films, take your pick, but, with the passing of time, I really do think that his latest edition to his repertoire may have, not by spite, simply slipped away into the abyss of standardisation.

This final instalment simply seems to be lacking in high-end originality, such is the irony to his auteur status here, The Zero Theorem does contain some fine points that delve, while not too deeply, into the human soul, the rest, the visuals, are your typical default Gilliam traits. What depth that is here is undercut by the Gilliam symbols.

We look into the life of one man who is disillusioned to the point of fear and apathy and with his want of the answer to the ultimate question; he dips into loneliness, depression and frustration. What makes the narrative more painful, that is for Qohen Leth not the viewer, is that the answers are, and have always been, staring right in front of him all along, and wisdom rather than knowledge added with the correct amount of strength and courage is all what is needed to have the ultimate question answered.

A nice little film whose mission is to fill the (Qohen Leth) heart with confidence and relinquish personal demons. Quaintly passable but as a standalone film it feels all too trite and with great sadness this edition to the Mr. Gilliam camp may be his weakest link which in hindsight may also be lacking in strength and courage to warrant it as a cult classic.

RoboCop (2014)
34 out of 70 people found the following review useful:
Turns itself into crashed, banged and walloped., 7 February 2014

Personally, I was really disappointed by this movie, it seemed to fail to have what I would call courage & conviction to play its part in the myth that is Robocop. While having a setting of more than just a theme of Cops & Robbers, it delves into the world of corporate business that has a hold on the whole shebang. This is a lightweight contention that has a simple story of family, corruption, science and revenge; all-well-and-good, but it still lacks any grit that constitutes this type of genre. The lack of any no-holds-barred grown-up action lets it down that in turn makes this more of a Saturday Matinée than a Midnight Movie. This was an experience without spirit, and at times predictable filmmaking, you simply saw what was coming next albeit in the script department, no originality and far too bland to warrant any real crash-bang-wallop.

What, too, lets this film seem more than tedious is its touch of extreme narcissistic values on its repetitive characteristic that it has to perpetually tell the viewer that there is only one Nation and that within this one nation, and its one peoples', there is the only one alternative to this new, futuristic Brave New World. Its stance here quickly becomes sour and reaches the point of obnoxiousness that never recedes. This is more than reflective psychology but a dim look into an attitude that conveys a world of narrow vision and one-dimensional traits.

The character's are too clichéd, too stereotyped; bland and, once more, one-dimensional, while Mr. Oldman and Mr. Keaton do do their jobs finely but add no real depth to the score, the remainder are too easily forgot. The use of Samuel L. Jackson's Pat Novak, can, at best, be described as a wasted exercise; this go-between is an unnecessary attempt to project this films narrative further. This not only fails at its job, but also could well have diluted the films mainstay. Whilst the action sequences' and effects' are slightly passable it, while not too surprising and exciting, is barely holding the whole piece together, it slips quietly under the radar, only popping its narrative head up more than often to remind its viewer who, exactly, is its target audience. To conclude it is a weak project that could have being firing on all cylinders but instead tends to backfire due to the lack of any real want for the film to finish first at the finish line.

Only the Royal Box was empty., 2 February 2013

This gig sold-out within an hour of tickets going on sale at the venues box-office (November 14th) and it being, too, the first time the Coliseum had held a concert of this type. This culture clash did have its differences, particularly between the hippie type Rock audience and the Opera Houses' rather well-to-do traditional staff and their policies of etiquette.

The shot footage, here, was originally intended to be used for a forthcoming film entitled "Tommy" but the quality of the footage was deemed too poor and, in the end, the "Tommy" project was postponed (what footage was used can be seen in the 1979 film "The Kids Are Alright"). With such a show of this era, the era of Townshend wearing his white boiler suit and Daltrey's tassel's and flowing locks, this was the period when the band were at its tightest, its heaviest and its most energetic, with pure dynamism and control, your average Who gig would average from two to three hours. The night they played this 2500 seater was no different, this set spanned two and a half hour's. We see the Who performing "Tommy" (this being the first time the rock opera had been filmed) some seven months after the album had been released, and this performance here, as part of their tour of 1969.

Using several 16mm cameras (three in the stalls, pit and on stage) and due to the dark and grainy cinematography within the film for the fact that the lighting was set-up primarily for the theatre and not Rock music, some of the concert was unable to be captured, the music and soundtrack were recorded on a two-track recorder. With each camera only capable of holding twelve minutes of film does give the whole visual experience some sense of amateurish feel, to the point of it looking like a poorly directed bootleg. This all adds to the flavour of the times and gives the impression of a raw and rough & ready deliverance with what can seem like poor editing and irritating screen-jumps that comes with this mixed bag of rock, opera, theatre and stage.

Within the combination of poor visual quality, iffy edits and dodgy seque's, this really is a spectacular event that only rises the temperature the further the show drives along. Where this film lacks in visual expertise it certainly makes up for the fact that this, still, elaborate and dexterous rock n' roll performance and in its own unique way is highly individualistic simply because of the trappings of its settings. This may be your standard late sixties Who concert but this, too, is a film that stands out from the norm. Yes, we have four individuals strutting their collective stuff, but we also have a tremendous attribute to the virtues of Rock music and even if this piece had been sitting in the vaults for thirty-eight years, ironically, age has not withered and rotted away the energy of the performance nor has it eroded the attitude of its major components.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It's all been a terrible mistake and misunderstanding., 28 January 2013

By the time Adolf Hitler (b. 1889) had written Mein Kampf (My Struggle) he had already surmised that at least half of Germany's problems during World War 1 were due to the lack of vision and skill to use and project propaganda, to give it its political tag, enlightenment. This, the method of control of the mind, body and soul to enhance its people to complete dominance, oppression and obedience of the Will through fear, hatred, paranoia, to the point of xenophobia. Hitler had learned his lesson with extreme interest and with the onslaught of his uprising to the days of his decline he had used the medium of the moment; film.

Dr. (Paul) Joseph Goebbels (b. 1897), Hitler's appointed minister for Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, had total control over all mediums, and film and cinema were to be his greatest ally. (Worthy of note here is the David Welch book "Propaganda and the German Cinema; 1933-1945" that delves into the mind and machine that is both Goebbels and his highly controlled medium which analyses major German propaganda film and documentaries of that era).

Here, with reel one, with A Film Unfinished, we see the birth of an idea that bears fruition but is never completed; the title of this film, within this documentary that is being examined is, simply, called The Ghetto. With no dialogue, no sound but simply a moment caught in time, it is, on first viewing, an account of life within the Ghetto of Warsaw: good, bad or indifferent. It is with this in mind that we are given an account of several interwoven worlds; we are shown the rich, the poor, the destitute and those with, seemingly, influence all congesting in one tiny mass of land, three square miles, committing to weddings, parties, funerals, a circumcision and life, all 400,000.

What A Film Unfinished tries to dispel here is the fact that with the finding of a second reel, later, the whole process before now looks very much tainted and dubious, Ms. Yael Hersonski has uncovered a conspiracy of fear and total obedience within the Warsaw Ghetto, conducted by the Nazi propaganda machine. Breaking the myth that what we have witnessed beforehand has been nothing more than a fabricated, constructed and manipulated tool to express how the Nazi regime and in particular, the Jewish community here, were living life happily, freely and independently.

This valid point of photo manipulation begs the question "What can we believe?", if this second reel had never been found would we still, with extreme caution perhaps, take the whole scenario for granted? What Ms. Hersonski has done is to discharge the myth of life, not so much as in the Ghetto, but the Nazis' point of view of life within its streets, with the account of first hand witnesses' and to have, too, an account from one of the Nazi camera crew. All making their point very well, an elaborate hoax.

What cannot be covered up with lies here is the squalor, deprivation and hunger that conflicts with the affluent rich that coincide with this open prison, this, just may have been the image that the Nazi propaganda machine wanted to project, a polar opposite of a community living side-by-side. To steer both resentment and disgust for these people by portraying them as weak and at the same time a selfish race.

The scene in which children caught with food under their clothing and forced to empty their pockets, seeing the food spill out onto the street, is both heartbreaking and at the same time untrustworthy, again, one has to be careful in judging what we see, as we have now become aware that not all we see is accountably factual. This is the power of the medium of film and this, too, ironically, is the power of Ms. Hersonski work here. Raising questions that need to be asked, has the documentary film ever been so poorly placed, so exposed to the point of questionable doubt. Can we truly believe in what we are seeing, even with today's medium playing its role in contemporary societies? There is only one possible simple answer, one possible simple solution, trust not in what you see on the screen but trust more in what one has to say, to hear and to experience. This is where the true documentary lies.

Miners (1976)
One grain of sand in the realms of time., 27 January 2013

What makes this National Coal Board (NCB) film so wonderful is the way in which it portrays Britain's proud and industrious industry some two years after their initial national strike, by the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) against the NCB, for better pay conditions. These actions brought Britain to its knees with a three-day week, power shortages and ultimately bringing down the Tory (Conservative) government.

Miners, directed by Peter Pickering, goes deep into the mines and the homes of those living in Bagworth, Leicestershire and is an account of life within this mining community and more particularly, the way-of-life deep within the collieries themselves. We are, too, invited into the living rooms of the women who also live this life and who bear testimonies, apprehensions and concern of their men who day-in-day-out work in these extremely poor conditions.

Told in voiceovers by the miners' themselves as the film journeys with them into the dark abyss of cages, pit-helmets, machines and coalface. We are given first hand accounts of the vast experience, for example, of how and why the mining environment would, and does, transcends life rather than it being oppressed in factories with the comradeship of the mining community. This is more than an insight; this is an education on pure British, blue-collar working class life, as dirty as the job may be this documentary is a refreshing look into a bygone age of 1970s Britain.

By the time, this nostalgic timepiece had been shot and the years had gone by, it was then the decade of Privatisation and the 1980s. The Conservative government, spearheaded by Margaret Thatcher, had sold, and closed, most, if not all, of the mines, another major strike had come and gone (1984-85) and this time it was to be the miners' who would lose, and with pits closing and miners losing their jobs, the epicentre of communities crumbled from within the homes themselves.

There are no more working mines left in the British Isle's and what there is are now only disused mines, working museums, empty lots, parking spaces, homes or shopping centres etc. The once "from generation to generation" mentality, as depicted within this film, had now wholly evaporated and that is the real, sadly, the only, purpose of this tiny snippet of English culture, to highlight a once thriving industry that held strong believes and with its working colliery was also the backbone of this thriving, living community.

Inside the realms of the English kitchen sink genre two films that revolve around the lives of the British mining community, that are worth a mention here, are Brassed Off (1996) and Billy Elliot (2000), two very different films but one central axis and, also, the tongue-in-cheek parody of the then Alternative comedy set that was The Comic Strip Presents…with their own special brand of humour and irony and their personal interpretation, of the 1984-5 strike, that is called …The Strike (1988). This is why Miners is such a valuable archive, of an era of pride, prosperity and optimism, there is no tone of malice or bitterness here; these are men who want to work and are proud to work on these coalfaces. This is more than an invitation to an inside look at an English workers' environment, this is, too, a wonderful and reflective monument of a golden age that does this culture proud whose, now, epitaph has been written in the sands of time.

The Hunt (2012/I)
7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
This could be the scoop you'd want to die for., 25 January 2013

The survivalist horror film genre, the concept of humans hunting other humans, for whatever purpose, never strays onto the path of uniformity. While the undercurrent motive remains largely very similar, it is a well presented and interesting genre. Classics such as Turkey Shoot (1982), The Running Man (1987), Hard Target (1993) and the greats' that are Battle Royale (2000), Predators (2010) and Hunger Games (2012) do show that there is variation, imagination and interest in this particular genre.

Director, writer and editor Thomas Szczepanski has tipped his toe within this genre pool and has given a slightly surprising attempt at human confliction. Alex, a small-time reporter is under pressure to find that big scoop and with the sleazy backdrop of porn shops and strippers comes across an extremely secretive and brutal sport of where those who can afford to pay can afford to play, play that game of cat & mouse. Where the result is death and the rule of the game is there are no rules.

What makes this particular venture interesting is the way in which the unfortunate subjects' are enrolled into this elite den of depravity; kidnapped by feature-less white masked wearing thugs in monochrome outfits. Then after finding themselves tied & gagged with tongues cut out, and forced to, literally, run for their live, with each carrying their own purse of value, whoever slays the rabbit will venture in its worth.

This bears more than a feeling of foreboding; it actually accentuates the power of the situation that this reporter has naively placed himself. The whole experiment toward this genre does a fine job in building a steady rapport with Alex and empathising to his plight with the horrors with which he bears witness.

Being a French production, we should at least feel that we are in for a bloody treat while the production values are cheap and the location settings sparse. Whilst not comparing this expedition to the likes of other French Masters' as Martyrs (2008), La Horde (2009) and La Meute (2010), for example, but The Hunt does have its own values in shock, repulsion and bloodstained sequences to match the biggest of budgets. What also propels this feature further is the musical score by Fabio Poujouly, which really drives the action and sickening predicaments to another level and gels the fear and butchery together.

An independent venture, The Hunt is not a bad attempt, and too, not a poor one either, with seemingly restrictive finances it does do what it can in that it repels and disgusts, and thus, too, by doing its utmost to entertain becomes another drop in the ocean of the survivalist horror film genre.

Airborne (2012)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A good level-entry and a well-cooked appetiser for this genre., 18 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seeing Mark Hamill in the film Sushi Girl (2012) it was time to see just how well he had adapted outside the realms of the Star Wars franchise and into the wider circles of movie-making. Airborne, does, as first, seem a real low-budget turkey, while the settings and cast are somewhat minimal in stature the whole project here comes over as a well-executed and entertaining movie. While the character development may be a little thin on the ground, but there are a varied type and style of character here to give a broad outlet of play, it is the guessing-game and red herrings and plot diversions and masking what is really going on under the surface that keeps this film on tender hooks. This is throwing the hot potato around, not enough to confuse, but just enough to make distractions and assumptions, playing, and coxing the viewer into believing what they see is what they get. In addition, a very good musical score projects the tension and atmosphere to its relevant level that gives a good result all round.

A group of characters' embark on a plane journey, from England to the USA, in some very poor weather conditions, and that's just the start of their troubles, as there are just as worrying concerns inside this metal-bird as evil takes control, in both its spiritual form and the physical. So continues the passing of claustrophobic paranoia and mystic legends that entwine to bring an exciting adventure in the sky.

The plot itself is quite sufficient to keep the ball rolling, even if its weakest points are all too obvious. With the likes of Alan Ford (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - 1998), Billy Murray ("The Bill", Stalker - 2010), Andrew Shim (Dead Man's Shoes - 2004, This Is England - 2006), Julian Glover (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 1989, The Halloween Kid - 2011 short) and Mr. Hamill, pushing it along with their respective personalities and charisma. It all makes up for a fun and rather exciting bout of tension and claustrophobic action. The resulting effort by writer Paul Chronnell (b.1968) and director Dominic Burns (b.1983) have created an impressive little number here and while no turkey this film does hold its own and can feather its bed in accountability for this particular genre.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Family themed frolics in fantasy land., 10 February 2012

Very roughly based on the great fantasy adventure writer Jules Vernes' (1828-1905) work, we have a contemporary setting of a family torn by absent fathers, missing grandfathers and wannabe step dads and growing pains of teenage angst. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is your average film with its average plot that not only consists of one young, and rather rude and insolent, adolescent who insists that travelling around the world in search of his missing grandfather and the Island of mystery without parental guidance and consent is quite the norm.

In contrast to this, we have Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the stepfather, Hank, who is trying to break down barriers and connect with his stepson Sean (Josh Hutcherson) who is more than determined, and preoccupied, to finding his mystery prize. Mr. Johnson plays the role with little ado but can be, too, charismatic and hold a strong screen presence which holds the whole thing together.

The use of Michael Caine as Alexander is a strange one though; it is never really explained as to why Sean's grandfather has an English accent as apposed to the American accents from the rest of the family. In the end, Mr. Caine does a good job as old adventurous gramps and the cocky side to his nature soon becomes apparent when Hank turns up and the war-of-words between these two alpha males soon changes its tone to mutual respect and camaraderie. It is very much the male-bonding type movie here, all differences are soon quashed, and the true adventure begins.

Luis Guzmán (The Hard Way, 1991, Traffic, 2000, Mystery Men, 1999) as both Gabato and comic relief and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens; Sucker Punch, 2011) as love interest and eye-candy fit in perfectly to the proceedings. We see Mr. Guzmán with the best lines, which defuse the tension between the two adults and their family rivalries, not to mention the horrors of the Island itself. Curiously enough, though, Luis Guzmán is nowhere to be seen in the films publicity shot, in particular, concerning the main headliners' running across the lizard eggs and being chased by said lizard.

The negative aspects of this film can be seen in its actual narrative, in the way that it is simply too short a story, the concept here is superb but a long way off the mark from its true roots. The sad thing here is that as soon as the adventure begins, as they enter the island, and meet old gramps, they are thrown into turmoil and the holiday is over, they are looking for an escape route. No true adventure and no time left to explore the island proper, where the real adventure, no doubt, begins. This, literally, non-stop episode feels flat and is the weakest link in the chain, too bad that they, and the viewer, could not have seen more of this mysterious island and seen more of an adventure.

There are films out there that are more inclined to be honest to the novels own narrative and maybe a try of Mark Sheppard's (2110), Cy Endfield (1961) and Russell Mulcahy's TV movie of 2005 interpretation of the Jules Vernes 1874 novel may seem fitting. Brad Peyton's version is okay, in as such that this is more directed as a family adventure and this is its heartbeat that rings throughout and no bad thing either, rather than the adult theme the original dictates. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island does not raise-the-bar but in the ladder of evolution may only just be starting to climb itself out of the primeval bog of Jules Verne's classic fantasy adventures.

Imaginative and surreal dark comedy from space; cult classic worthy., 17 January 2012

This late 1980s cult movie is reminiscent of the 1950s B-movie sci-fi genre with films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Blob (1958), Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a marvellous updated version of the time when this genre thrived on the fear of alien invasion, usually Martian, and small town, usually American, paranoia of the unknown.

The unknown here being the films main source of thrills and entertainment, clowns from outer space, coming to earth to use humans as food. It is not only the films main narrative here that enthrals, but also the way in which these extremely evil and unsettling looking clowns go about their business. Killer Klowns is a tree-way-split, as we have the invading clowns and the battling teenagers who are, too, at odds with the Cove Crescent local Law enforcement such as the charismatic John Vernon (1932 - 2005) (Dirty Harry, 1971 & Animal House, 1978) who plays the rough, cynical and generation-gapped cop Moonie who shines with pure style, determination and personality.

We also see the clowns artillery that is, of course, circus based, all those nice and pleasant circus toy's and attractions that have become associated with fun and games are turned around and used as deadly weapons of war, all unnerving as we see each unwitting victim drawn into the trap that has so treacherously been sprung. Killer Klowns is not only a horror science fiction tale but also an entertaining comedy that bring freshness to this genre, albeit, too, the killer clowns persona and imaginative and bizarre surroundings that perpetuate the feel of certain dread and foreboding. Clowns are cute, cuddly, funny and romantic; these Klowns are quite the reverse and are not too proud to show it. The biggest personality,though, within this film has to be the ultra-strange flying saucer, in the guise of a large circus Big Top, and the labyrinth of deathly corridors and monster, literally, surprises. It's all so confusing and bewildering to the eye and is more than an integral part of the films proceedings. Along with its eerie electronic soundtrack, and the way that it can turn it itself around from its black comedy tones and delve into the world of the surreal that never leaves the creepy atmosphere of the superb soundtrack of the 1950s science fiction B-movie; superlative, imaginative and worthy of this franchise's respect.

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A 3D fiasco with a 1D experience., 16 January 2012

With only the option to seeing this film in 3-dimension, The Darkest Hour, here, should have its name extended to the darkest eighty-nine minutes, this movie, pushing the gimmick of 3D as its, seemingly but not, only interesting niche, this film, as a whole, simply does not push and open boundaries in, ironically, any way other than the films main theme would have you believe.

Its agonising cinema having to sit through a wafer-thin plot. Weak and shallow at best, and with elusive characters that are quickly dismissed as quickly as they arrive, no feeling of empathy here but a shiver of apathy and less than mediocre sensationalism that this genre should at least bring with it. The golden age of sci-fi has firmly turned to rust and eroded completely with contemporary filmmaking, even to the point pushing for the happy ending between the Olivia Thirlby's Natalie and her finally finding that her mother is alive and well; sentimental mush that showed no guts or bravery to be worthy of an honest science fiction movie. With these one-dimensional beings that live in this 3-dimensional world, it is all too easy watching and never raises-the-bar to any level of contention, passive cinema is what we have here.

While an interesting concept, invisible invading creatures come to earth killing all they encounter to steal the worlds minerals, enhancing the films narrative to a degree of depth and dread would have steadfast the excitement levels to a higher plain. The Darkest Hour misses the mark completely and turns itself into a edifice of dull repertoire that has the charisma and style of a dead light bulb.

Dead Snow (2009)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Mildly warm humour set against a frosty bite of horror., 10 January 2012

More than just a simple zombie movie Dead Snow is a zombie film with personality. Several friends take to the mountains near the town of Øksfjord, Norway, (coincidently its English translation is Axefjord) and shack-up in the wilderness of back-of-beyond to enjoy a little R & R together. Their peace is soon interrupted by a mysterious old man, warning them of a local curse that during the German occupation of the local area that these Nazi invaders were brutal and harsh in their methods of control. Telling of the legend of the villager's revolt and driving them up into the cold, dark mountains where they perished, that is until rumour of their return in the form of zombies, evil Nazi zombies.

Dead Snow is a surprisingly fun and at the same time horrific film, that takes the zombie genre and places itself into its own unique style of wit and gore. While not completely independent from the typical zombie and victim outlay, for the characters here, they are pretty much one- dimensional and it is all too easy to feel indifferent toward them, as they make no connection on screen other than toward their own reflection. This too, adds to a weak plot that is being held together only by its wit and substantial special effects team.

We see some great effects here and fantastic Nazi Schutzstaffel costumes with greater Nazi zombie make-up applied, here we too see these Nazi soldier zombies, led by the evil Colonel Herzog, walking and running in the snow, fighting as if the war had never been lost; nasty, vengeful and athletic dead. This makes for a great atmosphere that both the living and the dead are on an equal-par and it is just about anybodies game of survival. Ripping and tearing each other apart, literally. This is the twist that holds its viewer as these Nazi zombies are vigorously obedient to their beloved Third Reich and too can leap out of bushes and clamber up trees, its all good stuff and with its humour, and historical connotations, altogether, Dead Snow makes up for an avalanche of horror that buries its dead with full horror tradition.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Wish you were here., 8 November 2011

Shorts, albeit fifteen minutes in length as in this case, simply do not come better as this, if combined comedy and horror is your cup-of-tea. Mr. Olivares has been given Doctor's orders to take a well earned holiday, after what seems like a detox of high anxiety and stress, and to relax, meet new people, sunbath, take pictures and above all avoid all manner of stress.

It is not only José Ma. Angorrilla, who plays the tense Mr. Olivares, and his Mexican "handle-bar" moustache, that takes hold of the limelight here but the way in which we see him taking his own style of relaxation; plopping into a wet, muddy pit and immersing himself in its qualities, totally, at the amusement of the other holidaymakers.

The cause of Mr. Olivarez's condition is never bought to light, just his cure, but the completely bizarre and hilarious, and extremely shocking, way in how poor Mr. Olivares deals with this stream-pressure release will make Tom Savini look like a choir boy on a Sunday outing. It all comes to the boil as Mr. Olivares is quietly listening to his Walkman (portable audio cassette player) and the beach is invaded from what can only be described as creatures-from-the-deep, human in form but demonic in both appearance and nature, they then proceed to mutilate, brutalise and kill all those on the tiny enclosed, pebbled beach. That is until Mr. Olivares's portable audio cassette player packs-in and his stress levels bring themselves to the boil once more, resulting in pure mayhem and madness in a battle sequence that will have you squirming with hilarious reaction. It is a battle that has the best special effects and make-up that will stand proudly next to any recent, or past, epic zombie movie.

While only a smattering of dialogue at the very beginning, "Brutal Relax" shows itself in the guise of the Silent comedies, the language of its highly explicit visuals and stupendously funny antics are all that are needed to tell this story of violent conflict and of how Mr. Olivares copes with his stress levels. Showing at the Leeds International Film Festival (November 2011) it had a healthy response and is really best seen on the Big Screen with many like mined people to appreciate the full force of the grotesque and the dark humour. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you squirm and after this, you're going to need a good, long holiday to get over it.

Hanna (2011)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Same old same old, with a difference., 14 May 2011

I thought this movie had a lot of promise to begin with and the concept of a young girl holding her own in the fields of battle looked, again, promising, and the beautiful and charming cinematography gave the film and its look a distinct charm of individuality.

Act one seemed to be heading off in at least one direction, that was until she had smuggled herself onto the Spanish mainland and from this moment onward the film falls flat and turns itself into a standard, mediocre, but still, at times, beautifully shot movie.

The mood and texture of this film, the second act, is a decaying inner urban city feel and look but the weakest point here is its drive and direction of exactly where we, as an audience, and the films narrative are heading. The second act follows this young child into the unknown and it is here that the film falters in so much as its narrative is then turned into one, long continuous drama of chase, hunt and hunted.

While its soundtrack does its best to emphasise the girls surroundings, see Children of Men (2006) to get the exact feel here too, it is only let down by is perpetual scenario of this go nowhere plot. The first act only brings you up to be unexpectedly dropped down to earth again, with a bang of disappointment and predictability, to the point of unclosed predictions leading to too many unanswered questions. This all feels rather weak and lacking in any depth and form to carry the next scene along.

Saoirse Ronan shines and plays the girl who knows life's knowledge and too knows nothing of life's experience is the only true individual here while the rest of her companions are given clichéd roles that, sadly, toward the end give off a clichéd setting and conclusion. The characters are exciting, are menacing and deadly, the settings and locations are interesting and brooding and the soundtrack has that urban feel about it, giving the film its edge, but, this young child, Hanna, is only let down by the long and open road of closed-off writing and an unchallenging second act. It is all too unfair for this young victim of deadly pursuits and it feels, toward its end, all too familiar.

9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Its well funny and well horrifying, ya get me., 14 May 2011

Fire and brimstone arrive in the concrete jungle of inner city South London in the guise of some extremely ferocious and fearsome space monsters and London bad-boys', when their mums' allow. This truly funny and dark movie concentrates on the small band of street bruvs' who are unwittingly thrown into the deep end of an alien invasion and are bound together to save the neighbourhood, the tower block, which they call home.

With a street view of urban language and culture, Attack the Block has the script of, both director and writer, Joe Cornish doing a job well done. Working the funny bone with its one-liners in fearful circumstances that both perpetuate the scenario of the setting of alien beast versus human courage bringing the house down with its vitality and energy and too terrifies you all at the same time.

Well shot and tightly paced, this is action and sci-fi meets dark comedy bringing these young adults, more children than young adults to be fair, into the foray of battle with an immense sense of loyalty and pride, not only for their district but also toward each other. Yeah, they are just kids who still have to be "…in by Ten…" and they are all, at heart, nice and polite boys, when you get to know them. Unlike the black, furry, eye-less and luminesce teethed aliens; crawling their way up and chomping their way to the top of the tower block, a very nice and somewhat original touch and it really does work well.

It is a decently made movie and for the director's debut, it is a good start, as a movie it can, I think, stand on its own two feet. While not on the same par as Noel Clarke's (Kidulthood, 2006) intelligent writing, concerning London youth culture, this, by Mr. Cornish, is most certainly not dumbing-down either, with its different approach to the Yoouth culture of Great Britain and its intertwining sci-fi horror and black comedy Attack the Block is a highly individual film that will gain respect and notoriety in time, init?

Piranha 3D (2010)
Popping-out for a bite to eat?, 12 May 2011

Piranha, shot in 2D then transferred into the 3D format also, isn't that bad a movie, while never going to blow the lid off the summer blockbuster market, it speaks volumes in the style of the old and traditional likes of the Seventies exploitation, creature feature B-movie horror genre.

This snappy tale of a mixture of the hedonistic and the macabre is essentially a black comedy, and when the party is in full swing has plenty of bite and appetite for the grotesque. With a cast here that are certainly not going to propel this feature into the depths of A-list notability, but with Ms. Shue and Ving Rhames as leads, it, too, is not going to be a flat and shallow experience, throwing in the likes of Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd too gives the film a little street-credit too.

Lake Victoria's annual spring party by some 50,000 young revellers' is about to turn into a feeding frenzy with prehistoric hunger-pains. Released from their two million year long sleep, with deadly consequence, thousands upon thousands of flesh-eating piranha are set lose into Lake Victoria. It's a feeding ground of blood, screams and boobs.

Overall, it is a decent popcorn matinée movie that should not be taken too seriously, Piranha can be a tense and horrific sight, with extreme prosthetic makeup to deepen the experience of baited-breath and razor teeth chaos. Both 2D and 3D do the trick as does its CGI, showing us that Alexandre Aja can deliver, in places, a true nasty, creature feature and with an added zest of humour and parody has brought the Seventies, like these little nippers, kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Fruition that lingers in the mind, ripe and ready to be picked., 30 March 2011

The state of war throughout the ages, and in particular the propaganda machine, basically, has never changed, all that has advanced in the time-line of war is its progress in its way to annihilate and its tools to "educate" its people. Here, we have an extremely modern example of the propaganda machine working at full throttle with Battle: Los Angeles.

United States Marines are the bastion of freedom and courage over the odds concerning an alien invasion that threatens not only the existence of the human race but the American way, her freedoms and liberties. This overpowering message conveys itself like the old-time propaganda films of World War 2 such as The Lion Has Wings (1939) and Went the Day Well? (1942), both projecting biased nationalistic-further and pride to boost a populace morale and compliance to its underlined message. We see, too, a similar stance, coming into fruition, with writer Christopher Bertolini and director Jonathan Liebesman's work here, with a strong foothold on the consciousness of the times and a direction of contemporary patriotism that takes the old rules and places them in a new setting.

Its well-choreographed battle sequences' dictates a simple repetitive run throughout the film of tight close-armed combat action and great CGI, bringing together an interesting stance on the war genre. The premise, too, is not a deep and complex scenario but if close-armed combat is your thing then Battle: Los Angeles will not disappoint, this will, no doubt, make it into the video gaming world and, again, prove that war, too, sells in the domestic market.

It is just a shame that the internal body of this main-feature has to bend its rhetoric to such an extent that it pushes away any chance for a glasnost mentality than is allowed. It's too right-wing at heart, perusing beyond the boundaries of their limits of pure entertainment to playing the mind games of the subconscious to propagate a stirring within, sowing the seed of influence and blind reverence that only deepens as each ticking minute passes. Sadly, this is the films strong point and also its weakest, depending on which bare facts suit's the viewer best, its almost Fifth Column material at worst and an impressive war movie at best. Which side of the fence would you place it?

More than medium rare, it's also well done., 8 February 2011

Here we experience being on the road with Iron Maiden with a day-in-the-life perspective from the World Piece Tour of 1983 and its San Antonio, Texas leg. This is a tiny, albeit fifteen minutes in length, look into the regime of the perpetual life on the road: travel, sound check, interview, show. Here we see the band sound checking to the tunes of "Wrathchild" while the business of getting-ready by the road crew around them is a great visual of the daily proceeds of the rock n' roll routine.

Taking time off and sightseeing at the Alamo, signing autographs and giving interviews, we hear what Iron Maiden are to their audience with Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson explaining how Maiden, and Metal, pushed its way through Punk by sticking to its principle and ethos. Intercut amongst the interview as it is broken-up in stages to the band performing live to three tracks "Flight of Icarus", "22 Acacia Avenue" and "Iron Maiden", while still reflecting life on the road.

'ello Texas is a small jewel in the vast crown of wealth that can be found on the subject of this British band. Adding it to the "Iron Maiden: Life After Death" (2008) DVD package as an added Extra is a great way to see not just this exceedingly rare footage but to also see the band in full flight from the gruelling nine month world tour that was the World Slavery Tour. If anyone should count themselves interested in the history, legacy and voyage that has been Iron Maiden then adding 'ello Texas to ones curriculum vitae will do them no harm.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Slaves to the power of Maiden., 7 February 2011

Iron Maiden's World Slavery Tour had seen the band performing in 193 counties in just under a year (August, 1984 - July, 1985), from being the first band to take a full production into Europe's Eastern Bloc to performing in front of some 300,000 in the first Rock in Rio (January 1985) then to 1,000,000 North American heavy metal fans alone.

As the tour hit its eighth month it was now time to film this epic production, coming off the back of the mighty 1984 "Powerslave" album with its Egyptian themes and backdrops and powerful lengthy tracks as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to the shorter rock n' roll numbers of "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight". It's all good stuff, with live tracks taken from their, then, current studio works' "Iron Maiden" (1980), The Number of the Beast" (1982), "Piece of Mind" (1983) we hear their traditional key changes and power cords, twin lead guitars to historical and intriguing lyrics and the heavy, rhythmic bass line from its founding member Steve Harris.

Originally released as a 1985 double live vinyl album, side four being the London's Hammersmith shows, the first three being the US' Long Beach Arena concerts. This vinyl album alone is worth searching for, in its vinyl capacity, to appreciate its artwork, done by Derek Riggs, its booklet with photo after photo of the bands world tour and general all-out detailed output put into this vinyl package, an excellent production indeed.

Accompanying this double live album was the 1985 VHS release and it has now been updated and re-released in 2008, with two audio options; the original PCM Stereo soundtrack and an updated 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound version. To be fair, while the 5.1 is best suited to, now, modern technologies' the format to play here is most definitely its original format, the updated soundtrack sounds too sterile, too superimposed and clean.

This 2008 package is a treasure trove of Maiden memorabilia. Added is the now rare full-length footage of "Iron Maiden: Behind the Iron Curtain", a documentary of their visit to the Eastern Bloc and a exceptional glimpse into the now defunct Communist Europe when the Cold War was still very much in place and when a heavy metal band blew down the walls of segregation. With this, we also see an interesting short (15 minutes) of Maiden performing and being interviewed, at the Alamo no less, in San Antonio, Texas from their World Piece Tour of 1983 and a full one hours documentary "History of Iron Maiden part 2" (2008) as well as highlights from their visit to "Rock in Rio - 1985" and more.

"Iron Maiden: Life After Death" (2008) with all is glory of the 1985 Long Beach show plus its added extras is a must for lovers of the heavy metal genre and its spearheading band Iron Maiden, a great show and a very well thought-out package that fails to disappoint, this too, is also the Iron Maiden trademark.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Hawkwind: The Right Stuff., 4 February 2011

"Hawkwind: The Solstice at Stonehenge 1984" is only a short documented glimpse into what was then a festival of standing and creditability amongst the New Age hippies of the nineteen-seventies and the nineteen-eighties. A Free Festival for those, not only New Age hippies too, most certainly on the fringes of English society in this, then, new Capitalist, consumerist, privatised brave-new-world of Right Wing Thatcherite control.

One has to remember the times of 1980s Britain, as Margret Thatchers' Tory (Conservative) Government took hold and tightened its grip on the Unions, selling-off England's heritage, closing industries and giving mass unemployment to its youth, being young in early '80s Britain was not a happy time for Thatcher's children. To best punctuate these extremely bleak times Alan Bleasdale's 1982 television series "Boys from the Blackstuff" is worth the mention here.

The 1984 festival had the likes of Roy Harper, Hawkwind, Here & Now and The Enid to keep the cosmic blues away in the escapism of the free festival spirit. Hawkwind were the band of the people, the underground antiheroes of conformity, mediocrity and blandness.

Forming within the shadow of the first Glastonbury Festival, Hawkwind has had many, many, many line-up changes but remains ever the child of Dave Brock to wean and nurture in his own manner. A band that delivers a space rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, protopunk style of music, perfect for the festival circuit and the obvious choice, once more, for the twelve solstice at Stonehenge, performing as the sun sank then rose above the Stones as 60,000 red-eyed revellers' transcended into the nights sky and morning mist.

This wonderful and fantastic archive footage of Nik Turner, Dave Brock et al performing the now classic's "Uncle Sams On Mars", "Sonic Attack", "The Right Stuff", "Ghost Dance" etc is more than enough to highlight the importance of this band, its music and its relevance. With great riffs, bass lines, cosmic lyrics and surreal visuals form Nik Turner "Hawkwind: The Solstice at Stonehenge 1984" is a rare find with footage, too, of Nik Turner with this band that is nothing more than mesmerising, a strong flagship of an era of pure undiluted charismatic individuality.

With summer night dancers' and fire breathers' to perpetuate the ambiance of tranquillity on stage mixed with high octane rock and excessive highs, this Pagan ritual space dance is a true must for those who care for freedoms and individuality. Seen in two parts, the bands first appearance being 10pm until midnight, they then reappeared to perform once more at 5am until 7am. With this "second act" we see the sun rise over the Stones and the, yet again, surreal character that is Nik Turner and the hypnotic saxophone improvisation that with the dance ritual, once more, succeeds in setting in stone Hawkwind's festival reputation as nothing more than momentous.

Within the next year, the festival was no more, and 1985 saw State Police tactics blocking any vehicles into the area and in turn gave way to what was to be known as "The Battle of the Beanfield". An Olde English ancient charter, too, was snuffed out, as if there had been a free festival on the grounds during 1985 then there would have been a free festival on the grounds for eternity.

While not a professionally shot film, it does give its best to portray these heady times and the bookends of shots of the festival goers and the ripples of tents, toilet queues to the burnt-out heroin dealer's car is all part-and-parcel of this sixty minute time capsule. "Hawkwind: The Solstice at Stonehenge 1984" is a visual document, the last of the days of independence and self-reliance, and the start of tipping the void into the mass media conformity into the late eighties and beyond but also of a past that was somehow more open and carefree.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Its Metal and its Heavy., 29 January 2011

Though an "unauthorised" use of the name Iron Maiden, Maiden playing no part what-so-ever with this production, it is still very much an in-depth, authentic and articulate account of the birth of a new music phenomenon that was to spearhead and explode throughout the world into the blue-collar, sub-culture that is Heavy Metal.

Told by those who have fond memories of those early days of this music genre; Neal Kay (Metal DJ) to music journalists' Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing and Geoff Barton to Joel McIver and Garry Bushell. Also included are band members from Diamond Head, Girlschool, Tygers of Pan Tang, Samson, Praying Mantis, ex-members of Iron Maiden Paul Di'Anno and Dennis Stratton all giving a retrospective of a time when British music, once more, conquered the world.

With interesting conjunctions of clips and pictures from bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath to Motörhead and AC/DC to Earth Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder, and many more, to help project the narrative into the mystery of just exactly when did Heavy Metal become apparent.

Fighting its way through the spit and hate of Punk Rock the Rock genre had re-emerged itself into this new, fresh and youthful music genre; Heavy Metal. The philosophy shown here is to outline the music connections, which these up and coming bands had embraced, and which, in turn, then forms its own musical style that was to become the NWOBHM. There too would be winners and losers with the emergence of this new wave of long-haired head-bangers'. At the top of its game, and the DVD's main example? Iron Maiden.

The demographic of Heavy Metal is best placed within the book "Heavy Metal: The Music And Its Culture", an extremely in-depth look into its entire cultural ethos, by Deena Weinstein PhD. To accompany this film, also, one may wish to see the official "Iron Maiden: Behind the Iron Curtain" (1985) and "Iron Maiden: 12 Wasted Years" (1987) DVD's to fully understand the reasoning as to why this package has used the name that is Iron Maiden, it's a fitting example of Metal and its power, aesthetic and hold. The 1983 "The Comic Strip Presents...: Bad News Tour" and its younger sibling "The Comic Strip Presents...: More Bad News" of 1988 is a wonderful satire and parody of this genre and is truly worth a look into the perspective of the Heavy Metal band.

"Iron Maiden and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal" is a very intriguing insight into this era of what was coming out of England during the nineteen seventies and to withhold its ground up until the demise of is popularity with mainstream media outlets of the nineteen eighties. A very thought provoking and historical document that rightly holds its ground in the annals of this loud and proud genre that is still Heavy and still Metal.

Black Swan (2010)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The swansong never stops playing., 21 January 2011

Black Swan not only centres on the concept of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's (1840 - 1893) ballet Swan Lake, but it too revolves around the work and life of its lead ballerina Nina Sayers and the commitment that she has to endure to bring this production to life. Such is the extreme physical and mental preparations for this role that the lead role, as both Odette and Odile, has to convince both audience and herself that she is literally, in all respects, the part, this magical mystical creature, inevitably metamorphosing into a realm of fantasy and horror.

The insurmountable pressure here can only have adverse effects on those not strong willed enough to withstand its all-consuming glory. Black Swan is not just a film about an Old Russian folk's tale nor is it only about the role of its leading lady; this film measures the true understanding and meaning of what is to be the lead in the most prestigious ballet; Swan Lake.

Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain-2006, The Wrestler-2008) has given us an insight into the mind that is tormented between the two roles of both white and black queens and her struggle to fully understand the line between reality and illusion. It is a parallel of these dual roles and the division of her mind, which must be controlled, as to shine and to remain sane, remain one.

This world of tension and paranoia is beautifully shot and timed to a tee, the claustrophobic, imploding mind's journey here is, too, bittersweet, what with the charming and seductive cinematography it leads itself to a tone and fashion liken to J-horror with a Hitchcock bent, all adding to the flavour of both beauty and bestiality. It is also the films major gift, the stupendous acting of its leading lady Natalie Portman, magnificently delicate and brittle, which personifies her declining into plight and anguish. We see her every contorted expression that feeds her insecurities, fears and anxieties, such a tender fragile spirit on the spiral into the abyss of pure perfection. With perfection, too, comes rejection, and we see a paradox in terms of Ms. Sayers and her inauguration into this highly demanding role and the now retired Swan Queen Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) who shows a mental instability on a different path that leads to her self harming. With or without the role of Swan Queen, she still claims her victims; the swansong is sung and there is no more. It is a perpetual cycle of love and hate, have and have not, life and death, black or white.

This is the major theme of Black Swan, finding ones new inner self and transcending this inner being and the consequences that can lend itself to, it is a topic of, together, self-doubt and self discovery and using the dual roles that is Swan Lake's Queen's is a fitting metaphor for Nina Sayers conflicting personality.

It is a schism that runs although this film, suffering for its art. It is not a pleasant experience to have to witness this transformation, it is a fitting example of a world of dedication, such as the training and sacrifice in which this world of ballerinas' must partake, to become more than the best, more than excellent, to be pure perfection.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Where East meets West and join forces to unite with passion in music, denim and leather., 17 December 2010

Tearing down the wall of segregation Iron Maiden: Behind the Iron Curtain is both concert footage and historical document conjoining Iron Maiden's journey into the closed world of the Communist Bloc that highlights the crossing of the line of conformist West into the rebellious East of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslavakia and Yugoslavia during August of 1984.

A reminiscence of times long gone, for both Eastern Europe, and Iron Maiden and their World Slavery Tour of August 1984 to July 1985. It is a tour in an oppressive regime that brings the East's heavy-metal subculture out and proudly head banging to tracks such as 2 Minutes to Midnight, The Trooper, The Number of the Beast and Aces High, amongst others. The only query here is that there is a difference in the soundtrack of the original release (which was only some thirty minutes long) and this extended footage, which is somewhat polished, and re-worked, but not all tracks have had this audio makeover. Note the lead singer's late reproach to the microphone to the beginning of Number of the Beast but his voice just beats him to it.

With a wonderful nostalgic and reflective feel of a world far removed from the present, with band interviews and fans' thoughts and reactions to this British heavy-metal band and the rebellious soundtrack to the phenomenon that is life behind the Iron Curtain the heavy metal demographic are always the same either side of the curtain; male, white and blue-collar. East or West, this image of denim and leather clad, longhaired head bangers are stout believers' in their music and way of life. Even more so is this prominent in this politically, socially and culturally starved environment.

We're on the road with this band and seeing a short glimpse of this Rock n' Roll life style, even to the point where the band end up playing, unannounced, at a Polish wedding, too, we see the view from the tour-bus window of the towns, cities, streets and its people that were the 1980's Cold War (1947–1991) casualties'. This is truly a remarkable, if somewhat short, footage of a continents bygone age.

If you're into Maiden or the history of the Cold War's Eastern Bloc, or both, then this tiny film here will certainly enlighten you to both worlds and have you transfixed of what has been and the vast differences' that that come about. Behind the Iron Curtain is a fitting exposé of two histories combined, in a timeless film that still to this day loses none of its potential to entertain and educate.

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Stunning and unforgiving Australian cinema at its finest., 19 November 2010

The Horseman, a product of Australian cinema, is simply an amazing piece of work; it is a grim and stark journey. Centring around the aftershock of the death of layman Christian's (played here by Peter Marshall with astonishing composure and calm, and too, his first major lead role in a movie) teenage daughter from a drug overdose, her somewhat voluntary involvement in an extremely seedy part of the sex industry and the progression of a father's wrath and bloodletting fury of revenge and retribution.

It's a reflective look into the plight of an anguished father and the road trip he must take to find the parasites that took a part in the exploitation of innocence and the poetic justice one must serve upon the guilty.

The subject matter is done with a scent of finesse that holds an air of admiration and respect for this guilt-ridden father, he's nasty, he's mean but he's also driven and director, writer, producer and editor Steven Kastrissios, along with cinematographer Mark Broadbent, and in particular the stunt department, have shown, once again, that Australian cinema is a tour de force to be recognised, and respected.

With its magnificent and complex fight sequences, tight direction and empathetic undercurrent, the overall tone is not done to the extremes that it may seem an overdose of violence for the sake of violence. Not for one-minute does the slaughter, both visually and physically, feel too contrived, it may be a harrowing experience, and journey too, for the viewer, as too the father who has now crossed the line, but its pacing between each bloody action brings the film back to the point of honesty.

We are left viewing, literally, on the edge of our seats as the plight runs a wry and we are constantly left unknowing as to what may happen next, and to whom and how. It's all an adrenalin rush of mixed emotions of revelation, sympathy, disgust, shock and compassion, such is the power of the delivery of Steven Kastrissios's work here.

Transcending beyond the blurred sanity, The Horseman is a brutal reminder of a subculture that tests the morals of those who dare to question its ethics' and looks into the mind of those who have found the answer; crossing boundaries and finding new strengths, it's a rude wakening that in the murky mist of illicit brutality, at times even the wrong answer may be the only alternative.

Skyline (2010)
2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Begs the question: Are we alone in the Universal universe? The answer being, only in the Cinemas'., 16 November 2010

If there were to be any film that truly holds the Accolade for Most Pointless Plot Award then Skyline will win hands-down. What we have here is a film that only contains two Acts; the final (second) Act is given to us only some minutes until the films final moments. Until then, we have only one plot less, pointless scenario of several friends holding-up within a luxury tower block dodging aliens who have a desire, and use, for the human brain.

It seems all too bizarre that we have seen what can best be described as snippets from the sci-fi back catalogue. Without reason, and straight off and running, we are forced into the alien attack and witness the exploitation of the human race for the use of their brain. This is all too familiar with the H.G. Wells novel, the taking of the human race, War Of The Worlds. The Matrix comes into place, too, where the plot in both films here are films that are strangely similar, the use of the human brain/body for their own existence/survival. This too does not included the Matrix's Sentinel's making a guest appearance, amongst others.

The whole thing is under the radar where the narrative is concerned, maybe its all one big metaphor for the taking of human minds and turning them into creatures that are forced to no longer represent who they originally represented, the loss of free will in a contemporary, mechanical, media-lead society perhaps. I don't buy this for one minute.

Skyline leaves us empty and void of any simulation toward is (anti)climax, the whole affair seems to be blowing in the wind and its finding it hard to root, and grow, any depth of soul or even insight to the questions; What? Why? Who? Plus, just what WAS the point?

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
If needs be., 11 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To be fair to director Aldo Lado, he may have taken the scenario for L'ultimo treno della notte from Wes Craven's The Last House On The Left, but, Mr. Craven may not be as innocent too. The Last House On The Left idea originates from the 1960 film by Ingmar Bergman (1918–2007) Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring), so nobody here is perfect, unless you're Ingmar Bergman.

Either way, the subject matter here, as with the previous films, makes for disturbing viewing. Director Aldo Lado has produced a film that gives off a sense of the human condition at its lowest, and depraved, if somewhat hedonistic, form, depending on whose viewpoint you take. While a simple format, two young, if somewhat virginal in life's ways, are travelling across Europe, and are joined, reluctantly, by three strangers, one nameless middle-class nymphomaniac woman and two brutish lower-class thugs. What makes this an interesting case is the fact that the depravities hold no bounds across the class barrier, occupying this train compartment is a mixed bag of the class system. What else counts for a plus here is not the fact that it is the two alpha-males who are in control but the petite, slim, attractive sexual deviant, the unnamed Lady On The Train, that is holding the reins, and the fate, of these two young girls. The men, from backgrounds that can only be best described as lacking in style and sophistication, seem to be controlled by the higher intelligent, manipulative worldly woman, it is only the common bond of power and lust that binds these classes together, worlds apart yet both the same in their amoral attitudes.

This is a dark world that Margaret and Lisa have inadvertently stumbled upon and with chilling atmospheric lighting by cinematographer Gábor Pogány (1915 – 1999) and the added combination of composer Ennio Morricone's (b. 1928) eerie harmonica underscore, seen in the opposite vain as the character "Harmonica" from Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). This time, the sounds of the distant harmonica bring not justifiable revenge but fear and anxieties in these extreme conditions of claustrophobia, revulsion and narcissistic pleasure.

It is the ironies that fill the screen here, too, giving a sense of helplessness toward the two unfortunate victims as the narrative jumps from train compartment to dinner party, and back, in which the expectant parents are holding, whilst waiting for their fledglings to arrive. This setting is a middle-class affair and it is here that we are witness to the proceedings of its surroundings and the opinions of the discussion of violence that begets violence. So much so in fact that the director's work here may consist of little violence, a large part of the film is bringing the characters together and seeing, individually, their respective lives, roles and traits before the twain meet.

It is in the manner of the subject matter that on its 1976 cinema release, in the United Kingdom, the then British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) deemed fit to ban its release altogether and its legacy then cemented in stone during its video (VHS) banning during the 1980s thus forever cursed a video nasty. This, of course, does the film little justice, as the team of Lado, Pogány and Morricone etc have brought us a film that consists of character building, its not in a rush to get to the end of the line and we see who exactly is who and we learn a little more of each of them as the film, too, rides on. Then, added with this, we have a mood of lighting, music, fine edits and interesting camera work bringing a fine movie together.

The turning point of L'ultimo treno Della notte is not just the despicable, indifferent manner in which the symbols of innocents are exploited but also in which the ironies of middle class principles clash in so opposing contradictions. Setting the piece well in advance we already understand the theories of the middle class, and their attitude toward violence, but it isn't until they are truly tested that we also see that even amongst the confines of bourgeois society the walls of conformity and constraint can so readily and needfully come tumbling down. Even to the point of believing, of wanting to believe, the innocent cries for her life of a desperate Lady On The Train when confronted with the vengeful, now killer, father. Violence has begot violence and is, as always, a classless and faceless entity; this is the true massage of L'ultimo treno della notte and it is done with extreme charm and style which in the end, brings the message home, at heart, the human soul is open to uncertainties and is most capable when needs be.

26 out of 51 people found the following review useful:
It's comedy by Paint By Numbers., 3 November 2010

The latest release from Ealing Studio brings us nothing but anguish. Here, an English production, which too, brings together the crème da la crème of British comic talent, is spearheaded with American director John Landis. It all seems such a quaint and cosy relationship, that is, until the irony of its comic talents' being stretched to their limits to the point of an overbearing dull script that bears no content and meaning to the qualities of its cast. A script that having tipped over the precipice into the void of tumbleweed silence that is only projected with puerile gag after puerile gag.

It seems the progression of both writers Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft, having both penned the St. Trinian's legacies, have stepped sideways rather than forward.

It may have its, few, moments of laugh-out-loud hilarities, but the tragic script has the film looking more redundant and childlike as the film goes on. It's more pantomime-silly, something the British excel when it comes to comedy, a change of direction perhaps? Rather than dark humoured wit. With the combination of British writers, actors etc and the American director it really does look like the overall production may have been lost in translation. With Mr. Landis's past works, in contrast, this effort is simply an embarrassing nail in the coffin of wasted opportunities. The jokes, gags, humour just does not gel into place to form any fluid coherent form.

In this lost land of weak and forgetful writing, we may also be witnessing Mr. Pegg's weakest and lowest point in his career, simply dire and if at times too uncomfortable to behold, we have not seen Mr. Pegg, here, at his best. While on the other hand, we are also witness to one of the most misplaced, miscast crimes of the century, and this being the role of Ronnie Corbett as one Captain McLintock. This is, again, pure undiluted and ridiculous pantomime theatrics.

The whole exercise seems patchy. At an individual level, the prime of British comedy here is more than exemplary, such as Bill Bailey, the great Ronnie Corbett, Tim Curry, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Reece Shearsmith for example, British comedy spanning decades. I truly believe that here, with Burke and Hare, a true opportunity has been lost in the smog of a high-octane director and its eagerness to exploit this Englishness. The rain has comedown too early and the colours have run into the gutter before one had the chance to truly explore the vast picture of experience of this great British elite.

13 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
A subject that moves forward but steps back in mind, body and soul., 14 September 2010

The problem I find with this fourth instalment of the Resident Evil franchise is that it seems to have by-passed any form of depth, while not expecting too much in the way of a story at least, this Afterlife addition has solely concentrated on its 3D gimmick to sell its point.

There seems to be a trend of the visual over any hardcore narrative. What we have here is 3D overdrive enhancing the form and actions of Ms. Milla Jovovich, and it's as basic as that.

The characters are the average one-dimensional throwaways that are placed on screen as walking clichés, adding too, that when it comes to any threat from this franchise's walking dead themselves they are no longer required to project tension or threat. These poor souls, too, no longer require top billing and it is they who are reliant on this latest technology rather than the 3-D needing the horror of the undead to keep the gravy train rolling.

This, again, is not about the old days of walking dead horror but Alice's new image as 3D dolly bird and her quest to do slow-mo action and the old chestnut of bullet-time once again raises its ugly head. With this latest fad comes old ideas to exploit and it's all so tiring.

All this and the nondescript script, too, that makes the fourth instalment a seemingly pointless exercise in the life of Alice and her wonderland. Her part in the franchise of the new technology of three-dimensional theatre is ever evident when the visual dimension supersedes the dimension of the three fundamental traits that make a good film: script, plot and narrative.

34 out of 52 people found the following review useful:
Nothing more than a comfortable exercise in modern film-making., 28 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This latest doppelgänger of the horror genre can very easily be read as a formalistic adventure that takes its heart and soul from the 1973 film of the same name, and directed by, no less, George A. Romero. This new adaptation fairs well in the predictability arena and holds no punches when it comes to packing any surprises. It is not so much that it is a regeneration movie but that now we have become too staid within the confines of this genre within the last three decades or so.

Then, the new age of horror movie makers such as Romero, David Cronenberg (Shivers-1975, Rabid-1977), Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left-1972) to Abel Ferrara (The Driller Killer-1979) was, literally, scaring the hell out of their newfound audiences with breaking down the barriers of conformity. Today, with the remake horror genre that has spread so quickly like a virus across our cinema screens, the horror genre has now turned into pastiche and repetitive, formalistic cliché. Breck Eisner's work here is no different.

It's a fair attempt and does, occasionally, exactly what it sets out to do, to scare the viewer, but, in the same breath it also has no deep seated anxiety attached to it, no deep rooted connection for any of its players' in so much that we are not given the opportunity to bond, and ultimately, mourn their passing. The prime example here is the family brunt to death in their home and particularly "the man with the garden fork" and his killing of those strapped to the bed, there is just no tension to highlight the severity of the situation, no personal anguish for those in need. The whole setup from its first frame is all so predictable as to the mans own fate that the whole sequence becomes just a passing moment that only succeeds to pass one sequence to another with obvious conclusion.

With experience, and hindsight, we know better than to judge this as nothing more than middle-of-the-road horror, that shares the same ethos as its contemporises and this too lets itself down. Apart from everything else in contention, there was just no gain in its ploy not to evolve it players in a deeper and richer relationship with its audience. If there had been more time available, would we be feeling pity for those strapped to their hospital beds, burnt in their homes or exterminated and thus highlighting the need to feel less distant and indifferent, and too, feeling more in shock and disgust in their demise? Is this the premise of what "horror" is, to lets its audience "feel" shocked? To enter into their subconscious? Instead of relying, at times, only on the sensationalistic visuals of shallow character development and jump-scares to maximise an all too a shallow experience that fills the air with empty chances and unimaginative prose?

The Trip (1967/II)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Postcard's from the edge., 27 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lookout! The Sixties are here! In the form of flashback and deep reflection of consciousness. It's a pleasant vibe of a collaboration between the likes of Fonda, Hopper, Nicholson and the master of Independent and exploitation cinema Roger Corman, showing us just exactly how the groovy people pass the time of day. With a backdrop of Sixties nostalgia: the cloths, the music and attitudes of the loved-up generation intermingling with the likes of those outside looking in. Being the new-kid-on-the-block Paul Groves (Fonda), who with a little help from his friends, the drug dealing Max (Hopper) and his mentor and guide for the evening John (Bruce Dern) all assisting in providing the first acid trip for Groves.

The whole show moves and grooves along in the timeline of circumstance and prediction to the point of it looking like an information-pack on the pros-and-cons of the use of Lysergic acid diethylamide.

It does not fully feel like exploitation cinema because it simply does not come across as forcible, overly surreal and altogether exploitive, while picking on points of love, sex, life and death, the film hints at the nicer points of the psychedelic wonders to the point of cliché. Roger Corman (b. 1926) uses visuals and interesting, and intriguing, quick, sharp, colourful edit's to highlight the experience of Groves first time trip, and with a soundtrack of rock (think of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd and you're nearly there) and ragtime jazz to help float down stream, it's all, again, very pretty to absorb. The interesting point here is that the viewer here is both traveller and observer, internally and externally, to Groves trip and from the outside looking in it can be a little discouraging to see a fully grown man commenting on the flowing energy of an… orange.

The introduction to this film makes a clear warning that not all may be well in the playground of colours and light and to heed this film as a cautionary tale of the use of its subject, LSD. This is pointed out when Groves escapes his controlled environment and runs to the real-time location of the L. A. streets and bars. Finding himself in the home of a very young child, then accosting a woman's washing in the local Laundromat to the reality check of the waitress's comment "You're stoned out of your mind…what's the matter with you guy's? Isn't the real world good enough for you?" Proving that the decade of free love and the doctrine's of Timothy Leary (1920 - 1996) was done, and not too, with free will and personal choice. Not everyone cared for inner transcendence. The dangers of use here is concluded at the final freeze-frame shot of Groves face and his new "…do it tomorrow…" outlook of life and the cracking of the screen to represent the point of no return and the possible damage caused by his experience with his distorted change of mind set.

The Trip really is an exemplary work of the nineteen sixties youth counterculture philosophy of turn on, tune in and drop out, which, in the end, in hindsight, just may have been an exploitation movie after all. Just as Messer's Hopper, Fonda and Nicholson new how to exploit the new age thinking to their advantage they new how to adapt to this new age philosophy oh so well. Coming down from this trip to dwell on their next exploits and with experience under their belts, they may need to spread their wings, perhaps maybe an easy ride across country may be forthcoming? A different sort of trip, perhaps?

La Jetée (1962)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Times' destiny and Man's inevitability meet on La jetée., 10 January 2010

Time travel, still images, a past, present and future and the aftermath of World War III. This is Chris Marker's (b. 1921) tale of a man, a slave, sent back and forth, in and out of time, to find a solution to the world's fate. To replenish its decreasing stocks of food, medicine and energies, and in doing so, resulting in a perpetual memory of a lone female, death and past events that are recreated on an airports jetée.

Having war's victors, the dominate intellectuals, and its slaves, living underground in the Parisian tunnels that now constitute post nuclear life. Picking guinea pigs for travel, where madness and death are the past results of this experiment, to find this ravaged presents' solution. It is here that memory is exploited.

With the use of black and white photography, using a 35mm Pentax Spotmatic single lens reflex camera, as its attribute to this visual montage's narrative projecting the grim, dark surreal world of this lifeless underground world, that in contrast, depicts, too, in black & white stills, a vibrant past that only memory can now dictate.

Based around the principle of paradox, assisted by the future to replenish the past, only if the future may be reached can the past create its own future. The (boy's) past that intermingles with the present-future (the man's) and its coming together of destiny. Each shot's length is destined by the coinciding narrative as told by the storyteller, and too, depending on the present circumstance for the need to transcend the plot; some quick bursts of shots of around two to three seconds to a more sedate five second shots and the occasional longer still set to a background of light classical music to further enhance the mood of trepidation and hope.

La jetée is a superb work of art and has tones of sorrow, regret, happiness, love, life and death all transcending from the images of this photoplay. This is science fiction, as too, the extremely intelligent, plot driven Twelve Monkeys (1995) is also a reborn La jetée, from the mind of Terry Gilliam, and is much recommended in the wake of viewing its original source here, via the visual of photography in the style of storyboarding. Intriguing as it is; this may seem minimalist, experimental art but goes much deeper as the imagery and plot unfolds. La jetée becomes the epitaph for the destruction of the human soul, with its clashes of life and death and consequence and actions, man has reached a point where there can be no turning back.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The Who Rock; The Who Roll; The Who Re-mix., 4 January 2010

The major concern with history is that it tends to repeat itself. What we have seen already, with the 1979 Who biopic The Kids Are Alright and with other media outlets such as literature, film, television, the internet and of course word-of-mouth, for example, is that a pattern of over-saturation soon emerges, and in turn, the transparency of the whole exercise finally comes to its pinnacle.

Adding the Who's latest addition "Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who" to its fold of historical repartee, at least, can only stretch the limits of rhetoric so far as to simply wonder what can be said that already has not been said. Murray Lerner, some years back, when researching this project, set up a website for the soul purpose of gaining untamed and fresh anecdotes and visual oddities from far and wide. Searching for an untapped source of Who experience to place in his, then, up-and-coming Who biopic.

Here we have once more Messrs Daltrey and Townshend (drummer Moon died at the age of 32 in 1978 and bassist Entwistle passed away in 2002 aged 57) reminiscing on past accolades, adventures and just the sheer wonder of it all. With an interesting start, we see London's brunt-out and bombed streets that were World War II and the connection of an era of poverty and a monochrome childhood. All nostalgic and relevant as setting the seeds of attitude and rebellion to a world of trad-jazz in the wake of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra etc. All this feels relevant but the history lesson is only placed in a different perspective, and, we remain in the same zone, to fill the empty coffers of time that this historical event must dictate.

This project, we should realise, is for the new audience, the new millennium, multimedia in-crowed of Who fans who have had the pleasure of their reformed concerts, their twenty-four hour, seven days a week internet broadcasts and their "MTV" appearances to headlining Europe's largest festival, during 2007, which is Glastonbury. New images not yet seen, mixed with old, and opinions not yet heard are brought together in a perpetual and wonderful montage spliced together to create an effective dossier of information already available in other formats, only here, we have special guest speakers, friends and family adding their thoughts and opinions.

Youth culture picks up during the early sixties and we are introduced to the group's member's infatuation with the US' Blues and then the introduction of Keith Moon. Taking on a more verbally educational stance, this film is less visual montage, like its predecessor of 1979, and we are left in the room of these teachers' and their clips of nostalgia. A contemporary audience will find this riveting as too, no doubt, fans of a longer standing who know already of the line-up and name changes in their early career, as too, their affiliation of the English Mod youth sub-culture. Original footage of rioting, dancing and scooter riding gangs here are an asset to this documentary and adds a characteristic and texture like no other, this is a necessity to the heritage of both the Who and the swinging sixties. For a more realistic look into this lifestyle of sixties gang-culture, one should see the Who film, of 1979, Quadrophenia, based on and around the 1973 concept album of the same name. What has excelled this film more than anything else is the added footage, the rarely screened performance, of the band when known as The High Numbers during August of 1964 at London's The Railway Hotel; this is truly the diamond in the crown of this project and is worth watching for this reason alone.

This film works well in the process of education and entertainment and looks at all aspects of their development, to the beginnings, to the destructive days of the sixties etc. What is questionable, is with all that has come and gone with Who media there are new statements and reasoning's that have never been heard. How much has never been spoken and how much is fabricated is subjective: filling the void with rock 'n roll rhetoric, perhaps?

Respect goes out to their long, arduous work schedule throughout their long career, and nothing exemplifies this more than the Joe McMichael & 'Irish' Jack Lyons book "The Who Concert File", listing every show, gig and concert in the Who's entire lifespan. This way of life is too picked on by the film, but what is, and seems the norm, most curious is the missing archive footage of the managers Peter Meaden and Kit Lambert.

Trying its best not to repeat the insights of The Kids Are Alright, it does regurgitate some already known historical facts, but it also stands very firmly as an individual on centre stage to perform, transcend and perpetuate the myth that is The Who. Paul Crowder and Murray Lerner have done an excellent job with the material given, and with skills combined, have now turned over the thirty-three and a third, and with this fresh, re-mixed approach, made a fitting epitaph to this epic, amazing journey that is The Who.

Them! (1954)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The spark that ignited a revolution in the genre of science-fiction., 3 January 2010

Them! is a grand movie with a growing threat that is set in the here and now of the nineteen-fifties age of nuclear science reality and science-fiction. Combing the two, we have a wonderful fable of just how this new dawn of the Atomic age can go awry. The interesting point here is this film takes and uses actual events, such as the atomic weapon testing at New Mexico's military base, the White Sands Missile Range, and references the first nuclear bomb test: Trinity, during 1945. Later that same year the US proceeded to use this new age weaponry to end World War II by atomising both Japans Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Adding fact's aftermath of nuclear fallout in the New Mexico desert and fictions theories of the possibilities of its consequence, this George Worthing Yates (1901 - 1975) story, who too penned It Came from Beneath the Sea, and the directional skills of Gordon Douglas (1907 - 1993) has given a sizable account of a vision of man's need to advance and conquer. Ironically, this may not be the case, for what crawls out of the ashes of progress is a far greater danger than man's own destructive minds. Nature has claimed her right to survive and with it, a man-made travesty of epic proportions.

Ants, victim of the Trinity bomb test nine years previously, have grown to a gigantic size and are now roaming the desert of New Mexico. Rummaging for food and killing innocent locals in their path, it is up to the local police force, an FBI agent and two entomologists to take control and save man from his own fate.

While this genre can be seen, at worst, to be clichéd and predictable, Them! is the poplar-opposite, and in particular Edmund Gwenn's (1877 - 1956) role as Dr. Harold Medford; the anchor that holds down an intelligent script with strong characters delivering. Its plot is, via its vigour of seriousness, most tense and believable because of the strength of the narrative and cast, in this, it becomes more than an episode of fantasy but an exercise in education, again, fact over fiction.

However, the mainstay of this feature is, without doubt, the ants themselves, with a menace and structure to pride this genre, and with their own unique eerie soundtrack, they more than deliver the inevitable flair of terror across the screen. They are the newcomers in the world of analogical radiation defects and indifferent, ignorant human altered beasts that would soon burst onto the big screen, such as Ishirô Honda's 1954 analogical antiwar masterpiece Godzilla to the 2006 South Korean creature feature Gwoemul.

The town's folk of Los Angeles are warned of the threat and a curfew is announced, in reflection, would the baying public have ever known of this predicament if the queen had not escaped in this marvellous film of post-war technological advancement and the reality of Government repression in the form of keeping witnesses "contained"? Mental wards and hospitalisation is the remedy here, in the name of national security "…is the Cold War getting hot?…" asks one needy reporter; the pace quickens with the delivery of martial law and the atmosphere then driven onto the street of Los Angeles and within her sewers and waterways. The ants have taken over the asylum and it is here the film turns into paranoia and cold war rhetoric; these are no Reds-under-the-bed but an alternative invading army.

Science fiction films such as Them! and its companions' as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) for example, are all high-end entertainment and well structured in the art metaphorical rhetoric. This was an era that was rich in ideas and new territories, albeit nuclear at least, plucking into the psyche of a new world order of conformity and control and the East - West relations race was on, to propagate belief that one side knew better than the other. With this new age cinema came new age scenarios in the shape and form of the science fiction, nuclear, film.

Them! comes across more of a warning, a caution, and the friendly optimist of this new age thinking, it's all here for the taking, but just how will the future unfold and to what extent will the human race develop this new technology? Them! may have been the forefather, but with films as the graphic, and banned then not shown on British television until 1985, The War Game (1965 BBC documentary), Planet of the Apes (1968) to Mad Max (1979) and The Omega Man (1971), the future has never looked so pessimistic.

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Tune into the mind-games of the New World Order., 15 December 2009

It is a curio this one, the "The Midwich Cuckoos" (1957) as the novel is named and penned by John Wyndham (1903 - 1969) is a science fiction story, and too, a film that unsettles the quaint rustic life of rural England. Things are not what they seem here, with the going-ons with the village women and the blond-haired children born asunder, there is something here to delve into, but at the same time, there is nothing to show for it. We are intrigued by the unexplainable shenanigans of how the men folks' women all conceive and give birth at the very same time to identical, charismatic children months after the villagers' suddenly fell where they were into deep sleep. A perimeter that if caught inside its radius and being of the fertile female gender, an awkward if not embarrassing predicament of explanation would be forthcoming.

It is all very suspenseful, as to say it follows act after act that goes deeper and deeper into the progression of the lives of the unfortunate ladies and their more than perplexed husbands. Also, what is to come is more than inquisitive as to why these newly born children are almost identical to each other in respects to intelligence, appearance and being. As the story advances so does the discouraging rate of attitudes of bewilderment and resentment within the village, we are giving an insight to the reactions and results that are often disturbing both by adult as too by mysterious child. Then to find that these strange children are not singled out but in fact are the result of a strange occurrence of sleeping villages and super intelligent children conceived and born from other parts of the world in the same manner that only deepens the narrative.

Anxiety and concerns are what rolls the plot alone, with George Sanders (1906 - 1972) as the lead role and surrogate, scientist father to what can be deemed as the alpha-male child; it is a battle of science over military control and which line is crossed to keep these children sedated or to be used as a valuable learning tool. Mind over muscle wins the debate, literally and perpetually. This is all very charming and lends itself open to many interesting debates on just how were these women impregnated, how in fact does the children's growth rate, physically and intellectually, progress so quickly, and are these blond-haired children in the fullest sense alien? Or, more to the point is the human race now devolving to such an extent that our own minds, intellect and bodies have finally become redundant? By standing next to this, possibly, next advancement in human development we now seem so primitive to these super-beings who may have evolved to the next level of humanity. The mind here is dominant, there seems no physical response or need, either for lovemaking to conceive or to fight-off foes, it is the mind that has taken the next level. The ever-baited audience are, ironically, left to make up their own minds as to these mind-probing questions and the narrative leaves no room for answers, not insofar as it cannot but it simply does not. The tension and anticipation is ever present and more than ominous with the strange behaviour of the children and the spite they endeavour, with the feeling of a hidden threat lurking, waiting and with disastrous consequence.

There is nothing of face value to fill the void of questions while the lack of answers also heightens the level of danger of the unknown, we are, too, placed in the position of these poor villagers who must concede to their fears, cower in silence and question what not yet has been answered. Such is this paradox of its failings and triumphs of this great little film. It is a strange tale this one, and it does make one a little curious as to whom, why and for what are the gains are these children and the ever so demanding needs on their very survival. There is something lurking here, lurking in the unknowing, lurking under the skin and sinisterly lurking behind the eyes of these blond-haired children. With this, it has only exposed itself as a quaint film of mild interest and meagre involvement but also void of real content; visually, emotionally or dimensionally, while not in the shallow or tedium perspectives. In this direction it seems to be imploding in any substantial gain that toward its end it promises to deliver more than it can offer.

9 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
More atmosphere in space?, 4 December 2009

The Descent: Part 2 has delivered us from evil with rather obvious outcomes that can be seen coming from fathoms deep. It is the continuation of Neil Marshall's claustrophobic, tight hunt and stalk fest, but with Jon Harris's potholing adventure, there just seems to be too much guided light in the narrative. If there were a plot, it was buried with, too, the lack of any meaningful purpose. It is just a rescue party getting deeper into the mire in the land of the anaemic crawlers and with no character depth and only a taint of direction to head for, it really does stumble along and all too easily, it falls too much down the slippery slope of predictability. This in turn takes away any meaning of suspense and then proceeds to cancel any true meaning of horror. It may be frightening but it just is not horrific in both the physical and the mental state. This is without doubt more descending than ascending in all aspects style, content and direction.

As there should be in any self-respecting horror film, the heart stoppers and jump-scares are adequate to enhance the mood and to remind you just exactly where we are, and the crawlers are, as ever, a visual treat to this genre. However, it falls in on itself with the lack of any connection between the players, and their viewers', too. It is all very soap opera in the sense that no matter where you join the show, you can instantly watch the show from where you start and there is no concern for what you may have missed previously.

This is too highlighted in the fact that there are no opening credits, apart from its title it's straight into the thick of things and this does make it feel rather pushed and not at all like a film but a ninety-four minute let's-get-on-with-it-while-we-are-here, again, what development can be addressed in only ninety-four minutes? Like our white skinned wrinklies, The Descent: Part 2 is not the living experience one would hope but its only purpose is to exist. Nothing more. Nothing less.

This is where I am saddened by this whole experience; I would very much like this to have been the fright fest I would had wished for, but I am afraid that Jon Harris's (editor for Eden Lake (2008), The Calcium Kid (2004) and Snatch. (2000)) experience as editor on the The Descent (2005) may not have rubbed-off onto his directorial debut here. With belief suspended, the narrative can still beg too many questions and because of this becomes too distracting for its part here, as it is too stifled for any dexterity to emerge in as much a style of somewhat lazy writing in what can seem all too hollow a journey in this claustrophobic, ghoulish nightmare.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A telling of fate and a courageous young woman, daughter, sister, lover and HIV AIDS activist., 24 November 2009

This true-life story is based not only on the short life of Ms. Alison (Ali) Gertz (1966 - 1992) but also on the birth and its aftermath of ignorance concerning the then unknown disease AIDS. Contracting HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) while only sixteen years of age, it was not until her early twenties that the AIDS virus (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) took hold.

While concentrating, here, on the fears and the unknowing of this disease, we see Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986)), as an, in mind and spirit, healthy activist and forerunner of the dangers and possibilities of what may be lurking just around the corner, for anyone, from any class and social background.

Tom McLoughlin follows the slow deterioration of test after test, result after result with an atmosphere of dread, but in a positive light as possible and a determination to let the viewer down slowly, very slowly, as the final diagnoses is realised. By this time, as the end of act one is, too, realised, the light, at the end of the tunnel, is also slowly turned out; we are now entering a new phase in the life of an AIDS sufferer. Fatal Love was released some five months before Ms. Gertz's passing, and around the late 'eighties and early 'nineties her mother formed The Alison Gertz Foundation and "Concerned Parents for AIDS Research". Even in the early 'nineties this disease was slowly becoming less of a stigma, less of a taboo. Particularly with mainstream and Indie films themed on or around AIDS: Philadelphia (1993), And the Band Played On (1993), All About My Mother (1999) and 3 Needles etc, and with activists' such as Ms. Gertz, and films as Fatal Love, this is the result of the legacy that carries on after her.

Beautifully scripted and portrayed to the point beyond empathy, as seen with both parents Carol (Lee Grant) and Jerry Gertz (Martin Landau), and the agonising reality of a young candle blowing out so early. Lee Grant and Martin Landau's performance as these two souls in search of answers, in search of results and in search of help is highly commendable and the frustrations brought on by the sheer pressure of the mammoth task before them is one seen with pity, understanding and respect.

This production is of the highest quality and never does it feel dishonourable and judgmental in its approach to either victim or of those living beyond its consequence. Its narrative is delivered with such humble regards to such an extent that it raises the bar and highlights the fact that this disease is open to, once more, any social background. This friendly face of awareness here is also blameless on the side of the tracks where AIDS is most predictable and the "self inflicted lifestyles" of the drug addicts', homosexuals, for example, are too portrayed as human, as victim and as sufferers' of fate. It's almost a calming effect, with its light visual tones, its upper middle-class environment, but don't be fooled into thinking all is well behind the white-collar established elite. Its steady, but awakening narrative, is the friendly face of awareness that feels sanitised but also important and impossible to want to ignore.

It's Ms. Gertz's activities to, certainly not to preach, not to condemn, but to assist in the efforts' of a safe and healthy, prolonged, life. Told in flashback with the use of darkened and whitened fade-outs with a thumping heartbeat across the soundtrack and a emotionally stressed scenario that makes looking back at those times more of a retrospective of what may now seem like a Stone Age mentality that was the nineteen eighties. Tom McLoughlin's use of Molly Ringwald, essentially a child of the eighties herself as seen through the films of John Hughes (1950 - 2009); this was an exceptional and innovative move.

Molly Ringwald has finally grown-up and it is here we see her dependence of the love of her family and the, sadly inevitable, crumbling friendships, that come and go, building walls and breaking hearts. The "midnight bathroom scene" is immensely disturbing to witness as it is horrifying to try to understand her plight and anguish. Charles Bornstein's editing here and, again, Mr. McLoughlin's beautiful visual pacing and its light but heavy score brings home the reality harsher than one would appreciate. Then it is no small wonder too, that with this film comes an Edit Nomination Award for Best Edited Television Special for both Charles Bornstein and Sidney Wolinsky. These two editors have spliced a priceless work together, with the combined efforts of director, cast, writer et al. Considering its themes and contents here it has been done in a sensitive manner as it has in its delivery of themes of mistrust, paranoia, suicide and wisdom, death and hope.

6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A fox's tale of charm, wit and non-stop motion., 23 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990) wrote some truly beautiful children's stories, for example: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda (and who scripted films as You Only Live Twice (1967) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)), all made into film, and this too, now includes his 1970 creation "Fantastic Mr. Fox".

It is the story of one Mr. Fox and his wild-ways of hen heckling, turkey taking and cider sipping, nocturnal, instinctive adventures. Now married and with cub, he has to put his wild days behind him and do what fathers do best: be responsible. He is too rebellious, he is too wild and he is going to try "just one more raid" on the three nastiest, meanest and fox hating farmers that are Boggis (Brian Cox), Bunce (Hugo Guinness) and Bean (Michael Gambon).

The direction here is suburb, extremely humorous characters and personalities that project a warm, charismatic, optimistic adventure for all ages. There are chuckle-out-loud as there are certainly laugh-out-loud moments here, the close-ups of Mr. Fox's "grin" and his tiny friends "vacant staring eyes" are worth their weight in gold. This too, is a visually interesting film that has been done with a Nikon D3 35mm digital single-lens reflex camera and stop-motion techniques that give a wonderful cinema experience. It is a far away cry from the classic and golden days of Charles -Émile Reynaud (1844 - 1918), the pioneer of animated film, and Ray Harryhausen (b. 1920) et al, and it works a treat.

Okay, only Mr. Dahl's story, apparently, is used during what we can call the "middle section" of the film and with added new parts both front and rear, this may just explain why, with the final "toast" by Mr. Fox, there seems to be a serious note, or message, that concerns "survival". This may seem too pessimistic, too out of place for this narrative, this may be the director telling his audience the contemporary message, that it really is a dog-eat-dog world and that we have to do what needs to be done to "survive".

Take away the gloss, and all Mr. Fox is, and lives by, are his basic instincts to kill and steal in order to survive. A cynical, and possibly, a pessimistic approach, but I do believe that this may be the narratives undercurrent message here. Also, there seems to be a very "un-Englishness" feel about this film, from the very start we are delving into a high-octane cast, and soundtrack, that is all too obvious in its origins, yes, the farmers are from the other side of the pond, but it is not they who are the selling point. On the positive, this alone cannot distract from the charming, rich and freshness feel of Fantastic Mr. Fox, it is a breath of fresh air, literally, and it is also one more credit to the writing of one Mr. Fantastic Roald Dahl.

115 out of 179 people found the following review useful:
Enjoy it for what it is: A picture show and nothing more., 15 September 2009

The Picture of Dorian Gray, as penned by the Irish wit Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), is a tale of high-brow debauchery and limitless pleasures of body and soul and the corruption, by one Lord Henry Wotton, of the young, handsome and soon to be narcissistic 19th century rock 'n roll hell-raiser Dorian Gray.

Ealing Studios have translated Wilde's controversial novel into a celluloid den of iniquity that somehow comes across as rather shallow. Like the characters seen here too; it seems that as a work of symbolic gesture of how the upper classes conduct their sordid lifestyle of hypocrisy, deceit and lust it lacks any deep and thoughtful intrigue that any good 19th century Gothic horror story should be.

To fully understand the ethics of a Victorian London that Oscar Wilde has so wonderfully reflected with his novel here, we see, too, with this latest interpretation using, as Wilde may have done, the picture purely as a metaphorical means. Yes, we see the selling of souls here and the lamb to the slaughter and the hedonistic teachings of Lord Wotton, but toward the end, the whole sordid affair becomes predictable.

Penned with an undercurrent of realism and too fantasy of the love of sin. It's a dark, dirty, dingy setting of a self-indulgent Victorian London that we are lead to believe is prim and proper on the surface but lurking just below this weak, temperate society lies pure greed, greed for experience, experience that will transcend the mind, body and soul to the wondrous dealings of what life has to offer. For, as always, a price, a price both Oscar Wilde and Dorian Gray would pay the highest sacrifice.

It is with a taint of sorrow that this latest performance too has paid a price too high, sensationalism over content, ironies aside, the film seems too concerned to show the sordid details of this lifestyle and its inhabitants'. It lingers on too far in the bedrooms of London and strays too far from the mental anguish that may have been. We see the trouble mind of our young (looking) man but we see not enough of his fears, regrets, sorrows and repentance, which are cast aside and squandered. Welcome to the 21st century Mr. Wilde.

By the time the chimes of time are echoing in the distance we have Dorian fading into the far reaches of the eternal abyss of the afterlife. With all the time in the world we are still wanting more to feed our palates, it's all to aesthetically pleasing, but at the same time oh so unrewarding, a taster we are given but the full flavour we are, regrettably, spared.

This too may have its target audience and in so having picked its target out it may have trouble standing the test of time, due to its lack of wit, lack of diversity and a lack of daring and commitment of its original source. It is a sad loss that such a literary work of historical meaning and wealth should have been robbed of its qualities.

Moon (2009)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Phasing the mind with lunacy., 3 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Robinson Crusoe in space? Well, apparently not, this is far deeper than the basic isolationist narrative. Set on the surface of the sleeping satellite, this is as far reaching from home as it could be. For all things indifferent, this plot could well have been set in a deep mine, the highest tower or the most offshore island, but the moon it is, it makes for a fitting and just location for paranoia, confusion and lunar lunacy.

At first, it seems that we have a Silent Running (1972) scenario here, minus the crews, but as we delve deeper into the life of Sam Bell, it is apparent that it is he alone who has the arduous task of keeping his strength and sanity at the forefront of his mind, body and soul. As this space flick progress, it becomes apparent that it has more in common with Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), albeit similar internal settings, the singular space crew and the infamous independent thinking robot assistant, here called GERTY as opposed to 2001's HAL. It is all in a setting and scale that can be very quickly assessed that this parallel world to 2001 is only as strong as its own blend of involvement in this genre.

It's a fine visual environment that when seen on the big screen has its impressive moments that any half-decent sci-fi movie can throw at you, a moderate set-piece and the wide shots of the lunar surface and that of the far distant earth does not miss the mark. It may not be as deep and as rich as Sir Ridley Scott's mother-ship we see in Alien (1979) or complex as Daiana Win Jônzu's house with legs in Studio Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle (2004) but Moon is centred not on aesthetics and wonderment but inner sanctum.

The wonderful tone here taps into the subject of isolation and a slow uncertain doubt that brings on the traits of a lifestyle of living alone for three years and the breakdown of the mind and impending madness. However, all is not what it seems, we know that Sam Bell works for the "Industry" and that his three year work schedule has just two weeks to finalise, but at the same time his mental state is, strangely, becoming more unstable, more degenerative as this two week wait is coming to its end.

To confuse matters still, there is the arrival of a doppelgänger, the walking, talking reflective self that has materialised from thin-air, a second body with identical features, both internally and physically exact. Who is this second Sam Bell? How did he arrive at this moon station? Why is he here? More importantly, why does he look, sound and behave exactly as the first Sam Bell? Probing questions for those who think themselves sane and in control. This, the underlined narrative, is what Moon sets out to achieve, are we truly in control of our destiny, our lives, and more to the point, our own demise? It is with solace that Moon has the answer, from turning away from self-pitying loneliness and turning outward to rejoin the human-race by relying on dedicated alliances of instincts of survival and comradeship. The moon is a dead, soulless satellite, and as metaphors go, it works well, the connection between lunar life and lunar (Luna, Latin for moon) thoughts is a fine line.

Reconnecting back to the human-race and denouncing the industrial age and its technologies, and all that it entails, is that binds us, and at worst, bleeds the soul dry of individuality and purpose. This too is the under current of Moon, a small claustrophobic setting set against the vastness of the human spirit. To survive. To live. To be human.

This blurring of the soul into a Fritz Lang Metropolis (1927) with man and machine, George Orwell's "Animal Farm" of man and pigs and Steven Spielberg's reworking of the Carlo Collodi's classic Pinocchio fable with Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001), where puppet instinctively knows the difference between controlled actions and free will shows that the eroding self from conformity and complacency can, in time, do irreversible damage. Moon shows the positive aspects of life, even in the darkest, furthest regions of space, mind, body and soul.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
It's funny, it's fun, it's the Ferrell & Friel Show., 10 August 2009

Originally a children's television show from 1974 to 1976, theoretically too, this is a mirrored concept of the Lost in Space episodes where space is swapped for gravity, it is in principle, the same. We see the older version of the Marshall family's adventures, with the past Marshall gang consisting of palaeontologist father Rick and son and daughter Will and Holly, fighting to get back home. We now see this contemporary version which sees three different protagonists such as Dr. Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell), English ex Cambridge student Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) and hillbilly Will Stanton (Danny McBride) also fighting to survive the deadly environment of the Lost. Time warp fanatic Rick Marshall takes Stan and Holly to a new world of danger, dinosaurs and big bug-eyed lizard people while trying to find their way back home and, too, save the universe and in doing so saving his reputation.

Brad Silberling (Director of Casper - 1995 and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - 2004) has given Mr. Ferrell his usual farcical persona, this dumb but bright, this brave but cowardly, this man but childlike Dr. Marshall is typical Ferrell. While not a script-laden plot, the comic charm we see here is delivered with easy, light and memorable laugh-out-moments, with a great back-up crew as Ms. Friel and Danny McBride delivering their own unique repartee and the dinosaur with brains, brawn and personality it all adds up to a very funny film indeed.

Anna Friel's (Rogue Trader - 1999) role is also extremely refreshing, proving that she too can cut the mustard with perfection of comic timing and personality. It's not a bad role to add to her résumé, this crossover role may inject more light into her career, after her television episodes Pushing Daisies (2007 - 09) and Ms. Friel's other film roles too, this should boost her forward. With a good script and strong Direction, without doubt, can only transcend her to better and greater heights.

Fantasy - adventure films such as The Land That Time Forgot (1975), At the Earth's Core (1976) and Mysterious Island (1961) are at the centre of the narrative here: scientific advancement, adventure, danger and exotic beasts. With the puerile tone, some interesting dinosaur CGI The Land of the Lost really is a breath of fresh air that that can be inhaled by all ages.

Fun is the key word here and the interaction between Ferrell and the T-Rex is stupendously funny, but it is this connection that fills the screen with a good comedy duo that this film will be best remembered. Feeding of each other, like Scrat and his Acorn, it all adds to the flavour of the flair that is Will Ferrell. The Land of the Lost comes across as daft but fun, silly but witty and amusing but never dull, with its three-piece cast this is no stooge of a movie but a triple whammy of a laugh-out-hilarity film.

G-Force (2009)
11 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
"This is an EX guinea pig movie!", 4 August 2009

This new Walt Disney feature, yes, this is a Walt Disney production as it is a Disney distribution, has to be the biggest exercise in pointlessness in movie-making, period. There used to be a time when the Disney moniker stood for quality, originality, intrigue and fun, sadly, with the help of a tiny group of guinea pigs this quality of leadership has withered away.

Competing with the kiddie market with animated / live action films as Warner Bros. Cats & Dogs (2001), Universal Pictures Small Soldiers (1998) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) from Amblin Entertainment (and the Disney Studios too) for example, this, G-Force is far beyond what is to be expected from this iconic studio. There was a time when Disney's reputation took them far and wide with respectability, with the animated / live action film as Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), for example, there was an era when quality mattered.

Kids should find this entertaining, fun even, but this is a film that should be seen on the "Children Television Channel", as this certainly is not one for the older kids, the attention span may just be tested, and older kids just may find this a rather dull affair. There just is not enough happening here to warrant any age older than this to possibly enjoy it, there are other films on the market, to date, to take the older kids to.

With this latest add-on, we see a script that is far too monotonous, far too unrewarding in entertainment value and exceedingly too uncaptivating, for any mind over the age of seven to say the least. Under this age range, it is the sum of its parts that sells this film, fluffy rodents that play James Bond and in turn, too, are searching for the reason of being.

The Disney ethos of the lost finding themselves, the virtuous crashing through the plight of evil and the traditions of family and friends are, once again, as expected, at the centre of it all, an ever perpetual trait that is still ever present. However, the message here still feels wafer thin, lost in a sea of mundane mediocrity that seems only to plug the gaps of a poor script, weak plot and extremely tiresome film overall. Take away the rodents and we are seriously left with an empty and, again, pointless excuse in film making. By taking it back to the pet shop whence it came and demanding a refund, and in doing so, you may find other more rewarding works of art.

Eden Lake (2008)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Read any good books lately? Somehow, I doubt it., 18 July 2009

England's angry, illiterate, bored, cycling and jobless underclass go playing in the woods and play host to a pair of unwilling victims in what can be best described as extreme, inhuman behaviour. Set in a similar vain as John Boorman's classic claustrophobic Deliverance (1972), Susan Montford's While She Was Out (2008) and David Moreau's Them (2006), Eden Lake has joined the ranks of a new society, and in this particular case, a new England and a subculture of hate. Alan Clarke's skinhead drama Made in Britain (1982) and the notorious and banned borstal for young offenders' film Scum (1979) to Shane Meadows coming of age drama This is England (2006) are fine examples of the angst, frustrated underclass of England's green fields and city streets. Eden Lake is no exception.

Shocking as it is brutal, disturbing as is it is unforgiving, this is James Watkins first time at full time direction and has shown that he has an eye for tension and drama. Setting the pace with a loving middle-class couple on a weekend break in the picturesque Eden Lake, who, by unfortunate chance, then veers into the nightmare holiday from hell.

This too, can be seen with parallels to William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, peer pressure sets the tone and with extreme bloody violence that fills the air with rancid language and bloody murder. The reason that Eden Lake works is that it falls upon the realism of the narrative and the very possibility that this worse case scenario could actually happen. I mean, who cannot look through their living room window and not see this debased youth culture walking and spiting on the streets of "local town"?

The beauty of Eden Lake is that it brings home the message that the ever-changing society we share has a never changing principle of frustrations and anxiety that can lead to scorn that can so very easily ignite into bitterness. It is the same struggles, and with poor education, poor housing, and poor futures that turn into outlets as drug use, alcohol use and for some, violence. Eden Lake has captured this explicitly to exploit a society that in the end knows only too well that from their conception exploitation is all they have ever felt. It is a shocking movie of the sign of the times that one can only prey that time will change for the better, but, deep down, I doubt it.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Merlin's Beard! How you've grown., 18 July 2009

As we have seen with the opening sequence of Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and its metaphor for reaching puberty, the experimenting stages of Order of the Phoenix (2007) has the team in discussions of love and snogging. Now, the Half Blood Prince has truly set the foundations for the Harry Potter clan to now fully transcended adolescences by taking the next step that is young adulthood. It has been a long and sweet journey since the oh so sweet little darlings of The Philosopher's Stone (2001) first stepped into the limelight. The Harry Potter world has finally flowered.

This, the Half-Blood Prince has the love potions flowing deep into the arms of the now young adults hearts. It had to happen, we know this, and why not here, and why not now? It has to be addressed and finally getting it out into the open and out of its system is, frankly, a relief. The symbolic, sexual innuendo's, metaphors are present and with a little imagination make this, the sixth adventure, a film that uses tact with a light touch of subtlety that has no reason to hide behind vulgarity and comes across safe for a family viewing. Look behind the magic, the fun, the adventure, the daring, the frolics and it is there, it is all very safe and precautious enough for good family entertainment.

With the usual crew and the added talents from one Jim Broadbent (Prof. Horace Slughorn) and a returning beauty that is Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, as the young eleven year old sinister, inspiring evil to be Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort. There is a refined class of talent that brings the Half-Blood Prince to an exceptionally high standard, as with the Potter name throughout, which is expected with this pedigree of experience, from all sides. With wonderful cinematography with shadings and contrasts setting mood rather than its script, in this area, that sets a rather typical pace from this calibre.

It all makes for a green-screen, CGI adventure that too has matured to be more precise, more detailed and more fetching, the typical style, formula has, again, a slow build-up to yet another anticlimax finale. It's all well and good, with each build-up comes what is rather a less than average ending, a closure if you wish, the chase is always better than the catch were the Harry Potter finales are concerned, falling a little flat is less than adequate for such an adventurous legend.

Of course, with two mediums such as pen and celluloid there are always differences and comparisons to debate, and as a work projected onto the Big Screen, it falls into an experience that, with its running time, becomes easy watching for the target audience it reaches out too. It is a highlife of wands and wonderful excitement for the young audience and as fantasy and magic, they shall not be disappointed.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
There, but not quite at The Top., 6 July 2009

Here we have the criminal class and their underworld exploits that has been cast into the public arena since the heady days of Al Capone's St. Valentine's Day massacre. Media lead and sectionalised for maximum effect, these modern-day outlaw cowboys' were the new antihero's that the victims of the great American depression, Americas bleakest time and her at her most naked and vulnerable, needed and craved.

It was Warner Bros. and one Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar (1931) that opened the floodgate to a new genre of film: the gangster movie. Built over the years in categories' such as "classic" (The Public Enemy), "social background" (Angels With Dirty Faces), "film noir" (The Maltase Falcon), and the "historical reconstruction" etc, etc. It is now well and truly above reproach to say that it has earned its right into the film history vaults.

Public Enemies has the historical reconstruction label put upon it, and this latest outing has John Dillinger facing the music. Played by Johnny Depp with cool persona, who does quite a good job in leaving the viewer feeling a little too distant and unattached. Unlike his counterparts, Cagney and Robinson, for example, from the classic period, who oozed psychotic menace, has this modern day Dillinger looking more sedate and, at times, a sympathetic character. This is a man who, by reputation and vocation, was a bank robbing killer, here, Michael Mann has concentrated on the love angle between Dillinger and Billie Frechette, played by French beau ideal Marion Cotillard (La vie en rose - 2007).

John Dillinger was an evil man, but this feels that the epicentre of his crime wave has been by-passed by a love angle. Yes, we know that every good gangster needs a gangster's moll: Clyde's Bonnie, Tony Montana's Elvira Hancock and Tom Powers' Gwen Allen to name a few, while the work was being done these leading ladies were sidelined, this, Mr. Mann's Public Enemies feels more Kit and Holly's Badlands of 1973.

The sets are fine and the outfits, well, Oscar buzz anyone? The category "Costume Design" would be missing a very sharp cut if this film's Colleen Atwood were not nominated; on the other hand, it is the actual feel of lack of depth and lack of connection from the major players here, insofar the lack of detail that is given, only a smattering of information of peoples' past is ever present. This, and at other points in the movie really does feel like a pure reconstruction, akin to Televisions crime programmes, than a piece of work based on the life of John Dillinger and his nemeses Melvin Purvis. This is where this work falls flat, yes, there is atmosphere, tension and interest but the "historical reconstruction" label feels like it is skimming the pages of a book rather than sitting down and reading the whole thing proper.

It really is a crime, and to be blunt, if there were ever a film that came across as deep in narrative, tense in action, sincere at heart then, for I, it has to be Terrence Malick's Badlands. Any gangster movie, too, that contains James Cagney: The Public Enemy (1931), The Roaring Twenties (1939) and White Heat (1949) and of course Howard Hawks' masterpiece Scarface (1932). Mr. Dillinger here certainly is on top of his world but he will never reach Top of the World!

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"Something different for the weekend, sir?", 5 July 2009

First impressions, in general, may count as the most important, but, as a movie, this first from the team that brought us the magnificent and refined narrative lead Airplane! three years later has most certainly given us the impression of more in the sense of what was to come rather than what had arrived.

Yes, this concept may not have been an all together new idea, comedy, parody sketches were so far in the past tense with the likes of televisions Monty Python's Flying Circus and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In that this The Kentucky Fried Movie may have been a brave venture to project such short works' onto the Big Screen.

With great vision and determination to fill a niche, it contains parody commercials, news broadcasting, breakfast T. V., television appeals and of course there is the sex. It's all so pre-PC, so care-free in its stance that it even, after all these years, has its laugh-out-loud moments and, also, its cringe worthy moments too, it hasn't aged all that well in presentation but the upbeat and, in today's perspective, daring gags still works well. We can, now in hindsight, see the fruitiness of this up and coming team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, unfortunately, at the time, no one else could or would.

It may be best to see this first venture sooner than its latter contenders, for it may take the shine off this work, you see, it had virtually no budget, even at an average $600,000 - $1,000,000 this was such a minuscule amount. Taking into account the despairing production and excessive amateurish feel, it was a highly successful Independent movie that grossed some several million dollars in return. It seemed that this was to be a fruitful venture after all, as with the televisions' sketches; this too, had big names dropping in, names such as George (James Bond) Lazenby, Bill (The Incredible Hulk) Bixby, Henry Gibson and Donald Sutherland to add a little weight to the proceedings. It also has the sense and style of Monty Pythons great parody sketch film of 1971 And Now for Something Completely Different.

On account, The Kentucky Fried Movie may have been seen much too late in the running order of things, been around the block, established itself as a cult status and given a healthy return, but, on first impressions it is dated, it is basic and it is crude to say the least. On reflection it is also fun, it is, or was, also that little bit daring and it is a respectable and honourable piece of work, that a bunch of people had believability in and took the chance, and won. Very impressionable.

1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A sheep in wolverine clothing., 30 June 2009

It's like duck season but with the valued and much appreciated paying public well and truly in the franchise players' sights, their souls and wallets are easy targets when it comes to mush such as this. Vulnerable minds, indifferent attitudes taking the bait; as long as the target audience lays itself across these impending railway lines, whom can we blame but ourselves, if this adaptable chameleonic gravy train rolls headfirst into success and prosperity? X-Men Origins: Wolverine sells itself off the back of the X-Men brand, this tiny, inferior drop-off is just dreadful; we have become adjusted to the cogs-in-the-machine that is unoriginality in motion, clichéd in progress and dull to the very core of its roots. The cogs that are drip-fed easy money back into its veins to resurrect the perpetual monotony of this fugue state as we leave the cinema hallways.

Easily lead to the slaughter, we sit and hope that there shall be redemption in texture, salvation in style and creativity in content, but alas, the Well has run dry and only dust and decay reside in these hollowed halls of the Hollywood machine, but, on the up-front, padded-out with the adage of; another day, another dollar. This is what you get for your Yen, Pound and Dollar. This is no bad policy in itself but at the expense of what in particular? This then gives us a choice, an experience to know the difference and having the means to make that difference.

The distant chimes of future spin-off's, with this particular brand of X-Men and their comrades' that is, are always ringing in our ears. Heading toward the proper direction, the correct amount of spin and heaps of hype, all looks well and healthy in the Hollywood camp, but is it the same-old-same-old reprise? Only we, with out ticket stub in hand, or in future, not as the case may be, shall be our only weapon that will be the spanner thrown in the works of this monocultural industry.

13 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Armitage Shanks, we have a job for you., 25 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What the hell is going on here? Rhetorical question aside, we can seriously see for ourselves that this second movie of the Transformers franchise is an abysmal rash on the arse end of a toilet bacteria doing the rounds in the U-bend of life. While losing its way in the wasting sewers of time that is the completely unnecessary and over-the-top eye-candy that populates this self-pleasing world of Kruger, Orci and Kurtzman, who, at the same time does more than insult the intelligence of their audience. Suggesting, for example, that by the time of reaching middle age, Judy Witwicky does not have the slightest clue as to what she has in her possession when taking young Sam to University. If this was placed into the final draft to execute giggles from its audience then it just could not have been a more stone cold sobering moment if it had not tried any harder. A pure ridiculous and unneeded moment.

The foresight of imagination in the auditorium is made more limited by the smoke and mirrors that are here to distract the basic observations of realities from the fanciful, comic puerile tendencies that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

With a slant on a propaganda front, the coupling of the Untied States and her ally Great Britain, it seems more than a smattering of topical eventualities' than two nations gunning for one common mechanical purpose. This, and the nauseating sequence of "families of war" and the more than coincidence of Mr. and Mrs. Witwicky being placed in the heart of the battle to project the unity of support and concern is slightly worrying. In that this movie seems that it has to pull itself in this direction of topical heartstrings that is, in the end result, more propaganda than entertainment.

Still, the world of intergalactic terrorism is prominent within this celluloid farce as is, too, the MTV news channels that regurgitate the similar dross with still endless results. The seamless narcissistic, ego boosting war machine we see here is ludicrous: blast 'em with all ya got! And just how "did" those U.S. tanks end up in the Egyptian desert? Think beyond the margin and it will transcend you into the wider appreciation of just how shallow and egocentric this second instalment is.

Apart from the shoddy continuity edit's, childish humour, DVD selling eye-candy and overall poor execution of plot, the cowardice of the use of foul language, if you are going to say IT then say IT; fear of losing its 12a (UK) certificate would seem more worrying than the fear of losing the third instalment war of cinema seats it seems.

Sadly, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has fallen, fallen into the arms that are Armitage Shanks, leaving you more than a little flushed, it will leave you empty, relieved and thanking god that that is all over.

Star Trek (2009)
1 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
The innovators' of science fiction would gasp in delight and astonishment., 22 May 2009

Star Trek is a thoroughly enjoyable science fiction flick brought to us by J.J. Abrams and crew, who is once more firmly in the directors' chair to revaluate and to reboot this classic television epic. It's first television airing, its Pilot, called The Cage, was Gene Roddenberry's (1921 - 1991) baby way back in the 1960s, repeats / reruns has cemented it to sci-fi cult status ever since.

Here, we are shown what is the re-introduction of the young U. S. S. Enterprise crew and how their paths conjoin and interact for the first time, to become what they are and who they are. What this instalment has going for itself is longevity, longevity to continue as the new phase, the new and bold frontier to perpetuate its myth and vitality. Star Trek has truly arrived in the 21st Century. And what an entrance.

While at the fork in the road, the point being, here, you do not have to be a follower of the Star Trek franchise to enjoy this feature film, taking it as the next step in its evolution or taking it independently as a splendid sci-fi movie, or in fact, both, is the appeal of this fresh and epic journey. As a "Star Trek" film its green-shoots, in time, will, no doubt, develop into what we have become accustomed to, or shall it? Does it need to? Shall we see the old characteristics coming to maturity? Or, shall we see a completely new direction to these space adventurers'? Time and space will be the better judge to these begging questions, but travelling down the second road, of a film of the science fiction genre, it is riveting stuff, and it is exactly what the Big Screen was created for.

Visually, it is extremely captivating and exciting movie watching. The tone is both friendly, humorous, fun and intriguing, a curiosity in which direction the roads shall take, but, deep down, we all know the outcome, as it is quick with pace as it is a stunning work of visual delight and excellence. Maximum science fiction eye candy that transcends both franchise and audience to greater expectations without a fault in its delivery or character analyses. This is action over philosophical thought, grunt over intellect, this is 21st century action hero space travel.

We, or more to the point, film and cinema, have come a long way since the old exploration days of Georges Méliès's Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon - 1902) and René Clair's Paris qui dort (At 3:25 - 1925). We are grateful to these innovators' of both film and science fiction, and too, to the great 1956 epic Forbidden Planet, all who have helped mould and create the shape of things that have come and what shall be. As too, it is J.J. Abrams's step into the unknown that is the 21st century Star Trek that too takes a bow and for this bold attempt and right step forward to continue at the helm of, possibly, the most famous spacecraft in science fiction history.

7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
It tried, but I didn't get no satisfaction., 28 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the heart of '60's swinging England there was Pirate Radio, while not a new idea altogether, in this fresh, vibrant decade which catered for the youth market and together, with the pop culture, pop art and Rock n' Roll, there simply had to be an outlet for its audiences' music. There was simply nothing else providing the youth market, via the concept of Medium Wave, the sounds that this upwardly mobile youth culture begged.

Of course, there were the likes of televisions Top of The Pops (1964 - 2006, BBC owned) and Ready Steady Go! (1963 - 1966), but the radio market had yet to be conquered by big business. This first came in the shape and form of Pirate Radio. We still see today the new age of Pirate Radio, which is land based and more urban and underground, this still has not stopped the authorities' trying their best to extinguish the flame of "free radio" in the name of, well, themselves. You see, one major problem that "free radio" proposes is that it "steals" airwave space and this costs, in form of lost revenue.

Today, we have the British film The Boat That Rocked, the fictitious account of a group of Disc Jockeys', playing 24-hour music off the shores of England. In addition, we have the British Government that tries to thwart their free radio spirit, by simply basing their argument, after extensive research, by the aptly named Government Official Twatt, that a small fishing boats crew "nearly drowned" because Radio Rock's signal had, unintentionally, interfered with the fishing crews signal for help.

What director, writer and producer Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994, The Black Adder and Mr. Bean, T. V. comedy series) has done here is given us a film that seems to have been pulled from a magician's hat. What we should be seeing is the white rabbit; sadly, we have a white elephant out of the hat, this feels more contrived and rigid, the cast be may be ensemble like, no egos here, but it is the poor assembly of an even poorer execution of script and depth. In equal measure, cast and crew have manned the lifeboats and set sail to a land of few-and-far-between gags, wit, and imagination.

With this cast, excluding Kenneth Branagh who shines, and out shines, as the ultra stiff Minister Dormandy, so much more could have be achieved for and by Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans and Philip Seymour Hoffman. While doing what they do best for Queen and Country, it all feels rather too clichéd, too animated and, again, very contrived. This is ever so obvious in the character Quentin, played by Bill Nighy, who "was" this character meant to be, was he "supposed" to this rigid or was this simply Mr. Nighy trying his best to be bad? This is more than just stereotyping for its own sake, this is underdeveloped characters who have less personalities that the vinyl that is been played on their turntables. In all, this is stretched out television comedy, and all that is missing, like Richard Curtis's "Mr. Bean", is the canned laughter.

With a running time of some two hours, there must have been some scope for direction and instead we have an armada of a sinking script and personality, which concentrates on a shallow epicentre of nothing more than a tiny group of hedonistic middle-aged men yarning for the jailbait that worships their every whim.

The Boat That Rocked does, on the other side of the disc, portray a healthy and positive message of rebellion, comradeship and vitality of life. A charming scene here is when one of the young men finds his heart broken and the "tea and biscuits" offered by two of his friends is done magnificently and is pure magic and the rallying behind the newly married member whose heart is, too, broken is commendable and it's all proof-positive and fun.

While having an interesting soundtrack; The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, and others, to keep the mood perpetual, it all seems wasted when backed up by this stereotyping. Playing the music for the music's sake, keeping it alive for a generation frustrated by the lack of play other than the ships weighing anchor off shore. They love their life, they love their friends and they love Rock n' Roll. Mr. Curtis has given these guys direction, direction in their goals, but, sadly, Mr. Curtis has lost them in a thinly veiled adaptation of television sitcom, in the nautical sense, doldrums.

17 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Hammer your stake in deep and hard to finally get the yokel., 20 March 2009

Lesbian vampires' are not a new toy to ponder with, with the likes of "Carmilla" being written in 1872 and the first lesbian vampire to be put onto celluloid as early as 1936 with "Dracula's Daughter" and of course, the legend that is Hammer Horror had to play their part too.

It's all part of the myth and the titillation of this female blood lusted long toothed vampiric sex appeal, suggestive, as it may have been since her first creation and throughout her life. Examples as "Vampyros Lesbos" (1971) and "The Hunger" (1983) standing to take the more erotic stance than the suggestiveness of a hidden look, a darkened room to hide her pleasure and a moment lost, the censorship's have been cruel to her ways, but the times have now truly changed.

The latest sex-drive of this female fantasy comes along in the guise of "Lesbian Vampires Killers", a guise too, if preferred, in the shape of the old Hammer Film Productions circa of "The Vampire Lovers" (1970), a contemporary version, then, of Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla".

This genre has now been striped down and is a fully loaded parable of the way of the lady vampires', that's lesbian lady vamp, though a somewhat sedate and too laid bare for any real scope of narrative and personality, it is, in the end, a glorified T & A, comic book if at all black comedy.

Phil Claydon (Dir), Paul Hupfield and Stewart Williams (writers') are not unfamiliar to comedy, but this, sadly, just misses the mark. The heart of the matter is that it's a shallow attempt into fooling this genre that it is something it isn't. This fallen toothpick of a movie comes not even close to a forester's grand Oak and all we see here is how the mighty has fallen, not just for this genre but also for British cinema. It's a paint-by-numbers toss-fest of the lowest common denominator, showing no respect for the days of the colourful and camp allure of the decades past, it's a white elephant with little scope to deal with imagination and brilliance. In fact, this dwarf star has so little character that one has to ask, "What is the point?" the point being is that the joke is, intentionally, on us.

It is not we who are having the last laugh here, although there may be the odd titter seen in the occasional one-liner, but this is too stable and controlled for its own virtue and with all what is left there is just "nothingness". The character of Paul McGann ("Withnail & I" (1987) and The Monocled Mutineer (1986 TV series)), as "the Vicar" is the only redeemable trait here, at least there is something worthy of merit, he's a strong personality and he outshines as the foulmouthed "Vicar Van Helsing" the fearless vampire killer styled yokel.

The wasted opportunity to use such an interesting, thought provoking and daring title has really fallen to the wayside, it's a wasted exercise in how to perk the taste buds of interest and then blow cold air into the proceedings to deflate the whole point of parody and homage. Commercial is the word of the day but so why cannot "inventiveness" too be integrated in this sorrowful affair, why? Because it just is not the issue, it just is not the direction that Lesbian Vampire Killers wants to take, this knew which direction to set its mark and it ran with its head down, backside up and billowed in the winds of stale, mediocrity, puerile commercialism.

Ironically, the only factor worth is salt is its title, but, it shall be the contents behind the comic strip that shall bleed itself dry and wilt, if that's the bag your into, then be my guest, you'll only end up weeping in your hands. Don't say I didn't warn you.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Haunting and beautiful French cinema that leaves its mark, indefinitely., 4 March 2009

There is something a little bizarre here, where it concerns Georges Franju's (1912 - 1987) second main feature. While it tries, it seems to, at best, replicate the style of Hammer, with tone, content and drama, Les Yeux sans visage does in fact try very well to make it its own. With a unique style of atmospheric thriller mixed with a charm of tension and macabre theatrical proceedings, Les Yeux sans visage is a success of the new wave of the European thriller, horror, drama genre. Directors such as the likes of Roman Polanski, Luis Buñuel and Alfred Hitchcock and now Georges Franju who, with added anxiety, mysticism and romanticism too, is a welcome member to the flock, who has, also, added his mark on the traits of things to come.

While shallow in content, Les Yeux sans visage succeeds on its depth of personality and the ability to endeavour the viewer in a sense of, at the same time, surrealism and realism. It is here, in this premise that the real and the supernatural worlds collide to give a haunting tale of a father's redemption toward his daughter's faceless figure.

Franju's direction and Eugen Schüfftan's (1893 - 1977) beautiful cinematography have set us up to ponder the wrongdoings of this Doctor, with each momentary pause of the camera, each stillness of frame, each delicate light set against dark and a unnerving and personality driven musical score, we cannot help but delve into this world of moral and immoral sanctimonious divides.

More a study in blind-faith and honourable intentions gone awry with visual aids than character development. Les Yeux sans visage is not a film with the time to explain the past but a film to project the two opposing points of morality that this is a human horror. Horrors of the heart and the bizarre yet beautiful manner in which it leaves us suspended in its wake is both a fitting gesture to its skill to thrill, to shock and to horrify the viewer.

King Kong (2005)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Peter Jackson's giant monster film enthrals and holds us to ransom., 26 February 2009

It is a widely known fact that the dream film and ultra personnel project that Mr. Jackson had always had in mind to make, to remake, is the incredible myth of King Kong: Eighth Wonder of The World. The rest of us just came alone for the ride, and it is a grand and epic film of a true classic. Visually intriguing and a wonderful thirties throwback if there ever was, checkout the opening and closing Universal 'thirties style décor credits and main title sequence, the atmosphere is set.

Jack Black, playing Carl Denham, has a pinnacle role that he plays with pure vigour and has proved that he has both, when needed, comic timing, and a maturity to truly transcend to the Silver Screen of the style of the bygone Classic era, which he fits this role perfectly. His polar opposite here is the evergreen Naomi Watts and her sweet and innocent Ann Darrow, who only extends charm and beauty, as her counterpart Fay Wray (1907 - 2004), who has a respected "Dedicated To The Memory Of..." at the end credits, had in her 1933 Kong once had.

Edgar Wallace (1875 - 1932) died some months before his written word could be seen on film in 1933, and to see Peter Jackson's work here, it is best to absorb and pay tribute to, possibly, one of the greatest horror films of its time that RKO Radio Pictures has produced and then compare the two. To dispel the original as dated and unnecessary would be a blatant wrongdoing, each one here, in their own right, is a milestone and both have found uses and the need of special effects, of their day, to full advantage.

Peter Jackson has a style that suit's the Big Screen visual grandeur, the equivalent to the great CinemaScope era of 1953 to 1967, with such films as How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) and Forbidden Planet (1956). His own films in the making, as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and now this revised edition of King Kong looks, feels and tastes as it once would have if he'd got his hands on this project during the Depression period. No doubt, too, it may have been 20th Century Fox that would have had the benefit of his skill back in the day.

The motion capture et el technique, that literally captures Kong and gives him depth of personality and emotion is truly astounding, with the help of Andy "Gollum" Serkis as Kong, putting all this together and seeing the result of this giant gorilla is, well, breathtakingly captivating. The bond between Beauty and Beast as they finally connect in the jungle of Skull Island is only the build-up to a beautiful and mutual respect, which fails not, to deliver the final and devastating blow.

Stunning work by cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (b. 1956) has only transcended the love story to a higher level of tenderness between Beast and Beauty and with the Score of James Newton Howard (b. 1951) the bond between audience and screen is inevitable. Because of the tone of the love story, the human entanglement that has been captivated by this magnificent beast and his epic and disastrous journey from jungle to jungle and one can truly find it almost impossible to not empathise with Ann Darrow as she, in turn, tries to save the beast. She reciprocates the gift of life to Him, but for only for that short and fragile moment.

Understandable too, that King Kong, circa 2005, has won the top honours at the Oscars for "Best Achievement in Sound Mixing", "Best Achievement in Sound Editing", "Best Achievement in Visual Effects" and a Nomination for "Best Achievement in Art Direction". The British equivalent here, the BAFTA Film Award, for "Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects" and two Nominations for "Best Production Design" and "Best Sound" and many others in many areas of Film has contributed to an accolade of merit.

There is more here than meets the eye, Peter Jackson and crew have given us a roller-coaster ride that this is pure Jacksonville fantasy, with every edit, every sound and every second that has us within the zone of thrills, danger and adventure. This is pure entertainment, pure wonder and pure honesty of a legend that has captivated us, and taken us to a world of nostalgia and incomparable magic and beauty, and all for the price of an admission ticket.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Old flames that burn but never ignites the passion., 15 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Marcus Nispel has been here before, finding his niche in the horror movie reboot market, we see once more, his sense of shock, horror, debauchery and screams delivered not by a rabid pack, as seen in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), but by Victor Miller's lonely orphan boy turned serial killer, Jason Voorhees.

While a reboot may be fitting the times, let us be honest here, it is not a new phenomenon to reproduce a movie to enlighten its flame to a new, fresh and contemporary audience. The 1980's Jason has travelled through time to reinvent himself and start anew, he's still a big fella and hiding behind his trademark Hockey mask and extra large machete still finds the time to make new friends and introduce them to his shiny, sharp, steel blade. Gruesomely lovely, any mother would be proud, but the premise is slanted slightly from the 1980's Jason, making them more distant cousins so to speak than close relatives.

The more experienced Jason lovers here may, or may not, object to the rebooting of his name and the twenty-nine year gap (excluding the franchise for a moment and after all, this too, is the beginning of the rebirth of the Jason myth) may, or may not have done him harm. However, one has to ask the question concerning the inevitable, does it work? Are today's contemporary audience immune to the now passé, the now engraved, the now realised slasher cum stalker genre and its expectations? The last twenty-nine years has held onto the same premise and it is only the dressing of the narrative that keeps Jason alive and kicking. Jason wears his Hockey mask with zeal but he also wears his reboot crown with a vengeance. Does this mean-mother scare you to death? Well, I am slightly worried by the fact that he does and he is just as angry now as he was all those years ago.

This menace of the woods and lake still finds it in his heart to do mothers bidding and with bad assed mothers such as Charles Kaufman's Mother's Day (1980) and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) to show how it's done also makes for a hell of a good ol' time. Well, that's how it's supposed to be, someone, regrettably, forgot to bring the party hats and trimmings.

This reboot has its usual mêlée of heart-stoppers and squeamish anguish to race the pulse along, don't forget, Jason's a man with a blade and he knows how to use it, as this genre does so fittingly. It is not so much the back-story coming to life but at the forefront, it is a case of "who "really" cares if these people die?" It may be a trait of this genre to exclude any remorse for its (throwaway) victim, and very much excluding John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) from this theory. It is with pride, and it seems, that we now have the ultimate throwaway victim that would deem themselves fitting enough to be headlining the many poor and dismal parody movies seen of late. Hanna-Barbera Productions would be better off employing these fictitious film characters to better their development. It is not only amusing of the too simple one dimensional drive of the plot but do we really have to put up with the obnoxious and shallow "zombie" parodies? There're dead before they die. Strange too, that one would have the Sigma, the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet (S) on the back of ones four-by-four and turn out to be the dimmest candle in the box. A design of the genre, I agree, but it does not work in its favour, that it may be but an off-putting distraction to say the least here. Who cares? Not I. Jason, you'll be doing me a favour, and I thank you for it.

Friday the 13th (2009) has its glorious moments and no doubt, we shall see more of this young man taking the streets of Manhattan at a later date, but personally, I think he needs to stay at home and develop his people skills. He's a nice young boy but he's also very predictable, I mean, it's not that hard to see what's coming. The killings are, but not all, interesting, and the characters are just too wishy-washy to give a hope for, it takes away the suspense and only weakens the perspective. The sex. The false boobs. The drug taking. Is this what the contemporary Slasher has to put-up with? Is this to be expected in this new, contemporary slasher rebooting? To appease the new audience? It never happened in the good ol' days, suggestive then it may have been, dull and boring what some may say of the suggestive stance of yesteryear, but it gave way to more respect for those who were about to die, "leaving it to the imagination" is what it's called, ah the good ol' days.

Is it any wonder, then, that his, the Slasher / Stalker, victims are so easily caught, with all the knee-trembling going on and pollution in their minds, I'm surprised that any off them had the strength or energy to scream. I pity this new modern Killer, I almost feel for him, where's the bloodletting of a good challenge? Apart from its failings with the on screen crew and the easily predicated action shots, this new, young man may have more drawbacks than anticipated, I blame the mother, but I really do hope that he finds his feet and starts to make his mother proud, because I can see good things ahead for Jason. All he has to do is go and find some nice new friends and by putting the boot on the other foot start to take a step in the right direction. It's what a good boy should do for his mother…

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Times irreversible gift of splendour and magic., 7 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cinema does not come as epic as this new David Fincher two hour and fifty-one minute masterpiece. Not since the days of Kubrick's Spartacus (1960), Wyler's Ben-Hur (1959) and Kusturica's vision of the break-up of Yugoslavia that is Underground (1995) these full length features are truly magnificent in their own right and with a production value second to none it is the stuff of magic and extravaganza that Cinema has come to expect.

Growing foreword but aging backward, it is the tale of a man whose growing process is seen in reverse. This feature starts with a poignant prologue to express the uses of time, and what if time can run backward to replenish lost chances and to right wrongs that would, in time, hold no regrets, taking back what might have been lost, second chances and first opportunities. The regret of the tugboat captain never becoming the artist he wanted to be and the first female swimmer to have never succeeded in finishing crossing the English Channel are victims of life's regret and who cannot take away the fact that time is ever marching forward with chances lost, or are they? We see this theory within the first moments of the film, as the blind clock builder builds his clock that ticks backward so life can learn to run its course with no regret. It is time itself that is the redeeming factor that centres around Benjamin Button living and at the same time dying in reverse and the people that he comes across in his life.

Francis Scott Fitzgerald's (1896 – 1940) 1921 short story has been given its contemporary feel by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, who has taken Fitzgerald's concept and made it their own, the charming vision here is only propelled by its visual intake of soft tones and tranquil dexterity of Claudio Miranda's eye. It all makes for a visceral experience that throughout his life the sombre mood takes relevance over the computer-generated imagery and detracts not in the slightest to the narrative. We see the changes in the man and we see the changes in his environments and the people that grow alongside him. Where the crossroads of life meet, we too see the simple tale of Benjamin and Daisy, and it is a simple tale, any tale that life can tell, but it is the execution in the telling that holds the attention.

Of course, like its older siblings, it is pure cinematic mush and this is no bad feet of engineering, which uses its modern technology to place The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the height of Cinema excellence. Going for the ultimate, yet inevitable, conclusion, as with its peers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, throughout his life, grows on you and never looks back.

10 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
You can be put away for things like this, you know., 29 January 2009

Paris Lockdown: this one-man army of a wet paper bag of poor excuses of a wannabe gangster film, this is as empty as a crêpe Suzette in a nunnery on a Sunday morning. As rich as poor taste goes, yes there's boobs, bottoms and nodding heads galore but takeaway the sleaze, the flying bullets and the flash cars then all we have done is landed on the square that tells us to "Go Back To GO, do not collect £200...start again".

This is as deep and meaningful as gutters will allow it to rise, while an insight of Parisian lowlife drug smugglers, pimps and killers, there is just nothing to add to the narrative. Nothing. The characters are living the life of a one-dimensional caricature. We are given a so-called gang leader who simply is not memorable, and his pet dogs are just as easily put-down and unmissable as the whole sorry affair.

The entire episode here seems too have been pulled out of any sequence in their life, it is a Soap Opera of blood and thugs. This is a basic rise and fall of a Paris crime boss who lives his life whoring, shooting and, again, shooting. The development of these people is as far as your next bus stop to Plainville, even the Robert De Niro look-alike and his greased-up hair looks too pastiche, too…already done.

Frédéric Schoendoerffer, director, has placed the action in the seedy side of town, the bars, strip joints and night filled streets of Paris, France, Europe and to be fair, any self respecting Parisian gangster seeing this sad debunkle would be, allegedly, embarrassed.

With just a touch of bewilderment, this crime-caper has no direction apart from up. It is not a poorly made film, it's, forgive the pun, executed well, nice offensive language, great looking girls and mean mothers' doing their job, only too well. Some nice, forgive the pun, once more, location shots and bad attitudes, the odd torture sequence, done very nicely too, ouch. However, it is the putting together of this work that to make any coherent sense a plot, let alone a sub-plot would have been acceptable.

These guys are hard-core but when the spotlight of the good-cop, bad-cop is shining on their sorry backside, it is the whole main feature that will give the game away and get you busted, sent-down and sent to solitary…

Valkyrie (2008)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
I will give them this: They certainly knew how to (over) throw a party., 29 January 2009

We all know that film, in general, has its target audience to appeal to, but what I really do find interesting concerning Valkyrie is that with the twenty or so people in this particular cinema screening a large proportion here were aged above sixty-five years of age. It seems that this, Valkyrie, appeals to a larger spectrum of age, albeit for reasons known to only the individual cinemagoer: Star-name, action, drama, historical value et al. It seems apparent that this movie has far more reaching appeal than first appears. Here we have a film that centres on the attempted murder of Adolf Hitler during the latter part of WWII by his own Officers'. While Bryan Singers's film takes its part in this niche of German history, this film does not really carry itself in the manner of a war film but gives an air of historical drama.

This too would apply to the supporting cast. With the international feel of an American Cruise (Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg), the British Branagh (Major-General Henning von Tresckow), Nighy (General Friedrich Olbricht), Wilkinson (General Friedrich Fromm), Stamp (Ludwig Beck) and Izzard (General Erich Fellgiebel) then there is the German Democratic Republican Kretschmann (Major Otto Ernst Remer), who, when called upon, give fine, strong and respectable performances'. Even with this flavour, the focal point is strongly on the resistance of these German Officers'. The Soldier takes on the might of the domestic germ of Hitler's right hand men, repelling Hitler's German National Socialist Party black shirted members': the Nazis and his S.S. personal bodyguards' (the paramilitary organization founded in 1925 who administrated the use of the Death Camp) and their dishonourable actions which have brought upon the face of Germany through their genocides and methods of control shame, disgust and revulsion.

Here we have Germanys best, Germanys fighting men, men who have known at first hand the honour of the battlefield and what it is to make sacrifice for a willing cause, Bryan Singer has given us an interpretation into the birth, life and death of the 20 July plot of 1944. Putting names to faces, even those faces and locations here seen only for a brief, but important, moment, such as Berlins Police Chief Wolf-Heinrich von Helldorfq and the actual Bendlerstrasse (Bendlerblock) building, used as place of execution of the conspirators.

Both Mr. Singer and Mr. Newton Thomas Sigel (cinematographer) gives Operation Walküre (the use of Germanys Reserve Army (Heer), who at a time of national unrest, of any description, would be awoken to quash any sign of rebellion or unrest) an arena of a keen sense of drama and tension. Plotting the death of Adolf Hitler is no after thought. We see a tight band of top ranking Officers believing in a just course, any doubt, and fear, here is reflected in the eyes of those who try to better Germany, and visualising this is only second best to the fraught realities and dangers that we see these men re- enact. There is simply no room for complacency. The risk is too high. Failure is not an option. The pace is set.

The authenticity of its environment in which we are given a firsthand account is both charming in its uses of deep focus and a feeling of depth and perspective for the eye to muster gives the particular subjects' here the demeanour of what these men symbolises in both prestige and heritage and the scope and goals for all concerned.

Valkyrie is a tale of pride and honour. We shall possibly never know the real men involved here: their politics, their beliefs, their traits and as the parting of the wave of time may have been distorted or lost forever, it feels and looks all the part an historical document that may be taken with a light pinch of salt and enjoyed for what it is. An exposé of the men who once tried and failed in their part to target, to slay the beast and to finally bring peace to Europe. A fitting stance that, seemingly, appeals to all spectrum's' ages to appreciate, understand and respect.

7 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Suffering from gum-disease to produce a blunted bite., 24 January 2009

At some 92 minutes in length Underworld: Rise of the Lycans does not delve into great depth to continue the myth of the battle of the Lycans against the ruling classes that are the vampires. With this being a prequel to the Underworld franchise the characters are already familiar to us, and need no introduction, but bearing this in mind, we have what is technically a prologue to introduce the first two major films in this, to date, trilogy.

Without a single sub-plot in sight, this is where Underworld: Rise of the Lycans fails to deliver, while great in the CGI aspect, this work here is simply too weak, regrettably too plain and sadly too uninventive in any major direction of plot, theme or development.

The tone here is dark, bloody and violent, this is the world that we see as this love story untangles and the victims' roles are played out with aggression and pain. Once more, Michael Sheen (Lucian) plays the oppressed slave with vigour and spite, while his ladylove Rhona Mitra (Sonja) the defiant daughter of the ruling tooth fairy Bill Nighy (Viktor) hides her secret with brave determination.

The main reason that this film works well visually rather than intellectually is that it is the fine eye of Patrick Tatopoulos, he is more than adequate to prove himself a fine artist; Special effects makeup designer, creature designer, makeup designer, production designer, visual consultant and illustrator etc are his forte. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans being his first film as moviemaker is not a bad start, ironically, maybe as a film that needs fewer introductions it may have been a simpler project to take on. What is astonishing is the fact that such a simple narrative has taken six writers' to deploy this script and plot into a banal piece of work.

The major concern here is that this feels too much like a short Introduction that we see in books; short, basic and at times just pointless. It may have been appropriate if there had been a character driven third Underworld; instead, we are given a short glance of what is to come: visually intriguing but otherwise too short and disappointing concerning its literature.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A vision that naturally lives up to the hype., 24 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The concept of 3D has been around since the early nineteen twenties, which has more than one process for the 3D effect: Anaglyphic, Polarized and Lenticular. Whichever process used, the overall effect can replicate the image from the third dimension to reproduce the illusion of depth for the cinemagoer. The original process from camera to screen is done with what is called a Natural Vision Camera, two lenses which sit next to each other on one camera, filming from two differing viewpoints, i.e., similar to the natural vision of the eye. Then when projected across the auditorium two separate pictures from two projectors are used to superimpose the image onto a reflective screen. The final process is seeing the reflective image through Polaroid glasses, which in turn gives the viewer that feeling of being amongst the action.

A move away, the costly and limited Cinerama and its huge three curved screens that best exploits peripheral vision, one advantage here is the lack of Polaroid glasses, along with CinemaScope, too, was to give the cinemagoer the sense of depth and to enhance to feeling of actually "being there". This, and the new sound of stereo, was what the major studios wanted to use to keep the cinema audiences from straying too far from Cinema thus preventing them staying home and watching movies on the new invention, television. It was the Independent movie Bwana Devil (1952) being the first film to be shot using the new doubled lens Natural Vision Camera, showing it could be done, the major studios' soon followed suit.

The new millennium has continued to exploit this novelty, this gimmick, to its full potential, and the latest film from Loinsgate, the Canadian Independent production and Distribution Company, has not failed in its role to replicate real life on the Silver Screen. A Mr. Nasty who after killing his work colleagues while trapped in a crumbled mineshaft then goes on a killing spree in the small mining town of Harmony, twenty years later, he returns, to kill once more. A little formalistic in its delivery but it means well and works fine, for what it is and its limitations. It is a "teen slasher / spatter" movie after all. Patrick Lussier's remake of the 1981 film of the same name has some great moments of suspense and shock, but this is very much expected. As for originality, it is pretty much money for old rope, full frontal nakedness, heads-a-rolling, girls-a-screaming and plenty of lovely death. The fact is, that this is just a basic horror flick, which would not really go a miss on any midnight showing on any T.V. Horror Channel, is no great loss to the genre.

The redeeming factor here is the charm of its pulling power: 3D. Yes, this tried and tested, old, genre has resurfaced, like the dreaded masked killer Harry Warden, to throw, literally, the odd pickaxe and body-parts into the faces of this new generation of cinema-goers'. We should really know what to expect here in this type of movie. No excuses. The point of the matter is if one wants to be "spat upon", "stand next to someone while having their face pulled-off" or be in the same room with a "leaving nothing, at all, to the imagination naked lady" and having to "dodge a bullet", amongst other things, then this is the film for you. Fun, enjoyable, different but predicable.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Breaking bones with sticks-and-stones, and hearts…, 22 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Filmed in glorious 16mm, the wonderful format of the "amateur", the maverick, the Independent moviemaker, and casting a symbolic texture of street-level realism. Here, we see Darren Aronofsky, along with the likes of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and the work by Shane Meadows, such as Dead Man's Shoes (2004) and This Is England (2006) for example, bringing the Independent feel to the Big Screen once more with The Wrestler. While in good company, The Wrestler alongside Herz's and Kaufman's The Toxic Avenger (1984), Hallström's and Hedges's What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Andrea Arnold's beautiful and touching Red Road (2006) and Noel Clarkes' work, for example, all have that Independent vibe about them. This is what separates them from the norm, the need to express their thoughts onto film without the constraints of mediocrity. All highly imaginative, unique, fresh and individual pieces of work that are testament to the skill of all those involved by venturing further a field with daring and courage. The Wrestler is certainly no exception.

While a title in the sense of a singular, perspective we can very quickly gather that there is a much wider and broader feel to the content. This, The Wrestler, is not so much about a single entity but a whole way of life, a sub-culture, who through immense pride and camaraderie, find that life on the right side of the ropes can become exciting and justly rewarding. Darren Aronofsky and writer Robert D. Siegel, on the other hand, have produced a film of immense sorrow and suffering seen via a victim of the times and literally time itself. Mickey Rourke's Randy "The Ram" Robinson could very well have been anyone, in fact, he is "everyone", he has become symbolic of these past, present and future aging, bruised and battered men, crippled and broken spiritually, physically and emotionally by constant years of hard, torturous abuse for the sport they love and that has loved them in return and which now rejects them. One has only to see the scene of realisation and hard reality check while The Ram has set his table of old videos and posters ready for autographing, sits along fellow comrades too far gone and broken, it finally sinks in that he too has now joined the destitute and lost. Beautiful.

Seen here is the life of the hardships of those who were born just too late. Too late for everlasting fame. Too late for that all-important Cable T.V. deal. Too late for the Video-game merchandise rights and too late for lady-luck to grace her way to better times ahead before the fading light of fame has flickered and died and past the point of no return. This is a very simple tale with honest hard-working characters who are striving to earn a buck to pay the rent, to feed their kids, making ends meet to justify the end. The mighty may have fallen but they have not given up, maybe through a need of necessity rather than love of their profession, they carry on. These are not stupid people, criminals they are not and living in poverty, bedding down in trailers or if that also includes working nights pole-dancing, such as Marisa Tomei's "Cassidy", makes them just as worthy of praise if they are willing to simply try.

It is in this life that both writer and director have projected a loving narrative of loneliness. With The Rams back-room bonding and mutual respect of his co-wrestlers' that is very much replicated, it is here that the life of this tired old man finds the necessary tools to fill the void. Often touching and more than often painful to bear witness that his life is completely empty albeit the roar of the crowed, their adulation and what little pennies it earns. It is with great praise, also, that Mickey Rourke has held the spirit of this sub-culture high with grace and virtue, a stupendous performance that shines throughout to transcend the pathos of his lonely existence, on the wrong side of the ropes. An exceedingly moving film, beautifully exposing the harsh realities of a life, a way-of-life, of a broken man and his courage to see his faults and his determination to pull himself up and away from the slings-and-arrows that are thrown toward him. The Wrestler wins this bout.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Lights dimmed, phone unhooked, wine uncorked, then press PLAY., 15 January 2009

Mirrors and reflections are the dominating forces here that project an extremely beautiful and melancholy father and son relationship. As the film progresses and the time-passages segue into both past and present tense, throughout, we see what it is to feel regret, discontent and anger. Seen through the eyes of the son, Blake, and his struggle to overcome his overbearing fathers unconsciously selfish and dominating carefree persona. This is a young child, a growing teen and now middle-aged man who, after all the years gone by, is still failing in his own personal duties to fully embrace the shortcomings and inadvertent arrogance of his father.

Based on Blake Morrison's autobiographical account on his own relationship with his father, the title in itself is a question that comprises a poignant air of respect. Throughout, too, an engaging use of mirrors is at the forefront of the narrative, a charming, imaginative and very interesting metaphor of reflective reconciliation. It is with this tone that director Anand Tucker finds a balance of dry wit and sympathy concerning Jim Broadbent's outgoing and cancer-bearing Arthur, Matthew Beard as the angst ridden, frustrated teenage son and Colin Firth's older Blake and his reflective unhappiness.

And When Did You Last See Your Father? has the hallmarks of a wonderful concoction of emotion: humour, empathy, sorrow and tenderness and with the purely stunning and beautiful cinematography, as done by Howard Atherton (Lassie, 2005), a script of deep regret, in all, shows more than a beautiful and extremely touching vision of life.

Simply stunning. Simply beautiful. Simply breathtaking.

The Spirit (2008)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
As I sat in the back row, I found picking my nose gave me purpose and meaning…, 6 January 2009

The Spirit's creation in 1940 by Will Eisner (1917 - 2005) is now showing his mark on the Silver Screen in graphic novel style with Frank Miller. With big names attached as Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes, this looks a promising film of intrigue, action and mystery. Concerning Frank Millers' guise as graphic novel king with Sin City (2005, 2010, 2011) and 300 (2006) under his belt, this, his latest work, was only too boost his curriculum vitae to a greater level. Most unfortunately, it has not. The Spirits history aside, this film, this modern day adaptation of a nineteen-forty Hero has only reversed the upwardly mobile trend of intrigue, action and mystery.

We went to see this as a, possibly, good, and even interesting, graphic novel movie, giving it some hope, into the cinema we went.

With films as Sin City and 300 within the last few years, I thought the use of this medium, the transcendence of the graphic novel into celluloid, would only have far more reaching aspects of imagination, wit, intelligence and narrative.

We were duly disappointed with this latest edition of this genre, as I feel that the world doesn't need the Spirit, we know that within the decades of comics, comic strips etc we have become accustomed to heroes as Batman, Superman, The Fantastic Four et el, but it is The Spirit that has just been forced into the foreground with little knowledge of his repertoire. This performance seems more than lacklustre and a feeling of a flat liner script only feeds the scorn of a terrible narrative and a poor execution of personality.

Witless and dull, at best, this is nausea of the attention span, an under-produced plot that sinks the eyelids so deep into the abyss that lifejackets are advisable when entering this celluloid arena. This is a dark noir style crime thriller that has its fair share of a self-confessed eye-candy to glaze upon, but when stripped to the barebones this is as poor as they come, without any true direction except to progress the battle between Spirit and the Octopus. This is an empty and longwinded cartoon caper that contains not even a teaspoon of narrative.

It is simply the wrong time, it is not ready and it does not work, the Spirit should be left in its bottle to ferment and mature to develop into a greater absorbing action film, a little character depth and development would not go amiss. The film is lost in all aspects apart from the visual. Grandiose in style but stylishly and quickly a victim in its own quicksand of self-indulgence, this could have been a contender, but sadly, it comes across as tiresome all over, weak in structure and bland in imagination. Naught percent proof throughout.

Out of good comes greatness, Mongol too, is good., 20 December 2008

Being the first of three instalments based on and around the life of Temüjin (1162 - 1227), this first feature, Mongol, is the build up from his unfortunate childhood and youth to the first phase of his adult life as leader of the Mongol Empire. With its, sadly, limited cinema release, this tiny budgeted film, an estimated £14,000,000 ($20,000,000) has been beautifully shot, with its stunning panoramic views of the barren Asian landscapes to its costumes and tone that sets the films pace and direction. While, possibly, not the most historically correct of stories, what we do see here is an interesting overview of the plight of a young Genghis Khan and his survival as young son, prisoner, slave, husband, father and warrior.

This too, is the pivotal moment in the life of Temüjin that Sergei Bodrov has captured with concerns to his young love and wife to be, Börte, played here by the beautiful newcomer Khulan Chuluun. Essentially a love story and the bonding of these two historical figures that when torn apart becomes the epicentre of the new beginnings of this epic tale.

Unlike the great works' of Akira Kurosawa (1910 - 1998) and his depiction of old feudal Japan with Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985), for example, where the narrative is compressed into one piece of work altogether, this three part historical costume drama may mature into greatness when all residing films are complete. To judge this work here solely on its own merits seems an unfair disadvantage, but as a film that stands alone it is superb film-making. We can only wait eagerly to see the accompanying two instalments that shall make this myth whole.

Director Sergei Bodrov can be forgiven for its tiny indiscretions, but in total, this is still the perpetuating myth, no matter how one translates the legend, which is Genghis Khan, and unlike the Hollywood dross of late, that claims its niche in this market, here we see no ego driven movie, no pretensions that a larger budget, or smaller, may bring and with its limited cinema release this is a fine example of word-of-mouth. With beautiful colours and textures, cinemascope style shots, costumes to delight, battles to excite and a love that knows no boundaries, Mongol, is truly a legend in its own right.

Inkheart (2008)
12 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Charming film, possibly a better read?, 13 December 2008

Brendan Fraser: the new archetypical action hero, he is rough, he is rugged and he is always reliable, here too, in his latest action hero film, Inkheart, he is ready, willing and able. Playing father to young Eliza Bennett, this German penned fantasy takes a darker side whenever we hear Mo 'Silvertongue' Folchart (Fraser) reading out aloud from books. His ability to bring to life, to export, to release figures out of the pages and into the real world is only relevant when the darker side of his stories appear to reek havoc and destruction.

The story centres around the book of the same name; Inkheart. While, as a child, Meggie Folchart's (Eliza Bennett) father read to her great stories, and in the process learnt the sinister side to this gift, what comes out of "the book", something, someone, must go in, here, it is Resa (Sienna Guillory), wife and mother to both Mo and Meggie who is sacrificed. This is the quest to find the long lost book and to re-read its pages in order to undo the wrongs.

While at heart a concept that seems an adventure to behold, figures' from the literary world, such as J. M. Barrie's ticking crocodile, L. Frank Baum's flying monkeys from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We see too, the Minotaur, the Unicorn are all but fleeting, and a love interest that involves one of the Forty Thieves from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the whole shebang seems great on paper but when transcended onto celluloid it then become too lacklustre, too tame.

With an involving English cast as Andy Serkis, Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren to project a fine taste to the proceedings, one cannot feel a little let down by the lack of quality toward its direction. There seems to be that little "something" missing, and that little "something" seems obvious as the film carries on: excitement. Of course, there are the wonderful CGI effects and the superb acting of Messer's Serkis and Broadbent and the charm of Dame Mirren. We also see a held back performance of Brendan Fraser, all extrovert and keen, it is his overall inability to pull himself up to the standards of his co-stars that seem to make him just another clichéd hero performer. A one level performance that is out shone by his comrades. He tries his best.

What Inkheart does do is an amount of good to promote Books, reading and the enjoyment of imagination of the written word and the worlds that can be travelled and enthralled contained in books. It is all apparent and nice to see, but at the same time, the thrill of books here is simply blowing into the wind when its counterpart, film, is overstretched to its limits and even heroes and thieves cannot bring this to a level of intrigue. The main problem here is that this film is simply too long for what we see, it is at one level, visually nice and in concept fun and vaguely interesting, but it just does not bite.

Children will love the themes, the fun of Dame Mirren, the niceness of Jim Broadbent and the callousness of Mr. Serkis and his amusing henchmen, the fantastic creatures' from the imaginations of the greatest stories ever written, but adults may find it a little long in the tooth, maybe. A charming film that holds up to the courage of its convictions, that through Books, reading and writing, a world of fun and excitement may be discovered. Maybe too, the Cornelia Funke novel may provide the missing link between the celluloid and the written word, which is it to be? Cinema or bookshop? Or perhaps both? I don't see why not.

14 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
As empty as space and void of personality., 13 December 2008

The undercurrent text may have altered since its birth by author Harry Bates (1900 - 1981), from the 1940 short story Farewell to the Master, to the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still to its modern counterpart we see here today. In hindsight, i.e. human nature, we never seem to change, never seem to want to change, and it is the texture of this contemporary version that we see the same old message: change, adapt, live. But learn.

Contemporary, that is the word. This re-mastering of the 1951 sci-fi parable of the warning of the destruction of the Earths peoples' if they are to pursue their relevant course of existence is nothing more than an ego boost and highjacking by the controlling narcissistic superpower of the day. While not comparing the two films, in contrast, each stands on their own merits of intelligence and timeline factors. This supposedly being in a similar vain in tone comes close but still misses the mark.

The human race has changed, or has it? Possibly only in advancement of technology, the thinking of major leaders are parallel to the era of the early fifties; mistrust of each other and control of its people, nothing changes. The message here is still relevant; we must reap the seeds we have sown. It is with this distinct message that the human race must come to terms. This is where the film then falters, what may have turned out to be a global concern is then taken hostage by the obtuse governing power.

While an important narrative overall, the people of earth are to be sacrificed for the survival of the planet Earth, we are then duly set upon by what can only deemed a mismatch of character development and loss of direction. From the beginning, this seemed to be a doomed episode of casting, the role of Kathy Bates (Regina Jackson), as the Presidents envoy, seemed the equivalent of Old Mother Hubbard. Her staunch exterior and fashionable dress code would not have gone amiss if she were cast in a 1950's St. Trinian's episode. Dire, to say the least. Simply out of place and out of time, literally. Jaden Smith (Jacob Benson) is very quickly forgotten. While giving his character a major role in empathy, we are soon to learn that, some, children are best seen and not heard, an intrusion at best. It is this one-dimensional character based film, with the stereotypical Army staff, Governmental personal and a poorly mixed bag of assortments that gives a clichéd development that both weakens the plot and its delivery.

This too does not exclude the fact that the arrival of the most important science fiction character on the Big Screen being so blown to pieces and an exuberant anti-climax since Mr. Lucas decision to animate the Imperial stormtrooper. We now see Gort, updated and tagged with an acronym: Genetically Organized Robotic Technology made of rice papered CGI. Ludicrously too tall and distracting of any threat or believability, here, the adage "less is more" would have sufficed. Any imposing threat of this metal space giant is lost in translation due to its overbearing CGI pose and any impact of reality fading away all too quickly. Is there any respect for the classics any more? Cannot the two blend and find a happy medium? A compromise? We see here that it cannot. Will not.

The film also continues to sustain the message of necessary change and at the same time absorb itself in the vain reflection of the one country that this alien visitor has landed. Taking hold of current affairs, empathies and loss, mainly seen through the eyes of the young boy, this seems only too familiar with nationalistic prides than to project a narrative of worldly concerns. Maybe so, the young boy's experiences' here could well be a metaphor of how we have succumbed to this predicament of peril but at the same time it only furthers the vanity of a certain view point all too clearly.

Unfortunately, here, in 2008, we see a film that has adapted to its own times and events, with at best, banal television actors' ruling the roost, a self-centred narrative, a disappointing metallic presence and the finale worthy of only a few seconds before closing time. A sad loss to the sci-fi genre.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pin this one on your map and enjoy the sights and sounds of fate., 6 December 2008

Gerald Fried (b. 1928), composer, and Frederick Gately (1909 - 1988), cinematographer, are the instigators of a wonderful film of sound and vision, and with this Louis Garfinkle (1928 - 2005) penned story, who, some twenty years on, was to pen The Deer Hunter (1978), have created a tense 1950's Noir style thriller. This is a great piece of 1950's horror, and starring Richard Boone (1917 - 1981), while not altogether horrific up-front, it is the fact that both science and the supernatural are at play here.

Having the power over life can be a daunting reality, and it is with the, literally, broad shoulders of Robert Kraft (Boone) who must take on this responsibility. The story is not very far away from the olden Haitian days of the Voodoo and zombie myths that were to penetrate the world's stages, books and cinemas. With pins and maps replacing voodoo dolls, this, mixed with its gripping score, wonderful black and white photography and the stellar casting of Richard Boone, I Bury the Living is a psychological attack on the mind and the slow demise into despair and guilt. Aware of this gift, Kraft endeavours to inform all those he trusts and believes can help him. His woes are simply put as coincidence and that nature has taking its choice and given some, her gift. Science too, has its place, with its rational reasoning that fate, through life, has simply chosen these people to die.

Richard Boone's performance as the troubled Robert Kraft is the man driven to near suicide, who, having the equivalent charisma and drama as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942) and Jerry Connolly in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), a cool demure set against a stern eagerness, casting Mr. Boone here has done both film and himself a world of good.

See this film for what it is, an interesting B-movie of its generation that has a superb visual tone of the great days of Hitchcock and a musical drama that highlights the tension and intrigue that draws you into both the concerns and anguish of this cursed man.

At 3:25 (1924)
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Interesting, and fun. To say the least., 29 November 2008

What a stunner this little movie is. With fantastic panoramic shots of early nineteen-twenties Paris. Called originally, Paris Qui Dort, plus too, At 3:25 or The Crazy Ray, this early science fiction story is set in, around and on the Eiffel Tower and the empty city Paris streets.

A night watchman, waking up one morning, while sleeping on the top of the Eiffel Tower, finds the whole of Paris has fallen asleep, permanently, with only himself for company and roaming the empty streets in bewilderment. After a short while, he stumbles across a small group of other bemused survivors. They explore. They take advantage. They have fun.

Parisian born René Clair's (1898 – 1981), whose other works include À nous la liberté Entr'acte (1924 short), Under the Roofs of Paris (1930) and À nous la liberté (1931), short comedy is a work of vision that today's contemporary cinema makers seem to have taken notice. With post isolationist films as 28 Days Later (2002), The Omega Man (1971) and Terry "Dalek creator" Nation's 1975 BBC television adaptation of "Survivors", this, Paris Qui Dort, is a very fascinating early contender of the sci-fi genre.

Placed at the heart is a narrative of while the cats are away the mice shall play, with wonderful shots of a bygone city seen from far above and with moments of comedy, The Crazy Ray is a classic of immense importance to the genre of sci-fi magic. Seen as the very first science fiction fable Georges Méliès's 1902 Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) has set the trend for visionary art, with the silent era composing of some of the greatest artists: Chaplin, Keaton, Clair, Lang and Hitchcock. At 3:25 can be seen as a new and fresh beginning for said filmmaker René Clair and a bold step into the unknown, as sound was soon to take control and all but the greatest has superseded to dominate.

Paris Qui Dort is a true gem, and while the mice are at play I highly recommend that you freeze time and find a moment to explore this intriguing visual work of art.

Blindness (2008)
3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Never so blind as those who wish not to see., 28 November 2008

First published by Portuguese writer José Saramago (b: 1922), this adaptation to the cinema screen by City of God (2002) director Fernando Meirelles has made a fine visual metaphorical interpretation of the 1995 novel. The sense of blindness that evolves within society has only perpetuated the climax of the negativity within human nature. This being not so much a race suffering the loss of sight but a race who seems to have lost its way. With this infliction, we see that all are equal in a world of the sightless; there are no comparison, no limitation, no expectation and a definite lack of conviction. We are judged by our action for who we are here, and the atrocities that are seen here being more than a poor reflection on how far the human race has evolved.

Containing a little more depth of soul than your standard apocalyptic movie as Doomsday (2008), for example, and with a social comment in its narrative as worthy as The Exterminating Angel (1962), Blindness has quite possibly taken it further. By adding the equation of the apocalyptic and social comment together, we see that in the realms of life not all things are equal. The forces of nature take control, and the inevitable will, eventually, happen, with sight or without sight, the hierarchy mentality takes place only too quickly, and with this social breakdown, we are then driven to quickly adapt, or succumb to the nature of the beast. This is the premise of Blindness, even if we were to see, in general, we were never so blind as to not see the consequence of our daily action.

Bringing the story together in three stages, we see the slow demise of a society catapulted into fear, paranoia and true blindness; ignorance. Placed together in a makeshift prison and finally released into the world; this is a fable of strength and unity without prejudice, and a wonderful allegory for unification through intolerance, indifference and social decay. Beautifully shot and woven together with more than one viewpoint, it is more than just the blind-leading-the-blind; we see a vision of hope for the Spirit of the human race with its camaraderie and self-discovery.

This is the blunt and uncompromising message that Blindness holds over its audience, psychologically interesting and at times a visually disturbing film of social breakdown and the rebirth of acknowledgment and faith of the human spirit. It may work in theory, but in practice? Try it out; it just may open your eyes.

Maniac (1980)
Not to be confused with the nice song of the same name., 27 November 2008

Split down the middle, this schizoid film is a repertoire of what can be deemed both a slasher and splatter movie. We have seen the typical slasher film stars such as Michael Myers (Halloween - 1978), Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th - 1980) and Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street - 1984). These fantasy stalkers' work well on their own, but, when combined with the added ingredient of the Splatter genre, buckets of blood and missing limbs abundant, the pace suddenly becomes more shocking, more degrading and with blood-letting by the bucket loads to whet the appetite.

Films such as the English Hammer Film Productions of the sixties and seventies, Intolerance (1916), Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Evil Dead (1981) and of course, Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson's ultra-gore fest and blackest of comedies Braindead (1992) are all fine examples of the splatter label.

Throughout his carrier, Joe Spinell (1936 - 1989) had performed in possibly some of the greatest movies within the last forty years: The Godfather, Pt's I & II, Rocky I & II, Farewell, My Lovely (1975) and Taxi Driver (1976). It is here, in his personal work via his attributes of starring, screenplay writing, story and Executive Producer that this 1980's classic slasher / splatter film Maniac came to represent one of the most disturbing and shocking serial killers on screen since Norman Bates back in the early sixties.

A hater of women, or more to the point a man who has had the misfortune to be the miss-interpreter of women, and with a deep seated hatred fuelled by his mother, this is a mind that has taken upon itself to reek havoc, vengeance and inherited blame onto his victims. A disturbed mind has to also reside in the physical, and we see Frank Zito coming home after a bad night out in his tiny one room apartment, a shrine to all things female and childlike. Dirty, broken and caged dolls sit aside centrefolds pinned onto the wall; framed pictures of his childhood are hung next to religious images, female mannequins that are dressed in his victims' attire, their scalped hair and their blood. Tainted masks and images of death are a constant reminder of a mind in turmoil, a shrine to the female gender and madness in all respects.

Unlike the Bates Motel where we see our killer roaming free to explore his weakness, Zito's roaming ground is the streets of the seedier side of New York City. There is evil, too, that is condensed into the tiny environment of his apartment that has the spectator tight up and in the thick of it all. Alienating as it first appears, director William Lustig and Joe Spinell has our leading man talking only to himself and the mannequins that he has made in the image of Woman that are the testament to his morbid indifference. Spurned on by a grizzly, haunting and excellent score, both electronic and musical, by Jay Chattaway (Maniac Cop - 1988, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - 1987 / 94 etc), this is a fine signature tune, both her own and Zito's, that helps delve only deeper into the confusion of this primal scream. Mr. Carpenter would be pleased.

What is surprising with this narrative is the capability of Frank Zito to totally change persona, a doppelganger of social skill, intellect and wit, switching sides and crossing the line, to fully exploit the new arena he finds himself. Befriending unknowing fashion photographer Anna D'Antoni (Caroline Munro: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, 1974 and The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977), with her photos of women laid across her wall. There are comparisons, as Zito would believe, to her artistic works of preservation, via the photograph, of life, the life of woman and Zito's "still life" of his work, his preservation of life via the mutilation, destruction and the dressing of his ladies: the mannequins. He quickly claims his prize, he quickly slides back into the abyss and the sense is set for a mental explosion of paranoia hell.

Robert Lindsay, the films cinematographer and camera operator, has an eye for the suspenseful, with beautiful shots of atmosphere, it is also with Jay Chattaway's ear, Tom Savini's hands and the imagination of the late Joe Spinell that Maniac is a film that both terrorises and amazes. This, being the heart of a good film, such as Maniac, with confliction and schism from start to finish, this will, literally, make the hairs stand on the back of your neck.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
An horrific historical document of madness and nightmares., 21 November 2008

Richard Franklin Speck (1941 - 1991), the killer of eight student nurses living together in a Chicago Community Hospital during 1966. It was to be the night of July 13th - 14th that Specks inadequacies were to come to resurface, killing them one-by-one throughout the night. This was to be another dark night in America's history that was to add his name to the list of serial killers that have tainted its name: Ted Bundy, the Hillside Strangler, the Boston Strangler and David Berkowitz etc, etc.

With typical relish the film industry around the world then immortalised his deeds, within a certain scope, onto celluloid; Chicago Massacre: Richard Speck (2007 V) by Michael Feifer, Okasareta hakui (Violated Angels) (1967) by K. Wakamatsu, Speck (2002) by Keith Walley and 10 to Midnight (1983) by J. Lee Thompson and starring Charles Bronson as the cop on his tail. The lesser known, and possibly the less seen, of these films portraying the acts of his crime is the actual war zone setting of Northern Ireland during the mid nineteen-seventies that is the Naked Massacre. Giving too, its conjunctive title Born for Hell, this latter title comes from a segment of a tattoo that was on Speck's arm, and in the end, was to be his undoing, the full tattoo reads: BORN TO RAISE HELL.

What is intriguing about Naked Massacre, with its West German production that whilst being shot in Hamburg and Studio Bendestorf, Germany, again, and being dubbed into English, it is the 1970's exterior Belfast locations that sets this film apart to give it an air of historical reference. Ironically, too or just sheer coincidence, as both, then, Germany and Ireland were divided by the political, and with Northern Ireland, religious beliefs. Seeing our protagonist wander the derelict war-torn streets of Belfast, with its IRA slogans and with the English army patrols and armoured vehicles setting an atmosphere of desperation and bleak overtones in an environment were faction Vs. faction and soldier Vs. stone throwing youths. An interesting reflective on harsh times in both English and Ireland's history.

German born Mathieu Carriere is the US' Vietnam vet' drifter Cain Adamson, reprising the role as Richard Speck, who, while trying to get back home, finds himself waiting for a passage back to the States. It is here, while waiting, kicking stones and hanging around the local pub, he finds the dwelling of the student nurses.

Denis Heroux the Montreal born film director, producer and here, writer and director, has our woman hater disturbing these residents with his grudges and psychosis that are brutal and disturbing. While, in general, a film of female degradation, with its grainy film stock and basic environment, these European writers' too, have given us a tale of woes from the perspective of an eroding mind of a war vet' who questions his own existence while very easily blames others for his predicament. This downward spiral of sanity leads to a very claustrophobic and tense world of hate and retribution to those he finds responsible most: the female of the spices.

Whilst being a work of fiction here, one has to remember that the narrative is, loosely, based around fact, and the reality is that this film is hard-hitting and plays testament to the weakness of this male mind and its overpowering of the enduring "weaker sex". As the night progresses, we see the completeness of his insanity; vile, ruthless and completely out of control.

We can see violations of the fairer sex in films as I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Last House on the Left (1972) and in hindsight, Salo; 120 Days of Sodom (1975), this too, Naked Massacre, is not pleasant viewing. One should not fall into the trap of thinking this as macabre entertainment but it being a visual nightmare of a state of mind that in one summer's night in a nurse's dormitory, in the USA, a little piece of it died. Most mercilessly.

14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
I wish, I wish...that Evil calls someone else., 16 November 2008

Jennifer Lim stars in this flat-liner of a horror, cast too, in films such as Rogue Trader (1999), Hostel (2005) and 27 Dresses (2008) she, amongst others, is seen parading around school in what seems to be, literally, the bear essentials. Put together by Gatlin Pictures (Darkhunters (2004) and Forest of the Damned (2005), to date), Pure Grass Films (Beyond the Rave (2008 video)) and directed by Johannes Roberts, this was first released as a mini-series that was broadcast originally via mobile (cell) phones, and then ultimately released on 18 Certificate DVD with full extended footage.

Now in its entirety, and with stars as Dominique Pinon (Diva (1981), Delicatessen (1991), The City of Lost Children (1995), Alien: Resurrection (1997) and Amélie (2001)), Sean "Dog Soldiers" Pertwee and Chris Barrie (Red Dwarf's Arnold Rimmer) one would have hoped for a great film in tow, but alas, no. We can certainly see the target audience here, with the main attraction being these older teens to early twenty something's carrying their uniforms to maximum effect, with so little interest in production value, script and imagination, what merit is there for anything else? A bigger budget may have helped, after all and in all fairness, this is the two fledgling Production companies at their genesis, with hope and hindsight it may improve and no doubt, the overall experience for everyone may not have been a total waste.

The narrative isn't that new, a nondescript girl (Jennifer Lim) wishes only to be more popular in school, her wish comes true via an extremely evil looking clown (not a bad effort too) who has the ability to transform peoples wishes into reality via mobile phones, hence, when evil calls. This, of course, does not go according to plan; the butterfly effect has some pretty nasty (budget allowing) consequences.

The main cast here seems just as hyped, as too the short lengths of the girls skirts, then used to little effect but to add a name to the credits, then again, with only a running time of 75 minutes, it had to go one way or the other, and tails, the boys lost. It does have its moments, both of humour and fright, but they seem too dry, too fleeting and too far apart. Dominique Pinon's screen time here is tantamount to scandalous and Sean Pertwee's straight out of the rulebook script looked more inarticulate and uninspiring to say the least.

We know, or should have more sense to see, that this is more than straight-to-video; this is film-making on-the-knock. We can only hope that, in time, the two companies involved and their future projects will make a handsome return. If this were not to be the case, then the unfortunate evil Clown should stay behind after school and write out a hundred times: This tried its best, but it just wasn't good enough.

[Rec] (2007)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A more realistic way in which to use the shaky cam'., 13 November 2008

"While You're Asleep" is a Spanish documentary television show that has Ángela Vidal, played by Manuela Velasco, and her cameraman Pablo, visiting a Barcelona fire station to follow their movements during the night. Done in the "first-person" (the showing of a film via the perspective of the viewer if they were actually there filming, as the case here, the T.V. cameraman) throughout. This faux style of documentary can be misleading to those unaware that is exactly that: false. If caught unaware this may seem to represent an actual T.V. documentary and to be caught off-guard would lead to some very interesting results.

We are shown around the station and we see interviews of the firefighters as the night progresses, then, as the call comes in, they are off to assist an elderly woman trapped inside her apartment…

It is in this apartment block in the dead of night that the local residents, a smattering of strangers, the fire crew and our intrepid Ángela Vidal and her cameraman, encounter more than just things that go bump in the night. With the reality style of the hand-held camera movements that are seeing for us, this too could well be us, trapped now ourselves, because of dangerous contamination to others outside, inside with this tightly packed and fearful group of people.

The fear factor kicks in almost immediately the first causality surfaces, as the first victim falls prey to this strange and unknown phenomenon; quickly spreading and dividing this tiny group, it isn't long before this claustrophobic atmosphere become a melting pot of paranoia, high anxiety and death.

With this camera technique we are more than drawn into this nightmare scenario, we are giving a pace that quickens with each passing minute and we are being delivered and being witness to a dramatic hell.

Written and directed by Jaume Balagueró who has extended the realism by using only true locations, such as the fire station and the apartment block, it is with this cinematic experience, that the turmoil escalates to violent proportions we can truly see, with our own eyes why such a film has had its fair share of Awards.

Winning the Silver Scream Award of the 2008 Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival, the Fantasporto Audience Jury Award and Best Film and The Goya Award for Best Editing and Best New Actress for Manuela Velasco, and deservedly so. With other winnings for Best Director when not being nominated or coming in second place, this, for such a short running time of 80 minutes is more than adequate to deliver a longer lasting impression of its extreme high shock value that will always be top billing to its quickening pace and daring technique. Dare you rewind and press PLAY…???

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Little England's private war shows spirit in the face of impending invasion., 5 November 2008

"Went the day well? We died and never knew, But well or ill, England, we died for you" is a poem, in its original form, which was written during The Great War of 1914 - 1918 and then used, in part and in principle, as the title to the Alberto Cavalcanti (1897 - 1982) directed Ealing Studios film Went the Day Well? Based on a short story entitled "The Lieutenant Died Last" by (Harry) Graham Greene (1904 - 1991) who too wrote The Third Man (1949) and Brighton Rock (1947). This is the telling of a past event, in a similar vain as the narrator in Our Town (1940), that once happened on the Whitson weekend of 1942, in the sleepy English hamlet of Bramley End.

Those who have seen the John Sturges 1976 film The Eagle Has Landed will have a vague idea as to the narrative of Went the Day Well? This too was based on a 1975 novel written by Jack Higgins, which it seems, bears more than just a passing resemblance to the 1942 film itself. This classic war film, The Eagle Has Landed, stars Michael Caine as the leading German Paratrooper and with Jenny Agutter, Robert Duvall, Donald Sutherland and Donald Pleasence, an involving cast and well worth the look. What separates this 1976 version of German occupation of little England and the 1942 film is that it was Went the Day Well? that hits home the hardest.

Set during some three years into the actual conflict of World War II, and with its stark realism, stereotyping brushed a side for a moment; this is, for its time a brutal and violent film, considering. The time for this sleepy village to awake and face its demons has firmly landed on its doorstep. The transformation of idyllic rural Englishness has to be tested to its limits, on their own and with time running out, even the softest of hearts have to learn the hardest rule; in order to survive, this little village of Bramley End must, with shocking and disturbing new qualities', adapt to their new surroundings.

Even by today's standards this looks tame, but the way in which it is done here shows the true message of the world war II propaganda film. Complacency is not the order of the day during the then real threat of a German invasion. As the war time audience were led to believe what may happen by letting your guard down will only endeavour you to your worst fears. Even in this scenario it is the pulling together of all, from the village post mistress to the Lady of the Manor and finding common place to ward of these fifth column infiltrators. This is England and the people who are only too willing to lay down their lives "for the sake of the children", they, in principle of the first world war poem, died for England, and freedom. This is the true message of this great, well-constructed propaganda war effect from Ealing Studios.

There are some very dark moments here, very dark moments indeed, for the times in which it was made, of bravery and courage, and too, the hands-on violence towards the women and their children. While the men do do their bit, the focus of aggressive and boorish behaviour from these fifth column activists concentrates more on the women folk and it is they that are seen pulling together and doing their bit too, Went the Day Well? is an equal opportunities film that relies on the shock value of the predicament of imprisonment by the invading Hun and its, and in return, brutal treatment of the villagers' wives and daughters.

One can only imagine the reaction during its showing around British cinemas on its release to the way in which these fighting heroines were severely treated. It is the job of Went the Day Well? to project the spirit of camaraderie from all spheres of life, and to inject and provoke the feeling of pride for ones efforts to fight the might of the German war machine, wherever they may land. This is the purpose of this film, and it does it very well and even then if it fails in its job to stir up nationalistic pride, then, perhaps, the day did not go too well.

75 out of 142 people found the following review useful:
So much undercover that even "he" seems unrecognisable., 4 November 2008

German born Marc Forster (The Kite Runner, 2007) has the deft task of giving our most prestigious secret agent his next assignment. He has assembled a workforce that has worked hard to achieve a wonderful and exiting visual that is Quantum of Solace; fast edits; close-up action from start to finish, all quick, all skilfully put together this constitutes competent film-making indeed.

We expect the usual, that is the new modern Bond, high octane spy adventure thriller here and we have it, with the story coming from Ian Flemings short story, in title only, this, it seems really is the end of the line of the Fleming family-tree. Sadly, this shows too, as the film progresses, we see what can also seem just an average-come-lately action film. You see, Bond is individual, Bond is maverick, Bond is trademarked. Quantum of Solace stands out on its own, or does it? When we have a new Bond, we should at least have old style, old witticism, old charms and more importantly old signature tunes.

There are moments that we have to remind ourselves that we are watching a James Bond film. The new has pushed out, and advanced along the way, the old, we often see that at the sacrifice of old tunes, pleasant reminders and musical signature motto's, that at times, even the James Bond franchise seems to be so much undercover that even "he" seems unrecognisable.

What is particularly interesting is the connection between Bond and his superior, M, now the ultimate Bond girl. Given his ruthlessness and her pleasant sternness set against each other and the mixture of their works' combined makes a good team and with this comes humour and a job well done. The bad-guys are the same old bad guys and the Bond girls are just as gorgeous as ever.

Unfortunately, as the pace quickens the narrative slows and falls a little flat, not the most exciting plot. Madmen wanting world domination it isn't, but for what it is, in their own unique way, even Harry Palmer, Alec Leamas, Austin Powers and dare I say it Jason Bourne could have pulled this one off. So much is the unfamiliarity and development of this new creation, we could be watching anyone here.

"Bond. James Bond". Did he say that in the film too? Another missing link perhaps? Are the new creators' wanting to distance the old and bury the hatchet? The time has finally arrived that a Bond film has not been written by its creator. It is all too painfully obvious that this Bond just may be batting for the other side by not showing his true colours and thus blending in with his counter-parts. But hey, even with Bond heading in this new uncharted territory it brings little solace in thinking that bygones be best forgot.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
The Shape of Things To Come:, 7 July 2008

War movies, and in particular, World War II propaganda war movies do not come as blatant as this piece of English cinema. Produced by London Films with Hungarian born Alexander Korda (1893 - 1956), part director, part producer and this being his bit for the British war effort shows the world both at peace and on the verge of Nazi domination. The Lion Has Wings was to become one of the most influential and pivotal war movies to date, if one can call it "war movie".

This style, this technique is more akin to the documentary and the stiff upper-lip newsreels, an extended newsreel so to speak here, seen for so long in the English cinemas around this time. This is exactly the point of this film. To show the people of Britain, who, on the verge of their second great war, that England, its principles, its freedoms and its history, when compared and conjoined with news footage of the German armies' and the oppressive might of Hitler and his black plague slowly spreading across Europe during the nineteen thirties, was the fairer, peaceful and more tolerant nation. Seeing the English perceptive can, for a short while, also be seen as a little problematic, it in itself can seem a little too narcissist, too biased and while giving the impression of a them and us scenario, to the "other side" just may be seen as too wonderful and too modest for its own good.

One only has to listen to the narrative spoken here, and it really is un-reassuring, in parts, shown are the parallels of the German war machine being nurtured during peace time in the 1930's and the film footage of the English factories hard at work in readdressing this unbalance via the making of vast amounts of bullets, bombs and long range guns. We make these weapons of our own free will to justify this strategy is because it is "they" who are armed for the "wrong reasons". Our cause is righteous and just.

Starring Ralph Richardson (1902 - 1983) as the Royal Air Force Commander willing and ready to do his duty and nurse Merle Oberon (1911 - 1979) as his sweetheart, and both having worked with Alexander Korda on numerous occasions before, play their parts eloquently, very eloquently, the stiff-upper-lip of the English nation stands on these two enduring shoulders. Stout and proud are these two peacetime winged angels who tread on pastures new, staged and rehearsed to the point of perfection and astonishment.

This three directional film by Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst and Michael Powell, each had their parts to play. The twelve-day shoot and two weeks of putting this work together made it impossible for one director alone. This was wartime propaganda at its zenith, the shape of things to come. Like the pulling together of these three directors, we also see the country, of all classes, pulling together to defend and defeat this plague. With its resources of weapons and modern technology fighting to withhold the might of Hitler with "good Chaps" and the brave women of England. This delivery of patronage as Merle Oberon is giving her monologue on the plight of the women and their husbands and sons of England, and don't forget, written by men, is shot up tight to her face, her spirit, her resolve and experiences shine through as the brave consciousness of a well prepared, but, only too daunting people. This is The Lion Has Wings coming into its own, pure undiluted propaganda. The Ministry of Information would be proud; this is an extremely well calculated publicity stunt for the British Colonies', her allies, her foes and beyond.

As in yesterday's methods, and looking at today's methods too, we are not too far removed from how propaganda exploits it favourite medium: from the large screen of yesteryear to the small screen in the corner of our living rooms today. The medium of cinema was a powerful tool, during The Great War of 1914 to 1918 cinemas were closed down and propaganda took other routes, but, during the 1930's and beyond and before the advent of television, the medium of cinema was to reach out to the minds of its peoples.

Soon after the release of The Lion Has Wings there were other, more successful, films of this ilk, jumping on the band-wagon with differing styles and techniques, films such as The Life and Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), 49th Parallel (1941) and the stunning Ealing Studios great Went the Day Well (1942) were to play their part for freedoms and morality. On the other hand, too, there are just as great propaganda films from the dark side of Nationalism: Joseph Goebbels's Nazi Cinema; With soundtracks of note such as Titanic (1943), S.A.-Mann Brand (1933) and also from 1933 Hitlerjunge Quex. Some to enlighten, some to dictate, some to frighten, but all to propel a message of fervour in some shape and form and depending on which side of the fence you may sit, the rest are just historical films of propaganda from "the other side".

The effect of The Lion Has Wings on the British war machine was slight, though crude but effective propaganda cinema, spliced together to form both newsreel and acting, it set the standard. With World War 2 gone, the Cold War had too come then disbanded, and then during the eighties and nineties, we had the demise of the Eastern Bloc and the division of Yugoslavia. All this had great consequence that shaped the European Union once more, these were the events and their opportunities for the propaganda machine to keep itself in perpetual motion, and having left its mark for all to see. Finally, and rightly so, leaving the last word to the now defunct Belgrade underground radio station RADIO B92, with its passing epitaph: "Trust no one - not even us - but keep the faith…"

Teeth (2007/I)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Flossing never seemed so exciting. Until we were shown the Teeth., 20 June 2008

At least with "Ginger Snaps" (2000) it had some underlined metaphor for puberty, but this? If there were some hidden agenda for female growing-pains then, sadly or quite rightly, I missed it here. What promised to be an interesting story has only turned out to be a film with more caps attached, to cover its dreadful ham-fisted delivery, than an A-Lister at a photojournalist convention.

There were comic tensions to be seen, but the timing was all out of place, it just seemed "so wrong", wrong in the sense that it falls flat, continually, and this is trying too hard and failing miserably, hearing that pin drop never relieved the embarrassment of a poorly executed film. With such an interesting concept this has been glossed over as a comedy, sadly, the only comic relief here is the fact that these inserts seem to be wanting to be taken seriously.

Being fully aware of the predicament that our young protagonist, Dawn (Jess Weixler, born 1981), is under and her determination to save her most sacred moment, this does at least have its moments too. We see these young adults trying hard not to give into temptation, and with this chosen life style, we see them sullen and with great restraints comes great responsibility and pressure, all due respect and fair enough. The gap between serious overtones of ones belief and the way in which it is handled is wide. A seriously funny film or a funny film of serious consequence? Yes, we have the wanting and the lustful thoughts of these everyday kids shown before us, but to choose the method in which this cross-over from child to adult has been a wasted opportunity.

Attempting to extract a laugh, except for a roll-of-the-eyes cringe, never came, yes, a dog that eats a man severed member is funny, is amusing and "Ouch" comes to mind, fair play. Sadly, though, this is no deep cavity of either horror or comedy. Gross-out and tacky is all we get for our money, this film was not done in the Private Sector but with a State Handout, and with a State Handout, it's harder to go and ask for your money back, but easier to see why you didn't want to go in the first place.

Adulthood (2008)
16 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
N.W.A. U.K. Style:, 20 June 2008

Not Straight Outta Compton, but straight out of jail and back on the mean streets of London. A story of retribution, responsibility and reflections that has Sam Peel (Noel Clarke) fighting for more than just his freedom. After a six and a half year stretch for murder, his troubles are just about to begin. This has his past conflicts catching-up with his plans to stay alive for the future. Strong language assists the strong sense for survival and bitter revenge in this gritty 24-hour time-line drama; knives, guns, drugs, sex and baseball bats rule this urban metropolis.

Written, directed, his first attempt too, and starring Noel Clarke, and the follow-up to, in writing only, his 2006 Kidulthood, and backed by UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund and The UK National Lottery. Wonderfully scripted and uncompromising in all areas, these urban gorillas and street urchins are the epitome of English youth in a modern setting of ghettos and tower blocks that show a concrete jungle of an inarticulate, destitute, indifferent underclass.

Edited too in an exciting fashion with split screens and driven alone with daring character development not seen since the 1995 French movie "La Haine". Adulthood being both a film of extreme violence and of reconciliation with ones past to make-amends with ones future, in a world of aggression, for some, there is hope, be it with education, forgiveness or just plain growing-up. Finding ones faults and learning, and having to, deal with them here is an education and a right-of-passage that not only brings a sense of neorealism to the proceedings but is frighteningly more close-to-the-bone than some would possibly care to admit. Adulthood could be seen as social comment perhaps or more than coincidence and excellent timing. Whatever the case may be, daunting and realistic it is.

This, along with Sean Meadows work "This Is England", Garth Jennings "Son of Rambow", Paul Andrew Williams "The Cottage" and Martin McDonagh's "In Bruges" for example, is a fine example of just how British film is slowly, and very assuredly, coming back to conquer once more. With imagination and self-confidence, we can look forward to these conquering heroes expanding further afield, and too, with the added bonus of Mr. Noel Clarke to also carry the flag. Not bad for a beginner.

7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
No longer green behind the ears, but still some way to go., 13 June 2008

The green mean machine rises from the vaults of the Marvel collective once more. His true conception in 1962 has seen him more than often idolised in several aspects of the multimedia world, be it comics, cartoons, TV shows and just lately, as we see here, once more, a well-established movie star.

Playing the beast with the flight or fight syndrome that is Dr. Bruce Banner's alter ego we have Edward Norton, who, also having a major role in the films script (as Edward Harrison), and with this input, we have what feels very much, and quite deliberately, like a pastiche of the 1970's TV show of the same name. With a nod to the late Bill Bixby (1934 - 1993) and the shows instantly recognisable theme tune here too. This classic TV show ran from 1978 until 1982, had 81 airings and we also see, in this movie, an identical transformation that is taken from the TV show, both inspiration and respect for this cult show are well apparent.

We have the good Dr. on the run and trying his best to avoid capture, we see his love between Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) rekindled and the dastardly General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross (William Hurt) trying his best to apprehend and detain the green giant. All done to perfection and predictability that will have young children loving the adventure and excitement that this formalistic narrative, bland but workable here, holds. While there is nothing wrong in formalistic story lines, it is well expected in this genre, and in its delivery is how it shall be judged.

We are shown and drawn into the world in which this green fugitive lives: lonely, desperate, dangerous, cold and deadly. With this in mind, the Hulk has an equal: the Abomination (Tim Roth); hell on earth is soon to erupt. While the human world pulls through with its action sequences, seek and destroy battles, love lost and found, chastising and baiting, we are then introduced to the CGI world of the Hulk and his nasty foe. This green over-sized gamma infested beast has anger management written all over him; big, muscular, rippling and lifelike, not a bad interpretation of the jolly green giant, personally, I would have preferred the human touch, Lou Ferrigno, you are well missed. The blending of both worlds has its moments, but these are fleeting, but overall, it's more a case of ups than down, giving this movie an atmosphere of excitement that won't frighten the kids in the isles and will hold its own in a fight with the grown-ups too.

The cast fairs well, but Ms. Tyler's soft and gentle character seems more fun when see is angry (the New York taxi scene for example), Tim Roth just seems slightly disjointed here, while William Hurt can be too easily forgotten when out of shot, but this is most definitely Mr. Norton's movie, without a doubt. Like most of Edward Norton roles they're not too over powering and not too undercooked, while this easy role has its moments, we can certainly understand that the real (hard) work has been done behind the camera.

The Incredible Hulk will continue to prosper for Marvel if it heads in the direction that we see here. The kids will love the action and adventure while the grown ups will reflect on the nostalgia of it all and too enjoy the benefit of CGI, all that we can hope for is that too much of a formalistic direction won't turn this green colossus into pea green soup: we wait with baited breath.

16 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
Hey, why? Eh!, 25 April 2008

Forgiving, for a moment, that this is Mr. Nicholas Stoller's first attempt at directing, we can say, with all honesty, that this attempt is also as easily forgettable. With Jason Segel who on par with Vince Vaughn as to total charisma by-pass, this laid out road map of a movie is at least amusing to the extremes of bewilderment as to ask what was the point? Set in the lush location of Hawaii, this beautiful island is more looking like the flotsam and jetsam of bad scripts, limited efforts' and a weak plot to the point of sheer tedium.

There is a level of predictability in, certain, movies that when having crossed a certain level, usually the lowest, then turns any movie into outright worthlessness, Forgetting Sarah Marshall falls snugly into this description, too. Predictability, here, is the name of the game, added with the dull, and more than often, painful dialogue, this all to obvious direction throughout is seen as lazy or just plain unimaginative.

With little attempt to convey any higher ground of thought to the narrative, this stance leaves nothing but an open road with no turns, twists, slip roads and bends to excite and planning this journey can be so easily done with ones eyes closed, such is the obvious horizons' that this film projects.

Then, apart from the shady editing, being choppy at best, in other places very poor, in particular during the conversation between Aldous Snow and Matthew the Waiter and the demo disc. There is too the gags; simple, cold and listless, with comedy it needs a character, a character with persona, wit and timing, this lifeless, dull and time wasting exercise deals no punches and only solidifies itself in a similar vain to a petrified forest. The only redeeming artifice here is the wit of one Russell Brand, who seems to have the best lines here too, and with this self loving man of free love, and too, the newly-weds of desperation, is the films only real redemption. It really is a pity that this characterisation was not carried off to other members of the cast, otherwise, this may have faired well in the road to recovery, instead it is well worth remembering that it only takes a slight wrong turn and very quickly ends up looking like road kill.

7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
An enigma that constitutes more than a social disease., 17 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Luis Buñuel's (1900 - 1983) exile to Mexico, in 1946, had never withered his talent to surprise, shock and bewilder. His political stance clearly shows his support toward the Workers' factions and his despise for the dictatorial ruling classes that was The Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939). During his stay in Mexico, he was to make an enigma, an insight into the principles of survival amongst the elite and their dealings of the trappings of success and the fear of failure to keep composure and dignity.

Some can say that his work in El ángel exterminador may be seen as a metaphor for the eagerness of the ruling classes to rely on the lower orders to satisfy their own needs. However, when these lower orders, these servants', flee into the night, it leaves the high-ranking elite in disbelief as how to continue this bourgeoisie existence without its backbone, its workforce, that is needed to keep this lifestyle in its perpetual splendour. It too, may also be seen as the stance against the Franco regime and the working people leaving in droves, from the lands, the factories to retaliate against the dictatorship of the Spanish rulings classes. Without the lower classes these intellectuals', these land and factory owners' et al are powerless, they have no means to continue this extravagance they have become accustomed. With this newfound realisation of alienation, the implosion of morals, etiquette and social order soon take effect.

However, this too can be seen also as a simple theory, but not excluding it altogether, there are deeper, spiritual meanings here too, apart from the physical, why can they not leave the room? Are they afraid to lose all their inhibitions totally and be seen as uncouth and forward? Remembering too, that this house of opulence is situated in Providence Street; the name in itself is a hint of something more worthy, more grandeur than those who reside in it; "If Divine Providence frees us we will offer a Te Deum" mutters a frustrated guest. With Gods, possibly, guiding hand, these souls are thrown into bedlam and chaos and stifled by their own virtues, stripped bare to become exposed as human beings the barriers of pretence, indifference, ignorance and hypocrisy are thrown into turmoil and they do not like what they see. They do not like what they have become. They do not like the fact that they are no different from any other. Amusing too, is the fact that when awaking on the first morning of entrapment, then unknown to them, after sleeping on the floor and sofas, most, comment on how poor their appearance is, it is this outward vanity that shows us just how narcissistic and self-centred this society has evolved.

As the second act too evolves, it is more than apparent that in this psychological trauma as an elderly man lies dying amongst them, they are willing, but at the same time incapable of helping. Penned up sheep they have become, and unwilling to think and act with free will, until someone can lead the way of course; "I'll shall fetch help if you leave first", the old man dies. These are the rules of etiquette, while individualism and intelligence sets them apart from the masses, each one has to conform to the next, the first to break the rules' of etiquette, to render themselves inappropriate, is seen as unsociable and in poor taste. They are truly trapped, in both the physical sense and the mental. Only cowards reside here, each wanting out, but no one willing to try for the glory of freedom, it's best to go when one is following, afraid of the unknown neither Man or Woman is willing, or strong enough, to lead the way forward, with resentment they wait, they dissolve and rot.

As the situation worsens so do the paranoia's, disdain and trust, blame turns to hate, hate turns to madness and madness turns to the ultimate sin. Only God, the Divine Elohim, can save their Souls, if not faith in something bigger because faith in one another, in the human traits of companionship, honesty and camaraderie are now non-existent.

Even too, outside are the baying crowds eager to enter the house, with police barricades they shout "Let us in, we're not animals", they walk up to the large imposing gate and stop dead in their tracks, they cannot walk any further, something stops them that is also not seen. This could be representative of the lower classes who, divided from this system of, a higher, etiquette, and who in turn wishes to be treated and respected in the same capacity? With no one walking out and no one walking in, it is this barrier of consciousness that is setting the narrative that we are all born free but the social ties, constraints and obligations' are what sets us from the "others". It isn't so much that these people are trapped within a room of no bars, guards and barriers' that can be seen, it is more to the point that it isn't where they are but who they are and what has lead them to become who they are. This is a prison of their own making, and it could just have been one single Man in a phone box, a church to a baying crowd outside, as opposed to a crowded room with gentry and sophistication.

If there are answers here then they are also elusive, with a looming cloud over its patrons The Exterminating Angel is a prison within a prison, and why pick on these Souls here? Perhaps, in all honesty, it is this genre of the human race that sees itself above most others, and it is God bringing these socialites' down to earth, with a bang. Simple, I know, but with this premise of the complexities' of human nature, can a simple equation be so easily found? Found out for yourself, and experience an enigma.

14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Before the Video Game there was the real thing: Imagination., 9 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Polar-opposites have never been so compatible, particularly with Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 2005) latest outing with Son of Rambow. Introducing two new comers Bill Milner (Will) and Will Poulter (Lee Carter) as two young school kids who find that even in the unlikely of places there can be a common interest.

It is in this movie of bonding, friendships and Sylvester Stallone that this English summer of 1982 has our heroes sweating their days film-making, fighting off religious beliefs', struggling against indifference and putting up with French patter and pose. With their social differences, one belonging to the Plymouth Brethren and the other a feral child. This wild child's dream is to win the BBC's Screen Test short movie competition, a U.K. children's television show about Film, with its fifteen year lifespan ending in 1984, and take note of who is presented with the winning prize toward the end, no other than a young real life Jan "Ratatouille" Pinkava himself.

An English movie at heart, and with French overtones, adding too, a little quality and that finer touch to the proceedings we are given the wonderful Eric Sykes O.B.E., C.B.E. who plays his part with comic professionalism. This is one comic caper of kids using imagination, wit and determination to pass their long summer days, breaking down barriers and building new paths to tread. Wonderful stuff and with great dialogue too from director Jennings; funny, heart warming and blissfully satisfying to watch. While not too deep with character development, with what we have, we are most entertained and at times moved. Moved by its simplicity, its richness in the dealings of connections and conflicts between all involved on screen, albeit young Will's overbearing religious values and loving mother, Lee Carters isolation from his never present parents and of course, la tour de force; the Son of Rambow: The home movie.

The Son of Rambow is more than the sum of its parts, its about that old aged fable shown in many kids films, but in a different light, great coming-of-age movies as Christina Ricci's Now and Then (1995), River Phoenix's Stand by Me (1986) to the magic of The Goonies (1985). Son of Rambow is amusing to the point of hilarity, touching to the point of sentimentality and rewarding like a good home movie should be; made well with imagination, wit and determination.

7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Great comedy and greater horrors await you at The Cottage., 18 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Take television comedy actors Reece Shearsmith ("The League of Gentlemen"), Steve O'Donnell (Kevin and Perry Go Large 2000) one movie star Andy Serkis (The Lord of The Rings 2001 - 2003) and director and writer Paul Andrew Williams (London to Brighton 2006) and we have a very fresh faced English comedy based on stupidity, desperation and gruesome death.

A stylised horror with added humour and foul language to boot, this is comedy via a witless tribe of incompetents and amateurish plans to make some easy money. A charming story of two brothers (Shearsmith and Serkis) hiding out in a remote cottage, while their kidnapped victims London gangland boss pays off a one hundred thousand pound ransom for feisty daughter Tracey (Jennifer Ellison). Of course, thing do not go according to plan.

Funded by the UK Film Council and Screen Yorkshire this is horror most horrible, set with some fine colouring by cinematographer Christopher Ross (London to Brighton 2006), the Isle of Man and Yorkshire night time countryside has never looked so tense, suspenseful and dangerous. Then there is the wit of the script that takes its own form, with the added help of clueless kidnappers and Oriental thugs this script is the key core that propels the film forward to a festival of comedy and extreme hilarity, mixed with it murders most foul. Even if the outlaying plot does seem a tad familiar, it can be very much forgiven. The Cottage from the start has been given its own blend of ghastly misfortunes, its own characteristics that set it apart from the rest, like a Carry On gone wrong, The Cottage has built its reputation on a backbone of British humour that always hit's the right spot for the right reasons.

While nothing new to report in overall originality The Cottage is well prepared to take the risk of not pampering to the allure of the teenage cinema market, due respect to its bravery in having the 18 certificate upon it. In addition, with this adult tag comes adult humour and extreme adult violence. There is no compromise with what The Cottage holds within its rafters and with the horrors of it all it really does seem a change from the norm and to see fresh meat, and blood, injected and dissected, into a British film as The Cottage is only a step in the right direction for British Cinema, I'm moving in as soon a possible.

10,000 BC (2008)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Times were hard in 10,000 B.C., but what are the excuses for today's millennium?, 16 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Roland Emmerich the man who gave us Stargate (1994) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and now gone beyond the stars and with all his yesterdays, so far, firmly behind him, has now taken a step back and delivered us a dire version of accounts concerning the 10th millennium B.C. Certainly not an historic account too, just a setting of the period and with its adventure of boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy chases after girl, and that's about it, nothing more and much more less.

Dire too is its script, would one rather have seen, and heard, the dialogue similar to the prehistoric gem One Million Years B.C. (1966) with its grunts, groans and snarls as to this extremely articulate tribes of hunter gathers and their fellow friends and foes? Whilst not too distracting, it seems so out of place, so, unusually bizarre, so out of character.

Oddly enough is the bizarre and shocking moment when the hero releases, when trapped, one giant Spear-Tooth on the bargain that it just does not eat him when he becomes free. Now, this has to be the least unbelievable scene in movie history, this was needed to propel the plot agreed, but, what a wasted opportunity to not have Spear-Tooth do his part proper, a magnificent beast, then he'd only become the unspoken Aslan of his time if he became more involved.

Pampered and coated with candyfloss, this children's movie will only reach the levels of the mentality that it deliberately reaches out to. It may astound them, it may intrigue them, but, as a movie itself, it fails to have the determination to be anything else but a low budget adventure movie with poor qualities and a disappointing ending that beggar's belief.

The CGI, in parts, are interesting, with the panoramic's of the Pyramids and the Mammoths themselves, but, there seems to be some poor quality in the picture itself, with it trading from clean and clear wide shots to dark, grainy and dirty moments. A poor standard indeed and did I notice too some poor imagery of superimposing? I think I may have, such a poor, again, standard for today's cinema capabilities. However, this only leads to the obvious, and this films main drawback being the budget. With non A-Listers here, which really does not hamper this film directly, and with some of these prehistoric beasts having "under-make-over's", all this to help to keep costs down, and then its script just adds up to a plain and simple, if a little sickly, sign of the times that is 10,000 B.C.: Out of date and dead.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Midnight mass at the Underground: It's that sort of movie., 10 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having its US' Premiere at the 9th New York Underground Film Festival, 2002, and quite fittingly, "Teenage Hooker Became a Killing Machine", or to give it its full Korean title "Daehakno-yeseo maechoon-hadaka tomaksalhae danghan yeogosaeng ajik Daehakno-ye Issda" is one hell of a train ride. An exploitation movie with added zest, that's exploitation as in plot and narrative, and too, genre. This concoction of sci-fi - horror and surreal black comedy is director Gee-woong Nam's coming together of the generation gap, represented by So-yun Lee as the young schoolgirl and her middle-aged teacher Dae-tong Kim and each character having no name except being called by their respective parts. This is where youth is seen as promiscuous, beautiful and in the same breath being independent to the limits of self-exploitive to further her own gains. The older generation is seen as square and exploitive of their young, ugly and controlling while at the same time forming the next generations path for their own needs; nasty business indeed, from both sides.

Most definitely a love it or hate it movie if bizarre and surrealism is your thing, with its unforgettable dance ritual, between Teacher and Teenage hooker, that can quite possibly be translated as sexual foreplay, the films highlight and most surreal moment. The soft focused and gritty imaginary can also be translated as to replicate a dream like state that this young Teenage hooker resides, but somehow the horrors of reality are more than evident with the political stance it takes. This may have its surreal fantasy overtones but its underlining concept of social controls and its menacing delivery is never far away. Macabre and unsettling to say the least.

Wronged and betrayed by a society that is meant to care for her she is finally put to rest by what can only be deemed as a corrupt and hypocritical system in the guise of three "morality" killers who then go about cutting and chopping our young lady to pieces.

Exploited from beyond the grave, reborn and rebuilt; think of Fritz Lang's 1927 classic Metropolis, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Luc Besson's Nikita and roll them all into one. Using her schoolgirl charm, once more, to infiltrate her targets, as she once had with her punters-of-the-night this sweet and innocent looking demeanour has transcended into a highly skilled robotic killing machine, a creation of SDH, Division 6. A man-made tool, this killing machine's thoughts are very similar to her past life's thoughts: socially programmed, a means to an end. But, has it all been a very bad dream? With the Teachers final insights are we to believe that this young girl is not metallic but still in fact human, but, subconsciously and unknowingly, still, a by-product of the system, eroding away any form of individualism and will? Gee-woong Nam's film of fantasy and science fiction has evolved into a midnight movie classic that when finally surfacing from the underground movement shall become one of Koreas finest moments. Seek it out. Be amazed.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Two's company and with great comedy three isn't a crowd., 8 March 2008

There are buddy cop movies and there are cop buddy movies, then there is John Badham's 1991 The Hard Way. Angst ridden, angry and street wise New York City police Detective Lt. John Moss (James Woods) has forced upon him the ivory towered, naïve and utterly irritating Hollywood star Nick Lang (Michael J. Fox) to further Lang's research into the life of "how to live the cop's life" for his latest movie.

With the added work from writers' Lem Dobbs (Dark City, 1998), Michael Kozoll (First Blood, 1982) and Daniel Pyne (Fracture, 2007) a writing chemistry that works well together, particularly in the hands of John Badham (WarGames, 1983 and Short Circuit, 1986). Bringing these two giants, Woods and Fox, to the silver screen together is by no means an easy task if they are to gel, and this is exactly what has been done. With a chemistry on screen that is a highly intoxicating, humorous, witty and action filled with highly explosive personalities, and what a script too; quick, sharp and fun. This is a fun movie with a capitol "F", seeing Woods and Fox play off each other is simply stunning, it really is a pity that there were no outtakes during the end credits here as we can very plainly see these fine actors enjoying the pleasure of their work.

Parodying the parody, The Hard Way is an entertaining spoof movie of street cop reality and movie star elite that when mixed can deliver a hard and soft movie of serious principles set against the whims of entertainment. Along side James Woods and Michael J. Fox we see Luis Guzmán, Karen Lynn Gorney's cameo role, coming back after a fourteen-year hiatus since her last role as Stephanie in John Badham's epic Saturday Night Fever (1977) and a young and delightful Christina Ricci, playing only her second role in her career. Then saving the best till last, we have Stephen Lang as the chilling and narcissistic serial killer The Party Crasher; creepy, very creepy.

It is the work of the two leading men that are indelible to this piece, James Woods playing the hyper anxious stress ball trying to capture New York's latest killer and in the mean time trying his best to keep his relationship with New York beauty Annabella Sciorra. However, it is the role of undercover actor playing undercover cop "Ray Casanov", Michael J. Fox here has more than excelled himself and has proved that he is more than capable to being able to use comedy and wit, very refreshing stuff indeed. With the backup of James Woods The Hard Way shows that an oddball pairing makes a surprisingly satisfying arrest.

Cursed (2005)
Pining to be fully released is its curse., 2 March 2008

London, England had An American Werewolf in London (1981). Paris, France had An American Werewolf in Paris (1997). Los Angles, USA has Cursed. The werewolf genre has now hit stateside, once more, with Wes Craven's tale of full moons, hairy backs and pointy ears, and that's just the ladies. Maker of cult greats as Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The People Under the Stairs (1991), Scream (1996) and now Cursed, this being his last movie he has directed in full, to date. Also, this being what seems to be different from his norm, with his full on horror, albeit physical, mental or on a good day, both. This edition to his repertoire is black comedy, parody and spoof, well, at least we hope so.

Unfortunately, this general worldwide cinema release was castrated before it was released from its pen. Originally shot as an 18 certificate (R rated in the US'), the studio Dimension Films insisted it be clipped to such a degree that it be suitable to thirteen year olds and to reach a wider audience, hence this films weak spots and toning down of what was to be a Wes Craven horror werewolf flick. We see Mr. Craven's past potential in a brief moment in the leading actress dream sequence, if he had had his way, imagine the difference artist control would have made to star, director and movie. Maybe the Studio can be justified in this procedure, but, as hiring a name such as Mr. Craven, what can we have expected? What was typical of his style is no longer seen in this project; this not only undermines his pedigree but also deflates what could have been a great movie, a realistic stance on the werewolf genre and all that in entails.

With its problems of re-shoots, recasting, budget concerns, holding back the release date, Cursed has its fair share of disappointments before it hit the screens. Christina Ricci has seen better times too, and with this project, while trying her best, Cursed isn't one of her stronger roles, it doesn't bring out her best, unfortunately. This could also have been the chance to see her, for the first time, as both the hunted and the hunter in full glorious venom and unforgiving retribution, we were cheated.

Taking its toll on this movie is the over clichéd narrative, the hint of originally is lost in translation through a weak script and is highly transparent beyond tedium. However, toward the end, we are getting a different breed of movie; we can even forgive the overuse of this tried and tested formula, the longer it goes on, the more it is looking, yet again, like satire, intentionally or not? This is the horrifying aspect; are we supposed to believe it a viable horror while at the same time it comes across as weak and cowardly?

Sadly, though, it is also looking much like a thinly disguised veil of cheap shots and poor excuses. With this in mind, we see the limitations of a low budget and Studio control, cut to ribbons, horror movie. With no apparent reason to want to better itself and be what it could have been, it decided to venture into the early teen market and smoother this movie with a demeanour of a snappy puppy rather than a voracious beast. There is a 18 certificate directors cut of blood, guts, gore and all officially out there somewhere in DVD land, but as it has very limited release, one can only wait in hope for the 18 version to reclaim its territory to regain its self respect both as a movie and as a Wes Craven project.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The Equinox of the Gods: Bless the Child for she shall relinquish the Curse of Man., 29 February 2008

The devil resides in New York City and from the moment this film begins, we see exactly where this film is going. As the opening credits roll, its wonderful atmospheric start with its close-up night time shots of New York's gargoyles brings back memories of the great vampire movie Queen of the Damned (2002) and its visual introduction to its narrative.

With the arrival of The Star of Yacov, better known as The Christmas Star, once more in some two thousand years, we see childless Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger) taking on her younger sisters new born baby Cody, as Cody is dumped on her door step, this elder sister, this wise mature woman and now surrogate mother takes on full responsibility. Myth has it too that Saint Margaret the Virgin is known to be the Patron Saint of Pregnancy, and who, as legend would have it, was brought up by a nurse after her father disowned her, and having once met with the devil, with him in the form of a dragon. Irony and coincidence perhaps for both, considering her name being Maggie and her inability to have children and baby Cody's circumstance.

Dealing with this child and her seemingly autistic state, autism being a condition that is caused by a disorder that prevents the brain developing properly, this in turn can impair interaction both socially and emotionally. It isn't until she reaches six years of age that Maggie's worries slowly turn into fears of what exactly is wrong with this exceptional child. There are more than just physical and mental states at play here that are more than concerning and enlightening. Maggie's doubts and fears are soon to be tested, to and far beyond the boundaries of human restraint.

Bless the Child uses fables and myth to bring old legends to contemporary settings. With the killing of the innocent children to flush out the Prophecy, the way in which we see this being done is very subtle and coaxing, if a little disturbing, bringing an uncomfortable reality that something sinister, something malevolent, something lurking in the shadows and something extremely evil is all to ready to pounce. Here lies the winning formula, the evil that we see is not so much dark forces of the underworld, but be warned, they exist here too, it is more the evil of man and his willingness to be lead and be controlled by them. Man against man, sin against morality and the age-old battle of Light against the Darkness. We see Eric Stark and his followers taking parallel lines in the similar vain as the real life Satan and occult master Aleister "The Beast" Crowley (1875 - 1947), founder of The Golden Dawn, and once labelled "The Wickedest Man in the World". With Eric Stark renaming his cult The New Dawn Foundation, it is he who most certainly carries this trade of old evils and new Beasts to a tee. English born Rufus Sewell plays Stark with convincing zeal, with both phoney exterior compassion and charm to literally devil-may-care cold indifference, intermingling both persona's well enough to know that we are dealing with more than just the basic human traits that we see, hear and deal with in life. Evil, as it seems holds no bounds.

Kim Basinger and Holliston Coleman (born 1992) bond very well, and a great performance as surrogate mother, she plays her role with devotion and with an honest and convincing feel. With just three years after winning her Best Actress in a Supporting Role for L.A. Confidential, this isn't Ms. Basinger going down a peg but raising the stakes in this thriller horror movie genre. Her integrity is most certainly kept in tact, and this is with the assistance of one Chuck Russell, director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), The Blob (1988), The Mask (1994) and The Scorpion King (2002). A fine team they make, and as with the gelling of the two leading ladies, it is his fine work in crafting young Holliston Coleman to a standard of high-end child acting. Expect to see more of this young girl. Especially, if she were to take the good advice from the ever professional and independently versatile actress Christina Ricci as the heroin addict Cheri Post, which is always a pleasure to see her working.

Bless the child also has its own parallels too, and lends itself to the likes of The Omen (1976), The Exorcist (1973) and the 1968 Roman Polanski film Rosemary's Baby, where we see children as axis of evils', Bless the Child sees the innocence and purity that is The Child; untainted and undemanding. Thus bearing the special gift of Life and the blessing of Divinity, sometimes disturbing, but slight, and at times touching, but never over demanding and horrific, which sets this movie of as being different and a little unique.

With moderate violence and with the help of a little CGI, a script that fights its own ground when in the amphitheatres of right and wrong, excellent and well cast, we can then be assured that Bless the Child most certainly has not been cursed.

Jumper (2008)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Teen action movie masquerading as sci-fi with a cheap gimmick., 21 February 2008

First written by Steven Gould back in 1992, this science fiction story is now directed by the maker of Swingers (1996), The Bourne Identity (2002) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Doug Liman. With this pedigree, is it any wonder that his latest addition to the family tree is also lacklustre and drab? Basically your teen movie masquerading as science fiction with a cheep gimmick, maybe the book fairs better, but as a movie, it is beyond the pale to be calling this sci-fi.

Starring Hayden Christensen, who played young teen Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise, this transgression from the Dark Side to the capacity to be able to jump vast distance and across the other side of the world is his most unchallenging script and role to date. Breaking new boundaries with this project has left him with his feet landing firmly back to square one. Jumper has its future very well mapped out, and seeing over the fence before one jumps is all too painful, the plot here is extremely all too easy to predict and with no train of thought at play it can very quickly turn into stumble and fall rather than a jump for joy.

Sadly, the lush locations here cannot save this limping animal, with shots of Rome's Coliseum, Egypt's Sphinx and Pyramids and London's Big Ben they alone cannot add texture, depth or personality to this film. It is simply a flat liner that needs a heart resuscitation. To use these marvels in this manner smacks of insult and embarrassment toward them.

With its lack of depth comes what seems too many lacking answers, with gaping holes in the narrative, not plot holes I may add, this then leaves the players and their lives feeling and looking more than empty shells which a good script would see them quickly coming out of.

If you like you sci-fi, no, action movie cum sci-fi, simple, easy going and all too plain, then Jumper will foot the bill. Expect no high octane burnout here, just take it as it is: all of the above and possibly a movie that needs a little help when the power is running a little flat, a jump start may be required.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
While not winning the race, this Water Horse doesn't come in last either., 13 February 2008

Here we see the telling, via the great Brian Cox, of the legend that is the Loch Ness monster from its humble beginnings and the effects that it had on a particular young boy called Angus. Set in the time of World War II Scotland, we see young Angus eagerly awaiting the return of his seafaring father from active duty while idling away the hours at his home on the shores of this mammoth freshwater loch.

Originally seen as a children's story by English writer Dick King-Smith, who also penned "The Sheep-Pig" and what some may have seen as the 1995 movie "Babe", this working of his work has been turned over to movie director Jay Russell.

Whilst a nice little film overall, the first act is somewhat slow to take off, these are nice people who mean well, but as for depth and personal heritage, these are somewhat invisible traits. As we see the character development, if somewhat a little one-dimensional, dragging its heals for a little too long, and by this course of action we can only assume that the young target audience won't be distracted with the colour of the furnishings and the trips to the toilet long enough to miss the overall plot.

It is this young leading man, played by Alex Etel, and his newfound friend that The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep has from its very beginnings been a heartfelt story of want and denial that turns from plodder to your fairly average family fantasy movie. Once the second act is under way the pace picks up somewhat, and the story begins in earnest. With a three way love interest and a humorous parody of the world famous fake "Surgeon's Photograph" from 1934, and don't forget, this is a Second World War movie, we see a nice and pleasant film, if a little shallow in the majority.

In the third and final act, the pace is quicker and sharper, we also notice that the edits and cuts are quicker and more frequent and in this delivery we finally cancel out the pain of the first act and the struggle of its second. All can be forgiven.

The movie comes into its own when Crusoe, yes, for that is his name, has fully grown. Yet again, we have the now infamous Weta Workshop in New Zealand, giving the creature both charm and personality. As too, with New Zealand, it is where the majority of The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep was filmed, and it being the better for it, with its stunning views and landscapes.

In general, it's a film that one can take the grandkids to see as a matinée, and have fun with its jovial manner as we see the Water Horse growing-up and being mischievous, curious and cute. Only those of a mature mind will see the undercurrent of the love interest, and that works just fine, no harm being done and everyone can sleep safely. Something for everyone. And why not, that's what a children's fantasy movie is all about: Innocence. Love. Pain and growing-up, oh, and fun.

Penelope (2006)
39 out of 61 people found the following review useful:
With Penelope it's great; without Disney its better., 5 February 2008

Fairy tales are wide spread, with witches and curses they have, they are all too familiar with their poor damsel in need of rescue by the Charming Prince. The same can be said for poor Penelope, played by the essence of beauty and intelligence that is Christina Ricci. Famed for her roles as Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family movies, then "Kat" Harvey in Casper and during an Ice Strom she was Wendy Hood, hey, she's even dated a lesbian Monster and been chained up in Black Snake Moan. This, too, is the second in a row movie that consists of her taking a curse, the previous being John Carpenter's light horror werewolf flick Cursed (2005). You name it she has done it, and with perfection. Now all grown up she is playing the titular role of her 2006 movie Penelope.

Filmed in London, and with a high level of English actors too, and cast as an American fairy tale, this is the unlucky story of a witches curse on the first-born daughter of the Blue Blood (aristocrat) family, the Wilhern's. The only way to break said curse is to find her Charming Prince who shall love her for all her worth, pig nose and all. Yep, her curse is to be born with the nose and ears of a pig, poor girl. Kept away from others for all her childhood and youth by her grieving parents, played with relish by Richard E. Grant and the lovely Catherine O'Hara adding a touch of very hyper stressed and neurotic motherly love. Who could ask for more? Well, more is what we get here, more fun, more sad reflection and more diversity from the standard tale of woe. With its witty players from said Grant and O'Hara, we also get the very talented James McAvoy and the nemesis that is Lemon, the evil News Reporter, Peter Dinklage, hot on her tail for revenge. Having done "Lassie" (2005), "Death at a Funeral" (2007) and in the pipeline "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian". Excellent actor.

Funny in parts, and poignant in others, not an epic but not a waste of time either. A story of self believe and how one can learn to love oneself and then be loved in return, in any way, shape or form. Simple I know, but in this case, it works, with all the surrounding American accents sometimes rubbing the wrong way, we can easily dismiss the poor adaptations.

This ugly duckling fable will warm to your hearts and tingle you with delight, with a charming narrative and distinctive feel good factor, and if Disney had gotten their hands on the project, it just might have come across as over sappy, over benevolent and over too soon. And it's a good job they didn't, wasn't it?

A cut above the rest. A cut across the neck. That's something to sing about!, 5 February 2008

Gone are the old days of the Musical, with classics such as Oliver! (1968), Paint Your Wagon (1969) and Grease (1978), and we may have even said "Those were the days", well, I'm happy to say that they are now back; with a vengeance.

Yeah, maybe a Disney cartoon musical may keep popping up every couple of years, or even a High School Musical, but this is down to basics and now the good old, the grand opera days of the Musical, and with the help of movie director Tim Burton, is, once again, finding its voice.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street's modern adaptation can go back to the early 1970's with English playwright Christopher Bond and his own unique brand of Victorian barbarism. It was to be Stephen Sondheim who then turned this Gothic legend into musical myth.

Tim Burton may have his leading man strapped to the chair once more; this being their seventh collaboration together, but it is definitely the sinister and bitter Benjamin Barker alias Sweeney Todd who steals the limelight here. Wronged and robbed of his love and life by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) we see his return some years later to take back what was once lost and to seek solace in the plans of avenger and angel of death. Albeit with a little help from his friends; friends of the smooth, sharp and silvery kind.

Lost and soulless in a too familiar town, London town, his return and his chance meeting with Mrs. Lovett, self proclaimed as the worse pie maker in all of London, this partnership of retribution and love is the devils play and the devils own making.

The scene is set and the die is cast for the dramatic duo to play their respective parts, and with a cutthroat razor in one hand and a rolling-pin in the other and a song to sing. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is on its way to becoming the darkest, bloodiest, horrific and sinister sing-a-longs that has ever hit our cinema screens. Oh we've seen the like of The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and the Japanese cult classic Katakuri-ke no kôfuku (The Happiness of the Katakuris, 2001), all playing the murder rap, as stage plays or whatnot's then turned into film musicals, and this latest edition is no exception. But this is exactly what it pronounces, one doesn't hold a set of cut throat razors just to show off ones collection of silverware, here we see them used to full extravagance and malicious brutality, this musical, this movie, of the avenging demon is up close and very personal. There are no misconceptions: it's very sharp and it's unforgiving in the dealings of this grotesque and focused plan of action. Nothing is missed. Nothing is hidden. Nothing in what is seems when you enter the Barber of Fleet Street's establishment. You've been warned.

The narrative of song is superb, set with Tim Burton's trademark of the surreal and the dark and mysterious. We see a London in its down trodden glory of this Victorian age that once consisted of Jack the Ripper, Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species and the possibility of one Sweeny Todd; Man, myth or legend, whatever be the truth, it is in this film that we see, and hear, some great compositions. The storyline is given its sinister overtone with titles as "No Place Like London", "The Worst Pies In London", "My Friends", "A Little Priest" and "Not While I'm Around" to whet our palate and when the music stops let the turmoil of madness ring their Bow bells proper.

Not done to the extremes of the 1968 Oliver! where we see the streets burst into song and dance, this is a rendition of two very twisted souls and their dialogue that is sung, and spoken, to propel the dark forces of the malice content. Charming but at the same time very disturbing to hear words sung in the lines of "My Friends", those silver plated friends, and the work they shall do when slicing the necks of those most deserving, or as the case of "A Little Priest" undeserving. Often is the case with actor-turned-singer Mr. Depp does his best and with the right atmospehre and proper training pulls it off with his own blend of style and charisma. It could be worse; at least he wasn't painting his wagon whilst being born under a "Wand'rin' Star". Ouch!

With a cast such as Timothy Spall OBE (Officer of the Order of British Empire), strangely again playing a Cads heavy-man, and Alan Rickman and the simply delightful Helena Bonham Carter all playing their parts, and singing them too, with individual merit and prowess. This is a film that takes on the norm and has done itself proud to have turned a Stage Play into a highly recognisable art form such as the Movie Musical, daring and challenging to the same-old-same-old's out there, then again, if it wasn't it wouldn't be a Tim Burton movie, would it? You know what to expect, if you don't, then who knows, it may have been a very close shave…

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good but not great, fine but not okay., 27 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Francis Lawrence's second movie feature, his first major being the excellent supernatural Constantine (2005), is the contemporary version of the Richard Matheson 1956 sci-fi book "I am Legend". Eight years later it was the great Vincent Price that stared in the Ubaldo Ragona movie of The Last Man on Earth (1964), then came The Omega Man (1971) with Charlton Heston, it is this 1971 movie that has deeper aspects of the way in which the Human Race see's itself as demigods and megalomaniacs' that pay the price of their vanity. It is here, in the 2007 version that we see a cure for cancer that sadly alters the DNA and within three years of the first cured, the human race has been wiped-out by what seems a reversal of a cure and mutating into a rabies like virus, turning the unlucky carriers into flesh eating tribes of the night.

We also see the virologist Robert Neville painfully adjusting to his isolation and with this his struggle to remain sane, we see no ringing of phones here, but his possible belief that there must be, and there has to be, someone somewhere, and if there were to be, then there must be some hope, but it is his reality that overcomes this delusion of faith and it is this reality that is slowly eroding his sanity, when all he has for company are the mannequins that act as constant reminder of a past life and his trusty German Sheppard, Sam. This this done in a moderate and with at least two single shots of delicate style, Francis Lawrence has our loner more action hero, with guns-a-blazing, than deep thinker of philosophical prowess. We know his plight and see his plight, but there is no need to delve into the abyss of understanding, this is a mistake of gigantic human proportions, we see that with all good intentions something went amiss. There are no wider consequence to articulate, and with this single vision in mind, it does not. But no matter what his forte, he is still very much aware of his alienation, his freedom of daylight in a world where he is trapped in the night. This is adequately done, but again, not too deep and focused on the plight of his destiny, just everyday survival and the monotony of existence that brings home his frustrations and desolation.

The sets are grand and the torn and neglected city of New York is the colossus in which our tiny and insignificant hero must reside, waiting for the day that his voice will one day be heard, waiting for that one day of hope of the human spirit to be reunited once more, and that he too shall find the cure to save his race, his mutated race, his nemesis; the dark-seekers. To once again atone for mans misadventure.

All well and good I hear you cry, but, this is now where I Am Legend stagnates into weak over indulgence that has our saviour fighting shadows of CGI imagery, the irony here is so transparent. We have the good Robert Neville supposedly the last man on earth, the Omega man, fighting his soulless, mindless enemies' , who, by a technicality, are not there in the physical being, but are computer generated foes that come to haunt him in his every waking hour. This is really a poor show, to being the, literally, only human on screen when he fights for his life with these mutants is this movies weakest link. It's too obvious, it's too tasteless, it's too inconsistent, it's too easy, it's CGI.

We have, once more, the grandiose actor Will Smith chosen as the leading man, and we have to admire his ability to transcend movie legend status. For his achievement and contribution to the Blockbuster genre is duly noted, but, I feel that it shall be the movie here and not his repertoire that shall make I Am Legend what it is; a simple thriller, weakly disguised as a sci-fi disaster movie of everyday survival, albeit in the empty streets of New York, that holds a sub-plot of human extinction.

For a more intriguing look into this concept there is the more enlightening Russian born Boris Sagal's (1917 - 1981) interpretation of Richard Matheson's cult classic novel; The Omega Man. A darker and socially conscience take on the demise of the human race and its trappings. If you like it big, bold and beautiful then it is the 2007 version that just might be what you're looking for. The choice is yours.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A movie pointing in all directions other than good., 24 December 2007

Again, from New Line Cinema, this latest attempt of franchising another trilogy seems to have fallen flat on its face. Director Chris Weitz has taken the Philip Pullman 1995 novel entitled "Northern Lights" and shot what is technically an incoherent narrative of poor visionary and bad logistics. While not too over-produced in the CGI department, there are better with less and there are worse with more out there, this movie has the misfortunes of having no overall direction and substance.

With short and unexplanative episodes of visual chapters that are conjoined to simplify this story, or to simply bore its viewer, this holds no solid ground of imagination, depth and concern for its viewer. The characters here are more than one-dimensional; they're quick glances of desperation, and repetitive cartoon characters' quickly thrown together and having any resemblance of personality exorcised at stage-one.

The monotony of this project only testifies that what should be done in good time to exemplify good movie making has only transcended itself to the heights of bland acting and a script that seems to been have written in the time that it takes to flush a toilet of good ideas down the drain; this movie seems to have been rushed, but not on the screen, this short attention span of a movie will only have benefits for the snails and slugs that are knowing no better, or simply like their brain-food lighter than a tossed-salad.

The only benefactors' of this project just might be the tiny tots, unaware of its political and religious overtones, perhaps, that are keen to see giant polar bears and witches fighting the good fight, to see kids and their dæmon's struggling against the dark Gobblers. A fantasy world that they should enjoy, that should capture their imagination, that should enthral and possibly ignite a spark of adventure for cinema, at least.

Otherwise, as a fantasy movie there are better out there and also, there are worse, and this, The Golden Compass, falls into the latter.

Back Slash (2005)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Back Slash; The new forward slash for internet killers everywhere…, 15 December 2007

The internet: a tool for recreation, education and murder. This is pure college campus slasher fodder, a gang of wannabe movie-makers are systematically being hunted down, strange too that it's only the fit young women that are, well, you've guessed it; being slashed.

Taking his victims from a local web-site of the "Hottest Girls on Campus", this is amateur night at the drive-in, while at the same time a good effort and a amusing attempt at this genre.

Director Kevin Campbell's first movie (yet to be seen, with anticipation) is the Cheerleader Ninjas, shot in 2002, this latest project "Back Slash" is a witty and fun episode of the worst kind of fun, but in a very good way.

Not a gore fest, but more T and A to keep your attention span from waning and with a half decent try at serious horror movie-making. Shot in and around Denver, Colorado, this has some nice touches of character development too, not your shallow one dimensional's here that are often seen in this genre by larger studios either. Some good camera work and a script that seems to have been thought out and not just thrown together.

Staring the talented beauty Gretchen Akers as Martha King, this is another face to keep an eye on in future works, and too, we should look forward to the works of this movie-maker; Kevin Campbell. No doubt as his reputation climbs so shall his movies, and no, they all won't be going straight to cable.

Back Slash: Check it out, it's a killer…

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Paris as you've never seen her before;, 15 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Writer of The Last Time I saw Paris, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940) and director Richard Brooks (1912 - 1992) brings us this star-studded cast unto the streets and hearts of the city of amor. With bright young things such as a very beautiful Elizabeth Taylor (aged 22 years) and Van Johnson taking the lead roles as the poor but vitality filled youths who must, and in the case for poor Charles Wills retrace his paths and once again revisit this Babylon city.

Filled with the likes of Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed, Roger Moore and a young Eva Gabor (sister to Zsa Zsa), and too, the tiny tot Sandy "THEM!" Descher, this fairytale of love, relationships, resentment, jealously and rude awakenings is a glam fest of lost love, missed opportunities and bitter rivalries; these are, at times, shallow people who have to deal with deeper consequences that climaxes into a most touching ending indeed. Each has their own skeletons hiding, and what makes this movie work is the way in which the bitterness shows no remorse for its self-inflicted victims, and too, the excellent acting from all, bare with it till the end, and you will see alcoholic Van Johnson begging for his young daughters return both captivating and his breathtakingly agonising plight only builds up the finale to a higher level. Wonderful stuff.

Great performance's from all; tight, constant and believable, and given a script and dialogue that can be both acid tongued and emotional from the very start, we also see, very quickly, that this movie belongs to Elizabeth Taylor. As movie legend denotes MGM bought into this project from Paramount to propel this evergreen beauty further into the glamour and beauty that is the Elizabeth Taylor myth, no expense spared; the best gowns, chic hairstyles and the look of the Goddess Aphrodite, oh, and her acting is also superb, playing the lovelorn woman with graceful respect of her role and showing depth and maturity to boot. Ms. Taylor's script, Ms. Taylor's role, is empty of the panache of the Hollywood style of being over-produced, but it is a lovingly small and tender rendition of how one can turn less into more. Tremendous stuff.

Working on human emotion rather than gimmicky egos, The Last Time I Saw Paris is a charming novella that will take you far beyond the walls of Babylon and have you reminiscing the beautiful nights in the City of Love. Have you your one-way ticket bought yet?

Our Town (1940)
3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A propaganda stunt that fills the screen with a saccharine affair., 14 December 2007

Welcome to Our Town, welcome to your town? As we are introduced into the worlds of its townsfolk of 1901 America, this three act play is opened before us with the help of "The Stage Manager", a visual narrator if you like. After his initial introductions, we are led into the homes of two particular families; The Webb's and the Gibb's.

This is most definitely middle America at the turn of the century, and the progressive way of life of the American Dream and its saccharine overtones that can seem a little biased in this dream town. Here we see the everyday lives of some of its 2642 populace of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, even if there are, too, the migrant Polish workers that add another 500 to is numbers, they, never get a look-in.

Once the daily lives of these families have been introduced; wives cooking, children home-working, fathers working, kids falling in love and the clean picket-fences painted white, the second act is started three years later, after young George (a young and unrecognisable William Holden, then aged 22) and Emily have fallen in love and intend to marry. Blossoming lovebirds reaching for the stars and reaching, too, a turning point in their own lives, from the nest they lived and now, into the anxieties and woes of young adulthood they nervously step. The third act is slightly more sour and foreboding, it is in this act that the movies intentions become apparent, here we see not life, not celebration but death, and it is in this predicament that the dead, as they return to revisit and reconcile their own life past, are here to remind us, to tell us, that life, and every last minute, every precious breath is not to be wasted and squandered.

It is in this last third that the movies own political stance also seems more apparent too, feeling more of a propaganda stunt on the moral lecturing on, and by, middle America and how it should direct its home and how it should also put it in order. This isn't just about "Our" town, this is moral diction aimed at "Our" souls and how America can better itself if its peoples', (excluding the Poles, the Irish, the Native American and the freed ethnic minorities', and minorities' in general, plus the supporting backbone of the Americana's who, still, have not had a fair part in this narrative), such as the middle classes, can live up to the expectations of the American Dream through honest, decent living. The purveyors of the American Dream with special invitation only.

I was entertained, slightly, by this movie too, but I felt that its narrative held a stronger impact than anything else that took part in it albeit the bland acting, the musical score or how well, or not, it was made. This was the movies intention to exclude other groups, and to only include the likes of the Webb's and the Gibb's, in the future of the developing country of the USA, a good movie, but also a slightly biased in its stance, I thought.

Taken from the play by US' born Thornton Wilder (1897 - 1975) this Pulitzer Prize winning play, and six Academy Award nominated movie, was the focal point on the perpetual motion of life and its three main attributes; Life, love and death, the plays translation onto celluloid comes across as a slightly to the right blurb of social consciousness. Our Town starts off with what seems a lesson in pointlessness, like other towns, nothing too exciting ever happens here, if anything at all, this town only has the "right sort of people", you can still leave your back-door unlocked here, we are seeing the developing lives of these two families, but it is their moral and social stance that is more important than them themselves. Our Town may just have been "Any Town", just as long as you came from the right part of town that is.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Prime yourself for the ride of your life:, 4 December 2007

It is now the year 2007 and the time-line of the infamous robot wars from deep space that started back in the nineteen eighties and throughout the last thirty years has transmogrified into what we see hear today. Michael Bay's translation of this highly regarded cult is a more than modest attempt to not just widen the appeal of this sci-fi phenomenon but to use the technology of modern film-making to its full potential. While potentially seeming to be a teen movie, with its young cast of heroes set against over bearing, but kind and loving, parents, the generation gap never seems so agonisingly embarrassing, but comical, to our young hero here and the authoritative figures that wouldn't look out of place in the next Men in Black movie, Transformers is a wonderful action and adventure sci-fi that can, and should, appeal across the broad.

With the Autobots, the good guys, and the Decepticons both gunning for the same prize; Sam Witwicky, the unwitting teen who holds the one article that can save or destroy the planet, it now depends on which clan of robot will reach him first.

With its origins forming in nineteen seventies Japanese culture, these tiny toys were taken overseas by the American toy company Hasbro (My Little Pony, Monopoly, Twister) near the mid nineteen eighties. After this jump from the Rising Sun to the land of prosperity it was now time for these tiny 'bots to make a big impression on the minds of a new and willing culture: The Transformers had arrived.

This is pure Hollywood, pure Stars and Stripes, and being slightly a little formalistic in its delivery, with seemingly one dimensional and stereotypical caricatures, it isn't that bad a job in its more physical attributes. Whilst not altogether weak characters, some deeper development might have given this movie more scope, but, this isn't what Transformers is about, with its ethos of all action, all razzmatazz in its main concept of world domination by metallic ET's, this was never going to be a deep social comment on the subject of war and peace.

Divided into two acts, the first being the introduction of our characters and 'bots, with, at times, an amusing and witty dialogue, exciting action that captivates this theme well, not too slow and not too rushed; intriguing and more than capable both in the visual and physical aspects of this genre, there really is a fine blend to keep the ball rolling in the right direction, to prep us readily for the second act.

With Michael Bay utilising his skill of vision, direction and imagination it isn't long before the second act kicks in, when all are sitting comfortably in their respective roles it is now time for the action to kick in proper. It is the second act that we see these motorised warriors in their prime, it is the visual believability that holds its own, and the action and pace never lets up for a moment, this fighting of the metal giants is stupendous, fighting among the city streets and skies, if this had been "scratch and sniff" then we would more than quiver in our seats; This is where modern movie making takes a bow and it is the work of Academy Award winner (Cocoon (1985)) Scott Farrar, Visual Effects Supervisor, and his achievement at winning the 2007 Hollywood Film Festival "Visual Effects Supervisor of the Year" Award. His work on Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) and Jurassic Park (1993) et al show wonderment at his ability to make us believe that these robots are not mere fantasy but are actually among us, working larger than life size models of their tiny counterparts that seems now so far away from the early days of nineteen seventies Japan.

Shrooms (2007)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Seeing the woods for the trees isn't such a bad deal., 27 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ireland, the setting for the latest movie from Irish director Paddy Breathnach, and in particular around the atmospheric Rossmore Park in County Muineachán, Shrooms is the premise of a small group of Americans holidaying in a extremely remote part of absolutely nowhere. With their guide, these young and free spirits are here to experience the great outdoors and in the meantime are here to get high. High on the local magic mushrooms, the Psilocybin mushroom, an hallucinogenic, that grow with abundance amongst the woods, that too, also hold a dark and terrible past.

It's not a bad premise overall, holding its own for a while, but the character development, in particular the three male protagonists, seem only one dimensional in part and inconsequential in what is left for their remaining part, where as the three leading ladies are thrown into the deep-end, and become the victim of both the hidden terror of the dark woods and the paranoia of the deepest thoughts that roam in the darkest recesses of the mind, to show gutsy personality and to fully endeavour the nightmares of dreams and their recurring realities.

With a little magic ingredient, and from certain other recognisable horror stories, and genres, this is sisters fighting for their own survival, one certainly feels that one has been here before, such as the sisters from Neil Marshalls claustrophobic horror The Descent (2005) and, too, to a degree, Dog Soldiers (2002) with its slow build-up of "a history in these parts" before the slaughter, then, a small dose of Wes Craven "Scream" to whet the appetite. With its adequate camera technique and editing delivery, Shrooms is also paying homage to the Asian horror genre, but in Irish style, and not a bad job too, it works, and with this all in toe, a bad trip can make for an interesting movie.

We have our cast, we have our setting, and we have our motive and we have our plot; but do we? The weakest link here is its, slightly, predicable plot, and its only possible ending, even amongst the trees this conclusion can be seen coming from miles away. It could have gone one way or the other, and the way in which it went speaks volumes of its limitations, even with good intent, it was rather a blunt instrument on this sometimes sharp attempt of this horror genre.

With its strong cast of leading ladies; Lindsey Haun, Maya Hazen and Alice Greczyn, an eerie sense of unknowing and several shock tactics down the line, this may have been a better result if there had been a larger budget, perhaps, but Shrooms belongs in the vaults of the teenage slasher genre that holds little imagination to originality. While taking a different path to its conclusion, we've seen this, yet again, before, nothing new, and seeing this "blind", it's a little average if not a gallant try.

The Last Bullet (1995) (TV)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The small screen movie that plays as a Big Screen winner., 18 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ah yes, the intrepid T.V. movie genre, the straight to video and the mostly forgotten classics of the small screen, but, once in a while there is always a hidden gem, a small nugget of gold, and unlike other thorns in the crown of this movie category there is often the odd surprise. And this pleasant surprise comes from Australian born (1957) T.V. and movie director Michael Pattinson, having done eleven episodes of the cult television show "Prisoner" and his movie career also includes Secrets (1992) and Ground Zero (1987) with Donald Pleasence, he's no stranger to both worlds of television and cinema.

The Last Bullet is loosely based around actual events between July 8th and the 15th of August 1945, on the oil rich, and Japanese occupied, island of Borneo, and in mid 1945, it was now the turn of the Australian Allied Forces to take the lead. The Battle of Balikpapan was soon to be, at least, the last fight of the Wars history, and after the final push, the 7th Division et el had to then seek out and capture the last remaining Japanese fighters scattered in the dense jungle.

Centralising not just on the plight of the soldiers, from both sides, in the heat and the dirt of the jungle The Last Bullet uses imaginative edits for the delicate flashbacks, from Peter Carrodus, to capture the moments when these poor souls were remembered as family members, lovers and friends, a time of beautiful, sensitive and fond reflection when all around them the fear of death and the capture of that last bullet is all that awaits them. The story kicks off proper when novice Stanley Brennan, played here by Jason Donovan, who excel's himself as the naïve rookie, finds more than just grit and determination when alone and out of his depth during a battle of cunning and stealth between himself and a Japanese sniper. Learning more than just survival in this terrain, this too is a moral code of honour toward ones comrades and toward the enemy, that to know your enemy is to also respect him.

With an average age of 25 years, these young men were on the threshold of their lives, but into the deep, unforgiving jungle they were thrown, and in this new dimension of bravery beyond the call of duty we see a wonderful movie that gives no biased toward either side. The Last Bullet is seen from both perspectives, there is no enemy, just two factions trying to stay alive and reunite with their families. The production design here, by Japanese born (1918) Takeo Kimura is a wonderful adaptation of Borneo's killing fields, even if the movie had been filmed at Tamborine Mountain, South East Queensland, Australia and at Tochigi in Japan. The hard work put into this arena is as fitting as any standard blockbuster, while not up-to-par with the big boys, Takeo Kimura has a keen eye for realism and Michael Pattinson's work is as outstanding as it is both physically harsh and at times graphic, sentimental and heart-warming, a grand combination for a story of cultural pride and personal anguish, lovingly seen from both sides.

Within an instant of the opening scene we are introduced to the beautiful accompaniment of Ms. Nerida Tyson-Chew's score, trained in both classical and contemporary genres and her Bachelor of Music (Composition) Honours Degree has put her in good stead with her collaborations with fellow Composers' Bruce Broughton, Henry Mancini and Jerry Goldsmith. Nominated for the 1996 Australian Screen Music Award for Best Music for a Mini-Series or Telemovie, for The Last Bullet, she's done herself proud in this movies production; haunting, graceful and atmospheric. As too are the edits, by one Peter Carrodus, whose twenty-three year career, so far, brings a sharp perceptive to this hell-on-earth; exciting, interesting and hard and fast.

The Last Bullet isn't about the taking part nor is it about the winning, there can never be any winners here, this movie is a fine example of how we should never forget the past, but how we can learn to forgive, and not cry havoc, and to let sleep the dogs of war.

The small screen has, for once, conquered the Silver Screen, The Last Bullet, right toward its final moment, will hit you where it hurts, a battle worthy of remembrance.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Lacks structure and pace. Mr. Yates needs to brush up on his interpretation skills., 22 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Be it the first or the last season, but excluding the third, with Harry and his friends at Hogwarts, this years school term feels exactly the same as the previous terms. This year we see a much drawn-out affair that takes great pains to expel any adventure and fun, yes, fun. For the same messages that we have become accustomed to, such as Harry's parents, Lord Voldemort's so-called appearance and his good-time older friends treating him as the child that they, and we too, still see him as, is no fun to watch any longer. He really does need to become more assertive and independent, this does happen in a tiny moment, but it seems more tantrum and transcendence.

With the conspiracy theorists out to outdo our hero's reputation, once more, it really is surprising how much this young man can take after the last four years, Harry is led into the world of the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation banded together, by the elder wizards and witches, to challenge the evils of Lord Voldemort. But what a waste, as Harry is pampered around these guardians, it is obvious that these magnificent men, and women, on their flying machines are only a fleeting and almost none affair throughout the entire movie. Whose only appearance, toward the end, is to do battle with their evil nemesis, the final battle, if we can call it that, is over before it starts, another anticlimax to an uneventful journey in the life of master Potter and his friends.

The short-lived characters coming and goings, and more often goings, such as Rubeus Hagrid and his journey to the land of giants, to find allies, but only comes back with a half-wit brother who serves no purpose at all, and what did become of these giants? Hagrid, along with Remus Lupin and Alastor 'Mad-­Eye' Moody, who no doubt we'd like to have seen more off, felt like they were just there to prop up the plot and serve as little purpose as possible. All well and good perhaps, but wasn't the title of this fifth term called the Order of the Phoenix? We know that a Phoenix can regenerate itself but these Phoenix's make very little time and effort to generate any screen time at all, it is then bewildering and farcical as to why the movie was called Order of the Phoenix in the first place. Having read the book, I can fully understand, but these are two completely different mediums here, and to simply take one from another and pass it off as the first is both dangerous and arrogant. To have so many holes and questions left unfulfilled and unanswered in this movie can possibly do irreversible damage to its reputation as a whole. Are the movie makers of these novels becoming complacent or are the books too long too interpret into the medium of film? This could be just giving the public what they want, but to judge them as a whole, as two mediums that should work as one is too a dangerous act. One plus one may not always add up to one here, as we have been shown, but it does add up to two, without a doubt: Novel vs. Movie. Take your pick.

Yet again, the emphasis is centred on Harry and his friends, of course, and this time becoming that little more rebellious, that little more independent, and why not, while the cats are away the mice shall play. But do we have to be constantly reminded of his poor dear parents, his poor old scar and while all this is going on it truly distracts from the adventure and excitement of magic and witchcraft. The opening sequence looked very promising (and how much has young Dudley Dursley changed, until his name was spoken he was unrecognisable, he seems to be the first to have a completely new personality) but then we see the same, if not very much older and larger actors, as to can be said for Mr and Mrs. Weasley, uncle and aunt, setting the same rift and contempt. Another term, another year, and another pound around the old waistlines of all our favourite characters'.

Yes, this David Yates interpretation of the J.K. Rowling novel is more prone to droughts of fulfilment and stimulation than the highly sub-plotted, imaginative and creative Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) by Alfonso Cuarón, in all areas of movie-making here. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2008) shall be the final term of endeavour and with Mr. Yates at the top of the class once more. Let's hope he has learnt some very important lessons by then, or detention may not be enough, expulsion may be his only option if he fails to rise up to the level of courageous and inventive movie-maker and there are no excuses for not delivering the goods on time. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007): Repetitive, short-lived and disappointing, stay behind for extra studies. If you know what's good for you.

Scarface (1983)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The world wasn't enough. Tony Montana wanted everything!, 21 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Alphonse "Scarface" Capone (1899 - 1947) infamous reputation as gangster and crime Lord during the 1920's and 1930's had now reached the movies. It begins with Ben Hecht (1894 - 1964) writer of The Front Page (1931), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and Stagecoach (1939), and with director / writer Howard Hawks (1896 - 1977) who gave us such greats, as writer, The French Connection (1971) and The Thing from Another World (1951). Collaborating, during the early nineteen thirties, to write and direct the original Scarface of 1932. It is here, in this story that Oliver Stone (b. 1946) takes his lead as screenwriter for his contemporary adaptation of this gangster myth.

Cuba was having very real and severe problems by the end of the nineteen seventies with its political, social and economic unrest and between April to October 1980, some 125,000 Cubans had jumped ship and sailed to the then Jimmy Carter administrative (1977 to 1981) US of A. The reason the exiles had to be stopped toward the end was that it was alleged that some 25,000, so far, of these self-claimed political refugees were convicts, mental patents and undesirables that Cuba no longer wanted on their home ground. America shut its gates, but the damage had been done. The likes of fictional Tony Montana, ex convict, had already arrived and planted his roots in the dark, dangerous and destructive world of America's drug world.

Together, Brian De Palma (b. 1940) maker of Carrie (1976), The Untouchables (1987), Carlito's Way (1993) and Mission: Impossible (1996) and Oliver Stone have seized upon the golden opportunity and redesigned this classic myth into a contemporary setting.

This ultra violent portrayal of one mans rise from the Cuban Freedom Camps to the Ivory Towers of the drug Lords and their trappings is a testimony to the narcissistic accessories of the early eighties America and its self abuse and destructive need for cocaine. This is simply a tale of supply and demand and one mans vision on how he is going to supply this demand, no matter the consequences. An agonising and extremely brutal underworld that Brian De Palma has depicted with classy extremes in the killing fields of the streets of America.

Both fast paced and hard hitting, this epic journey from skid row to the affluent excess's and the slow slip into the abyss of madness and paranoia is astounding. These are uncompromising and unforgiving times, and Oliver Stones views on these people are of contempt. This is shown in a very rendering scene where Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer's character) and Tony Montana are having more than a discussion, at a restaurant table, about her womb being so polluted by drugs that she cannot give him the child he wants, and his own drug-filled ego getting the better of them both.

It is in this climb to the top that we see more than what is being effected in his own life, that the style in which he has become accustomed can be more than infectious, and treacherous. It is his reconnection with his elderly mother and younger sister that has him seen as more than a dog of the streets but as a scorned son and much loved brother. Touching, maybe, but this is Tony Montana learning that when one has made his bed one has to learn to lie in it.

And what a bed he has made, within its nineteen eighties throwbacks of style and music that the writings of Oliver Stone and Brian De Palmas delivery of excellent cinematography by John A. Alonzo (there are at least two wonderful panning shots, here, in Scarface that are just mesmerising, slow, deliberate and focused on its intent). Without question, this is Al Pacino's (b. 1940) greatest cinema achievement as the psychotic Montana whose American Dream slowly turns to nightmare and cold reality that his hell on earth is just as twisted as his hell in mind.

"Scarface" aka Tony Montana is a fine example of the American Dream, his right and privilege to take hold and make best his ambition to escape the poverty and destitution of his past and make good his future. However, let this be a stark warning, that when one sleeps with dogs one will wake up with fleas, but with Tony Montana this flea was to bite him hard, fast and without pity.

Scarface: Extremely violent, extremely explosive, extremely honest and additive and without doubt cinemas most extreme and updated stance on the world of the Gangster myth. Say hello to Tony Montana.

Versus (2000/II)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An unrelenting feast of violence, humour and death. That's why I love it., 4 July 2007

Deep in The Forest of Resurrection lies a dark and sinister secret. It is the 444th portal that connects the world of the living to the world of the dead. Vengeful zombies, returning Sprits of the underworld plus your typical bad guy's are the order of the day here, in this extremely entertaining and intelligent battle of wit and survival. With stunning choreography that brings a new dimension to the meaning of "fight scene", explosive and positively dynamic in every sense.

This classic cult movie from Japan is fast paced, as is its editing and highly imaginative camera work, with this right combination of vision and dexterity Versus is not your ordinary action cum zombie cum ghost story. This transcends new grounds and highlights both the skill and foresight that we have come to see from the Asian market, while this genre and its undertakings may not be initially new we do see an originality that rightly so deserves merit and recognition.

Set in the present where a group of ruthless gangsters, an unknown woman and an escaped convict have met, unwittingly, in The Forest of Resurrection. Their troubles start when those once killed and buried in the forest come back from the dead, with the assistance of the evil Sprit that has also come back, come back from ages past, to claim his prize. The final standoff between Light and Dark has never been so cunning, so brutal and so deadly. This is where old Japanese Samurai mysticism meets the new world of the gangster and the gun. Gruesome, bloody and positively bold.

Syuichi Kakeshu (b. 1957) editing is sharp and fast, with its constant no holds barred violence and blood from the very beginning to the very end, only the correct manor of delivery such as Syuichi Kakeshu's work can bring this bloodbath to its climax. Syuichi Kakeshu's other works can also include Alive (2002), Azumi (2003) and Sky High (2003).

The special make up effect's by Susumu Nakatani is outstanding and an all out gross affair and accompanied by a descent soundtrack of both synthesizer and rock guitar styles, this is both an exciting and intriguing style of dark humour and violent action. Delivering a feast of gore, countless body part, and with Yûji Shimomura as action director the stunts and fight sequences delivers Versus a mighty punch in return.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Magnificent and beautiful movie making., 3 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Suffer the little children at the hand's of evil men".

Ofelia's love of fairy tales is obvious from the beginning of Mexican born Guillermo Del Toro's 2006 movie El Laberinto del fauno. Set in the not so tranquil woodlands during the Spanish Civil War of July 17th 1936 to April 1st 1939 , where a small but dedicated band of anti-fascism rebels are hiding out, this is where Ofelia and her pregnant mother have come to live, in the company of Capitán Vidal, Ofelia's new stepfather and soon to be father of her half-brother. It is with the brutal, unforgiving and totalitarian idealist Capitán Vidal, and his fascist troops, who must weed out these resistance fighters of the hills and woods, that Ofelia finds her release and distraction of the new world order and its warring factions and delves into the older, mysterious and enchanting world of fairies, faun's and giant frogs.

El Laberinto del fauno is intertwined with several stories, and each carrying their own with sufficient character and strength for the movie not to warrant sub-plots. The delivery of these plots are well matched and paced to lift El Laberinto del fauno into the realms of a magnificent story of love, death, bravery and fairy tale magic.

It is in the eyes of young Ofelia that we see her world around her becoming more intriguing with each passing day, her journey into the labyrinth and the cold reality around her pushing her deeper and deeper into a world of innocence.

Then, it is in this contradiction as to why El Laberinto del fauno works its own magic so well, El Laberinto del fauno is a dark and evil place to reside, not only the twisted and tangled roots and branches of Ofelia's newfound world, but also, the perils of war. The darker side of human nature is shown without pity or remorse, death is always close by, and for the eyes of a child, only dreams can overpower the nightmares of this horrific, often graphic and extremely uncompromising grown-up world.

Sometimes tense, sometimes sentimental, sometimes astounding but always magnificent in the delicate handling's of this young child's world, this too is the world of how we deal with war and those who suffer it, literally.

With beautiful set designs, imaginative artwork and crafted edits and a story that holds no compassion for War, El Laberinto del fauno is a charming period piece that goes far beyond the dreams of a child. El Laberinto del fauno is also, at best, a reminder of how, as human beings, we can become so narrow minded in our beliefs that we forget to remind ourselves that this world is more than just ideas and hidden agendas but that we must transcend ourselves into a higher plain of understanding, tolerance and respect for one another. It is this philosophy that makes us different from the rest, as human beings we have always had this right to choose.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The Yorkshire valleys are alive with the sound of music., 2 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

South Yorkshire, England, and its 1917, the year The Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band first formed, now, some 75 years later this is their story, albeit loosely, of how they and their coal mining community struggled against pit closures, redundancies and the grim prospect of the Bands possible split during the early 1990's.

In the fictional mining town of Grimley, this is the towns folk and their love for their community, heritage and of course their music. Set some years after the 1984 - 1985 miners' strike that brought the National Union of Mineworkers to its knees and Thatcher's Conservative Government to implement new laws to prevent miners from travelling in convoy to assist other coal pits. This was butchery of human liberties' and the hearts and minds of this once great mining tradition throughout England and Wales. Rumours of MI5 infiltration via spies, phone tapping's and its anti subversive and heavy handed State Police style tactics and the new laws formed by then Tory party that prevented striking miners any State Benefits that lead many families into vast amounts of debt. This only succeeded in the English coal mining communities to further dig their heels in and fight for their jobs, their rights and their families. One only has to see the opening sequence to the true story of the 2000 movie Billy Elliot, that set against the 1984 strike itself, to get a taste of the extreme harsh dictatorship and demoralising positions the miners were placed under.

The year is now 1992, and we now see the aftermath of the last eight years and how this particular mining community has adapted to its changing climate of crumbling poverty and hollow existence. Now the threat of closure has finally caught up with them and they too must make a stance to regain any dignity they have left. With pickets and their rallying calls of "Miners united will never be defeated", the harsh facts are more relevant in 1992 as it was back in the mid '80's.

Brassed Off centres on the future of the Grimethorpe (Grimley) Colliery Brass Band and its bandmaster Danny (Pete Postlethwaite) ambition to reach the finals of the National Brass Band competition. While walking on eggshells his is a story of pride and bitter resentment that he just might be the last of his kind. The fabric of the band is interwoven within the collieries future, one cannot exist without the other, Danny's refusal to give in, to accept this fate is more than commendable to his ever-increasing worries of ill heath, family concerns and dashed and missed hopes. This is a movie of civic pride, the battered, bruised, withered and imploded egos, the cold unforgiving nagging of the pressures of older men beaten down by the new age of Privatisation and globalisation and the younger men who too are falling victim to this new giant of corporate sell-outs'. There after, to add insult to injury Grimethorpe, via a 1994 E.U. enquiry into poverty, had become of the poorest and destitute towns in both England and the European Union.

Brassed Off shows just a very tiny tip of the poverty stricken district on this South Yorkshire village here, the debt collectors, Pawn Shops, picket lines, the feuding and divided relationships between men and their wives and their children and the struggle to make ends meet for the basics is at times harrowing to witness. This may be a fictional place but the times and actions are as true as the mines that have now become housing estates, parks or wastelands and sad reminders of a once thriving British industry, very much liken to the Steel industry of Sheffield, as seen in the 1997 movie The Full Monty.

We see a young Ewan McGregor as Union member Andy, and his love interest with the pretty clerical worker Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) making a nice metaphor for the dealings between management and the betrayed workforce, but in the end it was all about the music; these guys weren't just brassed off they were punched and kicked to the ground.

During a radio interview with the actor Stephen Tompkinson (Phil) in early 2007, it was said that the movie showed the band winning the Trophy at the Royal Albert Hall some two weeks after the closure of the pit, but the reality was that they won it the day after the pit had closed its gates for the final time. This two-week time scale was added because the writers thought that the movies audience would seem this to be a little far-fetched and unbelievable.

Mark Herman (b. East Yorkshire, 1954) has written and directed this fable of trouble and strive, if a little on the sentimental side, but rightly so, a hard-hitting realistic flashback of the times of a land of prosperity turned upside down and laid to waste and the terror of despair of a people that died a little with it.

Where there's camaraderie there's always hope and always glory, even in this land of gold and brass.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
B-movie Sci-Fi classic that does more than grow on you: Introduce yourself., 27 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of 1950's science fictions proudest achievements, this outstanding classic is told as a nightmare vision of flashbacks and bitter memories. This is the story of middle-class suburbanite Robert Scott Carey, played here by Grant Williams (1930 - 1985), and his unpleasant and disturbing verbal obituary into the last remaining months of his existence.

Scott and his wife, Louise, acted by the beauty Randy Stuart (1924 - 1996), are our typical happily married middle Americans; beautiful, successful, content but distinctly average, the future and new horizons that they look forward too are never out of reach, they are the new age of the new America.

This breed of ever expanding white-collar culture is just about to get the shock of its life. After unfortunately being exposed to a strange mist, Scott Carey slowly begins to lose both his weight and his height and unbeknown to him, yet, his mind.

After the initial shock of realisation, Scott's problems are about to grow into the wildest of imaginative turmoil and disbelieve. This is beyond human comprehension, this is beyond physical possibilities and this is beyond the laws of God. His ever-growing anxiety is doubled ten-fold by the ever-decreasing status of his marriage through his frustrations of impotency and inadequacy. His pride, his manhood, his role of the dominating breadwinner and his ego are thrown into doubt and it is this new mental torment, and physical challenge, that has our storyteller growing more and more insignificant and angry.

Angry too, at the media circus he has become and the way in which his ever-dotting wife is finding his resentment to his physical changes more and more devastating and alarming. The divide is widening with each passing day, Scott's world is not only enlarging but it is also shrinking around him.

The second act is where his world of giants becomes more sinister and unpredictable, after his final readjustment, it is now a game of survival. While his ever-decreasing size is more apparent due to the ever-enlarging surroundings that share his world, it surpasses the point of novelty to dangerous and deadly reality. What middle America would once consider tranquil, comforting and safe has now become the jungles of extraordinary danger and maladjustment.

With both body and mind in complete disarray, his self-hatred and thoughts of self-destruction are ever pounding his brain. Scott is a man, and though tiny, he still has the power to recognise his own uniqueness: A man. No matter how tiny his stature, his battle to carry on and take his fate day by day is still bigger than what nature is can throw at him, but at what cost?

The Incredible Shrinking Man will be forever known for its fantastic realism of its physical pains and mental anguish of the ordinary man, if not his readjustments to his changing predicament and the soul-searching in the change of his environment. Here, we see the likes of Robert Scott Carey and the dangers that face him, we see the pet cat that now tries his best to feed on his tiny bones and the giant spider that both now must fight for domination to survive. It is in these physical battles, and mental strengths, that show us the astounding attributes to his basic instinct: to survive, even if it means facing head-on a tarantula spider of goliath proportions for scraps of food.

But it is the underlined narrative that holds The Incredible Shrinking Man in such high esteem, where man has become complacent in his wealth, power, domination and destruction of his world, it is the message that man is less important than the sum of the whole. Man is worthy, but he is also a very tiny atom in the design of something much bigger, much more important. This is Robert Scott Carey's epic story of his journey of transcendence into the world of spiritual and physical acceptance and the infinite vastness of mans irrelevance and fallibility when confronted by the creation and knowledge of God.

This is Jack Arnold's (1916 - 1992) adaptation of the Richard Matheson (b. 1926) novel "The Shrinking Man", shrinking not in size or stature but in knowledge, understanding and that man is growing backward in time and is blinded by his own uniqueness. Where the novel differs from the movie, the literary work is more dark and sinister, another work from R. Matheson that may be known is I Am Legend (aka The Omega Man) 1954. Jack Arnold's work is a sci-fi master class, the historical 1950's epics range from It came from Outer Space (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), This Island Earth (reshoots, 1955) and Tarantula (1955). Between them, they have given us a movie that both respects and honours this genre.

The Incredible Shrinking Man is a movie acted well by its leading player, with conviction and drama, it is delivered with an intensity and honesty when the chips are down. This this a finely tuned script that holds its own when played against this important subject of mans need to understand itself against the magnitude and scope of life, death and ones own existence.

The Incredible Shrinking Man, Them! (1954), Forbidden Planet (1956), When Worlds Collide (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) amongst others, are la crème da la crème of this genre; the 1950's sci-fi B-Movie. All highly respected and all standing their own ground, and each being given their dues when the likes of Gene Roddenberry (1921 - 1991), George Lucas and John Carpenter, for example, are well documented to having been a little more than inspired by these movies too.

With each of these 1950's movies making its own unique social comment with great intelligence, skill and entertainment on how and why man is so fallible, so weak and yet so deniably valuable to the very fabric of this glorious solar system that we call outer space.

Even Little Miss Muffet wouldn't find this one frightening., 24 June 2007

The Giant Spider Invasion is a 1975 sci-fi that does its best to parody itself from the good ol' days of the 1950's B-Movie genre, with great giant monster classics as THEM! (1954) and Tarantula (1955), The Giant Spider Invasion, directed by Bill Rebane, is, sadly none of the above. With a history of low, low budget and poor supervision of its script and extremely poor special effects, the chances of the giant spider becoming anything like its predecessors was nearer to being lost and irrelevant in the annals of time and credibility. Even to the point were its director has been quoted to recalling it "the giant spider disaster".

With its five producers in tow and with the script changing from day to day The Giant Spider Invasion was soon to deflate into farce and webs of broken string rather than silk and fine cotton. This movie never stood a chance from the very beginning, with a relatively B-minor cast for its sins. The likes of Alan Hale Jr. (1921 - 1990) having played in Hang 'Em High (1968) with Clint Eastwood and his many, many TV bit parts throughout his career. Steve Brodie (1919 - 1992) who with James Stewart had stared in Winchester '73 (1950) and as with the headliners of this movie had played his part in TV land of American culture. Then there is Barbara Hale (no relation), also, and her numerous appearances on the American TV show circuit , for example, A Perry Mason Mystery…as Della Street; The Giant Spider Invasion was not to be their big break.

With its premise for the B-Movie feel, it contains your typical meteorite that falls into the back and beyond of small town America, this being the unfortunate Wisconsin, then the added ingredient of radiation and scientist interest. Then there's the local populace from local Sheriff Jeff Jones to the dope-growing hillbillies that toward the end are drawn deeper and deeper in this web of sci-fi deceit and death. The story is just passable, giant spiders invading the earth, attacking the tiny humans, but what finally lets this movie down is the unmistakable mistake of its leading star; the giant spider.

With only a $10,000 special effects budget, and don't forget this was 1975, it seemed that it just still wasn't enough to prevent this giant spider disaster becoming the arrow in the Achilles heel of this genre.

Jack Willoughby acted as both cinematographer and producer here, and having done time in the camera and electrical department on movies such as Futureworld (1976), Rocky (1976), Sextette (1978) and Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke (1978) then why, when watching The Giant Spider Invasion is it more akin to watching "a black cat at night"? Could this be more to the giant spider hiding its face in the darkness of shame and embarrassment?

The Giant Spider Invasion is one of the least well-made movies of this genre, and it really shows it no respect, even if the poorly made movies of yesteryear were bad, then fair game. But, this is 1975, and this movie holds nothing but contempt and ridicule and sets itself apart from the mould, and when a spider grows, the only true horror would be if this spider movie were to regenerate and invade our homes once more to try and frighten Miss Muffet away!

6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Later has arrived. Run, run, run..., 11 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The only reason Hitler didn't invade England during World War II is because he couldn't , England being an Island, and with the sea's as barrier he just couldn't take his prize. It is in this paradox that a deadly rage virus that has contaminated the British Isles has been contained from reaching the outside world. It is in this theme that we now find in this extended movie of Danny Boyle's 2002 movie 28 Days Later the virus gone and a slow repatriation of its people back to the British Isles.

28 Weeks Later stars one of the most charismatic actors to come from the Scottish Highlands; Robert Carlyle, whose works range from Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002), The Full Monty (1997) and Trainspotting (1996) and the beautiful Angela's Ashes from 1999. With this man in tow, what possibly can go wrong? In usual form 28 Weeks Later is a very good shock fest, with its more than capable blood, gore and death. With an interesting and imaginative use of camera and editing techniques that really does this to its best advantage, all very exciting, captivating and enthralling, particularly the opening sequence, one of Cinemas finest. Of course we have the same music that is used in the first movie, and this does the second no harm indeed.

28 Weeks Later is a delivery of great horror cinema, this genre, this newly developed genre, is taking us to new fright levels, great visuals, great atmosphere and that gives even greater heart rate levels to pulverise the nervous system. Exactly what a good horror movie should be.

But, where we have a horror genre made good, we have a horrific story line that is, unfortunately, letting this movie down. With an over simple narrative and a very negligent use for its main lead that is in itself shocking and somewhat disturbing. When we have such a strong lead, a strong personality of good stock and calibre then why oh why have him trussed up and spiting blood at the world in anger? This seems very much a wasted opportunity and a shame of not utilising your best asset. We can all blend in all too easily with the red-eyed madness, but there is only an individual before the transition, and this individual is sadly missed for all the wrong reasons.

Also, there is the use of the Stateside's (NATO Peaceforce) protectors, fair enough, but where does 28 Weeks Later explain the whereabouts of England's own protectors? It doesn't, they had all fled, as too did everyone else, but why had none returned? This is more bizarre and perplexing. A country, any country, would not leave itself open without seeing to its own concerns too? A Stateside sale and collaboration to drip-feed itself to a wider audience. This is the peril of the sequel, which 28 Days Later has succumbed too also. A bigger budget, a bigger profile and a bigger target audience. While not a slur on the US' but more a comment on "movie advancement" in general.

Finally, the general narrative is weak, apart from the decoration of death, disaster and decay that accompanies the mayhem of madness throughout, the story is shallow. A very simple and mediocre score that unfolds all too easily for all concerned in 28 Weeks Later. A jig-saw puzzle whose pieces fall into place at the right time for the right reason. Uncomplicated and a little uninspiring, but the bloodbath, saliva and guts covers this all too well. An all too predicable conclusion to a very imaginative concept, perhaps we'll see a better third act some time later?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Writers block that leads to blocked writer: Scary stuff indeed., 10 May 2007

Up and coming writer Roman (James Hicks) is struggling to come up with the goods for his serious social drama based upon the high flying independent career woman. In London's Financial District, known as The City, he can find his answers, in search for his real life Marianne for his screenplay "Miss Monday", he goes undercover, and with borrowed suit and briefcase, he takes on the role of a City employee, scouting, listening and investigating for that all-important breakthrough.

What he finds is something more incomprehensible, more bizarre and intriguing. While gaining access to Miss Mondays, aka Gloria, home, researching then takes on a completely new perspective, caught in the middle of his meddling for background information, unexpectedly, she returns home early, Roman is trapped. He hides. He observes. He learns.

This is where Miss Mondays second act starts to take a different role from lighthearted humour to dark sided concern, a woman with potential, with ambition and vision. That is what we are led to believe from this busy modern independent woman, from the external persona she gives us. There is more afoot here than Roman could have possibly imagined, a woman, a frustrated woman, a martyred woman, a cheated woman and an overlooked woman in both her career and life, this is the real world that Roman's Miss Monday exists, an unhappy woman.

Haunted by her own personal Bogeyman, and hidden demons, Gloria and her private and personal secrets, unbeknown to her, are slowly unravelled before our eyes. Her angst and desperation of coming to terms with her childhood, her career, her age and her life is beautifully dealt with, with great pains, this woman is more than a little perplexed and lost, like the ghosts of her past, they have come back to haunt her.

Done with tenderness and soft pummelling that gives us a view of human torment and how when one stumbles across it can inevitably change our outlook on how we should see others and not judge them so quickly. Roman has learnt this valuable lesson well, too well. Can he ever look anyone in the eye again and say he knows them proper? Has this shocking experience opened his eyes and given him vision that goes beyond ignorance and prejudice?

The style of movie making here, as with writing and production, is done Toronto born Benson Lee no harm whatsoever, winner of the Special Jury Prize of the 1998 Sundance Film Festival for the acting abilities for Andrea Hart and nominated by the Grand Jury Prize for Benson Lee too. St. Louis International Film Festival during 1998 gave this imaginative director the Emerging Filmmaker Award and too nominated by the Independent Spirit Awards for Andrea Hart's Best Debut Performance. With interesting editing by Tula Goenka, Emily Gumpel and Robert Tate and with the use of its music, both classical and original, Miss Monday is as highly independent in its concept as it is in its delivery of this personal and tragic saga.

Poor Roman may have writers block but Miss Monday is a highly imaginative and entertaining made movie, it really is a shame that it has not, as it should rightfully be, more appreciated to a wider audience, both for its originality and for its understanding of the complex and fragile human psyche.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Feline fun and canine capers that guarantees to lick your funny bone., 9 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the town of comic book land there is a home that lives the lonely young boy without a friend. Until one day Lou the Beagle puppy arrives on the scene.

Set around the game of espionage, with similar themes to Mission: Impossible, James Bond and to a great extent Austin Powers; Cats and Dogs animates the spy game with great bravado and even greater humour. This is a stylish and extremely witty parody that has the cat world fighting for world domination and to see dogs put in their place, outside in the doghouse, where humans would, as is the cat's goal, be allergic to the canine breed and thus welcoming the feline race into their homes.

This is a high octane fun and friendly family movie that is built around the life of young Scotty (Alexander Pollock) and his scientist father (Jeff Goldblum) who whilst working too hard at trying to make a breakthrough for a cure to prevent dog allergies in humans. Unaware of his neglect, young Scotty, as too his parents, is completely oblivious to the fact that the parallel world that revolves around them is in great danger of crossing the divide of talking animals and dumb humans.

Cats and Dogs is more than puppets meet Muppets; it is more than that, even though just as entertaining, it has progressed to greater levels. If you want to see Mr. Tinkles, the white Persian, that strangely resembles the white cat seen in the Bond and Austin Powers movies, giving his orders, over a grand table and log fire in his mansion. If you want to see secret agent dogs fighting Devon Rex's ninja style, a knife throwing Russian Blue hair-balling big style and a gigantic army of mice reading an instruction manual, all at once, on how to concur the world then this is the movie for you.

With an intelligent and comical script, good sets and capable staff, such as Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Jon Lovitz, Michael Clark Duncan, Susan Sarandon and the great cinema legend Charlton Heston in the limelight, some very good special effects and plenty of spills and action, you really cannot go wrong.

This is your typical laugh a minute family day in at the movies, and whichever side you cheer for, you are always guaranteed to end up stroking that funny bone until well after your sides ache.

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The Question of Truth can never be denied., 8 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A history lesson, a time line, in the life of painter and printer Francisco José De La Goya y Lucientes (1746 - 1828), or more to the truth Goya's Ghost and its ripple effect that involves more than just brush against palette that sweeps against canvas.

This is the story that involves the paranoid and cruel times of The Spanish Inquisition and its anti-Judaism stance and its over zealous Catholic repatriation to its higher values and morals, whatever the cost to the human soul.

Thrown together in this turmoil are the artist and his subject, Inés, played by the fragile Natalie Portman. Here we see the dark days of the old Inquisition returning, the torture and the pain of The Question and the despicable imprisonment of the prosecuted and damned.

We are given the foundations of the French Revolution and the Royal gardens of the Spanish King's and Queen's. A period piece that may or not be an accurate account of the proceedings, but a horrific reminder of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah concerning the internals of a Catholic Diocese that blinds itself within the name of God.

The sins of the righteous are always justifiable, and the sins set by the Holy Order are inexcusable, here Goya's Ghost is placed among the ruins of human compassion. While the sets are magnificent, it feels more than a little odd and out of place to be finding Randy Quaid as King Carlos IV of Spain, and while Stellan Skarsgård plays a convincing Goya as well as the despicable Javier Bardem as Brother Lorenz. It is then up to Natalie Portman to hold the foundations of virtue, she holds her own as the lost soul that has been robbed of any life.

Whilst a pleasant piece of work, this is a narrative that really holds no great character development, and we are given what feels more caricatures of a time, place and its people. It is the horrors of the times here that are truly overwhelming in Goya's Ghost, and the characters, like the times seem to have quickly come and gone. The story never really gave us the opportunity to bond with anyone here, just to despise the times and be shocked at the results. The screen time with each character is always swift and fleeting, except the time were are given with our mediator Goya. This is his world but not his time. It may seem convenient to use the images of Goya for his attitude toward the Spanish Inquisition and the mad monks, it needed a catalyst to bring back the dark days of torture, Goya's work, here, was that catalyst, could this be his ghost that lingers in the midst of time? Maybe history tells us of another story of the Man, but as a human being and with is talent and intellect, these were very dangerous and confusing times, even for Goya.

The Javier Auguirresarobe experience continues once more here, like his past rights of passage of the likes of The Others (2001), Soldados de Salamina (2003) and 99.9 (1997), Goya's Ghost is a dark and sinister outlook into the corridors of power and the victims of fear.

With an exciting vision of a religious cult and an interesting movie in general, that toward its very end would bring us tumbling down to earth with a bigger thump than a moment answering to The Question.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Unearth the mask of deceit and fall before the Seventh Sin., 7 May 2007

Produced by both Ms. Watts and Mr. Norton and directed by John Curran maker of We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004), and also produced by Ms. Watts. The Painted Veil was originally released in 1934 and starring one Greta Garbo then filmed for the second time as The Seventh Sin from 1957. Now, we have the 2006 version of the 1925 novel by W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965) and whose title from Percy Bysshe Shelley's verse "Lift Not The Painted Veil Which Those Who Live" is taken from.

The Painted Veil is as stunningly beautiful in its vision of 1920's China's political and geographic landscapes as its sensitivity of the marriage vows and the way in which it deals with infidelity, regret and possible forgiveness.

This love story has Kitty meeting young, intelligent, introverted and somewhat dull Dr. Walter Fane, whose forte is the study of infectious diseases, and the convenient marriage that she finds herself committed too. It is in a web of intrigue, and dark clouds, that they head for mainland China. So much as to hide her from herself as to help thwart a cholera outbreak, and possibly cure his failing marriage also, but this is a marriage more than on the rocks. This is a cold, indifferent and loveless partnership in a vast unknown and deadly environment that will test both these flightless lovebirds and with the hardships and tolerances more than any had ever anticipated.

A cinematographer of Stuart Dryburgh's standard, like counterparts' Emmanuel Lubezki for The New World (2005) and Christopher Doyle for Ying xiong (Hero, 2002) has shown us a landscape that is both breath taking and visually involving. This green and unspoilt landscape is the beautiful backdrop to a plague more deadly than any microbe could ever conquer, for here, amongst the tranquil rivers and the magnificent hills, forests and mountains of deepest China lies Pride; the 7th Deadly Sin.

This is also driven home by the sensual music that is playing throughout by Alexandre Desplat that brings home the sensitivity and grandiose of both the heart and soul of both the Fanes and their enchanting but precarious quarters. Together, with the visual and the emotional aspect of The Painted Veil and its undertones of love and love that wanes and the holding onto the fragile heartstrings that have become stretched and worn. All this is done with fine acting and finer movie-making, a calibre that is more than fitting and respectful of an Independent movie as this, a total pleasure to be enthralled and entertained by.

The Painted Veil is a virtuoso of what a period piece should be, detailed, refined, eloquent, charming and overall spectacular.

The Painted Veil is more than a slow boat to China; The Painted Veil is a slow and enduring flight to movie magnificence.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A long web that finally breaks its ties: Children will love it., 7 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With Sam Raimi's third and final Spider-Man instalment now going strong and selling out Cinema seats quicker than bug repellent at a cockroach convention, this is one off those Summer Block Busters' that shouldn't be missed.

While in every story there is always a beginning, middle and an end, Spider-Man 3 is most definitely the conclusion of this 3-piece saga. A saga that has its roots set in the first two movies, given the opening credits as a gentle reminder.

Spider-Man 3 is a two-act adventure, the first being a reintroduction to our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and the loves of his life, and also the introduction to his newly acquired enemies such as the New Goblin, Sandman and the toothy Venom.

This first stage of the movie is a somewhat drawn-out affair that more or less tells us what we have already gathered during the first two previous instalments, while it neither progresses the relationships further but it only baits it with false promise and empty smiles.

This, is where Spider-Man 3 can become rather tied up in itself, a story that only centres around, and mostly around its three protagonists, this is a movie that has little distraction over the main three-way love tangle. Everything else is a diversion of the up and coming conclusion toward the ends reality bite and heartbreak.

The bad guys and their relative space here in this movie are more or less not as important as the three main lovebirds and their entwining and volatile relationship. With the help of Messrs New Goblin, Sandman, Venom and a little black substance from the far-flung reaches of space, we are very much aware of the on going love-hate scenario that in its own pace delivers the build up to it second act; the action.

After the initial prologue, the second act then kicks in and the action is then thrown upon us, albeit in its usual mêlée. An action movie that young children will be left in awe and delight. With more bad guys than a spider has legs, this is Spider-Man fighting to the end with all he has. With better cgi this time as compared to the poorer Spider-Man movie of 2002 the lessons have been learnt. With an exciting finale that befits this masked crusader and has the young audience rooting for the spidery superhero and cheering all the right swings and punches.

A great movie for the kid's and a cinema experience that they will cherish for years to come, this is Superhero extreme, a marvel that will carry them onto new adventures and new land's. Spider-Man 3 is a fond farewell and at the same time the grand opening to fresh Heroes and exotic wonderment.

8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Imagination will carry us to new lands:, 5 May 2007

A little imagination can sometimes go a long way. The story of young, and artistically talented, Jesse (Josh Hutcherson) who is sharing concerns and money problems with his family. He's having trouble at school with the bullies and there is a bully like troll who charges the kids a dollar to go and pee. He is fighting for the attention of his father, against his baby sister. Life for young Jesse isn't looking up, that is until the adventurous, imaginative and non-conformist Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) arrives in town. Together they form a bond and Jesse's life shall never, again, be the same. Adventures and amazement in other worlds centre around these two kindred spirits, and for once, for Jesse, life isn't so bad after all. If your mind is wide enough then let your imagination take you over the Bridge to Terabithia.

This kid's, albeit family movie goes deeper than the standard fantasy movie, and his new soul mate has him believing that what we can imagine can become real; all it takes is a little courage and determination. The underling narrative here is that the fantasy is more nearer to home that he (Jesse) would like to admit, substituting bad memories and bad dealings at home, and at school, for the bad and dangerous enemies of Terabithia. Using one environment to create another, to imagine is to believe and to believe that it is real.

A nice little movie that centres around the dealings of bullies and how one has to learn how to cope, and that all is not what it might seem. Just a little lacking in the fantasy stages but Bridge to Terabithia isn't about crossing the lines of reality to fantasy, but to accept reality and be grown-up about how we are to deal with the adventure of real life.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dead Man's Shoes: Drug addicts, losers, scumbags, work shy, shallow and nasty lowlifes, a frank, disturbing and often intriguing tale of making ones bed and having no other choice but to lie in it. This is as basic and honest as they come, Shane Meadows, with the writings of Paddy Considine and Paul Fraser, have filmed Dead Man's Shoes at ground level, using new and fresh faced actors and with the guidance of improvisation and initiative.

As too with Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002) and This is England (2006), both Shane Meadows film's, Dead Man's Shoes just might pass Shane Meadows off as an English auteur of working-class life in modern day England that more than often finds itself predominantly set in The Midlands.

The cleaver twist here is that while Dead Man's Shoes are using inexperienced actors, and in parts, it shows, but this never feels flat and ridiculous but gives off a feel of anxious realism and purity. It is the feeling and texture of this movie that has us believing that we are actually part and parcel of this sordid sorry affair of riff-raff villainy. This fly on the wall voyeurism, this unpretentious and downright dirty episode that we as third-party eyewitness can, at times, become more than aware off its violent, sadistic and intimidating narrative.

Filmed in the beautiful surroundings of Matlock, Derbyshire, England, Dead Man's Shoes tells the story of returning Paratrooper Richard, played here by Paddy Considine, and his calm and calculating plan of attack against the local drug baron and his parasites who have given him more than just course for his actions.

Shot as two movies into one, one being the use of black and white flashbacks that entwines itself with the up to date settings of this colourful, brutal and unforgiving turn of events as seen through the eyes of this Avenging Angel.

The acting here is, for complete beginners, good, and all carry themselves off with remarkable believability and as the movie progresses both confidence and personality shine through. There is a hint of black comedy here also, albeit to show the complete incompetence and disregard that these road-to-nowhere nobodies, these non-productive nothings that in the end are here to be just pitied than admired or respected; Comic relief, though short lived, in a world of deceit, sadistic values and total vanity.

Dead Man's Shoes is a movie of personal anguish and retribution, for both victim and victor, and the haunting of both body and soul. This is as extreme in its violence as the seedy underworld is stretched out before us and the balancing act of right over wrong, good over evil and love over hate.

Dead Man's Shoes; Great honest acting with a hard message that never relinquishes for a moment, a gritty and cold fable of truth, justice and murder.

Reaping the Oats we Sow:, 24 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Reaping is the bygone story of the 10 Plagues of Egypt and being bought up to date with the excellent assistance of director Stephen Hopkins. Director of the thrilling crime drama Under Suspicion (2000) with Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman and the 1998 family sci-fi movie Lost in Space. The Reaping is the struggle of one Katherine Winter, played here marvellously by twice Academy Award winner Hilary "Million Dollar Baby" Swank and her own struggle of lost belief and revaluating her doubts and fears and coming to terms with her own shadows of her past.

Caught in the middle of a Spiritual battle from Old Testament times and set amongst modern small town America, and being filmed around the beautiful and mysterious location of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This recreation of the 10 Biblical Plagues of Egypt, that at first hand were to be Gods warning and wrath to the Pharaoh to release the Israelite slaves, is a insight into mans evil and callous decline into blind obedience, blind insanity and the Revelation of Gods justice.

Great cinematography here by Peter "Predator 2" Levy, and not the first time he has joined forces with Stephen Hopkins, with a pleasant visual showing of the swamps and woods of this backwater town. A backwater town, with a sinister secret, a sinister past and a more than sinister answer to their problems. There is the fallen one and His young disciple, played by AnnaSophia Robb, and with this premise, this superstitious witch-hunt tells the haunting story of the wrath of evil that is shown toward these fearful and undeserving people. Will this leading lady and her misgivings give way to the Light or will Darkness prevail and ultimately make good His will? This toward the end will be the ultimate test.

The Reaping in placed in the category of horror and thriller, rightly so, this is a movie that will have you on several occasions jumping out of your seat, and with its overall concept, not knowing the final outcome until the climatic end. The music was originally scored by Philip Glass, Notes on a Scandal (2006), Candyman (1992) and The Hours (2002) are some of his workings, but it was felt that in the end John Frizzell should take over the reigns. Ironically, his previous [2007] movie was entitled First Born, and having played on Ghost Ship (2002), Thir13en Ghosts (2001) and Primeval (2007). Noticeable in The Reaping is his use of piano, and with it gives off an unusual feel of charm, tranquillity and for this genre individuality, it comes across unexpectedly and is done to a degree of good taste within the tension and diversions that The Reaping has within itself. Also noticeable is the surround sound effects in the Cinema that The Reaping has to offer, on more than one occasion the "what's that behind me" feel never weakened, excellent.

While the support cast are fine in their respective areas, the surprise role must go to the brilliant Irish born Stephen "The Crying Game" Rea, as Father Costigan, where his name and talent is most welcome wherever he commits himself. The Reaping is a movie of conflicting interests and the fine line that one must walk and one must tread very carefully if one should be ever caught between the Righteous and self-proclaimed Righteous.

The Reaping is a very entertaining movie with plenty of heart stopping moments, intrigue and better still, Devilment. Enjoy, and choose your path very carefully…you may not come out alive.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Evil invaders Vs. Dumb invaders, I don't know who to pity the most: Great Fun., 1 April 2007

If you want gore you got it. Plenty of it, and with a tag line of "...More Gore Than a Bomb in a Butcher's Shop!", it's easy to see why Evil Aliens is by a long shot one of Britain's funniest and bloodiest horror sci-fi's for some time. The same too can be said for other British horror writing talents in their own unique way as with Simon Sprackling and Charles Higson for Funny Man (1994) and King of the Ant's (2003) respectively.

It's the story of an investigative team for a cheap sci-fi TV show, and its troubled ratings. So, what to do? Send a mishmash of a motley crew to a remote Welsh island, inaccessible during high tide, to interview the farm girl who has, allegedly, become impregnated by these evil aliens. Impregnated, but not in the usual way.

From the very start the foul language, the gross-out blood letting and the darkest of darkest of comedies does not let up for a single moment; this is going to be one hell of an adventure. The low quality budget is only expanded to greater heights with its high imagination and sheer determination to entertain, shock and laugh.

Jake West's direction along with a good eye, too with cinematographer Jim Solan, and the imaginative skills of the Special and Visual Effects teams have highlighted the high-end entertainment levels set on this type of movies genres budget. So too the cast who have produced a strange and if not more than alien environment that these invading marauders would no doubt think more bizarre and deadly, due to their amateur antics, than this small band of city folk who are the invaders of this rural outpost would think of them.

Evil Aliens has not faulted for a moment to try its best to use whatever it can to bring about this horrendous feast of carnage. With an interesting alien form, and their more than threatening environment, their plan of human fertility by painful insemination of the next generation of alien race is all too apparent, and all without the aid of anaesthetic, now that's gotta hurt.

Written, edited and directed by Jake West, his editing skills are exemplary, this is the talent that makes Evil Aliens sharp, responsive, witty, dangerous and horrific, neither lacking or distracting in any area, this is full on concentration of the macabre kind. This and his need, too, for blood, flying body-parts, albeit animal, human or otherwise, individual characters, love 'em or hate 'em, but toward the end admire and pity them. We see too, the odd here and there horror and gore homage that in the inevitable conclusion will have Evil Aliens making you run for your sick-bag as well as the tissues to wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hell is the easy alternative., 30 March 2007

Wow! What a roller coaster ride of a nightmare movie The Hill Have Eyes II is. German born Martin Weisz, along with the writing of Jonathan Craven and Wes Craven has done enough damage to the central nervous system to highlight the dangers of terror that these National Guard trainees have to endure. Stuck in the New Mexico Rockies and being totally out of their depth, amateurs in the line of fire who are slowly coming to terms of the deadly realisation that the hunters are sometimes just as deadly as the hills they occupy.

This is a tight ship of tension and with an excellent eerie soundtrack from Trevor Morris (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003, The Last Samurai 2003, King Arthur 2004 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 to name a few). It is the soundtrack of death and entrapment that the devil will whistle to you as he calls your name as the tingles run along your spine.

Also too, is the brutal helplessness that the female recruits are dealt, a worse case scenario that the prospect of death can only redeem the unwilling participants of the future generations of this mutant clan. This is striking make-up that will violate the visual senses set against the beautiful leading ladies who have the laws of human nature fighting against the laws of this hideous rocky remote outback.

With striking, shocking and surprising insensitivity that goes beyond the brink of sanity, this is madness that stops at nothing to justify its existence and The Hill Have Eyes II is the reminder of the dealings of mans most primal fear: Death, by extreme pain.

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Who can't say thank you enough for the music?, 30 March 2007

Welcome to the movies. Elvis had done it, The Beatles had done it and now the nineteen-seventies super group ABBA have done it. Welcome to ABBA: The Movie. This semi-documentary movie footage of the pop sensation that stormed the world with its simple melodies, gentle harmonies and infectious lyrics is taken while on tour of the Southern Hemisphere during 1977.

It's a basic concept and the formula is unsurprisingly straightforward; ABBA are on tour of Australia and the group are being filmed as they progress to each new city, to each new concert hall and to each new horde of screaming and admiring fans that this access-all-areas pass via this fly-on-the-wall perspective shows us. We have the group interviews, we see them perform their multimillion best sellers such as "Dancing Queen", "The Name Of The Game", "Tiger", "Ring Ring", "Eagle", "Mamma Mia", and many others that include "Money, Money, Money" and "I'm a Marionette". They allow us to see their prepping-up toward the nights shows' and we are more than privileged to have this insight into this bandwagon on the road to fame and fortune amongst the real hustle and bustle of the press and TV crews that beg their attention.

ABBA: The Movie is a gloried extension of the pop video that has them on stage rather than in a studio setting. In-between this hectic life style is the misadventures of a local D.J. Ashley Wallace, played by actor Robert Hughes who having no idea of what lies ahead and whose soul mission is to get that all so important interview. This is a man on a mission, this is a man without a clue and an even smaller chance, will his luck, wit and desperation withhold the barriers of the Rock 'n Roll giant that stand between him and his goal.

While on the hunt for his four-piece dialogue, we see him up and down and across the country talking and interviewing the real fans that have come to see this band proper. On reflection, this is now a tiny snippet of the ABBA mania that took over the world in the same vain as Elvis in the 1950's and The Beatles during the 1960's and Madonna of the last twenty years, has there ever been another to have reached international mega stardom since?

Directed by the Swedish Lasse Hallström, who directed some of ABBA's pop videos while at their peak, he has Johnny Depp and a very young Leonardo DiCaprio in his repertoire in his movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Chocolat (2000) and along with The Shipping News (2001) and An Unfinished Life (2005).

ABBA: The Movie is a gentle reminder of this phenomenon of way back then, and that over the years even today has its admiration and respect of the easy beat and more than charming lyrics. This four-piece band had tapped into the imaginations of lovers of music and its players alike. The movie Muriel's Wedding (1994) and the stage play Mamma Mia can be seen as fitting tributes to this influential group, its cultural significance is beyond comprehension. The writing talents of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are truly on a similar par as Lennon and McCartney, drug free of course, a writing duo who for a short while conquered the world and who set the standard, as did too Lennon and McCartney, for the pop world for decades to come.

ABBA: The Movie is a fan's movie without a doubt, but to an outsiders viewpoint it is an insight into a different avenue of the Rock 'n Roll machine that is so fickle and delicate. ABBA have stood their ground and in the halls of fame and stardom their music have become an integral part of modern pop culture and society, and that is why talent like this has to be tapped, exploited, far reaching and timeless: Welcome to the movies? Welcome to ABBA.

They Live (1988)
7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
While You Slept; They Lived., 29 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Roddy Piper is an excellent newcomer to the movie genre, after his domination of the American wrestling scene, he plays the underdog here to such a believable degree, well directed and well taught by Mr. Carpenter, his persona is not a disappointment. Along too, to the journey of self-discovery, are the co-stars Keith David (The Thing 1982, Armageddon 1988 and Pitch Black 2000) as his friend in need. Meg Foster (The Emerald Forest 1985 and Masters of the Universe 1987) and her mesmerising and beautiful green eyes provide the love interest with a touch of poison ivy to boot.

What really makes this movie is the work of Jim Danforth, double Academy Awards nominee for When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). His matt paintings are used to excel They Live to shocking disbelief at this new and sinister world that lives just beneath the surface and just out of reach of our knowing and understanding. Having worked on movies as The Time Machine (1960), It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Flesh Gordon (1974), Clash of the Titans (1981). Also to his credit are Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Thing (1982) and Day of the Dead (1985) and others, his workload has been heavily consistent and of the finest quality.

Based loosely on Ray Nelson's short story Eight O'Clock in the Morning, 1963, of a man coming out of hypnosis and then seeing the world as it really is is turned into a science-fiction of note and with it intelligence, thrills and excitement. With John Carpenter's stance on the simple minded populace and their submission into a world of apathy and willing obedience, and their finely tuned minds that have adjusted well to this technological age of television and over sensualised media saturation.

John Carpenter's slow and deliberate immersion of the daunting and worrying fable of the corrupt, deceiving and indifferent economic, social and political society, that has wrapped itself around its people and who in turn have blindly accepted their fate. Multicultural in more forms than anticipated, are the leading and upwardly mobile alien race who have gelled into the Human psyche and exploited it to its full potential. This is the story of an everyman (Roddy Piper), a no one, a Nada, literally meaning "nothing", who stumbles upon their secret, via an underground movement, whose mission is to sabotage their plans and awaken the world to its sinister plot.

With the help of a pair of sunglasses, that shows the world as it really is, not in colour, but a black and white parallel world that the sub-conscious has chosen to ignore. With subliminal messages as "OBEY", "CONFORM", "MARRY AND REPRODUCE", "CONSUME", "WATCH TELEVISION" and "SLEEP" everywhere, it is seen as all to easy to succumb to this train of thought, this sleepwalking of the living, the lifeless Souls that are never truly awake. It is through this thought control and the paranoia's that exists within this modern world that the aliens have this world tied up and neatly packaged for its own manipulative uses, to further themselves at the expense of the meek, mild and the lowly sufferers of a jobless, homeless, hungry and cold world.

This is the battle of self-awareness and one mans struggle with a reality check that has these alien beings staging war against the up-rising and rebellious armies from the gutters and streets. They Live You Sleep are what they daub onto the cites walls, this this their warning, this is your chance, where will your consciousness take you when the sleep is washed from your eyes…

The Host (2006)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
The alien from the deep: Be Afraid., 24 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Formaldehyde is an extremely poisonous solution. Which can be found in vehicle exhaust fumes and tobacco smoke amongst others, over exposure to this chemical can trigger asthma and can fatality trigger cancer. It is in this chemical, and in vast quantities, that we see poured into the great Han River of South Korea (an event that actually happened at a US military base in central Seoul in the year 2000, and being an inspiration for Gwoemul) not by accident but with contempt, malice and total disregard for its consequence. So begins the colossal after affects' of the man-made atrocity and the birth of a new and deadly mutant creature that has grown to immense proportions and with its size has an equal if not larger appetite.

Thirty-eight year old director Joon-ho Bong is representing the typical modern working class Asian family and its approach in the face of obscurity of combining both the fantasy of this mutant creature and the harsh realities' of their different backgrounds that do well to act as a metaphor for the social disorder that modern society has evolved into. Hence, at the beginning of Gwoemul we also see the suicide of an undistinguished and easily forgettable middle-class Mr. Yoon, possibly another victim of this social indifference, note he leaves his shoes at the rails of the bridge before jumping into the Han River, leaving one world to enter another.

Gwoemul is a story of human resources pulling together at the time when all seems possibly lost, this Soul searching, this awakening of the human spirit and the passionate sacrifice that at a time of loss and suffering overcomes its tolerances and excepts the inevitable through the actions of bravery, strength and unity.

The amphibious beast's terrifying demeanour is more than adequate to scare and release fear amongst the lowest order of the food chain, and set against the black comedy (similar to the Japanese movie Katakuri-ke no kôfuku concerning family bonds in the face of trouble and strife) that also makes up the Gwoemul DNA. Joon-ho Bong's strength is in his construction of both these assets, and not so much with comic relief but a showing of the flaws in human nature and the one direction that it has to undertake to redeem itself.

The virus and its social, political and military reactions seen here in Gwoemul are of the same parallels of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic of 2002 and 2003 that caused more than seven hundred deaths and that originated in Asia, are obvious. As the unwitting, scared and bleating public are feed, via the multimedia and the military's physical presence an elaborate hoax to contain and control them is slowly unfolded and realised. Where as the SARS was real, this fictitious virus that the creature is host to and its dealings is beyond contempt for its handling of the City's own people. It is beyond this narrative that the Will to function on an independent level, against the confining authorities, takes over the story and injects Gwoemul with its heroes that are found in the most unsuspecting of places.

This movie of morals, principles and the modern fragmented family is paced with enough action, suspense and monstrous fun and fright to keep the attention of all that view Gwoemul. It is also the work of cinematographer Hyung-Ku Kim that represents the darker side of the city's heart via its labyrinth of sewers and dark tunnels, both an eerie feeling of claustrophobic paranoia, haunting, and hunting, trepidation.

Gwoemul fairs up well against movies of this genre, the difference being is that Gwoemul does it just a little bit differently, this movies creation is a one-off, a man-made disaster, and like Gwoemul itself is a pleasant breath of fresh air blown from the mystic East that is worthy of the respect of this genre and its fellow adversaries.

Slither (2006)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Tummy up-set? Not feeling yourself? Then you've been Slithered., 28 February 2007

This was the pleasant surprise of 2006's cinema realises; this half cousin once removed distant relation to the Troma family. A tiny and neat combination of comedy and horror takes a stab at both B-Movie sci-fi and horror genres, and is a fitting tribute and honorary member to this well loved class of movie.

Its director James Gunn is an interesting character, with two examples of his writing ability going to Tromeo and Juliet (1996) and "The Tromaville Café" TV series (1997), and starring in the odd Troma movie too. To add to the Troma myth, The Toxic Avenger (1985) is seen on the Brenda Gutierrez character TV set and its director Lloyd Kaufman playing an uncredited role as a sad drunk, for a brief moment, a fitting tribute. It may be his writing for such movies as Tromeo and Juliet, Scooby-Doo (2002) and Dawn of the Dead (2004) that prompted him to write, and for the first time direct, this alien cum zombie flick.

During one night in modern day small town America, when a meteorite drops in the local wood and unleashes its tiny slug shaped parasitic pilot that sooner than later infects the local inhabitants, turning their infected hosts into Zombie type creatures. Not your most original of stories, but it's not what you have it's what you do with it that has given this movie its twist, it being the addition of comedy, a rare commodity for this sci-fi genre. Not a slapstick nor is it a laugh fest, but a very clever script that contains much wit and great one-liners to carry this off as very amusing, albeit with a fun and varied cast such as the local level headed Sheriff Nathan Fillion (Bill Pardy) and the more than overly rude and persistent mayor Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry). Along too for the ride are the local sheriff department and the town's inhabitants who give a fine natural feel of absurdity amid the confusion and turmoil.

On the flip side, the horror aspect is just as competent, we are troubled by these little slimy and infectious bugbears, but toward the end, it is the much larger threat of personal invasion and inner change that Slither takes on its sinister direction. This is a fine blend of fun and frolics that turns out to be an adventure of ghastly proportions. Fangoria Chainsaw Awards gave Slither their highest accolade by way off Award for Highest Body Count for 2006, and yes, well deserved it is too, now that's horror doing its job without fault.

Slither makes a pleasant change to the B-Movies of yesteryear who whilst trying their best to be taken seriously, but through time ended up mocked, loved and revered for all the wrong reasons. Slither knows its potential and never takes itself seriously enough to look like it has to try, this work's fine on its own and it works well.

Nevertheless, it is the disappointing cinema box office takings, very much like the Troma movies, that can in time be looked upon as a defining moment that turned this movie around and which has it placed in the category of cult status. Now that's B-Movie magic.

Under every stone there's always something new to find., 25 February 2007

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a beautifully shot movie that is set amongst the fictional working class one street town of Endora. With its cynically renamed ENDora OF THE LINE Drug Store, the almost deserted dairy dreme ice cream parlour and the exceedingly unused Lamson's Grocery shop, life in Endora, Iowa and it population of just 1,901, is motionless.

This is Gilbert Grape's story, and his recollection of what was to be just another ordinary and uneventful moment in the life of him, his family and his, almost sleepy, town. Centred around the Grape family, sisters Ellen and Amy and their two brothers Arnie and Gilbert, who, along with their widowed mother, morbidly obese Bonnie Grape are striving to survive and coexist with the absence of a father figure, low waged work and seventeen-year-old Arnie's severe mental condition.

It is in this awkward and extremely one sided affair that the unfortunate sibling Gilbert (Johnny Depp) has to constantly watch over his younger brother Arnie, played to such depth and conviction by a very young Leonardo DiCaprio, while still holding down a job for Lamson's Groceries and looking after, also, their housebound mother. Gilbert's life, his future, his dreams is thwarted, he know this, but it is in this Guardian Angel that his love and bond for Arnie, and his family, cannot, and will not, be let go.

That is until the free spirited Becky (Juliette Lewis) arrives in town, and stranded with her grandmother for the week while waiting for parts for their vehicle. This realisation, this new fresh face unties new feelings, new thoughts and new hope for the put upon Gilbert, something new is eating Gilbert Grape.

Iowa born Peter Hedges (b. 1962) novel has been turned into a fine work of emotional art, with the reassuring and delicate touch from Swedish director Lasse Hallström (b. 1942). While the dialogue is somewhat nondescript, but at the same time is never wasted on distractive trivialities, it is the inner core of the narrative that projects What's Eating Gilbert Grape as a tender and caring movie of self-sacrifice, devoted love and long full companionship.

The cast here are all relatively young, a younger than nineteen looking DiCaprio and Lewis, with its much more than capable co-stars. This gifted young cast are individually exceptional and hold their qualities well; to the point that at times we are mistaken for thinking we are seeing more home video than movie. Rita Darlene Guthrie's (b. 1947) first acting role is astounding, her natural instinctive character, as mother Grape, protrudes more than we expect, as the backbone of this family, she holds together a family of highly individual children under one union, and their respect and love. We are also seeing their new and young lives unfold before us, and the inevitable hand of fate that both bad timing and misplaced destiny has dealt them.

This movie ties us in with compassion and enlightenment through it main character Arnie, here we are given an insight into the daily responsibilities of this family toward his special needs. DiCaprio excels himself as the much loved youngster whose unintentional care-free and more than often care-less mind can at times bring domestic harmonies to boiling point and, sadly, beyond breaking point, even for the closest of families. Often surprising, often enduring but always touching.

This is perpetuated by the music of soft acoustic guitar that plays on the musical heartstrings for this gentle love story and with the work of the late Sven Nykvist (1922 - 2006) as its Swedish cinematographer, illuminating both the beauty of the surroundings and the bleak realities. We are also shown, subconsciously, that there is nothing wrong in being poor and that being from the side where the grass is not so green is not too bad after all, with just the right amount of stable influences that can support anyone through the hardships of life, most thing's can happen. This has been proved by the photograph of the third Grape brother seen on the fridge door, and the families pride in him gaining a University Degree, and ultimately, starting a new life outside of Endora.

The subplot, though minor, is still a harsh reminder that even the best of people can become too isolated, too familiar in their lives. Mary Steenburgen's middle-aged Betty Carver has a nice family, a nice house and a nice middle-aged husband, but is still not happy. Her affair with Gilbert is just a fleeting glimpse into the perspective of human companionship gone sour between old love.

Leonardo DiCaprio lost out to Tommy Lee Jones for his part as repetitive Marshal Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive (1993) at the 1994 Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Losing out to such an uninspiring role did not harm his winning the 1994 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Most Promising Actor as well as National Board of Review 1993 Award for Best Supporting Actor. With just three years after Edward Scissorhands (1990) and a year before Ed Wood (1994) this little movie proves that Mr. Depp can still take chances and win, and with Gilbert Grape, he has succeeded in proving versatility, depth and charm.

Endora may be broken and beat, but it does not mean that it is dead, there is still hope, with the arrival of the new Burger Barn to enlighten the town's folk spirit, like the two young buds of love, enlightenment can stop at the most peculiar of places.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Meat and two veg with gravy., 23 February 2007

Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies, Pete and Dud a.k.a. Derek and Clive, The Blues Brothers, Matt Lucas and David Walliams etc, etc these are just a tiny percentage of comedy double act's, the comedy duo's, that throughout the age's have entertained us all. Each with their own twist and turn of a gimmick that set's them apart, but in the final solution following, at times, the tradition of smart-aleck and buffoon.

However, there is just one pair that set themselves very much apart from the herd, originators and comic geniuses that no one has surpassed, surpassed by either skill, wit and personality the late, great Laurel and Hardy, British born Stan Laurel (1890 - 1965) and his American counterpart Oliver Hardy (1892 - 1957).

Their first outings were of the short silent movie variety, consisting of at least two reels in length, a reel being often around ten minutes long, this first short together was to be Slipping Wives (1927). Their first talkie was Unaccustomed As We Are in 1929, the advantage that both Laurel and Hardy had over most of their silent movie companions were that they adapted very well to this new genre. The Music Box (1932) won them an Academy Award for best short film, their only such Award.

Yet again, the famous Hal Roach Studios had a part in the making of Laughing Gravy, along with the writing credits to H.M. Walker (1885 - 1937) who with a vast order of merit as writer of dialogue and title creator for works for many of the silent, and not so silent, era's shorts. A snippet of Laurel and Hardy titles that includes Night Owls, Another Fine Mess, Below Zero, Brats and Our Wife. Directed too by one James W. Horne (1880 - 1942) whose career started out as actor way back in 1913, then progressed to writer then director of many, many shorts and full-length movies.

Then what about poor Laughing Gravy? Well, he, or more be it to the point she, went on to work with Laurel and Hardy twice more in Pardon Us (1931) and The Bohemian Girl (1936) as well as working in other Hal Roach (1892 - 1992) productions.

Laughing Gravy was filmed between the 2nd and 18th of February 1931 and released April 4th of the same year, and it is here, in this studio setting, we find this enduring duo shacked up in lodgings, one dark cold winter, and of course with their tiny pet dog Laughing Gravy, who has been sneaked into said bed-sit. It's in this predicament that poor old Laughing Gravy is finally found out by the mean spirited Landlord, with the assistance of the bungling and inept pair in the room above, of course.

So begins the absurd battle to retrieve this poor unfortunate mutt from the grasps of the freezing, howling winds and heavily snow ridden night. This is typical Laurel and Hardy starting out with good behaviour that very quickly turns to fanciful farce, with the ever blundering pair digging that inevitable hole so far deep that only sheer stealth and luck could bring them back over the edge and back to normality. Laughing Gravy is a wonderful insight into the world of this dynamic comedy duet, their antics and slapstick timing, and our joyful laughter at their own hilarious and often painful expense.

It is the ever-comic mental and physical abuse, which Oliver has to suffer, and suffer in silence, by the hands of his slimmer partner Stan, that makes this pair an extremely unfortunate accident-prone comedy act. It is Oliver's camera baiting, his looking directly into the audience and pleading for sympathy and understanding, and in this technique, this interacting with the audience, that has been turned into a powerful tool that both enhances the comedy and draws us into the plight. This alone, has Laughing Gravy warming our hearts to the duo's plan of action and its dire and hysterical results.

Around a week after initial shooting, extra scenes were added, a third reel, an extra ten minutes that does deviate from the first two reels, but non the less is just as funny in conjoining all three reels nicely, albeit a story in itself. This third reel had been lost for some decades, until the 1980's, and is now available as a full package. If sought out in the right places, the three different versions of Laughing Gravy, the original English language release two reeler, the three reel foreign language version (in English too) and now, the whole three reel's in 30 minutes of glorious computer generated colour can now be squandered at our leisure, for always.

Another fine mess? On the contrary, a fine comedy feast with lavishing of laughter and gravy.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The nostalgic and fond farewell to the bygone years of classic Cinema., 15 February 2007

Character actors never come as grand and as enigmatic as the late Peter Sellers (1925 - 1980) whose greatest mainstream movie achievement would have to be the now legendary Pink Panther series. During too, the radio days of the nineteen-fifties in The Goon Show, with the late Spike Milligan (1918 - 2002) and Sir Harry Secombe (1921 - 2001).

What was to be just one of four movies during 1957 by Peter Sellers, The Smallest Show on Earth here is his instalment in the persona of one not so young cinema projectionist Mr. Quill. By this time, he had already done the Ealing Studio classic The Ladykillers (1955), and this relatively small part in this 80-minute timepiece is of no exception.

This charming little fable, via British Lion Films Limited, finds that quite unexpectedly modern and middle class couple Jean (Virginia McKenna) and Matt's (Bill Travers; 1922 - 1994) lives are about to change. She the doting housewife and he the up and coming novelist, receiving good news, they have become soul heirs to Matt's late uncle's cinema, the Bijou, literally meaning small and fashionable. It is in this tiny tale, and being told in the past tense, that the trip to the north of England has these dreamy pair coming straight back down to earth with much complication and bewilderment abound.

They seem almost inseparable in their careers, having worked together in some eleven movies such as Born Free (1966), Ring of Bright Water (1969), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957) and The Belstone Fox (1973). With a tiny, blink and you'll miss him, bit part from one Sidney James (1913 - 1976) and fine co-starring from a very young and talented Leslie Phillips (B: 1924) as Robin, the mediator and solicitor Robin bringing a little sanity to the proceedings.

The Smallest Show on Earth is a petite story that draws the line between the cinemas of the classic silent movie era and its constant struggle to adapt, and the inevitable onslaught of mass commercialism of the cinemas that have now grown into franchisees and chains. It is also the advent of the television that is ironically the main competitor for this new wave of Cinema in this 1957 movie. The tide of technological advancement waits for no one, sadly for the Bijou, its days, its old and tired staff and apparatus, and its movies, are now part and parcel of glories past.

The coupling of the great and funny Margaret Rutherford (1892 - 1972) as the ticket and ice-cream seller, along with Bernard Miles (1907 - 1991) as Old Tom the ticket collector, with Peter Sellers is a fine and magnificent move, set against the seriousness of the couple from afar, these old nemeses with their differing standards set the humour and pace. Their comic bickering, nitpicking and constant, but harmless, backbiting toward one another are as sentimental and proud as is both their respect and fondness for this run down, clapped out old flea pit of a cinema, that all three have now become fully integrated, not with, but as the furniture.

This is a truly heart-warming story, of the old romantic bygone age of the silent screen, the people who have been there and the realisation of the changing times. It's in the eyes of this young couple that the story has most effect, their City way's clashing against rustic and nostalgia's past, and their slowing fondness and respect for the peoples who still remain.

Mad Max (1979)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Australia's finest moment in cinema: Sheer brilliance., 11 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mad Max: George Miller and James McCausland's vision of an apocalyptic future set in the wastelands of Australia. Total social decay is just around the corner in this spectacular low budget gang orientated road movie. Where the cops do their best to lay down the law and the outlaw gangs try their hardest to defy the system. Leather clad cop Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), the husband and father to a beautiful family turns judge, juror and executioner for the tragic deaths of his best friend, wife and baby at the hands of a wandering biker gang. Here we see the final days of normality of a man who had everything to live for, and his slip into the abyss of madness.

This is Australian cinema, yet again, at its finest, at its peak, with Australian classics as Muriel's Wedding (1994), The Dish (2000), Ghosts... of the Civil Dead (1988), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Razorback (1984), Romper Stomper (1992) and Two Hands (1999), never has there been a most successful movie franchise as there has with Mad Max.

Along with a relatively new cast and crew, this is a movie that would propel the young Mel Gibson to superstardom. Also, in the course of time Mad Max would conceive two younger siblings, again directed by George Miller, in the guise of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), and with the possibility of a fourth chapter in the pipe-line.

Brain May, Australian born and guitarist to the band Queen has composed a score that relays the nature of the horrors of both decline and decay.

With its astounding car stunts, unbelievable bike chases and constant ultra violence Mad Max is the antihero on the road to vengeance and self-oblivion.

Road movies with this much calibre and guts just don't come around that often, here we have Max, an honest family man whose life is torn apart by the result of a nihilistic nomad biker gang and their evil murderous way's. While the story line may just make the grade, it is the interesting and dark characters and their surroundings that project an air of dread, with its pessimistic intent that portrays a society slowly on the verge of imploding in on itself.

The police are the last remaining vestige of what is left of a once fruitful world of safety and conformity, we are forever indebted to these heroes, these Knights of the road, theirs is the perpetual struggle against corruption, bureaucracy and the peoples overall fear of the gangs that populate the streets and roads. It is in this struggle that George Miller and Byron Kennedy has foreseen the coming of the end.

Mad Max relies on the narrative of the traditional car and bike chase, beautifully filmed, with its more than exciting adrenaline ride to enhance the pace and sheer realism. Filmed up-close and personal, at gutter and bumper levels, this is high speed, high octane lunacy. Mad Max is more than just stunts, through its destructive mayhem, it can be perceived as a statement of chaos and anarchy that dwells in the shadows, a social comment of the lunatics taking over the asylum.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
The first course is about to be served. Please be seated., 10 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) director Peter Webber who alongside cinematographer Ben Davis and Thomas Harris, author to the Hannibal Lecter franchise, has brought forth a movie both enchanting and embracing.

Altogether stunningly fulfilling in its visual and literary senses, as the first course of so far four parts, Hannibal Rising brings the Lecter myth to our screens once more.

In 1944 Lithuania Hannibal Lecter (Gaspard Ulliel), slightly older brother to baby sister Mischa, are inseparable; it is their love for each other that ties their bond. Their companionship is forever binding, until, with their family, while hiding from the Nazi war machine during a twisted set of circumstance sets the pace for a most vicious attack on the future of one Hannibal Lecter for the sworn vengeance for the brutal killing of his baby sister. Years later, we find Hannibal, the teenager, setting up in Paris, and living with his aunt Lady Murasaki Shikibu (Li Gong) and studying at medical school here he finds his forte. Still searching for his sister's murderers, still bitter and still ever hopeful of satisfying his desire for retribution. This chance arrives, and soon we are to learn that for a pound of flesh lost a pound of flesh must be repaid. This is the horrific tale of justice and honour, a young mans growing pains that will have the guilty paying with more than just flesh and bone. This is the up and rising tale of the young Hannibal. This is a life that holds no bounds in the state of the art of vengeance.

This time the feeling of fear and disgust are reversed into empathy and pity. Charming in a way for whose pace loses no ground and wavers no ill toward its viewer, not once do we feel the need to drift away here. We are constantly besieged by the complexities of young Hannibal's life that are both enduring and dextrous.

Enchanting because of his plight, for the stench of death and corruption abound, after all, this is post World War Two Europe and some of its evils had slipped through the nets of Justice.

Embracing to the point of knowing this young mans madness and sorrow are both inexcusable and worthy both at the same time. It is here we venture with him to the long roads across the forgotten paths of the war criminals, their war crimes, and the absolute inhuman atrocities committed. This is no ordinary horror, killing for the sake of killing; this is killing a past that gave no choice to others futures.

The surprise of this movie has to be the excellent starter Rhys Ifans as noted more for his comedy roles in Notting Hill (1999), Kevin & Perry Go Large (2000), Little Nicky (2000), and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006), as the evil Vladis Grutas. Proving that versatility and just plain good acting can bring a whole new perspective to a movies "bad guy" role; chilling, charismatic, calculating and callous. We too have the beautiful Chinese born Li Gong, a side dish that brings a little class and sophistication to the banquet.

For the main course, it is up to French born (1984) Gaspard Ulliel to conjure up an aperitif before we are feed his speciality; tongue in cheek. With a notable demeanour that would terrify any head chief. From the very beginning, we are delivered a cold and heartless killer. Gaspard Ulliel plays him well, his true self, Hannibal the killer, hiding under a pose of yearning and steady sly wit while the true identity shows no remorse and relentless aptitude toward his goal.

A pleasant surprise of a movie, Hannibal Rising with its marvellous cinematography, surprising acting and a tense, heart stopping, horrific and justifiable means to an end.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Evil that Men Do., 27 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a great little movie King of the Ants turned out to be. This is no horror movie by any means, not a single mention or a single vampire, werewolf or zombie in sight, this movie is the story of human exploitation and retribution, in the most horrific sense.

Sean Crawley (Chris McKenna) is your typically average young man, working to make end's meet and getting through life with his head just above water, until one day he meets one Duke Wayne (George Wendt, noted for his career as Norm from the TV sitcom Cheers) and who in turn introduces him to the charismatic Ray Mathews (Daniel Baldwin). It is in this introduction that our young man's life is about to make a change for the worse. For just a small amount of money, he agrees to a special job for Mathews, his luck is about to sink into deeper pitfalls of human depravity, when his plans go astray and then taken to Matthews ranch where his head is constantly beaten to a pulp for withholding the whereabouts of certain papers on them. Human nature changes direction, madness and desperation take their course and Sean find's that at the bottom of the food chain the human spirit will rise to new atrocities in order to survive.

It is in this narrative that Charles Higson known for his acting and writing work on the BBC comedy shows The Fast Show, Swiss Toni, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Ted & Ralph and Harry Enfield's Television Programme has now turned around to face his demons with this horror of horrors.

King of the Ants does a very good job in disturbing our calm, and gives us unsettling reminders that there are certain peoples who are waiting in the wings, and at the right moment ready to pounce. This tiny little fly caught in the web that has also given us insight into the beast and the disturbing changes in both physical and mental development that can also have us cowering in the corner in shock, disgust and horror, not just at the world around us, but in what lies within.

Charles Higson's style here, for this genre, is somewhat slow and testing, with a constant pace that is only quickened during its violent episodes, and where the character development is on a shallow level. We don't need to know of any past records here; we are only concerned with these people's present and future lives to keep this story on its feet. This, with the assistance of Stuart Gordon, renowned for direction on Re-Animator (1985), Space Truckers (1996) and writing credits for The Dentist (1996) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) have given us a mildly surprising insight into the viciousness of human nature and how the weakened mind and battered body deals with severe pain, suffering and torture.

King of the Ants is an out and out low-budget movie, with its cheap locations and its less than mild script that can also be forgiven, too, for its overall B-(minus)-Movie feel. However, this little nasty doesn't need high-end gloss, or mid-range drama, this story does a good job carrying itself off and projecting a side of human nature that most would have the sense to steer clear off in the first place. Not so, this naive and gullible young man, with his head in the clouds and his feet securely stuck in his cement shoes, metaphorically speaking. He is the weak and foolish, while his malicious human companions who in the execution of their dirty deeds are the masters of his destiny, or so it would seem, this tiny little ant has a sting, and bite, that can render any beast powerless. Beware.

Stargate (1994)
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
The Stargate that is open to new ideas., 17 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Science fiction meets mythological history meets action and adventure. This is the better movie to come from Roland Emmerich's directional heritage, with the Lazarus theme running through Universal Soldier (1992), and the portly extravagance of Independence Day (1996), to the average sized Godzilla (1998), and to the sublime 2004 movie that centres on Earth's final days The Day After Tomorrow.

Where The Day After Tomorrow concentrates on the Earths future demise, Stargate on the other hand goes further back, some 10,000 years back, into Egyptian myth and legend, and their cover-up of an alien being that once came to this planet to take its inhabitants for slaves, not by means of ships, but by the use of teleportation. The method of travelling to the ends of the universe, instantly, a quantum leap, from one space to another, as simply walking from one room into another, this is the evil purpose of the Stargate, a tool to transport humans across the galaxy, toward a life of slavery and death.

Now, in the present day, and for eons past, the Stargate has been hidden, forgotten, and buried, as time has progressed and histories have come and gone throughout the ages; the Stargate has once more been unearthed. In the hands of the military, this portal, this unique tool, this mysterious device shall once more regenerate and transport those to new and wondrous worlds, those who now share its secret. Led by Col. Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil (Kurt Russell), he, his team and Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spade), scientist and Egyptologist, have crossed the boundaries of time and space. These modern-day voyagers' have naively stumbled across the Kingdom of the ancient god Ra. An intelligent, cunning and malevolent aging creature that for centuries has explored the universe, exploiting all he grasps, using the bodies of his people, his slaves, his humans, to regenerate himself over and over to receive eternal life. And so the conflict between Man and the deadly demigod Ra begins, the Stargate is where it began, and with the Stargate, it shall end.

Stargate is an interesting flavour of visual delight. Karl Walter Lindenlaub's cinematography and visual effects of the vast deserts and tribal communities that populate this three-mooned planet has us in a sweat quicker than a turkey at Thanksgiving. With a hint of arousal, a touch of depth, and a little pinch of tone and meaningful tenderness, Stargate, at the hands of Walter Lindenlaub has this movie cooked at exactly the correct temperament and texture that many first class cinemas would care to serve.

While Stargate wins outright in the visual sense, what lets it down, a little, is its somewhat two-dimensional characters, they seem more reinvented parodies of this sci-fi genre than newcomers to this new world of adventure, the all American war hero, with his cool and impenetrable demeanour, even down to the most ridiculous haircut ever seen. The inexcusable government scientists that insist on wearing wool sweaters that even a charity shop would have trouble selling. Plus their seemingly inept competence at solving simple equations over a three-year period, that has Dr. Daniel Jackson solving within three weeks of his arrival, just a tiny clichéd, but not that important, and not too distracting either, to the narrative.

English composer David Arnold, whose work on Casino Royale (2006), Hot Fuzz (2007), the "Little Britain" British television comedy series and the "Stargate SG-1" American T.V. series to name a few, does bring Stargate out of the dark and with it a shining example in what can be an uplifting, exciting and rewarding companion to Walter Lindenlaub vision. Any wonder then that these two professionals, including Stargate's director, have also worked on numerous projects together beforehand.

Stargate, the 1994 original movie, has in perspective, been a huge success, not just because of its thrill ride at the worlds cinemas. Here, we have many T.V. spin-off's Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods, Stargate Atlantis: Rising etc, etc, some T.V. shows even producing spin-off's themselves. This is classic Saturday morning T.V. sci-fi fodder, as in the styles of nineteen fifties sci-fi, such as Captain Video and His Video Rangers, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. To bring it further up the evolutional ladder, the nineteen sixties gave us Doctor Who and Star Trek. Now, as we enter the new millennium, Stargate and its offspring are entertaining us in front of our television sets. An easygoing default movie that really does contain great visuals and a real sense of adventure that even the children of nineteen fifties and sixties television would not disagree.

Sci-Fi is universal as it transcends across the barriers of time for each new generation, that is why Stargate will, and has, lead the way for the next generation.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Fable: England's green and unpleasant land's., 16 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Caution: This review's second chapter contains minor book Spoilers, concerning the P.D. James novel The Children of Men.

Director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Producer to Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Mexican born Alfonso Cuarón has now delivered us Children of Men. Phyllis Dorothy James White, the British born (1920) writer penned her 1992 novel The Children of Men and having worked for the British Civil Service, spent time as a magistrate and governed the BBC her full and illustrious career is never endless. Alongside the movies screen writing team she took the 19th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award, too, the 2007 Online Film Critics Society Awards for Adapted Best Screenplay.

As a book on its own it works well, as an adaptation it works extremely well, while only taking minor snippets from the novel and adding and subtracting their own brand of themes and concepts Children of Men is now one of the better movies to emerge from 2006, and notwithstanding the modern adaptation of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale.

With this dystopian world ravished by war, paranoia and the frustrations, and failures, of Man the Orwellian vision of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the totalitarian future is now complete and amongst us. Female fertility has become obsolete, the Human race cannot reproduce, and no child has been born on the face of the planet for eighteen years. Man, and his future, is dying. Soon he shall be extinct. Theo, the beaten, downtrodden and middle-aged ex-political activist has unwittingly become involved in a war of an underground revolt. Here he is active once more, in the perilous journey across England's Home Counties, with a young girl, Kee, who, to Theo's bewilderment is pregnant. The first pregnant woman for more than eighteen years. This secret must be protected, at all cost, and mother and child must flee to the mysterious and enigmatic Human Project, across the seas. Their flight is a constant fight for survival. Who can be trusted? Who can keep a secret? This is the hopelessness and disdain that Alfonso Cuarón has projected, as Man is slowly becoming extinct, he, as a race, must come to terms with its own passing, that Man is not infallible, not immortal and that with His own future He must also prepare and cope with his own inevitable demise.

With this premise Alfonso Cuarón, his scriptwriters and crewmembers have turned Children of Men into a vision of cinematic mastery; this is a dark world, that is, over the last eighteen years, torn itself apart, albeit in the physical, emotional and spiritual form. The mistrust of anything foreign is quickly dispersed and rejected; ethnic cleansing has never had it so good, with England's policy of returning non-nationals to their respective homelands. Reminders of past European xenophobic atrocities' such as 1930's Germany and 1990's Yugoslavia comes into mind. Here, in London 2027, with the Governing bodies and their prison camps that are brutal, callous and unforgiving, we now have a Police State, that one Theodore Faron, and working for a Governmental body the Ministry of Energy, has to endeavour.

There is no government ruler here, this has been replaced by a Warden, The Warden of England, Ministers are represented by democracy, here anarchy is governed by a self-appointed Warden, and here too is the pecking order of the British class system, this is emphasised more by the use of the concept of animals. The rebel underground activists who call themselves The Fishes. While Julian has the tiny tattoo of a swallow on her neck, the symbol for independent freedoms perhaps? The tiny fragile songbird whose wings, sadly, are clipped. Theo, on the other hand, has been given the qualities of what appears to be of Saint Francis, Patron Saint for animals, it is the animals in this movie that seem to have a connection with Theo, a six sense that they, and only they, can recognise the quality of a higher being, a Saviour. In the final battle, we have a heard of sheep, controlled sheep and their dogs running, fleetingly, through the streets, the symbol of chaos of the masses that are guided and pushed by the dogs. Which in turn are also controlled by the pigs, and toward the end, we repeat the scene that is hanging on the wall of the Warden's dinning room Picasso's black and white painting Guernica and the effects of war and disorder. The ruling classes that populate the schism between the oppressed and their high-ranking counterparts. The all seeing pigs, their affluence, power and greed that crush these doomed sheep, and guide them to their slaughter.

Emmanuel Lubezki's work here as cinematographer is astounding. His talents have rewarded him with numerous recognitions for Children of Men, be it B.A.F.T.A., the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA, Online Film Critics Society Awards and the Venice Film Festival, and not forgetting his 2007 Academy Award nomination for "Best Achievement in Cinematography". His vision is a powerful thoroughfare of Mans destructive capabilities, and with an insight to seeing the real world via dark, bleak and graphic detailing that war can bring. However, where the Children of Men transcends into great cinematic craftwork is the style of camera-work that Alfonso Cuarón has developed, with his extendedly long camera shots, and with minimal edits, we literally are alongside Theo and his contemporaries. These long uncut hand-held shots are what makes Children of Men work at ground level, and with this believability, photography and sensitivities we have a movie that has delivered.

Paycheck (2003)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
My Paycheck isn't taxing enough., 11 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In typical John Woo fashion, as with his Westernised movies such as Hard Target (1993), Broken Arrow (1996), Face/Off (1997), Mission: Impossible II (2000) and his 2003 movie Paycheck in particular, we have the inevitable style and celluloid DNA that is his own. While not an auteur himself, but these are John Woo's qualities that can be called his own, without a doubt containing a recipe of action, thriller, adventure and exaggeration.

Paycheck starts as an interesting concept, and from the short story by Philip K. Dick, born 1928 and author of Blade Runner (1982), We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, aka Total Recall (1990), Minority Report (2002), and A Scanner Darkly (2006). The frying of the brains memory cells by Big Business of one Michael Jennings, played here by Benjamin Geza Affleck, to prevent any outside dealings to opposing competitors seems an exciting theme, if only it could have been done without pomp and circumstance.

This is a movie with a twist, while in a job that will take three years of his life away, we are suddenly propelled into a worse case scenario, after these years are up, his memory is erased, and things have changed. His life is no longer in control; his life is now a dangerous cat-and-mouse game that gives a paper chase across the barriers of time travel itself.

The love interest is also dull and uninspiring, it's off putting for the amount of screen space that she resides, she's only here for Michael Jennings, we are just spectators. With an out of place Uma Thurman as Dr. Rachel Porter, as Paycheck was made between both Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), it's very easy to see the resemblance between all three movies, as with her overall persona, and haircut.

Then the movie falls apart, the plot is so conspicuous that toward the end climax, we are just left binding time until the inevitable anticlimax. In between these shards of time, we then have to endeavour what is now Mr. Woo's stand-alone trademark. An action and thriller movie that contains too well-planed action choreography such as the motorcycle scene for example, we have seen this type before in his movies, just look at Mission: Impossible II, just ridiculous, too extreme and not at all thrilling. This is all too much. Welcome to the world that is Mr. Woo's.

Paycheck at first is a thinking man's movie, it draws you in with a plot, a theme and direction, then when the chase is on it goes off in all directions and loses itself by debasing itself into an average crash and burn middle of the road Hollywood movie. Take his Hong Kong movie Laat sau sen taan, (Hard-Boiled, 1992), an action movie that sets out to be exactly what it is; action and stunts galore, but the difference here is that Hard-Boiled never seems pretentious enough to not want to believe it. Full of exaggeration yes, but fitting to its theme and purpose.

This is the self-proclaimed pigeonholing that has its downsides. With this repetitiveness it can sadly only leave him exposed to a level of audience that will either love his work no matter what the outcome or toward the end, whoever they are, find that they prefer their movies not at all too taxing. Welcome to the world of Mr. Woo.

Funny Man (1994)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Hell: It's good to be home., 10 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Funny Man the Harlequin from the deep bowels of the earth, waiting for his calling in this exceedingly surreal fantasy horror of the B-movie genre. Concerning the obnoxious Taylor family, victims of the modern age with their indifference to each other let along anyone else. With father and mothers little habit and with their young son and teenage daughter left to their own devises, and their lucky win, at the time, via a poker game, of the family home, in the English countryside, of one Callum Chance (Christopher Lee). A win that will have this unexpected family playing more than the joker for their lives. Simon Sprackling, both director and writer of this very British movie, has a humour that delivers wit and slapstick that is all very bizarre and horrific, and English.

Shock and startle, this is what Funny Man does best, and with his touch of poetic justice, he delivers a blend of fiery retribution and with his fearsome and disturbing looks. Funny Man will deal you your fate on the spin of the wheel of fortune. His justice is all sift, callous, graphic and controlled.

This movie is low key, but at the same time high on imagination with an exceptionally amusing script, albeit the delivery and sarcasms from Funny Man himself, and its visual persona. Enough in fact to bring several highly fictitious individual characters together, such as the malice ridden Hard Man, played here by Yorkshire born Chris Walker, the dippy hippie George Morton as the Crap Puppeteer, and the wonderful Pauline Black as the Psychic Commando. Ms Black is more commonly known as the singer with The Selector, formed during the late 1970's and emerging from the Two Tone movement in late 1970's and early 1980's Britain, with such bands as The Specials, Madness, The Beat and Bad Manners. Here she plays a Caribbean type voodoo superwoman who can generate a blaster type gun from her arm, and boy, does she know how to use it. But the best is yet to come, with these vagabonds we have the superb Thelma Fudd, played with zest by Scottish born Rhona Cameron, an amusing 3-D variant on the Velma character from the Scooby Doo cartoon franchise, fantastic parody right down to the thickset-rimmed spec's, haircut, attitude and short orange shirt, fantastic.

With its opposing members, each from varying social backgrounds, they just cannot seem, or just do not want to, get along. With this in mind, do these victims actually deserve their fate? If fate had turned down the right road, with compassion, respect and understanding, then maybe social indifference's, apathy and intolerance would have surfaced another day, but no, the fool of fools, the court jester, the Funny Man was called, called to cull these misfits and tyrants of social decay and decadence. Just deserts for just causes.

This is a British movie through and through, with its heavy accents, cast and with Simon Sprackling being nominated the International Fantasy Film Award by Fantasporto during 1995 for Best Film. Its no wonder really, as the cinematography, by Tom Ingle, is both interesting and along with Simon Sprackling's script and overall direction of macabre horror makes Funny Man seriously horrific and at the same time funny, man.

0 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Too many eggs spoil the basket: Or, Nightmare at the Museum., 3 January 2007

What has Night at the Museum and Christmas got in common? Pantomime. And watching this is exactly what it felt like. This mundane movie had pulled us in and then quickly had us sleep walking, for a better phrase, throughout the majority. With a cast that I would not pay money to go and see, such as bland and staid Robin Williams, witless and uncharacteristic Steve Coogan, the very mediocre Owen Wilson and the pointless Ricky Gervais. I had hoped that funny man Ben Stiller could have pulled this off, but alas no. Hard work when you're on your own.

It does have an interesting concept and it could have been a contender, but with only a tiny building as the Natural History Museum to play in, for example, this story was never going to open its doors and explore new grounds.

With its extremely tried and tested plot, loser dad trying to regain his distant ten year old son's respect, and his struggle to reconnect. While trying out his new job as night watchman in said Natural History Museum, he is unwittingly taking in by its now defunct employees, played by talented Dick Van Dyke, classic Hollywood great Mickey Rooney and actor Bill Cobbs.

With this mixed bag of nuts, we are quickly let down by its overall transparency. The love interest, if we can call it that, is neither interesting nor is it necessary, just a pointless decoy and gap filler for a script that has seen better days. What also is very noticeable is the musical score; it seems just irrelevant, a little bombastic and often played for the wrong reasons at the wrong times, too much for too little.

With all things considered this movie has to have some appeal to the kind hearted in us all, the down trodden and the meek. With its do your best to be your best attitude, its jovialities and slapstick approach, at times, this pie in your face pantomime feel has only left us, sadly, with egg on ours.

Eragon (2006)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A little too much of not enough., 26 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was exactly how I presumed it to be. My first point being the cast, Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich, what is going on here? Mr. Irons just has not the backbone to hold up a movie on his merit alone and with Mr. Malkovich seems to have gone down a level to adapt to this awful movie. If two leading men such as these were to be introduced, then one could hopefully wish that they would have something sufficient to say. Eragon has to have the most terrible, predicable and banal script of any movie I have seen for an age. This really is dialogue that any child could have written, except this credit goes to Peter Buchman, writer of Jurassic Park III (2001), this witless writing not only keeps the viewer in permanent comatose but goes against the grain of those more prominent to be saying them, very, very disappointing indeed if still very much obnoxious.

This basic cinematography just holds its ground against its easily dismissed and dull dragon, Saphira and voiced by Rachel Weisz. Where this concept lets itself down too is the way it communicates with its boy rider, the use of telepathy, where this may work in the books, this seems nothing but a far too easy cop-out for any special effects team to attempt other wise.

The intolerable story, so common with a certain sci-fi movie from 1977 when it concerns the introduction of the boy, his surroundings and his fourth coming adventure, is so painfully obvious too. Eragon is really doing itself no favours at all here, with at least three major conjunctures as cast, script and plot, if one should fall short then it may look as its weakest link but when all three are so poor then this catastrophe is simply, and literally, called Eragon.

Carandiru (2003)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Only in death can peace be found., 24 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seen through the eyes of the prison doctor, Dráuzio Varella, this is his version of events taken from his book Estação Carandiru, and the innocent massacre of the guilty.

Told in several short fables and sown together into the fabric of the last remaining days of the prisoners in block Pavilhao Nove, this is an account of the build-up to one of Brazils most notorious prison riots in modern history.

Filmed in the prison itself before its demolition in 2002 and built in 1956 with its mass population of around 7000 inmates, made initially for the tinier amount of some 3000. Carandiru was never going to be a holiday camp, with its toil of constant hard drug use and the need for safer sex that the prisoners are perpetually being told. AIDS is rife here, be it via drugs or sex, and the violent life that has to be adapted to survive; no one is getting out clean, let alone alive.

Slowly unthreading itself as a movie of human connections, Carandiru Penitentiary may be a holding pen for the sinners of Third World poverty, but their stories are typically international. As with each perspective, we are woven into each predicament and, possibly, led to believe that most are victims and victimised rather than perpetrators of crime.

It is in these stories that have us empathising their plight and it can be all too easy to dismiss the fact that with every prisoner inside, it is inevitable, that there are victims' on the outside. It is also known that a large amount inside Carandiru was jailed without trial or lawful judgement. However, this is different, this is no ordinary colony, Carandiru is a self-run compound, run from the inside, and with its own rules and punishment; break the law and you end up inside, break the rules and you may never see the outside again.

Extremely realistic language and its violent and unforgiving claustrophobic environment drives Carandiru along and is given the grace and respect of a highly talented team. Hector Babenco, whose career also undertakes prison movies such as Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) and Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco (1981), brings together one of the best cast seen for this type of genre. Rodrigo Santoro as muscular Lady Di, the charming and charismatic transsexual in love with tiny and likable Gero Camilo as No Way, who when eventually released wants to become a doctor. There is hope and dreams here, but in the light of day despair and misery are what walk these dark and destitute corridors.

Carandiru with it inevitable climax is both tense and mesmerising and at times sympathetic, why, even if some had committed crime, did some have to pay with their life this way? This unfair and totally unjust execution of unarmed men is nothing more than butchery; this punishment certainly does not fit the crime.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Punk meets the Gothfather., 2 December 2006

Classic vampire myth meets the MTV generation in the Michael Rymer movie version of the Anne Rice novels. This passed Gothic tale now becomes the modern punk for today's generation, that brings Lestat de Lioncourt (Stuart Townsend) from his slumber and bored with his existence has now become this generations new Rock God. While in the course of time, another has arisen, Akasha (Aaliyah, 1979 - 2001), the Queen of the Vampires, the Queen of the Dammed.

The action here is on par with the great cinematography of landscapes and of both classic and modern buildings, mixed together with the right colours and shade have given a feeling of classic menace meets new age horror. With its hard rock soundtrack have produced a vampire movie that is both individual and surprisingly well made. The sets are truly magnificent along with the work of Ian Baker, having worked on The Devil's Playground (1976), Plenty (1985), The Punisher (1989) and Six Degrees of Separation (1993). Visually stunning and with great edits from Dany Cooper that quicken both pace and blight even the darkest of any vampires sleepy wake.

With a minor but important role from British actor Paul McGann, there is a cast here, and background staff, that holds this together with charisma and professionalism. The Queen of the Damned is worthy of reprisal, dig your teeth in and take a bite, this will fill your appetite.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Old Dog, New Tricks., 29 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bond is back. This reinvention of Ian Fleming's first Bond story is captivating and exhilarating as it is magnificent. With the lack of gadgets and witty innuendoes, Casino Royale is back to basics thuggery and tough guy masculinity. The action is fast paced as it is well thought out, with tremendous stunts and action sequences that hypnotise and excite.

With lavish locations, as to be expected, such as Venice, already used in From Russia With Love (1963) and Moonraker (1979), the Bahamas, Prague and nooks and crannies in-between. This is a stupendous crossover from a classic 1952 story to a modern upbringing, while respecting the old, intermingling of the two is done effortlessly and timelessly, the last Bond movie to use the Ian Fleming moniker was The Living Daylights (1987) some nineteen years hence.

Daniel Craig is well suited to this new era of Bond, his no nonsense stance is calibrated to be exactly what the Bond franchise needed. This franchise was slowly eroding into parody, it was the dog that was chasing its own tail, the only way to come into the new millennium and beyond was to reinvent, to revitalise, and with having the luck of the first Fleming story, finally, this introduction has become an impressive first taste of what is yet to come.

Admittedly, with the new age of CGI that the past Bond movies seem to need to survive, they have become lifeless and dull. Casino Royale seems to use little CGI and relies on the old fashioned school of stunts and action, a great twist in the tail that has this mad dog of an Englishman needing no substitutes for the real thing, and with great reverence, this has worked wonders for the franchise. Great stuff, great result. Bond is back.

Wilderness (2006/I)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A dog's meal that seems tasty but ends up regurgitated., 22 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Filmed in Northern Ireland and financed partly with the assistance of the U.K. Film Council's premiere fund and the National Lottery (U.K.), Wilderness is something of a milestone for most involved. As its Michael J. Bassett's first movie, as well as numerous cast members to boot, his first time as director feels a little tame and toothless.

This being a little prisoner movie while based on the theme of rehabilitation, where the inmates are nasty, grotesque and cheap as this movie is, regrettably, as cheap. We have for example, Richie Campell as Jethro, Lenora Crichlow as Mandy and Adam Deacon as Blue (Ali G Indahouse, 2002), all English T.V. actors and now turning their talents to the big screen. The young lady Alex Reid, as Louise has some experience with the movies with Arachnid (2001) and The Descent (2005) to her credit. The main draw here is the charismatic Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers, 2002), as this band of brothers guide on an uninhabited island known as The Wilderness, an old army training ground handed over to the prison service for the aid of character building, there's an irony here somewhere, and rehabilitation.

A good concept in theory but executed in the manner of amateur hour at a local movie making convention. I don't mean to sound low-spirited, I want these actors' and actresses' careers to take off, and its makers too, this is a big step into the void of movie making, while their talents might have been appreciated on the small screen here they are underpowered by the transgression to wide screen. Wilderness may have missed the boat where charisma and originality is concerned, but as a first attempt, it is an okay try. The direction is sustainable with a steady pace and at times atmosphere, but it does need more work, and with a half-decent sense of photography from Peter J. Robertson, the trees and the woods is not the place to be going at anytime if Peter J. Robertson is in charge. With the help of one Mark Thomas (Dog Soldiers, 2002), and his musical score, it can just about make it, but a good movie needs goodness from all directions too.

What has let this movie down is its terrible script (Dario Poloni), and extremely tacky dialogue that these unfortunate actors, and we too, have to suffer, at times; it reaches beyond cringing to sheer embarrassment. This is inner-city underclass and its flotsam and jetsam parodying and nothing else, and the actors here are just trying too hard to be something they are not and it shows. Was there ever a period of research for these roles or were they just thrown together with the bad, the good and the ugly? Also, too, is the predicable plot, not just the storyline but the actual plot, you can see this coming well into the first half, it's only a matter of principle to see this to the end to prove yourself right. Wilderness may have been a learning curve for all those involved, and we too have learnt that we should not judge this cover until we have seen it from the inside out.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Set sail toward the land's of movie magic., 15 November 2006

Hollywood goes back to Greece, who five years earlier had ventured on The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and comes back with its main prize, Jason and the Argonauts. This 1963 fantasy movie must have wowed its audience with glee when first shown in cinemas across the lands, as it still does today. Set around the Greek myth of the Golden Fleece, Jason has been given the task of retrieving said Fleece from the far side of the world. This is the story of how his journey came about, from the murder of his family when only still a baby, and his recruiting of his Argonauts, such as Hercules, Argos and Castor, and finding love in the image of Medea. With the help of the Goddess Hera and the hindrance of the deadly perils of this gigantic voyage.

They are all here, the bronze giant talos, the wonderfully nasty winged tormentors the Harpies, the seven snaked headed Hydra, the clashing rocks, with its shall we say walk on part of King Poseidon, God of the Sea. Of course, saving the best until last, the most memorable and famous mythical battle of all fantasy movies: the fight of the seven skeletons, the children of the night, raised from the ground from the dead Hydra's teeth. A great work of art that has the respect of all animators and craftsman alike, this stop motion technique has been used on many classics as King Kong (1933), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Chicken Run (2000) and the Wallace and Gromit movies to name a tiny few. This artwork has been done by the great Ray Harryhausen, here as special visual effects creator, born 1920, and who also produced Jason…, along with The 7th Voyage…, the skeleton battle scene alone would take three months to accomplish, long hours for just three minutes screen time, but movie history that would remain forever. Breathtaking.

Todd Armstrong, as Jason, who passed away on November 17th, 1992, aged fifty-five, stared alongside the gorgeous Nancy Kovack (1935 - ), as Medea, Laurence Naismith (1908 - 1992) as Argos, who went uncredited in the movie Cleopatra (1963). The British compatriots were also aided by the movie goddess Honor Blackman (1927 - ), and whose next movie was as Pussy Galore in Ian Fleming's Goldfinger and Gary Raymond (1935 - ), as Acastus.

The great musical maestro Bernard Herrmann (1911 - 1975), work, once again, never fails to tire, with pace and servitude to this classic. It delivers an eerie pace and persistent atmosphere that drives the mystery and magic along. As with each individual creature we see they given their own individual score, interesting to say the least. His previous works are The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) and the Sci-Fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). While the beautiful Italian landscapes were filmed by cinematographer Wilkie Cooper (1911 - 2001), his eye for natural beauty and with its ultramarine blues set against the harvest sunsets of the Mediterranean Sea make us believe that we too are set sail on this epic voyage. His curriculum vitae are The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), 48 Hours (1942) and One Million Years B.C. (1966).

In part, Jason and the Argonauts were written by Beverley Cross and Jan Read, who in turn took their initial story from the Greek poet Apollonious Rhodios, who wrote the poem Argonautica. As he goes uncredited in the main titles, it is a shame not to give him due credit here.

Jason and the Argonauts is pure fantasy, were 1930's King Hong may have terrified its cinema audiences with its stop motion imagery of a giant beast ripping apart New York City. Some thirty years later, we are set upon with wonderment and astonishment at the world that is far and mysterious, with its lust for adventure and possible danger, with beasts of a different kind, just as terrifying, and just as enjoyable to watch.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Open Road is wide enough for all., 15 November 2006

To help understand Claude Friese-Green's background a little history needs to be understood; his father, William (Edward) Friese-Greene (1855 - 1921), and possible inventor of Kinematography, had by 1889 patented his 'chronophotographic' camera. Sadly, William's new and underdeveloped creation was too crude to succeed in further interest, 1891 saw William selling the rights, due to bankruptcy, of the 'chronophotographic' camera patent for just £500. His persistence had now produced Biocolour, where black and white film were given the illusion of colour by passing them through two coloured filters; red or green, the down side to this method was the poor quality image, and the constant flickering by the standards of the day. William was never to see this method take off, due to many court cases and wrangling concerning copyrights from other inventors, such as Charles Urban. It was to be his son Claude, who would eventually continue with his fathers work; William Friese-Greene collapsed and died while participating in a debate concerning the state of the British film industry.

Claude Friese-Green (1898 - 1943), whose chosen career and trade was filmmaker, cinematographer and technician who in 1924 set off from England's southern tip: Land's End to the most northern point of Scotland: John O'Groats, some 1600 miles apart. While following in his father's footsteps to further the development of Biocolour, he went on to produce a series of short films, at a cost of hundreds of pounds, what was then called "The Open Road". A journey of discovery, a colourful creation of the people he would meet and their natural surroundings, and too, the experimental movie making would continue.

This journey was to take Claude and his friend Robin Haywood Booth three years to produce, while travelling across the English countryside in an open top Vauxhall D-type. This glorious time-honoured work has us seeing the people and their different environment during the time of peace between the First World War and before the depression era of the 1930's and before the build up to the Second World War, the calm and charm before the storm.

This wonderful stepping-stone of 1920's cultural England, Wales and Scotland is combined with a modern journey of the same route, produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the British Film Institute (BFI), some eighty years later. We are invited to witness a retrospective of what was then a land of black and white imagery. Claude's works were ten-minute, 26 episodes, which were shot in black and white negative, and with the technique of Biocolour applied, gave the illusion of colour. These short movies were to be shown before the "main feature" in English cinemas, as this was the only medium of its day; it was to show the day-to-day living of its people in living colour. The scenery of the time is breathtaking, an age before the explosion of the car and the dawn of industrial Britain, an unspoilt land yet to be ripped apart for modernisation. We are introduced to the layman's in the wheat fields to the Romany Gypsies and their way of life, the Lords and their fox hunting hounds and many personalities and individuals' in-between, across beautiful green fields and country lanes that contain both rustic villages, seaside towns and Cities, both from old and modern perspectives'.

We are reintroduced to this bygone age by comparing and contrasting the revisited spots and with the help of family members and old friends of the time gone by. Such as Cockington, in Devon, and its Edwardian cottages, we are introduced to the now elderly daughter of one of the young ladies we see on the original film and her account and memory of her mother being filmed by Claude. As well as the tiny village of East Budleigh, and its now eighty-six year old Frank Farr, who was only six years old, and born in 1919, at the time of filming. This Olde-World that has come back, to the farmers fields and reminiscing on the folks and times and the cider drinking farm hands who have long since been taken by time, all seen again through the eyes, and for the first time, of the surviving old-timers' of yesteryear.

This travel and time-line archive documentary of nineteen-twenties Britain from the BFI and the BBC is exceptional quality, as one would expect; a rebuilding of the short travelogue shot by Claude. Totally regenerated for modern viewing and presented by Dan Cruickshank. This reflective, and compulsive, DVD viewing is compounded in to three episodes', Episode 1 - Land's End to Weston-super-Mare, Episode 2 - Cirencester to Carlisle and the third being Gretna Green to John O'Groats. With the second disc containing extras such as The Life of an Artist; Football memories; Herefordshire Cider Farming; Life on the Canals; Scotland's Piping Tradition; Oban's Fishing Community and Jack Cardiff remembers Friese-Green.

Jack Cardiff (born 1914) work gave him an Academy Award for his role as cinematographer on Black Narcissus (1947). He has the honour of working on War and Peace (1956), The African Queen (1951), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), The Red Shoes (1948), Death on the Nile (1978) and Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), this being just tip of the ice berg, as he started in the business around 1918.

During the nineteen-fifties, Claude's son donated The Open Road to the BFI, then kept in isolation until its relevance was appreciated, then along with the BBC, totally transformed the originals to what we see here, where the full account can be seen on the BBC web site, under History.

A beautifully presented package of archives of a golden age, and a splendid walk down memory lane, with the concept of how much Britain has changed, or not, in the last eighty years. With its recollections of past to present, this investigative narrative is also a historical look on how we have become decadent, complacent and sadly with progress, we can sometime be heading in the wrong direction.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The family pet that's too lame to walk the walk., 28 October 2006

A nice little and a little too easy going indie' B-movie, The Beast of Bray Road, is, allegedly, based on factual reports of sightings, circa 1989, of the legendary sasquatch and werewolf myth, or cryptozoology as the scholars would pronounce, and wild as the beast itself, the over active imaginations of the peoples' of Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Directed and written by Leigh Scott (b.1972), aka Scott Slawner, brings his extended family together for another outing, this time to do battle with modern folklore and superstition. Released by Asylum Home Entertainment, whose category embarks on the wonderful B-movie drive-in genre as Snakes on a Train (2006), Vampires vs. Zombies (2004) and The Fanglys (2004), all straight to video, and all for sale at the bargain basement bin at your local video rental shop. Most here, at least, have worked together in other projects, Jeff Denton (as Sheriff Phil Jenkins), working in Leigh Scott's Art House (1998), Sarah Lieving (here as Kelly), and Andrew Lauer had played against said director in the T.V. movie H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005). Ms. Noel Thurman (playing Sheriff Pamela Fitske) in Mr. Scott's The 9/11 Commission Report (2006).

Mr. Scott's movie is very light comedy; too many weak points to be taken seriously, The Beast of Bray Road could be taken for a Saturday morning T.V. matinée parody at best. If it were not for the gross out flesh eating scenes and, once, light nudity and some coarse language, but not often. We can forgive Mr. Scott for trying too hard, but try he has and he has, forgivingly, done reasonably well. The attention to detail can be somewhat lacking, sadly, and it is this that has The Beast… looking a little too unprofessional and unfortunately this gives it its comical look, the desired effect perhaps or a bad dose of laziness and complacency.

The beasts makeup, on the other hand, is impressive, and done by Eva Lohse, regrettably, the only highlight of the movie, and not really seen enough, and Dizzworks Design too played their part. Ms. Lohse is credited as key makeup artist and having worked on Rent Control (2002), Employee of the Month (2004), plus many others as Dead Men Walking (2005) and Dracula's Curse (2006), which coincidently has five members of The Beast…co-starring.

The poor attention to the editing, again by Leigh Scott, has given The Beast…more plot holes than Emmental cheese, we are left scratching our heads and left feeling the efforts are rather curdled in the process and that this could, if at best, have been a half decent movie. This could, and to be fair, be down to a lack of proper funding, if so then the parodying of the major American beer companies and their logos that are seen in "KELLY'S Roadhouse" might be understandable.

The clichéd character development, too, is feeble and the lack of originality only separates its need to be taken seriously. All in all The Beast of Bray Road is a group of new family and old friends making movies, if it doesn't workout, then fine, lets make another. If one should hit the jackpot and stir up peoples imaginations then all the better for them, but in the meantime The Beast…will remain an okay movie, but it will never walk down the road of being a good movie.

Doom (2005)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Disaster spells Doom for Doom the Movie., 22 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Doom, based very loosely on the video game Doom 3, in retrospect it's your average bug hunt space movie, low on Sci-Fi but high on itself, but for what it's worth, just consider it another quick fix teen B-movie of shallow expectations. A high production cost cannot hide the immensely poor story line and dreary acting.

This should, on paper it was, have been a hit; only there was just one tiny detail that this movies team had neglected, that the following of any cult DVD game turned movie has to, at least, abide; replication. There were so many differences between both video game and movie that any parallels seemed few and far between, by the second week of its release, in the USA, it plummeted. The games boys seemed unimpressed. This game is over.

This movie seems very familiar, we've been here before, Aliens (1986), as a matter of fact, to such an extent, that Doom could very well pass as its doppelgänger. This is the punishment for the crime for not sticking toward its original DVD game concept as closely as possible. The extreme lack of brainstorming in the right direction has given this movie a complete lack of individuality; this parody has a team of marine's, again, ordered to Mars, to the Union Aerospace Corporation Olduvai Research Facility, substituted for LV-426 in Aliens. To investigate and retrieve any survivors that have reported a deadly presence that are killing them off one by one, and that's about it.

We have the typically obnoxious clichéd marines, of the movie variety, hollow and uninviting; their charisma bypass is only perpetuated every time their mouths are open. We cannot unite with these over egotistical members of the lowest line of command. We have, though no fault of our own, no pity nor remorse when one eventually meets his demise, we are simply put out of our relief, as they are theirs.

The build up at first is interesting, but after the first one minute and fifteen seconds, due to the wonderful opening logo sequence, we are shanghaied into this awful concept and forced against our will to accompany these staid space warriors. While the sets are impressive, and the overall cinematography interesting, the Razzie Awards, for 2006, nominated The Rock worst actor. This is its biggest drawback, the overacting by under-actors, so to speak, shame really that there was nothing new to add to this concept, no refreshing script, no character development and no new frontier to explore. This project was doomed from the very start.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Ex-Wolfbreath graduates missing; Mothers' upset., 21 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Troma Films, the anarchic and hedonistic Production and Distribution team here, have excelled themselves in involving their time and name, amongst others, with this movie. Even by a technicality, as director, writer and producer Charlie Kaufman is brother to Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Entertainment. Troma's reputation is one for the shock-horror-sex-underground movie genre, in the blackest of black comedy sense and style.

Mother's Day is all of the above, minus the comedy, gruesome, debasing, haunting and horrific, horrific in the sense of three female friends alone in the woods, camping out on their annual get-together, and their abduction, rape and eventual death by two puerile and simple-minded brothers, which are controlled and immorally educated by their elderly mother. However, in the similar vain as the 1978 revenge movie I Spit on Your Grave, aka Day Of The Woman, these vile and unsophisticated childlike monsters are driven not by their own will, but are controlled and dominated by a mothers love. As I Spit on Your Grave is an underground cult movie of stark revenge, Mother's Day, too, goes far deeper underground for far longer. This (s)mother love has given birth to an evil legacy of hate, destruction and death; there is nothing that escapes this whirlwind of twisted and bitter sadistic devotion.

This is pure Saturday night drive-in popcorn fodder. Mother's Day has an excellent character development that before any nightmare scenarios begin, it is at least half an hour into Mother's Day before we are propelled into madness and hysteria, we are getting to know and understand our unfortunate heroines and their differing social backgrounds. We are bonding with them as they already have connected with each other, we are slowly becoming drawn into their lives and soon we are ready to share in their grief.

This, for its efforts, and considering its background, is a very well made movie; don't be fooled by its low budget roughness, which actually gives this movie a greater feel of realism. With its underground texture and charm, Mother's Day is a high-octane movie of stamina and strength. The three actresses here, all grown up and independent women in their own right, bring out a very desponding, terrifying and gut wrenching believability to this new world of sick and violent domination. Their experiences are projected through the turmoil, we are feeling helpless that all we can do is watch, and we are as defenceless as they.

Doing Time (1979)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Porridge; A good healthy diet of wit and intelligence, leaving you full and satisfied., 20 October 2006

England was writhe with crime, in the cinematic sense, toward the end of the decade that had brought us Glitter Rock and Punk Rock. Toward the end of the Seventies and with the crossover into the Eighties, prison movies were to include the brutal Scum (1979), the Houdini exploits of McVicar (1980), and not forgetting the vicious ladies known as Scrubbers (1983), these Made In Britain misfits are amongst the serious and uncompromising hardcore collection of the riffraff prison underclass of that time.

This era's theme of imprisonment had also been the subject of light relief and comic substance, to the happy go lucky tune of life's misplaced souls that were doing Porridge, (as the movies American title suggests Doing Time): the English term for being imprisoned, you were "Banged to Rights" you were "Doing Time" and "Doing Porridge".

Nineteen seventy-four saw the release of British comedy sitcom Porridge; written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, this later turned into the spin-off movie of the same name. Fundamentally an extension of the early seventies comedy show, we have the enduring and ever wistful Norman Stanley Fletcher, with his unforgiving contempt for authority and the establishment alike. The two writers here have not deviated from his original persona; a charm and charisma that transcends from television play and onto the movie screen, with his wise old owl intellect that knows best and never throws caution to the wind. Though the script is the classic all-round family entertainment variety, the actual storyline is somewhat basic and considering the genre here, apt.

Richard Beckinsale (1947 - 1979), as Lennie Godber, father to the beautiful Kate Beckinsale, born 1973, of Underworld (2003) and Van Helsing (2004), fame sadly passed away shortly after the making of Porridge, of a heart attack. While too young, his legacy has been passed on through his daughter, he would have been extremely proud to have seen her accomplishments. The world of light entertainment would never be quite what it was without him. Porridge is awash with the best of British, such as Fulton Mackay (1922 - 1987), Brian Wilde, Derek Deadman, Ken Jones and of course the greatest modern English comedy writer and actor the late Ronnie Barker (1929 - 2005).

This extension of the small screen had to have direction that was capable of retaining the attention span of an audience used to only the weekly half hour shows. The big screen adaptation is classic British cinema; the titters and chuckles among the theatregoers is only contagious. Humour abound, with its pessimistic and anti-establishment overtones that, while nonconformist, only reminds these prisoners of their individual plight. Here we see the pecking order of the hierarchy that are the building blocks of any modern day society. With its top dog Grouty, with his bodyguards Samson and Delilah, then there are the gofers, the go for this and go for that, the illiterates and we have the young and naive first offender Rudge, played here by Daniel Peacock, for example. In between this, we have the officers, just as misfit and imprisoned, though physiologically, as their jailbird counterparts. All bound together by a very wonderfully sharp and intelligent script, bringing about the adage sarcasm is the lowest from of wit, well this is not sarcastic humour, nor is this toilet humour, this is well written and thought out superlative comical fun. Any wonder then that during 1980 Porridge had won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Comedy.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Deliver Us From Evil and have another T.V. dinner., 14 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Congratulations should go out to the to editors of this movie Jonathan Chibnall and Jim May, whose work, respectively contain Edward Scissorhands (1990), xXx (2002) and then for Jim May, Kangaroo Jack (2003) and Van Helsing (2004). This is a tight and sharp handling of this gore and shock genre, with a delivery to quicken the pace of both movie and heart. We are thrown from side to side and from scene to scene with the intensity of pure undiluted fear. This fear has been treated with the respect it duly deserves; this opportunity has been well exploited and even more well received. Done to the tune of one Steve Jablonsky, with movies as The Amityville Horror (2005) and The Island (2005) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), here we have a gruesome toll of the bells of death, this very compatible and haunting crescendo of musical nightmare is ever lasting on the goose bumps and spine tingles that …The Beginning delivers.

South African born Jonathan Liebesman who gave us Darkness Falls (2003) has turned around the trapped in the middle of nowhere cliché and quite possibly it has become his very own auteur.

…The Beginning is a nasty taste of seemingly inbreed hillbillies meets those oh so unfortunate young and care free city folk, these small town rustics who having an unnatural appetite for the human flesh, and with its very own unique master butcher, Thomas Hewitt aka Leatherface, lets us wonder why it isn't such a bad idea to go vegetarian. This is a family movie, a movie of family love that has crossed over from the norm to the down right abnormal and insane, if we were invited into this house, then you are invited for dinner. Particularly where the main host is concerned, an aging patriot and veteran of the Korean War during the 1950's, R. Lee Ermey as Sheriff Hoyt the twisted and of course totally crazed stepfather to Leatherface, it is he who acts as main head-hunter, with panache and callus disregard for human intervention and understanding. With the likes of Jordana Brewster, born in the Republic of Panama in 1980 and living in England up to the age of six play's here an amazing leading protagonist, with gusto and bravery that will conquer our fear and test any friendship to its limits. This young actress, with her heckles up and snarling teeth can dominate any dinner party, to the extent of looking death in the face and spiting in his eye.

The cinematography deserves some merit; Lukas Ettlin has certainly an eye for this genre. The dark corridors that are Momma's house done in the tones of an aging family photograph album and with its imposing prisons that the bucolic meat eaters reside have us in mortal fear, a fear that along the mazes of desperation hope will come in a quick execution.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is a blood bath of fear, with a no compromise stance to this blood feast; we are forever driven deeper into this nightmare of death. It shall forever keep its stake on the flesh and minds that whoever should watch it. Be warned this is not a friendly movie. And that's why I like it so much.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Ealing is very appealing., 6 October 2006

Did you know that Robert Shaw (1927 - 1978), aka Quint in the 1975 movie Jaws played a minor non-speaking role, uncredited role that is, here? As well as a walk on part by the then up and coming Audrey Hepburn (1929 - 1993). Apart from all that, The Lavender Hill Mob brings together an array of British talents, or other wise, be they in front of the camera or not. The slender bespectacled Sir Alec Guinness (1914 - 2000), sets himself against the stocky and charming Stanley Holloway (1890 - 1982), (who once faired against Rex Harrison and, again, Ms Hepburn in the 1964 movie My Fair Lady, as Alfred P. Doolittle in which he was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 1965 Academy Awards). An interesting trade-off in both personality and ability by these two giants of the classical period of British cinema.

With an interesting premise from both screenwriter, an ex-policeman turned writer, T.E.B. Clarke (1907 - 1989), and The Bank of England, who set up a committee to devise the plot for Lavender….when being asked for advice from said screenwriter on how would it be at all possible to commit such a robbery. With a clever and witty, and at best dark and provocative script that draws the two hapless and benign men together, that are facing their winter years with no prospects of security and prosperity. A sinister plot is finely unfolded before our eyes, as these two sheepish misfits are, with a twist of fate slowly transformed into old dogs rather than wolves in sheep's clothing.

With elaborate cinematography by Douglas Slocombe, born 1913, whose work is a masterpiece of movie history as to boast the likes of Hue and Cry (1947), Mandy (known as Crash of Silence in the USA,1952). The Smallest Show on Earth (1957), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), to the iconic Indiana Jones movies, plus the Never Say Never Again James Bond movie of 1983, and the examples are many. His portrayal of the criminal atmosphere is moody and bleak, in places, considering this is very early 1950's London, and an Ealing Studio production too, which had succumbed to the perils of World War Two, we see the City's streets and buildings still suffering in its wake, the dirty and grime ridden St. Paul's Cathedral is a fine example. This London is limping along to the tunes of rationing, and poverty, which did not end, for the ration book at least, until 1954.

The irony here is that amidst all these backward and enduring times, the new era of a post war Europe that we see in Lavender….are the traits to the beginnings of the new technological age, the dawn of the 21st Century. In so far as the police and their new scientific and counter criminal methods, note the "The Camera Cracks Crime" poster for the first stages of CCTV at a London Police Convention, that today owe its success to the then newly born Age of Aquarius.

This is the image that Charles Crichton (1910 - 1999), the director of A Fish Called Wanda (1988) is depicting here also; this crime caper gone wrong is a stark reminder of the harsh times that England was suffering. With its crossover of pre World War prides and the birth of this new age society, for the wrong reasons, that is now poorer and just as dangerous and the will to take the risk is more prominent as it ever was. This crossover is carried by the old dogs and their employment of two modern day criminals; one Sidney James (1913 - 1976) of the Carry On establishment and the pint sized Alfie Bass (1921 - 1987). With this team of hardened and experienced criminals, plus the, ironically, naive and inexperienced intellectual brain power taking control, this is disillusioned middle class England meets working class desperation, where toward the end, trust is a friendless word, and morels are few and far between. In hindsight, this makes up for a jolly good crime caper, particularly at the movies casting of an inept and complacent Police Force, through their bumbling and short sightedness, an Ealing ploy for comic relief or a stab at authority in general perhaps.

Then again, this is an Ealing Studio production after all, and it wouldn't be doing its job other wise, would it?

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Like a boiled sweet, it takes its time to reach the centres flavour., 5 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The social context is once again played in the class rooms of South Korean horror, Wishing Stairs bases itself on the concept of human misunderstands, fretted relationships and troubled times, if not minds. Human ecology is the main teachings, concerning these young ladies here, that intertwines love, jealousy, rivalry, hate and of course, wishful thinking.

Jae-yeon Yun's, this being her first movie, and containing a smattering of horrors past, work here is highly commendable. It delivers a purposely-built crescendo in a pace that honours this Asian genre well, not in a rush to over excite but to keep us near to the truth of the matter. That as life beats its perpetual heart the coming to terms with its perplexities and dealings are never going to be a free ride and at some point the inevitable human spirit shall once again torment itself beyond its capabilities of sanity.

To counteract this movies pace, we are dealt with what seems a horror noir, albeit in the visual sense, dark and menacing, though not threatening, Wishing Stairs still has the power and charisma to startle and disturb. With imaginative cinematography from Seo Jeong-min, his use of contrasting both light and dark is compelling viewing, set against the score of one Gong Myeong-ah this combination of both sight and sound can at times have the nerve endings jumping and twitching.

The social consequence of the complexities of human interaction are shown to us in a manner that has our actions, in this case negative actions, producing negative results, when one wishes for ones own personnel gain, then one will expect to personally pay the price. Wishing Stairs pays homage to this principle of emotional turmoil, via a beautiful and strong development of its characters long before we see retribution and mayhem that plummets deep into the abyss of madness.

Hard Candy (2005)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Candy is dandy, but this will ruin more than your teeth., 4 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hard Candy, like the play Waiting for Godot, in principle only, is a play of two characters, and two characters only, this is a play concerning duel personalities with one major theme in mind; paedophilia.

With its hidden twists and turns Hard Candy is angel cake with the added ingredient of bitter pills that is certainly best served cold, this play, of responsible indifference, is a chilling insight of the effects and counter effects of this atrocious crime.

The bait is laid, the trap is set and the consequence of our actions is the bed that we inevitably must lie in. There is no escaping the legalities that subversion brings, Hard Candy is that justification. David Slade, with his first major feature film here, and a gallant effort too, has delivered Ellen Page, born February 1987, into our grasp. She just about taunts us with interest, with her character Hayley Stark, but this meandering quickly becomes repetitive and a tad too perplexing in places to warrant any believability in the long run, in retrospect of the David and Goliath scenario that transforms into The Mouse That Roared.

Though rather on the slow side to begin with, Hard Candy soon gradually delivers momentum, and while we are at pains for this young girl's welfare, we are driven to the precarious world of the Internet chat rooms. This particular social message that should have alarm bells ringing for all that casually type away with abandonment is a stark reminder that even being incognito will not protect, unless, of course, the proper procedures of caution are being observed. This is where Hard Candy falls into place, the care free, naive and gullible actions of the unwary, of the hard candy, the slang term for an underage girl, that will have, for some, dire consequences.

Hard Candy is an enquired taste, for some the pace will be too slow, for others this is how it should be delivered, in a non rushed manner that has both victim and victimiser bonding, for the wrong reasons, and unsuspecting of what is to be their overall fate. When this fate is finally approached, we are grateful that the final curtain of this play has drawn to a close and that the show is finally over, not for indifference, but to be witness of the justice being executed.

Littleman (2006)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
There's something I need to get off my chest., 3 September 2006

So, has it really come to this? Are we, as consenting adults, to blame for the next generation of cinema-goers lack of cinematic understanding and celluloid capability? Concerning the Wayans and Co. latest addition to the moving pictures scenario; Little Man. This United Kingdom P.G. (Parental Guidance), anyone under the age of twelve must be accompanied by a responsible adult, certificated movie, is the epitome of what has now developed into the worse case of dumbing down since cigarettes were "wiped out" from pictures of movie icons of the 1950's.

The predominantly under twelve's audience here who, some without grown up supervision too, sat there, obediently, taking it all in, oblivious to their subject and the partly grown up features that Little Man portrays, in part at least too. Movies, in general, can do better than this poor attempt, while this nonsense is getting them in while they are still young and fresh, the biggest fear for the future of Cinema is that a child's ignorance just might carry on through to a grown up bliss. Cinema deserves more than this, and so do its ever growing, and in the literal sense too, audiences, this blatant cash cow feeds on the ever-impressionable minds of the young.

There is no Cinema experience here, no open eyed wonder, no awe-inspiring respect to the magic of movies'. There is nothing but bewilderment and contempt, for the lack of substance, originality and its delivery of mind less tedium and parody of everything that is so now ultimately wrong with the Hollywood machine, for the sake of a quick buck, we must endure our future cinema audiences to the likes of this archetypal disaster movie.

Will this have the likes of Hitchcock, Fassbinder, Leone, Kubrick and Schaffner reeling in their graves? Money they all liked, no doubt, but talent and exuberance for perfection and quality, and to a vast degree, respect for their profession and audience, they were never short off. We are seeing, once again, with the works of the Wayans clan another cliché of bad taste, while the likes of White Chicks (2004) were in no doubt a stab at the bourgeoisie of American society. The irony here is that the two leading protagonists, played yet again, by the Wayans brothers, are so much undercover, that all recognition is non-existent, this makes for a better movie too, and it is the actor Terry Crews that gives White Chicks its substance and personality, not the Wayans.

Yet again, with their pastiche of 1970's Blaxploitation movies, as with the 1988 movie I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, this to can be seen as a comical and amusing movie, with heavy weights as Isaac Hayes, Jim Brown, Bernie Casey and the gorgeous actress Ja'net Du Bois. The point being, that Little Man has absolutely no persona of any kind what so ever, he is shallow and narcissistic, with no appreciation or value toward his followers, he quickly dives in takes your money and before we know it, has hidden himself within the cogs of commercialism. There is no recognisable effort as to where our money has been spent, after Scary Movie (2000), things could only have gone up, but alas they did not, no great pondering of artistic value and no doubt that the instalment from these intrepid movie moguls' next movies shall be straight to video, one can only hope.

The Wayans seem to have created a movie genre all by themselves, to a certain extent; they have bludgeoned to death the movie parody, they have watered down each and every avenue and with their inevitable style. They have slowly destroyed the reputation of the last one hundred years that Cinema have given us, may the ghosts of movies past be ever so humble in their judgement, as their growing audiences, so far, seem to be, for when the bubble bursts, may they be as understanding too.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
An education to be laughed at., 3 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The English author, playwright and ex military man Stephen Potter (1900 - 1969), had produced what can be seen, then and very much so today, as a social order of competitiveness' and to a degree, fair-play, that he was to term the phrase "One-Upmanship", by this terminology it simply means to win, to use the skills of "gamesmanship". This consists of wining, by breaking into the psychology of the opponents' train of thought, to "put them off", to "distract them from their goal of winning by helping and hindering both at the same time". To reach, also, the goal of "winning without actually cheating" and most importantly, to make your opponent think that they had lost fairly, thus, to achieve "One-Upmanship".

School for Scoundrels, with their continuing theme of "lifemanship", is the 1960 movie based on the books of Stephen Potter, directed by Cyril Frankel, who goes uncredited, as Robert Hamer, an alcoholic, was unreliable for duties, rarely sober and who died some three years later.

Failure is not an option, at The College of Lifemanship, with the brilliantly talented Alastair Sim (1900 - 1976), playing Mr. S. Potter as the shrewd and cunning mentor, and that has the unfortunate Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael), turning too for assistance, with his naïve, bumbling and placid nature, will soon have him in the right direction. With such classes as "Partymanship", "Lifemanship", "Gamesmanship" and "Woo-manship" and other lessons of "UpManShip" that slowly brings about change and substance to his character and backbone alike.

School for Scoundrels is a movie that preys upon the inarticulate, meek and mild that exists in all walks of life, which needs that extra push and guidance, and to show the way to victory, possibly. Filmed during the summer of 1959, a very British affair that carries its darker side of the human theme of deviousness is both skilfully adapt to the human need to succeed in the face of obscurity and the need to change for one owns survival. Done in a very humorous fashion, with the cast of Terry-Thomas (humour), Alastair Sim (scheming), Ian Carmichael (genuine) and Janette Scott (naivety), and with bit parts from Hattie Jacques (1922 – 1980), Irene Handl (1901 – 1987) and John "Dads Army" Le Mesurier (1912 – 1983), you really cannot go wrong here, entertaining till the end.

There is the serious side to School for Scoundrels, and that to participate in such activities is sometime counter productive, and toward the end, maybe, a little backbone can be built up on just basic human sincerity.

Along with School for Scoundrels, try it, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Wide Boy's curve that went too far and out of control., 31 August 2006

Coincidently part produced by Newmarket Capital Group LLC, USA and part Distributed by Capitol Films, France, amongst others; the flavour of the day is most certainly capital. While the show business entrepreneur and capitalist Sir David Frost, and executive producer to the movie Rogue Trader, was travelling back from Singapore, after interviewing Nick Leeson, while still in prison, he came up with an idea of capitalising on the theory of making a movie on the life of said prisoner.

The result, taken from the self-penned autobiography of Nick Leeson, how true and unbiased this is is only known by Leeson and his close associates. In what at first seems to be a straight to video / television movie, is somewhat different, this gritty, basic and though lacking in the big budget league, is very down to earth, this fine little movie works well.

Played by, then in his mid to late twenties, Ewan McGregor and only three years after his break through movie Trainspotting (1996), and shortly after Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) too, he, according to the journals of Leeson, is playing the eager and willing recipient of a chance of a life time. This tiny little mouse has been sent to Singapore, to correct and finalise the financial dealings, for Barings Bank, in the Asian sector, and while the cats are away, the mice will play.

The narrative, both visual and verbally chronicled, is of an optimistic and fruitful future, for both employer and employee, with McGregor playing the wide-eyed financial barrow boy cum playboy, who, rightly so, just wants to progress to the top of his career. Unfortunately, complacency is the victor here, the anticipation of failure is slowly built up, but not in a tedious fashion either, Leeson is seen here as the Mr. Nice Guy, but nice does not work in the world of cutthroat finance trading. The narrative, in a flick of a wrist, the turn of a deal, becomes pessimistic, daunting and high-octane adrenaline.

Sliding along with a soundtrack that gently pushes and squeezes the unforeseen catastrophe is the likes of Andy Williams "Can't Take My Eyes off You", Blurs "Song 2", Leftfields "Strom 3000" and with what appears to be Rogue Traders signature tune "Money (That's What I Want)" performed by Barrett Strong.

With its coarse language and respectable soundtrack Rogue Trader, a.k.a. the story of Nick Leeson and his down fall, is an education, or propaganda considering ones view point, of how the money market, and its individual stalls, deal with greed, ignorance and failure.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Pete's Dragon meets the modern times for medieval fantasy., 30 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mystical, magical and magnificent, that is the world that Draco inhabits, the land of medieval Britain with its Knights of Old, dragon slayers and evil King. Dragonheart should be taken with a pinch of salt, with a touch of humour and charm; this is a great Saturday matinée movie. With the sophistication of Sean Connery as Draco and the ruggedness of Denis Quaid playing the angry Knight, their role-playing has given us a witty and elegant movie, a nice mix indeed.

The special effects are completely wasted, on the small screen that is, this is most definitely for the silver screen, and to waste the opportunity to witness Draco in full flight over the crest of the hill is tantamount to ignorance, a movie such as this was made only for the big screen. The fine colours and detailing of Draco's scales are utter craftsmanship, the use of CGI are apparent, but not in the obvious sense, but when used against the back drops of the open countryside, castles, woods, rivers and lakes the ending results are stupendous.

The two leading protagonists, apart from Connery and Quaid, are the very charismatic English actors David Thewlis, as King Einon and Pete Postlethwaite playing Brother Gilbert of Glockenspur, and with an appearance form Jason Isaacs too. Both being exceptionally gifted, we have seen David Thewlis in the likes of the Harry Potter movies, Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and The Omen (2006), and respectively Alien³ (1992), The Usual Suspects (1995) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and The Constant Gardener (2005). These two actors bring Dragonheart out into the open, with their style, wit and ever-increasing personalities, not a line is wasted.

With a musical score too from Randy Edelman, his work on Dragonheart is climatic toward the end; this is a moving and touching score. Where empathy and the transcendence for our scaly hero is forever engraved into our hearts.

Lassie (2005)
6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A place for everything and everything in its place., 30 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With its class divisions and social differences, the have not's and the I want mores, this is the story of Lassie the Rough Collie, originally bred for herding in the harsh Scottish climates, she, like her owners have become innocent victims of the times. Set in the beautiful Yorkshire valleys and lush green fields, as well as the ever - mesmerising Scottish Highlands, with true filming locations in England and Scotland, plus County Wicklow and the Grand Masonic Lodge, Dublin in Ireland and the Isle of Man. This is a visual splendour of the vast wilderness and the beautiful panoramic landscapes, that when set against the tiny figure of the star herself only projects her impossible plight. Cinematography is by one Howard Atherton, and being a member of the British Society of Cinematographers too, has us transfixed at the stunning lands and lakes that are Lassies barriers and wedges that divide heart from home.

Done with a gracious style of indifference and tender loving, Lassies adventure homeward bound is a story of human tragedies also, for the people that she stumbles upon, she brings course and effect, Lassie touches us all, her ever trusting, and weary, nature, she can become as close to you as only you wish to be close to her. With a cast of greats and new faces alike such as Peter O'Toole (1932 - ), as the sinister, cunning and malevolent Duke, with him are the likes of Scottish actor and comic Gregor Fisher, Jonathan Mason as young Joe, Peter Dinklage as the travelling Rowlie the street entertainer. We also see John Lynch as Joe's father along side Samantha Morton the wife and mother, and a bit part from the comedy actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, playing the evil Buckle, not forgetting the acting talents of Steve Pemberton, Robert Hardy and Edward Fox too. This all blends in extremely well too, set against the period sets, locations and costumes of the pre Second World War era. With the style of story telling, which was first written in 1943 by Eric Knight (1897 - 1943), that brings us to a state of trepidation, doubt and sorrow for our heroine, then at the right moment will have us adulated for her sheer guts and determination.

Lassie is a family movie, and for sentimentalists alike, with its theme of finding ones home and knowing where the heart really belongs, with its subplots of human soul searching that are parallel to Lassies plight too, this is a fine story, told in both wondrous countryside and stately homes to back streets.

This is a tale of knowing ones place in life, and wanting to be there, and the rewards of achievement when one reaches the end of the road.

Heartlands Truly Moving Picture Awards, USA, gave Lassie top accolade for its very moving emotional impact and to quote their philosophy for picking such movies, "Truly Moving Pictures are films that explore the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life". I'll second that, will you?

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Tigger Family Values., 29 August 2006

No one ages in the world that is Walt Disney's, not even in the 100-Acre Wood. The ever-youthful Christopher Robin, and his imaginary friends such as Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Roo, Kanga, Rabbit, Owl and yes, the infamous Tigger are all here, they never leave.

The Winnie the Pooh brand name, had been produced once more by The Walt Disney Company, this was to become The Tigger Movie. Without, sadly, the original voice that was Paul Winchell (1922 – 2005), who for many years had given us all fun and frolics with his ever lovable, or annoying, what ever your perspective may be, character Tigger, via a voice of lovable believability and honesty. Here we have the new voice, for a new generation, Jim Cummings (b.1953), not entirely a new comer, as he had voiced Tigger during the 1988 shows The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. While listening to the new voice, I'm afraid, for me, it just does not make it; with the comparison to listening to an elderly gentleman who quite simply had forgotten to put his false teeth back in. While the Americanisation of the associating voices are just bearable, the only English voice here is the narration of John Hurt.

The animation here is your same old same old character profiling, as expected with historical characters and their evolution into the modern technical age, but as with this movie in particular, it is clean, sharp, colourful, and ordinary. It isn't about the quality of the messenger, but the importance of the message that The Tigger Movie portrays.

In typical Walt Disney fashion, we have the moral standings of family values and friendships that can overcome doubt and loneliness, wherever and whoever the sufferer may be; friends and family are always near to give the boost back to the land of smiles, happiness and championship, they never disappoint.

This is really a movie that can be blessed by children from all around the world, with its Tigger silliness, the half a dozen or so songs that accompany any Disney production such as this, and the heart-warming all rounder of a story that will have them happy to have been part of the Tigger family movie.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Fun Futuristic Sci-Fi never to pass its Sell by Date., 26 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With the help of Special Effects expert Ted Samuels and fellow Cinematographer John Wilcox (1905 - 1979), who having both worked on the 1965 Dr. Who and the Daleks, have brought us, along with a great Art Department, a futuristic, barren wilderness landscape that is the concrete jungle of a war torn London. This is pure 1960's melodramatic pomp, with its, sometimes colourful but delightful aesthetic workmanship, making this a timeless classic.

From the Production and movie making team, once more, that was Max Rosenberg (1914 - 2004), and Milton Subotsky (1921 - 1991), who released Oliver Stone's first feature length movie Seizure (1974), bought a bigger budget, Aaru Productions, via Amicus, had given the green light for a £286,000 worth of a second sci-fi escapism flick. The money is extremely well spent, particularly for a movie that is classed in the low-budget category, with greatest of detail to the dead City, a derelict City of abandonment with its rubble streets, ghostly dwellings and dangerous alleyways that are patrolled by the dreaded Robomen and Daleks alike.

To advance the gross budget, we see an early example of what is so common for today's movie standards: Product Placing. Here we see posters for the cereal Sugar Puffs. Also, if you do spot it, there is also a banner advertising Castrol Oil, the vehicles couldn't really run on thin air.

Directed, again, by the late Gordon Flemyng (1934 - 1995), he has given the lead role back to Peter Cushing O.B.E. (Officer of the British Empire), who, allegedly, asked for the return of Roberta Tovey, playing the young Susan, as supporting actress, and reprising his role as the lovable and adventurous time travelling grandfather. The support cast differs from the first instalment, with character and comedy actor Bernard Cribbins, as Special Constable Tom Campbell, with a more mature and involving perspective, Tom Campbell is a character that can be relied upon should trouble arise. Retrospectively, there is just one scene that does have our time travelling companion looking rather inept and foolish, put in no doubt to appease to the actors comic appeal, it gives the impression of lampooning slapstick, this is the wrong time and the wrong place for such silliness.

The other trait of the negative persuasion that Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. has, considering the huge budget, is one of worst musical soundtracks ever to stumble across the movie screen, by Barry Grey (1908 - 1984), and Bill McGuffie (1927 - 1987). It gives this movie no atmosphere, the electronic music used here is simply dreadful, be more afraid of hearing this than the cry of the Daleks, "Exterminate".

The late Welch born Terry Nation had conceived the original idea for Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. from the television series from the nineteen sixty-four The Dalek Invasion of Earth series, which, controversially, at times, is known as World's End.

There are differences, of course, between the original television series and the 1966 movie, each works well in their respective genres, where Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. does shine is the magnificent intricacies of the set pieces and their design that give the movie a true concept of realism. The script is passable and the overall story is fine and basic, but as a money-spinner. This one failed to exceed the anticipation of the first movie; maybe the excessive hype from the first movie had taken its toll. This was bigger and bolder, and it shows, it really is a shame that it never triggered of the third movie in the pipeline The Chase, but that's history now, and this is still a great little movie, time again and again and again.

14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Old Grandfather Time Who Leads the Way., 20 August 2006

Doctor Who was written by Terry Nation (1930 - 1997), amongst others, who before his inauguration into the Doctor Who franchise, and personally creating the Dalek, was already writing for television, with works as The Saint with Roger Moore and The Avengers during the 1960's. The year 1963 was to be the year that an unsuspecting British television audience would be captured and mesmerised, and for the next forty years too, by an old mysterious being from another world, another time; Dr. Who had arrived.

Doctor Who: The Dead Planet, a seven-episode show for television, which first aired in 1963, was his first adventure into this concept, that was played by the original Doctor: William Hartnell (1908 - 1975). Terry Nation continued to be one of the main innovators' toward the Doctor Who legend, with writing creditability's from 1963 to 1979. His work also includes the British sci-fi Blakes 7 and The Persuaders! With Roger Moore and Tony Curtis.

Dr. Who and the Daleks is based around the 1963 episodes The Dead Planet, with a movie feel towards it and by 1960's standards a huge budget of £180,000. This was a big production; the first of it's kind for this franchise and shot in Technicolor and Technoscope, a 35mm film technique that laid each frame horizontally end-to-end instead of vertically. With the international movie star Peter Cushing O.B.E. to headline, not as a time travelling alien, the last of his breed, but an eccentric, inquisitive and inventive scientific Grandfather, known as Dr.Who, not as The Doctor as he is referred to in the television series.

Dr. Who and the Daleks was the first taste of the Doctor Who name for the American market, released there during July 1966, though not too successful in the US', as here in England. This well-known television show spin off needed very little prompting, just the mass hysteria and movie publicity throughout the nation would most certainly keep these wheels of industry well oiled. Star Wars some twelve years later would be the next huge movie franchise, but on a global stage, rather than on an English lawn as Dr. Who and the Daleks were. Successful it was indeed, with massive merchandising rights too, toys, books etc, this was the big time for the small screen; Dalekmania had landed.

Dr. Who's invention of the time travelling machine T.A.R.D.I.S. (fully known as Time And Relative Dimension In Space), that he with his two young granddaughters and young male friend, played by Roy Castle (1932 - 1994) as Ian, set of to another world and time with, land on planet Skaro. Here they encounter the passive life forms of the Thals, and their struggle against the repressive and destructively evil Daleks, these living creatures that can only live inside their metal casings to survive, their aim, is for interplanetary domination, taking no prisoners along the way, to destroy, to exterminate everything that crosses their path.

Dr. Who and the Daleks can share, coincidently, similar parallels to the 1960 movie The Time Machine, with Rod Taylor as George Wells, such as the time traveller and his plight against the evil Morlocks fighting the also passive Eloi people and their uprising for survival.

Dr. Who and the Daleks, remember this is 1965, is a wonderful concoction of colour and imagination, with an impressive budget to play with, there was little wasted in creativity and design, with the full use of the Shepperton Studios to their advantage, no expense was spared, the sets are stunning and the Thal costumes look very chic. This also is the first outing for the Daleks to be seen in full colour, and the differing colours of the Daleks, to signify their ranks, would, and still do, thrill and captivate their audience, particularly the children who were hiding behind their cushions while watching.

Dr. Who here is a sixties nostalgia trip, with its now retro styled look and feel, feeling dated but never out dated. This is nineteen sixties science fiction at its visual best, it really is, along with its international star, the Doctor Who brand name had transcended to a higher level of escapism. Though differing from the television series, this doppelgänger, the parallel world that is Peter Cushing's Dr.Who is at times a little flat, while we are hypnotised by the colourful Daleks and their surrounds, we are sometimes left behind in a script whose pace can reel us back not forward. Peter Cushing's Doctor is a lovable old sea dog type, of the time traveller variety, very nice to know and not at all grumpy, spiteful and rude; placid and charming is his nature here, it's the adventures that he stumbles across that make him interesting.

Dr. Who and the Daleks is basically relying on the success of the television series to help cash in, then watched by millions of children each week. With its target audience already in great supply and ever hungry, as children always are, to help itself to its own fame and fortune, this helps, only for a while, until we are left with a parody, a pastiche of the real thing. Not an out and out copy, just a good movie with an interesting idea that could blossom into a beautiful friendship between makers and fans alike, I feel another movie in the air, time will tell.

Dumplings (2004)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Dumplings dumped for dumb dish of the day., 18 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hmmm, bit of a let down this one, my own fault and no one else to blame what so ever, I must add. While building myself up to seeing what I presumed to be a horror tale, Dumplings turned out to be a horrific tale of just plain food for thought, thinking, where was the waiter who should have brought us a more flavoursome dish? Dumplings left me unsatisfied and just a little peckish for that missing something, maybe a meaningful and thought provoking plot, a sense of drama, an air of trepidation or simply put: excitement, though not altogether dull, just empty and uninspiring

While beautifully shot, in places, by the cinematographer Christopher Doyle, Dumplings is a movie of narcissistic vanity and over indulgence of trying to recapture lost youth and, of course, beauty, as these two ingredients, of life, must come together as one package for the participating sleeping beauties here.

Unfortunaly, with reprising ones years gone by one tends to become blinked and totally self-motivated, whatever the consequences. Here we see the middle and upper classes going to any extremes to remain ever so pretty, just for the sake of a glance and a nod.

This movie could have worked, but it just didn't, the location for the protagonist's home, a run down part of the city, was very effective, but, as with the overall plot, the rest of the locations and the drive for Dumplings were virtually non-existent.

This age old story line, take the 1935 and 1965 movies She with Helen Gahagan, Randolph Scott and Ursula Andress with Peter Cushing, respectively, for example, this story has rejuvenated itself in many forms, with Dumplings, this is more regurgitation than revitalisation.

The characters are given no scope, no depth, then again, it really isn't about "them", they're too vain to be anything else, and it's about the life long human interest of eternal youth and the price that is duly paid by us all. Their preoccupation with their reflective self's are all that there is to play with, the feeling of shock at the methods are short and swift, when this has passed we are left with a shallow and fruitless concept that has been trod in the sands of time all so very often.

Mirrormask (2005)
The Crossover from Old School to New Era., 11 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Where would you like your dreams, and nightmares, to take you? Are you wishing you were somewhere else? Ever thought of running away, to join the circus perhaps? What if you already were in that circus, which you wanted to run from? MirrorMask is a story of a young girl, Helena, who cannot run away, to escape, but can only dream.

Set around the surroundings of a travelling Circus in England, and caught in an irony and fate that has our young but mature and troubled fifteen-year-old protagonist dreaming of running away, to join the real world, as she puts it. MirrorMask is based around parallel worlds, doppelgängers and the strange creatures that reside there. While dreaming, the catalysts of her escapism, her running away from the real world of the circus that she cohabits, to the world that is drawn, painted and sketched onto her bedroom walls and in her ever-growing imagination. This is the story of fantasy and the deepest and sometimes darkest corridors of our minds and the places that it can take us.

Working along side The Jim Henson Company, MirrorMask, (directed by Dave McKean as well as written by both Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean), is a magical and wondrous world, both an extremely visual pleasure to the senses and a fairy story that competes well for the attention of both young and old a like. With classics such as Labyrinth (1986), and The Dark Crystal (1982), to the Jim Henson name and made in the old school of puppets and Muppets, MirrorMask is from the new era, the computer graphic, though not prevalent in all of MirrorMask, but where it is, it shines brightly. It is down to the immensely intelligent, creative and imaginative artistic ideas that MirrorMask has us spellbound, with this new technology, blended together with paintings and creative thinking, MirrorMask have given us new boundaries to cross.

The landscapes are a land of enchantment, both bleak and rich in texture and colour, the City and The Dark Land that is its surroundings are a hazard to the weary newcomer. While the people and the strange and bizarre creatures, such as the evil Sphinxes to the likable Monkeybirds that live here bring a curiosity to the eye that adds to our curiosity and, without doubt, intrigue. This labyrinth of sheer visual delight will have us charmed and totally absorbed in this perilous world. Both delightful and magical, in many aspects, with its layer upon layer of mystery, beauty and excitement. Something that is now very much expected from The Jim Henson Company.

While primarily a family themed movie, as in the true sense of Family, with its concerns of the structure of this young lady and her life and the connection between her mother and father, and her growing pains with identity and direction. The plot itself, while basic, with both direction and concerns, works well, the cast, such as the Irish Jason Barry, the then up and coming Welshman Rob Brydon and the delightful Stephanie Leonidas as Helena, (born in 1984), give MirrorMask creditably and personality, very well cast and a good performance from all involved. While the script feels somewhat mediocre, it really is the visual effects, the dark landscapes, and the colourful creatures that project MirrorMask to the level of surreal adventure and mysticism.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The return of good Cinema., 26 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Superman was born around 1933, to the late Jerry Siegal (1914 – 1996). As father cum writer of the character Superman, he had created what was to become the most popular icon of the 20th Century. Superman: The Man of Steel.

Today's transcripts of his work which his family are still entitled to half the rights of the Superman legacy, from now until eternity, is a legacy to be proud of.

Brian Singer has now succeeded in giving us Superman Returns; the latest in a long line of Superman stories, this 21st Century boy has returned to us to become a Man of Steel with Superhuman credibility. With the assistance of Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris both as main story and screenplay writers, this team has given us a heartfelt story that contains trepidation, tension and romance.

With this combination, Superman Returns has now undoubtedly become the benchmark to which other Superhero movies must endure to. What helps this movie enormously is the extremely unpretentious computer graphics', not over done and to a quality that gives the watcher a sense of reality and breathtaking believability, if this had been 3-D, we would truly be flying along side this Man of Steel: Seamless and effortless.

As for the musical score, meaning the original music here, as to John Williams 1978 piece, which is used in tiny amounts, San Diego born John Ottman has given us a taste of musical heaven. From the overpowering eruptions and occasional cliff-hanger to loving romantic interludes, which all reach beyond the planets themselves, he has cemented his work onto this movie as if Superman were his own Son. Not has any movie soundtrack been more fitting for an Academy Award than this beautiful work of art. His work here is to capture our hearts and propel them in emotional turmoil and wondrous bliss, along side the visual wonders, the epicentre of this movies character is the music itself.

After seeing Superman Returns for the second time in nine days, the first being in Paris, France, and the second here in England. The second time around was just as memorable, and today being Kevin Spacey's 47th birthday too; the difference in audience reactions was interesting, (as to was Alien 3 in Berlin and here again in England). Nice to see different cultures and their differing perspectives.

The cast were nicely groomed for their respective parts, Brandon Routh, the relative new comer to the movie scene, has out shone the critics who may have doubted his ability to play such a commanding and prolific role. With a demure like pose that contains a naive quality as seen in Clark Kent, not too bumbling but likable and charming, this Superman has risen above the ranks of past players and successfully characterised the myth of our most famous Superhero of them all.

The visuals, set against the musical score, are the finest yet, set with the work of cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, born in 1961 and with works as X-Men (2000) and The Brothers Grimm (2005) for example, the perilous feeling that is being delivered to us is a masterpiece that sets any dark mood into high alert.

Superman Returns deserves to be a success, and with these credentials, it cannot go wrong, only a better and bigger Superman movie will topple this, but that will be the hardest fight that Superman will have to endure.

The Omen (2006)
Omen to that..., 8 June 2006

We all must have suffered, at least once, in our lives, this I call peaks and troughs, will The Omen (2006) suffer at the hands of its Cinema elite or will it be forgiven? For me, The Omen has well and truly been forgiven, forgiven for its sin of being reborn in the hands of Director John Moore, of Behind Enemy Lines (2001) and Flight of the Phoenix (2004) fame. He has nurtured his newly adopted child and given us a holy new movie that can stand on his own two feet, with a very reassuring British cast driving this movie forward with dexterity and personality, such as David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite and Michael Gambon. These greats have over shadowed the mildly amusing and wooden American cast, Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles, which have fallen to their knees, who can only deliver, at best, a rather flat and lacklustre performance. With the exception of Ms Mia Farrow, in comparison to the two lead roles, the only high-octane US' counterpart who has excelled herself as the nanny from hell, literally.

The Omen, the peaks here, is a very good movie, with its own surprises and individuality to boot. But as with the troughs, we have a very one-dimensional lead role and his non-existent wife, these being the weakest link and with some of the dullest character development since Bill Pullman and his Presidential days in Independence Day (1996), truly dire and lifeless. With this calibre of English actors, why have the American market let this movie down? Is there not a single actor and actress of this calibre that, ironically, Hollywood can claim to have brought forward? No doubt Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles were not the first choice?

The cinematography, done by Jonathan Sela, has delivered us from a seemingly slow start, to a pace that has all the trademarks of a very dark and frightening world that is the fight between good and evil, with its forbidden pastures, and the consequence of trespass that this revelation brings. The Omen will have us believe that the Worlds past, and future, disasters are not merely man made, but driven by a Higher force, such an easy excuse to even blame both Good and Evil.

With this predicament in mind, The Omen delivers itself, kicking and screaming, into a New World of impending doom and chaos, with the pace slowly building up to a fine mixture of paranoia, death and bleak fatefulness.

Yes, this was a great little movie, a modern day horror with Historical overtones. I really did enjoy it, with its moments of fright, shock and mild horror, with a little bit of Soul searching; this latest edition to the Omen family should thrill and entertain.

Azumi (2003)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Beauty, and the beast within: Deadly., 1 June 2006

Azumi was originally born in the Japanese manga, during 1994, to the writer Yu Koyama, who then, at the young age nine, was adopted and shown to the world by the Japanese movie director Ryuhei Kitamura, with the production guidance of Mataichiro Yamamoto. This, being Azumi first outing since her birth in the manga, she has developed very well into the celluloid genre, a stepping-stone to greater possibilities. Perhaps one does not have to be familiar with her original upbringing to appreciate her talent as a skilled assassin. No matter which genre we see her first, she will no doubt win us over with her beauty, intelligence, vigour and maturity.

Azumi is a movie set in early Japanese society were the Samurai, the Ninja, the Warlords, Honour and the way of the Sword still presides, a time of death, destruction, and the Wars between the three feuding Warlords of Japan have turned this great Country into a battlefield of hate, misery, and mistrust.

Azumi is a highly detailed period action movie, with a meticulous setting to both costumes and set design, production and art designer Yuji Hayashida studied Cowboy movies to get the right feel for his masterpiece at the climax of Azumi, this is definitely not a thrown together hastily movie, time, thought and effort have gone into the making of Azumi. Ryuhei Kitamura can take credit for his fine role in nurturing and developing the acting skills of Ms. Aya Ueto, playing the lead role here, into a wonderful and charismatic Azumi, with her supporting actors adding drive and emotion to a movie of such brutal ferocity. This magnificent choreographed action movie with its many fight scenes and battles are very well placed and put together, driven along with a finely tuned musical score, both classical and modern, that sets both pace and emotion.

The Awards of the Japanese Academy, in 2004, have given awards to both Aya Ueto and Jô Odagiri for Newcomer of the Year, along with Ms. Ueto Popularity Award for Most Popular Performer and a nomination for Best Actress too. The Philadelphia Film Festival rewarded Azumi the Best Danger After Dark Film to Ryuhei Kitamura during 2004.

If viewing Azumi on the manga perspective, then this movie should be judged in its own capacity, there really is no question of the high calibre of detail and dedication that has gone into Azumi, with its extremely imaginative camera work, costumes and overall detail, Azumi should, no doubt, conquer us all.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
By your leave, I'll write...., 31 May 2006

The Twilight Samurai: Warrior; Worker; Widower; Father:

This "Way of the Warrior", this Samurai, is different, a clan-retainer and Samurai of the lower rank. Working hard, too hard, both in his professional and personal capacities, Squire Seibei Iguchi struggles to maintain the standard of living befitted to the Samurai. In debt and in conflict with his peers, Seibei Iguchi finds comfort and warmth in his deep devotion for the simple life of farming his land, fatherhood and the love of his two young daughters.

Cruelly nicknamed "twilight" because of his reluctance to join fellow workers at the local saké house, he joins his family, not to wallow in self-pity, but to be the contented, proud and lucky father that he knows himself to be.

Directed and screen-played, from the late Shuuhei Fujisawa novel, by the then seventy-one year old Yôji Yamada. His work here is of majestic beauty, beauty as in the sense of self-worth, and that nothing else matters, except the heart and the home that it resides in.

This suburb movie reflects the extreme hardships of the single parent and the repercussions that it can deliver, such as the loneliness of bringing up a family in 19th Century Japan. Trying also, ones best to retain ones own pride and self-respect with the constant struggle with the malicious Leaders and seemingly prejudiced villagers that one has to cohabit along side. Yôji Yamada, here, has made the connection between the life of the lonely family man and the human need to reach out and feel for the necessity for companionship, once more. Done with a wondrously timeless and seamless feel, a pace that has you also connecting with poor Seibei, and his family, we are invited into his home, to join them, to have a clear and concise insight of a very much-loved husband, son and father and his unfortunate predicament.

The Twilight Samurai contains a visual splendour; the work of Mutsuo Naganuma won him the Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Cinematography in 2003. It really is no surprise, for The Twilight Samurai is a beauty to behold, with the green rolling landscapes to the majestic and proud snow tipped mountains and hills, this is a land of vast magnificence, beauty and vigour, with its panoramic backdrops, to the perspective views of deep focus, this cinematography is both extremely rewarding and colourful. To perpetuate this image of both natural grandeur and story telling through its directorship, is a partnership that has delivered one of the most stunningly picturesque and sentimental accounts of early Japanese cultural society.

Along side Mutsuo Naganuma's splendid work, The Twilight Samurai has also had to accept numerous other rewards, besides from Awards of the Japanese Academy, such as Best… Actor, Actress, Direction, Editing, Film, Music Score and Screenplay, Sound, Supporting Actor then Best New Comer of the Year (for Min Tanaka). Nominated too, for Best Foreign Language Film: Japan, at the 2004 Academy Awards. The Awards do not stop here, for The Twilight Samurai has a universal appeal, winning the hearts and minds of counties such as Germany, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Italy, Spain, and the USA and with several Japanese trophies well and truly giving The Twilight Samurai the respect it deserves.

The Twilight Samurai is a marvellous story of love lost and love needed, and love found, the story telling of a great man who has nothing, who lives the simple life, but has the love of his daughters, mother and his childhood friend Tomoe. With these magical ingredients, along with an interestingly precarious and threatening sub-plot, there was never a richer and happier man than the Twilight Samurai.

The Twilight Samurai: Respect Him; Befriend Him; Envy Him; Watch Him.

Dalekmania (1995) (V)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Interesting historical documentary of Dalekmania during the 1960's., 24 May 2006

Dalekmania, filmed in 1995, is a wonderful 57-minute exposé of the birth and the longevity of the most feared Sci-Fi creations to have landed within our imaginations. Filmed around the concept of two young children going to see a Dr. Who movie, during the sixties, all in 1960's costume. This is a historical time travelling documentary on the Daleks that ventured onto the big screens during those hedonistic years of colour and new horizons of the 1960's.

Starting with a dedication to the memories of Peter Cushing (1913 – 1994) and Roy Castle (1932 – 1994), we see the young Dr. Who fans being dropped of by their mother at the local cinema, after paying their 3/- to the Commissionaire. Michael Wisher, as the Commissionaire, who himself played in ten Dr.Who episodes during the 1970's, even playing the evil Dalek leader Davros, in the 1975 shows Genesis of the Daleks.

Showing the original UK trailers of both Dalek movies, including rare clips of the Italian, French and the USA cinema trailers, this is a neat and plentiful package, with many flashbacks and fond memories for all concerned.

The first person to introduce themselves is Roberta Tovey (1953 -), who played the young Susan in the two Dr.Who movies of 1965 and 1966. With major contributions from the likes of Marcus Hearn, magazine editor for Bizarre & Hammer Horror, Gary Gillatt editor of Doctor Who Magazine, and the man himself, the creator of the Daleks, the late Terry Nation (1930 – 1997). Then we have Barrie Ingham (1934 -) and the attractive Yvonne Antrobus who played Alydon and Dyoni, respectively, in the first movie, adding their historical memories together.

With wonderful nostalgic black and white newspaper cuttings of the London Première of Dr. Who and the Daleks, and the national reports of the Dalek phenomenon, to "Beatle John Lennon meets Dalek" newspaper clippings and photos.

As the Dalek phenomenon took momentum, the plan for the second Dr. Who and the Dalek movie was in full swing, before the first had even been finished.

For the second showing, we meet Jill Curzon, as Louise in Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., and stuntman and Co-ordinator Eddie Powell (1927 – 2000). Who both give an interesting view on the life of the stuntman and one particular scene in Invasion Earth, who also worked on greats as The Guns of Navarone 1961, to many, many James Bond movies and 1979s Sci-Fi classic Alien, playing the Alien creature itself.

With each individual giving their own unique insight into the two Dalek movies, such as creation, Production, casting, behind the scenes and personal opinions, Dalekmania is truly for the fan of both Dr. Who and the dreaded Dalek.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Code with its own Cross to bear., 24 May 2006

The Da Vinci Code: The, so far, highest anticipated blockbuster of the year for 2006, or the most, again so far, media hyped movie of the year. Whatever the viewpoint, for what ever reason, The Da Vinci Code turned out to be a nice little thriller, little here being the operative word, regrettably too. A thriller it is, with its beautiful English locations, such as the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, Lincoln Cathedral, which was substituted for Westminster Abbey, London and Burghley House, again in Lincolnshire, England. The European destinations speak volumes here, such as the filming inside the Musée Du Louvre and the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France. These locations give the movie a taste of flamboyance and style. They are used very well, to inject a world of high-octane adventure that only the gifted and elite can acquire.

The cast here are of a pedigree to hold audiences captivated in their own right, with the skills of Messrs Hanks, McKellen and Reno and the French actress Audrey Tautou, who apparently, took the job after the original choice were for Julie Delpy and Kate Beckinsale. In addition, the role that was, eventually, given to Tom Hanks was considered for Bill Paxton, amongst others. This collaboration come together very well, in their own refined and subtle way, they are given a fictitious project to be apart off, they are in a plot of huge consequence and intrigue, the magnitude of the overall conspiracy theory is some what, sadly, eroded and in parts, deflated.

The historical story telling, by using a sense of flashback and a over lapping of the past with the present is interesting, this form of movie making is a procedure that does The Da Vinci Code justice and actually does project the story line to the next phase, giving the movie a true sense of Historical wonder and dread.

Apart from the high level locations and cast, we have a movie that is somewhat over drawn in the writing department, in the interpretation of Dan Browns book, who also acts as Executive Producer on this project too. Has Mr. Akiva Goldsman found this a tad too taxing? This question begs being asked, in the contest of a huge Production, why has The Da Vinci Code gone from being a Thriller Movie to a thrilling movie that does not thrill hardly enough? The script, I feel, has driven The Da Vinci Code's pace, in places, from high-octane to moderate B-Movie status. This is a shame, for who ever was in charge of this department should, again I feel, have looked more closely at reading between the lines, and given it more attention, this, regrettably, could be the weakest link in this movies chain. Alternatively, and fairly, has he merely adapted his skills to the environment that he has been placed in?

Mr. Goldman's other works for writing and screenplay consist of The Client 1994, Silent Fall 1994, Batman Forever 1995, A Time To Kill 1996, Batman & Robin 1997, Lost In Space 1998, also for I, Robert 2004 and the 2005 movie Cinderella Man. He has been nominated for many Awards in his career; he won has the 2002 Academy Award for Best Writing for A Beautiful Mind 2001.

The musical score is also worth a mention, with the work of Mr. Hans Zimmer, who during the early eighties was in the band The Buggles, their hit "Video Killed the Radio Star" became their best seller. He has worked on many, many classics such as My Beautiful Laundrette 1985, The Last Emperor 1987, Rain Man 1988, Thelma and Louise 1991. His vast workload was to include The Lion King 1994, The Rock 1996, Mission Impossible II and Gladiator in 2000. He worked on Black Hawk Down in 2001 and the list is endless. His work on The Da Vinci Code is a fine classical score that highlights the high quality message of this movie, with a combination of drama and suspense that kicks starts each moment into daring adventure.

To conclude: The Da Vinci Code is a good movie, it is a reasonably good thriller, with very stylish locations, cast and modest Director, but it, not at all points, tends to, for me, fall on the flat side, because of the high importance of the overall story line, the delivery of the script has fallen short. This is the Cross that The Da Vinci Code now has to bear. Shame really.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
It's Toxic, It's Independent but it's not a Waste., 14 May 2006

This little pleasant surprise came quite unexpected, and the reason why I love independent movies such as this, directed by Lloyd Kaufman and the reclusive Michael Herz, founders of Troma Entertainment in 1974, the independent movie distribution company for the low budget B-Movie genre. The Troma Company can be proud to have had the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Costner and the actress Marisa Tomei as early rising stars on their books, and with over 165 movies, to date, to their name, Troma Entertainment has become very entertaining indeed.

With a strong zest for independence, shock, black comedy, sex and with a youthful cast, these movies have become cult figures that certainly deserve the recognition and respect amongst their peers and fans alike.

As with their biggest hit, The Toxic Avenger is a clever filming of parody and sardonic humour. Is The Toxic Avenger a social comment on the narcissistic and materialistic and bigotry ways of Western society or just a plain horror movie parody reflecting on how society should be more tolerant to difference? This is the story of Melvin, the Tromaville Health Club mop boy, who inadvertently and naively trusts the hedonistic, contemptuous and vain health club members, to the point of accidentally ending up in a vat of toxic waste. The devastating results then have a transmogrification effect, his alter ego is released, and the Toxic Avenger is born, to deadly and comical results. The local mop boy is now the local Superhero, the saviour of corruption, thuggish bullies and indifference.

There has been a lot of hard work put into these movies special effects, for a movie of this genre, it has worked very well. With the extremely visual talents of Jennifer Aspinall, she has made this movie virtually her own, her numerous Award winning flair on special makeup effects is astounding. There is also her movie pedigree to reflect on too, such as Spookies (1987), Street Trash (1987), the Saturday Night Live and "Mad TV" television shows, The Mexican (2001), Ticker (2001) and A Cinderella Story (2004) and others.

Apart from the well thought out stunt fights, car chases, clever make up and witty script, The Toxic Avenger is, down to base level, a very funny movie, this has, no doubt, been used as a stepping stone to greater things for some here. The humorous gags, the amateurish acting, the experience in front of the camera, as well as behind, have most definitely not been a (toxic) waste.

Seeing is believing, and believe it when you see it.

Be independently minded and support The Toxic Avenger.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
For Lovers of both Land and The Sea., 14 May 2006

Written under the pseudonym of R. A. Dick by Josephine Leslie, who wrote the 1945 novel The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and muir also being Gaelic for "the sea" . This publication was bought by 20th Century Fox, who then turned the helm over to Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Mr. Mankiewicz has the credit of directing this quaint little love cum ghost story, set around the fictitious English coastal area of Whitecliff-By-The Sea and its rustic Gull Cottage around the time of 1900. With the guest of honour going to the very beautiful Gene Tierney, as the head strong and fiercely independent young widowed mother, Mrs. Muir. Also piped on board is the charismatic and extremely talented Rex Harrison, as The Ghost. The ever suave and sophisticated actor George Sanders, as Miles Fairley, meets this three-way split love triangle at one point.

With a young child, Anna, on board, played by an exceptionally young Natalie Wood, as well as her maid, she sets sail and looks for her new life, away from London and her demanding and "blasted" in-laws.

Besides the early observations of Lucy's independent mind, the most noticeable piece in this movie is the beautiful musical score of one Bernard Herrmann.

Mr. Herrmann was born in 1911 in New York City, and whose work consists of Citizen Kane, The Day The Earth Stood Still, including, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Vertigo. This was to also include greats such as North By Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Jason and the Argonauts and the 1976 movie Taxi Driver, which was to be his last work before he passed away on Christmas Eve, 1975.

The score here has to be one of the most emotionally driven film scores I have had the pleasure to listen too. With its driving winds that highlight the ghostly suspense to the feeling of a ship lost in the doldrums of loneliness. This work has weighed anchor and cast adrift to the seas of emotion and the complexity of Love that only Old Father Time can Captain. Breathtaking and heart-warming.

To govern this toward the horizons in the light of day and with the stars at night is Charles Lang, with his sextant as his visual guide, a cinematographer who has set the course to stunning, majestic, haunting and most certainly atmospheric, to help propel this story of two love birds flying over the oceans of companionship. He has worked on The Magnificent Seven, How The West Was Won and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice amongst others. His work on Mrs. Muir was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White in 1948.

Adapting the novel to a level of emotional audience participation has been the work of Philip Dunne, who has the pedigree of The Last of the Mohicans and The Robe. This script has set sail to lands of intelligence, wit and humour, then to set anchor, occasionally, to remind us of the forbidden love and the seemingly impossible future, that a living being can fall in love, and be the recipient of love with a soul passed over. This is a script that will have your heart in the storms of both love and loss. Mr. Dunne has opened the heartstrings and made us look into the future, and the significance of the human need for Life. A powerful and deeply touching and mature script to set sail to.

In all, the name of this ship The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, is a ghost story, a love story that concerns both sea-lovers, land-lovers and with nothing but sea-grit, we are never to be shipped wreaked and marooned on the island of solitude. With a story this powerful, the sea-change will have us in our own vessel, to tick away the hours, the days, the months and the years of self-sacrifice, searching for that inevitable box of tissues.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a Grand Old Lady, sail upon her, and set the right course for Life.

R-Point (2004)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
You can't kill the dead, but they can kill you., 7 May 2006

Written and directed by Su-chang Kong, his first at directorship, he has delivered a very atmospheric ghost story based around War, as more in the way of a good frightener than a fighting movie. R-Point delivers the goods in a slow, intentional and methodical way, to evolve the viewer in the character and his environment, and then shoot them down with terrifying results.

As with most good ghost stories, a musical score is what is also needed; this is done by the work of Pa-lan Dal. His interpretation of the unsettling atmosphere delivers a chilling tingle down the spine. Even to the point of winning the Grand Bell Award in 2005 for Best Sound Effects.

Based around the early 1970s, and using the Vietnam War as a backdrop, a nine-man team has been pulled together to locate missing comrades, missing on a remote island that uses the military name R-Point. They arrive with the intention that an enemy attack will be non-existent. Being a job that should only take nine days, nine days is all that most will have to remain alive.

The perils of War do not stop when all is dead and buried here, nor are they absent in a zone that was once a massacre site and now a Holly ground, all is not at rest, and the restless are once again being disturbed, and with both bloody and violent consequence.

The beautiful and extremely deadly and devious marshes, woods, caves and Cambodian landscapes are a Cinematographers dream; Hyeong-jing Seok has done a courageous job. This impressive arena not only alienates the Soldiers, but also draws us in to each nightmare scenario that unfolds as we see for ourselves that some can not, and will not, rest in peace.

"Man your radios, I think I can hear some…thing".

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Thicker than blood, and twice as deadly., 6 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Tale of Two Sisters is an immense psychological thriller that delves deep into the horrors of family dysfunction through the loss of a loved one and the gaining of another and the conflict of personalities that can no longer hold back their anger, their guilt and their passion. Ji-woon Kim, both director and writer of the screenplay, has used the old Korean folktale of the killing of two young sisters by their stepmother, and reworked it as his own.

He has given the viewer a bouquet of thoughts, with which we have to tender them to our own personal needs, and through this, we come to our own conclusions of Life, Death and the seemingly unfair World that we all take part in. He has made this World very dark and bleak, too dark for any flower to grow and spread it seeds, to confined for petals to blow freely in the winds of Life, this shadowy and windless environment only delivers a short, wilted and impotent Life.

A Tale of Two Sisters stars two of Korea's youngest leading ladies, Su-jeong Lim as Bae Soo-mi (Janghwa) and Geun-yeong Mun as Bae Soo-yeon (Hongryeon). With acting abilities to render any passing bee helpless in their quest for the search for pollen, these young actresses will flower into greater talent. (Having the added bonus of watching this movie for the first time, today of all days, as it is Geun-yeong Mun's 19th birthday also, is a twist of fate that is beyond creepy).

With an array of Awards to its name, such as Jung-ah Yum winning the Silver Raven Award during 2002, for her Acting, as well as Su-jeong Lim winning Best Actress in 2004. Ji-woon Kim gaining eight Awards from around the Globe for his talents on A Tale of Two Sisters, this has proved, without doubt, that this little South Korean movie has blossomed into the minds of a wider audience.

The pace and delicate timing of this movie is what makes it so nightmarishly realistic, with the atmospheric and haunting overtones, to the music and the use of both dark and colour that illuminate the unstable mind and its vulnerability to tip over the precipice and into the abyss of madness that brings the senses to horrific consequence. This is a movie of madness, the worst kind of madness, that when those closer to us have turned against us, then there really are no other alternatives left in this world.

The Horror, both physical and mental, has begun in earnest.

Pulse (2001)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Pulsating palpitations of a physiological presence., 6 May 2006

Kairo: Working on similar principles as the 1909 E.M. Forster short story "The Machine Stops", this early fable also centres on the concept of isolation and loneliness that can be brought about by the dependence of the mechanical over the psychical.

Such as Kairo, written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, brings forward the message of overuse of modern technology and its possible additive side effects, such as social inertia, this has in its own rights devastating results. With the all too familiar indifference that this technology can bring, the Human Soul slowly implodes, as the Spirit forgets or just gives up the fight, to interact, to live, the Heartbeat, the Kairo of the Soul dies.

This is done in a very tasteful and somewhat frightening manner, with the Souls of the dead, or just victims of their own segregation? Coming back to haunt the living, to forewarn or to plead a cry for help? Kiyoshi Kurosawa has done an excellent job here of using the medium of technology to portray a line that has been crossed over by the disenchanted and their past lives. The result is a dark truth that all is not well within the World that they inhabit, they are slowly committing social suicide. Then the cry of a million lonely Souls are heard, trying desperately to reach out and maintain the Human contact that they have lost.

There are scenes here that will have your heart jumping, and your pulse racing; the supernatural method of realisation and the coming consequence of the Worlds independence of this technology is a daunting reminder of our own suicide.

Having Kiyoshi Kurosawa win the 2001 José Luis Guarner Critic's Award at the Catalonian International Film Festival, Sitges in Spain, and nominated for Best Film too. 2002 was a good year for Kiyoshi Kurosawa also; for the Japanese Professional Movie Awards had Kumiko Aso, who plays Michi Kudo, win the Award for Best Actress.

After The Machine, all there is left is you….

5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
The Truth is, This Movie Is Out There!, 21 April 2006

Oh no, it's the polar opposites of Laurel and Hardy: Not at all funny and absolutely no talent whatsoever.

What was the point? This is worse than the 1970s Love Boat pilot, the only reason I went to see this movie was because of the two talented actors Omid Djalili and Harry Dean Stanton were in it, hang on, wasn't Harry Dean Stanton in another movie that contained an Alien? Is it me, or would it have been funnier if Harry had sat the boy down to show him his movie and the movie "Alien" came on? Now that would have been funny. Scary Movie 5 anyone?

As well as Omid starring in his own Alien movie in 1999, Notting Hill. Well, you have to be Alien to be in a movie with Hugh Grant, don't you? This is freaking me out, all this "Alien" conspiracy, where's my bed, I need to hide.

The only funny bit were the young girls grinning at everyone as she took our money and the other who took our tickets as we went in, even the Manageress , who we know well, said, "It's just not pulling them in, this one", thanks, after I've just paid my money. If you like your humour dry, then try filling your bath with sand and jumping in, because that is exactly what this movie feels like.

These two clowns, and I'm being kind here, were directed by Jonny Campbell, whose career is only television work, and he wanted to start his movie profession with this! Now that's scary.

Personally, Ant and Dec should continue doing what they do best, playing with each other, and hopefully away from any movie camera and preferably, in the dark too. With this thought in mind, this Alien Autopsy should have remained a secret and never have been released onto an unsuspecting public.

If you want the truth, then don't expect any answers here, because the truth is, to quote Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessep in A Few Good Men; "You can't handle the truth"

No Col. Jessep, I just couldn't handle this movie.

Let's get a kebab then go home.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
The future of Science-Fiction has just arrived., 21 April 2006

Directed by Byung-chun Min, as well as being the cinematographer and writer of Natural City, it then stars Ji-tae Yu (who played the antagonist in the movie Oldboy, 2003) as a member of the Military Police, and known only as "R" in the movie, who has the unenviable task of policing the city of the small group of renegade Cyborgs that have run wild, killing the city's population. The plot revolves around the Love that has captured Ji-tae Yu's heart as his battle to keep her with him, at all cost. Here, we see the plot seemingly watering down this movie, and I do say seemingly, a typical Love story, and the struggle to keep the two protagonists together. This may seem your typical love story, but most definitely not in the same vain as the 1970 movie with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal, on the contrary, this is a completely different kind of love, for a different kind of mindset, in a future World that has changed all recognition between love and defeating loneliness. This is, after all, the year AD 2080.

Where we would feel that this is an old age story line, and then why not, it works well, it gives us the sense that love can hold no boundaries, however obscure they tend to become.

Where Natural City does stand out is its wonderful achievement for the Sci-Fi / Futuristic movie genre; Natural City tips over the edge of aesthetic wonderment quicker than a barrel over the Niagara Falls, and really is suited for the Big Screen, to watch this movie in any other form would truly be a wasted opportunity. The fantastic images and beautiful cinematography are to be envied and duly respected for their artistic qualities. The fantastic scope of depth, colour, light and shadow are just pure cinema brilliance, the feeling of involvement in the City and its dark streets and even darker characters have us hooked on the first view of this amazing city and its surroundings. From street level grime and dirt to the ivory tower offices, this is Sci-Fi / Futuristic heaven, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and behold a stunningly imaginative movie indeed.

Natural City was nominated by the Festival International De Cinema do Porto, Portugal, during 2005, for the Category of International Fantasy Film Award. Best Visual Effects went to and was won by Byung-yong Moon, at the Grand Bell Award, South Korea, in 2004.

Natural City is a future World that is possibly inevitable for us all, but, for the human race, there will always be a longing for the past, a past of when the longing of a future was only a dream.

Visually stunning and sheer Sci-Fi brilliance.

Go to Natural City.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Black: Moody: Brilliant., 4 April 2006

Black Hawk Down is filmed eight years after the event of the Battle of Mogadishu, the capitol of Somalia in North East Africa. Based on the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden and directed by Ridley Scott.

The true story of American soldiers, during October 3rd and 4th, 1993, who, having been sent to the heart of the City, an enemy stronghold, and to capture and return the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. In the exercise of their duty, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are shot down in the middle of the City, an extremely close combat battle then commences.

Being one of the rarer and finer American war movies, that does not play on the clichéd ego trip, that we have come to see during the last twenty years or so of this genre. Could this also be because the cast here consists of a mixed bag of internationals, such as American, British and Scottish actors, even with their poor American accents to boot?

The cinematography on Black Hawk Down is aesthetically clear and concise; with fine detail to colour, temperament and texture, that really does set the mood of the environment. The pacing of this movie is neither too fast nor does it leave you looking at your watch. With the right ingredient for character build up and development, we can feel an empathic understanding of these unfortunate souls.

This is a very well shot movie too, of tight battle scenes that draws us into and unquestionably involves the viewer at ground level. We are left with a guided tour of duty in the comfort of our Cinema and living rooms, the atmosphere is well articulated and we are left with camaraderie that has over spilled into our hearts and mind.

Black Hawk Down is a movie not of ego but of comradeship and the partnership of one man equals all men; this is a very good movie indeed, with very little bad language, it really is not needed. This movie relies on the sometimes graphic and the sentimentality's that war can bring, to deliver home that one can watch a good movie as well as make them.

Black Hawk Down is a unique and refreshing war film, knowing that is it is a real event and seeing what the Soldiers had to endure is captivating. With the help of Ridley Scott at the helm, it will make any war movie genre fan want to pin it down and watch with an understanding that the ego does not make the Soldier, but the Soldier makes the Man.

A different way to make a War movie.


Hostel (2005)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Been Inn this building before., 2 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Comment will contain Spoilers. Please take heed, thank's, and don't feel too cut up about it.

What a load of old rubbish.

After all the media hype, that I never fell for, for a minute, did you? No, I did not go to this showing to see just gore, as Hostel sold itself on, but to see a new and refreshing movie of interest at least.

This completely unoriginal and extremely predictable bore fest has been seen too many times before, i.e. the oozing eye from the Japanese girl, this being the money shot no doubt, such as in The Evil Dead. Come on, could there not be any other way for this movie to develop, to evolve? Yeah, kids on the journey of their lifetime, fair enough, but it approached a brick wall and never turned into anything but a pointless sorry excuse of celluloid.

Who, or what even, is this movie aimed at? What was the story again? (It's a rhetorical question), do me a favour and come back with something with an idea and content that is worthy of my time and money. At least we know there won't, I hope, be a squeal, as all the lose ends were so very conveniently tied up at the end, wow, now that was easy wasn't it? I'm impressed.

Even to the point of seeing a girl with only one eye, the other was on the floor you see, she seemed to take it very well, you know, in the car, getting away from the baddies, see was ever so quiet and calm. The question of how high was her pain threshold was for her to be able to walk around with half her face ripped open and not be screaming her, excuse the pun, face off, and yes, you've guessed it, she helps the good guy in the end by…. Amazing. It's not that hard to figure out.

Even in the torture scenes, we are, more than often, only guessing at what is being done to the poor victims. As these were out of shot, please don't say, " Well less is more and we had to image what was being done to them for better effect", I just thought that it was because this movie lacked, another pun, guts, guts to carry off what the media hype had us, except me, and yourself? To believe.

This Hostel was full; there was simply no more room at this Inn. Unfortunately, there were no more rooms to let to creativity, imagination, plot and originality.

I'm looking for another building (story) plot.

I'm checking out.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Siblings Unrivalled., 27 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stunning, beautiful and heart rendering.

This fantastic movie based on the perils of war and division, that falls upon the nations that is North and South Korea is a mind-blowing journey of two brothers caught up in the fight between the cross fire that are these two great States.

With absolute breathtaking realism, the action, the battle scenes, is sheer brilliance. We are subjected to pure tension and dynamism that has to be continued throughout this two and a half hour ordeal. This movie will have your emotions on a roller coaster ride till the very end; to say that Taegukgi will leave a lasting impression is saying only a tiny amount, this movie will try for your jugular, then it will rip out your heart.

Besides the very beautiful musical score, by Dong-jun Lee, that are the wheels of your roller coaster, driving us to the highs and lows of our journey, there is the stunning and very effective Cinematography of Kyung-Pyo Hong that it the visual dialogue for our journey into the chaos of war.

Not so much a war movie, but a movie based around war, to make us understand that in this World of ours, there is evil that lurks in the shadows, to place the breaks on our roller coaster and to propel us to fight Common Man against Common Man, for the sake of a better ideology, regardless of circumstance and casualties.

Taegukgi is not a story of the Brotherhood of war, but how families can be torn into desperate, unwanted and uncontrolled terror, to debase us, to become non-human, to kill, and having the will power to survive the atrocities that fall at our doorstep and to recognise this difference.

Taegukgi is truly a heart-rending story of two brothers and the pact of the elder to protect his younger sibling, for the sake of their Mother, this movie will have you in shock at the horror of war, and at the same time, in emotional turmoil.

Truly astounding and moving, till the very last turn of the wheels.

Watch it. Feel It.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Play It Again and Again Ms. Bergman...., 19 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gregg Tolland, Cinematographer, did win the 1940 Oscar, for Wuthering Heights, but he was also nominated for Intermezzo: A Love Story, in the same ceremony that same year. Having replaced Harry Stradling Sr., who passed away in 1970, and whose final three movies were with Barbra Streisand on Funny Girl, Hello Dolly, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and The Owl and the Pussycat. He goes uncreated on the Black and White 1939 movie of Intermezzo: A Love Story.

This is a piece of Cinematographers heaven, with the sheer beauty of light and shade that fill you with awe and astonishment, the atmospheric moods that highlight the drama that enlighten before us. This is visual storytelling at its brightest and never a dull moment.

Gregory Ratoff, Russian born in 1897 and who died in 1960, was in his life, an actor, and at other times, director, with director credits going to him for Intermezzo: A Love Story. He has the honour of directing the very beautiful Ingrid Bergman in her first Hollywood role. With her reprise of the same role from the 1936 movie: Intermezzo, this is her first English-speaking role too, (using also, the original screenplay writers of the 1936 movie). As this movie, minus front and rear credits, is only one hour and five minutes long, it would seem that such an recognisable plot would benefit both Studio Bosses and actress alike, no doubt, as an introduction to the English speaking masses.

Ms. Bergman's acting comes across as sincere and with her talent and beauty holds no bounds, she is amazing, her perfection and delivery are second to none. She perpetuates her skills with grace and professionalism that any would aspire too.

Whilst on the other hand, Leslie Howard plays the decorous stick in the mud, with his simplistic role of the very upper middle class, and with his values and etiquette's that are so now dated, in the movies that is. He tries too hard to please, to come over as the archetypal highbrow and well-heeled good friend to everyone, except his own family.

His greed for the other Love, in the end, breaks up this very happy, well-to-do, high society life. This can't be a bad thing by any means, for then we would not see the wonderful and charming acting ability of the young seven year old Ann Todd, who plays the victimised daughter caught between the heartbreak of the betrayed Mother and her cheating Father. Ann Todd is young, but her performance is extraordinary, next to any Hollywood actor of the time, they too would find it hard not to be out classed by Ms. Todd.

"Oh my God! Did I just see "that" or was I dreaming?" There is a very brief moment in Intermezzo: A Love Story which happens with Ms. Bergman, while she is in a shot all off her own, while looking down at her Lover, it took me by surprise and was, in a way, quite shocking and breath taking, you'll know what I mean after you have seen it. Very inventive and unexpected.

Overall, Intermezzo: A Love Story is a beautifully shot movie that conveys the struggle of Marriage and how to keep the Family values together, while in the face of temptation. To convey the message that the grass may be a little greener on the other side, but only for a short while, and that Love, in the end, really does Conquer All.

One hour and five minutes of Hollywood bliss. Lose yourself.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Intelligent Movie with Funny Moments that Work Well!, 18 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Filmed during the early 1960's and in Black and White too, this is a movie that highlights the early struggle between the sexes, the sexes that are the Husband and Wife relationship of the Hawkins. With the wonderful Hattie Jakes as the repressed and neglected wife of the taxi firm owner, Sid James.

Before the Carry On phenomenon took hold during the seventies, (this little classic coming from the writing combinations of Sidney Green and Richard Hills, the screenplay, of course, is by Talbot Rothwell). Carry On Cabby shows itself to be very funny and at the same time an intelligent movie that had not yet found its niche that had made them so ever popular.

Cabby, with its own unique style for an early effort, we are shown a more serious social topic, and in between the gags that come rolling in, which never fail to amuse, we have the very funny Charles Hawtrey as the comic relief, fantastic all the way. With the cast of great British talent as Kenneth Connor, Liz Frazer and his Carry On debut, Jim Dale. What Cabby does not have, yet, is the late Kenneth Williams.

Carry On Cabby with its issues of sex discrimination and a battle of the sexes that occurs when the women take a stand against the ignorance and proud male dominance is done in a way that will have you in a pleasant and fond appreciation of how British movies of this elk were made, in a fine and inoffensive manner that was only meant to do what it does best, entertain, delight and without fail, make you laugh.

Hail a Cab, Hail a Carry On Cab.

Timeless Classic, one of the best.

Alien (1979)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The One to Aspire too., 12 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 1970's were a dead decade, where it concerned the Science-Fiction cum Horror movie genre; we did have Sci-Fi movies that entertained as such, like 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Planet of the Apes franchise that started in '68 and continued well into the '70s. Then there was the heart warming Eco' friendly Silent Running from 1972. The year of the Science-Fiction movie and its quantum leap into mass subconscious was 1977, and the crossover movie of Star Wars. It was going to be the movie that now put Sci-Fi back on the moviegoers and makers map. Apart from Star Wars of course, other movies did their jobs respectively well, but in comparison, felt a little lukewarm and were not too taxing altogether as sci-fi movies.

As for horror, we had the battle for Good and Evil that was the 1973 classic The Exorcist, and 1974 had us running for cover from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

All this was well and good, but this was until Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett came along, with an interesting new idea that in the end, no one was too bothered to play with. In fact, the only reason Alien got the green light was simply, and literally, that it was the nearest script on the table of a major 20th Century Fox money-man. They were so desperate to keep this new cash-cow of the Sci-Fi ball rolling, in the wake that was Star Wars, they said okay, it was quite simply, in the right place at the right time, and the rest is history.

Having the then newly British director Ridley Scott, his only role of directorship was two years hence, with The Duellists, perform the part was a very fortunate choice indeed. With an eye for microscopic detail, his perfectionist attitude toward realism and the grandiose of the Alien World around him, he and his team, has created one of the most astonishing and completely original sets seen in Sci-Fi Horror. The internals of the seven space truckers' ship, the Nostromo, has such fine and well structured detail that it is so very hard to remember that it is a life size model. This detailed work had never been seen on a grand scale as this, maybe it had with Star Wars and Space Odyssey, in a fashion, but not, remember, in a Sci-Fi Horror movie, this was setting the standards for future movies to aspire too, Alien was to open up a completely new genre itself.

Where as the Nostromo is minute and precise in detail, the planet in which the unlucky seven encounter, and particularly the alien spacecraft that unwittingly draws them in, is off immense size. To behold on the Silver Screen, with amazing perfection too, on this design, Alien not only draws you in, it also gives you, within a change of a single frame, a sharp in take of breath. Visually powerful stuff.

Alien starts of with a deliberately slow and meaningful character build up that draws us to each personality, in fact, we do not see anything of the Alien until the first hour of this movie. To witness their environment and the life that they have to endure while travelling across space has been done with a pace that delivers us a group of characters that we feel we have known for an age. We have to know who these unfortunate soles are; there is no rush here, for all individuals introduce themselves well enough for us to feel for their loss.

Alien turns full circle as the threat becomes more apparent, as each crew-member is slaughtered, the pace then becomes more frantic and chaotic. With the build up off visual suspense and the delivery of an atmosphere of extreme fear, Alien is on the point of no return, your anxiety has no where to channel itself, you too are on the roller coaster ride of fear that Alien has brought you.

You have seen nothing like this before, you're in shock, and if you survive the ride, you may not want to again.

Or just maybe…

Alien³ (1992)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good Movies come in Thirds., 12 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw Alien³ while in Berlin, as I travelled across Europe on my motorbike during the summer of '92. The newer version that has come to light several years later is a marked improvement, not to say that the 1992 Cinema release was a poorer effort, it was not, far from it.

With a fine and prestige's English cast that refines and catapults this third instalment to a higher level of quality, such as Charles Dance, the late Brian Glover, Pete Postlethwaite and Paul McGann, Danny Webb and Philip Davis. We have also the charismatic Charles S. Dutton to represent the American market here too, as well as David Fincher, whose work as directing, besides Alien³ , on movies as, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, but on the miniature and optical effects unit here only, and Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, and Panic Room.

This fresher version extends the plight and solitude of the twenty or so remaining low life prisoners that have remained behind on their prison planet that is Fiorina "Fury" 161, the Work Correctional Facility, and with Maximum Security status. There is no need for weapons, the CCTV has not worked in years, there is no supply of ice cream too, and with only one cargo visit per several months or so, the hope of escape and rescue is far and impossible.

The characters here are given actual personalities, strong enough to work to a high degree of connection and understanding, and are hard not to sympathise with, toward the end of each, and eventual, demise. For they give off the sense of empathy and their esprit de corps is at least commendable, even for a collection of riffraff lifers.

The acting is intelligent, clean, and sharp, at times humorous too, the love interest between Ripley and Clemens is a fine subplot. Alien³ concentrates more on the development of the human issue of the family of destitute's, rather than an out and out gore fest. There is blood and horror, but not on the level of this horror sci-fi genre has become synonymous.

With its realistic language and sensitive overtones, Alien³ is a fine addition to the Alien saga if there ever was one.

End of Transmission.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Come Fourth and Show Yourself., 11 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Alien Resurrection here is the fourth movie of the Alien epics, the directional duties are given to Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jeunet. As usual, the writing credits go to Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, and Joss Whedon.

Alien Resurrection has a unique blend of individuality, contrast and occasionally containing an analogous trait, where as with the first three movies, which binds in with each other as conjoined triplets, Alien Resurrection breaks free to hold its own pace and style of what is the Alien mould. The concept of Alien Resurrection is not all together unique by any means, but the delivery is done brilliantly and all with the right amount of flair, action, tension and suspense, which are all very good ingredients for any Horror Sci-Fi, the overall effect is a superb conjunction of Sci-Fi and Horror mythology.

Using set designs as impressive as these, though a little trite, they do their job well, with the help of Iranian born Darius Khondji as Cinematographer, having also worked with Jean-Pierre Jeunet on Delicatessen, 1991, they have combined their talents to bring a very dark and interesting atmosphere.

The panoramic shots of space, and the ships that glide motionless passed our eyes, are done to an impeccable visual detail, this segues the action shots to the scenic views in an artistic manner that is now the high standard of this movie genre.

Having physiological mind games played against one another, with the upward spiral of fear and paranoia, the trapped captives and their impending attack from the eleven Alien creatures is done to a fashion that is more than adequate to place any self-respecting Horror Sci-Fi movie as this, in a category of high ranking and World-Class status.

When the Rock n' Roll Conductor in the Sky calls your name..., 10 March 2006

There seems to be a slight discrepancy with the venue and date of this concert, according to the book, "The Who Concert File" by Joe McMichael and "Irish" Jack Lyons, 2004 edition, this concert fell on Friday 24th of September. The Who, on the 24th according to the book, were playing the Xcel Energy Center, St Paul, Minnesota. Where as in the ending credits, in the DVD, which states, "Recorded live on September 24th at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA. The book itself is a highly interesting detailed book of every Who gig ever played.

With only two remaining players left in the game, The Who continued with what they had started, with true professionalism and show business obligations, they rolled onto the road and played to a full house as a band that was seemingly never fragmented, as powerful and tight as the moment the four original game players struck a chord together.

Live in Boston is a very personal gig to say the least, this being one of the very first shows, recorded for DVD, that has the whole of the rhythm section no longer with us. The very sad demise of Keith Moon in 1978, aged just 32, was too an unexpected shock, maybe a little predictable, but still a great loss. Then during the eve of the 2002 World Tour, John Entwistle passed away, rather equivocally, in a Las Vegas Hotel room, aged just 58 years.

Watching this concert, on DVD, is somewhat rather poignant to the fact that we are too reminded that no one is infallible, we all have to except that through the winds of change, we still have to come to terms that nothing can last forever, not even Heroes.

Pino Palladino, a Welshman by trade, took up the bass guitar at the age of 17. During the 1970s, he toured England and the USA with Jools Holland's band The Millionaires. In the 80s, he worked with many named musicians, including the likes of Elton John, Gary Numan, Paul Young, Chaka Khan, Joan Armatrading, Eric Clapton as well as David Gilmour, Don Henley and Phil Collins. Studio work during the 90s with Pete Townshend and Jeff Beck has kept him busy.

Keith Moons Godson, Zak Starkey, whose father played for The Beatles, continues to play the drums here, as always he is the great prodigy that Keith and Ringo would be proud off. John "Rabbit" Bundrick also remains in the background as the player of Keyboards.

As usual, their warm up number begins with I Can't Explain, following with Substitute, then a fantastic rendition of my personal favourite, from their 60s singles era, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. What comes as a pleasant surprise is the performance of the track Another Tricky Day, from the 1981 Album, Face Dances, which had Kenny Jones performing on drums, the original replacement for Keith. This musical recitation, up to now, is still a great Rock n' Roll build up to a spectacular show that never loses pace and drive throughout, this is still powerful Rock. There is a slight difference of musical structure here too; this comes from the back up that is the new rhythm section. With a new style that is Pinos, he subtly stands in the background, providing only the necessity that is his job. Pete and Roger are the conductors off this game and their players play their part without fault. Where as Pete and Roger are leading and pushing their parts to the front of this act, playing the rules that they have succumb too, for many, many years past.

During the 1970s, The Who turned away from the three-minute singles, and continued with the concept of the Album. As well as recitals taken from the 1969 Tommy album, there was a huge amount of material to choose from their earlier years, such as Relay, Bargain and Baba O'Riley. Of course, not forgetting the 1973 Quadrophenia double concept album, with great concert tracks as Sea and Sand, 5.15 and Love Reign O'er Me. Taken from this and others too, we see on Live in Boston all of these, done in typical Who fashion and driving the audience to great expectations and beyond. The ever-lasting show classics are here too, we see and hear, and are touched by songs of feeling with You Better You Bet, The Kids Are Alright, My Generation and Pinball Wizard. There are others in the Show that has also hit the right note for us all, we all have our favourite, and they are all here to enjoy. This is a show that was to prove that through diversity and, again, unpredictable change, The Who were survivors of the magical Rock n' Roll bus that can never be allowed to stop for anyone, except to, sadly and occasionally , drop off causalities along the way, and to hold their memories with great fondness, at least.

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Hermes's Silvery Guise Heeds a Message from The Gods! Take Warning., 9 March 2006

Based on the short story by Harry Bates, "Farewell to the Master", this is not your typical science-fiction movie. This is an arrival of master intellectual awareness, which has been deliberately made to seem that the threat of mass human self-destruction is far more imminent and more than probable if the Human Race continues on the path that it blindly chooses, and will be so ever harder to turn back from. As an adversary of the wanton and narrow thinking of the Leaders of the World and its peoples', and with his Hermeneutist duties, he is sent by other Worlds, to place an ultimatum. If this ultimatum goes unheeded, planet Earth will be destroyed.

Filmed around the era of the beginning of the nuclear age and the early stages of Cold War paranoia, The Day The Earth Stood Still exploits these traits very well, jumping on the bandwagon of suburban middle-class American values, and their misguided mistrust of anything that does not support, and conform to, the American Dream and all that it represents. Set in an affluent part of Washington D.C., we see the by-product of societies propaganda machine and its mindset that it has blindly come to except. You can have any colour you like, as long as it's not Red.

With these mature and realistic outlines, The Day The Earth Stood Still progresses to make the viewer conscious of the fact that the all impending doom caused by the petty squabbling of politicians, and their lack of vision will not only harm their own planet but transcend this childish war like nature to the outer planets. Even to the point of ignoring the Messengers warnings, and then having to be shown a demonstration of the seriousness of this Hermes type visitor, do we come to terms of his threat. We are being told to re-educate ourselves, to learn that to play a game of dangerous consequence will only lead to, ironically, our own destruction, not by any man made tool, but from a far greater Power.

As this is science-fiction, it was then, and is very much so now, a wonderful and historical piece of movie making, not a theme of Space and Travel, but a theme of morals and the peoples fundamental need to live in harmony, brought to us by the superior intelligence of another planets science and technology. With its boyish charm to woo the child in us all, Stood Still... can adapt very easily to a wider audience than most other science-fiction movies have. This movie can be seen through many angles, the young boy, Bobby, and his over excitement and inquisitive mind that asks the questions for us, his protective worldly mother, played by Patricia Neal. Her greedy and shallow, short sighted fiancée and the slightly mistrusting, but nice I'm sure, old landlady, as well as the paranoid sheep that congregates on every street corner, watching, listening, judging and waiting.

There is enough character development here for most to relate to. The acting here is impeccable, the delivery is at a pace that is not in a rush to squash in too much too soon. Stood Still... is not an action movie but a movie of the subconscious and its lack of understanding of the significance of our actions. Stood Still... acts as its own errand boy, who wants you to digest the Message and the Messenger, for as is the power of his message that it cannot be ignored as rhetoric, rhetoric that the populace has been brought up to know and know only. His message does bear true, as his demonstration will testify.

Bernard Herrmann has an exceptionally gifted talent for combining both suspense and atmosphere, giving the viewer the feeling of transition between the World that is ours and the impending doom of the unknown World that has landed on our doorstep.

With a history that started with him working on the background score to Citizen Kane, the beautiful classic The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, then the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" theme tune from the 1950's television series. Also, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, The fantastic 1963 movie Jason and The Argonauts, 1976's Taxi Driver and Twelve Monkeys from 1995. To also include countless other movies, as well as working on Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Wrong Man, both from 1956, Vertigo and performing on the classic Psycho. He was to win the one Oscar, for, The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941. Bernard Herrmann passed away on December 24th, 1975, from a heart attack.

The late Robert Wise died on the 14th September 2005; his legacy leaves us with movies as The Curse of the Cat People, The Desert Rats, with Richard Burton. Then he worked with Paul Newman on Somebody Up There Likes Me, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, working with Steve McQueen in The Sand Pebbles, also having the honour of directing the first Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Winning two Oscars in his career, as well as countless other Awards and nominations that the movie industry gives, he was most certainly an accomplished and respected movie-maker indeed.

What makes The Day The Earth Stood Still so remarkable is its ability to pass through time with a seamless perpetual consistency to not age with its counterparts that have stood still with their own stereotypes. The Day The Earth Stood Still is an individually singular movie, one of the most original concepts, that is still, sadly, very prominent today as the first time it was aired during 1951. We should be watching the skies; we should be waiting for our own Hermes. We should be learning to pronounce the only words that could save us all from our own early extinction, "Klaatu barada nikto"!

Creep (2004/I)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Wild and hungry, crazy and creepy., 7 March 2006

Believe it or not, the majority of Creep was filmed in Germany, written and directed by Christopher Smith. The only shots that were filmed in London, are shots that had real live London signs, backgrounds and destinations to them. The sewer scenes were filmed in Köln; the reasoning for this was because the German sewers were far cleaner and easer to work with than the London pipe works. Also the financial backing for this movie was from Germany, and the German backers insisted, partly because of their German Star, Franka Potente, too. Even the scene where she is sliding down a water tunnel, it's a studio set, made just for this shot alone.

The music is done by The Insects; they seem to have made this movie turn a corner that has boosted Creep to a higher level, it really does this movie credit.

Creep is never sporadic in delivering its horror and tension, a very clever and refreshing movie. The Special Effect on Creep is very good indeed, this helps to project Creeps Human deterioration into the abyss that isolation and degeneration of what a lack of a healthy Life can bring.

After the initial introduction of the main protagonist and her under studies, apart from Creep, this comes later; we then have a film based on two halves. This movies conception begins as an accidental quandary of sheer foolishness. Having fallen asleep while waiting for the final Underground Train, Kate soon comes to terms that she is well and truly locked in for the night. She is not along, for there are others that reside in the Undergrounds labyrinth of tunnels and passageways, the down and outs, the junkies and the work shy low life no bodies.

The first half builds the second act up with an immense sense of claustrophobic tension that gnaws and burrows into your most paranoid illusions of fear and complete miss trust of what lurks in the shadows. With the sheer horror of perpetual understanding of what is not in the dark, but what we will see when the lights are turned back on. Finally, we are introduced to Creep, his name? That's for Him to know, and for you to hope you never get the chance to find out.

Like terrified rabbits in their warren, Creep is the Jack Russell that has not come to hunt you, but it is you who have stumbled across his domain and are at peril, you have made the wrong turn, you have fallen down his rabbit hole, and you will pay more than what is expected.

His Kingdom, and his beasts, is the tunnels and corridors off his Power, and the beasts are his companions, the tunnel rats that feed off his victims' bodies, they follow the bad meat that is your flesh. Creep is never along, when it's feeding time.

He will empower you and store you in his watered cage, to soften the bones before it is time to feast, Creep never goes hungry, Creep never fails to deliver his tunnel rats a hearty feast. You're in luck; you're invited for dinner.

Creep is a movie of the Slasher Genre, and if you like it tense, dark and without any doubt, down right jumpy and frightful, then you won't be let down, for as far as the horror goes, there is plenty to go around, plenty to share, if you don't take Creeps share of the meat that is. There is only so mush that you might be able to stomach, then again, that's why Creep is after you, he wants you around for Dinner.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Donny Forever, says the Wife, Honest!, 5 March 2006

After having seen Donny Osmond three times now, again, after taking the wife, this is not an excuse too; this DVD Concert at Scotland's Edinburgh Castle is not a bad piece of work. The gig was filmed in July, at the height of his "The U.K. Summer Nights Tour", during 2004.

He was half way through his open-air Stately Homes and Castle shows of the U.K., this included Powderham, Cardiff, Warwick, Liverpool (the only indoor gig of the tour, it must rain a lot in Liverpool?), Edinburgh, Chatsworth (the first Stately Home gig, and the gig that we saw him at), Broadlands, Norwich and finishing off at Leeds Castle.

Directed by Phil Griffin, who also directed the Breeze On By video, which appears as an extra on the DVD, this was filmed in London while taking a mid tour break, between the Broadlands and Norwich gigs. There is also a "Making Off" of the Breeze On By video. As well as an interview with the Man himself, there is too, a Edinburgh Diary, picture gallery, a bonus video called "Whenever You're in Trouble", two bonus concert tracks and of course the Breeze On By Video and behind the scenes of said video.

The soundtrack here is through Digital Theatre System (DTS) Digital Surround and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround then we have old-fashioned Stereo 2.0, anyone remember that?

The tour promoted his then latest album "What I Meant To Say", which he performs some of the tracks on this DVD Concert, some examples as, Could It Be I'm Falling In Love, Seasons Of Love, Puppy Love, In It For (yep you guessed it) Love.

Not forgetting also, tracks like This Is The Moment, Whenever You're In Trouble, Go Away Little Girl, Too Young, Love Me For A Reason, Would I Lie To You (that's my favourite). Then others like, Shoulda Known Better, Breeze On By, Immortality and rounding off with the only British number one track that he had, then with the Osmond Brothers during the Seventies, Crazy Horses.

Donny and his crew are having fun on stage, and the screaming hoards of his female fans, (and a tiny collection of husbands cum taxi drivers), are no different too. A good time was had by all, and this is a great piece of DVD memorabilia for his adoring fans, female fans that is, to drool over, oh somebody catch me, I'm about to faint.

3 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Who Fooled Us Now?, 5 March 2006

Quadrophenia Live: 1996-97 World Tour DVD.

Directed by Aubrey Powell and Roger Daltrey.

Being a Who fan for over twenty years now, and for the next twenty too, with many Who memorabilia in my collection, such as books, vinyl, videos, DVD's and seeing them live more than once too, I was expecting great things from this package, please read on..

I saw the London Hyde Park Quadrophenia gig, travelling down on my motorbike and parking behind the Mayfair Hotel. It really was a great show, but this is something of a completely different show altogether. Having just watched the new DVD Concert of Quadrophenia, released around late 2005, here in England. I am afraid to say that this is the worse recording of a show that I have seen for a very long time.

The direction here is terrible, for example, through out the entire show there is only one, and I mean one, angle on the drummer, you see only head and hands. The rest of the group are ninety-eight percent seen from their chest only. You only see Rogers's knees once and Pete's whole body at least twice. Headshots are the order of the day here, what a waste. I do not get this; the band as a whole on stage is only shown about two or three times! Is this a new way of direction? To watch this is very frustrating, you would like to see the whole figure of the Artist, but we are not given the opportunity. When the camera is shooting the actual guitar, for example, there are no heads or legs? It is one or the other. The whole direction seems amateurish to say the least.

P.J.Proby looks something like Oliver Reeds Werewolf grandfather from the sixties horror movie The Curse of the Werewolf. With Billy Idol, I feel that if he put on a Leather Jacket, Parka, or a pink dress, he would still be Billy Idol with the same old trademark sneer.

The encore fairs up pretty well, with tracks that are more acoustic intermingled with electric rock. Still the one and the same angle shot of the drummer.

This no doubt is a great concert, but to see the "whole" event, then I guess you would have to have been there, shame really. As another part of anyone's Who collection then okay, but there are better (DVD) concerts of The Who than this. The Who have always delivered, but today they delivered to the wrong address.

By the way, in the booklet that comes with this package the disclaimer states "The Quadrophenia show was only filmed for the bands archive, while the Tommy show was filmed with the intention of being released". I am sorry, but that is not good enough, I don't feel that I should pay £24.99 for an inferior show, surely there could and should have been much better productions along the Quadrophenia Tour? This not a show of Quadrophenia, but a show of single-minded money grabbing incompetence.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Wild fowls' and untamed lands., 4 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow! What a Pedigree, the great Richard Burton (1925 – 1984), and Richard Harris (1930 – 2002). Including too, Roger Moore, Hardy Kruger, and not forgetting the legendary Stewart Granger (1913 – 1993), all together in one movie!

This classic war movie The Wild Geese, was released in 1978, and being the story of a team of British Mercenaries, who are deployed in Africa, to retake a kidnapped African leader, before his execution, and bring him back safely, all with in three hours. That is until……

Based on an unpublished novel by Daniel Carney, "The Thin White Line", and being Producer Euan Lloyd's dream to make a war film of similar magnitude to The Guns of Navarone (1961). This is a very gritty and extremely down to earth war film indeed. With an expert tutor residing amongst the cast, this was to be the real life ex-mercenary, Ian Yule, who plays Tosh. With a good pace for adventure and a very good eye for realism, The Wild Geese delivers itself with gusto and the sense of camaraderie that is the team The Wild Geese. Never failing to shock, with plenty of machetes, knives, bombs, bullets and the odd crossbow to keep ones stomach churning.

The Wild Geese is now, by today's standard, slightly antiquated, being a movie of the late 1970's. Nevertheless, this is not a bad thing, for The Wild Geese most certainly at its time, and by today's standards, is not Politically Correct. This depending on how and where you see this movie today, no doubt.

Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading, born in the Caribbean in 1950, has the job of writing and performing the theme tune during the opening credits, titled "The Flight of The Wild Geese", an accomplished singer and a very talented musician.

Filmed during the Apartheid years of South Africa of the mid 1970's, The Wild Geese has an interesting sub plot, involving the characters Lt. Pieter Coetze, played by the White Hardy Kruger and the Black Leader Julius Limbani. The connection between Col. Allen Faulkner, Capt. Rafer Janders, and Janders ten-year-old son Emile, is a very heart-warming sub plot too, considering the bloodthirsty occupations of these men.

The Wild Geese has a huge Classic cast, ranging from all parts of the Globe, such as England, Wales, Ireland, Germany and America, with this sort of calibre, this movie would never let its self down, if it did, then, I know, I wouldn't want The Wild Geese flying in my direction.

Bad Santa (2003)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Christmas Comes but Once a Year, but Beware, Bad Santa is ALWAYS Near., 4 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You can very quickly become admirers of other peoples work, be it acting, art, music, charity, or in this case writers, such as Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who both having written between them the exceedingly funny movie, Cats and Dogs (2001). Here, they have given us a very grown up adaptation of a Christmas fable, Bad Santa. Their interpretation consists of a very witty and realistic polar opposite of what we have been very much used to as towards Christmas Movies and their message of Love, Forgiveness, Faith and Charity.

Bad Santa touches on the concept of the Chinese Yin and Yang philosophy, which even the dark Yin can some times transcend into the light that is Yang. To understand that the narcissistic mentality that is Bad Santa will, one day, but not on his own terms either, realise that there is a wider World of responsibilities and self worth, this is done in a sensitive manner, even when the humour seems coarse, offensive and callous, to say the least.

Having gone all out crude, rude and lewd, the script never fails to sag, and with great zest, to shock, but if you see through the adult language and theme that Bad Santa holds, then you will see a movie of self awareness, sensitivity and compassion, and through its quick delivery of witty dry sardonic humour, this is a first class exploitation of sentimentality, seen through the eyes of the drink afflicted loser of no fixed abode that is Bad Santa, and The Kid, that bonds himself to Santa, as his substitute guardian. Leaving you to feel utterly charmed by The Kids determination to have someone to look up to and to be Loved, even through his choice might be a little misguided.

It's The Kids performance of the lonely but ostensibly naive performance that wins us over, in the face of adversity and parental neglect.

Besides a very good script, it also takes a good team in front of the camera; this is done by a great combination of talented actors, via Billy Bob Thornton, as Bad Santa, Tony Cox as his assistant Marcus and the amazing young ten-year-old Brett Kelly as The Kid, also, as the Store Owner we have Bernie Mac. The late John Ritter, (1948 – 2003), plays the uptight Store Manager, he also played the role of Police Chief Warren Kincaid in the 1998 movie The Bride of Chucky.

It also goes to show that when a movie, such as Bad Santa, has nine nominations for various Awards, such as the BET Comedy Award for Bernie Mac, 2004, the Golden Globes Award for Billy Bob Thornton, 2004, and the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – Male, for Brett Kelly, also 2004, amongst other nominations, the only actor to actually win was Brett Kelly. Well done.

Bad Santa delivers the goods on time, with it's hidden message, that Bad doesn't always mean Bad, but that even good honest all year round Christmas Sprit can win over the meanest of Scrooges, Bad Santa is a hugely funny movie, try it out, as Christmas only comes once a year, but Compassion is a Human trait that should never be left for any one Season.

Merry Christmas Santa…Ho, Ho, Ho.

Date Movie (2006)
Run for cover and hide, here comes the Date Movie!, 3 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, after a session of ten-pin bowling, a pizza meal at a small family Italian restaurant, with good company, the next step was the Cinema. Date Movie was not the movie of choice, but the movie of convenience, being the only movie of two that was just about to start, we thought, that sounds good, we'll go for that.

Written and Directed by Jason Friedberg, Date Movie is his first outing as a Director. Having also only had major writing credits to his name on Spy Hard (1996) and the three Scary Movie franchises.

The place was very nearly empty, just a few teenagers at the back, and us. The movie starts, and the parodies being.

Staring the beautiful Alyson Hannigan, from My Stepmother is an Alien (1988), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and American Pie fame. Her love interest here is Adam Campbell, a new face to the movie world.

We see virtually most of the Dating / Couple movies parodied, from small scenes to full out and out copies, from Hitch, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, When Harry met Sally, Bridget Jones's Diary to Meet the Fockers. This is done well, in places, but you know, in the back of your mind, that you really have seen it all before. Date Movie seems to be hanging by a thread of desperation, for the feeling of Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel is never too far away, when the gags fall flat and are too thin on the ground to even provoke a whimper of a laugh. There are some, but not many, funny gags here, the Cat Jinxters does it for me, but unfortunately, they are few and far between, shame really.

An added bonus has to be the very funny actor Tony Cox, his movie pedigree reads a little like this, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), playing a Ewok, Space Balls (1987). Followed by Beetle Juice, Willow and Clint Eastwoods Bird, all from 1988. He continued with Me, Myself and Irene (2000), and the very funny 2003 movie, with Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa.

There is a Michael Jackson (post court case) reference in this movie that I thought daring and it seemed to work, as well as a pointless Britney Spears scene, post wedding and baby days, which did not. Toward the end Date Movie started to drag, the gags were running thin and in the end, it seemed a relief that this date was over, what was a total shock was the length of this movie, some one hour and twenty minutes long, or short is the case here, way too short for a movie.

Date Movie had brought you back home before you had left your driveway.

No, Date Movie was, by accident, a Blind Date of a movie, we had turned up at the Cinema with absolutely no idea what to expect to see, and in the end if anyone asks, I'm staying home to wash my hair.

Sorry, Date Movie is just not my type.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Enjoy this laugh a minute with the minute brains of the hippie dippy sub-culture., 16 February 2006

Based on the Alter Egos of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, who started out as a double act during the sixties, and continuing through to the late seventies.

Cheech, the son of a Los Angeles Police Officer, was born in 1946 L.A., during his education he graduated at the California State University Northridge.

Tommy Chong was born in 1938 Canada, before entering into his Chong Persona; he was a songwriter and guitar player for the Motown Label. By the mid 1980's he became an American citizen, even to the extent, in September 2003, of serving nine months in a State Prison, for distributing drug paraphernalia. It seemed he was made an example, as others were only given just fines and some ordered with Home Detentions.

Up In Smoke is a highly funny movie, with Cheech Marin playing the poor Latin American and with Tommy Chong, as the Upper Middle Class self-inflicted drug addict. The plot is simple, one druggie meets, by accident, a Latin American, it is the antics of both as they search for a score of Grass. In the mean time, both get a job of transporting a van from over the Mexican border to the USA, which is made completely out of marijuana. Their inability to realise this, as they continue still, to try to score, is what makes this an observation of blind stupidity and dazed intelligence, if there were any to begin with. Were these guys intelligent before their little vice became habit? I doubt it.

The third main character in Up In Smoke is played by Stacy Keach, as Sgt. Stedenko, the incompetent and highly-strung Narcotics Officer, waiting for his big break. With great contempt for the Law, Up In Smoke does its very best, and succeeds, to ridicule and embarrass the Authorities.

Being a movie targeted for the Underground Drug Culture, Up In Smoke was bound to have a certain success. This movie, if it were to make it Mainstream, would only be by word of mouth. As someone who heard about this movie by word of mouth, and expecting a basic losers and work-shy layabout druggies movie, this turned out to be something more, something fantastically funny and so over the top, that it makes Up In Smoke open to all audiences. You may have watched the movie, but it does not mean you have to play the part.

Up In Smoke is a movie to warn us all, in the usual inept way that is the Cheech and Chong style, as to why they call "it" dope.

Watch, and have your sides spilt, you won't regret it, and at least it's legal.


1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Semi Soft Core Turns Into Hard Core Cult, and Stays Forever Rigid., 8 February 2006

From out of the Great American Depression of the Late 1920's, which continued up to the late '30's, came a new type of Alter Ego, an Alter Ego that would distract from the poverty stricken life of the crumbling, limp and lacklustre America. This Alter Ego had a name, the Superhero, and with each new Superhero came an new and exiting Personality, standing tall and proud, such as Buck Rogers (1928), Flash Gordon (1934), Superman (1938), for examples. Originally, these would have been seen in Comic Books and Newspaper Comic Strips, and then Hollywood grabbed them with both hands and turned them into Movie Heroes.

These Heroes were based on Goodness, Honesty and Freedom for the People, which would force it's way through the impotent Evils, Dangers and Repressive failures of the Antiheroes, everything the Superhero stood firmly against.

Among these newfound Superheroes came Flash Gordon, who to be honest, was first drawn up to compete with Buck Rogers. Flash had two travelling companions; the archetypal female of the Superhero World, Dale Arden, and for the intellectual readers of the comic strip came Dr. Hans Zarkov. Here was Strength, Beauty and Brains, wrapped up into a neat and tidy package. All typical Superhero clichés, but in the end, effective enough at arousing excitement and interest.

By the time the late Sixties had arrived, Howard Ziehm had owned a Coffee Shop, toured across the USA, and had formed a Rock Band. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the band had split at the end of 1969, and the then Manager, William Osco, 25 at this time, and Howard, aged 29, and then found themselves in Los Angles, USA, with only forty Dollars between them. So, what else could a couple of young men do to earn money? They started making short porn movies that contained no sound.

To do this, they formed their own Production Company, Graffitti Productions. Their luck and timing had stayed the distance, they were making money. With these newfound profits, they brought their own movie theatres, so they could show their own movies.

Being a little more adventuress and confident due the extra funds pouring in, they wanted to make a film of great length, the idea of a Sci-Fi parody then came to seed, this idea grew into what is now known as Flesh Gordon. Filming began in the winter of 1971, and with an expected budget of around $25,000, at the time the most expensive porno movie budget ever; they began to enlist a cast and crew.

This highly original piece of work starts of with a Rolling Text, a prologue if you like, to the past innovators of the original Superheroes, and the people that have adored their stature. It also acts as a disclaimer, as to distance its self and the original innovators from each other, and to dedicate Flesh Gordon in their Honour.

The story could not be any distant if it had tried, Flesh Gordon is complete parody, ridicule, this is evident during the narration of the Rolling Text. What is new here is the first porn movie to use non-porn professional Actor's, in a non-sexual part, such as William Hunt, who plays Emperor Wang for example.

Being your typical FLASH Gordon story line, planet Earth is at peril by an Evil member of the Wang Dynasty, on a far reaching Planet called Porno, and with his Evil Sex Ray, he intends to penetrate the Earth and destroy us all. Only Flesh and his two companions can save the day, It's as simple as that.

Go Flesh Go.

The thing that makes Flesh Gordon stand out over most Porno movies, (remember, the hard core sex movie Deep Throat, starring the late Linda Lovelace, had come out during filming of Flesh, in 1972), was not, ironically, the porn, but the direction of the script, storyline and the special effects that Flesh Gordon showed off. This could, no doubt, be due to the fact that the unfortunate Mr. Ziehm and Mr. Osco, as well as other makers of sex movies at that time, being continuity harassed by the Police authorities? Too much pressure, too much to lose at the last minute. In the end, they had been arrested several times too many, houses and movie theatres were put up as bail bonds and to add insult to injury, they were forced by Law, to remove any hard sex scenes from the movie before general release, around 400 feet of footage was taken out, leaving some 40,000 feet intact. Sadly, and with much irony, it looks like the anti sex industry that was the Law of that time, in the end, had made its own sex movie.

However, was Flesh Gordon ever meant to be a sex movie, hard core or other wise? No, would seem the appropriate answer; this movie was sold on the pretence of it being a Cult movie that contained a few sex scenes. After much back biting, bitterness, double dealing, the use of cocaine and one too many Police visits, Flesh Gordon took over three years to complete and cost, in the end, at least $5000,000. When they first solicited this movie, after completion, in New York, no theatre would offer their services, this movie was just too long for it's own good.

There was one theatre in New York that would give them their break; the rest is history, Messer's Ziehm and Osco, who when first started out in this business were out of their depth, totally naive and inexperienced, had now flourished into Cult Movie making status.

Flesh Gordon, with its well-made effects, costumes and well-earned respect, is a movie of originality, irony, bravery and determination. Seeing this movie is a pleasure of the Heart and Soul, to relish in a bygone age of what, ironically, Flesh Gordon stood against, the oppression of an Evil Repressive Dynasty, that was Censorship.

Go Flesh Go.

Aliens (1986)
5 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A Dozen Movie Marines visit LV-426: An Alien asks, "Who ordered Takeaway?"., 31 January 2006

Look out the Movie Marines are on their way! Dinner will soon be here, yum, yum.

Well, missing out on his first chance to, shall we say rewrite, the first and the great Alien movie, his choice? We now have Walter Hill having ago for himself, the second time around. Looks like someone who didn't like Science Fiction work, he certainly knows which side his bread is buttered now.

For some reason or other, the original role for Hicks had been given to James Remar, who played Ajax in Walter Hill's magnificent gang movie The Warriors (1979). His departure, as well as British born Director of Photography Dick Bush, whose work as Cinematographer on Tommy (1975), Yanks (1979) and Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) for examples, does leave some doubt and questions. To be replaced for creative differences because you didn't, it would seem, hit it off with the then Aliens Producer, Gale Ann Hurd. Oh, by the way, she, at the time was married, from 1985 to 1989, to the then Aliens Director James Cameron.

We are given the impression that Aliens consists of just a few tightly grouped movie-making buddies scratching each other's back, same old Actors working, again, for the same old Director, there goes the Character Development then.

While the Alien franchise is one of my favourites, I personally do think that Aliens is more overrated. While not the weakest of the whole collection, to me, this is just a bug hunt with to much off the "yahoo" and "yeeha" mentality. It's forever in in our face, and in the end is more important than the actual beasts that the movie should be concerning itself with.

The first Alien movie, (Directed by Ridley Scott and released in 1979), is a Historical Movie Milestone of tense character development and visual art. This, Aliens, is the unsensational opposite, having gone for the Lock and Load and Egos' are Us direction, he has turned an opportunity of imagination and creativity into thought-less sensation. Looking as though it was quickly thrown together, the Thunderbirds models were looking a little thin by the end of this movie.

It seemed, allegedly, that Ms Weaver threatened to do no more Alien movies after seeing the final cut.

The Bold as Brass and over the top Rent-a-Heroes are the epitome of the over zealous Movie Marines that is seen in just about every movie ever made. This movie has the miss fortune of having to use this type of Movie Marine stereo typecasting, nothing new to report here, luuuteennannt Ssiiirr.

Boring! Predictable! Obvious!

This Egg came severely cracked and grew not into an Alien epic, but more Pigs in Space, it's a Muppet Show sketch from the 1970's.

What more can I say?


"Come on Aliens, put me out of my misery, and finish your dinner, because it's getting cold".

Signing Off!

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
The British take on the British Take of India, and how India Took it Back, sort of., 31 January 2006

As with glass, you can see straight through this movie, for what it is. Hilarious and witty, as is the talent of this huge Classic British Comedy Team.

Come on, you know deep down, they couldn't resist making a movie that rhymed with "Khyber Pass".

What a wonderful awry of comical satire and self-ridicule that Khyber Pass is. This, 1968, typical nostalgia trip from the Great Carry On team has bought us the usual Cast. We see Sidney James, as Sir Sidney-Rough Diamond and the beautiful Joan Sims as his torturous wife, Lady Joan Rough-Diamond, the very intelligent Kenneth Williams as the Rhandi Lal, the Khasi of Kalabar. Here, personally, I think that this is Bernard Bresslaw's, as Bungdit Din, best performance, his last Carry On was 1975's Carry On Behind, he passed away in June 1993, aged 59.

Without wanting to give too much away here, for you have to see Up the Khyber to appreciate the delivery of the script, ad libbing and comic simplicity that is Up the Khyber, which, excuse the pun here, carries itself off very well. Too much forewarning will only dilute the movies hilarious gags.

Not seeing Up the Khyber for many years, it was really a pleasant surprise, forgetting just how funny it is, and the combination, and their delivery, of the names of the characters. Lets face it; the absurd and totally ridiculous names of these characters are what truly make this movie.

This movie contains one of the most obvious (non) location doubles that I have ever seen. Since when has the real Khyber Pass in India looked like the green rolling hills of Wales, I mean, it's a five bar gate along a rocky green path running up Mount Snowdonia, they even put a tiny wooden sign on top, saying, "Please shut the gate". The Extras, seen at the Khyber Pass, who are dressed as local "natives" look like locals that have been paid to wear Turbans for the day, and the make up department haven't even applied make up. If it were not so funny, then it just would not be the Carry On it is. You just know too, that they must have had a great laugh trying to pull this one off. Pure admiration.

This movie shouldn't be passed over; it really is one of the best, where as Carry On Screaming was the better Produced, this is better scripted.

There is Glass and there are Diamonds, this is a Diamond of a movie.


17 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
The Final Solution: The Final Time?, 23 January 2006

The first time, at least, these Camps had been used, by the Spanish, was during the Third Cuban War of Independence, leading to the Spanish - American War (around late 1898). The Americans also used them for the Philippine - American War. It was only the mass scale by the British, in South Africa, that it was thought that they had started them. Ironically set up during the Second Boer War, (October 1899 to May 1902), in South Africa, to house refugees, whose homes and lands had been destroyed by the British. This was done under the name of the "Scorched Earth Policy", done as a military tactic, to destroy anything that might be of use to "the enemy", once rounded up, they would be easier to control, no doubt. It is also rumoured, that the British would shoot prisoners in the kneecap, to prevent any escape.

We have to remember that the people in these Camps were mostly civilians, so, they could not be classed as P.O.W.s, (Prisoners of War, i.e., Soldiers). These unfortunate casualties of War were placed in a camp to concentrate their numbers, and as said before, to control. Conditions in these Camps were terrible; disease and hunger were the order of the day.

A Concentration Camp is not the same as Extermination Camp, or Death Camp. This was to come later, as Nazi Concentration Camps.

Known as Konzentrationslager, or simply KZ, pronounced as Kah-Tzet, this initial, with a number following, tattooed on the forearm of the Prisoners. KZ is the abbreviation of Konzentrationslager. Hence, the prisoner would have tattooed KZ711966, for example, to show they were a prisoner of the Concentration Camp. Their own Identity number.

The Nazi Party, also known as NSDAP, or to give it's full title, The National Socialist German Workers' Party, first came into existence on March 7th 1918, by Anton Drexlar. This party, from Munich, was to be called The Free Committee for a German Workers' Peace. The name was changed shortly after to the German Workers' Party, this flourished to what is now known as the NSDAP. The bittersweet irony is that German army intelligence sent in a spy to look into the NSDAP, Adolf Hitler; he was so impressed, that he joined proper. It was to be February 24th, 1920, that the Nazi Party was born, after the name NSDAP was given as its new and proper title.

Since 1920 and up to the end of the second World War, Hitler had gained popularity and power, power on the promise of a free Germany, free of Non Nationals, for example, and free of the Jewish wealth and power, which they had used to their (the Jews) own advantage for gaining this wealth. It would seem that the Jews would bare the brunt of the xenophobia, paranoia, jealousy and blame. Blame for a Germany still counting the cost for losing the First World War (1914 - 1918).

There is a name for State Sponsored Genocide: Holocaust. The systematic extinction and precaution of one or more Race, such as Jews, Homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Gypsies to name a few, but in greater numbers, a few totalled around six to seven million in just six years or so. Ethnic Cleansing at its most destructive.

The most destructive of these Death Camps was a place some 60km Southwest of Krakow, Poland. This was camp number two, Auschwitz. Having three camps here, the number two camp was to be the Camp of mass murder. In the end, around one million Jews were murdered here, along with an estimated 75,000 Poles and 20,000 Roma People.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has done an excellent job of bringing us a truly magnificent portrait of the Pre History and magnitude of Auschwitz. With amazing CGI that allows us to see how Auschwitz looked like, when in complete working order. This Documented History shows the viewer why the camp was needed. We hear from the survivors off this Death Camp, also from the ex Nazis, who, some, still have no qualms of their actions; they say they were only following orders. Yes, this does really bring home the truths of this dreadful atrocity, the suffering of the many and the blind hatred of the evil that was Auschwitz, the Nazis and their Final Solution.

This is History Documentation at it's best, to see and finally to get to understand how this evil place came about, and the evil that drove it.

Excalibur (1981)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Kingdom, A Wizard and A Legend that is Excalibur., 15 January 2006

This wonderful historic movie masterpiece should be addressed in every History lesson in the Land.

Superbly directed and produced by John Boorman, of Deliverance (1972) and Zardoz (1974) fame. He has surpassed himself, for here we have his interpretation of Thomas Malory's book, Le Morte d'Arthur.

A passing of stories through time, as Excalibur is passed on through heritage.

We are given an insight into the English myth that is Merlin, Arthur and the Sword of Legends; Excalibur.

We owe, at least, the legend of Merlin to Geoffrey of Monmouth, this Welshman born in 1100, became a Clergyman after studying at Oxford University. Myrddin, the Welsh Wizard, was quickly changed to Merlin as his original name came a little too close to a particular vile French word. Writing three books, that all contained in some form or other, Merlin. This, the second piece, was to bring the Legend of Arthur and Merlin together. Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain) was written in 1136, and here is Arthur the Dux Bellorum, the War Leader, as the earliest text would describe him. Geoffrey of Monmouth died in 1154.

One of the earliest mentions of Excalibur can be given to the French poet Robert De Boron's verse entitled Merlin, in this poem it tells us of The Sword in the Stone.

Many years of Chinese Whispers later, and the rest has become subconscious Legend.

Beautifully filmed in the country of Ireland, the scenery is breath taking. It is not just the unknown actors in this movie that make it what it is. This is a movie of behind the scene experience, of the Director, the fantastic work of the Cinematographer, Wardrobe and Set Design, which have truly made Excalibur stand out.

Alex Thomson was nominated for both the 1981 British Society of Cinematographers and the 1982 Academy Awards for Excalibur; other works include Legend (1985), The Krays (1990) and Alien3 (1992). Bob Ringwood won the 1982 Saturn Award for Best Costumes, as well as John Boorman winning the 1981 Cannes Film Festival for Best Artistic Contribution. In total, ten nominations and two wins.

Casting unknown actors has given Excalibur it's own identity, it is The Sword of Legends that is the Star here. With new faces, that would, in time, find their own niche and blossom into Stardom, being, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart and Nigel Terry, who have all worked very well to bring us an excellent performance.

Having Helen Mirren as Morgana and the very well placed Nicol Williamson as the Magical Enigma and Mystic Seer that is Merlin, brings Excalibur to greater heights. With charismatic cunning and devious Wizardry and Witchcraft, they project fear, loathing and respect from the Dark Aged minds that seek their wisdom. Playing their parts in history, as they really do know the outcome of the future of Man and their own inevitable demise.

John Boormans own son, credited as Charley and now known as Charlie, plays the young Mordred.

Story telling, through the ages of time, has continually changed its format, but the lure of fantasy and escapism has and never will change. This, Excalibur the movie, will be, till the end of time, another part of the History that is Arthur, Merlin and Excalibur.

For to partake in watching Excalibur, we all are participating in our own History Lesson, a lesson of brave Knights, Dragons, Wizards, Witches and Legend.

This is one lesson that no one should miss.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Slow deadly nights and long crazy days., 7 January 2006

This horrific metaphor for human disaster that is 28 Days Later works very well. Based on a story of Human despair and relentless hope for a new Birth of Man.

Starting with a vision of Mans descendant, while strapped to a laboratory table, continuously forced fed to watch television clips of mass riots, murder, anger and hatred. His easily corruptible mind melting into mayhem and madness. Transcending Mayhem into Madness, Madness into Hate and Hate into Rage, rage that has not only infected the mind but goes further into the Heart and Soul of the Lifeline that flows through the veins itself.

Mans ancestor is set lose, set lose by a group of unsuspecting Animal Rights Activists, thinking that they are doing right over wrong.

One is bitten. All are doomed.

Filmed in the deserted streets of a modern London, this apocalyptic human catastrophe is seen through the eyes of the seemingly sole survivor, Jim.

Awaking from a coma 28 days (later) after the unwittingly failed rescue attempt of the infected simian, Jim soon bumps into the head strong and gutsy Selena. Who in turn find two struggling family members, father and young teen daughter, Frank and Hannah.

The story continues as a struggle for survival, not only with a land of Soulless and rage-full Humans, but with the very people who they seek help from, a group of abandoned Army Soldiers. The courageous fours perpetual struggle is soon realised, and that hope and companionship is never abandoned, whatever the cost.

This powerful warning to us all is never far from the truth, here we see a brainwashed Chimpanzee, forced to watch death and destruction. Turning its newly formed mind into a physical weapon, but what is this irony?

Is not the Human Race a by-product of the manipulative mind of a raging simian?

Is it not the simian watching Humans raging across the World?

Is it not the Raging Humans, which are seen in the television footage, in the end, an influence on this fragile mind?

The irony is that the rage was and always has been here, the watching simian was never the catalyst, he was an unwilling victim. We, as a responsible? Race have always brought it on our selves, we are the catalyst of our own destruction.

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