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4 reviews in total 
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Traffic (2000)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Traffic, 12 January 2010

Traffic attempts to look at the drug trade from several different angles, from the head of the Director of USA's drug control office with his cocaine addicted daughter, to the drug trade in Mexico and the attempt by the DEA to bring a drug lord to justice. The stories are interconnected and although the characters do not meet their actions influence one another.

Traffic does show some of the effects that the drug trade has on people. Several innocent lives are cut short and previously law abiding citizens are turned into criminals, by the drug trade. The futility of the "war on drugs" is also well illustrated as one drug lord escapes prosecution when a key witness is killed.

The problem with the film is that in attempting to show the drug trade from so many different angles it spreads itself to thin and none of the stories or issues get looked at in enough detail. Whilst the idea may have worked as a miniseries (I haven't seen Traffik) or even as a full length TV series such as "The Wire", but as a film there is not enough time to give the characters emotional depth or the issues enough focus.

10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Sherlock Holmes, 30 December 2009

Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes is unsurprisingly not faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, however this does not necessarily make it a bad film, and it is possible for Ritchie and co. to have made an impressive film with the Sherlock Holmes character. Hiring the charismatic Robert Downey Jr. and using "Batman Begins" as the template for a critically and commercially successful opening to a film franchise.

Alas, the film isn't very good. Guy Ritchie's fingerprints are on the film as seen in the bare knuckle fighting sequences and the use of the city of London as a backdrop and character. There is also the usual traits of Hollywood blockbusters; fight scenes, CGI explosions and cartoonish villains with a plot to take over the world. Conan Doyle's ideas are marginalised but they provide the best bits of the film. The character of Sherlock Holmes is vividly brought to life by Downey Jr. who interprets the character as an arrogant, charming genius who needs to be occupied by a case or he'll fall apart. There are hints of a clever plot, however the plot is rushed and underdeveloped resulting in an absurd plot by the two dimensional villain Lord Blackwood to restore the British Empire. Instead of plot development there are several fight scenes and explosions which add nothing of substance and add little style.

"Sherlock Holmes" takes little from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and makes up the rest with Hollywood blockbuster clichés and the tiresome traits of Guy Ritchie's films, resulting in a poor adaptation and a poor film.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Total Recall, 21 December 2009

In Total Recall, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) living in 2084 dreams of being a secret agent of Mars and after a trip to a facility to give him the memories of a super-spy he is thrown into the middle of interplanetary espionage as his old employers attempt to bring him to Mars to help quash an uprising by the native people.

The plot is taken from a Philip K Dick novel and is adapted to create an action film that has a clever plot with spectacular twists and turns, plus the theme of fantasy vs. reality, as we are left to decide for ourselves how much of Quaid's adventures are in his head. The action scenes are bloody but thrilling and entertaining whilst the suspense builds throughout the film, towards the impressive climax.

There are problems with the film however. It is difficult to believe in Arnie as an everyman character or indeed anything other than a murderous robot. Another problem with the film are the constant chase sequences, which at times serve no purpose other than to show off the special effects and feature unnecessary violence. The vision of the future borrows heavily from the eighties fashion and as such the look of the film is some bizarre cross between futuristic neon and vulgar 80s couture, drawing unfavourable comparisons with other Philip K Dick adaptations like Blade Runner.

Despite this, Total Recall stands out amongst other action/sci-fi films of the time, as instead of trying to dazzle the audience with over the top action, it creates a clever and well thought-out plot, with many twists and turns, as well as giving the audience something to think about after.

59 out of 76 people found the following review useful:
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, 10 November 2009

The main talking point surrounding The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is the fact that it is the last appearance of the late Heath Ledger, however, there is a lot more to talk about with this film. Ledger's performance is good, as one would expect, but he has done better and more iconic roles. The problem faced by his death occurring before filming completed is overcome easily and one would not necessarily know that Ledger had died just from the evidence of the film. There is a fitting tribute to him in the film, as Johnny Depp's version of Heath Ledger's character comments on how celebrities who died young will live on forever.

However, this film deserves to be discussed as a piece of work on its own. Like many of Terry Gilliam's films it is both complex and imaginative. The titular Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) operates a mostly unsuccessful travelling show where he hopes to send members of the public through a magic mirror into the Imaginarium where they will ultimately face a choice between giving their soul to Parnassus or the Devil (Tom Waits). Those two are having a contest for the soul of Valentina (Lily Cole), the Doctor's daughter. Helping the Doctor's show are the lovelorn Anton, the dwarf Percy and Tony a mysterious stranger who can draw punters.

Initially all these plot points work well. Doctor Parnassus is a desperate man who has almost given up hope, whilst the Devil is entertaining to watch, yet evidently devious. The heart of the film lies with Valentina who wants a normal life but is it unaware that it is far more complicated than just the raising of money. Unfortunately, the film runs into difficulty in the last third as the plot lines all come together and even more are added, creating a overly complex ending where nothing gets resolved properly.

The acting is good, with Lily Cole surprisingly impressive and old hands Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits leading by example. Terry Gilliam direction combines the fantastical and the ordinary in a way that only he can. It is the first time he has participated in the writing process for two decades and this film has an autobiographical feel as Doctor Parnassus tries to entice with stories and the imagination only to be met by cynical crowds. This effort to wow the public may not move them away from CGI and is short of his best, but it is still entertaining and favourable over films which lack charm, imagination and storytelling.