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Decent but a shadow of the original
8 October 2017
Few sequels match the original. Successful sequels, such as Terminator 2 and Aliens, rarely introduce new ideas. Instead, they build on the original plot - and have good plots themselves. Blade Runner 2049 definitely doesn't introduce any new ideas. New ideas are hard to come up with. A good plot isn't but 2049 doesn't have one. That's the difference between a movie based on a book (Blade Runner) and a movie based on a screenplay (this one). But, in spite of that, I enjoyed this movie. It's at least an hour too long for it's paper-thin story line but it's a sumptuous movie in terms of its cinematography and music. You don't even have to watch it on a huge screen (I didn't) to get drawn into it. I think anyone who enjoyed the original would enjoy this movie. The story line is sparse but, at least, it's serious science fiction and avoids sentimentality and silliness (I'm looking at you Matrix Reloaded). So, not bad. Decent science fiction. Wonderful visuals and music. Weak plot. Wasted opportunity.
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Prometheus (I) (2012)
3 June 2012
This movie is very disappointing. Ridley Scott has clearly stopped trying. This movie is absurd. The plot is ridiculous, and riddled with holes that a 10 year old would see through, the acting is like something from stage school, and the dialogue borders on the hilarious (the plot is so bad that much of it is articulated by various characters just so you can follow it). Just about every movie clique is here... the dysfunctional crew, a romance, gratuitous religion, unnecessary gore, etc. After an hour, I gave up on it as a serious movie and started to enjoy it for the farce that it is. I gave it 3/10 for special effects (+1), the 3D (+1), and some of the science fiction (+1). Everything else about this movie is worthless. This movie is the antithesis of Alien, which is a thoughtful, clever, serious piece of science fiction.
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Difficult subject done exceptionally well
31 October 2010
The thought of a movie about Facebook sounded awful. But the movie is, actually, very good. Most movies about computers are terrible and it's a difficult subject to make a movie about. But Fincher manages it. There is a great deal of dialogue in this film so you have to pay attention. If you do, you will be rewarded with some interesting and intelligent dialogue. The acting is good by everyone involved but particularly the lead actor.

It's great to see a movie celebrating intelligence. It's as close as you can come to glamorising Computer Science.

Some of the other reviews, in my opinion, exaggerate how good this movie is. It's no classic. Just an intelligent, well directed, interesting movie about the cultural phenomenon that is Facebook. But American Beauty it ain't.

A smart movie for smart people. Recommended.
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Inception (2010)
18 July 2010
It should be called "Deception". Or "James Bond Meets The Matrix". Take the worst bits of James Bond and the worst bits of The Matrix movies, randomly mix them together, and you have "Inception".

It's pretentious nonsense from start to finish. The characters are caricatures, the acting is formulaic, and the plot! Jeez. It starts badly and gets worse. By the end, even the director couldn't be bothered and lets it degenerate into a standard James Bond movie (complete with men in snow suits fighting on skis).

The age rating (12A in the UK) means the ideal demographic for this movie (8 year-old boys) can't see it. This film is so bad, it creeps into classic-bad-movie territory. Oh, by the way, I "get it". I just don't "like it". And the movie is not existentialist. It's pointless.

I like to say something positive about every movie I see but I am struggling with this one. Oh, I have something: it has a great ending - because it ends.
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Farce more than comedy
7 February 2010
My wife and I watched this movie last night and we both left with the same impression, that it was not very funny. I really doesn't deserve its (current) 7+ IMDb rating since it simply isn't very funny. In fact, the only positive thing I can say about it is that is a gentle movie about a topic that everyone can relate to (teenage angst about sex)... and if that sounds like I am damning it with faint praise that's because I am.

The movie is a romantic farce in parts (but not very romantic and not very farcical) and it has quite nice surreal moments (the sex book coming to life was particularly well done) but these good bits were not enough to save the movie.

I thought the acting was no more than functional and the storyline was weak and not engaging. But the big problem with this film was the humour -- or lack of it.
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Up in the Air (I) (2009)
Enjoyable movie
23 January 2010
My wife and I both enjoyed this movie. It's no classic and, in my view, doesn't merit an 8+ IMDb rating but it is a nice movie and I'm sure that most people will enjoy it.

"Nice" maybe isn't the right word since it has a message about how to live your life - and reminds us how awful being fired really is. So it has a serious message -- and it's a pleasure to watch, thanks to excellent performances by all the lead characters. So what's not to like? Well, for one thing, the story is worthy and well-told but don't expect some great movie since the plot isn't up to those expectations. I preferred Michael Clayton, which was a much deeper movie than this one.

But you won't be disappointed with this film unless your expectations are too high to begin with. A worthy 7/10. Time and money well spent.
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Avatar (2009)
Milestone in movie history
29 December 2009
Avatar was better than I expected. The trailers and previews don't do this movie justice. The real strength of this film is its visuals, which ordinary TVs can't come close to reproducing. The visuals are revolutionary and would make this movie worth watching alone.

Its main weakness is the storyline. It's not awful, just pretty standard. There is no chance the screenplay is going to win any prizes. But it's no worse than 75% of movies and better than many, and there are one or two serious messages in the movie, such as the way Capitalism ruthlessly exploits natural resources.

If the storyline matched the imagery, this movie would the best film ever. The 3D effects and special effects and imagery in this film are truly amazing. Don't even consider the 2D version.

Apart from the plot, there are other weaknesses. The back story (why they chose the main character, who is a paraplegic) is ridiculous (in fact, the whole disabled marine storyline is unnecessary), some of the acting is wooden (Sigourney Weaver looks like she is going through the motions), and it's too long (2½ hours).

Apart from the visuals, there are other strengths. The sci-fi is sound (including the concept of an avatar), Pandora (the alien planet) is superbly rendered, some of the acting is good (Zoe Saldana), and the movie doesn't feel like it's 2½ hours long.

A milestone in movie history due to the visuals. In spite of this, I gave it 8/10 because of its routine storyline and ordinary acting. But not one to miss.
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Moon (2009)
Serious sci-fi, serious tedium
20 July 2009
I came away disappointed from this movie. The reviews made it sound a great deal better than it was. Some of the comments about the movie are inexplicable. Good special effects? Some scenes look like they were stitched together from Thunderbird out-takes. The low production costs of the movie are apparent throughout.

But good movies don't need good special effects. The trouble is this movie has other failings - such as any sort of pace. It plods along. The middle section, in particular, feels like Purgatory.

I wanted to give this movie 6½ out of 10 but gave it 7 because, at its heart, it is a serious science fiction film with something, maybe not very much, to say about humanity and consciousness. Several interesting themes run through it, but most are confusingly presented and none are very well developed.

I agree that it's a good first movie and Duncan Jones has potential. It's a pity they don't give you a discount on the price of a ticket because of this.
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What's not to like about this enjoyable movie?
15 February 2009
I'm not a fan of TV game shows. So the premise of this movie was not appealing. But the game show is only a backdrop to this movie. It's really a romantic film that has something to say about a few other things such as poverty. The story line is fast-paced and the movie is often funny and sometimes challenging. It tells its story in an entertaining way. So, what's not to like about it?

Having said that, it's no classic. I gave it 7/10 because it's... err... a 7/10 movie. Enjoyable, fun to watch, interesting, has something to say... but nothing new and the story line is amusing but not gripping.

At the time of writing this movie is #34 in to the top 250 movies on IMDb but don't let that fool you... it will slip down the chart as more people see it. Not because it's bad, because, at the end of the day, it's a slight movie with not a great deal to say that has not already been said.

But if you go the movies to be entertained, you will not be disappointed.
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Not revolutionary but interesting adult drama
1 February 2009
I'm a fan of Sam Mendes' direction and his style in clear in this movie, which is one of the film's strong point. There are other strengths: the acting is good by just about everyone involved but especially Kate Winslet (who does a much better American accent than the usual grating attempt); the topic is interesting (marriage problems); and the treatment is mature. And there are some genuinely deep moments in the movie that any married couple will relate to. Mendes does suburban angst better than anyone in cinema but his theatrical roots show at times with the staged scenes and clunky dialogue.

DiCaprio just can't carry off heavy roles - he looks like a wee boy in a grown-up's suit. The film is based on a Sixties' book and inherits some of the sexism from that era (but not intentionally or ironically). And, at the end of it, it doesn't say a great deal... except that marriage is not the idealised perfection that romantic novels lead you to believe.

But for the acting, interesting topic, cinematography, music and atmosphere, it's well worth catching and markedly better than most movies. Watching this movie is time and money well spent.
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There will be boredom
24 February 2008
If fantastic acting, cinematography and direction made a great movie then this is a great movie. In fact, this movie in perfect in every respect... except the storyline. The story really plods. It's 158 minutes of slow, and not very interesting, storytelling.

But, boy, the acting really is something. Daniel Day-Lewis is brilliant but so is the rest of the cast. DDL's performance is so good that it commands your attention and conceals the movie's great weakness. You're so mesmerised by him that it's easy to overlook the fact that the storyline is uninteresting. In fact, there isn't a storyline as such. It's just a chronological sequence of events showing how this "oil man" makes his fortune and uses people along the way. There's no depth (to the story), no great insights.

EDIT: Watched it on TV last night and liked it much more. This movie is maybe deeper than it first appears. I changed my vote to 9/10 from 7/10.
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Cloverfield (2008)
Very derivative
3 February 2008
This movie is a mix of several other films, including Blair Witch Project, Godzilla, and Alien. In fact, I found nothing original about it. In spite of it being short (90 minutes), because it's so formulaic, I found it a drag and I was looking at my watch after 45 minutes.

And it's a very old formula. Good-looking twenty-somethings run around a city being chased by something evil, make very bad decisions that imperil their safety, escape said peril through ludicrous good fortune... repeat for 60 minutes until end.

But the biggest disappointment is the complete lack of plot (beyond the trite: "I must save my girlfriend from this monster"). Seriously, there is no story here.

On the positive side, it is short. And I thought the monster was quite well done. And, I guess, 14 year-old boys will enjoy it.

Don't under-estimate the first advantage (the movie's brevity). You'll be very grateful. Believe me.
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Slow burner but high quality movie
30 September 2007
After seeing "Superbad" last weekend, I needed a grown-up antidote and this movie is certainly that. A slow moving, adult, serious movie with a message.

The movie has a number of themes including ageing, corruption, principles and truth. The movie's message is that there is more to life than making money.

The acting is uniformly good but Clooney is outstanding. His character is complex and he's pretty unhappy with what he has become. But it's all done very subtly. There are no obvious messages in this movie. As another reviewer wrote, you have to pay attention.

Don't read too much into my "slow moving/slow burner" descriptions. This movie is not boring. It just doesn't whiz along with one implausible twist after another. It's evenly paced with an almost complete lack of silly plot lines (there was no need for the lawyer in crisis to remove his clothes during a trial).

Everyone involved in this movie deserves praise for producing a challenging, grown-up, movie-with-a-message in the face of a torrent of mindless nonsense.

Highly recommended.
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Sunshine (2007)
Science fiction - minus the "science" and the "fiction"
6 April 2007
I had high hopes for this movie since it's been a long time since I last saw a good science fiction film. But I was disappointed.

I was prepared to suspend my knowledge of science (most sci-fi films are pretty far-fetched - and this one is no exception) but it wasn't the science that let-down this film, it was the fiction (storyline). Because there wasn't any. None. Apart from the basic (and promising) premise of the film (earth cooling and the need to heat up the Sun by delivering a bomb) there was nothing else in this film. No character development. No plot beyond a couple of fatuous stories thrown-in to enliven the monotony of endless space shots.

The mediocre science and non-existent storyline weren't the only problems. The acting varied from competent to amateurish, the direction was lacklustre, the movie was frequently over-powered by huge sound effects, and the pace varied from slow to very slow. The allusions to other great sci-fi movies (2001, Contact, Dark Star) just reminded me how poor this film is in comparison.

It's not a terrible movie. Some of the cinematography was good. So if you really want to see it, watch it at the movies since on a small screen it really would have little to offer.
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Above average, funny movie - with a dark side
8 October 2006
Both me and my daughter enjoyed this engaging movie. It's an adult comedy and although the humour is mostly gentle, there are some laugh out-loud moments - with a truly hilarious ending. There is a dark side to this movie - the junkie grandfather and... well, some of the other characters are not what they appear. And that's what makes this movie a little different. The grandfather has some great advice for the teenager in the family (speaking about drugs): "Stay away from that sh!t. Someone your age is mad to touch it. Someone my age is mad not to." The acting is uniformly excellent - with the little girl taking the prize. She's wonderful. And the music is good too. My only criticism is that it drags a little in the middle. But the start and (especially) the end, make up for this slight lull. Highly recommended.
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Nothing happens
8 January 2006
I'm not sure that there's much in this movie for the average straight guy. However, other demographics (including straight women) will enjoy it since it is, at heart, a simple love story. And "simple" is the operative word. The storyline is basic. Nothing happens. It plods along at a majestic pace with a brooding atmosphere - and nothing.

Some people have said that the gay aspect of this movie is incidental - that it a love story between two people. But this film would have sunk without trace had it been about a man and a woman.

The storyline is the problem. Great movies ("Shawshank Redemption", "American Beauty" and Ang Lee's own "The Ice Storm") have great stories to tell. This one doesn't. Unless the fact that there are gay cowboys comes as news to you.

But I don't want to be too critical of this movie. I enjoyed it. It's visually beautiful. The acting (especially by the two leads) is fantastic and the direction flawless. But if you put great ingredients into a pot and slow boil them for long enough then you'll end up with mush.
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Not as good as its IMDb rating
26 September 2005
I guess the high IMDb rating is more a reflection on the dearth of funny films than the actual comedy value of this movie.

The movie starts well but the sex jokes go on - and on - and on - and eventually the film runs out of steam. But it's an OK movie - maybe 5 or 6 out of 10 - and definitely one of the funnier films of the last five years.

Just don't expect a side-splitting 90 minutes. The humour is very adult so avoid this movie if you are easily offended. But if you're broad-minded and don't expect too much, you will enjoy this short, funny and entertaining film.
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Sideways (2004)
Good movie - but no classic
5 June 2005
I caught this movie on DVD last night. First, let me state that it's not as good as I'd hoped. But it's still a good movie.

The acting and character development are wonderful. Really wonderful. The two leads (Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) are fantastic. And all of the characters are complex which gives the movie a genuine depth. It's also one of those movies that you talk about when it's finished.

But the pace is s-l-o-w. And the comedy is subtle. Making for a gentle, entertaining, rather drawn-out (it's over two hours long) movie. The middle of the movie sags - which was when my wife fell asleep - which is a pity since the movie finishes strongly.

But don't let me put you off this film. If you're into complex, amusing, adult movies then you'll like this one. It's no "American Beauty" but it's a hell of a lot better than most movies.
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The Aviator (2004)
Interesting but limited
9 January 2005
I enjoyed this movie. And it didn't feel like a three hour film. It moves along quickly, helped by good acting by everyone involved. DiCaprio was particularly good as Howard Hughes. He even aged well.

My wife didn't like it as much as I did and I suspect that's because this is a dick-flick (a movie for men!). The movie is at its best when it describes the technical breakthroughs that Hughes pioneered. Even the numerous romances were handled in a fairly brisk. manly fashion.

This movie is not a Hughes biography. It covers a small part of his life (the flying bit) and, even then, only part of that (up until 1947). This gives the movie an incomplete feel and leaves you wondering what happened next.

But, all in all, it's a good film. Entertaining and well acted. Just don't expect to learn much about Mr Hughes.
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Excellent documentary
9 July 2004
Fahrenheit 9/11 is unmistakably a Michael Moore documentary being very similar in style to Bowling for Columbine. The first half of the movie covers Bush's election and the early period of his Presidency and the second half deals with Iraq. It finishes with a wonderful reading from Orwell's "1984". The movie delivers a strong anti-Bush and anti-war message.

This movie won't change your opinion if you're already anti-war or pro-war. And you won't learn anything new if you get your news off the Net rather than traditional media. But if you're unsure about the war and you use newspapers and TV for your news then this movie will blow you away. That's who Moore is trying to get at. And he will -- if they see this film.

This documentary is exceptionally well made. It's factual (if selective with its facts), fast paced, emotional, engaging and challenging - exactly what a documentary should be. The media's reaction to this movie and the exceptional number of very low ratings on IMDB (from people who - I presume - have not seen this film) sort of proves Moore's point about the one-sided, intolerant nature of modern America.

Highly recommended.
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Highwaymen (2004)
3 July 2004
I usually check IMDB before I go see a movie but I went to see this one on the strength of a good newspaper review. Big mistake. This movie starts badly and gets worse. There are so many plot-holes I don't know where to begin. It's just silly. And the acting! Calling it wooden is an insult to wood. It's so bad I spent the time trying to spot the movies it copied. They're all there - Christine, Terminator, Mad Max, Fast & Furious - it's like the director took the worst bits of each and then tried to combine them in the worst possible way.

Memo to myself: always check IMDB before spending money on a movie and never, never trust newspaper reviews.
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Excellent love story
3 May 2004
I don't normally like love stories but I enjoyed this film immensely. But it's about love - not romance. To get the most out of this film you will have to have loved - and lost love. In fact, at its heart, this film is a straight-forward love story - stripped of sentimentality and romance. It's certainly *not* a science-fiction film. The science is incidental. Jim Carey is excellent. He plays an unusual character - quiet, deep - and he does it very well. I was a little disappointed when he reverted to type in some later scenes. Don't be put off by some reviewers who (wrongly) think that this movie is about fate. It's absolutely not.

If you're in an long-term relationship thats had its ups-and-downs then go see this movie. It might remind you why you fell in love in the first place.

Very good. 8/10.
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There is no movie
6 November 2003
I was hoping that the third Matrix movie was more like the first one and less like the second. In the event, it's like neither. In fact, the Matrix "trilogy" is not a trilogy - it's really three disjointed films.

Make no mistake about Revolutions, it's a shameless exploitation of the original movie. Not one new idea or character has been introduced since the original film. The ideas in Revolutions (and Reloaded) are all plagiarised from The Matrix and the new characters are one dimensional and awful. There's no continuity in any of the films (characters and plot-lines come and go) and the interesting philosophical questions in the first film become ridiculous in the second and third movies.

The best I can say for Revolutions is that it's better than Reloaded. If I had never heard of The Matrix and wandered into the theatre off the street then there are bits in Revolutions that were entertaining (some of the action sequences).

But the fact is that Reloaded and Revolutions follow one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. And both fail miserably to maintain that standard. Save your time and money and watch the original movie on DVD. Even the 100th viewing beats Revolutions.

The Wachowski brothers should be ashamed of themselves. Revolutions dishonours The Matrix.
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Hulk (2003)
Lost opportunity
20 July 2003
I like Ang Lee. He's an intelligent director. So I was looking forward to "Hulk". But I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it's OK - and certainly better than most recent comic book adaptations (such as "Spiderman"). But he seems to have produced a film that is neither one thing or another.

"Hulk" is an odd mix of adult characterisation and childish action flick. I wish he had tried to produce a film for adults - and fully developed the "angry man" theme. But instead, he does a bit of characterisation, some action stuff and a little romance - which doesn't hit the spot on any count.

On the plus side, the comic-book effects are original and very effective. But this movie will be quickly forgotten.

A wasted opprtunity.
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Glitch in the Matrix
3 June 2003
You'll be forgiven for a feeling of deja vu when you watch this film. The opening sequence looks like a straight lift from the first movie - and the similarities don't end there. Other scenes (even some dialogue) appear to be lifted from the original film. It's a pity the brothers didn't try to copy the plot of the original movie - because this one doesn't have a plot. It's one chaotic action-scene-followed-by-wordy-dialogue after another. And eventually even the action scenes become boring. The film is too long for the flimsy storyline and there are too many characters to keep track of. My original enthusiasm turned into bewilderment -- which turned into sleep . Major disappointment. 4/10.
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