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Ghostbusters (2016)
Nailed it
12 July 2016
The anti-feminist one star reviews on here BEFORE THE FILM OPENED are just sad and pathetic. I'm 35 and love the original Ghostbusters movies and I loved this reboot too.

No it will never match up to the Ackroyd/Murray films but on its own terms its very, very funny, creepy in places, great new characters and it's FUN. You will not see a more fun movie this year.

The basic premise is that a sad loner who hates women (sound familiar?) tries to raise ghosts in New York to bring about the apocalypse. Struggling scientist Kristen Wiig gets fired from her prestigious job on the eve of a promotion and finds herself investigating a haunting with her old pal Melissa McCarthy. Tagging along for the ride is genius/nutjob engineer Kate McKinnon and wise- cracking subway worker Leslie Jones. Together they must foil said nerd's plan while trying to train hopeless man-bimbo receptionist Chris Hemsworth (who gets some of the biggest laughs in the movie).

The plot is ABC but the real joy comes from the interaction with the characters; some of the funniest stuff since Paul Feig's last movie Spy (and Bridesmaids). There are numerous - though sadly brief - cameos from the old cast and plenty of cool new gadgets. My only real qualm was the overly CGI climax but even that was entertaining as hell. Highly recommended. When that opening Ghostbusters beat kicks in it makes you feel 10 years old again :)
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Gone (VI) (2006)
Dull and pointless
11 April 2008
Utterly derivative psycho on the road movie. We've seen it all before and to make things worse pretty much nothing happens throughout. I looked at the clock after twenty minutes and was still waiting for some semblance of story to begin. I was still waiting after an hour. There's a difference between understated and not stated at all. Who is the creepy Taylor? What happened in Thailand?

Questions are left unanswered and the ending predictable. "Are you f****ing thick?" the main character asks his girlfriend when she fails to spot Taylor's intentions. Apparently so. She's obviously never seen Dead Calm, Single White Female, Pacific Heights and a million other movies with the same premise.

To be fair the acting is acceptable but otherwise what on earth is Working Title doing wasting their time with this?
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No Such Thing (2001)
10 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Tries to update the Beauty and the Beast fable but gets lost in student-level preachiness about how shallow the world is. Polley is always good company but she's let down by bland cinematography (people have a habit of walking into frame looking at something we can't see) and patchy script.

MINOR SPOILERS!!! Why exactly does Polley's character have to spend six months in hospital before the real story begins? Why does she kiss a man on the cheek after he helped drug her and send her off as a human sacrifice for the monster? Why does she suddenly turn into a slut back in the city? If the idea was to show the corruption of fame then it was rushed and didn't suit the character at all.


It tries too hard to say too many things and ends up saying nothing, drifting in and out of rambling passages about the trials of human existence. Not the worst film ever, but for god's sake write for an audience, not just yourself Mr Director.
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Double Dare (2004)
Whole Lotta Fun
4 November 2007
A documentary from 2004 charting the rise of stuntwoman Zoe Bell (Death Proof) and one of the first stuntwomen Jeannie Epper as she takes Zoe under her wing.

Zoe is a naturally enthusiastic person and Jeannie has years of working on the big Hollywood projects like Romancing The Stone, Wonder Woman and she was even given a role in Kill Bill Vol.2 as the preacher's wife. After Xena: Warrior Princess finishes, Zoe is out of work and travels to LA where Jeannie helps her eventually land Uma Thurman's stunt double role on Kill Bill. Interviews with Steven Spielberg and Tarantino himself blend wonderfully with the rest of the movie but it would have been nice to see more of the girls in their movies (prohibited by copyright in a lot of cases).

Great fun and one of those films you wish would just keep going all night. The DVD has some decent features for such a low budget affair, with over an hour of interview footage with Spielberg and others that is just as fascinating as anything in the main movie. There's also deleted footage such as Zoe working on Kill Bill scenes and a jovial commentary by Bell and Epper where they drink champagne and end up slurring their words.

Well worth a look if you like stunts, movies, Zoe or all three.
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The Avengers (1998)
Blame Warners
26 May 2007
I rewatched The Avengers today and it really is a missed opportunity. The reason it failed was not IMO the surreal wackiness, it was that Warners panicked and cut huge chunks out of the film rendering it not only surreal and weird, but missing links in the story that would have tied all the bizarre stuff together better.

If you look on Wikipaedia it details what was in the original script, such as the attack on the secret base by the evil Emma Peel that was seen in trailers. I also recommend reading the novelisation, which you can pick up for a couple of quid. It really is absurdly stupid how Warners had, judging by the book and screenplay, a great film and then they decided 'instead of a long movie people might like, we'll cut it down to a short movie that people will hate for sure'. They should have had the courage of their convictions, and if they had The Avengers might have been a huge success. One can only hope they pull their fingers out and release the director's cut.

On reflection there's a lot to like in The Avengers: Uma Thurman in leather: always a plus, Sean Connery hamming it up more than Porky Pig at a bacon factory, and henchmen dressed as multi-coloured teddy bears. Bonkers. Utter bonkers. I like it.
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Those Cheeky Mice And Their Excellent Film
18 April 2005
Overall a tremendous success. It's very funny, very kooky and visually gorgeous. I saw it with about 2000 media persons and we all loved it, which is a pretty hard thing to accomplish.

If you've never read the books (and I suggest you do, it moves at such a pace you might find yourself going 'eh?' a lot) then I don't know what you'd make of it. Think Monty Python in space, or a very British version of The Fifth Element.

As an adaptation I think it works extremely well though there were a few confusing moments even for me as the large philosophical questions were crammed into two hours worth of movie. The new stuff is cleverly done and works a treat IMO.

The cast: never been a fan of the office but Martin Freeman is perfect as Arthur Dent, Sam Rockwell hilariously OTT and Mos Def a surprising choice but one that really works. Trillian isn't that important in the novel and the movie bumps up her role to a love triangle situation between her Arthur and Zaphod. Again, Deschanel is an odd choice (another yank) but she is utterly spellbinding (oh the shower scene...hubba hubba).

The FX are great, both CGI and the Jim Henson creatures (the Vogons, brilliantly voiced by The League of Gentleman). The opening title song is worth the price of admission alone (think Eric Idle at his peak).

So I loved it, though the ending is also a bit of an anti-climax, but only perhaps because I was expecting something bigger. Still, it's p***-funny and that's the main thing.

Best moment: Ford attacks the Vogons with a towel and foils them by closing a tiny garden gate ("Oh no! We'll have to go around!").
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The Vanishing (1993)
Patchy but captivating chiller
2 August 2004
A young couple on vacation (Sandra Bullock and Keifer Sutherland) stop at a gas station where weirdo Jeff Bridges awaits. Bullock disappears and Sutherland spends the next few years trying to find her.

Basically what we have here is your basic psycho thriller enlivened by Bridges performance as Barney - a part pathetic part pure evil character that borders on the comic, making him all too real and chilling (he even laughs at himself when he botches a kidnapping).

Like The Sixth Sense, the pay-off is what it's all about and when you find out what happened to Bullocks' sweet and naive girl-next-door chances are you won't forget it in a hurry.

Sometimes silly (the joke at the end is plain stupid), The Vanishing has a nasty bluntness about human evil to it that you don't usually find in this genre. And Bridges is excellent.
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The Shadow (1994)
Underrated comic-book adventure
10 May 2004
It's odd that this wasn't a major hit at the box-office as it's every bit as enjoyable as Batman or Daredevil. Malcahy can make great movies when he wants to (Highlander anyone) and here he does.

Baldwin has the muggin and panache for the title character and the production design is impressive. Whatever happened to the lovely Penelope Ann Miller, who was so good in De Palma's Carlito's Way?

The ending is great (ker-smash!) and it's just a crime that more people haven't seen this. It's no masterpiece, but it is a great period adventure movie.
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Van Helsing (2004)
So bad it's good
7 May 2004
Pretty much what we were expecting from Sommers: cardboard characters, bad dialogue, bad script, great CGI action sequences.

The first half of the film is great, especially the black and white Frankenstein scene, Dracula's eccentric speeches as he walks the castle, and Mr Hyde: the film's best CGI character.

Jackman and Beckinsale look great but are given little to do but run and fight so their characters aren't as interesting and you don't care for them as much as you should. And this is the film's biggest mistake. If Sommers had cut an action scene or two and replaced them with smaller more intimate moments, this could have been something special. As it is, it's just enjoyable trash with nice expensive CGI and great production values.

I liked the ending but as I said, since the characters aren't rounded, we don't feel the strong emotions we should. Van Helsing is so bad it's good.

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Dead End (I) (2003)
Sporadically entertaining
7 May 2004
What would you get if you took two debut French directors, a horror script with lashings of surreal comedy and David Lynch asthetics? Why, you'd get Dead End of course!

Dead End is funny in parts, weird in others, and plain silly in most. The directors try to be scary, yet funny. Amusing, yet creepy, so what we're left with is a rather uneven affair that would have worked better as a short (it struggles to fill its anorexic 82 minute running time as it is). But the banter between the family and the clever camera angles that conceal what is basically the same piece of road recycled over and over certainly keep your interest. If you're smart you'll see the ending a mile off, but as far as offbeat road movies go, this one's a killer.

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Timeline (2003)
Mind-numbingly stupid
28 April 2004
The joy of Michael Crichton is that he takes big adventures and mixes them with enough hard science to convince you the impossible can happen. So Spielberg got Jurassic Park. De Bont got Twister and Richard Donner got Timeline and for some bizarre reason dumbed it down so far that a five year old would feel patronized.

Information is repeated at least three times in case you didn't get it first time around ("Are you telling me...blah blah blah?" "Yes I'm telling you blah blah blah" "So it's like a machine for faxing human beings? Wow!") and as for Paul Walker being Billy Connelly's son... So many things are over simplified for no real reason - Chris is now the professor's son just so we y'know, care about him more, Gomez was a woman in the book but because she was military here we have her replaced by a man. The enormous ITC project has been rendered down to two blokes and a couple of mirrors where, if you make a squinty face and have a wind machine in your face it will apparently make you look like you are travelling through time. Jesus. David Thewlis as Doniger? Are you kidding? The book goes to such great lengths to educate but the screenwriter throws it all out the window. Knights practice with real swords in the book because they would never use mere wooden ones. So of course in the movie they're clacking away with wooden swords. And it just goes on and on.

The cast overact as if they've never acted in their lives (Butler's moronic gawping is particularly annoying), everything is rushed and the twist of having another ITC employee already in the past in disguise is completely botched by him just telling them.

I'm not one of these people who are never happy with the movie adaptation - this is simply a bad movie, period. Maybe if Donner had more faith in his audience and had turned in a realistic character adventure instead of an action movie for five-year-olds, things might have been different. Hard to believe this mess came from the guy who made Superman.

Things do improve in the second half, with a huge battle, but this is mostly because the actors don't have to speak their awful dialogue as much. And any film where Anna Friel is the best performer has got to raise questions.

Utterly stupid and a waste of a good story. Read the book.
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Surprisingly entertaining
16 April 2004
Okay, so they're not the smartest couple on the planet ("Is it Platama-puss or Platypus?" Jessica asks at one point) but it was highly entertaining to watch them bicker and whine over the stupidest things (Jessica must horrify all the feminists out there, but it's nice to know there are still some girlie-girls out there).

Nick whatsisface is unheard of in the UK, but he came off as being the typical boy band type - Make of that what you will.

I'd watch a second series just to hear more of Jessica's pearls of wisdom ("My ears are itching" "You mean your ears are burning, Jess.") and there's a certain fascination value to seeing celebs burp and trip over, even though in principle I hate shows like Big Brother and the rash of humiliation shows like Distraction that have ruined UK TV. If I want to see people tortured I'll go to Iraq thankyouverymuch.
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Hugely underrated mockumentary
14 April 2004
People have commented on the similarities with Spinal Tap. Well I thought Spinal Tap was hugely overrated (it's funny but hardly a classic) whereas Drop Dead Gorgeous takes the mockumentary and injects it with genuine wit and comedy.

Why it didn't do better at the box office is probably due to its satirizing of American patriotism (shock horror!) and restrained humour. The yanks probably thought it was an in-depth documentary about beauty pageants and stayed away.

The best comedy of 1999, Drop Dead Gorgeous gets funnier with each viewing.
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Lacks the drama of the first film, but is still gory fun
9 April 2004
Kudos to the makers for trying to make a sequel (or sequels as it happens) that actually develops the main character from the first film. Sadly character quickly takes a back seat to a heavy plot that leaves little time for the relationships that made the first movie different from all the other B-movie horrors.

The director (who was editor on the first movie) can't create scenes that take the time to tell the story. He just chops and moves on in a workmanlike fashion that leaves you uninvolved to Brigitte's plight. Plot points are left unclear (who exactly is following Brigitte? We must assume it's the idiot boy from the first movie) and at times the film looks very amateurish and cheap.

But overall, as far as sequels go, this isn't that bad. It has its moments and the ending is suitably dark. Let's hope Ginger Snaps 3 reignites the magic with both Brigitte and Ginger returning (Ginger has a rather pointless cameo in 2 as a ghost).
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Firefly (2002–2003)
One of the best shows you've never seen
4 April 2004
Firefly had an odd gestation. In 2002 Fox came to Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon with the chance to make a brand new show, yet when he delivered a smart, off-the-wall western set in space, they didn't know what to make of it. The two hour pilot episode, which set the scene by introducing the nine main characters, was dropped at the last minute and replaced by a hastily re-written third episode. Other episodes where shown out of sequence and despite the pilot finally being broadcast (last), a further three episodes never even made it on air. This sort of trouble suggested the show wasn't going to work, so audiences were left baffled when A) they discovered it was the best thing Joss Whedon had ever made and B) the network dropped it two thirds of the way through the first season.

Each of the characters are wonderfully written by Joss Whedon and brought to life by the largely unknown cast (Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres have had guest spots on Buffy and Angel respectively), pulling you into the story more than the special effects, which are also surprisingly good. The chase sequence in the the pilot episode is a stand-out, and it's no wonder it won an Emmy for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Series last year. Another interesting decision was to make the exterior space shots silent. So instead of the usual Star Trek whoosh! as the engines fire, here we have the realism of absolute silence (you need air to hear soundwaves, and space is a vacuum). Another TV first.

Firefly may go down in history in the same category as Fawlty Towers or The Prisoner - legendary shows that only lasted for a single series. The DVD boxset contains all fourteen episodes (in their proper order) but seeing as a full season usually runs to twenty-two episodes, the story is left unfinished. So take heart that Whedon is taking the show to the big screen, with the film hopefully due out in 2005. Maybe after that we may even see the series resurrected on TV. You'll have to wait a while for your answers then, but they are on the way.
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The Majestic (2001)
Long story short: it's incredibly dull
27 March 2004
I'm a big fan of Carrey and Darabont but this film was just painfully dull, slow-paced and ultimately uninvolving.

Communism? Frank Capra homages? Who cares! This is 2004! There's just no story here. In screenwriting they teach you that if you're not hooked by a script after the first ten pages or so, you never will be, and that's what happens with The Majestic for me.

I'm sure Darabont was trying to make an old-fashioned movie in the vein of Capra that moved at its own pace, but he somehow forgot about the story (something he ironically keeps saying is dead in Hollywood). He's a great director, but he should have thrown this script in the bin. Maybe it's time to adapt another Stephen King story, which has served him so well in the past. Doh!
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Starts off well but loses coherence towards the silly ending
24 March 2004
Scott Rosenberg has written some great stuff (adapting High Fidelity and Beautiful Girls) but you get the sense that Disturbing Behavior was something he wrote whilst bored in High School.

The story starts off well, if not subtle or original, by introducing the characters, but they fall by the wayside and get lost amongst the conspiracy theories that aren't even explained properly at the climax. The director puts unintentionally funny things where there should be chills, or intrusive rock music that completely jarrs with the mood of the film. Mark Snow's score is good (it reminded me of Moby) but a chunk of gold in a pile of crap is still mostly crap.

Holmes is her usual sassy self, put in tight clothes to keep at least the male audience watching when the plot deteriorates (hey, it worked on me). Stahl is amusing, but vanishes halfway through, leaving it to James Marsden to carry things. Marsden is a nice guy but he barely registers.

This isn't the worst teen-horror you'll ever see, but it could have been better and considering Robert Rodriguez's superior teen-horror 'The Faculty' came out the same year (with suspicious similarities), this merely comes off as its weaker cousin.
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Great performances but needed a stronger ending
19 March 2004
Lohman and particularly Pfeiffer give outstanding performances as an innocent daughter and hard-nosed mother who are split apart when they are both put in prison, one physically and one mentally - Pfeiffer goes to jail for murder and Lohman is stuck in foster care.

It's easy to forget how great Pfeiffer is at playing bad guys (Batman Returns anyone?) but here she reminds us what made her great.

Lohman is a star in the making, never resorting to OTT hysterics in what could have been a bad movie of the week about foster care. The film isn't perfect, but she keeps you glued to the screen throughout.

The only real flaw was a weak 'spiritual' ending, but otherwise I was not disappointed. The almost documentarian cinematography, the performances by the above and Renee Zellweger/Robin Wright, and Thomas Newman's score are subtle but affecting.

With this, Matchstick Men and Big Fish under her belt already, Lohman is definitely one to watch in future.
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Femme Fatale (2002)
A return to form for De Palma
29 February 2004
I don't see why this film didn't get much attention.

It's De Palma's best film since Mission Impossible, and a return to form after the awful Mission To Mars.

Sure, it's style over content, but we all know what a De Palma film will be like by now, and Femme Fatale goes hand in hand with Dressed To Kill, Blow Out and The Untouchables.

Definitely a film undeserving of its mediocre reputation, and for once, a film that demands repeat viewing rather than offering the viewer everything on a plate.

De Palma fans will not be disappointed.
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Amiable rom-com that never goes anywhere
20 February 2004
There's a nice build up for the first hour - two kids grow up and bump into each other several times before 'finding' each other - but then there seems to be twenty minutes of the end missing because one minute they don't know each other from Adam and then they're together.

Somebody should explain that the only reason people go to see this type of movie is to WATCH THE CHARACTERS GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER. This movie completely skips this part and ruins all that's gone before it.
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The very definition of 'underrated gem'
10 February 2004
This brilliantly original film somehow bypassed theatres due to the usual studio stupidity. An intelligent, offbeat road movie with fantasy elements is a hard thing to sell, so they don't bother and the film eventually limps its way onto DVD.

With a bit more money this could have been one of the best films ever. As it is, director Bob Gale makes the best of things and it's a reflection on how strong the story is that he can get away with it on a measly budget. There are great cameos from Michael J.Fox and Kurt Russell amongst others.

Like Donnie Darko, this is a weird little indie film you may never have heard of but buying the DVD will be one of the best choices you'll make.
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The Asphyx (1972)
A Hammer classic
18 January 2004
If you didn't stay up late and see this when you were thirteen, you haven't experienced a Hammer Horror at its best.

If I saw it today it might seem laughable, but I remember this being seriously creepy and the ending really stuck in my head. The Asphyx is genuinely creepy.

I urge you to seek this film out.
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Abandon (2002)
Almost a really great little film
9 January 2004
As others have said, you quite quickly suspect who's behind everything, and chances are you'd be correct, and that's a shame because this is an underrated little thriller none-the-less.

Katie Holmes plays a student whose boyfriend disappeared two years ago and suddenly comes back to torment her. Meanwhile the boys family are still investigating and send cop Benjamin Bratt to check things out. Except he falls for her too...

It's nicely shot, acted, I liked the songs/score and despite the arguably predictable reveal, the ending is left nicely ambiguous. I recommend you check this out.
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Dragonfly (2002)
Oh dear oh dear
9 January 2004
The director of Ace Ventura taking on a paranormal drama with Kevin Costner? What idiot financed this genius idea.

The script is absurdly simple, the supporting characters just about say 'hello' and then disappear, the dialogue is excruciating and as for the ending: talk about promising a bag of gold and delivering a rusty penny.

I'll be kind and say it's nicely shot and there are a couple of scares if you're easily jolted, and the underwater scene was kinda good, but this movie is really not worth your time. Shadyac wants to make The Sixth Sense, but ends up with an unintentionally funny episode of The X-Files.
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Peep Show (2003–2015)
Excellent British Comedy
12 December 2003
This is a little gem I found sadly relegated to late-night TV. It's an innovative comedy about two losers who are trying to be cool and get the girls, shot entirely with point-of-view angles (characters talk to the camera as a person or the camera IS the character, depending on who's speaking).

I cannot recommend this show highly enough. British comedy seemed to be on the wane, but this is one of the best written, funniest shows around.

Expect copycat shows using the same style of shooting POV any time soon.
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