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If you want to know why then watch The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.
If you like those then watch The Big Sleep.
If you like that then watch The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre.
If you like that then watch The African Queen.
If you don't like any of them then go see a shrink.
A Christmas Carol (2004)
Songs aren't too bad but it's an awful adaptation
Takes far too many liberties with the story, Scrooge's family history during the Ghost Of Christmas Past section doesn't fit in with the usual versions and it spoils it, without giving too much away the back story between him and his father is changed entirely and he doesn't go to boarding school....
It seems to miss or mess up pretty much every important scene in the story, why would anyone do that?
I'm not a big musicals fan though I must admit that the songs are generally quite good but the divergences from the standard A Christmas Carol storyline really grate; I turned it off part way through The Ghost Of Christmas Present - considering I paid for the DVD that's not a good sign.
Get the Alistair Sim classic, or the acclaimed George C. Scott version, or the surprisingly good Muppet Christmas Carol but avoid at all costs this mess of a film.
El orfanato (2007)
Good film, no Pan's Labyrinth or The Devil's Backbone though
It's a Spanish ghost story and whilst not a horror film in my opinion it certainly has creepy moments in it but there is also a lot of emotion, it's very sad. It lacks the imagination of either Pan's Labyrinth or The Devil's Backbone, Guillermo Del Toro "presents" it according to the credits and his influence is certainly there. Did i hear it was the director's first feature film? Impressive if it is. For me the story suffers from being too predictable - if there were any twists they didn't seem as such to me. Due to the emotion in the story though i think it's a film which will stay in your mind a long time. It will be interesting to see how the English language remake turns out, Del Toro is on board so hopefully it won't be spoilt. Go see this version if you can find it on anywhere, one cinema in the whole of West Yorkshire is currently showing it.... (sigh).
Disappointing as nothing really happens
When i saw that this film had finally been finished after years (decades?) of rumours i was really looking forward to seeing it. I'd seen the BBCTV series when i was a kid, i'd read the books when i was a student, i'd bought the radio series CDs when i was in my mid-late 20s, now at 30 i was ready for a new interpretation of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
I liked the way the film started with the party where Arthur Dent met Trillian and Zaphod, a nice touch. I also liked the casting of the guy who played Tim in the office as Dent, seemed a good choice. Several other good comedy people in there - The League Of Gentlemen and notably Stephen Fry as the book being particular favourites of mine. There were a few interesting deviations from what we'd had before (either that or i'd forgotten them), i loved The Whales' "So long and thanks for all the fish" segment.
My main problem with the film was that nothing really happened, it's pretty clear that they are intending to do more films going by the fact that this film only has about 20% of the storyline in it. Sadly, i saw it on the second week of release at the late Saturday night showing at a popular multiplex in Leeds and there were barely 2 dozen people present which if representative suggests there won't be any sequels.
Anyway, one highlight is the actress who plays Trillian, she is truly gorgeous and is welcome relief after Sandra Dickinson's squeaky tones on the BBC series - she actually bears a passing resemblance to Mindy from Mork & Mindy to these eyes. As with LOTR and its overemphasis of the Arwen/Aragorn relationship it seems that this film plays heavily with the Trillian/Dent angle - not really a criticism but maybe that's what film screenplays need these days? Maybe they want more than just SF/comedy fans to watch....
I wouldn't say this is a bad film or even a bad adaptation but if the sequels don't happen then it will be about as much good as the animated Lord Of The Rings that stops part way through Two Towers. If that happens then the BBC TV series and Radio Series (and the books) will be the definitive Hitchhiker's and this will just be an interesting aside.
(Apologies for mentioning LOTR twice in this review, but i thought there were parallels to be drawn)
Charmed: Behind the Magic (2003)
Terrible, uninspiring documentary.
We find out that the actresses who play Phoebe and Piper are pretty good at fighting.
We also find out that the actor that plays Cole is leaving (he left ages ago now).
This has to be one of the cheesiest supposed documentaries about a series i've ever seen.
If you've never seen Charmed don't watch this as it will put you off.
If you have seen Charmed this won't tell you anything you don't already know, unless pointless trivia and gossip is your thing.
The Big Sleep (1946)
Get the region 1 DVD!!!!
The theatrical cut is a classic but the original pre-release cut on the flipside of the DVD is well worth watching. If you've ever wondered what on earth is going on in the plot this recently recovered version may help clarify things. As usual you don't get it on the region 2 (European) release so this is another region 1 (US/Canada) DVD worth importing if you live in the UK. I'm not reviewing the film itself as there are plenty of reviews of the film here, suffice to say it's great and well deserves its status as a true classic of the film noir genre.
Great, but not perfect (SPOILERS)
First things first. I loved Fellowship, especially the extended DVD version. I bought the BBC radio play on CD, to see what happened next and then i watched this. The first thing i was a little disappointed with was Gollum. His voice mainly, it was much better portrayed on the BBC play. What happened to all the lisping and stammering????
Since watching this i've started reading the books and i'm currently in the second half of Two Towers.
I've found that whereas Fellowship followed the crux of the book pretty well Two Towers has rather a lot of "artistic licence".
For a start all the stuff about Aragorn falling into the river and dying and being brought back by Arwen - totally made up!!!! I've got past the Hornburg/Helms Deep bit and this doesn't happen. It appears Peter Jackson decided he wanted to concentrate on the Aragorn/Arwen/Eowyn love triangle and this was merely a device to focus attention on it.
Also in the book some dispossessed Men are allied with Saroman and the Uruk-hai whereas in the film Saroman is committed to destroying all Men. I just think that the screenplay shouldn't have deviated this much from the book.
The film is brilliant visually as was Fellowship, but it is just not as good as i thought it would be - Fellowship worked better as a film, and i'm particularly disappointed as the Radio play of Two Towers was by far the better of the three parts.
Maybe the extended DVD will be more satisfying.....
The best 1984 by far
This production is breathtaking. The BBC did an amazing job of translating Orwell's bleak book onto the screen. It is very dark and the treatment of Smith at the end of the film is not glossed over, this is really daring given the time it was made.
This is a TV movie, the first film based on the novel, 2 years later a US movie version was made which also starred Donald Pleasance but the two films couldn't be more different. Pleasance plays Syme in this one, and does a great job - most memorably describing how beautiful destroying words is. In the 1956 movie he plays Parsons and is less suited to that role, the actor who plays Parsons in this film is Campbell Gray who i know nothing about but he does a fine job playing the role later played by Gregor Fisher of Rab C Nesbitt fame in the 80s version. Cushing plays Winston Smith and gives a typically great performance, physically he is ideal to play Smith and of course he was a fine actor.
This version stays truest to the novel and is actually better than the John Hurt/Richard Burton version from the eighties.
I can't think of one bad thing about this film, apart from the fact you can't buy it anywhere.
Interesting, just not very good!
First things first, i am amazed at how bad the casting was on this film! Ed O'Brien is not the slimmest and just isn't Winston Smith. Donald Pleasance was terrific as Symes in the 1954 BBC version, here he plays Parsons and he doesn't suit the role at all. Strangely the Inner Party member O'Brien has been renamed O'Connor in this production. More worryingly the Prole Sector is referred to as the People's Area or some such nonsense - why why why? And all the references to "The Bells Of St Clements" at Charrington's antique shop have been removed. The screenplay is not close enough to the book, the film lacks suspense and certainly it is inferior to the marvellous 1954 BBC production which was presumably done on a much lower budget. If you want to see how 1984 can be done see that (if you can) or the more common 1980s film with John Hurt and Richard Burton, this film is a dud!
Not great, am i missing something
First of all i've not read the book, it may be fantastic and worthy of its cult sci-fi status but this is the film...... I got the DVD for £4.99 in a sale so it was going very cheap. The setting could be Mad Max but somehow it doesn't feel as real. Plot-wise it could be the Matrix but it lacks the special effects,humour,action and pace. Oh and the soundtrack is by Toto. Very poor! Sting is in it and he really isn't too bad. He isn't too involved thankfully, but he is a bit distracting. Difficult not to think it's Sting rather than the character he is trying to portray. Patrick Stewart is in it too, he looks and sounds exactly like Jean-Luc Picard although there isn't a lot he can do about that i suppose! One of the problems with this film is that there are 4 planets and 4 sets of people on those planets and there isn't enough time developing their distinctive backgrounds to make you really that interested in any of them. It is 2 hours long and you really feel it. I dread to think what the extended TV edit is like to watch. I get the feeling that i would enjoy the film more the second time round but i won't be in any rush to see it again. Still it did only cost me a fiver, RRP was £19.99!
Looking back it was a brilliant film
I saw this film only once, about 11 or 12 years ago (i was about 15 years old) and thought it was intelligent and very moving. Either it was my youthful naivety or it was a really great film, difficult to say, but for me to remember a TV movie 11 or 12 years on it must have been a bit special. As far as i'm aware it has never been shown in the UK since and as a TV movie isn't for sale so i may never get to see it again. I remember the three main characters and that it had a very moving ending which is still in the back of my mind today, if a little fuzzy after all these years! Perhaps if i saw it again it wouldn't seem as good as i remember it to be,but i thought it was brilliant back then.
Edit: well it's 2008 and i tracked down a VHS copy of this a year or two back and i have to say after watching it again that yes, as a 30-plus year old the movie doesn't look quite as impressive as it did back then but it's still a very good film, a great story, and the relationship between the three friends is still very moving. It's such a shame that this film isn't better known or easier to get a copy of, it seems a lot of people on here would like it.