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The Expendables (2010)
More Cobra Than Die Hard
I think it's fair to say that Sylvester Stallone is living in the past. Back in the day when men were men and guns were bazookas, Sly was running around a jungle, building intricate booby traps with a bunch of sticks and blasting away psychotic gunmen in grocery stores. He was an all-out action star, one who epitomised the popular gritty, muscle-bound flicks of the '80s, and he's never really left this mind-set.
His last film, 2008's Rambo, was a return to his beloved roots, playing the famous Vietnam veteran once again, appeasing most of his testosterone-hungry fans. I wasn't one of them. It was bloody, it was brutal and it was actually a bit boring, or at least it was for me. However, it seems that the 64 year old liked the familiar taste of the now-outdated genre and has decided to attempt a loving comeback for it, bringing together the very best action heroes working today for its primary cast, including Jason Statham and Jet Li. Steven Seagal can suck it.
The Expendables stars Stallone as Barney Ross, the head of a group of professional mercenaries, consisting of Lee Christmas (Statham), Ying Yang (Li), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Toll Road (Randy Couture). How they came up with these names, I don't know.
They're on a mission to take down the evil dictator of the fictional South American country Vilena, General Garza (David Zayas), who unflinchingly kills people and has a big mansion and is just a fat, foreign bastard with a Craig David beard. Turns out he is not their only target, as crooked ex-CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts) is the well- dressed controller of puppet Garza's strings.
As expected, this is all leading up to an eardrum-bursting, vein-popping 20 minute long finale filled with gigantic explosions, erratic gunfire and beefy men angrily shouting at one another. There's even a moment where Couture watches a man roast in flames and runs up to punch the poor burning guy in the face. I mean, holy hell.
It all sounds epic and, occasionally, it is. But to be brutally honest, there's not much separating this from the sleazy, straight-to-DVD fair you might see in a bargain bin at Blockbuster. I don't intend any disrespect to Stallone, he clearly has a lot of admiration for the genre and he has fully displayed it here, but the end result is less than satisfying.
First off, a lot of the editing in the action scenes is all over the place with about ten cuts in just over a second. It's like Transporter 3, where the action sequences - the most important aspect of the action genre - are murdered by frustratingly frequent edits, rendering them near incoherence.
They're also filmed in the style of shaky cam, a condition where the cameraman seems to be suffering from Parkinson's disease. Made famous by Paul Greengrass with his popular Bourne flicks, it's headache-inducing and I certainly don't remember this being an aspect of '80s action movies. So I have to wonder why Stallone decided to film The Expendables in this spastic way.
Likewise, his script, written alongside David Calllaham, is rather patchy, containing some weak writing with irritating clichés. These clichés may be deliberate, but that doesn't stop them from inspiring an eye roll. Saying that, there is the occasional one-liner worthy of a giggle. After blasting some bullet holes into a recently interrogated traitor, Roberts proclaims, "Now we can see inside of him...and I see lies." There's also a part where Lundgren stomps on a dude's face and simply says, "Insect." Genius.
One of the most prominent features of The Expendables is, of course, the glorious cast, crammed with muscular action stars. Most of the film's focus is on Stallone and Statham, who both work fine on their own, but are lacking in chemistry when on-screen together. Stallone may not have much in terms of a personality other than "he's the leader", but he's acceptable. Statham has his usual, natural charisma at hand and he uses it to the fullest, yet the two don't quite mesh together.
Lundgren is marvelous, with his character turning to the dark side not long into the film, making for a memorable baddie role. The main villain, Eric Roberts, isn't a terrific one - all he does is wear tuxedos, smirk and act like a total ass - but he does what he can with the role.
Aside from Jet Li (who has a dandy hand-to-hand fight with Lundgren), everyone else feels underused, a common symptom of an ensemble cast such as this. Crews and Couture don't do anything until the finale, and even then, they don't do much. What could have solved this would be to remove the subplot of Statham's cheating girlfriend - which doesn't go anywhere at all and is simply a useless time filler - and insert more scenes to develop these characters.
Mickey Rourke is a fabulous actor, undoubtedly the most respectable name in the cast list and his talents shine bright in the three scenes he's in, the second of which contains a heartfelt monologue about heartbreak on a past mission. It's a shame he's not used more, because his performance momentarily lifts the film sky high above the punch-punch, bang-bang of the rest of the movie.
I can't help but feel that The Expendables' vast potential has been squandered. Stallone had the opportunity to do something spectacular, but what we've ended up with is a bit of a convoluted mess. There are too many characters, leading to many being undeveloped and the '80s action vibe isn't enough to hold it together. Some fans may find gratification here, but I didn't. For me, it was more Cobra than Die Hard. And Cobra sucked.
The Omen (2006)
Doesn't match up to the original
It was 1976. The Omen was released in cinemas worldwide and was to become one of the greatest horror movies ever made. Then, 30 years later, some idiot came up with the idea of remaking it for a modern audience. "Oh God", most people thought., and they were right. Leiv Schreiber stars as Robert Thorn, whose wife, Catherine, (Julia Stiles) loses her child whilst giving birth. Robert is approached by a priest, who suggests that he adopt an orphan (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) and not tell his wife of the dead child. However, 5 years later Robert regrets this decision when he begins to suspect that the boy, Damien, is the son of the Devil.
I'm going to admit that I do respect the makers of this film due to the amount of guts they must have had in order to do this. But, this doesn't mean it wasn't a stupid decision. The original Omen was such a great film that it was almost impossible for the remake to match it, and I know how they thought they could do this: taking every scene from the original and just changing it slightly. However, this technique doesn't work, and makes it very unoriginal and incredibly predictable by those who have seen the 1976 version.
The film isn't really very scary either. The only way it manages to scare its audience is by making a sudden change in decibel level. Ooooh, scary! The original had a spooky atmosphere which is what made it a great movie, but the remake fails terribly to do this.
However, I did actually like Leiv Schreiber in his performance, although I still prefer Gregory Peck from the original. Schreiber is a genuinely good actor and he did a great job in lifting this movie up and getting it a couple more marks. Julia Stiles is also on excellent form as Schreiber's wife, as is David Thewlis as the photographer. Also, Seamus Davey Fitzpatrick is pretty damn good at, well, looking creepy as hell.
What I think the writer should have done is do a re-imagining rather than a frame-by-frame remake. This worked perfectly for Rob Zombie's remake of John Carpenter's Halloween and it probably would have benefited The Omen. This would have made it a lot more original and given the writer a lot more creative freedom rather than just copying the 1976 version.
Even as a stand-alone movie, The Omen is still pretty average. Then again, if it wasn't for the original, it would probably be slightly better, but only slightly.
It most definitely isn't as good as the 1976 version, but The Omen does boast good performances from Leiv Schreiber and Julia Stiles. I give it 6/10.
Ghost Town (2008)
Gervaise Makes A Great Leading Man!
The comedic excellence of Ricky Gervais and the immense creativeness of David Koepp have teamed up to create the brilliant supernatural comedy Ghost Town. Bertram Pincus (Gervais) is a dentist who very much lacks basic people skills. After unexpectedly dying for seven minutes during a routine operation, he now has the ability to see ghosts, one of which (Greg Kinnear) needs his help to stop his wife (Téa Leoni) marrying a bad guy.
7 years after starring in the fantastic TV show "The Office", Ricky Gervais is finally the leading man in a movie, and he's very impressive. He's great as an arrogant, snobbish, anti-social and superbly carries the film. Greg Kinnear is also on fine form as the deceased Frank Herlihy and the connection between him and Gervais is top-notch. Téa Leoni plays Kinnear's wife/widow and her performance is very satisfying. Now, I can't do this review without mentioning Kristen Wiig's terrifically hilarious performance as the surgeon, who gets many laughs.
As a comedy, Ghost Town works very well. Although it may not be a laugh-a-minute riot, it does have many rib-tickling moments such as the scene in which Gervais goes to Leoni's apartment and is shocked by the huge size of her dog. A lot of the humour comes from Gervais's sarcasm and his snobbish attitude, which is used effectively with the film's tone and is greatly written by Koepp. Another hysterical moment is when Gervais is being told about his seven-minute death by Wiig, which doesn't sound funny, but the way it's played out really had me laughing.
Despite it being a comedy, Ghost Town does have some truly emotional scenes. However, these scenes don't come along until the last quarter when Gervais's character has a change of heart. This does turn the film's tone slightly, but this perfectly works in showing it as not just a comedy. In fact, I've heard on IMDb that some people actually cried during these moments.
Ricky Gervais is the star and David Koepp is the writer/director, but how does it compare to their other projects? Well, Ghost Town doesn't really match the brilliance of Gervais's TV shows The Office and Extras or Koepp's Panic Room, Secret Window and War of the Worlds. However, it is superior to some of Koepp's movies such as Indy 4, Zathura, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Mission Impossible.
Overall, this is a hilarious movie and Gervais makes a great leading man. I give Ghost Town 9/10.
Iron Man (2008)
The perfect comic-book movie
Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero? In a film directed by the guy that did Elf? It shouldn't work, but in Iron Man, it works to make the perfect comic-book movie. Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) is a billionaire weapons designer who is abducted by terrorists who order him to make a missile for them. But instead of a missile, Stark builds a metal suit with advanced weapons technology, which he uses to escape. Later, he redesigns the suit and decides to fight crime with it.
Robert Downey Jr. is absolutely brilliant in the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man. His sarcastic personality makes for a great, not-your-typical superhero and is what I will always associate with Iron Man from now on. Unlike a lot of superhero films, Downey Jr. isn't overshadowed by the special effects and we're always aware of his presence in the suit. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Stark's personal assistant and possible love interest, Pepper Potts, and is impressive in the role. Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard also provide terrific support.
The special effects in Iron Man are simply jaw-dropping. Seeing Iron Man fly beside two jet fighters is a mesmerising experience. Also, the part where he first flies out of his mansion in his redesigned suit is beautifully shot to make it genuinely feel like you're flying with him. In the last half hour, the showdown between Iron Man and villain The Iron Monger is an extraordinary scene which shows off the movie's special effects.
The thing that I really love about the film is the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Without the large amount of humour, it probably would have flopped and not have been as successful. A lot of the humour comes from Downey Jr's character and his sarcastic personality, which brings the movie to perfection. Iron Man has many laugh-out-loud moments such as when Stark is testing out the flight of the suit, spins out of control and accidentally smacks himself into the ceiling.
Iron Man came out in the summer of 2008, alongside The Dark Knight and The Incredible Hulk. TDK and TIH are both great movies, but they just don't compare to the perfection of Iron Man. Iron Man's action scenes are far superior to those of both TDK and TIH and the brilliant humour tops it off brilliantly.
Iron Man is what I would call the perfect comic-book movie and is my favourite film. I give it 10/10.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Not as good as Casino Royale, but still great.
After the immense critical praise and box-office success of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig is back as James Bond in Quantum of Solace. We follow the super spy about an hour after the events of Casino Royale, in which the love of Bond's life, Vesper Lynd, betrayed him and drowned herself. Bond and M (Judi Dench) interrogate baddie Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who tells them that there is an organisation of villains which has recruits everywhere, even in MI6. Bond is determined to take down the organisation's leader, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), whilst finding the man who blackmailed Vesper into betraying him.
Daniel Craig is again excellent in the role of 007, just as he was in Casino Royale. In my view, he's the best actor to have played James Bond, with Sean Connery in at a close second. He amazingly captures the gritty and more realistic feel of the two Bond films he has starred in. Olga Kurylenko is this movie's Bond girl, and she's great at portraying the tough, kick-ass woman we're not used to seeing in the Bond franchise. Dominic Greene is played by Mathieu Amalric, who is perfectly cast as the more-brains-than-brawn villain.
Staying very true to its predecessor, Quantum of Solace has many breathtaking action scenes which should get the blood pumping. Even the very first scene is a mesmerising car-chase that triumphantly sets the mood for the rest of the film. My personal favourite action scene is when Bond is chasing a man through the rooftops of Sienna.
In comparison to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace doesn't do as well as I was hoping. It just doesn't match up to the masterpiece that was Casino Royale, although it was very unlikely Quantum of Solace would be as perfect. However, it comes close and keeps the same feel and mood of Casino Royale.
As with any James Bond movie, the beginning titles in Quantum of Solace are very important. I was browsing through Youtube one day when I heard the song "Another Way To Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys, which is the new Bond theme tune. I had mixed signals about the song: some parts I liked, other parts I didn't, but I was somewhat satisfied with its use in the film. The beginning titles aren't as stunning as I was hoping, but they're good enough.
It may not be as good as the masterpiece Casino Royale, but Quantum of Solace is still a great addition to the Bond franchise. I give it 9/10.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Incredible Hulk: Truly Incredible
You certainly won't like Edward Norton when he's angry...or maybe you will and he'll entertain you for a couple of hours. He stars as scientist Bruce Banner, who takes part in an experiment that ends up turning him into a giant monster whenever he suffers stress. As he desperately searches for a cure, he is hunted by General Ross (William Hurt) who wants to extract the condition from Banner and make an army of super-soldiers.
Due to Ang Lee's very disappointing 2003 version of Hulk, the green giant was given a reboot in the form of Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk. This is far superior to Lee's movie, which was overlong and took itself too seriously. Unlike Lee's one, The Incredible Hulk doesn't dwell on the origin story for too long, which leaves more time for some kick-ass action scenes. The reboot was a great idea and I'd like to thank whoever came up with it for giving me back my faith in the Hulk.
The special effects in The Incredible Hulk are amazingly constructed and really stunned me. Although maybe not 100% perfect, they're good enough to flabbergast the average viewer. Their use in the astonishing battle between The Hulk and The Abomination is quite simply fantastic.
The Incredible Hulk contains some references to past versions of it. For example, Bill Bixby, who played Dr. David Bruce Banner in the 1980's TV series, makes a posthumous appearance on a TV screen. Also, the famous purple trousers are used for a joke. And, of course, the legend that is the creator of The Hulk, Stan Lee, has a small cameo.
Edward Norton does a far better job than Eric Bana did in the 2003 Hulk. Norton embodies the role perfectly and is very memorable, whereas Bana didn't really fit in with the character. Also on fine form are William Hurt as General Ross and Liv Tyler as Banner's love interest, Betty Ross. Tim Roth is brilliant in the part of villain Emil Blonsky, who soon becomes the monstrous Abomination.
The Incredible Hulk has many visually stunning, adrenaline-pumping battle scenes which really make the movie great. Obviously, the best is the action-packed finale between the two monsters of the film. However, the action scenes don't distract from the relationship between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross, which works a lot better than that of the 2003 version.
With fantastic special effects and great action scenes, The Incredible Hulk truly is incredible. I give it 9/10.
Disaster Movie (2008)
Disaster Movie: Lives up to the title
One word: Disaster. Matt Lanter stars as Will, who has a dream in which sabertooth Amy Winehouse tells a caveman (who just finished playing Gladiators) that the world will end in 2008, then burps in his face a couple dozen times....uh...anyway, the dream comes true, so Will, some teenagers and a few movie characters have to fight for survival against the apocalypse.
Why the hell are these spoof movies still being made? They were good up until the extraordinarily unfunny Date Movie came out and they've been dreadful ever since. The first two Scary Movies were great and hilarious but recent spoofs such as Meet The Spartans and Superhero Movie are quite simply awful. And now here's Disaster Movie from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the writers/directors of Meet The Spartans. They obviously realise that their films aren't exactly critically acclaimed but they seem to have some strange thought that we, the public, enjoy their films. I wonder if they'd still think that if they saw that on IMDb, 85.3% of 12,687 voters rated this film 1/10. Hm....maybe we hate their films and don't want them to be made!
Despite my little rant there, I'm going to admit that I did laugh a few times throughout Disaster Movie. Most of the jokes are terrible and made me want to stop watching but some are genuinely funny. In the scene where the chipmunks from Alvin And The Chipmunks appear, I cringed and thought the film couldn't get worse but when they started head banging and singing a rock song I couldn't help but laugh.
Some scenes in Disaster Movie do tend to drone on. For example, the High School Musical spoof sequence during the party is unnecessarily long and tedious. Also, the part where Hannah Montana is stuck under an asteroid is funny at first but the joke wares on and on to the point where I was thinking "GET ON WITH THE FILM!"
One thing that I noticed about the film is that the writers seem to be desperate to cram in as much movie spoofs as possible in the hope that they can gain a laugh. However, the amount spoofed is strangely annoying and frustrating. And the very loose plot pretty much disappears and is pushed aside for more film references.
It may be funny at some points but Disaster Movie lives up to its title. I give it 2/10.
30 Days of Night (2007)
30 Days Of Night: Genuinely Creepy
Vampires, gore and Josh Hartnett. What more could you want? Well, that's what you get in 30 Days of Night. Hartnett stars as Eben, a sheriff living in the town of Barrow, which is annually plunged into complete darkness for 30 days. This is the perfect place for a gang of vampires led by Marlow (Danny Huston) to feed on its inhabitants for the month. Eben and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) are forced to fight for their lives along with a group of survivors until sunlight appears again.
Modern horror movies are usually just looking to make you jump but 30 Days of Night is genuinely creepy and scary. It manages to tap into the audience's element of fear and also makes them think of what they would do if in the character's situation, which is most common with zombie films. The scariness of the movie is because of the terrifying, not-your-typical vampires. These aren't the charming, handsome vampires we've seen a thousand times before but are merciless creatures that would tear you apart in a matter of seconds, strangely making them more believable.
30 Days of Night is most definitely not for the weak-of-stomach. Once the vampires appear and start to feed, the gore kicks off with a big bang. The over-the-top amount of blood is necessary but it's shocking at some points, even for a vampire film. The most shockingly violent scene has got to be when a girl vampire gets axed in the neck twice.
All of the cast give excellent performances, especially Hartnett and Huston. I really didn't think that Huston would be able to pull off a menacing vampire leader but after seeing him play the character I realise that he was perfectly cast. I do have one problem with Josh Hartnett and that is he doesn't really convince as a sheriff due to his young age.
Brian Reitzell's music is the perfect score for 30 Days of Night. Consisting of mainly hollow noises, it sounds extraordinarily creepy. Also, the melody in the last scene is great.
My favourite part of the film is the breath-taking aerial shot of the chaos brought by the vampires. Amazingly choreographed, it shows people running, shooting and being killed by the merciless monsters. It's really effective in that it makes you realise how fast they can take over the town.
There's one scene near the end that I felt was very disappointing. I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't seen the movie, but it's the Danny Huston battle sequence. It was pretty pathetic after the rest of the film and I think it could have been a lot better.
Despite that scene, 30 Days of Night is bloody brilliant. I give it 9/10.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Not as good as the first
Sequels. So common nowadays and most of them just don't add up to their predecessors, and Helloby II: The Golden Army is no exception. Ron Perlman returns as the big, red monster hunter who was brought to Earth as a baby demon through a portal opened by Nazis. This time, he battles Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), an elf who wants to unlock the unstoppable Golden Army, which he will use to take the world back from the humans. Also, ectoplasm Johann Krauss (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) is joining the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence.
Ron Perlman again gives a great performance as the hero of the movie. Ex-singer Luke Goss is very impressive as the villain Prince Nuada and I hope to see more acting roles from him in future. David Hyde Pierce sadly doesn't return to provide the voice of Abe Sapien and I have to say I missed him. His voice was perfect for the character and with Doug Jones now doing it, it doesn't feel the same.
Just like any sequel, Hellboy II will be compared to its predecessor. Although the sequel is bigger and more creative than the first movie, I was surprised to find that I preferred the first. After seeing its trailer, I thought I would love Hellboy II and that it would be amongst my favourite films, but I was left slightly disappointed.
In the first movie, the amount of humour was just right to keep it going, but in the sequel the humour completely overloads. Although hilarious at some points, there's so much humour that it feels like a comedy and it doesn't work. In the opening scene we see Hellboy as a youngster being told the story of The Golden Army by Professor Broom (John Hurt) and it's unintentionally funny. The young Hellboy looks ridiculous and the only good thing about the scene, apart from the Golden Army sequence, is the short appearance from John Hurt. It's terrible as an opening scene.
I mentioned in my review of the first movie that I was disappointed by the villains who became uninteresting after a while. But, the sequel certainly doesn't let down in that department. Prince Nuada is a great villain and is played brilliantly by Luke Goss. Also, the strong troll Wink is spectacular along with the rest of the many creatures, all created by writer and director Gullermo del Toro. But, the medal for best creature goes to The Angel of Death.
The special effects in Hellboy II are quite simply spectacular. As you would assume, they're a step up from those of the first movie. They're at their most impressive during the fight between Hellboy and the elemental and also when he is battling The Golden Army. During the opening scene we see how The Golden Army came about and this is shown through animation. The animation is unexpected but it works very effectively.
It may not be as good as the first movie, but Hellboy II: The Golden Army is still very impressive. I give it 8/10.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: One of the best
Once every few years, a movie pops up that thousands or maybe even millions consider to be one of the best films ever made. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is definitely one of those few. Blondie (Clint Eastwood), Tuco (Eli Wallach) and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) are three men who are in search of gold coins that are buried in a cemetery. However, each man only knows a certain amount of information as to where the gold is and are therefore dependent on each other.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is an incredibly suspenseful movie and will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. The action scenes are top-notch and really kick in the tension. The famous showdown at the cemetery seriously had me guessing as to what the hell was going to happen to the point of being wide-eyed and I'm sure that it's the most suspenseful scene in cinema history.
Although Clint Eastwood gives an excellent performance as Blondie, it's Eli Wallach who shines as Tuco. The audience has a strange, ever-changing relationship with his character. At some points (mainly early on) we hate his guts and at other points we love him and can't get enough of him. He actually had me laughing quite a few times such as when he takes a desperate but brilliant measure to break free from his handcuffs. I won't ruin it for you, but it involves a train.
Even if you haven't seen the movie, you WILL recognise its theme tune. Ennio Morricone's music is one of the best things about The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and its theme tune is certainly among the greatest of all time.
The thing that amazed me about the film is that it keeps you entertained and interested throughout its three hour length. Films this long tend to get boring after a while and you eventually just lose interest, but TGTBATU will make you ask for more. Anyway, more to love.
I haven't seen the movie's predecessors A Fistful Of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More. I've heard good things about them, but I have to say that it would take A LOT for them to be better than this cinematic masterpiece.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of the best movies ever made and is also one of my favourite films. I give it 10/10.
Halloween: A great remake
Horror remakes are so common nowadays and the majority of them are terrible and don't match up to the movie they're remaking. But, Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween is actually pretty good. We follow 10-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch), a troubled boy who murders his father-in-law, his sister and his sister's boyfriend on Halloween night. He is sent to a mental institution where he escapes 17 years later and goes back home to Haddonfield, starting a killing spree.
About a year before this was released, I was on the internet when I heard about a rumour that slasher movie Halloween was going to be remade by Rob Zombie. Two things went through my mind: "Oh God. A remake of Halloween? This is gonna be horrible" and "Oh God. Rob Zombie's doing it? This is gonna be horrible." In fact, the only reason I watched it was because I was curious and I've got to admit I was surprised at how good it was.
Daeg Faerch gives an excellently chilling performance as the young Michael Myers and is a promising start to his acting career. Malcolm McDowell was perfectly cast as Myer's psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis and he also adds star quality to the film. Director Rob Zombie's wife Sheri Moon Zombie makes an appearance as Myer's mother (hmm.....I wonder why she got the role.) Seriously though, she does do a good job of it.
Any remake will be compared to the movie it's remaking and Zombie's Halloween doesn't let down. Although John Carpenter's original Halloween surpasses Zombie's remake, the remake still lives up to the original. It works as both a prequel and a remake of Carpenter's original due to it being done in two halves. The first half shows Michael Myer's first murders and effectively delves into the character's motivation for this and the second half shows his escape from the mental institution and his killing spree which pretty much made up the 1978 version. I was surprised to find that I preferred the first half and found it more interesting than the slightly too clichéd second half.
My only problem with Halloween is that it isn't really very scary. The thing that made the original version legendary was that it was genuinely creepy and its supernatural element helped with that. Zombie's Halloween has its moments but as a horror film it doesn't really work, although it's still one of the best remakes out there.
It might not be as good as the original but it's still a great movie. I give it 8/10.
Big Nothing (2006)
Big Nothing: Bloody great!
Blackmail, deception and death. These three things are what make up the comedy Big Nothing. After discovering that a local reverend has been downloading kiddie porn off the internet, Gus (Simon Pegg) decides to blackmail him for $100,000. His co-worker, Charlie (David Schwimmer) and ex-girlfriend, Josie (Alice Eve) are brought into the plan, which unsurprisingly goes horribly wrong.
Simon Pegg appears to have struck gold again.....well, maybe not gold, but silver. Although not as good as Pegg's other films such as Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead or Run Fatboy Run, Big Nothing is nevertheless both entertaining and funny.
The humour of Big Nothing is of a very dark nature and some may not understand or like it. I did like the humour and I laughed many times throughout the film, however I felt that there weren't enough good jokes for the first quarter. Most people make the choice to keep on watching or switch the movie off during the first quarter and that's possibly not good for Big Nothing. But the jokes get better and better as it goes on.
Big Nothing has a lot of very humorous gore throughout. It works well for the tone of the film and can be both funny and make you say "Eeww!" at the same time. I was surprised to find myself laughing at a scene in which a woman gets an axe through her head, sits down and says "Well, I'll be. I haven't heard Pink Floyd in years." Now, I'm not really squeamish (I actually sat through the entire autopsy scene in Saw IV without getting uncomfortable) but I actually cringed at the part where a character cracks his head open on a toilet.
There's one thing that annoyed me about Big Nothing and that is Simon Pegg's American accent. Although he nails it, it's very strange to see him without his trademark English accent that we're so used to. Also, I don't really understand why the makers of Big Nothing felt that his character needed to be American.
Nevertheless, Big Nothing is a great, laugh-out-loud crime caper. I give it 8/10.
Wall-E: Pixar does it again!
Every so often there comes along an animated film that is both brilliant and funny and also strikes the hearts of millions. One of those is Pixar's Wall-E. Wall-E is a lonely, clumsy robot who spends his day cleaning up the trash that the now-in-space humans left behind and watching a video tape of "Hello, Dolly." However, his loneliness ends when he meets a more advanced robot called EVE and falls in love with her. Her arrival on Earth leads to a series of events that involve both her and Wall-E being blasted into space to the spaceship humans are now living in.
The film takes a huge risk by having very little dialogue throughout, but it most certainly manages to pull it off. Wall-E and other robots communicate through beeps created by Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt. Each robot has its own personality like Wall-E is clumsy and provides most of the humour for the film while EVE is more serious.
There is a lot of humour in Wall-E and it genuinely had me laughing many times throughout. The (sadly HUGELY over-used on TV) clip of Wall-E searching through trash managed to get everyone in the audience laughing. Also, the scene in which Walle-E gets cleaned on the spaceship is absolutely hilarious. There are loads of comedies out there that can get a couple of laughs but are altogether not that funny, but Wall-E is amazingly funny and one of the funniest films I've seen.
I found myself getting emotionally involved with Wall-E right from the beginning of the film. It managed to make me feel sorry for Wall-E's loneliness and - I don't want to give it away - I was on the verge of tears near the end. Unlike many other movies, Wall-E doesn't fail to strike an emotional response from the audience.
Some people have said that Wall-E is the best film Pixar have produced. I can't really comment on this because I haven't seen Cars or Ratatouille, but from the ones I have seen it is for me. None of the other Pixar films got me so emotionally involved or made me laugh as much as Wall-E.
Wall-E is an animated masterpiece and incredibly funny. I give it 10/10.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Reloaded: Visually stunning, utterly confusing!
"What's going on?" "Man, that was cool." "Jesus, I need a dictionary." These three things went through my mind while I watched The Matrix Reloaded. Keanu Reeves returns as Neo, who goes to the city of Zion along with Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss.) As approaching sentinels get closer and closer to the city, an old enemy (Hugo Weaving) pops up again, determined to destroy Neo. As if that weren't enough, Neo has a dream about Trinity dying and he wonders if it will come true.
The premier problem with The Matrix Reloaded is that it's incredibly confusing. For the majority of the film I couldn't understand what was going on or who new characters were. For example, Lambert Wilson plays a French character called Merovingian and after four viewings of the film, I still don't know what purpose his character serves.
There is a scene near the end of the film in which you will definitely need a dictionary beside you. People who have seen the film will know that I am talking about the scene with The Architect, (Helmut Bakaitis) who has the widest vocabulary in the universe. I understand that it works for his all-knowing character, but what I don't understand is....well, what the bloody hell he's going on about. An example of a sentence he says is "you are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision." What?
The saviour of The Matrix Reloaded are it's jaw-droppingly brilliant action sequences. Amazingly choreographed and with top-notch special effects, they are what The Matrix trilogy is famous for. I have to say that The Matrix Reloaded definitely has the best action sequences out of the three films and two of my favourite movie scenes are actually from this. My personal favourite scene is when Neo battles an army of Agent Smiths for about eight minutes. Rob Dougan's music during these action sequences also add to the suspense.
Like any sequel, The Matrix Reloaded will always be compared to its predecessor, which is not good for TMR. The first film was more intelligent and intriguing, but the action sequences in the sequel were slightly better.
With a confusing plot, The Matrix Reloaded disappoints, but the action sequences are top-notch. I give it 6/10.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight: Masterpiece
Some comic-book film adaptations are brilliantly action-packed and exciting and some are.....well......crap. The Dark Knight most definitely falls into the first of those two. Christian Bale returns as caped crusader Batman, still saving Gotham City from it's villains. But he's soon to meet his match in the form of the insane clown-faced Joker (the late Heath Ledger) who is determined to kill Batman and cause complete chaos in Gotham.
The Dark Knight is set to be one of the best comic-book adaptations ever made, maybe even THE best. From the well-shot opening bank robbery scene I knew that this movie was going to be excellent and I was right.
Christian Bale, Gary Oldman's and the rest of the cast's performances, although great, are completely and utterly overshadowed by the flawlessly top-notch performance from the late Heath Ledger as The Joker. Ledger gives such a brilliant performance that when he went off-screen, I couldn't wait to see him on-screen again. He is without a doubt now my favourite cinema villain due to Ledger's Oscar worthy performance. I found myself laughing at his character's humour several times throughout the film.
The film is action-packed and I have to say that the action scenes are exciting and exhilarating. They keep you on the edge of your seat and each action sequence seems to be better than the last one. The scene involving Batman on his Batpod (the bike!) and the Joker in the truck is absolutely outstanding.
The only problem I have with The Dark Knight is that I felt it's 2 hours 30 minutes length is a tad too long. Don't get me wrong, it was highly entertaining, but I think it should have been slightly shorter and some people (not me) don't appreciate sitting in a cinema for two and a half hours.
The Dark Knight is an action-packed masterpiece. I give it 10/10.
The Cottage (2008)
The Cottage: Disappointing
When it comes to making comedies, the Brits are one of the best, but there are some exceptions to this and one of those is The Cottage. Reece Shearsmith and Andy Serkis star as Peter and David, two brothers who decide to kidnap a crime lord's daughter, Tracey (Jeniffer Ellison) in the hope of gaining £100,000. But the plan goes all wrong when they come across a psychopathic farmer who tries to hunt them down one by one.
When I first heard about The Cottage I was excited and had high hopes for it. I thought it would be the next Shaun of the Dead, but I was sadly disappointed. There are very few good jokes that make you laugh-out-loud and the humour is very dark.
Shearsmith and Serkis give convincing performances as two bickering brothers but it's Ellison's foul-mouthed character that grabs all the attention. She certainly has a colourful vocabulary.
The psychotic farmer certainly comes in with a bang, but I have one problem with his character and you may be surprised at it. He isn't scary enough. Sure, if you were being chased by him in real life you'd crap your pants, but in a film he just isn't creepy enough.
The Cottage is very gory and the excessive blood adds to the dark, dark humour. Squeamish people should definitely not give this a viewing.
One good point of the film is that it makes good use of a film technique I like to call a genre-turn. This is when a film starts off as one particular genre and half-way through it suddenly turns into a completely different genre. An example of this is in From Dusk Till Dawn which starts off as a kidnapping thriller and without any warning turns into a vampire film 45 minutes in. The Cottage's use of this is good because it changes genre very unexpectedly.
The Cottage has very few good jokes and just doesn't really work. I give it 6/10.
Sweeney Todd: Great performances, great songs, everything's great!
Bloody. Gothic. Brilliant. These three words describe my favourite film, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. Johnny Depp plays the barber of the title who swears bloody revenge on a judge (Alan Rickman) who wrongly imprisoned him for 14 years, taking his wife (Laura Michelle Kelly) and daughter (Jayne Wisener) from him. As the bodies pile up, Todd's neighbour Mrs. Lovette (Helena Bonham Carter) comes up with the grisly idea of putting the bodies to good use and making them into meat pies to sell in her shop.
Depp and Carter give great and memorable performances along with the rest of the cast, but it's Sacha Baron Cohen who steals the show as Todd's humorous competition. Tim Burton's dark humour fits in well with the tone of the film and makes it even more enjoyable.
The thing that makes a musical great is, of course, its songs and Stephen Sondheim's music doesn't let down. The lyrics are first-class and so memorable that you'll be humming along to them for days.
The 18+ certificate is well deserved due to the excessive throat slitting and blood spraying that comes in after about half an hour. Let me tell you, this film is not for the weak of stomach, but I have to say that the blood is necessary for this kind of film.
The songs are great, the dark humour fits in well and the cast give top-notch performances. I give Sweeney Todd 10/10.
Tenacious D: Disappointing jokes, good songs!
Comedies tend to either fall into one of two categories. The first category is intelligent, wise-cracking and actually funny. The second category is dumb, boring and unfunny. Sadly, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny is in the second category. The plot follows JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Gass), two rockers who meet and believe they are destined to become the greatest band the world has ever known. When they gain knowledge of a magical pick made out of the Devil's tooth, they plan to steal it from The Rock and Roll History Museum.
This highly anticipated movie disappointed many due to it's lack of good jokes and overall unfunniness. If you were to ask me to tell you about a hilarious part of The Pick Of Destiny, I couldn't because after watching it, I realised that I hadn't laughed a single time throughout the entire film. Sure, I'd maybe grinned or smiled but I hadn't laughed which is a shame because it ruined the film for me. With better jokes I would have enjoyed this a lot more and it may have just been up there with my favourite films.
Jack Black and Kyle Gass give equally great performances, but Gass's performance was inevitably overshadowed by Black's because of Black being so well known. But Gass, having mainly had small parts in previous films, gives a promising performance and I look forward to seeing him in future releases.
The film has many cameo appearances including Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins and Meatloaf, but it's Dave Grohl who has the best cameo as the Devil in the second last scene.
The thing that saves The Pick of Destiny are the outstanding songs. Not only do they supply some humour to the film, but they are also pretty damn good. They certainly saved the best for last in the last 20 minutes or so, where Tenacious D battle the devil through means of a rock-off where there is a highly entertaining 10 minute song.
The few jokes simply aren't that funny but the songs are excellent. I give it 6/10.
The Master of Disguise (2002)
The Master of Disguise: Baaaaaad!
There are good films and there are bad films. The Master of Disguise is a bad film. Period. Dana Carvey stars as Pistachio Disguisey, an Italian waiter who has a strange and uncontrollable addiction to mimicking his customers. When his mother (Eddie McClurg) and father (James Brolin) are kidnapped by a criminal mastermind (Brent Spiner), Pistachio learns with the help of his grandfather (Harold Gould) that he has inherited a magical power that allows him to disguise himself as anyone in the world, which he must use to save his parents.
I don't know what Dana Carvey was thinking when he decided to take part in this film. I believe that it was a waste of his great acting abilities and this has probably ruined his career (in fact, according to his IMDb page he hasn't been in anything since this.) My main problem with this film are the childish, unfunny jokes. There just aren't any laugh-out-loud parts of the film that I can remember. For example, there is a running joke in which Spiner's character has uncontrollable flatulence and it fails terribly to gain a laugh.
I think that they had a good plot line in their hands, but it got lost in the terrible writing. This could have been a classic, fun family film that both parents and children could enjoy and could have made Dana Carvey very well known and more of a household name. It's a shame that this film was so bad because Dana Carvey has so much talent.
The only good thing I can come up with about The Master Of Disguise is that kids will love it. But, I have to say that kids are pretty god damn stupid.
With bad jokes and childish humour, The Master Of Disguise is a terrible film. I give it 3/10.
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
The Simpsons Movie: Hilarious
18 years after it first hit the small screen, one of the world's best TV shows finally blasted onto the big screen in the form of The Simpsons Movie. Dan Castellaneta again provides the voice of Homer Simpson, who pollutes Springfield after dumping a heap of pig excrement into the lake, leading to the town being sealed off in a giant dome. It's then up to Homer and his family to save Springfield from a disastrous fate.
The Simpsons Movie is one of the funniest films I have ever had the pleasure of watching. When I was watching it in the cinema I was laughing at least once every minute and it's very rare that I laugh that much at a movie. In fact, I was laughing five seconds in when Ralph Wiggum appeared inside the 0 of the 20th Century Fox logo, singing along to the fanfare.
The animation in the movie is most definitely a step-up from the animation of the TV series. With added shading, it's perfect and the fact that it's all hand-drawn makes it all the more amazing. But, like the TV series, the dialogue and the character's mouths are sometimes not 100% in sync with each other, although it's not very noticeable.
When I was watching the film I felt like I was just watching an extended episode of the series. This, of, course, was inevitable and there was no way it could have been avoided, but if this was shortened down to 22 minutes and shown on TV as an episode, it would have been the best Simpsons episode ever. Like any TV-film adaptation, The Simpsons will be compared to its maker and the movie definitely lives up to and has the same feel as the series.
For me, what makes a family film good is that the entire family can enjoy and by family I mean both adults and children. The Simpsons Movie certainly has enough jokes for both to laugh at, although it does push the boundaries of "family" film when it unexpectedly shows 10-year-old Bart's penis and also Homer sticking up his middle fingers.
The Simpsons Movie is one of the funniest films I've ever seen and has great animation. I give it 10/10.
Hellboy: One of the best comic-book films out there.
What makes a comic-book film good? Its plot, its special-effects or its overall entertainment value? For Hellboy, its Ron Perlman's performance. During the Second World War, American soldiers discover Nazis opening a portal to another dimension, through which a baby demon comes through. This demon grows up to become Hellboy, a monster-hunter who discovers of a plot to take over the world.
As comic-book films go, Hellboy is one of the best. Ron Perlman is perfectly cast as the hero of the movie and provides the brilliantly sarcastic personality to the character. Fine performances also come from David Hyde Pierce as the voice of Abe Sapien, Selma Blair as Liz and John Hurt as Professor Broom.
Like all action films, Hellboy's special effects will be judged and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Their use in the action sequences and on the creature Sammael are spectacular, although I did notice that at some points Hellboy does look slightly cartoonish. The special effects are at their most impressive during the first fight between Hellboy and Sammael.
Hellboy's personality means that a lot of humour comes from him. Any film like this would definitely need some comic relief and this has plenty of bits to tickle your funny bone such as when a small tile falls on Hellboy's head whilst battling Sammael and he simply says "Ow." There was one thing about Hellboy that disappointed me: the villains. Sammael and Rasputin are both good and interesting in their first scenes, but their effectiveness wares off after a while. Also, Rasputin overall just isn't that great as a villain. The only enemy to stay interesting throughout is the blade-wielding Kronen who I think should have had more scenes.
Nevertheless, Hellboy is one of the best comic-book films I've seen. I give it 9/10.
The Number 23 (2007)
The Number 23: Jim Carrey pulls it off!
Who would have believed that the rubber-faced Jim Carrey would be able to carry a thriller for its entire length and do it brilliantly? Well, that's what he does in The Number 23. He stars as Walter Sparrow, a dog-catcher who is given a book by his wife for his birthday. As he reads the book more and more, he starts noticing similarities between him and the main character and slowly begins an obsession with the number 23.
If you were to tell someone 10 years ago that Jim Carrey would play the lead character in a serious thriller, they probably would have laughed in your face. After starring in Liar Liar, Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber, it's hard to imagine that he would be able to pull off this kind of film, but he does, although Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind had all ready established him as a serious actor.
The Number 23 is a very thrilling movie and will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. With twists and turns around every corner, it certainly had me guessing right until the very end.
This may sound strange, but The Number 23 actually put a curse on me for a few weeks after my first viewing of it and I'm sure it did for many, many others. What I mean by this is that whenever I saw a bunch of numbers, I would add them up to see if I could make 23 and if I could, I was completely freaked out by it. Also, I was seeing the number 23 everywhere I looked, although it wore off after a while.
One thing that I think The Number 23 needs more of is humour. The problem with it is that it takes itself too seriously and I would have thought that with Jim Carrey in hand, it wouldn't have had this problem.
Anyway, The Number 23 is still a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat movie. I give it 8/10.
Cloverfield: Shaky but suspenseful
Why do movie monsters always seem to go for cities like New York with huge skyscrapers? King Kong, Godzilla and now the monster from Cloverfield. The plot revolves around four people at a going-away party who witness a huge explosion in the distance. They soon find out that a monster is rampaging through the city, destroying everything in its path.
The film is shot entirely on a camcorder and poses as actual footage filmed by one of the main characters, just like The Blair Witch Project. Cloverfield does this very effectively, although I found myself thinking "why the bloody hell is he still filming" many times. Of course this way of filming leads to the camera shaking A LOT which sounds annoying but it actually helps with the suspense and sometimes hides the monster, adding to the mystery.
The special effects in Cloverfield are fantastic and look realistic. When I first heard about this I didn't think they would be that great due to the way it was filmed but when I saw it I was pretty damn satisfied. The film does a good job of hiding the creature from clear view and I would have preferred it if it stayed that way, but there is a scene near the end where you get a very detailed and close up view of it which kind of took away its mysteriousness.
The cast give very convincing performances which help with the realism of the movie. With the way it was filmed, strong performances were necessary and this cast certainly doesn't disappoint. The main character, Hud, (T.J. Miller) who holds the camera for most of the film, provides a lot of humour throughout.
I found myself getting slightly impatient for things to kick off for the first twenty minutes during which the party is held. I think it just took too long for something interesting to happen such as the monster appearing. Maybe it's just me but I didn't enjoy watching footage in which someone goes around a room filming people. Also, if someone was to walk into that party they would have thought it was a party for the world's top models. Is everyone really that good looking in America? Anyway, Cloverfield is very exciting and the special effects are fantastic. I give it 8/10.