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Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
A piece of trash that cost $165 million...
Independence Day, which first came out 20 years ago, has a venerable position as one of film's most enjoyable 'guilty pleasure' movies. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, it's ridiculous. But damn, it looked good and was buckets of fun back then and still is. It didn't need a sequel, but I was surprised to hear when one was in production and was mildly excited at the thought.
I didn't expect much, we've moved past being wowed by fantastic CGI (indeed, people seem to appreciate much more the practical effects which are put to good use in certain films and TV shows these days), but I thought it'd be great to tune out and watch an even bigger ship and even more aliens again attempt to take out an extremely patriotic and stoic human race.
By the time I left, I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, feel anger, hate, one thing I did feel was ripped off... gone is the charm and appreciable cheesiness of the first film, what we have as a replacement are characters you can't possibly like, let alone root for, inane and predictable self-sacrificial acts that fell flat and generated no emotion whatsoever, scene after scene of horrible one-liners mixed with 'it was great working with you' exchanges of dialogue from the indestructible arrogant young army types and attempts at humour in the face of millions of human deaths, by-the-book disaster film rivalries that turn into friendships which also ended up turning my stomach, boring plot lines that resurfaced again and again which slowed down the pace of the main conflict, are immediately forgettable, add nothing to the story and went nowhere, an alien race whose entire existence is based on militaristic invasion with 20 years to prepare continuously showing their glaring ineptitude at said invasion rather than having humans fight back against insurmountable odds like the first film, a cheap-looking CGI alien queen with a shield that survives a nuclear blast yet can't take a few shots from an aircraft based on the technology from her own race who'd rather chase a busload of kids than shoot down said aircraft firing at her, a coma patient who wakes up after 20 years and can immediately make jokes and walk around with no sign of muscle atrophy whatsoever, a disabled, insane war veteran who can still perfectly fly a jet based on alien technology...
I could go on, needless to say if you see this, be expecting every disaster movie trope and cliché with none of the charm and likable humour of the first film, and just try and enjoy the above-average special effects. Aside from that, there's really nothing else there.
The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)
Leaves you feeling good, and hungry...
See this movie if you love food, appreciate culture through cuisine, are depressed or simply if you want to see a funny, feel good, laid back, well acted film with beautiful cinematography. There is a lot to relate to and the laughs come regularly.
Everyone in the film is great however the veterans Om Puri and Helen Mirren are particularly good and have fun with their roles.
Slow in parts and slightly predictable but doesn't go for the 'cheap shot' in terms of drama, which was refreshing.
I really enjoyed it, and I wish films like this would come along more often.
Taken 2 (2012)
So the score is now Liam Neeson 30, bad guys zero. Seriously, at what point does the ultra-stereotypical bad guy go 'look dude, sorry for this whole revenge thing, I was miffed about my other son who really was pretty evil anyway but now that you've killed another 17 of my family members and a seemingly endless score of my inept henchmen, can't we just forget this whole thing?'
More formulaic than the first but enjoyable nonetheless as the Liam Neeson showcase continues. I especially liked the one-on-one throwdown with the short, podgy bad guy who turned out to be an ultimate fighter or something and was almost able to beat our hero in an entertaining Steven Seagal-esque arena fight to the death.
The Avengers (2012)
Joss does it again
I'm a big fan of Joss Whedon since Buffy days, love Firefly and Serenity, so when I heard he was directing an Avengers movie I started to have faith that it would be done right. Once again Joss didn't disappoint.
Leaving aside the obvious opportunity for ridiculously good action sequences that an Avengers movie can have, and this film has a lot, it was important that whoever directed this captured the different personalities that make up the team, and the way they clash. Joss has always been good at writing for his characters, which is why here he's pretty much perfectly grabbed each hero's personality. The dialogue between them is great and believable and being the fan he has been of The Avengers since the 60s, he has a good idea of their background and what drives and motivates each of them. There's some great exchanges between them as they work out their differences and when we reach the climax and they finally come together and work as a team... what a treat.
The actors that have portrayed their characters in past films are now set, you can't see anyone else playing the characters they play. They're all fantastic, work brilliantly as an ensemble and the new addition - Mark Ruffalo as Banner/Hulk is a great choice, bringing that air of a man who's come to terms with his plight and learned to be calm and relaxed, but with the temper just brimming below the surface. This is the best film featuring Hulk to date, and because Hulk this time was based on Ruffalo's movements and not entirely CGI, it's the most realistic Hulk we've received to date as well.
I'd also like to mention here that Joss is great at writing humour into his stories and this film isn't short of some truly laugh-out-loud moments. Anyone who's a fan of his work in the past will recognise his brand of humour in this film.
To sum up, anyone who's a fan of superhero movies will love this, it has everything you could've hoped for in an Avengers movie. It's great to see some of our beloved comic book heroes given their dues in some great movies lately, such as Nolan's Batman films and X-Men First Class and this film is up there with the best. I'll be looking forward to the sequel, especially after the sequence during the credits.
If you go to this looking for an accurate representation of Greek mythology, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you go to this looking for a decent, nice looking, 300-type action film you'll enjoy it. As someone who knows a bit about classical mythology I can choose to be unbelievably annoyed by them using it as a reference for this film, as it's ridiculously inaccurate, but I'm not.
Leave your smarts/knowledge at the door, enjoy the pretty action and people, the brutal violence and Freida Pinto in the buff, and you'll hopefully feel that you got your money's worth.
That's about it.
X: First Class (2011)
It's becoming more and more apparent when a decent director takes control of a movie series over one that's, well... not so decent. Aside from the action, effects, lore etc. we come to expect from a 'comic-book movie', this film has an amazing amount of feeling and emotion to it as well. Brilliantly written and directed, and with a line-up of actors that are a perfect complement (and they all do fantastically in their roles), this is definitely one to see if you're any kind of fan of the X-Men.
And if you are, you will already have a good idea of how the characters we know and love met, what shaped their future selves (of which we've seen a great deal, to varying success in the trilogy), and the situations which affected who they are to become and I'm very happy to say that while this film takes a few liberties here and there, you can easily accept them as they're inconsequential and the story itself is certainly decent enough to allow us to overlook the liberties taken.
Best to leave your expectations at the door with this one, especially if you've let any part of the trilogy affect them negatively. I enjoyed this immensely. Highly recommended.
It's no masterpiece, but...
It's refreshing to see something at the movies these days that's original, for a start. It all seems to be remakes, sequels, and generally ideas that have been done before with a couple of aspects changed to make them supposedly 'original'.
This isn't the most amazing film I've ever seen, doesn't move to the top of my all-time favourites list, it can certainly be faulted but at the same time I can't deny it was interesting, well written, decently acted and tells a pretty good, definitely original story. The last hour or so of the movie was brilliantly done in my opinion and while it got a tad predictable right towards the end it was definitely entertaining.
I feel that it sometimes got lost in itself trying to be too multi-layered, it was always going to be a fairly in-depth story but I felt certain aspects it could have done without or maybe done a bit differently and it still would've been just as good. I felt it jumped around a bit too much at times.
It didn't change my life or make me question my own reality or anything like that, maybe that's just me but I was certainly entertained and on the edge of my seat for two and a half hours by an original story and some great, smartly done action scenes and for that, I think it was money well spent going to see this film.
I feel like I've seen this before, it's done well and the material's pretty solid developing a confronting story of triumph over a horribly bleak existence, nothing really new, but the performance of Mo'Nique is truly amazing and really what makes this film stand out.
She is captivating, grabbing and wrenching at every scene she's in until just at the sight of her you can only stare in disgust, unable to look away. It really becomes evident when she transforms herself and puts on an act in front of the visiting care-worker to continue getting welfare, while showing such subtle undertones of that underlying menace and volatility that left me in awe and revolted at the same time, eventually leading up to the totally chilling last scene, where her evil, hate-filled mind tries to somehow justify in an entirely unbelievable way more to herself than anyone else the horrors she's let happen right under her nose over the years. She's brilliant to watch.
A decent film made awesome by one of the best, most compelling performances I've seen in a long time.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
Trash of the Titans
Leaving aside the mythological inaccuracies of the film, which for any fan of Greek mythology is understandable, or the fact that it's a remake, this was still disappointing. The original definitely did the actual story of Perseus more justice, had way more character development and a better storyline.
Nothing more than a hack-and-slash action flick, further to the complete lack of any character development the stab at romance falls really flat. Don't expect to garner much emotion for any of the characters or for the storyline itself. The first film's story where Perseus' actions were driven by his love for Andromeda worked a lot better and was more fitting to the mythology. Why they changed it into a strange story of revenge, I really can't fathom. Perseus and Andromeda barely talk to each other in this version, and the Kraken in this film seems to be more an excuse to show off lavish CGI than anything else, and I didn't like the way it was done. You know it's going to finally show up at the end, it makes its way to the city almost instantly once it's released and then proceeds to writhe around in the water for ages conveniently waiting for Perseus as he sets himself set up to kill it. It was supposed to be suspenseful, but wasn't in the slightest. It just went too long, and for some reason it left me feeling sorry for the Kraken.
Also, in the midst of the Kraken attack why did the annoying preacher guy stab and kill the king when all he did was express anguish that his daughter was strung up as a sacrifice? That was very strange and random. He was already annoying, no need to create another reason for us to hate him even more.
Why did they bother with the 2 minute 'training' scene? That was also random and really reeked of being just thrown in. It had no point and didn't serve to show us anything we didn't assume or know already.
Add to this a painful comic relief axe-wielding blatant Gimli ripoff and his equally annoying friend, who leave halfway through much to my delight because things are getting too serious for them, only to have them appear in the midst of the climax in a horribly gratuitous act of formulaic 'heroism' we've seen dozens of times before, which never really works any more and as a result worked even less here. Their bit at the climax was probably the most annoying thing I saw in the film. It left me literally shaking my head and made me want to switch off right there.
The film ended with a blatantly obvious lead-in to a sequel, where Liam basically says to Sam word for word 'the bad guy's gone now, but he'll definitely be back and madder than ever' and that was it. I was left with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction as the credits rolled, and a sense that the whole thing felt way too rushed.
On the acting front, there's nothing to really mention. They all do their job, I guess. Mads and Liam stand out as the talent. I can't help thinking that all Sam Worthington was trying to do was a bad impression of Russell Crowe in Gladiator. He'll never have that same intensity, so don't even try. Continuing on the impression front, Ralph Fiennes seemed to be doing an equally bad one of his much scarier looking/sounding/acting Lord Voldemort. He definitely wasn't taking his role in this film as seriously, and it showed.
A few points for the effects, but as good as they can be effects are no longer enough to carry a film in terms of quality (unless they're of groundbreaking Avatar-like quality, and the effects of this film don't even come close to that). Unfortunately effects alone are enough to carry a film at the box office and probably always will be so until that changes we'll continue to get films like this, devoid of anything much more than said effects. Don't go into this film expecting much else.
This is definitely one of those special films that comes out very rarely, you might only get one a year (if you're lucky). Low key, subtle, not at all over the top in effects, action, dialogue, romance, anything. Just a damn good watch and a movie that tells an interesting, multifaceted story. Certainly not a blockbuster that keeps you on the edge of your seat, nor would it claim to be that type of film, but nonetheless one of the most riveting films I've seen in a while.
I've always liked Sam Rockwell in everything he's been in, he's got a certain intangible quality that I find accessible in an actor, even as the truly evil William Wharton in The Green Mile. He's the main reason I was so interested in seeing this, and here, in his biggest role yet, he's definitely at his best. For this film to work, the person who played the main character was the most important decision to make, and they couldn't have picked anyone better. Sam Rockwell's just so believable.
A fantastic directorial debut, and considering who the director's dad is, boy is there some talent in that family.
Highly enjoyable, even more highly recommended.
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
This movie was exactly what I expected it to be, entertaining, funny, crude, basically just mindless fun you can switch off to and enjoy.
Comedies like this seem to be a dime a dozen these days but to me that's not too bad, as long as they know how to poke fun at the genre while it's still relatively fresh and they don't take themselves too seriously, which this film doesn't. It flows well with consistent laughs.
Probably helps if you grew up in the 80s, as I did, and you can relate to the references, and the return of the awesome Crispin Glover as a past and present character, appearing to enjoy himself again with the role he plays in this film as sort of an homage to the classic George McFly, which I'm sure is how they meant it. While this film isn't in that league or doesn't even come close in my opinion it was still nice to see.
Solid comedy, certainly not classic or even really memorable but enjoyable nonetheless.
Lost in Translation (2003)
It's all been said...
So I can't really add anything, just wanted to give my rating of this film, one of my all-time favourites that I must've watched more than I can count on each digit by now but every time I think of it still makes me feel as warm as when I first saw it, and I look forward to my next viewing all over again.
To give my rating I have to fill up more lines for the review, so to say it couldn't have been better just doesn't sound right, to say it's perfect is selling it short.
Leaving aside the backdrop, performances (I was a fan of Bill Murray before this film, he has since ascended to the top of my list of favourite actors), dialogue, story, all the 'tangible' things you can judge a film on, all of which would receive full marks from me separately... this is a true masterpiece, with a quality as rare as a diamond, that awakens and touches on something inside you can barely touch on yourself.
True Blood (2008)
This is the most entertained I've been watching a TV show in a long time, especially being a fan of vampire shows and movies. Buffy is one of my favourite shows of all time, and while I can't say this is better, it's certainly refreshing considering while this is the right time to be a vampire fan, you get your fair share of trash (cough-Twilight-cough).
Give me vampires with edge. Angelus in the second season of Buffy, for instance. Totally awesome. True Blood's vamps have every bit of edge you could possibly want. Some people have complained about the goriness of this show, and while it is over the top, I take that as a good thing rather than a bad thing. The old adage of if you don't like it, don't watch it rings true here. Might be not exactly your cup of tea, but no one's making you watch. For me, you can't have a show with humans, vamps, werewolves, shapeshifters and other supernatural beings trying to co-exist without a bit of gore happening.
I also love shows where characters are not perfect. Like Buffy each character in TB has flaws, gives in to their passions and primal instincts, screws up, causes havok, barks up the wrong tree, goes off on tangents, hurts ones they love, kills ones they hate, makes terrible choices, leaves, comes back, can be funny, tragic, scary... and so on and so on, normally all in the same episode. Makes for one hell of an entertaining show. Each episode has at least a few different story arcs happening, and each ends in a cliffhanger, it's almost impossible to wait and see what's going to happen next.
I haven't read the books, don't really feel the need to. This show is true entertainment. Let's hope it continues for a long time.
It's Complicated (2009)
Saturday night... movie night with the girlfriend. She wants to get a film I've never really heard of called It's Complicated, from the description all I see is that it's a romcom. I suggest some other films saying that I'm not really in the mood for another romcom, as there seems to be one released every week lately, they're all so formulaic and we seem to see them all.
Needless to say 5 minutes later we were sitting on the couch, settling in to watch It's Complicated.
Giving in once again does have certain advantages, as I warned her that my objections to seeing yet another romcom gave me license to pay it out, if it came to that. Unfortunately for this film, it did.
As much as I respect her as an actress, all that Meryl Streep touches doth not turn to gold, and as much as I like Alec Baldwin as a comedic actor from the likes of 30 Rock, he cannot save this film. There is nothing to like about the characters, no development at all, they're all unconvincing, unrealistic, ultra-successful, perfect people with perfect lives. Even the situations they get themselves into are perfectly 'complicated' (damn that title), and you know it's all gonna come out perfectly in the end anyway. Don't expect any surprises here. I respect the filmmaker trying to present the romcom from a different angle (middle-age), but it quickly becomes as typical and predictable as the rest, especially with Streep's character behaving the way she does you're quickly forced to forget the different angle presented here that the film had going for it.
Baldwin's character is a terrible misogynist, but that's OK when you present his new trophy wife as a b*tch (played by Lake Bell, totally overshadowed by the better acting talent on offer here just as she was in Boston Legal) with a horrible movie-child, clashing terribly with the too-perfect grown up children Streep and Baldwin's characters had when they were first married.
Streep's character is the most insipid, self-indulgent, shallow character since Carrie Bradshaw. She's impossible to like. For 5 minutes at the start of the film we're presented with a few scenes making it blatantly obvious how alone she's become, 2 minutes after that problem solved, she's in bed with her punch-in-the-face persistent ex-husband Baldwin (leave aside any indication of why they got divorced in the first place, save for a few gratuitous hints that are meant to be quickly forgotten) after giggling like a schoolgirl at the nauseating crap he spouts to get her into bed, which of course leads to the 'complications' the film's title suggests when she meets Steve Martin, the 'perfect guy' you know she's going to end up with. Hard to feel any sympathy for her. I was waiting for her to ask one other character how they were, how their life was going, anything. None of that. She basically plays a 60 year old totally self-absorbed teenager, again giggling like a schoolgirl with her fleeting friends about the sex she's having with her ex in one painful scene.
Steve 'not funny any more' Martin might have been a guy who by the looks of him 15 or 20 years ago was going to age gracefully, but unfortunately he has not let that happen. His face looks like it could melt at any moment, not one wrinkle to be seen, for me taking away any credibility his character might have had. Don't let him near that baking oven, Meryl! We could have a scene akin to the classic facemelting one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Actually, it might have been entertaining to see what would've happened to Steve's face had he gone too near a heat source.
Add to this a forced performance by John 'Jim' Kraszinski, I love him in The Office but here he ironically seems to be presented as a comic relief to all the 'serious' stuff that's going on, and also add to this a terribly contrived scene at a party where the oldies get 'soooo wasted' off one or two puffs of a joint, a scene which ends up falling totally flat and just gets annoying, and you have a film I really had trouble sitting through.
I hate films that give the viewer no credit whatsoever. We're just supposed to accept a lot of things when we watch certain comedies for the sake of a few laughs. This is certainly one of those. No laughs (for me anyway), bad dialogue, unrealistic characters that are impossible to like or relate to in any way, predictable plot, annoying children... doesn't get much worse than this.
Avoid at all costs.
What I expected
I'm amazed at some of the reviews on here. Seriously, what did people expect outta this film? Shakespeare? The English Patient? You go to see this for the ridiculous action, awesome special effects and just to have a good time, which is what I had. Yeah, it did seem to overindulge slightly and was slow in parts. Yeah, the humour's cheesy, sometimes painfully so. No surprise there though, let's remember we're watching a film based on kids' toys, not a Bronte novel. It ain't perfect, but if you expected it to be, I'm glad you're feeling let down. For me, it didn't try to be anything it shouldn't have and what it needed to do right, it did.
Mindless, thoroughly enjoyable fun, just like the first one.
Gran Torino (2008)
That's it. I give up. Clint Eastwood's films have lost it for me. After the predictable, boring, clichéd tripe that was Million Dollar Baby I risked seeing this as again I was taken in by all the good reviews... never again. Come on, when are people going to stop humouring this boring old fart? Drag his character over from MDB, make him a hate-filled racist as well as a scowling misogynist, and you have this guy. Don't you just want to see the angry, growling old git inevitably get reformed in the most painfully predictable, clichéd way by the most painfully predictable, clichéd characters imaginable, yet again? Please say no.
At least MDB had people that could act, can't say the same for this. Watch the kid screaming to get out of the basement after the dirty old man's locked him in there, you'll see what I mean. I also would've gladly punched the girl in the face as well, to the point of being envious of the people that eventually got to do it in the film.
What I hated about this... I don't even know where to begin. Started off boring, like MDB. Got even more tedious through the middle, most of the scenes being obvious set ups for all the 'emotional, hard-hitting' stuff later on, like MDB. The utterly inane and predictable build-up and ending fell jarringly flat, like MDB. By the end I was as angry as Eastwood himself. The film did reach a high point for me then, I had a LOL moment as Eastwood started singing (yes, singing) some puke-inducing crap song about his car through the closing credits, which I guess was supposed to be sad and emotional. The funniest comedies don't make me laugh that hard, the goriest horror films don't make me feel as sick. Thanks Clint. Now go back to bed and stop bothering people old man, don't get up again. You're just embarrassing yourself.
Seriously, I'm lost for words as to why this is so highly rated. I can't understand why people insist on eating up this one-dimensional crap. Are they scared to say they don't like it? I'm not. I hated this film. Worst one I've had to sit through in a long time.
The Dark Knight (2008)
I was looking forward to this, I'm a fan of comic book movies and I like when they delve into the psyche of the hero, aka Spiderman 2 and Batman Begins, and this didn't disappoint. I actually had trouble remembering this was a comic book movie. It gets very in-depth and doesn't pull any punches. Action, storyline, effects, mood, everything is very well done, and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time, waiting to see what's gonna happen next. Normally I have trouble sitting through a film that's more than 2 hours long but I was sorry when this finished.
I've been a fan of Heath's since Two Hands and his tragically cut-short development as an actor since then definitely shines through in this. You can tell he put his heart and soul into this and while his death certainly adds to the hype there's no doubt he does amazingly well with a very disturbed Joker. His performance is pretty much flawless and his presence on screen is palpable. The voice, mannerisms and just his general menacing aura definitely hit the mark and will do his memory justice for years to come. It's a pity he won't get the chance to reprise his role but I'm glad he went out on such a high note. Baille is excellent but almost takes a second fiddle in this film, don't get me wrong it's still very much about Batman but the other characters are so developed and well done. Eckhart is great, Caine and Freeman are always good and Maggie Gyllenhaal does her job well. Gary Oldman is one of my favourites, he is one of those actors that can pretty much assimilate into any role and this is no different. I'd say aside from Heath he's the best thing about this film in terms of acting, his naturalness and talent are apparent every time he's on screen.
Hats off to Nolan, he's done a great job (again). After the incredible disappointment of Indiana Jones, I'm happy to say this is the best film I've seen so far this year.
Sometimes I know it's a bad idea to go into a film with high expectations, so maybe it's my fault that I didn't enjoy this. I couldn't help it. It's Indy! One of the greatest action film characters in history! Hero of the Ark and the Grail! Liberator of the evil Temple of Doom! What the hell happened? Probably the best bit of this film is where one of the aforementioned objects makes an all-too-brief but very notable appearance, which made me long for movies past, as did the pic and mention of the senior Jones.
The action's OK. It's hard to come up with anything original nowadays so we've got armies of huge ants, car chases, hostile natives, sword fights and the like. Standard fare, a bit of CGI, it's all been done before but it's well done here, still it's because it's been done before that compared to the first 3 this one seems to be lacking in imagination. I'd say we're more desensitised to it now, but I can still watch the first 3 films today and enjoy them immensely, way more than I did this film. They're still better than 99% of anything that comes out nowadays. Nothing as exciting as the mine carts in Doom. The characters are good, even though John Hurt's character got more than a little annoying. There's a lot of humour, but somehow it's not as charming as the first 3. I can accept the nuke scene, as I can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek aspect that Indy can survive anything, which I think is the point.
That's as far as my positive rating goes, however, as the mysticism and wonder of Raiders and Last Crusade, which made them such great and timeless films, has not made it into this one. The concept and the way it's handled fell flat for me. It just didn't work, and that is the reason I didn't enjoy this. I'm not religious in any way, but who hasn't wondered if the Grail actually exists? Who wasn't awed by the wrath of God when the Ark was opened in Raiders? These are the things that Indy's about. Well, used to be. Not any more. Why didn't they use the Spear of Destiny, or something similar, as the centrepiece? Similar theme, but who cares? Would've worked a lot better, and would've fit with the whole Indy being the ultimate finder of world-changing lost artifacts thing. The lack of imagination abounds throughout the movie with the way our heroes have to deal with the adversities and obstacles thrown at them as well. Seems that simply touching or holding aloft said namesake of the film will get them through almost anything. Way too easy. As a result this film had all but lost me by the climax, unfortunately, and that wasn't going to bring me back either. Ridiculous and unsatisfying.
Too bad, this film had a lot to live up to. Footsteps maybe too lofty to follow in, but I still think this could've been a lot better. Sorry Indy, you just don't fit into the 21st century. How things have changed.
Iron Man (2008)
I was looking forward to seeing this. I like the fun, sit-back-and-leave-the-real-world-behind action of a good superhero movie, and this looked to be a good one. Jon Favreau's direction also promised a bit of humour, and it didn't disappoint. There were times when the whole audience was laughing. The action is good, fast-paced and exhilarating, the effects are suitably amazing and I don't know too much about Iron Man but I did some research before I saw the film and it seems to be well cast. The acting is what you'd expect for a film like this, the great cast all do their job well.
All in all, a solid superhero film that while not in itself memorable will keep me looking forward to the next one, as it should. Let's hope the quality stays consistent.
The Family Stone (2005)
One of my pet gripes is films that don't give the viewer any credit whatsoever. This definitely falls into that category for me. What is this film trying to be? I was never quite sure. It certainly never lives up to it, whatever it is. A humdrum mess of painful, exaggeratedly clichéd, one-dimensional characters badly thrown together with some trite, unfunny slapstick and shallow 'romantic' and 'tragic' moments (which border on offensive for anyone that's been through such tragedy) might be more acceptable if the characters were at least remotely believable in any way, but they're not. There's no one to like or care about here, nothing for the talented ensemble of actors to work with at all. The dialog is so bad it'd be funny if it wasn't pretending at times to be so smart and insightful and socially relevant, especially the scene at the dinner table. By the time the film got to it's ridiculous epilogue, reached only after having to sit through scene after scene of the characters being so horrible to each other both to their faces and behind each others' backs, I had a hard time believing there was any of them alive by the end. And we're supposed to believe that this is such a close-knit family that they just can't accept an outsider into their lives? Oh, except if she's cute and educated and well-traveled and blond and bubbly but she's not perfect, no... she falls charmingly off the bus when we first meet her. Let's try to forget the fact that she'd betray one of her own close family members without a second thought. By the end not only are we supposed to accept all the backstabbing, two-timing and horrible exclusion with some laughably sickening, seemingly sensitive moments in between that are supposed to leave us in tears but seem so out of place that we've had to sit through... no, we're supposed be happy for them and the way things end up and the film is supposed to leave us with a warm-fuzzy happy/sad feeling but all I was left with was a feeling of rage and the need to eject the DVD and use it as a Frisbee. Aside from the epilogue we're also supposed to believe that they go through these life-changing moments (mostly at each other's expense, no less) in the space of twenty four hours, except for the characters that aren't horrible, but they're so boring and insipid you wonder why they're there at all.
I've always made it a point to see every film I start to the end. This was the biggest challenge I've had in a long time. Everything this film's trying to achieve falls dead flat. Starts off bad and just gets worse.
God of War II (2007)
More of this please
I don't like to give 10s, to me 10 out of 10 suggests perfection. Well, if there's anything that comes close, it's this game. I'm a huge fan of the first game, and as a seasoned gamer I can honestly say that the first level of the first game and the battle with the Hydra is one of my most memorable gaming experiences. The moment where Kratos is climbing the rope ladder on his way to take on the last (and easily biggest) Hydra head as the music beats out a score that is on par with some of John Williams' creations and as you climb you follow the neck going up... and up... and up... I was totally blown away. The scene was set perfectly, and the action throughout the rest of the game never let up. You'd think nothing can get more epic than the cinematic brilliance of God of War. Needless to say, I couldn't wait for number 2. Have they outdone themselves? Most certainly.
Kratos is an evil guy. No doubt about it. He has to be, because it really makes you believe that he's tough and stubborn enough to take on everything that he comes up against, even death... with a bit of help, of course. Bottom line - you don't want to cross him, or he'll make you pay. Never during this game will you be saying 'yeah right, he could never beat that', Kratos is a guy who is tirelessly fueled by being wronged and getting revenge at any cost. How can one man (former God, granted) take down the divinely-animated and superpowered Colossus of Rhodes? This is what makes him one of the most fun characters to play in any video game, ever. Each time you battle something, anything, in the game, from the smallest foe to the hugest behemoth, you know you're getting your money's worth. Just like the first game, almost every battle will end in a violent, totally brutal cinematic as Kratos dispatches anything that dares challenge him in the most horrible way you can think of, and it's these sequences that give the game its greatest strength. I never tire of seeing a hapless demon-type thing get it's own axe-wielding arm ripped off and said axe, still being held by said arm, impaling the demon's head... and this is only a very minor, quite common cinematic.
All the spectacular moves from the first game are here, with some entertaining new weapons and awesome new Godly powers thrown in, and all can be upgraded to make them more versatile and powerful, and the good thing is, they are all useful and fun. On the harder difficulty settings the game can become quite tactical, especially during the boss fights, as each one is fought in several stages until you finally wear the boss down and the final cinematic onslaught can begin. Victory can come down to what power you use, and when, along with how you manage your power meters, which is very refreshing in a pure action game like this. Sure you can use the same moves over and over, and the trusty Athena's Blades are probably still the most useful weapon in the game, but hopefully you'll find this won't get you as far as you'd think and also, where's the fun? The sound is incredible, fully digital 5.1 surround supported. If you have the means, this is definitely what you want the game to be running on. Each slash and swing of the blades and earth shaking crash and thump are spot-on, and the utterly impressive music score effortlessly complements the action and the epic scale of the game. Graphics are top notch, much more polished than the first game (can you believe it?), and really show what the PS2 can do. The environments are huge and immensely detailed - the camera angles, the jaw-dropping scenery... this is cinematic gaming at its best. I know I keep using that word - cinematic, but that's the best word to describe the game in it's entirety. All the characters are equally detailed and beautifully animated. Kratos himself moves with much more fluidity than the first game. This game definitely would not look out of place on the PS2's bigger brother as it stands at the moment, and that's really saying something. You can run the game on a PS3 and while this does give the graphics a noticeable boost, especially on a HD TV, the differences are negligible and the game still looked ridiculously awesome running with my PS2 and my 80cm curved-screen (yes, not even flat-screen) CRT TEAC. A bigger screen definitely helps, and with a game as epic as this, it's definitely a case of the bigger the better.
As with the first, the game's creators' passion for making such a memorable game really shines through, as does their passion for the classical mythology on which the game is based, and yes, I'm a big fan of that too. They really do it justice. You can tell they loved every second of making this game, and they should be very proud of their achievement. Kratos only knows what they're gonna do with the power of the PS3 to work with for the third instalment, though while after playing through and seeing the end of this game you might (like me) be shouting 'BRING ON THE THIRD", let's hope they take their time to make something even more special. After what they've done with this game on the now pre-generation PS2, it definitely should be.
I would've liked to give this film a higher rating, I can't say that it was disappointing but at the same time I didn't think it was all it could be. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I wasn't really in the mood to see it, maybe it was the fact that I finished about a litre of coke 15 minutes in, but I had trouble sitting through some bits of this film. The abstract whiteness of the afterlife (or Jack's afterlife), the strange rocks that turned into crabs, the fact that Calypso's power seemed to be limited to a whirlpool and a bit of rain after all the buildup... just didn't really grab me. I think it was just an excuse for some fancy special effects. It was overly long, and the ending was predictable too.
Marks for the acting, Depp and Rush are fantastic, and the last half hour is fun to say the least, but for me it didn't have the charm and the character of the first film.
Event Horizon (1997)
Stays in your mind
I thought this was a passable horror film, not much that's original, but scary enough. Good, suspenseful music, visions of dead people, all the usual stuff in an immersive sci-fi setting and the film does it all well.
There's one thing I have to give it credit for that sets it apart... it has THE most disturbing depiction of hell I've seen in any film, before or since. The images go by in a split-second, on screen barely long enough for your mind to register them, but they managed to stay in my mind long after the film was over. They really drive the point home that hell is really NOT a place you'd want to visit, ever. Way more impact than the fire and brimstone version.
Quite disturbing and very, very effective.
The Warriors (2005)
Couldn't have been better
If you were gonna pick any developer to make the classic cult movie The Warriors into a game, it'd be Rockstar. Even if you started playing not knowing they were the developers it wouldn't take long to figure out. There are elements of GTA in this game that blend perfectly with the action and feel of the movie, and make you really believe you're a part of the world of the Warriors.
The authenticity is top notch. The missions are fun and get you right in there, and when you inevitably fail one for whatever reason, you won't mind at all playing it through again. Some of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses that tie in with their movie counterparts, and even though some of the fighting moves get a bit samey after a while they all have great, solid impact, and there's a wide array of weapons to put to good use. The game also cuts to some entertainingly brutal pneumatics when you perform certain moves that'll make you wince when you see them. All the gangs, voices and music from the film are here, and the streets of New York are perfectly crafted as you scale rooftops, trash businesses, run from cops, steal, loot, pillage, rough up the general populace and pummel your way through rival gangs and their turf. Anyone who's a fan of the GTA games will know that Rockstar don't hold back on brutality, violence and profanity in their games, this is no exception, and it works on every level.
One of the best things about the game is that it shows and lets you take part in the excellent, believable back story to the movie, letting you see how the Warriors became one of the toughest gangs around and giving insight into the events that lead up to Cyrus's big meeting. The content of the movie itself makes up the last level of the game and those fans familiar with the movie will absolutely love the way it ties in. As if that isn't enough, as you work your way through the game, building up the gang's rep in various ways all over town, you'll also come across bonus missions that let you see and take part in even earlier back stories of how Cleon started the gang and how certain members came to join. These are some of the most interesting and fun missions to play. There's also an entertaining Rumble mode that lets you play several game modes with hundreds of different characters from the game and movie, side missions to do around Coney that you can undertake at any time that upon completion grant you special abilities in the main game, and when you complete the main game itself you get a few little nifty extras. How's that for content?
Movie-to-game licenses are always a risky venture and more often than not produce some awful games but I'm happy to say this is one of the best movie-to-game adaptations I've ever played. I enjoyed it from start to finish.
The Warriors (1979)
Here are the reasons I decided to see this film: I've heard a lot about it from cult fans. I've played the game. I remember seeing the scene and catch phrase made famous by DPK in my childhood, and it's always stuck in my memory. I know there's a remake coming out, and I wanted to see the original before it did. And lastly, it's the kind of film I generally enjoy. I thought it'd be showing it's age by now, and it did in certain ways, but not nearly as much as I thought it would and overall I thought it was great. I can understand why it's a classic and still has a huge following today. Throws you right in at the deep end from the start, moves along at a cracking pace, never lets up. Remakes don't often do the original justice, but let's hope they get it at least half right, and they'll be doing well.