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Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Given 2 for the CGI
I was shouting at the screen for Kong to just lose it and kill all of them during the first helicopter fight. Lamest script of all time, which considering how much trash Hollywood turns out, is some going. I hope it got better as I gave up after about 40 mins. I doubt it somehow as spectacle and tension was sucked out early due to the crappy characters and inane wtf dialogue. One more thing - Tom Hiddleston is the most unconvincing tough guy of all time so fit in well in this ridiculous film.
First two episodes well worth watching
First two episodes were so goo,d I'm ok to give it a 7.5. The first episode is a classic - really worth watching on a stand alone basis.
Claes Bang is a fine Dracula as he has been written here, charming, funny, a first class liar as well as a truth-teller and believably vicious when required.
And Dolly Wells is a match for him as Van Helsing.
Bleak House (2005)
Superb cast and ambience
Anna Maxwell-Martin manages to make Esther convincingly good without being sickly, Dennis Lawson is thoroughly sympathetic without being too quirky, and Gillian Anderson and Charles Dance work together in their tragic fencing match outstandingly.
There isn't a single character that looks or feels wrong. Pauline Collins and the man who plays Snagsby are straight out of Dicken's central casting. The death scenes are genuinely sad due to the believablitly of all the actors.
The atmosphere created is thoroughly believable, beautifuly designed.
East of Everything (2008)
I loved the first series of this show. I've watched it twice as I love the tone, the drift between humour and melancholy. The characters are well-drawn, well-acted and the location is stunning. I really believed that Eve and Art were still in love after all this time and that Art and Vance were brothers. Plus all the supporting roles were beautifully cast. The second series seemed to lose it's way a little but it's still worth watching.
Emotionally rewarding zombie drama
I really liked this. Martin Freeman is very good, the right balance of action, fear and tenderness in his performance and the child actor who plays Thoomi is excellent. All performances are good, no real weak links.
It's very sad in parts, more so, than terrifying, which is its strength so well done screenwriters for giving the story some real heart as it must be so easy just to rely on the fear factor with a subject matter like this.
Wind River (2017)
Jeremy Renner is very good in this movie, I think the role suited him well. The dialogue was very exposition laden which is a big no-no for me regardless of what style of movie it is.
The problem for me was, and I like slow burners, is that it seemed to be finished before it actually started. So at the end, it felt fairly unsatisfying and I also found the thing at the end that Renner does quite unbelievable. Olsen in her own way was unbelievable but she did what she could with a very much underwritten role. It could have done without showing so graphicallly the violent sex scene. I mean, really? There are few female roles in this and one of them has to enact that. But I did enjoy it, found the cinemtography lovely and the supporting roles were well cast. And for a US movie it was trying to do more than the average flick which is a plus, even if it felt quite clunky in parts.
Fine and moving western
I can see why people think of this as Shakespearean; there are moments of such heightened theatrical drama in this movie. Some excellent performances, including Steiger and Bronson but the movie is a real tussle betwen Ford and Borgnine. Both are at the top of their game and their contrasting styles work fantastically well. The women's roles are not as meaty as the men but both the female leads are well cast. Highly recommended.
The Alienist (2018)
It's ok, but the usual issues with slow pacing and boring actors
I've watched three episodes and gave up. The show looks fabulous, the set and costume designers have obviously gone to town and at least Luke Evans looks like he gives a damn about his role, but everybody else is a bit dull, well apart from the two younger doctors, they have some spark. I can watch slow-paced shows with ease, it's not that it is always a problem but the slowness wasn't working for this show. From my memories, the book was a real page turner and sucked me into the frightening world it represented but this show seems to be having the opposite effect of sucking the tension and urge to keep watching away.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Can't see what the fuss is about
I've tried watching, up to about 4 episodes, but I'm not caring enough about any of the characters to keep going and find my attention wandering. The children are far better actors than the adults which is a problem, Keeping the storyline in a straight narrative arc timewise might have made it more appealing.
A Christmas Carol (1971)
Superb animated version from Richard Williams
Moving, frightening and beautifully drawn throughout. The story is adapted as well as could be done in the time allotted to it. Voices are particularly well cast.
I must have been completely creeped out by Ignorance and Want when I saw this as a kid as they seem terrifying even now.
Beautiful and moving
An almost inexpressibly moving film, with fantastic camera work using the arid and stunning landscape and an intense if spare script. Jay Swan is not in almost every shot in this film as he is in Mystery Road, but Aaron Pedersen's performance as Jay is just as good and he's even more magnetic. The support performances are solid. We need a third film about detective Swan from director Sen, he's a fascinating character, more like a character from a novel in his humanity than a character developed purely through film.
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Dumb, just plain dumb
I like remakes of fairy tales but any movie where the leading lady has so little ability that Chris Hemsworth looks like he is a good actor in comparison means that the movie is pretty much a hollow exercise in junk film making. Charlize Theron is the only thing giving it any spark at all.
The Code (2014)
Bit silly really
I watched all six episodes of the first series though I was a bit over it by the end. The climax felt about as silly as it could get, really wanted Wenham's character to 'win' as he seems to be the only one who could act. Back to drama school for the rest of the uncharismatic bunch, apart from Pedersen as he did what he could with a very small and poorly-conceived role and Zukerman as I felt his portrayal had some real thought and ideas behind it The usual issues with shaky cameras being used in a messy, not dramatic way and the fast slow mos over done too, but you get used to that in modern TV.
Jack Irish: Bad Debts (2012)
Uttery apt cast, script and smarts
Guy Pearce works beautifully with his large and superb supporting cast in Jack Irish while very much being the laid- back centre of the show. It a truly collaborative effort in terms of performances and the script allows for this by sharing around some fabulous dialogue and one-liners. Marta Dusseldorp seems just right as Linda, smart, determined but vulnerable too.
The direction is sharp and thoughtful, the design for locations and sense of place is outstanding, plus the pacing, which I would have thought would have driven the script writers up the wall in condensing from the labyrinth plots of the novel, just hums along.
Special shout-out to Roy Billing (Harry) and the wonderful Aaron Pedersen (Cam) as Jack's racing skallywag mates: the three of them operate seemingly effortlessly together in this first outing for Jack Irish, very believable. And they keep to that high level in all the subsequent episodes.
Mystery Road (2018)
Beautifully paced series with exceptional photography
It's a gripping, hypnotic show which had to be binged watched and it has two very fine and charismatic lead actors who interacted fantastically well - moving towards and away from each other continually while having the same goals.
Expert direction makes first class use of the geography and sense of place as well as the actors.
A noir in bright sunshine in an awe-inspiring landscape and how well it works.
Killing Eve (2018)
Shiny fluff that made no sense
After having people rave about this, I tried to watch it, but only managed up to the end of Episode 3. i gave up trying to concentrate as it appeared more and more lazy and insensible as regards plotting/sequencing and there was nowhere near enough humour to make up for that, plus I couldn't care less about the facile characters. Pointless fluff.
Oliver Twist (2007)
Excellent acting and storytelling
The performances are excellent all around. Sophie Okonedo is a fine Nancy, so thoroughly believable as is Tom Hardy, Timothy Spall and Sarah Lancashire. The children playing Oliver and Dodger give subtle performances, so were obviously directed extremely well.
I did not have any problems with the changes to the narrative and I know the novel well, but in the time constraints of the series, I thought the changes made sense. At first I thought the music surprising but very quickly I felt it suited the style of the story telling.
Very fine effort from the BBC, they are so thorough with period dramas, I can't remember the last time they stuffed one up.