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Jack Strong (2014)
9/10
Best cold war thriller in years. A true story that is relentlessly tense and historically enlightening
19 February 2014
This film only got a very limited cinema release in UK with absolutely no marketing and no top critic reviewing despite it being released nearly a week ago as I write. In fact, even Rottentomatoes has zero critic reviews on it.

Which is MADNESS. It's a brilliant and highly tense spy thriller, far superior to last year's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and nearly in league with a film like Argo. I would say its one of the best cold war spy thriller in years. Its edge of the seat stuff as well and psychologically exhausting. The film revolves around a top level Polish army officer who is concerned about the apparently destructive plans of his superiors and the repercussions it will have on his homeland. His journey is enthralling, riveting and terrifying. The soundtrack adds to the tension with its superb minimalistic impending doom beats.

It's based on a true story but its so good I am sure there is lot of artistic licence taken. Nevertheless, I am enthused to find out more about the truth. It's as incredible as the Cuban Missile Crisis saga. There was tremendous world wide stakes involved, it's terrifying to think how fragile the world is in the hands of nuclear armed states and how much just one person can tip the scales either way. I fear for our damn future watching films like this.

What you won't get in this film are any bouts of humour or entertaining dialogue, no George Clooney swooning his way with a cigar in a war zone or any comedy relief. This is straight up relentless reality based thriller much in the vein of Argo with tightly edited pacing, taught direction, and solid performances.

If there are any negatives, it would be that some moments WILL remind you of Argo and other known political thrillers in its execution. I did get the feeling of that trick has been done before but at least its executed with maximum impact. Also, the dialogue could have perhaps be injected with some light relief humour in some places, there were opportunities but its no biggie.

This is an intelligent and educational movie worthy of being seen by all. Sure, much of this film is in Polish which probably explains the lack of any marketing but if they are going to release it in UK cinemas then at least tell people about it. Its also partly in English as the film switches to and fro America and Poland. It has an American star too, Patrick Wilson, in a very prominent role.

Because of the lack of marketing, it doesn't look like this film will be seen by many. It's a real shame but if you are reading this and want to see a top cold war thriller that is also a true story, be educated at how close again a nuclear war could have ignited in the early 70s, then see this film, either at the cinema or as a rental. As long as you don't mind reading English subtitles for most of the film, which very understandably is a put off for some people but it's worth the effort.

8.5/10
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Grudge Match (2013)
7/10
Don't hold any grudges. Rumble with the ageing legends and enjoy
28 January 2014
I'm never bothered about people saying, "Sly and DeNiro gotta eat" or "why the hell is DeNiro making this type of movie" or "Its sad to see these hero's sink so low". I ignore that sort of talk. Sly and DeNiro have made iconic movies by great directors. They also make fun movies and a lot of them are great fun, both can do comedy well in their own way even if sometimes they send themselves up, they have the charm and charisma to do so. So no matter if a film is good, bad or ugly, most of the time they got the charisma to pull the movie through. And in case you didn't know, they have been making light-hearted films from day one.

And once again their charisma shines through in this film. This is an easy going feel good movie with plenty of laughs and an entertaining build up to the climatic showdown but what really works here is the chemistry between Deniro and Sly and so by the time it gets to the ring, you really care about both of them.

The last time I saw a film with Sly and DeNiro together was in Copland and while they didn't share a helluva a lot of screen time together in that movie, when they did they sparked. And they spark here too.

The film storyline is no great shakes and at times it does pull the obvious "too old for this" joke a few too many times but still, there is a fun sincerity to it and Alan Arkin also adds a few chuckles as "damn is he still alive?" trainer.

Kim Basinger plays the grandmother love interest...and she looks lovely at 61, in fact more than lovely! Nice to see her looking "naturally" good on screen. Go granny! Of course there isn't much for her to do...this is the Sly and DeNiro show.

DeNiro is awesome, he's somewhat of a scoundrel, he's likable and funny but you also know he needs a big punch in the face (tiny echoes of Raging bull...very tiny OK, this ain't that sort of film). As for Sly, he's the same old Rocky Balboa personality. A simple man, with no great ambition, just rolls through life as a construction worker and murmur his way in the way that only slurry Sly can do. Its a perfect clash of personalities and that's where all the fun is in this movie.

There are little side plots to pad out the drama which gives the two ageing boxers more incentive to kill each other. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of flat jokes. No escaping that. I don't know who the actor playing the promoter is but he strikes me as someone trying to bring back Chris Tucker style of comedy to the screen...not a good idea. Chris Tucker came and gone for a good reason. Making fun of being black and short is also a little risqué in this day and age but it seems to have brought a chuckle from the audience in my screening (all 6 of them).

As for the training and boxing match itself...for me, it was actually worth the wait. Of course don't expect great things from these pensioners and sure, the film editing cheats more than Lance Armstrong to make them look fast. It is obvious how slow Sly punches are but I tell you, they both looked great fighting each other. Raging Bull and Rocky, old but in decent enough shape to make the fight convincing and painful! DeNiro was fighting in the same style as he did in Raging Bull, that cowering bore into the opponent style...there is a geeky delight to be had in that. As for Sly, well I actually like his body shape more here than in the Expendable movies. He looks more "natural". In the Expendables, he looks like he was pumping some of that Bane juice into his veins. Here he looks natural, you don't see those veins pumping out too much and I like that.

If you are a hardcore Sly or DeNiro fan and hate to see these guys doing light comedy and getting old then stay away and watch your steel book remastered blurays of their classics.

But if you love these guys to enjoy every little ounce of what's left in them to deliver...and they do give it all they got in personality and physicality, then honour their ageing efforts and have a lightweight rumble with them.

7/10

Oh and stay for the early part of the credits, there is a hilarious sketch...in fact the funniest bit in the whole film. Totally surprising and well executed.
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Devil's Due (2014)
3/10
We are due for something better than this tediously unimaginative take on Rosemary's Baby.
16 January 2014
First of all, I am a big fan of the found footage supernatural/horror genre and love watching even the lesser acclaimed films. I am the type of viewer that draws the positives out of a very flawed film and enjoy it. So I expected to enjoy something out of this at the very least.

My god, what a tediously insufferable film this turned out to be.

There is absolutely no innovation or any attempt to try something new. It is so painfully boring.

The concept idea was very promising which is basically a found footage rendition of The Omen or Rosemary's baby. However, this film is so dire at engaging the audience due to the most irritable protagonist I have ever seen so far in a found footage type movie. For more than half of the movie, we are tortured with the sickly saccharine antics of a doting husband on his newly wed wife. There is no natural humour to ease the torment and worse for a film of this type, there were actually no scares until the last act.

As I said, I am the type of film goer that draws the positives and try enjoy that. So are there any? Well, there is a dog that was amusing for 2 seconds but even he looked bored, thereafter. OK, there is a bit more positives. You do get a predictable climax in an attempt to "reward " us for our eternal patience which was efficiently executed but without any unique vision or flair, just the usual creep around corridors and..."boo" oh it was just the dog sort of thing. The actors do perform well but the material they have to work with is revolting.

At the end of the credits there is a piece of text explaining that this film created 200,000 jobs. Well that was nice to know and the only bit that made me feel good knowing that at least it gave a lot of people work but then I wonder if stating that was an indirect apology and their justification to make this dreadfully boring movie?

TO be fair, the film is as polished as it can be for a found footage genre but its all pointless if it fails to engage us in the narrative.

If you haven't seen many horror films or supernatural films such as Paranormal Activity etc, then perhaps you might enjoy this more as long as you can stomach the vomit inducing newly weds for half of the movie.

I give this a 3/10 rating, mostly for the dog that looked fairly convincing in not wanting to be in the movie. Get a new agent doggy, you deserve better.
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About Time (I) (2013)
8/10
Charming, funny and poignant romantic time travelling comedy drama. A top date movie.
19 August 2013
I attended a preview screening of this in London.

If you enjoy previous Richard Curtis (writer, director) films such as Four Weddings and a funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually then you will very likely enjoy this sweet time travel comedy drama albeit with an ironic sense of time travel feeling of been having been here before.

But that more of the same feeling is no bad thing, thanks largely to the wonderful performances of the cast and more importantly, the exquisite execution of its new spin, the time travelling plot device. In fact, the time travelling here is really good fun and plentiful as its employed with typical motives but with inventiveness by our main protagonist, a stereotypical "loser" played with utter charm and goofiness by Domhall Gleeson. His use of the power is at times hilarious but very useful without your typical "changing your past will backfire" moral message. In most time travel movies, changing events in the past is usually painted as a negative repercussion but here, for the most part, the movie is certainly promoting its benefits.

The time travel premise have some set rules that nicely serves the narrative, although if you think too carefully in some scenes, you might find some minute flaws in the execution of the cause and effects which could have been made neater if extra attention was paid.

There is a moral message but you have to wait until the end to get what it is because it isn't so obvious as the film rolls. You might suspect things will happen in some ways as you watch the film but they don't and you might wonder, what's the story then but let it roll and the point of it all comes at the end.

However, that waiting for the end leads to my first little bit of criticism. This film clocks in at just over 2hours and it did feel a tad too long. There are quite a few points in the film which I feel could have been trimmed. I think it could have been about at least 10 minutes shorter.

There are familiar stalwart faces from Richard Curtis's previous films making guest appearances with the always awesome Bill Nighy justifiably anchoring a supporting role with his usual high calibre presence. Its also nice to see one of our great British character actors who had recently passed away make a surprise and funny bit part appearance perhaps for the last time...or did the film makers travel back in time to shoot his part? Rachel McAdams is very lovely as the love interest and is believable as a girl worth manipulating time for.

I'm not a great fan of Richard Curtis previous movies but this film swims along with so much charm, English middle class idiosyncrasies, a lovely romance and a gentle pacing that flows with a steady beat from beginning to end. This is not a riotous comedy, its not a thriller, nor an adventure or even a film that draws any suspense towards the last act. Its a journey through a period of our time traveller's life, sometimes funny, charming, poignant with a very clever and enjoyable time travelling premise.

Its certainly a great date movie too.

8/10
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9/10
A wonderfully nostalgic coming of age drama
4 October 2012
So we have another coming of age drama, not exactly a starved genre but this is one of the best I have seen and is a wonderfully nostalgic throwback to the 80s in the way American Graffiti was to the 60s. The late 80s was a time when I loved watching teenage angst in movies like Some Kind of Wonderful or Risky Business followed by a horror movie where said protagonists are stabbed or slashed in inventive ways on Elm Street or the likes. Perfect double bills, ah miss those days!

I cannot convince any of you that the underlying formula of this film is significantly different to others in this genre but I promise this is nevertheless not a clichéd run of the mill, trippy road movie (though there is a bit of tripping in this). The main characters have layers which are slowly peeled away as the film progresses. I was very warmed to the earnestness of these characters and their developing stories. The story being told from the point of view from a fresher year student who is an introvert trying to do the best he can to fit in, is as stereotypical of a protagonist you can get but thanks to Logan's sublime performance, his execution was exquisite, humorous and very realistic, not overdone as is the case with many other films in this genre. He is befriended by two slight eccentrics (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller), bringing him into their exclusive circle of "misfits".

What makes this film stand out for me then? I think its a combination of many elements. Immaculate direction by the director who is also the author of the book that this film is based on which is interesting, as the only one other example I can think of is Michael Crichton who also directed his own books into movies. The choice of delightfully eclectic 70s/80s soundtrack perfectly complements the variable moods. The smoothly flowing narrative plays out with a poetic grace, infusing heart and soul, intrigue and wonderful characters that some of us have met in one form or another during our college days.

To top it off, the three main protagonists are beautifully conveyed. Its great to see Emma Watson able to free herself from the shackles further away from the Hermione persona after her small transition role in My Week With Marilyn. She equips herself well with natural aplomb, giving an earnest and heartfelt performance. I hear negatives about her accent which frankly, I find preposterous. First of all, I didn't notice if she has a British or American accent because when you are in a college, students come from different backgrounds and accents are mixed anyway. Secondly, its the performance that enraptures me, not the accent. If we are supposed to criticise accents then we might as well lay it thick on Sean Connery's Oscar winning performance of an Irish cop who sounded very much like a Scotsman, yet he still got an Oscar...maybe it was because of his performance, huh? The stand out performer, however, was the other supporting character, Ezra Miller who oozes charisma and I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this lad in future. I cant say much more about his character though because as I said they have layers which are slowly peeled away.

There is a revelation at the end but to be honest, while its actually a good one and makes the film even more substantial, it didn't need to have it. I would have been completely satisfied with the movie without it. I also think it drives a somewhat misleading message about certain types of people.

Having said that, I had a wonderfully nostalgic time with this film which delivers an emotional journey of ups and downs, building to a both an uplifting and poignant crescendo, so it is for that experience I give this a 9/10.

I especially recommend this for those of you who like American Graffiti, Some Kind of Wonderful, Hugh Walter movies etc.
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Looper (2012)
8/10
Great storyline but a missed opportunity to be something more
25 September 2012
I saw this at a preview screening in London.

Its thought provoking and certainly intelligent sci fi. For Willis fans, of which I am one, I'm happy to say that he is at his laconic and bad-ass best with a complex emotional drive attached to his character's purpose. Levitt, who plays a younger version of Willis character, is however, doing more of a Robert De Niro impression than a Bruce Willis one but thats not a big deal because he does it damn good. Jeff Daniels also makes a mark as a no nonsense gang boss of the Loopers organisation, not the type of role one sees him do often but he's effective.

I don't relay plot, you got the synopsis for that but don't expect this to be a big sci fi action film because its not. The visual aesthetics of the future setting is unspectacular, very basic and unimaginative. Its the sub standard ghetto look of a lawless society. It has absolute bare minimum of any signs that the film is set in the future with just two or three shots of a hover bike and one shot of holographic computer monitor). Focus is on story here that drives a moralistic catch 22 type narrative. I think the film is meant to be a thriller too but rather than being thrilled for any of the main protagonists I was simply intrigued which was enough to keep me engaged.

There are only a few action scenes, most of which are basic chases on foot and gun fight set pieces. Some do pack a punch especially when Willis is involved but on the whole they are not anything special. The direction is placid but to the point. Dialogue is OK, there's a tiny sprinkle of dark humour but overall it lacks spice.

The time travel element is certainly imaginative, and well thought out to serve a fluctuating storyline that doesn't trap itself in restrictive rules. I do find it has holes though but perhaps with a bit more thought on it and adding a time travel rule here and there, you might be able to fill those holes.

So does it live up to the hype that its currently getting from press critics? No, not really but thats because the hype was too high. Its a very good film, it tells a superb moralistic high concept story and I reckon it is still the best sci-fi film of the year. I just cant help the feeling that its a missed opportunity, given its excellent storyline, it could have had a much bigger impact with a more punchier and exciting execution. Its just not the all round entertaining experience as I perceived it would be from the general consensus.

So lower the expectations and enjoy the great story, some vintage cool Willis moments and an intriguing finale. If you enjoy everything else about it too, then good for you.
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6/10
Not scary at all when the lights went out.
20 August 2012
I saw this at a preview screening tonight in London. Its a British supernatural haunted house film set in Yorkshire 1974 and is apparently based on a true story.

The 70s Britain backdrop is suitably done reflecting the country's financial struggles of its time and if you remember growing up in 70s Britain, there are some fond nostalgic touches to enjoy. The story, however is a typical haunted house affair. A working class family (mother, father and a thirteen year old daughter) moves into a new home in the suburbs. Of course the new home is haunted and aggressively so. The family becomes rather concerned about this little negative point....which unfortunately is the first of this film's many problems.

See, the family's reaction to the haunting is ridiculously flippant. They accept the haunting too easily, despite its obvious aggression. The family are mostly naive and unlikeable which doesn't help me root for them. The performance of the 13 year old is initially quite annoying in her mannerisms but she is deliberately playing a stroppy teenager who lacks self esteem and friends, and she portrays that well. She has just one school friend, who seems to be a much more accomplished little actress and was very charming. In fact, the film had more spark every time she was on the screen. The friendship drama with the children, their isolation and their struggles against bullies was actually far more interesting and captivating than the house haunting itself.

Which brings me to the films's biggest problem of all. If you have seen just a few supernatural films, then this wont likely scare you. Its not completely devoid of "boo" moments but there is absolutely nothing new here and its embarrassingly clichéd. Almost every attempted boo moment is lifted from classics such as Poltergeist, Sixth Sense, and Paranormal Activity but with inferior results and sometimes laughably ridiculous visuals that is too illogical even for a Loony Tunes cartoon. Perhaps the scares would be effective to complete virgins of supernatural films. Its possible that I may have seen too many supernatural films myself being a massive fan of the genre for these scare attempts to be effective on me but the scares here are still poorly executed and devoid of logic. I mean for Pete's sake, even the real ghosts will cringe and come out into the open to declare how mind numbingly silly the hauntings are in this film. I just know they would be saying: "we can shift stuff, make you cold, blow a breeze, play with lights and shadows but we don't do bleeding magic tricks".

It seems to me this film's success will be dependant on its "based on a true story" premise and its Yorkshire setting flavour.

There are some redeeming features about the film, I have already mentioned about the children's drama and nostalgic setting of 70s Britain but the film did also offer a surprising and most welcome period of comic relief towards the end which brought genuine chuckles out of me. I did enjoy that and felt relieved that the film had at least something more to offer. If only it could have given more of that kind of humour earlier to make up for the lack of effective scares.

There is no blood and gore by the way, in case you are concerned about that. And only one f-word is used (to comical effect actually) so, this might earn a rating of PG13. By all means still go see this, if you are very easily scared and are content to be scared for only one or two effective moments.

Being based on a true story might be a pulling factor but I personally think its a cop out.

I rate this 6/10...mainly for the captivating school friendship drama, the sudden burst of humour and for me personally, a retro nostalgia of 70s Britain. Scare factor scale, however, an abysmal zero.
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7/10
Spiderman: The RETOLD Story is enjoyable with plenty of heart but just not fresh enough
4 July 2012
I enjoyed this, it offers just about enough to set it apart from Raimi's trilogy but I didn't feel there was anything really outstanding about it. There are no moments in the film which made me go, oh wow. If it was a decade ago, I might have but not today, now that we are saturated with CGI effects movies. It simply moves along amicably with spots of charm, a tiny bit of humour, plenty of teenage angst and a heavy dose of anger all of which is framed within a washed out dark toned colour palette as opposed to the vibrancy and rich colours of Raimi's trilogy.

There are some decent big action set pieces but they lack invention and none of it has the visceral energy and savviness as say Avengers or Raimi's trilogy...oops, you know I did promise myself not to make comparisons to Raimi. But I cant help it. So much of the this film is a retread of 2002 Spider-Man and Spiderman 2 that I simply cant ignore it. You really have to be patient with going through all the blasted exposition again. And not just that but an all too similar journey of Octavia as well, albeit in the form of a Lizard. Having said that, it IS all done well, there is plenty of heart and the performances are sincere. Andrew Garfield is born for the role, he is a major reason for watching this film. I always felt the wrong actor won the best actor award in Social Network. Should have been Garfield! But anyway, he nails Peter Parker's flippancy, geekiness, and angst perfectly. His awkwardness and playful relationship with Gwen Stacy are some of the highlights of the movie for me. Emma Stone gives Gwen an attractive spark despite ultimately not differing too much to the Mary Jane of Raimi's films but Gwen has more geek in common with Parker and a little more brains too.

One of the areas this film disappoints in is dialogue. Not that its bad, it just lacking some spark. There is a couple of quips from Spiderman but nothing more and if you've seen the trailers, you've heard most of them. Its the only thing I'm actually disappointed with the Spiderman character himself because otherwise I love this version of the web slinger, he is a lot more vulnerable and less all round powerful than Raimi's version. I also see the benefit now of having the separate electronic web slinger narrative wise, as Spidey depends on it, if it fails, our hero is in trouble...I like that extra vulnerability, we feel more anxious for Spiderman here, can he really cope with the mighty dangers ahead? That's all done well.

The Lizard is pretty good but all too similar to Octavious in terms of motive and character and the effects are seamless. But I have to make comparisons again. The Dr Connors/Lizard is a paler version of Octavious in Spiderman 2 who was by far the more superior and complex villain. The Connors/Lizard character is a not given enough depth for us to empathise with or even fear for that matter.

The soundtrack is serviceable, there is no standout theme for Spiderman, well there is but its a bit meh, certainly not James Horners best work.

Storywise this film lacks imagination and seems too frightened to take risks somehow. It introduces a mystery but then completely abandons it and only returns to it midway through the end credits! The rest of the story is simply old themes already covered in previous films. The Untold story? More like The Retold Story. Whatever we get of this untold story, is absolutely minimal and I get the feeling its meant to be a story arc which might be spread over perhaps a trilogy of these movies.

I know I've emphasised the film's negative points but I did still enjoy what it had to offer and to be honest, most of you might prefer this to Raimi. If Raimi's spider-man is milk chocolate then this is the dark chocolate version.

I'd still look forward to a sequel but I'll say this, I don't have an urge to see this again. With films such as Avengers, X-Men:FC, Spiderman 1, 2 and yeah even 3, I have an urge to see them again or at least anticipate watching it again on Blu Ray. Unfortunately I have no such urge with this film.

These are my personal comparison ratings for all the Spiderman films in this millennium:

Spider-man 9/10 Spider-man 2: 9/10 Spider-man 3: 7.5/10 (yeah I had blast with this one, to hell with the haters ) The Amazing Spiderman: 7/10
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The Dictator (2012)
7/10
Its funny but you might feel guilty laughing and you will need a shower afterwards
11 May 2012
I saw a preview screening of this in London.

As expected from Sacha's previous outings and trailers, this film is in extremely bad taste with plenty of filth, blatant offence (disguised as naivety) of every race, gender, age, animal, disability, sexual orientations, terrorism and politics. Sacha gets away with it because no one is left out. No one, including white folks and straight men. Actually, I lie. I don't know how the hell he gets away with it. The important question is, though, is it funny? Yeah...mostly.

There are enough roll in the isle moments to make this worth the ticket but there are also plenty of misfired jokes too, some of which really makes you groan but that's to be expected for a relentless joke firing machine which incidentally has (perhaps mercifully) a short run time of 84mins.

Another burning question I ask myself, while watching this is do I feel guilty laughing at some of the offencive jokes? Yes I do, my guilty conscience raises its ugly head but then I realise (or perhaps I'm just making excuses) that I am laughing at the Dictator's naivety and hilarious sense of misplaced morality while others around him frown at his demeanours.

This is a departure from the Borat, Ali G, and Bruno stable. With those previous films, real people are sought after and ridiculed by scrutinising their reactions and moral bases. This film, however is purely fictitious, Naked Gun style comedy very much similar to Eddie Murphy's Coming to America with obviously a lot lot less subtlety. However, Sacha's Dictator has pretty much the same political correctness that Borat has but with more hilarious Dictatorship cravings such as executing anyone that annoys him.

A good supporting cast thankfully gives this zany film a little bit more variety, particularly Anna Francis, comically playing off the Dictator's character who frankly dominates almost every frame (as I guess a dictator would). John C Reilly also gives a short but hilarious turn. And then there are a few special cameo celebrity guest appearances (or victims, rather) sprinkled around.

There are a couple of moments political satire that stands out in hilarity and I wish there was more of it. Alas, it seems vulgarity is more favoured.

So if you have no guilty conscience, welcome vulgarity and all things "un-pc" with open arms, do not despise Sacha Cohen Baron and are willing to kiss his armpits (last one is optional), then I reckon you will enjoy this film. For me, filthy films are not my normal cup of tea, nevertheless I did enjoy this but I need a long shower after watching it.
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9/10
Rejuvenating spin on the horror genre. Funny, scary, gory and loads of FUN
27 March 2012
I went to a preview screening of this in London last night night.

Its one hell of a fun and radical ride. Notice IMDb has only a two sentence synopsis for this film? Its for good reason. The least you know about the plot the better. In fact don't even read reviews...wait, you can read my one though! Just know that this is a horror movie that is scary, funny (in tone with Evil Dead 2, Zombieland and Scream) and very gory with an outrageously inventive script that makes this a refreshing and rejuvenating take on films with suggestive mundane titles such as...well, The Cabin in the Woods.

Its not necessarily unique as all of its parts have been done before in past films but what is unique is how ingeniously it fuses those genres together. Even naming the different films its inspired from would be spoiling the fun.

The performances by the 5 stereotypical friends are very enjoyable. The comic relief hippie , the sex driven couple, the shy dude and the shy girl. What raises my eyebrow a bit is that the actors look older than the ages they are meant to play but these are experienced and mature actors and so they probably deliver better performances as 19/20-ish year old than most 20 year old actors would. Chris Hemsworth, for instance, is 29 and though he doesn't look like a 20 year old, he acts it and his charisma more than makes up for that optical failure.

There are a few surprises along the way including a nice cameo. Horror enthusiasts might also delight in picking up several horror references. You may or may not predict the ending, if you don't, good for you. To be honest the ending wasn't such a big revelation to me as it was intended to be but the roller-coaster journey ride made it all worthwhile.

Its the perfect film to see with a lively Friday/Saturday night audience from which you'll hear both laughter and girlie screams aplenty (at least that's what I got from my audience). But just go and have a real fun time with this however you choose to see it.
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The Raven (I) (2012)
7/10
Suitably entertaining 19th century serial killer flick.
20 March 2012
I quite enjoyed this. Storywise, its a bit like Seven set in 19th century London, that is, a serial killer detective mystery but here, the killer is forcing a storyline pattern fusing Edgar Allen Poe's stories to life by imitating the murders from several of his stories creating a new one that involves Edgar Allen Poe himself.

Cusack was engaging as the drunken author/poet riding on financial hardship suddenly finding himself helping a detective to catch the killer. At first Poe is quite unlikeable but I then warmed to his idiosyncrasies and determination to find his loved one, whom the serial killer has kidnapped.

There's a couple of really graphic and inventive murders suitably qualified for a SAW or Final Destination movie. There is not enough of them to satisfy the horror enthusiast, though. It might have been a good opportunity to make this a fun horror movie to boot given that there are several murders in the film but we are not shown the rest of them.

The dialogue alternates between flat and humorous with some fun (but admittedly way over my head) wordplay with Poe's character. Poe enthusiasts might enjoy connecting the references of the murders to the various stories that he has written. I haven't read any of his stories so I cant make any connections. I do know the overall story/poem of the Raven though and I can say with some confidence, this film isn't that story. Its got ravens in it but I'm not sure that justifies the title, if it does then we might as well call every John Woo film, The White Dove.

I did look forward to seeing this film, as I love V for Vendetta, James Mctiegue first directorial feature. This, his 3rd, is not as good or as clever but it has the same visceral directorial flair and vibe to it which I enjoyed. The script is full of plot holes though and I was annoyed with some scenes that blatantly cheated for the sake of narrative progression.

There isn't anything original here but its competent enough entertainment for a decent Friday night out at the cinema.
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John Carter (2012)
8/10
Cheesy, ludicrous plot but highly enjoyable blockbuster Sci-fi fantasy adventure
3 March 2012
I saw this at a preview screening in London.

I never read any of the books so only had a vague synopsis of the story just from trailers which didn't really impress me much.

Well, this turned out to be quite a blast. Its an enjoyable if very cheesy Sci-fi fantasy blockbuster. It has the spirit and energy of Flash Gordon including its own outrageously nonsensical but fun premise. It isn't as cheesy as that film but there is a definite lean towards it. The story is quite a novel mix of Planet of the Apes, Conan, Red Sonja, Avatar, Star Wars and Superman (yep this is a superhero movie too). We even have a western thrown in the mix at the beginning. I was going to say there isn't anything original here but how can I? This story was published in the 19th century so from that perspective, I can now see a lot of plot influences deriving from this in later SF/fantasy films.

A lot of money was spent on this movie and it shows. The special effects here are pretty awesome. Not necessarily ground breaking, everything on screen has been done before but its all smoothly done at a grand scale though not quite to the scale of the Star Wars prequels. Effects that stood out for me were John Carters "Hulk" like jumps, Martian sky ship battles, green martians (as good as Avatar), and a cute monster dog sidekick that almost steels the show.

Another major feature of the film was the cinematography. Its quite spectacular and for a barren dead desert planet, its surprisingly stunning.

One of the biggest surprise for me was the 3D. Its post conversion which most often results in poorer quality than films which are filmed in 3D from the start. But an exception can be made here. This is hands down the best 3d conversion film I have seen. The 3d depth was outstanding and really shows its power in numerous landscape and action scenes. This is probably the second best 3d live action film I've seen overall (either filmed in 3d or post converted) and I am normally anti-3d when it comes to live action films.

Taylor Kitsch who plays John Carter has just about enough screen presence portraying a likable anti hero with a punchy attitude and a sense of past history haunting him. Its a Han Solo type role but he plays it more brooding. There is even a Princess Leia and the age old storyline of helping a Princess to fight a war but each with their own agendas. Its all very clichéd, yet still enjoyable.

As much fun as I had with this, there is no denying that there is a lot wrong with it too. I could pick on flaws and lack of logic all day long with this film some of which are smack on the head stupid and some elements I desperately wished more or better development on. The dialogue while often funny, also often dive bombs into cringe-worthiness (much like a Lucas script), the developing romance was very disjointed and sometimes embarrassing (think Anakin and Padme levels of embarrassment). The 3 way war politics was not very clear, major characters not fleshed out enough and there's a whole lot of story loopholes. Yet there is still a lot more fun to be had to override those flaws.

I have a feeling that book lovers will be disappointed because I can detect a lot of back story is missing here and key characters seem very short changed on their development and motives (particularly with the green martians) which I am sure would have been fully fleshed out in the book. However, I reckon if you enjoy films like Thor and GI Joe, you'll have a great time with this. This wont be a classic or even a cult movie but it is a satisfying piece of cinema escapism. And its enough for me to want to read the books!
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Chronicle (2012)
8/10
The Superheroes genre gets a Highly Entertaining "Found Footage" treatment.
2 February 2012
It was only a matter of time until we got a superpowers version of the "found footage" genre. Thankfully, we get a damn good one.

This is a highly entertaining superhero "origins" movie which should delight fans of the genre. However, it does have a rather predictable storyline with quite a few clichés to boot. In fact, those of you who have seen the old classic film, Carrie, with Sissy Spacek, will notice the similarities in the storyline. Originality therefore, is not its strength.

But its the whole execution of the film that completely wins me over. The dialogue was witty and engaging, and there was a delightful balance of humour, drama and very cool moments.

Given that everything is meant to be captured on film by the on screen characters, a lot of liberties is taken with how every key moment is captured but it is cleverly explained and integrated neatly with the superpowers of the protagonists. So the effect of everything that unravels visually is creative, visceral and very entertaining.

Even though I could see where this film is going, it was still compelling and that's mostly down to Dane Dehaan who plays the "Carrie" style character. He was superb. His performance of a troubled teenager gave the film more depth and realism than you would expect from an OTT high concept film like this. Michael B. Jordan provides a natural tone of comic relief while Alex Russel is suitably fine as the more rational leader of the 3 super power teenagers. The 3 leads played off each other well creating a complex chemistry in their relationships that ranges from juvenile foolery to mature responsibilities for each other's conflicting actions and use of their super powers.

There is room for a sequel and as long as they can come up with a good story and try not to rip too much off other sources, I will happily be in the queue to see it.
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Intruders (I) (2011)
7/10
Very decent supernatural and psychological thriller
30 January 2012
This film seems to have a very low key marketing and I haven't even seen many critics reviews for it despite it already opening.

I found this to be a pretty decent supernatural bogeyman type thriller with some intriguing psychological twists and turns. The scares are sparsely spread but are effective when they do come. The storyline is quite compelling and is told in two completely separate strands whose only apparent connection is the bogeyman. It had me very engaged and a very creepy atmosphere is maintained.

The performance from all the actors including the children were good, nothing outstanding, just played to realistic levels. There isn't a lot of emotional weight to the characters but I cared about the child protagonists, who are victimised by the "Freddie Nightmare" style dream monster.

The last act is a good one but unfortunately, it was sloppily executed. The finale should have been more dynamic with a bigger impact on its revelations. Given the storyline, its a missed opportunity for the director. Also, there is a big chance you might see some twists coming due to the film's narrative giving too many clues, again a bit sloppy. I did see the revelations coming to an extent but there was still a twist that I didn't expect. I do like the story, its a satisfying one but the execution could have been much better which is a pity. Still the journey was an intriguing one, at times scary and definitely worth a watch.
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8/10
Mission Impossible to Resurrect Franchise: Solidly Accomplished
9 December 2011
Saw this at a London IMAX press preview screening.

Clearly JJ Abram's mission impossible, should he choose to accept it, is to lead a talented team to resurrect a declining franchise and re-ignite it with renewed vigour and a very high dosage of fun and entertainment.

I'm glad to say, mission highly accomplished.

Brad Bird's first time direction of real actors (must have been a shock when they talked back at him) exhibits the same zestful energy and fun that we got from his animated films such as The Incredibles. Though not with the subtlety of his Iron Giant but this is Mission Impossible, so we cant expect that kind of subtlety here.

Story is outrageously OTT and thats how it should be for a franchise that violently throws plausibility out of the window with much deliberation. Not much else to say about the story apart from the fact that it can easily be translated into a Bond movie. We're in that kind of villainous territory here and it is fun.

The action sequences are inventive, relentless, fun and tense. Some scenes are filmed in IMAX format and when seen on an IMAX screen, are breathtaking and immersing.

As well as Brad Bird's energised and retro direction, the cast really sparkles too. Cruise rocks as an action stunt hero. In fact more so now than he ever did. His traditional self stunt work in this series continues to impress particular in his skyscraper scenes. There is also more playfulness and assuredness in a role he has now worn into nicely. Simon Pegg gets a delightfully big promotion to join Hunt's team making us laugh throughout the movie. And Paula Patton adds an elegant sexiness to the MI team missions. Another new addition to the team, Jeremy Renner also gels smoothly into the squad.

This film has drastically rejuvenated the franchise that I now highly anticipate further adventures of Ethan Hunt and his new vibrant team, equally or even more so than the next James Bond movie.
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The Iron Lady (2011)
9/10
Streep is mesmerising in this beautifully made human drama of a woman who changed the face of Britain
1 December 2011
Saw this very early preview screening in London.

This was a most beautifully made film, funny and very poignant. There is absolutely no question in my mind that Meryl Streep has sealed her umpteenth term in the greatest actress office. She is absolutely spellbinding. Like Thatcher, with her male cabinet, Meryl Streep grabs her co stars by the balls and roars "gentleman, I WILL get another Oscar". She will and she deserves it, there is no actress I can think of in the last 2 centuries that can match her versatility and greatness. I could watch this again a couple more times just to absorb Streep's beautiful, immaculate and nuanced performance. OK I must stop my love letter to Streep.

Admirably, this film really doesn't paint any biased view of Thatcher whatsoever. It neither glorifies or humiliate her, it just tells a very human story about a woman that happened to changed the face of Britain. It covers both her flaws and virtues. We see her drive, tenacity, perseverance, intelligence , and her love and dependence for Dennis countered by her insecurities, bullying, and self pity. No one can deny that Thatcher was always a lady of fierce conviction (hence the obvious nickname and title of the film). It was her asset and her downfall and that is what this is mainly about. All the political events occur in the background, the focus is always on the mind of Thatcher. It also covers a great deal of her twilight years which is both funny and sad as she deals with dementia. The film is structured in flashbacks which I admit is rather old hat but is very well done.

The supporting cast are great, particularly the ever reliable Jim Broadbent as Dennis Thatcher and Anthony Head as Geoffrey Howard (her loyal aide) but they are all so tiny compared to...OK, I said I wont mention Streep again...but you know...she is the greatest. Ever.

A must see. Even Thatcher haters can enjoy many moments of Thatcher suffering in the film. And for those of you who aren't too familiar with Margaret Thatcher, either because you are too young or live across the pond, enjoy this for Meryl Streep's stunning craftsmanship.
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Tower Heist (2011)
7/10
An entertaining and charming comedy heist movie.
2 November 2011
I attended a preview screening of this London.

Its not a riotous comedy but it is a charming funny Sunday matinée sort of film with very likable stars.

Eddie Murphy is looking more energetic and revitalised close to what he used to be in the 80s which is great to see. He isn't at his funniest but he was still entertaining, playing a hoodlum thief. You wouldn't think he is 50 years old.

Ben Stiller...well he was never the funniest guy in the world so recently, he seems to like to play it straight and likable with the odd subtle comical reactions which he does well. And I like it. He plays the mastermind of the heist and is confident he can pull off a mission impossible heist with his rather incompetent friends. But we as an audience are not so confident in him, particularly as he cant win a chess game with his boss. This gives the mission more excitement as they are prone to tripping over their own plans.

But there are points where some comical dialogue falls flat and thats where I would drop my rating slightly. It tries too hard sometimes. There was some promising chemistry between Murphy and Stiller but that fizzled out quickly. However there is a nice rapport between Tea Leoni and Stiller but that also does not get enough screen time. Leoni is excellent and adds a little gravitas as an FBI agent. And the reliable Alan Alda stamps his authority on the cast with aplomb.

This is a fun and entertaining movie with a little demand for suspension of disbelief. Has a nice story and doesn't try to be too smart. You will probably forget this movie next week but as long as you are not expecting too much, you will leave the cinema with a smile on your face.
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5/10
Fun for a short while but gets tiresome very quickly,
15 August 2011
Saw this at a preview screening in London This being a fantasy film with the most basic of plots imaginable, its fair to say that we should at least expect a menu of sex, gore and mindless fun with a film like this. To some extent, we do but there is a lack of invention to it all and I cant help feel that this is being processed by a computer program that's ticking boxes. Its a film that simply goes with the motion. Momoa's lingering ass shot, check. Bare breasts check. Magically conjured monster soldiers, check. Sword fighting (of course), check. Beautiful damsel in distress, check. Sex scene, check. Limb decapitation, check. Multiply violent elements by 10, check. Originality...oh sorry that was not on the list. Also missing from the check list were Tongue in Cheek or Sufficient Level of Humour.

Jason Momoa is however, a charming lead as Conan. Perhaps more so than Schwartzenegger of the original though less iconic. Perlman makes yet another small appearance as a mentor. But as I said, originality was not on the list, so I leave you to guess his fate. Not a spoiler as this is part of the movie's synopsis.

The action is pretty relentless but lacks excitement. It got very tiresome from early on, I am afraid. While Momoa valiantly carries the movie with his anti-hero charm the rest of the cast are not given much to do but to exhibit basic expressions and cheesy dialogue.

Stephen Lang gets a little more to do as the main villain. I suspect the poor fellow may perhaps be forever type-casted since Avatar but he does it well.

I am not sure if this film is a disappointment because I wasn't convinced by its trailer in the first place.

Finally, the soundtrack was relentlessly bombastic without any subtlety or sense of identity. It was just very loud background noise.

Lower your expectations, I mean really bring it down. If you like Momoa, you may enjoy this but don't look out for too much else.
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9/10
An Exhilarating and Beautiful Conclusion to a Magnificent Saga.
7 July 2011
I saw this at a preview screening in London.

Deathly Hallows part 2 ends this incredibly well produced saga with tremendous grace and a beautifully orchestrated climax that I am sure will satisfy both lovers of the books and films.

If you have read the books as I have you will be glad to know major key moments are intact. Much is missing but I won't dwell on that, no point, its how well this movie plays out and for me it rolls wonderfully between excitement, thrills and emotional drama towards a satisfactory (though a slightly rushed) conclusion.

There are at least 2 sequences so powerful that I defy anyone not to at least stifle a tear or choke a little. One of those sequence is an exquisitely executed flashback that is pivotal to the whole story.

I have to say, that despite the woes we book readers have when elements (big chunks of it too) are omitted from the movies, much credit still has to go to Steve Kloves for adapting the books for the big screen, cleverly weaving, changing and even adding new big elements to give a kinetic flow to the narrative and here it all comes together superbly.

David Yates assured direction has nurtured our young actors in the last 4 films to blossom into even more adept actors who convey their characters with natural tones without overacting. Daniel Radcliffe had to carry this movie more than any other and has done so brilliantly complemented with great support from his two companions, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

Pretty much all the characters we have met in all the movies have made an appearance in this finale but one actor stands out, Alan Rickman. His portrayal of Professor Snape has always been a joy to watch (if a little novel) but here his scenes will leave a dramatic engraving in my memory. Here he elevates his portrayal of one of the most complex character in young adult literature to an unforgettable piercingly emotional one.

Another actor who really shines in the few scenes that he has, is Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom who we see gradually transforming over the past films from the clumsy bullied boy to a brave warrior in this final film. Many other British thespians of the series also have their few moments to shine especially Maggie Smith's Professor McGonagal who was a delight to watch as she takes charge of the defence of Hogwarth School.

As for the spectacle of the battle and showdowns, while not at the scale of Lord of the Rings, I honestly cant think how it could have been done better as the film makers have intertwined heart stopping action with dramatic progressions in the narrative. Its actually more visceral and dynamic than the rather smaller scale battle of the brilliant novels (not to take anything away from Rowling's writing).

Do I have any gripes? Yes I do. Although I applaud Steve Kloves for a difficult screenplay adaption...I think he could still have done better at explaining some odd anomalies that only readers of the book will understand. This might annoy you if you haven't read the books. But its a small gripe because what we get is delightful.

What an amazing achievement to faithfully bring Rowling's epic saga to the big screen with the same cast and largely the same crew, maintaining the brilliant quality right to the end.

Oh my god, its only just sinking in, this was the end....but what a great great end.
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9/10
Greatest ever Prequel movie. This XMEN is truly First Class
22 June 2011
Did the X-men film makers name this entry, First Class because of its quality? That was a bit arrogant of them to do that, isn't it? Well sorry, I think its inappropriate, it should be called X-Men: F**CKING AWESOME! What a movie. As far as prequels go, this is the greatest ( I'm not counting Godfather 2, that was half prequel). This is the only prequel movie of any series or franchise that is better than its originals. This film simply got it right in nearly every area. Mainly and crucially it got it right in the motivation, friendship/enemy developments of the main protagonists, Charles and Erik. The character that truly stands out is Erik/Magneto played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender, an ultra cool, dangerous, yet lost soul enraptured with inner hatred and turmoil. Whenever he gets into action or at an emotional high, he carries the most exciting and thrilling piece of aura about him complemented with a pulsating piece of soundtrack! Soundtracks generally should be subtle to drive a story but here, an exception can be made, as it enhanced an already bad-ass character into something I would disturbingly worship. Charles's journey was also done extremely well (played with incredible zest by James McAvory), as we see him shake off his young slightly womanising immaturity (which was fun to watch) ready to take on a huge responsibility for his own kind and to pursue his belief that there can be harmony between mutants and humans, an ideology that is in complete contrast to his friend Erik's who believes in the survival of his own kind, at any cost. Survival of the fittest. But no film can be truly great without a great villain. That box was ticked by Kevin Bacon's evil evil Nazi general and...boy is he evil and so damn COOL. I think I need help, I am being overdosed with evil coolness.

Its the character drives, motivations, and relationships that truly elevates this superhero film above most others. The pacing was exquisite and energetic. The tone was deliciously vibrant due to its 1960s backdrop. The actors were superb, all of them. Aside from Charles and Erik, Raven/Mystique journey was truly moving. Other characters also had enough attention for us to be interested in their fates. Actors will only perform their best when there is good direction so kudos to a fantastic job by director Matthew Vaughan. The story itself was clever and intriguing, integrating the well known Cuban crisis history with the fictitious mutant evolution.

I admit continuity with previous X-Men films is not tight, it is a bit loose despite obvious references to the previous X-men movies. But I would say it has better continuity than the Star Wars prequels.

There was just so much joy to be had in this film that I feel rather overwhelmed by it as I was not expecting a superhero movie with this kind character depth. Only Nolan's Batman movies retain that crown but this is a different universe, colourful, vibrant, intelligent and truly entertaining.
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6/10
Jack Sparrow is back...but On Duller Tides I'm Afraid
12 May 2011
Just came back from a preview screening in London.

I love the first 2 movies, and I even like the overly ambitious messy third one. I thought this film will try go back to the more witty grass roots that made the first film so enjoyable. Well the story is not as incoherent as the last 2 films but sadly, it is mostly unexciting, dull and pointless. The dialogue lacks the wit of previous entries and the narrative lacked focus. There were sparks of fun here and there but these moments are all too few. It all seemed too trying and stale. The supporting characters were even more dull, apart from Shane's Blackbeard. The action scenes were uninspiring but for some flashes of invention.

Depp's Jack Sparrow has lost some magic but still maintains the spirit of the character that we love and is really the only thing that saves this movie.

One more thing, this movie is darkly lit most of the time, so I strongly advise you not to see this in 3D. It made my experience of watching the movie even worse as it darkens the visuals further, robbing us of what I suspect to be some fine visuals. Furthermore, the action scenes become blurred. It felt like I was watching a really bad pirate video. So this is what cinema has succumbed to? What a painful death for my number one destination for escapism.

Come to think of it, the atrocious 3D may have made me more cynical. Had I seen this in its 2D form, I might have enjoyed it more all round. So please consider watching in 2D so you are not put into a more cynical mood. I will watch it again in 2D and add a post edit to this review.
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7/10
A visually splendid and educational journey of the evolution of flying monsters
24 April 2011
I saw this at a preview screening in London.

The format of this documentary is a typical investigative journey that we have become used to from the great Sir David Attenborough's nature programs. This is not comparable to Walking with Dinosaur series, we don't follow the life of any particular family. Instead, the documentary spans the evolution of how early dinosaurs first took to the sky through to their peak and extinction.

Much of the program has Attenborough on screen with scientists investigating fossil bones and explaining how they can interpret the flying dinosaurs evolution. I would guess about 30% of this 40 minute documentary contains CGI recreation of the flying dinosaur era. It is a bit disappointing for an IMAX/big screen feature but thankfully the investigative journey is interesting and educational and no one narrates better then the authoritative and re- assuring voice of Attenborough. When we do see the flying dinosaurs, it is a visual splendour. Though I would have liked to see a little more of them in action and also some interaction with large land dinosaurs for entertainment value. But It seems to me they didn't have a budget big enough to do that which is a shame.

A couple of feeding scenes might be too frightening for very small children (maybe under 4 years old). Because of the lack of land dinosaurs, older kids may also be slightly disappointed but otherwise this should be entertaining enough, educational IMAX feature for the whole family.

I am not a fan of 3D, I don't like how it filters the light and makes the films darker. Unfortunately this is no exception. However, it is used well for depth and if you enjoy 3d for this reason, then you will enjoy it here.
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Thor (2011)
8/10
An immensely enjoyable Marvel entry that complements the tone of Iron Man films
20 April 2011
I watched this last night at a preview screening in London.

I prayed that Kenneth Branagh would learn from his mistakes with handling a big budget movie, namely his Frankeinstein. Thankfully, I am glad to say he learnt a great deal from those mistakes. Of course, this is no Henry V, this is just pure popcorn entertainment but a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to Thor for the big screen. Chris Hemsworth played the part with a lot of energy, charisma and I have to admit from a bloke's point of view, annoying good looks. Anthony Hopkins added much needed heavyweight presence as Odin but its a role he has quite frankly played a gazillion times but I never tire of it, so I'm not complaining. In a year long span of brilliantly playing vastly different roles from psychotic to swashbuckling heroine, Natalie Portman this time plays the sweet determined scientist girl who falls for the strangely mannered good looking guy. Nothing too taxing for any of them but they do give a re-assuring aura about them.

The visuals were quite spectacular, mainly, the sweeping canvas of Asgard. The action scenes were also good though I thought could have been executed better with lesser use of the fast cut edit style that is too often the norm in action film these days.

There is plenty of humour when Thor is on Earth but not in a put-off way as there is a suitable contrast of a serious tone with everything set in Asgard. Even though the storyline was somewhat predictable, it was still a riveting one.

For those like me, who were concerned about how Thor fits into the established Marvel connected universe set by the Iron Man films need not worry. That is just another thing that Branagh and crew pulls off very well. We can now fully embrace the forthcoming Avengers where a God, a man who transforms into a giant green beast, and a man who flies in a hi tech amour suit can share the same screen. So its all coming together nicely.

And make sure you stay for the end credit scenes. In case you did not know of this before, I urge you to go back to the previous films (Iron Man 1 & 2, Incredible Hulk) and watch the end of credit sequences if you haven't already. They tell a separate story strand that will culminate to a certain upcoming Marvel movie. The end credit sequence of Thor is the most fascinating yet as it actually takes a major plot development in the story strand ;) And it was the longest bloody end of credit sequence I've ever seen in any movie! One last thing, the film I saw was in 3d and once again, it practically nearly ruined all the action scenes for me. In the non action scenes, it was pretty useless and just simply made the film much darker.
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Insidious (I) (2010)
8/10
Refreshing Old School Scarefest without need for Gore and CGI
15 April 2011
Just seen this at a preview screening in London.

From the makers of Saw, this was surprisingly devoid of any gore and instead what we get is a refreshingly old school scare fest, 80s style. No stupid over-used CGI, just good effective camera work and traditional make up effects (akin to that of Sixth Sense).

But this film was so similar in structure to one of my favourite 80s scary movie that if I mention what that movie is, I feel I would spoil the whole movie for you! I'm pretty much saying this is an act for act total rip off of that movie. I'm surprised they're not even calling it a remake, or a reboot. But I don't mind the extraordinary similarities as this has its own signature and flavour to win over fans of the "original" and definitely will win over those who haven't.

Did I jump out of my skin? At least 20 bloody times. At one time I worried if I was too far away to get back in my body. Granted, they are your traditional BOO moments with the sound cranked up to maximum, you know the type but they are pretty damn effective and done with great timing and excellent editing.

The audience I saw this with clearly loved the scares whilst dreading it at the same time. It's amusing to find people trying to laugh the scares off and I was one of them, its like a defence mechanism. You know you just got tango'd so what do you do? you try laugh it off!

Having said that I think they used that card a bit too many times in the first and second act so it was quite noticeable that later scary moments didn't quite have us jumping out of our seats and in fact some of it fell quite flat.

My other gripe was that the last act did not quite reach the urgency of excitement that the film was clearly building to, some more tightening in the editing was needed here. I might have felt that way because I'm uncontrollably comparing it too much to the "original". I was also hoping for a little more visual imagination in that last act. But I later found out that this movie was made on a minuscule budget of $800,000. Considering this, they did a damn good job of making use of every penny of it. So it was moderately exciting but not as fulfilling as I would have liked.

Even though I think this a clear rip off of an 80s film I love, this delivered exactly what our sadistic inner demons have been crying out for lately, a movie that scares the bejesus out of us.

So this is a great movie to watch on a Friday or Saturday night with your friends and for guys with their dates as I guarantee your arms will be sore as your girlfriends grab you violently several times.
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Your Highness (2011)
7/10
Filthy, stupid yet charmingly funny fantasy adventure
10 April 2011
I have just seen this at a preview screening in London.

I'm not actually a fan of low brow humour but I found myself laughing and chuckling throughout this filthy mouthed, very gory, medieval sword and sorcery fantasy comedy. Its mainly because the cast is very likable with its main leads resonating off each other in this pool of silliness which makes the film highly entertaining. While James Franco and Danny McBride provides the laughter and brotherly banter, Natalie Portman strides in with stunning gravitas as a deceptive sexy swashbuckling heroine.

The storyline is a simple action adventure journey to save a damsel in distress from a warlord. But this not a naked gun style comedy, rather a humorous homage to classic fantasy movies such as Dark Crystal, Conan the Barbarian, Princess Bride etc. What's surprising is that the adventure is rather genuine and exciting with a huge dose of special effects that a comedy shouldn't really be allowed to have. I believe the film was given a normal comedy level budget but they certainly seem to have made clever use of it with some impressive special effects.

Yes there is much sexual jokes and innuendos and a heavy reliance on uncharacteristic medieval expletive adjectives to force a laugh but the charm of the characters makes them get away with it.

Having said all of the above, there were clearly some pacing issues and missed opportunities for this to be an even funnier and smarter movie but as it is, it offers plenty of entertainment, fun and laughs for a Friday/Saturday evening at the cinema.
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