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First Man (2018)
1/10
I managed to stay to the end. Do I get a medal?
1 February 2019
"Testament", "Visceral", "Powerful", "Breathtaking". Just some of the words used by the professional critics' reviews. I obviously saw a different movie. No, I checked the date and cast: it was the same one. I have debated with myself as to whether this was the worst film I have ever seen, and came to the conclusion that possibly "Four Lions" just edged into that slot - but it is a very close thing. Let's get the technical aspects out of the way first. The sound is dreadful, and not helped by the appalling diction of many of the cast. Nor by the overwhelming soundtrack, which dominates and destroys the visuals. The constant use of tight closeups combined with the lighting and what appears to be aout of focus effects make following the action not an easy task. Gosling plays Gosling: he shows several expressions none of which have much relevance to the narrative and left this viewer emotionally detached from the story. Claire Foy as Armstrong's wife made a competent fist of her part but no-one stood out in any way. Now to the main problem, and it comes down to appalling direction. It is not a well constructed movie in several ways. Firstly, it is far too long. There are multiple examples of scenes so drawn out they become self parodies, and show self indulgence. One wonders if the shots cost so much to set up every foot just had to be used? And, oh! the cliches! Just because one film uses hand-held camerawork to put the audience in the middle of a war battle doesn't mean that it is mandatory to use the technique at all times: it detracts from the story and becomes so irritating that the viewer loses the will to live. Then there's the meeting after the return - which was never shown or hinted at despite being arguably the most critical part of the mission - of Neil and wife in the quarantine room, separated by a glass wall: i actually sat there waiting for the inevitable placing of hands on each side of the glass. Casting is always the most important part of a movie's birth, and especially so when attempting portrayal of current or within living memory events as docu-drama. The only character who had even a fleeting resemblance to his real life alter ego was Mike Collins, who of course stayed in lunar orbit. Compare that with the lead in Vice, where one wonders how they got Dick Cheyney back to play himself! I don't really follow film directors very much, but on the DVD extras Chazelle comes over as immature and full of self importance: then my wife told me that he also directed La La land (which I haven't seen) and she could only stay watching that for twenty minutes before leaving the cinema. I can see what she meant. The story of Neil Armstrong, Buss Aldrin and Mike Collins - and the thousands of designers, engineers, technicians, mathematicians etc who made Apollo complete its mission - is etched in everyone's minds who watched the project from Mercury, through Gemini , Apollo, the ISS and shuttle. The mindblowing complexities of making and guiding spacecraft deserve a much much better portrayal than this feeble attempt which makes the whole thing seem little more than strapping in and turning the ignition key. Yes, it is attempting to show the mind of Armstrong as much as the mechanics, but I'm afraid that, for this reviewer, it fails miserably at both.
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Dunkirk (2017)
1/10
How can a film this bad be financed?
2 September 2018
I was delighted when I finally tracked down a Bluray version of Dunkirk: it is a movie I had been waiting to see since it was released. What a disappointment: no, disappointment is too weak a word. Disgust is more appropriate. Disgust with myself for being taken in by the professional reviews and especially for wasting 1hr 46m of my life. The cinematography is superb - some of the best I have seen. There - that's it: everything else is truly awful. The dialogue is barely understandable. The background music - why have background music anyway? - is unremittingly dreary, banal and mindbendingly tedious. Much of the acting could have been panned by an audience at the village amateur dramatic pantomime. The only reason I could thing of that the discombobulated storyline - if indeed there is one - is so was an intention to display the disorientation and terror war produces. It doesn't actually do this: the total lack of narrative in any meaningful sense firstly irritates and then engenders a fury at the waste of time and money represented by making this monstrosity. Because of the way the film has been envisaged and constructed, without any character development I found I had absolutely no connection with the people in it, and no empathy either. Nolan may have wanted to show various soldiers in the same situation, but as a plan it just doesn't work. Comic relief is provided at times: a spitfire with a dead prop glides at various heights for an eternity, even with flaps down. Bullet holes appear in the hull of the ship in groupings that would win medals in the local firing range.Branagh displays several varieties of facial rictus straight out of Python. And so on. And NOTHING - not even a mention - of the War office decision making, the on-the-fly planning and logistics which made the Dunkirk rescue of much of the army a "success". You may ask - so what did I really think about this movie?
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Passengers (I) (2016)
8/10
Pretty good if you just accept the many scientific goofs
12 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is definitely one of the better SciFi movies, on several counts. Firstly, the CGI is spectacularly good even by today's high standards. I watched the movie on a (clear and sharp) inflight video screen and the effects were excellent: I must see it again on a big screen. Secondly, although there are a few wham bang scenes, they are thankfully few and far between: far too many movies now rely on destroying things in massive explosions rather than good plotting and dialogue. Thirdly - and most importantly, the script gives the audience something to think about: the ethical dilemma of Jim, the sole awakened passenger on an interstellar ship as he agonises whether to cut short the hibernation of the beautiful Aurora. He longs for company and, hopefully, "company" - Arthur the bartender isn't quite the same. Despite the scientific advisors the producers must have employed there are many goofs plainly visible (the "Goofs" section here brings up a large number) but IMO they don't spoil the movie to a great extent except towards the end. At about the halfway point the movie seems to stray away from thoughtful analysis of Jim's dilemma and comes close to being wham bang (See above.) One of the most notable scenes is where gravity disappears: it is a stunning mix of live action and CGI - and also one containing a large number of scientific goofs, not that this spoils the effect. The ending is, I think, the worst part of this movie. Hollywood likes a happy ending so, despite Jim's death in space (a pretty unequivocal passing, given the extent of his exposure to heat, radiation, anoxia and cryogenic temperatures!) he is miraculously resurrected in a truly biblical fashion. Shortly afterwards - in movie terms, if not relativistic - the film ends rather as if the editors had been given a deadline. A continuation of the more thoughtful first half would have had him die and stay dead: the final scene might have shown Aurora herself facing the same dilemma about waking a good looking guy to provide company - and "company". Fade to black/credits....... 8/10 but still a good watch.
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6/10
Awful: just awful
21 October 2016
The original concept of Star Trek, millennia ago, explored the interpersonal relations of the characters, morality, chain of command and so much more. The shonky sets and pre-CGI effects did not detract from the thoughtfulness of the writing.

None of this applies in the "Beyond" disaster.

The only thing I can say in its defence is that the CGI effects are up to standard - although they are often so bang-bang-bang that they lose the plot.

It appears to me that the direction of this movie comes from the "Hello Kitty" far East mentality, where a logical plot line and exploration of the characters' motives play very much second best to infantile effects - however well they are done here..

I managed some forty minutes so the ending cannot be reviewed by me. Do yourself a favour and don't bother even with forty minutes.

I was not a great fan of most of the previous Star Trek films - they lost so much from the original TV concepts - but this one is just dire.
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400 Days (2015)
1/10
Possibly the worst movie of all time?
21 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I have to admit that I watched this through to the end.

Only because I needed to see if it was as bad as I thought. The answer to that is : yes.

Nothing made any sense whatsoever. As far as I could make out someone was in jail, then part of a simulated 400 day exercise in space travel. There were the expected scenes of interpersonal rivalry and aggression, some sort of external earthquake/explosion, leaving the underground facility and finding a whole group of weirdos/survivors/aliens? then a short, unexplainable and unexplained final shot with the director saying they had done well. End of story.

It may have made sense to the scriptwriters and even possibly the cast and director, but it did not to me or apparently to most of the IMDb reviewers.

I give it one star (awful) only because there's no zero star available.

Do not waste your money and buy this absolute rubbish.
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10/10
A must-see
3 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was made in 1983. I must have seen it on TV sometime in the nineties, and the central theme has stayed with me since then - in fact, even more so as time has passed. So I have just bought and viewed the DVD. It was relevant then, and probably a lot more so in 2016, when I write.

People worldwide are rebelling against the "system": the Star Chamber shows part of the reason - the increasing gap between common sense justice and the way the law has been perverted almost to the extent that the victims of crime are almost made into the perpetrators by the judicial system.

Douglas is, as always, excellent as the judge who is drawn into the clandestine group of likeminded judges acting, with the best of intentions, outside the law to provide a form of vigilante justice. In fact the film is well cast altogether.

There are several slight holes in the story, not least of which is how the hit men are funded, but these don't detract in the slightest from the beautifully constructed plot. It draws you in, especially because you can sympathise with the utter frustration of the people involved in a way that is rarely seen nowadays.

One or two scenes could be shortened to good effect - the car park chase isn't up to Bullitt standards and probably slows the overall plot down rather than helping it along, and the finale warehouse chase is a little overdone.

Overall, though, a film that should be compulsory watching for anyone debating how society is being allowed to disintegrate partly because of, rather than despite, the law.
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Interstellar (2014)
1/10
A truly awful movie, stunningly bad.
11 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Thanks are due to Singapore Air, who put an end to my utter boredom when the aircraft landed and the videos were switched off, towards the end of the scene in what I suppose was some sort of matrix.

I mention this because the fact that it was viewed on a 17" screen with noise cancelling headphones on might be relevant, although I don't think so.

One line in this dreadful attempt at an epic sticks in my memory: "This data makes no sense". (Ignore the grammar). Correct: very little of this movie makes any sense at all. The characters are hardly defined, the plot - if indeed there is one - is so incoherent that it left me angry, the track is numbingly monotonous and overwhelms much of the dialogue and the "science" (my quotes) is infantile.

If the makers of the movie (and I say makers because the director is only one of the guilty, albeit the one accountable) had any inkling as to where the storyline was going, I do wish they had taken the trouble to share the information, because frankly I hadn't a clue. Perhaps I was too engaged with counting the constant barrage of laughable improbabilities to follow the flashbacks and flashforwards.

A film attempting to explain such things as time relativity and black holes to the uninitiated needs to use the concepts in a logical way. Falling back again and again on fantasy rather than developing the sci-fi theme is the sign of a failure of imagination, not the reverse.

You will notice that I make no mention of the cgi or use of stunts: good or bad they cannot rescue a dog of a storyline. I felt zero connection with any of the characters because none showed any sort of believability. A long retired astronaut cum farmer gets into a spaceship and immediately knows its systems? The ship itself is built, hidden from the world, by a handful of people? A robot made of chunky blocks can manipulate switches let alone run around on and in water and ice? Etcetera etcetera. Please.....

Again, thanks to the airline for saving me the ten bucks that I was actually looking forward to spending at the cinema, having read the glowing critics' reviews of this movie.
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1/10
Ye Gods....
9 August 2014
.

I can't believe I actually sat through 1Hr 30m of this drivel, which goes on for an interminable 2 Hr plus. (I fast forwarded through the final scenes just in case something came up. It didn't.) Comedy, even fantasy comedy, has to have a structure. It doesn't necessarily have to be a logical structure (some of the best Monty Python sketches ARE the best because of their zany lack of it) but it must make sense on some level. This effort has absolutely nothing going for it, or for the tens of millions of dollars that were sunk into it.

Robin Williams must have been having an off day when his agent suggested getting involved, and his non-appearance in the listings says it all.

Gilliam's input in the Monty Python series was the weakest part and in Baron Munchausen we can appreciate just why.

.
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1/10
Absolute rubbish
15 July 2014
I stuck this one for thirty minutes, until I could take no more.

Is it a comedy? No, it's not in the slightest amusing.

Drama? Nope.

Romance? Definitely no.

SciFi? Possibly, the characters don't seem to inhabit any of the planets I'm familiar with.

Seriously, this is a terrible effort. Long, meandering shots which lead nowhere. Dreadful people with accents that are incomprehensible. Situations that have absolutely no relevance to whatever plot there may be. Cuts from one venue to another with no indication what connection they have.

The cinematography is quite reasonable. That's all, folks.
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Cosmos (2014)
1/10
Oh dear....
16 March 2014
The original, Sagan, Cosmos was for its time a blockbuster. By today's standards of CGI presentation it is, of course, pretty old fashioned; but who could forget the heartfelt narration, the "little blue dot" which still brings a lump to my throat.

An 'updated cosmos" this ain't.

With all due respect to Dr Tyson, he should have told the producers of this to get lost. I have seen him many times on TV expounding with authority on many of the wonders of the universe, but in this effort he has been badly let down.

I think it's fair to say that the majority of those who choose to watch this sort of programme are interested in science, know a reasonable amount about it and want to be instructed, not merely entertained with anime-style cartoons and cheesy CGI fly-throughs of star systems, pretty though they may be. Unfortunately, the twenty minutes of the episode that I managed to stick with convinced me that my time would be better spent making a cup of tea. So I made a cup of tea.

Two and a bit decades have passed since Sagan made the original series: his "spaceship" looks like something from an old SciFi movie to us now. But the present obsession with smart graphics and "exciting" background "music" (my quotes are deliberate in both cases) renders the message in irrelevance.

Must try harder - cheaper would be better.
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1/10
Unwatchable
12 March 2014
I managed about ten minutes of this movie, and that was quite enough.

The editing makes it, for me, completely unwatchable. The cutting is more frenetic than any film I have ever seen before and after the first couple of minutes my brain had been battered into "please let me die" mode.

There really is nothing clever or innovative about such a pace: I suspect the editors were brought up on cut/cut/cut videos and imagine that this "technique" (being polite) makes a story exciting.

News for them: it doesn't in commercials, and it sure doesn't in a full length movie. Grow up and learn to make a story stand up for itself without this sort of activity.
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7/10
Not what I was expecting
18 December 2013
Nothing that I write here is any kind of comment on the actual military operation in Iraq, nor on those involved: it's purely reflections on the movie.

I don't know what I was expecting except that the film was to do with IOD management in a war zone. It does, to my limited understanding of the subject, a reasonable job in that respect.

What spoiled it for me was the almost comedic gung-ho attitude displayed by most of the soldiers and in particular the over-use of the hand held camera.

The latter is a hobby horse of mine, but almost all the modern directors seem to be enthralled with this clichéd technique, usually in totally inappropriate movies.

Hand held camera-work has its place - and that place is when the story is being told as if from the viewpoint of, for example, a news cameraman in a firefight. It gives authenticity to the sequences. All too often it is used indiscriminately in films that have absolutely no use for it, and is merely irritating.

(I was going to see Captain Phillips last week, until I saw a review that mentioned the director's signature hand held camera-work - I decided to give it a miss.)

The ironic thing about the Hurt Locker is that it is just the sort of story that IS appropriate for the technique. The trouble is that it is completely over the top: the shots are often so deliberately jerky that I was thinking more of my irritation than following the storyline.

It's a valid technique that is so often got wrong, in so many ways. Pity.

.
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Under the Dome (2013–2015)
I won't bother with any of the later episodes
25 June 2013
.

Let me state my position upfront: I am a fan of SF (at least, the non-fantasy, 1950s SF of Shaw, Asimov etc.) I was quite looking forward to watching Dome (I've not read the book nor was I aware that it existed.) and did manage to keep watching for about 45 minutes before deciding it was rubbish and switching off.

As always, special effects and CGI don't in any way make up for a clichéd, turgid screenplay acted woodenly and yet hyperactively.

As a non- American (who nonetheless lived there for 12 years) I found the laid back, sloppy diction of many of the cast quite impossible to understand. And when I did I couldn't help but think why did I bother. The soundtrack in any case overrode much of the dialogue: in some 3rd rate flicks that would be an advantage if the music was worth listening to, but here it was desperately monotonous.

I might watch a bit of say episode five, just to see what it is all about, but really have better things to do such as rearranging my sock cupboard.

.
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The Tudors (2007–2010)
6/10
But....
13 June 2013
It's a big "But".

I am currently watching the DVD series of The Tudors for the second time, about 18 months after the first viewing. And thoroughly enjoying each episode, too: probably more than the first time.

The acting is in almost all cases excellent: Sir Thomas More, Wolsey, Cromwell in particular show carefully calculated malevolence interspersed with humanity. The sets, although in some cases appearing artificial are nonetheless well done and blend seamlessly with the green screen effects even with a moving camera - which is often the weak point in such scenes. The costumes are quite brilliantly designed and worn, although they do appear to be "costumes" rather than "clothes" in many scenes. Irish accents surface in some actors' throats, which is a little disconcerting!

Where the whole seems to be less than the sum of its parts has been brought up time and time again in other reviewers' posts: the historical accuracy leaves a great deal to be desired.

Any period drama is going to be a contest between accuracy and dramatic effect. However, a 120 minute movie which just happens to be set in a particular era and which mentions, for example, historical figures such as kings is - or should be - in a different category to what, rightly or wrongly is promoted as the story of possibly the most pivotal monarchy in English history. The former can be excused artistic licence, but something like The Tudors, which will be viewed for decades, can insert many untruths into received knowledge - in effect, re-write history.

The DVD series has several interviews with the writer, in which he admits playing with many facts for the sake of dramatic effect. The costumes are also shown to be a mix of the period and later styles. Some dialogue is embarrassingly "today". Some outside scenes show backgrounds of planted conifer forests.None of this matters: what does matter is the accuracy or otherwise of the actual historical story: I am not a historian and like many would take away from the series many inaccurate ideas of what went on in the period.

It would be very interesting if a very thin, coloured line, could be placed at the bottom of the screen shot by shot: green for documented historically correct action, amber for correct but dramatised scenes and red for frankly invented bits. If nothing else it would give the viewer an idea of how to appraise the series as a whole.

To summarise: a highly enjoyable set of stories, based - but in places *only* based - on a period of history that changed Europe, if not the world, in a profound way. But, but, just don't take it as gospel truth (and no, that's not a pun!)
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3/10
Yawwwn!
28 May 2013
.

My wife and I saw this in a Sydney Dendy, knowing almost nothing about the movie except that it apparently had good reviews.

About halfway into the thing I asked if she wanted to leave, or stick it out. The reply was that she wanted to see the end, despite the film.

At almost two and a half hours the boredom is almost terminal: I am happy to sit through a movie that engages me, is well made and acted and isn't merely a vehicle for expensive car crashes but even if cut by an hour this would only just keep me in my seat.

I cannot, a week later, remember anything about the movie, which has to say a lot about how I review it. Correction - I do remember the two or three aerial shots following cars and a bike along treelined roads and do recall wondering how they were done: drones or steadicam gantries? And why, just why, were they left in? To make cine geeks like me wonder how? Excellent acting all round, but spoiled by being too long, and - as usual nowadays - full of hand-held sequences for absolutely no valid reason except that it's the modern cliché. And not merely hand-held with some jiggling about for so-called dramatic effect - many were only just detectable as not being shot on a dolly. That made them even more irritating: sloppy.

Marked down in my memory as one not to buy on the DVD.
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11:14 (2003)
3/10
Unlikeable
8 February 2013
I didn't know after watching this movie, and I still don't know after reading some of the reviews, whether it was supposed to be a comedy or a convoluted drama.

If the intention was to make a comedy, it failed.

As drama, the whole scenario was, for me, overwhelmed by the fact that almost no-one in this story of small town mayhem, was at all likable. It may be superficial, but a story only hangs together when at least one character brings you onside. Here, only the cop and Swayze - both, in terms of the plot line, minor characters - evoke any such feeling.

Like many people who see the film without knowing anything about it, I wondered what on earth was happening for the first half. Slowly the intertwined narrative became clearer but - because of the lack of empathy with most of the players - I couldn't get terribly enthusiastic about the eventual outcome.

I can see moronic, feral juveniles any night outside the local pubs and frankly have little desire to see them portrayed as stars.

Technically well made - but: is it a comedy or not? Someone please tell me.
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John Adams (2008)
8/10
Nearly spoiled by the camera-work
31 December 2012
I agonised about what star rating to give "John Adams".

I cannot comment on the historic authenticity. However, the sets, sound, makeup, CGI, storyline and dialogue are outstanding. All the actors are excellent and it's invidious to single any one out. But Giamatti and Linney stand out with incredible, intimate and emotional performances.

So why the "agonising"? Quite simply, although the cinematography and lighting are technically perfect, someone somewhere - presumably the director in consultation with the producers - thought that a hand-held camera and the odd tilted horizon would add something to the story.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

There are two valid excuses for a steadycam shot: if it's physically impossible to shoot it with a crane, and to give the impression of a grabbed shot in, say, a war zone.

Unfortunately, too many otherwise first class directors have followed a craze that emerged a few years back, and appear to think that unsteady shots add to the experience. They don't: all they do is make you think about the mechanics of the filming and look for the exit. And tilting the camera for no good reason is just plain effete.

So: eight out of ten. A shame, because without the trendy camera-work I would give John Adams ten.
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Logan's Run (1976)
1/10
Unbelievably bad!
25 December 2012
I have been looking for a DVD copy of Logan's Run for years and have just come across one.

What a waste of $4.99 Many others have described the "story" - if "story" isn't too strong a word, so I won't waste time going over the whole, sad, plot again.

Considering this dog was made during the 2001 era it STINKS. As another has said, I really wonder if some other reviewers watched the same movie as I. The acting is, by today's standards, absolutely wooden to the point of self-parody. The sets would do justice to some of the campiest Dr Who efforts. The effects use plenty of pyrotechnics. Finally, the gaping holes in the plot and action, the illogicalities, left me wondering why I'd bothered to get past thirty.

Please watch it - it will show just how bad a movie can be.
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The Mechanic (2011)
1/10
Violence for its own sake
28 July 2012
There are films where the story of necessity brings in violence.

Then there are movies where the violence appears to be the raison d'être, and the plot merely a link between gory deaths. The Mechanic is such a film.

The storyline here is pretty basic, is well covered in the IMDb synopsis and is predictable all the way through. The denouement could only be one of two endings, so the viewers' "enjoyment" (my quotes, deliberately) of this bloody, sadistic, effort is not enhanced by any plot twists or sub-plots.

If all it took to make a great movie was the ability to destroy expensive motorcars in increasingly spectacular fireballs, there would be no shortage of Oscar material in the industry. But, quite frankly, once you've seen a couple, and admired the stuntwork and the efforts of the explosives experts, they leave you cold. And are therefore not a help but a hindrance to a good story.

This film is nothing more than a parade of gratuitous, nasty, violence, stuck together with a linear, weak, plot. We see every killing - and there are sufficient to satisfy the most entrenched psychopath - in graphic and almost loving detail. The track hammers home the message, whatever that is.

This movie aside, surely it is time for even the most liberal, let-it-all-hang-out psychiatric "expert" to see that this sort of thing must inevitably desensitise the viewer? I could no more go out and deliberately harm another person than fly - but after watching this sort of stuff for a couple of hours it's like water off a duck's back: it just doesn't impact me. It beggars belief that it has no effect on the small percentage of the population that are that way inclined in the first place.

I am writing this just a few days after the Colorado cinema massacre, and I'm afraid that it surprises me not when film such as the Mechanic are seen as entertainment.

(EDITED Dec 2012) I have happened upon my review (above) a week after the Newtown Sandy Hook school shooting: I reiterate the last paragraph.
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Pearl Harbor (2001)
4/10
Oh, dear!
15 July 2012
Let's cut straight to the quick: four stars.

Four stars because the (relatively) early CGI is not at all bad, if overstated. Live action is pretty realistically mixed with virtual, although the aerial shots do look a tad artificial. Anyway, four stars for that.

Doesn't leave many stars for the rest though, does it? At three hours, this movie is at least 50% too long. It doesn't know where it's going - and it shows. If you just watched the first twenty minutes you could be forgiven in thinking it is a comedy, rather crudely done. The last half hour, the Doolittle raid sequence, is pure jingoistic make-believe. Then there's the middle bit: the raid on Pearl - and that doesn't start until nearly an hour and a half into the romantic comedy. Discombobulated is, I think, the appropriate designation.

I valiantly resisted seeing this film for years after reading how tedious it is in many reviews, but succumbed (this is 2012) and sat through the TV performance right through to the end.

I am uncomfortable with movies that are fiction dressed up with a strong historical theme. The blurring of fact and fiction is always an invitation to re-write history or, at least, be taken as fact by those who are unable to make the distinction. WW2 is recent enough to be well documented, and a movie such as Pearl Harbor does itself no favours by weaving a completely fictitious story into actual historical fact.

The really interesting story from a factual point of view was the failure of the intelligence services in the Pearl Harbour attack: this would itself have made a great movie but was hardly touched upon. As with Bletchley Park, much of the wins and losses in war are enacted behind the scenes and in secrecy.

And the music track - atrocious!

Sorry, but this falls into the same box as Independence Day - a jingoistic yawn. A wasted opportunity.
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Bridesmaids (I) (2011)
1/10
Don't waste your time
29 June 2012
.

About four hours into this movie my wife said to me : "Just how much longer does this go on?" OK, perhaps not four hours - it just felt like that.

It impressed me how good the cinematography and lighting were, for an amateur movie. And that's what it seemed to be - an amateur attempt at humour.

I'm the last person in the world to be thought straightlaced, but the constant use of asshole, bum, c*nt and the like doesn't of itself make a comedy. There has to be humour somewhere in there as well, not just shouting, grimacing and a shitload (to repeat a word used in this dire production a zillion times) of overacting.

To be fair, there were in this two hours of misery one or two brief instances of near comedy: unfortunately I was so bored that I can't remember them accurately enough to give the timeline points so that you are able to skip the rest.

A further thing - and this is not unique to Bridesmaids, but is becoming almost standard - is that so much of the dialogue is delivered in such clipped, drawled/back of the mouth Californian accents that I found only 30% of the lines were understandable. Diction now seems to be a forgotten art.

I won't mention any cast names to avoid embarrassing them: suffice it to say that many of them must have been running short of scripts to have agreed to appear in this slow motion, infantile, disaster.

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Margin Call (2011)
6/10
Strangely unsatisfying
18 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I have just seen this movie, and am still wondering how so many reviewers find it worthy of nine or ten stars.

The acting is very believable: Irons and Spacey in particular give excellent depictions of their respective characters. What I find hard to fathom is exactly what the objective, the target of the film is.

Anyone with half a brain knows how the financial world got so far up its own backside over the last decade or two that it was completely unsustainable (If you don't understand an investment steer very clear of it). So as a morality tale it is somewhat outdated. Yet it doesn't have the flash-bang action - thank God - in today's style. So how did the director see it? I would dearly like to know.

Two scenes encapsulate, for me, how the story doesn't go anywhere: in one scene, outside Eric's house when they are trying to get him to return to the office, a large black MafiaMobile draws threateningly to a halt the other side of the road. It's actually mentioned, so one assumes that something nasty is going to be associated with it - yet that's it! I suppose it does give a little frisson of expectation, but to no effect.

And Spacey's dog. We see his emotional side - but not with a wife, family: his b****y dog. At the end we see him burying his dog - then up scroll the credits. Strange.

To sum up, a reasonably watchable movie, not a great one and one which to me missed too many opportunities to explore the black side of the financial industry.
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10/10
Superb!
25 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have just amused myself reading through the (long) list of goofs. Fortunately none of them spoiled this, exceptional, movie for me! The Coen Bros excel in working the landscape into their films. Both in Fargo and No Country the vast expanses dominate the characters, but without dominating the film. Contrast that with Brokeback Mountain, where the outdoors overrode the story IMO to the extent it became a travelogue.

Casting is so important in any film: even one actor looking out of place can spoil the whole exercise. Not here, though: each and every one looks and feels the part. Jones - a much under-appreciated actor - is simply superb. His long, pensive pauses are exquisitely delivered. Bordem is so quietly menacing you almost have to watch from behind the sofa: his psychopathic disinterest in his many slayings should be a part of every budding actor's course notes.

I would never have placed Harrelson as a hit man in this sort of movie but he also plays the part as if he's been killing all his life, in a casual way. Brolin, too, knows the ranch life and that shows.

It's so pleasant to see a modern day film made with a beginning, middle and .......end? Well, yes: that's the whole point - there IS no end to the drugs and the violence. The "end" (which is really just the point where the movie itself stops, because the losing battle continues) has the killer limping off down a suburban street and the sheriff contemplating a quiet, definitely less stimulating, retirement. Fade to black.

No question: NCFOM sets the gold standard for this genre.
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Hot Fuzz (2007)
1/10
Not funny, too long
24 April 2011
Yes, I DO get the intention is to send up the shoot-out cop movies, and I DO get the references within the script.

But a take-off of a genre has to add something to be successful: merely making the bangs bigger, the blood gorier and the juxtaposition of English Heritage and Downtown LA isn't enough.

I saw Hot Fuzz in the cinema soon after it was released and remember thinking it overlong and not particularly funny. I have just reviewed "Paul" - also a Pegg and Frost movie - and thought I'd better watch HF again to make sure that I haven't missed anything. So I sat through the whole thing on DVD - and no, I don't think that I *have* missed anything. Including the intended point.

When I say "sat through" I mean just that. I have to say that I didn't even smile once.

I suppose - especially seeing the vast majority of the reviews are positive - that I am being over critical. After all, the casting is excellent. The acting is first class. The blood looks realistic, not too Kensington Gore-y. It somehow doesn't gel though: the exaggeration of the Hollywood stereotype in the English village isn't enough to make a take-off movie work.

The camera-work doesn't help, either: a miscalculation by the director.

If I had to sum Hot Fuzz up, I would say that it almost mocks itself without putting an extra edge into the mix, an edge that might have saved a good idea from being an overlong, extended sketch.
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Paul (2011)
4/10
Better than Hot Fuzz
24 April 2011
This movie is better than Hot Fuzz.

I give Hot Fuzz a one out of ten, so that's not exactly saying much.

If what makes you laugh is a constant drip of rather tired clichés strung together with a couple of running gags, then along with you to the movie theatre. But if you are looking for an inventive, interesting comedy about a couple of ordinary sci-fi Joes who happen upon ET around area 51 then don't expect too much.

One is always aware that Paul is a CGI artifact, and I suppose it's a measure of how good the technique has become that one can criticise the rendering, but he doesn't quite appear as real as I would expect in 2011.

Paul has most of the fairly rare good lines: Frost and Pegg spoil many of theirs by overacting. Hot Fuzz again.....

Watchable if it's a rainy day but really a dragged-out sketch.
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