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East to West (2011– )
Worth watching with qualifications
10 December 2014
I was moved to write this review in response to the episode entitled The Triumph of Monotheism. I like the general theme of this series however I have an issue with this particular offering. It really bugged me that the narrator continually referred to Monotheism as a pre condition to the flourishing of western culture. Really!!! Why? That question was never asked which I found very disappointing. The Romans did pretty well for hundreds of years worshiping multiple gods so what's so inferior with that system of religion? I'm agnostic so religion isn't an important part of my life. In spite of that I find it disturbing that a documentary pre supposes the superiority of one form of religious belief without any evidence to back it up. Makes me question the quality of the writing in the rest of the series. And just lastly can someone please make a history doco without the gushing presence of Bettany Hughes.
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Pig (I) (2011)
Poor man's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Don't believe the hyped reviews here. This film is basically a poor man's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For me the plot took far too long developing. The plot device of a man with amnesia is one of the great cinematic clichés. I felt this film didn't really take off until it was revealed that the protagonist was the subject of a memory blocking drug. By that time it was too late. Even then it was merely a repeat of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind imho.

I thought the notion of our mystery man having changed for the good was the strongest idea in the movie. If only that had been the primary focus of the flick rather than spending two thirds of screen time milking the mystery then maybe this would be something special. The acting was good which meant this was a bit of a waste of talent from what I could see. It's easy to be critical and bloody hard to make a good movie. Just wish more time had been spent on the script in this case.
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Bering Sea Gold (2012– )
Reality or just fools gold
7 February 2013
FIRST IMPRESSION (seasons 1 and 2)

Yes I'm hooked on this latest reality offering. BSG is a must see if you enjoy seeing a disparate group of quirky characters struggle to get rich quick. Many are up to their eyeballs in debt and need a mini El Dorado to put them back on their financial feet. Most people contemplate panning or digging for their gold. Not this group of adventurers. They all go out to sea on dinky little barges and dive for their gold. Sucking up the booty from the sea floor using industrial strength vacuum hoses. All except the Pomrenkes who mine from a massive barge using a dredge to scoop up gold bearing silt.

I love the contrasts of characters in this show. The aforementioned Pomrenkes exhibit the classic father and son schism that makes for good drama. Zeke lusts after Emily to no avail. Emily has aspirations to be an opera singer. Yeah right! And Sarah Palin had aspirations of being president. Emily's dad is a complex character who drives his boss Vern crazy. And then there's Scott, an anti hero if ever there was one. I was amazed to see him return for a second series. Not only that, he had 'friends' working on his boat. Although I don't know how long they'll last as friends.

All in all it's a very entertaining show. I doubt whether any of them will become rich but they are on an interesting journey.

LATEST IMPRESSION (seas0ons 3 and 4)

Sadly BSG has now become a farcical soap opera. Little time is now spent focusing on gold dredging. Season 4 is more about the antics of featured 'personalities' such as Brad Kelly, Shawn Pomrenke and Emily Reidel. I find none of these people particularly appealing and personally question the authenticity of this show. Some say it's scripted and I wouldn't be surprised if that was revealed to be the case. Call me cynical but I smell a rat. I now find this show hard to watch and sincerely hope the producers return the focus of the program to gold digging adventurers trying to make it big.

If you also feel jaded by this version of 'reality' then you could do a lot worse than watching Yukon Gold, a show without the gimmicks that BSG feels is necessary to chase the ratings.
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Feature length backslapping exercise
1 February 2013
On the whole I found this documentary to be unsatisfying. I discovered a few new insights into Jerry Lewis but not enough background information to justify the length of this tribute piece. If you're a hard core fan who adores his body of work then maybe this is for you. If however you seek a warts and all look into the life of a major celeb you may be disappointed. I became more and more irritated by the endless accolades heaped on the man by a succession of Hollywood A and B listers.

To me this came across as more of a vanity piece than a true documentary. If that's what you're looking for, fine. Must have been a great boost to Jerry's ego.
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Dead Set (2008– )
The ultimate eviction night at the BB house
14 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was attracted to this micro series for two reasons: I. I love a good zombie flick & 2. I absolutely hate BB. Seeing a group of inane, vacuous Big Brother contestants being subjected to a zombie feeding frenzy was too much to resist. And inane and vacuous they were. It was clever of the writer to primarily set this piece in the BB house. Perfect for Channel Four, who already host this abomination of a 'reality' show. Only downside is that the writer is presumably constrained in totally lampooning a program I love to hate. Guess it's hard to bite the hand that feeds you.

Overall I found this to be a very entertaining series. It was well paced and had a feel of authenticity about it. It was clichéd but that's almost an occupational hazard when dealing with this genre. Would have been nice to see an original twist put on some of the zombie mythology but the writer only had so much time.

I wasn't so thrilled with some of the characterisation. First of I thought the two police acted in a totally unrealistic manner given the apocalyptic circumstances. Seemed as if they were only there to make some ham fisted political statement about police brutality. And what is it with the kick arse women in this show? One punches a guy in the face for not fixing her car and another totes a gun like she's an SAS commando. Meanwhile the guys discuss what they can make for dinner. Not literally but you get my point. The only strong male character is the producer who is a total arsehole. The other forty something guy is a pervert. Bit of gratuitous agism at play here? At least they all get it in the neck in the end. I also agree with others that the conclusion could have been a lot stronger.

In spite of this I'd love to see more from the creator of this series. There were plenty of highlights. He obviously has talent I thought the producers put together a decent cast and gave the show a good look for a relatively low budget production. I hope a second installment is in the wind without the PC overlay.
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Moon (2009)
Dark side of Moon left me cold
31 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This isn't really a Sci Fi film. More of a psychological thriller with an absence of thrill. Not exactly the film I eagerly anticipated. Great set up, great cast, so much unfulfilled potential.

From the word go I felt uneasy about this flick. The set up lacked any credibility. A multi billion dollar Helium 3 mining operation on the moon manned by just one person. Come on! Hadn't the filmmakers heard of the Apollo Missions? NASA sent three astronauts on short trips there. You seriously telling me that investors who have poured hundreds of billions of dollars into this long term operation wouldn't have provisioned for at least half a dozen employees. Just doesn't make logical sense. I also found it jarring that Sam Bell wasn't in constant contact with his bosses back home. Realistically he would be checking in with them like clockwork. And if there was a communication problem it would be a top priority to fix it, wouldn't it?

I also had other problems with this film. When our protagonist first came in contract with himself I assumed he was suffering a mental breakdown. Then the filmmakers persisted with the plot line that he was indeed cohabitating the base with his clone. Why send other employees there when you can manufacture a new human from scratch? Yeah right. Makes sense to me. Or then again maybe he was indeed delusional? At that point I couldn't give a rats. I didn't care about our lead character. I was more concerned with the time I'd wasted watching this pretentious drivel.

I'm a big fan of both Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey. Got to say that I thought Spacey was totally wasted playing the voice of GERTY, a poor man's HAL if ever there was one. Could have had Spacey's next door neighbour play the role and it wouldn't have made any difference. And those cheesy smiley faces on GERTY. Were they trying to make the computer prop look as cheap as possible? This film was about as gripping as one of those bulky space suit gloves. I'm a big Sci Fi fan. This film could just as easily been set in the South Pole. The Sci Fi element is peripheral to the story. I felt Silent Running was a much better exploration of the dilemmas faced by man stuck in the void of space.

I can not work out why this film has attracted so much kudos. By all means judge it for yourselves but a word of advice, keep the fast forward button handy. This film's a sleeper, in the ZZZZZZ sense.
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Star Trek (2009)
It's all about the characters
16 October 2009
I didn't have high expectations for this film. It seemed like an insurmountable challenge to me: producing a fulfilling prequel to the original Star Trek series. I doubted that a new cast could provide the chemistry of combative characters that made the 1960's series so enjoyable. Any doubts I had have now been cast adrift into the void of space. The first meeting between Kirk and Bones was magic. Karl Urban nails McCoy from the word go. Kudos to this actor for breathing life into one of my favorite ST characters. I didn't feel that the chemistry was quite as strong between the science office and Kirk. Hopefully we will see more of Spock's human side as this movie franchise develops. He did show a rebellious side to his personality when confronted by Vulcan elders. Bodes well for the future. It was great to see all the old favorites return in young guises such as Scotty, Chekov and Sulu. There was even an unexpected budding romance involving Uhuru.

The plot of this film was nothing special and the bad guy was pretty one dimensional. But for me it wasn't about the plot. It was about the interaction of Kirk and his crew. It was about a maverick star ship officer forming relationships with his crew and friends as they prepare to embark on adventures throughout the universe. At the end of this flick I was left yearning for more. It felt kinda sad seeing the original cast man The Enterprise as they qualified for their old age pensions. Near the end they really were flogging a dead horse. Now Star Trek has been reinvigorated with talented fresh faces who I suspect will win over a whole new generation of devotees. J J Abrams you've made my day. Can't believe all the negative reviews here. Think the 8+ overall score for this film is more indicative of its strength. Not surprised that a sequel has been green lighted. As I said, I can't wait to see the next installment.
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