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Firefox (1982)
Mach 6 right out of a World that made more sense....somehow.
13 November 2014
I really like this film, its a diverting, high tech, cold war thriller, which entertainingly subverts many of the tropes of spy and espionage movies of the time.

It reasonably translates its source material intact to the screen, that being Craig Thomas's novel of the same name and manages to juggle the sci-fi / thriller genres, whilst allowing Clint to add a new facet to his tough guy persona. Being a long time Clint fan, its significant to me, as its his first movie i saw at the cinema, also as it was the first AA certificate film i manage to obtain admittance to here in the UK.

Clint plays Mitchell Gant, a former USAF Major who is "encouraged" by the CIA to undertake a mission into cold war era Russia to steal one of the new fighter plane prototypes the Soviets have developed. The plane in question is the MiG-31, a hypersonic aircraft with revolutionary new stealth and combat capabilities. Handicapped by post traumatic stress disorder and a lack of intelligence mission experience, Gant must successfully steal the aircraft, failure would mean a dangerous shift in the balance of World power to the USSR.

Can Gant pull off this daring heist? Well i'd be shocked if there's anyone reading this who doesn't know the answer by now, but thats the charm of this movie, its re-watch value, i feel, is significant and it makes a great "beer and pizza" night in movie.

There are elements that date it, foremost the long gone cold war setting, some people may cite the miniature based special effects. These are primarily in the last third of the movie, some may claim they look a little dated in our whizzo CGI age, but i call foul on that. The effects have nice weight and heft to them that CGI still cant muster and the dramatic effects of Firefox's hypersonic footprint, make anything in modern movies look positively arthritic, well I think so anyway.

The cast are all getting stuck into their roles, particularly Warren Clarke (who passed away recently and prompted me to write this today) who plays a disgruntled Russian dissident and underground operative.

Firefox is a film that didn't perform financially as well as it may at the time of its release, but 1982 was a year over shadowed by ET and most things that year followed on that movies coat tails.

Its a nice little thriller, out of a time where you knew where the bad guys were and could generally see them coming and its nice to immerse yourself in the nostalgia of that from time to time.

There was a follow up novel written by Thomas, Firefox Down, which is a thumping good read, it never followed its precursor to the screen and would now seem a little out of its time if it did, thats a shame.

I recommend Firefox, as a great thriller, sci-fi, espionage, action movie, if you can imagine such a thing and if you cant, then just think in Russian!
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Sly manages to force the 12A into puberty (probably at gun point).
17 August 2014
I will start by saying this is my least favourite of the Expendables franchise. I thought it seemed a little obvious they'd trimmed the violence and it didn't have the immediacy of pacing the other ones had. Niggles aside, this is still fantastic, machine gun toting, head smashing, building demolishing entertainment.

There's no getting away from the site of a helicopter gunship being piloted by Harrison Ford, whilst Arnie and Jet Li man the guns and lay waste to an army, transcends awesome and approaches hitherto undiscovered levels of gung ho nirvana.

Mel Gibson makes a great villain, one of the best scenes is his conversation with Barney in the back of the van on the nature of their business.

The new Expendables are perfectly good, as far as their involvement goes, but the task they have is to make us like them as much as we have Sly, Arnie, Harrison, Dolph etc over the last thirty years, only they've got two hours to do it in. Tall order.

What saves the day here again, as with the other Expendables, is the same thing that elevates these movies above all the CGI, wire-fu, teenage fantasy movies we get every year, purporting to be "action movies", legitimacy !! All these guys look, act and have the undeniable pedigree of being real action heroes.

They have a history through this type of film and they wear that history on their sleeves in these movies. That's why when they start vaporising the bad guys, it feels more.. legitimate.

I hope there's a Expendables 4, as there are a few things they could improve on next time. But for now Expendables 3 is great fun, I mean where else are you going to see Rambo and Frasier drinking in a nightclub?
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Gravity (2013)
Well Galileo and Isaac theorized about it, but last night I experienced it.
13 November 2013
I really want to convey how thoroughly enjoyable this movie was, but at the same time I don't wish to gush over it. The reason being, that if anyone was reading my review with the thought of watching the film, it is possible to build something up too much and precipitate disappointment.

So no hyperbole, just a cool, clear, opinion, delivered with an almost scientific emotional detachment.

1. Ask a question, to whit, should I go and watch Gravity, the new science fiction thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney ?

2. Conduct research and make observations. Which I did, after reading up on this movie, the consensus seemed to be a favourable one. I had also observed previous efforts by the actors involved and had enjoyed them.

3. Propose a hypothesis. The theory being that it would be to my benefit to drag my TV loving backside down to the local purveyor of IMAX entertainment and watch this film.

4. Design an experiment to test this hypothesis. Plans were quickly drawn to rendezvous at 19:45 BST at the Odeon, for a screening of the entertainment.

5. Test the hypothesis. I watched the movie.

6. Collate results and draw conclusions, to support or reject you hypothesis. The results were that I had a fantastic evenings entertainment. Watching a tense, thrilling tale of two astronauts left stranded, by a terrible accident, in orbit, two hundred miles above the Earth.

I concluded that the fantastic performances given by the two leads in the piece, combined with assured and innovative direction from Alfonso Cuaron and some dizzying special effects on the IMAX screen, produced a infrequently experienced, yet palpable sensation within me, that for the purposes of this experiment I choose to call, "thrilled to bits".

I strongly suggest you conduct your own experiment, as I did, in relation to the subject matter. I feel confident you will draw the same conclusions I did.

I did notice that some people here on IMDb seemed to have drawn somewhat muddled results from their experimentation in this area. Their conclusions were tainted by perceived scientific and procedural inaccuracies within the film. Having a limited knowledge of these things, I could not hope to debate these issues on any kind of an equal footing. (SPOILER-ISH) That said, I did read a vehement "technical complaint" in relation to something (completely scientifically impossible) that occurs in a scene which is well established as a dream sequence. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.
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Disney may have lost some money, but the critics have lost all credibility.
11 August 2013
I will start by saying that I do not like the Pirates films and I find Johnny Depp's character in those movies deeply disagreeable, just a personal opinion.

It probably and understandably seems strange then that I would be moved this past Sunday morn to go and watch the same star and director responsible for those other projects, tackle the Lone Ranger.

Considering, as well, the film has flopped stateside and the critics have lassoed it and dragged it through a cactus patch.

But I am a fan of the Lone Ranger, have been since I was little, so I thought I'd give it a go.

Well I'm glad I did, this was a fantastic film, exciting, well paced (maybe dips a little in the centre), funny, warm and is gorgeous to look at. The scenery (some of which was Utah I believe) was beautiful, featuring fantastic, real world locations, that genuinely brought the film to life.

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp have a good on screen chemistry and Depp's Tonto was amusing, without overkill.

Absolute Ranger purists could probably find niggles, but this is entertainment, not historical documentation. They could probably stand to lose the Horse up the tree, in the hat, but I digress.

Best of all, I thought, they crank up the William Tell overture, at just the right bit, I left the cinema whistling that tune and feeling that my seven pounds and eighty pence had been judiciously invested.

The only cloud on the horizon, was the sudden realisation that most of the negative reviews I had read, by the aforementioned "critics", were clearly falderal. Pompous zealots, with axes to grind, so large, that not even Tonto could hurl them. I don't believe that critics opinions, positive or negative, can ultimately hurt the financial performance of a movie.

But the real shame here, is that there will be, some good people, somewhere, who will have been dissuaded from catching this film, by that ill-deserved, myopic, rhetoric and their loss, is part of someone else's agenda.

So you know what I say, stuff em, go and watch this, if for no other reason, than just to spite our friends the "critics" and with that said, its hi yo Silver..AWAY!
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Man of Steel (2013)
"It's like, !"
16 June 2013
I think in many respects this is the movie we would have got if Bryan Singer had been allowed to go "Wrath of Khan" on his second Superman feature, as he said at the time. But that's the road not taken, so we have Man of steel instead.

Clearly Warner brothers wanted more action and that's what Zack Snyder has given them and the results are entertaining and hopeful for the future.

The second edict appears to have been not to follow the Superman origin story verbatim, to avoid comparisons with Richard Donner's Superman. Flashbacks are used, mostly successfully, to achieve this.

The emotion and understanding that these scenes needed to inject into the movie work very well, (SPOILER-ISH) the ones towards the midway point possibly needed juggling around a bit, but almost immediately Zod reappears at this point, so the whole thing kicks up a gear anyway.

There is a lot of action, particularly after the halfway point, mostly its coherent and exciting, occasionally blurry or just too fast. The cast are all excellent, for me Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon stand out.

Cavill's Kal-El is unsure of himself, but not overly angst ridden, he comes over as reasonable and good natured, in other words Superman. Shannon's Zod, if its important to you, does touch on Terence Stamp's performance to a small degree, but this has more to do with the fact that there are points where his character shouts as the plot requires it and as Stamp's best (and funniest line) involved shouting, it just draws comparison.

The change in origin dynamics negates any worry of audiences getting restless, waiting for the cape to be donned.

(WHOPPING SPOILER!).....(NO REALLY!!) I think what I appreciated the most was after Kal has saved the day and appears to have won the trust of the Humans he has been fighting alongside of, conversely Zod has lost everything and without his raison d'etre, he is purposeless. He had one function and never had the luxury to view that function in terms of good or bad.

In amongst all the battling, the scene where Zod laments this turn of events to Superman, he chooses revenge directly here and forces Superman to make choice, shortly thereafter, in terms of dealing finally with Zod's choice of actions.

At the end of a superhero movie or any movie that ends with destruction, its always nice to find a moral conundrum or denouement like this.

So overall Man of steel was a very good, solid starting point for DC/Warner's for future Superman projects and exploring the DC universe, beyond Batman. Now if we can just repair Green Lantern and for a REAL challenge there's an Amazonian warrior who's been cooling her heels for a while now.
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"it's not 1986 anymore !"
16 February 2013
Thus spake Alik, the latest in a long (and usually misguided) line of heinous cads to lock horns with Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) in the Die Hard film franchise.

This carrot crunching, hoofer, furthers his impromptu history lesson, whilst holding our heroes at gun point, by adding,"Reagan is dead !" The dastardly mercenary is opining to John McClane's archaic methods of law enforcement. After that as we get back on track and everything started to splinter and shatter again, i had some time to think.

There is a delicious irony here, which was also sniffed at, but not as successfully integrated into the narrative as it could have been, in Die Hard 4.0 as well.

Justin Long asks McClane, in that last installment, "why are you still THAT GUY" ? (i'm paraphrasing), to which McClane retorts that no one else is offering to fill his shoes (or lack thereof, geddit ?).

The irony, to me, being that every ranting review of this film i've cast an eye over this week, is asking the same question from the opposite side of the screen, "why are they still doing this" ?

Maybe for opposite reasons, to the audience, they feel that the better tropes of the series have been allowed to slide, villains, viscera and a good plot. From McClane's point of view, that the people in charge of the world he inhabits refuse to meet the constant threat of scumbags and dirtballs it faces, with the more direct methods he favours.

Yet, there's the question, why still bother, well based on this entry it could be seen to be puzzling (although i would challenge you to offer me any franchise where the fourth sequel is even approaching the quality of the original movie).

The Die Hard films have been with us twenty five years now and the zeitgeist our friend Alik is referring to has shifted, i think in anyone's view, to the wholly different mindset of today and "action films" have changed right along with it.

People will still turn out for this franchise, it would seem from recent box office, but its two feet are planted in different worlds. The makers struggling with past content and modern form.

I feel these issues, as i said, that have been mentioned in passing, could, in the right hands, be the saviour of the series (if a sixth episode is at hand) and what an ironic rescue it would be.

To address these issues, of past versus present, that McClane's ability to "Die Hard" is not just physical (which is far more what the last two films have interpreted it as), but it is also his whole personal ideology.

The first two films tested McClane's principal's and metal, against not only a physical threat, but against redundant bureaucracy. Since then, (particularly in the two recent movies) his only impediments have been physical. Don't struggle with McClane's persona being out of step with the modern world, embrace it, remind the audience (and the villains) why we still need "that guy" in the wrong place at ANY time !

With regards to the present, A Good Day To Die Hard, is loud (whew is it loud), bombastic and fairly brief. There is enjoyment to be had from it, its not as terrible as runaway emotions would have you believe, but its not brilliant either. When U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson referred to "bang for your buck" he was talking about this movie (i think).
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Skyfall (2012)
My word is my bond and my word, what a good Bond !
12 November 2012
If you only read the first line of my review, heres my opinion, its fantastic, well worth your time and money, see it in IMAX though.

I was a little concerned when i first heard Sam Mendes was directing the 50th Bond movie, as a similar unusual choice of director was made with Michael Apted on The World Is Not Enough.

That was Pierce Brosnan's third outing as Bond and the Brosnan Bonds, i feel, deteriorated as they went along, even then Bond was still slavishly following the Goldfinger/Thunderball schematic.

That rigid, moribund take on Bond culminated in Die Another Day, Bond was starting to look silly, he was becoming a parody, invisible cars were not the way forward.

This was the point where it seems to me the producers realised Bond isn't about scale, rather drama and intensity.

Since that realisation, they have re-cast, re-tooled and re-booted, the results have been re-markable.

Daniel Craig has proved that what may seem like a questionable choice at first, can often be shown to be a wise one in the long term. In our modern times where "reality" is the watchword, he has, with a little help from the Bond people, brought us an abrasive edge (not seen since Connery) and emotional facet to the character, that will ensure his longevity well into the 21st century.

Having loved the Bond movies as a kid, reading the books, its a pleasure to report that Commander (RNR) James Bond is reinvigorated and reporting back for duty, ma'am.

Skyfall, without wanting to get too bogged down in tedious semantics, now falls within, i'd say, the three best Bond films to date.

After snatching your breath away, with a hell for leather opening chase across Istanbul and a seemingly inescapable cliffhanger, the film settles down into a story where, Bond is emotionally stripped down, questions his very raison d'être and emerges triumphantly to...well i'm not going to spoil it.

Javier Bardem provides a Bond villain, with one foot in the past (figuratively) and an eye on a vengeful future, he represents the flamboyance of earlier villains and the elusive spectre of the modern terrorist.

Dame Judi Dench is fantastic, she even gets to shoot a gun, what more could you want ?

Before the dust settles, we've visited Shanghai, the Bond family home, popped into the National Gallery to view Turner's "The fighting Temerarie tugged to her last Berth", fed the Komodo Dragons and quoted some of Tennyson's Ulysses.

Bond is experiencing a renaissance and you will be shaken, stirred and thoroughly entertained.
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Looper (2012)
Very clever, very original and very welcome.
29 September 2012
I would have thought it doubtful that anyone could have anything new to add to the sci-fi sub category of time travel movies. After watching Looper yesterday, i'm happy to report that Rian Johnson has removed those doubts and given me hope that sci-fi in Hollywood can be more than just empty spectacle.

First off i would say, don't get discouraged from watching the film if you think its going to be too complex or difficult to follow. To follow the story and recognise characters motivations does require a little concentration, but not to the point that you wont enjoy the action beats and other more visceral elements.

The story is well constructed, information and plot points are presented at an entertaining and well judged pace. There are some nice little throw away visual references and metaphors which, if you catch them, add a nice texture to the story and stop it feeling too clinical in its plotting.

The script is tight, hard edged and very dry in its humour, the actors are fantastic. I think its fair to say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is well on his way to being "one to watch", Bruce Willis pops back to life here, clearly enjoying himself again, (although i wouldn't say this is solely a Bruce Willis movie in that definition).

This is a brilliant movie experience, its an wholly original and entertaining idea, that the writer/director has managed to successfully transpose to film without, it would appear to a layman, pressure or interference from external sources.

No matter how much of a good time you will have watching this film (and you will), Hollywood could stand to learn much more from it.
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ATTENTION, can somebody please claim the body of the pg-13 action movie, its dead, thank you.
18 August 2012
What we have here is an almost contemptuous lack of respect for property and human life. But, when that human life is vile, murderous, plutonium pilfering dirtballs, then its time chop, break, snap, blast, liquify, incinerate and decapitate (repeat).

There's very little point in going into a great deal of explanation of what makes this so worth a trip down to your local cinema. Suffice to say Sylvester Stallone has once again saved action movies and put the meat back on the bone.

Here he is aided and abetted by messrs Schwarzenegger, Willis, Norris, Van Damme, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Crews, Couture, who all dive into the proceedings with an enthusiastic amount of esprit de corps, taking the carnage to a hitherto undiscovered level.

This is an action movie with both feet planted firmly in the 80's and there nothing wrong with that one iota. The guys banter, crack jokes, shoot and cause things to blow up, the bad guys are hissable, murderous wretches to a man and are blown up.

Everybody is clearly having a blast, so in translation, so do you, of particular note, Jean Claude Van Damme provides a standout performance as sneery and arrogant Jean Villain.

If you like proper action movies i would be bewildered if you didn't enjoy this. Sly, you did it again, you are without a shadow of doubt "the man".

If they can deliver Eastwood, Ford, Cage, Snipes, Russell, Biehn, Weathers and T for the next one, then my money is already spent.
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Prometheus (I) (2012)
Mesmerising, beautiful, thought provoking, a REAL movie experience.
4 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
That header is just my opinion, its not a guarantee, i feel this is a truly unique film and well worth your time and money. Its a bold movie and has the courage not to rest on previous laurels and opt for the lazy, unoriginal route most blockbusters take. There's no spoilers to give, because the best stuff would take way too much explaining.

This film is the realisation of all Ridley's promises to expand on one of the most intriguing indirect questions ever posited, "who or what was that in the Space Jockey ship".

Its not Alien and its as far from Aliens as you can get, there are connections to Alien, one main connection and others lesser ones. Don't think about the Alien movies, just keep them in the back of your head. It does not dwell on splatter and its not a "monster" movie, but it does have those things.

If you require black and white exposition and don't enjoy post movie speculation, i probably wouldn't recommend it. The films plot is pretty straight forward, ask a question, get your answer but definitely not the one you wanted.

What you do get, if you focus on it, are answers and larger questions from those answers, as to "what was in the chair and what was it doing". It does not answer everything, either existing questions or new ones that are raised and thats obviously intentional. Because thats whats so damn good about it, it explains more, but doesn't remove all the mystery of the one main thing that connects this to Alien, the mystery that makes the whole thing so provocative.

If Ridley had tried to make this a straight on horror/sci-fi movie, it would have been suicidal and a waste of his and our time, Alien cant be topped in that arena.

This is a sci-fi film, with "thriller" elements, thats intended to be the start of something more than just another monster mash and when considering that,it gives you a lot to start with and not just rehashing and cheap tricks.

Its the most mature movie in the summer season for a far back as i can remember. This film is a significant effort towards getting adult movies back on the summer season slate, it would be a terrible shame if it couldn't achieve its potential because of individual misinterpretation and pining for elements that we all claim to be thoroughly sick of anyway.
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The Thing (I) (2011)
"He works like a bear !" WTF ?
9 April 2012
Just watched this today, bank holiday, check, raining, check, what a great way to pass the afternoon, right ? NO.

Setting aside mixed metaphors such as the one above, this was very disappointing and i don't enjoy having to report this, but its the truth.

The dialogue ranges from functional, just about moves along the plot, to banal, "i think......", "I Didn't BRING YOU HERE TO THINK !"

The beginning was reasonable enough, then it was all downhill, the characters had no character, the story just replicated the events of the original 1982 movie (maybe the writers are The Thing ?) , the oral hygiene scene played out virtually identically to the wire in the blood scene from John Carpenter's movie.

Except that in terms of suspense the new movie had done nothing to earn it by that point, when that scene came around in the 82 version, you had a sense of the characters, there had been clues as to who may or may not have been the Thing.

There had been cut away scenes to establish isolated characters, plot points (who had the key to the blood cabinet?), offending underwear with certain peoples names stitched into it, found in incriminating places.

Here the Thing not only manifests itself in bright, well lit places, in full view of, oh, pretty much everyone, it attacks and pursues people and every incarnation of it in this movie was virtually the same creature.

The only two notable exceptions were the stretched face guy, (the one taken back to the American camp in the 82 version) and the one they confront at the end, (which looks a hell of a lot like one of the original conception drawings i saw in an old issue of Fangoria back in 82).

All this does is to negate any need it has to hide and replicate others as well as it can, thats its natural defence mechanism, paranoia does the rest. Which really undermines the whole "who goes there ?" concept. Thats where the suspense and dare i say, fun of the original starts from. There's no wow factor, today of "how on earth did they achieve that effect", like the defibrillator scene in the original, its now replaced with instantly recognisable cgi, which destroys all movie magic.

This film adds nothing of any consequence to the overall concept of the Thing, that the original 1982 version already covered, so why make it, it spends the last twenty minutes scrupulously setting up the original, which is the one thing it does really well (hence 2/10).

Except the axe in the door, the reason its there in the new movie, seems to miss that in the original when MacReady pushes through that door there are objects barricading it on the opposite side, as if someone was trying to break through that door, possibly to the slashed wrists guy in the next room.

Overall i didn't enjoy it and its a shame, because i wanted to and i tried to give it a chance. But it just repeated instead of expanding, there was no suspense, just cheap jumps, the dialogue wasn't naturalistic (like the original), the characters were characterless and the creature didn't come close to matching the originality of the Rob Bottin version. I still think something interesting could be done with the Thing concept, this wasn't it and i smelt studio meddling in this movie all the way through it.
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Very rewarding, if you allow it to be, thats just......y'know, my opinion man.
6 February 2012
The Big Lebowski is a movie which requires repeat viewings, to appreciate the characters situations and the humour which comes from their reactions or lack thereof, to these situations.

The Dude is a manipulated man, the Coens have manipulated a man, to whom getting up and going to the toilet is far more a concept, than a reality.

They have placed a reluctant, anti-hero in the middle of a plot he is forced to participate in. The characters he encounters within the story manipulate him, all for their own selfish ends and many moralise at him whilst they are pursuing their own nefarious schemes.

The Dude abides this treatment, either through inability to challenge it, verbally or physically or in some cases through lack of understanding he is being manipulated. But as he endures the films indignities, he never wavers and in the end returns to his normal pattern of living.

Whereas the go getters, the schemers, the users, the pro-active people have all been undone by the own machinations, hoisted by their own petards. The Dude is vindicated in his lifestyle, by default.

We are all asked to participate to some degree in our everyday lives in the plotting or social mores of others we feel we have to answer to, the Dude reminds us to step back from time to time and let the cards fall where they may.

Control, through opting out, thats why we love the Dude and thats why the Dude, is the Dude !
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Killer Elite (2011)
Fancy a change ?
28 January 2012
You could do a lot worse than to plonk yourself down in front of this one. I think Jason Statham's casting has coloured the film for some as purely an action vehicle and i was surprised and pleased to find out that it is a lot more than that.

There is an honest effort made here to interweave a reasonably plotted spy thriller, with a clash of personal moral agendas, that creates an ambiguous tale, rather than a simple black and white one.

The story unfolds nicely and when it comes time for the strenuous physicality, its exciting, but maintains a sense of realism as well.

The cast all do a good job, the main premise is that these men are all highly skilled, professionals and your never less than convinced of this.

Don't let any preconceptions you might have formed put you off here, this is a good action movie, but its also more than just an action movie.
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Hunter (I) (1984–1991)
Worked for him and me !
1 December 2011
Just recently finished revisiting this show on DVD, i say revisiting, what i actually meant was watching the whole seven seasons on the all inclusive box set.

To set the picture, i had only seen upto the end of season two back in 87/88 when the ITV here in the UK suddenly decided that they didn't like American action/drama shows anymore and stopped showing them or shuffled them off to the wee hours of post midnight television. A few episodes of season three did pop up sporadically and then it went over to SKY TV for its seventh and final season.

This was the turning point where ITV and i parted company, gone were the days of The A team, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Airwolf, TJ Hooker, The Greatest American Hero, The Equalizer etc and of course, Hunter. In came shows with all the entertainment value of picking your nose and on it goes to this day with X factor, anyway, Hunter.

Now i've finally seen all the episodes, i can say that Hunter has to be one of the all time great American cop shows, what started, admittedly as a "homage" to the Dirty Harry movies, fought through that to establish its own relevant and unique persona.

Yes, the action was toned down post season two, but after watching the entire run now, it seems clear that this move is what guaranteed the show its seven season run, if it had relied on purely shoot outs and car flips, it would have folded much sooner.

It became more layered as it progressed, the characters became more three dimensional and even "issues" were tackled within the story lines. Effort such as this, at that time, is the beginning of the evolution to the cop shows of today, to move beyond being subservient to property destruction.

That said, the new Hawaii Five 0 seems to be back in this old vein and Justified is very much "old school" in its approach and consequently both a firm faves of mine.

Fred Dryer, considering he was a professional sportsman at the beginning of his career, managed to take Rick Hunter beyond being just an imposing presence against the scum he had to deal with and made him laconic, witty and even warmly human on occasion. Likewise Stepfanie Kramer, over the course of the shows run, made Dee Dee McCall a fully formed, professional law enforcement officer.

As with Hunter's character, it was revealed she had thoughts and feelings and was far more than just an attractive foil to Hunter and could crack skulls just as well as he could. Again, these efforts made at that time are what has helped to round out the TV tecs of today.

In summation, i was truly surprised and impressed by Hunter when i finally got to see all of them recently, yes a few episodes go clunk, but the ones that really work easily surpass them.

I recommend this show unreservedly, if you like good cop shows, you'll like this.
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Community (2009–2015)
Love this show.
23 September 2011
Being the jaded, middle aged lump that i am, very little makes me giggly these days, except Community. It never fails to divert my attention, make me laugh and put me in a far better mood than before i watched it.

In all honesty i only gave it a chance originally due to the involvement of Chevy Chase and Joel McHale, i've always been a big fan of Chevy's films and i first saw Joel on The Soup, which is shown pretty regularly on the E channel here in the UK.

The show is a well kept little secret here in Blighty, people keep saying, "hey, have you seen that show with the people in the college?", people seem to stumble across it. It shows on Viva, which is part of MTV Europe, frankly this show needs to be front and centre Channel 4, Friday nights in the traditional Cheers, Frasier and Friends slot.

This show gets an A+ in all its classes, writing, performances, direction. It nails its pop culture references, but never strays too far towards parody, it has whip smart dialogue and hilarious visual gags. The central characters of the study group are immediately likable, yet sustained viewing reveals their depths and i think this accounts for the warmth the show exudes, from the characters and to its audience.

In summary, this is GOOD TV, it needs to be seen by a much wider audience here in the UK, Channel 4 i'm looking at you, season one and two are now on my DVD shelf, season three is just kicking off, don't be a dingbat, watch it, its impossible that it wont work its magic on you, as Pierce says "never stop Laerning !"
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Your Highness (2011)
Hawk the Stoner.
28 August 2011
I watched this on DVD last night, shamefully because of what i had heard around the time of its cinema release. Well that taught me a lesson.

The only accountable reason i can arrive at for all the negative feedback i heard from critics and the public is that i feel they were expecting something a little more Holy Grail, because of the setting and the English accents and instead i felt this is more Blazing Saddles, very un-pc, whilst gently goosing (oo-er) its chosen genre.

It is immature and crude, but the laughs were consistent enough, its a comedy notion which would usually have a B grade budget, but has somehow been made with an A grade budget and for me that was part of its charm. Its like the slackers broke into the set of Lord of the Rings and mucked about all weekend and managed to film it.

Maybe i did the right thing in retrospect, sometimes its better to watch something after the dust has settled, just watch this cold and i'll bet you'd enjoy it. In years to come i think this film will have quite a loyal following, across a certain demographic, including me.
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Oater this world or oater space, a choice of very poor puns for a GOOD movie.
20 August 2011
Wow i enjoyed this, partially due to the negative reviews here on IMDb (thanks guys) and in part due to Harrison Ford clearly having more fun with a character than he has in a long time.

Its not a perfect film and there are questions that could be asked of some of the plot points, but the questions, such as they are, would require irrelevant exposition, which would only serve to hobble the pace of what is essentially a "Men (and Woman) on a mission" movie.

What really stands out for me were the scenes at the beginning of the film, Jon Favreau introduces the characters, locations and situations in such a manner that when the real threat manifests itself, despite the films title, it catches you as off guard as the characters are.

The cast are all great, some nice character work from Clancy Brown and Keith Carradine. Daniel Craig brings the stoic, no nonsense aspects of his Bond to Jake and as i said earlier Harrison Ford obviously relishes the role of Dolarhyde.

It reminds me of the films i used to enjoy about twenty years ago, that had lively pace, but were'nt frantic. The effects are special, but not overblown or overwhelming to the point where they become the focus thereby obviating any interest in the characters stories.

I don't want to talk about the story too much and spoil it, i'd just urge you to go and watch it, because this movie is an honest attempt to try something a little different. Its not Superheroes, its not a TV show, its not a line of toys and its not cute animated whatevers. Its an unlikely, but successful fusion of two genres to produce a film with humour, drama, action and a refreshing amount of practical effects work. Give it a chance, i really was surprised how much i enjoyed it.
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Right turn Clyde !
13 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I feel this film really deserves some praise (and probably a better review title than an Any Which Way You Can joke).

The film earns its praise in two areas, one, its a very well constructed summer blockbuster, amazing special effects, spectacular action scenes, etc. Two, it really does try to give you something substantial to chew on around the explosions and dust ups.

There are clear issues being represented here, the morality of scientific research, the questions of its practice be they altruistic or self-serving. Man's relationship with animals and the tapping of the fear that the original films connected with, the cognisance of the hairy paw of evolution on our shoulder.

I wouldn't argue that these are fresh issues or even that the film comes up with any attempts to resolve them, but its just good that the film represents them. Its just enough to make you think, without trying to be too worthy.

The cast are all very good, its nice to see actors like John Lithgow and Brian Cox on screen again, even though they have smaller roles.

The real standout here is Caeser, played by Andy Serkis, i was really impressed by how much of a full performance he gives as this character, it barely registers that you're watching cgi image, the subtleties that come through in his performance are probably the strongest aspect of the film.

Overall i definitely recommend this film, because not only is it a good ride, but it has the benefit of substance as well.
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Green Lantern (2011)
Bloody terrible !
30 June 2011
I'm of a forgiving nature, especially when it comes to sci-fi, special effects driven, blockbuster movies. I enjoyed the Star Wars prequels, i even enjoyed the last Indy movie, i gave G.I Joe a decent review....G.I Joe, yeah, that G.I Joe.

I cant go easy on this film, because Warner Bros deserve this, they are currently at the bottom of a deep pit when it comes to what is arguably the most popular current genre at the summer box office, super hero movies.

Marvel are wiping the floor with them, Superman had muted return, yes the Batman films are superb, yes Warners/DC turn out fantastic animated movies. But this Green Latern movie was going to show they can do more than just Batman well, it was going to be, hopefully a step towards a Justice League movie, one day, a less well known DC superhero, introduced to the non geek public, to open the floodgates to the larger DC universe than just Superman and Batman.

Well with all that riding on it, if this is the best they can do, then don't bother. This was one whopping mess of a film, Batman and Robin made more sense and yes i really have considered that statement, its nearly two weeks since i saw the movie, so this is a considered opinion, not a knee jerk one in the heat of the moment.

The characters were characterless, they were'nt funny, engaging, sympathetic, there was no emotional resonance in their situations. eg When Hal returns to Earth, after his initial visit to Oa, the scenes just drag where we are urged to feel his sense of dissonance with himself at not excepting the challenge he has been presented with.

I felt nothing, no sympathy, no empathy, nothing, it was all intercut at this stage with the origin of the Hector Hammond character. The scenes of Hal moping, are set against the scenes with us finding out that Hammond, already a creepy, sullen character before his head swells, doesn't get on with Dad, who himself is grease ball politician.

Remember Spider-Man 2 where Alfred Molina's Doc Ock had a pathos to his story which created a sense of sympathy for him and how that made for such a layered and involving villain, none of that here thank you very much.

The entire "i hate you dad" routine is old, old hat, but something fresh or dramatic could have been made of it, but instead the "i'm sensitive and dad's overbearing" tentpole is hammered into the ground, aided by awful dialogue and choppy scene structure.

The editing (amazing considering it was Stuart Baird) in these middle scenes was staccato in tone and numbing, it earned no sympathy for either character and therefore sabotaged any hope of an emotional pay off at the end of the film.

Superman's first appearance on Earth in the Donner version had you cheering, as Superman saves our feisty, likable damsel in distress Lois Lane, from a nasty helicopter crash, in front of a diverse social cross section of the good people of Metropolis.

Green Lantern's first appearance on Earth leaves you cold, as he saves an already established grease ball politician, from a nasty helicopter crash, in front of a gathering of over-achievers and posh-knobs who frankly you couldn't give a tinkers cuss about.

My abiding memory of the entire Hammond sub-plot is Peter Sarsgaard holding his head in his hands and moaning, which is ironic as i joined him in this action at numerous points.

Most unforgivable of all even the action scenes were flat and lifeless and when considering what Hal's character can do with his ring, thats just not acceptable.

On the up side, Oa was very impressive, there are some good effects and Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong do their best to carry it off, but they are let down by other badly handled elements.

Mum always said: "If you've got nothing good to say, say nothing at all!", and mum's usually right, but in this case it cost me £15, so sorry Mum, i'm speaking my Brains !!
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X Men : First Class, NOT an oxymoron.
5 June 2011
Well after Thor, the pessimist in me was convinced that by the law of averages it had to be downhill for the rest of this summers superhero movies, well i'm really happy to report i was wrong.

This was a fantastic shot in the arm to the X Men franchise and a thoroughly entertaining film. Matthew Vaughn very cannily blends a cold war espionage tale into the fabric of a surprisingly emotional origins story. This is no mean trick and the two elements work well together.

The characters in the film are not one dimensional expositional figures. The film succeeds most in managing to put the audience inside the characters heads (not a Professor X joke) so their actions and reactions within certain scenes are understood and felt on an emotional level and are not just reduced to incidents that move the plot along.

The special effects are top draw and best of all, from the biggest effects to the more unnoticeable ones they all service the audiences experience and understanding of the films story. There is plenty of action in the film, but like the effects, its subservient to the story and not excessive.

The cast are fantastic, everyone of them brings something to their role, regardless of how much screen time they have. As i stated earlier, all the actors are largely to thank for drawing the viewer into a state of emotional understanding of their characters. A smart script and deft hand from director Matthew Vaughn provides a confident and competent foundation for this understanding also.

Bottom line, i think this well worth your money, no one can guarantee your enjoyment, but even a casual viewer would find it hard to dismiss a film such as this, which has been clearly made with a great deal of thought and care.
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Thor (2011)
Thunderously good entertainment !
25 April 2011
Straight to the point, this was not only one of the better ones, its one of the few really good ones. I'm sure anyone reading this knows what i'm getting at, they either get these right or they get them wrong. Well this ones right, very right, from start to finish, epic, spectacular, warm, funny, action packed.

The story draws you in, the characters are likable, the pace is just right, doesn't race along, but doesn't plod either. Great cast, particularly Chris Hemsworth, if Captain America and Green Lantern can keep up this standard then it'll be a good summer season.

Ken's pulled it all together. Go and watch it, i cant imagine you wont enjoy it and if you think i'm being paid to say this then get stuffed !!
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Peace through superior Dryer power.
17 April 2011
Cardinal Richelieu said: "War is one of the scourges with which it has pleased God to afflict men."

The scourge who afflicts men in this wheeze is Gunnery Sgt. Burns (Fred Dryer). Burns is a career soldier, battle hardened and grizzled. He has his own interpretation of American foreign military policy, all foreigners are suspect by default and therefore subject to his military policy.

Armed only with this simple misunderstanding (and highly powered automatic weaponry), Burns' ire is aroused when his superior and friend, Col. Halloran (Brian Keith) is bushwacked and spirited away by babbling, machine gun toting "types". Burns' initial bafflement with his superiors reluctance to blame and incacerate every non-American in a hundred mile radius soon gives way to righteous indignation.

Bullets are soon being chambered, grenades are attached to bandoliers and rocket launchers hefted. Before you can say "United Nations peacekeeping envoy" Gunnery Sgt. Burns is (with the help of a few other people who don't stand on ceremony when there are asses to be kicked) laying siege to the desert fortress of a large man who looks like the product of an unholy union between Chewbacca and Dave Lee Travis (sorry, not funny if your not from the UK). After the smoke clears (and we have learnt that any combatant who has received a knife to the chest still has to be punched in the face really hard and fall from a terrace to ensure neutralisation), everyone who deserved to be (except the writers) is riddled with bullets, blown up and in one case has had a jeep dropped on them.

Possibly you may think I don't care much for this film, based on the above, but you'd be wrong. This is a slightly above average actioner, decently edited action scenes and pushes all the politically wrong buttons to get any red blooded blockhead like me baying for blood.

Its a shame Fred Dryer couldn't bring the same understated, laconic charm to this effort that he did to seven years of the excellent cop show Hunter, but he does make a pretty good action hero. Not a bad action pot boiler and I didn't even know it was Islamophobic until I looked it up on wiki.
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Hawaii Five-0 (2010– )
Hawaii Five- O WOW !
1 March 2011
I LOVE this show, LOVE it, its just the shot in the arm TV needs, its the complete antithesis of most of the other American shows we get here in the UK and its such a welcome contrast.

There are some superb TV shows on offer at the moment, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, genre shows like Dexter, Tru Blood and Walking Dead, all diverse, all excellent top draw entertainment.

Its the success of these shows that makes Five-0 such a great alternative, its fast paced, funny, has plenty of crash, bang, wallop and it looks great.

A guilty pleasure you say ? NO, this exactly what TV should be doing, offering choice, i hate reality and talent shows with every fibre of my being, but they cater to people who do like them, so i feel that i deserve an action packed cop show now and again.

Choice is the key factor in everything we do for recreation today, TV like it or not is a big part of peoples recreation, so its right that it should be offering a diversity of shows that appeal to all tastes.

As to the issue of remakes/boots, whatever, this tired argument ran out of steam on Battlestar Galactica, i ranted against the new one, then sat and watched it and realised that, you can like both, the hypocrisy cops are not going to kick your door down. If you like it, good, if you don't like it, good, but ranting about the revisiting of classics is like arguing with the weather. I used to watch the original Five-0 here in the UK (Saturday nights, ITV, late on) loved it, but i can find some room for the new one too.

This show has to get a second series, this is flat out brilliant TV, in the middle of a worldwide recession, political and social upheaval rife, the upbeat, take no prisoners, ass kicking note of Hawaii's favourite Five-0 unit is just the tonic.
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TRON: Legacy (2010)
A good night out.
19 December 2010
I rate this as a 9/10 as the human element in the film was a little muted, possibly half overwhelmed by the effects and the characters possibly could have used a touch more warmth. Niggles aside, this is SUPERB entertainment, exciting, well paced, visually stunning. The effects steal the show, very original and different from anything else in a crowded market these days. There are a fair few elements and references carried over if your a fan of the original Tron, which i am, they're scattered evenly throughout the film. The cast are great, Jeff Bridges is really good, as his character has matured due to events between Tron and Legacy, yet still has touches of the Kevin Flynn from the original. Michael Sheen's character is particularly enjoyable as well. The story is pretty straightforward, nothing too complex, but it has nice little ironies and subtle tones that you pick up on as you think about it, particularly after you've watched it. Overall, really good entertainment, i enjoyed it immensely and hope to watch it again before it finishes its run.
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Rawhide (1959–1965)
Excellent show.
19 September 2010
TCM have just started showing Rawhide every night recently here in the UK and i've never seen it before, even though i'm a big Clint Eastwood fan, so i thought i'd give it a watch.

What can i say, i'm totally hooked on it now, i think i held some unfounded prejudices about shows from that era being a bit slowly plotted or not hardhitting or dramatic enough, well i was well off the mark there. The plots are really involving, the way Gil and Rowdy get drawn into these situations is really believable.

The moral issues and even social ones that are addressed are always at the forefront of the plots and many are still relevant today. I can see why its been so popular over the years.

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes westerns, beyond that i'd say anyone who appreciates moral dramas, thats twice i've used that word now and thats because the central characters have very admirable morals, particularly Gil Favor.

I hate to sound corny, but i think its a good point, its re-assuring in a way to see that kind of attitude, in amongst the more "morally questionable" entertainment (that i do enjoy as well) of todays TV.

"Head 'em up, move 'em out" awesome.
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