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Shaft (2019)
3/10
Silly movie but Jackson is fun.
13 September 2019
Lazy story and dreadful overreacting make this TV movie silliness hard to watch. The only reason you'll watch it to the end is Jackson at least looks like he's having some fun.
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The Saint: The Better Mousetrap (1966)
Season 5, Episode 9
9/10
Routine outing with one Ronnie!
1 September 2019
The Riviera is a magnet for jewel thieves and for the jewel owners this is bad news. Ronnie Barker provides some of the light hearted moments as Alfonse, the bumbling French bobby! The rest of the cast is strong, too, which keeps the rather silly story at least watchable. The attempts by the program makers to make this series (and particularly this episode) full of ritzy glamour are hit and miss, depending on which episode you watch. In this episode it's a fail. It looks like the color episodes didn't have the same budget as the black and white episodes.
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Chiller: Prophecy (1995)
Season 1, Episode 1
7/10
Doesn't capture the magic of previous anthologies.
1 September 2019
The acting talent elevates this silliness. The anthology was made on the back of genuinely spooky programs such as Armchair Thriller, Tales of the Unexpected, and The Agatha Christie Hour which scared us all back in the 1980s. But this series blew its budget on the actors, not the writers or the production itself. It's still watchable, but some of that attraction comes from the nostalgic value. Very MTV, big shoulder pads and hair, etc.

There's almost no story to speak of... some kids go down into a basement and have a seance, one by one they die. There's a convoluted thread which ties the deaths together and a last minute prayer to end it all.
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Insomnia (1997)
6/10
Over rated. The remake is better.
23 August 2019
The overpoweringly invasive lighting of this movie literally overshadows everything else. Wear shades of you are going to sit through this.

If you can get past that, the movie itself is a low key, by the numbers, police drama. A young girl is murdered, the cops follow clues and the cat and mouse chase is on. A lack of sleep has impaired the visiting investigator's ability to make logical decisions.

What makes this at least watchable is the twist of the lead detective making a terrible mistake, which he then lies about and covers up. From that moment it's a moderately interesting yarn in bright lights and a show pace. It's just too dull... apart from the lighting!
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Kaleidoscope (II) (2016)
9/10
Enthralling.
21 August 2019
Captivating and suspenseful from beginning to end. If they remade Eraserhead, Toby would get the lead. If you liked this, check out 'Dead man's shoes.'
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1/10
Horrible in every way. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
8 May 2019
This fifty year old dud has nothing good going for it at all. Even at the time it was made, it sank without a trace. It definitely does qualify as 'so bad it's good' fare, though and I had a good few chuckles watching this.

Matt Munro was ok. Tippi Hedren looked nice. She looks very silly with a big rifle. Sounds even sillier saying the word "blubber bait". Everything else stinks. Take a sense of humor with you.
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The Marksman (1987– )
4/10
Roll up your jacket sleeves, it's the eighties!
5 May 2019
Grim faced Weaver leaves Spain to avenge the death of his son who he barely knew. Enlisting the help of old criminal associates he wanders around town (grim faced) trying to find out what happened. Sometimes he's being grim faced in a car chase.

The only appeal of revisiting this is the nostalgia value. Overall, it's poorly put together, badly acted and very confusing. More dialog than action. More style than substance... but if you remember TV from the eighties, this will put a smile on your face.
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3/10
Soap opera farce with silly people.
5 May 2019
What a great idea for a story... The discovery of how DNA could be adopted by forensic science to catch killers... Instead, we have the usual cast of familiar TV actors and a terrible script that managers to reduce this awesome moment in time to a sappy pantomime of cops and cute bumbling scientists.

It's just embarrassing to sit through some of these scenes as exposition is driven home to the viewer via the dinner table chit chat.

This nonsense is far less about the science and voyage of discovery, and more about the idiotic family dramas of the characters. The story plods unevenly between the cops and the egg heads with lots of comforting cliches to make us feel safe.

"Shouldn't you be looking for the killer?" "We're doing all we can, sir!"

"You're never at home anymore." "But DNA is more important."

The police have cutbacks, the scientists have awesome accidental discoveries, the victims cry a lot. Nothing original here, and a wasted opportunity to tell an important and fascinating story.
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7/10
Good start.
29 April 2019
Middle aged heiress marries her young lover and soon after the honeymoon, her friend goes missing. There's a lot more to unpack, but that'll spoil the fun.

The wonderful Leslie Philips head a first rate cast. The two other reviews here have unfairly maligned this Ruth Rendell mystery. It's really not as bad as they both make out. Actually, because of the cast, the story and the leisurely pace, this is still perfectly watchable 25 years on.
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The Ruth Rendell Mysteries: The Orchard Walls (1998)
Season 11, Episode 7
9/10
Awesome hour of TV.
29 April 2019
Top notch cast, especially the teenage Honeysuckle Weeks. Spectacular sets and location filming, too.

It's an oft used device, farming out the kids to the country while the war is going on in London... but it doesn't get old and is used well here.

Old fashioned values lead to tragedy under the watchful eye of an imaginative teenage girl. Great TV, although not really a 'mystery'!
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Felon (2008)
1/10
Wobble cam makes this unwatchable.
29 April 2019
This movie was filmed on a mobile phone by some drunk with severe DTs. I made it about thirty seconds without medication, and got dizzy. An utter shambles.
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5/10
Martin Jarvis makes this just about palatable.
29 April 2019
The intermittent narration of the awesome Martin Jarvis makes this show just about palatable. (He would have been one of the great Doctor Whos if the BBC knew what the hell it was doing.)

In the 70s and 80s British independent television was the master of making programs like this. Thriller, Chiller, and many many more. The golden age of scary telly.

Unfortunately, this effort comes nowhere near that standard.
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Blow Out (1981)
4/10
Overrated because...
24 April 2019
Ruined by the miserable performance of the director's wife.

This 1981 theatrical release could easily have been a 1971 TV movie. There's a lot wrong with it (wandering around a hospital with a lit cigarette) but the female lead is just too distracting and not in a good way.
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Arctic Circle (2018– )
9/10
Oh what awesome pleasure this drama is!
18 April 2019
(How is it that mine is the only review here? That's just mental.)

While the British TV makers are farting about with blurry vision, wobbly cameras, pointless flashbacks, insane diversity quotas, incomprehensible accents and disco-volume 'background' music, the Finnish (and the rest of Europe) are quietly making riveting TV drama the way it should be made.

Nobody is crying or shouting... people are making sensible decisions and every camera has a working tripod that anchors it to the floor. It's truly awesome to see television like this and you really have to wonder why the UK have lost their touch when it comes to quality crime drama.

Anyway... Russian prostitutes are showing up in Lapland dead, or nearly dead. The one thing they have in common is the virus they share... and the infection runs deep into this ice cold rural area.

This has attracted the centers for disease control in Germany and Helsinki and experts are sent to figure out what's going on.

The local police team up with the Russian cops and the bio experts bring in their own teams of investigators. Nobody is sharing information, so of course, the situation deteriorates rapidly.

Watching this drama unfold is simply a joyous way to spend time. The dialog is about half in Finnish and half in English. Top notch TV and a master class in how television drama should be made.
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3/10
Hallmark nonsense.
17 April 2019
If you like really loud background music, lots of loud, pointless shouting and hundreds of confusing flashbacks, then this is for you!

The grandfather is possibly the most annoying character ever written for TV, and this idiot is in almost every scene.

You can lipread the predictable, child-like script before the actors say the words. The glacial pace of this melodramatic mush extends the torture. Just a horrible experience in every way.
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The Locksmith (1997– )
2/10
Cringeworthy nonsense!
13 April 2019
Just awful. Why on earth did the awesome Warren Clarke sign up to do this rubbish? An overacting John Simm also lends his overrated set of skills, too.

Terrible attempts at comedy, ridiculous subplot about family woes, some perverse soundtrack that's completely at odds with the settings and situations... A grating and extremely annoying waste of time.
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The Victim (2019– )
2/10
Filmed entirely on someone's mobile phone!
10 April 2019
Make sure you download the subtitles and set the stabilization feature on your TV to maximum!

Your telly doesn't have the stabilization feature? You may as well forget it, then. If you watch this for more than ten minutes you'll just end up throwing things at the TV!

As for the story... absolutely not a clue. I didn't understand the weird dialects and the few words that I did catch didn't help. I was too distracted by the rubbish camera work.

More awful drek from the unaccountable BBC.
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Queens of Mystery (2019– )
5/10
Bored housewives rejoice!
9 April 2019
Unsubtle olde English nonsense in the Midsomer style. Take some kooky and eccentric English characters, add a murder, sprinkle in some English countryside and feed it all into a computer for the story and go!

It's harmless fun but not very challenging.
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The Golden Gate Murders (1979 TV Movie)
8/10
Great romance, great ending!
7 April 2019
David Janssen overplays the grouchy bit, but it's still a wonderful and fitting sign off for one of TV's most memorable actors. (He died shortly after this film played. He was 48!)

He and the delightful Susannah York have great chemistry and this film is really all about them. Still perfectly watchable, even today.
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Warren (2019– )
5/10
Just about worth it because of Clunes.
28 February 2019
(Reviewed after the first episode. I'll update if things change.)

As much as I like the affable Martin Clunes, he does sign up to do some awful telly. This new series isn't awful, but it's not much good, either... and it would be an appalling series without him in it.

The idea of a grumpy man about the house has been done before and this mirrors those attempts.. a flawed and unlikely script, probably penned, by people who aren't really that grumpy in real life.

The problem with this series is that the scenarios are so far fetched that you can't really empathize with the grumpy fella. If it were real problems and real situations that were endured then the grumpiness would be good fun to watch. Instead there are just a series of connected and bizarre situations of far-fetched silliness and unbelievable nonsense.

I'll probably watch some more of it, because I like Martin Clunes, but I hope all the episodes aren't as implausible as the first one was.
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9/10
"China-man square!" Ahaaaaa! He's back!
27 February 2019
(Reviewed after the first episode. Will update if things change.)

If 'past' Alan Partridge was an affectionate nod to the shallow world of popular radio and TV media and the lust for fame at any cost, then 'present' Alan Partridge is an enthusiastic slap across the face!

This takes square aim at the vacuous, meaningless and ultimately unrewarding world of daytime TV. Alan hasn't learned much during his time away from TV and viewers can expect something similar to 'Knowing me, Knowing You!' but in the surroundings of a more glossy and modern setting. In other words, if you thought it was funny then, you'll think it's funny today.

Susannah Fielding is awesome as the pretty (seemingly empty headed) co-host, Jennie, but who is actually conniving and manipulative. Felicity Montagu is back as Lynn and in the first episode steals the show with some awesomely disparaging lines aimed at the co-host and the implications of her wardrobe. The maligned and abused Simon Denton (Tim Key) has been drafted in to fill out the rest of the regular cast.

There's a lot of what made Alan Partridge so addictive in the past, obviously present in this new series. Nobody is going to be surprised by a 'change in direction' and that's a good thing. That formula still works as well today as it did twenty-five years ago.

There are already a few negative reviews up and I'm not really sure what they were expecting or even if they are familiar with the Partridge persona.

I liked it and it was exactly what I was expecting, too!
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Willard (1971)
8/10
The rat whisperer.
24 February 2019
Fifty years on, this is still an immensely entertaining film. The only nag is the relentless and awful music.

The cast is terrific, the pace is brisk and the story is good fun.

It's easy to see how Willard turned out the way he did. He lives in an old house with his mother and her insane friends who seem to always be around. He is mercilessly bullied at work, too, so for him, there's no escape.

Willard isn't an entirely sympathetic character. Despite the ongoing abuse he puts up with, it's still hard to root for him all the time.

Watching this feels more like watching a TV movie (in large part because of the music) than a theatrical release... but a really good one. Captivating from start to finish.
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Moon and Me (2019– )
9/10
Hypnotic magic for kids.
21 February 2019
More excellent CBBeebies fare. This easily the BBC's strongest hand, making TV for children and this example is no exception. If they dumped the left wing news broadcasts and stopped sheltering deviants and just did this, they'd be worthy of the public trust once more.

Part of the 'magic' of cjildrens TV is to make it entirely relatable to kids yet not excruciatingly painful for adults, and this scores highly. There are only 10 episodes at the moment but I'm sure there will be loads more to follow.

In some ways there are some similarities between this and The Flowerpot Men made almost 70 years ago. The characters just make funny noises while the kindly narrator guides us through the story.

I'm loving this and so are my foreign language learning students!
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2/10
"He's just such a wonderful dancer!"
18 February 2019
I made it as far as the ridiculous restaurant scene where sickly and annoying Sally Field is kissing all the men and impotent baby man Jeff Bridges just watches her do it. That was fifteen minutes... so I never got to see James Caan who I really like.

Throw in the aggravating and bossy mother routine and you've got an empty vacuous mess. Annoying and cringeworthy on every level.
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3/10
Dire!
18 February 2019
Terrible acting, direction and story telling.

A cop wets his prissy knickers when he steps in cat poo, but is nun-plussed when looking at jars of preserved baby parts. The fat bearded cop is the comedy relief but nobody is laughing. The cops fight the FBI for jurisdiction... WOW, that's new!

This slow moving snore-fest should have been left on The Hallmark Channel. The script is almost 100% cliched, infantile nonsense. That this terrible TV movie got any reviews at all is a testiment to what a horrible place we are at in 2019 when it comes to original TV programming.

Drab and boring.
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