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I'm a bloke....I don't cry...sniff!
16 April 2008
I always have trouble sleeping on planes, so on a recent long haul to Singapore (particularly as I had the misfortune to be seated next to the worlds most flatulent woman) I decided to check out the movies and pick one that appeared deadly dull and slumber inducing. Casting my eye down the play list (damn, no BloodRayne) PS I love You seemed to fit the bill nicely. Guaranteed chick-flick-coma material.

Congratulating myself on this master plan, I donned the earphones and blanket, turned my shoulder from Methane Woman and snuggled down for a good 90 minutes kip.

Not a hope! From the outset I was enthralled, then amused, then sad, then happy, then sad again, as the movie gripped my emotions for a ride every bit as turbulent as my travelling companions trousers.

Great story, delivered by a surprising mix of actors, which tugged and tore at the heart strings...poked and prodded the funny bone...teased and tormented the intellect, all with deadly accuracy and impeccable timing, toward an ultimately bitter-sweet finale.

When it was over, there was a little tightness in my throat, a touch of a sniffle in my nose and, yes, the swell of a tear in my eye....if that woman doesn't stop soon I'll be dead before Singapore.
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Yaaaaawwwwwn.....are we there yet?
16 April 2008
If ever a movie represented the tired, clapped out end of a genre's current run this is it. Boys and Girls, the spoof is officially dead and Meet the Spartans it's long, drawn out last breath. It's OK though, don't be upset, like every genre it will resurrect itself in time, with a glossy new appearance and a brand new generation of audience. But before we bury the corpse, let's just take one last look at the body to try to examine the cause of death and who the perpetrators of this heinous crime were.

Hmmm, yes....if you look closely, there are definite signs of strangulation in the script. Every single gross-out event of the last 12 months was squeezed and throttled into a tight 60 minutes. The "jokes" were delivered like bullets from a Gatling gun and every one missed their target, because we could all see them coming from 50 miles away.

But the real cause of death was old age and neglect. Everyone associated with this movie is equally guilty of flogging this old horse to death and they knew it. The movie started out reasonably creatively, with a spoof of Casino Royale, but then it gave up and just played out the 300 storyline. The scriptwriters knew it was all over and just gave up. The running time of 60 minutes is proof of their guilt.

Almost to their credit the actors (if indeed that's what they were) seemed embarrassed by their role in this crime, but to their shame, they will not be able to avoid charges of aiding and abetting.

The budget for this movie must have been around $30 plus change. All shot in one studio stage, "actors" playing dual roles, no location shots, pitiful CGI, stupendously awful make up, props and sets, seemingly borrowed from Plan 9 from Outer Space.

When they viewed the rushes, the Producers could see that their fingerprints were all over the body and decided not to show it to the critics, but rather release it directly to the paying public under a veil of hype, which they hoped would be their alibi. But, if you look at the comments in this forum, we were not fooled and they are guilty as charged.

Take 'em down!
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Entertainment is underrated
28 February 2008
Now let's not get technical here. We are not looking at a complex work of art, or a movie with lofty Oscar pretensions, the title alone gives that much away. No. Rather, we are talking about a clean, simple package of fun, neatly wrapped and competently delivered by director David Schwimmer, who comfortably (i'm tempted to say expertly, but i'm not sure it was intentional) provides an American flavour to what is essentially a British farcical comedy and it works very, very well.....sort of Four Weddings meets There's Something About Mary and has a lovechild.

Mind you, DS did have some help. Simon Pegg must be, by a country mile, the best comedy actor out of the UK at the moment. Hank Azaria is so flexible it's untrue and, for me, his portrayal of an obnoxious "Mr. Perfect" was the key to where our sympathies lay throughout the entire movie and he nailed it spot on. Then there was the support of the forever-laconic Dylan Moran who provides his usual laid back delivery to some of the best lines in the film. Add to all this a host of cameos from some of the best that British comedy has to offer at the moment and it was hard to fail.

Altogether, this is great, heartwarming fun and 90 minutes of pure, unpretentious entertainment that is well worth the entrance fee. Highly recommended.

but if you are still undecided, then you must try it for no other reason than the performance of Harish Patel as Pegg's landlord, Mr.Ghoshdashtidar. Every scene with him and Pegg is a delight and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Go see what I mean.
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Interesting, but not groundbreaking
20 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I think enough has been said about the strengths and weaknesses of this movie, so I'm not intentionally going to add to that. I just for a change want to give a simple and highly personal opinion as a viewer, looking for a nights entertainment with a new movie. I had never seen any trailers or read any articles on the movie so I had no idea what to expect, but how could I resist a movie with such an interesting blend of some top notch US/UK performers? But that was part of the problem that I'll come to later.

Right from the outset I was disoriented. The context and frame of the story were laid out using an opening series of documentary style interviews with both real and fictional characters. Why? It is a fictional story, so adding Jarvis Cocker correctly billed as he is in real life threw me. It added nothing except confusion and took me a long time into the film to realise I was watching a completely fictional tale and no further real life characters were going to pop up.

The storyline and performances were deliberately low key, in order to underscore and enhance the main theme, which was one of escape from tedium, routine and the commitment required in real life. Because of this it is easy to see how Martin Freeman was chosen for the central character as he is a master of the droll. But, not wanting to take anything away from any of the fine cast, this created an imbalance which played on my mind throughout. Martin Freeman is a good actor and perfect for the part, but would have thrived better if he had been supported by talented, yet less famous actors/actresses. As it was he was supported by actors with a much higher Hollywood profile, so I was always mindful of upstaging, even if not deliberate. As it turned out Gwynneth Paltrow, Simon Pegg and Danny DeVito managed to restrain their performances in keeping with the theme of the movie and in deference to Martin Freemans leading role. No easy job (especially for DeVito), but they managed it well in the end.

The premise as it developed was interesting. Quite by accident, MF found the promise of a life within his dreams that he had always desired. But could he manage to control it to the extent that he could influence its outcome? Could he find a way that this dreamworld could become his new reality? Thereafter, the premise shifted to whether all of this "perfect fantasy" was in fact a better solution than the real world had to offer and at the end of that road, how would it change us as human beings? Interesting and challenging enough to entertain, no doubt. The outcome will surprise few, but satisfy many.

Overall, I was entertained and felt that I had good value. I cannot recall a movie with precisely the same themes as this, however it does flirt outrageously with many other movies that weave reality with surreality, such as Eternal Sunshine (as one of the better examples) and because it does not explore any of it's unique aspects to any real depth, I feel it is impossible not to classify it in this genre.
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The Holiday (2006)
Do yourself a favour....go see it.
11 December 2007
I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how anyone can watch an engineered piece of seasonal fantasy such as this, then dash to their nearest PC and delight in penning a negative comment. These must be the same people who believe the moon landing was shot in an Arizona lock-up, or that Elvis Presley is alive and living in a cave in Bulgaria. Despite all the evidence before their eyes, they refuse to just accept the probable and search for a microbe of inconsistency upon which to proffer the improbable.

Is this movie predictable? Of course it is. Is this movie a little contrived? You bet. Are some performances stronger than others? As always, yes. Does it represent English/U.S. reality? Not a chance. Would Kate Winslett ever consider getting it on with Jack Black? I seriously doubt it. Is Cameron Diaz's smile widely annoying? Oh yes. Is this movie a classy piece of seasonal escapism that makes you want to hug the nearest bad guy? Yes it is.

Despite the many minor flaws (if that is the right word) this movie achieves what it set out to do, which is to provide a thick slice of non-challenging, non-threatening Christmas feel-good fare. So don't be like the Elvis spotters and count the calories, or complain about the trans-fats....just dive in and devour the whole know you want to.
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Shark (2006–2008)
Woods sets it apart
9 December 2007
Shark is a classy, although formulaic investigative/courtroom drama series joining a host of similar efforts coming out of the States, such as CSI, Boston Legal, Law and Order and so on. The premise is nice....former top defence lawyer turned champion of the people for self-redemption...and the performances, scripts, production etc is of the high standard one would expect in this well proved line. But what sets it apart and propels it to a different level is James Woods. Better casting for the part of the sharp, supremely confident and wise-cracking ("Don't shoot, this is a new suit")lawyer is impossible to imagine. In fact it is because he is so good that I rate the series as a 9 and not a 10. How does that work? Well, without Wood's brilliance the few scenes in which he does not appear seem unduly flat and tame by comparison. Unfair, I know, but Woods is that good.

Sadly, the series is a one trick pony (crime-suspect-twist-shark prevails) which means it can't run forever, so get it while you can and immerse yourself in witnessing a true master of his craft revelling in a vehicle tailor made for his talents.
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A Must See II - Deliverance
10 November 2007
Although I enjoy a good movie immensely, I don't follow the industry press too closely, so imagine my surprise when I fell upon a sequel to BloodRayne as I thumbed through the DVD's at my local. I had to read every word of the cover to convince me this wasn't some sick practical joke, and sure enough there was the name...Uwe Boll. With the kind of trepidation one would normally reserve for a trip to an Albanian dentist, I handed over the case for purchase and the knowledgeable shop girl sympathetically paused slightly giving me the opportunity to change my mind. No...I gotta do it...bring it on!!

This is not a good movie. But it it isn't the silo of crap that the first one was either. I may be wrong, but like a vulture circling around a carcass, is Uwe Boll homing in on a style? As I say, this is not a good movie, but it was entertaining with a very small "e". The acting (aided and abetted by a poor script) was awful, the camera-work was dire, the story was way beyond my powers of disbelief suspension...but...there were some redeeming qualities that give us a glimmer of hope that Uwe Boll MAY get it right one day.

I think that despite an ego the size of Brazil, Boll DID listen to his critics of BloodRayne. The schlock was tamer (and much, much better for it) the continuity was slicker (not good, but slicker) and the cinematography, in parts, was almost approaching average.

So....continuing the analogy, should Boll's beneficent backers suspend their own disbelief up to, say, BloodRayne 20, the vulture may indeed feast on its carcass and Boll may yet deliver a film that forces us to pen a comment free of the word "crap".

Is this movie Uwe Boll's own Deliverance?.....No, but like Billy the Kid, at least he has incredibly risen from the dead.
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Apocalypto (2006)
Very, very nice one Mel.
17 September 2007
Mel Gibson is rapidly climbing up my chart of favourite directors after this Jungle roller coaster of a movie. He pulls all the usual stunts to engross, move and entertain the viewer and, if the setting had been New York, Paris or London it would have been just another thriller. But it wasn't and it isn't.

I've read a lot about historical inaccuracy and the incorrect portrayal of the Mayan civilisation, but these people really do need to get a life and lighten up. This is not National Geographic, it's Hollywood. And Hollywood at its very, very best.

If you haven't seen it, what the hell are you doing reading this!!!
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300 (2006)
I make this review...FOR SPARTA!!!
29 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
WOW!! Is this movie a testosterone junkies fix or what?!!? I gotta say that I came striding out of this movie firm of jaw and broad of chest looking for a little guy to beat up on....for SPARTA!!! Not finding one of suitable proportions I marched off home (stiff and upright of course) and roared at my wife to get my supper ready....for SPARTA!!! Once I had brushed all of the bolognese sauce out of my hair, I sat down to reflect on the movie I had just seen.

I was attracted by three things. Firstly, the 60's movie "The 300 Spartans" is on my top 10 favourite movie list and secondly the trailer for 300 looked great, promising to give a Lord of the Rings feel to essentially the same historical storyline. Added to that the same team provided me with my favourite movie of recent years, Sin City. So how could I not enjoy this movie!?! On the plus side. 300 is a non-stop feast for the senses, even though it is possible to over-indulge. The CGI is amazing, the comic-book feel is a delight, the battle scenes magnificently choreographed (I use this word because the battles were unusually dance-like) and the music score is supremely empowering without being imposing. The fantasy element a la LotR did not disappoint either.

All in all a very good nights entertainment.....however....very reluctantly (because I so much wanted this movie to be flawless) I feel compelled to mention a few gripes......

Even though there are one or two significant scenes with women, this is so overpoweringly a mans movie that they fail to redress the balance. Now this does not mean it cannot be enjoyed by women, but rather that its main appeal (intentionally or otherwise)is to a largely bygone male stereotype. Hence my reversion to Neanderthal Man as I left the theatre.

Next, and I gotta say it, the whole "FOR SPARTA!!!" thing was just a little OTT. By far the most dominant of the 300 Spartans was of course King Leonidas and his men followed him blindly, but wasn't he a little barking mad? That whole "tonight we dine in hell" thing certainly would have had me pondering whether he was one sandwich short of a picnic.

In essence, King Leonidas' going totally tonto in isolation would not have been noticed, but when the, shall we say "idiosyncrasies", of some of the other Spartans are added, then some parts drifted dangerously toward a Monty Python sketch. Sorry.

And finally in my little gripette. The most interesting character in this movie, by a country mile, is Xerxes, but far too little development time was given over to him. If I were Frank Miller, I'd already be outlining a sequel..."300, the rise and fall of the return of Xerxes rides again". Guaranteed money-spinner.

Anyway, taken as a complete package, well worth the entrance fee and a welcome injection of testosterone.....I wonder if the wife has calmed down.....time for a little horizontal refreshment....FOR SPARTA!!!!!
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All the King's Crap
8 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Hello!!! HELLO!!! Come on, wake up now...Are you back with us?..Now be honest, it was rubbish wasn't it? Were you blinded by the glowing cast list like I was? Were you drawn in by the seductive 30's Louisiana setting? Yea, me too. Were you hypnotised by the dreamy score and the soft-focus delights of a dripping Kate and/or a sweating Jude almost getting it on? Me too, me too! But it WAS crap we just watched right?. I mean, I don't want to think that I am alone and that I was the only one to walk out of the cinema looking like Elijah Woods' wide-eyed brother on bad hair day. Please tell me that there are others out there in IMDb land who were also bamboozled for those two hours, or I'll run mad.

I expected a lot. A classic novel of depth and meaning, oodles of my favourite actors, an equally impressive off-screen team and 2 days off work. What more could one ask for? Suitably popcorned-up, I slid low in my seat as the lights dimmed ready for the giant hand of cinema magic to sweep me up and take me for a memorable ride. Unfortunately I think the hand swept me up and took me for a mug.

Strip away the glitz, the schmaltz and everything else ending in 'tz' and what a bad movie it really was. I mean, really...

What happened to Penn? In one frame he was an idealistic man of the people, in the next he made Nixon look like Mother Teresa. Where was the transition? Where was the depth? Why did he do the backstroke every time he made a speech? Why did Kate (looking good babe!) take this part? Her character was about as superficial and fluffy as...well, a superficial fluffy thing. It seems she was only there to add sexual promise and act as a bridge for one element of Penn's corruption to cross-over. Kate, if you read this, I still love you though and I really would marry you if you asked me. Honestly! And Jude. Yep, you look good too (not in any kind of sexual way Kate) but for how much longer will that be enough? Jude was the entire framework, the hub of the story and its narrator. Big job for little Jude I think. For an actor to carry this kind of role with conviction, he needs very strong on-screen thinks of Brando, Caine, Wells, Sandler (I put the last one in to see if you were still paying attention). Jude falls a long way short in this respect and consequently the foundation of believability was weakened as a result.

Tony, Tony, Tony, what can I say. You were one of my favourite actors once....what has happened to you? Remember Howard's End? Remains of the Day? I would watch a movie without reading the cover just because you were in it. Now, you seem only to choose smaller cameo roles where you seem constantly to try your best to look like Colonel Sanders. What a waste! Hopkin's character, Judge Irwin, was crucial to the climax of the movie, but it was ruined for me by the ease and convenient simplicity in which his corrupt past was unearthed. What rot! And finally, the big guy who looks like he should be in Goodfellas or The Sopranos...can't remember his name, sorry. What happened to him?? He transformed in the blink of an eye from a threatening, manipulative goon to a fawning lap-dog. Astonishingly disorienting.

I'm not entirely sure what I am trying to say with all of the above criticism about the movie as a whole, maybe because I am still dazed and confused by it's outward glamour. The best I can do to summarise is to say that this movie is lovely to look at, beguiling even, but underneath it is superficial, confusing and ultimately unfulfilling....not like you though, Kate.
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Biloxi Blues (1988)
sublime experience
5 June 2006
OK, we all have our favourite poignant movies right? know the type - the ones that hold you in rapture - time and again, because it speaks to you on a very personal level and effortlessly touches some part of your emotions that you keep hidden from the world - evoking deeply sad or blissfully happy memories from our own passage through life. Biloxi Blues is that movie for me.

Which of us do not carry emotional scars from; Our first time away from home. Our first time interacting with a group of strangers in a mutual climate. Our first sexual encounter. Our fist kiss. Our first love. Our first brush with authority. Our first glimpse at death.

Biloxi Blues is a movie that embraces many of the "rites of passage" that we all face in life and deals with them using comedy as a foil to gently explore them, without diminishing their poignancy. Neil Simon is peerless in this. The casting is faultless. The acting is immaculate. The humor is intelligent.

If you haven't seen this movie, do so. You can thank me later.
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Sadly evocative of a bygone England - but a classic whodunnit!
4 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Very mild spoilers below. If, like me, you are British and of a certain age, watching Green for Danger can be a bitter-sweet experience. There are a number of films, made by the likes of Pinewood and Ealing Studios in the 1940's and 50's, that evoke in me a strong sense of loss. Loss of a time when life was much simpler and safe. When men always wore suits and ties and everyone spoke the Queens English. Loss of a time when it was always summer and the sun always shone from clear skies. Loss of a time before motorways, when you could wend your way down endless leafy lanes without meeting a soul, before stumbling upon an ivy-covered inn for lunch.

Green for Danger, for me, encapsulates this sense of a bygone England.

I first saw this film as a young boy, sat comfortably between my parents and I was hooked from the beginning. It started in me a lifelong love for the whodunnit and, considering it is 60 years old, I challenge anyone to find a better one in the classic mould. "The clue is in the title Son", my Dad said....and I still didn't get it.

With the wonderful Alastair Sim framing the story with his narrative before he arrives at the scene, we are introduced to the crime, the characters, the setting and the abundance of clues and red herrings. You almost feel as if you are one of the characters as you follow them around the hospital setting. When Alastair Sim eventually arrives on the scene as the Inspector, we are taken by him through the unravelling, up one or two blind alleys, toward the tense climax where, at any moment, you know the killer shall be revealed. Classic and wonderfully done.

Alastair Sim is...well, Alastair Sim. Marvellously dry and sardonic. Impeccably comedic. A bad movie can be entertaining just for his presence, but for me he is the icing on this particular cake.

A couple of years ago Green for Danger came on the TV and I called my youngest daughter in to watch it with me. "The clue is in the title" I said. "But it's black and white!" she rightly pointed out, and promptly kissed me on the cheek and ran off back to her PlayStation and Internet Chatroom.

Ahh well....
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BloodRayne (2005)
A Must See!!!
1 May 2006
Just kidding...just kidding!! Why, after wasting nearly 2 hours of my life watching this trash, should I waste another hour or so dissing this movie, when everything about it has already been killed stone dead by previous reviewers? Because, dear friends, I am so excited I just had to share with you my delight at finding the "worst cameo of all time", so magnificent in its awfulness that it could (with sheer effort of will) only be equalled, but never beaten.

It was Sunday. Raining. What the hell, "Bloodrayne" sounded good. Hmmm, Masden, Kingsley, Zane...can't be so bad.

After around 20 minutes or so of this "crowning turd" of a movie my "intellectual defence mechanism" automatically kicked-in and took my mind away to my next vacation, what to have for dinner, and the contents of my Partner's trousers. Sailing away on a sea of serenity(did I actually fall asleep?)I thought myself immune and totally protected from the train wreck of a movie unfolding on the other side of my eyelids. But then....wait! What's this? Snippets of dialogue totally unconnected with the Tequilla Sunrise I was drinking began to pervade my mind. Slowly at first, but growing in intensity. Warily, fearful that I may inadvertently catch another glimpse of Ben Kingsley's excruciating acting/staring, I opened one eye. Was I seeing/hearing things? I pulled myself up in the chair and opened the other eye (after assuring myself that Kingsley was nowhere to be seen). There, in front of me...what can never be described by a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters for a thousand years. The root canal work of movie making, the Xanadu of awfulness....Meatloaf trying to character-act.

I checked out the other movie-goers...hmmm, not many left....and they were all, very much like myself, staring wide eyed and open mouthed at witnessing the birth of a legend. Seriously, it was like watching the first moon landing all over again. This is one piece of crap for man...a whole turd for mankind.

I am sorry that I go on a little, but I cannot find words to describe the cameo piece by Meatloaf, in fact probably such words do not exist - they must be invented - "discrapungent" - try that one. I can only try to capture the magnificent awfulness by describing the effect that it had on myself and, I suspect, the other viewers.

If you haven't seen it (and I beg you all to do so) cut along to any cinema brave enough to show it and set your alarm clock for around 50 minutes. If you have trouble sleeping at the beginning, don't worry, Ben Kingsley will stare you into blessed me.
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Amadeus (1984)
Salieri does not hate Mozart.
22 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, let me say that Amadeus is as flawless a movie as I have ever seen, with probably the finest acting job in motion picture history in F.Murray Abraham's portrayal of Salieri. It is a delight for the eyes, for the ears and the heart from beginning to end. But I am only repeating most reviewer's comments in saying this. What I wanted to pick up on is that time after time I read in the reviews of Salieri's hatred for Mozart....but this could not be further from the truth. Salieri is consumed with hatred, that much is true, but not for Mozart, rather for himself and a fickle God. He hates himself when realising in his heart that he will only ever be mediocre and God who should mock his mediocrity by bestowing the very gifts that he had coveted (genius and popularity)in the form of a crude and childlike person such as Mozart.

I ask all of you who have described Salieri's hatred for Mozart to watch the movie again and consider the truth..... Here are the things to look out for;

Salieri never appears angry when listening to, or reading Mozart's music, quite the opposite. He sees and hears only beauty - even the voice-over confirms this. Watch Salieri's eyes and facial expressions whenever he is talking directly to Mozart. Often we see adoration, awe, even love - and sometimes coyish embarrassment....but never hatred...never anger. Even when Salieri is trying to kill Mozart (to spite God and to appease his hatred of himself) his eyes can only offer pain and love. Watch what happens when Mozart collapses near the end of the movie. If Salieri really hated Mozart could he be so gentle and caring? And when he helps Mozart to complete his Requiem on his deathbed, every mannerism and gesture of Salieri speaks only of admiration and adoration. If Salieri had truly hated Mozart he would have been joyful at the success of his scheme. Finally, when Mozart is buried in a paupers grave - there is no sign of Salieri's joy at finally dispatching a great and hated rival. His demeanour speaks a very complex language of sadness mixed with uncertainty, doubt and self-loathing.

Watch the movie again and you will see why I said earlier that F Murray Abraham's acting job was the finest I have ever seen, because the subtlety of his gestures, the silent emotions etched in his face and his eyes all bear witness to the truth. Salieri adored, and maybe even loved, Mozart.
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Sin City (2005)
Just like watching the comic book come to life!!
30 March 2006
Brilliant, just brilliant!!!

I remember reading somewhere that there was no real script to speak of, just the original frames from the comic books. It shows.. and it is this which makes the movie such a wonderful experience. Think about it. 1. A comic book has only still pictures and therefore there are certain styles of drawing required in order to portray movement, depth, action, which by necessity must appear exaggerated. There were many such shots in this movie that copied these exaggerated styles into film and the effect was awesome (particularly when characters were running). 2. Also, in a comic book there is only so much space for speech bubbles, therefore dialogue must be brief, stinted and straight to the point. In the movie this was wonderfully recreated. Many scenes of dialogue comprised just one-liners going back and forth...perfectly recreating the comic book experience. I have read in some reviewers comments that they feel the acting was sometimes poor and put it down to the script - completely missing the point. 3. More subtly, have you ever noticed in comic books that static (often background)characters never stand straight, upright and facing the reader directly? This would never work. Always, characters are portrayed from unusual angles, striking exaggerated poses. In the movie you will see many examples of this, (note particularly some of the shots with the hookers standing around, and the car thieves when discussing their marks) I am certain that if you did not notice this, it will subtly have added to your enjoyment. 4. Finally, in a comic book you will never find scenes remaining in the same place for long. It is necessary for the comic to remain dynamic and exciting to keep the action moving. This is why almost all such genre comics have the following sequence (or similar); Location shot: Short dialogue: action: leave: fast car: new location shot: short dialogue: action: leave: fast car.....and so on. Watch the movie again to see what I mean.

All of the above (with a few less easy to explain) added enormously to a moving comic book experience and was all intentional I'm sure. As I said before, brilliant!!
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Gettysburg (1993)
questions answered?
29 March 2006
OK, I'm British, let's get that out of the way. The American Civil War has fascinated me for many years for many different reasons - almost everything about it was/is unique or unparallelled in the history of warfare and it's sheer significance on a bewildering number of levels is staggering - but the one most important question that I am still trying to come to terms with is this; what was it that drove men, from both sides, to advance toward near-certain death - time after time - against fellow countrymen on such a vast scale? I have watched this movie only recently (amazingly enough) and I want to pick up on an element that most IMDb reviewers have dismissed or generally commented as being a negative aspect. There are many scenes of protracted dialogue between the fight-scenes that attempt to put the war, the motives, the higher principles, the morality etc from all sides into perspective and I was very thankful for that. I can understand that for some it may have detracted from their overall enjoyment of the movie by giving it uneven pacing and contributing significantly to the running time of over 4 hours, but not for me. Just like for the many thousands of men who fought in this war, the interludes between fighting must have been a time of reflection and reaffirmation of their cause and their own personal motives in the light of the horrors that they had just endured. I saw this as an element of the movie every bit as realistic as the battles themselves and so it enhanced my enjoyment overall.

Overall, as a movie?. I am no expert in "movie engineering" such as the cinematography, editing and so on, I can only comment on the end product whose only objective (surely) is to entertain. I can say that I was entertained to such an extent that I was drawn right in. I was there. Sheen, Beringer, Daniels etc. were not actors, but the actual people they were portraying and I was right there with them, a little like the British observer from the Coldstream Guards. Which brings me to the only reason why I could not give the movie 10 out of 10. Whose idea of a typical British officer was that? It was embarrassing (drinking tea from a china cup in the middle of the Confererate lines - perleeeaase!) to such an extent that I squirmed every time he had a line to say (I was reminded of good old Dick Van Dyke as a British chimney sweep - a travesty of a caricature). And I did notice that he was the only one to flinch when artillery exploded nearby, whilst all else appeared not to notice and remained erect, statuesque and gazing into the opposite horizon. I can only guess at the reason for this and it is unworthy of the nobility of the events being portrayed.

Did the movie answer my question? I would say yes, in part. But I came to the conclusion that no matter how much I learn about this incredible event in world history, a full understanding will always remain tantalisingly out of my grasp. Because, simply, I am not a product of its happening.
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