Saturday, December 30, 2006

Layer Cake

Now I've been toying with the idea of watching this for a while, everything I've heard about it has been good and after seeing Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, the watching fate of this film was sealed.

It started off well, music video stylings, cracking soundtrack, although pretty much the same VO introducing the story and "this is Gezzerbird" (not an actual name in the film) character intros, that we've seen in both Lock Stock and Snatch. Not surprising considering it's directed by the producer of those two, Matthew Vaughn.

Unfortunatly it becomes too convoluted for it's own good, and I found myself losing track of exactly what was going on when and where. Regaining that slightly towards the end as I found the various bits of proverbial string that make up the "plot-rope" if you will, the film for me had lost it's momentum, culmunating in the epilogue scene, which was, well surprising at least.

Craig is good, but he was far better as Bond and is probably far better in his other stuff.

Layer Cake - 6/10

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

I'll get it out of the way now... A poor man's Lord of The Rings. Or rather a small child's Lord of The Rings.

Comparisons are made whether you want them to be or not, the fact is that since LOTR, "fantasy" films are back en vogue and this one is for the kids, and you can tell.

It left me wholly underwhelmed, maybe that's because of the LOTR comparison, but still, it should've at least entertained me. As it was I felt rather indifferent to it.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe - 4/10

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monster House

If this film was live action as opposed to digimation, it would be absolutely amazing! (It isn't thus it's bloody good!)

Why is this 3D animated film any different from all the other rubbish that's come out in the past couple of years? No it's not by Pixar, what it is, is produced by Robert Zemekis and Steven Spielberg, and you can tell right from the start. Why?

If you're about my age (I'm 30 (atow)) you've more than likely seen The Goonies, Gremlins, Back To The Future, Explorers and other brilliant 80's adventure movies, of which there is a distinct lack of in this day and age!!

Chowder is Chunk, [the main boy] would've been played by Corey Haim, this film is brilliant!

I don't doubt for one minute that they couldn't do the house effects in a live action and I can only hope that Bob and Steve realise that today's kids need their own Goonies!! (I'm getting sidetracked)

The dialogue is spot on, Chowder is clearly the best character, but the whole grown-up-but-not-enough part of the plot is well done with [main char], the secondary characters are a tad weak in places, but I'm putting that down to the ani..sorry digimation lacking the human aspect rather than anything else.

I laughed out loud, I grinned throughout, remembering what proper adventure films were all about, none of this Harry Potter/Stormbreaker tosh!! ;)

Monster House - 9/10

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Too Late The Hero

Just watched this one, from a FREE DVD with The Mail on Sunday.

For a free film, it's pretty good. Directed by Robert Aldrich who also made The Dirty Dozen, it follows a similar kind of idea, rag-tag-reject group of soldiers, this time British + an American officer, also rag-tag-reject, sent out on a pretty much suicide mission.

Michael Caine delivers a good performance as the squad's medic, although the film itself, while good, isn't great, watchable, a typical Sunday afternoon BBC2 movie.

Too Late The Hero - 6/10

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Casino Royal (2006)

Pierce Brosnan is dead! Long live Daniel Craig!!

Ok, Brosnan isn't actually dead, but I think you get my point! Let me get this out of the way first...

a) I despise Pierce Brosnan (obviously not on a personal level but as an.. "actor">

b) Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery. Period.

Shout and scream at me all you like for either point, but that's my feelings. Now I went and saw this the other day at the Odeon West End, and thus paid the price of a small car for my ticket, popcorn and 7-up (of which there was only a choice of large and massive), so I was damn well hoping for a good film. At least I was giving my savings away for a 145min film!

Ok, price rant over, 145mins is a bit King Kong (go cockney!), and suffers from a similar problem as LOTR:ROTK, in that it gets to the end, 2/3 of the way through the film. I'm sat there thinking; "this is a soppy ending for a Bond film", only to remember that there hasn't been the Venice bit that's in the trailers and that everyone keeps talking about.

I was apprehensive about CR, but not because of Mr. Craig, but Martin Campbell the director, who also directed Goldeneye, the painful introduction to "Pierce Bond", while Goldeneye is one of the better Brosnan era films, it's still not that great.

Apart from the length issue and the pacing in certain parts, this film kicks ass, literally. It's hard-bloody-core. No messing about, the few "Bond-quips" that are in there are darker than before and Craig is electrifying, the man is simply just one big bit of testosterone fueled muscle, the amount of screen presence that man has, without trying, is phenomenal.

I liked Craig in Munich, I have to say I haven't seen Layer Cake, so this was the first time I've sen him in a leading role (I will be renting Layer Cake this weekend hopefully) and as Bond he is brilliant! No messing about, hard as nails and yet still has the "Bond-feel" which I felt was so lacking in the Pierce Bland films.

i say he's the best since Connery, because obviously Connery was the first and will always be the "ultimate" bond.

If you forgive the film's bloated running time, the slight soppyness (although somewhat justified), product placement (not as bad as The Island) and (although I need to check this) the fact that this is the start of Bond's career as a '00' and didn't Judy Dench's 'M' take over from the other one in story terms?? You'll love this film, a proper action movie, one of the best for a long time.

(Note to Broccoli's people: Jason Statham as a bad guy in the next one please.. goood God!)

Casino Royal 8/10

School Of Rock

"One good concert can change people's lives"....not this one!

Let's be honest, what's the fuss about Jack Black, he's not that great, this film, supposedly one of his best, is simply bland, it has the odd moment of humour, notably his derogatory name calling of the kids, but apart from that, it's simply a very average, light hearted film.

The resolution left me unsatisfied, not a great enough character change for my liking, being that I never really liked his self-centered character, the kids were ok, but the whole thing was just wholly underwhelming.

You'd be better to watch Rock School with Gene Simmons, either series, than this.

School Of Rock 5/10

Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno)

Hello Guillermo!

My introduction to Guillermo Del Toro was through Mimic, although at the time I didn't really know who he was, I took more notice after Blade 2, then went on to watch Hellboy, then The Devil's Backbone and now his latest piece Pan's Labyrinth.

Pan's is far more along the lines of Backbone than the others I mentioned, it's a fantastical story of a young girl, Ofelia, who finds out she is a princess from an underground realm, set against the backdrop of the latter days of the Spanish civil war, she must perform a series of tasks to prove that she still has her 'spirit' and can return to her kingdom.

Much like Backbone, it's really told from the child's perspective, and I can't see that it would've worked in any other way. It's dark, violent and emotional and although a little slow in places, yet again an amazing film from one of the modern masters of cinema.

Pan's Labyrinth 9/10

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


It’s taken me ages to get around to watching this, literally ages. I kept seeing it in the shops, umming and aahing over whether to get it or not, even dirt cheap, then a few weeks back buckled and bought it.

A good decision.

Firstly, it’s entertaining, funny, gruesome, slightly slow in parts, but makes up for it in sheer wit alone.

Secondly, Eric Bana is one of the finest actors around at the moment and this, which I believe was the role to break him into the film world, just goes to further reinforce that fact.

Immediately I likened Bana’s role in this to that of Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, whilst tonally different films, the level the characters are at is very similar, struggling with their psychosis (I make no claim that that is the right word, but hopefully you get what I mean), flipping through moods like a rolodex, blistering performances from both of them.

Chopper is a blinding film, one of the best Aussie films I’ve seen to date, so go and watch it now!

Chopper – 9/10

Taxi 3

I’m a big fan of the previous two instalments of this series (I’ve thus far ignored the American remake!!).

What they are, are simple good fun action-comedy movies, at times cutting very close to the bone with humour that you simply wouldn’t see in a British or American film.

As per usual it starts in much the same way with a practically vomit inducing ride in Daniel’s uber-taxi, this follows and forms part of an unexpected cameo appearance.

There’s a lot of ‘technical’ or ‘reality’ errors in this film (as with the other two), you’ll se what I mean, but at the same time, you just don’t care, the whole thing is ridiculous, and these ‘errors’ are perfectly acceptable.

It’s a proper buddy movie, sentimental, comical and fun, something which is lacking in most of the movies that Hollywood’s churning out at the mo.

If you want a stupid, fun film (or three) watch Taxi.

Taxi 3 – 8/10

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

Now I like my comic book films, I like comic books (although I've not got into the X-Men comics), and I liked the first two X-Men movies directed by Bryan Singer.

For X3, Brett Ratner takes over the reigns and you can tell, the simple thing is to say "all action, no soul", even when killing people off and having our heroes cry about it, there's still something lacking.

The effects are pretty good, although you can tell more focus has been put on them than the characters themselves, and thus they don't have the impact that they should've had.

The script's pretty weak. I've listened to the Creative Screenwriting Podcast where they did a Q&A with Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn the writers, (Zak who also worked on X2 with the aforementioned Mr Singer) and even they sounded disappointed with how it turned out. Clearly without Singer's guidance, what made the X-Men films good has been lost.

Now the film was entertaining enough, but it was slow and trundled along in places, people waffling away, even themselves seeming at times disinterested in the (slowly) unfolding events.

There was no character growth that I noticed at least, something you'd expect from the third film in a franchise with recurring characters, Wolverine seemed a little weak and simply there for the wisecracks (which doesn't bode well for the Brett Ratner directed Wolverine spin-off), Storm was just plain dull, Magneto (played by the ever brilliant Ian McKellan) was probably as good as the other two, but had a line "what have I done", clearly thrown in for the American audience as a facial expression would've done the trick far better.

Some of the newer characters, Ice Man (forgive me if that's not his proper name) et al were quite good, we'll try and forget about Vinnie Jones' shocking Juggernaught though :/

By the end of the film, I was glad it was over but at the same time, the mushed together ending was far too saccharin laced and left far too many questions un-answered, but not in a "good-cliffhanger-way", more in a "doh-forgot-to-write/film-that-way"

God help us for X4, Wolverine and Magneto :/

X-Men : The Last Stand : 5/10

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Protector

More cheese penguin? This film is ladled with it...and it's damn good fun!!

Tony Jaa, the Thai bastard lovechild of Jackie Chan (who makes a humorous cameo) and Bruce Lee, kicks more ass in the follow up to his bone breaking..breakthru movie Ong-Bak (also bloody good).

Now I was watching the un-subtitled version, so mostly Thai, some sporadic Aussie and oddly enough English accented dialoge and apart from the odd lengthy dialogue and exposition scene, I could pretty much follow what was going on, depsite the really bad cutting, but then it's a martial arts action flick, not a David Lynch mind-fuck.

Basically Mr Jaa, has his elephant nicked and he has to go to Sydney to kick ass and get it back.

If you like martial arts movies (proper ones, not the ponce like Crouching Tiger..) you'll heartily enjoy this!

The Protector - 7/10

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Silent Hill

Apparently this is regarded as a horror movie. I don't feel that it is.

It is in fact a complete load of stinking toss. Badly written, badly acted, badly directed, bad CG, some truly cringe-worthy CG in fact, including a shockingly bad virtual camera move when Rose first explores the town.

The plot makes bugger all sense, eg. if you reach the end of a film and say out loud "WHAT?!..Like what the hell was that all about", then it can't be good*

Apparently Christophe Gans (dir.) is supposed to be some sort of visual genius, and while I haven't seen any of his other work, said genius wasn't demonstrated here, I was expecting to be impressed by the ever smouldering town and was completely underwhlemed, but it's poor CG "enhanced" nature.

The townsfolk were laughable, properly so to the extent of several scenes conjouring up visions in my mind of Monty Python and The Holy Grail ("SHE'S A WITCH!")

For the sake of that couple of ours or whatever it is. AVOID.

Silent Hill - 0/10 (I'd even give wolf creek a 2)

*My personal exception to this rule is Miike Takashi's "Ichi The Killer", which made absolutely no sense to me, but I loved it, partly because of that, most Japanese stuff doesn't make sense to us lot over here.

The Devil's Backbone

Apparently this is regarded as a horror movie. I don't feel that it is.

Now I don't mean that in a derogitory sense, simply that it doesn't strike me as a horror. It's a ghost story yes, but not in the same way that say Poltergeist is, playing it solely for scares, but I felt that the ghost element is merely superficial to the rest of the story.

Set in an orphanage in Spain during their civil war, the story follows Carlos, the new kid, he soon discovers that things are not quite right in his new place of residence and starts to uncover dark secrets.

Overall this is a brilliant piece of storytelling mainly Guillermo del Toro is a hell of a storyteller! Next up for me of his Cronos, unless of course I end up watching Pan's Labyrinth beforehand, which bearing in mind how many films I've seen recently is perfectly feasible.

El Espinazo del Diablo, is widely regarded as Guillermo's best film, in the special features, Guillermo himself says that it's the first one he was actually happy about, it's certainly better than Mimic, better than Hellboy, although in a totally different class, and as to which I'd watch again in a hurry, Hellboy snags it, but technically Backbone is the better film.

El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil's Backbone) - 9/10

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Shallow Grave

"Don't tell me you're not tempted?!"

It's surprising to think that Danny Boyle actually made good films once upon a time, but yes he did and this is one of them.

This is my second viewing of this film, I can't remember the last time I watched it, and I couldn't really remember much of it then..except the quote from Ewan McGregor's character above.

Simply, Shallow Grave is one of the best British films I've seen, the writing is bwilyant (sorry ;), the acting is top notch, even Keith Allen keeps himself under control, even though he's only got a small part.

It looks low budget, it feel slow budget, it kinda reminds you that Britain really only has about 10 actors to go around, and it does feel a tad dated with the hardcore techno opening music, although technically, the fast moving streets against the slow woods, is quite nice, but it's a damn good film.

Funny, edgy, and kinda scary as it progresses, you can certainly see why Ewan and Christopher Eccleston went on to become Obi-Wan Kenobi and Dr. Who respectivly....well maybe not.

Shallow Grave - 8/10

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I do not get this film!

Haze was a random HMV purchase, wanted to get something new, perused the world cinema sections and Haze caught my eye. I read the back and was hooked.

It's a Japanese film, of only around 49mins, from director Shinya Tsukamoto, who previously directed Tetsuo, which I've only seen once and remember it to be a horribly disturbing film at the time.

So, the film..

A man wakes up to find himself locked in a tiny, cramped concrete room, in which he can barely move. He doesn't remember why he is there and where he came from. He has a terrible stomach injury and is slowly bleeding to death.

(Taken from the synopsis by Anon on IMDb)

A brilliant idea, but I just don't get where it went. The film was creepy, really pushing the claustrophobia, (I had to turn the light on!), there's some horrible moments involving grinding but overall I just didn't know what the hell was going on by the end, no clearer than when it started.

However, I will be going back for a second viewing, it may just have been that it was late and I was tired and not trying to freak myself out before bed, but I am still intrigued.

Haze - 6/10


Took me a while to get around to seeing this, mainly cos every time I rented a film, i was with my girlfriend and she didn't want to see it (shitbag as she says). So she was away I wanted a film to watch, Munich was it.

It's a long film, and by the end you're feeling it, but as with most Spielberg epics, it's a pretty good ride. Hard going at times, little hammy in places, esp. near the end, but a precision made piece with the usual Spielbergian (?) lust for entertaining, despite the subject matter.

So, the subject matter concerns that of the Munich Massacre, the deaths of members of the Israeli olympic team in the seventies (forgive me I forget the year), although, the kidnapping and deaths are shown, this film is more concerned with Israel's response to the events and the subsequent retribution dished out but a group of "specialist" assasins, led by Avner (Eric Bana).

Bana in this is amazing! I put the occasional hammyness down to the script rather than his performance, Daniel Craig, as the South African, Steve also puts in a good performace, despite a wandering accent.

The ending was a tad disappointing for me, but I get the point of it. The intensity seemed to be a little watered down throughout, possibly because of the tones and nature of the lighting, or more probably the lack of power in the script again.

Overall it's an ok film, long but good performances and some good sequences.

Munich - 7/10

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Crooked Features

The British low budget film industry is massive, there are countless films made every year, from shorts to features, documentaries, promos..what is done big budget is also done low budget.

The key to low budget film-making is knowing your limits, the film you produce is not gonna look like a film that Jerry Bruckheimer has produced. When I say knowing your limits, it's more knowing the scope you have within those limits and how best to exploit them.

This film knows that inside out. I've literally just finished watching it and I reccommend you head over to HERE and purchase yourselves of a copy right now! (You can finish reading this when you've placed your order).

Let me say first off that I know the director Mike Peter Reed (a little at least), he was the Sound Recordist on my short that was filmed recently and my copy of his film came included in the package with the sound rushes. Secondly I'm not giving him a thumbs up review because of that, I genuinely enjoyed this film!!

So what's it about? Basically (i say that too much), porn director Rod Shuffler (Julian Lee) after recieving his third SHAFTA for Lifetime Achievement, sets out to go mainstream, however things are not meant to be that easy!!...

Filmed as a mockumentary (a-la-Spinal Tap etc), it follows the cast and crew of "Attack Of The Clowns" as they wade their way through the production.

The key players are brilliant, natural and most impotantly funny! Pano Masti, who plays David Goliath and Kate Naughton who plays tortured First Assistant Director Tanya Hyde steal the show completely.

Although, the whole mockumentary format has been uber-exploited since Spinal Tap and more so since the advent of DV filmmaking (god know's I've got a couple of mockdoc scripts myself!), this film does the job far better than others I've seen.

You have to accept the production values before you sit down to this. It's low budget, DV, documentary style, if you accept that you'll enjoy it. It may appeal more to filmmakers because of the subject matter, but then maybe I'm being a little hard on non-filmmakers who would probably enjoy this. The best viewers for this are the ones who know their films (and in some places music, eg: the scene with David and Sandy in the car!!).

It's a very geeky film, there are references littered throughout, even to the extent of a Tie Fighter sound subtly thrown in for good measure. It's these little touches that make it shine and the sorts of things that made me choke on my drink.

Cheers Mike :)

Crooked Features - 9/10

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Inside Man

Firstly, let me apologise for the gap between posts here, the reason for it, is that I've been busy busy working on my own short film (, but I have a little respite so...

Inside Man, a Spike Lee joint. Now I don't like Spike Lee's stuff, his films are usually "message" films, preaching or ranting about racial issues, and while in itself that's fine, I'm not having a go at him making films of that nature, they just don't appeal to me, so it was with some trepidation (?) that I sat down to watch his latest offering.

Also, Clive Owen is a tad hit and miss (eg. Sin City & King Arthur), Denzel Washington is usually a big old piece of ham, so this film, didn't have a lot going for it other than it looked kinda interesting.

So...I really enjoyed it, it was funny (Denzel's ham worked quite well, although Willem Dafoe steals most of the scenes he's in), and it was clever, once I got used to the Without A Trace/Cold Case (et al) esque, TV style cutting back and fwd between the heist and police interviews, I settled in to a very enjoyable film.

Owen is very good in this, although I have a nasty feeling that it's because you can't see his expressionless face through most of it, the premise although slightly confusing and, yes, still a little preachy, is a good one, a clever ending and someone's (scriptwriter I guess) clearly spent a lot of time thinking the whole heist through.

Jodie Foster is good, but still irritating (I think she's still in Flightplan mode), Chiwetel Ejiofor, is a good side for Denzel and as far as performances go, his is better.

My girlfriend hated it, she was bored to tears as was her mum, but then rarely do they like the same films as me anyway, but the film is long, it probably could've done with being a tad shorter, but I felt at least, that the pace is well kept thoughout.

Not a masterpiece, but an entertaining ride, which is what I was hoping for.

Inside Man - 7/10

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Superman Returns

It took me too attempts to watch this one. The cinema had a power cut on the first attempt (at a rather apt moment in the film), so i had to wait for a few days then go back for a second attempt, which was well, well worth it!

Bryan Singer, shot to fame with The Usual Suspects, which in itself is a brilliant film, kinda dissapeared for a bit, then directed X-Men, HELLO! and welcome back big budget superhero movies!

A few years down the line and we have Superman Returns, set five years after Superman II and thankfully before III & IV, astronomers discovered the remains of Krypton so Supes obviously had to go and have a lookie. So five years later he returns, and funnily enough things have changed, Lois has a fiance and a kid, Lex Luthor's out of prison and the world's pretty much gone to shit. This he finds a little upsetting, but not to be out-done (after all he's Superman!) he sets out to put things straight.

Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is on top form, hammy, over the top, and the "WRONG!" bit even made me jump slightly, despite being in the trailer. He is doing his usual world conquering stuff and Supes has to stop him.

I really REALLY enjoyed this film, just perusing the IMDb comments, there's a lot of slagging off going on, but then that's to be expected on there, it's vary rare for anyone on there to say anything nice! But then that's a different post (maybe I'll stick it on my blog).

Brandon Routh is pretty good as the big S and the same sized C, I can see the similarities with the late Christopher Reeve's interpretation of the character, but that to me is not a big deal. It's widely known that Singer directly referenced and homaged Donner's original vision, so of course they're gonna be similar! But still he makes the role his own, which I for one could see and was greatful for.

Kate Bosworth, well, I think someone slightly more mature looking at least would've felt better, but then Routh's not exactly old either.

The film's long, but doesn't really feel it, there's a couple of scenes that drag a little, but overall the pace was good, the actions scenes are as you'd expect from a film of this type, one particular Supes/Lex et al scene is positively brutal and is something I wasn't expecting but feel it really added to the film and is the sort of thing that is what brings this up to date.

As much as it pains me to say, as I've never really been a big Superman fan, I think it's taken the top spot in my list of fave super hero movies, knocking Spider-Man 1 & 2 into joint second.

Superman Returns - 9/10

Twelve Monkeys

Out of all the Terry Gilliam films I've seen, this is without a doubt the best. Note that this review is from what is probably my third or fouth viewing, but it still stands up as a very good film.

Twelve Monkeys is a grimy tale of time travel, with so many "time-travel-theory-holes" it hurts, but they're not ones that detract from the story in any way, why, because the sheer depth of detail that Gilliam is reknowned (?) for keeps you so wrapped up in the narrative that you don't care.

Bruce Willis plays Cole, a prisoner who's volunteered to go and collect samples and information to try and find the pure strain of a virus that wiped out most of the human race in 1996.

Obviously the whole 1996 thing is the only point that sticks out as we're now ten years later and most of the planet is still here. (Much like 2001...I haven't seen and H.A.L. 9000's on ebay recently) But again, you don't care. Bruce Willis is well.. Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt is in probably the best role I've ever seen him in playing the deranged Jeffrey Goines, Madeline Stowe...who?

I watched this on DVD, and the best bit about that is "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales Of Twelve Monkeys", which is basically the making of doc, but just goes to show exactly how mental Gilliam really is.


Twelve Monkeys - 8/10
The Hamster Factor and Other Tales Of Twelve Monkeys - 10/10

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


This film has been regarded as one of the best comedies of last year, it won several awards and recieved critical acclaim.

It's boring, it's sooooo long, yes there are some funny bits in it, Thomas Haden Church is quite good and I'm now even more curious to see what he's like in Spider-Man 3, but overall I was distinctly underwhelmed by what I was expecting to be a highly entertaining film.

It's just dull and far far too long. Which kinda contridicts this rather short comment on it.

Sideways - 4/10

Monday, July 17, 2006

Over The Hedge

Hey, SUPERMAN'S OUT! So I went and saw Over The Hedge with my grilfriend :/ well I did agree weeks beforehand and to be fair, it wasn't a total loss.

OTH (as it will now be referred to as) is an animated feature from Dreamworks, creators of Shrek, Shark Tale et al. It's about RJ a racoon (voiced by Bruce Willis), who in his racoony ways, upsets a big old bear (Nick Nolte) and ends up having to get all the bear's stuff back or he'll get eaten. So he comes across a group of woodland creatures who awake from hibernation to find that their woodland has been developed into a housing estate (or whatever the American term is), struggling to find food for the coming winter, RJ offers a "solution"...

So, as most people know, depsite the success of Shrek, Madagascar (say it like an American), they're still no Pixar, why?

Well the thing that really struck me with OTH was that it's technically really good, technically in the sense of achieveing really good depth of field, nice virtual camera movement, fluid animation (bear in mind I'm not an animator here!), the humans looked a bit ropey, but all in all it had a good cartoon feel and looked a hell of a lot better than the afformentioned square-fest that was Madagascar.

But then that's the point.

I didn't watch Finding Nemo and marvel at the CGI water, I didn't watch Monsters Inc. and fawn over Sulley's fur (although both of which were duly admired on a second viewing), I was too busy being wrapped up in the characters and the story, this is where Pixar has the edge (I have yet to see Cars and have heard mixed views).

OTH has some good laugh out loud funny bits, mainly down to Hammy, who's your token funny guy for the film (much like Scrat in Ica Age), but I found myself slouching in my cinema seat, admiring the focus pulls rather than being involved in the story.

Mark Kermode said of Ice Age 2, that it signified the death of narrative cinema, OTH has a narrative, it's just not that great. Fun but forgettable.

Oh yeah, who the hell is Garry Shandling?!?

Over The Hedge - 5/10

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Hills Have Eyes (1977 & 2006)

Science fiction double feature!!...well horror double feature actually.

Yesterday I watched the remake of Wes Craven's "The Hills Have Eyes", what i thought I'd do here is give my views on both that and the original that I watched just before I started doing this blog. Talk about value for money eh?!

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

This is one of THE iconic horror movies of the 70's. Written and directed by one of the new wave of horror directors, Wes Craven.

Being that this film is so iconic, I was hoping for a damn good ride, however having not been that impressed with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I was preparing myself for a let down.

Where id it come in? About half way I guess. It was a reasonable film, you can see the influences it has had on subsequent horror film makers (Wolf Creek for example), but at the same time it was just a bit dull. I can see how it would've shocked people when it was released, it has a bit of gore, deformed inbreds, cannibalism, etc. but it just doesn't have the impact any more, at least not with my "desensitized" upbringing.

The boy of the family comes across as a whiney over-actor, which is slightly off putting, the best characters being the unlikely protagonist of the big-brother-in-law and of course the always wonderful Michael Berryman.

Overall, depsite my trying to be prepared for the worst, I still felt a bit let down by another of these classic horrors, when am I going to be scared, when am I going to be unsettled and freaked out by one of these?

Suggestions on a postcard (or comments below) please.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) - 5/10


The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Right, now with the remake. Any better, Any worse?

To be perfectly honest with you, I actually preferred this one. (now ready to receive the abuse from purists and Mark Kermode)

Don't get me wrong this isn't a masterpiece and I still wasn't scared and I also agree with Dr Kermode on the fact that the whole new backstory isn't nessecary.

It goes on too long, I missed the family aspect of the "savages" which didn't seem as prevalent in this version, mostly though, it's a shot for shot remake of the original.

It maintains much the same pacing, the main story's the same, the family characters remain pretty much the same except the boy is much less whiney and big-bro..well, he's why I prefer this version.

The sheer amazing cheesyness they've injected with his character is nothing short of entertainment brilliance! When he gets going, leading up to the "climax" (it's not that big a crescendo), her undergoes a radical change, partially justified, but also a tad out of place, however, that makes the movie for me, forget the gory deaths of the family members, forget the underlying message about the savagery of man (not so subtly delivered in this version), Big Bro + end sequence, that's what this film is all about. Than and a bit in the opening sequence, which while still doesn't match Ghost Ship as an opening, is still pretty fun. Well done Mr Aja!

The Hills Have Eyes (2006) - 6/10

Sunday, June 18, 2006

King Arthur

It's all just a bit dull really.

Yup. Just dull, fortunatly I watched this on Sky, so it didn't have to pay £3-£6 to see it, in fact as it's not even my Sky, it didn't cost me anything, which is just as well really, cos this is one DULL film!

You'd think being Jerry Bruckhiemer produced it'd have at least some spectacular set pieces, but the set big action sequences aren't exactly heart-stopping, the bit on the ice is ok, but just ok.

Sod it, I can't even think of anything really notable to write about old Arturious. Don't bother with this one.

King Arthur - 3/10

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Devil's Rejects

Two words... "Kinda" and "Dissapointing"

The press clip on the cover states something along the lines of "The sickest, goriest film ever", no the first one (House of 1000 Corpses) was probably that, but not this one.

The reason it's kinda dissapointing is that, well the press clip on the front and the fact that I've seen the prequel, I was ready and willing for "The sickest, goriest film ever", what I (and Vicky) got was a very clever, beautifully shot, funny, and quite original and entertaining, if a little slow, road movie. Not what we were expecting.

The film is supposedly set after the events of the first (unfortunatly I was unable to recap myself) and kicks off with a blazing shootout at the Firefly's home, after this some of the clan escape and go on the run, chased by the sadistic, revenge seeking sherrif.

Once again the film is one big homage to the 70's horror classics, even features Michael Berryman in a small supporting role. Sylistically (god knows on spelling there, I should type this all up in Word first!), it's a beautiful film, the opening sequence is a joy and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the movie. All the performances are top, nobody's gonna win an oscar here, but each one suits the role and is performed with conviction.

I certainly hope Mr Zombie continues to make great films, as the horror genre is on the bounce back, with many sub-genres(?) floating about with directors like Mr Zombie, Ely Roth and Neil Marshall making their own films and not just Hollywood ripping off the Japanese ;)

I'd've liked more guts n gore, maybe even a bit of cringing on my part but still, watch this and be surprised.

The Devil's Rejects - 7/10

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Yet another damn good movie to come out of Korea, I don't think I've seen a bad one yet, although I haven't heard good things about The Quiet Family (upon which Miike's The Happiness Of The Katakuris is based).

The Empire quote on the front of the DVD case is "A mix of Nikita and Die Hard", it's been a long time since I've seen either, I can remember Die Hard clearer and it's nothing like that, except for maybe the explosives. A slightly closer comparison would be to Heat; the blazing gun fights in the street, the close meetings between two key pro' and antagonists. Directed by Je-gyu Kang this is a very different film from the other of his I've watched, Brotherhood. This is a reasonably fast paced, contemporary terrorism thriller, set predominantly in Seoul, South Korea and using the re-unification efforts as it's backdrop, think "24", but Korean and better.

There you go, that's my quote "A mix of Heat and 24" ;)

Once again, Min-Sik Choi delivers a brilliant performance, and although (as you'd expect), there have been some negative comments on the IMDB board, I found the plot gripping and extremely clever. Make no mistake, this is an action movie, a clever one, but an action movie nonetheless.

When I saw the trailer for Shiri, I thought I'd avoid it like the plague, but after watching Brotherhood and discovering that it was by the same director, I took a chance on it. I'm glad I did, the only negative for this? The sound mix, you get used to it, but it's not the best and can be a tad distracting at times, despite that, another must watch Korean movie!

Shiri - 8/10

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Poseidon [DMR]

OK, for starters, this film is NOT Citizen Kane. Now I don't mean that in a derogitory sense, I'm stating it for the benefit of cinema goers who, it seems, expect way too much from blockbuster movies nowadays.

This remake of the 1972, Ronald Neame film "The Poseidon Adventure" has taken a lot of flak from the critics, mainly for it's lack of character development, which "means" you don't really care if they live or die. Comments have been that there's not enough of a build up, they're all thrust into the disaster side of things before you really get to know them. This is not something I had an issue with, except for one character, that of Dylan (Josh Lucas), I wanted to know just a tad more about how come he was so gung-ho and knew so much.

As the credits rolled, I caught a couple of comments from other viewers, expressing their dissapointment and also "How American it was" (NB: American produced blockbuster!!), me? I loved it. (The Film) It was everything I wanted, a big dumb disaster movie, cheers. Plus, as you may have noticed the "[DMR]" on the title of this post, I saw this at the BFI IMAX at Waterloo, thus MASSIVE SCREEN, this does a couple of things.

Firstly, once I settled into watching such a MASSIVE screen, I really enjoyed the super-size version. The opening sequence was a bit iffy, lots of camera tracking and motion, means you really notice the strobing on such a large screen. Secondly, and this is a note to filmmakers who are thinking about getting their 35mm piece blown up to IMAX, it really shows up the mistakes, like during the scene on the ship's bridge, a glaring focus error, and some of the CG during the titles is a little shoddy. That said, this was a million times better than Troy, Wolfgang Peterson's last "disaster" movie!

Anyway, overall I really enjoyed this film, it's the first time I've been to the cinema for some months now (too many!), and the first re-mastered film I've seen at the IMAX (saw Ghosts Of The Abyss there before tho), Josh Lucas chews things up a bit, Kurt Russell is on top form and Kevin Dillon adds some clever light relief. Personally I heartily reccommend it, just don't expect Citizen Kane!!

Poseidon - 8/10

Sunday, June 04, 2006


So, it's been a couple of weeks since I've watched a "proper" movie, and god knows where Harv & Russ' reviews have got to but hey.

Man-Thing, immediatly the title suggests that you're gonna be watching a low calibre movie doesn't it? Say it..Man-Thing..make sure you say it in a "voice-over-man" type voice, "Man-Thing".

Anyways, if you expect to watch a cruddy, throw away B-movie, this will do the job...just. The acting is rubbish, the direction is nothing special, occasionally the director will show his admiration for Michael Bay, and the rest of the time, it's bog-standard, uninventive camera work.

Apparently, (according the the opening stings), it's based on a Marvel comic, but believe me this aint no Spider-Man, if anything Man-Thing is a poor man's Swamp Thing, a very poor man. If you want to watch it, wait til it goes into the 7-days for a pound bin if you must.

Man-Thing - 2/10

Hopefully seeing Poseidon on Weds btw :D

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Batman : Dead End

You're probably wondering what this is all about eh? No, it's not the Untitled Batman Begins Sequel, this is a fan film. Yes, that's right a fan film, a short film made by filmmakers who are fans of, in this case, Batman.

Why am I doing a write up on this?!? Why not? I never said this blog was going to be exclusivley theatrically released feature films (although they will more than likely be the majority), I do watch short films online, partially cos I work on short films, but also because some of them are quite good. This is one I enjoyed.

Batman : Dead End, is listed on, and features Batman, played by Clark Bartram (although that name sounds like it's been made up especially for this). He goes out to pick up The Joker who's escaped from Arkham and gets himself stuck down a dead end with a host of unsavoury characters, in the shape of Aliens & Predators.

Now when someone sys "fan film" you immediatly think, kids, geeks, home video, bad costumes and acting etc etc, what a lot of people fail to realise is that there are filmmakers out there who go to a hell of a lot of effort to make their film look as good as poosible, just as you would expect from a "serious" short. This is one of those, they've gone to a lot of effort, got people in who have really good Alien/Predator outfits and tried to compose and light as best they can.

Unfortunatly the Batman costume is a tad dissapointing, ok, it looks like some of the comics, but c'mon, someone's got to have made the body armour!

Anyway, I enjoyed watching this which is the main thing, it's just over the eight minute mark with credits and is easily watchable. I felt it kind runs down the line of, "this is quite good, it's almost really good" if you get what i mean.

I downloaded the small mov (48Mb) from TFN, (I downloaded the 160Mb MPEG as well but that didn't work!), check it out.

Batman : Dead End - 6/10

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter And.. Spring

This was not what I expected, although saying that, I wasn't 100% sure what to expect. Everyone who I'd spoke to about it (well, the two people, one of whom lent me the DVD, cheers Conal), said that "you have to be in the right frame of mind for it", I kinda knew what that meant, especially after watching The Straight Story (which I haven't watched all of yet), so I was waiting for the time when I was in the right frame of mind.

That never seemed to come about. So, seeing as this was a borrowed DVD, I thought, sod it, I'm gonna watch it.

I'm glad I did, it's a beautiful, peaceful yet moving piece, the sort of film that you don't see very often, very little dialogue, beautifully shot, accomplished acting, brilliantly scripted and overall a joy to watch.

This is the first of Ki-Duk Kim's films that I've seen (he also makes an appearance in the latter part of the film) and I think it's a good place to start.

It is a very calm film, not slow because apart from the odd couple of lingering landscape shots, it's extremely well paced. For the most part the film focusses on it's two central characters, the old bhuddist monk and his young (companion/apprentice?!?), who grows up over the course of the film. During the second act, a young girl comes to the floating temple they live on and the young monk's world is thrown into disarray.

Although the film is visually beautiful, it's not overly stylised as something like House of Flying Daggers is, it remains very natural looking and allows the landscape it's set in to define the look of the piece.

Subtle, moving and inspiring. Now that I've watched it, I don't agree with "You have to be in the right frame of mind", I think the film gives you that frame of mind.

Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom - 8/10

Brighton Rock

What's this?? Matt watching another old black and white film?!? What is the world coming to?

Now, I watched this film in two parts, first on the train the other morning on the way to work, and the rest, just now in the comfort of my room, maybe that spoilt the effect somewhat, but I was underwhelmed by this one.

The performances throughout are ok, Ida played by Hermione Baddeley is ridiculously annoying, but I guess that's partly what her character is supposed to be, Richard Attenborough as Pinky, doesn't really do anything for me here, the nature of his character is portrayed well I guess, even if it spelled out for you in Alphabites at the end of the film :/ for me it was all a bit mediocre.

The plot centres around the ever increasingly complicated cover-up of a murder (followed by another), and mainly Pinkie's inept handling of it.

This is one of those "should watch", "iconic" films, although, I wasn't as impressed with this as I have been with Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai, Seven Samurai, or Kind Hearts even, I would however rate it the same as The Third Man, which happens to be another Graham Greene work.

What's the problem with it? It's just a bit dull, coming (and still) from the Brighton area, it's interesting to see Fred run up North Street, past the clock tower and on to Queens Road as he [actually does] head towards the station, but that was it, it's alright, but just alright.

Brighton Rock - 6/10

Monday, May 08, 2006


B-Movie Madness! Slime, nastyness, laughs, CHEERS!!

Difficult what to know what to say about this one, I've been really looking forward to seeing it, waiting...well ages, ever since I saw the trailer online, would I be as disappointed as I was with the humongous let down that was The Weather Man??


It could have been better, with the posters screaming "The funniest comedy horror since Shaun Of The Dead", didn't help it, it's nowhere near as funny (but the line probably rings true). I'd put this film easily in the same stock as Eight Legged Freaks, and I'd rate it about the same...but nastier!

The performances are as good and as convincing as you'd expect from a film of this caliber, Nathan Fillon strikes the right level of redneck and tough guy for the police chief, Elizabeth Banks is just the right amount of ice-cream & flake (work that one out!).

One of the little touches I liked in this film not the uber references scattered throughout, although there are many (and clever)...but the relationship between Starla and her (body snatched) husband Grant, it's surprising how much it makes sense and how much it adds to the film.

So what exactly is this all about eh? It's essentially a bog-standard "body-snatcher/the thing" type affair, clearly drawing on many genre influences and putting them to good use. It's a tad slow in places as it tries to build the tension when all you want is laughs and slime, but it's heart is in the right place. The backwoods, redneck setting works brilliantly, to be honest I would've liked to have seen them push it a little further with that, but is has the desired effect.

Don't go in expecting anything nearly as funny as SOTD, but do expect a above average, slime n laughs horror. Enjoy watching it, and be prepared for your girlfriend to go-on about how disgusting it is after you watch it ;)

Slither - 7/10

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kind Hearts And Coronets

Firstly, cheers The Daily Mail, free DVD's galore, and this as the post title suggests is an Ealing Classic.

It's famous mainly for Sir Alec Guinness' turn as all eight members of the D'Ascoyne family, all the blurb focusses on Guinness' performance, which while top notch, is, I feel, eclipsed by Dennis Price as the central character, Louis Mazzini.

It's slow going, for me at least, while the composition and cutting certainly shows it's age, the acting is natural, relaxed and far better than I've seen in most other films of this era.

The story kicks off with Louis in his cell waiting to be hanged (hung?), he is writing his memoirs and this takes us through the tale of how he came to be in his current situation. It's an interesting and entertaining journey, one of the secondary players Sibella (played by Joan Greenwood), has a husky allure that bugged me throughout (in a good way), I have since decided that she sounds like Felicety Kendal, which is no bad thing ;)

One other thing that struck me about this film is how racy it is, there's some serious suggestion in there, which surprised me for a 1949 picture.

Overall, it's a good film, definitly worth watching, terribly british and terribly terribly good performances.

Kind Hearts And Coronets - 8/10

Blog Update: A couple of friends have accepted my invitations to contribute to this blog, look out for reviews from them (one being "The Squid And The Whale") coming up sometime soon.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Brotherhood (taegukgi)

Completely bloody amazing!

It's full Korean title; Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo, this film by Je-gyu Kang is simply one of the best war movies I've ever seen.

Immediatly comparable to Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, there are similar visual stylings, most noticable in the battle scenes, where the use of desaturated colours and a low shutter angle give it the vivid, jarring effect "popularised" by Private Ryan.

The story, set in the Korean war during the 50's, follows two brothers when they get drafted and the elder brother's personal quest to earn a way out for his younger sibling.

To this effect, the film focusses on the personal aspects more than the war itself, the acting by both Dong-Kun Jang (who looks remarkably like Chow Yun Fat) and Bin Won is superb throughout, in fact I don't think I can fault any of the performances! I'm a huge fan of Asian cinema, and have been getting more and more into it in recent years, I heartily reccommend this film to pretty much anyone, although, some are more open to subtitled films than others ;)

Korea seems to be churning out some of the best films out there, far far better than Hollywood, (look out for reviews of Chan-Wook Park's revenge trilogy), next up is Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring by Ki-Duk Kim, although I've been told by two people now "you have to be in the right frame of mind", looking forward to it!

Brotherhood (2004) - 10/10 WATCH IT NOW!!!

Saturday, April 29, 2006


To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this movie, the trailers had pretty much put me off ("WHERE'S JULIA?!"), but I let Vic (Vicky my g/f) pic the film for the evening, and she chose this. ("WHERE'S MY DAUGHTER?!") I duly decided to give the film a chance and promised Vic that I wouldn't keep doing my derogatory Jodie Foster impressions ("JULIA!?"), while the film was on.

Also, for any of you who have a vague interest in what I'm doing (?), I'm writing this on a train and the table is just that little bit too far away :/

SO! Flightplan (2005), produced by Brian Grazer, who's name I recognise but can't place and directed by someone else who's name escapes me at this time, from what I remember, came out roughly the same time as Wes Craven's Red Eye (which I'll comment on another time), and I believe was one of the first post 9/11 plane movies to hit the cinema (could be wrong on that). The basic premise as given in the awful trailers, Jodie Foster boards a plane home with her young daughter. Said daughter goes missing, where can she have gone "we're in a tube", Sean Bean steps in as the plane's captain and declares that her daughter never boarded the plane!!!

Jodie and her kid, who's name will be permamently burnt into your memory ("WHERE'S JULIA?!"), are travelling back with the body of their husband/father and then Julia dissappears, what follows was actually quite interesting, the film seemed to be actually quite intelligent, keeping you up in the air as to what 'exactly' is going on with her daughter and her alleged dissapearence. A couple of political issues are tentatively thrown in for good measure (as it's on a plane) and overall you're captivated wondering what the hell is going on!

But this goes on too long, Jodie Foster (who's character name is Kyle Pratt ferchrissakes!) is...grating, kind of like nails on a blackboard. And then the film descends into bog-standard action territory when JF goes all Ripley.

Summary?, starts off reasonably well, but is ultimately, dull, slow, distracting camera work & direction, annoying and misses many an opportunity to do something new. 4/10

Ok, 2nd review in and I realise a couple of things 1)I rant and waffle 2)It's really hard to make sense without giving the plot away! Was gonna see Slither tomorrow, but apparently that's NEXT Sunday (so Vicky informs me!) Hoping to see a good film soon!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Aeon Flux - mediocre

What a one to start with! It just happens to be the last film I watched, so here goes...

Aeon Flux (2005), basically set around 400 years in the future, most of the population of the world has been wiped out by an "industrial virus" and the remaining survivors live in a sealed off community, goverened by "The Chairman", however all is not well and a group of rebels called the "Monicans" seeks to assasinate the chairman (courtesy of Charlize Theron's character, Aeon) and overthrow the government. However (there's always one of those!), things don't go to plan and the assasination mission reveals more secrets!

Did ya understand that?? Basically it's an effects laden, no-brainer sci-fi action flick. Charlize Theron is ok as Aeon, although, Riply could kick her ass, basically, she doesn't strike me as being all that hard...just lucky. The other cast are ok, took me a while to realise that Johnny Lee Miller was in it, show's how long it's been since he's been in a major film! The plot is ok, as best as you can expect from a film like this but it does the job.

Like a lot of sci-fi it riffs off the '1984' theme, and ends up kinda like Equilibrium with girls, less brains and not so serious.

A throw-away movie, I wouldn't go so far to say it was fun, but I didn't turn it off. (just noticed I rated it 6/10 on IMDB, was just thinking more 4 or 5, DOH!)

Welcome and Good Day!

Hey hey!

Welcome one and all to my new blog, dedicated to brief yet incisive (?) reviews of the films I watch, some will be new , some will be older films that I like or have simply re-watched.

I kinda started this on my old MSN Space, by giving one line views on films I'd recently watched. I hope to expand on this, maybe to a paragrah or two ;)

Bear in mind, I'm not a "qualified" film critic, but I do like films and as far as I'm concerned this is good enough!! Also bear in mind that although I do bear a certain amount of technical knowledge about the film making process, I watch films cos I want to enjoy them, and will hopefully review them as such, any technical points in the review are there because that's what I noticed, not what I was looking for, also there will be no specific times for posting, just as and when I watch something and feel like commenting on it. (I do watch stuff pretty regularly tho!)

Feel free to comment on whatever you read here, It's an arse that Blogger doesn't provide categories other wise I'd do that, but I couldn't be arsed to register yet another account somewhere!

Oh yeah.. enjoy ;)