Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Southland Tales


I seem to remember Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko follow up getting universally panned, being ridiculed at Cannes and disappearing back into the edit suite for a time, I also remember being very very intrigued by the trailer.

I missed seeing it in the cinema, in fact I missed seeing it for quite a while, always unsure as to whether it looked any good or not. Skip forward to December 2008 and an HMV 3 for £20 deal (this, [Rec] and Death Sentence btw). A day off over the xmas period and a quiet sit down to finally watch Southland Tales.

It's very weird, it makes very little sense, although you can follow a basic plot, it's over the top, part film - part music video and I loved it.

All the characters are off the wall, quirks, their affiliations are all over the place and for the most part you're not sure who's working for who or what their agendas are, which I guess kinda works as our main protagonist Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) doesn't really know what's going on either, at least not until the film's conclusion.

The highlights of the film for me, apart from just the really randomly enjoyable style, are Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott and Justin Timberlake. Now that may make me sound like a twelve year old girl, but their performances in this, whilst not Oscar worthy, certainly made me look at them in a different light.

The film is pure Sci-Fi, it's all out bat-shit crazy for it and that's part of what makes it so wonderful, it takes a heavy influence from Verhoeven, which is no bad thing but it's also, stylistically very now. It's a bit heavy handed with it's politics, but it does the job. I can see how it's not to everyone's tastes, but I was pleasantly surprised and am looking forward to The Box.

Southland Tales - 8/10







Kingdom of Heaven


I like Ridley Scott, he's one of my favourite directors, however he's well off his game with this one.

It didn't exactly get a good reception when it came out and i've now seen why, although I picked up the Special Edition for £3, thinking it was the Director's Cut, it's not, so technically I still need to see that as it's supposed to be better, although KoH is long enough as it is, so I'm not sure whether I can be bothered to watch it all over again, but with more!

Funnily enough, I don't buy Orlando Bloom as a hero knight, one minute he's a blacksmith in a muddy village, the next he's an expert military strategist?!?! With great motivational skills?!? No sorry, he's a cock. Eva Green's a waste of space in the movie, which seems to be a trend she's following, Jeremy Irons is always good value, but under used and it seems good ol' Liam Neeson still can't escape Qui-Gon.

I also spent the movie wondering who was playing the kings as he kept sounding like James Woods but a weedy James Woods... it's Edward Norton, so I was close.

The movie is on a massive scale, but isn't really that impressive, it also doesn't make a lot of sense, let's hope Nottingham will be Ridley back on form.


Kingdom of Heaven - 4/10





Hellboy II: The Golden Army


It took me a while to come around to the fact that Hellboy is actually pretty good in both the movie, which I saw first, and then the comics. Now I'm a pretty big fan of both.

So I was pretty stoked at the news of a movie sequel, until I saw the trailer that is, then a big wave of 'Meh' washed over me as I watched all the bright golds and heavy Del Toro touch unfold on screen.

The first movie's story was mostly lifted from the comics, not entirely, but a lot of the elements and basic points were from the stories in the comics. AFAIK, this was a completely original story thought up by Guillermo Del Toro, and it shows.

I really liked Pan's Labyrinth, but full on Guillermo, I don't feel works for Hellboy. The comics are more shadowy and minimalist, whereas Guillermo does like his "Fantasy Gold" (expect to see a very Gold hued Hobbit). The whole Golden (there it is again) Army thing was a bit of a let down, a non event really, there was a load of slapstick comedy that felt a touch out of place, don't get me wrong, Hellboy is supposed to be funny, but I think this went too far in the wrong direction and overall it seemed a bit jumpy and rushed plot wise.

Back to the looks, but characters in this case, Hellboy seems to have lost weight, which in certain scenes puts his head out of proportion to his body, Abe's gone VERY blue and stripy, and Johann Krauss, well I wasn't totally disappointed, he was a lot better than I thought, look fine, voice ok (Seth MacFarlane was a bit of a concern when he was announced), attitude, not so much, felt a bit more uptight than he is in the comics, but maybe I need to re-read.

I don't know how it will lead into a sequel, if they're gonna do one, but we'll have to wait and see, if they do make a sequel, hopefully it'll be darker and introduce Roger ;)


Hellboy II: The Golden Army - 6/10







Monday, December 22, 2008

Chocolate


From the director of Ong Bak and The Protector, the guy who gave us Tony Jaa, comes  a female Tony Jaa and Ong Bak with a girl!

Well kinda.

Chocolate is a rather bizarre story of Thai vs Japanese gangs, with an Autistic girl and a fat kid caught in the middle. It's sort of 1 part family drama, 4 parts martial arts action movie.

I really liked the Tony Jaa films, Ong Bak was pretty much by the numbers, but had a certain inventiveness to it, The Protector went slightly overboard, but again had some good bits. What both films gave us is some decent bone cracking stunt work that's not really been seen since classic Jackie Chan. Chocolate continues that trend with some serious injury inducing action (as demonstrated by the end credit outtakes).

As a film, it's not the greatest, the filmmakers can do action, but not so hot on the drama side. It's starts very differently from the Tony Jaa films, with a heavy French influence, echoing something more along the lines of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, it soon gets into standard territory though, although the action takes it time before it really kicks in.

Having an autistic girl as the lead is certainly a bold move, and to be fair, it works pretty well, JeeJa also sells it well on both the acting and action fronts, the latter very surprising as despite being 24 now, so probably 22/23 ish while filming, she certainly looks about 13, so being able to pull of realistically kicking someone's ass is no mean feat. She does start off a tad comical, but it's justified within the context of character, but by the 12-on-1 set piece, she's pretty kick ass.

Once it gets going, another entertaining martial arts flick.

Chocolate - 7/10






Tuesday, December 09, 2008

[Rec]


Okay so a few days back I threw down my thoughts on Quarantine, which is the recent English language remake of this Spanish horror. I neglected to mention tho (I think, I could check, but sod it.) that the heating in that particular screen of Cineworld Crawley had broken and thus it was pretty cold in there. Despite the offer of a refund/credit if you came out within 45 minutes, only a couple of people left, everyone else stuck it out and was scared shitless, so by the time we left I felt that the cold certainly added to the experience, and wondered if maybe the cinema had done it on purpose, if so I applaud you sirs, well done.

ANYHOO.. Rec/.rec/[Rec]/[.rec] whatever.. there's probably gonna be SPOILER stuff here

Pretty much every thing I'd heard about Quarantine was that [Rec] was better, all the internet buzz and fanboys were "[Rec] is sooo much better, Quarantine is EPIC FAIL!" (paraphrased), even after I'd seen Quarantine and twittered how scary it was, someone posted "Rec is better IMHO :)"

My view on this is if you see [Rec] first, then you'll probably think [Rec] is better, the same with any original and remake combo, which ever you see first, you'll probably think is the better, there are going to be exceptions yes, but as a rule I think this will apply. Thus I saw Quarantine first, and do happen to think it's the better film, I digress..

Okay, so they're pretty much the same film from the overall structure and setup, the infection device is changed between the two, for clear cultural reasons, and to be honest the US one makes more sense to me, but there's still the reporter following the fire crew which leads them to the house and the old lady.

The main thing I found watching this second, is that there doesn't seem to be as much that happens, Quarantine, when it gets going, is pretty relentless, [Rec] gets going a bit, stops to throw in some more fluff in the form of "interviews" with the residents (Quarantine has pretty much all it's fluff up top), then ambles back into the "action" again.

I found Spanish Angela VERY annoying, one of the things with Jennifer Carpenter's Angela is she does completely shit scared VERY VERY well, Spanish Angela was just whiny and annoying. [Rec] wasn't as scary for me as Quarantine, this is because I knew pretty much when to expect the relevant beats, and was disappointed when certain ones weren't there, I wasn't as involved with the rest of the residents in this one and by the end I was feeling pretty Meh.

Also reading comments elsewhere like "..THIS is how to do hand-held-POV.." No it's not, unless of course it's supposed to be a 5yr old with a handycam, that's still crap.

Who knows how I'd felt if I'd seen this first, in my view it's an interesting idea, but the US remake takes that and runs with it, something that can rarely be said of a remake!


[Rec] - 5/10





Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quantum of Solace


For the second outing for Daniel Craig as Bond, they've given us an odd mix of Bond, Bourne and a film with very little plot or character arc.

QoS is all about the action, it's simply a ride, a number of set pieces strung together. The opening car sequence is great btw. They're really trying hard to fuse old-school 60's Bond with 00's Bourne, and they're doing it in a really jarring fashion in this one.

With Casino Royale, they did the 'reboot' thing and did it pretty well, Bond was more hardcore, rough around the edges and basically brutal, yet he was still Bond. The film around hi, though, was more standard action thriller.

With QoS, Bond is less Bond and the film around him is more Bond. (?!) Okay, here Bond seems to quip less (so he's pissed off about Vespa, whatever), in fact he says less, he's all moody and quiet, however, we do get a Goldfinger homage, and a bit of a stab at a villain's lair towards the end. You can definitely tell that they were trying to hark back to some of the classic stylings of the older Bond films.

So QoS, all icing and no cake (I like that!), weak ending, weak villain, shite villain's plot, weak henchman and a weak (of character) Bond. The action's gone a little too Bourne, getting too close and scrappy, we need to stand back a bit with Bond, Casino Royale got it about right on that score (see B&W toilet fight and the staircase sequence), however I'm hoping this is going somewhere.

QoS is a direct sequel from CR, and they're were rumblings of a trilogy at least, so we can only hope that with the third part of this story, with Quantum coming more into play, we have a massive end sequence resulting in Bond infiltrating an enormous underground lair or similar, fighting his way through before right before it looks like he's gonna lose it Felix turns up with the cavalry, C'MON!

Quantum of Solace - 6/10



Quarantine


Ok... SPOILERS!!


There's no way I can voice my opinion on this one without giving away a major spoiler, so you have been warned and here goes...

Ok for starters this is an English language remake of a 2007 Spanish film called [Rec] or [.REC] or however you want to say/type it. It falls into the current fad of hand-held video style films (such as Cloverfield, Diary of the Dead, even Blair Witch to some extent), and follows Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter), a late night reality show (ob-doc) host, who's shadowing an LA fire crew.

After a bit of faffing about in the beginning, setting up characters and stuff, they get a call and off they go. They arrive at an apartment block where the residents are worried about an old lady in one of the apartments....shortly after the shit hits the fan.

Also falling loosely into the Zombie genre (in the same way that 28 Days Later does), it's a scary fucking movie! So scary in fact that a certain person I was with was so scared she was nearly sick, that's pretty good for a horror movie. It's also pretty relentless. Cloverfield in the cinema was a full on assault to the senses, cleverly done handheld, ridiculous noise, and almost non-stop pacing. Quarantine is just as full on (once you get past the fluff at the start), the POV of the camera lends itself to some truly jump out of your seat moments (as most of the people in the cinema were), and those moments, don't go by quickly, they last, making sure you've well and truly evacuated your bowels.

It also works very well on the laughter side of things, meaning, there are moments in the film which aren't specifically comical, but allow you that release, where you can laugh and relax for a moment before the next assault starts. This guy can do horror.

Apparently [Rec] is better as various people have said, I'm guessing those people saw [Rec] first, and thus already knew what was gonna happen with Quarantine, therefore, I'm assuming [Rec] won't 'do it' as much for me as Quarantine did for the same reasons. Will see tho.

Quarantine - 7/10 (find out why only 7 down below)



Here's where the real spoiler is.

What the film company can't do is marketing.

If you've seen the trailer (and indeed the poster!), you know how the film ends, down to the final shot, this becomes apparent as soon as that sequence starts, possibly earlier. Thus after a REALLY enjoyable horror (especially after the abortion that is Diary of the Dead), it was spoiled by shite marketing. There was plenty of other bits they could've gone with, but they didn't.

Okay, it's a remake, but I haven't seen the original, I don't know if it ends the same way, I'm guessing it's pretty close at least, I'll find out when I watch it (so please don't spoil it for me if it's different!!), thus showing me the final shot of the film in the trailer and on the poster, kinda fucked it up a bit. It wasn't like I figured it out and saw the end coming, I KNEW by that point in the film, that's how it was gonna end. :(



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Felon


I wasn't sure what to expect from this, the trailer looked interesting and I was somewhat intrigued by a fat, old Val Kilmer.

Basically, it's amazing! I was totally gripped, Kilmer is just fucking brilliant in what is essentially a supporting role, the whole film is a great emotional drama and I think somewhat overlooked as another mediocre Val Kilmer movie. Go watch it, it's brilliant!

Felon - 9/10






AVP: Alien vs. Predator


AvP should've been an outstanding triumph, it should've been fucking AWESOME!, but no, unfortunately they had to let Paul W.S. Anderson at it, and while Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil (and Death Race) were enjoyable, and even Event Horizon was pretty good I seem to remember, he was WAAAAY off for AvP.

First we have the (now) cliched, strong female lead, then two of the three Predator's are shite, also the rest of the human cast are pretty vacuous, the gestation period of the Aliens is shortened quite a bit, slo-mo flying facehuggers, slo-mo running from big explosion, large helpings of cheese.

It's not great, hopefully they'll do better with the sequel... oh wait...

AVP: Alien vs. Predator - 5/10






Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wall*E


Pixar started out by giving inanimate objects life, such as in the iconic short Luxo Jr. Now although robots are not exactly inanimate, an interesting decision was made to not give them human voices as is done in most other films using robot characters.

Although at first this seemed a bit odd, I (along with many other people) thought that if anyone could pull that off, it would be Pixar.

And pull it off they do. The characters a engaging, charming and far more captivating than those of Cars for instance.

It's still not up to the standards of Toy Story, but I thought it was a bloody good film.


Wall*E - 8/10





Saturday, October 04, 2008

Outpost


After the disappointment of Unearthed, I wasn't expecting a lot from this (watched them both in the same evening), however, this proved to be an unexpected gem.

It's got Ray Stevenson as the lead, which didn't fill me with confidence, I wasn't really into Rome and the Punisher: War Zone trailer looks God awful. He is in this however, pretty damn good.

The rag tag band of mercenaries, form a more serious Dog Soldiers type vibe, an uneasy camaraderie existing between them, ex-soldiers from various nations (keeping the diversity). Their task to protect their client as he investigates some acquired property.

This property turns out to be an old Nazi bunker, where, funnily enough, crazy Nazi experiments were carried out, and funnily enough, things start to go to shit, basically because of the crazy Nazi stuff.

I almost loved this film, I say almost, because it feels like the filmmakers didn't quite have the courage of their convictions and bring in the action too early. They could've quite easily kept the slow pace and the suspense going for longer with better effect, and the fact that they didn't was a tad disappointing.

Despite that, I heartily recommend watching it!


Outpost - 8/10





Unearthed


This is a perfect example of a film where the trailer is better than the film itself. WAAAY better.

For your delectation I have included a trailer for this one, something I've been thinking about doing, but this one is in context. The only thing is that this trailer isn't the one we saw on the DVD rentals over here, it shows a little more and doesn't finish on the 'buried' tagline, enjoy tho.



Okay, so there's a trailer, basically when we watched the one that we saw, we thought, yeah it's a shit straight to DVD horror flick, but it looks reasonably entertaining (a "shit-good" film), no, just shit.

The "acting" is terrible, they clearly didn't have enough money for more Luke Goss, who whilst not brilliant, is better than all the others here, especially the TERRIBLE lead, Emmanuelle Vaugier!! The script is awful, there's a whole backstory to the Sheriff that is of no importance or consequence whatsoever, the CG is ridiculous, the creature IS an Alien Xenomorph for all intents and purposes (they even rip off the shot from Alien 3), it's just ridiculous.

Unearthed - 2/10





Friday, October 03, 2008

Kung Fu Panda


Dull, Boring, not very funny, a couple of clever sequences and the animation's pretty good in certain parts.

That's about it really. They're making a sequel tho.. yay.

Kung Fu Panda - 3/10



Monday, September 29, 2008

Alien3


(SPOILERS!! more for previous films though)

Although I've seen both versions of this, for the purposes of this little post I'll be focussing on the theatrical cut which I re-watched recently. For the record, I also prefer this cut.

The first three Alien films, literally follow on directly from one another. Following Ripley's story to it's conclusion.

In this one, the EEV containing Ripley, Hicks, Newt and Bishop, crash lands on Fiorina (Fury) 161 a prison planet. They're found by the resident inmates and taken in. The reason for the crash is a fire that broke out onboard the EEV (guess what started that! It's in the opening credits and pretty obvious!!).

After Aliens' whole hive, we're back to just the one, not that that's a good thing for the characters as one's bad enough!

A lot of people don't like this one (or Resurrection for that matter, but that's a different post!), I do! I really like it, I love the premise of the prison, the characters that fill it and general plot. The only bad thing for me is the hokey (using that too much) CG Alien, the tech wasn't quite there at this time, probably could've done with more man-in-suit-in-shadows.

Despite all the trials and tribulations, David Fincher pushes the envelope to create a beautifully atmospheric film and worthy addition the the Alien line-up.


Alien3 - 9/10





Black Rain


Black Rain is a quintessentially 80's thriller, so 80's in fact I almost aged backwards (?!), it's also a cracking Ridley Scott film, very Blade Runner esque with it's oriental backdrop, but not as heavily stylised.

Michael Douglas is a totally out of place cop, trying to track down a vicious Yakuza killer, Andy Garcia is his partner and Kate Capshaw reprises her singing in an oriental club role.

It's pretty much by the numbers, but it's got Ridley's signature stylings and once you get past the tad hokey script (especially at the start) it's pretty good.

Black Rain - 7/10





Speed Racer


You've gotta wonder about the Wachowskis, did they only have like 2 good films in them??

Speed Racer is pretty bloody bad, okay so it's aimed at kids, but it's still bad, it's just lots of lights and noise, and the whole film is pretty much just the podracing sequence from The Phantom Menace with lots more colour and slo-mo.

It's another one of those films where you can somewhat admire what they were trying to do on a technical level, but as a film, it sucks.

Speed Racer - 4/10





Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Hidden


Literally a "Hidden" gem, a really entertaining scif-fi film.

A mix of Bodysnatchers, Terminator, Species etc there's an alien running amok and only two men, namely Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri can stop it!

Basically there's cops and FBI, chasing an alien around whichever US city they're in, it's funny, cheesy action and a bit creepy, overall it's brilliant.

Apologies for the crappy type up (like I apologise for the others!!) I'm technically working, but got a little down time, so trying to catch up!


The Hidden - 7/10



Monday, September 01, 2008

The Kingdom


It begins, pretty harshly, with a terrorist bombing of  American families in Saudi Arabia and a group of FBI investigators making their way over to find out what's what.

For about half the film, it's very much a 'procedural', following the steps they need to take and the barriers they encounter while in Saudi, then it becomes more action orientated, guns RPGs and car chases.

It's fun and I was also genuinely shocked by the start, but it's hard to know where it sits politically. It's clearly a film about issues that are high up the political importance scale at the moment, but at the same time it's very Hollywood spin on it all, being rather one sided, not totally, but a fair amount, heaving around stereotypes and possibly not being as clever and worthy as it thinks it is.


The Kingdom - 7/10





Next


Despite what is a reasonably interesting premise, or at least plot device of Nic Cage's character being able to see 2 minutes into the future, Next falls a little flat.

One of the major flaws is we as viewers are asked to believe that Jessica Biel would fall for Nic "Lank Mullet" Cage, no sorry, suspension of disbelief only goes so far! The writers also cop out a little bit, by going past the 2 minute mark (as well as bend the interpretation of that a tad), it would've been more interesting and tense to see them stick to this restriction all the way through.

There's some ok actiony bit's in, particularly the casino scene, which is how the movie should really have continued. It's mildly entertaining but ultimately it's let down by "playing it safe."

Next - 6/10





The Monster Squad


Happy birthday to me and cheers to my girlfriend for getting The Monster Squad for me as a present!

I remember watching this some years back (probably around 1987/88 to be fair) and loving it! Although when we watched it recently, there was practically none of it that seemed familiar, which was pretty cool as I was coming in nice and fresh to it. It didn't disappoint!

The film is an unabashed homage to the classic Universal Monsters, although due to licensing they're redesigned for this film, which is a good thing.

The very basic plot revolves around an amulet that can unleash all evil or banish it for another 100 years, thus the monsters, led by Dracula, want it and the small group of outcast misfit Goonie-lite kids (The Monster Squad) are out to stop them.

It's brilliant fun, the Stan Winston workshop creatures are great and the nerds can enjoy spotting all the in-jokes and references (I got a couple), well worth getting, although mine's Region 1, I'm not sure on the Region 2 situ.


The Monster Squad - 8/10





Monday, August 25, 2008

Ratatouille


So what does Brad Bird follow up the incredible Incredibles (sorry) with?? A story about a rat that cooks..... yep.

Surprisingly, it's actually pretty good! I wasn't expecting to like this, it looked...well... a bit shite in the trailers, but I was really entertained (and after watching Cars, I needed to be!!)

Ratatouille steers back towards a more Disney-esque type of story, with the human/animal interaction and human/animal characters, it feels like a much more "traditional" animated film.

Set in France, Remy the rat has a passion for food and finds his way to a restaurant and a hopeless young man Linguini, cue various culinary adventures and slapstick. It IS a pretty standard story, but it's charming, funny and is brilliantly directed by Brad Bird (& co).

Lifted, this one's accompanying short, is AWESOME!

Ratatouille - 8/10
Lifted - 9/10





Cars


Pixar are one of the best animation studios out there at the moment, but every studio has to have at least one duff film every now and again.

A good friend of mine commented that a lot of people don't like Cars, but that it's not bad and at the end of the day it's "Pixars least awesome movie", which says a lot for Pixar!!

I agree that it's their worst movie so far, I disagree that it's still awesome though, because it isn't.

The opening race scenes look fantastic, they really captured the energy and style that you'd expect from a NASCAR film, (NB: Actual NASCAR is BOOOOORRRRIIING! from what I've seen at least) but that energy soon dissipates once the track stuff's done with.

Basically Lightning McQueen (blandly voiced by Owen Wilson) gets lost out in the desert and ends up in the forgotten town of Radiator Springs on the famed Route 66. On the way he has to learn a little humility and all that schmaltzy stuff.

The problem is, apart from it being long, slow and boring, is that I didn't and couldn't engage with any of the characters. None of them did anything for me, I just didn't care. Maybe because they're all too similar? Sure they're all various different cars, but they're just cars, all a box on wheels, and there's not a huge amount you can do on a body language front there, so they have to rely more on their voice talent, which doesn't stand out here.

The accompanying short One Man Band, was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the feature presentation!! Which is a shame.

Cars - 5/10
One Man Band - 8/10





Monday, August 18, 2008

In Bruges


(In best terrible attempt at an Irish accent) It's fucking brilliant is that!

Two hitmen have to spend some time in Bruges, Belgium. Colin Farrell's Ray, really doesn't want to be there, isn't enjoying himself and thinks it's a "shithole". Brendan Gleeson's Ken, actually quite likes it, enjoys the architecture and takes the time to sightsee.

It's a fair bit more involved than that, but that's your basic character premise there. It's offensive to the point where we wondered exactly how they got away with it, it's also bloody funny, touching, brilliantly written and outstandingly acted.

The best hitman movie since Grosse Point Blank.

In Bruges - 10/10





Mission: Impossible III

I've been waiting to see this for AGES, I enjoyed the first one, the second was utter pants, but with M:I-III, J.J. Abrams is a the helm, so that's gotta be promising!!

For the most part it is. It certainly ups the ante from number 2 (both films take a very different tack from the original Brian De Palma outing), and it's a hell of a ride through most of the film, throw in some, 'here's how they actually do that' bits and Philip Seymour Hoffman and it's top notch. Simon Pegg was pretty funny, although did seem a little out of place among it all (still can't see him as Scotty, but that's not far off now).

It was also my first look at Billy Crudup and while he was pretty good, I'm not entirely sure how he's gonna come across as Dr. Manhatten in Watchmen.

But anyway, the plot has a couple of interesting twisty turns in it and as I say, it's a pretty good ride for the most part, but I was HIGHLY let down by the ending, something I wasn't expecting and I can only hope that Lost doesn't fall foul of it, if he has the reigns for the finale.

Mission: Impossible III - 6/10





Sunday, August 17, 2008

Logan's Run


Logan's Run is an odd film, it's a good ol' 1970's sci-fi, which feels totally of it's time, set in the obligatory dysotopian/utopian future, Logan is a 'Sandman' basically a copper who chases down 'runners'.

'Runners' are those who's life clock has run out (at the grand old age of 30), but don't really feel like getting beamed up and disintegrated. All's going well until circumstances lead Logan into becoming a runner himself.

There's a whole load of stuff that's never really made totally clear, not ambiguous, just not explained properly. Peter Ustinov is brilliant as the 'old man' and Jenny Agutter is HOT!! She alone is a good enough reason to watch this!!

Besides that, it was quite entertaining.

Logan's Run - 6/10





Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ocean's Thirteen


To be honest this was a lot better than I thought it was going to be, plot wise there's a heist, it's a very involved heist, and it involves people that don't really like Danny Ocean.

Don Cheadle's toned down his Dick Van Dyke impression since the first one which is much more pleasant to the ear!

It's basically a big romp, there's no jeopardy for any of the characters you know they're gonna come out on top, it's just a matter of how they get there and how entertaining that journey is.


Ocean's Thirteen - 7/10






Enchanted

Finally persuaded the girlfriend to watch this with me (how much of that sentence is wrong?), mainly thanks to Blockbuster's current deal on renting family movies for 50p! Bonanza!

The film starts off animated before a series of events transports the characters to the real world, this is where the film takes off, using the 'fish out of water' device, the Disney characters stumble around the real world, occasionally breaking into song (or not as the case my be).

At first I found Giselle to be incredibly INCREDIBLY annoying, thankfully, things were toned down a tad and I made it through!

It's funny, charming and inventive. Even the girlfriend liked it.


Enchanted - 7/10





No Country for Old Men


I read the book prior to seeing the film. Wasn't overly impressed to be honest. The typeface and layout used in the book is really off-putting, but I digress..

The film follows the book pretty closely, losing only a few elements. What's good about the film is the characters come across a lot better, the humor comes across (not so much in the book) and the language translates slightly better (yes as an Englishman, reading Southern American isn't a strength).

Javier Bardem is as good as everyone makes out, but as a story it's all very disjointed, subtext heavy and ultimately bleak and disappointing. Josh Brolin's character's actions don't seem to ring true and things just seem a bit forced. As a Coen Brothers film, it's far better than Intolerable Cruelty (what isn't?!), but not up to Fargo or Big Lebowski standards.

No Country for Old Men - 7/10





Chaos Theory


This is Ryan Reynolds' Stranger Than Fiction.

By that I mean, this is where we find out that Reynolds can actually act. He did show a hint of it in the remake of The Amityville Horror, but this one really pushes the boat out.

The story of a man who's life, organised to OCD levels and works as an Efficiency Expert giving seminars, has it all suddenly turned upside down and decides to leave everything to chance (vaguely).

Apart from chocking me up and reducing my girlfriend to a weeping mess, it showed that Reynolds can do something other than shout and raise his eyebrows. Makes me slightly more interested in The Nines, but I'm expecting his appearance as Deadpool in the Wolverine movie to be more akin to Hannibal King.

A top top film.

Chaos Theory - 9/10





Stargate: The Ark of Truth


Compared to Continuum, this is just plain pants.

This plays much more like an elongated SG1 episode, rather than a feature, it looks like it too, very "TV" and for the most part...dull.

It's lightened up only by (again) Ben Browder and, the chemistry between him and Amanda Tapping's Lt. Col. Carter.

You also need to know more of the back story, as explained in prior episodes, to fully appreciate the plot in this one. Didn't enjoy it as much as Continuum.

Stargate: The Ark of Truth - 5/10





Stargate: Continuum


I've been getting into the Stargate series recently (SG1 and Atlantis), mainly because there's no Lost, Heroes, Dexter, BSG etc etc (although Generation Kill..CHEERS!) on at the mo, and as such decided to check out the feature length SG1 movies.

First one I watched was this one, the most recent Stargate: Continuum, throwing in a bit of time travel shenanigans, one Baal goes back and buggers up the start of the Earth based Stargate program, fortunately though three of SG1 make it through to the new timeline and after a bit of stuff, proceed to make things right.

The main thing, apart from appearing to actually have slightly higher production values than the series, is that it was actually pretty entertaining! Ben Browder is very entertaining as Col. Mitchell (would like to see him do something new now), Beau Bridges short appearance is nothing short of amazing, and Richard Dean Anderson is old and fat.

It deals with the time travel problems pretty well, and overall gives you a pretty good ride. It's not entirely stand alone, it does sit within the Stargate timeline and universe and as such references previous episodes, which I haven't seen as they're all over the place on Sky, but it's not essential to know this stuff to enjoy it.

Stargate: Continuum - 8/10





Monday, August 04, 2008

The Orphanage (El Orfanato)


The Spanish language version of a "Quentin Tarantino Presents.." this "Guillermo Del Toro Presents..." follows a very similar style to Guillermo's own films.

It got pretty good reviews when it was in the cinema, and overall it's not bad, got quite a good end, although does suffer a bit from Return Of The King Syndrome, my main complaint is that it's VEEERRY SLOOOOW, it's a good story though and we stuck it out.

Not as creepy as I was expecting, there's a couple of creep-out moments, but it's not IMO, a full on scarefest. Well crafted and looks beautiful, Guillermo's certainly on a mission!

The Orphanage - 7/10





Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Dark Knight

Before I start, there are probably spoilers here.

Y'know there's a very strong possibility that there's been more hype around this film than there was when Lucas announced he was making 3 more Star Wars films. This hype unfortunately primarily exists because of Heath Ledger's untimely departure from this world, ok there was interest in his portrayal of The Joker beforehand, but it then became known more for being "the role that killed him", which is a big shame.

I'm glad the film's doing well, especially on the IMAX performances (I buckled and saw it today at a normal cinema, cos I don't know when I'm gonna be able to get to IMAX), as it's good to see IMAX getting noticed for something other than droll James Cameron docs or making people sick. But the hype machine's in overdrive on this one.

Anyway, I'll move away from that amateur assessment of what's going on in the world and onto what I thought of the film.

I was as excited about this as the next person, I really liked Batman Begins, I like the comics, I like Christopher Nolan, I was intrigued to see where he was going to take it and the fact that it was stated that they were going for the "psychopath joker" rather than the "camp tv series joker" AND that one of the main influences on their Joker, was Alan Moore's "A Killing Joke" which is FUCKING AWESOME!

People are saying that TDK is much like The Godfather Part 2 or Heat. I haven't seen Godfather 2, and it doesn't have the same energy as Heat, and (at the moment at least), as a film, I actually prefer Batman Begins.

So why? Why am I not jumping up and down like a rabid fanboy like I probably should be?

The film's slow through most of it, and it's a bad kind of slow, not a good kind of slow (like Alien), it lumbers around, people chat, Bruce Wayne worries a bit, more chat, exposition, explanation, too much.

I really don't like the dialogue, (the screen I was in had a shitty sound system this could be contributing), there's a lot of "thinking out loud" type stuff in this and "summing up for the audience" at the end... what am I watching Scooby Fucking Doo?

There's some seriously bad editing too (I think this has been picked up on the IMDb boards as well), a few shots that look like they were cut back for the ratings, and then just some shoddy editing, or some amazing ventriloquism by Christian Bale, one of the two.

The opening scenes are great, starts setting things up pretty well, then it gets a bit boring for a bit, Scarecrow! damn, underused again with bad attempt at comedy, then Joker pops up again, he's ok, then we have the 1-on-1 with him and the Bat, this is, in no uncertain terms, FUCKING AWESOME, this is where I got an enormous... grin on my face and thought "Okay, here we go, this is the movie I want to see kicking off now!", cue faster pacing, explosions, jeopardy, pain and...oh.. it's slowing down again now... why is it not going well....it's alright now we have Joker and Two-Face!! C'mon!!...please? just a bit... No you don't need to explain it to me...no really you don't...

Characters;
Bale is Bale, he plays BW/BM much like he did in the first, only he's even more arrogant now he's been doing this for a year. His lisp has got worse, or maybe its just he has more dialogue as BM now and you get to hear it more. He doesn't offer much else, except in the interrogation scene, but then that's quickly forgotten about.

Gordon is possibly the best character in the film and obviously Gary Oldman does an outstanding job of playing him in every single of his scenes (even the one's where he's explaining to the audience)

Harvey Dent/Two-Face, has potential, which would be interesting to see if he's about for the 3rd film, but I don't know if they'll fully explore it or not, I like how they deviated from his origin story, but feel they didn't run with it enough. Aaron Eckhart did a pretty good job, but there wasn't really enough time for the split personality to settle in.

Scarecrow, painfully underused again :(

Random crime bosses and gangsters, were pretty pointless.

Alfred Pennyworth, same old same old from Mr Caine, nothing new to see here.

Rachel Dawes, thank the lord for Katie Holmes "scheduling conflicts", but depsite Maggie Gyllenhall's better performance, the character's a tad incidental, but possibly a good thing for part 3 ;)

Mayor, blah blah, Ramirez, blah blah

The Joker.... here's the biggie, Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker is such that people are screaming for him to receive a posthumous Academy Award, that it's one of the best performances of all time etc etc. It's very good yes, Oscar worthy, I don't know, as good as I was hoping for, no.

There's been a big thing made of how creepy and messed up Joker was going to be, how he was a proper psycho, hell bent on destruction and chaos, yet through most of the film he's actually pretty mellow. I was hoping for a full on electrifying performance, I wanted to be SCARED by him, this didn't happen. There's a level of violence to him, a small hint of comedy, only the odd gag here and there, but there's only really one scene/sequence that features the Joker I was hoping for and that's the interrogation scene.

Here's where he really comes alive, where him and Batman are 1-on-1, there's flaws with the dialogue here too, but the scene plays out beautifully, Joker keeps pushing and pushing and Batman starts to crack, Joker just takes the abuse, here we get a REAL Joker laugh (hairs on the back of my neck!), Batman going crazy because he can't deal with him, it's awesome, then Batman goes off to be all heroic and Joker is left to make his way out, still awesome, after everything's done in the police station, it all starts to fizzle out again and by the end we're back to not so great again. The reason? Who knows, maybe that's how they wanted it and they think it's realy psycho like, maybe we couldn't see the Joker I wanted to because at the end of the day, it's a Batman film and needs to be suitable for a certain demographic??

Hellboy.
When I first saw Hellboy (the first one) in the cinema, I thought it was okay, not great, but okay. Then i watched it again and started to really like it, now I love it, the film got me into the Hellboy (and BPRD) comics and I'm quite looking forward to The Golden Army.

My point is that I'm hoping that after another viewing I'll start to like TDK more, I sat wondering if I had seen it on IMAX first would I have liked it better, am I just being a little unfair on it (yes and no maybe). Did I enjoy Iron Man more? yes I did.

I will be going back for another viewing, hopefully on IMAX and I will be buying it on DVD, I hope I like it better as it goes on.

The Dark Knight - 7/10



Thursday, July 24, 2008

Doomsday


Take the following ingredients, stir in and spice up with liberal other influences;

  • 1 part Aliens
  • 1 part 28 Days/Weeks Later
  • 2 parts Mad Max (mainly 2 & 3)
  • 2 part strong female lead with damaged past
  • Oregano

I love Dog Soldiers! I thought The Descent was an admiral attempt to get everyone taking home grown British films seriously again (and not a bad film), but when I saw the trailer for Doomsday, I swear I could see Neil Marshall doing backflips over a Great White.

It looked SOOO bad!

A problem I have with "hot new directors" at the minute, and in some ways it's a bit of an unfair criticism, is that as soon as they're given a load of money to make a film, they go all shite. They start off with a cracking low budget debut, then someone comes along and gives g'twirty gillion squid to make a movie and they deliver a cow pat. (this probably isn't a new problem)

Now I was pleasantly surprised by Doomsday, it's not the total cow pat that I was expecting, but at the same time it doesn't have the wit, charm or inventiveness of Dog Soldiers, it is British yes, as the use of the word "Bollocks" proves, and I like that about it, I like that Neil Marshall is proud to be British and allows that to come through in his films and it's also nice to see someone attempt a big action film in the UK (in a non piss take way unlike some).

At the end of the day, it's not taking itself very seriously, it's a big fun action movie with PLENTY of gore, some pretty good gore at that, a few good lines, but not much substance. Rhona Mitra was better than expected, but at the same time, doesn't have the presence to really pull it off.

A few pretty good action bits, a lot of silliness and some enormous unfinished plot lines and holes.

Let's see what he does next, maybe not Outpost, something else??


Doomsday - 7/10






Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs


Let us all remember that The Simpsons Movie was pretty SHITE! Futurama, (which I've always preferred) however, does a much better job of sustaining the running time.

It does lag a little in place, only a little though, and mainly because of the concurrent plot lines used to sustain the 90 minutes, but by the end of it, it felt like I had just watched an episode rather than sat through an overly long cartoon.

If you know Futurama, there's nothing really new here, but it does the job pretty well and I laughed a fair bit throughout, definitely worth watching.


Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs - 7/10






Monday, July 21, 2008

Assault on Precinct 13


Nope, sorry, just don't like it. I can see how (as with a lot of films from emerging directors at this time), it probably blew people out of the water, especially with the infamous "ice cream truck" scene, but for me it was just boring.

There's not enough tension between the characters, the acting is well below par and, I'm sorry but John Carpenter is just not that good a director. I wanna check out the remake, out of sheer curiosity now.

Assault on Precinct 13 - 3/10




Friday, July 18, 2008

Hancock


The ONLY word that was in my head when we came out of the cinema after this was "INTERESTING", I just couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. My girlfriend was the same, neither of us could decide whether we'd actually enjoyed the film or not. Which is weird.

Interesting is a good word for it though. It's interesting what they do with the 'superhero' genre, the down and out Hancock and where they go with his vague 'origin' story, but that's about it, yeah there are some somewhat funny moments, there's no real peril until the end and all in all it's a bit average. Shame.


Hancock - 6/10



Diary of the Dead


So So bad. George Romero has done ONE good film that was Night of the Living Dead. Everything else is pants.

This is the biggest pair of old man pants yet, even bigger than Land of the Dead (which was pretty bad), top marks for experimenting though, going all "Handheld", although it doesn't have anywhere near the conviction or success in this area that Cloverfield does.

The shots are too framed, the "Narrator" (see shit V.O.), tells you what cameras they're using at the start, one of which is a shoulder mount Panasonic, the other, a handheld one, is conveniently found lying around at a point during the film. Technically it's laughable.

Now onto the "actors", I say "actors" cos they're shite, really REALLY BAD! And the SCRIPT! George has really come up with some God awful nonsense this time! Preachy, hamfisted tosh, it's up there with Zombie Strippers with how not to write a script!

And I think he's still a bit peeved about Zombies/Infected being able to run in other films...GET OVER IT!

Good news though, there's a sequel in the works :/


Diary of the Dead - 2/10