Saturday, 18 February 2012

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)

Film of 2012 #35

The sequel to one of my favourite films of all time, I was always going to be disappointed by this film. I have to say that it did not try and fully replicate the original but there were hints with voice-over and recruitment adverts and a couple of call backs to the original but it goes it's own way. The film follows on from the first film but there are no original cast members and it follows a new unit. I like this idea, I do not think that they necessarily did it well but it was a good idea not to try and copy the original film. 

You follow a group of Mobile Infantry that are cut off from the main attack and they end up holed up in a outpost that was previously overrun by bugs. When their general turns up with 3 soldiers from another unit things start to go wrong from within the group. The film try's to expand the universe from the first film and the book created with the continuing war against the bugs. The main problems with the film though is the execution of the characters and the overall story is quite shambolic and there are quite a few obvious plot holes within the story-line. 

With a third film straight to DVD and remake on the cards I am happy to see the universe created for Starship Troopers expanded and continue to be explored. I do not know if they can hit the heights of the original film or if a remake was to try and stick closer to the book, if it would work as well in a film but I do enjoy the world that has been created and enjoyed reading the book which I review here. This film though in itself is not worth seeing unless you are interested to see the ideas they are trying to explore in the world and I give it 2 stars for trying.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The Green Berets (1968)

Film of 2012 #34

This is a Vietnam propaganda film co-directed by John Wayne, who is also the main star of this film, filmed in 1968 it was filmed at the height of the time when the US public were highly opposed to the war. You can clearly see that the film makers were in support of the soldiers that were fighting. You have the North Vietnamese portrayed as bloodthirsty animals that slaughter men women and children. There are a couple of cases where they are really quite unsubtle, as the audience you are pulled in through the reporter George Beckworth played by David Janssen and he starts the film opposed to the war and at the end you see him sign up based on what he sees while following the Green Berets. 

This is not a particularly great film there are several scenes throughout that make you hate the North and love the South and you know that the Americans are doing a great job. They are in a country that they do not really want to be in and at the time I am sure there was some good chest thumping going on and possibly some increase in voluntary sign ups. Out of it's time more than 30 years after the war ended it has lost some of it's impact and to be honest it really is out of place. Like TV serials that can no longer be shown due to the racial words that were seen as acceptable at the time but no longer acceptable. I think that this film should be relegated as a historical look at what Hollywood were doing to support the soldiers in Vietnam. 

Overall if you are interested in war films and seeing what they could do with them as propaganda then go for it, if you were looking for a balanced look at the Vietnam war then avoid this. The acting and set pieces are fine if a bit forced and I will give this 2 stars, there is a role for George Takei in the film.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Jaws 2 (1978)

Film of 2012 #33

The Sequel to the Spielberg classic that follows the residents of Amity Island as they have to deal with a second Shark attack in and around the waters of Amity Island. This film is directed by Jeannot Szwarc and does not have any input from Spielberg. The main adult cast with Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gray and Murray Hamilton reprising their roles but the focus of the film is split a bit more and follows Mike Brady the chief's oldest son who after a near miss in the first film is still very content to go in the water.

This film has the same basic formulae as the original with a different twist on where the end goes, ultimately you still have Chief Brody heading out on the water to hunt the shark. You have similar issues around the council and the chief clashing over whether there is a shark or not. You have the same issues around Mike wanting to go out on the water and his parents not wanting him to go out due to the threat of the shark. And him still going on to the water ignoring the risk his parents perceive. Thinking about this film in review it is very similar to the original in a lot of it's ideas and basic concepts, yet when I thought of it previously it was always a very different film. Overall though I still really enjoy this film. There are some great performances from the kids when they realise that they are in trouble and showing the fear. There are some stereotypical teens in the group but the cast is too big overall with the main character still being chief Brody, the lesser characters do not get fleshed out enough.   

It would have been interesting to see if they had removed the Chief Brody character and just concentrated on the kids and one of them had fulfilled the Chief Brody role at the end, I think that this would have made an interesting sequel. Overall I still consider this a great follow on to the original film and one of the stronger sequels out there. I also always want to watch it after watching the first and would say that this is a 4 star recommend, it has it's flaws but you can get past them.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Jaws (1975)

Film of 2012 #32

The Speilberg classic and the first Summer Blockbuster it is an all time favourite of mine, it is still to this day a scary film that has me on the edge of my seat even though I can quote many lines from it. I think that while Speilberg is a master of the film making art, there is an element of luck with the well known fact that Bruce, the shark did not work as well as they hoped. Therefore they went with a lot less Shark and lots of Point of View shots that help build the tension fantastically. There are jump scares in this film that still get me when I watch it and I will continue to watch this film in the future. 

The story is around a New York cop that moves to Amity Island as the Chief of police and in his first summer there are a couple of what appears to be shark attacks. The story is him trying to convince the council who cannot afford to close the island and subsequently his battle to beat the terror of the deep. You have an excellent and defining role for Roy Scheider as Brody the chief of Police, Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper the Shark expert and Robert Shaw as Quint the expert Shark catcher. You also have an Iconic score by John Williams that sets the tone for the film and fits the piece perfectly and I think that it is a piece of music that everybody will know on hearing.

As well as being a childhood favourite this film still holds up to this day and is a very solid 5 star recommend to me, it is a film I will continue to re-watch and always look forward to seeing it again and again.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Film of 2012 #31
Some Spoilers

The first Dead film from a master of the genre, that is George A. Romero, If you had asked me before I watched this film I would have told you that I have seen it many times. I have to be honest and say that getting to the end of this film I was surprised. It did not go where I thought it did and then I realised I have seen many of the famous scenes and hear many of the great quotes and I have seen the remake starring Tony Todd right through. So it is now rectified I have seen the original film, it is the story of an outbreak of flesh eating ghoul's, the word zombie is never used in this film. The story starts with us meeting Barbara and her brother Johnny and you follow Barbara until we meet Ben in the farmhouse where the majority of the film takes place. 

I have heard that this film is a metaphor for the race struggles of the 1960's and it is strange to see a Black man in form of Duane Jones playing Ben as the lead and the heroic role of the piece at this time in history. And I suppose there is something in the ending but overall I was not lost in a lot of metaphors it was just a good tense horror film that still holds up today as a scary film. And even though people claim that zombies are not scary as they move so slowly they are continuous and they just keep coming and there are always more of them. 

This is a good opener to the Dead trilogy but I have to say that Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead are stronger films for me and I would choose to watch them before watching Night again. Overall though it is a film that started a genre and a change in how horror films were made and looked at and it holds up as a classic of it's time. It is a must see for anyone that likes horror films or enjoys film history. This is a 3 star recommend, it has it's flaws but is well worth seeing and due to a mistake at the time it has been in the Public Domain for nearly 40 years so is easy to access. 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Grey (2012)

Film of 2012 #30
Some Spoilers

The latest film from Liam Neeson, sees him as a hunter in the Arctic circle protecting the oil workers from the wolves if they come to close. There is a plane crash and the story follows the survivors lead by Liam Neeson as they try and survive the weather and the wolves. I knew very little of this film going in but my Father-in-Law-to-be is a massive Liam Neeson fan and we always go and see his films as they come out so this was the next in line. I have to be honest and say that I knew very little of this film going in and I was disappointed with what I got. 

It is a well acted film and the characters are good and some of the set pieces were excellent and enjoyable and I have to say that the cinematography actually worked so well that I felt the cold that the actors did as you believed they were cold. There is a bit of predictability about the plot but there are also some points that I did not see coming but at the end of the film I was not that impressed or bothered about it. The ending in itself was not what I wanted from a film and to be honest this sort of film is just not for me. 

This is a hard film to recommend as I did not like it and will not see it again, overall I know that there will be an audience for this sort of film and you will know if you fall in to this category, I am going to give it 2 stars, the acting is good and some of the scenes are worth seeing but overall not a film for me. Let me know if this is your sort of film and let me know why I should like and appreciate this film. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Kull the Conqueror (1997)

Film of 2012 #29

The Kevin Sorbo attempt to be Conan the Barbarian, it starts with Kull as the barbarian trying to join the army, to then killing the King and being named as the heir. With Tia Carrere resurrected as a witch who wants to reclaim her throne which essentially Kull now has and there is treason and a journey with a riddle to be solved and a love interest to be saved who has a brother you think is a lover.......and the good guys win. 

Really this is another silly film the writing team must simply have thrown ideas around and decided to fit them all in but they have all been done before. There is actually nothing new or redeeming about this film, the sword play is nothing special the characters are very light weight and the comedy is not that good, it actually took me a minute after a joke to realise that it was not just bad hammy acting it was actually supposed to be funny. All the film really lacked was the comedy  a side kick for Kull who was a beggar and he kept getting caught by the authorities. 

This is a 1 star film, made for TV guff that can be ignored and does not need to be seen by anyone.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A.P.E.X. (1994)

Film of 2012 #28
Some Spoilers

This film has been listed as one of the worst films of all time by people I have heard speak on the internet and I have to say that I am in agreement. It is not the truly the worst film as the actual idea is very confusing and hard to follow. It is not like you think wow that sounds like a fantastic idea and when you see it they have made a total mess of it. Your basic concept is a time travel experiment that goes wrong. If any paradoxes are created then they send the A. P. E. X. the Advanced Prototype Exploration units back in time to clean the paradox, now this does not make any real sense as they talk about parallel dimensions and other realities and it is just a big mess right from the start.

The acting is nothing worse than I have seen in some Syfy originals or in some real low budget films and the effects are not the worst. The real issue just seems to be the confusion and the fact that at the end of the film I had very little to no idea what was actually supposed to have happened and it was like they had missed several chunks when it was edited together. 

Overall this is a one star film that should probably never be played again and is so not worth seeing, it is totally ridiculous and bad.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Human Centipede (2009)

Film of 2012 #27
Some Spoilers 

So I finally decided to watch this film after I saw that it was to be on the Horror Channel in the UK, I thought I will tape that and watch it if I feel like it. I really had no inclination to watch it after hearing about it and when watching it there was going to be no real shocks as I had heard all the spoilers and even discussions of the second film. However I thought lets see how bad can it really. So for anyone that has been living under a rock for the last few years, this is the film from Tom Six about the German doctor that wants to stitch people together. 

You start with the really cheesy scene between 2 female friends that are on holiday in Europe and they are going to go for a big night out. I think that this scene is supposed to set up characters that you like but to be honest they annoyed me and really did not care for them at all in the beginning. With a film like the Human Centipede you are really just waiting for the gory scenes to start. Now the film in itself was not as gory as I expected and apart from the subject matter being really messed up this was actually quite a well made film. You can see the lack of budget when you see the actors and the fact there are only 8 people in this film but the effects showing the people linked together are actually quite effective and I think that Tom Six given the opportunity and the budget could make a really good film and I will actually look for more of his work. 

Overall this film does not need to be seen, the subject matter is shocking for shocking sake and really it is good that there is no reason for the Doctor. But also there is no reason for you to care about the characters with the third part of the centipede coming from nowhere. I think that a bit more focus on the horror right at the end could have had more impact, overall a solid film in the gore genre and 3 stars. You should see this if you have any inclination, it will be worth seeing if you are interested in this sort of film.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Film of 2012 #26
No Spoilers

This film is the last Hammer film to star both Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and is also the last film for Christopher Lee to play Dracula. It is a sequel of sorts to some of the earlier Dracula films but at the time I watched it I was not aware of any of the history, though the film itself clearly references previous stories and battles. Peter Cushing plays Lorrimer Van Helsing and his niece is played by Joanna Lumley who I did not recognise to begin with but later in the film you can clearly see that it is her. 

The film starts quite confusingly with a ritual and a prisoner escaping and through the main characters finding out what happened you are brought up to speed. Scotland Yard are investigating a group of influential individuals who appear to be up to no good and within their investigations they discover that the group are headed up by Christopher Lee. He turns out to be Count Dracula resurrected from the dead as Van Helsing had killed him two years previously. This film is one of those older films that just accepts supernatural goings on, you have a case when someone known to the main characters is turned and they shout she is a vampire and there is simple acceptance of this fact as it is normal everyday goings on in the Hammer world. 

This was really a very enjoyable film, there are some issues around the pacing of it and I think that modern audiences would struggle with it as it moves at it's own pace. It is a good vs evil story and you know where it is going. a big plus point is that it is near the end of the Hammer films as there are plenty of b**bs on show and there is still some tension built up so a three star film for me, very enjoyable.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Transporter 2 (2005)

Film of 2012 #25
Some Spoilers

The ridiculous Jason Statham sequel centring around Jason Statham as the driver an ex-special forces operative who in the first film works a as getaway driver and in this film starts as a chauffeur to a rich family. It follows his journey to get the son of the family back and to stop the nefarious scheme of the central bad guy. This film I think has its roots in the Mission Impossible world but it is centred around the Driver, I also think that it is a comedy because some of the things were ridiculous and actually made me laugh out loud, such as how he escapes when there is a bomb attached to his car. 

So you have the central bad guy and his sexy side kick played by machine pistol wielding, underwear wearing Kate Nauta who is in it for the fun as she says kidnapping a young boy and infecting him with a virus so that they take out his father who is some sort of politician in Narcotics control. The hilarity continues as you have the fight on the aeroplane that is ridiculous and funny and from there it sums up the whole plot and action scenes, this film is about the stunts, the fights and the comedic moments that to me work well together to create and enjoyable romp. 

This film falls clearly in the guilty pleasure category and watching this film has made me want to rediscover the first one and to see the third one as you know what you will get with them, I am going to be bad and give this a 3 star recommend and would love to hear if anyone else really enjoys this film. 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Next Three Days (2010)

Film of 2012 #24
Some Spoilers

This Russell Crowe film is a remake of a French film (Anything for her) that I have not seen and centres around the idea that a Woman is jailed for murder and her husband has 3 days to break her out. It explores the concept of a normal man doing extraordinary things in the face of love. I actually really enjoyed this film, while I do not know if a normal and could do what is required of Russell Crowe it is an interesting exploration of the idea, you see him watching YouTube videos on how to make Bump Keys and open car doors and I have no idea if these things would work but it is an interesting angle and also the fact that what he tries back fires and does not work actually, it works really well for the film with the idea that he is not perfect and things do not always work out the way you expect, 

My biggest issue with the film is the title it implies that three days are ultimately important to the film and overall you do not really get an understanding of how much time is passing or passed and it is not really clear how long anything takes for him to do or feel the time pressure. Other than near the end but then it is being measured in minutes not days. I like some of the intelligent touches that the Russel Crowe character throws in there with the bag of rubbish and going to the train station which is very clever.

I do not normally like Russell Crowe as I do not like him in real life but he was actually very good in this and I actually think he is an excellent actor. When someone that you do not like can convince you they are likeable and intelligent and nervous and scared they must have some good acting skills. I recommend this film it is a strong 3 stars, there are flaws and some of his knowledge seems to come from nowhere but overall a very enjoyable film that I would probably watch again.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hanna (2011)

Film of 2012 #23
No Spoilers

When this film came out at the cinema I was slightly intrigued to see it but not enough to actually make it so when I got the chance to see it at home I took it and I enjoyed it but it went in a strange direction near the end that while it was fun and kept me interesting there was a jumbled cut down feel to the film like there was more explanation and it was trying to say something but chunks were missing and it could not decide what it wanted to be or say. You have Saoirse Ronan a teenager raised by her father in the forest taught to fight and survive and you see her thrust in to the real world and the fact that she sees so many things that she just does not understand. 

Now the problem I have with this film is part of the story, Eric Bana who plays her father is training her for a mission yet I do not think that he does all that he can to prepare her for what he has asked and requires her to do. You have Cate Blanchett playing a CIA operative that was Eric Bana's handler before he went off the map and she is clearly hiding something. There is also a couple of spoilers in the trailer that meant when I saw the film the impact of these is totally lost. There are several loose ends in the film that are unresolved and they bothered me that they were left. There is very little actual explanation of what is going on or why they are doing what they are doing and the fact that Hanna is scared by the TV and fan shows me that Eric Bana's character did not go as far as he should have and in that I lost any sense of belief in the characters or the story line and was not that bothered about how it was going to end. 

The performances from Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett are all fin to me there is an issue with the direction and the story this is a 2 star film not really worth seeing but i would love to hear other points of view, is it just me or is there something wrong with this film. 

Friday, 3 February 2012

Ladykillers (1955)

Film of 2012 #22
No Spoilers

This is the 1955 Ealing comedy starring Alec Guinness and a young Peter Sellars it is the story of a group of criminals that mastermind the theft of £60,000 and get found out by the land lady of the boarding house and they struggle with the morals of killing the old lady to keep her quiet hence the title of the film. This was remade with Tom Hanks and I would actually like to see that film now I have seen the original and see how they compare. This is the only film apart from Star Wars that I have seen Alec Guinness star in and I have to say that I am impressed he wears a set of false teeth which make him look ridiculous and he pulls of the comedic role quite well. 

However I did not laugh very much at this film, I think again it is a film out of time and out of place the comedy is very simple and a bit slapstick but there is also a darker edge when they are drawing straws to see who should bump the old lady off and there is also a level within the film that the characters just do not seem to be very bright at all and I found this frustrating and annoying. There were some good scenes and some interesting ideas and can respect that in the time it came out it could have been hilarious and held up but over 50 years later it has lost something for me. It did however make me want to explore some more of the Ealing comedies to see if it is just comedy that is lost on me or if there are any that can make me laugh, it is really well made and quite enjoyable. 

This is a hard film to rate because my feeling is for 2 stars as I will probably not check it out again but it did touch me in a way that makes me want to explore other films from that era and style so I am going to give it 3 stars. As a recommendation I think you will know in yourself if watching a film from 1955 is something that you can appreciate, it is well made and well performed but to me it misses something in the comedy. Let me know if you disagree with me and think that I am totally wrong in this idea. 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Horror Hotel:City of the Dead (1960)

Film of 2012 #21
Some Spoilers

The latest Public Domain film that I watched was Horror Hotel, also known as the City of the Dead starring Christopher Lee is a story of witches and it opens with the burning of a witch and goes from there. This is a film from 1960 that I as not aware of before getting it for nothing and gave it a look as I thought I had heard of it before but did not really know anything about it. You meet Christopher Lee as Professor Allan Driscoll who is teaching a college class about witches and his star pupil is looking for information to be able to research this further and he recommends that she goes to Whitewood to look up Elizabeth Selwyn who was the witch we saw being burned at the start of the film. 

Based on the title and the nature of the film having seen so many films it is actually fairly easy to see where this film goes but it was an interesting idea and back in the time of release i think it would have had a greater impact than it would on toady's market. Probably my favourite part is the acceptance of all involved when things get weird, films from the 50's and 60's seem to just accept that strange things happen and that you do not need to question it. I think when addressed by the fact that there are witches they just decide they have to figure out how to kill them. The difference being in the remake of Fright Night the main character while he comes around to the idea that his neighbour is a vampire he has to be convinced in the beginning and does not believe his friend. I think that this is the more modern look at the world. I think we are all so much better informed that we would question it however much we want to believe in witches and vampires we are all geared towards the fact that they do not exist how they do in the movies. 

Overall this film is not an essential view it is interesting and a bit creepy and is an interesting snapshot of films at the time and I did enjoy it, however will not have to see it again in the near future. Overall this is a weak 3 stars and is well worth watching if you are exploring what is available in the Public Domain, interesting to see a young Christopher Lee as well. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

Film of 2012 #20
No Spoilers

The World War 2 epic film about the Special Forces of Britain lead by Richard Burton and aided by Clint Eastwood as the American along for the ride this film is so much more than you suspect. It starts with the fact that an American General has been captured by the Nazis and is being held in a mountain top castle and the special forces are being dropped in to Germany to facilitate a rescue operation. I will say that I do not want to spoil this film but there is a lot more going on than a  simple rescue mission as some of the scenes are a bit unbelievable but this is a film worth watching. 

There is a common joke about war films that everybody just speaks with their own accent usually British and this is never an issue and I think that Quinten Tarantino may have picked up on this for his war Film Inglorious Basterds with the Cellar scene and those that have seen that will understand what I am getting at with that reference. This film I think is possibly the worst offender if it is an offence as Clint Eastwood is supposed to be speaking German but has the broadest American accent that there is no way he would get away with it. But I think that this is not the real point of this film it is about the daring escapades of the British thwarting the Germans and showing why we won the war. 

This is a solid three start film bordering on a four star but for some of the effects and the accents causing more hilarity than an issue but the film does come in at 2 hours 38 minutes which is far to long but some of the set pieces and some of the reveals are pretty good and well worth a watch.