Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Shallow Grave (1994)

From Danny Boyle starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox they live in a flat together and they need another flat mate and this is when Keith Allan enters. When he dies and leaves a big bag of money this is when things start to change for the three friends. This is the first films from Danny Boyle and it really shows what he can do and it also shows what Ewan McGregor can achieve, the ending of the film is intense and really very clever.

While there is the tension in the film between the friends there is some great comedy especially at the start as they interview the potential flat mates. I think that this is an excellent example of British acting and film making from the early 90’s that coincided with Britpop and was the start of some excellent films that came from the British Film industry. The way the money comes into the lives of the students and the fact that it is enough to clear them for life and the fact that it is free and it shows you how you could react with these decisions and where it could lead.

This film is an excellently tension low budget film done right with good acting and good direction and is well worth the 8 out of 10 I give it. I think that if you have not seen this film then it is weel worth checking out.

Red State (2011)

From Kevin Smith his venture in to “Horror”, well that is how it was originally sold when I settled down to watch it. Your basic story starts with three male teenagers, played by Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun. They are looking to get laid and via a contact site they meet Sara played by Melissa Leo. This leads to them being captured by an extreme church that are portrayed as lunatics lead by Michael Parks. Then the story takes a switch and you end up with a stand off between the church and the Officials lead by John Goodman.

I had heard mixed reviews of this film and was not really that sure what it was about other than what the trailers tell you which is a bit jumbled to what the film actually is. To me it is a look at the world from a couple of view points, you have the Church with their beliefs and how they want to live their lives however wrong you may perceive that and the officials who are following orders and their questions around those orders. You have some quite shocking actions played out by both sides that will catch you off guard. Overall I found it an engaging film that took me on a roller-coaster ride of entertainment and thought provocation which is part of what I presume Kevin Smith was trying to achieve.

Overall I really enjoyed this film and would recommend that everybody gives it a look, the ending is interesting and I have heard that there was something different planned that made it impossible which I would actually have enjoyed as much as the actual ending. I have heard many people think that Smith got it wrong but overall I think he got a message out on this thoughts on both sides of the argument and I give this 8 out of 10.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

The stop motion animation from Wes Anderson sees a telling of the classic Roald Dahl children’s tale of Fantastic Mr Fox. With an all star voice cast including George Clooney as Mr Fox, Meryl Streep as his wife with Jason Schwartzman as Ash, Bill Murray as Badger, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson and others. The film follows the book in a basic way with several alterations, these are needed when converting a book for the big screen.

When you have a film adapted from a book, if you know the book you always compare what they left out and what they added to see if you as a fan of the book agree. Well I like what they did with the additions, I have to say that the very end of the book while very unrealistic is how I imagine the ending everytime but that would not work in a film sense. The additions of the challenges between son and the cousin is good and interesting and I think that overall the story and additions lead to a good film. I did not like the wearing clothes but still being animal, especially with the eating, did not work for me I prefer the full animal or the full animal acting like an animal.

The animation is the next thing with this film and I have to say that it bothered me on some level. They tried to get the realistic movement with the stop motion and overall the look of it was good but what the fur does just got to me and I did not like it. That being said overall this film is a middle of the road venture, some good things some not so good, but due to the love of the original story which they honour this is an above average film so a 6 out of 10 for me.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

From Walt Disney comes the adaptation of the book by Johann David Wyss charting a Family ship wrecked on a desert island and their adventures as they adapt from a comfortable life to living off the land. This is very much in the tone of the times with some unrealistic achievements but it is a family friendly film that is full of adventure. You follow the family played by John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur,Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran and the meet Bertie played by Janet Munro and apart from the pirates this is your full cast list.

I have seen this film only a couple of times but I love it in it’s simplicity and this is how I dream I would survive on a desert island, rather than starving to death or getting an infection in my toe and dying. The characters are typical with the two older boys vying for supremacy with one a scholar and one a man’s man. You have the careless free nature of the youngest as he takes risks. Then there are the parents as they watch their children grow in unusual circumstances and try to let them discover who they are on their own.

This is a great film, there is possibly a message for the people of the 1960’s about not getting too hooked into their technology and the advancements, though it does say that with a bit of ingenuity you can make anything work. This film while unbelievable is a family fantasy that ends in a battle with pirates that is thrilling and a lot of fun. This is a 8 out of 10 and well worth seeing for all the family.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Silent Hill (2006)

Based on the computer game of the same name, while I have heard that the game is super creepy and one of the best scary games out there, however I have never played it. So I went into this adaptation with nothing to compare it to, so no idea if it is a good adaptation or not. You follow Rhada Mitchell who is married to Sean Bean, they adopt a daughter who sleepwalks and ends up going missing and through connecting some clues she ends up tracking her to Silent Hill.

On the way she is stopped by a policewoman played by Laurie Holden, they end up together trying to find her daughter and trying to sort out what is happening in the world of Silent Hill. There is a side story that lets you understand a bit more what is happening as you see Sean Bean in and around the same places and you can understand what is going on. Within the world there are lots of viscious twisted creatures and there are also people hunting witches and you have the two female leads making their way through the world and the creatures trying to survive and find Rhada's daughter.

Understanding this is from a game helps but would have preferred to have some level of context and perhaps there could have been a little exposition at the start that helps and explains what the situation is as it is very confusing. I can see no reason for it other than it has to happen as this is what the game is all about. Overall it was fine in the fantasy horror genre of films and the effects were not to bad. I give it 5 out of 10, not terrible but not great and not really worth tracking down unless you have a connection to the game.

Singin' In the Rain (1952)

The musical comedy from 1952 set during the transition from the silent movie era to the talkies, starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor. You follow the two main male characters Don and Cosmo as they meet and start getting involved with  Kathy and the story follows them as they enter the world of the talkies and how some of the compatriots cannot cope with the transition to the talking roles.

This film is one of the most famous musicals of the era with several songs that everybody will have heard as they have been parodied and use in adverts and sketches. The two most famous of these songs are the title “Singing in the Rain” and “Good Morning” and they are both catchy and as I write this I find my self singing them. You think and remember the actions and you recognise the impeccable timing that all three of the main actors had in the delivery of the moves as they were all accomplished dancers.

This film was awesome and I am again disappointed in myself for not watching it sooner having put it off and off to watch some of the nonsense I have endured over the years. This is another film that falls in to the category of classic that holds up to it’s reputation and is a strong 9 out of 10, so very nearly perfection in film making. Looking for any suggestions of classic films that I may not have seen all suggestions appreciated.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Sherlock Holmes: Terror by Night (1946)

The 6th film starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes with Nigel Bruce starring as Dr Watson, this film sees our hero’s boarding a train. They are employed by the son of Lady Margaret Carstairs, played by Mary Forbes to protect the Star of Rhodesia, a giant Diamond. While on the train the son of Lady Carstairs is a murdered and the Jewel is stolen. A plot is uncovered and Sherlock Holmes wins the day as he usually does in these films.

This is a short film at 60 minutes and in black and white and is the first Basil Rathbone portrayal of Sherlock Holmes I have had the opportunity to see. I liked Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, he is debonair and gives the look of having the intelligence to be able to answer the questions raised by the mystery in front of him. I did feel though in this film he seemed a bit distracted and was perhaps phoning it in a bit. My real problem is Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson, I have read some of the stories and seen both Jude Law Performances and he was far to blustering and unbelieving for me and just a bit too stupid. I always thought of Dr Watson as the reasoning intelligent man who while not able to think like Holmes can bring his own logic to the cases.

Overall this was worth watching, it is interesting but for the modern audience the other films and portrayals are much better in my opinion. Therefore I give this 6 out of 10 and only really worth seeing if you have a love of Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows (2011)

The sequel to the 2009 film from Guy Ritchie starring Robert Downey jnr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris and Stephen Fry, I reviewed the original here. I really enjoyed the first film, I was unsure if the second which promised to be much the same based upon the trailers before seeing, so I was not expecting too much from it.

You follow Holmes again expertly played by Robert Downey Jnr as he tries to track Moriarty and you come to see where he is when Dr Watson played by Jude Law tracks him down. Then all over Europe they go chasing shadows and ending up at a conference on world peace at the Reichenbach Falls. This film follows on nicely from the original and based upon some of the Holmes stories I have now read and one of the made for TV films I watched this is an excellent adaptation and continuation of the series and as Mark Kermode says it is really nice to see Guy Ritchie find something he is truly excellent at making.

If you enjoyed the first you will probably enjoy this film more and as I fall heartily in to that camp I am happy to give this a resounding 8 out of 10. The support from Moriarty played by Jared Harris and Noomi Rapace playing Madam Simza Heron you really have a great film, I have to say that the ending is a Hollywood cop-out and the only thing stopping this being a 9 out of 10.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Blade Trinity (2004)

The third in the Blade series sees Wesley Snipes return as Daywalker, this times he teams up with Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Beale, the Trinity. This time they are up against the original source of all the vampires, Dracula, or Drake as he is called in this film, portrayed by Dominic Purcell who I first saw in Prison Break.

This film uses Ryan Reynold’s comedy timing to excellent advantage and even if I say so myself he does look very good, I think I might have a man crush on Mr Reynolds. Anyway the main bad guys are Parker Posey and Callum Keith Rennie as brother and sister vampires supported by Paul Levesque, better known as Triple H as the main henchman, with his dogs, just weird. Overall this film goes for the comedy aspect more than any serious story, not slapstick but a lot of one-liners and jokes, there is still the cool action with the fighting scenes.

I really like this film but think that it falls closer to guilty pleasure rather than a very good film. Ryan Reynolds is excellent and very likeable and Jessica Beale just looks very good, Snipes is a bit quieter and think that he must have been contracted for the third film. This is a 7 out of 10 for me but I know that it is tainted by my enjoyment of the film or maybe just Mr Reynolds.

Blade 2 (2002)

The second outing for Wesley Snipes as Daywalker, Blade. This time sees Blade have to rescue Whistler again played by Kris Kirstofferson and while in this he is approached by the very people he hunts, to help them as there is a new predator. This sees Blade working with vampires including Leonor Varela, Danny John Jules and Ron Pearlman as a wise cracking violent member of the Bloodpack.

While trying to continue from the original and there are a few references to what has happened in this film it tries to also move the world on and take the story in a new direction. It also explores the Blade world of vampires and the divisions within them. It actually put me a lot in mind of the Underworld Vampires and the set up within that franchise. Snipes is violent and an awesome as Blade and he can handle the violence and the wise cracking.

Overall this is an okay film, it is not brilliant and will certainly not win any awards but overall it is enjoyable fayre with enough fights, cool deaths and enjoyment to see you thought the running time. This film falls in the middle the production values take it above average so 7 out of 10.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bikini Girls On Ice (2009)

Okay you caught me I watched this film expecting some cheeky titillation and some cheap thrills. It is a slasher film where the College girls decide to hold a Bikini Car Wash to raise money. On the way to their chosen venue they end up at what appears to be an abandoned gas station. You have your usual suspects from the good girl to the slut from the bitch to the jock to the nerdy guy that is helping cause he just wants to get laid.

I went in with low expectations expecting some sort of 80’s throw back, possibly with some sort of Disney on ice back drop. What you get is a middle of the road slasher film where the killer is scary daunting and well portrayed by William Jarrand but you have no justification or even a motive, even if it was plausible for no investigation when all these people go missing it just does not work. The only slight motive put forward is that he has an ice machine and likes to keep his ice box full for keeping the bodies cold, no reason for this is ever given. The acting is ropey with a couple of the girls just there for how good they look in Bikinis and certainly not for the acting ability. Then you get to plot holes and I am not even talking about the bad decisions victims are supposed to make I am talking about a group leave successfully and yet the authorities never show up.

You get one topless shot that barely justified the title and the effort I expended watching this film. It really was a disappointment and that was going in with very low expectations. The only thing I can think of is that there was a point that I missed and perhaps it was trying to be deeper but it missed its mark, so only 2 out of 10 from me and you can all avoid this film, unless you know somebody in it.

Apocalypto (2006)

Mel Gibson writes and directs a film about the Mayans and it is all subtitled, I was not that interested in this film. When it first came out I was not interested and would not have watched it but for the fact that it was on in the Coach when I was in Mexico. I had just been to visit the Chichen Itza and our guide, Victor, who was of Mayan descent, after speaking to us for hours all day told us that Mel Gibson had done the film correctly. He thinks that it is one of the truest representations of the people we had been hearing about all day. So I thought two hours on the bus, might as well settle down and enjoy the film as it was the only film on offer so that had to be worth something.

You follow Jaguar Paw as his tribe hunt a creature and you very quickly are pulled into the tribe set up and the very basic nature of their relationships and how they live. On the way back to the village they encounter a tribe of fisher people and with a warning they ignore, their troubles begin. You follow Jaguar Paw as he is captured and he vows and endeavours to return to his pregnant wife and young son. Along the way you meet the Mayans and you find out that they are a blood thirsty race out for sacrifice and how they treat the other tribes. The title Apocalypto comes from certain prophecies within the film and what the ending foreshadows.

This film was filmed using some natives that had never acted before but the set pieces and overall look and feel of the film was excellent. The story lacks a bit for me and there was a difference between the end of the film and what Victor had told us but then a little poetic licence is always needed in these films to get the message across. Overall though whether it was more to do with my day or the film itself I really enjoyed it within the context of seeing it. This is 7 out of 10 for me but if you do watch it on this recommendation just remember my view may have had a slight tint to it.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Another Oscar winning film, this time from 1991 starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, directed by Jonathan Demme. You follow Clarice Starling played by Jodie Foster as a young unqualified FBI agent who working with Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford ends up on the Buffalo Bill case and through a series of events gets to go and interview Dr Hannibal Lecter played brilliantly by Anthony Hopkins in what is probably his most famous role.

This film is brilliant, it is creepy, tense and there are flashes of sheer violence that while at the same time grotesque are not gory and are timed to perfection. Anthony Hopkins plays Dr Lector perfectly while manipulative and cunning he plays him so that you feel compassion for him. Like a lot of the great bad guys in cinema you almost start to root for him, then you swing back against him and possibly at the end you are back on his side, while you know he is vicious you respect him.

I have seen this film before but this is the first time that I have ever really enjoyed it, I am now at the point in my film watching that I am starting to really understand what the films are saying and trying to convey. Overall this is a strong 8 out of 10, not dated by being over 20 years old and a few plot holes on her speaking to Lecter alone you still get drawn in by the story and the awesome acting.

13Hrs (2010)

A British Werewolf film starring Isabella Calthorpe, Gemma Atkinson and Tom Felton, it starts in a lonely farmhouse when Isabella Calthorpe playing Sarah Tyler returns home and links up with her two brothers and her best friend played by Gemma Atkinson who is now going out with her brother. They head from the party in the barn where they are drinking and smoking and head back to the house, when the power goes out and as they are trying to see what has happened they discover that there is a wild animal in the house and it then starts picking them off one by one.

The further away from the film I am the better I think it was this, is a good thing as my initial reaction was one of not very good. As I am thinking about it I really have a better opinion of it. You follow a fairly interesting cast as you have Tom Felton, famous from all of the Harry Potter films and it is good to see him in a totally different role and you can see some of his skills coming through. Gemma Atkinson, of men’s magazine fame and Hollyoaks is actually playing not to bad a character. Yes overall there are weaknesses, the acting is not great and the story is a bit clunky but overall the ending if you are paying attention is quite clever and you have a bit of an epiphany at the end that shows they were thinking about the whole thing.

Overall not a great film but then the low budget shows and really it has some interesting ideas that show hope for the future from the actors and the writes and directors, overall 6 out of 10, up from an original 4 out of 10.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Departed (2006)

From 2006 starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Walberg and Martin Sheen from director Martin Scorsese this is remake of Infernal Affairs bring the action of spies, cops and robbers to Boston. This is the film that finally won Scorsese his Oscar and while it is awesome and I really enjoy it I am unsure if it deserved the Oscar for that year. There are questions whether the award was more of a life time achievement award for Scorsese. You follow Leo and Matt as they grow up and come through the ranks of the Police and Criminal organisations and you follow Leo as an undercover cop he infiltrates Jack Nicholson's gang. And you follow Matt Damon as a member of Jack Nicholson's gang as he infiltrates the police and rises to power.

his film is full of twists and turns and you follow the main leads as they struggle with maintaining their identity and also trying to find out who the other is. There are plenty of shocks and the ending is awesome, confusing and just about right for this film and even though I have seen it a couple of times still love the ending. There is some love interest that focuses on Vera Farmiga; this gives more insight in to both the characters as they both interact with her.

The first time I saw this film I was on holiday in the US and always wondered if my love for it stemmed from the experience but taking the time to re-watch it I still love this film and give it a solid 9 out of 10 and a high recommend to everybody. Also if I get the opportunity I will be looking out the original as I have heard that this is very good as well.

Shutter Island (2010)

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the fourth film he has worked with Director Martin Scorsese, this film has Leo depicting a US Marshall as he and his partner played by Mark Ruffalo go to Shutter Island which houses a prison for the criminally insane. They have been sent to investigate the disappearance of one of the female inmates but is there more going on there than meets the eye? You follow Leo as he tries to figure out what has happened at the prison and what might be hidden there.

The first time I saw this film the impact of the twist was awesome, I was a bit distracted as it appeared that it was going to be a random reason for a disappearance and while I could see something was going on from what I could see I did not expect or see what was coming and it blew my mind. I have heard that some people guessed what was happening but for me it was out of the blue other than the knowledge that something had to be happening. Overall if you can see this knowing there is a twist but not what it is I think that you will appreciate the acting with Leo and Mark Ruffalo you have Sir Ben Kingsly, Max Von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley and Emily Mortimer all playing excellent characters.

This is a film that I recommend, especially if you enjoy mysteries and thrillers, you will appreciate this and if you can spot the twist let me know, I would love to hear how you came to the right conclusion without it being a guess. Based on the early nods you are supposed to guess that something is up and even on second watch I still appreciated this film and would recommend you see it, this is a strong 9 out of 10 for me.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Ginger Snaps (2000)

The Canadian Werewolf film from director John Fawcett and writer Karen Walton you follow Brigitte and Ginger, sisters played by Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle respectively. This film explores females reaching puberty and getting the curse and uses Lycanthropy as a metaphor on how girls may feel like when they already feel like outsiders. The film starts with Ginger being attacked in the neighbourhood and follows the girls as they try to figure out what is happening to them both as they get older and Ginger as she starts to change.

I had heard many great things about this film stating that it was the greatest werewolf film ever, while I found it entertaining and enjoyable it was not the greatest film ever. I wonder if part of my issue was hype and expectation? The film is low budget and I had a few issues with the creature effects especially later in the film, try a bit more tell don't show would have been appropriate for this film. The girls are fine and you feel the pain of Brigitte as Ginger starts to explore her changes and joins a different circle of friends.

Overall an enjoyable film and worth seeing, I give this film 6 out of 10 and say that it is well worth seeing, especially if you are in to the genre of horror or lower budget films.

Fantastic 4:Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

From the glut of super hero films that came out in the 2000’s this is the second film in the Marvel series of the Fantastic Four which consists of Mr Fantastic played by Ioan Gruffudd, Sue Storm played by Jessica Alba, Johnny Storm played by Chris Evans and the Thing played by Michael Chiklis. Mr Fantastic and Sue Storm are trying to get married but things just keep getting in their way, I think it is Mr Fantastic’s Blackberry which he cannot let go of. Anyway the Silver Surfer turns up and starts boring holes in the Earth and the fantastic four are called upon to save the world again.

Another comic book adaptation where I have no idea of the source material, so do not know if this is a good adaptation for the screen. I will say that it is aimed very low in my opinion, the first film and this one both go for bawdy laughs and cheap gags and the story is not that strong from my point of view. There are some good laughs if you like the characters when they start switching powers but it is a sketch more than a good thing. Also the ending is a bit meh, just not captivating and non-engaging.

So in summary poor characters, poor story but some interesting giggles and the effects are certainly acceptable but overall not worth seeing 3 out of 10.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Mr Deeds (2002)

Adam Sandler playing Longfellow Deeds in a comedy about a nice guy inheriting the controlling interest in a Media conglomerate and starts doing business his way. This is a remake of the 1936 film Mr Deeds goes to Town. You have the crook played by Peter Gallagher tries to convince him to sign it all over to him. With support from Winona Ryder and John Toturro. Adam Sandler films are hit or miss for me, some of the early stuff like Billy Maddison and Happy Gilmore have some funny parts in them but overall I am not that big a fan of his.

Here the problems with the film lie in the fact that Longfellow Deeds is to good, he does everything right and everybody loves him. It just felt so false for me and was not that taken with him on any level. A couple of the jokes are funny including his black foot but is a bit overplayed and got old quite quickly.

I am sure if you are a fan of Adam Sandler then you will have enjoyed this film and enjoyed the jokes and it will have been right for you. However for me it missed the mark and I can only give it 4 out of 10 and say that if not already an Adam Sandler fan then avoid this.

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

From Wes Craven you follow Fool played by Brandon Quintin Adams as he is roped into a robbery by Ving Rhames and Jeremy Roberts. They decide they are going to rob the home of Everett McGill and Wendy Robie who are living in a huge house as Mother and Father. They think there has to be a lot of money in the house due to the locks and bars.

I love this film, from the first time I saw it, the people under the stairs are held within the house and they come into play further into the film. With Sean Whalen as Roach with  Wayne Daniels and Michael Kopelow. The effects that are used are good enough and the characters of Fool and Alice played by A J Langer are thrown together and they develop a positive bond that I think is very visible.

This is one of these films that comes under horror without the real gruesome gore or the real violence but there is a dark edge to a film that has some levels of comedy. This film has its flaws but I have a real soft spot for it and will always watch it given the opportunity so a 4 star recommend for me.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Big (1988)

A childhood classic directed by Penny Marshall and starring Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin the young boy who wakes up Big. You start by following Jared Rushton who plays Billy and David Moscow who plays the young Josh who falls out with his mother played by Mercedes Ruehl and when at the fair ground he makes a wish and the following morning he wakes up and everything is different. Heading into the city he lives a life of an adult with child sensibilities getting a job, apartment and a love interest.

This is another film that falls squarely into the category of family classic it covers many bases including the importance of family and also the importance of taking time to grow up properly enjoy being a child and while it can suck, still it is necessary. It also looks at the fact that as adults it is important for us to still appreciate being children and remembering to have fun.

This film is one of the films that really brought Tom Hanks to my attention as a youngster and since that time he has pretty much always been there and has always been very good. This film is a superb 4 stars and if you have not taken the time to see it I highly recommend that you make the time, because we are only young once.  

Calamity Jane (1953)

The musical Western from 1953 starring Doris Day as Calamity Jane with Howard Keel, Allyn Ann McLerie and Philip Carey. Sees Jane agree to bring a big female star from the city to her town of Deadwood. Jane is very much a Tomboy and dresses as a soldier, shoots and drinks with the men and wants to be accepted as one of the boys. The film follows her as she discovers more about what she wants from life and why being a woman can be good.

This film is a lot of fun and the songs including "The Deadwood Stage (Whip Crack Away)" and "Just Blew in From the Windy City" are catchy, memorable and I am sure you will have heard them before. Musicals are a strange type of film as they can be more about the music than the story, this I think can be an issue for some people who are looking to watch a film rather than segments of music videos. The older Musicals including this really use the songs well to help emphasise the story and be a set piece within the film.

Musicals are a genre of film that I have naturally avoided but having seen this and recently seeing "Singin in the Rain" for the first time and really enjoying it, I am going to try and watch more Musicals. Overall this is a strong 3 stars I would recommend checking if nothing else to see a solid film star in Doris Day.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Coming to America (1988)

Direceted by John Landis and starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall this is  a comedy. It follows Prince Akeem played by Eddie and his Man Servant Semmi played by Aresenio Hall as they come from Africa to America to find a Queen. The lead actors play several roles in the film and they play it for laughs and it really works for me.

This is a fish out of water comedy with Eddie and Arsenio not fully understanding America or how things work. There is the love story as the Prince finds his Queen and you have the usual it is not what he is but what he says that causes a problem. Some of the jokes have seeped in to pop culture references like Sexual Chocolate a song sung half way through the film. And the constant references to McDowells compared to McDonalds are funny especially right at the end.

With support from James Earl Jones as Akeem's father, Madge Sinclair as his mother, Shari Headley as the love interest, Allison Dean as her sister and John Amos a their father. I think that this film is hilarious and still works today, there is also a nice little reference back to Trading Places, overall this is a fun filled 4 star recommend from me and I think everybody should see it.

Doc Hollywood (1991)

Michael J Fox stars as a Dr given the opportunity to move to Los Angeles on the way he is sidetracked by almost hitting a cow and he runs into a fence. He is then forced to remain in the small town where he has to serve community service while he tries to get away to his big opportunity. If you have seen Disney’s Cars then you will know this story as this is the original story that Cars is based on.

This is the first time I have seen the film and I have to say that I was not really that aware of the story and it was not until after seeing it I recognised the story. Michael J Fox has the young energetic feel about him and from the point where he hits the fence and he just whirls about the car shouting and the locals just stand and look at him and you see him digging the hole that he was in when he ran off the road.

I really enjoyed this film even though it is a simple story, you will see how it goes, it really is a feel good film and you are supposed to like all the characters and based on the acting from Michael J Fox, Woody Harrelson and Julie Warner and the older supporting cast you will have seen them around, overall a film worth seeing and very enjoyable 3 stars for me.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Demolition Man (1993)

Starring Wesley Snipes as a lunatic frozen by the Judicial system in the near future and then unfrozen in the quiet future and he starts rampaging. The police of the future unable to cope with him choose to unfreeze cop Sylvester Stallone, the so called Demolition man due to the fact that he cannot stop destroying things while taking down the bad guys. This is a fish out of water story as you follow Sly Stallone as he tries to come to terms with a world he does not know.

This is an action film with an element of Science Fiction as it imagines a world of the future, some nice pop culture references with the Arnold Schwarzeneger Presidential library and the fast food wars that see Taco Bell as the only surviving restaurant chain. The film suggests some ideas nearly twenty years later have not come true but were a lot closer than was probably suspected when the film was actually made.

I really like this film with acting support from Sandra Bullock, Denis Leary, Benjamin Bratt, Bill Cobbs, Nigel Hawthorne and Glenn Shadix as associate Bob. There is some good fun and entertaining fight scenes between Snipes and Stallone. Overall if you have not seen this film I would recommend that you look it up a strong 3 stars from me on this one.

The Stand (1994)

The TV mini series of the Stephen King epic novel exploring a world that has had 99% of the population wiped out and this is the story of the survivors as they try to find their way in a world they no longer recognise. This is usually shown in 4 parts and is still very short compared to the scope, scale and detail of the book. I have read the book 3 or 4 times and it is my favourite Stephen King book and is actually one of my favourite books of all time.

This visual representation is actually a very good compared to the book and grabs the major points, I have to say as in all of these cases the book is far and away more involving and I would recommend that everybody reads the book. You follow several characters through a plague that starts like the flu and has a 100% mortality rate however there are a small amount of people who are immune to the virus. You have Stuart Redman played by Gary Sinise, Fran Goldsmith played by Molly Ringwald, Ralph Brenter played by Peter Van Norden, Nick Andros played by Rob Lowe and Larry played by Adam Storke.

There is a large supporting cast that capture the characters as written by Stephen King and as he has a small part in the film I presume he approved of all of the changes and helped to sculpt it for the TV from his original book. As a TV serial of a book I really enjoyed it, I think though that my love of it comes from my love of the book and the fact that it is quite true to the book. I give it 3 stars, I would love to see a 12 part serialisation of this perhaps going in a bit more depth and darkness. If you have read the book worth seeing and if into good old  fashioned post apocalyptic stories.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy (1997)

Based on the 1988 film Alien Nation, this is the fifth and final spin off film from the 1989 TV series that followed the original film. Starring the cast of the TV series this is a made for TV film that came after the TV Series failed to get past the first season.

The final made for TV movie sees a conspiracy within the Newcomer population, a rebel organisation’s previously programmed sleeper agents are being activated and taking action that causes problems for Matt and George. I do not think that this was the planned finale as it starts a new story that puts many of the main cast at risk without you really beliving anything will happen, it does feel very much like an extended episode of the TV series again.

Very much not the planned ending for the series but still a fitting and strong last episode within an extended series of a programme I would like to have seen more of. Overall this series is a solid 3 stars with this film continuing the trend, overall a recommend from me. 

Alien Nation: The Enemy Within (1996)

Based on the 1988 film Alien Nation, this is the fourth spin off film from the 1989 TV series that followed the original film. Starring the cast of the TV series this is a made for TV film that came after the TV Series failed to get past the first season.

This film starts with the death of an Eeno, an underclass of newcomer that lets the detectives discover and discuss their thoughts on racism. As the usually mild mannered George takes offence and wants to snub the case. This is an interesting look at racism within minorities. The Newcomers face racism from all sides within the world the now inhabit and it is interesting to see their reactions to the under classes within their own race and how George is confronted by Matt on his unfounded feelings.

This is very enjoyable considering this is actually the 4th TV film in the series and by now it could be getting very tired and cheap, you can see there is still love for continuing the story and I would love to see a remake of this series, I think it could work. This is another 3 star film and is very enjoyable within the confines of the series of films.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Men in Black 2 (2002)

The 2002 sequel to the 1997 film Men in Black sees K and J back together as they have to try and find the light of Zartha and save the world from Serleena played by Lara Flynn Boyle who is supported by two headed Johnny Knoxville, of Jackass fame. This film is very much in the same vain as the original ad brings back many of the characters including a bigger role for Frank the dog, voiced by Tim Blaney and Z played Rip Torn. The love interest for J this film is Rosario Dawson playing LAura Vasquez

As with any sequel it takes the basic concept of the original and replays it in many ways with the same characters and the same jokes coming up again. There are some new jokes and what sets this up as quite a good sequel is there a lot of expansion of the universe it is set in and some development of the lesser characters, there is a lot more comedic characters this time with Johnny Knoxville, Frank the Dog and the Worms all playing it for laughs.

If you enjoyed the original then you will appreciate and enjoy this film and it really makes a good compliment for it and I always find that I cannot watch the first without wanting to see the sequel and when I see them both I enjoy them, overall another 3 star film.

Men in Black (1997)

The Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones science fiction comedy film, it follows Will Smith as he chases a criminal down and this leads to Tommy Lee Jones hiring him to work for a shadowy organisation that tracks and watches all of the aliens currently on Earth. They have cool suits, shades and awesome cars and they have to track a giant bug.

This is a family fun filled romp and follows the experienced and all knowing K played by Tommy Lee Jones as he initiates J, the Will Smith character as they attempt to save the world. J falls for the morgue technician played by Linda Fiorentino as they attempt to save the galaxy. You have some great fun and some excellent effects as you discover the world at the same time as J and they use some wonderful real life examples to have a laugh.

This is a good family film and it has recently had its second sequel and I think that if that film is half as good as the original it will be very good. Overall this film is a strong 3 star recommend a good science fiction comedy and well worth seeing.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

From Stanley Kubrick comes the sexually charged thriller starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a married couple. They start by getting ready for a night out and there is a couple of good moments that sum up their relationship that are really very clever and I was impressed from the start. Nicole Kidman admits that she once thought about and almost cheated on Tom. This sends him on a wild night looking for and trying to get involved in any form of sexual adventure he can.

This film is quite tense and while I was hooked in early it never really reached those heights again. While all the acting is good and the film itself looks good, it is quite complicated and I feel it gets a bit lost as it approaches the end of the film. I think though that this is part of what Kubrick was trying to achieve in making the film, you only really know what Tom does so you are supposed to feel as confused as he is, if this is the correct idea then it is done very well but it is something that I struggled with.

In the end the film comes back to the start and I liked that fact that the reading at the beginning while is accurate is also very wrong and you and Tom and Nicole both realise this and you can see where it is going after the credits role and this is good film making. Now for a recommendation, I think that certain people will love it and others will hate it, which in essence makes the rating easy, it is 3 stars but I think you will have to decide for yourself if you want to see the film.

Vanilla Sky (2001)

After Tom Cruise separated from Nicole Kidman I feel he started a different path that allowed him to explore more of his acting. Where he did not have to rely so heavily on his good looks and winning personality. In all honesty I actually like his films and the characters he portrays. I had tried to watch Vanilla Sky years ago and could not see where it was going and gave up about 15 minutes in. Anyway on the second watch I actually knew what was happening and was able to follow it pretty well.

Tom Cruise plays David Aames a rich publishing heir who is a playboy around town, he starts with a weird dream and then wakes up next to Cameron Diaz, this could be many people’s dream. At his birthday party his best friend brings Penelope Cruz and there is a spark. He leaves her in the morning and makes a mistake by getting in the car with Cameron Diaz who feels jilted and she causes an accident that leaves Tom disfigured. You then follow him as he tries to regain his life and recover from the accident.

This film was captivating and kept me enthralled to the end and I have to say that I was not exactly sure where it was going but the ending really worked for me and I have to say that they way it all worked out in the end ticked all the right boxes for me. Overall this comes under the strong three star recommend catagory for me and I think most of you will actually enjoy it.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Flight of the Navigator (1986)

A classic from my childhood, if you have read many of my previous reviews you will probably see where this is going before I get there. Anyway this is a film that I watched many times as a child but had not actually seen it for about 10 to 15  years when I sat down to watch it again. Firstly if you have not seen it, you follow David as a young boy who goes to meet his brother in the woods ends up falling in a valley and when he finally makes it home everything is different.

 This film is a children’s adventure that explores what would happen if you lost 8 years and how would you react to all the changes. On that point I wonder what it would be like with all the changes in the last 8 years and even where will we be in 8 years from now and what would it be like to lose those 8 years and just be dropped in to the world, also what would it do to your friends and family. I think that this film does it magnificently as it follows David as he tries to get home with the help of Max voiced by Paul Reubens and Sarah Jessica Parker.

I think his family played by Cliff De Young and Veronica Cartwright play it so well, you can see they have missed him and are just happy to have him home. The comedy of a fish out of water played both with David and Max as they try to figure what to do. This film is a feel good movie with some dark 80’s undertones that seemed to be freely put into kids movies back then but more recently have been missing. This falls into the 5 star category for me, I am happy to re-watch this again and again and cannot wait to have a family so I can let them discover this glorious film from my childhood.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in a science fiction based love story, where a couple fall in love, fall out of love. They have each other erased from their memories and as they step back through those memories they realise what they had and what they are giving up.

With Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo in the cast, this really is a wonderful piece of film making. The ideas behind the film are simple, would you erase someone from your life if you had the opportunity? It explores the idea around what would you do if you made a rash decision that you could not go back on. It also asks the questions around should we have any control and we not love and lose people for a reason even if that reason is painful at times.

Another film that when I first heard about it did not tickle my fancy, however I started watching it and was captivated and there are a nice couple of twists that make it interesting and intriguing. This is a 4 star recommend from me, it covers the romantic film and science fiction also makes you appreciate what you have and why it is good to remember as you learn from life.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Alien Nation - Millennium (1996)

Based on the 1988 film Alien Nation, this is the third spin off film from the 1989 TV series that followed the original film. Starring the cast of the TV series this is a made for TV film that came after the TV Series failed to get past the first season.

The end of the Millennium is approaching and everybody is trying to find enlightenment and living in a world with 250,000 aliens there are several options available to short cut this. It follows Detectives Matt Sykes and George Francisco as they investigate newcomers and humans alike who are dying and they track it to a cult that is using a Newcomer Portal to show people the Tenktonese home world.

Another good follow up to the TV series that is essentially just a double episode but as it is well written and well acted it is very enjoyable especially if you have enjoyed any of the previous films in the series. This is another 3 star film, again as long as you have some previous viewing or experience with the series it is very enjoyable. 

Alien Nation - Dark Horizon (1994)

Based on the 1988 film Alien Nation, this is the first spin off film from the 1989 TV series that followed the original film. Starring the cast of the TV series this is a made for TV film that came after the TV Series failed to get past the first season.

This film follows Aponso an Alien slave master who comes to Earth tracking the Newcomers who have made Earth their home and his plan is to bring them all back and to also enslave the humans. This film follows directly from the end of the TV series and comes from a time when if a TV series was not to be continued then they might try something else if they feel it was a good original idea. I have to say that my connection to these films stems from the original film and I really liked the idea. watching these films you have to have some knowledge as they do presume you know what is happening right from the start.

This film is an enjoyable continuation and a cheap sequel, the acting is fine and the story is interesting enough and it helps you explore an interesting world that I look forward to seeing more of. The characters are interesting and well rounded this will be due to the actors having played then for a full year. This is a 3 star film worth seeing if you have had any contact with the series.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Mission Impossible III (2006)

The third film in the Mission Impossible franchise sees Ethan Hunt played by Tom Cruise and directed by J J Abrams trying to protect his girlfriend from a sadistic arms dealer played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. You have the usual stellar supporting cast with Michelle Monaghan as Julia, Ethan’s Fiancee, Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Maggie Q as his support team with Simon Pegg as Benji in the laboratory supporting the team.

This is the usual Mission Impossible fayre with guns, explosions, improbable circumstances and cool gadgets. Overall the story is big enough to keep you interested and small enough that you care, from the start that brings Ethan back to the IMF you do care about the fact that he is just trying to live a normal life. The effects are believable but with Abrams at the helm you know that there are going to be twists and turns and a couple you can see coming if you have seen enough of this sort of film.

I found this film as enjoyable as the others without being anything special the simple fact is if you found anything enjoyable within the first two films then you will surely enjoy this venture, I give this a hearty 3 stars, worth seeing if you like the action spy films. 

The Bourne Identity (2002)

The first in the Bourne Trilogy that showed everybody that Matt Damon can play the action hero. You follow him as he is pulled from the water with two bullets in him and you follow him as he tries to remember who he is and what he does. This is also the first in the series of  films that now number 4. It is an above average spy thriller that lead to things like it being named the New Bond and Jason Bourne being a new hero for all of us to look up to.

I have to say that the first time I watched this film I did not actually appreciate how good a film or a series it was or was going to be. On this second watch I really appreciated the nuances of what the story was and the under lying story with Conklin played by Chris Cooper and how he is trying to protect himself and what he has done.

This is a strong 3 star recommend I appreciate that it is not for everybody and it is a film that is made better by seeing the rest of the series so it is a long commitment to make.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Escape from L.A. (1996)

The sequel to Escape from New York, which I reviewed here, sees Snake Plissken being conned into entering Los Angeles which has been cut off from the mainland due to an Earthquake. It is used as an island to deport all of the undesirables to. Director John Carpenter comes back but overall this is just a rehash of the original. Instead of going after the President, this time it is the President’s daughter who has the doomsday device.

This is the worst kind of sequel as it simply tries to redo what the original did so well and they are never going to be able to match what the original had and this means that this is simply a pale imitation of what I thought of as a very enjoyable film. You have a supporting cast that is strong as the original including Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach, Peter Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Valeria Golina and Pam Grier.

Overall a very disappointing follow up to Escape from New York, I rate this as a poor two stars and would say watch the first film again before you bother watching this film.

Sorority Row (2009)

A prank goes wrong and instead of owning up and dealing properly with the situation the girls of the Theta Pi Sorority House decide to keep it a secret. 8 months later, someone knows and is coming after the girls, as they prepare for and try to enjoy the graduation party, and then the slashing fun begins.

This is an interesting film as it uses technology in a way you know it will matter later and is quite good, it uses Mobile phone technology in away that I think the target audience will appreciate. It does quite well setting up almost everybody as a suspect and there are plenty of red herrings floating about to keep you guessing who the killer is.

It is a good enough slasher for the modern times and there is enough hints that they could make a sequel if they wanted but then that could just be the B-Movie ending we all enjoy with this type of film. Overall this is a fun romp where you get to enjoy the deaths and the house mother played by Carrie Fisher is fun character. This is a three star film, if you enjoy these types of films you will appreciate what this one does and how it does it.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Hallowed Ground (2007)

Another of the multitude of random low budget horror films I have chosen to subject myself to. This follows Liz Chambers played by Jaimie Alexander as she arrives in a small town and soon discovers that her arrival was forseen 100 years previously by the towns crazy preacher. The most interesting thing about this is an early outing for Chloe Moretz as a youngster caught up in what is going on in the town.

This has some interesting points with Ethan Phillips of Star Trek Voyager fame playing the Preacher of current times. You have a common enough theme with a cult within a small town and somebody who at the outset you think is a random and then turns out to be expected or needed there. There are elements of the supernatural with scarecrows coming to life and the power of foresight.

Overall though this film is nothing special with very little to really make it memorable, overall I would say 2 stars bout not really worth seeing.

Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever (2002)

Starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Lui as agents tasked with hunting each other and some other stories, it really is a bit messy. Antonio has lost his family and the story get’s all confused from there. It actually plays like the film which is the third or fourth in a series or that it is the end of a TV series as there seems to be a lot of unsaid story that appears like it should be obvious.

Both the main actors while not being terrible seem to be just doing it all for the money and both of them appear to phone it in. To be honest it is not that memorable a film and I think if it was a sequel then it might have worked. Half way through I had zoned out so this may sum up some of my feelings towards the film.

I cannot recommend anything good about this film and would actually say that you should stay away from it. So 1 star from me, if I am wrong please feel free to let me know, always happy to hear other opinions.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Ten Commandments (1956)

A biblical epic from Cecil B DeMille, it stars Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Rameses. You start with Moses being found by the Pharaoh’s daughter in the reeds and is adopted and brought up in the Royal household. We follow the life of Moses as he is contacted by God and given the commandments and then he returns to Egypt to set his people, the Hebrew slaves free.

Running at 3 hours and 40 minutes this truly is an epic and it does need to be watched in more than one sitting, the flaws of this film run to the pacing. It is from a different era and can feel very slow at times, there is also the religious nature of the story that may not sit well with some people and their own beliefs. However I think that you can see past this and the fact that Charlton Heston is not a very likeable man. Also some of the coincidences that happen in the film are almost laughable and almost as if it was organised by God.

With sterling performances from Heston, Brynner and Vincent Price and some epic scenes with some awesome effects including the parting of the Red Sea this is a must see for all film buffs and historians. It shows exactly what film makers in the 50’s were capable of, this is a strong 3 star recommendation.

Ben-Hur (1959)

This Biblical epic follows Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur a Jewish Prince that ends up being double crossed by his Roman friend Messala played by Stephen Boyd. You follow him from the slave ships to the arena and then to the final climactic Chariot race. Through the film he comes into contact with a young Rabi known as Jesus and he is impacted by these meetings. Through the time he is deeply concerned with what has happened to his family who were convicted with him.

Directed by William Wylder this story is epic in both scale and length at over 3 hours viewing it does take something to keep you in place for that length of time. And while it is far to long for any film it is definitely worth watching. The acting and scenery is brilliant and you really believe everything that is being portrayed, it follows Ben-Hur on his quest for revenge and gives you an impression of the time. There are many flaws in the historical accuracy but I think it all works well to give you a massive film that is rewarding.

This is a film that is over 50 years old and there is a pacing issue that I think many modern cinema watchers will struggle with, in these times of ADH mentalities, I can imagine many people not enjoying this. What I would recommend is taking the opportunity to pause it, there is a lovely break in the middle. Overall this is a strong recommend a 4 star worth watching.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Wizard Gore (2007)

Starring Kip Pardue and Crispin Glover this is a weird twisted little film that sees Pardue a reporter investigating Glover who plays Montag the Magnificent, a magician that selects women from the audience gruesomely dismembers them and then shows it to be an masterful Illusion, that is until the women start turning up dead.

This film is pretty stupid and is another of the cheap bulk horror films that are thrown out about once a week and are barely worth the paper they are written on. This one drew my attention as it starred Crispin Glover and Kip Pardue who are not terrible actors. Jeffrey Combs and Brad Dourif also make an appearance but ultimately it is not enough to make that much of an impact on me other than the fact that I thought it was a pointless piece of trash.

Overall apart from the execution of the story there really is not that much to write home about the acting is adequate and the effects are passable but unless you are massively into watching any old horror film I would give this one a miss, 1 star from me.