Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Film Review: MONSTERS vs ALIENS (2009)

Directors: Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon
Running time: 90 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

UK release date: 3rd April 2009

Watched on DVD Tuesday 27th July 2010.


I usually really enjoy animated films and I remember when this one came out last year it had one or two good reviews. So I had some fairly high hopes when I popped the DVD into the player.

Outside the church on her wedding day, bride-to-be Susan Murphy gets struck by a meteorite. She looks dazed, but still makes it to the alter. While the ceremony is taking place she begins to grow… and grow… and grow until she is so big she takes the roof off the church. All of a sudden the military are there in numbers and they drug Susan and take her away to a secret government facility run by General W.R. Monger. Here she meets other monsters, B.O.B., who is a kind of blob, Dr. Cockroach Ph.D., a human/cockroach experiment that went wrong, The Missing Link, who was found in a glacier and the skyscraper-sized mutant larva Insectosaurus. She also gets told her monster name will be Ginormica. The monsters are soon called into action when an alien robot sent by Gallaxhar, a deranged alien overlord, lands on Earth. They defeat the robot only for Gallaxhar himself to come for the resource the robot failed to collect, a resource held by Susan. I think that’s enough spoilers for one day.

Quite a well made film with some neat animation, but we would expect nothing less from DreamWorks. The plot was okay with some nice jokes thrown in for the adult viewers. Decent performances from all the main cast, so honourable mentions go to the voice talents of; Reese Witherspoon as Susan Murphy / Ginormica, Seth Rogen as B.O.B., Hugh Laurie as Dr. Cockroach Ph.D., Will Arnett as The Missing Link, Kiefer Sutherland as General W.R. Monger and Rainn Wilson as Gallaxhar.

I guess I was slightly disappointed with this film, the script was ok but I just didn’t really care for any of the characters that much. There seems to be something lacking. Don’t get me wrong, the kids will love it, but I guess it’s just one of those films that just didn’t connect with me. Over all, for the younger viewer, recommended. For the adults, well maybe watch it once (under junior supervision).

My score: 5.8/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0892782/
Official Site: http://www.monstersvsaliens.com/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi2117665561/

Film Review: LÉON (a.k.a. THE PROFESSIONAL) (1994)

Writer/Director: Luc Besson
Running time: 105 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

UK release date: 3rd February 1995

Watched on DVD Tuesday 27th July 2010.


As this is my 100th film of the year I decided I would watch one of my all-time favourites. I have not seen Leon in quite a few years and so it was nice to become reacquainted with this classic. It’s not perfect, I know, but, to me, it will always be one of Luc Besson’s best.

Leon is a loner and a hit-man; he lives in an apartment in New York next door to the twelve year old Mathilda and her family. He gets his work from Italian mob boss, Tony. Mathilda’s father is into some shady drug dealings that land him in trouble with the rather psychotic Stansfield and his gang. She is out getting groceries when Stansfield calls and shoots her entire family. On returning she takes refuge in Leon’s apartment. Despite initial reservations, Leon takes her in and they move to a hotel. Mathilda swears revenge on the killers, mainly because one of the victims was her four-year-old brother. She asks Leon to teach her to do what he does for a living. Leon teaches her the basics and the pair grows closer as they learn to live with each other. Mathilda teaches him to read and he begins to not feel quite so lonely any more. On a visit to her former home Mathilda learns just who Stansfield is and what he does for a living. This is where things really get interesting, and this is where I will end my short synopsis.

This is a really well made film with a great soundtrack, there are a couple of songs, but the original score is great. As with all the Luc Besson films I’ve seen there is always an element of humour in the main characters and this is no different. Tremendous performances from both Jean Reno as Leon and Natalie Portman as Mathilda. Gary Oldman is his usual ‘over the top’ self as the psychotic Stansfield and Danny Aiello is also very good as Tony.

I really engaged with the characters of Leon and Mathilda. You really believe that what they feel for each other is true. There is always a certain sense of style about a Luc Besson film, something I have not seen in the films of any other director. As I said at the beginning, this film is not perfect, but it will always be one of my favourites. It still stands up fifteen years after its release. For me: always recommended.

My score: 8.5/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0110413/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/screenplay/vi2744254745/

Monday, 26 July 2010

Film Review: MEMENTO (2000)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Running time: 104 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK release date: 20th October 2000

Watched on DVD Monday 26th July 2010.


Having recently seen and really loved Inception, I decided to see what other Christopher Nolan films lurked in my DVD collection. I couldn’t believe it when I found I had never seen Memento. Well, a day work off due to an injury gave me the time to rectify this situation.

Leonard suffers from short-term memory loss. He can remember meeting you, but only for a few minutes, and then it fades away. He got this condition when he was hit in the head whilst trying to save his wife from the man who raped and murdered her. So, he can remember everything up to that point, but no further. In order to help him he takes photographs of people he meets and places he goes. He annotates these so he can refer back to them. There are also tattoos on his body of things he has decided are too important to lose. He is determined to find the man that murdered his wife and kill him. To this end he is helped by a character called Teddy, who seems to be a bit of a low-life. Along the way he also runs into Natalie, who has also lost someone and is more than she might first seem. Before the murder Leonard was an insurance investigator and he uses his skills to try and track down the mysterious John G, a name he has tattooed on his chest.

The story is told backwards; we start with Leonard killing the man he thinks is responsible for everything, and work back from there. It’s a very interesting and effective way to tell this story, but you can’t really take a bathroom break because you’ll lose where the story is. I found the DVD pause facility very useful! Great performances from Guy Pearce as Leonard, also, Carrie-Anne Moss as Natalie and Joe Pantoliano as Teddy Gammell. Honourable mentions go to Jorja Fox as Leonard’s wife, Stephen Tobolowsky as Sammy Jankis and Harriet Sansom Harris as Mrs. Jankis.

Although there are some nice action sequences in the film I found it to be quite slowly paced. It gradually draws the audience into Leonard’s world as we find out more about how events transpired. The score is quite subdued and fits the mood of the piece perfectly. Over all, a very interesting and absorbing film, I liked it a lot! Recommended.

My score: 9.1/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0209144/
Official Site: http://www.otnemem.com/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/screenplay/vi1368785177/

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Film Review: BRONSON (2008)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Running time: 89 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

UK release date: 13th March 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 25th July 2010.


Most people have heard of the actor Charles Bronson, but few have heard of the notorious violent prisoner of the same name. The film is based on the true story of the man who has made his name in the English prison system as the most violent prisoner in Britain. Now, I have heard of Charles Bronson, the prisoner, and so was intrigued to see this film about him.

His real name is Michael Peterson; he was born in Luton, just north of London. He didn’t have a deprived childhood, he was well loved by his parents but there was obviously something different about this boy. From fighting with other boys he progressed to assaulting his teachers. He eventually grew old enough to be put in prison for holding up a Post Office; his sentence, seven years. Once inside he soon established himself as an extremely dangerous man. As such he was moved around from prison to prison until he eventually ends up in a mental asylum. Here they can keep him drugged but he still finds a way to fight back. Eventually he is declared sane and released. He goes about making a career as a bare knuckle prize fighter, which is where he got his fighting name, Charles Bronson. This, however, is short lived and it’s not long before he’s back inside again. But this time there are signs he is starting to reform… or is there? Up to the release of the film he had spent 34 years in prison, 30 years of which had been in solitary confinement. I’ll leave you hanging there; don’t want to give too much away.

A film that was obviously made on a small budget, but one that is quite entertaining in a strange and bizarre way. The story is told from Bronson’s point of view and as such has a bit of an art house feel about it in places. There’s a pretty good soundtrack with a few songs the audience might recognise. A real power-house performance from Tom Hardy as Charles Bronson/Michael Peterson. I must also give an honourable mention to Matt King who played Paul.

As I’ve already said, the film has an art house feel to it, lots of very short pieces put together in places, but then longer scenes that give more narrative. It’s a very interesting film to watch, always interesting, partly because the character of Bronson is so unpredictable. Thanks to the great performance of Tom Hardy and thanks to a great script. At times it is very violent and the language is very strong in places. Over all, it’s kind of bizarre, but I must say, recommended.

My score: 7.4/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1172570/
Official Site: http://www.bronsonthemovie.com/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi1194066457/

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Film Review: TOY STORY 3 (2010)

Director: Lee Unkrich
Running time: 103 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U

UK Release date: 19th July 2010

Watched at the cinema Saturday 24th July 2010.


The toys are back for their third outing. And as the 3D debate rages on I took the high ground and stuck to the supposedly outmoded two dimensions for this one. After all that’s exactly the number of dimensions the screen has. But enough of this I hear you say, tell me more about the film.

Andy is growing up fast and is on his way to college soon. He has not played with the toys in quite a while and, quite frankly, they’re worried. With talk of the attic, and even worse, the trash, even Woody is getting apprehensive. Andy’s mum tells him to sort out his room, things for the attic, things to go to college with him and things to go out for the trash. His sister Molly also gets a box to put toys in to donate to the Sunnyside day-care centre (yes I know I used the English spelling, I’m English, what can I say?). By some mix-up all of Andy’s toys end up in the donation box, I won’t say how because I don’t want to spoil it. All seems very pleasant when they arrive. They are greeted by a bear called Lotso who is very nice to them, but all is not what it seems at Sunnyside. I think that’s enough of the plot to whet your appetite. You wouldn’t forgive me if I gave too much away would you.

As we have come to expect from Pixar, this is an exceptionally well made film with a great plot, endearing characters, lots of adventure, comedy and one or two tear-jerking moments along the way. Great work, as ever, from the voice talents of, Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Ned Beatty as Lotso, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Michael Keaton as Ken, Wallace Shawn as Rex, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head, John Morris as Andy and Jodi Benson as Barbie.

There are some great moments, like when Ken met Barbie for the first time, Mr. Potato Head as a tortilla and Buzz Lightyear in Spanish mode has to be seen to be believed! I really enjoyed this film, I really engaged with the characters I know so well for the previous two films and found myself quite choked at the end. All three films have been tremendous and I really hope they don’t make a fourth, finish on a high guys! Over all, highly recommended.

My score: 8.7/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0435761/
Official Site: http://disney.go.com/toystory/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi3676898329/

Monday, 19 July 2010

Film Review: EASTERN PROMISES (2007)

Director: David Cronenberg
Running time: 100 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

UK release date: 26th October 2007

Watched on Sky+ Monday 19th July 2010.


David Cronenberg has directed some really good films over the years, unfortunately there have been one or two duds along the way too. Fortunately this one falls in the ‘good’ category, which, considering the reviews I have been reading comes as a great relief. The setting is London in modern times.

Anna is a midwife who lives with her mother, Helen, and her uncle Stepan is visiting for Christmas. Her father, who was Russian, passed away some years earlier. When a fourteen year old girl is brought into the hospital where Anna works and dies giving birth to a daughter Anna decides to try and track her family down. Her only clue is a business card from a restaurant stuffed into the pages of her dairy which is written in Russian. Anna goes to the restaurant where she meets the owner, Semyon, and his son, Kirill. Seymon offers to translate the girl’s diary and Anna agrees. She is met outside by the mysterious chauffeur, Nikolai, who proves to be more than he seems. Little does Anna know she has just entered the Russian criminal underworld, a very dangerous place to be. I will leave my little summary here, don’t want to give too much away.

A very well made film in a style we have come to expect from David Cronenberg. The story slowly evolves with many twists and turns in the plot to keep the audience interested. Very good performances from all of the main cast, Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai, Naomi Watts as Anna, Armin Mueller-Stahl as Seymon and Vincent Cassel as Kirill.

There are some very brutal and graphic scenes in this movie that may not be to everyone’s taste, but they all serve a purpose. I found it a very engrossing film with a very understated and atmospheric score that fitted just nicely into the piece. Over all, an interesting and very enthralling drama, recommended.

My score: 7.8/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0765443/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi2947612953/

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Film Review: FLAWLESS (2007)

Director: Michael Radford
Running time: 105 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

UK release date: 28th November 2008

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 18th July 2010.


I like a good heist movie, but this is a heist movie with a difference. For one, it’s set in 1960’s, and for another, only two people are involved in stealing one hundred million pounds worth of uncut diamonds.

It all begins quite formulaically with a reporter interviewing an older woman for a piece about women who had power in business in the 1960’s. We then go into flashback as the woman, Laura Quinn, tells her story. She had fought her way up to the position of manager at the worlds leading diamond supplier, the London Diamond Corporation. This was no mean achievement in the male dominated world of business at the time. However, she now finds it harder and harder to progress her career and, having been passed over for promotion several times is getting disheartened with it all. She is then approached by the cleaner, Mr Hobbs, who tells her he knows a way of stealing some of the diamonds. He needs her help to get the combination to the safe before he can go ahead with the plan. She eventually agrees to help him, but things don’t exactly go according to plan. I’ll leave my short summary there, don’t want to give away too much now.

This is a very well made film although in a subtle and rather reserved style. There is no booming soundtrack to distract you from the dialogue, which is nice for a change. Very good performances from all of the leading cast, in particular, Demi Moore as Laura Quinn, Michael Caine as Mr. Hobbs, Lambert Wilson as Finch and Nathaniel Parker as Oliver ‘Ollie’ Ashtoncroft. Also nice to see Joss Ackland as Sir Milton Kendrick Ashtoncroft.

I quite enjoyed this film, it took a while to get going, but once it did I found it quite enthralling. It’s quite a straight-forward plot, but there are subtleties to it that can easily be missed. Nicely shot in that 60’s style that seems popular these days, and some very good performances, particularly from Demi Moore and Michael Caine. Over all, recommended.

My score: 6.7/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0780516/
Official Site: http://www.flawlessfilm.com/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi2293367065/

Film Review: IN THE ELECTRIC MIST (2009)

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Running time: 99 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

USA release date: 3rd March 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 18th July 2010.


I have recently watched a documentary about how the southern states of the USA are depicted by Hollywood. It mostly dealt with films up to the 1970’s, picking out the likes of ‘Gone with the Wind’ and ‘Deliverance’, to name but two. Then this one came up on TV so I thought it might be interesting to see a more modern film set in the south.

Dave Robicheaux is a detective working in rural Louisiana. He lives with his wife, Bootsie, and daughter, Alafair by a bayou where they also runs a fishing bait business. A film is being shot in the locality starring actor Elrod Sykes and his long-time companion, Kelly Drummond. When the body of a prostitute is found the finger of suspicion falls on Dave’s one-time baseball team-mate Julie ‘Baby Feet’ Balboni. Just to add a further complication, a sub-plot involving the remains of a black man, shot in the 1960’s, is also wound into the story. We know that Dave knows something about this crime, but we’re not sure what it until much later. It’s a very complicated plot so I will not go any further right now.

This film, like many set in the south, has quite a pedestrian pace. The story very slowly unfolds giving the viewer time to absorb the atmosphere surrounding it. Quite well made with quite a few twists and turns and a very complicated, and sometimes quite bizarre plot. Decent performances from all of the main cast, Tommy Lee Jones as Dave Robicheaux, John Goodman as Julie ‘Baby Feet’ Balboni, Peter Sarsgaard as Elrod Sykes, Kelly Macdonald as Kelly Drummond and the woefully underused (IMHO), Mary Steenburgen as Bootsie Robicheaux.

Now, I could cope with the slow pace, and even the slightly bizarre hallucination sequences (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it), but I did find there was little depth to the quality of both the picture and the sound. It almost looked like one of those 1960’s or 70’s films that were mentioned in the documentary I saw. Having said that, despite the strange plot twists and slow pace, after a while it became quite a compelling watch. So, if you have the patience, recommended, otherwise, maybe give it a miss.

My score: 5.8/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0910905/
Official Site (French): http://www.tfmdistribution.com/dans-la-brume-electrique/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi2820932377/

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Film Review: INCEPTION (2010)

Writer/Director: Christopher Nolan
Running time: 148 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

UK Release date: 16th July 2010

Watched at the cinema Saturday 17th July 2010.


If you can suspend you belief in reality for 148 minutes then this is the film for you, if you can’t then it may only confuse you. Fortunately I am of the former persuasion and was very intrigued to see Christopher Nolan’s latest effort, particularly given the reception it has initially received. And so, having avoided seeing anything much beyond the trailer I took my seat in the theatre and waited with much anticipation for it to start.

I will keep my summary very brief and try not to give away any spoilers, this is best seen without knowing too much about it. Cobb is a thief, using technology he can go into your dreams and steal your secrets. He can’t do it alone though, he needs a team around him for backup, to design the dreamscape, to chemically induce the dream and someone to wake them all up when the mission is completed. He finds that committing industrial espionage is a good way to make a living while he figures out a way to get back home to see his estrange kids. He cannot go and see them because he is implicated in the untimely death of their mother, Mal, who still haunts his dreams. When a powerful industrialist, Saito, comes to him with a proposal he is interested, particularly when the fee is to be his longed for reunion with his children. There’s just one snag, the job will entail inception, planting an idea in someone’s mind via their dreams, a very risky process. I’ll leave it there or I may say too much, but that’s a very general outline.

This is without doubt one of the best films I’ve seen… ever. Always engaging, entertaining, sad, dramatic, action-packed, enthralling, intriguing and above all, intelligent. It kept me gripped from start to finish, which is a long time to be gripped, believe me! Although it’s pure fiction, I found it easy to identify with the characters which is testament to both the writing and the performances of the entire cast. So, hats off to, Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur, Ellen Page as Ariadne, Tom Hardy as Eames, Ken Watanabe as Saito, Dileep Rao as Yusef, Marion Cotillard as Mal and Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer, Jr. Also honourable mentions go to Tom Berenger as Browning, Pete Postlethwaite as Maurice Fischer and Michael Caine as Miles.

The effects were amazing, not an awful lot of CGI used, but some excellent wire work, physical effects and some use of miniatures was really effective. The scene (it’s in the trailer) where gravity is lost in the building is quite breathtaking. A word of warning though, be sure you won’t need a toilet break, if you do, you could find yourself lost in this most excellent and labyrinthine plot. I cannot praise everyone who worked on this one enough, in particular Christopher Nolan, a brilliant film and very very highly RECOMMENDED!!.

My score: 9.7/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/
Official Site: http://inceptionmovie.warnerbros.com/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi4219471385/

Monday, 12 July 2010

Film Review: CHOKE (2008)

Director: Clark Gregg
Running time: 89 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

UK release date: 21st November 2008

Watched on Sky+ Monday 12th July 2010.


This film is based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, who also wrote the rather excellent Fight Club (1999). Combine that with a cast that includes Anjelica Huston and Sam Rockwell and I hope we’re onto a winner! So it was with fingers crossed and very little knowledge of the plot, I sat down to watch.

Victor Mancini is a sex addict; he goes to group sessions to help with his addiction but only ends up having sex with the woman he’s supposed to be sponsoring. He works together with his best friend, Denny, at a Colonial America re-enactment park, the kind of place school kids go to learn about the early settlers. He also is a com-man, faking choking fits in restaurants in order to get money so he can support his mother, Ida, who has dementia and lives in a home. On one of his visits he meets a doctor, Paige Marshall, who thinks she knows a way to help Ida, but it’s risky. I really don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave my short plot summary here.

A pretty well made film with really good performances from both Sam Rockwell as Victor and Anjelica Huston as Ida J. Mancini. I must also give honourable mentions to Brad William Henke as Denny and Kelly Macdonald as Paige Marshall.

A lot of the story is told in flashback, harking back to when Victor was a boy on the run with Ida. A really quirky film with all the odd twists you’d expect from the writer of Fight Club. Although it’s far from prefect I enjoyed this one very much, and that’s not just because of the nudity and sex scenes. Over all, not perfect, enjoyable with a few laughs: Recommended.

My score: 6.8/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1024715/
Official Site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/choke/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi1843855641/

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Film Review: THE OTHER MAN (2008)

Writer/Director: Richard Eyre
Running time: 85 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK release date: 17th October 2008 (London Film Festival)

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 11th July 2010.


I read the write-up about this on the TV guide and it sounded intriguing, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s a drama, set in London and Milan, about a man looking into the affairs of his wife after she has gone.

Peter’s wife, Lisa, has gone, he feels a great loss, but going through her things he discovers that she had been having an affair. His daughter, Abigail, is against him looking any further into it, she can see how it is hurting him, but he persists. Tracking the other man down to Milan, he goes there and befriends him in order to find out more about him. Eventually the truth has to come out, and this leads to a rather surprising ending.

The story is mostly told in flashback which can be a little confusing at times. Quite a slow pace, though, allows the audience time to absorb the narrative. Adequate performances from the main cast, Laura Linney as Lisa, Antonio Banderas as Ralph, Liam Neeson as Peter and Romola Garai as Abigail.

This is not the sort of film I would usually choose to watch and I found it a little intriguing, but not overly gripping. There is a twist towards the end that is pretty obvious from a long way off, but apart from that I don’t really have much to say about this one. A bit too slow for me, not recommended.

My score: 5.1/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0974613/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi1295450649/

Film Review: OPEN SEASON 2 (2009)

Directors: Matthew O'Callaghan and Todd Wilderman
Running time: 84 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

USA release date: 27th January 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 11th July 2010.


Having watched and enjoyed the first film, Open Season (2006), I was intrigued to see how the, straight to DVD, sequel would turn out. The woodland animals, having defeated hunters and befriended the domestic sausage dog, Mr Weenie, in the first film are up to their old tricks again. This time it’s a rescue mission.

On the day of his wedding to Giselle, Elliot, a deer, starts to have second thoughts when he sees Mr Weenie being kidnapped by the family that lost him in the first place. Deferring wedding plans, he persuades a group of the animals to go and rescue the stricken pet. The small group includes Boog, the bear, Giselle, Elliot's intended (also a deer) and McSquizzy, a squirrel with attitude. Meanwhile, Mr Weenie is being taken to a fun park designed for humans and their pets. We meet many new characters, including Fifi, a pampered pooch with a great hatred of all things wild. Fifi tries to re-domesticate Mr Weenie, but fails and we are all set up for a great rescue attempt at the fun park! There is quite a lot more to the plot, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers.

Well animated, although I felt that Fifi looked a bit too much like a sheep. It will never win any prizes, but I thought it was quite a well made film with a decent pace and plenty of jokes. Decent performances from the voice talents of, Joel McHale as Elliot, Mike Epps as Boog, Jane Krakowski as Giselle, Billy Connolly as McSquizzy and Crispin Glover as Fifi.

Although I found the character of Elliot pretty annoying there is plenty of other things going on to distract from this rather irksome character. If anything I thought the plot might be a little too complicated for younger viewers but still pretty good. Having said that, there are some real ‘laugh out loud’ moments. My favourite character is Roger, the cat. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it. Over all, recommended, if only for those ‘laugh out loud’ moments… of which there are several.

My score: 6.2/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1107365/
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/familyzone/openseason2/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi412418841/

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Film Review: PREDATORS (2010)

Director: Nimród Antal
Running time: 106 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK Release date: 8th July 2010

Watched at the cinema Saturday 10th July 2010.


Since my local cinema only has two screens and, as a provincial picture house, has to make a profit, at times they have a limited choice of films. This week was a case in point. Just the two very popular films showing this week meaning I have to travel in order to see my personal choice. A bus, some legs, a train and some more legs later I find myself standing in the queue at the multiplex. Having purchased my ticket and waited for the screening room to be cleaned up form the previous showing we are let into Screen 2.

The film opens with a man dressed in battle fatigues falling, he is unconscious, but comes round. Shortly before impact with the jungle covered ground below a parachute opens, but he still lands with a bone-crunching thud. Others land around him and are, at first aggressive towards each other until the first one persuades them it would be better to band together. They are all from the less desirable side of the tracks, there’s a mercenary, a convict, a sniper from Guatemala, a yakuza, a freedom fighter from Chechnya, a kidnapper, a religious fighter and a doctor. It soon becomes apparent that they are not on Earth and that they are being hunted by an unseen enemy. One by one they are eliminated by this foe. Eventually a plan is formed to defeat them and get off this planet.

Very reminiscent of the original film, Predator (1987) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but maybe without the same impact. All very well done with some excellent special effects and CGI. Decent performances from all involved. Honourable mentions go to, Adrien Brody as Royce, Topher Grace as Edwin, Alice Braga as Isabelle, Walton Goggins as Stans, Oleg Taktarov as Nikolai, a nice cameo from Laurence Fishburne as Noland, Danny Trejo as Cuchillo, Louis Ozawa Changchien as Hanzo and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Mombasa.

Although not as good as the 1987 original, I quite enjoyed this sequel. Having seen several films featuring the Predators since then, they don’t have the fright factor they used to. But it was an entertaining film with some great action sequences and a nice twist at the end. It’s not the best film in the world, but over all recommended for those who like this sort of thing (I did). Oh, and it ends wide open for another sequel.

My score: 7.3/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1424381/
Official Site: http://www.predators-movie.com/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi2220360729/

Monday, 5 July 2010

Film Review: SMOKIN’ ACES 2: ASSASSINS’ BALL (2010)

Director: P.J. Pesce
Running time: 84 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

USA release date: 19th January 2010

Watched on DVD Monday 5th July 2010.


Having had this recommended to me by a friend, and having seen the first one, I was quite hopeful when I put the disc into the DVD player. Unfortunately, 84 minutes later I was looking for my friends’ number to tell him never to recommend a film to me again! I think you can guess I was not impressed with what I saw.

Walter Weed an ageing government analyst has had a hit put out on him. Several assassins have been invited to try and kill him on a specific date and at a very specific time. The FBI reacts quickly and moves him into a secure location in a bunker under a Jazz club in Chicago. The assassins, however, seem to have been appraised of his location and move in for the kill. It’s every man, and woman, for himself and so there is no team play as they move in for the kill. With time running out, will any of them make it to the prize and collect the three million dollars on offer? I’ll leave my short summary here.

Apart from Tom Berenger as Walter Weed, none of the rest of the cast put in a decent performance. Maybe not entirely their fault because the script didn’t really give them much to play with. The plot, as an idea, was quite clever, but if it had been made as a spy thriller instead of a stupid gun-fest I suspect it would have worked a lot better. I feel sorry that Tom Berenger has had to stoop so low, he deserves better material than this. Over all, really not recommended.

My score: 5.1/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1319743/
Official Site: http://www.universalstudiosentertainment.com/smokin-aces-2-assassins-ball/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi363267353/

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Film Review: TRIANGLE (2009)

Writer/Director: Christopher Smith
Running time: 99 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK release date: 16th October 2009

Watched on DVD Sunday 4th July 2010.


I heard a few good things about this one when it was released, but didn’t get the chance to see it at the cinema. Fortunately I have managed to track it down on DVD for a viewing. There have been many films where the same day or the same event is repeated over and over again, most notably Groundhog Day (1993). This is one of those films, but with a large amount of mystery, tension and yes, even a bit of horror thrown into the mix.

A group of friends have arranged to go sailing, Greg, the skipper of the yacht, his friend Jack, a couple Downey and Sally have brought along Heather, who they are trying to fix up with Greg, and finally Jess. Jess has an autistic son, Tommy, who, she says, is at school, even though it’s a Saturday. She seems distracted and sleeps for a good two hours at the start of the cruise. Things seem to be going well, there’s a good breeze and the sails are full when suddenly the wind drops and they are left becalmed. They spot a violent storm coming in and when it hits the yacht is turned over. Clinging to the bottom of the hull, it looks bleak until an old fashioned cruise ship appears. The climb aboard but can find nobody about. Jess has the feeling she has been on this ship before and when someone starts killing them you know it’s going to get scary! And that’s where I’ll leave it, but needless to say, this is where things really start to get interesting.

It’s a pretty well made film with a really great plot and some decent special effects, especially in the storm sequence. Decent performances from all of the main cast, Melissa George as Jess, Michael Dorman as Greg, Jack Taylor as Jack, Henry Nixon as Downey, Rachael Carpani as Sally and Emma Lung as Heather.

I know the description above sounds a bit like every ship-board horror you’ve seen before, but believe me it goes on to be something completely different. Even to the point of explaining just why Jess is so distracted when she boards the yacht. I know some people won’t get it, but believe me, it’s really worth watching. Very much Recommended!

My score: 8.4/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1187064/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi2981299481/

Film Review: BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE (2009)

Director: Chris Nahon
Running time: 85 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

UK release date: 26th June 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 4th July 2010.


This is a live action remake of the anime film of the same name produced in 2000. Unfortunately I haven’t seen that version of the story which I believe is much shorter than this. The setting is Japan on 1970, the United States are fighting the Vietnam War and the story involves a US Air Force base, a general’s daughter and a demon slayer.

Saya, a four hundred year-old skilled samurai, is sent to the Kanto High School in an American military base. She is sent by the Council, a secret society that has been hunting vampires for centuries. Saya has the appearance of a teenager but is the tormented half-breed creature with the soul of her human father and the powers and need of blood of her vampire mother. She is obsessed by the powerful demon Onigen that killed her father. In the base, Saya saves Alice McKee, the daughter of the General and commander of the base, from the attack of several vampires. When the General is killed by a member of the Council, Alice runs to the hotel where Saya is lodged. They join forces and escape to the countryside to find Onigen.

The fight sequences in this film are very well done, plenty of blood as the samurai swords go to work. There is some special effects work here that really does not look good; in fact it looks quite dated. Having said that, good work from the main actors, Gianna Jun as Saya, Allison Miller as Alice McKee, Liam Cunningham as Michael Harrison, JJ Feild as Luke, Koyuki as Onigen, Yasuaki Kurata as Kato Takatora and Larry Lamb as General McKee.

The original film is about 48 minutes long, this version is about double that. Unfortunately in lengthening the story the writers seem to have lost a lot of the energy from the original. This is what I’ve read. So, over all, good fight scenes, not so good special effects and a slightly turgid script. Not really recommended, but the fight scenes are worth a look.

My score: 5.4/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0806027/
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/bloodthelastvampire/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/imdb/vi3720217113/