Sunday, 31 July 2011

Film Review: DEATHWATCH (2002)

Deathwatch_poster Writer/Director: Michael J. Bassett
Running time: 94 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Horror/War
UK Release date: 6th September 2002

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 31st July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I watched this film purely on the write-up it got on the TV guide. It looked quite promising; a group of WWI soldiers are trapped behind enemy lines in a seemingly deserted German trench. They soon find that the bodies littering the place may not be quite as dead as they first thought. I was looking forward to a supernatural thriller/horror along similar lines to the 1984 film, The Keep. Sadly it wasn’t so, it got too bogged down in the mud of the trenches in the middle, but there was a neat twist at the end. I won’t do a summary this time; I think I’ve given you the idea of what it’s about already.

vlcsnap599369 As far as performances go, well, for me the standout actor was the young Jamie Bell as Pfc. Charlie Shakespeare, he had some meaty dialogue and coped with it all very well. Andy Serkis did a good job as the psychotic Pvt. Thomas Quinn, as did Hugo Speer as Sgt. David Tate. Also worthy of note were Laurence Fox as Capt. Bramwell Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Cpl. Doc Fairweather, Hugh O'Conor as Anthony Bradford and an early role for Kris Marshall as Pvt. Barry Starinski. Oh, and finally, I thought the trench rats did a fine job too.

la_tranchee_deathwatch_2002_reference This is one of those films that has the feel of something that was based on a stage play. It was all way too dramatic and emotions were way over the top (I felt). I guess it suffered from quite a low budget too because the effects and CGI were far from top notch. Although the gore factor is quite high, so definitely not one for the squeamish. I guess it’s worth seeing for Jamie Bell’s performance, but be prepared to come away slightly disappointed. Sadly, not recommended.

My Score: 4.6/10

IMDb Score: 5.9/10 (5,436 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0286306/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 29/100 (7 reviews counted when this review was written).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/deathwatch/

Deathwatch_Doc_1_b LINKS:
Trailer:

Film Review: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (2011)

HP7Part2_poster Director: David Yates
Running time: 130 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Adventure/Drama/Fantasy
UK Release date: 15th July 2011

Watched at the cinema Saturday 30th July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

Wishing to avoid the crowds I decided to wait a week before going to see this and, although it was showing in the smaller of my local cinema’s two screening rooms, it was still quite busy. I was surprised to find a good friend of mine there with his son and so I joined them on the front row (not a spot I’d usually choose, but I was surprised by the effect). Having already read the book after seeing ‘HP7: Part 1’ last year I knew we were in for a bit of a treat. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Harry-Potter-and-the-Deathly-Hallows-Part-2_1 Harry, Hermione and Ron are still on the trail of Lord Voldemort’s three remaining Horcruxes. To this end they convince Griphook to take them to Greengots to retrieve one from the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange. They manage to obtain it, but are discovered and have to escape by releasing the creature guarding the vaults. Voldermort knows they have the Horcrux but they press on. Harry has a feeling the next one is back at Hogwarts and so, risking everything, they return to the school. Severus Snape has been made headmaster and he rules the school with tight discipline. Neville Longbottom and many of the other pupils have started an underground resistance group and it is these who welcome the trio back to the school. Having removed Snape, they now have to find the remaining Horcruxes and the means to destroy them. It is a race against time because Voldemort’s forces are gathering outside and they mean to kill Harry Potter. I think that’s about all I can say without them Death Eater Spoiler Police coming after me.

harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2-20110418003854691_640w The story follows on (not surprisingly) directly from Part 1; there is no “the story so far” bit at the beginning so if you haven’t seen Part 1 then it may all be a bit confusing. As far as performances go, they all did a great job; Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger. Special praise goes to Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort and Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape, I though both were excellent in their difficult roles. Also worthy of a mention were; Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Michael Gambon as Professor Albus Dumbledore, Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood and finally, Warwick Davis as Griphook / Professor Filius Flitwick.

harry-vs-voldemort There are some significant differences from the book, most of which are there to make the story flow better on screen. The only bit I was disappointed about was towards the end where Harry has a particularly stirring speech in the book; this was sadly missing from the film. On a technical level, I cannot fault it, the CGI and effects are all excellent, although much of the time it is very dark (I wouldn’t have liked to see it in 3D). Over all an excellent, and fitting, end to the franchise and one I’m happy to very highly recommend to you.

My score: 9.2/10

IMDb Score: 8.4/10 (68,140 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1201607/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96/100 (256 reviews counted when this review was written).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows_part_2/

5f54ba45ws-hogwarts LINKS:
Official Site: http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthedeathlyhallows/mainsite/index.html
Trailer:

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Film Review: CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE (2010)

catsanddogstherevengeofkittygalore_poster Director: Brad Peyton
Running time: 79 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U

Genre: Action/Comedy/Family
UK Release date: 4th August 2010

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 30th July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I saw the prequel to this, Cats & Dogs (2001), a few years ago and, although I didn’t agree with the sentiments expressed in the film, I kind of liked the way it was done. When this one came up on TV I decided to see if they had made any improvements in the intervening years. Well, I suppose technically, the CGI has improved, but the storytelling most certainly hasn’t! Here’s a brief summary before I really rip into it… I mean, give you my considered opinion.

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Kitty Galore is a bad cat, so bad that she wants to take over the world… Of course the dogs won’t stand for this. And, so it turns out, neither will the cats. For the dogs, there’s a new recruit, Diggs, a former police dog who has a problem following orders. He is partnered with Butch, a veteran agent who really knows the ropes. In their search for Kitty they find a pigeon, Seamus, who holds the key to catching her. They also find another agent, a cat called Catherine whose boss, Tab Lazenby, agrees to work together with the dogs in order to foil Kitty’s evil plan. As they close in on her she begins to put her plan into effect… Will they get to her on time? I guess that’s all I can say or my cats will probably do something nasty to me.

 cats-dogs-the-revenge-of-kitty-galore First of all, the effects and the CGI were all done pretty well, but, at times, looked a bit too overdone. The voices of the main characters were provided by; James Marsden as Diggs, Nick Nolte as Butch, Christina Applegate as Catherine, Katt Williams as Seamus, Bette Midler as Kitty Galore and Roger Moore as Tab Lazenby. All were competent, but I guess it’s hard to give a stellar performance in a film like this.

Kitty Galore2 It all started so well with James Bond style opening credits and even Shirley Bassey singing the song. Unfortunately, it went downhill from here. I know I’m not really the target audience, but I don’t think even the kids will like this one much. It’s almost like the writers were trying to be too clever, rather than relying on the things that work in a kid’s film… visual gags. I was quite glad it wasn’t a particularly long film and by the end I was glad it was over. Unfortunately, not recommended.

My Score: 3.8/10

IMDb Score: 3.6/10 (4,096 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1287468/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 13/100 (93 reviews counted when this review was written).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cats_and_dogs_the_revenge_of_kitty_galore/

Cats and Dogs 2: The revenge of Kitty Galore LINKS:
Official Site: http://catsanddogsmovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/
Trailer:

Monday, 25 July 2011

Film Review: DOLORES CLAIBORNE (1995)

DoloresClaiborne_poster Director: Taylor Hackford
Novel by: Stephen King
Running time: 132 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Drama/Mystery/Thriller
UK Release date: 8th September 1995

Watched on Sky+ Monday 25th July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

As some of you may know, I am a fan of the work of Stephen King and as such I’m interested in film adaptations of his work. Unfortunately, many of them are quite bad, fortunately this isn’t one of those. I hadn’t got round to reading the book before seeing this, but I don’t think that affected my enjoyment of it. King invents such great characters and this is a case in point, some really well rounded characters and a mystery thriller to boot! Who couldn’t ask for more? Here’s a brief summary before I give you my take on it.

Dolores_l We begin with the death of Vera Donovan, a rich old lady who lived alone with her carer, Dolores Claiborne. We find Vera at the bottom of the stairs with Dolores standing beside her, arms raised with a heavy rolling pin in her hands. She expires before Dolores uses it, but on that evidence, it doesn’t look good for her. In New York, Dolores has a daughter, Selena, a journalist, who is faxed a copy of a local news report about the case. She arrives in the small town on an island off the coast of Maine to find her mother at the police station. Detective John Mackey, who is running the investigation is keeping here there because the house she was living in, Vera’s, is now a crime scene. Dolores decides to stay in her own house, the one she had shared with her abusive husband, Joe St. George and Selena, before he died many years before. Detective Mackey had investigated that death too, and had been suspicious that Dolores was responsible, but couldn’t prove it. There is a lot of tension between Dolores and Selena, both have secrets. Secrets that are about to be revealed… I’ll leave it there so them Spoiler Police don’t try to throw me down a well or something.

Dolores Claiborne This is a very well made film that obviously had a decent budget. The sets and locations match the mood perfectly. I admit I was a little disappointed at how dull it all looked at first, but I soon realised that all of the flashback scenes, and there’s quite a few of those, are all in vivid colour. As far as performances go, well I can’t fault Kathy Bates as Dolores Claiborne, she hardly put a foot wrong, a masterful performance! Jennifer Jason Leigh also put in a good turn as Selena St. George, as did Judy Parfitt as Vera Donovan. I should also mention Christopher Plummer as Detective John Mackey and David Strathairn as Joe St. George, both also put in fine performances. John C. Reilly had a minor role as Const. Frank Stamshaw and finally a special mention for Ellen Muth, who did an excellent job as Young Selena in some of the flashback scenes.

0 I really enjoyed this film with its intriguing characters and a plot that always keeps you guessing. It has quite a slow pace and is quite melodramatic, but I didn’t mind that particularly, I was more interested in the characters and the plot. If I have one criticism, it is that it is a little too long and, because of this, it does seem to drag on a bit towards the end. Over all though, a film I very much enjoyed and one I can recommend to you.

My Score: 8.4/10

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (14,832 votes when this review was written).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85/100 (33 reviews counted when this review was written).

normal_doloresclaiborne03 LINKS:
Trailer:

Gig Review: IRON MAIDEN at the Sheffield Arena 24th July 2011

The support act on this leg of this leg of, the third of IRON MAIDEN’s ‘Flight 666’ type world tour: THE FINAL FRONTIER, was Australian band AIRBOURNE. They did a pretty good job of getting the crowd going. Their energetic style suited the big arena pretty well, but once you’d heard a couple of songs you had heard the lot. I hadn’t heard of them before, but they were described to me as an AC/DC tribute act… I can see how that connection was made, with lead singer/guitarist, Joel O’Keeffe’s vocals sounding very like Bon Scott, but their sound is nothing like AC/DC. I must admit that towards the end of their set I did warm to them slightly, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy the new album just yet.

AIRBOURNE ARE: Joel O’Keeffe (Vocals/Lead Guitar) – David Roads (Rhythm Guitar & Vocals) – Justin Street (Bass Guitar & Vocals) – Ryan O’Keeffe (Drums)

Airbourne1 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And so to the main event, the roadies did a good job of quickly dismantling Airbourne’s set and preparing the stage for Iron Maiden. Sections of the set were visible, but well covered up and the main part of the stage was kept hidden behind a very large black curtain. During this period I sneaked off to buy the compulsory t-shirt… Maiden always do really great ones and I was pleased with my purchase.

Iron Maiden1 Not long after re-taking my seat the sound went up with the UFO song ‘Doctor Doctor’ pumping out. The crowd knew something was about to happen and excitement levels grew. The show began with the arena going dark and a video projected onto two screens either side of the stage. This went on for a few minutes while the roadies finished preparing the stage. Cue the end of the video… lights up and IRON MAIDEN are on stage with ‘Satellite 15... The Final Frontier’. Unfortunately this track and the next one ‘El Dorado’ sounded really awful; almost like all the band members were playing different songs. On the plus side, by the time they got to the third track, ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’ these gremlins seemed to have sorted themselves out. I will put a full set list at the end, but needless to say the set included all the classics, a couple of appearances from ‘Eddie’.

Iron Maiden2 I must say that the band put in a great show and it’s always a pleasure to see them, sound gremlins accepted. It was quite interesting to watch Bruce Dickinson when he went off stage. From our seats on the side of the arena we could see part of the back-stage behind the set. He got quite animated at times with some of the roadies… he knew the sound was bad and wanted it sorted out. Good on ya Bruce! Back on stage he ran and jumped all over the set singing the songs with that air-raid siren of a voice of his… It was a great sight to see! The rest of the band had a good time and played all the songs brilliantly. Between each song the back-drop was changed to feature an artwork appropriate to the song… I liked this little touch a lot! The last two songs ‘Fear of the Dark’ and ‘Iron Maiden’ come round all too soon and after a little encouragement they are persuaded to return to the stage, where they conclude the show with ‘The Number of the Beast’, Hallowed be thy Name’ and ‘Running Free’. All brilliant tracks, but, sadly the sound gremlins returned but not as badly as before… Finally we get the traditional closer… Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’.

Iron Maiden3 It’s a show that will stick in my memory for a long time I’m sure… Maiden are always good value. They really care about their fans and it shows. Not so long ago I did a review of the documentary IRON MAIDEN: FLIGHT 666 and I can believe the band is just as dedicated now as they were then. I really enjoyed the show and would very happily see Maiden again… and again.

SET LIST:
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Satellite 15... The Final Frontier
El Dorado
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Talisman
Coming Home
Dance of Death
The Trooper
The Wicker Man
Blood Brothers
When the Wild Wind Blows
The Evil That Men Do
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Running Free
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Iron Maiden4 For those who don’t know… (can’t think who that might be, but anyway)…
IRON MAIDEN ARE: Steve Harris (Bass) - Steve Harris (Rhythm and Lead Guitars) - Dave Murray (Rhythm and Lead Guitars) - Bruce Dickinson (Lead Vocals) - Nicko McBrain (Drums & Percussion) and Janick Gers (Rhythm and Lead Guitars).

Iron Maiden5

(apologies for the grainy photos - AjS)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Film Review: RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (2010)

ResidentEvil-Afterlife_poster Writer/Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Running time: 97 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Action/Horror/Adventure
UK Release date: 10th September 2010

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 24th July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I quite enjoyed the first two films of this series, I found them entertaining as well as having a relatively decent plot line. The third one fell a bit short of the mark and this one, well, let’s say you can tell it was made for the 3D market. It unfortunately has a 15 certificate here in the UK, which is a shame because my 13 year-old nephew would love this kind of thing. To give the film its due, it does do what it says on the tin, and it does it over and over again… But more of my thoughts after this brief summary.

resident-evil-afterlife-023 We begin in Tokyo at the headquarters of The Umbrella Corporation. It is under attack, not from the many zombies they have inflicted on the world, but from multiple copies, clones, of Alice. Showing no mercy she dispatches all that get in her way until she comes face to face with Albert Wesker, the head of the company. He escapes in a plane, only to find the original Alice aboard. The plane crashes and Alice escapes the wreckage. Taking another plane, she heads north, hoping to find ‘Arcadia’, a place that has been transmitting on the radio, advertising itself as a haven. She had sent her friends there at the end of the previous film. She arrives to find nothing… no town, no community, just a field and a beach. A movement catches her eye and she tracks it down, it’s Claire Redfield, one of the people she had sent there. Claire is suffering from memory loss due to a device attached to her chest. Alice removes it and they fly off down the coast. Eventually they find a prison surrounded by thousands of zombies where some survivors are holed up. They include a former basketball star, Luther West, a film producer, Bennett and his intern, Kim Yong and Claire’s brother, Chris. They discover that ‘Arcadia’ is a ship anchored off shore, but how to get there past all those zombies. And when they do, what’s awaiting them? Well, as usual, I’m not going to tell you here… I’ve probably given away too much already and those Spoiler Police will be tracking my movements by satellite as I type.

Resident Evil Afterlife This is very much an action flick, with a heavy emphasis on the action. The plot, well, that’s just a device to get us to the next action sequence, right? As far as performances go, well, it’s quite a physically demanding film and they all coped pretty well with that, acting-wise, well nobody was really stretched, but I will give a few honourable mentions. I love Milla Jovovich as Alice, it’s a role she’s made her own over the years, but I don’t think it’s doing her any favours now. Ali Larter did a decent job as Claire Redfield and Kim Coates played the villainous Bennett very well, I just wish he had more screen time. It was nice to see Wentworth Miller breaking out of prison again, this time as Chris Redfield and Shawn Roberts was suitably sinister as Albert Wesker.

Resident Evil Afterlife As I said at the beginning, you can tell this was made for the 3D market. There are far too many slow-motion seg-ways in the action sequences. This was done back in the day of ‘The Matrix’ and it’s been done to death since! No reason for it here. It seems the director got all his 3D toys out and totally forgot about making a properly scripted and plotted film. It looked like a collection of set-pieces loosely linked together by a rather weak narrative. Unfortunately it’s left wide open for another sequel and I hope they forget about 3D and concentrate on the story for a change. Over all, apart from the annoying slow-motion bits, the action sequences are very well done, as is, for the most part, the CGI. I just wish I could say the same for the plot and the dialogue… Not recommended.

My Score: 4.6/10

IMDb Score: 5.9/10 (43,691 votes when this review was written).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 24/100 (89 reviews counted when this review was written).

Resident Evil Afterlife movie image Milla Jovovich LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1220634/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/resident_evil_afterlife/
Official Site:
http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/residentevilafterlife/
Trailer:

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Film Review: DEVIL (2010)

Devil_poster Director: John Erick Dowdle
Co-Writer/Producer: M. Night Shyamalan
Running time: 77 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Thriller
UK Release date: 17th September 2010

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 23rd July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

The story revolves around a legend about the devil coming to Earth in human form to torment his victims before taking their souls. Now if you buy into that then I guess you’ll find this film a lot creepier than I did. I know that M. Night Shyamalan has had a few duds recently and I guess he was hoping for a little redemption with this one. Well, it’s a step in the right direction, but there are many steps to go yet before he’s going to convince me he’s back on form. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

devil1 After a suicide at the same building, five people get on an elevator which gets stuck between floors. They are a mechanic, an old woman, a young woman, a security guard and a salesman. The building security men know about it and send a maintenance man to try and sort it out. There is something sinister going on and every time the lights blink out in the lift, something bad happens. One of them is killed in what seems to be a bizarre accident and the police are called. Detective Bowden and his partner Detective Markowitz arrive on the scene and take control of the situation. The Fire Department come in but don’t seem to be able to gain entry to the lift shaft; they will have to cut through the wall. All this time strange and frightening things are happening in the lift as one by one, the occupants are killed off. Who will be left…? Who is the Devil? Guess I’d better leave it there.

devil2010 This film reminded me very much of the little known 2008 film Blackout starring Amber Tamblyn and Aidan Gillen (my review here). Devil, however does not have the claustrophobic feel of that one and I think that doesn’t really work in its favour. All the performances were ok, with Chris Messina doing a good job as Detective Bowden. Also worthy of note were; Logan Marshall-Green as the mechanic, Jenny O'Hara as the old woman, Bojana Novakovic as the young woman, Bokeem Woodbine as the security guard and Geoffrey Arend as the salesman.

devil2010ppvrip300mbuni I have read that it’s easy to spot who the devil is from the very start, but I didn’t try to guess. I had my suspicions that changed as the story unfolded, but the reveal did surprise me somewhat. The opening credits I found a little disturbing, flying upside down over Philadelphia is not very pleasant. The music was great though, reminded me of a classic Hitchcock thriller. I guess this one didn’t quite live up to expectations. Although the level of tension is kept pretty high throughout, it didn’t really work for me. Not that it’s a bad movie, it’s well produced, well shot, there are no faults with the acting or direction; I just didn’t buy into the concept behind it all. Over all, Not Recommended.

My Score: 5.6/10

IMDb Score: 6.4/10 (31,493 votes when this review was written).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52/100 (83 reviews counted when this review was written).

Devil-opening LINKS:

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1314655/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/771203480/
Official Site: http://www.thenightchronicles.com/devil/
Trailer:

Film Review: UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Unforgiven_poster Director: Clint Eastwood
Running time: 131 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Western
UK Release date: 18th September 1992

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 23rd July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

As those who have read my stuff before will know, I’m not really big on Westerns; I guess I watched too many of them when I was growing up (they were just about the only films on TV). The Spaghetti Westerns peeked my interest for a while, but there have been very few in recent years that have caught my curiosity. This, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. This is one of the few that I could watch several times over and still get something out of. Clint Eastwood really knows how to tell a story; I suppose while working with the likes of Sergio Leone, something had to rub off. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Unforgiven4 When a whore is cut up by a couple of ranch hands and the local law, Little Bill Daggett, does little or nothing a bout it, the other whores pool their resources in order to get retribution. Word is put out that a bounty of One Thousand Dollars has been put up for the lives of the two perpetrators. A young man calling himself The ‘Schofield Kid’ hears about it but decides he might need some help. He calls on Bill Munny, a former gunfighter and asks him to come out of retirement. Bill is a reformed character, having married and raised a family, but with his wife recently deceased, he is tempted. He sends the kid on his way, but can’t help thinking about it. Eventually he decides to follow and leaves his children to fend for themselves while he’s away. He calls on his old partner, Ned Logan, and persuades him to join them. Meanwhile, back in the town, another gunslinger, English Bob, arrives and is given short shrift by Little Bill, who makes an example of him and sends him on his way. The trio finally arrive in town with Munny suffering from a fever. He is badly beaten up by Little Bill but not before the other two make contact with the whores. They manage to find a hideout where Munny can recover. The question is, will they still have the stomach to do what they came for? I’ll leave it there as I’m sure there are many out there that haven’t seen this and I don’t want a show-down with the spoiler police in my local saloon.

Unforgiven5 As with many Eastwood-directed films, this has quite a slow and deliberate pace, but it is always interesting. I love the way he allows the story to evolve. As usual, an excellent performance from Clint Eastwood himself as Bill Munny. Also great were Gene Hackman as Little Bill Daggett, Morgan Freeman as Ned Logan and Richard Harris as English Bob… but why they picked an Irish actor for the part I’ll never know! Also worthy of note was Jaimz Woolvett as The ‘Schofield Kid’.

Unforgiven-1992-4419 As I’ve already said, the storytelling is excellent and the characters are interesting and hold your attention. I get the impression they were looking for realism in the look of this picture and it does look like what I imagine the Wild West really was like. I just wish they had made the interior shots a little brighter, much of the action takes place at night or indoors and you can believe they are shooting by candle-light in some scenes, it’s so dark! This is the thing that let this one down for me, I was struggling to see who was shooting who in some situations. But that aside, it’s a very fine piece of work and fully deserved it’s 4 Oscars (including best picture) and five other Oscar nominations. This one comes highly RECOMMENDED.

My Score: 8.7/10

IMDb Score: 8.3/10 (116,751 votes when this review was written)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96/100 (56 reviews counted when this review was written)

unforgiven LINKS:

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0105695/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1041911-unforgiven/
Trailer:

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Film Review: JUDGE DREDD (1995)

JudgeDredd_poster Director: Danny Cannon
Running time: 96 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Action/Thriller/Sci-Fi
UK Release date: 21st July 1995

Watched on Sky+ Monday 18th July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I guess I have to class this one as one of my guilty pleasures… at least for the first half of it anyway. The second half; well, to be honest I could take it or leave it really. Based on the character from the 2000AD comic book, this film has both the look and feel of the very same. Even some of the angles used for the cinematography and the sets look like they’ve just been ripped right off the page. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the plot. As I’ve already mentioned, the first half is great, but it gets a bit full of itself about half way through and the third act ends up becoming a bit of a farce. Here’s a brief summary.

mega_city_one_judge_dredd_1995_3 In a long distant future the Earth has become a desolate wasteland known as ‘The Cursed Earth’. People live in Mega-Cities where crime is rife and the only form of justice is meated out by the ‘Judges’, who are Judge, Jury and Executioner (if necessary). Foremost is one Joseph Dredd, he dispenses justice with an iron fist and does not suffer fools gladly. Having been framed for a murder he didn’t commit, he is sentenced to life in prison. His transport is shot down while crossing the Cursed Earth and he is taken by scavengers. He is rescued by Chief Justice Fargo, a retired judge who is to end his days wandering the wastelands. Fargo tells Dredd the truth about himself and about a man he must stop back in Mega City One. Can Dredd get back in time? Will this plot make ever any sense? All these and many more questions are answered in Judge Dredd.

Judge Dredd There is a lot more to the plot that I have outlined here, but I didn’t want to make it more complicated than it already is. Made in the aftermath of films like Star Wars and Superman, the effects in this film are, for the most part, pretty good for the time. There are parts where, by today’s standards, they look a little ropy, but over all, not too bad. Performance-wise, well, Sylvester Stallone was his comic-book best as Judge Joseph Dredd, Armand Assante played the bad guy, Rico, pretty well and Rob Schneider handled the comic relief pretty well too, as Herman ‘Fergee’ Ferguson. Also worthy of note were; Jürgen Prochnow as Judge Griffin, Max von Sydow as Chief Justice Fargo and Diane Lane as Judge Hershey. Oh, and finally a mention for a very brief appearance from Ian Dury as Geiger.

i074030 I don’t quite know just what the makers of this film were thinking as far as the plot goes. As I’ve already said, it starts off really well and then just goes off into a totally wrong direction (IMO). Having said that, I love the look of the film, it looks like it just came fresh off the pages of 2000AD. I guess, for a guilty pleasure, I should have scored it higher than I did, but I just can’t forgive the over-complicated and messy second half… If you’re really into comic-book adaptations they maybe this one is for you… otherwise, I’d give it a miss… Oh, and before you say it… ‘I knew you were gonna say that.”

My Score: 5.1/10

abccombatrobot LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0113492/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/judge_dredd/
Trailer:

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Film Review: EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)

EyesWideShut_poster Co-Writer/Director: Stanley Kubrick
Running time: 159 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Drama/Mystery/Thriller
UK Release date: 10th September 1999

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 17th July 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

This was Stanley Kubrick’s last film and I thought it an apt one for my 400th review. It’s maybe not his greatest work, but you can still see the hand of the master in this one. His attention to detail is second to none and you’ll struggle to find anything out of place in any shot. As for the plot, well, it’s all very psychological and quite complicated, but worth sticking with. If you’re bothered by nudity, which few people are these days, but even so, this one may not be to everyone’s taste. I’ll attempt to give you a brief summary and then some of my thought afterwards.

eyes-wide-shut4 Bill Harford and his wife, Alice, live together with their daughter, Helena, in an apartment in New York. They are quite well off, Bill is a doctor and they enjoy many of the good things in life. And yet they are not happy. After an argument about sexuality, Bill sets out (to put it in basic terms) get laid. Events conspire against him and he fails, but a conversation with a friend, a musician, Nick Nightingale, leads him to a very strange party. Everyone is wearing cloaks and masks and it seems almost everyone is having sex. One of the women there tries to warn him that he may be in danger and he makes to leave, but too late, he is called before their leader to explain himself. Here I will leave my brief summary… Thought I’d leave you on a bit of a cliff-hanger this time.

Eyes Wide Shut At two hours and forty minutes, this is one of the longest movies I’ve seen. It has a very slow and deliberate pace that, at times, can be a little annoying, but stick with it. To be honest, I had to take a little fifteen minute break in the middle or I wouldn’t have made it to the end. The pay-off in the end may not be to everyone’s liking and some my even see it as a let-down, but I thought it was ok.

99 eyes wide shut As far as performances go, well, Tom Cruise proved that he can do more than stupid action/spy movies as Dr. William 'Bill' Harford. And Nicole Kidman put in a great performance as his wife, Alice. Sydney Pollack was good as Victor Ziegler and Todd Field was also decent as Nick Nightingale.

eyes_wide_shut_cruise This film has gained a bit of notoriety for the sex scenes in it and, yes, there are sex scenes but there’s nothing that breaks any decency laws. I found the film hard going in places but stuck with it. The music is really great too; just listen to the music playing in the background in places and you’ll hear some melodies you might just recognise. It’s probably the least favourite of the Kubrick films I’ve seen to date, but it’s still worth a viewing (if you can clear a long enough time-slot)… Recommended.

My Score: 7.3/10

eyeswideshut70 LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0120663/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/eyes_wide_shut/
Official Site: http://eyeswideshut.warnerbros.com/
Trailer: