Sunday, 31 March 2013

Film Review: FOUR BROTHERS (2005)

Four Brothers - poster Director: John Singleton
Writers: David Elliot, Paul Lovett
Running time: 105 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Action/Crime/Drama
UK Release date: 30th September 2005

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 31st March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

This is another of those films that I have a vague recollection of when it came out. I can’t remember how well it was received at the time but I still wanted to give it the once over. It’s quite an interesting film, very gritty and very down to earth; I have to admit I quite liked it. Sadly it seems the critics and many of the public disagree, but hey, we’re all entitled to our opinions. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Four Brothers - 4 When Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan) is killed in what looks like a professional hit her four adopted sons take matters into their own hands. The boys; Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson), Jeremiah (André Benjamin) and Jack (Garrett Hedlund) are soon tracking down leads. The cops in the guise of Lt. Green (Terrence Howard) and Detective Fowler (Josh Charles) try to curb their enthusiasm but the boys are determined. The clues all point to Victor Sweet (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a gangland leader who does not pull his punches when he’s trying to send a message. When the boys end up on the receiving end of one of his ‘messages’ they take matters into their own hands and you know that’s not going to end well.

Four Brothers - 1 The plot is very slow after the initial murder of Evelyn Mercer and this may have put many off. It does, however pick up towards the middle third and by the end it has reached full throttle. The gritty realism of the story is enhanced by the winter scenes on the streets of Detroit. I can’t say I was overly enthused by the choice of music throughout, but then it’s not really my scene man. The performances were all excellent with Mark Wahlberg and Tyrese Gibson taking most of the spotlight, but I thought nobody put a foot wrong throughout. Over all a gritty realistic and sometimes brutal revenge thriller. Maybe a little too slow for some in the beginning but the pace does pick up (I promise).

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 7.2/10.

IMDb Score: 6.8/10 (based on 70,231 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0430105/

MetaScore: 49/100: (Based on 31 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Four Brothers - 6 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 52/100 (based on 131 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 55/100 (based on 367,861 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/four_brothers/

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FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Damian: Call me an ambulance.
Bobby: What? For my Dog bites? Nah, I'll be fine.

Bobby: I wanna make a toast to Evelyn Mercer, the greatest mother four degenerate bastards ever had. Pour me and my brothers another round, and some nice warm milk for my little sister.
Jack: Man, I will drink you under the table.
Bobby: We're not talking about sperm, Jack, this is whiskey.

Four Brothers - 3 Bobby: Jack, it was a questionable kill.
Jack: What makes you think that?
Bobby: Boy, it's sad, you growing up without a father. Nobody taught you anything, did they? Maybe I should've stayed around longer and held your little hand, huh sweetheart? Sometimes pros will cover up their shots with another crime, like a burglary or something, then pay a witness to throw the cops onto the wrong suspect.
Jack: Why would anybody wanna kill the sweetest woman in the God-damn world?
Bobby: I dunno, Jackie. I dunno.

Lt. Green: You keep knocking on the devil's door long enough and sooner or later someone's gonna answer you.

Four Brothers - 5 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Trailer:

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Film Review: BRAVE (2012)

Brave - poster Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman & Steve Purcell
Writers: Brenda Chapman (story/screenplay), Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell & Irene Mecchi (screenplay), Michael Arndt (additional screenplay material)
Running time: 100 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Animation/Action/Adventure
UK Release date: 13th August 2012

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 30th March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I freely admit I’m a fan of the animated feature and in particular the works of the Pixar Studio. But since they’ve been part of the Disney family I can see a definite shift in their style and content. If course they’ll never admit it, but Disney have had an effect on the quality of Pixar’s output in recent years, and it’s not been entirely for the better (IMO). I’ll still watch them though in the hope they’re going to find something of their pre-Disney magic again. And so we come to Brave; it won this years Oscar for best animated feature so it can’t be all that bad I suppose. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Brave - 1 Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a princess, she lives in a castle with her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson), father Fergus (Billy Connolly) and her three little brothers. Merida and her mother don’t always see eye to eye; Elinor wants her to behave more like a princess and Merida would rather go out riding and shooting her bow. It all comes to a head when it revealed that Merida is to be betrothed to the eldest son of one of the three neighbouring tribes. They all come to the castle and Merida is not best pleased when her mother tries to make her choose. She storms out of the castle and into the forest where she finds a mysterious stone circle and some Willo the Wisp that lead her to a cottage where a witch (Julie Walters) lives. Here Merida buys a spell to change her mother; but it doesn’t turn out quite how she expected.

Brave - 6 I first have to praise the animators at Pixar, the film really does look quite stunning, as we’ve come to expect. I will put aside the many historical inaccuracies or I could be here all day; needless to say, a lot of poetic license has been used. There were some really comic moments which I found quite refreshing, but the general narrative was skewed towards a female audience (I felt). Not that that’s a bad thing; I still found myself wrapped up in the story as much as I would have been if it had been a more male orientated work. Over all, it’s very enjoyable with some great comic moments. Definitely one for mothers and daughters rather than fathers and sons, but still worth a look if you have the inclination.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 7.3/10.

IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 111,200 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1217209/

MetaScore: 69/100: (Based on 37 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Brave - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 78/100 (based on 214 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 79/100 (based on 160,330 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/brave_2012/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Young Merida: I saw a Willo the Wisp!
[runs up to Elinor]
Young Merida: [Elinor picks her up and holds her]
Queen Elinor: A Willo the Wisp? You know, some say that Willo the Wisps can lead you to your fate.

Princess Merida: If you had a chance to change your fate, would you?

King Fergus: [in flashback] I saw something that day, something I'll not forget. It stands 12 feet tall, with razor sharp claws. Its hide littered with the weapons of fallen warriors. Its face scared with one dead eye. I drew my sword and...
[cut to the present]
Princess Merida: CHOMP! Dad's leg was clean off!
King Fergus: Awwwwww... That's my favourite part!
[Merida giggles]

Brave - 9 Queen Elinor: Merida, a princess does not set her weapons on the table.
Princess Merida: Mom, it's just my bow!
Queen Elinor: A princess should not have weapons in my opinion.
King Fergus: Princess or not. Learning to fight is essential!

Princess Merida: A Cake?
[witch picks up the cake from the boiling cauldron]
The Witch: Do you not want it?
Princess Merida: No! I want it, but... Are you sure if I give this to my mom, it will change my fate?
The Witch: Trust me, deary. It will do the trick.

Brave - 8 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarBrave
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyPixar
Official Site: http://www.disney.co.uk/brave/
Trailer:

Friday, 29 March 2013

Film Review: LOCKOUT (2012)

Lockout - poster Directors: James Mather, & Stephen St. Leger
Writers: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger & Luc Besson
Running time: 92 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Action/Thriller/Sci-Fi
UK Release date: 20th April 2012

Watched on Sky+ Friday 29th March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

This film got some really bad press on release and that’s probably why I decided to watch it. Well, that plus the fact its set in space with guns and all the stuff we boy like right? Ok, I’ll try to be calm now; I guess expectations were a little too high for this one but I decided it was worth the risk anyway. I must say it didn’t enthral me as much as I thought it would; exciting in parts, but ultimately… I guess I should tell you that part after this very brief summary.

Lockout - 1 When the President of the USA’s daughter, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) is trapped on an orbiting high security prison where the inmates have taken control, there’s only one man to send it to rescue her. He is the recently unfairly convicted Snow (Guy Pearce). He has an ulterior motive and that is that the only man who has evidence that will absolve him is being kept at the same prison. He lands on the station and makes contact with Emilie, who is more concerned with getting the rest of the hostages safe. But it’s not long before the prisoners, led by Alex (Vincent Regan) and his psychotic brother, Hydell (Joseph Gilgun) realise jus who she is and the hunt is on! Add to the mix the good cop, Harry Shaw (Lennie James) and the bad cop Scott Langral (Peter Stormare) and a great game of cat and mouse aboard an orbiting space prison.

Lockout - 6 Whilst watching this I had a nagging feeling I had seen it all before… and I had! It’s ‘Escape From New York’ set is space! The trouble is, it’s not as good as ‘Escape From New York’ despite being set in space. It’s well put together with the exception of the CGI, which looked pretty ropy particularly at the beginning of the film. Performance-wise, well everyone was ok with nobody particularly standing out. I did think Guy Pearce does need to have a word with his agent though, he’s much better than this. Sadly I found it all a little too predictable and although it did have some exciting moments, it didn’t really satisfy.

SteelMonster’s verdict: NOT RECOMMENDED

My score: 5.2/10.

IMDb Score: 6.1/10 (based on 49,729 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1592525/

MetaScore: 48/100: (Based on 32 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Lockout - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 38/100 (based on 123 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 46/100 (based on 160,626 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/lockout_2012/

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http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

FAVOURITE QUOTES:
[first lines]
Langral: Again, what happened in that hotel room?
Snow: Oh, it was coupon night and I was trampolining your wife.
[Snow is punched in the face]
Langral: You're a real comedian aren't you, Snow?
Snow: Well I guess that's why they call it the punch line.
[Snow is punched again]
Langral: You don't like me, do you?
Snow: Don't flatter yourself. I don't like anybody.
Langral: With that attitude, I can see why nobody likes you.
Snow: Oh, come on. People love me. Just ask your wife.
[Snow is punched again]

Lockout - 8 Snow: Don't get me wrong. It's a dream vacation. I mean, I load up. I go into space. I get inside the maximum-security nuthouse. Save the President's daughter, if she's not dead already. Get past all the psychos who've just woken up. I'm thrilled that you would think of me.

Snow: Ok, see here on the map?
Emilie Warnock: Yeah.
Snow: That's where the pod is. You get in it, you fly away. The good guys will come and get you, ok?
Emilie Warnock: On my own?
Snow: You're a big girl, right? Here's an apple and a gun. Don't talk to strangers, shoot them.

Lockout - 2 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lockoutmovie
Official Site: http://www.lockoutfilm.com/
Trailer:

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Film Review: MEN IN BLACK 3 (2012)

Men in Black 3 - poster Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writers: Etan Cohen, Lowell Cunningham (based on the Malibu comic by)
Running time: 102 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Action/Comedy/Sci-Fi
UK Release date: 25th May 2012

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 24th March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I very much enjoyed the first MIB film, the second was still good, but had lost a little and so we come to the third. I guess I watched it in the hope that the critics were wrong; maybe I’ll disagree with them on this one (it does happen). Well I’ll tell you at the end; for now I can tell you its very slick with your two favourite MIB agents back doing what they do best. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Men in Black 3 - 1 When badass alien Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from a maximum security prison on the moon, it can only mean trouble for the MIB. In particular he has a grudge against the man who put him there, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). In order to get his revenge he travels back in time to 1969 and kills the young Agent K, erasing him from history. The trouble is, his partner, Agent J (Will Smith), can still remember him. Realising there’s a time rift problem, their new boss, Agent O (Emma Thompson), sends Agent J back one day before the young Agent K was killed (with me so far?). Back in 1969, Agent J meets up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) and a being called Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), the last of his species, who can see all possible futures. They use his ability to track down Boris… but is it too late? Guess I’d better leave it there or I might say too much!

Men in Black 3 - 3 It’s very well made, very slick and everything we’ve come to expect from an MIB movie. It has been said that Tommy Lee Jones plays the part like he really didn’t want to be there and I can see what they mean; he seems to be just going through the motions in many of his scenes. I thought Josh Brolin did a decent job as the young Agent K and Will Smith played Agent J with his usual panache. I did feel they went for a few too many cheap laughs, but it was good to hear ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ by Status Quo in the Andy Warhol party scene. Maybe not as good as the first one; about on a par with the second… Worth a look if you’re a fan of the franchise; otherwise, I’d give it a miss.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED (just)

My score: 6.5/10.

IMDb Score: 6.9/10 (based on 142,538 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1409024/

MetaScore: 58/100: (Based on 38 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Men in Black 3 - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 70/100 (based on 255 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 72/100 (based on 435,194 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/men_in_black_iii/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

Men in Black 3 - 4 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Agent J: I'm looking for K, have you seen him? Sort of a surly, older gentleman, smiles like this...
[J makes a poker face]
Agent O: K's been dead for over forty years.

[a tasered J wakes up in 1969 MIB headquarters]
Agent J: You have got to turn the voltage down on that thing, I can't feel my tongue!
Young Agent K: How do you know my name?

Men in Black 3 - 8 Young Agent K: Who are you, and what do you know?
Agent J: I'm an agent of Men in Black, but I'm from the future. We're partners, twenty-five years from now you're going to recruit me. And 14 years after, the guy you DIDN'T let me kill at Coney Island he escapes from prison, and jumps back in the past and unleashes a full-scale invasion of Earth. We have about 19 hours to catch him and kill him, so really we need to go right now!
Young Agent K: [deadpan] All right.

Men in Black 3 - 6 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/meninblack3/
Trailer:

Film Review: FISH STORY (2009)

Fish Story - poster

[Original Title: Fisshu Sutôrî]

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Writers: Kotaro Isaka (based upon the novel), Tamio Hayashi (screenplay)
Running time: 112 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Sci-Fi
Japan Release date: 20th March 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 24th March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I’m becoming a bit of a fan of Japanese cinema (well, at least the films that make it onto TV over here). I liked the ideas behind this one when it came up in the listings and so duly set it to record. Almost a week went by before I found a suitable time slot for a viewing and I have to say it was well worth the wait. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense at first but by the end I found it a very satisfying watch. A word of warning for those few out there that still fear the subtitle… it’s not dubbed. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Fish Story - 10 We begin in 2012 with a comet on a collision course with the Earth. In Japan, an old man finds two young men in a record shop checking out some tunes. The streets are deserted; everyone has gone to higher ground fearing the tsunami that will surely come when the comet makes contact… Just five hours to go. The young men start to listen to a rare Japanese punk record (made before the Sex Pistols if you can believe that) called ‘Fish Story’. It has non-sensical lyrics but is strangely compelling. They speculate as to who might be able to save the world in the short time remaining. Little do they know, but the very record they are listening to was the inspiration for the chain of events that leads to salvation. What follows is a series of stories that seem unconnected, but are all related to the song. We even find out why there is one minute of silence part way through the song when we are shown how, and why the record was made. I think that should have intrigued you enough for now.

Fish Story - 1 A very interesting filmmaking style with a series of stories telling the story in flashback. I must admit at first it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it’s worth sticking around because it does improve rapidly when we get to hear the story of how the song was recorded. I found this section of the film the most coherent and the most satisfying; you really cared about the band and what was happening to them. It doesn’t really all come together until the very end, but its well worth waiting for. Yes, it does get a little bogged down in a few places where the narrative gets a little too convoluted, but I can forgive that for the pay-off at the end. One slight niggle (for me) was that the song, ‘Fish Story’, uses a riff that sounds an awful lot like ‘New Rose’ by The Dammed, circa 1976. Other than that, well worth a look!

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.2/10.

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 1,077 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1244666/

MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

Fish Story - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 100/100 (based on 10 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 88/100 (based on 488 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fish-story/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

Fish Story - 11 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
None available.

Fish Story - 7 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Trailer:

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Film Review: THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)

The Elephant Man - poster Director: David Lynch
Writers: Christopher De Vore, Eric Bergren & David Lynch (screenplay), Frederick Treves (book “The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences”), Ashley Montagu (in part on the book “The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity”)
Running time: 124 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): AA

Genre: Biography/Drama
USA Release date: 10th October 1980

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 23rd March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I first saw this film many years ago and since then it’s become quite iconic. There have been many comedy sketches based on the character of John Merrick (The Elephant Man in question); or rather John Hurt’s superb portrayal I should say. There have also been several documentaries about the life of John Merrick and those that shaped his life. Needless to say I thought it about time I gave it another look when it appeared in the TV listings this week. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

The Elephant Man - 6 John Merrick (John Hurt) is a man who has a disfiguring condition that leaves him at the whim of the unscrupulous. These include Bytes (Freddie Jones), who makes money by showing him off to the public as ‘The Elephant Man’. But when surgeon Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) comes across him in a travelling show, he takes pity on him and takes him in. He lives at the hospital where Treves works, where he learns to speak and is soon turns out that he is actually quite intelligent. The head of the hospital, Carr Gomm (John Gielgud) agrees to let him stay and even see’s off Bytes when he comes around looking for his ‘golden goose’. Merrick continues to improve and even has visits from the great and the good; including actress, Mrs. Kendall (Anne Bancroft). But we haven’t heard the last of Bytes quite yet, and with the unwitting assistance of the night porter (Michael Elphick), he gets back into the hospital… and it’s on that cliff-hanger I’ll leave it.

The Elephant Man - 1 Filmed entirely in black and white I found this quite an interesting take on John Merrick’s story. Of course a lot of poetic license is used, but the essence of the man and his story are there. I have to admit I love John Hurt’s performance; I can’t imagine anyone else getting that much emotion through so many prosthetics! Of the other performers, I thought Freddie Jones as the side-show entrepreneur was excellent also. Over all, although it does have its faults, I did enjoy this one; it’s quite poignant in places and you find yourself really touched by John Merrick; a little over-long, but well worth a look.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.1/10.

IMDb Score: 8.3/10 (based on 98,714 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0080678/

MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

The Elephant Man - 8 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 91/100 (based on 34 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 90/100 (based on 61,440 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1006527-elephant_man/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
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The Elephant Man - 5 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Bytes: Life!... is full of surprises. Consider the fate of this creature's poor mother, struck down in the fourth month of her maternal condition by an elephant, a wild elephant. Struck down!... on an uncharted African isle. The result is plain to see... Ladies and gentlemen... The terrible... Elephant... Man...

Carr Gomm: Can you imagine the kind of life he must have had?
Dr. Frederick Treves: Yes, I think I can.
Carr Gomm: I don't think so. No one could possibly imagine it! I don't believe any of us can!

Mothershead
: Sir! I don't quite... I don't quite understand why it is you allow that sort of people in there.
Dr. Frederick Treves: Why? Because he enjoys it, and I think it's very good for him.
Mothershead: Yes, but, sir, you saw the expression on their faces. They didn't hide their disgust. They don't care anything about John! They only want to impress their friends!
Dr. Frederick Treves: I think you're being rather harsh on them, don't you, Mrs. Mothershead?
Mothershead: I beg your pardon!
Dr. Frederick Treves: You yourself hardly showed him much loving kindness when he first arrived, did you?
Mothershead: I bathed him, I fed him, and I cleaned up after him, didn't I? And I see that my nurses do the same. And if loving kindness can be called care and practical concern, then I did show him loving kindness, and I am not ashamed to admit it!

The Elephant Man - 7 John Merrick: There's something I've been meaning to ask you for some time now.
Dr. Frederick Treves: What's that?
John Merrick: Can you cure me?
Dr. Frederick Treves: No. We can care for you, but we can't cure you.
John Merrick: [matter-of-factly] No. I thought not.

John Merrick: I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!

The Elephant Man - 3 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Trailer:

Monday, 18 March 2013

Film Review: THE RAVEN (2012)

The Raven - poster Director: James McTeigue
Writers: Ben Livingston, Hannah Shakespeare
Running time: 107 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
UK Release date: 9th March 2012

Watched on Sky+ Monday 18th March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

To be honest, I can’t remember how this one ended up on my ‘To See’ list, but it is definitely there. I guess I must have been intrigued by the premise of it all. Sadly it doesn’t quite live up to expectations, but it does have a few good points amongst all the bad stuff on show. Here’s a very brief summary before I tell you just what I’m talking about.

The Raven - 3 The opening title card states “On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found, near death, on a park bench in Baltimore, Maryland. The last days of his life remain a mystery.” And this film gives an account of one of the many possible scenarios’ that lead to him sitting there. A series of murders based on Poe’s work have been committed and Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) himself is brought in to assist Detective Fields (Luke Evans) in his investigation. The gruesome murders are used initially to get Poe’s attention but then his fiancée, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) is kidnapped and things take a much more sinister turn. The following set of murders give clues to where Emily might be hidden… But can they unravel them in time? I think I’ll leave it there; don’t want to give the game away now.

The Raven - 8 On the plus side, it’s a pretty well made film with all the technical stuff, costumes and sets done very well. On the downside, the dialogue is terrible with everyone trying to sound like they’re straight from a Poe story or poem; it really didn’t work for me I’m afraid. This did have one positive side effect though; it gave John Cusack the opportunity to do some excellent scenery chewing over-acting; which I found quite funny in places. Sadly it’s a film that promised much but failed to deliver. I found I had no connection with any of the characters. I have not read much Poe and so I didn’t get many of the many nods to his work. Over all; quite disappointing.

SteelMonster’s verdict: NOT RECOMMENDED

My score: 5.3/10.

IMDb Score: 6.3/10 (based on 41,775 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1486192/

MetaScore: 44/100: (Based on 30 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

The Raven - 6 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 23/100 (based on 128 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 47/100 (based on 98,688 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_raven_2012/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
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The Raven - 1 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
[first title card]
Title Card: On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found, near death, on a park bench in Baltimore, Maryland. The last days of his life remain a mystery.

Edgar Allan Poe: What's going on?
Detective Fields: I'm Detective Fields. Please, sit down, Mr. Poe.
Edgar Allan Poe: Yes. The infamous Detective Fields. Am I under arrest?
The Raven - 4 Detective Fields: No... not just yet.
Edgar Allan Poe: Then I'd rather stand! It makes it easier to leave!

Maddux: I believe that God gave him a spark of genius and quenched it in misery. But as far as something like this... The only thing he's ever killed is a bottle of brandy.

Edgar Allan Poe: Her innocence was the first part of her soul to die.

The Raven - 7 LINKS:
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Trailer:

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Film Review: THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER (1989)

The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover - poster Writer/Director: Peter Greenaway
Running time: 124 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Drama
UK Release date: 13th October 1989

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 17th March 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have to admit I knew very little about this film before viewing it. I had a vague recollection of it causing a bit of a stir amongst the critics on release, but other than that I just thought it had a pretty cool title. I guess I was expecting a bit of a period piece, maybe set in the 1700’s or something; I couldn’t have been more wrong! Although very theatrical in presentation, which I liked very much, it’s very contemporary. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover - 1 All of the action centres around a restaurant run by head chef, Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer). The owner, a bawdy ignorant man is the thief, Albert Spica (Michael Gambon), who dines there every night with his wife, Georgina (Helen Mirren) and his regular crew of henchmen. Now Georgina, who is very badly treated by Albert, has taken a lover, another diner at the restaurant, Michael (Alan Howard). They sneak liaison’s between courses and are aided in this by the chef, but it’s only a matter of time before Albert finds them out at which point things become very interesting indeed… I’ll leave it there as revenge is a dish best served cold.

The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover - 3 I love the visual style of this film; it’s very theatrical but with huge backdrops; some of the scenes in the restaurant almost look like they’re filmed in an aircraft hanger. The use of colour is quite brilliant, even down to the actor’s costume changing colour as they move from room to room. I thought the music fitted the piece quite brilliantly too (aside from the operatic stuff – those that have seen it will know what I’m referring to). All the performances were excellent; in particular Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon; they both really shone in this one! It’s certainly one I’ll be seeing again sometime and one I heartily recommend although some may find certain scenes distasteful (definitely not for the youngsters!).

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.9/10.

IMDb Score: 7.4/10 (based on 18,446 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0097108/

MetaScore: No data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).

The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover - 7 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 90/100 (based on 39 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 72/100 (based on 20,454 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cook_the_thief_his_wife_and_her_lover/

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FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Albert: What you've got to realize is that the clever cook puts unlikely things together, like duck and orange, like pineapple and ham. It's called 'artistry'. You know, I am an artist the way I combine my business and my pleasure: Money's my business, eating's my pleasure and Georgie's my pleasure, too, though in a more private kind of way than stuffing the mouth and feeding the sewers, though the pleasures are related because the naughty bits and the dirty bits are so close together that it just goes to show how eating and sex are related. Georgie's naughty bits are nicely related, aren't they, Georgie?

The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover - 8 [speaking of Albert, the thief]
Michael: Where is he now?
Georgina: He's eating avocado vinaigrette and prawns... with his fingers.

Georgina: Yes! He's a man. He's Jewish and he's from Ethiopia!
Albert: What?
Georgina: His mother is a Roman Catholic, he's been imprisoned in South Africa, he's as black as the ace of spades and he probably drinks his own pee!

Georgina: Bon appétit. It's French...

The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover - 6 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Trailer: