Reviews & Rants, Films for You?
- Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb
[30/december/2014] Score: 6/10
A third trip around the magic circle that is the wonder of the museum but all is going horribly wrong as the magic tablet’s batters are being drained and need fixing. The only way to do this is make a wild visit to London, home of those magnificent, ancient monuments known as Red Double-Decker Buses, to doscover what’s been going wrong, and embark on a series of silly, childish and magical adventures along the way.
Great for every child-at-heart with a couple of twisted cameos along the way at Camelot this ample fills the time with its usual adventures of animated wax dolls and all the other exhibits.
Verdict: Come alive with this magic.
- Exodus: Gods And Kings
[30/december/2014] Score: 6/10
A legendary and totally ficticious tall tale told by those ancient terrorists the Hebrews about a wonderful country called Egypt torn apart by two battling brothers in the names of even more brutal, petty and very very childish “gods” fighting for the souls of mankind with endless rivers of blood and brutality, slaughter and sacrifice.
So nothing’s changed there in the last five thousand years.
If you accept that this is nothing but ancient propaganda and treat it as the over-blown silly story it deserves then enjoy the show, but don’t take the lessons home with you.
Verdict: Peace brothers, peace.
- The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
[13/december/2014] Score: 8/10
If you’ve seen one titanic battle with dwarves, orcs, elves, humans and a score and more of other weird and wonderful creatures, then you’ve seen them all, and probably still suffering from all the battering you’ve received.
Here we find our plucky Hobbit struggling to survive amidst all the usual confusion and drama of battlefield butchery while finding himself playing an instrumental role trying to find a peaceful solution before all hell of special effects are let loose on your eardrums.
Somewhere deep within the hearts of men, and all the other thingies, there is a yearning for peace, gold and blood. Somewhere there is a solution.
Oh, and read the novel for an alternative, and how Bilbo Baggins takes a treasure chest home with him.
Verdict: Go, battle through to the end.
[29/november/2014] Score: 8/10
Likely to be a little eccentric for many outside the UK the adventures of Paddington, a small Peruvian bear visiting the UK, hold a special place, next to the marmalade, in the hearts of many children, and this interpretation should take them happily deep into Paddington’s very particular world.
I felt there were a few jokes and elements which may go over their head, one line grown-up gags about environmentalists, that they wouldn’t understand, but overall, especially when Paddington and adopted friends is let loose on tricky problems, like how best to ride an escalator, the correct way to use a toothbrush and bathroom maintainance, this will entertain everyone.
Verdict: Station your children at this stop.
- What We Do In The Shadows
[24/november/2014] Score: 8/10
There is a unique humour down under in Australia and New Zealand that should only be absorbed in small doses or it’ll kill you with laughter. A bit like a vampire lurking in the shadows of your bedroom, waiting patiently to pounce on you just when you weren’t looking.
If you think of Twilight as the high end culture of elegant vampires gracefully luring young innocent virgins to their doom and a good party-for-one, then this is the other end of the scale, with a group of misfits muddling through thousands of years on the outskirts and just doing their “thing”.
Seen from that ever-popular point of view of the plucky documentary film crew who’ve managed to agree a truce on being eaten, they are filmed in all their gory alongside the other “dark kind”, werewolves, zombies, etc., building up to their grand annual ball.
I recommend you take a friend with you to bite down on their shoulder if you need to stifle your laughter.
Verdict: Horribly good humour.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
[20/november/2014] Score: 8/10
In the strange, isolated world of PanAm (no, I don’t know what happened to Europe, maybe it was in the books) grown-up Katniss and her amazing twanging bow have to confront the politics of rebellion. No longer is this a “game” but the serious work of war when thousands are murdered at the whim of Presidents bent on domination and armies and heroes ready follow their command.
Verdict: Game over, now the reality.
- The Drop
[18/november/2014] Score: 10/10
A lean intense and tense story that spares the fluff and nonsense of spectacle in favour of a tight community wrapped around one focal location and the events it inspires. Forget cop chases and all the sci-fi nonsense of crime scene investigations, this is street life in the cold raw indifference of the world that has little care for compassion, and yet, a thick vein of gentleness and compassion, of the faintest glimmer of love for others dose blossom even here.
Verdict: Drop things to visit this.
- The Imitation Game
[14/november/2014] Score: 10/10
One player in this tale describe it at “The Avengers in cardigans”. The true superheroes of World War Two who unravelled the enemy’s codes and potentially saved millions of lives and then faded into history. forget the big names of politicians and generals, here are the real leaders of a new age.
Verdict: Inimitable deeds.
[7/november/2014] Score: 8/10
A bold and visionary work that harks back to the likes of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Contact”, “Solaris” and other science fiction films that take the audience on journeys beyond their normal experience.
Combining a variety of familiar elements and themes from the modern world about the unity and love of family struggling against a world going mad or coming to an end this strives to offer some hope for a better future through a leap in science.
As with any such story there are a lot of ideas which have to be taken as face value and not questioned too deeply. The mysterious “them” who appear to have set up the whole rescue-of-humanity, the idea of the whole world, of America, turning against science and that only NASA and NASA alone, can save the world, ignoring the majority of the human race outside the prairies of middle America.
Apart from that it’s a dramatic journey through a range of scientific themes that will both educate and entertain any receptive audience.
Verdict: A new odyssey for a new generation.
[2/november/2014] Score: 10/10
Avoiding the temptation to get “personal” with moments of humanity and intimacy this follows the rise and rise of one intensely-focussed, ambitious and immoral newcomer to the ruthless world of video journalism/voyeurism. Totally detached from normal humanity, but representative of a ruthless ideal of competitive drive in our modern world this is mesmerisingly cold with black humour from the start with a character you don’t really want to like but really have to admire for his open honest approach to success in the world.
A superb exercise in ambitious career drive, just hope that it’s not taken literally by anyone out there.
Verdict: A creepy crawler.
[31/october/2014] Score: 5/10
At moments the musical score suggests strong hints of the Twilight tales and the gradual twists and turns towards its conclusion leads you into that arena of young adult mysticism, but in the end it’s excess of sloppy romance and finality leads you to a dead end from which there is no escape. What might have made an interesting series, even a future TV show(?), turns out to be an average, innovative exploration of the emotions of loss and a suburban detective story with demonic twists.
I think the humour of the situation might have been played up a little more, or its potential for horror explored with more intensity.
An average tour of the urban fantasy world.
Verdict: On the horns of a dilemma about its direction, heaven or hell?
[25/october/2014] Score: 7/10
If you want more loud and noisy war movies with Brad Pitt then here’s your next dose in the Pitts.
The “traditional” war movie of the slightly-more-innocent-and-intellectual “writer” dumped into the heart of darkness with “real men” led by an insightful, exhausted, intelligent Sergeant, struggling to keep them all alive, as they confront their demons, both internally and externally and uncover the ancient truths that “war is hell”.
So there you have it in a sentence. There is one brief moment when it all comes to a single sentence spoken by Pitt The Angry, but I don’t remember what it was, it was good though. As for humour, which all soldiers will tell you is a prerequisite of survival, the writer missed that target.
Verdict: Furiously noisy, not a carry-on film.
- Book Of Life
[25/october/2014] Score: 5/10
Noisy, not a war movie (see Fury above), but a noisy one for children that has its own form of battle and entertainment for noisy children. Bright, colourful, exotic characters, story, action and adventure hurtling you along in a break-neck pace from one new moment to the next with barely time to catch your breath or absorb it all.
This is one that could deserve many revisits, or lots, and lots, and lots of viewings at home as this will likely happen in many families. But there are problems, so many loud, brash, colourful, noisy characters, settings, scenes, actions and events, and more, and more thrown at you it’s almost impossible to handle and make sense of it all.
The usual problem arises when comments, characters, settings or jokes are clearly intended for adult Americans and will go right over the heads of everyone else.
Verdict: A book that needed editing?
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
[12/october/2014] Score: 6/10
Screaming Turtles Batman!
There was a moment in this film, towards the end, when I suddenly realized where I’d seen this before. The climatic sequence and evil plot looks like it was taken directly from “The Amazing Spider-Man” given a quick flip around and polish then recycled here. That lack of originality was enough to query the rest of what I’d just been watching.
For enthusiastic and silly fun for children this will be a great adventure; but if you have seen enough superhero films then you may want something more to prevent you asking questions about silly actions of the human characters and their motivations.
Verdict: Cowabungathemoney in my pocket!
- The Maze Runner
[11/october/2014] Score: 6/10
Another young adult, post-apocalyptic film of teenagers struggling against mysterious odds with adult conspiracies lurking in the hidden shadows of a huge maze where they, the teenagers, are tested to destruction until they can find a way out of the maze or the answer to it all.
It relies on standard elements, the intelligent teens treated only as side-kicks for the bold, adventurous but stupid ones who make a sudden appearance to save the world with their magically endowed “special talent”.
As with many of these it’s part of a trilogy which is likely to unfold over four films to squeeze the money and your patience.
Verdict: A big runaround, to where?
- Dracula Untold
[7/october/2014] Score: 5/10
Looking like it was lifted straight from a comic book (I don’t know I didn’t bother to go look into it), this alternate history of Count Dracula’s origins offers a new tragically sympathetic origin to the monster’s appearance.
Obviously well-drawn from the original source, this is a slow, weary descent into hell as one man hopes to save his kingdom from other, equally monstrous forces of history devouring the nations. Despite this source it still appears shallow, with an excess of glamorous historic costumes and less texture in the characters. A problem is that we already know the story, the tragedy, the battles, the conclusion, so it leaves us with little new or unique to tell us.
Verdict: Deserves a small bite of your time, no more.
- Gone Girl
[7/october/2014] Score: 8/10
Cool girl has her revenge against men, their weak stupidity and expectations of something bigger, until it devours them all.
A cool, slow, deliberate destruction of a couple who appear on the surface to have a good life and relationship, but all the cool pretences are surface glamour over twisted minds confronted with the failure of their dream lives as murder raises its ugly head in the sweet suburbs of America for the entertainment of the media circus.
Verdict: Cool, it’s murder.
- Magic In The Moonlight
[21/september/2014] Score: 8/10
An exquisite and gay little romantic romp in Southern France during those gay little days between the two great wars following the romantic tale of a magician uncovering illusion and delusion amongst the gay set. If you want serious meaning then you’re better looking elsewhere, but for a light and breezy romp, with the lightest of touches and almost no message for the modern world other than the endless battle and victory of romance over cynicism then here’s where you can come and stay a while.
- A Most Wanted Man
[20/september/2014] Score: 8/10
In sharp grey and murky contrast to clean black and white simplicity of “The Giver” (below) here we have a return to the Cold War era style of European spy drama where no one is what or whom they appear and friends and allies are often more likely to destroy you than your enemies. Only a handful of taut and fraught “old school” agents are left to struggle against modern politics to maintain some kind of sense in a wilderness of chaos.
A man appears in their view, is he enemy, a friend, neutral? What does he want and how can he be stopped? Does he pose a threat or an opportunity? How to handle him and the internal and external politics that swirl around his arrival and the events he sets in motion? And what will they achieve in the end?
There were a few hiccups along the way and some of the story is flawed, when key questions are never asked about his motivation but overall this is a good return to the “real” world we may often forget in the endless stream of spandex-empowered, tin-suited super heroes.
Verdict: A most necessary tale.
- The Giver
[20/september/2014] Score: 6/10
Once you’ve seen one young adult rebellion against suffocating conformity you’ve probably seen them all and this one just takes a familiar trip through the same country. If you enjoy these stories or want another journey in these fields of uniform imagination then it’s all the more enjoyable, but when they are beginning to take on a predictable conformity you feel the need to rebel and go watch something more down-to-earth and gritty.
In this case the scene differs only in that the principal protagonist is male instead of the more common girl lead. The usual issues abound, a post-apocalyptic world, the need for social conformity, a deep secret hidden for all but the highest members of society and which must be exposed to give everyone a chance to be “free” to go back to the good old days of vicious murder and mayhem which cause the apocalypse in the first place. Only in America, the rest of the world is not involved.
As for the trick ending, where some kind of magical technology is involved to offer an instant resolution, perfect to satisfy the needs for an audience’s instant gratification but nowhere near a more mature reality they ought to be learning.
Verdict: Rebel, again.
- A Walk Among The Tombstones
[19/september/2014] Score: 8/10
Hollywood misogyny and the old school of downbeat private eyes skulks through the shadows of NY,NY in this down-to-earth detection of murderous psychopathic kidnappers high on the joy of sadism. A lean story with no attempt at glamour in the winter ashen grey-lit skies of NY, NY this make no attempt at anything but the journey and possible redemption of one lone man in a cold wilderness.
Verdict: Walk this way, if you dare.
- In Order Of Disappearance
[17/september/2014] Score: 8/10
You have to appreciate that very special Scandinavian taste for wickedly bleakly black comedy and drama with a surreal twist and a pinch of snow, or someone in need of a fix of Scandidrama after “The Killing” and “The Bridge”.
So here is your fix of the month as one man blunders and bludgeons through a revenge against killers of his son in an increasingly bloody fashion, leaving a trail of blood and snow across the winter wonderland.
Verdict: Ploughs through murder and revenge with determined directness.
- Sin City 2: A Dame To Die For
[25/august/2014] Score: 6/10
I needed to feel the bite of a chill wind through my soul, so took a trip down to Sin City to hear what Marve and the girls of Old Town had to say to me.
It was a brutal journey, traffic was tough and the bullets flew like raindrops in a storm, blood flowed, men died like flowers cut by the wind and women screamed for justice from the muzzle of a gun.
Souls were torn apart that night as even the most innocent beauty was twisted all to hell and burnt with a fury that could only be quenched in violence.
So, nothing new then.
Verdict: Same Old Town tales, same old blood on the same old streets. Death and a Dame.
[23/august/2014] Score: 9/10
The evolution of a girl into.. what?
If you want your shoot-up stories told with energy, a spark and intelligence then this is your best choice of the season. Forget mindless thuggery, this throws in an intellectual debate and a racing exploration into how much and how little we make of the real, deep potential of our lives as one young woman is lured into working as a drug mule for a ruthless cartel in the Far East.
Exploited by a crooked boyfriend she’s subjected to a brutal transformation into something new, a human on a path of self-evolution.
Anyone who’s been a long enthusiast for Luc Besson films with strong bold women, whether in Nikita or Leon will enjoy this race through a thousand million years of evolution in less than twenty-four hours in Lucy’s own personal leap in evolution. Dramatic action of the Besson School is mixed with a serious in-depth study in what it means to undergo such a transformation as Lucy becomes increasingly detached from her past identity will overwhelmed by everything that’s happening to her.
If you want a break from male spandex superheroes then this is your best option for the year. I won’t spoil it, go see for yourself and tell everyone.
Verdict: Wake up, use your potential.
- The Expendables 3
[15/august/2014] Score: 5/10
Shoot, shoot, bang, bang, chase, pub, conspiracy, race, shoot, shoot, bang, bang, ka-boom, ka-boom, bang, bang, shoot, shoot, sho-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot, bang-g-g-g-g-g, ka-BOOM, race, chase, shoot, shoot, ka-boom, fight, run, race, fight, shoot, bang, knife, leap, shoot, shoot, bounce, roll, run, shoot, KA-BOOM! Pub.
Verdict: Expend your time and shoot off to see this bang-on bag of bullets before it goes off if you like a “traditional” action film.
- Guardians Of The Galaxy
[1/august/2014] Score: 9/10
There is this galaxy and it need help from these weird dressed-up weirdos who want to smash it all with a big hammer and stuff, but need a magic thingy that will make everyone die.
So another bunch of traditional weird misfits become this really cool gang to bash the other weirdos and save the galaxy from being bashed.
Where other Marvel Comic Universe films will have been at least reasonably familiar to non-comicbook audiences, well-grounded on Earth and in the modern, familiar world, this is the first major venture away from Earth, a leap of faith from the studio that the audience will accept all the costumes, the weirdness and the spaced-out attitudes in everything written bigger, bolder, badder.
It works because despite all the outer space weirdness it remains grounded in an ordinary boy from Earth who becomes one of the traditional unlikely heroes and keeps us all connected through his eyes. If it were not for that thread of familiarity this might have been more of a struggle to accept. Even so it does rush you through so many themes and situations of wonder and weirdness it will take a few sittings to absorb it all, just in time for the sequel in a couple of years.
Verdict: Spaced out dudes.
- Begin Again
[23/july/2014] Score: 10/10
For maturity, for artistry, for inspiration, romance and grown-up drama with love, hope and beauty, this scores highly as two people with failed relationships find each other in their love and their passion for music and begin their lives anew with a journey through that modern city of brash romance New York.
Verdict: Watch again and again to renew your love for life.
- Transformers: Age Of Extinction
[5/july/2014] Score: 8/10
They’re back, the big, noisy, huge, really loud, mindlessly confusing and mysteriously repetitive robot-creature-thingies, and this time they’re bigger, noisier, louder, huger… well, you get the idea. Moving on from the first trilogy this begins what appears to be another launch of transformers on the poor old humans who still don’t get the idea that big robots mean trouble, until it’s too late.
Once again we have the core fun features of sexy girls, bit robots (did I mention them?) and case, with added guns and quirky humour that livens up what would otherwise be a really boring story.
Fortunately that story scampers along like a cute little gigantic robot dinosaur eating a small city.
Verdict: More new paint job than complete transformation.
[24/june/2014] Score: 9/10
Socialists will hate this story about wealthy, powerful and influential people changing society for the better.
Based on the true story of that time in Britain when social position and slavery were rigidly established but people were becoming just that more willing to question the morality of slavery while struggling to act with the suffocating bounds of Good Social Order.
Here is the story of a wealthy landed loving father whose daughter is born of an African woman and former slave and whom he then arranges, with compassionate pleas, to be raised by his brother, a powerful influence in the British establishment.
Through their compassion, sense of duty to Family, irrespective of skin colour, and her presence, it is suggested she and their love of her influenced a small change in the course of British law that would eventually lead to the abolition of slavery.
- Jersey Boys
[21/june/2014] Score: 6/10
Musical true story following the birth of “The Four Seasons” singing group in the 1960s. At times it appears to be styled more like a singing version of Goodfellas as we’re taking behind the glamour to learn a little about these four young men struggling on the fringes of gangster society and trying to break free with their only asset – four great singing voices.
Verdict: Sparkling grit.
- A Million Ways To Die In The West
[4/june/2014] Score: 7/10
Makes a change from superhero movies, a “sub-hero” (TM), the cowardly idiot out of his time who, by the grace of totally blind luck, happy happenstance and a Good Woman by his side manages to overcome all the odd as against his survival in a world where men were real men, and normally had a lifespan of about twenty-five years.
Lewd, crude and rude in unequal but lavish measures this does nothing for the romance of The West but a lot for relieving us of the potential tedium and boredom of yet another “blockbuster” SF movie of spandex superheroes.
Verdict: A million laughs.
- Edge Of Tomorrow
[31/may/2014] Score: 9/10
Another great original SF film in a time when there are so many comicbook sagas attempting to flood our minds. Not totally original, then nothing is ever truly original, as it recalls Groundhog Day in its- ever-repeating day theme and so many battleground man v. alien SF video games, but leap quickly past these points and find yourself swept along in great idea told very well with boundless playful energy and a maturity that transcends many other comicbook stories.
The story is simple enough, alien invasion by those regular visitors, the Big Bad Bugs, and the struggles of an unprepared mankind to face this new War Of The Worlds. Except that this time the virus to bring down the enemy infects one man and one woman who will bear the brunt of this monstrous war.
Handled well and coolly by both the leads I can’t help but think there here is a worthy successor to Ripley.
Verdict: Edge of your seats all the way. Full Metal B-
[30/may/2014] Score: 8/10
Another of the recent generations’ retelling of old fairy tales with new twists and angles. This time Sleeping Beauty from the “evil” witch’s point of view as a troubled young woman who goes raving bonkers when “true love’s kiss” turns bitter.
A wonderful experience to show all children that the world is not pure black and white, that in every dark shadow another story lurks.
Verdict: This will have wings.
- X-Men: Days Of Future Past
[24/may/2014] Score: 8/10
There is a great point about all the comicbooks in America that you can reboot the entire series, character, universe every few years to refresh it or make up for old mistakes, and this is the new reboot of X-Men to realign it around a subtly new history. But first the battle for the future of men’s past.
In the future, with the ultimate problem of an enemy you cannot defeat in the form of the Sentinel robots the only answer facing the super mutants of man’s future evolution is to go back into the past and stop it all ever arising.
This results in some interesting opportunities to look back on and alter the destinies of leading characters and confront them with their own fates and the fate of the world in the hands of rogue super robots bent on exterminating everything in their path.
Here the humour of confusion is extracted at every opportunity along with the tragic mistakes in the birth of the X-Men as seen in “First Class”, here is a chance to change the future and wipe out most of what we’ve seen in previous X-Men films.
For most comicbook enthusiasts this will be an acceptable norm, for the rest of the audience and critics a new experience dipping into the murky waters of parallel and alternatives rebooted universes. Perhaps this time around it’ll be a better experience for all concerned.
Verdict: Superhuman feat facing and fixing past mistakes.
[17/may/2014] Score: 6/10
Well, here we have the long-awaited Godzilla, god of monsters, trampling around the screen, and what do we have?
A spectator sport, as three giant monsters trash a few cities while the little, tiny, silly, helpless humans watch on and cheer their home team.
And that’s the most and least of it, with weak attempts at engaging you through human interest stories that are both tragically predictable and not engaging enough to keep you moving on throughout the story.
I suspect part of this was the sheer size of the monsters in the background and the supporting cast of spectators in the foreground, your attention is thrown from on to the other and back again as you’re hurled across the Pacific in a chase to save the world while actually leaving it up to the monsters to decide the fate of mankind. And do you really care in the end as we all know who the true hero is here?
Verdict: Go, Team Godzilla, Go!
- The Other Woman
[10/may/2014] Score: 7/10
I think you have to be a woman or have one on-hand as interpreter-between-the-lines to enjoy all the subtle and daft humour in this tale of three women each discovering they’ve all been duped by one man. I know because the majority of the audience, female, were giggling through most of it and the antics of each character as she discovered and reacted, or over-reacted, to the truth.
Certainly worth a visit and something to add to your girlie DVD collection.
Verdict: Girls doing it for themselves and doing it to men.
[7/may/2014] Score: 5/10
Basically a gang of young “cheeky” boys rob and thieve their way through the latest wonderful recession of Little England struggling to survive student debts, the prospect of a lifetime spent never fulfilling their ambitions and seeing all the unachieveable glitter and gold dangled before their faces.
Supposedly based on a true story this follow the well-trod path of many another London gang getting one-up on the toffs.
If there’s a problem it’s perhaps the overly loud gun battle that concludes the action and the ever-so silly comicbook characters in the opposition.
Verdict: A gold card transaction.
- Blue Ruin
[7/may/2014] Score: 7/10
In keeping the the recent moods of post-boom American, down in the depths of despair the struggles of one man bursts out of his own depression at his parents’ deaths when he embarks on an out-of-control path of vengeance against those he believes killed them.
Don’t expect anything deeply sympathetic about the characters but do find an understanding about an ordinary man on a course of action he barely controls.
Verdict: There are no heroes, no justice, just people.
[25/april/2014] Score: 10/10
Ignoring all the negative comments I was delighted to see, at long last, a grown up science fiction and partial post-apocalyptic film. If you imagine stories like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” and try to envision the events that led up to such world disasters, then here is an intelligent, adult, not teenage, story of such a world and how it came about.
Combining the drama of scientific discovery, of love, and passion to change the world, with the fear of change and religious zeal of anti-scientific culture terrified of change, this explores all the issues of progress in a mature fashion that will pass most audiences by.
Mix in themes like terrorism and the highest levels of mass communications technology and you have an excellent study in what might happen in the future.
The criticisms in the media over Johnny Depp’s performance can be thrown aside if you accept that his role calls for a near-cold, clinical style through most of the film and he pulls the subtleties of humanity underlying overpowering technology very well.
Verdict: Transcend your doubts and watch it before it vanishes like a wisp in the air.
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
[19/april/2014] Score: 10/10
There is a moment in here that change the history of comic books and the team here haven’t drawn back from this wonderful fledgling romance confronting the forces rising to conspire against Spider-Man’s fame and crime-fighting successes.
This is not a superhero film, but more playful romance and coming-of-age as young man confronts adult issues and struggles to deal with them as best as he can.
Verdict: Shocking and wonderful.
[11/april/2014] Score: 6/10
Someone loves the books, but the film feels like another attempt to cash in on the many other “young adult” market for teenage girl struggling for a life and identity in a ruined world.
Never mind all the boys who appear only as playthings for the girls, an interesting role-reversal on many recent superhero films, this has an inevitability about it which is perfectly suited to the teen market but leaves something undefinable lacking.
Verdict: Diverting for a while, but not life-changing.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
[29/march/2014] Score: 10/10
Young Steve Rogers, Cap. America, struggles to settle into the modern world and finds it’s still the same old one underneath all the gloss as corruption and crookedness threaten the world and power of that shady American superpolice force SHIELD.
What more can be said, heroes do what heroes must.
Verdict: Winter looms.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
[8/march/2014] Score: 8/10
Amidst the magnificence of an aging pile of brick, stone and cracked plaster. Where gilt is faded along with the carpets and drapes. While dust filters through the declining sun of a long lost day. A story unfolds through time, to a time long ago in the mists of memory and sentiment, when glory shone in the last fading days of past empires before war ripped away the masks.
Here is the Grand Budapest Hotel in all its glory in the last burst of sunshine. Amongst the gay glitter of those long-ago days we find the story of one small man around who spins the turmoil of the world in miniature.
In delicate detail we revel in every moment of one man’s decline and rise to a moment of bright fulfilment and joy.
Verdict: Book your room today, before it all fades away in sweetest memory.
- 300: Rise Of An Empire
[8/march/2014] Score: 5/10
A tale that turns somersaults and backflips back and forth through time to lay the foundations of your understanding of, before and during those same events and times when the 300 fell, as other men fought for survival and victory over the Persian Empire.
What a fight, butchery, bloodshed and characters of mythic proportions, with added bloodshed, blood splattering and blood dripping, and dribbling, everywhere. While trying to tell some vestige of history it tries to narrate too much with too many voices in an attempt to tie into the earlier, greater and more focussed story. Its this confusion of voices and themes which calls on all your patience to survive this battle before you’re driven away.
Verdict: Bloody waste.
[4/march/2014] Score: 5/10
And non-stop it is in the world we’ve not visited for oh, so long. From the annals of “Airport” and “Airplane” where “Passenger 57” used to sit we now have Liam Neeson wrangling with snakes on a plane, evil human snakes, wicked snakes, deadly snakes, with phones and other Bad Things to keep you on the edge of your airline seat as you hurtle towards doom and fly around the cabin in that fairy-tale acrobatic fashion so beloved of a Hollywood movie.
Yes, it’s all here with plot twists as visible as a roadmap and high drama that’s so high it’s out of this world.
There is action a-plenty, and moments of dialogue that’re best reserved for a screenwriting class in how not to do it. Not forgetting that trusty old stand-by, The Boss Who Shouts At You Down The Phone, Sacks You Then Congratulates You on a job well-done, but you’re still fired.
Verdict: Until the next time…
- The Monuments Men
[19/february, 2014] Score: 8/10
Amidst all the horrors and terrors of World War Two there were a handful of men who raced around Europe tying to salvage art, culture and history from destruction at the hands of human beasts or theft by those same, and other, beasts.
This can only be a pale imitation of what they achieved in recovering so much lost, stolen and threatened art but deserves the widest attention in case we ever face such need to act in the future.
Verdict: “Worth it.”
- The LEGO Movie
[18/february/2014] Score: 9/10
So, there are these plastic bricks, with a life of their own, and they sing, and dance and then – doom! An evil plastic brick decides to Rule The World!!!!! Only one plucky little plastic brick can save the day!! The One.
For everyone with the imagination of a child who’s never grown up and still believes in the magic of the soul, with an imagination that can turn a pile of plastic bricks into… anything, this is a wonderful flight of fancy into those bright places still in your youngest heart.
- Mr Peabody & Sherman
[12/february/2014] Score: 7/10
Great for children who what even more Who than you-know-Who and like doggies, or those with a wry sense of humour at the turning of the tables when the doggie has a pet boy to play with.
Good adventures through history, even if it’s a totally mashed-up comicbook history and not a real one (historians please avoid) and brisk enough not to bore anyone, but could be a bit too tiring in its pace for those wanting something calmer.
Verdict: A good walkies through history and hysteria.
[8/february/2014] Score: 8/10
The sense of dry humour, and the pace, which broadens the original story, with more depth of attention to the moral arguments about turning a man into machine and what makes us human, Robocop returns with the same solutions to street crime in America – shoot everyone with a big gun and arrest the survivors. A nice simple solution to very complicated situations and great for every modern dumbed-down audience. However, the attempt to bring a deeper sense of humanity reflects the changes since the original was made and encourages us all to think, or just enjoy the gunfights and chases.
Verdict: Cop a look before it blasts away.
- I, Frankenstein
[1/february/2014] Score: 4/10
Comically comicbook drama based on an original story from two hundred years ago that hasn’t aged well. Throwing in a good versus evil battle of demons versus gargoyles (no idea who or what they’re supposed to be) instead of the more subtle moral horrors of the original, makes for entertainment to a younger and less critical audience but I don’t see the kind of appeal that came with the producers’ earlier “Underworld” work.
The issue here, like many other comic books, is to establish a character and setting familiar to the audience. A vampire theme like “Underworld” is already well-known, but here we see the familiar Frankenstein thrown into the mix with two completely unknown forces. Unknown, unestablished in the minds of the audience and you only have ninety minutes to establish the entire story and resolve it.
As a result of all this there’s no time to create anything but a sketch of setting before racing into and through the story.
For decorative ninety minutes of entertainment you can take it or leave it, but for a deeper, more meaningful story like the original novel you need another monster.
- Lone Survivor
[31/january/2014] Score: 10/10
Based on and retelling the true story of one American Special Forces SEAL team early in the Afghanistan war this follows their disastrous mission to hunt a key leader in the Taliban high in the mountains. Discovered, they’re hunted down as rescue missions fail to reach them and equipment fails to help.
As a story and a production it makes mesmerising telling. For the tragedy that came to the men, their fellow fighters and families it looks like a memorable memorial to their work, and as an introduction to the true nature and culture of the people of Afghanistan it makes for one more step towards greater understanding of that country.
Verdict: Watch, with care.
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
[25/january/2014] Score: 6/10
For dumbed-down dramatic nonsense of American spy action this serves up a fine plate of vegetables for your pallet; but if you want some meaty substance you’d best look at another menu.
Trotting out the standard formula, of American spy thwarting evil terrorists/masterminds to protect the global world of America we see a new kind of Jack Ryan engaging in the kind of gymnastic stunts typical of a Bond movie, but without that special added Bond Spice, the sense of a twisted humour and unpredictable conclusion.
Once again New York is under attack, but this time the bomb has a timer on it, and there’s only five minutes to countdown, can two car (well, one motorbike and one van) chases succeed in the fantasy world where reality failed to save World Trade of America?
An evil mastermind who spent years on an elaborate plan, then leaves a trail of clues any Boy Scout can follow with his own Handy-Dandy CIA Computer-That-Knows-Everything? This must be seen to be disbelieved.
Verdict: Jack Ryan, a shadow of former glory.
- The Wolf Of Wall Street
[18/january/2014] Score: 9/10
Staying with the Great American Tradition that all corporate bankers in Wall Street are evil and only there for their own utter selfish corrupt greed this is an almost endless exposure of sex, drugs and money, with more money to buy sex and drugs, and endless supplies of drugs to help enjoy the mindless sex.
Did I mention the hilarious effects of drugs and the lunacy of mindless sex, combined with a flood of money in the Great American Dream of Competitive Global finance?
I’m never sure which we’re supposed to applaud here, the pursuit of a fantastical Dream of greed and money, with added sex and drugs, which all politicians, economists and financial commentators uphold and celebrate as a driving force in the economy, or the corrupt application and misselling of products to pursue greed, and money, and sex, and drugs, and more sex, and luxury yachts, and more drugs, with truckloads of money.
Verdict: Greed is Good, right? Or..?
- Delivery Man
[11/january/2014] Score: 3/10
Oozing sweet sentimentality and angst of such predictability and lack of humour that I was forced to run screaming from the cinema due to the severe sugar overdose.
Essentially what appears to be an idiot discovered he has over five hundred children due to a mix up at a fertility clinic, then begins stalking some of them in secret, because he’s too stupid to leave well alone. I can imagine all the tragi-comic antics he’d get up to, but lacked too little engagement with the character or situation to want to know how it all ended.
Go on you all know this kind of story and how it ends, New York gets invaded by aliens who snatch all the children away to cleanse the human genepool? No.
Verdict: Erm, five hundred endings, take your pick. (I claim copyright on the Alien thing.)
- American Hustle
[11/january/2014] Score: 8/10
Everyone who is anyone in the movie business with the title Critic, is suggesting this will be a great award-winner. For.. what?
Great quality of acting, which leaps out at every scene. A good storyline that carries you along without noticing the time? Rich period detail from the 1970s, just look at all that hair!
Or how about a “based on a true story” that sounds too amazingly silly for words until you realize it was a true story, when the US government decide to “recruit” a crook to help cheat politicians and mafia gangsters into exposing corruption?
Verdict: Hustle off to see that while you can.