Demolition ManDemolition Man
is ridiculous, but it's ridiculous in a lovable, borderline Paul Verhoven kind of way.
It follows both Stallone and his arch enemy super-criminal played by Wesley Snipes as they're frozen in a somewhat dystopian future only to both be "thawed out" and brought back into existence in a further, much more utopian future where Wesley Snipes' violent ways prove completely over-powering for the, now relatively non-violent and gun-free, society meaning that only Stallone's similarly primitive methods are good enough to catch and stop him, thus saving the day.
It's a beautifully fun and fairly simple set-up and it plays out with many a solid bit of sci-fi, fish-out-of-water / where-are-we-headed comedy. A stupid action movie, it very much is, but it knows this from the get go and plays to it - it never has delusions of being anything more. 8/10The Master
I have an odd relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson in that he's a film-maker whose work I tend to have a huge deal of respect for without particularly enjoying (the exception to this rule being Boogie Nights
, a film that I just love without any particular fine print).
What's weirder still is that there's usually a handful of scenes within his films that I really do enjoy... a lot. I mean, the final moments of There Will Be Blood
were stunning. Not to mention the infamous "I drink your milkshake" scene. The Master
, strangely, lacks any of these stand-out scenes, but it's certainly not a bad piece of work. In fact, for the first half hour or so, I was utterly in love with it - it's just that, after a while, the meandering of the whole thing begins to take its toll. Yes, that's the purpose of exploring Joaquin Phoenix's character, but it doesn't necessarily make for a consistently engaging film. Frankly, the backdrop of a Scientology-esque cult provided by Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character's proves to be the film's most engaging element and whilst it isn't the point of the film, it's a shame that we don't get to see more of it.
Still, the film is rather beautifully crafted in most ways - as is to be expected when it comes to this particular Paul Anderson, and that's particularly noticeable in the performances. Joaquin Phoenix is utterly incredible in the lead to the point that this might be the best performance of his career so far.
It's a film well worth seeing if you're a big fan of him or Paul Thomas Anderson, but it's also a film that I would never recommend to a casual movie-goer. In fact, this is exactly the sort of film that casual film-goers whine and complain about for being pretentious when they accidentally go along to one, mistaking it for more of a psychological thriller. That's not to say that this is a pretentious, unwarranted film - more that people are stupid and I hate them. 7/10The Last BroadcastThe Last Broadcast
is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an interesting film and one that I highly recommend watching for anybody who considers themselves to be a film buff or particularly into the horror genre.
Apparently some of the people involved knew some of the people that went on to make The Blair Witch Project
(which was released the following year) and had discussed ideas for horror films that play with the concept of reality vs fiction. As such, this film feels like something of a blue-print for The Blair Witch Project
. It's not nearly as good and in many ways it should have just been a short film seeing as it takes forever to pick up any real pace - but the twist ending is certainly interesting even if it's arguable that it never really ticks the boxes it tries to.
Ultimately, it's a remarkable film given how ridiculously cheap the budget clearly was and it's a shame that it didn't have more thought put into fleshing out the story or the mythos or didn't have to endlessly repeat the same few clips of - often fairly uninteresting - footage - although, in the film's defence, this certainly serves to emulate the cheap sorts of documentaries that this is aping - the types that will paw over the same few minutes of footage with talking heads examining them in slow motion and so forth. 4/10Free EnterpriseFree Enterprise
is a film that squanders its potential. It's a comedy about sci-fi nerds who end up meeting their idol, William Shatner - played by himself. Initially it feels like the film is going the indie route of having Shatner pop up as an imaginary friend throughout which would have made more sense (especially when you learn that this was what happened in the original script, but Shatner took issue with not having a "real" role and it was re-written in order to accomodate him).
William Shatner as himself is a perfect opportunity for comedy gold - even if it would be somewhat niche comedy that only plays to a specific audience. That can't be an issue given how niche most of the film is, anyway, though. As it stands, the film just isn't very funny. The plot offers nothing that can't be found in a million other low-budget, indie romcoms and it doesn't play up the sci-fi nerd angle in any clever or interesting ways - in fact, it pretty much serves so as to make the characters less "popular" with mainstream society and that's about it.
It's exactly the sort of film that lives and dies on its gags and, sadly, the gags in this one are about as funny as a child gagging on a boiled sweet and dying. 5/10National Treasure: Book of Secrets
If you've seen National Treasure
, then you should know exactly what to expect from National Treasure: Book of Secrets
. It's pretty much exactly on par with the previous entry in the franchise which means that it's reasonably fun and entertaining but in a completely fluff-mediocrity sort of way.
The only thing that compelled me to watch it (and, indeed, the previous film) is my fascination with Nicolas Cage's unravelling sanity and this film delivers on that front with one moment in particular where he has to get himself arrested by causing a scene. He even attempts a British accent. Aaanyway - National Treasure
as a franchise is a sort of Tesco's own brand Indiana Jones. They're (obviously) not even close to Raiders of the Lost Ark
or The Last Crusade
, but hey, to be fair, they're better than both of those shitty Indie movies: Temple of Doom
and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
. They feature much of the same globe-hopping and tomb-raiding shenanigans and were clearly pitched to various people as "Indiana Jones meets ______". I'm not sure what the ______ would be, though. Bruckheimer? Nicolas Cage?
But yes. The film is fun and more or less stands up in spite of its, at-times, braindead nature. Part of the reason for its success lies with its likable cast. I know a lot of people hate Nicolas Cage, but those people are wrong. 6/10SightseersSightseers
is an odd film. It's a dark comedy in which the comedy is largely situational, meaning that it's played as a drama in a lot of ways. It's based on characters originated by Alice Lowe and Steve Oram on stage which I found hugely surprising given that these aren't stand-up comedy characters - they've very understated and subtle. The film plays very oddly seeing as the protagonists are murderers and we don't even see much of a descent into this behaviour.
I initially expected for the first kill to be a case of a character seeing red, perhaps acting partly out of self defence and for that first kill to make it more acceptable to them to continue killing. That's not the case at all.
The first murder is cold-blooded and motivated out of nothing other than jealousy and a general distaste for the person. Well - technically, the first kill (previous to the one, aforementioned) is innocent - an accident - but it's played as foreshadowing rather than something in the characters' evolutions that allows them to do what they do later.
But I digress; my point is that this makes the characters seem largely more "evil" and, as a result, you disconnect from them as an audience. Combine this with the directorial style which is almost dreamlike in the early parts of the film due to footage and voice-over frequently not matching each other and it's one of the best examples of Brechtian cinema that I've seen in that regard and I want to stress that I don't see being removed from the protagonists as a flaw in a film.
It absolutely isn't the intention of the film that you're on their side in any way more than a purely human level and in so much as you can understand Tina's slowly building disappointment in her relationship - something that it's implied she sees as something of her long-awaited escape from her horrible, usual life. When it begins to turn sour, so then, does she. You're not asked to approve of her actions; you're merely asked to think back to some less than pleasant moments that you've, no doubt, experienced in past relationships and re-live them through the guise of filmic murder and bloodlust.Sightseers
, therefore, contains a lot more depth than would meet the casual eye. It's a fairly standard low-budget and gnarly, British comedy-romp akin to lots of films that pop out from time to time every few years, but it's also very much about relationships and letting go thereof. It's far from perfect - in fact, it's extremely rough around the edges, but it's certainly something that might be considered a gem in the rough. I say gem because a diamond seems like I'd be singing its praises too highly. This isn't a masterpiece, but it's the sort of film that suggests that those involved may well go on to make one, some day. 7/10Thunderball
I'm on a quest to watch every James Bond
film ever made. I'm doing this because I've heard great things about Casino Royale
but my vaguely autistic nature won't allow me to watch them before I see all of the previous Bond
films, despite the last 3 comprising something of a rebooted franchise. I like to have contextual knowledge of these sorts of things. As such, I have seen Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger
and, now, Thunderball
. Dr. No
is a solid film, From Russia with Love
; crap, Goldfinger
; good, not great, and Thunderball
... well, Thunderball
It starts with a gloriously ridiculous sequence of events involving Bond punching a woman in the face who later turns out to be a man in drag before jumping into a jet pack and flying away to safety. Good so far! It then treats us to a typically Bond opening credits sequence. I love a film that revels in its opening titles to the point that it could possibly be projected in a gallery as an art-installation.
It's a shame, then, that what follows is an absolutely dire attempt at cinema that makes very little sense at times and is always mind-numbingly boring. The overall plot, involving an unfunny Dr. Evil trying to take over the world, is campy and fun and so, the film should be good, right?
But it isn't. Even the gung-ho action-sequence at the end manages to be completely and thoroughly dull. Maybe it's because things are inherently slower when we try to move underwater. Maybe it's because all of the diving suits further exaggerated how faceless all of the drones and henchmen being thrown at each other are. Maybe it's just because the sequence lasts about twice as long as it should do, but fuck me, Thunderball
is an awful film. Boring and some scenes are utterly inexplicable in their inclusion to the point that I'm not even quite sure if it's supposed to be taken as a campy gag or if it's just poorly conveyed peril made laughable due to awkward special effects. 4/10Phenomena
Dario Argento has a wonderful aesthetic to his films, essentially owning giallo through films such as Suspiria
. However, I'm yet to see a single one of his films where the plotting isn't a complete and utter mess. Phenomena
comes very highly spoken of from a dedicated cult of fans including the likes of Joss Whedon. Critics, in general, seem to speak quite kindly of it, too - which baffles me. It's a completely run of the mill, Italian, slasher film, but with a few unique touches that make it somewhat worthy of interest. One of those is Argento's aforementioned aesthetic - but style over substance does not a good film make. Another would be the presence of a chimpanzee character, although this doesn't really do anything for the story itself. I mean... I like chimps and chimps are cool and if they didn't maul people's faces off so consistently after entering puberty, I'd probably have one as a pet, but, as a general rule, don't include one in your film for absolutely no reason.
On top of that, in the English-language version of the film, the creepy Goblin soundtrack is constantly interrupted by completely incongruous heavy-metal music from the likes of Motörhead that doesn't even begin to work within the context of what's happening on screen, let alone the film's overall tone. Also, the lead character can communicate with insects for no reason and this barely comes up in the film's story and certainly not within any part of the story one would deem to be important. It's more of an arbitrary side-note; as if the film was cobbled together from a sketch-pad of Argento's ideas collected over the course of a year.
If you like the sound of watching Dario Argento's stream of consciousness realised as a film, then I highly recommend this film. If, like most people, you like your films to be well-written or, at least, coherent, I anti-recommend this film. 5/10Seven PsychopathsIn Bruges
is a masterpiece and stands as one of the best examples of how to write a screenplay in the history of cinema. Given the sublime nature of the film, Martin McDonagh had a lot to live up to with his "difficult second album" and, sadly, Seven Psychopaths
is the weaker sibling of the family, thus far.
It's a valiant effort. The film is clever and showcases the same sort of incredibly intelligent and interwoven writing that made In Bruges
work so well - however, In Bruges
is beautiful in its simplicity, whereas Seven Psychopaths
seems to revel in making things complicated which detracts from the quality of the writing, somehow.
Also, the characters in Seven Psychopaths
are inconsistent within the world in which they inhabit. Some occupy what is essentially the real world and are very well written but a handful behave as completely two-dimensional cartoon characters. It's a shame as when they interact with the more "real" characters, they bring everybody down to their level.
That said, Seven Psychopaths
is consistently engaging and entertaining - not to mention reasonably funny, so it's not a bad film by any means. And it also sports a wonderful cast including Christopher Walken in the first good film of his career in years.
If Seven Psychopaths
had been McDonough's debut, it might have been easier to forgive its shortcomings but to go from such a masterpiece to something as is simply just "good" and also quite forgettable is rather disappointing.
But it's also not really fair to complain about the film for not living up to another film's standards. It's a good film in its own right; it just isn't a masterpiece. 7/10Ravenous
It takes a while to really sell you on where it stands, tonally; but after the film settles into an oddly supernatural groove and you accept that cannibalism grants a person with healing powers and super-strength - well, it's always fascinating to learn about the horror-based myths and legends of other cultures and to see them presented in the form of a fun horror film is even better. Throw in a period setting that helps to differentiate the film from countless other entries into the horror genre, as well as a distinctive, original and pleasant, yet eerie musical score and you've got Ravenous
: an under-appreciated gem of a film.
I don't know why it isn't held in higher regard than it is, but it's certainly earned the cult following it now has. 8/10Leaving Las VegasLeaving Las Vegas
fits into the subgenre of Nicolas Cage films where he portrays a man on a descent into the lowest depths of madness, substance abuse and generally having a bad time. These tend to be the films in which Nic Cage gets to prove that he's actually a very talented actor in spite of what Joe Public and Cage's recent spate of action-durge might lead you to think.
Sadly, Leaving Las Vegas
has little to offer beyond Cage's performance. In no way is it a bad film - in fact, it's crafted completely competently - it's just lacking any powerhouse elements that can lift it beyond the realms of just being good, but largely forgettable. Nicolas Cage's performance is one element of that nature but, sadly, it isn't enough.
But, hey, negativity aside, it is good. 7/10Hollow Man
When I used to talk about how strange it was that I was hugely aware of Kevin Bacon without having seen any of his films, the big, iconic role that people used to throw my way was always Hollow Man
for some reason. I can't say it's the best I've seen of Bacon, so far, so I'm not sure, why.
Paul Verhoeven directs. He's an odd director. I suppose I like him in that he's got a very unique and distinctive flavour that he injects into his films and he's produced some utterly brilliant work (RoboCop, Total Recall
). But, then, he's also produced a lot of shit. Hollow Man
is sort of in-between the two. It's extremely watchable with a handful of nice ideas dotted around inside it, but it never really manages to take off or go anywhere particularly interesting with its premise - at least, not for more than a few seconds at a time. What's left is a fairly generic horror thriller. It could be a lot worse, but it could also be a lot better. 6/10Sling BladeSling Blade
isn't a hugely original film. It's a fairly typical actor-portraying-a-mentally-ill-man-to-Oscar-nominee-standard film, in fact and as soon as the antagonist is introduced, you know exactly how the film is going to play out and end.
It's strange, then, that Sling Blade
is absolutely brilliant. Billy Bob Thornton's performance flirts with being laughably cartoonish and over the top but somehow always manages to walk the line and come out on the side that impresses. And the scenes are all crafted and played out practically perfectly.
It's not exactly pushing into new territory as a film, but it does what it does and it does it beautifully. Sling Blade
is a smart, emotionally resonant and, most importantly, extremely entertaining film. 9/10The Philadelphia ExperimentThe Philadelphia Experiment
takes a fascinating "true" story (conspiracy theory) and turns it into a mediocre time-travel film about a man from the past trapped in the present.
It's not really a concept that has enough meat to its bones for a feature film and the rest of the film inhabits a strange "should be a comedy, but instead it's a light drama" sort of tone due to its fish-out-of-water nature, but the fact that it clearly felt the need to be vaguely respectful to the real people involved seeing as their story might just be true (even though it isn't).
Not a bad film and easy to watch, but other than a few minutes of interesting footage (the stuff you imagine when you read up on the "incident"), it's all extremely pedestrian. 6/10Whistle Down the Wind
Just as was the case with Seance on a Wet Afternoon
, my second venture into the work of Bryan Forbes also proves to be tick every box one could possibly want from a film.
It's constantly completely engaging whilst also being utterly charming, whimsical, funny, touching, smart - you name it - all to the point that I don't understand why they aren't held up as all-time classics of cinema. Whistle Down the Wind
follows the story of some quaint Northern children in the '60s who find a criminal hiding from the law in their dad's barn and assume him to be the second coming of Christ. As a premise; it's absolutely perfect and, to be honest, it executes it pretty much to perfection, too.
If the next Bryan Forbes film I see lives up to these two, he's going to go straight on my list of directors whose films I want to see every last one of. 8/10Final Destination 3Final Destination 3
is a fairly easy film to review in so far as it's basically exactly the same as the previous 2 Final Destination
films. If you like them, chances are that you'll like this seeing as it's probably marginally better than those two due to an increased amount of playing with the basic concept. If you don't like those films, you definitely won't like this because it's essentially more of the same. If you haven't seen those two films, then what are you doing jumping straight to the third one?
It tries hard and it works in ways, but a lot of the kills are just death for death's sake (lacking the irreverent sense of humour that some of the entries have) and the ending is particularly weak - a problem that plagues this franchise.
Anyway, the lead is Mary Elizabeth Winstead which makes it better than the first two films, anyway, seeing as their protagonists are just faceless drones. 5/10Land of the LostLand of the Lost
is a bizarrely tonally unsure film. It flitters between self-aware send up of a "classic", family fare gone awry and other general styles. It's highly watchable as are the vast majority of Will Ferrell films - particularly, in this case, because there are dinosaurs and other strange creatures thrown into the mix. But, that doesn't make it good, exactly.
It's the sort of film you expect to show up on TV during the late morning of a week in the Summer holidays as something of a daily film to keep kids entertained. Passably entertaining, basically... without really being good from any reasonable, objective standpoint. 5/10Fiddler on the RoofFiddler on the Roof
is charming and amusing, but given how bland and samey many of the songs tend to be and that even the "stand-out" songs aren't exactly incredible, combined with the way that the film is a mammoth 3 hours long, it's all a bit... meh. It's a shame that they couldn't cut it down to a more palatable size, but assuming that it came from the stage, it had fans to please, I suppose. But still, much of the film felt completely unnecessary, given the length and, ultimately, not a huge amount happens.
But hey, the charming nature of it all goes a long way. It winds up being good as opposed to great. 7/10The Hustler
It's easy to see why The Hustler
is regarded as a classic. Whilst none of the scenes showcase anything particularly unique, they're all carried out to a certain degree of quality - never really allowing themselves to become dull despite being largely predictable.
It paints a portrait of a man with few positive traits, and, to be honest, there are many better films with similar tones and subject matter, but this one is perfectly acceptable and achieves its goals.
Good, but not quite the classic some would have you believe. 7/10The Sorcerer's Apprentice
I enjoy most of Nicolas Cage's generic action crap to an extent. The National Treasure
films, for instance, are fun in spite of their mediocrity. The Sorcerer's Apprentice
somehow manages to lose that sense of fun despite it being about Nicolas Cage shooting magic plasma balls at people and adding Alfred Molina to the cast.
This film is so completely pedestrian that it's hard to understand how it got made. I mean - nobody involved could have cared in the slightest, otherwise it wouldn't be so run of the mill, surely? I can't imagine a director pouring their heart and soul into something only to end up with this, for example.
But then, surely this is the sort of film that needs to be reasonably alright in order to be financially worth Disney's time in making it. I'm assuming Disney are behind it seeing as it's an adaptation of a public domain story that they like to pretend that they own, just like Aladdin
This film is stupid and Nicolas Cage doesn't go mental in it there's no point in watching. 5/10Earth Girls are EasyEarth Girls are Easy
is a waste of a premise that could have been turned into a solid comedy, not to mention a waste of a great cast of people who were mostly all up and comers at the time. It's consistently unfunny and is a musical, except that it forgets that it's a musical for huge stretches of time which means that each song feels completely and utterly out of place within the rest of it.
In fact, the film feels like they deviated hugely from the script for some reason because countless set ups and plot points are hinted at only to never pay off properly. The aliens' ability to mimic noises sort of comes into play near the end of the film, but only extremely briefly and it feels like they were setting it up for more, for instance.
I don't really know who this film was made for because I have no idea who would particularly enjoy it on its own terms. 5/10Look Who's Talking
When I heard about Look Who's Talking
, I assumed it would be bad. Like, really, really bad. But it's much worse than that.
This abysmal film attempts comedy without any actual jokes, as if dubbing the vocal stylings of Bruce Willis over footage of a child is somehow inherently amusing (it isn't).
What's worse is that, unlike what I expected which was a film about a child who could talk, complete with awkward special effects to make the mouth move and everything, this film is actually just about a completely ordinary child, but we're treated to his inner-monologue - an inner monologue that makes no sense because within the child's head, he's as intelligent and matured as any adult, but, ignoring the voice-over, he's just a normal child.
The voice-over makes no sense within the context of that character and the whole thing just feels like a YouTube video of some moronic parent doing a voice over footage of their baby in a cot that somehow goes viral like that God-awful "Ultimate Dog Tease" piece of shit - a video I understand is also being developed into a feature film (no, seriously) - presumably as a conscious effort to further lower the bar than what this film did over two decades ago.
The film's focus is rarely even on the child, which makes things worse. Instead, it quickly becomes an incredibly dull, production-line romcom starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. And this is honestly one of the worst romcoms I've ever seen; if not, the worst - which really is saying something seeing as the genre is ripe with turgid shite.
My understanding is that they squeezed at least two sequels out of this travesty. And Guillermo Del Toro can't get funding for At the Mountains of Madness
. Fuck you, the human race. 2/10Safety Not GuaranteedSafety Not Guaranteed
is hugely typical of its quirky, sort-of-rom-sort-of-com subgenre. It's also one of the best films within said subgenre that I've seen. For all of its overt "kookiness", it never really feels like it's trying too hard and it works. That is, up until the ending which does a lot to undermine the rest of it, but ignoring that - particularly as this is a film that's all about the journey as opposed to the plot, itself - it's funny, charming and vaguely sweet. It's certainly admirable for turning such a fluff-piece bit of nothing of a true story into a feature film. For those of you who don't know, the film is based on - or rather, inspired by a true story in which a man placed an ad in a local paper seeking a companion for time-travel, claiming that he'd done it once before and intended to go back and claiming that he couldn't guarantee the safety of anyone that travelled with him. Safety not guaranteed - I get it.
Its subplots are, typically of a lot of indie films, largely irrelevant and don't really tie into anything, but for the most part, the film is well written and engaging. And, ending aside, well-crafted and feels natural. It's good, but it's not a classic for the ages. 7/10The Most Dangerous Game
Off the bat, The Most Dangerous Game
has a phenomenal premise - one that we've seen shades of in countless more recent works such as Battle Royale, Saw
and The Hunger Games
The film sees a shipwrecked couple taking refuse on an island where a man lives, obsessed with hunting. It soon transpires that he orchestrated their boat's crash. Why? Well, he's hunted so many of everything that the only way to get his kicks is now to hunt the most dangerous game: human beings - just like my friend who watched so much porn that now he can only get off over videos of fat men climaxing into the hair of Japanese school-girls dressed as cats.
This hunter's perversion takes the form of a game in which the couple are given a head-start before he is to pursue, shoot and kill them. He's so confident in his abilities that he offers them their freedom if they can survive for 3 days. But I mean, I'd be pretty confident in my abilities too if I was chasing two unarmed people on a tiny island with a pack of trained dogs and a gun at my disposal.
The film works because the premise is outlandish enough to get your attention and, yet, really quite terrifying when you think about it. It's a classic "what would I do in that situation?" sort of film by which I mean that when watching it, you're constantly imagining what you'd do in that situation and, to be honest, I'm not sure that I - or most people for that matter - would stand much chance of survival. That's why it's so thrilling to watch. There's no easy way out for them and the peril feels extremely real.
It's also an extremely simple premise which, as anyone who's read a few of my reviews will probably gather, is a big plus for me. And, you know... it could happen. In fact, I bet that it basically has. I will now do a quick search on the internet for cases similar to this film and I'll get back to you at the end of the review.
The story itself plays out in a fairly run of the mill fashion, but it contains all of the character and charm that one should expect from the horror classics of its era and overall, it's both a hugely satisfying film and one that I'm amazed doesn't have a big-budget remake in production right now so as to compete with The Hunger Games
. Not that I'm saying they should
remake it - this film is good enough for me.
I'm back from my hunt for information, now, and yes, it appears than in the '80s, a man named Robert Hansen "did" this film, albeit in the woods rather than on an island. I don't think it was because of or in any way connected to this film - it just was very similar. Life imitates art.7/10Hey look, it's my blog where I just post inane drivel like this semi-regularly. Check it out.