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Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Utter garbage
Like every Michael Bay movie, and the previous Transformers movies especially, this one is no exception: god awful. Anyone over the age of 14 who claims to like this movie is either afflicted with some kind of mental disorder or just has taste in their big fat can.

The second man to walk on the Moon - yes, the real Buzz Aldrin! - actually appears in this movie and oh how sad and embarrassing it is to see him there. And as for John Malkovich ... surely he can't need money that badly, can he?? So depressing ...

Rather than see this movie just punch yourself in the face. At least then you'll feel some genuine human emotion and will save yourself two and a half precious hours in your life.

John Carter

This is what you get when you give the guy who made a few kid's cartoon movies $200 + million to make a sci-fi adventure based on a 100 year pulp series ... a disaster. You can get away with little to no character development, weak plots and reliance on CGI when you're making films for children, but when you're attempting to entertain adults it won't work. Add to that, terrible ham acting by its lead and key supporting players as well as loud, bombastic music with a running time of 2 hours, it's no wonder this movie failed so miserably at the box office. And deservedly so. People who think movie is another other than garbage are the kind of people who don't like foreign films because they don't like reading subtitles and hate old movies because they're in black and white. What I'm saying is, in a nutshell, the John Carters of this world are movies for dummies.

Assault on a Queen

Terrific novel but poorly directed film
First of all, this poster for this movie is incredible. One of my all time favorites. This movie was really hard to find until recently (just came out on blu-ray April 2012) so years ago I found an old paperback of the Jack Finney novel and read it. Loved the story. Then, finally, I was able to see the movie ... disappointing. My biggest complaint is the direction: absolutely flaccid, dull and without any creativity. Not surprisingly the director, Jack Donohue, was a hack TV director almost his entire career and only directed a handful of movies - none of them good. And so Assault on a Queen feels soooo slow when it really should be fast paced and have high energy. The great Rod Serling wrote the script from a fun novel, so I'm not going to blame the writing. And the acting was fine too. The only other problem was the music: poorly used and sparse and never seemed appropriate for the scene. I suppose I can blame the director for this too since he'd be the one overseeing where it was used.

Anyway, worth watching for fans of 60s heist movies. I like it, but wish it were better.


Andy Sidaris ripped himself off!!!
I've just been on an Andy Sidaris bender recently, watching his 80s/90s movies, which began with his BB (boobs and bombs) classic 1985's Malibu Express. Once I learned about the existence of an even earlier movie of his, Stacey from 1973, I of course tracked down a copy and began watching it. And to my surprise, there was something awfully familiar about this movie. Basically it's Malibu Express, except, of course, 12 years earlier! He ripped himself off!

Here are the *similarities* I noticed. Both movies...

-- start with a car being raced around a track, revealing a sexy female as its driver as she unzips her racing suit and shows us her boobs -- have heroes who are private investigators living on a boat docked in a marina and who drive corvettes -- have all the action's set in and around LA and Palm Springs -- start with a visit to some rich people's mansion in which the older matriarch is confined to a wheelchair -- have a rich older lady hiring the hero to investigate some family mystery -- show some creepy dude secretly filming or photographing a woman in the bathroom or bedroom -- have a chauffeur that has dirt on the rich family he works for and is blackmailing them for money -- have a member of the rich family who is a closeted homosexual -- have a character murdered and the key to solving the murder has to do with undeveloped film...

... OK, I'm gonna stop now because if I keep listing these "similarities" I'll run out of space.

Basically, if you've seen Malibu Express then you've seen this movie. Malibu Express is an unofficial remake or rip-off of Stacey, depending on your point of view.

The main and seemingly only difference for that matter is the lovely Anne Randall. She's stunningly beautiful, gets naked (topless only) quite a few times and, to be honest, is actually pretty decent an actress in the context of an Andy Sidaris flick. You'll get more boobs from more women in Malibu Express, and that movie is funnier, but it doesn't have a girl the quality of Anne Randall in it, not even for a second.

I'd recommend Stacey only for the die hard cheesy guns 'n' girls movie buffs.


Sleepyhead more like it...
For years I thought Victor Mature was the most uncharismatic, untalented actor to have ever managed to succeed in Hollywood, but now, ladies and gents, I stand corrected. That dishonor must go to the, er, "star" of Hammerhead, Mr Vince Edwards. In short, he's an utter bore. As is the movie. But my God, is he dreadful. His face is like a catcher's mitt, just expressionless throughout the whole movie. His voice is one note of droning monotony and as for his physical presence, well, I suspect most of the action was performed by a double as they consisted mostly of suspicious close ups of legs and arms being thrust in the direction of bad guys without ol' Vince's hammerface in the shot.

Won't bother with the plot, critique the direction or soundtrack ... sufficed to say it all pretty much stinks.

I'm a massive spy movie fan - seen 'em all pretty much - especially the 60s adventure ones, and I must say this movie is easily one of the worst. Even the mostly incomprehensible Italian stuff of the same era is a lot more fun and watchable than this rubbish.

The only good thing from Hammerhead are the girls. Plenty of them and all pretty.

Iron Man 2

Atomic Man Boobs 2: Worst Comic Book Movie Ever?
Everyone involved in the making of this film, from Robert Downey Jr down to the assistant's assistant's assistant whose only job was to gently dab the anus of Gwyneth Paltrow's chihuahua with lemon-scented baby wipes, must all be packed into a spaceship and blasted into the sun.

Stupid. Juvenile. Predictable. Embarrassing.

Supposedly Mickey Rourke actually spent time in a Moscow prison and studied Russian history to "prepare for his role" ... erm, for what exactly, to play a human cartoon? If you'd told me he got the part in the morning and was shooting by midday I'd have no reason to doubt that. His character was stunningly dreadful. As were everyone else of course.

Only bright spot in an otherwise abysmal 2 hours of cinematic shite was Sam Rockwell. As ever, he's interesting and fun to watch. The only actor to not utterly shame himself, although, he should still be spanked hard for taking a big fat payday to appear in such a mess.

The Looking Glass War

An Absolute Gem!
This is one of those rare film adaptations -- in fact, the rarest -- for here is a film that takes liberties with its source material yet still manages to equal (if not better) the original story by the master of realist spy fiction, John Le Carré.

Masterfully written and directed by Frank Pierson (the current head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and superbly acted from everyone on screen, THE LOOKING GLASS WAR is a timeless classic just waiting to be rediscovered by a generation of film lovers thanks to the modern miracle of DVD. One must -- MUST -- see this film in crisp, clear widescreen format, for Pierson and cinematographer Austin Dempster managed to provide the viewer with some of the most stunning, innovative and emotionally evocative imagery of the period. The musical score by Angela Morley (a.k.a. Wally Stott) has that gorgeous, jazzy summer holiday feel about it, which is just perfect for a gloomy existential spy film!

And as for the principal actors, Christopher Jones in particular, what can one say? Those who know what happened with Jones shortly after this film and his whereabouts today can not help but feel sad whenever watching this film. What a loss to world cinema? Jones left acting right at the cusp of the Great American Renaissance of the 1970s. The question is: What could have been? From the strength of his performance in THE LOOKING GLASS WAR as well as RYAN'S DAUGHTER, we can only painfully imagine. Then, in stark contrast, we have the other lead of the film: a young pre-international fame Anthony Hopkins. And here we see, of course, a superb actor growing with every performance. Fans of his must see this film for two things 1) Hopkins' youthful passion, delivering every line with unadulterated vigor, venomously spitting poison one second before whispering soothing words of solice the very next, and 2) witnessing perhaps the all-time greatest one-on-one, man-on-man, no-holds-barred, knock-down-slap-around fist fights ever captured on celluloid.

But I must end this review by again emphasising that this film is brilliant because it was written that way. Pierson adapted a wonderful novel, kept the important plot elements but discarded and invented his own characterisations, created almost all his own sharp, witty dialogue and yet, still, after all the changes, managed to make a film that was still faithful in spirit to what Le Carré wrote. That's why this film is so good.

Writing is everything!

Pierson's adaptation of THE LOOKING GLASS WAR is a lesson for every student of film to see how great novels can be turned into great films.

Le clan des Siciliens

Classic European heist movie
This is a film that proves just how cool things were in the 1960s in Europe, particularly France and Italy. The ultra-cool Alain Delon (the French Steve McQueen) is truly superb as the loner hood, and with an excellent cast (including the legend Jean Gabin), thrilling story, stylish direction and yet another masterful score by Ennio Morricone, THE SICILIAN CLAN is a must-see for lovers of heist thrillers.

Carry on Girls

Ooh, saucy!
This is a fun movie. Yes, it may be politically incorrect by today's standards. Sure. But who cares? What's funny is funny. I for one can find the humour in the CARRY ON movies -- and I was born after the last of the series was made! There's nothing explicit in GIRLS, nothing truly offensive (the makers poke more fun at the men than they do the women) and come on, it's just harmless boob and bum laughs, anyway.

I love this movie because it makes me laugh, and makes me laugh every time I see it (which is quite a few times now). The jokes all hit the mark. There is an actual plot, unlike the comparable sex comedies being made today. The acting is fantastic. Sid James, Barbara Windsor and the usual gang know what they're doing and they do it perfectly. The only true weakness I would say is the directing and editing, though I would chalk that up to the obvious constraints of making films on a low budget.

And, in conclusion, to all those who decry the CARRY ON films as being old sexist rubbish, let me just say, in the words of the late great Sid James: "Knickers!"

Dial M for Murder

A filmed play
If ever there were a writer's film, this is it. Frederick Knott wrote the film (adapted from his own stage play) and made almost no changes. With only the addition of a few scenes, which add little dramatically but are justified cinematically, and the dialogue is taken verbatim from the play, this is all-but a filmed production of Knott's successful and fabulous stage play. Even though the acting is slightly wooden (except the marvelous performance by John Williams as Inspector Hubbard) and the direction bland and dated by today's standards, this film is still thoroughly entertaining and compelling. The only "Hitchcock touch" was the extreme close-up of the finger dialing "M", which though a nice touch, is unintentionally funny since the finger is obviously a prop (it was impossible to film such a close-up in 1954 so a large phone and finger were created for the shot).


Entertaining reincarnation of a classic character
This is a well-done updating of the classic Raymond Chandler character Philip Marlowe, made famous in the film noirs of the 1940s. James Garner stars, in a pre-Rockford Files style, as Marlowe and carries the usual charm and wit for which he's so well known. A standout performance is from Sharon Farrell as the tortured sister. Following on from such films as "The Detective", "Lady in Cement" and "Madigan", this is another fine example of the late 60s example of the lone anti-hero who dwells in a world of corruption and violence. Well-written and acted, and quite funny at times.

The Venetian Affair

Under-rated dramatic, 60s spy film
In 1967, when the spy genre became well and truly a parody of itself, there were only some spy films that were serious attempts in the genre. "The Venetian Affair" is one such film. It's a very well made, suspenseful and dramatic work, based on Helen MacInnes' novel of the same name. Still TV's super-spy Napoleon Solo, Robert Vaughn plays the anti-hero, antithesis of Solo/Bond/Flint etc, as former-CIA man, now downtrodden journalist Bill Fenner. He plays Fenner extremely well, a perfect role for Vaughn's sensibilities as a thoughtful, intellectual man. Aided magnificently is a strong European cast - Elke Sommer, Boris Karloff, Luciana Paluzzi and Karl Boehm to name just a few. Also prominent is Edward Asner as the tough CIA chief Rosenfeld.

Overall, this is an excellent and often misunderstood film. Most people and critics alike, expected the any spy film from this era to be more glamorous and fun a la "In Like Flint" or "You Only Live Twice" which came out the same year. However, looking in retrospect some thirty-years on, one can appreciate a fine dramatic work, one which stands up to the test of time much better than any of its more outrageous competitors.

Our Man Flint

The best spy spoof ever?
"Our Man Flint" came at the time of Bondmania and the international spy craze. Certainly it was made to cash in on the enormous success of James Bond, and TV series' such as "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", but fortunately it is also a great film on its own merits. James Coburn as the super-super spy Derek Flint is perfect for the role. Hal Fimberg's creation is brought to life brilliantly by his screenplay, with Daniel Mann's wonderful visual style of direction. Mention must be made also of Jerry Goldsmith's now classic music score and theme. Overall, the film is a brilliant exercise in fun adventure, told with lots of humour and wit. This is a must-see for spy genre fans.

Deadlier Than the Male

An excellent, stylish, detective/spy film.
This entry into the world of the 1960s spy genre is one of the best. Due to its witty screenplay, with some great dialogue, and its great visual direction, this film stands out above any of the Matt Helm series or other European films. The two female leads, Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina are perfect, as are Nigel Green and Richard Johnson. I highly recommend this film is you are into fun adventure, told with tongue-in-cheek style.

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