Rob Paul

IMDb member since June 1999
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Reviews

Taxi
(1998)

Better than I expected
One of the better French films in the last few years. Saw it on DVD and was surprised how much fun it was. The car scenes were very well filmed and the supporting cast made the most from the script. Compared to 'the fast and the furious' I'd take Taxi every time.

Johnny English
(2003)

Daft mild enjoyment
Atkinson's best work was always in his Bean and Blackadder tv series.

But from 1991 to 1997 he appeared in 17 Barclaycard adverts as the bumbling 'secret spy' Richard Latham. Johnny English is basically the same inept spy brought to the big screen. So the concept of this daft English Spy came before Austin Powers, and isn't some sort of austin ripoff as many people think. The ads were quite popular and occasionally funny.

The film uses many of the ads concepts to good effect, but it's a hit and miss film. Enjoyable, but instantly forgetable. And that's exactly what the filmmakers were intending.

Glengarry Glen Ross
(1992)

Classic
This is a truly enthralling drama. I'd never really cared much for Jack Lemmon, but in this film he is terrific, as are all the cast. Baldwin is only in the film 10 minutes, but it's far and away the best work he's done...heck, it's the only thing I remember him actually being in!

David Mamet was in sparkling form when he wrote this.

Chill Factor
(1999)

This appeared in cinemas?
Chill Factor has little originality, with sloppy direction, and a straight to cable feel.

The only thing that kept me watching was counting how many times the main characters uttered the words 'Oh S***' - if you ever watch it, you'll be surprised by how often the writer relies on these words to convey 'fear/tension/disbelief'. My own thinking was that the actors realised just how bad the movie was and threw in double the amount of 'Oh ****' as the script originally had!

Payback
(1999)

One long Advert
This film seemed like one long advert for cigarettes. - not a scene goes by without Gibson puffing away on fags. You gotta wonder at the rate he goes through him, how many years this anti-hero would live for after he 'saves the day' and gets 'his' money back.

A pity when you base a movie around a chain-smoking criminal like Porter that by the time he serves his payback you wish he'd drive off the end of a peer. This is a film about bad people, with nobody to root for...and maybe that's the point.

Quite violent and uncomprimising. 3/10.

Still Game
(2002)

Great comedy
In it's second season Still Game still produces many laughs per episode. At a time where the British sitcom world is at an all-time low, it's good to see at least one consistently funny show.

The comedy writing is spot-on, and the portrayal of OAP's Jack and Victor by Hemphill and Kiernan is quality. Chewin the Fat ran out of steam, but Still Game goes on producing the laughs...

Changing Lanes
(2002)

Decent drama, but...
The film would have been much better had they shaved 20 minutes off it's running time. The ending drags on way too long and so do several of the 'character building' scenes throughout.

For once, I wasn't annoyed by Ben Affleck and Jackson phones in his usual competent performance. It does take believability further than similar conflict driven stories do.

Decent film. 6/10.

Donnie Darko
(2001)

Dull Donnie Dorko
Donnie Darko is a film where nothing really happens and you wish you could travel back in time with the knowledge to avoid picking this excrutiatingly slow paced film at the video store. I had to apologise to my family for making them sit through it. It's the kind of movie that aspires to be something stranger and more intelligent than it actually is.

The plot? A guy has 'mental issues' and the concept of 'time travel' plays a role in his depressingly dull existence.

Krull
(1983)

Utterly forgettable except for one thing
Whilst the movie itself comes across as a kind of 'made for saturday afternoon Cable' show, the one redeeming factor in Krull is the absolutely fantastic music.

Possibly up there with 1492 as a film totally undeserving of the accompying score, this represents a composer at his best. It was no surprise when I discovered who was behind the music, none other than James Horner...

A Knight's Tale
(2001)

A Very Long Night
Never have I been so dissapointed by a movie. A 6.7 on the imdb should give an indication that the movie has at least some redeeming features. Alas, I couldn't find any. I found Knights Tale to be a plodding, awfully acted mish-mash of a movie.

What we have here is essentially a 2-hour joust, and that's it. Joust, talk, joust, talk, Queen music, joust, talk.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
(1999)

What is this?
15 years is a long time in which to deliver a movie, and finally we are given the Phantom Menace. Regardless of the hype, and even knowing full well that this is a kids movie, it is still a terrible film. However, let's put this into a proper context.

Lucas made the movie with his own money, and that's where the problems lie. It's his franchise and he can do whatever he wants. Who's going to argue with him; if they do, he just fires them, right. When you don't have a studio breathing down your neck, you can become extremely lazy, and that's really what this movie is - lazy!

All the visual effects in the world still can't save this movie. Here's the top ten problems (out of 50+) I found...

1) Visual effects, for visual effects sake. SFX can be good, if used in context with the storyline. How many times did you see a cutaway visual effects scene-setter during the Corruscant scene - about six times. Totally wasteful and pointless.

2) Jar Jar Binks. Chewbacca was palatable in Episode 4 because he only made a few groans, but here Jar Jar is a joke. Even the kids in the cinema were bored with his stupidity, but maybe you can forgive this if you could understand what the f*** the thing was saying. He totally spoils every scene he is in.

3) Gungan shields. Okay you can't fire through them, but you can walk through the shield - what the ????

4) Are these robots (army of) the dumbest things ever invented. Firstly, they can't even aim properly. Secondly, they need a Control Ship to function - what, they don't have enough memory, or they can't be remotely programmed???. This is the worst plot device nonsense I've seen since ID4.

5) Videogames - the only point to the pod-race seemed as an excuse for a videogame tie-in. And guess what, Pod Racer is in stores now...

6) Acting - even crap lines can be delivered with a bit of enthusiasm, but here, first class actors like Neeson looked, frankly, embarrased. McGregor didn't help, delivering his worst screen performance to date.

7) Maul - about as scary as an ewok.

8) Palpatine - the only British actor who seemed at all to be of any benefit. The real phantom menace.

9) Stereotypes - way too many. Opening scenes on the space station - Chinese/Japanese people. Watto - stupid Italian fella. Robots - Rodger Rodger - cross between American/Japanese soldiers of mercy. Jar Jar - Jamaican meesa. What was all that meesa about??? Boss Nass - hah, is this a boss, a fat freak who shakes his jaws like a baby???

10) The other 40 problems that I can't be bothered listing...

But hey, it's not my money, it's Lucas and he can do what he wants with it. But then, I can think of a million better ways to spend $115 million dollars. I just wish I hadn't put another 5 quid into his coffers.

The X Files
(1998)

A decent effort all round
This was always going to be an extremely difficult movie to produce. On the one hand, it had to be accessible to the general audience in order for the movie to be profitable, but on the other hand, Chris Carter had to make sure fans of the show wouldn't feel disappointed. He nearly gets this balance, and ultimately what we have is an eminently watchable thriller, that offers up a great deal more than it wants or cares to answer - much like the conspiracy episodes of the tv series.

If you look at this in context with the series, it is one of the more straightforward plots Carter has written; but as a segue between the fifth and sixth seasons, it seems to contain several contradictions. However, taken as a stand-alone movie it does work, and the acting throughout the movie is generally top-notch, but you would expect this after 5 years of the show.

As an introduction for non X-Philes it achieves its objectives, but for long-devoted fans I sense they may feel let-down, because ultimately Carter merely glosses over the conspiracy, only adding a couple of twists to what is really going on. It's still an enjoyable movie, and makes a welcome addition to the show. Let's hope this isn't the last time we see Andersen & co on the big-screen.

6/10

Star Trek: Insurrection
(1998)

A good way to spend two hours
After the success of First Contact, I suspect the producers felt tempted to create another all-action adventure. Wisely, they resisted this temptation and in the process have delivered a film that doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes for a good thing. I've seen too many sci-fi films attempt to take themselves way too seriously, and as a result, they tend to become bogged down with their own self-importance. These films should take a leaf out of Insurrection's book, because by taking a different approach than normal, we are treated to a thoroughly entertaining two-hour adventure.

After 100+ episodes and 2 feature films the crew know their characters like the back of their hands, but they still find the odd occasion to show a different side to what we expect from them - largely due to the plot, which concerns eternal youth. Jonathan Frakes manages to make this the most humorous Trek film yet, and just when you think a scene is becoming boring, he injects some humour and action to move up the tempo. Indeed, most of the highlights come in the more comical scenes; from the opening look at Picard's overly serious approach to things, to Riker's attempts at scoring with Troi - he even manages to lose his beard at one point.

Insurrection was never going to be original, but gladly it never becomes boring, something which Generations managed to be. A change of pace is a good thing, and Star Trek manages to be enjoyable for mainstream audiences and for long time Trekkers, who will appreciate the winks and in-jokes that non-trekkers will probably miss.

7/10.

Saving Private Ryan
(1998)

One of the best war movies ever made
A master class in filmmaking, this contains some of the most brilliantly executed battle sequences ever made. This is one of those rare films that aren't afraid to depict battle in a very realistic manner, managing to show how people can die such senseless and horrible deaths. There is one particular sequence at the beginning of the movie that really numbs you.

As an example of the futility of war, it certainly delivers, and the plot concerning saving Private Ryan really concerns the Tom Hanks character, for he is the one who needs saving. The film does have flaws in its narrative, and the middle section is possibly 20 minutes too long, but, taken as a whole, the film is quite an achievement, and surely should have won the Best Picture Oscar. When viewed on video, the one major aspect that will be missed is the ultra realistic sound effects that manage to add a whole new dimension to the battle scenes, making you feel as if you are really there.

While this isn't Spielberg's best film, technically it is his most accomplished, and is an example of a filmmaker nearing the peak of his creative abilities. At the Oscars, Spielberg's face said it all - this deserved Best Picture.

9/10.

Deep Rising
(1998)

Over the top, this is a stinker of a movie
A bomb at the box-office (less than $15 million in takings), it's pretty obvious why it failed. It came out at a time when there were just too many monster (Anaconda, Relic, Mimic etc) movies floating about, but the real nails in its coffin come in the form of a D-list cast and cliche ridden script, which means it just sinks without trace.

Deep Rising's main problem is in deciding what it wants to achieve; it tries to imitate Aliens, then attempts comedy, then realises that it doesn't really know what it's trying to be, which leaves the audience clock-watching till the bitter end. It's obvious the director tried hard (he made The Mummy after this), but the dialogue and set pieces are just so trite, that no matter how hard the film tries, you end rooting for the giant squid, and wish that it would just swallow the whole crew up.

The movie even has the audacity to provide a 'plot twist' at the very end, but I think this is more in vain, than in hope. There isn't really anything to recommend here, apart from Treat Williams. If you like old Treat, then you may enjoy his attempts at being the action hero, which at times is quite unintentionally hilarious.

3/10.

Breakdown
(1997)

Small-scale thriller, with some twists along the way
Breakdown is small-scale thriller, which although shamefully overlooked on its cinema release, should find its home on video.

The key to making the film work is in the casting of Kurt Russell, who puts in a great performance, managing to convince you that he really is in a state of panic. JT Walsh should also be commended in what was one of his last good roles, before his untimely death. Although there are a couple of dodgy plot-holes, most notably the action of the sheriff, these aren't enough to distract from your enjoyment.

The subject of kidnapping has been one of cinemas most explored topics, and I suspect that's why this film was overlooked - audiences are fed up with kidnapping type movies. Still, if you're looking for a well made thriller, that manages to keep your attention, Breakdown should be one to look for at your local video store.

8/10.

Jerry Maguire
(1996)

Better than many might expect
In the 90's Tommy Cruise has been the undisputed box-office master, having managed the feat of starring in Five straight $100 million grossing movies (Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire). He can do no wrong, and Cameron Crowe manages to get another superb performance from him, in what is essentially a romantic drama.

The film, while relying on a dialogue heavy script, is really about triumph in the face of adversity. This is portrayed through Maguire who at one moment has it all, then the next minute has nothing, and so has to go it alone with one sole client. The Gooding character also faces a very personal battle, trying to salvage a career that is seemingly on a downward spiral. Ultimately, this is a feel good movie, which while clearly aimed at the female audience, is still an extremely professional production that a lot of men probably enjoyed but were frightened to admit it. Gooding thoroughly deserved his Oscar, and the highlight of the movie is still the "Show me the money" scene. Cameron Crowe is a director/writer to look out for in the future.

7/10.

From Dusk Till Dawn
(1996)

Over the top and instantly forgettable
This is one of Quentin Tarantino's earlier scripts, although this time he passes up directorial duties in favour of acting. The story really is simple - two bank robbers need to cross to Mexico, they kidnap a family and head to the meeting point, which is where the movie becomes an all out vampire action comedy. It's one of those films that is best viewed once only, and then forgotten. The highlight of the movie also happens to be the point that this movie of two-halves comes to life; a very erotic snake dance by Salma Hayek, who is so hot that the screen nearly melts.

It's a dumb film, and the script has no pretensions to be anything else (take note of the Pu**y speech by the long-haired dude). Clooney is by far the best thing in it, giving a cooler than cool performance whereas Harvey Keitel seems miscast as the preacher without faith, and Quentin, well, the only time I've liked him as an actor was when he delivered that hilarious pi***ng joke in Desperado.

There's gore aplenty, but sometimes the direction is pretty shoddy. Look at some of the scenes where Clooney is giving a mini-speech between bouts of vampire killing - in the background the vampires just seem to be wandering about without any purpose - it's quite cheesy really. If you want to see Clooney hamming it up, then look no further. If you're after something with brains, do not waste your time with this.

5/10.

Waterworld
(1995)

Not a total disaster, but near enough
This is one of those films that are difficult to judge for a variety of reasons. At the time, Costner could really do no wrong - he had made some great (JFK, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves) and some extremely popular (Robin Hood, The Bodyguard) movies and was on something of a role. However, Waterworld cost over $200 million, and took ages to complete. And therein lies the problem - people's expectation.

If you didn't know how much this cost, and provided you haven't seen Mad Max 2(Road Warrior), then this is probably a visually spectacular film that is fairly enjoyable. However, there are those people who can't see past the movies budget problems, and so take the opportunity to ridicule everybody involved with the film, when it really wasn't as bad as the critics made out - and actually made a fair bit of money world-wide.

I managed to overlook the budget, but what I couldn't forgive was how much similar to Mad Max 2 this movie was - too similar I felt. Which is why for me, it really wasn't that enjoyable. I suggest that you watch this movie first, then go and seek out Mad Max 2 - you'll probably find that MM2 has more tension and better direction, unlike Waterworld, which only manages to contain a great opening battle and that's about it.

4/10.

Braveheart
(1995)

Uplifting, entertaining, and extremely well-made.
In a mediocre year for the movies, this was one of the few highlights. A true epic, it tells the tale of William Wallace, one of Scotland's true heroic figures, in his battle for freedom from the English.

Being a Hollywood production, it really plays fast and loose with actual historical events and many Scots probably find this an embarrassment, considering how important a figure Wallace really was. Gibson, while doing his best, never really convinces, and it's left to the supporting cast to provide the real character moments, most notably Angus McFayden as Rob the Bruce. The film contains some extremely well crafted battle scenes, and is quite violent throughout, and if you can forgive the historical inadequacies, it is a truly moving picture.

This managed to win several Oscars, including the big two (director and best picture), and its clear why this was such a popular choice. Gibson weaves a truly exciting tale of hatred and betrayal, bringing back the somewhat forgotten figure of William Wallace, one of Scotland's truly historic leaders. The cinematography and music are wonderful and while the mood is sometimes very dark, especially during the battles, (well, this was filmed during the winter months), Scotland (and Ireland) do look quite marvellous.

Recently (June 99) this was re-released in a commemorative box-set in conjunction with the opening of Scotland's first parliament in 300 years and sold extremely well. It's obvious why, because Braveheart is a true epic, that if you can forgive the historically inaccurate plot, is one of the best movies of the 90's. A lot of people will feel a great sense of pride and hatred during this movie, but ultimately it manages to be entertaining, rather than a history lesson. If anything, this movie probably made a lot more Scots aware of Wallace, and many may have taken the effort to read up on the history to find the truth regarding this inspiring figure. Remember that this is a Hollywood movie, and should be treated as entertainment, not as a history lesson. Go to the library if you want the real truth.

9/10.

Batman
(1989)

The best of the Batman movies by a country mile
For its time, Batman was a superbly dark tale, which managed to make a star out of Michael Keaton, and a whole boat full of cash for the Joker Jack Nicholson. When compared to Batman & Robin, this is a cinematic masterpiece.

It was probably director Tim Burton's finest hour, managing to really bring to life the seedy Gotham City. It's a shame they took a different tone with the other movies, because in doing so, they took away a great deal that made Batman such an exciting movie to begin with. At the time it probably was a strange choice by casting Keaton as the hero, but out of the 3 Batmen, he is far and away the best, managing to give a depth to the character that Val Kilmer and George Clooney failed to manage. Far and away Keaton's best role, he never really made it 'big', opting for some offbeat thrillers, and occasional dodgy comedies.

Films based on comics are usually hit and miss affairs (take a look at Spawn for the prime example of how these types of movies can go horribly wrong), but this is probably the best comic adaptation to date.

8/10.

The Untouchables
(1987)

First class script, acting, and action.
Written by David Mamet, its clear how the producers managed to attract a first rate cast. The story revolves around Elliot Ness' (Costner) pursuit of the seemingly unstoppable Chicago crime boss Al Capone (DeNiro), and is a superbly written tale, which is quite violent at times. One particular incident concerns DeNiro's baseball batting of a board member, which is pretty gruesome.

Set in the 30's, it strangely never feels old-fashioned, probably due to the fact that Brian DePalma is at the helm, managing to bring a truly unique style to the proceedings. He also brings the best out of the cast, most notably Andy Garcia, in one of his better roles, and Sean Connery, who finally gets a long overdue Oscar for his portrayal of the doomed Irish Cop.

The Untouchables is one of DePalma's greatest achievements, managing to deliver a movie that is perfectly executed on all levels, and never has a dull scene. I rarely enjoy these types of old-style gangster movies, but this is one of the few that truly deserves the title 'classic'.

9/10.

No Way Out
(1987)

Under-rated tension filled political thriller
This is an extremely under-rated film. While being a political thriller, it should really be viewed as one of the great suspense/chase thrillers of the 80's. The casting of Gene Hackman adds an elevated sense of authority to the whole movie, and he puts in his usual professional efforts as the politician who knows there could be no way out. Actually, it is Costner who ends up having no way out, having been implicated in a death, and he has to work against the clock to prove what's really going on.

This is the first Costner film I had seen, and the crackling script is really brought to life by the director, who builds up an extreme sense of tension as the clock ticks away. Although some people will cite the finale as being somewhat telegraphed, it doesn't really detract from the rest of the film, which on many levels appears to be more intelligent than it actually is - a complete opposite to most movies of this genre.

The film will hold your attention throughout, and the Costner character acts as a precursor to his later effort in the equally superb JFK.

8/10.

Ronin
(1998)

The setting is the key to this movie
I suspect an action thriller set in Europe wouldn't be that appealing to some American's, but I managed to find a great deal of enjoyment in Ronin. The script, while not that great, is well written and is brought to life by Bob DeNiro and Jean Reno, both giving some wonderfully understated performances, only bettered by the first class cinematography.

A change of scenery from your average hollywood thriller, France makes an excellent setting for this tale of double-cross and intrigue, where the action pieces manage to be realistic taken in context. To appreciate the film, it should really be viewed in widescreen, since the two car chases are some of the best ever filmed and lose a lot of their impact when viewed on standard video.

I remember this film didn't perform that well critically or even in box-office terms, but it really is an enthralling two hours, directed by a true veteran who manages to breath life into what is essentially an old style thriller. Go rent the DVD and you won't be disappointed.

7/10.

Rush Hour
(1998)

Should have been better
It's hard to see how this movie was such a big hit. As a Jackie Chan movie, there isn't really a great deal of his usual inventive comedy martial arts, which suggests that Chris Rock is the key to making this buddy-buddy movie work. Rock is one annoying fella, not nearly as bad as he was in The Fifth Element, but still pretty distracting.

There is nothing original on offer here, which means all we are left with is the occasional funny line, and very occasional action scene. Jackie Chan has made far better movies than this, but with this success comes the probable sequel - yes, you guessed it: Rush Hour 2 - Bumper to Bumper!

4/10.

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