stephen-chalmers

IMDb member since July 2006
    Lifetime Total
    10+
    IMDb Member
    14 years

Reviews

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
(2010)

Quiet and boring in places.
This seventh of the Harry Potter books transferred to the big screen continued the darker and more grown up phase of the development of the story. Unfotunately Harry Potter has been on the go for so long now with such long breaks between film instalments of the book that there is a feeling that it is being deliberately spun out just to keep the revenue stream for as long as possible. Harry Potter was unique and wonderful when it first appeared but I feel it is past its sell by date and remembering how it all started is a dim and distant memory. This episode has nothing to do with Hogworts School, the young (actually not so young now) wizards have left school and are seeking to destroy things called horcruxes which will in turn destroy the power of the dark lord Voldemort. This episode in the long epic story sees the final book being split into two parts, so we'll have to wait yet another year for the concluding part! There were long boring parts in which very little happened - the silent parts in a busy auditorium resulted in hearing all the distracting sounds of sweet papers rustling, people talking and other distractions which normal film sound tracks would have masked. Cannot help but feel the movie makers are deliberately spinning this out and much of this episode could easily have been condensed without losing the plot. Having said that it did contain much of the HP wizardry and the unique JK Rowling formula that has created the Harry Potter phenomenon over the last decade. I think it should really have run its course by now however.

Genghis Khan
(1965)

pretty awful
Having read Conn Iggulden's Wolf of the Plains trilogy I came to this movie to see more of the Genghis Khan legend. Whilst the novels are themselves loosely based on the history, this movie is way off track. It is difficult to see from this version how Temujin who later became Genghis Khan could have united warring Mongol tribes. It would have needed someone with immense strength of body and character, and Omar Shrarif's character just did not portray this. Robert Morley as the Chinese Emperor was amusing but nobody else had any credibility especially Temujin's wife, Bortei played unconvincingly by Francoise Dorleac as far too western. Considering Genghis Khan achieved the unification of a Mongol nation at the beginning of the 13th Century, the film set looked more like early 20th Century Wild West. Give this one a miss, if you are interested in the history go elsewhere, if it is a good action adventure set in the Mongol steppes then look elsewhere also.

Where Eagles Dare
(1968)

Great action movie though flawed
This was really a vehicle for Messrs Eastwood and Burton, nobody else got a look in and there was nothing in the way of character development for any of the rest of the cast. Although based on the MacLean novel, the historical points relating to German military procedure and behaviour were way off mark. You hardly saw the Nazi salute or a Heil Hitler at all, where historical footage from the Nazi era shows clearly that it was common, indeed required. There were loads of inexplicable things like when Eastwood crept up on a radio operator from behind with the idea of knifing him, then when discovered shot him anyway. The Germans, especially the guards, come over as just fodder for Burton and Eastwood's machine gun fire, somewhat unrealistic. Watching this for the first time you could well get thrilled with the action and suspense, but its weaknesses become all too apparent if you think about it and on a second viewing. Alistair MacLean is undoubtedly a master of suspense action dramas but the lack of attention to detail in Eagles left reality behind for a gun-toting rampage through reality and belief was a bit too much in this case.

Knowing
(2009)

Suspense, disaster scenes, dodgy ending.
I did not know what to expect with Knowing and avoided reading reviews etc so I went in with an open mind. It starts off well enough, the time capsule idea is well done and the revelation of the dates and times of disasters is great. The movie has quite intense moments, something I don't experience too often, and the three disaster scenes, the aircraft, the subway trains and the solar flair are brilliantly carried off. About half way through the time I was beginning to have doubts about what sort of movie this was. I was half thinking it was of the DaVinciCode genre but humanoid aliens acting in a sinister manner who later turn out to be child abductors to an alien planet - well really! I know you should not question too closely when it can spoil your enjoyment of the experience, but with Knowing the end was really too much of a let down. I enjoyed it all the same for the sheer unexpectedness of the plot, the reasonably good acting by Cage and the effects.

The Core
(2003)

reality out the window
I usually like disaster movies, you take the scenario with a pinch of salt and enjoy the action scenes and the suspense. With The Core however the imagination is stretched beyond acceptable limits as it is obviously so much rubbish that even a non technically minded person would twig it was twaddle. It's not as if the acting was well done, for it isn't, neither the script which is poor and even the effects are second rate. It must be difficult coming up with good ideas for new movies, but The Core scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Don't bother with this one, there are plenty others in the disaster genre that are much more credible.

The Incredible Hulk
(2008)

Action movie but politically dubious
In many ways this was an amazing cinematographic work of art, the action scenes were fantastic and the military force and co-ordination used to try and catch Banner/Hulk was superbly done. Yet this was the slightly disturbing aspect of the thing. Here was the US portrayed as gung-ho again, being able to "invade" other countries at will, endanger innocent lives and permit a rogue general powers that were way beyond reality. Okay so it was only a fantasy story in the Batman, The Incredibles genre, but I nevertheless found myself despising the US Government and its power which so easily could be turned to evil, perhaps it was a warning! Nevertheless with these feelings aside the story was far better executed than in the last Hulk offering (2003) though I have seen better acting from the main stars it has to be said. Liv Tyler (Betty) kept reminding me of Arwen in The Lord of the Rings though John Hurt's performance as the power-crazed army general was awesome. I did sit riveted throughout but came away feeling disturbed and the somewhat "open" ending (no spoilers) clearly left the path open for follow-up movies in the future, though I'll not be holding my breath.

United 93
(2006)

better than expected
Somehow I expected, due the emotive subject matter, a somewhat sickeningly patriotic propagandist movie - but it was none of that! Though we shall never know the exact words said and the actions taken on board that airliner, we can believe it must have been something of the sort.

Of course we knew the outcome, but I found myself nonetheless willing the passenger uprising to succeed and in the final minutes the intensity was enormous.

The hand-held camera movement (as in the Bourne movies) was irritating, especially for the scenes on the ground. Also I felt the lack of visual reference points on the plane, for example the lack of scenery out of the windows to give a greater sense of height was missing - at some points you felt the cabin was a studio set as all shots showing windows were "white".

It was a haunting and realistic movie, sensitively portraying the events as they must have unfolded on that fateful day from the perspective of flight United 93.

The Bourne Ultimatum
(2007)

Unique in its genre.
In general I steer clear of shoot-em-up, all-action, violent movies, but Bourne is different! The third in the sequence (last?) still makes heavy use of the hand-held camera and in the heavy fight and action scenes you are never quite clear who is winning till a body drops eventually! But because of this it is unique, and unlike other hand-held camera movies like the Blair Witch Project which did not work, in this case it was a great success. Right through to the end you were rooting for Bourne and it even managed to build in the audience an anti-CIA, anti-establishment sentiment of which Bourne was the champion. The prevailing worldwide surveillance capability, even in far off places like Tangiers was awesome, if somewhat unbelievable. I felt the lack of tangible love/human interest which could have been developed, indeed the character of Bourne himself, especially since this was the last (?) of the trilogy. I felt this was as strong as the first two of the series and was sitting awestruck right though to the end, which came rather abruptly I have to say!

Falling from the Sky: Flight 174
(1995)

Too many errors
This may have been based on historical events, and we know that the makers of this TV docu-drama took liberties to make it more dramatic - I can live with that - but it was just so badly done! I was amazed in the event of an unfolding mid-air crisis how calm everyone seemed, surely someone would have panicked, and what a smooth flight, no passenger discomfort apparent - come on! Not sure about the regulations, nowadays some of the airline security stuff seems OTT nonsense, but why take your shoes off before the emergency landing, common sense tells me this is not a good idea! The shots of this massive airliner coming down on this remote airstrip were unconvincing and fake. In reality it would have been an awesome sight viewed from the ground nearby, in this movie it was out of proportion and looked like the model it probably was. Escape slides appeared at the front and mid emergency doors, yet nobody appeared to exit from the front, even though the drop was much less. The Captain went back into the plane after the landing - why? this was never explained. We know the emergency landing was due to being out of fuel, but even so there must have been some fuel sloshing around at the bottom of the tanks, and the risk of explosion must have been a very real danger, yet the evacuation seemed almost leisurely, and everyone stands around at the foot of the escape slides instead of getting as far away as possible, as I am sure I would have done. There were just too many inconsistencies, errors and faked action in this. I would have preferred to have seen a representation of the drama in real time, and with realistic motion of the plane portrayed. It had the potential to be quite thrilling, but doubtless due to the budget restrictions failed, and made one feel that a plane losing all engines was no big deal really, and you would safely glide down to a bit of a bumpy landing, but no real danger! - the reality of course being somewhat different!

The Bourne Supremacy
(2004)

Irritating to watch but full of action.
This was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, with hand to hand fights, car chase, and almost incessant action. I really felt for poor Bourne, he couldn't escape surveillance. It was really scary to think that wherever one goes you could be monitored, Big Brother is watching! There was hardly any respite from wall to wall action, the technique of hand-held cameras and fast zooming in and out became irritating after a short time, it may have sustained the tenseness but was sore on the eyes. It was good thriller plot and had a dialogue that may have been a bit difficult to follow at times but better than some higher profile movies I could mention. I enjoyed it but suggest you see The Bourne Identity first.

Explorers
(1985)

kids sci fi that degenerates into 60's pop art.
If you ever thought how nice it would be to make a spacecraft out of junk yard rubbish then this is the movie for you. Two junior high schools friends (played by Ethan Hawke & River Phoenix) have mysterious dreams about how to create an airtight bubble that flies. Teaming up with a third friend and an 80's spectrum computer they find out how to make the bubble fly. Building a spacecraft out of junk yard scrap they realise that their dreams were not by chance but driven by some alien force which will make contact with them. I think in the mid 1980's this might just have been acceptable but with the development of personal computers, miniaturisation and even walkie talkies without long telescopic antennas the "technology" was just a bit too far-fetched. I try to accept many things with sci-fi but this was stretching the imagination just a bit to far. Nonetheless you are captivated right up until the take off in the bubble and eventually flying off into space. Unfortunately the story line becomes somewhat disappointing as time goes on, never quite making up its mind whether it was a 60's pop art thing or a spoof sci-fi send up. Kids would have loved it at the time, though it had little international appeal, and probably fails to stand the test of time.

Ice
(1998)

well, I enjoyed it!
This made for the small screen movie in the disaster genre may have been full of questionable scientific facts but accepting things as you were given them, then the acting and general tempo were okay. There are some movies where it is best not to ask too many questions just sit back and be entertained - this was one of them. The lack of big star cast did not seem to detract from the effect and though clearly shot on a small budget (the snowflakes were so fake!) it was reasonable nonetheless.

A group of miscellaneous stereotypes, the white macho law enforcer, the black criminal with the chip on his shoulder who's not so bad once you get to know him, the mad professor who's not likable at all, the ex and the new lover with the new boyfriend. Plenty scope for character development, though much of it was predictable. As a huge freeze-up almost in no time seems to plunge Los Angeles into Arctic frigidity people seem to die frozen at the wheels of their cars or anywhere else as if completely unexpected. Our super-heros seem to be able to move around with relatively little extra clothing only the occasional leg wrapping or blanket as a token towards the predicament.

The general "plot" is that a rescue ship is being sent to pick up our disagreeable scientist and our group seem to think this is the best option they have of escaping from the freeze-up so a purpose and direction is created, however thin and questionable it may seem. We seem to accept much science fiction which is far more questionable, take the Star Wars nonsense for example, yet here we have a plausible scenario. The sun could throw a wobbly and the effects on our planet could be life-threatening, I have no problem with the subject matter. I would not buy the DVD however but have seen a lot worse than ICE.

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