It made me smile; it made me cringe, the writing was brilliant; the writing was awful, it was subtle and witty; it was dim-witted and tiresome. It was, in fact, the best of times; it was the worst of times. 'Garfield' is one of the most frustrating movies of the year.
From the moment you first hear Bill Murray's voice you know the film-makers have got Garfield spot-on; it is one of the finest pieces of voice-over work ever to grace the silver screen. The casting of Bill Murray was a stroke of genius and lucky for all involved that he accepted the role. It's lucky too the writers decided to keep Garfield's dry wit and sense of humour. If it wasn't for these two things 'Garfield' would have been a complete washout.
The main problems come, not from Garfield, but from the surrounding characters and the plot. One of the strangest choices was the exclusion of CGI from all the animals but Garfield, meaning the CGI Garfield looked out of place amongst them all. One can think the only reason for the lack of other CGI characters was the lack of money to create them. The inclusion of a weird and wonderful array of supporting characters is one of the reasons the comic is so entertaining. Sadly, it was overlooked in the making of this film. Jon, the mice, Nermel and Liz were all underwritten and underused.
The plot grinded away, forcing Garfield to perform tasks that were completely out of character. This is only because it is necessary, in a children's film, for the main character to be the hero. When Toy Story (I+II), Finding Nemo, Holes, Antz and a whole plethora of others raise the bar for children's films, it's a shame studios feel they can still release ones like this. Where the plot is completely out of sync with the main character, the supporting characters are left out of the writing process and the plot goes through the motions as though it is the next in the succession of 'Beethoven' films. For now all we can do is bow down and thank the Gods for Bill Murray and those in the writing team that felt Garfield's cynicism was funny. Unfortunately this part of the writing team was not vocal for long enough.
Monster movies are few and far between nowadays. The B-movie is dying. It's a shame, because if they were all as entertaining as this we'd all be queuing up to see them. Not since the masterpiece of Tremors in 1990 has a truly good B- movie come along. We've had the nauseatingly dull and overblown Congo and
Anaconda and although we did get the spectacular Independence Day, it was
never really a monster movie. Now along comes Eight Legged Freaks an
homage to the monster movies of the fifties and a satire on the more recent films of this nature. Lines such as, `Come on we got to go! We got to get out of here! They're coming!' and `They're not aliens they're spiders mutated by
contaminated waste!' don't particularly work if you take them seriously. And this is where I think a lot of people stumble when they come to view Eight Legged
Freaks. They take it in as though we're still living in the fifties and monster movies were supposed to be taken seriously. Gremlins started it, Tremors
perfected it and now Eight Legged Freaks is poking fun at it.
Ellory Elkayem, the director, has a lot of fun playing around with the clichés and the actors do a fine job of not over acting. Surprisingly the director is able to handle both the laughs and the scares with an equal amount of adeptness. It's a fine and intelligent piece of direction, which you don't often see in Dean Devlin/ Roland Emmerich pictures.
It's difficult to criticise a film like this one that is continually having a laugh at itself. And while I chuckled throughout and was occasionally creeped out by
spiders the size of cars lurking, biting and enveloping; the film never seemed to rise above its self-referential humour. If the benchmark is Tremors, then this never lived up to it. By the time the final last stand takes place you've become a little tired and the ending is much welcomed.
But don't be too put off this is charming, light-hearted, funny, and occasionally scary stuff. Although there are better films of a similar genre out there this can be pigeonholed into `perfect popcorn fodder for a dreary Saturday night.'
Time-travel, love, God, death, and a big, scary rabbit are all on display in this wonderful and unusual film. Many people have given different theories as to
what it is all about and most of which you can see on the message boards here. But these are all discussions you can have after you watch the movie. And
being able to discuss something after you've seen it doesn't necessarily make it good. What Richard Kelly does is give us an entertaining, scary and stylish one hour and forty minutes.
The central character is a boy named Donnie Darko, a boy troubled by visions
of a large rabbit who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days. The rabbit is a wonderful demonic image with a voice to chill you to the bone. His name is
Frank. Nothing in Donnie Darko will be as you think it should. Kelly, who wrote and directed the film, creates a sinister setting out of an ordinary suburban neighbourhood. It's a surprising and challenging debut from a clearly talented director. The only problem I did have with this picture was that it left you
scratching your head constantly. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind having to think when I'm watching a film, but I felt we needed some kind of closure at the end what we get is a twist which just leaves us with more head scratching to do. Mulholland Drive springs to mind at this moment. A film which I liked more than this but an equally confusing film. The difference being, I wasn't
expecting an explanation at the end of Mulholland Drive. Donnie Darko bubbles along, suggesting we are going to be told what it is all about. But the
explanations are hidden and difficult to find. But the inspiring visuals and
believable characters pull you through an enjoyable and frightening ride.
Gyllenhall puts in a great performance as Donnie a highly intelligent and
curious character. Everything he does is understated always implying a more disturbing side to Donnie. Patrick Swayze is also great as the `inspirational' talker, trying to `combat fear'.
This is a great film and one you will be able to watch over and over. With Donnie Darko, Kelly reminds me of Lynch I hope Kelly keeps this dark and creative
side and keeps as consistent as Lynch has done.
P.S. For us brits this film came out a year after it did in America. Now why does this have to be? It really annoys me that I have to wait so much longer to see good American art-house movies when films like Spider-man and Star Wars are
There is so much wrong with this film that it's going to be difficult to explain to you why I enjoyed it as much as I did. And, don't get me wrong, the good points will follow after the next paragraph; patience.
Every plot turn, every character, and every choice in this movie is predictable: right down to the one-on-one punch-up in the last scene. Now, a predictable
movie can surely never be a good thing. It's why films with twists are always held in such high regard we, as an audience, like to be surprised. The Usual Suspects is a great film, but would it be considered so if not for the twist? M. Night Shyamalan is a making a career out of films with twists. So when an action film does nothing that Lethal Weapon didn't do 15 years ago, you'd expect a
well-informed audience to let out a rather long and loud sigh. But this film can be considered as something of an achievement. Now, let me try and explain to
This is Clark Johnson's directorial debut, and he handles the film with ease and style. Each scene is well set up and easy to understand with a refreshing
sense of realism added in. I get the feeling that what happens here could
happen in real life (discounting perhaps the last 30 minutes) now, this allows me to be sucked into the film. We get to see some kind of tactics and police
procedures allowing us to understand any plot developments (something that
was certainly overlooked in Bad Boys II this is a kind of Bad Boys II meets Training Day). While managing to keep the facade of macho gun-toting idiocy,
the film has an underlying, difficult to see, intelligence. You do have to look hard and wade through some of the cheesy dialogue, but I'm pretty sure that I saw it ("No roll?" asks one man to Sam Jackson. "They only roll in Jon Woo movies,
not in real life," he replies).
The action scenes are punctuated with such a high energy and pace things
never seem to be quiet with this S.W.A.T. team. The cast does well to keep us interested in what's happening (again, Colin Farrell puts in a great performance the brand new superstar who came from nowhere).
So, there I sat for 2 hours knowing fully well what was going to happen. This director still managed to draw me in, however. Now, I think that's a sign of a filmmaker who's going to go far.
10/10 I don't think I've seen a film this well made in a long, long time. Every shot seems to be a masterful stroke by Quentin Tarantino, and everything is framed beautifully by the cinematographer, Robert Richardson. I think this is one of the most wonderful looking film I've seen since The Thin Red Line. Also, like The Matrix before it, this is a master class in style; what takes this film above the Matrix, however, is Tarantino's ability to write wonderfully entertaining dialogue (rather than philosophical meandering and musings in The Matrix). You only need to go look on the 'memorable quotes' section of this page to realise the pure joy you can get from Tarantino's writing. What we are looking at during Kill Bill is a man that has very nearly perfected the art of direction.
There is a warning that must come to you people that haven't seen Kill Bill yet: you will be soaked with violence and blood. However, the violence here is not intended to shock you. Tarantino even decided to do one of the more horrific scenes in the movie (a young girl who sees her parents murdered) in manga animation. Whether he solely did this to lessen the shock value of the scene (which it does) is debatable I imagine he also wanted to pay homage to Japanese manga animation. Which brings me on to this the whole film is one giant homage to Japanese samurai/Hong Kong kung-fu films, to Akira Kurosawa (amongst other great Japanese directors), to Sergio Leone and to many others whose films have brought us great joy by watching two people hit each other, really rather hard. Tarantino even includes a wonderfully inventive and kooky device in which he bleeps out the real name of Uma Thurman's character whenever it is spoken. Even something as subtle as this is what separates Tarantino from everyone else; he's never afraid to be a little different.
There is one beautiful scene, during which Lucy Lui and Uma Thurman go head-to-head (this after one very long and very blood-soaked fight scene). Tarantino frames every shot perfectly, and with a great touch in an unforgettable ten-minute long scene - has snowflakes slowly falling down as the girls feet crunch into the fallen snow around them.
This is one of the best 'action' films I've ever seen, perfectly balancing the emotion, the action, and the comedy. While this is not as good as Pulp Fiction (whose complex storyline reshaped 90's cinema, and provided a film our generation could call, 'revolutionary'), it is Tarantino's second best film. The question now is, will Kill Bill Vol. 2 open its credits with: 'The 5th Film by Quentin Tarantino'? Either way, let's just hope it is not his last.
9/10 South Park is one of those terrific little films that people (and by people, I mean critics) find it hard to like. But like they did, only with the reservation that they were liking something that uses the f-word far too often for it to be clever. Who would have thought that this South Park creation would be getting a rating of 83% on rottentomatoes.com? It turns out that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have churned out an absolute gem of a movie. What surprised most people is that, basically, we have an eighty minute long musical. With this premise, Stone and Parker managed to create an incredibly original and funny political satire. Yes, that's right, political satire AND musical all in one; even if the satire is not exactly subtle. They pushed the boat out, trying to see how far they could go in this day and age. A brave move to make, and a move that paid off in abundance.
The best jokes come from a weird and wide variety of contexts, one example being the Satan/Saddam Hussein love affair. Stone and Parker have done well not only create something that is consistently funny but also to create a FILM - not just an extended episode of their series. You get the feeling that this story line would only work at the cinema, which is a massive achievement.
Although this is not life changing, nor is it one that will break all rules in film-making, it is extremely funny and inventive. In 1980, 'Airplane!' was released and provided a fresh look to comedy - taking slapstick to a whole new level. The jokes were certainly not subtle, and could easily be considered crass. The same goes here. And whilst the jokes have a little more depth (are Trey and Matt telling us that TV and films have gone too far or that peoples objections to TV and film go too far?) they don't have the same impact that the ones in Airplane! did all those decades ago.
For those that like to laugh at clever fart jokes (maybe this film has finally told us that a clever fart joke doesn't need to be an oxymoron) this is for you. For those that are offended by the use of swearing in movies, perhaps you should go see Toy Story 2. I gave this film 9/10.
In so many different and fabulous ways, Finding Nemo is a wonderful film. As a children's film, it enchants and creates a wonderfully exciting world. Like its predecessors (Toy Story, A Bugs Life, Monsters, Inc.), Finding Nemo provides a fantasy world based in reality something that, as children, we all dreamed could be true. As an animation, Pixar once again provide stunning visuals; each film made, somehow manages to look better than the last. The computers are getting better and the animators are getting more and more ambitious. Bright colours swirl around the ocean depths and it's one of those films you could watch without the sound on and just enjoy the marvelous imagery. And, last but not least, the writers have included much for us adults to be able to laugh at. Much of the writing is subtle, witty and brilliantly constructed (with at least one fart joke to keep us all happy).
Every character in this film was a joy to watch one of the rare films where I wouldn't have minded seeing more of any of the characters. This is where you have to give credit not only to the writers but also to the voice actors. Ellen DeGeneres was my favourite, as the slightly dippy and lovable Dory. Brooks does a good job in a difficult role (he mostly has to play his role serious).
This is one of the rare animations which has a wonderful narrative structure. The scenes are constructed in such a way that each set piece is intimately woven within the story, each providing their own integral part to plot development and character study. This is Pixars best film to date, and - considering Pixar have produced some of the best films (not just animations) of the past 8 years - this is indeed high accolade. Let's hope Pixar keep creating films this delightfully exuberant.
Amongst all the humour and breathtaking visuals, there are true emotions running through the crux of this film, from the surprising opening five minutes, to the heartfelt last five. This really is a film for everyone. And what a glorious film it is.
An extraordinary film, beautiful in both its compositions and its acting. The cinematographer, Conrad L. Hall, provides images of rain swept characters; men with deep, sorrowful faces looking from below the rim of their hat, the rain streaking down their long over coats. Aware of their fate, the men look into the shadows at the invisible assassin. Sam Mendes' first film (American Beauty) found simple elegance - a bag, floating in the wind. Here he finds beauty with every camera angle and every shot. Not a scene goes by that we don't admire; a lot of thought has gone into this film. Sam Mendes is clearly a man with an eye for detail. The camera moves majestically from scene to scene, providing us with a truly great visceral experience.
Unlike other films with an abundance of style (hello, The Matrix Revolutions), the plaudits don't stop at great camera work. Every actor puts in a magnificent performance as their characters gently brood over the morality of what they do. Tom Hanks plays a hitman (Michael Sullivan) for the local gangster (Paul Newman), a man he has known for a long time; a man he greatly respects. When his son finds out what his father does for a living he is deeply disturbed. It is this rift, between father and son, which dominates most of the film. There is also great sincerity shown between Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. Both the characters and the actors respect one another - the scenes between these two are great to watch. A special mention must also be given to Jude Law, an actor with immense talent. He gives us a character that is hunting Sullivan - a devious, snake-like man. He mooches around, hunched over, looking at us from beneath his brow. He seems to feel nothing, and is undisturbed by the murders he perpetrates. It is the man Sullivan would have been if it were not for the presence of his family.
While the story seems all too neatly tied together, and the script somewhat overly pretentious, it is the acting and the cinematography which draw you into the film. It is magnificent to watch and emotional and heart felt throughout. One line sums up ideology of the film: `This is the life we chose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will see heaven.' Michael Sullivan never pretends to be a good man all he wants is a better life for his son; he wants his son to see heaven.
Of all the Dogme films I've seen, this is the least offending and also, sadly, the least affecting. Both Celebration and The Idiots (and mostly the latter) shocked, and thus had great impact. Neither were true masterpieces but they did leave you with something to think about once you left the theatre. Mifune, on the other hand, plods along at an easy pace. We know how it's going to end (though I'm not going to give that away), and we know how the characters are going to act. It's nothing we haven't really seen before, and nothing we haven't seen done better (e.g., Leaving Las Vegas).
I may now be misleading you, because I didn't at all think this was a bad film and it gripped me from start to finish. This was due to some superb acting and some inventive direction something that's attracted me to each and every Dogme film. Jesper Asholt is impressive as the retarded brother of the main character. His performance was believable and understated, where it would have been so easy to over-act. Emil Tarding was also a joy to watch as the young son, Bjarke. Compared to many young actors he held himself well and wasn't overshadowed by his older counterparts.
The style of Dogme gives realism to any film but couldn't save this one from being, for want of a better phrase, Hollywoodized.' I guess I was just expecting something a little bit more challenging when I approached this as a Dogme film. This made me slightly disappointed when the credits rolled. However, the meandering of the plot and the rich multitude of characters made for an entertaining film. This it where it differed from a typical Hollywood film; the characters didn't always serve to move the plot onto the next page. Something perfected in the modern masterpiece, Pulp Fiction.
While an entertaining film, this lacked any real punch, separating it from both The Idiots and Celebration. For those that care, I gave this film 7/10.
Huh? What's that? You wanted an actual review? Oh, sorry. I just thought I'd make this review as blunt and pointless as the film itself. OK, I'm sorry, that was harsh - this sequel is better than the first. But, then again, that isn't saying much. This time round we have a slightly more coherent, lucid plot. The action scenes are handled much better this time round from the great director of Speed, Jan de Bont. One of the many complaints I had about the original was that I couldn't follow the action scenes. This time round, I don't have that complaint. The director and editor have worked well to make sure that each camera angle and each cut work well within the action. Jan de Bont clearly learnt from the mistakes of his predecessor (Simon West). These are the moments that I enjoyed in the film; action which made sense, and served to follow the plot. However, for every action scene I enjoyed, there were two or three which served no purpose and which made me smirk due to its banality. One example, Lara is moving along at considerable speed on a water ski, catching up with a boat. Then she inexplicably does a loop-the-loop in mid air on the water ski. Why did she do this? Well, I think it was just the stunt men (or women) showing off, proving to us that this film is going to be 'wicked cool.' There is also the moment when Lara punches a, quite clearly, computer generated shark and rides it to freedom. Oh, and the time when Lara rides her motorcycle part way down the great wall of China, only to jump off and begin riding on the dirt road parallel to the wall. I guess the director included this as it would be the only thing American audiences could relate to China. Yes, there was more than one example there, but the memories just came flooding back. Also, granted, these are the worse moments in the film, but you realise that it couldn't get any shoddier than this.
Jolie can be a great actress and is the perfect choice to play Lara Croft. She is clearly enjoying this role, and seems to have learnt a few of her fathers over-acting tricks. The baddie, the evil millionaire, is played well, and is more enjoyable than the baddie in the first film. A man who is after only money, clearly must be an evil man. As true in this as in a thousand other films before it.
A dark and meticulous tale, based around the murders of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel, London. The films look is no more than what you would expect from a one based on Jack the Ripper. Dark shadows loom over the characters as the satanic nature of The Ripper is emphasised. It's such an intriguing story and character that every time I watch a film based on this story I come away slightly disappointed. This time was no exception. While the acting was good (minus some quite unconvincing cockney accents - Heather Graham and Johnny Depp, I'm talking to you) and the direction assured, the script seemed a little reserved. There was no great insight into any of the characters, and much of it played out like a simple murder mystery. But this didn't stop me from enjoying the 120 or so minutes.
Why did I enjoy this film, I hear you ask? For a start, the direction was superb - the streets of London looked grimy, while the `unfortunates' (i.e., prostitutes) wandered around in squalor awaiting their fate. This produced a wonderful atmosphere, creating murder scenes that were much more terrifying and shocking (and very gruesome). Johnny Depp's performance (as the detective Abberline), as always, was hugely enjoyable to watch. He played his character in a very subtle way - halfway between comic and serious. He portrays a desperate man, constantly resorting to drugs so he can pass through the day. Depp and the filmmakers see him as a version of Sherlock Holmes, constantly finding clues that other police officers have overlooked (cliched, yes, but somehow Depp provides a little bit of originality). Abberline even suggests that the killer must be a learned man! How could this be?! While dismissed by all the other characters in the film (for a learned man would never commit acts of such debauchery), we as an audience know better not to trust a detective like this - their preposterous ideas are usually right. Another actor to praise in this is the wonderful Ian Holm. He plays his character with a wry little smile, seemingly enjoying every line he says. His interactions with Depp are great to watch.
While the film provides little to ponder on once the credits have rolled, you can leave satisfied that you have seen a stylish and enjoyable film. The Hughes brothers seem to be a talented pair of directors.
A film that begins in the same vain as other murder mysteries, slowly develops into something more; a much deeper study into one mans psyche as he spirals into paranoia and depression. You will soon find that your mind begins no longer to wonder who the killer is, but begins to think more about Jack Nicholson's character (Jerry Black) and his motives. Black is a detective who, on the day of his retirement, takes one last case - the murder of a young girl. On the same day he promises the parents of this girl that he will find the killer. This promise will haunt the man for the rest of his life and, unsurprisingly (given the title), the film is centred around Black's search for the killer. However, it is not a simple, formulaic plot about car chases, hidden clues, Hollywood pizazz and an easy revelation at the end of it all. The story is handled masterfully by Sean Penn who manages to create tension and suspense while presenting us with a character we both care and worry for. The film becomes more about Jerry Black than about the search for the killer.
This is one of Nicholson's best performances for quite some time and with a slight look at the camera, he is able to provide us with greater insight into his character (something lesser actors strive all their career to accomplish). What we are seeing is one of the greatest actors of all time, at his best. Like in About Schmidt, Nicholson gives us a subdued, understated performance - both much better than what he won an Oscar for in 'As Good As It Gets.'
Now, on to Sean Penn. This is only his third film to date as director and is also his best. Penn has previously said that he would rather be a director than an actor. If this were true, although we would lose one of our generations best actors, we would also gain a great director. He manages to handle the material brilliantly and provides us with a stylish and thoughtful film. By the end, the revelation of who is the killer becomes overshadowed by Nicholson's decent into paranoia, alcoholism and eventually madness (something more expertly done than in The Shining - a much overrated film, in my opinion). He loses the people he cares for and his oldest and dearest friends begin to call him a 'clown.' He becomes so obsessed with the search for the killer he makes decisions that would put people he loved in harms way - using a young girl as bait, for example. This is not the portrayal of a great man nor does it have a happy ending. But, it is the portrayal of a man who has the right intentions and of a man who wants to see justice served.
I feel I need to go on a bit of a rant after seeing this film. Tomb Raider appears to be another film that insists on giving us action scenes which are not only poorly directed but also poorly edited. I presume the choreographer did a good a job though his work will go unnoticed due to the butcher job Mr. Simon West did with all his hard work. I, for one, could not fathom what was going on in any of the gun-toting action sequences. With The Matrix setting bench marks in action film making it still seems surprising to me when directors use this approach to fight scenes, allowing us only fractions of a second to decipher the scene. In the past few years alone both the Wachowski's (The Matrix) and Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger) managed to give measured and assured fight scenes in which we could see the motions and the choreography. I'm surprised at how bad the action in this film was, seen as Simon West did the hugely enjoyable Con Air. It seems that he has worsened with age.
What about everything else in this film, I hear you say? Well, Angelina Jolie is assured and does her job well, but is not outstanding. As for the rest of the actors - I didn't really notice any special performances. Only Chris Barrie (aka Arnold Rimmer) was a shining beacon as he proved huge Hollywood blockbusters were as easy as doing small, low-budget BBC sitcoms. The script was undetectable and did not make the slightest bit of sense. In fact, it seemed that Lara could have prevented the world from ending a good hour before the end of the film. But I would have accepted the discrepancies in the script if getting to the end of the ninety minutes was enjoyable, and not a chore. Alas, it was not to be.
When I went to see this film I was not expecting a work of groundbreaking film making. I was, however, expecting some nice enjoyable popcorn fodder, along the lines of Blade, Triple X, X-Men 2 and Eight Legged Freaks. What I in fact got was a banal exercise in poor editing and bad direction. I just hope that come Tomb Raider 2 the producers have learnt a few lessons and won't accept an inferior multi-million dollar product. Something more exciting next time, please.
An early French chiller that set a benchmark in horror film making, with its unflinching depiction of horrific acts of surgery. The films sole purpose is to shock you in revealing things never before seen in 1959. Unfortunately, we are now in the age of cheap teen horror flicks and action films that feel the need to throw gore in our faces at every possible moment thus diminishing the impact of this film when watching it. Especially now we're in the 21st century, many of the scenes are comparatively tame. This does not mean, however, I disliked the film. Quite the contrary. Eyes Without A Face contains some truly terrifying images that make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The use of a woman in a white mask (a technique used so well in films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th) provides the films more memorable and spine tingling moments. It's the clever use of shade and light that make this possible as the director and cinematographer provide us with long -lasting images to chill to the bone.
The pace of the film is also worth a mention. Franju (the director) keeps us on the edge of our seat as the rich upper class couple lead young women into their house in order to remove their face! For some the pace could prove rather too slow - as in truth it did for me once or twice. But the payoffs from the slow pace offset any problems posed by it. It actually comes as a relief from the many directors who, in this day, believe that quick cuts and loud noise provide terror. Maybe it's time they delved back into the likes of this film, Halloween and Psycho to provide them with a few inspirations. I can think of only a handful of directors that have provided me with any real fright in the past ten years - M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense and Signs), Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) and Wes Craven (Scream) are some of the few I can mention. Other films like the truly awful Jeepers Creepers and Thirteen Ghosts, which served no real purpose what-so-ever, provided me with quick cuts and loud noises - neither of which particularly endeared me to their cause. Call me an old fuddy duddy, but it's time they made more horrors like they did in the old days - films with real suspense and images which truly frighten; films like this one.
Well, that's my moan over with. I gave this film 8/10, for those that care.