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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Don't let 'that' scene put you off, this is well worth checking out
Speaking as someone who has not seen the Swedish adaptation of the famous series or read the books for that matter, I had little to go by on what to expect other than what i had seen in the trailers and heard about from friends, so I was going into the film fresh and I can say that I highly recommend it.

As with The Social Network, Fincher strikes the perfect balance between involving the audience with all the information on screen while not overloading them at the same time. It is tricky to do, but with his talent in directing, the film's two hour plus running-time goes by in a flash. The film is in many ways a master-class in all that it does; from perfectly honed performances to the fantastic editing (edited by the Oscar winning team who did The Social Network and won again for this).

Prior to this Rooney Mara had a only a few noticeable roles to mention, but does a fantastic job settling in as the film's protagonist, Lisbeth. Daniel Craig gives a subtle understated performance as her partner who work together to solve a 40-year old plus murder. Supporting actors including Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgård are also brilliant.

The only weakness that I can think to mention is that we are sometimes unsure of who the main suspects are as the film moves at such a pace, however this is not Scooby Doo and the film features several scenes to remind you of that.

Whether or not Fincher chooses to continue with the series, he has made yet another fantastic film that is well worth checking out but not when eating.

Safe House

Overlong, humourless, seen-it-before action.
The concept for Safe House sounds cool and exciting with lots of promise - A CIA agent's safe house in South Africa becomes under attack when an important person is interrogated. From there, the agent must keep the VIP safe as they are chased through SA until the CIA can get a team in and rescue them. Sounds simple enough. The story has plenty of opportunity for some fast-paced action and with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds leading the way this could be really good. Training Day in South Africa? Far from I'm afraid.

Despite starting off with a lot of unnecessary shaky hand-held camera angles, the film soon gets going as Denzel is captured and brought into the Safe House. From there he is questioned and things start to look bad as a knife is brought out when... mysterious bad guys break in through one single door and manage to kill everyone except the leads. The film could have had a mini Assault on Precinct 13 style action scene but it is poorly handled and gets the film off to a bad start.

Sold as a straight-forward action film, it does just that but despite a few impressive hand-to- hand fight scenes, the action is just poorly shot and that really hurts the film, particularly towards the end. It is also just too long at 115 minutes for such a paper thin story. Sam Shepard, Vera Farmiga and Brendon Gleeson are given little to do with roles that should have gone to smaller actors, so you don't see how truly wasted they are.

Denzel is always great in whatever he does but the film remains humourless throughout it's running-time, when the role needed a touch of charisma to help make it more enjoyable. Reynolds (who was great in the mediocre Smokin' Aces) manages to give a decent performance but again, without any humour in an action film like this, it becomes over- serious and tedious towards the end.

If the film was shorter, the dry, serious tone wouldn't be as much of a problem but as it is, this has been done before and has been done better.


Tom Hardy shines again with another great performance.
Sometimes when you see a director's name on a new film, you imagine it to be like their previous work. In this case I was expecting The Road or something on that level but with prohibition instead of an apocalypse, so it made for a refreshing change to see that John Hillcoat has taken a different direction in his new film with a lighter(ish) atmosphere. The screening I was in had the audience laughing at the jokes and cringing at the violence, which combined with a well-told (if well trodden) story, made for an enjoyable viewing experience.

While the story of the film may appeal to fans of that era, it is the cast which will likely be the reason why people will come to see this film. It boasts a good list of names and are all brilliant. Tom Hardy brings out another terrific performance as Forrest, the middle brother, Shia LaBeouf gives what could be his strongest performance yet as the youngest and Jason Clarke as the oldest brother is great but doesn't get the screen time, which is a shame since he brought his character to life with such energy, I wanted to know more about him. Speaking of screen time, much has been said about Gary Oldman and while it is true that is only in the film for no more than three scenes roughly, he does a great job, showing his dedication to even the smallest of roles.

Guy Pearce stars as the city police officer who shakes things up from the moment he arrives on screen, and while his performance does veer on the comic, almost belonging to another film entirely, he is fantastic to watch and gives energy to the film. With such a strong male cast, Jessica Chastain manages to hold her own and bounces off Tom Hardy's character well. Even the smaller performances of Mia Wasikowska and Dean DeHann impress. Although LaBeouf's and Wasikowska's relationship needed more time to truly develop.

My only major complaint about the film is the pacing and movement from scene to scene. After once particular scene, the film just cuts to black similar to a TV programme when on a cliffhanger. In one scene a character has bruises and in the next he doesn't, one scene looks like a hot day in Virginia, in the next it is snowing and then it isn't. Some indication into the time would have helped the film but that is only a minor complaint.

Ultimately it's the performances that make the film. While it may not be entirely original, it is certainly entertaining. Hardy's performance shows that he is well on his way to becoming one of cinema's greatest.


A 130 minute effects demo
Based on the board game of the same name, I guess you can say that Battleship delivers on what it promises but with aliens for enemies. There is a lot of action, but unlike the board game that features a lot of hits and misses, the film tends to miss most of the time.

After a tedious introduction, the aliens are eventually introduced and ILM take over delivering visually impressive effects again and again but unfortunately there is no sense of danger or emotion. With three ships caught in a force field as they are shot upon to pieces, there should be a sense of danger but there isn't any. Instead the film plays its biggest hand first with a lengthy mind-numbing action scene, taking away any sense of escalation for the film.

While the CGI is great, it lacks any sense of immersion, choosing wide (shaky) shots of the action, rather than getting in close to the characters who are in danger and could soon die. Yet the film will zoom in up close to a sphere-like robot as it mindlessly destroys a freeway. It is ironic then that the best scene is almost devoid of effects, as the characters use a computer, similar to the layout of the board game, to fight the aliens at night. There is a slight sense of suspense and allows for a break from the rest of the mindless action.

CGI effects aside, the script and direction is all sub-par, giving uninteresting scenes so that we, the audience might relate to the characters. The actors are all poorly used including Liam Neeson who can usually help a film like this. However, Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano helps to keep the film's head above the water whenever he is on screen, providing military tactics to Taylor Kitsch.

By the end, the film is an unsatisfying mess, taking a couple of minutes towards the end for everyone to have their photo taken together using a product placement phone... With The Avengers currently out and so many other great films on the way, there is little reason to choose this.

The Avengers

Joss Whedon sets the bar high for future Marvel films.
Putting Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man all into one film was never going to be easy, what with die-hard fans of certain characters demanding they each have their moment to shine. However, Joss Whedon succeeds in creating such a balanced film with a huge cast, he makes it look effortless. Avengers Assember/ The Avengers (take your pick) is one of the best films of the year and it hard to think of any other director who could have pulled it off. Sure there are many other great directors out there, but Whedon ensures that you don't to have of read the comics to appreciate this.

The cast, direction, the script, the editing (very smooth), cgi, cinematography etc is amazing but I'm sure this has already been a lot mentioned about it. What made the film for me personally is the sense of camaraderie between all the characters as they work together, that is essential in any war/ team film that depicts people working together. Each character is also nicely developed, particularly Bruce Banner aka Hulk. Supporting members including Nick Fury, Hawkeye and Black Widow are also given their time to shine, and each actor is well cast.

While Loki's motif could have seen a little more development, the film feels nicely rounded and the action is amazing to watch as New York is torn apart. The film is funny in places but never feels goofy or unnecessary (pay attention Michael Bay). Whedon's ability to keep the action fresh ensures that this film never falters and becomes tired.

Avengers Assemble is an amazing film that gives the audience what they want and more, and is a sure contender for the best superhero film to date. While The Dark Knight Rises comes closer to its release, it is important to note that these are two very different films. Regardless, there is something for everyone and I strongly recommend watching it on the big screen.

The Hunger Games

Not having read the book I enjoyed it but far from great
Over a week after seeing the film, giving me time to decide whether as good as the hype made it out to be, I am now ready to give my opinion. First-off The Hunger Games is a good film, whereby the cast are great, there is a sense of atmosphere and delivers what it promises. However, is it as good as how everyone hoped it to be? Well what is but this film has many flaws.

While I can't blame a teen-oriented film for not showing the killing of multiple young people clearly, blood and everything, the director thought it would be better to zoom in hand-held camera with quick cuts so you never get a clear view to avoid offending its audience and receiving the 15/R rating. The overall effect is distracting and cheapens the film. If you intend to show something, then show it! The film's half-hearted attitude to the violence felt indecisive, not sure whether to stay true to the books or to make something family friendly.

This is a much talked about issue and there is more that could be said, however the film does have its moments. Half the running time is set before the game begins and creates a tense atmosphere as the games move closer and closer. As mentioned the cast are great and the film allows time to develop their characters. Some scenes, particularly flashbacks, did feel poorly handled though and if more time had been spent developing them, I believe it would have improved the film immensely.

As it stands, the film is good, however the direction is not all that strong. The climactic fight felt poorly handled, which is a shame since it also successfully developed the antagonist. Two CGI scenes were weak and did not add anything to film. While I did enjoy it, the film lacked a certain edge needed to keep me invested in what will happen next for the characters. Looking at the box office, hopefully the sequel will build on what this achieved and make up for its shortcomings.

The Three Musketeers

OTT nonsense but will entertain those in search of escapism
Sometimes you can determine if a film will be for you by looking at the director; for example Spielberg and Nolan because their films remaining consistent in what audiences expect from them. Martin Scorsese broke the mold with Hugo - a film made a much wider audience and that children can watch. Before I make comparisons with them to Paul W.S. Anderson, this does differ slightly from his usual mix of bloody violence and the usual dark atmosphere. The Three Musketeers is bright, breezy and entertaining - the later being something he has tended to miss in last few films.

While it is certainly not perfect and no where near Pirates of the Caribbean, which it so clearly aims for, the film is fun to watch if underdeveloped. Characters are introduced quickly and the action soon follows. For a film advertised on its CGI-heavy action scenes, it is the sword fights between the Musketeers and the Cardinal's men that are the most enjoyable to watch. The fight choreography can be brutal if a little bloodless while the CGI airship battles lack a sense of danger.

The four leads (Macfadyen, Evans, Stevenson and Lerman) make the most of a sub-par script and keep things moving. It is only when they are not on screen that the film begins to drag. While Waltz, Bloom and Mikkelsen are good villains, they are never given the dialogue that will allow them to reach their full potential.

Regardless, at just over 90 minutes, there are worser films out there and this is one worth checking out if you are interested. Just don't expect to find yourself watching it again.


An entertaining first half is weighed down by an unnecessarily complex second
For those who grew up on the original, this was never going to compare but for the rest of us regardless if you have seen the first or not, had the possibility to surprise. While it delivers on stunning visuals and a brilliant soundtrack, the film outstays its welcome with a weak second half.

In the first half, we are introduced to this new and exciting world where there are arena tournaments between two fighters, light cycle races and unique backdrops. It looks and sounds incredible, how the film did not get an Oscar nomination for its effects is still a question to me. However all that was enjoyable in the first half becomes diluted as the film tries to establish an annoyingly complex story about Clu, the antagonist trying to enter the human world or something like that. There is also a character twist but with all the henchmen looking the same, it became hard to differentiate one villain from the other.

Obvious connotations to God and how he does not intervene with the world can be made with Kevin Flynn, played charmingly by Jeff Bridges, but never resonate to much. The film starts to loose its way when it could have been great, Kevin makes a dramatic entrance to save his son, Sam and friend but instead just escorts them out. Any other director would have used this scene to its full potential and had an exciting fight scene where one fights many.

Something similar happens later when Sam is locked in room with two guards. Again the set- up is great as he prepares to fight but what happens next takes place outside the room. It is disappointing, maybe an issue due to the budget but something things are better shown than implied when the protagonist is the avatar for the audience and they are new to environment.

But it is the first half that you will remember by the end of the film. The cast are good and Garrett Hedlund makes for a solid protagonist. The CGI is brilliant justifying the purchase of a blu-ray to bring the action scenes to life in HD. While the second half falls flat in places, the never does anything offensively bad making it worth checking out for fans of action and science-fiction films.


"Style over substance" some might say but the majority will find this thoroughly entertaining
From the trailers, many predicted a knock-off version of 300. Then news of 3D being applied in post-production brought the inevitable comparisons of Clash of the Titans *shudder*. However what kept my interest and others was the involvement of Tarsem Singh, recognised for creating visually amazing films and as I left the cinema, I was glad the film did not disappoint.

Like 300 and Clash of the Titans, audiences go in expecting entertainment and not a history lesson. While I have always been interested in Greek Mythology, I did not mind the film did not stay true to the stories and created its own universe. The film delivers on fantastic visuals, bloody action and a generally strong cast. While the script was not necessarily perfect, I do not remember any particularly bad lines. In hindsight, I would have preferred a bit more time developing the characters but they are given a suitable amount of backstory so that the plot can progress forward.

Once again, Singh and his art direction team deliver on striking sets and costumes. The art style is beautiful to look at and the CGI is used to support the film rather than becoming the main focus. I hope that the Oscars notice the films art directing as it is distinct and worthy of some recognition. The cinematography never faltered and assisted in bringing the locations to life.

Henry Cavill gives a strong, likable performance as Theseus and proves that his is physically capable of donning the red cape as Superman. Mickey Rouke is suitably menacing and will keep audiences on the edge of their seat, not knowing what horrible act of violence he will do next. Supporting cast members including Freida Pinto, Stephen Dorff and Isabel Luca were good in their roles but needed more screen-time so that they actually felt relevant to the story. Freida Pinto's character plays a major role at the start but in the final act, she is barely anywhere to be seen. John Hurt makes a small appearance in the film and is only really there to help move the story along but he is as good as ever. Another actor that deserved more screen-time was Luke Evans as Zeus. His performance as Zeus was brilliant but was not featured enough throughout the film. The same can be said for the rest of the gods, who only really get one chance to shine at the end.

More importantly is the action in the film - while it is not as action-packed as the trailer might suggest, it certainly delivers on its entertainment value. The fight choreography is incredible to watch and is shot well, allowing for audiences to actually see what is happening. The final confrontation with Theseus is suitably and refreshingly violent while other fight scenes focus on offering spectacle.

While not necessarily the perfect action film, it should satisfy those waiting for the sequel to 300 and anyone in search of some entertainment. The film is paced well and has a satisfying ending. While some of the characters needed more time to develop, I suppose that we will see those scenes on the DVD. Tarsem Singh has created his most accessible film yet and also, to my surprise, shows that 3D post-conversion can actually work, delivering some of the best 3D moments I have ever seen.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

One more step down from the original
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had a few new things going for it and quite a few going against it, namely the budget being reduced, which is blatant throughout the film. While it tries to deliver on what the series is known for, it ends up feeling redundant.

What the film did have going for it was the new cast of actors and a new storyline, that is not a direct continuation from the last one making it accessible for new audiences. However like last time the plot is over complex, has too many characters and fails to bring a satisfying conclusion to any of them. The Spanish Armada are made out to be a significant force and their is a race to the fountain of youth but that never comes across. Maybe it was the reduced budget; one scene involves everyone preparing for a ship battle but no.

Ian Mcshane is a great actor and gives an intimidating performance as Blackbeard, however the script is weak and fail to make any of use of him. Unlike Davy Jones, one of the better villains in recent memory, Blackbeard simply barks orders and threatens people. There is no menace under his skin, which is a shame because he is meant to be a ruthless pirate.

Penelope Cruz, while a good casting decision is poorly used and the relationship between her and Depp is underdeveloped. Stephen Graham always brings something to his roles and does so here but is not given enough screen time. Richard Griffiths is embarrassing to watch as King George and Keith Richards appears briefly but only to help push the film forward slightly. I was hoping to see more of his character this time but instead we get less. Replacing Elizabeth and Will are a missionary and a mermaid. Their involvement is small yet inoffensive and do not hurt the film as badly as what other people have made out.

This leads me onto the mermaids, who steal the film/ have the best scene where they attack Blackbeard and his men. All the other action oriented scenes lacked any spectacle unlike the kraken scene from the second but this was very entertaining. The mermaids are presented as viscous yet seductive creatures who take men to the sea bed and kill them. It is also the only scene where there is a clear sense of danger and excitement. The films finalie is underwhelming and any drama and tension are broken by scenes of humour.

While Depp, Rush and McNally as Gibbs are good, they too suffer from what felt as if a large proportion of the film was cut down to a restrictive budget. Unlike the first two films, I feel less-likely to be returning to watch this again.

Battle Los Angeles

Enjoyable but could have been so much better
Battle: Los Angeles is about aliens invading the world with the focus of the film being on a group of military soldiers in LA fighting to save civilians. It tries to be Black Hawk Down with District 9 but never quite reaches what those two films achieved.

The film contains many of the stereotypes found in war films but manages to offer a few surprises. Just when you thought it was safe for a few characters BOOM and there several go. This would have made the film more exciting had you a reason to care for anyone; you know a little bit about them but beyond that they are just there to make up the numbers to form a squad.

The editing and cinematography is too quick and shaky making it impossible to tell who is alive and what is going on. The tight shots combined with a shaky camera often felt like a way to get around showing the audience the background where a war should be happening. Maybe this was due to a budget restrictive budget but then look at what District 9 achieved.

When there is action, it is exciting to watch but never reaches the level of tension found in Black Hawk Down. In some ways I feel Michael Bay would have done a better job at this since this has all of the trappings found in his films minus the young female lead. There is also a distinct lack of a military presence outside of the squad; on their journey they encounter three soldiers and a lone tank. It felt like they arrived at the scene later on once everyone had died or retreated. At the start, there are helicopters and jets seen to be flying around but they soon quickly disappear. It some ways it reminded me of Terminator 4, set after a huge battle. While this does subtract from immersing the audience, Aaron Eckhart is still able to give a good performance despite being limited to a poor script.

However weak the script is, it still remains entertaining to watch. The aliens themselves are interesting but could have used more variety. The film won't find itself up for any technical awards but it will provide audiences with something to watch for just under two hours.


Terrible. Combine Heat, Fast & Furious and a bit of Point Break then mess it up = Takers
Everything about this film is terrible. It is a waste of time and is an example of what happens when you combine poor directing with an equally poor script. It is one of those films that once it has ended, you will soon realise what a waste of time it is.

One important feature to include with a film about robbers is the motive. Without why should they be putting themselves through such a risk. T.I enters the scene with a proposal to his former bank robber friends having been released from prison. Everyone in the team is wealthy and has no need for risking arrest. This makes no sense! The plan itself is ridiculous yet it appears the police can never land a bullet on one of them.

The characters themselves are flat and lifeless. The lack of a motive doesn't help matters. Idris Elba's character has a troubled sister and Matt Dillon and his partner also have troubles but they lack any interest and serve only as a way to draw out the running-time. Whatever happens to them by the end, you will not care.

Regardless of the story or characters, the action is where the film should entertain the audience but it fails poorly. One decent foot-chase through an office can't redeem an ambush scene resulting in a shootout. The audio is reduced while music plays in the foreground taking any excitement away. The films almost non-existent ending will also annoy viewers, making this something that should be missed without hesitation.


Contains some of the typical found-footage clichés but is still exciting to watch
Currently films about found footage are becoming a genre within itself. The narrative is different to other genres because of the perspective and this can sometimes help a film or leave the audience feeling as if is should have just followed the line of other non found footage films. With so many films based around this genre/ sub-genre, they must offer something new and exciting. While Troll Hunter can in someways be compared to Cloverfield, the way the story is handled is very different.

Set around the remote Norwegian countryside, three young filmmakers set out to interview a hunter despised by other bear hunters. What they soon discover is that he is no ordinary hunter and is assigned to keeping trolls under control (making them keep within certain territories). Unlike Cloverfield where the characters are in constant danger and everything is a mystery, Troll Hunter offers enough explanation as to what is happening.

While Troll Hunter does fall into conforming with some of the clichés found within these types of films, it is really exciting when they encounter a troll. Each troll looks different and the hunter offers insight into the different types. While the trailer does reveal a considerable amount, the final encounter is gripping to watch thanks to the fantastic special effects.

The ending may divide opinion but everything before that is a blast to watch. While the main cast lack development, they help move the story forward. Otto Jespersen as Hans the troll hunter gives a very good performance as a man who has seen it all. Whether or not the remake will be any good, this is a film worth checking out.

Drive Angry

Lacks the exciting car chases that would be expected from a film called 'Drive Angry'
Some films do as the title suggests or give a good indication as what to expect but Drive Angry fails to deliver. Even with a budget of $50 million, every scene with cars sees them driving at moderately fast speeds but never reaches the insanity of Bad Boys 2 or The Rock. Although after all this time, I think I should know what to expect from Nicolas Cage today.

Whether or not the actor is out of his financial troubles or not, the films keep on coming and while Drive Angry is not his worst one to date, it is by no means his best. He does give a fairly decent performance as John Milton, a man who escaped from hell to save his granddaughter but lacks any energy. In Season of the Witch he plays a soldier drained by endless war and here again he looks tired and beaten. This can work sometimes but we never feel any sympathy for him really because the film never tries. It doesn't help that the villain is no more than a crazed country lunatic in charge of a cult.

What makes the film entertaining is William Fichtner who always gives a solid performance at the very least. Here is steals the entire film when he is on screen as The Accountant. Amber Heard pales in comparison to Fichtner but still does a good job even with a weak script and will undoubtedly move on to greater things in the future.

The action itself is fun but never really escalates. The way the film is clearly shot for 3D makes the action entertaining but since Cage's character is shot repeatedly and never dies takes something away from the film. There are also a few CGI moments that fail to impress, particularly one towards the end.

As a film not to be taken seriously, its OK and passes as an entertaining action film while watching it but in retrospect, the film lacks any substance or reason to care for what is going on. For a film that is meant to be about the driving but instead the characters stop at the sight of a roadblock and cannot deliver on one decent car chase, that should probably tell you enough.


Will keep audiences entertained despite a weak ending
From the start Pandorum looks like the type of film that takes its inspiration from other great sci-fi films in the bid to create something similar. The problem when doing this though is that it can become clichéd and audiences will have guessed the ending or any other plot twist before it happens. Despite this, Pandorum is entertaining to watch but is not a film that I will return to see again.

The two lead actors Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid, are both watchable and have some good dialogue at the start. The film succeeds in creating an interesting - if slightly impractical - environment. Atmosphere is always important and the film maintains it until later on when more characters are introduced. Anyone who thought that Tim Robbins in War of the Worlds to break the tension will find this here.

By the time the ship's inhabitants are revealed, any sense of terror is lost and it becomes a film against the clock to create tension instead. As the film progresses we learn more about the ship and its purpose but some points could have used a clearer explanation.

Overall the film is entertaining but does not end nearly as strong as how it started.

Season of the Witch

Cage and Perlman make a good team but everything else falls flat
I don't know what it was about the two theatrical trailers for Season of the Witch that caught my interest in the film; maybe it was the simple concept that might offer something new or seeing another historic action film. Regardless whoever made the trailers for this should have directed this film as well because they would have done a far greater job than what Dominic Sena has made.

Admittedly the film starts promising... ish. After a pretty terrible scene involving the hanging of suspected witches, we are introduced to Nicolas Cage's character Behmen and his friend played by Ron Perlman. Here they are seen fighting through various battles in the name of God until they are forced into attacking innocent civilians. Through the use of montage clips from each battle, the film creates a sense that they have been fighting for years. The two make an interesting team and are undoubtedly the best things about this film.

The rest of the supporting cast are far from bad but are given little to; Sir Christopher Lee appears for one scene and is always reliable. Stephen Graham gives a charismatic performance but his hampered down by poor dialogue. The same can be said for Robert Sheehan and Stephen Campbell Moore. The best performance however comes from Claire Foy whose is believed to be a witch. Her performance is interesting to watch as she deceives the men around her yet the script stops her from reaching her true potential.

Obviously the film is made to entertain and despite a poor script, there are a few scenes that maintained my interest including the opening battles and a particularly tense scene on an old rotting bridge. While that scene was far from original, it provided some entertainment. But for every good scene, there were many bad ones including an attack from wolves, which came off feeling cheap and lacked any tension or excitement.

What badly hurt the film was the ending. The buildup to the final action scene was good as the characters arrived at their destination and all is not as it seems but it eventually comes down to the girl turning into some sort of demon with wings and a gravelly voice that was hard to take seriously and lacked any imagination. The death scenes were also terrible. One character runs into another person's sword, Stephen Graham's character is killed by wolves, the priest comes to an abrupt end as does Ron Perlman and Nicolas Cage. By the end, the film felt like it was made from a collection of good ideas and then rushed together without any care or attention.

Season of the Witch has the production design, the cast and relatively good CGI but a good script can make or break a film. The pacing never felt natural resulting in an uninteresting experience. A disappointing effort that a lot of potential made evident by its trailer.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

An improvement on the last film but then again the only way was up
Having enjoyed the first film a lot (a good blend of action and comedy), I was greatly disappointed by the second film (too much bad comedy and barely any memorable action scenes) and was concerned how the third would turn out. It seems that Bay reduced some of painfully unfunny comical moments from the last and improves on the action however there are still some moments that take us back to ROTF reminding me that Bay still hasn't learned entirely from his previous mistakes.

There's no writer's strike to hind behind this time and Spielberg is back on the team so what stops this from being as good as the first one? The best answer that I can give is that the film feels too chaotic and messy in its storytelling for it to become truly enjoyable. There are some key plot points that are delivered either by crazy robots who are hard to understand or by human characters talking really fast while the camera is focusing on their skin molecules. If you are going to tell a story in a film aimed towards a young audience, speak clearly or as in this case, it turns into someone making a mess of a job interview by speaking too fast in an effort to cover up any holes in their presentation hoping that those listening will not notice. I know that the story isn't really worth worrying about but we deserve to have an understanding of what is going on.

Other issues include unnecessarily comedic moments such as Ken Jeong who should have been taken out of the script (but his scenes are pointless so maybe there was no script for him) as that could have allowed for more time to be spent trying to develop the Autobots. Thankfully that character has an abrupt ending that couldn't have come sooner. However the film does achieve at some points in being funny. Perhaps if the film had concentrated on being like the trailer i.e. being darker and focusing on the events at-hand it would have been so much better.

Thankfully the film never becomes too offensive unlike the last, making for an enjoyable final act as Chicago is destroyed. Amongst all the chaotic destruction that we have all seen before is an action set-piece set within a collapsing building that we keep you fixed to the screen. It has everything that Bay forgot to do with the rest of the film, which is that there is tension, there is a purpose to the scene, the build-up is great and you are actually concerned for how the characters will escape. If only there were more scenes like this one, which you actually care for!

Returning cast members (Shia, Sam's parents who are actually pretty good this time, Josh Duhamel and John Turturro) are all watchable. Meagan Fox's replacement may divide opinion but I found Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to fit in well amongst the rest of the film. John Malkovich is funny at first but his character soon feels more like a cameo. Ken Jeong was horrible to watch and nearly derailed the film. Patrick Dempsey was good at would he did but come the battle he had little to do. Frances McDormand played the cold government agent role well while Alan Tudyk was good but deserved a bigger role.

But of-course the film is about the Transformers and the auto-bots in this are all pretty good. Like last time there could have been more of Ratchet and Ironhide but they have their moments. Bumblebee is as good as he was in the first film but I felt the focus had been moved too far away from him and Sam's relationship together which was important in the first film. Optimus still demands the audiences attention every-time you that red and blue truck enter the screen but there is one scene where I found myself questioning his actions but on the whole he was great and Peter Cullen is fantastic as ever.

There is something wrong with the villains though this time as they never really seem to be much of a threat as they seem to get taken down pretty quickly. More of an emphasis on the villains strengths and capabilities would have drastically improved the already enjoyable action scene at the end. Sorry guys but the once great Starscream from the first film is gone and we are still left with a sniveling henchman that is embarrassing to watch at times considering he was the one who tore those jets to pieces at the end of the first.

Overall this is enjoyable to watch. When it works (collapsing building and car chase scenes) it really works and this also goes for the humour. Sadly the film is not perfect but I doubt anyone was expecting it to be. Once again the trailer promises something else but what we end up receiving is still worth your attention if you enjoyed the either of the last two.


This film, I like it. Another!
With The Avengers in the horizon, there is reason to doubt whether this will be Iron Man or Iron Man 2 where its development was rushed so that Stark would be ready to team up with the likes of Hawkeye and Hulk. However through Kenneth Branagh's directing he is successful in making an enjoyable action film about the God of thunder.

In an interview Kenneth Branagh said that Thor is similar to Shakespeare because of the family conflicts. The script itself may not be Shakespeare but you can draw some similarities. It is in these moments of conflict between father (Antony Hopkins) and son (Chris Hemsworth) where the film shines. While the filmmakers did their best to make the Earth scenes interesting, they do not hold up well to the scenes on Thor's home planet.

Thor is a visually spectacular film with amazing CGI. Some say that it is becoming over used in films today but this film uses it with care. There are no moments where the CGI would drop below par. Like the film it remains consistent throughout.

The acting that includes many recognisable faces, is very good. Chris Hemsworth as Thor handles the character well as does his brother in the film played by Tom Hiddleston. Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba are also really good. Natalie Portman, while also good, is never given any dialogue to help project herself above romantic interest sadly.

While you might not really care for the romantic sub-plot until the end, the film packs a punch, delivering solid action sequences. Unlike Iron Man 2, this left me interested in seeing what happens next in The Avengers.


A film that gives more than what the trailer promised
Without spoiling too much, I originally thought that any surprises to be found in Unknown were ruined having viewed the trailer and that I had figured the film out. Only to my surprise that I was wrong and that Unknown is a thrilling action film that never looses its pacing. The plot quickly develops over the 2 hour running time and will leave the viewer satisfied.

It is easy to compare the film at first to Taken, another film staring Liam Neeson but once it starts, the film is very different. Whether Unknown is better or not is debatable but Liam Neeson succeeds in giving us another fine performance in a career of many.

Other stars include January Jones from Mad Men who is good but felt underused. Diane Kruger is clearly immersed into her role as an illegal immigrant in Berlin caught up in the films story and Bruno Ganz is fantastic as a former secret police officer trying to make sense of what has happened to Liam Neeson's character, Martin Harris.

What makes this film so good is that is wastes no time in setting the up the film and each scene gives something new to the film rather than taking away. There is never a dull moment because the story is always moving and we, the audience are put in the position of Liam Neeson, immersing the audience into the story. The film is not deep but it is neither dumb, the script is great and we feel for the character's frustration as he is not coming up with any useful answers.

Despite what some may consider a relatively low budget when compared to other action films (The Bourne film, James Bond), Unknown manages to pull off some gripping action sequences and chases but it is through the director's ability to tell a story that makes scenes that just involve dialogue to be as exciting as the action sequences themselves.

I strongly recommend anyone to see Unknown because you will enjoy it. With many films coming out receiving mixed reviews, this is a film to fall back on where the pacing is perfect and the tension is set to maximum. Hopefully Liam Neeson's next action film will be as good as this to wash away Wrath of the Titans after it has come out.

The Wolfman

An enjoyable period horror film that should not be taken seriously
Straight up The Wolfman is not perfect but it is fun. Its bloody, action packed and throws in a couple of jump scares for good measure. Personally I don't understand the hate the film has been receiving, sure Benicio del Toro is miscast but there is nothing awful about the film.

The film starts bleakly and it takes time to adjust to how dark the film. A son has been killed and the other brother has come to visit the father in the country mansion. It is fair to say that the story isn't entirely strong or engaging. In fact it takes time for the action to begin but when it does, the film finds itself and becomes enjoyable to watch.

While Benicio's casting decision is odd and his accent isn't perfect, he does a decent job. It is Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving who give the film its energy whenever they are on screen. Emily Blunt while not terrible, suffers the most from the average script and doesn't have the same screen presence as Hopkins or Weaving. Those who watch the director's cut will get to see Max Von Sydow make a brief cameo.

However the real star is the Academy Award winning make-up, which is a welcome break from CGI. While CGI maybe present in some scenes, it is there only to add to the story and is not there for the sake of it. After seeing hundreds of soldiers in the last Rambo film being digitally torn apart, it was refreshing to see make-up being used instead.

The Wolfman is not a film to be seen with high expectations but it is worth watching if you are in search of something entertaining.

The Adjustment Bureau

More wasted potential when the concept was great but the treatment...
Those who have seen the trailer will think that this is a cool, exciting action film about men who control the destinies of others and the man who says, "I will not stand for this!" but sadly that is not the story of the film. The concept is great and there are moments where I thought the film was going to get better because the story sounds interesting.

I'll start with the good. As I have mentioned before the film sounds interesting and as these mysterious men enter the film, you are interested to see what they can do. Anthony Mackie and John Slattery were well cast and Matt Damon's performance while not perfect (because of the script) is good and keeps the film together.

Apart from the above I can't think of anything else because the script is dull and the characters feel one-dimensional. Emily Blunt has little to do in the film and Terrence Stamp is completely misused. We hear how his character is cold and will do anything to get the job done but the film never shows this.

What could have saved the film would have been some kind of emotional pull if we felt that the two leads were meant to be together because that would have kept the film interesting. Instead there is little reason to care what happens by the end.

Themes including free will and pre-destination are mentioned and are interesting when they are brought up but the script doesn't do anything with it. Without spoiling anything, Matt Damon does make a discovery halfway through the film and it could have been a major plot point but the way film deals with it feels unnatural and out-of-character.

The film also lacks a sense of energy but maybe that is due to my initial expectations as the film is completely miss-marketed as an action thriller. However the film could have played up the villains in the film (if you can call them that) because you learn what they have done and what they are capable of doing.

In the hands of another director, this would have been an enjoyable film to watch. The idea is there but something went wrong along the way and this is the result. This isn't essential viewing but if you are interested, rent it.

127 Hours

Danny Boyle does it again
Here is a film where had it of been directed by someone else, the overall result would differ completely. Of-course each director is different but Danny Boyle has his own style that separates his films from others even if the story is may not be truly original. It's his style that makes 127 Hours a great film because there are so many ways that you can tell the story but he brings a sense of energy to the film that would not have been present if another director had made this.

Similar to Cast Away, the film really does focus on the lead character, played by James Franco who is brilliant and deserved his Oscar nomination. He encapsulates the adrenaline fueled explorer perfectly where no mountain is too high for him and more importantly you like him. Its easy to sympathise with someone in the position that he finds himself in but his personality adds something to the film.

What also makes the film stand-out is the cinematography and editing that can really pump up the tension. The film starts off colourful where everything is bright and full of life but by the end, the image has become dry as the hours build up.

127 Hours is a film worthy of your attention. While the story may sound grim, and it does get pretty intense, the film should not be passed on.

The Tourist

Lacks the substance that would have made it worth while
The idea of casting Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp together is admittedly not a bad one, despite the fact it came more from financial reasons as they both manage to bring in big audiences with their films. Combining this with the location of Venice, this could have been a fabulous film to watch where it not for poor cinematography, sub-par storytelling, an uninteresting script, forgettable characters, the list goes on.

Its fair to say that there is a lot that is wrong with The Tourist, a remake of a foreign film. Clearly it was aiming to be like an Alfred Hitchcock film, that is a given fact but I feel bad comparing a geniuses work with this, a painfully dull film that tries to be entertaining.

The only real credit I can give the film other than an amusing performance by Johnny Depp is that the action never becomes over-the-top but maybe if it was then it might have been more enjoyable. There is only one real 'action' sequence that involves Johnny Depp in a boat while it is being shot at. There is also a light-hearted chase along the Venice roof-tops but the film isn't to be taken seriously. However if it isn't, then shouldn't it be more enjoyable?

What really undermines the film is the script. Were it more lively and interesting, it would have made up for all of the films other shortcomings. There are scenes where had the script been on the level, the film would have felt alive and have become a pleasure to watch. Instead it is dull. There is nothing worth hating the film about but it plays everything too safe.

The supporting cast are completely miss-used. Paul Bettany is a good actor and does a decent job here but there is one scene where he plays a joke on Depp's character, which felt pointless. His role amounts to very little but running around Venice trying to make sense of everything. Rufus Swell and Timothy Dalton appear in the film but there casting felt like an effort to build up the stars involved as they have nothing to do.

I could dissect the film until their is nothing left but if you are in search of some light- entertainment, this is for you but I recommend that you rent it. The attractive views of Venice are indeed nice to look at but that sadly doesn't hold the film together.

Valhalla Rising

Rated 'A' for art so tread carefully
The overall experience for me was "meh". While I tried to stay engaged, the film felt like it had to stop everything to pull you out.

I can accept that this is an art film but that doesn't disqualify itself from being bad. Not to say the film is bad but the overall impression left from the film felt pointless. No reason to care that one soldier killed a friend at all. A film can ask the audience to interpret only so far before it becomes pretentious. This strays close to the line.

The lead actor was good in his silent role but the dialogue was dull. There were no lines that lingered after the film had finished. There are several scenes where I felt frustration that certain characters were not asking questions about the lead character and combined with few/ none conversations this can become an enduring experience. Therefore character development remains absent. We know what the soldier's aim is but that is it, to reach Jerusalem.

Despite having a lot of negative comments to make in this review, I found the cinematography to be interesting and some of the visuals to be particularly striking.

There are films that some could label as 'arty' and 'pretentious' that I have enjoyed or have found interesting. While I admire what the director was trying to achieve, he did it in the coldest and most disengaging ways. Don't be fooled by the trailer, there is some action dotted about the film but this is for those looking to be challenged and if you are, make sure you are awake.

The Expendables

Sit back and enjoy!
What separates The Expendables from other action films that revolve around a team working together (The Losers, Red, G.I Joe) and what also makes it better is the cast. While there are always other actors who could have been included, the film has a very strong cast who all play off one another well, that you can't help but enjoy the film because it knows that it is to entertain.

Sometimes films aim for just that and fail because they don't have the right ingredients but it is clear that Sylvester Stallone knows how to craft an action film. While his direction is not perfect, the story is well told and paced appropriately; its simple but is fun to watch.

The cast include Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Ludgren, Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts. All of whom are good in their roles and when the action kicks up, the film is blast. While there are certainly better action films to be found with better stories, developed characters and jaw-dropping action sequences, The Expendables is easy watch and will appeal to a wider audience.

Its not perfect, you can tell just from watching the trailer, but it is far better than what some critics make it out to be. Get a group of friends together to watch this and you have your evening made. This is entertaining from start to finish. Its everything it should be.

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