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Bruce Almighty

Did people seriously think this was going to be a discussion on the nature of God?

No sense in beating around the bush: this is not a comedy. It's a thinly disguised sentimental snoozer with Jim Carrey in it. "Oh, that Jim Carrey! He's so wacky!" Unfortunately, his act begins to seriously grate in 'Bruce Almighty' and when the inclusion of him spouting various clumps of nonsense is the only thing REMOTELY funny in this film you know it's in trouble. The music is far too syrupy and floats around in the background in a kind of "Isn't everything so great?" way.

The plot, as I gathered it before my brain went walkies, is that Bruce fails at everything in life and decides to blame God. So God (in the form of a criminally under-used Morgan Freeman - I had a theory that any film featuring Morgan Freeman would be, at the VERY LEAST, watchable, but 'Bruce Almighty' has just blown that out of the water) comes down and gives Bruce super powers in order to show him how hard being a deity is. This opens up a huge can of worms and plotholes.

Like I said earlier, this is not a comedy. There is nothing worth new or interesting in this film, except for Jim Carrey cemented his place as The Most Irritating Man Ever.

Alien: Resurrection

Crippled by Joss Whedon's inability to be talented
There was no need for 'Alien Resurrection', I'll say that right now. 'Alien3' for all it's execution flaws, had it's heart in the right place. The alien is dead, with Ripley killing herself to prevent is falling into the wrong hands. I thought that was it. Most people thought that was it. Enter 1997. Enter 'Alien Resurrection'.

First of all, the problem is this doesn't FEEL like an 'Alien' film. The pace is too rushed, some of the scenes too comicky. I cite the scene where General Perez removes part of his own brain as an example. The visuals are beautiful and it's obvious Jeunet is a very talented director. Unfortunately his style doesn't really suit the film. It's too bright, the colours too flashy. The aliens are obviously CGI, and it is actually disconcerting to realize that they are already looking dated. They have lost all sense of reality with their environment. 'Alien' used a suit, and for the most part it looks more real than it's brothers in 'Resurrection'.

But the main problem of 'Alien Resurrection' is the script. Joss Whedon has disowned the film, yet the film bares a great resemblance to what he wrote. We have the cliche characters, the tacky dialogue, the need for a finale monster at the end (I actually didn't mind The Newborn, even if a lot of people did. It was a realistic and unhappy blend of the alien and the human. What Whedon originally wrote, before somebody with common sense told him to make something more realistic, is so utterly laughable it defies belief) and the completely out of place "humour" It's ironic a lot of people hated the characters in 'Resurrection' seeing as their ancestors are present in 'Aliens' In fact, it's painfully obvious Whedon is a fanboy. As it is, 'Alien Resurrection' is the perfect reason why fans of 'Aliens' should not be allowed to write an 'Alien' film. Joss Whedon is, without a doubt, a complete hack. If you've ever seen 'Angel' you'll know the digs at 'Resurrection' are about as subtle as a sledge hammer.

Another problem with 'Alien Resurrection' (and hey, it's rooted in the script. How about that?) is it's complete lack of pace. There is zero tension or suspense after the aliens have broken loose. Word to the wise, Whedon, you can't have characters strolling down an empty ship one minute and expect your audience to be scared at a loud noise when you've built nothing behind it. The aliens aren't scary. They're interesting to watch, but they've really become more of a technical excersise. There is nothing in the way of the ultimate threat present in 'Alien' The aliens are really more of a nuisance. They pop in, they die. All of the other films established the terror of the aliens. If you encountered one, you would die. Not here. Now you make half witty wise cracks. Like all films caked in "the 90s" factor.

I probably shouldn't blame the faults of this film ALL on Whedon, but the childish way he's attacked the film after it's release really annoy me. That, and the fact is most of the film IS his fault. I hope you email me, Whedon. Maybe then I'll get an apology. Five out of ten.


Flawed but worth watching

The story of Ellen Ripley's struggle against the alien ended in 1992 with 'Alien3' The film is flawed, there is no doubt about that. The production of the film stands as a pretty good textbook of how not to make a film and yet David Fincher managed to pull something out of it. And something worth watching.

Firstly, I'll skim through the plot. 'Alien3' sees Ripley crash on a prison world after her ship malfunctions. There she is forced to confront not only the single alien that has emerged there, but the alien growing inside her.

Second, I'll say that "Rett Mikhals" opinion is unfortunately far too common to be dismissed as an 'Aliens' fanboy and it's a shame because once you dig past the poorly pasted puppet effects and the fact they killed off Newt and Hicks ("OH MY GOD! THEY KILLED OFF TWO OF CAMERONS CLICHE CHARACTERS! OMG HOW COULD THEY?") You get a pretty decent film. It seems a lot of people, I won't name any names, were expecting another no-brainer actionfest like 'Aliens' and they were disappointed when they saw they were actually trying to restore some of the dignity of 'Alien' Eh, I'll stop referring to his post any more because he quite clearly isn't trying to review 'Alien3', he's trying to avenge 'Aliens' ("a dog struggling for half an hour" WTF?)

As I said before, 'Alien3' tries to hark back to 'Alien' and it isn't very successful. We've seen the alien so many times they're starting to wear off. Scenes like David muttering "here kitty" are far too blatant for there own good. Where 'Alien3' succeeds, I think, is the atmosphere. The muted browns and oranges really help to portray the feelings of helplessness in the prison colony and the tragedy of Ripley's life robbed by the alien. The religious overtones of Jesus, Satan and Judas are interesting. This isn't a cash-in sequel. Despite the flaws, the makers of 'Alien3' did put some thought into it.

Unfortunately, on 'Alien3's test viewing the people they showed it to were braindead. As a result, Fox took their advice to rip gaping chunks out of the film leaving huge plotholes in their place. That is why we hardly know any of the characters. That is why we have an inexplicable egg on the Sulaco (originally an adult alien was on the ship) For the record, the beginning sequence of 'Alien3' is a nightmare Ripley has, hence the dreamlike quality of it. Only one egg is shown because Ripley doesn't know she has been impregnated yet.

In all, 'Alien3' is a troubled sequel that bravely tries to be something more than a cheap follow-on from 'Aliens' It has a lot of great ideas, but ultimately their execution is less than perfect. Six out of ten. A good end to the trilogy.

Jaws: The Revenge


You thought 'Jaws 3' was bad? Heh, so did the rest of the human race. But, as we all know, the people who make these kind of the films are not members of the human race, and before you've had chance to compose yourself 'Jaws: The Revenge' has plummeted to Earth like the colossal turkey it is.

The acting/characters is/are so utterly forgettable that I can't remember any of it. Michael Caine is in there somewhere, although I can't for the life of me think what possessed him to sign on for this. What I CAN remember is the fear I felt at going into the sea after this. Illogical though it may be, after watching 'Jaws: The Revenge" I was stricken by the thought that a giant plastic-looking shark was going to leap out of the water in front of me and roar at me. What? You didn't know? They've taken to roaring now.

And, just to cap off the cheese factor, there is even a black and white scene of Roy Schneider shooting the shark from the first film. You know, when it was still believable. Just before his mother does the same thing. Films like this not only ruin the reputation of great whites, but they cause eye cancer. Three out of ten. Avoid.


At least he didn't give us 'Piranha 2' again

In a way, a sequel to Alien was inevitable. It didn't need one, of course, but the Hollywood profit machine saw fit to churn one out. And, compared to the likes of 'Jaws 3' ('Jaws: The Revenge' does not technically count as a film) they could have done a lot worse.

It was pretty obvious that any sequel to 'Alien' was going to have a hard time on it's hands. Ridley Scott chose to reveal his monster at the end of his film which meant nobody was really going to be scared of it lurking in the shadows any more. What James Cameron instead chose to do was give us more aliens. Lots of them. That way we'd be scared of overwhelming opposition. And how do we defeat lots of aliens? The only way Jim knows how: guns.

'Aliens' handles the continuing story of Ripley well, when they could have easily chucked it all away. It also remains faithful to the 'mother and child' undercurrent that was present in Alien (in a warped way, of course) by reinventing Ripley and the alien as mothers. 'Aliens' is hailed as one of the greatest action films ever made and it may be. What's amusing about that statement is there is probably less than ten minutes of action in the entire film.

So, if I'm lavishing all this praise on 'Aliens' then why did I only give it seven out of ten? Well, my reason is this: 'Aliens' single-handedly ruined 'Alien's' legacy and gave all the sequels the excuse to be substandard. A lot of the criticism people hurl at 'Alien3' and 'Resurrection' is present in 'Aliens' yet people can't or won't see it because it has "badass marines in it!"

One of the main problems is James Cameron hauls all the cliche action characters he can think of out of the woodwork for his film, from the quiet but resilient corporal to the loudmouth private who goes to pieces to the butch hard-as-nails woman. And these are the characters we even RECOGNIZE before they die! A far cry from the gritty and realistic characters of it's predecessor.

But my main problem with 'Aliens' is what it reduces it's title stars to. Ridley Scott gave us this uncomprehendable nightmare in 'Alien' In 'Aliens' we have Hudson wondering if "maybe it's like an ant hive!" And, sure enough, 'Aliens' saves the big finale until last when we meet the alien queen. Sure, it's impressive and well designed but it isn't scary. None of these new aliens James Cameron decides to give us are scary. The horror, the mysteriousness and the intelligence present in the original 'Alien' are now only reserved for the alien queen. James Cameron has successfully turned the most innovative, unique and terrifying creature in to mindless cannon fodder. An interstellar termite.

The effects of 'Aliens' are also starting to date, the dropship sequence in particular doesn't compare to the shots of the Nostromo in 'Alien' And the suits themselves look uncomfortably hokey, like rejects from a Japanese monster movie.

If you want a good action movie, watch 'Aliens' If you want a scary monster movie, watch 'Alien'

Jaws 3-D

Dead in the water

Haha, that was sort of witty. I impress myself. Anyway, the 'Jaws' franchise needs no introduction. Like 'The Terminator' people just seem to be born with knowledge about it. So if I told you this film is about a killer fish, you wouldn't look at me like I'm some kind of wacko, right?

Basically, a bunch of people put a shark in an aquarium. Now, before I watched this film I often wondered to myself, "Why don't they put great white sharks in aquariums?" After watching 'Jaws 3' I knew the answer. It's not because they die in captivity, it's because they always end up escaping and lots of people die. Oh, did I say lots? Because hardly anyone dies.

'Jaws 3''s effects are, to put it bluntly, crappy. The film was originally presented in 3-D, which means you have several shots in which the shark model begins to move towards you on the screen. Now, effective this MIGHT have been in 3-D, watched on a normal television the whole thing looks hilarious. You have this completely UNMOVING model increasing in size on the screen and it's about as scary as 'Book of Shadows'. Ie not very.

So should you watch 'Jaws 3'? Well, if you want a case study for the deteriorating effects sequels have, then by all means. If you want a decent film, steer clear. The acting is forgettable, the effects moreso. This is not a good B-Movie. A good B-Movie is 'Tremors'. 'Jaws 3' is to 'good movies' what 'Joss Whedon' is to 'talented.' Three out of ten.

The Christmas Secret

One of the most patronizing children films ever

That's the problem with kids TV nowadays. It's all so patronizing and condescending. `Wow, that was fun, wasn't it?' No it wasn't. And unfortunately it seems to have permeated into children films as well. And that is what 'Flight of the Reindeer' is all about. Admittedly I haven't seen 'Flight of the Reindeer' in a few years so I might be hazy on some points, but I remember being thoroughly unimpressed with it at the time.

Essentially, the story follows a lecturer who is given a book for Christmas. Now, the lecturer is an esteemed scientist on the flying habits of some animal. I think it was bullfrogs. Anyway, through this book, Mr Lecturer / family man learns that reindeer can fly in exactly the same way as bullfrogs. Apparently this book was written by a scientist many hundreds of years ago who disappeared in the North Pole. Now, if it were me I would have thrown the book out the nearest window. Flying bullfrogs are a naturally occurring phenomenon, but flying reindeer is a fantastic and wholly unrealistic concept. But, Mr lecturer ISN'T me, so I guess that explains why he decides to fly to the north pole leaving his wife and kid at home with no idea where he's gone. Of course, things go awry and before he knows it, a flying reindeer has crashed into his private plane and he's stranded at the North Pole.

Are you still following this? Good.

His family, of course, are devastated. I would be too, I mean, what a suck-tacular Christmas. Elsewhere, Mr lecturer finds himself in a hidden town at the North Pole inhabited by midgets and one tyrannical figure who dresses only in red and white. Rather than try to escape immediately, as I would have done, he greets everyone there with open arms. This hidden civilization of midget monsters, and he greets them with open arms. Oooo-kayyyy. They feed him this story that they are the elves of Santa Claus and they spend all year round making toys for kids they have no idea exist. And Mr lecturer accepts all this. He even accepts that Santa Claus is in fact the scientist who disappeared two hundred years ago or whatever. There's just one problem - they don't want him to leave. The world can't know of their secret existence. After all, before they'd know it there'd be a McDonalds and a Starbucks on every street corner.

Still with me?

Now, Mr nice guy's family find the book and assume he's gone to the North Pole. Boy, wouldn't they be embarrassed if they found out he'd just gone for a brisk walk? Before the audience knows it, they're jetting off to spend a Christmas in the most authentic winter wonderland on the planet. Meanwhile, Mr lecturer gets sick of all the uppity midgets and decides to leave. I can't remember exactly, but I do recall him holding Santa Claus to gunpoint. A fire fight ensues when the midgets attack and he manages to escape via Santa's sleigh. With Santa hot on his heels and with bloodlust in his eyes, Mr Whatever, through some marvellous co-incidence, finds himself flying alongside his family's plane that is looking for him. So he jumps on to their plane, the planes flies back and everyone lives happily ever after.

The fact is, there have been some shocking films made in the name of Christmas over the years but because they feature that festive charm they get away with it. And it's that charm that is utterly devoid from 'Flight of the Reindeer' There isn't much wrong with it; nothing which insults the intelligence (well, obviously there IS, but it's a kids film and thus can get away with such things) or anything particularly offensive, but the problem is there is nothing much right about it either. It just doesn't FEEL Christmassy. And for a film that is all about Christmas, that it a pretty major flaw. But hey, I don't think 'Flight of the Reindeer's target audience mind about that? Why should they? They're all so doped up on sedatives they probably couldn't spell `Christmas'

I give it three out of ten. If it was a TV-Movie then I'd add another two stars onto it. We all know how bad they can get.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Utter cobblers
If 'The Blair Witch Project' redefined everything we knew about horror, then 'Blair Witch Two' clarified everything we know about sequels. Mainly, they're a bit s**t. Or, in the case of 'Book of Shadows' they're all s**t.

Other reviewers have said it, but I think it's worth repeating. 'Book of Shadows' is the MTV version of 'The Blair Witch Project' They took all the qualities of the original and injected it with retarded ness. What resulted is a film so caked in `The 90s' that it stops being a horror film and ends up being a derelict. There is absolutely nothing to fear from this movie. The atmosphere is foreboding horror is totally absent. Instead, we are treated to CGI! Wow, a CGI ghost. Can you think of anything less effective? In some ways it's like comparing the two 'Haunting's. One, with an atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife despite the fact you NEVER SEE anything, and the other so overdone with OTT CGI it ceases to be anything more than laughable. In fact, they're similar in a lot of ways. Didn't the 90s Haunting have the giant purple ink stain in it? Or was that 'The House on Haunted Hill'? Either way, my point still stands.

'Book of Shadows' has a bunch of stereotypical teenagers go out in to the Blair woods. They all fall asleep, or something, and when they awake they have no idea what's happened. Of course, as logic dictates, they've had an orgy in the middle of the forest and this revelation is only discovered when they play their video tapes backwards.

What the hell?

That about sums up my review. Basically they took the premise of the original and realized that to squeeze more juice out of it they needed a sequel. But sadly it seems they listened to all those idiots who moaned about `there wuz no ghost u dindt see nething it sux0r lololol' and all that kind of nonsense and what resulted is this.

Three out of ten. If you want to see a scary film, watch 'The Blair Witch Project' If you want a comedy, watch 'Airplane' If you want the equivalent of a coca-cola enema, watch 'Book of Shadows'


I must be insane

I was still recovering from the fallout of 'Bruce Almighty' (why God, WHY??) when I sat down to watch 'Virus'. That might have had some bearing on my opinion of this film; after all, after watching a Jim Carrey film leaves me with certain demands. Namely, entertainment. I don't really consider that an unreasonable demand from a film, but unfortunately 'Virus' did not succeed that well in delivering.

Anyway, I sat down to watch 'Virus'. I went in with a few pre-conceived notions. Firstly, I thought it was set in space. Of course it wasn't, but I can understand how I got to that conclusion. When I hear "a story about an extraterrestrial virus" I don't immediately shout "sea ship!" but that didn't detract from the film. Okay, we're in the ocean. I can deal with that. Secondly, I thought this would be good. However, it wasn't. And it's main problem suffers from a phenomenon that I have dubbed "The 90s" However, I'm sure somebody reading this review will steal that from me like the filthy b*****ds they are.

I won't go into the plot in detail because, to be honest, you've heard it all before. (and it's based on a comic. Wow, betcha didn't see THAT one coming!) In short, MIR space station contracts alien intelligence that zips it's way down to Earth and stays on a Russian vessel. Enter Donald Sutherland and his merry men who want to claim the now abandoned vessel and claim a profit on it. Or something.

Now, I must bring up Donald Sutherland here because his delivery of Captain Whatever is laughable. Not that the character he plays is given any depth, but still. The man looks totally out of his tree. I guess he was just breezing through 'Virus' to pick up a healthy check at the end. And who can blame him? He evidently forgot who he was supposed to be playing by the end seeing as his accent completely metamorphs. So does the Russian woman, but I won't go into her.

I said earlier this film's main problem was "the 90s" How this essentially translates for 'Virus' is a complete lack of scares or horror or action or whatever genre it was trying to fit in to. How does it manage to do this? One anacronym: CGI. For a film that follows in the long proud tradition of 'Alien' rip-offs, it's sort of troubling to realise it has absolutely no idea how to be as horrifying as the film it tries to emulate. 'Alien' uses quick glimpses of it's creature to utilise the collective imaginations of it's audience to create something far more horrific than ANY film could deliver. Much like the 'Blair Witch Project', that came out the same year as 'Virus'. (at least, I think it did. I'm not going to check though. I'm in far too big of a rant now to start fiddling around with details) In that way, 'Virus' is almost the antithesis to 'Blair Witch Project'. The unknown is infinitely scarier than a CGI robot tramping around in full view.

Actually, that's another preconceived notion I had about 'Virus'. It was actually going to be about A VIRUS. Now, an intelligent bolt of lightning is certainly an interesting concept with many avenues of story that could be pursued and tellingly, 'Virus' is far too lazy to go down any of them. Instead we are treated to Cybermen clones, Borg wannabes and Terminator inspired robotic nasties. None of which are particularly scary or impressive. Also, there are, presumably for comic effect, little spider scuttler things that fire nails at people. I actually owned one of those as a kid. They were called ZOIDS. You'd assemble them and wind the motor and they'd go walking off for a couple of feet. And 'Virus' actually shows these as if they're the worthwhile portrayal of an electrical alien intelligence. You'll even see them ambling along in all their non-fluent glory as they lure some character (I don't care, should you?) Into a vent. Now, bear with me because I think this scene is worthy of note. The guy is in a spooky old derelict and sees something dragging wires into the darkness of an shaft. Now, he is holding a weapon (something revolutionary for this genre, methinks) but, what's this? He is EXCHANGING HIS GUN FOR A TORCH. And of course, he goes in the shaft and promptly gets captured by lots of sentient wire cables. Serves him right.

Another interesting scene is where Donald Sutherland's character decides that the good and proper thing to do, after witnessing the above character come back as a Borg drone, is to offer himself up to the Virus. Now, uh, why? We get the feeling he doesn't like his crew, but what the f*** is he thinking? Absolutely nothing is made of this and it's a shame because had the film given the captain even two dimensions it would have been an interesting character twist. As 'Virus' presents it, however, Donald Sutherland is assimilated (surprised they didn't use that term in the film) comes back to spout some rhetoric and is dead within two minutes.

Yet, despite everything I've said about 'Virus', I can't give it anything less than four stars. You see, even though it has boring effects, wooden acting, cliché characters and a story based off a comic based off an entire genre, it's still entertaining. I mean, this film isn't God-awful or anything. It's not 'Showgirls'. There is some entertainment to be had at how hopelessly flawed it is. There are some (deliberately, I assume, although it could be the writer's attempt at a severe character-turning moment) hilarious moments, especially when the token black guy exclaims "Spare parts my ass, man!" Ho-ho, how I laughed. That one is sure to become a catch phrase, I reckon. In fact, I can't remember how many times I've been trapped in the middle of boring, pretentious conversations at stuffy late evening engagements, only to exclaim "Spare parts my ass, man!" And have the entire room suddenly erupt in laughter. Then, strobe lights come down from the ceiling, Scatman bursts over the speakers and strippers fly in through the windows.

I gave this film four out of ten for sheer entertainment (I should probably revise my first paragraph) 'Virus' is a disappointing film with an interesting premise that it ultimately wastes when it realises it is in danger of becoming a halfway decent horror film. Basically 'Event Horizon' at sea. Hopefully you read this bloated review and now will feel no compulsion to see it.

Oh yeah, Jamie Lee Curtis is in it. I think she plays a mannequin, or something.

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