pandabat

IMDb member since April 2004
    Lifetime Total
    50+
    IMDb Member
    16 years

Reviews

The Martian
(2015)

Well-made but vaguely disappointing and flat with no emotional engagement
Hmmm, it wasn't THAT good. It's well made and Damon probably saves it from utter failure but despite all the "science" there are many contrivances, conveniences and plot holes. Characters are depressingly flat (she's the computer nerd that keeps a hex chart on her PC, he's the chemist that can do Heisenberg-type feats with kitchen ingredients, she's the tight-laced mission commander with a secret passion for disco music, sigh, he's the Nasa bigwig who just sees the numbers, he's the genius loner doing the hard math and lives off only coffee, sigh, you get the picture) and dialogue is trying too hard to be clever and snappy. The dynamics of the team on the mission are too perfect to be really believable and, for me, all the buddy-buddy, black-and-white, suits vs astronauts stuff is so by the numbers that it really annoyed. The structure of the plot is very procedural and it seems that Watney only needed to encounter each kind of problem once - when he had it solved then it never happened again despite all the equipment on Mars getting older and older and ... but I digress. There was also one too many scenes in which someone had a brainwave in relation to a problem and then walks away mumbling to themselves while someone else follows them saying "What? What? What did you think of?". In the end, I didn't care what happened to anyone. The movie didn't engage me in that way - sure it was interesting and nice to look at but it main message is that science shall save you if you work it. Science may be the new religion but fanaticism to anything is a blinding and dangerous thing. There are some people at whom this film is perfectly targeted but for many more this will be a good-looking and distracting work with little real satisfaction. I'd still give it 6/10 and on a good day when my disappointment abates I might up that to a 7/10 at best!

The Guest
(2014)

Uneven and inconsistent
This movie actually starts off pretty well and, despite the obvious simplicity of the plot, does draw you in. The cast are pretty good (when not being directed to be deliberately terrible in homage to cheap 70s/80s straight-to-video movies) but the story and film-making slowly get worse and worse. The action scenes lack proper continuity ("Ooooh but they're supposed to be that way", I hear some cry) which removes any suspended disbelief and the whole tone of the movie (soundtrack included) seems to step back in time for the final act. I wanted to like it and it has some good moments but in the end we were just asking ourselves "How in the name of all that is good did this movie score so highly?". It's middling at best!

Big Nothing
(2006)

Woefully short of acceptable
Have you seen the trailer for this movie? Odds are, if you have, that you already seen the best bits. You'll probably have high hopes that the banter will be even wittier in the rest of the movie. You'll probably expect to see a bit more of Natasha McElhone or Alice Eve. You'll probably even expect moments of uncontrollable laughter. Great expectations indeed but alas "The Big Nothing" comes nowhere close to fulfilling them. There were less than a handful times that the audience laughed during this movie and even then it wasn't the whole cinema. The humour ranges from quirky to slapstick but never hits the mark on any of it. It's a movie that wants to be funny, serious, gory and surprising but it all comes across as "bland-yet-desperate". It's not the actors' faults as all give performances that are demanded of them but they should really have known better after reading the script. The problem with this movie is that it should never have been made in the first place. There's nothing innovative, new, exciting, funny, daring or even entertaining about it. You've seen all the crazy dialogue, double-crossing and attempts at plot twists before and seen them done better too. There's even a desperate attempt at the end of the movie to up the laugh count by showing one out-take as the credits start to roll! Yes, that's correct - one out-take. It's not even a good one. If you like you're comedies to have no laughs and your dramas to have no tension then you might like this but I failed to enjoy it from start to finish.

Marie Antoinette
(2006)

Art Imitates Marie Antoinette's Life - Vacant and Meaningless
For all intents and purposes, this is a fashion show that has been turned into a movie. Yes, the costumes are sumptuous, and yes, the palatial backdrops are majestic, but somewhere along the way it was forgotten that movies should have a story of some sort or enough heart and soul to make up for the lack of same. For me, this effort had neither.

It begins well enough with the Austrian princess being sent to France for an arranged marriage to cement the newly formed allegiance between France and Austria. Her youthful exuberance combined with exasperation and bewilderment at the ways of the French court provide some levity, as indeed does the awkwardness of her fledging relationship with Louis August, who is portrayed as a young man who lacks confidence with members of the opposite sex. At least that is what we must assume and this is where the movie begins to falter, for it does not go on to make a character of Louis nor do so of any other player. All except Marie Antoinette are paper thin types, two-dimensional entities appearing on-screen for a time to say some words but add little else. We do not know why Louis is so distant or if, following the birth of the couple's first child, he remains a truly distant husband or really resembles a lukewarm lover. Schwartzmann is truly wasted in this role.

That said, it is only after the first child's birth that we see that the movie may change direction. There are beautiful and lovingly shot scenes where we see Marie Antoinette blossom in motherhood and experience a blissful return to nature from the indulgent excesses of the court. This too however must pass and when we return to the court with the protagonist, we also return to her boring, empty life there. The director might have been trying to get some of this across but I doubt that most of the movie was meant to feel that way. Dunst's portrayal of the character comes across as a girlish person prone to inner thinking and whimsical consumption. This may be true, I do not know, but it leaves us with little view inside the only character in the movie.

It's not all terrible there are some good shots, some comedic moments and towards the end of the movie, there is a nice touch where part of the story is told through the changing of a painting, which I found clever. It is not enough though and as the revolution in France is beginning, the movie is coming to an end. The revolution does hint that the movie may end with some drama. Alas it does not and it more peters out than anything else. I felt cheated of my time. If you love fancy dresses then maybe there's enough here to keep you ooh-ing and aah-ing but if, like myself, that is not enough to keep you interested then I suggest "Dangerous Liasons" as a great movie covering a similar period within France.

Barnyard
(2006)

Lame Duck in and Even Lamer Farmyard
Oh dear, why are we persecuted with muck like this? Who read the script and actually said go ahead with this? The mind truly boggles.

Set on a farm where the animals walk and talk like humans as soon as the farmer is not looking, this is a tale which completely rips off "The Lion King" except for the following few details: (1) The lions are now replaced by cattle (2) The hyenas are now coyotes (3) "The Lion King" was a triumph of a movie in both visual and aural flair and it told a story well, while Barnyward is stinker of a movie with no innovations an tells and old story badly.

I basically ended up seeing this because it fitted into my timetable for that day rather than out of any great need/want to see it. Looking at the poster, with male cattle oddly having female udders, one's thoughts dreamed of some Gary Larson type humour but would have settled for less. It was upsetting to find out first hand how much less was actually here to laugh at. Indeed the funniest moments were Larson-esquire in their vein in that they occurred during moments of interaction or close encounters with humans. However those scenes cover about 2 minutes of the movie and the rest is just one boring, empty scene after another. Even the kids in the cinema seemed uninterested.

I cannot emphasise enough how much you should stay away from this. Beg, steal, buy or copy "The Lion King" and watch it rather than stooping to watching this. Even drawing your own version of the Lion King on your carpet using embers from your fire and watching your home burn down around you would be more entertaining than sitting through "Barnyard".

The History Boys
(2006)

Not entirely coherent but watchable nonetheless
I didn't know a whole lot about this movie when I went to see it other than it was based on a play, it centered around a group of boys trying to get into Oxford and Cambridge in the 80s and that the guy who played Uncle Monty in "Withnail & I" was in it. So, as my planned journey home from the cinema was cancelled due to rain, I sat down to "The History Boys".

So what does one get for one's money? Well, it's a bit of a hodge podge of ideas but mainly what we get is the debates over the effectiveness, values and relevance of different schools of education coupled with the fact that, during our school days, our social lives and interactions are largely based around these institutions of learning. Some ado about homosexuality also comes out over the course of the movie, it being set in an all boys school. There are moments of wit, insight and humour in the dialogue of the film but sometimes the nature of these only serves to remind us that this was based upon a play. The soundtrack attempts to use the "Donnie Darko"/"The Business" technique of beguiling us with snapshots of the hits of yesteryear but some of these are so short and obscure, I feel that this doesn't work too well. Much better is the use of thoroughly British war-era songs from musicals and films. These truly were the gold nuggets for me.

When the movie comes to it's fairly predictable initial conclusion, we are then presented with a few addendums. While their purpose is to show that time has moved on and that even these boys must grow up, they again feel like legacies from its theatrical ancestry. The acting performances are all of a commendable level but few players must step out of the small boxes that their characters define. I can't recommend this too highly because I fear there are many who would be disappointed by this and yet I know I had many moments of enjoyment watching it myself. It doesn't all hang together perfectly, it doesn't surprise too much and you always know roughly where it's going. If you don't mind plays/theater then do definitely check it out, otherwise read a few more reviews/comments and think as to whether it really floats you boat or not.

Children of Men
(2006)

Barely Adequate Tale Told Well
When we're cast into the not-too-distant future setting of this movie, it is reasonably convincing; like our world only not. It understated nature is probably what makes it so real. Only the concepts of how people go about their lives in this "Future London" have changed. Children are no longer being born and nobody knows why. What a premise to start a film with and what a talented cast to play with, including Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Surely this is going to be great movie ...

... but it just doesn't deliver fully. Not having read the book, I cannot day for certain but it felt as though elements were left out and not truly explained and so, in places where you feel there should be some more exposition on what is going on behind the main plot, there is only another action or escape sequence and while these are, on the whole, gripping scenes, the fact that some are a little too close leads to them be rather unconvincing.

All performances are above par and there are some genuinely moving, some frightening and some funny scenes but when you come to the end of the film, you feel it has concentrated on a small part of what feels like a much larger story. A lot of references are made but few are ever explained. It's OK to watch it once but I don't know how bothered I'd be about ever seeing it again. It's a shame because I really liked the idea. Perhaps I should read the book! I'd give this 7 out of 10 for performances and shooting style, but only just. If it was screenplay alone then maybe only 5 out of 10.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
(2006)

Not Ferrell's best work
Disappointed is probably the best word to sum up how I feel about this movie. Having already sat through the appalling Disney/Pixar vehicle, "Cars", earlier in the year, I was looking forward to an altogether better movie based around motor racing this time around. The trailer was good and much of Ferrell's other work has had me on the floor laughing. Alas, it was not to be and at 108 minutes, this film's about 25 minutes too long for what it has to offer. Of course, much of it has been ad-libbed (you can see the actors almost about to laugh at what's going on in several scenes) but I felt it strange that some of the funniest material, both in the trailer and in the end credits, did not make it into the movie itself, which certainly could've done with them. It's not that you won't laugh at what is there, it's just that what is there is a little thin on the ground and interspersed with scenes and shots that are too long and lingering to help the comedy but which also do not sit well in a movie with a tone as obviously farcical as this one's. Some of the jokes also rely too heavily on, how do I say this, conservative sensitivities and, while funny the first time, do feel jaded after a few airings. Ferrell and Reilly do reasonably well, even if their catchphrase is overdone by the end, but Sascha Baron-Cohen never really fits properly into his part. It's hard to put a finger on it but it's probably down to the character not being his own creation: he's not sitting in his own skin so to speak. I'm sure that the Borat movie will make amends for this. Let's hope that that's not yet another disappointment. As for Talladega Nights, well, it's probably best watched with your mates on TV/DVD after you've all had a few beers.

Volver
(2006)

Not as good as other work, not as bad as you might think
When watching this movie, all the viewer is really doing is sitting in on the life of the 4 women of the same family that are central to this story. There is one other real character in this movie but she plays only a side role and is more of a plot device than anything else. The story, such as it is, plays out slowly, helped along by the hints, allegations, hear-say and secrets that are so associated with small village life, which the filmmaker is trying to pass comment on. One character is heard to say that they should "wash their dirty linen in private", which pretty much sums up the approach of exposition in the piece. Much of the rich, visual flair and imagination that we are used to seeing from Almodovar seems absent from this movie but some of the imagery is still present - Cruz washing a knife while we stare from above into her cleavage, the silence and incomprehension of men in the face of female struggle or female emergence. However, for the main part, men are absent from this movie as they are absent from the characters' lives. There are some good moments of comedic dialogues and some moments of passion and drama but overall for me, this was a mediocre offering from someone who can do much better. Wait for it on TV.

Right at Your Door
(2006)

Tension that peters out badly
This is a movie of two halves. This movie has been seriously over-rated by some critics. It's not a bad idea but there's not enough here to justify a 90+ minute movie. At best, it would make a fair, maybe hour-long episode of "The Twilight Zone" or "The Outer Limits". The tension and confusion at the start well conveys the panic and ignorance of those affected but once action is confined to the house and most of what is going on has been exposed, there is little left to keep the drama going. The over-reactions of characters at times leaves us feeling like we are looking at children rather than adults. In fact, the child in the movie is the only one not to over-react. The twist, when it does come, comes too late. I already hated everyone in the movie and was just waiting and waiting for the death to happen. The fact that the husband rather than the wife initially died really didn't move me. The fact that the wife probably won't die did leave me feeling cheated. She had been close to ground zero and exposed for days so if anyone should die, then she should. For me, there are just too many occurrences that I find implausible.

This is another movie that I will be happy to never watch again.

A basic plot summary follows so you never have to go through the pain of actually watching this movie.

The first half of the story is a tense, feral journey through one man's experiences as bombs, which later turn out to be dirty bombs, explode on the morning commuter crowds streaming into Los Angeles. One of those commuters is his wife and his confusion and panic is increased due to the fact that they are new to the city, that radio reports are patchy and that vital services such as electricity and telecommunications are not working as they should. We follow him around as he desperately tries to track down where his wife is and as he prepares for the worst. Shortly afterward, both he and the Hispanic handyman from next door, who has pleaded to be be given shelter in this man's home as his own is too far away to safely get to safely, finally finish sealing the house, his wife arrives home. She is dusty and bloody and has a bad cough, which is put down to the toxins and microbial pathogens in the dust from the dirty bombs. She is naturally somewhat upset at being locked out but she is not let back into the house despite the difficult emotions and basic instincts involved.

So now comes the awful second half. She then she breaks one of the glass panes with her mobile phone that lands on the floor covered in toxic dust thus breaking the protective seal of the house. The man of the house merely covers this threat with a blanket - implausible act number 1 (and possibly implausible act #2 if you accept that no wife would risk her husband's health in such a way but we'll write that off as panic). Rory Cochrane then repeats his "bug shower" scene from "A Scanner Darkly", but this time with a bottle of bleach, in order to cleanse himself from the toxic dust contact (in fact most of his darting paranoid looks seem to work equally well in both movies). He still leaves the phone and dust covered with a blanket though!! The handyman from next door decides that he has to get home, no matter what the risk, despite his earlier stoicism in the face of this episode - implausible. The wife then finds a child that has come out of a car with its alarm turned on, i.e. the child exits a car in the street, it's alarm goes off - how did he get into it without alarm going off? Who put the alarm on after he got in? - implausible. The wife avoids police, army and helicopter patrols to get to and return from hospital, where the authorities take the kid she's found for treatment but turn her away and let her go. Why then were we shown, in earlier scenes, cops taking people off streets by handcuffing them and bundling them into vans, but now find out that they're ignoring everyone gathered outside the hospitals? - implausible. In the meantime, a specialist group of army technicians and possibly doctors (it's not clear) come to the house, question the sole occupant and take away a sample, for analysis, of the dust that is still just sitting there under the blanket. Wow, it almost sounds action-packed when I type it out. Believe me, it is not. So, we now know there has been widespread contamination outside, we know that the wife was very close to the initial explosions when they happened downtown, we know that she has been exposed to this dust for days and we expect that she must now die. We wait, and wait, and wait for this to happen. Numerous attempts at "moments of emotion" later, the guys in the chem-suits are back. They grab the wife and then .... tell the husband that his non-air-conditioned house has incubated the bomb's organisms and the sealed environment has meant that his house now has a deadly concentration of same. How they can tell the concentration of a virus in the air from a sample of dust on the ground is anyone's guess - implausible! They board up the house, with him still inside, and gas it inside a chemical control tent. The wife is told that she'll probably survive (despite having just coughed up a nice little lump of semi-congealed blood) - implausible. The End!

The Wind that Shakes the Barley
(2006)

A New Entry In My All-Time Top 10 Worst Movies Ever
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! Granted the good word I had heard about this movie had indeed come from those who would at least sympathise with the Republican movement but, to be honest, I was nonetheless looking forward to seeing this movie which was to be a no-nonsense film shot in the very county in Ireland in which I grew up. I was wide of the mark in my ignorant optimism and how dull was the resulting pain in my head after viewing this.

When one sees a movie such as, say, "The Dukes of Hazzard", one enters the cinema with expectations set rather low and is thus rarely disappointed. "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" had presented itself as something more and the bar had been raised appropriately. It merely a pity that, to me, the bar was to be vaulted over and not, as this movie excelled at doing, limbo-danced under.

The acting, directing, cinematography, script, editing, sound and plot were all poor, albeit with a few exceptions in the acting department. I do however get the feeling that some actors were directed to stutter their lines in an effort to make the dialogue seem more real but this only resulted in the poor lines jarring even further. In fairness to the actors, there were no characters to work with in this effort, only stereotypes.

Some points of note: - the amateur camera-work when panning left and right and up and down and left and up and down and right when the main house of the movie is set on fire - the primary school-like debate on the issues in an office - the main character moaning how he had tried to avoid getting involved in the war but couldn't and then tried to get out but couldn't. Rubbish! His friend was killed but he was to leave for London. What stopped him was seeing a train driver get a bit duffed up for refusing to carry soldiers! He made zero attempt to leave the war - none! - the simplified version of events around the shelling of Republicans in Dublin's Four Courts was almost funny.

I hope I never have to watch this movie again and not because of its harrowing drama, which is sadly lacking, but because it was one of those movies where I almost walked out for the first time. To shoot a movie in a beautiful area, such as West Cork, and for none of it to come through on-screen is truly a remarkable feat. How this won a prize in Cannes is anyone's guess. The wind may shake the barley but, for my money, all it's doing here is blowing tumbleweed through this ghost-town of a movie.

V for Vendetta
(2005)

Did I see the same version as everyone else?
Wow! As a lot of the comments I am seeing for this movie are very positive, I am just wondering if I have seen the same version, or cut, of the movie as everyone else seemingly has. I cannot see how this was enjoyed, as a whole, by anyone. Yes, there may have been certain scenes which certain people may have enjoyed but overall, there's little to be impressed with. The exploding buildings were fine but very reminiscent of Independence Day in that some of them just weren't real enough. The script was, well, poor (the alliterative sequence aside - alas, this too was overdone). The characters were bare types and I don't think anyone had to use much of their acting powers in orders to portray them. John Hurt barking out from a screen being a prime example. V's and Evey's relationship, such as it appeared to blossom from nowhere ("Oh you've tortured me and kept me as a prisoner, let me kiss you!), was unconvincing. The story didn't have much content either and the movie ran far too long. You found yourself waiting to see what the point of it all was and in the end discovered that there was little point at all. The only value that the movie has for me is that, perhaps, it is an attempt to bring to mainstream America the ideas and concepts of fear that have been used by US government to oppress the people of the US, to start and continue wars, to remove and ignore human rights, to add new "big-brother" style laws and to make the rich and powerful richer and yet more powerful, as Mr. Noam Chomsky's been saying for years. I know not of the comic from which this hails but I would say that unless you're a fan of same, do not bother going!

Ask the Dust
(2006)

Smacks of "Captain Correlli's Mandolin"-syndrome
Given the history of the director of this movie, it is hard to believe that this was such a painfully bad movie to sit through. I was at the European premiere last night and one of the Executive Producers was there. He was yet to see the movie and, boy, was he in for a surprise. I have not read the book that this is based upon, nor do I know if it highly rated or appreciated, but I have read "Captain Correlli's Mandolin" and given how poorly that was adapted for screen and how bad this movie was, I can only presume that something similar has happened here. The acting wasn't bad albeit that there were a couple-too-many raised eyebrows from Farrell. Honestly, I can't believed how little I cared for any character in this movie. Situations play out on the screen in an empty sequence of nothingness. Donald Sutherland's part comprises a few scenes where he opens a door, says something and closes it again. I kept looking at my watch when I wasn't cringing at the dialogue on the screen. I have never walked out on a movie but I was tempted to start during this. I gave this movie a score of '2' for reasons which seem horrendously shallow to me but these are the best things that I can say about this movie. The first is that I really enjoyed the all-too-short earthquake scene and the second is that Salma Hayek got naked and looked beautiful. I can say little else positive about this movie. Don't ask the dust anything, it can't talk!

Wolf Creek
(2005)

Terror by the numbers
Backpacking in Australia is something the world and its Mother seems to do these days, and it wasn't (too) long ago that I returned from my own trip there. So, it is with relative ease that one can relate, but not necessarily warm to, to the 3 principle characters in this movie; Bazz, Liz and Krissy. In typical backpacker fashion, an old Ford Falcon is purchased for travelling the vast expanses. While the ultimate destination is party heaven/hell (depending on your outlook) Cairns, the trio leave Broom for Wolf Creek meteor crater, which upon their arrival they proceed to hike around. When they return to their car, they find it will not start and settle in for the long, cold night ahead. After darkness has fallen, a mysterious, distant light materialises into a friendly seeming outback-jack who offers to fix their car back at his camp. They accept this offer and the catalogue of errors made by the group has begun. What follows is a series of solid yet predictable set-pieces involving escapes, pain, near-misses and the usual set of mistakes made by hysteric movie characters in similar situations and in pursuing these ends, the movie leaves little for its own finale which seems a little limp and could have done with more thought. Loosely based on a true story, this is a show that falls on the better side of average but, for my money, in terms of this genre, go for this years earlier release The Devil's Rejects.

The 40 Year Old Virgin
(2005)

Scores a 7 ... just
I actually did laugh out loud a couple of times when I went to see this in the cinema, which can be pretty rare for me. The title's pretty self explanatory so no need for any plot summaries but suffice to say, you'll get almost what you expect. For me this movie was a bit over hyped. I can see that the score for this movie is coming down a bit recently from where it was and due to the timing, can only suspect that this has a little to do with US humour vs. rest of the world humour. Also, it must be noted that leading man Carrell is the main character in the US version of "The Office" which may (or may not) be lending extra weight to his role here and indeed be contributing to jokes which non-US viewers may not get. The movie, as I say, has its funny moments but these tend to be toward the start rather than nearer the end. Like most comedies, it loses its bite half way through and ends up concentrating more on the emotions and relationships rather than purely on the laughs. I found the ending to this to be especially weak and failed to see the relevance of the "musical element", unless the makers were trying to be kooky, which never really works when one tries too hard. Not bad but, due to being about 10-15 minutes overlong because of the repetition of some jokes, not as great as I'd hoped.

The Man
(2005)

Oh dear oh dear oh dear
Two men of the screen such as Levy and Jackson should have not found themselves appearing in this trough bucket. The mind boggles as to how they ended up here. Indeed, the mind boggles at how someone would even finance something as below par as this. It really reminded me of something that would appear on VHS only in the 80's. That's how bad this was. The jokes were not funny. The plot was as deep and intricate as a page of printer paper. The acting was pretty terrible too. Levy was doing his "American Pie"-father character and Jackson's reduced to casting various disparaging looks at the scenery. I really, really, really hope that no one out there is thinking of making a sequel.

Rock School
(2005)

What's the point
Here we are taken inside Paul Green's School of Rock. Why are we taken in there? I don't know. The man himself is an obnoxious, immature wannabe who stopped trying to be and who know finances his life on the money paid by parents who want their kids to be rock stars or to find a new outlet or learning environment. This is no learning environment, at least no in the traditional sense. From what is shown, all the viewer can gather is that those who are already gifted are given the best opportunities and those who struggle are left to struggle but as long as the money keeps coming in, they can stay in the school to be shouted at and verbally abused. The documentary maker really failed for me in that he really made no point at all and failed to really question or press Paul Green at all. So we are guided through a time when some students are preparing for a Frank Zappa festival in Germany. We see toward the end that Mr. Green has no problem taking limelight and applause at the festival's end but what had he really contributed? Frank Zappa may have been revolutionary to some but his music is mostly aimless for me, rather like this film. I shall never watch it again, ever!

Hooligans
(2005)

Worse than a nil-all draw
There is nothing right in this movie. An American journalism student who has been kicked out of Harvard because he was framed by his roommate comes to London to visit his sister who is now married and has a child there. Very, very, very shortly after arriving he is sent away for the day to a soccer match with Sam, brother-in-law to the American's sister. Sam's patently a hardcore soccer fan who doesn't particularly want to bring a yank to the match with his mates. After a jokingly pathetic attempt to stand up to Sam and his yobbish behaviour (and attempted mugging), Sam suddenly finds a respect for the American. This quick turn was the beginning of the end. What follows is an even more unbelievable saga of bad London accents, shaky fight scenes scared of being too explicit, and pathetic, moronic and loutish behaviour (well I suppose it is a football-hooligan movie). The protagonist learns to fight with great ease against seasoned street fighters despite never having being in a fight in his life. Loyalties seem to flip at a moment's notice and characters behave in ways which make no sense at all, such as a mother who abhors violence and wishes to leave London because of it driving her infant child into practically the most violent gang fight that there could be, stopping the vehicle and getting out of it, with him still strapped inside! The audience are supposed to feel some sort of connection to the song "I'm forever blowing bubbles", the anthem of West Ham (the featured team) but it comes across as a drink inspired wail of oblivion, which is where this movie made me want to go. Avoid, avoid, avoid!!

Asylum
(2005)

Wanted to enter asylum after this
When a woman in a passionless marriage to a psychiatrist/psychologist, who gets on the path to his dream job in a mental institution/prison, falls for one of the inmates/patients, one can be sure that there'll be trouble afoot. Things of course start off innocently enough but before long this becomes a tale of desire. Imagery abounds in the movie where lightened corridors lead to dark ones further inside the institution and where half dilapidated, half-built buildings signify the fragmented minds contained therein. It's all really for nought though as finely measured performances (particularly from a sexy Richardson and cold McKellan) and fine attention to detail in recreating the 1950's setting of this film belie it's flimsiness. One truly feels the fact that this has been adapted from a book, which I admittedly haven't read, but where vast tracts of text have been laid aside and motivations and emotions which should be evident to the viewer come across as merely random actions and lusts. Plenty is left unexplained and lacking in obviousness as to why it happened, particularly Richardson's character's past. By the end, which itself holds no binding impact due to all the character's estranged positions from the viewer, I was really wondering why it had been made and who had paid money for it. If you do like the book, I would recommend that you stick to it as there is no way that this adaption could be doing justice to anything.

The Business
(2005)

My Barmy Vice
Let's go back in time. Back to the 80's when clothes were as brash as the gangsters wearing them. We follow a set of English criminals and wide boys down to Gibraltar in Spain. Here they're running a marijuana smuggling operation under the tolerant eyes of the authorities and doing quite well from it. Queue the necessary devil of greed and the inevitable turn to smuggling cocaine, the alienation of local, here-to-fore amiable politicians and the fall from grace. It's all been done before and indeed done better but this movie beguiles you with its bright primary colours, especially the deep sky blue, and through the use of its siren songs. Not anything to do with any cast members but rather the string of classic 80's tunes that mean even if you're not particularly enjoying what's on screen at any point in time, your foot will probably be tapping to the soundtrack in the background. Though even this, like the plot, seems to run its course long before the end comes. There's no doubt that some of the movie grates because the people its representing were probably as crass as they are portrayed but at other times the dialogue, especially the dodgy voice-over, are just plain clunky. There are better drug and gangster movies out there worth catching before finding time for this.

The Dukes of Hazzard
(2005)

Picture A TV Episode And Make It Longer
It's been a long time since I've seen an episode of the Dukes Of Hazzard but all the old ingredients are still there: 2 guys, a cool looking car, an old uncle, Boss Hogg, incompetent law enforcement and, of course, Daisy Duke. The plot is thin, flimsy and just enough to allow all involved to parade around the screen for a little over an hour an a half. Certainly the main reasons that I went to this were to see Daisy Duke and some crazy driving. I did get both of those but perhaps not enough of either. Overall, given the subject matter, I can't really complain about the performances of those on screen though Burt Reynolds did seem underused as Boss Hogg. There are also many short scenes which seem entirely unnecessary and add nothing to film except maybe 10 mains extra in running time which somebody somewhere may have deemed important! Not one I'd recommend unless you'd accidentally left your brain at home.

Crash
(2004)

Crashed at the end
What a good movie! Notice the use of good rather than great. I was really enjoying this one. There was a broad range of characters played by a more than able cast of varying experience and backgrounds. There were some great moments of dialogue, tension, humour and emotion where the audience were held at the edge of their seats, wondering if this time tragedy would strike. There was an intricate web of a storyline, weaving strands of interconnectivity to each thread of this tale of racism in LA and delicately pulling it all together. Alas it was in the drawing together of these tales that the film went wrong for me. Elements that had more emotional impact seemed to be finalized first, leaving more trivial, less weighty aspects to the very, very end which meant I was leaving the cinema not feeling very much about the whole thing rather than leaving with stronger feelings. It seemed to blow its load prematurely and a little reordering at the end would have made this a better movie for me. Despite this fudging, it's still one of the best movies in theatres at the moment and if you miss it there, do make a point of seeing it on DVD/TV.

Red Eye
(2005)

Duelling to Fooling
What happens when a man you've only just met threatens to have your father killed unless you make a phone call which will result in the death of a stranger, albeit that the stranger is the Deputy Secretary of Home Defense? Most people would probably just make the phone call and leave it there but not in this case and so we have 'Red Eye'. It's actually not bad. Murphy and McAdams surge through the script which has a pace that's quick enough for us not to notice any thin ice or holes that we may be moving over. There's nothing ground breaking in special effects, dialogue or the genre here but it all done pretty solidly though the 'chasing' last 30 minutes don't compare with the battle of wits in the first hour. For those that like dairy products, there are the obligatory cheesy lines to chew on. If you're at your local multiplex and stuck for something the blow away 90 minutes then this will do but if you wait for DVD, television showings or indeed don't bother to see it at all, then you really won't miss out on much!

Moolaadé
(2004)

Adequate African Tale
On more than one occasion while watching this movie I thought to myself "Why did I come to see this?". I felt that the score on this website rated the movie a bit higher than its worth but hey, that's what the mysteriously weighted votes came out at so someone must think its great. Essentially this movie deals with four girls running away from their female circumcision ceremony and taking refuge with a woman who herself had not allowed her daughter to be 'cut' a few years previously. The movie follows the controversy and confrontations of people and ideologies in the face of this woman protecting, with the use of her own 'magic powers', the petrified children against tradition, religious powers and patriarchal politics. The story is not overly complicated and the performances range from great down to the standard you'd expect to see at a primary school production. Cinematography and special effects don't really come into it either for this is storytelling at its most basic though the subject matter does lend the movie a level of emotion and empathy it perhaps would not otherwise have. Ultimately this is a movie with a message for the parts of the world where female circumcision still takes place and for this, rather than for any merit it has a movie, that it is important that this movie was made and is hopefully seen by those affected. I wouldn't go out of my way to watch this again but I'm not part of the true target audience!

Me and You and Everyone We Know
(2005)

Meandering but entertaining
Another movie tying up the disparate links between us all and how we interconnect. I went to this with pretty low expectations and expected a lot of navel gazing and arty extrapolation. Sure enough there was some of that there but also a lot more that I was surprised with. The dialogue throws up some unusual ideas and if you restrain yourself from initially baulking at them, there are some interesting paths to be followed. The movie shows some good imagination and dome of the ideas, while not something that you might wish to try, will strike you because they are things that you yourself might not have thought of. Overall, it is a movie both of many themes and no themes, of both question resolution and cryptic aloofness. Maybe it's mostly about how we flinch away from what we want when we're confronted by it directly or how that influences or choices. It certainly was different and just kooky and amusing enough to keep my interest. Despite having a negative feeling towards it going in to the show, I have to say that I enjoyed it. If you fancy a bit of whimsy, go see it!

See all reviews