IMDb member since January 2014
    Lifetime Total
    Lifetime Trivia
    IMDb Member
    5 years


Secret Worlds

Tedious, Self-Centred Twaddle
A series of 6 programmes put together on the subject of "Secret Worlds" that contains almost no secrets, is headed up by a lame American archaeologist with no cultural sensitivity.

In each programme, an idiot with a decent body blunders all over the place in an attempt to make archaeology/history exciting in an Indiana Jones style, rather than just telling the fascinating stories that lie beneath the ruins of societies lost in time. Not only do the film segments feature embarrassing cultural foot0in-mouth disease, but there is a lamentable lack of accuracy in the use of English - Greyfriars Bobby is a well-documented story from the 1860's and not some "legend", and at no point does the series protagonist actually engage in any form of serious archaeology, so there is never any chance that he will "uncover" any "secrets".

These programmes are for an American audience with almost no attention span, no knowledge of history, and no interest in academic rigour. Although the subject matter historically existed, the programmes do there best to turn fact into myth and legend before revealing nothing new on the subject.

Tedious, turgid, boring and unexciting. No wonder there hasn't been a second series yet after 6 years.


Lice, Die, Repeat
What do you do if you're drug addicts and you experience Groundhog Day? You squander all the opportunities that repeating a day can bring you and go completely psycho. You continue to show just how bad a human being you are until the day stops repeating and normality returns.

There, I've saved you 90 minutes of your life.

This deliberately drab, depressing film, takes the Groundhog Day premise and crams as much sadness into one day as possible - nothing good ever comes from the protagonists actions. Events simply spiral down into total chaos and disaster.

Sadly, where the premise breaks down is that, although the protagonists remember the repeated day, they also do a lot of mind-altering drugs during the repeated day, and the question of how their memories are affected from one day to the next is never addressed. How can you restart a day when your previous memories are warped by alcohol, heroine or cocaine? When you wake up the day after flooding your body with chemicals with no continuing effects, how does that alter your view of the world? Only by addressing this question could this film have been a worthwhile contribution to the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of film making.

In the end the cycles appear to stop repeating, time resumes it's normal course, no explanations are given, and nothing much has changed. What started the repeat cycle? Don't know. What stopped the repeat cycle? Don't know. What happened to the protagonists? Don't care.

What happens next? Not depressed enough to want to find out.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

It's All 'Bout The Flare, 'Bout The Flare, No Plot Line
This film is a pilot for a series that was never picked up and, if judged solely on the visuals, then that's a good thing for all people who hate fake lens flares - and that's 99% of the Earth's population.

The director of the film is SO obsessed with lens flare effects that he forgot all about having a sensible plot, decent acting, original characters or otherwise decent visuals. Every single light source in this film creates excessive lens flare, so much so that are moments where there is nothing on screen EXCEPT lens flare. I know this is all JJ Abrams fault with his Star Trek reboot but that doesn't mean that anybody else had to copy his sloppy technique.

With so much flare obscuring the on screen image, you're reduced to having an aural rather than a visual experience and the content of the film just isn't up to making up for a lack of visuals.

If this film were remade without the added lens flare effects then the money saved would be enough to hire a decent script writer, a decent director and some proper actors. THEN you might have a pilot film worth a series.


For Matt Damon Fans Only
This film is based solely on American moralities, where access to medical treatment is based solely on the ability to pay rather than actual medical need. If you can accept that only those able to pay should get any treatment then you can probably manage to watch this film.

Here, Matt Damon is going to die unless he can break into a private facility, impersonate someone with the right to treatment - by definition this is someone with bucket loads of money - and access millions of dollars worth of treatment he has no ability to pay for. In order to accomplish this, Matt agrees to hijack an executive and steal valuable information from him, thus earning his passage into the facility that can cure him. And that's pretty much the entire driving force behind this movie.

Of course, to make this plot acceptable to viewers, there have to be villains of the peace, who have no morals, against whom Matt struggles, and therefore can justify the ensuing violence. However, they are only there to make Matt's actions acceptable to viewers' moralities and sensibilities. Take away the mentally unstable characters in the film, and you're left with a bunch of minor crooks, focused around Matt Damon, out to get something they have no right to.

This film could have been an indictment of the ability to pay versus the humanitarian need of the sick, an indictment of personal greed versus the needs of society, an indictment of the pursuit of power against a balanced society where needs come first, rather than wants, but Americans wouldn't pay to see such socialist ideals and attitudes. Instead we get artificially created villains to justify the protagonist's actions. The result is a nonsensical mishmash of events.

If you accept that Matt Damon has a right to the medical treatment he can't afford then you can probably get through this film without throwing something at the screen. But if you realise that almost everyone in this film is some sort of socially maladjusted criminal, then you're going to struggle to accept any of the events that happen between the opening and closing credits.


Tedium, Thy Name is Hollywood
This film is Lawnmower Man for the 21st Century, and it only goes to show that Hollywood has learned nothing in the intervening 20 years between the two films.

We do not understand what intelligence is, how to recognise it, how to emulate it, how to copy even the lowest levels of intelligence, so basing any film on the creation of Artificial Intelligence is always going to take one of two approaches: 1) set the film so far in the future so that the many, many breakthroughs in understanding of intelligence have had time to happen, or 2) just copy an existing intelligence by some magic process. Since Transcendence is set in the near future, they went for option 2 - let's just magically create a human-level intelligence and then examine the consequences.

Unfortunately the film takes over 30 minutes to reach that point, by which time all of the audience are asleep due to the dull, leaden, plodding pace of the film. Everything that happens in the first 30 minutes could happen in the first 3 minutes, behind the titles and the audience will have missed nothing, nothing at all.

The main characters as introduced in the first 30 minutes are powered-down, empty shells, just waiting for the action to start. waiting for something to jolt them into life. It's Frankenstein without the storm, it's Terminator on Mogadon, If you want to watch this film, just skip the first 30-45 minutes and watch the resulting ridiculous plot unfold. Don't try and grasp the stupidity of the setup, which again assumes that nothing happens outside of the USA, so anything that happens to the USA automatically is a catastrophe for the entire world. If a few people are killed in a couple of AI labs in America, then the whole world has to start from scratch again, No, I don't think so.

Once the AI is created, and begins to grow and evolve at computing speeds - as alleged - the writers quickly lose any ability to understand their own creation and just have stupid, random stuff happen. If you want an idea of what might happen if a real AI Singularity occurs, there are many great books out there. Sadly, there aren't any halfway decent films on the same subject, and this appalling piece of brain-dead drivel has nothing sensible to say on the subject.


For Brain-Dead Idiots Only
OK, this film is based on Young Adult fiction. When I was a young adult and reading books that meant no sex, single plot lines, no swearing, and the complexities of daily living are ignored. It didn't mean that there was no plot and completely unbelievable situations.

I tried, I really tried with this film, but after 30 minutes I gave up. If this is the sort of stuff young adults are reading now and this is what's considered good stuff, then let's destroy all books published in the last 20 years and start all over again.

We're meant top believe that every teenager in Chicago, which has been shut off from the rest of the world, when they reach a certain age, has to choose their future career based on a drug-fuelled dream and that, once that career has been chosen, then they can never change that career. And there are only 5 careers open to them. Really? Really?!? Really! And this choice is to be made by these teenagers at a ceremony where they share blades, cut themselves on their palms and drop blood into a bowl. Really? Really! And if they want to join Dauntless - the soldiers and police - they need to have no brains, be all brawn, follow orders mindlessly, and be as reckless as possible. Really? Really! First act of the new Dauntless recruits? Jump on the non-stopping overhead trains, and then jump off a few minutes later onto the roof of a building (again whilst the train is in motion). Proof, if proof were needed, that Dauntless is full of idiots with a lot more luck than judgement.

And that's just one of the 5 Factions.

Yes, young adult fiction is less complex that adult fiction, but that doesn't mean brainless, it means simpler.

I just couldn't switch off my higher brain functions watching this film and gave up before I felt my IQ start to ooze out of my nose, taking a permanent dive into single figures.

If you really, really don't think at all when you're watching films, then you might be able to get through this one unscathed. For the rest of us, who rank above amoebas on the intelligence scale, this is one film to avoid.

There are no options for those who want to be in manufacturing, so the city just miraculously maintains itself,

Repo Men

Lacks Believability
I tried to like this film, I really did, but the whole premise of the film was so skewed from any possible reality where the events in this film could occur that I couldn't suspend my disbelief for 5 seconds nevermind the whole film.

In some future, where the USA medical system is even more f***ed than it is today, people can buy/rent/lease replacement body organs. If you rent/lease then you have to keep up with the payments otherwise the Repo men will come and take the 'spare' parts back. I can live with that idea.

Where things start to go wrong is that the Repo men are allowed to kill you to get the parts back. Pardon? As a Repo man you can commit legal murder just to get a mechanical liver back? Really? I doubt it.

Then Jude Law, Repo man, has an accident where a portable defibrillator wrecks his heart and he gets a mechanical replacement from the company he works with. Inevitably he falls behind on the payments and he becomes one of the hunted. However, the heart damage is caused by faulty equipment, supplied by the company he worked for, so surely the equipment manufacturer or the employer would have paid for the heart replacement. If you're going to extrapolate modern society into a future where you can rent/lease spare parts and have them repossessed, then surely you wouldn't agree to take on a spare part if you couldn't find someone else to pat for it.

Once you start to question the setup of the future society more and more unlikely rules/laws intrude to ruin watching the film - such as not being allowed to fly out of the country with a rented/leased body part. Really? You get scanned at all points of exit to stop you fleeing with your stolen or overdue parts. It just doesn't make sense.

There just isn't enough logical consistency to this film to allow the plot, such as it is, to unfold before you. You could try and keep watching it in a completely detached manner, but then what is the point of that?


Theatre Of The Absurd
I started watching this show when it was first broadcast on TV, but gave up after a few episodes for reasons that I can't remember now. It might have been because of scheduling conflicts, or the show was boring, or I had a life then. Anyway, now that I have time to watch long TV series I thought I'd give 24 another go.

What a bad decision that turned out to be.

Technically there's not much wrong with the programme, the acting's OK, the style is OK - apart from the shaky camera stuff that I personally hate - and the idea of showing events in "real time" was novel for the time.

Where this show falls down, and falls spectacularly, is in the plotting. Coincidences happen every 5 minutes, people do things that people would never do, the attempt to kill the Senator is ridiculously overly complicated, information isn't shared when it would resolve situations, nobody eats or drinks or visits the loo, and nobody is exhausted after being awake for 30+ hours.

I could go into details about the many, many plot holes and stupid situations in the show, but there are other reviews on this site that provide all the examples you could want to read.

And, of course, this being an American show, you don't actually get to watch an hour of TV every hour, you get to watch 40 minutes of TV. Perhaps that's when everyone visits the loo, have drinks and eat food, although the queue for the toilets must be frustratingly long for those next up after the ad breaks.

If you haven't got the memory of a goldfish, and have a grasp on reality, then you won't be able to get through 3 episodes of this show without being overcome with frustration at how stupidly ridiculous the whole premise is. Also, I'd keep your throat lubricated for the frequent shouts of "WTF?", "How could that happen", "How stupid can someone be", and "Not again!".

How this show managed 8 series is beyond me.

As H L Mencken said, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public".

Echelon 8

The Low Budget Shows In Every Way
This is another of these many, many American clueless action/adventure films but with added terribleness - terrible plot, terrible script, terrible action. This film clearly focuses on the events of 9/11 and how the Echelon group failed to prevent the events of that day.

However, everything is done in the style of an actors workshop where the tutor is just off-screen. Sadly, nobody seems to have learned any lessons from the workshop and they just delivered the same performances on film.

Being low budget, there are no special effects, which actually is a plus for me, but that means that the film has to be carried by the acting performances that, sadly, universally lack charisma.

Unless you know someone involved in this film, or are studying how not to make an action film, you'll want to avoid this film. There's almost nothing to keep you awake long enough to reach the final scene. Doubt that? Here's some scintillating dialogue:

A: "I got no choice but to get out of town." B: "If you go under, you'd better go way under." A: "If there was no cover up, and you were wrong, they're still gonna come after you. Even worse, if there was a cover up, they're gonna come after you."

With such pith, eloquence, and depth of understanding you know you're in for a treat - if you're a masochist. Please, for the sake of your sanity, avoid this film.

Random Quest

Random Boredom
This is a BBC production, so the technical aspects are as good as ever from the BBC, with good acting, sound, editing, lighting, etc. Sadly, the script lets the whole thing down, followed by direction that seems to insist on providing a glacial pace.

Alternate reality Science Fiction where a research scientist is mysteriously shifted from one universe into another parallel universe where much of his life has changed. Instead of exploring the scientific aspects of the swap, and comparing the differences between the universes, most of the film is taken up with creating/rekindling a relationship between the man and his wife in the alternate reality. It's sort of a Time Travellers Wife situation, or an amnesiac trying to reintegrate himself into his life.

And all of this happens at glacial speed.

So, drop the science fiction aspect, give the man amnesia and the story works just as well, and just as boringly. This film isn't about exploring the possibility of alternate realities, it's a film about ruined relationships and trying to piece them back together again.

If I wanted to sum this film up I'd say - Not As Advertised.

If you want a slightly surreal amnesiac romance story watch this film. If you want some decent science fiction, try watching The Terminator again.


I'd Like Some Amnesia To Forget I Ever Saw This
This programme creates two intertwined story lines. One involves a detective whose wife apparently runs out on him on their 5th wedding anniversary and is not seen or heard from in the 3 months before the programme starts. The other story is about a man with apparent amnesia who MAY have murdered his wife and step child.

The detective falls apart, drinking heavily and starts to confuse fantasy and reality. Then he decides that two men appearing on two different Missing Posters are the same man, and this is the amnesiac man. The detective starts putting pressure on the amnesiac to admit who he is. Meanwhile other detectives begin to question whether the wife really ran away.

This programme relies heavily on amnesia, memory loss, memory gaps, hallucinations, twisted memories, unreliable remembrances. As such, nothing you see or hear can be relied upon. And therein lies the problem. There is nothing in this programme to get your teeth into. There are no reliable facts to hold on to. None at all.

Is the amnesiac a murderer? Is the detective a murderer? Has anyone actually been murdered? Does anyone care? Sure, it has the high production values of UK-based drama, with fine acting and a reasonable script, but the story just doesn't hold water and the over-use of unreliable memories makes the plot too fluid to be involving.

I lost count of the number of slamming doors when nobody was there, out of focus flashbacks, deliberately vague memories, seeing things that weren't there, mistaking one person for another, red herrings, over reactions and implausible coincidences. Everything is just too contrived to make sense.

Oh, and the computer skills ascribed to one of the characters is simply impossible.

Overall I found the plot simplistic, obvious and devoid of tension. If you don't bother to pay attention or think about what you're watching then you'll undoubtedly be surprised by the ending. Personally I knew the outcome less than 5 minutes into the programme.

A really disappointing programme.

Alpha House

Biting The Hand That Feeds You
It's rare that a political satire can cross the Atlantic and be liked, and understood, by those on the other side. With "Alpha House" the characters are really just generic politicians. you don't need to know if these people are Republican, Democrat, Conservative, or Labour; they're just pigs at the trough.

This is a comedy in the same vein as "Yes, Minister", where there's no laugh out loud moments, but the wit shines through, the situations are absolutely believable and the politicians are shown to be real people, just like everybody else. Admittedly, these people have more power and influence than others, but they're just as incompetent, vain, self-serving, out of touch, ignorant, and grubby as you'd expect any politician to be.

Although there are threads that run through the series, each episode is also sufficiently stand alone that you can miss one or more programmes and still enjoy the show.

I can't help thinking that any detractors of this show are Republicans, annoyed that these men are Republican senators but, really, they're just politicians. Ignore whatever views these people spout and just enjoy the messy business of 21st Century politics.

If you care about politics, watch this show. If you enjoy wit, imagination, and satire, watch this show twice, it's that good.


I've Found A Dodgy Camera
This is yet another "found footage" "horror" film and, sadly, it doesn't add anything to the genre.

The film starts off well enough, with lots of spectacular scenery on and near an Arctic glacier, and setting up the clichéd "group of people completely isolated from the rest of the world". However, after 10 to 15 minutes the film just slows right down. Two people wake up in the morning to discover that everybody else is missing from camp. They then spend the rest of the day mucking about, occasionally looking for the missing colleagues, but mostly just hanging about together.

It's only 40 minutes into the film that something demonstrably weird happens and the two protagonists start to panic. At this point, instead of ratcheting up the tension, the film continues at a glacial pace. Really, the film never changes pace at all; it's slow, slow, slow all the way. There's no tension at all.

One of the things that really annoyed me about the camera work is that the camera always glitches when something interesting is happening, but never at any other time. Sure, there are some electrical disturbances where the camera may well glitch, but the camera glitches when they find a 'body', and when the body moves. The glitch is like a visual punch in the face showing that something scary is happening. Really, the audience doesn't need the reminder, and it just becomes a major irritation.

We never find out what's going on but it looks a lot like a virus outbreak. Indeed, near the end of the film, when a rescue party is reviewing the found footage, this is the only logical conclusion to reach. Do they then set up isolation procedures? Of course not. Oh, dear, oh, dear.

You can't really class this as a horror film as there's no horror, nor as an adventure film, as there's no adventure. It's more like a poorly made documentary of 'what I did on my holiday'. I know lots of people say this but, avoid this film at all costs.


A Towering Improvement
This film is basically a remake of The Towering Inferno post 9-11. There's a twin tower building full of people that catches fire by accident. There's no water available on the critical floors so the fire spreads. There are lots of people trapped inside the building and rescuers doing their best to save them.

Really, you know what you're going to get, there's no surprises, and it all comes down to how well executed the action sequences are and whether we care about the people involved in the tragedy. For me, this film works. Granted it's Korean and subtitles take some of the tension away as your eyes are flicking to the bottom of the screen to see what's bring said. But, this film really works as a 21st Century disaster film.

There's lots of big action sequences, big fires, explosions, burning bodies, falling bodies, tons of special effects. It's all exciting stuff in a very PG sort of way.

Taking advantage of knowledge gained in the 9-11 disaster, we see steel frameworks buckling, people tacking pleas to find their loved ones on nearby walls, burning debris falling from the top of the building; everything that happens to modern buildings when they burn.

My biggest criticism of the film is that there are too many characters. The film takes 30 minutes before the fire starts and in that time we meet the maintenance manager and his child, the restaurant manager, the head chef, the incompetent chef, the incompetent chef's girlfriend, the maintenance manager's friend, the rookie fireman, the fireman sergeant, the work obsessed fireman, the lottery winner, the Christian, the mother of a college student, the college student, the building manager, the building owner, the snooty woman and her dog, and so on and so on. Really, there are just too many. Cutting the number down and shortening the introduction would have improved this film a lot, allowing us to care more for fewer characters.

Whilst most of the film is deadly serious, there is some light relief provided to make the film more watchable - two hours of relentless disaster is just too depressing. In particular, the character of the fireman sergeant is likable, comical, but still very serious in his actions. My favourite moment comes when he prays for, and gets, a tsunami, dozens of floors up the building.

I can't imagine this film being made in America, post 9-11, and many Americans may find it too distressing to watch but, as a reboot of the disaster film genre, it's great success.


You'll Never Want To Stay In A Hospital Again
A young couple are on vacation when they are shot with tranquillizer darts; they are abducted by persons unknown. Pretty soon they realize that they are in some sort of institution that's similar to a hospital, or a prison, or a research facility; we never really find out.

Over the course of the film several other couples are introduced into the mix, each having been abducted from the same place. Each couple have their own stories and their own beliefs about what's going on, and each set of beliefs is completely different from every other couple.

Although the abductors wear orange environment suits and gas masks, it becomes clear that they at least approximate human beings, and not little green men from space. However we never actually find out who/what they are.

So what is the point of the film? This film is all about creating an atmosphere, and showing the slow exploration of the strange surroundings that the couple find themselves in. Days pass without incident, then there are periods where people are unconscious and then wake up with strange wounds or scars. The film creates a very claustrophobic atmosphere and doles out information slowly and intermittently. It eventually becomes clear that the building/complex/bunker/whatever is not in pristine condition. Does this rule out government involvement? The disconnection from one scene to the next works well. Did the couple just fall asleep and wake up, or were they drugged and more time has elapsed than they think, or were they drugged so that changes could be made to their cell and no extra time has elapsed. It's an evocative way of mirroring the fragmented nature of the captives new life.

Whilst the film does an excellent job of creating a mystery about what is happening, there are a number of flaws.

The first is a minor but jarring flaw: whilst most of the film follows the rules of the real world, the battery life on the mobile phones that everybody has can be measured in weeks rather than hours, and nobody comments on this extraordinary happen stance as they record daily videos, constantly check for a signal or text their captors.

The major flaw in this film is that ultimately nothing is explained. There are a couple of scenes at the end of the film that give hints as to what's going on, but no explanations are provided. Whilst this may work for films like "2001: A Space Odyssey", Abduction doesn't have the gravitas to pull off a vague ending. This film needs a few scenes to explain more clearly what is, or might be, going on in California. Sadly, we don't get an explanation and the film doesn't deliver a satisfying experience because of it.

Alien Signs: Undeniable Evidence - The Message

Are The Circles In Your Mind
Either you're a believer, in which case you'll think that everything in this review is biased, ignorant, anti-spiritualist, and very closed-minded, Or you're a realist, and won't be surprised that I found this 'documentary' a total load of garbage.

The 'documentary' is really just a recording of a talk given by Colin Andrews, who is a true believer in the non-human creators of crop circles. The quality of the programme is very low, with poor camera work, terrible lighting and awful sound. However, it is useful to have a recording of the speech made by Colin Andrews as it is a fairly good summary of the position of those who believe that some/many of the crop circles/formations that appear are not made by humans.

Like many true believers, Mr Andrews' faith trumps any evidence that contradicts his beliefs. He picks and chooses the facts to support his beliefs, ignoring or dismissing contrary facts. Also, he is clearly not trained in scientific techniques, or mathematics, so many of his statements and conclusions are either circular in nature, or are logical jumps that cannot be justified.

One of my favourite sections of the talk is where Mr Andrews makes much of the mystical connection of certain circles/formations to mathematics and music. However, as anyone who has studied geometry and/or ratios will know, many simple geometric shapes have been extensively studied and the ratios between diameters, chords, arcs and sections of circles is well known and is no mystery. Also, it has been understood for many centuries that any note in a musical scale is constructed from multiples of the frequency of a base note, and that the multiples used in a scale often appear elsewhere in mathematics and nature. There's nothing mystical about it. Create a circle, then draw a triangle inside the circle, and you will create various well-defined mathematical ratios automatically. That's the nature of Euclidean geometry.

If you're a true believer, you'll welcome this overview of a mysterious phenomenon.

However if, like me, you're a rational human being, you'll enjoy watching an hour of complete bunkum, as long as you can keep your blood pressure low enough to not have a heart attack before the end of the film.


The Worst Run Prison In America?
The ratings for this TV show are phenomenal, but I just can't see what the appeal is. Oz is supposed to be a maximum security prison, with the most dangerous prisoners in the state, but many of the inmates are no more dangerous than dandelions. Most of the action takes place in Emerald City, a special wing of the prison where the rules are stricter (supposedly) and there is no privacy. Yeah! Despite there being no privacy, prisoners take drugs all the time, force sex on others, fight almost constantly, and murders are commonplace. And every time there's an 'accident' there's no evidence, nobody gets punished, there's no video coverage, and no forensic evidence. Surely after just a few months the prison would be closed down or a new administration brought in.

In effect this programme is a soap opera in prison, just as realistic, and just as stupidly plotted. Far too many events happen that just wouldn't or couldn't in a prison; the guards are never around, there's no rehabilitation, there's no mental care of the prisoners, the prisoners have easy access to weapons, and there's no mandatory drug screening.

However, there is one group of people who would enjoy this programme, gay men with a predilection towards hyper-masculine men. There is a lot of full frontal nudity in this programme, as well as almost constant semi-nudity, frequent references to gay sex, and just about every prison is well-built attractive hunk. Of course, there's probably a lot of women who enjoy the 'action' too.

If all you want is to watch some man candy, then this programme is for you. If you're looking for a realistic portrayal of life in prison, with solid story lines, then you're better off watching the Tellytubbies; they're more grounded in reality than Oz.


Stop Eating That Banana While You're Crying!
You know how things are. There you are in a scientific research station 3000m up a mountain when suddenly all sorts of horrific creatures start turning up wanting to eat you. We've all been there and laughed about it the next day.

There's nothing really special about this film. It's a solid workman-like horror film that doesn't do anything wrong compared to other horror films, but it doesn't lift itself up to iconic-level cult status. The acting is good, the scenery is fantastic (or very bleak and forbidding depending on the mood required), the setup works as a way of isolating a group of people and the mechanism for creating the creatures, whilst being completely bonkers tripe, does allow for any crazy mix of chimeras that you care to think up in your worst out of body experiences.

It's never explained where the 'organism' that creates the nightmare creatures comes from, and whether every chimera created survives to become a viable creature, or why this organism has suddenly appears and in such numbers. However, most horror films are just as bad at explaining things so I don't hold it against this film.

Although the number of people is limited, there is a high death rate, most of them being suitable gory but, sadly, the one you really want to survive is the first to get it in the neck.

The minister's character is superb. The minister is a woman, thankfully breaking the stereotype/cliché of useless women, and boy has she got guts, presence and a working brain. Anyone who says something stupid, does something stupid or just gets in the way are soon put in their place, hence the "Stop eating that banana while you're crying" title.

Yes, there are the obligatory idiots, but you know they're idiots, as does the minister. As well as the minister there are three other capable characters. Sadly, the hunky body guard gets it in the chest before he has a chance to take his shirt off (boo), but the technician and his ex at least realise the danger they're in and don't stand around screaming, carelessly leaving doors open, or walking straight into the jaws of some nightmare creature.

At one point a young woman appears being chased by a creature and she seems to then fill the role of screaming bint and incubation chamber. There seems to be no point to this character, and the role of incubator could easily have been given to banana-eating woman.

The ending is a bit flat. There's the inevitable scene where we know that the crisis is only just beginning, there's the jump scare at the end, but you can spot it coming if you're paying attention, and everybody left alive makes it off the mountain. But there's no great feeling of achievement at the end. One of the survivors telephones for a helicopter, just like phoning for a taxi, and off home everybody goes.

This is a competent film that stays well within its intended milieu and delivers a solid experience that many will appreciate, if not enjoy. I liked the film, but a little more attention to the plot, and a bit more slapping from the minister would have raised this film to an 8.

The Guest Room

My, What A Big House You've Got
You know how it is. You're a bloke, you're in a relationship, but you still go off to look at Boy's Toys when you should be doing relationship building stuff like moving in, unpacking, painting walls, putting the bed together and stuff like that. Well, the downside of behaving like a teenager is that one moment you're looking at a vintage car and the next you wake up in a cage in someone's house, being fattened up for slaughter. How many times has that happened to you? I know that's it's almost a monthly event for me.

Well, for Richard Rubens, it's his first time, and he's not a happy bunny. He quickly realises he's a captive, and he's not going to take that lying down.

It becomes clear that Richard is being held by a husband and wife who are heavily influenced by tribal customs, including shamanistic magic, and that Richard is slated for the dinner table.

For some reason the wife has an interest in keeping Richard alive, a reason that is never fully explored. When the husband leaves on a business trip, Richard attempts to work on his relationship with the wife to gain escape. What follows is more of a psychological thriller rather than a horror movie. This film is firmly rooted in reality, or is it? It's never clear if what follows is the interaction of devious and twisted minds, or whether there is magic at work.

Yes, there are a few horrific scenes, but it's the mental battle of wills that grabs the viewer. A really big plus for me, in this film, is that it's filmed in well-lit rooms. I HATE films where the screen is 90% black. Here, you can see everything, and it's the normality of everything that ups the creep factor. When events unfold clearly in front of you, are you seeing reality, or the delusions of a drug-addled mind? Sadly, we have to have the inevitable twist, that doesn't really add anything to the film and the ending just fizzles out because of that.

The key to making this film work is the role of the wife and this is portrayed well. Is she a victim, a co-conspirator, the main driving force, is she insane, delusional, the sanest person in the movie, as one-dimensional as she appears, or as multi-layered as you want her to be? Here the film gets it right. For much of the film, you're never quite sure who or what the wife is and this ambiguity allows the film to work. If it hadn't been for the ending, this film would be compulsive viewing and much more popular than it is.

The cliché twist spoils what otherwise is a tense psychological journey into tribal customs and beliefs, warped through Western eyes, that would ultimately leave you wondering about how real your world is.


This Is The Way The Film Ends
I watched this film with English subtitles, so I may have missed some of the subtleties in the original Spanish. However, I don't feel that the film suffered in any way.

A group of friends gather for a weekend to renew 'friendships' from 20 years ago, and the reunion isn't going well - if someone stripped naked and threw their clothes on the bonfire I'd be thinking it was time everyone went to bed. Just before the party disintegrates there's a loud noise, strange lights in the sky and everything stops working, everything.

With no power, so no lights and no phones, everyone goes to bed. In the morning there is one person missing. He just disappeared. The group make for the nearest town and on the way they start to disappear, one by one. Eventually we're down to the last few, and the film ends.

There's no explanation for the power cuts, what the lights were, why people are disappearing, why the people are disappearing in the order they are, why only people are disappearing and not birds and animals and why most people disappear when nobody is looking at them. There's no explanation at all. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

With the lack of explanation, all you're left with is the journey, and I did find some of the journey interesting. I wasn't that interested in the interactions of the characters and, as usual, I'm glad some of them disappeared. I think I detected a pattern as to the order people disappeared in, but some people vanished in the night, so I'm not entirely sure. As the dwindling group move from their holiday home across a gorge and towards the nearest town there are some good moments: a vulture makes an unexpected appearance and death by goats is a novelty I wasn't expecting.

Sadly, with no explanation, and no real ending, the film is a complete let down. However, until the very end I found the film worth watching, with moments of slowly-building tension, the unexplained disappearances to fathom out, and some great scenery to watch. However, when you get to the end and nothing is explained, watching the film just becomes a very flat experience.

This is the way the film ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Storage 24

Something Borrowed
Here we have a pretty standard monster flick in the mould of Alien. Indeed, if it wasn't for the guy smoking at the start of the film, the opening sequence is eerily reminiscent of the start of Alien. From there the clichés start arriving at the rate of at least one per minute.

There's the dog getting killed at the beginning to show that the alien is deadly. And the gooey residue the alien leaves behind. And everyone is trapped in a confined space with no way out. Everybody keeps splitting up to make themselves easy prey. And on, and on, and on. Oh, and there's even some crawling through some ventilation ducting just like in Alien and Aliens.

The set-up: A military cargo plane crashes in London, releasing the Alien, which heads into a Big Yellow storage warehouse. The crash takes out the phone lines and mobile phone signals and also causes the warehouse security system to go into lock down, trapping the victims inside. Finally, the power keeps cutting in and out, giving the director an excuse to plunge everything into darkness when required.

As set-ups go it's not a bad premise, but it just recreates the same set-up you get in all the other alien vs human horror films; there's no originality.

The acting isn't too bad: one male lead played Mickey Smith in Dr Who, and the other one played Captain Hook in Once Upon A Time. Sadly, the women do let the side down a bit, as they don't bring any character to their performances.

The main problem with this film is the direction and camera work. There are too many extreme close ups, with far too much excessively out of focus during these shots. I think the director thought that extreme close ups created oodles of tension. He obviously didn't look at the finished results. Extreme close ups are just annoying.

Another problem is that the cameraman is often too close to the characters so he has to keep moving the camera around to capture the action. It's like watching a drunk trying to stand up straight.

Terrible camera work and an over-abundance of clichés and 'borrowed' scenes drops this film from Promising to Dire. Pity really.

Another measure I use to judge how bad a film is, are the number and type of unanswered questions. For this film, here are some of my unanswered questions:

1) Why is the alien staying in the warehouse? 2) Why is the alien killing everyone? 3) How could Charlie miss the half-eaten receptionist less than two feet in front of him? 4) Why does the alien use the ventilation ducts? 5) How can you rip out a heart and the guy is still alive? 6) How can you remove everything below the diaphragm and stay alive? 7) Why is the girl captured and not killed like everyone else is?

To me, this shows that I couldn't suspend disbelief long enough to get into the film. That makes it a miss in my book. :-(

The Controller

Stunningly Awful
If this film had been made in 1978 then it MIGHT be considered prescient. The fact that it was actually made in 2008 shows that the writers, director and producers couldn't even look back at recent history and construct a contemporary film.

Plot: A billionaire owner of a games software company finds that his wife has been kidnapped and he has to hire a team of game players to fight their way through a customised version of his best-selling game to rescue his wife. To make things worse, the billionaire is locked in a room whilst playing the game.

As a premise there are some intriguing possibilities but the writers clearly have no idea how online gaming works so the whole plot line collapses into absurdities. For example, only certain servers in the world could possibly host the game being played and they could be identified in seconds. (I'd say more but then I'd have to give out spoilers.) And the final plot twist is truly, truly awful. Unbelievably awful. However, the twist does explain why so much that has gone before doesn't make sense.

This is clearly a budget production, with shaky camera work, bad actors, and unbelievably bad dialogue. In the 21st Century how do you struggle to find a competent actor to play a CEO character? The guy first appears in a meeting, jet-lagged from a flight from Japan, and then goes through the rest of the film in a similar state. It's like the actor's on tranquillisers and nobody called the doctor to sort him out. Most of the other actors aren't much better, but they at least appear awake most of the time. The one exception is Tank Jones - yes, that's his name. He's by far the best actor on screen.

The in-game graphics are very poor, but that might have been state of the art when the film was made. Also, not much happens within the game given that players are playing for 8 hours. And how about the billionaire who's stuck in a room with no food and no toilet? In trying to find a way to sum up this movie, the word that came to mind is SNOOZEFEST. If you manage to stay awake until the end you'll wonder just when you turned into such a masochist. Go have some root canal work done, it's quicker and less painful than watching this film.


Pure Fantasy - Not A Drop Of Science
I couldn't make it past the pilot episode of this sad excuse for a post-apocalyptic 'drama'. There were just too many things wrong with the setting for me to be able to suspend disbelief. And then there were too many events that just couldn't or wouldn't happen. All this in 45 minutes of terrible television.

Fifteen years ago electrically powered machines stopped working across the world, apparently within minutes, including planes in the sky. Now a series of events begin to unfold in this post-apocalypse society where everyone has reverted to a pre-industrial civilisation. So what could be wrong with that? 1) Where does everybody get their nearly new clothes from? And how do they keep them clean? And everyone's shoes are nearly new and well fitted.

2) How do people keep their hair cut? And how do men keep themselves clean shaven? And how does everybody keep themselves clean and fresh? And where does all the make-up come from? And how do women style their hair when travelling across country? 3) In a pre-industrial world, refining metal and making glass are almost impossible, as is making most 21st century materials. So why is nobody collecting and hoarding all these precious materials? Instead, metal is left to rust and disintegrate, glass is left where it lies, modern furniture rots in abandoned houses, as does all the other fixtures and fittings.

4) Why are people using muskets? And where did they find so many? Why aren't people making new bullets using old casings? And how come people can make gun powder but can't make better explosives using, presumably, the same text books they learned about gunpowder from.

5) Where did Monroe's new tents come from? Without modern machinery, such tents are impossible to manufacture and the tents were new, without blemishes.

6) There are amulets that allow electricity to work, and a woman starts a computer and connects to somewhere else, miles away. If an amulet can extend the working of electricity over such a range, why doesn't EVERY electrical device also start up within range of the amulet? The amulets also use power, so how come they are immune to the electricity-stopping effect? 7) Although electrical machines don't work, people, who use electricity in nerves and the brain, still function normally. And batteries don't work. What kind of effect stops simple chemistry like batteries but keeps humans alive? 8) At the start of the blackout, in the house of man who knows that the blackout is permanent, why do they light over a dozen candles in the same room when candles have suddenly become almost irreplaceable? Fifteen years later and the 'doctor' is also using over a dozen candles to light her room, in addition to a kerosene(?) lamp. How can they afford this profligacy? Then the girl appears to walk out and it's daylight outside. If so, then why the candles? 9) A captured teenager apparently unscrews several bolts using only his fingers. This is almost impossible, and would leave the fingers wrecked for over a week. Doesn't happen.

10) People are hit by bullets, arrows and crossbow bolts and fly backwards. If a bullet had enough momentum to make a man fly backwards when hit, then the firer of the bullet would also be flung backwards in a similar manner, and yet they stand still after firing.

11) How come, if Chicago is only 2 days journey away, that nobody from the village goes to Chicago to trade? 12) Why would there be a boat in the middle of a Chicago street when there is only manual labour available to move it and the boat is surrounded by stone buildings that are much better dwellings? 13) The first person the travellers talk to when they reach Chicago happens to be the uncle they are looking for. How likely is that? 14) A woman lives in her house for at least 15 years and can't find some paint to keep the house maintained. Paint is so low down on a list of survival goods that she could have any colour of paint she wanted, in whatever quantity needed. Instead, the outside of the house looks like it hasn't been painted in 15 years.

15) Muzzle loading muskets take time to reload, so why aren't they fitted with bayonets, as most rifles were? 16) In the hotel in Chicago candles are lit during the daytime, even when the room is clearly lit by sunshine. Nobody would waste candles in such a way.

17) Without electricity, where do ice cubes come from in the middle of a field? You would need an ice storage room nearby, filled during the Winter. Transporting ice over any distance is difficult without refrigeration. Instead, you'd use a bucket of cold water to cool bottles of liquid.

If you're going to posit a world without electrical machines, then a major part of each episode should cover how a previously 21st century society functions when technology has failed. When there are so many glaring absurdities in only 45 minutes then it's clear that no effort has been made to properly imagine such a society. Since the series starts with such a fantasy world, there's little hope that there will be any realism injected in future episodes.

This is not a TV series for science fiction fans, or people who understand reality. If you like your fantasy closely based on reality - so there's no vampires, dragons or fairies - then this might be for you. The rest of us, who are in touch with reality, have better things to do with our time.

Dead in France

What Brand?
This black and white film is set on the Cote d'Azur where a hit-man is about to retire. He has one last job and that's it for him. Whilst he goes off to end his career he leaves behind Lisa at his house. Lisa's nutter of a boyfriend turns up and it turns out that Lisa and boyfriend have a scam going. That's one story thread.

When the hit-man, Charles, completes his contract, he has the chance to kill an old rival, but takes several million instead. It turns out the old rival wants revenge. That's another thread.

Then there's a young woman who's also an rival and, when she hears that Charles is retiring, she rushes out to France to take revenge on him, or get his money, or something. That's a third thread.

Charles fancies owning a yacht as part of his retirement and that's when two brothers attempt to steal his car. Instead of taking the car, they take the money, and that's the final thread.

All these threads interweave during the rest of the film as the action slowly centres on Charles' French house. Although the number of coincidences is too extreme to be believable, if you're forgiving enough, then the story trundles along and makes some sense.

There's a good amount of violence and death in this film, mostly at the beginning and end, but, being in black and white, the violence is toned down enough to be suitably comical when needed. And this film is meant to be funny. Sure, there are some funny scenes, but mostly the humour misses the spot. I put that down to the way that Charles is played; you don't get any sense of him as a person. He's too wooden, soulless, and with too-perfect diction to be believable as a person, any sort of person.

Other reviews say that Charles is socially challenged. In fact, he's just germaphobic, which does lead to my favourite dialogue in the film: "I'll even clean up the body. I've got hydrochloric acid in the basement, tonnes of it." "What brand?" Sadly though, almost nothing is made of this 'flaw' and Charles is just a normal person for the rest of the film. Everybody else is also fairly normal, apart from the Mohawk nutter boyfriend, who's just a bit over the top, but has a good scene with a gun and a cat.

There's nothing really wrong with this film, but it just doesn't quite work. The pace is a little slow in places, the coincidences too extreme, some of the timing of events doesn't work, sometimes the acting is too dry to be effective, and there's just not enough wit and intelligence on display.

This is one of those films where you want to do a remake, with just a few tweaks, and you KNOW you'd turn it into a great film. So near, and yet so far.

Lost Contact

Student Project?
I watched this film knowing nothing about it, nothing at all. There were no reviews on IMDb and no ratings. Based on that, I wasn't expecting much, but I wasn't expecting so little.

The copy I saw was a very poor quality. I don't know if this is due to the original being filmed on a cheap camera (probably), or whether the transfer process was botched somehow. With the poor quality, it's impossible to tell whether the lighting, sets and scenery were of any quality. From what I saw, the whole project looks to be ultra-low budget. Nearly everything is filmed at night and lit so that the backgrounds are jet black. In effect, for most of the film, there are no backgrounds.

The main actors all talked with excellent diction, which clashed horribly with the dialogue - imagine the Queen saying "she-ite" every second word. And, when I say actors, I mean a bunch of student actors reciting their words without any interaction with each other, or any understanding of what they're saying. And the dialogue is full of pretentious rubbish. Here's a couple of examples: "You will be rushing off, at the last minute, for emergency chemotherapy. And we'll have to get Tommy in to replace you, if the job doesn't involve long grassy vegetation or any other of God's fine creations put on this Earth just to send him into panic stricken convulsions of criminal activity postponing proportions", and "Deals go down for about a fortnight after the initial delivery", and "In that one instance it is all about confidence, a sense of assurance. That is what pulls you through. Do you know what I am talking about, Sam?" It's all very wordy, and nerdy, and completely unrealistic. It feels like the writer is trying to show off his erudition. And don't get me started with all the Shakespeare quotes splattered throughout the film.

Plot wise, we have two private school drop outs who decide to rob an illegal drug operation, which they manage half way through the film. After that, the writer seems to have run out of ideas, so we have to witness the criminals, stuck on a boat, talking endlessly to each other until the film just ends. Also, there are long periods where there is no dialogue and we are subjected to guitar-led music for 3 or 4 minutes at a time. This is particularly noticeable during the heist.

This is a film that can only be of interest to the parents of those involved. The writing is terrible, the acting worse, and the plot almost non-existent. In reviewing the events in the film I'm almost tempted to believe that the film was meant to be a comedy, but nobody involved seemed to have an actual sense of humour.

Unless you know someone involved in the production of this effort, avoid at all costs.

See all reviews