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Bit of good, bit of very bad.
The good parts - Peter Cushing, who cannot go wrong, and adds some much needed gravitas to the modern parts.

The WW1 cast - perfect in every way.

When the story is in WW1 - The English soldiers coolly wandering into a courtyard full of Germans is one of my favourites scenes.

The scene with the sonic weapon - just believable (given Tesla's experiments) and nicely gruesome.

Alex Hyde White isn't too bad once the story gets going.

The bad

The whole time travel. OK, I can see it working - but it doesn't here. It's just an excuse to modernise and Americanise the film, because god forbid an 80's audience try and deal with the story of British people in the past.

Calling it Biggles - he's barely in it. Not enough to justify being the title character.

That soundtrack. That truly awful, grating, inappropriate soundtrack.

Marcus Gilbert - the one anomaly in the WW1 cast - he's awful.

The modern American cast with the exception of Alex Hyde White - grating, irritating and stereotyped in every way.

I think, on some level, the original writers and director did want to make a proper Biggles movie - the standard of the WW1 part shows that. I suspect they were over-ruled by producers and studio hacks who couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch just a straight forward story about brave British flyers in WW1. (The films penultimate line 'You're not a god, you're an American!' hints at some bitterness)

Pity. There could have been a good film there.

NYC: Tornado Terror

Oh, this is bad. Really bad.
I like disaster movies. I even like the bad ones. But this - this goes beyond bad into utterly dire.

The characters are walking, talking clichés straight out of better disasters movies. Every single plot point is signposted ages before it arrives, and every situation is utterly predictable.

The writing and directing between them manage to suck all tension and excitement out of the story. The writing is obvious - and dull - and there is no build-up of tension at all. This is quite a talent. This writer has made a tornado hitting New York mind-numbingly dull. And the direction is of the 'point, shoot, move on to the next shot' variety.

As for the effects - c'mon guys, you've been doing special effects for nearly 100 years now - you can do better than this! Don't watch this. ever. It's two hours of your life you'll never get back and you'll regret it.

Agatha Christie's Marple: Nemesis
Episode 4, Season 3

What happened to the book?
It's fairly enjoyable - if you haven't read the book. The only similarity to the actual book is a few names. The plot is different, the period is different, the characters are different. Why bother adapting the Miss Marple (and it should be MISS Marple and not just plain Marple - that's so very rude) books if the adaptors are just going to change everything about them? Why not just write entirely new mysteries, instead of hanging their own stories onto Agatha Christie characters and book titles? If you want to see Miss Marple:Nemesis, try the far superior Joan Hickson version. This version is not an Agatha Christie mystery.

The Haunting in Connecticut

Could have done better
Lets start with the good stuff. This film is very well written, with realistic dialogue and characters, and events that manage to stay just this side of believable. The acting, too, is very good. Kyle Gallner, as the young boy who is the focus, gives a very strong performance (he's heading for an Oscar one day)

In the hands of a good director, this would have been chilling and atmospheric. Unfortunately, the director is rubbish. His style is 'point, shoot, make 'em jump' The fact that the acting is so good is despite the directors incompetence - he has no sense of how to build atmosphere, or a sense of tension.

The final nail in the coffin is the score. This should have been an atmospheric, slow-building type of movie - and yet it is scored like a Friday 13th movie, with screeching violins at every possible jumpy moment, and heavenly choirs at possible death scenes.

This would have been a good ghost story, up there with Blair Witch or Amityville, if only the score and direction had been up to the standard of the writing and acting.


Watch the Hitchcock version instead
Totally miscast - Emilia Fox is too confident, beautiful and elegant to play the plain, awkward, painfully shy second Mrs De Winter. Charles Dance is too old to play Max De Winter (he's supposed to be 15 - 20 years older then her, not 30) and he lacks any sense of darkness or anger. Even Manderley itself is dreadfully unimpressive. Only Diana Rigg, as Mrs Danvers comes anywhere near creating a character similar to the book.

The directing is of the 'point and shoot' variety, with no subtleties.The one trick, with Mrs Danvers and the light, is lifted straight from Hitchcock.

In fact the whole thing has no sense of mystery or doom or tragedy. There is no chemistry between the leads, despite the script showing them kissing passionately at a time in the book when he barely touches her. There's no romance between them, in fact their kisses seem awkward and forced, and a bit disgusting, given how much older than her he looks (not to mention his lack of sex appeal and passion) The script itself is terrible, deviating from the book, having her challenging him at a time when in the book, she can barely speak to him.

If you love the book, like I do, don't bother with this. Watch the Hitchcock version, with its great acting, sense of tragedy and doom, deep romance and a script practically lifted from the book, instead.

28 Days Later...

So very very dull.
Now, I love Zombie movies - Romero, Raimi, even Shaun of the Dead are classics. But this ... this is just boring. (And in response to a previous reviewer who implied that those who didn't like this are too thick for 2001 and Memento - I both loved and understood those movies). There is no sense of impending terror, apart from one all-too-brief sequence in a tunnel (although you have to wonder why they were stupid enough to go in there). The characters are very one-dimensional, and the female lead goes from being a machete-wielding tough girl to a screaming, cringing little girl waiting for the big brave man to rescue her (Apparently falling in love makes men murderous and women weak). The much vaunted opening sequence of an empty London has been done before, and better, in Day of the Triffids. There were a couple of 'make-you-jump' moments - but not many. The final battle sequence is so disjointed and awkward it's difficult to know what's going on.

I understand this meant to be a zombie movie for the intelligentsia, as Cloverfield is a monster movie for the intelligentsia, but it lacks the latter's sense of danger, sense of devastation, and real, in depth characters. In fact, I hated these characters so much, that by the end, I was hoping the zombies would get them.

Shaun of the Dead has horror, death, gore and is actually scary enough to keep me glued to the screen - and that's a parody. This is supposed to be a proper, intelligent zombie movie - and it was so very very dull.


Stunning effects, shame about the characterisation
I must admit, I didn't like the book thinking the characters one-dimensional and stereotyped, with unnecessary relationships strewn all over the place. The film suffers from the same faults - with the one exception being Commander Raish, played by Joanne Whalley. She gives an understated but strong performance, full of truth and fascinating to watch. In a film filled with actors of the calibre of Carlyle and Courtney., she gives the best performance.

The script, like the book, is full of clichés - there is nothing any actor can do with lines like 'we've got to get out of here!', and there's no real sense of danger to any of the characters - this is the kind of film where the heroes always survive.

But the true star of this film is the water - whether is the shots of the coastline flooding (and a bit disturbing when you realise those aren't special effects, but actual news footage) or the amazing shots of the massive tidal wave sweeping over London, the water shots are breathtaking, astounding - and worrying when you see your home town flooded so quickly.

And finally - well, at least next time I'm stuck in an underground station as it floods, I'll know to head for the map! Given the dire book this was based on, i's better than I expected - and a bit too close for possible actual events for comfort.


loved it
First, see it in the cinema - you need that massive surround sound.

Second - this was so clever. This is supposed to be the film someone takes on his video camera on the day New York is attacked by ... something. That means the camera-work is sloppy and amateur - which makes the whole thing look incredibly real and immediate. The characters are just so normal and ordinary - they could very easily be someone you know. And the destruction of New York is breathtaking - seeing on a hand-held, amateur camera like that gives it overtones of 9/11.

And there were a few genuine scream moment- and I hardly ever scream.

This is an intelligent monster movie for those who like their horror, death and disaster mysterious, unexplained, and without 'clever' funny lines. If all you want is a big monster, snappy one-liners and a pat ending, complete with explanation, watch Godzilla. If you want a challenging monster movie, one that makes you feel this could happen to you, this is the one.

Epic Movie

Please don't bother. There are less painful ways to die.
Scary Movie was funny. Scay Movie 2, less so. Scary Movie 3 just sort of amusing. This ....this is the dregs. Yes, we've all seen the 'lets make fun of other movies!' bit before. What the writers haven't realised is that you can't just say 'Here's a character from another movie with a slightly different name!'. You have to actually WRITE JOKES. And hey, a storyline not lifted straight out of the movies you're trying to mock would be good too.

There's nothing funny here .. wait, I lie, there's one funny moment. Paris Hilton getting squashed. THAT I loved. The rest of it is as funny as a vasectomy - without anaesthetic.

Please don't bother with this. If you want a laugh, watch America's Funniest Animals. Not only is it funnier, it's far more intelligent.

Adam Campbell (Peter) and Jennifer Coolidge (White Bitch) showed some real acting talent here, in the 30 seconds of actual plot that were allowed to happen, and they deserve so, so much better then this. Everyone else deserves to sink into obscurity, not to mention a huge mound of dung.

One thing about this movie - it really makes you want to go back and see the movies it's supposed to be making fun of. I'm going to watch Narnia again. And Harry Potter. And Pirates of the Caribbean...

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist

Better than the other one, still not up to much
I saw the Renny Harlin version first - boring, blood-soaked, and dull. I had higher hopes of this . Still the same great actor playing Merrin (and he is outstanding in both movies - he deserves so much more than this). It seemed more intelligent and deeper than the other version. The performances are better, relying on subtle characterisations rather than the glossy, superficial performances of Harlin's version. The special effects are dire - really, in 2004, there's no excuse for such terrible effects. Not when the original Exorcist's effects are so successful.

But what really disgusted me was the anti-British sentiment. This was present in the Harlin version too, but I expected that this film, supposedly more intellectual, would rely less heavily on it. In fact, it's worse. The accusation that the British Museum's directors are all thieves. The implication that the British are no better than Nazis. British soldiers that seemed to have been lifted from the 1850's, rather then the 1950's.The hatred for the British that permeates this film sours and cheapens it.

And the portrayal of the African natives aren't much better. They're portrayed as backward, violent, vicious people, who refuse medical help, kill the innocent to 'save them from Christian evil' and who, in the opinion of the director, could be vastly improved by throwing away their own religion and becoming Christian (and probably wearing shoes and living indoors too). In fact, the implication that all religions apart from Christianity, no matter how ancient, are evil, is insulting.

I suggest - don't bother watching this. Watch the Exorcist, and pretend neither of this dire, pointless, badly-made, prejudiced films exist

Invasion: Earth

Not as good as it should have been
I'm not one of those sci-fi fans who believe science fiction should be all action and no drama. I think good science fiction should be character driven, and besides, this was one of the very few sci-fi dramas the UK has produced. I thought it'd be good. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The script is clichéd and awkward. It felt like someone copying American sci-fi, instead of coming up with an original idea of their own. Surprisingly, given the standard of actors in it, the acting was awful, and the direction dire. The whole thing made me wince all the way through the first episode, and I never got round to watching the rest. If you want really good, British, character driven sci-fi, go for Dr Who. Don't bother with this. You won't be able to get through the first hour.

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