Category Archives: Review

All reviews will fall under this category

Planet of the Apes

Hmm, overall, dissapointing is how I would describe this version of the ‘classic’ Planet of the Apes. Just to make it clear, I’ve not seen the original movie properly, nor have I read the book so I didn’t really have any pre-conceptions.

The story plodded along, and felt very linear, there weren’t any real surprises along the way, and I can’t even claim this was because I knew roughly what happened in advance. It was because Tim didn’t put any effort in to hiding or disguising what was going on. That may have been his personal choice of course. The acting was passable, the makeup was rather impressive, I really couldn’t tell what was CGI (was there any?) and what was live-action. But the plodding linear story, oh dear. It had no pace, no feeling of excitement, no feeling of any real danger. There elements which could have really been expanded or investigated further. Perhaps there wasn’t time.

The ending has caused plenty of debate, and I didn’t feel that it worked as well as Tim might have hoped. It makes me wonder about what happened, how things got like that, but it’s a frustrated wondering rather than an interested analytical wondering.

If you get the chance, see it on the big screen if you’ve nothing better to do that evening, because it looks impressive, but don’t go out of your way to do so.

Aliens – Special Edition

Aliens is a classic, although watching it today on DVD, it is showing it’s age a bit around the edges. Ripley returns to the planet on which she first encountered the horror in Alien, to help out a bunch of Marines. They get attacked, they eventually win! This was pretty much a trend-setter for sci-fi action movies to come, and gave me so many cool lines to use in life for years πŸ˜‰

The DVD quality is excellent, not many special features, and the quality of the image means that you can really see through the special effects in one or two of the shots, other than that, very engrossing action sci-fi thriller cool-movie fun πŸ™‚

Rush Hour

I’m not usually a Jackie Chan fan, although my wife certainly is. She’s the one that bought Rush Hour on DVD. Anyway, we watched it. It’s ok. I laughed once or twice, and it had some entertaining sequences. I wouldn’t recommend you buy it unless you really like Jackie, or his co-star in this one, Chris Tucker.

Jackie and Chris are forced to work together to solve a crime in the USA carried out by some villains from Hong Kong. They don’t drag out the ‘I don’t understand you’ bit for too long, and the pair certainly seem to have on-screen charisma and work well together.

Nothing in the plot was a surprise, and while I think they could have done much more with it, I didn’t feel let down, it delivered as much as I expected.

Road Trip

Very entertaining and enjoyable movie. I enjoyed Road Trip when I first saw it in the cinema, far more than I originally expected to. It’s just as good on DVD. I’d forgotten some of the moments, and it was a delight to find myself laughing out loud honestly at the good bits.

This film has a feel to it which is similar to American Pie, if you enjoyed that, you’ll probably enjoy Road Trip. A guy in college accidentally mails a video to his girlfriend, of him cheating on her, kind of, and the story details the events that follow.

Tom Green narrates the story, playing the part of the ‘still in college loon’ giving a tour to potential new attendees. It is through his flashbacks that we learn of the events. Tom is excellent.

A fun movie, a sexy movie, a cool movie, some entertaining moments, and a very National Lampoon’s Animal House feel, which is no bad thing at all.

Ravenheart (David Gemmell)

Without doubt, one of David’s finest books, and now my favourite, just edging Legend into the second place spot. David gives us more emotion, characterisation and heroism of all kinds stuffed into 250,000 words than any other author I know. The characters in this book leap from the page, they are fully rounded, interesting, believable and easy to empathise with. Gemmell presents battles of a different kind in this book, including a court scene which is just excellent as the more conventional battles. There is, a seige πŸ˜‰ kind of.

The plot clips along at his usual pace, takes slightly unexpected turns, and delivers us to the destination weeping and rejoicing at the same time. I enjoyed this Rigante far more than the previous two [Sword in the Storm and Midnight Falcon], mainly because the number of major characters is lower, the prose is less abrupt, and the story feels more personal.

A fitting tribute to David’s late step-father.

Tomb Raider

Well, well, well. A mixed bag. No, not Lara, she’s nice.

Want a one line summary? Tomb Raider is an excellent action movie spoiled by long periods of exposition and emotionless dialog.

The director is obviously excellent when it comes to action sequences. The four main sequences are all superb, with the 2nd and 3rd sequences being some of the most exciting action I’ve seen in a film for a while. Not in the same style as The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, or Charlie’s Angels, but more the Die Hard style of action. It’s good. Angelina rocks πŸ™‚

The pace during those action scenes is excellent, the initial pace of the movie is good, but it just dies to a slow crawl after the third action sequence, for far too long. Then, when the last action sequence comes along, it’s not quite enough to lift it back up again.

The story is ok, if you liked the game, you’ll appreciate it, but it’s not terribly impressive, and the threat never felt very real, which meant the point of the thing never felt very right.

Sure, Lara kicks ass, but you have to ask yourself why.

Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained, but I just lost my suspension of disbelief during the dialog, it dragged on too long. More action, less chat would have worked better I think.

I’m glad I went and saw this on the big screen, if you get the chance, go, but don’t expect something quite as good as The Mummy or Mission Impossible. It is however, on a par with The Mummy Returns [which also suffered a little from long exposition] and much better than Mission Impossible II.

I will be buying the DVD.

Oh, and a nice bonus – Lord of the Rings trailer on before the movie – most excellent

Shrek

Go and see it.

Do not pass go, do not collect your Β£200, just go and see the movie.

Forget the fact that it’s a kids movie, forget the fact that it’s got astoundingly good computer animation, just enjoy the humour, I haven’t laughed this much in the cinema for a long time.

In a topsy-turvy fantasy faerie world, our out-of-the-ordinary hero, Shrek, rescues an out-of-the-ordinary princess, with the aid of a talking donkey.

Excellent lines, excellent scenes, excellent mickey taking [Disney, Matrix, River Dance, Blues Brothers, the list goes on ….] and just thoroughly entertaining.

Truly something for all the family.

Once you have seen it, come back, and read this phrase again, “the toad!”, and you’ll be chuckling for hours.

The Devil in Green

I’ve been reading again, which is just excellent news as far as I’m concerned. Reading is like a litmus test of my state of mind. No idea how long it will last, but I certainly enjoy reading, so we’ll see. It means less EQ time, but I’m not sure that’s so bad. The main problem will be avoiding the ‘must finish just this chapter even though it’s 3am’ syndrome.

It should probably have a name that syndrome. Perhaps it does, but it should have a single word that describes it. Like ‘lating’ or ‘onreading’ or ‘freading’ or something.

book coverAnyway, I wanted something pretty fast paced, reasonably short and by an author I knew I enjoyed to try and pick up the reading bug again, so I picked out Devil in Green by Mark Chadbourn. It’s the first of his second series of real-world-falls-into-myth books, and I really enjoyed the first three. This is what I thought of the first series (The Age of Misrule). The second series (The Dark Age) promises to be just as entertaining.

Once again, Chadbourn returns to the world after the fall, when the borders between our reality and the other realities are breached, and what was myth has now become truth. The story picks up sometime after the events of the first series, with people attempting to deal with the world as it now stands, and in particular with the Church trying to re-assert itself. With the original 5 Brothers and Sisters of dragons ‘indisposed’, Existence is forced to find another group of would-be-heroes.

What follows is a claustrophobic story based on 3 different locations, with a small cast, and a tight focused story arc. There isn’t as much humour as I recall in the first series giving the first book of this series a very bleak and stark feeling to it. This is underpinned by the arrival of a Gormenghast style Gothic structure, which only adds to the bleak enclosed feeling that I’m sure is an intentional part of the story.

Our heroes are flawed, and carry with them their own ghosts, some of which we uncover, and some of which Chadbourn appears to want to hold back from us until perhaps the next book. Mallory is a sarcastic know-it-all who believes in nothing and finds himself fighting to save everything, Miller an innocent believer who needs the Church, and Sophie a hippie-come-witch with a sense of humour to match anything Mallory can come up with. The supporting cast is rich and varied, and deeply British.

Our heroes face a selection of other-worldly dangers, some benign, some overtly evil, and many with the same alien intellect hinted at in the previous books making it impossible to fathom their intent or their feelings for how the Fragile Creature of man should be handled.

The pace is good, and the slow building tension matches the story well. I did find sections of the last two chapters fragmented, and I stumbled through them rather than following the flow of the previous chapters, but it didn’t detract enough to put me off and I’m sure a re-read would smooth out any confusion I was left with.

Overall it’s a good start to the new series, with a bleak feel but just enough heroism and high points to prevent it pulling the reader down into a deep depression. Worth a read, especially if you enjoy your British mythology. Looking forward to the next one, which since the series has been out a little while, we already have upstairs!

Charlie’s Angels

So, been back in for an hour or so [written on Saturday 2/11/2000], after seeing Charlie’s Angels in the cinema.

Fantastic! Totally fantastic.

I was really disappointed with Mission Impossible II, I loved the first one, it had everything, charisma, some plot, on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments, and some excellent script moments. MI2 however, had none of this. Oh it had some action, and a bit of plot, and some odd lines, but there was no charisma, no imagery with which to lose myself in.

I fell in love with the Matrix. Just amazing, brave camera work, astoundingly brave imagery and directing, charisma oozing from every moment.

And now, I’m in love with Charlie’s Angels.

It’s a comedy action movie, and it doesn’t take itself seriously. It manages to pay homage to a number of movies which I also adore, True Lies, Matrix, Mission Impossible, and several others I can’t remember now. The camera work is beautiful, the hong-kong wire work is amazing, the fight scenes are entertaining and gorgeous, the script was funny, the parody was subtle and amusing, unlike the recent ‘lampoon’ style movies.

And most of all – it had charisma.

Chutzpa.

Balls.

There’s a scene which is replayed again, in slow motion, to show how one of the Angel’s avoids a bullet. They don’t just play the scene twice, they rewind the movie and play it back in slow motion from new angles. Not as clunky as writing it sounds. But very brave. To know that you already have your audience hooked and that you can stop the action, prove that this isn’t real life and play it back is a brave move in the action movie world.

Some of the photography and scene layout was reminiscent of anime, another brave use of the camera for the action movie genre. Sure, we’ve had this stuff in the past, in art movies, in more serious movies, but never in a movie with this much pace. Matrix set the standard, and this movie picks up it, pokes fun at it, and then buffs the edges.

Some movies make you feel good, there’s just no way to hide from it. There’s not much plot in this movie, no more than the TV series, but who cares, the girls obviously had fun making it, that much shows through, the action is excellent, and the entertainment is none stop.

We aren’t subjected to the 45 minute introduction we got in X-Men, and I wasn’t bombarded with hype.

Gladiator made me feel good, and had charisma, and even though the hero doesn’t make it, the movie makes you feel good because good won out, over evil[tm], and our hero never backed down, never gave an inch, never stooped to the depths of the enemy.

But it also makes you think, and makes you wonder, and makes you feel.

Not Angels. No thinking required, switch off the IQ, open the eyes, widen the ears, pop two adrenalin pills, ensure your emotion detector is set to happy, insert tongue between teeth and head out on a rip roaring ride of wonder and fun.

Please sir, can I have some more?