The Croods (2013) – 7/10 CG animated adventure movie

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Writer Belt: Chris Sanders
Director and Writer: Kirk De Micco
Nicolas Cage: Grug
Emma Stone: Eep
Ryan Reynolds: Guy

The Croods (2013)

Grug Crood’s world is about to come crashing down around him. His teenage daughter, Eep, is gaining her independence and questioning some of his rules against new things and curiosity. On top of that, the world is about to come crashing down around him. Literally.

7/10

Chris Sanders, with this and How to Train Your Dragon (he also did Lilo & Stitch for Disney which had promise and style but big tonal problems), has moved himself into the list of directors it is certainly worth paying attention to. There are a good number of very funny moments and a generally nice tone. Nicolas Cage provides another great piece of voice work (after Astro Boy). But the title! The title is just awful. I don’t want to see a crude film on the big screen, especially not one marketed at children. This is absolutely not crude at all. (Surprising, given that it is a Dreamworks Animation project.) That said, it’s certainly not without plot or character problems. It promotes rebelliousness and disrespect for your father and the idea that they are less wise and insightful than their children; a bafflingly common Hollywood theme. You can become an independent adult without arguing and fighting and being impertinent and disrespectful but you never get that message from Hollywood. And the parting message seems to be "Follow the sun" which, I shouldn’t have to say, is remarkably nonsensical advice. Anyway, while The Croods is blighted by typical Hollywood morals and a dreadful title, it’s easy to look past that and see a fun, funny, warm-hearted film.

This movie contains comic violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Basil: The Great Mouse Detective (1986) – 5/10 Disney animated crime detective movie review

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Cast / crew
Vincent Price: Professor Ratigan
Barrie Ingham: Basil
Val Bettin: Dawson
Susanne Pollatschek: Olivia
Candy Candido: Fidget
Diana Chesney: Mrs. Judson
Eve Brenner: The Mouse Queen
Alan Young: Flaversham
Music: Henry Mancini
Director, Producer and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Burny Mattinson
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: John Musker
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: David Michener
Director and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Ron Clements
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Pete Young
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Vance Gerry
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Steve Hulett
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Bruce M. Morris
Character Animator and Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Matthew O’Callaghan
Story Adaptor Based on the “Basil of Baker Street” book series by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone: Melvin Shaw
Original Book Series Writer Basil of Baker Street: Eve Titus
Original Book Series Writer Basil of Baker Street: Paul Galdone
Supervising Animator: Mark Henn
Supervising Animator: Glen Keane
Supervising Animator: Rob Minkoff
Supervising Animator: Hendel Butoy
Animation Consultant: Eric Larson

Basil: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Basil takes on the case of Olivia Flaversham whose toymaker father has been kidnapped by archenemy Ratigan.

5/10

Minor Disney animation which makes up for some slow moving and uninteresting segments with a decent climax inside Big Ben and a couple of good songs ("Let Me Be Good to You" and "Goodbye, So Soon"). It’s also probably the only animated Disney movie where the hero smokes and a character offers to take off all her clothes for you. The Big Ben sequence also boasts Disney’s first blending of CGI with character animation; Ratigan’s run through the gears of Big Ben’s clock mechanisms remains superb to this day. Apart from this final section, though, the animation is merely adequate. Disney animations are generally famed for their smoothness, fluidity and convincing weight and movement. It certainly looks like corners were cut in the frame rate, especially with the Queen automaton.

This movie contains violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Rise of the Guardians (2012) – 6/10 animated fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor and Director Burgess Pedestrian #2: Peter Ramsey
Producer: Christina Steinberg
Producer: Nancy Bernstein
Executive Producer, Original Book Series Writer and Original Short Film Director Book series “Guardians of Childhood” and Reel FX short film “The Man in the Moon”: William Joyce
Screenplay Writer Based on “Guardians of Childhood” the Book Series by William Joyce and “The Man in the Moon” A Reel FX short film Directed by William Joyce: David Lindsay-Abaire
Jack Frost: Chris Pine
Alec Baldwin: North
Jude Law: Pitch
Isla Fisher: Tooth
Hugh Jackman: Bunny
Animation Supervisor: Antony Gray
Animation Supervisor: Steven “Shaggy” Hornby
Animation Supervisor: Philippe Le Brun
Animation Supervisor: David Pate
Animation Supervisor: Pierre Perifel

Rise of The Guardians (2012)

North, Tooth, Sandy and Bunny are Guardians of children’s dreams; that’s a job now. Nevertheless, they are surprised when the Man in the Moon (keep up) announces that a new Guardian is to be appointed, Jack Frost, but Jack is less than thrilled at the honour and more interested in having endless fun just as he has been for the last *double-checks* three-hundred years.

6/10

This is an expertly crafted movie with good voice work and animation and it is frequently engrossing through pure movie-making technique. The problem comes from the concept which sounds cool (and a similar idea certainly worked in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) but never quite gels. I suspect that if this had foregone the Hollywood tradition of having a bad guy and made the story work with apathy, commercialism and indifference providing the reason for children not believing in Santa – excuse me, North – et al, we would have had a more convincing and interesting movie. Bafflingly, the movie ends with a technically superb scene (the editing, staging and music are all top-notch) with what might be the stupidest piece of advice ever given by one human being to another: "When the moon tells you something, believe it." Huh?

This movie contains scary scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

World War Z (2013) – 7/10 action horror movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Executive Producer: Marc Forster
Actor and Producer Gerry Lane: Brad Pitt
Mireille Enos: Karin Lane
Daniella Kertesz: Segen
James Badge Dale: Captain Speke
David Morse: Ex-CIA Agent
Producer: Dede Gardner
Producer: Jeremy Kleiner
Producer: Ian Bryce
Writer (Original Novel): Max Brooks
Screen Story and Screenplay Writer Based on the Novel by Max Brooks: Matthew Michael Carnahan
Screen Story Writer Based on the Novel by Max Brooks: J. Michael Straczynski
Screenplay Writer: Drew Goddard
Screenplay Writer: Damon Lindelof

World War Z (2013)

An outbreak of something causes people to turn into zombies. Former UN Investigator Gerry Lane is plucked to safety and reinstated to find patient zero but the ferocity of the situation is unprecedented.

7/10

Intense, eye-catching action horror movie which turns zombies into a genuine threat. World War Z‘s monsters are a remarkable achievement both in threat design (they are extremely fast and overwhelming) and in special visual effects. There is no thought crossing your mind of the technical achievements on screen, just that there is an extremely dangerous threat to Brad Pitt on screen and that is the magic tipping point for a visual effect. If it’s enough that you are in the moment of the story-telling and not, even subconsciously, dismissing it because it hasn’t convinced or engaged you, the technical achievement has been a resounding success. I hate even the concept of zombie movies (I don’t understand the popularity of raping, thieving, murdering pirates either) and the plot doesn’t make a lick of sense but I really enjoyed being swept along by this.

This movie contains strong, sometimes graphic, but not gratuitous (given the genre) violence, one extremely gory and unpleasant amputation scene and other gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Hitchcock (2012) – 6/10 biographical movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Screenplay Writer Based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho” by Stephen Rebello: John J. McLaughlin
Writer (Book) Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho: Stephen Rebello
Producer: Ivan Reitman
Producer: Tom Pollock
Producer: Joe Medjuck
Producer: Tom Thayer
Producer: Alan Barnette
Alfred Hitchcock: Anthony Hopkins
Alma Reville: Helen Mirren
Janet Leigh: Scarlett Johansson
Toni Collette: Peggy
Danny Huston: Whitfield Cook
Vera Miles: Jessica Biel
Michael Stuhlbarg: Lew Wasserman
Anthony Perkins: James D’Arcy
Ed Gein: Michael Wincott
Kurtwood Smith: Geoffrey Shurlock
Richard Portnow: Barney Balaban

Hitchcock (2012)

Craving a creative renaissance after the success of North by Northwest, feted director Alfred Hitchcock settles upon a lurid little horror story inspired by the life and crimes of notorious serial killer Ed Gein: Psycho. However, his movie-making partners are mortified at his descent into the world of meaningless B-movie exploitation and Hitch will need to call upon all his reserves of self-confidence and the support of his wife and constant creative partner Alma Reville.

6/10

Gentle down-to-earth, rather fictional and unofficial biopic looking at the time surrounding the production and release of Psycho and the important role that Alma Reville, Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock, played in his life and art. Viewers are likely unaware of her importance and, even though he perhaps didn’t always treat her as well as he should, Hitchcock himself knew how critical she was; his AFI Lifetime Achievement speech contains a nice eulogy and they remained, reportedly happily, married for 50-odd years.

This movie contains adult dialogue, sexuality, unpleasant scenes, brief violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Wrath of the Titans (2012) – 5/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Screenplay and Story Writer Based on characters created by Beverley Cross: Dan Mazeau
Screenplay and Story Writer Based on characters created by Beverley Cross: David Leslie Johnson
Story Writer Based on characters created by Beverley Cross: Greg Berlanti
Producer: Basil Iwanyk
Producer: Polly Johnsen
Perseus: Sam Worthington
Rosamund Pike: Andromeda
Hephaestus: Bill Nighy
Ares: Edgar Ramirez
Toby Kebbell: Agenor
Poseidon: Danny Huston
Sinéad Cusack aka Sinead Cusack: Clea
John Bell: Helius
Hades: Ralph Fiennes
Zeus: Liam Neeson
Characters Creator: Beverley Cross

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

Now ruling over the underworld under the name Hades, Goeth, still disappointed over being killed in Schindler’s List, vows vengeance on Schindler. Schindler has acquired a beard called Zeus – sometimes standing really close behind it, sometimes even glueing it on – and travels incognito, none knowing his true identity, but Hades will not be denied and will unleash a Titan, the Titan, to sate his hatred.

5/10

This second sequel to Schindler’s List is smart enough not to pompously outstay its welcome. The monster special effects are truly spectacular but, once more, Hollywood’s utter inability to produce action sequences that follow any kind of tactics, character or story undermines things. You’ll never have any idea why or how scenes are resolved; they simply are brought to their end because their allotted time slot is up. The action is thrilling, however, and, as I mentioned, really spectacular, and that is enough to make this an adequate action movie that is much better than the first one.

This movie contains extreme violence, unpleasant scenes, sensuality

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) -1/10 action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: John Moore
John McClane: Bruce Willis
Jai Courtney: Jack McClane
Sebastian Koch: Komarov
Yulia Snigir: Irina
Rasha Bukvic: Alik
Cole Hauser: Collins
Executive Producer and Writer Certain Original Characters by Roderick Thorp: Skip Woods
Producer: Alex Young
Producer: Wyck Godfrey
Certain Original Characters Creator: Roderick Thorp

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

John McClane travels to Russia where his son, Jack, has wound up in prison but when they meet up it turns out that Jack is an undercover CIA agent and this was all part of his plan. Plans aren’t really John’s thing, though, so he sets about messing that up right away.

1/10

Worthless, incoherent nonsense featuring a disdainful performance from a sleepwalking Bruce Willis who essentially goes around shouting at stupid foreigners then shooting at stupid foreigners; a racist with an armoury annoyed that they might not understand his embarrassingly weak one-liners. While it certainly keeps it’s foot firmly on the gas and is over before you know it, it is at the expense of logical, flowing, imaginative, working action sequences (despite some spectacular vehicular stunt work). There’s no ambition here beyond making a film with the words "Die Hard" in the title.

This movie contains sexual swear words, graphic violence

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Jack The Giant Slayer (2013) – 6/10 fantasy action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Bryan Singer
Screenplay and Story Writer: Darren Lemke
Screenplay Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Screenplay Writer: Dan Studney
Producer and Story Writer: David Dobkin
Producer: Neal H. Moritz
Producer: Ori Marmur
Producer and Unit Production Manager: Patrick McCormick
Nicholas Hoult: Jack
Eleanor Tomlinson: Isabelle
Stanley Tucci: Roderick
Ian McShane: King Brahmwell
Bill Nighy: General Fallon
Ewan McGregor: Elmont

Jack The Giant Slayer (2013)

Albion is a land with a legend of man-eating giants who once sought to rule Earth but were banished by Eric the Great. Eric was real but the legend? Nah.

6/10

Adequate action adventure which suffers from CG fatigue whereby any shots with CG in are getting to be automatically dismissed by our brains and bring us out of the experience of the movie. It’s off by just enough that it distracts us from the action or drama that is seeking to engage us. Beautiful vista? CG, bored. Spectacular action scene? CG, not swept along. Principal characters? CG, don’t care. CG is a tool but I think we, as an audience, are getting inured to it. And we’re getting picky. Unless it’s 100% invisible or perfect, or far more restrained in it’s use, it is beginning to undermine the movie it’s used in. Aside from that, Jack The Giant Slayer is entertaining, crisp and has enough unusual action beats to be worthwhile. It’s also nice to see that, even though we have a villain, everyone else is entirely reasonable, polite and amiable. I think it really is a shame that such qualities are incredibly rare in the predominantly selfish characters that inhabit Hollywood movies.

This movie contains violence, mild sensuality, unpleasant scenes, inferred people-eating

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Men in Black 3 (2012) – 4/10 science fiction action comedy movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor and Director Husband Watching Launch: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer Based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham: Etan Cohen
Writer (Original Comic): Lowell Cunningham
Producer: Walter F. Parkes
Producer: Laurie MacDonald
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg
Will Smith: Agent J
Tommy Lee Jones: Agent K
Josh Brolin: Young Agent K
Jemaine Clement: Boris The Animal
Michael Stuhlbarg: Griffin
Alice Eve: Young Agent O
Bill Hader: Andy Warhol
David Rasche: Agent X
Emma Thompson: Agent O

Men in Black 3 (2012)

MIB Agent J is flummoxed when he goes to pick up K from his home only to find a mother and child. No K but they did have some delicious chocolate milk, so that was handy. When he gets to work, K is not just nowhere to be seen… he’s been dead for forty years.

4/10

While it is reasonably entertaining, avoids the bloat common to many belated sequels and boasts a nearly film-rescuing performance from Josh Brolin entertainingly capturing the mannerisms of Tommy Lee Jones, this is still a poor movie. The peril, villain and story are impactless (and don’t fit with the first movie) but the elements that could make up some of that shortfall, inventiveness and fun, are consistently weak; not bad exactly, just underwhelming. While there’s no compelling invention, there is some fun, but it is only occasionally effective. Notably, Will Smith is not on top form here; he doesn’t have much to work with but doesn’t seem to be able to project as much energy onscreen as he has in the past and his natural charisma is slightly muted as a result. Tommy Lee Jones is fine but has almost nothing to do while Josh Brolin nearly makes up the shortfall of the two franchise stars. For some inexplicable reason, seeing him say stuff  like Tommy Lee Jones is endlessly joyful.

This movie contains bad language, extreme fantasy violence, extremely unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Surf’s Up (2007) – 6/10 animated sports movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Screenplay Writer Filmmaker: Ash Brannon
Actor, Director and Screenplay Writer Filmmaker: Chris Buck
Producer and Screenplay and Story Writer: Christopher Jenkins
Screenplay Writer: Don Rhymer
Story Writer: Christian Darren
Shia LaBeouf: Cody Maverick
Jeff Bridges: Big Z / Geek
Zooey Deschanel: Lani Aliikai
Jon Heder: Chicken Joe
James Woods: Reggie
Diedrich Bader: Tank Evans

Surf’s Up (2007)

Cody Maverick dreams of being a surf champion like his idol Big Z. A film crew follow him as he tries to realise his dream.

6/10

Fun and nicely presented (using a talking head documentary style) but the story and characters are boringly off-the-shelf. Shia LaBeouf is perfect for centre-of-attention Cody but cannot escape the character being selfish until the script says otherwise, as opposed to until his character learns and grows. While it’s a common problem in movies, it isn’t disguised at all here. Jeff Bridges is also perfect as his laidback mentor-with-a-past. The surfing and wave animations are outstanding and compensate for the budget feeling of the remainder of the production design.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Rio (2011) – animated romantic adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Anne Hathaway: Jewel
Jesse Eisenberg: Blu
Jemaine Clement: Nigel
Leslie Mann: Linda
Tracy Morgan: Luiz
Will.I.Am: Pedro
Rodrigo Santoro: Tulio
George Lopez: Rafael
Jamie Foxx: Nico
Director and Story Writer: Carlos Saldanha
Story Writer: Earl Richey Jones
Story Writer: Todd Jones
Screenplay Writer: Don Rhymer
Screenplay Writer: Joshua Sternin
Screenplay Writer: Jeffrey Ventimilia
Screenplay Writer: Sam Harper
Producer: Bruce Anderson
Producer: John C. Donkin

Rio (2011)

Blu, the last male Blue Macaw in the world, is brought to Rio to mate and save the species from extinction but his value doesn’t go unnoticed by local poachers. With hilarious consequences.

4/10

Blue Sky Studio’s cash-grabbing sequel to PDI’s Madagascar is entirely perfunctory and never engaging for adults; this is one parents will have to sit through patiently. Given that it’s set in Rio de Janeiro during the world famous Rio Carnival, the use of songs is hopeless. Every original song tells you nothing, moves nothing forward, elucidates nothing. That said, there are a couple of strong moments for Lionel Richie. Rio is very bright and very colourful and I remembered the names of the two main characters, indicating that the technical story-telling is entirely adequate; it’s just that nothing interesting, informative, entertaining or exciting happens throughout the entire movie. There’s no dramatic value in the story and that leaves two or three decent quality gags to hold everything up. It doesn’t. Additionally, this is another American movie that thinks that horrendous dog drool is hilarious; it’s not, it’s repulsive. Movie-makers: please stop doing that.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Frozen (2013) – 8/10 fantasy Disney animated movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Story Writer Inspired by “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen: Chris Buck
Director and Screenplay and Story Writer Inspired by “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen: Jennifer Lee
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Executive Producer: John Lasseter
Writer “The Snow Queen”: Hans Christian Andersen
Story Writer Inspired by “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen: Shane Morris
Songs Composer: Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Songs Composer: Robert Lopez
Head of Story: Paul Briggs
Head of Animation: Lino DiSalvo
Kristen Bell: Anna
Idina Menzel: Elsa
Jonathan Groff: Kristoff
Josh Gad: Olaf
Santino Fontana: Hans
Stephen John Anderson: Kai

Frozen (2013)

After a childhood accident nearly kills her younger sister, Princess Elsa has to hide to fact that she can produce ice by magic and isolates herself while trying to wrestle control over her immense power. As the time for her coronation approaches and a public appearance is unavoidable, the last thing she needs is any more stress. That’ll be when her sister tells her she’s marrying this dude she only met that day. Gaah!

8/10

Frozen has that rarest and most intangible of movie qualities: magic. This is the magic of Disney’s second golden age inspired by Howard Ashman and so it features songs that are integral to the storytelling. Why should it be that animation and songs go together so well and that the form is timeless? Anyway, it has never ceased to astonish me that directors saw songs as something that were bolted on to Disney’s past great animated movies. The songs, if used, are always part, indeed, I would say they were the heart, of the movie. They always tell you something, illuminate someone, touch you somewhere inside. The movie wouldn’t work without the songs (take note The Princess and The Frog). The power of the song is in telling the story, not augmenting it. Frozen realises this and the result is magic.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – 7/10 superhero action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Anthony Russo
Director: Joe Russo
Screenplay Writer: Christopher Markus
Screenplay Writer: Stephen McFeely
Concept and Story Writer: Ed Brubaker
Writer (Original Comic Book Series): Joe Simon
Writer (Original Comic Book Series): Jack Kirby
Steve Rogers / Captain America: Chris Evans
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson
Sebastian Stan: Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
Cobie Smulders: Maria Hill
Emily VanCamp: Sharon Carter / Agent 13
Toby Jones: Arnim Zola
Jenny Agutter: World Security Council member
Robert Redford: Alexander Pierce
Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Increasingly unhappy with his role as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s "furious janitor", Steve Rogers finds his unease increasing as he is clearly being left in the dark about something by Nick Fury. When Fury confides in him about Project Insight (making Rogers about the last to know after the 100,000 employees that must have been involved), his fears are confirmed and action will need to be taken.

7/10

Even though the title is never explained, this is a vastly more interesting super-hero movie than expected with the character of Captain America being forced to bring his ideals to bear when the organisation he works for demonstrates that it has failed to live up to them: he has to bring the American way of truth, justice and liberty to an America that has become the bad guy. Impressively, the character and drama of the movie is fine; what lets it down is the action. It’s all frenetic cuts just before your visual comprehension is complete and endless, meaningless, impactless super-punching (even when you’re not a superhuman). None of the action is resolved with wit (though the elevator scene shows wit before the action starts and Jenny Agutter gets a good moment), imagination or even any sense of tactics or expertise. Just super-punching. This is normal for Hollywood at this time and the action doesn’t spoil the movie; it’s more that the movie might have been a classic if the action was good instead of largely forgettable.

This movie contains extended extreme violence, extremely unpleasant scenes

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – 8/10 science-fiction action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
For: Gene Roddenberry
Director and Screenplay Writer: Nicholas Meyer
Kirk: William Shatner
Spock: Leonard Nimoy
DeForest Kelley: McCoy
James Doohan: Scotty
Walter Koenig: Chekov
Nichelle Nichols: Uhuru
George Takei: Sulu
Mark Lenard: Sarek
David Warner: Chancellor Gorkon
Kim Cattrall: Lt. Valeris
Rosana DeSoto: Azetbur
Christopher Plummer: Chang
Dedicated To and Original Series Creator STAR TREK: Gene Roddenberry
Story Writer: Lawrence Konner
Story Writer: Mark Rosenthal
Actor, Executive Producer and Story Writer: Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay Writer: Denny Martin Flinn
Producer: Ralph Winter
Producer: Steven-Charles Jaffe

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

When a disaster on Praxis, an important energy-producing moon, faces the Klingon race with the choice of military expenditure or survival as a species, they call to the Federation to arrange a peace. Three months from retirement, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are sent as a figurative olive branch to escort the Klingon Ambassador to Earth. After a less-than-successful diplomatic meal aboard the Enterprise, Kirk is rudely awoken by the sound of Enterprise firing on the Ambassador’s ship and his subsequent assassination. In the absence of the actual killers, Kirk and McCoy are arrested and put on trial.

8/10

"Nice to see you in action, one more time, Captain Kirk." – Captain Sulu

In what must be a unique cinematic event, the original Star Trek cast literally sign off from their motion picture series and must have been deservedly proud that it was done with this spectacular and interesting, generally well paced and smart movie. Boasting social commentary, courtroom drama, murder mystery intrigue, one of the greatest beards in movie history (Kurtwood Smith), a prison escape, a dude who doesn’t have knees where his knees are and a classic space battle resolved with intellect (and a lot of photon torpedoes, admittedly), The Undiscovered Country is a terrific movie with a lot to like. Not included in that list would be Kim Cattrall who threatens to undermine everything with her lack of acting ability. Generally, though, the movie is handled surely by Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer and is headlined by wonderful work from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. It certainly was nice to see them in action one more time.

This movie contains graphic violence, gory scenes, unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Always (1989) – 8/10 fantasy action romance Steven Spielberg movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay Writer: Jerry Belson
Writer (Original Screenplay) “A Guy Named Joe”: Dalton Trumbo
Writer (Original Screenplay Adaptation) “A Guy Named Joe”: Frederick Hazlitt Brennan
Writer (Original Screen Story) “A Guy Named Joe”: Chandler Sprague
Writer (Original Screen Story) “A Guy Named Joe”: David Boehm
Richard Dreyfuss: Pete Sandich
Holly Hunter: Dorinda Durston
John Goodman: Al Yackey
Brad Johnson: Ted Baker
Audrey Hepburn: Hap
Producer: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Frank Marshall
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy
Music: John Williams

Always (1989)

Fire fighting pilot Pete saves best friend Al’s life by sacrificing his own. He is sent back by an angel to help influence the life of another trainee fire-fighting pilot, Ted Baker. However, a chance meeting by this trainee reintroduces Pete to his former love, Dorinda. Will he concentrate on his duty or will he make a futile attempt to rekindle his long-lost romance?

8/10

This is a forgotten Spielberg; a gem awaiting your discovery. This is an emotionally engaging fantasy romance with some good humour and outstanding action. It’s certainly not above criticism as it’s not consistently convincing and the Dreyfuss-Hunter romance for the first part of the movie feels lifted from an animated movie. However, all of the action sequences are extremely thrilling and spectacular, there are a number of lovely scenes and the climax works emotionally. Also, Always contains a mighty Hitler moustache gag that you probably won’t ever see again in a Spielberg movie.

This movie contains mild adult dialogue, mild bad language, mild unpleasant scenes and Holly Hunter in adorably chunky white socks

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012) – 6/10 drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Eric Altmayer
Producer: Nicolas Altmayer
Fabrice Luchini: Germain
Kristin Scott Thomas: Jeanne
Emmanuelle Seigner: Esther
Denis Ménochet: Rapha pere
Ernst Umhauer: Claude
Bastien Ughetto: Rpha fils
Jean-François Balmer: Le proviseur
Writer (Original Play) El Chico de la Ultimate Fila: Juan Mayorga
Adaptor and Director Adapted from the play “El Chico de la Ultimate Fila” by Juan Mayorga: François Ozon

Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012)

A French teacher sees a spark of talent in one of his students, Claude, when an essay about what Claude did at the weekend hooks his interest. (to be continued…)

6/10

This is an interesting movie in that it gives you something to think about but it rather takes its time and, while never boring, feels longer than it is. As is consistently the case with François Ozon, the performances are sublime. Ernst Umhauer is all kinds of unsettling as the ‘boy in the last row’ (the title of the play which this is adapted from) whose installments of prose regarding a perfect family he has insinuated himself into form the thrust of the narrative. Eventually, it is impossible to tell which parts of the film are meant to be written and which real; there’s probably a very good case to be made that the whole thing is an invention, an exercise, by Claude to give a back story to the homeless dude sitting on the park bench at the end. I suspect that if you had a friend smarter and more observant than me, you could have a most rewarding evening discussing this movie after you’ve watched it. As a final note, the opening cast and title credits are particularly well done.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, violence, nudity, sex scene, unpleasant scene

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Welcome to The Space Show (2010) – 7/10 science fiction fantasy adventure anime movie review

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Cast / crew
Creator and Director: Koji Masunari
Creator and Screenplay Writer: Hideyuki Kurata
Creator: Tomonori Ochikoshi
Tomoyo Kurosawa: Natsuki Koyama
Honoka Ikezuka: Amane Suzuki
Shotaro Uzawa: Kiyoshi Sato
Tamaki Matsumoto: Noriko Nishimura
Takuto Yoshinaga: Koji Harada
Keiji Fujiwara: Pochi Rickman

Welcome to The Space Show (2010)

Summer camp is going to be a bigger adventure than anyone ever dreamed when a group of friends go in search of a rabbit they lost and find an injured dog.

7/10

Fun, happy adventure movie brimming with invention. The finalé is confusing (a bad guy’s personal shield explodes because he’s told there’s good in him?) but it feels like good is battling bad and good wins; what more do you need to know? The film connects enough emotionally that the goodbyes and final bike ride, especially, are touching and boasts enough dazzling diversions that attention is generally distracted from the rather baffling plot.

This movie contains violence

Wreck-It Ralph (2013) – 6/10 video-game fantasy Disney animated movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Story Writer Sour Bill and Zangief: Rich Moore
Producer: Clark Spencer
Actor, Screenplay and Story Writer Surge Protector: Phil Johnston
Story Supervisor and Story Writer: Jim Reardon
Screenplay Writer: Jennifer Lee
Supervising Animator: Doug Bennett
Supervising Animator: Mark Alan Mitchell
Supervising Animator: Zach A. Parrish
Supervising Animator: Tony Smeed
Actor and Additional Story Material Ralph: John C. Reilly
Sarah Silverman: Vanellope
Jack McBrayer: Felix
Jane Lynch: Calhoun
Alan Tudyk: King Candy
Mindy Kaling: Taffyta Muttonfudge
Joe Lo Truglio: Markowski
Ed O’Neill: Mr. Litwak
Dennis Haysbert: General Hologram
Additional Story Material: Sam Levine
Additional Story Material: Jared Stern

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Unhappy with his lonely role as the bad guy in arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr, Wreck-It Ralph decides that he wants a gold medal just like game heroes. Trouble is, he’s going to have to go to another game to get it.

6/10

One thing that can be said for just about all animated films: their lead characters almost always have a clearly defined character arc. Trouble is, it’s almost always undisguisedly the same one. Wreck-It Ralph follows the finding yourself template but doesn’t present a particularly captivating world. It moves along prettily but mechanically. It peaks with an impressively powerful scene where Ralph learns that he must do something short-term bad to ensure long-term good. The emotional impact of that scene contrasts intriguingly with the traditional emotional climax which is entirely unmoving. Wreck-It Ralph is never less than colourful and polished and entertaining – it is a good film – but it’s not a classic.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes, bad language

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Haywire (2011) – 6/10 action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director, Director of Photography and Editor: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
1st Assistant Director and Producer: Gregory Jacobs
Gina Carano: Mallory
Michael Fassbender: Paul
Ewan McGregor: Kenneth
Bill Paxton: Mr. Kane
Channing Tatum: Aaron
Mathieu Kassovitz: Studer
Michael Angarano: Scott
Antonio Banderas: Rodrigo
Michael Douglas: Coblenz

Haywire (2011)

Private sector security professional Mallory Kane finds herself double-crossed after a job in Barcelona that goes completely according to plan. While confused and in the dark, she knows that if she keeps following the trail back up the chain of command and hits everything on the way, there should be answers and freedom at the end of it.

6/10

The name Steven Soderbergh gets snobby critics all a-quiver and so they found themselves a little disappointed when he appeared to just deliver a shallow action movie. What he really delivered was a shallow action movie with a completely convincing female action lead; it may turn out to be unique. Though her facial expression never seems to change, Gina Carano’s acting is enough and she certainly has a bit of charisma. Her action scenes, though, are consistently excellent; convincing and engaging. There’s an ebb and flow to them as upper hands are taken and tables are turned by each combatant with the final victory always being hard won through diligent appliance of their skill-set. The main thing that stops it from being a better action movie is a complete lack of triumph or cool but that’s not Carano’s fault, it’s Soderbergh’s.

This movie contains sexual swear words, strong violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Mission: Impossible (1996) – 7/10 espionage action movie review

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Cast / crew
Ethan Hunt: Tom Cruise
Jon Voight: Jim Phelps
Emmanuelle Beart: Claire
Henry Czerny: Kittridge
Jean Reno: Krieger
Ving Rhames: Luther
Kristin Scott Thomas: Sarah Davies
Vanessa Redgrave: Max
Story Writer: David Koepp
Story Writer: Steven Zaillian
Screenplay Writer: David Koepp
Screenplay Writer: Robert Towne
Director: Brian De Palma

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Ethan Hunt is a member of an IMF, Impossible Mission Force, under the control of Jim Phelps. One night in Prague an operation goes badly wrong leaving his life in the balance. His mission, which he must accept, is to regain his pride and freedom. This plot will self-destruct in five seconds…

7/10

Action thriller that impresses, bores and excites in equal measure and boasts the impossible. Director Brian De Palma delivers three classic action sequences but the movie flags in between. He has an inate ability to make action sequences seem like ballet; his explosions and stunts look like beautifully choreographed dance sequences. He handles the wildly impossible situations with some panache and lends the film an air of authority despite the ridiculousness of some of the sequences. The opening of the movie through to the beautiful, iconic restaurant escape is essentially perfect. The second action sequence is also instantly iconic; a tense, near-silent break-in at the CIA defeating temperature, sonic and pressure sensors. The third action sequence is an astonishing visual effects masterpiece which holds up as well today nearly twenty years later as it did at the time. It, and an excellent Mission: Impossible theme remix, leaves the movie on a massive high.

This movie contains mild swear words, mild sensuality, unpleasant and gory scenes, violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – 6/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay Writer Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
Producer: Chris Columbus
Producer: Mark A. Radcliffe
Writer (Original Novel): J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
Julie Christie: Madame Rosmerta
Rubeus Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Professor Albus Dumbledore: Michael Gambon
Vernon Dursley: Richard Griffiths
Sirius Black: Gary Oldman
Professor Severus Snape: Alan Rickman
Petunia Dursley: Fiona Shaw
Professor Minverva McConagall: Maggie Smith
Peter Pettigrew: Timothy Spall
Professor Lupin: David Thewlis
Professor Sybil Trelawney: Emma Thompson

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

After finally losing his temper and using his magic outside of the school at his foster family, Harry Potter is somewhat surprised at the lack of punishment. The whole thing is just cleaned up and he is allowed to return to Hogwarts. The only thing he finds out is that Sirius Black, the first ever escapee from the feared Azkaban prison, has got all the wizard’s fearful for Potter’s safety but they are confident that Hogwarts, guarded by the horrific Dementers, is the best place for Harry.

6/10

A step backwards as this film loses the humanity of the previous instalment. The visuals are less impressive and John Williams’ off-the-peg music is conspicuously bland but the biggest problem is director Alfonso Cuarón’s completely flat handling of all the material.

This movie contains strong violence, scary scenes, strong unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (2002) – 8/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Executive Producer: Chris Columbus
Screenplay Writer Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
Writer (Original Novel): J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
Kenneth Branagh: Gilderoy Lockhart
Nearly Headless Nick: John Cleese
Rubeus Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Professor Filius Flitwick: Warwick Davis
Vernon Dursley: Richard Griffiths
Professor Albus Dumbledore: Richard Harris
Lucius Malfoy: Jason Isaacs
Professor Severus Snape: Alan Rickman
Petunia Dursley: Fiona Shaw
Professor Minverva McConagall: Maggie Smith
Molly Weasley: Julie Walters

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Unhappily existing at his Muggle family anxious to return to Hogwart’s, Harry Potter is visisted by a house elf who’s mission is to stop him attending this year at all costs. Despite the elf’s best efforts, Harry manages to get to school but he might wish he hadn’t as petrified animals and students and writing in blood on the walls warn of the re-opening of the legendary Chamber of Secrets and the unleashing of the horror within.

8/10

Significantly better than the first episode with vastly improved special effects, more interesting photography and lots of ideas and good moments. Kenneth Branagh steals the show as a superstar wizard, Jason Isaacs is good value as what will hopefully be a recurring character but the two male leads, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, provide the movies’ unshakable heart and soul.

This movie contains intense scary scenes, violence, strong unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001) – 6/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Executive Producer: Chris Columbus
Screenplay Writer Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
Writer (Original Novel): J.K. Rowling
Executive Producer: Mark A. Radcliffe
Executive Producer: Michael Barnathan
Executive Producer: Duncan Henderson
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
John Cleese: Nearly Headless Nick
Rubeus Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Vernon Dursley: Richard Griffiths
Professor Albus Dumbledore: Richard Harris
Ian Hart: Professor Quirrell
Lord Voldemort: Ian Hart
Ollivander: John Hurt
Professor Severus Snape: Alan Rickman
Petunia Dursley: Fiona Shaw
Professor Minverva McConagall: Maggie Smith

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

6/10

Solid start to the massively lucrative franchise that sees plenty of ideas clearly and carefully placed on the big screen by director Chris Columbus. He makes the film a little too slow and even, clumsily lumps John Williams music on and doesn’t have access to state-of-the-art visual effects (CG replacements for the actors are particularly noticeable) but doesn’t make the mistake of making a bad film. With this first year of Hogwart’s safely sorted, a foundation is laid for the remainder of the series.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – 6/10 espionage drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Kathryn Bigelow
Producer and Writer: Mark Boal
Producer: Megan Ellison
Jessica Chastain: Maya
Jason Clarke: Dan
Joel Edgerton: Patrick-Squadron Team Leader
Jennifer Ehle: Jessica
Mark Strong: George
Kyle Chandler: Joseph Bradley
Edgar Ramirez: Larry from Ground Branch
James Gandolfini: C.I.A. Director

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

The success of the 9/11 attacks in 2011 make Osama bin Laden the most wanted man on Earth but billions of dollars and many years later, he continues to elude the C.I.A. One agent, Maya, believes the key is tracking bin Laden’s courier but he seems to have become just as much of a ghost as bin Laden himself.

6/10

Inexplicably long and only mildly compelling but highly watchable espionage drama with high production quality. It should build to its expertly staged infiltration sequence (it has completely convincing helicopter work and the night-time setting is brilliantly and clearly photographed) but it doesn’t. It feels like it paces up and down for a couple of hours; there’s no tension or convincing detective work and no illumination of the process. It never feels like pieces fall into place or intelligence is followed. It also doesn’t feel like ten years pass from beginning to end. There’s an ostentatious underplaying; wearing seriousness and authenticity at the expense of drama and suspense.

This movie contains sexual swear words, graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, torture and mistreatment scenes, nudity

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Life of Pi (2012) – 7/10 existential disaster movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Gil Netter
Director and Producer: Ang Lee
Suraj Sharma: Pi Patel
Irrfan Khan: Adult Pi Patel
Tabu: Gita Patel
Rafe Spall: Writer
Gérard Depardieu: Cook
Visual Effects Supervisor: Bill Westenhofer
Producer: David Womack
Writer: Yann Martel
Screenplay Writer Based upon the novel by Yann Martel: David Magee

Life of Pi (2012)

Pi Patel has an amazing story to tell. It eventually comes to his emigration from India to Canada and a shipwreck and a battle for survival alongside Richard Parker. Richard Parker the tiger, that is.

7/10

You are likely to be disappointed with this film; that’s the nature of it’s message. The film also promises to tell us a story that will make us believe in God which I don’t feel it does. Gérard Depardieu is only in it for a few seconds. But is it still worth seeing? Yes. It’s interesting, thought-provoking, visually impressive and boasts a genuinely magic moment when Pi pauses underwater as the ship goes down. (SPOILERS from here.) Life of Pi gives us a fantastical, eventually clearly fictional, story versus a true story and asks us ‘which one do we prefer?’ The characters in the movie choose the fictional one and the audience likely will too. I took from that the assertion that people, even scientific people, may choose and be happy to believe in God – any God; it doesn’t matter – because it is nicer or comforting or a way of avoiding science’s dispiriting conclusion that we live, we die and there is no more and no meaning.

This movie contains unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

X-Men (2000) – 7/10 superhero action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Story Writer: Bryan Singer
Screenplay Writer: David Hayter
Story Writer: Tom DeSanto
Producer: Lauren Shuler-Donner
Producer: Ralph Winter
Executive Producer: Stan Lee
Charles Xavier: Patrick Stewart
Logan / Wolverine: Hugh Jackman
Eric Lensherr: Ian McKellen
Halle Berry: Storm
Famke Janssen: Jean Grey
James Marsden: Cyclops
Bruce Davison: Senator Kelly
Raven Darkholme / Mystique: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Ray Park: Toad
Tyler Mane: Sabretooth
Anna Paquin: Rogue

X-Men (2000)

In the not-too-distant future, mankind is on the brink of a new stage of evolution. More and more children are revealing themselves as "mutants", genetically-altered people with superhuman powers. While the US government considers passing the Mutant Registration Act, two powerful mutants consider different ways of dealing with their species’ problem. Professor Charles Xavier believes in training them – including superteam the X-Men – but his old colleague, Magneto, believes that old humankind should be eliminated.

7/10

Bryan Singer’s movie is great when dealing with the characters and slightly under-achieving when it comes to special effects spectacle. The actors and the story are the strong point. The casting of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen was a master stroke and everyone got lucky getting Australian unknown Hugh Jackman in as Wolverine. Every scene with any of these chatting is brilliant; their charisma is engrossing and their story thought-provoking. Singer messes up some critical stuff, principally in the finalé, as he doesn’t seem to have had any idea about how to make superheroes look heroic, let alone superheroic, or to make spectacle spectacular. Everywhere else, though, he does a great job. Of particular note is a superbly intense 1944 prologue and the scene in which absolutely everything comes together: the railway station stand-off. It features Stewart and McKellen in a psychological battle of wit and will, showcases some car-chucking spectacle (non-CG, tellingly) and fits perfectly with everything about the characters and story and universe. It’s an outstanding sequence and one you’ll want to remember instead of the weak finalé.

This movie contains

Argo (2012) – 7/10 epic espionage drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Producer Tony Mendez: Ben Affleck
Screenplay Writer: Chris Terrio
Producer: Grant Heslov
Producer: George Clooney
Writer The Master of Disguise: Antonio J. Mendez
Writer The Wired Magazine Article “The Great Escape”: Joshuah Bearman
Bryan Cranston: Jack O’Donnell
Alan Arkin: Lester Siegel
John Goodman: John Chambers
Victor Garber: Ken Taylor
Tate Donovan: Bob Anders
Clea DuVall: Cora Lijek
Scoot McNairy: Joe Stafford
Rory Cochrane: Lee Schatz
Christopher Denham: Mark Lijek
Kerry Bishé: Kathy Stafford
Kyle Chandler: Hamilton Jordan
Chris Messina: Malinov

Argo (2012)

During the 1979 American Embassy hostage crisis, six embassy workers escaped and eventually took refuge in the Canadian Embassy. A plan is needed to exfiltrate them but time and circumstance means that the plan formulated is completely ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that it might just work.

7/10

From the opening Eighties Warner Bros. logo through to the reasonably suspenseful directorial juggling of the escape, this is a high quality exclamation point to the reinvention of Ben Affleck as a top quality film director. It showcases a so-unlikely-you-couldn’t-make-it-up plot regarding the exfiltration of six Americans marooned in a Canadian embassy in Iran while their colleagues were being held hostage but so does the trailer. The movie takes two hours but doesn’t really add much atmosphere, flavour, procedure or insight to the fascinating story until, ironically, the fictional Hollywood climax at the bazaar and the airport. It’s paced and performed impeccably throughout, though, and Affleck’s next film as director will be most anticipated.

This movie contains tiresome sexual swear words (“Argo…”), mild nudity, gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Red 2 (2013) – 4/10 action movie review

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Cast / crew
Bruce Willis: Frank
John Malkovich: Marvin
Mary-Louise Parker: Sarah
Anthony Hopkins: Bailey
Helen Mirren: Victoria
Catherine Zeta-Jones: Katja
Byung-Hun Lee: Han Cho Bai
David Thewlis: The Frog
Brian Cox: Ivan
Neal McDonough: Jack Horton
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Producer: Mark Vahradian
Characters Creator: Warren Ellis
Characters Creator: Cully Hamner
Writer: Jon Hoeber
Writer: Erich Hoeber
Director: Dean Parisot

Red 2 (2013)

The CIA try to cover up a Cold War mission that could come back to bite them by eliminating Frank and Marvin (operatives involved at the time), a high-ranking US General and, er, dozens of US security professionals because it is a well known fact that slaughtering dozens of people in America is a surefire way to avoid any kind of attention whatsoever. After executing this perfectly conceived cover-up, except for the kill Frank part, the CIA hire the world’s best assassin to kill Frank for them and proceed to torture their way through a couple of other countries to pass the time.

4/10

This is rather more the movie we were expecting with the first Red: a witless waste of time. Scenes occur with no care given to coherence, consistency or even old-fashioned story-telling. You’ll never have any idea why anybody is anywhere, how they got there and why slaughtering dozens of innocent policemen, US security professionals and Russian security guards was required. Bruce is occasionally okay but usually appears disinterested and coasting on his, still considerable, charisma. It’s not all bad. Malkovich is fun and the whole thing is nearly rescued by Anthony Hopkins who does his usual trick of making it sound like he received a much better script than everyone else. He’s fun, charismatic and energises proceedings whenever he strolls by.

This movie contains extreme violence, sensuality, adult dialogue

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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The Wolfman (2010) – 6/10 monster horror movie

Cast / crew
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenplay Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker
Screenplay Writer: David Self
Based on the Motion Picture Screenplay by: Curt Siodmak
Producer: Scott Stuber
Producer: Benicio Del Toro
Producer: Rick Yorn
Producer: Sean Daniel
Benicio Del Toro: Lawrence Talbot
Anthony Hopkins: Sir John Talbot
Emily Blunt: Gwen Conliffe
Hugo Weaving: Aberline
Geraldine Chaplin: Maleva
Art Malik: Singh
Antony Sher: Dr. Hornegger
David Schofield: Constable Nye

The Wolfman (2010)

Lawrence Talbot returns home after a long absence when his brother is killed. The body is horribly mutilated with a ferocity that suggests a wild animal and Lawrence, spurred on by the big eyes of his brother’s fiancée, determines to get to the bottom of things. The bottom of his brother’s death, that is.

6/10

Barely adequate though technically accomplished horror. None of the thought that must go into an expensive production like this survived to the screen. While it’s paced well and is certainly not boring, this is impactless, unatmospheric, journeyman filmmaking at it’s blandest without even the crutch of decent horror or action sequences (edited until you can’t visually follow them). Anthony Hopkins is the only reason to watch (Emily Blunt sideboob not withstanding) as he does his usual thing of making it sound like he got the world’s most amazing, intelligent and witty script while everyone got something else entirely. He didn’t, of course. He’s just that good.

This movie contains mild nudity, strong gory violence, very gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Young Detective Dee: The Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013) – 7/10 fantasy martial arts action movie review

Cast / crew
Director, Producer and Writer: Tsui Hark
Writer: Chang Chia-Lu
Producer and Writer: Chen Kuo-Fu
Detective Dee Renjie: Mark Chao
Angelababy: Yin
Kun Chen:
Feng Shaofeng: Detective Yuchi
Carina Lau: Empress Wu

Young Detective Dee: The Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013)

Dee arrives in the Imperial City but his attempts to assist justice in the town are disrupted by personal jealousy, a beautiful woman, being repeatedly sentenced to death and / or imprisonment and, er, some kind of super-strong reptile man.

7/10

While the previous Detective Dee movie featured scientific explanations for apparently supernatural events (if I remember correctly), this one, well, doesn’t. It features a monster man (caused by parasites, apparently) and an honest-to-goodness giant sea monster. Yeah. There’s a notable lack of detective work, too, with Dee simply possessing a frequently derided but miraculous insight because that’s what the paper-thin story requires to move forward. Fortunately, as entertainment, it’s still fun, impressive stuff told with some consistently lovely visuals and boasting some gleeful imagination in the action scenes. I particularly enjoyed a horse crash (not sure if I’ve ever seen that before) and a dude slicing a flying bee in half but there are a generous number of sweet action moments. This is really a six-star movie but with enough moments of joy and irresistible insanity to add up to a whole other star.

This movie contains violence, torture scene, unpleasant scenes

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