The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008, Fantasy Romance Movie) – 5/10 review

Director: David Fincher
Writer (Screenplay): Eric Roth
Writer (Screen Story): Eric Roth
Writer (Screen Story): Robin Swicord
Writer (Original Short Story): F. Scott Fitzgerald
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy
Producer: Frank Marshall
Producer: Ceán Chaffin
Brad Pitt: Benjamin Button
Cate Blanchett: Daisy
Taraji P. Henson: Queenie
Julia Ormond: Caroline
Jason Flemyng: Thomas Button
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali: Tizzy
Jared Harris: Captain Mike
Elias Koteas: Monsieur Gateau
Phyllis Somerville: Grandma Fuller
Tilda Swinton: Elizabeth Abbott

Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The (2008)

Benjamin Button is a most unusual man: he was born old and is growing younger.

5/10

So here’s the thing: if Brad Pitt aged normally, the film wouldn’t be any different. As it is, this is a pompous film that is not as revealing as it thinks it is. It feels like a humourless and ridiculously long version of Forrest Gump. It also feels terribly unconvincing in details (for example, a clock that runs backward is made for a train station and everyone just goes ‘okay’) as well as in the romantic arc of the story and in using characters that have modern sensibilities in period settings. Director David Fincher paces things delicately and has made a technically clever production but is ultimately saved by his star, Brad Pitt. Pitt is the sole reason to the watch as he never puts a foot wrong. He never feels unconvincing, he never feels fake; but everything else does. This isn’t a good film but Brad Pitt is worth watching. If you’re curious.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and strong gun violence and sex scenes.

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

Superman Returns (2006, Third-Person Action Movie Game) – 5/10 review

Brandon Routh: Clark Kent / Superman
Kevin Spacey: Lex Luthor
Writer (Screenplay): Flint Dille
Writer (Story): Marv Wolfman
Composer: Colin O’Malley

Superman Returns (2006)

Returning to Metropolis after a five year journey to Krypton and back (confirming that it, indeed, had been destroyed), Superman settles back into his day job of protecting the people of Earth from nefarious super-villains and super-henchmen. Well, one city on Earth anyway.

5/10

There is a remarkably nice feeling about flying above the city with the wind adding its own chorus to Colin O’Malley’s rather lovely music. The feeling of flying is really well nailed. Sadly, it’s the only gameplay element that is good. The remainder of the game is spent attacking and it’s mushy and imprecise and Supes regularly doesn’t do as he’s told. You don’t feel like Superman in the action segments. You don’t fell invulnerable or super-strong. Five for the flying, nothing for everything else.

Classified 12+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 12 or over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

House M.D. 6.03 The Tyrant (2009, Medical Black Comedy Drama TV) – 5/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Creator: David Shore
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
James Earl Jones: President Dibala
David Marciano: Murphy
Garikayi Mutambirwa: Ruwe
Roger Aaron Brown: Joseph Ntila
Producer: Marcy G. Kaplan
Producer: Sara Hess
Co-Executive Producer: Peter Blake
Writer: Peter Blake
Director: David Straiton

House M.D. 6.03 Tyrant, The (2009)

An African dictator is admitted after violently coughing up blood but his harsh regime back home is testing the team’s duty to treat him impartially. Meanwhile, House has managed to irritate Wilson’s over-grumpy naighbour and his attempts to put things right do not go well. Nothing a bit of duct tape and drugs won’t sort out, naturally.

5/10

This episode opens with a nice surprise: I thought James Earl Jones was dead. He plays an "evil" dictator and sets up a moral dilemma for, particularly, Chase and Cameron as they are used by the writers to deliver two sides of the argument: to keep the doctors oath or not. The outcome is surprising and the episode thought-provoking but Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer are such wishy-washy on-screen presences that they undermine their characters’ viewpoints and are simply blown away by James Earl Jones’ hurricane-force delivery. The writers have never liked Omar Epps and he keeps getting the short end of several sticks. House gets a better balance as he fights against his old misanthropic instincts and, as always, Hugh Laurie is perfect. Do they only write good lines for him or does he make ordinary lines awesome?

This House M.D. episode contains descriptions of violence and strong gory scenes.

Links

FlashForward 1.03 137 Sekunden (2009, Mystery Serial Drama) – 5/10 review

Joseph Fiennes: Mark Benford
John Cho: Demetri Noh
Brían F. O’Byrne: Aaron Stark
Courtney B. Vance: Stan Wedeck
Sonya Walger: Olivia Benford
Christine Woods: Janis Hawk
Creator For Television: David S. Goyer
Creator For Television: Brannon Braga
Shohreh Aghdashloo:
Kim Dickens:
Thomas Kretschmann:
Lee Thompson Young: Agent Gough
Barry Shabaka Henley: Agent Vreede
Curt Lowens:
Gina Torres:
Jeff Richards:
Gabrielle Union:
Executive Producer: David S. Goyer
Executive Producer: Marc Guggenheim
Producer: Mark H. Ovitz
Writer (Screenplay): David S. Goyer
Writer (Screenplay): Marc Guggenheim
Director: Michael Rymer

FlashForward 1.03 137 Sekunden (2009)

Benford gets contacted by an ex-Nazi held in a German prison who claims knowledge of both the FBI agents name, why the blackout lasted 137 seconds and something else that will prove critical to Benford’s investigation but, in return, wants a full pardon and repatriation to the United States of America.

5/10

There’s a reasonably cunning battle of wits going on here but since Joseph Fiennes’ Mark Benford is such a bland pig-headed dunce, that’s rather over-stating his role in the aforementioned battle. Again, there are interesting elements regarding whether the flash-forwards are truth or not and the effect they are having on people in the present and the final five seconds are expertly bolted on to make you want to watch again but a lack of characters I want to watch and a lack of story development (we are no further forward than immediately after the flash-forward two weeks ago) means that I will not be tuning in again next week.

Links

FlashForward 1.02 White to Play (2009, Mystery Serial Drama) – 5/10 review

Joseph Fiennes: Mark Benford
John Cho: Demetri Noh
Jack Davenport: Lloyd Simcoe
Zachary Knighton: Bryce Varley
Brían F. O’Byrne: Aaron Stark
Courtney B. Vance: Stan Wedeck
Sonya Walger: Olivia Benford
Christine Woods: Janis Hawk
Creator For Television: David S. Goyer
Creator For Television: Brannon Braga
Shohreh Aghdashloo:
Lee Thompson Young: Agent Gough
Lynn Whitfield:
Marina Black:
Michael Massee:
Alan Ruck:
Executive Producer: David S. Goyer
Executive Producer: Brannon Braga
Executive Producer: Marc Guggenheim
Producer: Mark H. Ovitz
Writer (Screenplay): David S. Goyer
Writer (Screenplay): Marc Guggenheim
Writer (Story): Brannon Braga
Writer (Story): David S. Goyer
Director: David S. Goyer
Writer: Robert J. Sawyer

FlashForward 1.02 White to Play (2009)

Using Benford’s flash-forward as their impetus, the FBI investigation starts in earnest but with thousands of D. Gibbons which one is the one referenced on the Mosaic board? Perhaps the one that just walked in the door with some cupcakes.

5/10

I’ll give this one more week as, just like Lost, the makers are proving expert at the final five second hook that makes you want to see the next episode. However, the body of the show is merely competent with no peaks and troughs and the D. Gibbons story element is a naughty impossibility. The episode isn’t about anything or, rather, what it is about is not made clear. I can’t even remember the lead character’s name which is a dreadful sign after two episodes. There’s also a distractingly shocking moment of photography later when a light in the bedroom has an actor pass underneath it. That said, Courtney B. Vance does get the only fun or interesting scene when he reveals what happened during his flash-forward (SPOILER He was on the toilet when the flash-forward occurred and was on the toilet in his flash-forward and, when he returned to consciousness, had to mouth-to-mouth resuscitate a dude who was drowning in an urinal).

This FlashForward episode contains adult dialogue and violence.

Links

FlashForward 1.01 No More Good Days (2009, Mystery Serial Drama) – 5/10 review

Joseph Fiennes: Mark Benford
John Cho: Demetri Noh
Jack Davenport: Lloyd Simcoe
Zachary Knighton: Bryce Varley
Peyton List: Nicole Kirby
Brían O’Byrne: Aaron Stark
Courtney B. Vance: Stan Wedeck
Sonya Walger: Olivia Benford
Christine Woods: Janis Hawk
Creator For Television: David S. Goyer
Creator For Television: Brannon Braga
Alex Kingston: Fiona Banks
Barry Shabaka Henley: Agent Vreede
Lee Thompson Young: Agent Gough
Rachel Roberts: Alda Hertzog
Genevieve Cortese: Tracy Stark
Executive Producer: David S. Goyer
Executive Producer: Brannon Braga
Writer (Screenplay): David S. Goyer
Writer (Screenplay): Brannon Braga
Writer (Screen Story): David S. Goyer
Writer (Screen Story): Brannon Braga
Director: David S. Goyer
Writer (Original Novel): Robert J. Sawyer

FlashForward 1.01 No More Good Days (2009)

For two minutes and seventeen seconds, everybody on Earth blacks out and experiences "a memory of a future event." FBI Agent Mark Benford reveals he was investigating the phenomenal event in the future and is so tasked with investigating it in the present. Everyone has their own flash-forward but, remarkably, they all seem to be of the same time in the future: April 29, 2010 at 10pm PDT.

5/10

This pilot episode only just does enough to pique your interest and a desire to watch episode two is more about the promise of the premise than the quality of the show. The knowledge that it’s based on a novel makes one hope that the series will be have a distinct resolution and be self-contained and not the drag-it-out-a-thon that Lost turned into. The acting is fine, the writing and direction are okay but using off-the-shelf characters such as an unconvincing family (endlessly saying ‘I hate you,’ even if you don’t mean it, does not contribute to a successful relationship) and creepy all-knowing kids ("there are no more good days" and "I know, Olivia") just wearies the heart (children are not insightful or wise).

This FlashForward episode contains unpleasant scenes and a sex scene.

Stealth Fighter (1999, Cheap Action Movie) – 5/10 review

Director: Jim Wynorski
Ice-T: Owen Turner
Costas Mandylor: Ryan Mitchell
Ernie Hudson: President Westwood
Andrew Divoff: Roberto Menedez
Erika Eleniak: Erin Mitchell
William Sadler: Peterson
Executive Producer: Ice-T
Producer: Jim Wynorski
Writer (Additional Material And Dialogue): Roger Wade

Stealth Fighter (1999)

An ace pilot fakes his own death and re-emerges several years later working for a disgruntled someone-or-other who is attempting to extort the release of political prisoners from the United States.

5/10

What we have here is a vaguely competent direct-to-video movie (by erotic movie director Jim Wynorski as Jay Andrews) and a better-than-average spot-the-borrowed-movie-footage-and-sets game. The movie ends up being surprising fun with gleefully awful dialogue, a President with a Depressing Rectangle Office, a hilarious stealth fighter / F-16 duel and Ice-T looking more like a bad-tempered plumber than an ace fighter pilot. I enjoyed it, but I was probably in the right mood.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and violence, some strong but no gore.

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

The A-Team 1.03 Children of Jamestown (1983, TV) – 5/10 review

George Peppard: John "Hannibal" Smith
Dirk Benedict: Templeton "Face" Peck
Melinda Culea: Amy Amanda Allen
Dwight Schultz: "Howling Mad" Murdock
Mr. T: B.A. Baracus
Co-Executive Producer: Frank Lupo
Writer (Series’ Creator): Frank Lupo
Writer (Series’ Creator): Stephen J. Cannell
Gerrit Graham:
Ron Hayes:
John Saxon: Martin James
John Carter:
Writer: Stephen J. Cannell
Director: Christian I. Nyby II
Second Unit Director: Craig R. Baxley

A-Team, The 1.03 Children of Jamestown (1983)

The A-Team is hired to rescue Sheila Rogers, a young girl who has been brainwashed into a religious cult. Brilliantly, they manage to get themselves captured in the escape.

5/10

The A-Team starts here with the opening narration, the van and Dirk Benedict in the cast. Annoyingly, it’s rather decent fun. Annoying, as it’s weakly scripted and writer Stephen J. Cannell has already run out of ideas and resorted to insanity instead of character. John Saxon has the unfortunate responsibility of carrying off the loopy reverend but his stunt double does deliver an hilarious comeuppance by being propelled out of a jeep. The team themselves are fine with a really nice moment where they join hands in support to lift Amy’s spirits and another nice detail when Hannibal cleans a Bible before leaving for the end credits.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941, Romantic Fantasy Movie) – 5/10 review

Robert Montgomery: Joe Pendleton
Claude Rains: Mr. Jordan
Evelyn Keyes: Bette Logan
Writer (Screenplay): Sidney Buchman
Writer (Screenplay): Seton I. Miller
Writer (Original Play) "Heaven Can Wait": Harry Segall
Producer: Everett Riskin
Director: Alexander Hall

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

Up-and-coming boxer Joe Pendleton is killed in an air crash just before his shot at the world title and insistently remonstrates with the officials in pre-Heaven that it wasn’t his time. When they check, it turns out he was right – he would have survived except for the over-eager messenger taking him too soon – and try to return him to his body only to find it has been cremated.

5/10

While the fantasy element and jumping off point for the plot are interesting, almost nothing else in the movie works. The romantic element is awfully, horribly unconvincing and the police procedural element is toe-curlingly embarrassing. There is, however, agreeable fun friction between Robert Montgomery’s wrongfully plucked-from-his-not-so-certain-death boxer and Edward Everett Horton’s pluckee and Claude Rains amiably strolls around as the eponymous Mr. Jordan.

This movie contains mild adult dialogue and boxing violence.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Agatha Christie: Marple 4.01 A Pocket Full of Rye (2009, Mystery TV) – 5/10 review

Julia McKenzie: Miss Marple
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Helen Baxendale: Mary Dove
Joseph Beattie: Vivian Dubois
Ken Campbell: Crump
Lucy Cohu: Pat Fortescue
Kenneth Cranham: Rex Fortescue
Rupert Graves: Lance Fortescue
Ralf Little: Sergeant Pickford
Matthew Macfadyen: Inspector Neele
Anna Madeley: Adele Fortescue
Ben Miles: Percival Fortescue
Hattie Morahan: Elaine Fortescue
Wendy Richard: Mrs Crump
Edward Tudor Pole: Professor Bernsdorrf
Liz White: Jennifer Fortescue
Prunella Scales: Mrs Mackenzie
Writer (Screenplay): Kevin Elyot
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Charles Palmer
In Memory Of 1941 to 2008: Ken Campbell
In Memory Of 1943 to 2009: Wendy Richard

Agatha Christie: Marple 4.01 Pocket Full of Rye, A (2009)

Unloved patriarch and odious businessman-losing-his-touch Rex Fortescue dies drinking his morning tea while alone in his office. He’s been poisoned but, even more unusually, his pocket is full of rye.

5/10

This whodunit has a brilliant intrigue (why does a dead man have a pocketful of the eponymous rye?) and a mystery where, as is ideal, all the clues can be clearly presented visually without giving the game away. Sadly, new Marple Julia Mckenzie doesn’t sound like an old lady and doesn’t have much of a reason to be where she is most of the time but she does look the part. The critical problem, though, is the same as all the ITV Christie stuff for years: no atmosphere, no fun and no humanity. In place of genuine atmosphere, it’s photographed in a permanent haze. The clumsy director also clearly isn’t interested in character and performance and spends his time impressing himself with flashbacks and different but boring composition. It’s quite well paced but when you’re expecting it to wrap things up, there’s still another ad-break to go.

This Agatha Christie: Marple episode contains unpleasant scenes, violence and mild sexuality.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008, Animated Comedy Action Movie) – 5/10 review

Ben Stiller: Alex
Chris Rock: Marty
David Schwimmer: Melman
Jada Pinkett Smith: Gloria
Sacha Baron Cohen: Julien
Cedric "The Entertainer": Maurice
Andy Richter: Mort
Bernie Mac: Zuba
Alec Baldwin: Makunga
Sherri Shepherd: Mom
Will.I.Am: Moto Moto
Director: Eric Darnell
Director: Tom McGrath
Writer: Etan Cohen
Writer: Eric Darnell
Writer: Tom McGrath
Head Of Character Animation: Rex Grignon
Tom McGrath: Skipper
Eric Darnell: Joe the Witch Doctor, Poacher #2
Tom McGrath: Lemur
Chris Rock: Additional Zebras

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)

Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria leave Madagascar and crash land in Africa, right where Alex originally came from.

5/10

Depends how funny you find ritual sacrifice, inferred inter-species love / sex (something DreamWorks’ Shrek and Bee Movie also did; kid’s movies that promote bestiality?) and extreme violence against and from terrifyingly designed grannies. As a tiny kid movie, it does work but for anyone in double-digits, it only just staves off boredom and features what feels like a cut-and-paste screenplay from other, equally unimaginative, franchise stimulators. Terrific animal character visual designs are the selling point here but the principle artistic merit of the movie is to help you appreciate contemporary Pixar, Aardman and classic Disney even more.

This movie contains mild bad language, mild adult dialogue and extreme comic violence.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Get Smart (2008, Comedy Action Movie) – 5/10 review

Director: Peter Segal
Steve Carell: Maxwell Smart
Anne Hathaway: Agent 99
Dwayne Johnson: Agent 23
Alan Arkin: The Chief
Terence Stamp: Siegfried
Terry Crews: Agent 91
David Koechner: Larabee
James Caan: The President
Executive Producer: Peter Segal
Executive Producer: Steve Carell
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Mel Brooks
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Buck Henry
Writer: Tom J. Astle
Writer: Matt Ember
Consultant: Mel Brooks
Consultant: Buck Henry

Get Smart (2008)

After all their agents are compromised, CONTROL is left only with Agent 99 (fresh from facial reconstruction) and newly promoted star analyst Maxwell Smart to combat the conniving evil of KAOS.

5/10

It feels mean to say that there’s two-and-a-half minutes of fun with the minimum required imagination in-between to fulfil the running time but, even though it’s just entertaining enough, the vacuum of intelligence, a disdain for the audience and an uncertain tone (is he a doofus or not?) really use up goodwill generated by the stars Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway and Dwayne Johnson. And will somebody please give Dwayne Johnson something amazing to be brilliant in. Remarkably, his fun feature film debut The Scorpion King remains his best starring role.

This movie contains mild swear words, mild adult dialogue and violence, some extreme violence and a homosexual sex joke.

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

The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998, Disney DVD Movie) – 5/10 review

Director: Darrell Rooney
Co-Director: Rob LaDuca

Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, The (1998)

Now king of Pride Rock, Simba has to deal with the exiled Scar supporters who still threaten Simba’s personal circle of life.

5/10

If the original Lion King was Hamlet, this direct-to-video sequel is Romeo and Juliet. In a break from musical sequel tradition the new original songs are generally rather good with the best being the brilliant He Lives In You (the only one from the original film composer Hans Zimmer). Sadly these are wasted because the rest of the movie is often as average as expected and more often completely mistaken in concept. The main single problem is the script which replays lines and scenes from the original with no interpretation, imagination, wit or style and only succeeds in weakening this movie.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Links

Transformers: The Game (2007, Game, 360) – 5/10 review

Director: Jon Burton
Producer: Andrew Burrows
Lead Designer: Jon Burton
Lead Programmer: Stephen Harding
Lead Artist: Leon Warren
Lead Animator: Jeremy Pardon
Head of Production: Paul Flanagan
Head Of Technology: Dave Dootson
Peter Cullen: Optimus Prime
Shia LaBeouf: Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox: Mikaela Banes

Transformers Transformers: Game, The (2007)

Battle as the Autobots to protect the world from the Decepticons or battle as the Decepticons to smash the Autobots and claim Earth for yourself. Or do both.

5/10

This is a game that is definitely quite close to being enjoyable but it isn’t fun enough, often enough. Instead, Traveller’s Tales keep throwing needless niggles into the mix. The clearest example of the dichotomy of the game are the graphics. They look sorta ugly (360 version reviewed) and feel like you’re running through mud yet feature a spectacular amount of action and destructibility and the Transformers themselves look, especially on a really big screen, rather impressive. Another example is the appearance of it being an open-world game. However, most of the sequences will see you fail because you get hurled out of a tiny arbitrary "action area". Apparently, you can only pummel robots on certain streets at certain times. So while this ends up being another weak movie game, it nearly wasn’t, and in the movie game genre, that’s praise, indeed.

This Transformers game contains extended graphic and extreme mecha violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

24 7.22 Day 7: 5:00 AM – 6:00 AM (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Kiefer Sutherland: Jack Bauer
Mary Lynn Rajskub: Chloe O’Brian
Annie Wersching: FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Renee Walker
Bob Gunton: Ethan Kanin
Janeane Garofalo: Janis Gold
Carlos Bernard: Tony Almeida
Elisha Cuthbert: Kim Bauer
Glenn Morshower: Agent Aaron Pierce
Will Patton: Alan Wilson
Co-Executive Producer: Brad Turner
Executive Producer: Evan Katz
Producer: Michael Klick
Writer (Series’ Creator): Joel Surnow
Writer (Series’ Creator): Robert Cochran
Writer: Evan Katz
Director: Brad Turner

24 7.22 Day 7: 5:00 AM – 6:00 AM (2009)

Jack interrogates Tony’s man (with Renee Walker’s blessing) to try and find Tony. Though they hit a stumbling block, Jack instinctively knows in his heart of hearts that it’s nothing that shouting at Chloe and Janice can’t fix.

5/10

This is the first completely duff episode of this seventh season and, sadly, it appears to set up a double-duff final double episode that looks like it is going to be awful as Jack has SPOILER his daughter’s life used as a hold over him (that’s not really a spoiler since it’s horribly telegraphed from early in the episode if you’ve ever watched, well, television before). Unfortunately, the audience couldn’t care less about Elisha Cuthbert and are wondering why Jack doesn’t communicate with his colleagues by simply writing on something. Perhaps, with all their mobiles phones and ear-pieces and SHOUTING, they’ve forgotten how to. As has previously been the case with 24, when the writers run out of ideas, they resort to violence and torture and this is also the most violent episode of this season.

This 24 episode contains very strong melee and interrogation violence.

Links

House M.D. 5.19 Locked In (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Kal Penn: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Faune A. Chambers: Molly
John Kapelos: Dr. Kurtz
Mos Def: Lee
Producer: David Foster
Executive Producer: Russel Friend
Executive Producer: Garrett Lerner
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Russel Friend
Writer: Garrett Lerner
Writer: David Foster
Director: Daniel Attias

House M.D. 5.19 Locked In (2009)

House saves a man’s life after falling off his motorbike in New York. The man has Locked In Syndrome but as he attempts to diagnose, he is also trying to determine whether Taub is motivated to continue and Wilson wants to know what House was doing in New York in the first place.

5/10

House’s dialogue is as awesome as ever but he is hitting Taub when he’s down really hard. Otherwise, this feels like a concerted effort to win an award as this is a gimmick episode and large parts of the episode take place with the camera as the eyes of the patient-of-the-week. Unfortunately, the camera is waved around as if we are moving our whole head and so it doesn’t work from the get-go. Mos Def’s apparently casual delivery is always a nice change of pace whatever he’s in but, as the medical side of things is typically muddled, spending so much time on it reduces the effectiveness of the episode. The other little battle of wills is between House and Wilson as the latter tries to discover why the former had a motorcycle accident in New York but it’s rather flat.

Links

Smallville 8.17 Hex (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Tom Welling: Clark Kent
Allison Mack: Chloe Sullivan
Erica Durance: Lois Lane
Justin Hartley: Oliver Queen
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Superman: Jerry Siegel
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Superman: Joe Shuster
Developer for Television: Alfred Gough
Developer for Television: Miles Millar
Serinda Swan: Zatanna
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Director: Mairzee Almas

Smallville 8.17 Hex (2009)

Feeling miserable at her own birthday party thanks to her recent break-up with Jimmy, Lois and Oliver having to leave prematurely and Clark not even showing up, Chloe makes a birthday wish at the behest of mega-babe magician Zatanna. However, she is staggered when her desire to swap for the journalistic life of Lois comes true.

5/10

Given that this is another of Smallville‘s possession storylines, it’s absolutely not as bad as feared. I was expecting the last straw but, thanks to a reliance on character and a, frankly, smoking hot magician’s outfit for Serinda Swan (and her Zatanna not being a baddie), it is entertaining enough. As usual for this season, it never makes the most of the setup and never involves you emotionally. The regular cast outside of Erica Durance feel like they’re just reading their lines. This lack of heartfelt performance is a shame as some of the script this week is better than for a while. There’s no Jimmy, no Doomsday, no Davis Bloome, no Tess Mercer and no violence. The story is fine and, as a bonus, the mechanism for undoing the wishes and restoring Smaillville‘s status quo is, unusually, refreshingly simple and entirely acceptable (when you don’t wish it anymore, it isn’t so).

Links

House M.D. 5.18 Here Kitty (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Kal Penn: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Judy Greer:
Christopher Moynihan: Neil Zane
Co-Executive Producer: Peter Blake
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Peter Blake
Director: Juan J. Campanella

House M.D. 5.18 Here Kitty (2009)

House is busy trying to get out of work until a nurse is brought in by Cuddy and she starts having a seizure while explaining her, apparently minor, symptoms. A bored House is about to leave but then someone points out that she has urinated herself (common for a seizure) and that her urine is green. Now that’s interesting. As is a grumpy Taub. But not as interesting as a cat who can predict death.

5/10

There’s quite a lot of fun but not a lot of sense. This is an unconvincing episode from House’s character and House’s case-of-the-week though one moment that did work was House’s triumphant summation being punctuated by him having forgotten to cancel the patient’s unnecessary life-threatening brain surgery. Taub’s storyline worked well while the Foreteen storyline seems to have been entirely forgotten. The fun came from an unexpected Bond quote and House going to all the trouble of getting a full-size ladder into his office just for a laugh among other things.

Links

Smallville 8.15 Infamous (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Tom Welling: Clark Kent
Allison Mack: Chloe Sullivan
Erica Durance: Lois Lane
Sam Witwer: Davis Bloome
Justin Hartley: Oliver Queen
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Superman: Jerry Siegel
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Superman: Joe Shuster
Developer for Television: Alfred Gough
Developer for Television: Miles Millar
Tori Spelling: Linda Lake
Writer: Caroline Dries
Director: Glen Winter

Smallville 8.15 Infamous (2009)

Former gossip-columnist Linda Lake (who can turn into water) returns and threatens to expose Clark by sending his story to the papers unless he, well, er, I dunno, I was freaked by Tori Spelling’s disturbing mouth and man-chin. Anyway, he decides that perhaps it’s time to introduce himself to the world on his own terms and gets Lois to write his story.

5/10

We’ve been down this road before in Reckoning (season five episode twelve) when Clark told Lana his secret and, as a result, SPOILER she gets killed, Clark uses a use-once Kryptonian crystal to turn back time, doesn’t tell her and this time Jonathan Kent dies. However, we’ve got rather less good-will for Smallville now and despite the surprisingly welcome return of Erica Durance (now the only decent cast member and looking lovelier than ever) and the thrill of seeing her find out Clark’s secret, the insistence on US TV of having everything turn out bad all the time and then undone before next week’s episode means that the episode quickly becomes wearisome. The episode does highlight some potentially interesting subjects including the privacy of a celebrity, mud-sticking journalism and a struggle against internal evil but polishing it all off in forty minutes and a lack of ambition or imagination means that none of it really resonates.

Links

Planet of the Apes (2001, Movie) – 5/10 review

Mark Wahlberg: Captain Leo Davidson
Tim Roth: Thade
Helena Bonham Carter: Ari
Michael Clarke Duncan: Attar
Kris Kristofferson: Karubi
Estella Warren: Daena
Paul Giamatti: Limbo
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa: Krull
David Warner: Sandar
Writer (Original Novel): Pierre Boulle
Writer (Screenplay): William Broyles, Jr.
Writer (Screenplay): Lawrence Konner
Writer (Screenplay): Mark Rosenthal
Director: Tim Burton
Writer (Original Screenplay): Michael Wilson
Writer (Original Screenplay): Rod Serling
Charlton Heston: Zaius (Thade’s Father)

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Captain Leo Davidson, for reasons too stupid to go into, finds himself crash landing through a bizarre space storm on to a planet where apes are the dominant species and fond of quoting lines from the 1967 movie Planet of the Apes.

5/10

Entirely non-sensical science-fiction action movie that remains curiously bland despite some of the greatest make-up ever seen and the presence of director Tim Burton. In fact, my brother hit the nail on the head when he commented that "this didn’t feel like a Tim Burton film." That said, we can enjoy apes doing all sorts of fun things such as removing their wigs and false teeth (my favourite), cheating at cards, getting ready for foreplay, playing in a musical street quartet and a number of other wonderfully mundane things. In fact, the mundane normality of the ape existence is probably the best thing about the entire movie. Burton easily manages to convince us that this is a living, breathing city of apes, many of whom just go about their day to day life without affecting the plot.

This movie contains extreme violence, mild gore.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008, Movie) – 5/10 review

Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Writer (Screenplay): Guillermo Del Toro
Writer (Story): Guillermo Del Toro
Writer (Story): Mike Mignola
Writer (Characters’ Creator) from the Dark Horse comic book: Mike Mignola
Producer: Lawrence Gordon
Producer: Mike Richardson
Producer: Lloyd Levin
Ron Perlman: Hellboy
Selma Blair: Liz
Doug Jones: Abe Sapien, Chamberlain, Angel of Death
Jeffrey Tambor: Tom Manning
Luke Goss: Prince Nuada
Anna Walton: Princess Nuala
Seth MacFarlane: Voice of Johann
John Hurt: Professor Broom
Co-Executive Producer: Mike Mignola

Hellboy II: Golden Army, The (2008)

Prince Nuada decides that man’s abuse of the planet should end at his hands or, more specifically, at the hands of an indestructible Golden Army. All he needs is to gather the three pieces of the controlling crown and, er, find the Golden Army.

5/10

Disappointingly incoherent monster mash whose impactless story isn’t helped by interminable and unimaginative, but extremely violent, action scenes which simply involve things hitting each other until they stop hitting each other. While director Guillermo Del Toro once more brings impressive creature designs to the table, and the pre-title sequence is really cool (and includes John Hurt), he also brings his traditional problem of pacing that makes his films seem longer than they are. This isn’t a particularly long film (107 minutes to the beginning of the end credits) but it feels it, especially when things start hitting each other.

This movie contains mild swear words and extreme fantasy violence, extremely unpleasant scenes.

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

Links

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aka LXG (2003, Movie) – 5/10 review

Producer: Don Murphy
Sean Connery: Allan Quartermain
Shane West: Tom Sawyer
Stuart Townsend: Dorian Gray
Richard Roxburgh: Moriarty (Fantom)
Peta Wilson: Mina Harker
Tony Curran: Rodney Skinner
Jason Flemyng: Dr. Henry Jekyll / Edward Hyde
Naseeruddin Shah: Captain Nemo
David Hemmings: Nigel
Max Ryan: Dante
Writer (Original Graphic Novel): Alan Moore
Writer (Original Graphic Novel): Kevin O’Neill, W
Writer (Screenplay): James Dale Robinson
Director: Stephen Norrington

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

London’s M brings together a League of Extraordinary People to fight the evil known as the Fantom who is about to topple the world into war. He recruits legendary hunter Allan Quartermain, legendary pirate Nemo, legendarily invisible Rodney Skinner, legendarily bloodthirsty Mina Harker, legendarily long-lived Dorian Gray, legendary monster Mr. Hyde and the not-legendary at all token American Tom Sawyer (he’s a detective, wow).

5/10

Clunky superhero would-be epic that offers a lot of good concepts but, while useless music, a silly Venice collapsing sequence (the precise moment the movie falls apart) and the presence of the completely unextraordinary character Tom Sawyer are the most obvious failures, it’s principle failing is the lack of the X factor. There is no magic, no extraordinariness. While it is surprisingly appropriate that Connery’s on-screen career would end with this, it’s a shame it was in such a misfire. Such was his experience, director Steven Norrington also imposed the end of his directorial career upon himself.

This movie contains mild swear words and extreme violence, extreme fantasy violence, unpleasant and gory scenes.

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

Continue reading “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aka LXG (2003, Movie) – 5/10 review”

House M.D. 5.13 Big Baby (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Kal Penn: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Erika Flores: Sarah
Producer: David Foster
Co-Executive Producer: Lawrence Kaplow
Co-Executive Producer: Deran Sarafian
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: David Foster
Writer: Lawrence Kaplow
Director: Deran Sarafian

House M.D. 5.13 Big Baby (2009)

Some woman has some medical condition that no-one can solve but House. Foreman has an ethical dilemma regarding Thirteen. Cuddy is failing to bond with her baby and Cameron has to but heads with House for the first time as his boss.

5/10

We’re most definitely in the mid-season lull typical of most American shows. It’s not surprising since they run for so long, but despite the muddled and extremely unconvincing medical plot and poorly written dramatic plots (Cuddy’s inability to bond with her baby and Thirteen and Foreman’s – shudder – relationship; though it’s nice to see Thirteen looking happy), House still has enough moments of acerbic fun to stick with it. However, it is probably time to give him a sabbatical.

Links

House M.D. 5.12 Painless (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Kal Penn: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Martin Henderson: Jeff
Jake Cherry: Zack
Sarah Danielle Madison: Lynne
Alex Fernandez: Fernando
Anthony Montgomery: James Carlton
Lori Petty: Janice Burke
Co-Executive Producer: Eli Attie
Executive Producer: Thomas L. Moran
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Thomas L. Moran
Writer: Eli Attie
Director: Andrew Bernstein

House M.D. 5.12 Painless (2009)

Cameron gets House to look at a patient suffering from chronic pain who has just attempted suicide. While House sees the parallels instantly – his own pain is definitely worsening – he still targets his own inimitable diagnosis techniques of taking the patient to near death before coming up with a miraculous cure. Meanwhile, he also targets his formidable intellect and deviousness into getting his insurance to pay for a damaged water pipe in his apartment.

5/10

Thirteen and Foreman’s relationship is almost as painful as driven-to-suicide patient-of-the-week’s condition (and it’s icky) and while House’s SPOILER epilepsy of the testicles END SPOILER diagnosis is miraculously impressive you’re certainly not convinced. House and Cuddy have a moment of fun while Jennifer Morrison looks like she’ll be getting a bump in lines from now on. Moppet Jake Cherry is good as a distressed son. I did enjoy the line where House asks Cuddy, genuinely and seriously, if he can cut a patient’s head off. Which he then does. Cool.

This House M.D. episode contains adult dialogue and unpleasant scenes.

Links

Hustle 5.03 (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Adrian Lester: Mickey Stone
Robert Glenister: Ash Morgan
Matt Di Angelo: Sean Kennedy
Kelly Adams: Emma Kennedy
Robert Vaughn: Albert Stroller
Writer: Fintan Ryan
Producer: Kerry Appleyard
Director: Julian Simpson
Writer (Series’ Creator): Tony Jordan
Writer (Original Idea): Bharat Nalluri

Hustle 5.03 Series 5 Episode 3 of 6 (2009)

With Albert due out after a parole hearing on Friday, the gang decide to pull off a nice con as a coming-out present for him. The target is a judge who is thought to have accepted a bung (but never received it) and with that, the game is on.

5/10

The entertainment value of Hustle is directly related to how Robin Hood the story is. Though this week’s ‘villain’ is crooked judge Tim McInnerny (he accepted one bung during a career renowned for delivering full verdicts) he isn’t odious enough to make the episode work. The little pieces of Albert in prison work rather better, Eddie gets treated rather better than normal and it’s still slick and quite enjoyable but, this week, inexcusable.

Links

Smallville 8.11 Legion (2009, TV) – 5/10 review

Tom Welling: Clark Kent
Allison Mack: Chloe Sullivan
Sam Witwer: Davis Bloome
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Superman: Jerry Siegel
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Joe Shuster
Developer for Television: Alfred Gough
Developer for Television: Miles Millar
Kristin Kreuk: Lana
Ryan Kennedy: Rokk
Alexz Johnson: Imra
Calum Worthy: Garth
Writer: Geoff Johns
Director: Glen Winter

Smallville 8.11 Legion (2009)

With Chloe consumed by Brainiac and now incubating Davis into Doomsday permanently, Clark is distracted from his initial by a huge dude materialising in the barn and nearly chopping him in half with an axe.

5/10

This an episode packed with new characters (this episode only) and interesting elements but doesn’t quite come together. It’s heart is definitely in the right place, though, and that makes it worthwhile. Unfortunately, Tom Welling isn’t very good here. He appears half-hearted, is laden with clunky dialogue and looks like he’ll be glad when it’s over. It’s a shame as he’s been so good for so long and his lacklustre performances this season may override the memory of his earlier good work. The episode brings up the thoughts of Cal-el’s principles and the reality of meeting a legend you only knew through history books and both are interesting but their potential is not realised.

This Smallville episode contains extreme and graphic fantasy violence, gory and unpleasant.

Links

The Black Hole (1979, Movie) – 5/10 review

Maximilian Schell: Dr. Hans Reinhardt
Anthony Perkins: Dr. Alex Durant
Robert Forster: Captain Dan Holland
Joseph Bottoms: Lieutenant Charles Pizer
Yvette Mimieux: Dr. Kate McCrae
Ernest Borgnine: Harry Booth
Writer (Story): Jeb Rosebrook
Writer (Story): Bob Barbash
Writer (Story): Richard Landau
Writer (Screenplay): Jeb Rosebrook
Writer (Screenplay): Gerry Day
Producer: Ron Miller
Director: Gary Nelson

Black Hole, The (1979)

A spaceship crew encounters another craft straying dangerously near the gateway to a black hole. They find the vessel to be manned by robots and a mad scientist.

5/10

There are some movies where you can see why the producers decided to make it but the end result goes horribly wrong. This is one of those movies. To be fair it is not a complete disaster but it is the next best thing.

This movie contains graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Continue reading “The Black Hole (1979, Movie) – 5/10 review”

Wallander 1.01 Sidetracked (2008) – 5/10 review

Kenneth Branagh: Kurt Wallander
Writer: Richard Cottan
Writer (Original Novel) Sidetracked: Henning Mankell
Executive Producer: Francis Hopkinson
Producer: Simon Moseley
Producer: Daniel Ahlqvist
Director: Philip Martin
Executive Producer: Kenneth Branagh

Wallander 1.01 Sidetracked (2008)

Still reeling from a fifteen-year-old girl inexplicably setting herself on fire when he identifies himself, Detective Kurt Wallander has to focus on an unusually violent new case when a prominent politician is killed with an axe and scalped.

5/10

The problem with hiring an intense, talented actor like Kenneth Branagh and then giving him an embarrassingly ordinary script and placing him in a production without atmosphere or energy is that he rather sticks out like a sore thumb. Therefore, Branagh frequently marches around with an intensity the script hasn’t provided for and has to look surprised when the story involves child abuse, human trafficking and prostitution. Hasn’t he seen a detective drama in the last twenty years? That’s what they’re all about. As an executive producer, he certainly has to take some of the blame himself but it’s a shame to see his talent wasted here. I won’t bother with episode two, and you shouldn’t bother with episode one.

This Wallander episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and subject of human trafficking, prostitution and child abuse and unpleasant scene of someone setting themselves on fire, brief gory blade violence, gory and unpleasant scenes.

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

House M.D. 5.08 Emancipation (2008, TV) – 5/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Kal Penn: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Emily Rios: Sophia
Nathan Gamble: Evan
Alexandra Lydon: Melinda
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Pamela Davis
Writer: Leonard Dick
Director: James Hayman

House M.D. 5.08 Emancipation (2008)

Patient-of-the-week is Sofia, an emancipated sixteen-year-old with fluid on her lungs. Foreman wants to be part of a medical trial but when House denies him on the grounds that he couldn’t execute two cases at the same time, Cuddy gives Foreman a diagnostics case involving a four-year-old.

5/10

The medical side of the show is, again, really badly handled. House is most like a maverick detective show, for example, Columbo or Inspector Morse but when was the last time you watched such a show and couldn’t follow the investigation at hand. Even though talking in medical terms is akin to speaking a different language, House has frequently demonstrated it can deliver a coherent picture of the case at hand. Part of the problem is simply making the cases way too complicated with one symptom jumping to another (always culminating in near-death) too quickly and without effect or understanding. As a contrast, Foreman’s case is much simpler and the audience grasps the essence of it without needing to understanding the medical nuts and bolts. Though there’s not much time for it this week, outside of the core medical experience, House and Wilson’s interaction is continuing to be engaging and fun and the ending pleasingly reveals extra depth to House’s genius.

Links

Smallville 8.10 Bride (2008, TV) – 5/10

Tom Welling: Clark Kent
Allison Mack: Chloe Sullivan
Erica Durance: Lois Lane
Aaron Ashmore: Jimmy Olsen
Sam Witwer: Davis Bloome
Justin Hartley: Oliver Queen
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Superman: Jerry Siegel
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Joe Shuster
Developer for Television: Alfred Gough
Developer for Television: Miles Millar
Kristin Kreuk: Lana
Writer: Al Septien
Writer: Turi Meyer
Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Smallville 8.10 Bride (2008)

It’s Chloe and Jimmy’s big day but it’s violently and rudely interrupted by… a large man in a monster suit. Or the terrifying murderlising Davis Bloome’s alter-ego, if you insist.

5/10

What is it about the Lois / Clark dynamic that has worked so well across the written, the drawn, television and movies? I don’t know but it’s working its magic again and Erica Durance continues her good run of form by making doe eyes at Clark. Elsewhere Smallville delivers a typically unconvincing plot even boasting wifi tech that works without electricity, a depressing Special Guest Star slot for Kristin Kreuk (bizarrely, she has absolutely no chemistry with Tom Welling anymore and her character has no charm) and, most disappointing, a really obvious man-in-a-suit for the horror climax. Nevertheless, praise must be delivered for Smallville not delivering images of people being ripped into pieces or scooping various internal organs back in or any other of the possible super-graphic super-violence the show delivered over the last few seasons.

This Smallville episode contains inferred extreme violence, unpleasant and extremely gory scenes.

Links