Bambi (1942) – 9/10 Walt Disney animated coming-of-age movie review

Cast / crew
Producer: Walt Disney
Story Writer: Felix Salten
Supervising Director: David Hand
Sequence Director: James Algar
Sequence Director: Bill Roberts
Sequence Director: Norman Wright
Sequence Director: Samuel Armstrong
Sequence Director: Paul Satterfield
Sequence Director: Graham Heid
Supervising Animator: Frank Thomas aka Franklin Thomas
Supervising Animator: Milt Kahl aka Milton Kahl
Supervising Animator: Eric Larson
Supervising Animator: Ollie Johnston aka Oliver M. Johnston, Jr.
Thanks Our sincere appreciation for his inspiring collaboration: Sidney Franklin

Bambi (1942)

Bambi is a little fawn born into a world of wonder where his unbridled curiosity will lead to fun, new friends, uplifting experiences and tragedy – all on the way to adulthood.

9/10

Oddly, I find Bambi to be an easy-to-overlook Disney masterpiece – lost among Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo – but masterpiece it most certainly is. I wonder if this is due to what feels like a very simple story. (Bambi gets born, Bambi gets friends, Bambi gets orphaned, Bambi gets antlers, Bambi gets twitterpated, Bambi gets into a fight, Bambi gets fawns.) It may be a simple story but it is told with an assured, delicate, master’s touch. The animation is, it probably goes without saying by now, brilliant. The combination of recognisable human characteristics and animal locomotion is reference quality in the character design (spoiler, deers don’t have a face like Bambi), animation and, importantly, music.

This movie contains some distressing and intense scenes

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) – 9/10 stop-motion animated action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Peter Sallis: Wallis / Hutch
Ralph Fiennes: Victor Quartermaine
Helena Bonham Carter: Lady Campanula Tottington
Peter Kay:
Nicholas Smith:
Liz Smith:
Supervising Animator: Loyd Price
Producer: Claire Jennings
Producer: Carla Shelley
Producer: Peter Lord
Producer: David Sproxton
Producer: Nick Park
Writer (Screenplay): Steve Box
Writer (Screenplay): Nick Park
Writer (Screenplay): Mark Burton
Writer (Screenplay): Bob Baker
Director: Nick Park
Director: Steve Box

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Wallace and Gromit’s latest job is Anti-Pesto – a service aimed at protecting vegetables from rabbits – and the most important period of the year is coming up: the annual Giant Vegetable Competition at Tottington Hall hosted by the lovely Lady Tottington herself. As the day draws closer, though, a massive wererabbit comes from nowhere and starts wreaking catastrophe among the carrots.

9/10

Idiot Americans flocked to see the average Madagascar in shocking numbers while virtually ignoring this superbly imaginative and distinctive slice of near-genius. The lack of momentum carried around the world and it is likely the film barely made a profit. Ridiculous. This is a warm, witty, charming, endlessly inventive and breathlessly paced movie. It isn’t perfect, though, and definitely loses something in the third act (the music during the action sequence perhaps). Perhaps we were just spoiled with the brilliant climactic chase sequences of The Wrong Trousers (model railway) and A Close Shave (stunt sheep) but the finalé here is definitely less cohesive, brilliant and thought out than what has gone before. However, it does contain the biggest laugh of the show when the plane chase comes to an enforced pause and Quartermaine’s dog Philip gets them going again.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Star Wars (1977) – 9/10 science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Writer: George Lucas
Director: George Lucas
Producer: Gary Kurtz
Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford: Han Solo
Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia Organa
Peter Cushing: Grand Moff Tarkin
Alec Guinness: Ben (Obi-wan) Kenobi
Executive Producer [1997 re-release]: George Lucas

Star Wars (1977)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Princess Leia Organa is captured by the evil imperial forces in their efforts to stamp out the last remnants of any resistance. Venturesome and orphaned Luke Skywalker and dashing but rogueish smuggler Han Solo, team together with robots R2-D2 and C-3PO to restore justice to the Universe.

9/10

“This is ridiculous.” – Han Solo

Often brilliant, often naïve, always spectacular, sometimes really stupid. All these things come together to make an undisputably great movie. Though Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness were both pretty sniffy about the movie, the fact is they both sell their characters perfectly and are critical to making the movie work on a dramatic, if not emotional, level. Also vital is John Williams’ Oscar-winning, arguably best ever, score. The most important thing? The visuals. Production design and special visual effects are, respectively, simple and complex, and always, always convincing, impressive and wonderful. What’s really fascinating is that the prequel trilogy would have all the same strengths and weaknesses as this original movie and would be slammed for them.

This movie contains violence, some gore.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Support Your Local Sheriff (1968) – 9/10 comedy western movie review

Cast / crew
James Garner: Jason
Joan Hackett: Prudy
Walter Brennan: Pa Danby
Harry Morgan: Olly Perkins
Jack Elam: Jake
Writer: William Bowers
Producer: William Bowers
Director: Burt Kennedy

Support Your Local Sheriff (1968)

Jason McCullough is on his way to the final frontier, Australia, but decides to make a detour via Calendar, a new town that has just struck a rich vein of gold. Due to this new found wealth, however, prices in Calendar are extremely steep and he applies for the job of Sheriff to pay his way. However, the last three sheriffs had all been killed or run out of town. Will the same fate befall him or will the town support their local Sheriff?’

9/10

"He stuck his finger in the end of your what?"

Well-paced and unusually funny comedy western featuring the watchably charming James Garner and the hilarious looking Jack Elam in their best ever comedy roles. Writer / producer William Bowers worked in this genre almost exclusively but it never clicked like it does here. The setting works, the story works, the jokes are funny and the hero is even clever. This is a classic western, deserving of being listed alongisde your Magnificent Seven‘s and Unforgiven‘s but, because it’s a comedy, it will always be looked down upon.

This movie contains violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Tremors (1989) – 9/10 classic monster movie

Cast / crew
Kevin Bacon: Valentine McKee
Fred Ward: Earl Bass
Finn Carter: Rhonda LeBeck
Michael Gross: Burt Gummer
Victor Wong: Walter Chang
Bobby Jacoby: Melvin Plug
Ariana Richards: Mindy
Reba McEntire: Heather Gummer
Writer (Story): S.S. Wilson
Writer (Story): Brent Maddock
Writer (Story): Ron Underwood
Writer (Screenplay): S.S. Wilson
Writer (Screenplay): Brent Maddock
Producer: Brent Maddock
Producer: S.S. Wilson
Director: Ron Underwood

Tremors (1989)

When Val and Earl decide to leave the tiny town of Perfection, they do so just one day too late: giant alien worm things have arrived and have started to munch their way through all the neighbours.

9/10

One of the things that really differentiates this fun, thrilling treat of a monster movie is that the lead characters are nice; they’re pleasant, fun, friendly, thoughtful and helpful. Also something filmmakers have forgotten since is that monsters do not have to attack the whole world; in fact I would say a movie has a deeper automatic connection to the audience the smaller the target is. Though Tremors certainly delivers on the genre expectations it is also cleverer than usual. Firstly, nobody really does anything stupid throughout (difficult to overstate how uncommon that is), the two-part monster reveal works a treat, the rules laid down do not get broken (no vibration or rocks equals safe) and the climax is a classic. As is the movie.

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

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

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Senna (2010) – 9/10 Formula 1 documentary movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Asif Kapadia
Producer: James Gay-Rees
Producer: Tim Bevan
Producer: Eric Fellner
Executive Producer and Writer: Manish Pandey
Editor: Gregers Sall
Editor: Chris King

Senna (2010)

Documentary. Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna had a single-minded attitude toward racing fueled by belief in God, belief in himself and belief that he was being persecuted by ‘the establishment’ for being too good.

9/10

A peek behind the curtain of Formula One and it’s most mythical hero, Ayrton Senna, this is a must-watch for any F1 fan. It’s interesting and illuminating and features a whole stack of terrific footage we haven’t seen before including some amazing footage of the movie’s villain FISA president Jean-Marie “my decision is best decision” Balestre, wonderful on-board driving action, a great Jackie Stewart interview and in-car radio (especially from Senna’s Brazilian Grand Prix victory). Just from his racing Senna always came across as destructively single-minded (nothing was ever his fault) and this documentary reinforces that and adds the personal, though not entirely unfounded, paranoia and belief system that fueled that despite him being the most lauded and feted driver in the world. There’s less race footage than you might expect but there is still more than enough to satisfy, especially as so much of it is wonderful onboard of Senna in his office doing what Senna did best: drive every car on the knife-edge of control all lap, every lap.

This movie contains several sexual swear words, undetailed but unpleasant scenes of real death and injury

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

Gladiator (2000) – 9/10 classic Roman epic action drama movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer (Screenplay): David Franzoni
Writer (Screenplay): John Logan
Writer (Screenplay): William Nicholson
Writer (Story): David Franzoni
Producer: Douglas Wick
Producer: David Franzoni
Producer: Branko Lustig
Russell Crowe: Maximus
Joaquin Phoenix: Commodus
Connie Nielsen: Lucilla
Oliver Reed: Proximo
Derek Jacobi: Gracchus
Djimon Hounsou: Juba
Richard Harris: Marcus Aurelius

Gladiator (2000)

Escaping the fate that befalls his wife and son as ordered by newly appointed power-crazed emperor Commodus, noble general Maximus finds himself sold into slavery and, therefore, into the gladiatorial arena. He soon becomes a legendary warrior in the arena and, when the emperor calls his best gladiators to the Coliseum in Rome as a political popularity stunt, a date with destiny is inevitable.

9/10

A great film by a great film-maker. Not deep, not meaningful, just great. As Russell Crowe exclaims: “Are you not entertained? Isn’t this what you want?” Yes. He’s terrific in his breakout superstar role as is Joaquin Phoenix, Ridley puts it together beautifully and it looks amazing, the writing has a feeling of intelligence behind it and Hans Zimmer’s wonderful score changed the way epics sound.

This movie contains graphic and extreme violence and mild sensuality.

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

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965, Michelangelo Biopic) – 9 /10 movie review

Cast / crew
Charlton Heston: Michelangelo
Rex Harrison: Pope Julius II
Producer: Carol Reed
Director: Carol Reed
Writer (Original Novel): Irving Stone
Diane Cilento: Contessina de’Medici
Tomas Milian: Raphael
Writer (Screen Story and Screenplay: Philip Dunne

Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone’s The (1965)

Pope Julius II commissions Michelangelo to paint frescos of the twelve apostles along the roof line of the Sistine Chapel but the artist has trouble combating the ordinariness of it all. Seeking inspiration he destroys his already-started work and leaves. When he returns, he embarks on one of the greatest works of art of all time, no matter the cost.

9/10

This is a terrific movie which offers what feels like a real insight into the remarkable work of Michelangelo and specifically the creation of his masterpiece The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It contains an all-time classic cinematic scene (the inspiration in the clouds) and a great dialogue scene (discussing the Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel) but is consistently interesting, entertaining and illuminating. Heston’s Michelangelo is good but Rex Harrison’s Pope Julius II is awesome. Harrison has a strange ability to make whatever character he played seemed completely spontaneous as if he were just speaking naturally. This is despite his crisp, unwavering English accent, seemingly unemotional performances, and frequently challenging period or statesman dialogue.

This movie contains mild adult dialogue and mild unpleasant war scenes and nudity in paintings and sculptures.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

The Matrix (1999) – 9/10 science fiction existential action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director, Executive Producer and Writer: Andy Wachowski
Director, Executive Producer and Writer: Lana Wachowski | Larry Wachowski
Producer: Joel Silver
Neo: Keanu Reeves
Morpheus: Laurence Fishburne
Trinity: Carrie-Anne Moss
Agent Smith: Hugo Weaving
Oracle: Gloria Foster
Cypher: Joe Pantoliano

The Matrix (1999)

Nobody can be told what The Matrix is, Morpheus informs “Neo”, computer hacker supreme. Everyday, however, “Neo” is mild-mannered computer programmer Thomas A. Anderson who is plagued by the recurring thought that he needs to know what The Matrix is. One day, following the guidance of an apparent dream, Neo eventually meets Morpheus, the man who holds the key to his spiritual unease.

9/10

Science-fiction film presented in an astonishing manner. It would be easy to sniff and list all the places where the story concepts and visual effects had all been seen before but it doesn’t matter. The Matrix captures the attention and presents interesting, thought-provoking ideas with spectacular, extremely satisfying visuals. Frequently, concept art for a movie looks much better than the finished product but here, the movie looks exactly like the concept art. Producer Joel Silver allowed the Wachowski brothers to bring their vision precisely to the big screen and they gave him a definite classic and probably the most influential Hollywood movie since Star Wars. Watch and discuss.

This movie contains mild swear words, sexual swear words in end credits song, extreme and graphic gun, knife and melee violence, extremely unpleasant scenes

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

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Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, Disney Musical Fantasy) – 9/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Henry Selick
Producer: Tim Burton
Producer: Denise Di Novi
Music Composer: Danny Elfman
Composer (Lyrics): Danny Elfman
Writer (Original Story): Tim Burton
Writer (Original Characters): Tim Burton
Writer (Adaptation): Michael McDowell
Writer (Screenplay): Caroline Thompson
Animation Supervisor: Eric Leighton
Associate Producer: Danny Elfman
Danny Elfman: [voice of] Jack Skellington (singing)
Chris Sarandon: [voice of] Jack (speaking)

Nightmare Before Christmas, The (1993)

Halloween Town’s pumpkin king Jack Skellington stumbles across Christmas Town and decides to cheer himself up by handling the Christmas duties himself. Will his attempt be a success or will it be The Nightmare Before Christmas?

9/10

Brilliant musical fantasy which marries stunning technical achievements to breath-taking visual artistry, a charismatic score and several terrific songs with unforgettable consequences. This is, after Edward Scissorhands, Danny Elfman and Tim Burton’s second masterpiece; a near-flawless collaboration of Burton’s ability to produce absolutely striking visuals and new ‘fairy tales’ that feel like they’ve been around forever and Elfman’s ability to hook completely into the tone of Burton’s vision. Director Henry Selick was the last key to this particular production as he marshals everything into brilliantly animated life.

This movie contains unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Continue reading “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, Disney Musical Fantasy) – 9/10 movie review”

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, Science Fiction Classic) – 9/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Michael Rennie: Klaatu
Patricia Neal: Helen Benson
Writer (Screenplay): Edmund H. North
Writer (Original Stories): Harry Bates
Music Composer: Bernard Herrmann
Producer: Julian Blaustein
Director: Robert Wise

Day the Earth Stood Still, The (1951)

A mysterious spaceship from an unknown planet approaches Earth carrying an intelligent humanoid called Klaatu and a giant robot. They have come to warn the world that it will have no future if it persists with nuclear testing.

9/10

Truly superb science fiction movie which is thoughtfully constructed and presents a common idea in a thought-provoking manner – that we are not alone and that should make a difference to us. The direction is perfect, the design iconic and the music is brilliant.

This movie contains mild unpleasant scenes.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Avatar (2009, James Cameron Science Fiction Action Adventure) – 9/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Writer: James Cameron
Director: James Cameron
Producer: James Cameron
Producer: Jon Landau
Editor: James Cameron
Senior Visual Effects Supervisor: Joe Letteri
Animation Supervisor: Richard Baneham
Animation Supervisor: Andrew R. Jones
Sam Worthington: Jake Sully
Zoë Saldana: Neytiri
Stephen Lang: Colonel Miles Quaritch
Michelle Rodriguez: Trudy Chacon
Giovanni Ribisi: Parker Selfridge
Joel David Moore: Norm Spellman
CCH Pounder: Moat
Wes Studi: Eytukan
Laz Alonso: Tsu’tey
Sigourney Weaver: Grace
Producer Weta: Eileen Moran

Avatar (2009)

Bad news: Jake Sully, your brother is dead. Good news: Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-marine, you can take his place in a remarkable program on alien planet Pandora where your mind will be used to control a fully-functioning nine-foot-tall super-athletic alien body. Your mission is to gain the trust of the natives and convince them to move out of their home so that humans can mine the valuable material buried deep underneath.

9/10

This is an impressive action adventure that has a decidedly old-fashioned feel to it while presenting totally incredible technical feats completely invisibly but whose greatness emerges because it is more than the sum of its parts. It’s old-fashioned in that it sticks to tried-and-true, or predictable, story and character beats, isn’t ‘dark,’ isn’t excessively violent and has superb action sequences which have shape and definition and in which you can tell who’s doing what to whom, why and how well it’s going. The technical accomplishment is remarkable. Cameron presents a fictitious world created out of thin air that is completely convincing. You cannot believe it isn’t real; it does not exist outside of a New Zealand PC. Ultimately, however, Avatar is a great film because it is more than the sum of its parts, i.e., despite faults, it, like Titanic before it, works emotionally.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, mild swear words and gun violence, giant arrow violence and sexuality.

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

The Prestige (2006) – 9/10 period mystery movie review

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Cast / crew
Director, Producer and Screenplay Writer: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay Writer: Jonathan Nolan
Writer (Original Novel): Christopher Priest
Hugh Jackman: Robert Angier
Christian Bale: Alfred Borden
Michael Caine: Cutter
Scarlett Johansson: Olivia Wenscombe
Rebecca Hall: Sarah
Andy Serkis: Alley
Piper Perabo: Julia McCullough
David Bowie: Tesla

The Prestige (2006)

Professional magicians Robert Angier, The Great Danton, and Alfred Borden, The Professor, are intense, bitter rivals whose animosity becomes heightened when Borden performs the “greatest magic trick ever” and Angier knows he must know the secret. Whatever it costs.

9/10

Employing a technique that works a billion times better in books than on-screen is a trap that many filmmakers have fallen into. Perhaps, even, it only works in books. So why is Christopher Nolan’s brilliant period mystery about feuding magicians so joyously absorbing regardless? Perhaps because there’s always more going on. For example, what appears to be the central plot point isn’t (how the trick The Transporting Man is performed). Remarkably, the movie works as a mystery with a twist that’s delightfully imaginative and macabre to those who do and do not work it out. Early on, you’re told how The Transporting Man is done, only it tells you nothing. Ultimately, it’s all wheels-within-wheels with the biggest wheel, SPOILER Tesla (wonderfully realised by David Bowie), never explained at all and you probably only genuinely realise this after the movie. It is simply, magic, and, despite Scarlett Johansson, so is this film.

This movie contains unpleasant scenes, brief but strong gun violence

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

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – 9/10 Disney animated period thriller review

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Cast / crew
Director: Gary Trousdale
Director: Kirk Wise
Producer: Don Hahn
Animation Screenplay and Story Writer: Tab Murphy
Novel Writer Notre Dame de Paris: Victor Hugo
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Irene Mecchi
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Bob Tzudiker
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Noni White
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Jonathan Roberts
Score and Songs Composer: Alan Menken
Composer (Lyrics): Stephen Schwartz
Tom Hulce: Quasimodo
Supervising Animator Quasimodo: James Baxter
Demi Moore: Esmeralda
Heidi Mollenhauer: Esmeralda
Supervising Animator Esmeralda: Tony Fucile
Tony Jay: Frollo
Supervising Animator Frollo: Kathy Zielinski
Kevin Kline: Phoebus
Supervising Animator Phoebus: Russ Edmonds

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Deformed baby Quasimodo is brought up by scheming evil government official Frollo in the Cathedral of Notre Dame and is given the task of ringing and caring for the bells. His life is reasonably happy but he would really like to leave the confines of the cathedral and find out what life is really like ‘out there’ but realising this dream means disobeying Frollo and putting the lives of himself and those he meets in great danger.

9/10

As time goes on, this unique Disney animation (it deals with entirely adult matters such as self-righteousness, sin, and the seduction of sex and power) becomes more clearly a masterpiece. The songs take a bit of getting used to but contain challenging and interesting lyrics and are better written than they seem at first. The screenplay is also outstanding as it manages to balance and present the weighty morals with clarity ("what makes a monster and what makes a man?") and, when appropriate, fun. Technically, the movie looks superb with Quasimodo’s animation an easy-to-overlook highlight (it’s very hard to draw something consistently from all angles that is deliberately distorted so special mention for supervising animator James Baxter). The movie saves it’s big animation guns for the finalé ("Sanctuary!") making it all the more impressive while the story rightly ends with the ugly guy not getting the girl which, as us ugly guy’s know, is exactly how it is.

This movie contains unpleasant scenes, disturbing scenes, supernatural scenes

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Blazing Saddles (1974) – 9/10 spoof comedy western movie review

Cast / crew
Cleavon Little: Bart
Gene Wilder: Jim
Slim Pickens: Taggart
Mel Brooks: Governor Lepetomane, Indian Chief
Harvey Korman: Hedley Lamarr
Madeline Kahn: Lili Von Shtupp
Dom DeLuise: Buddy Bizarre
Writer (Screenplay): Mel Brooks
Writer (Screenplay): Norman Steinberg
Writer (Screenplay): Andrew Bergman
Writer (Screenplay): Richard Pryor
Writer (Screenplay): Alan Uger
Writer (Story): Andrew Bergman
Director: Mel Brooks

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Black Sheriff Bart fights prejudice and corruption to save the little town of Rock Ridge from a wicked speculator, helped by the once legendary Waco Kid – the fastest gun anywhere.

9/10

Despite being spectacularly tasteless and the fact that one sequence just does not work (“I’m Tired”) this remains a strong contender for “Funniest Film Ever Made.” Ironically, despite having the worst scene in the movie, Madeline Kahn found herself nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Aside from that, what you remember and appreciate are the cleverer and unexpected gags. It is also, somewhat remarkably, one of the very few Hollywood movies that presents a message condemning racial prejudice that works as entertainment without being preachy or patronising. As with other talents who hit comedy heights, it makes you sad that Mel Brooks never made another film as consistently smart and funny but, the fact is, he made this one, and this is one of the best.

This movie contains mispronounced and mouthed sexual swear words, mild swear words, adult references, adult dialogue and comic violence and sexual innuendo.

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

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The Dark Knight (2008, Superhero Fantasy) – 9/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer (Screenplay) Based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics: Jonathan Nolan
Writer (Screenplay) Based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics: Christopher Nolan
Writer (Story) Based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics: Christopher Nolan
Writer (Story) Based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics: David S. Goyer
Producer: Emma Thomas
Producer: Charles Roven
Producer: Christopher Nolan
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Batman: Bob Kane
Christian Bale: Bruce Wayne
Michael Caine: Alfred
Heath Ledger: Joker
Gary Oldman: Gordon
Aaron Eckhart: Harvey Dent
Maggie Gyllenhaal: Rachel
Morgan Freeman: Lucius Fox

Dark Knight, The (2008)

Bruce Wayne sees an end in sight for his caped crusading as his and Lieutenant Gordon’s plans to clean Gotham of mob influence starts to bear fruit. New District Attorney Harvey Dent is backing them up all the way through the legal system but all of them have overlooked, in favour of the bigger mob fish, a single criminal who will plunge Gotham into new depths of terror and whose amorality cannot be fathomed by the mob, the law or Batman. His simple anachronistic name is Joker.

9/10

Director Christopher Nolan has made an extraordinarily intense and deep crime drama which just so happens to feature a dude in a bat costume. Together with the late Heath Ledger he has redefined super-villainy. What makes Joker so genuinely horrifying is Nolan’s complete pushing of Batman into the real world. Nolan makes entirely clear that an utterly amoral super-villain would be unspeakably terrifying, more terrifying than the opponent whose motives we can at least try to understand. Men and men’s systems simply can’t cope; we need something higher, something untouchable, something supremely powerful. Gotham needs Batman more than ever before but, because of public misconception, Gotham will believe that they don’t want him and that he isn’t helping. Readers of the Bible may recognise these themes. Despite the lengthy runtime which could have been easily withstood the removal of Batman’s unnecessary 3D sonar imaging system, this is a great movie (instantly #1 on IMDb) though, be warned, the remarkable sense of terror and menace and depth of character and subject mean that this is very much an adult film and not a typical PG13 / 12A action movie.

This movie contains extended extreme menace, strong melee violence, inferred knife violence, gun violence, inferred gun violence, extremely unpleasant scenes of horrific burns.

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

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Batman Begins (2005) – 9/10 superhero origins action movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer (Screenplay): Christopher Nolan
Writer (Screenplay): David S. Goyer
Writer (Story): David S. Goyer
Producer: Emma Thomas
Producer: Charles Roven
Producer: Larry Franco
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Batman: Bob Kane
Christian Bale: Bruce Wayne / Batman
Michael Caine: Alfred
Liam Neeson: Ducard
Katie Holmes: Rachel Dawes
Gary Oldman: Jim Gordon
Cillian Murphy: Dr. Jonathan Crane
Tom Wilkinson: Carmine Falcone
Rutger Hauer: Earle
Ken Watanabe: Ra’s Al Ghul
Mark Boone, Jr.: Flass
Linus Roache: Thomas Wayne
Morgan Freeman: Lucius Fox

Batman Begins (2005)

Billionaire Bruce Wayne, traumatized by the murder of his parents when he was a child, drops everything in the face of a humiliating realisation about his lack of understanding of the ‘real world’. He disappears, presumed dead by everyone in Gotham, and is taken under the wing of Ra’s Al Ghul who heads up the League of Shadows, an underground organization devoted to ridding the world of injustice. Finding kinship and understanding, Wayne welcomes the training and both look forward to cleansing Gotham of evil.

9/10

Quality return to form for the winged super-hero franchise. It hits highs (two of Batman’s lines: "It’s not what I am underneath, it’s what I do that defines me" and "And you’ll never have to" both made even cooler by Batman leaping off a building as a punctuation mark) as high as Tim Burton’s Batman but this doesn’t have a Kim Basinger subplot that doesn’t work so remains terrific throughout. Now there are four classic superhero movies: Superman (1978) remains the benchmark but this fits right in with Batman (1989) and X2 (2003).

This movie contains strong melee violence, brief graphic gun violence, blade violence, scary scenes of psychotropic effects.

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

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Ratatouille (2007) – 9/10 Disney Pixar movie review

Cast / crew
Writer (Screenplay): Brad Bird
Director: Brad Bird
Producer: Brad Lewis
Writer (Original Story): Jan Pinkava
Writer (Original Story): Jim Capobianco
Writer (Original Story): Brad Bird
Patton Oswalt: Remy
Ian Holm: Skinner
Lou Romano: Linguini
Brian Dennehy: Django
Peter Sohn: Emile
Peter O’Toole: Anton Ego
Brad Garrett: Gusteau
Janeane Garofalo: Colette
Will Arnett: Horst
Brad Bird: Ambrister Minion
Co-Director: Jan Pinkava

Ratatouille (2007)

Remy is a rat with a refined and delicate sense of smell and though he is prized within the rat community as a rat poison detector he dreams of using his talents in a culinary capacity.

9/10

A wonderfully polished slice of animated goodness from Iron Giant director Brad Bird and Geri’s Game creator Jan Pinkava. Like most Pixar films to date, the feeling of quality is remarkably high (despite the central marionnette concept which doesn’t really work) but there is that last pinch of salt missing. This results in a feeling of calculatedness that just keeps an audience and their emotions at arms length. It may be the computer graphics medium itself that’s at fault. Though they are excellent pieces of work, I haven’t yet cried or even been moved emotionally at a Pixar film (this review was written before Up) and I don’t absolutely love any Pixar film (I still don’t). If they ever nail that, the result will be very special indeed.

This movie contains violence and mild sensuality.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow aka The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949, 1958 Disney Romance Horror) – 9/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Producer (Presents credit): Walt Disney
Bing Crosby: relating the Story
Writer (Original Story): Washington Irving
Director: Jack Kinney
Director: Clyde Geronimi
Writer (Story): Erdman Penner
Writer (Story): Joe Rinaldi
Writer (Story): Winston Hibler

Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The (1949)

The story of Ichabod Crane, a mild-mannered school teacher who goes to the small country town of Sleepy Hollow and falls in love with beautiful heiress Katrina van Tassel much to the annoyance of local hunk Braum Bones.

9/10

This easy-to-miss Disney classic is a terrifically entertaining little movie. Originally released in 1949 as “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad” before a solo theatrical outing in 1958, this movie is only half of Disney’s 11th feature-length animation (the first half being The Wind in the Willows). The animation is superb (the dancing is fantastic), the story, characters and comedy all work and Bing is perfect as, well, everybody.

This Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, The movie contains scary scenes.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Available on DVD.