Armageddon (1998) – 10/10 Bruce Willis-saves-the-world-AWESOMELY disaster movie review

Cast / crew
Bruce Willis: Harry S. Stamper
Billy Bob Thornton: Dan Truman
Liv Tyler: Grace Stamper
Ben Affleck: A.J. Frost
Will Patton: Chick
Peter Stormare: Lev Andropov
Keith David: General Kimsey
Owen Wilson: Oscar
William Fichtner: Colonel Willie Sharp
Steve Buscemi: Rockhound
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
Producer: Michael Bay
Writer (Adaptation): Tony Gilroy
Writer (Adaptation): Shane Salerno
Writer (Story): Robert Roy Pool
Writer (Story): Jonathan Hensleigh
Writer (Screenplay): Jonathan Hensleigh
Writer (Screenplay): J.J. Abrams
Director: Michael Bay
Unit Production Manager: Barry Waldman

Armageddon (1998)

An asteroid the size of Texas is on a collison course for Earth giving NASA 18 days to mount a do-or-die mission to land two shuttles on the rock and nuke it apart. They send for ace oil-driller Harry Stamper but he refuses to train the astronauts, and instead volunteers himself and his team to undergo the hazardous mission.

10/10

This is it. My guilty pleasure. I love this movie.

Easy-to-criticise disaster movie which is, nevertheless, spectacular, incredibly good-looking, consistently awesome, surprisingly moving and extremely enjoyable; this is what you go to the cinema to see. Despite eye-rolling science and a legion of obvious flaws (two prototype spaceships just lying around; at least two of Harry’s drill crew wouldn’t fit through a barn door let alone the little porthole jobs fitted on spaceships; "probably the smartest person on the planet" does nothing except be baffled for the rest of the movie; astronauts are also expert nuclear bomb defusers; Michael Bay’s dog is hit directly by a meteorite and survives), this movie works and this fact outweighs all deficiencies. If movies were rated on their ability to suspend disbelief, this would be the greatest movie ever made. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay counted the box office returns in the hundreds of millions of man-tears. Rival asteroid blockbuster Deep Impact looked on in po-faced bafflement.

This movie contains mild swear words, a single sexual swear word, adult dialogue and unpleasant scenes, violence and sensual scenes, exotic dancing scenes.

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

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Jonathan Creek 1998 Christmas Special Black Canary (1998) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
Rik Mayall: D.I. Gideon Pryke
Hannah Gordon: Marella Carney
Kate Isitt: Charlotte
Francis Matthews: Jerry Bellinitus
Murray Melvin: Lionel Prekopp
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek Xmas 1998 Black Canary (1998)

Maddy and Creek investigate the suicide of the mother of an old flame of Jonathan’s but there are complications. First of all the last person to be seen talking to her left no footprints in 4-inch deep snow, secondly the fatal shotgun wound to the head, according to pathology reports, happened five hours before it was witnessed happening and third, she was already dead from an overdose of drugs. Fortunately, the police detective assigned, D.I. Gideon Pryke, appears to have a bit of savvy and may not even need Jonathan’s help in solving the mystery.

7/10

Renwick’s ability to come up with small pieces of business that add flavour and interest to his already intriguing plots is unmatched. The first is the gender of a sergeant, the second being Rik Mayall as that most unusual of characters in the amateur-detective series, an intelligent police official. On top of these two main themes, there are many other things to enjoy; Jonathan Creek’s magician ogling a young costumier, his frog suit, his trip to hospital; Creek locking his car door when he sees an enormous ugly man walk up to the car next to him; a suitably horrific saw-the-woman-in-half trick that goes bloodily wrong. The spark of life that is supposed to be delivered by Caroline Quentin (and is not) has obviously been playing on the mind of writer / executive producer David Renwick and producer Verity Lambert and the solution proved to be the casting of Rik Mayall as an intelligent and as-clever-as-Creek police official. He pops up, smarms, charms and grins his way around the screen; an irrepressible ball of energy. Also of note in the cast is Sanjeev Bhasker as the doctor who has the pleasure of delivering the film’s final and, perhaps, best gag to round things off nicely.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue and gory and unpleasant scenes, extremely horrific scenes (more so than you’re expecting with a pg), very strong gun violence, attempted suicide.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Jonathan Creek s02e03 The Scented Room (1998) – 8/10 black comedy crime mystery TV review

AmazonBuy The Scented Room at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Writer: David Renwick
Bob Monkhouse: Sylvester Le Fley
Christine Kavanagh: Lady Theresa Cutler
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek s02e03 The Scented Room (1998)

Hated theatre critic Sylvester Le Fley is not on Jonathan’s list of favourite people but even he can’t resist a good mystery when a very valuable painting of Le Fley’s is stolen in broad daylight from a sealed room in a matter of seconds.

8/10

There’s just enough to pad out the highly entertaining little mystery but the series’ weak point, Caroline Quentin, gets a backstory sideplot to absolutely no positive effect. She even gets a dreadfully supercilious barb to a rich parent ("maybe you can buy him something he really wants: like a life") which really goes contrary to her dreadfully shallow and unconvincing portrayal of her character. You can see her acting constantly. While we instantly believed Alan Davies to be Jonathan Creek we have never and will never believe Caroline Quentin to be an investigative journalist or, indeed, any of her characters. She always appears to be an actress playing a role. Still, the mystery’s great (if a bit tricky to pull off, surely the painting wouldn’t behave and would just roll up and get stuck) and it finishes with a good gag.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words, mild adult dialogue and innuendo

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

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Jonathan Creek s02e02 Time Waits for Norman (1998) – 8/10 black comedy crime mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Executive Producer and Writer: David Renwick
Dermot Crowley: Norman Stangerson
Deborah Grant: Antonia Stangerson
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek s02e02 Time Waits for Norman (1998)

Another mystery for Jonathan Creek when the husband of Maddy’s publisher appears to have been on two continents at the same time.

8/10

Imaginative and entertaining mystery. We love it when writers are cleverer than and surprise us and this is one of Renwick’s strengths. Renwick manages a couple of goodies in this episode. First is the comedy reveal regarding Creek’s amorous encounter with a tax inspector (SPOILER “Didn’t you get suspicious when you were running your fingers through her hair and she wasn’t even in the room?”) while the crime mystery features a note (“Oh, when I know to free hate, to sever no one”) whose meaning is brilliantly simple and ingenious (SPOILER it’s a phone number, read it out: 0190 238 2701). The explanation of the whole mystery is also delightfully impressive.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild unpleasant scenes of a burned foot, substance abuse (methylated spirits)

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Jonathan Creek 2.01 Danse Macabre (1998, Black Comedy Crime Mystery) – 7/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
Peter Davison: Stephen Claithorne
Pippa Haywood: Lorna Claithorne
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek 2.01 Danse Macabre (1998)

A murderer and his hostage are cornered in a free-standing stone-walled garage with automatic security lights on all sides. He closes the garage doors and the area is almost immediately surrounded by police. Fifteen minutes later, the police open the doors… and only the hostage remains. The murderer has vanished.

7/10

I discerned the central plot mechanic almost immediately but I can’t decide whether that’s good or bad. It was so impossible that there could only be one explanation (something Renwick highlights when he reveals the original plan didn’t feature it). There’s the satisfaction of getting the solution right with the mild disappointment of not being outwitted by the writer. However, Renwick does keep one macabre twist up his sleeve with the victim’s head and another ethical twist with the reason for the murder. I dislike Pippa Haywood as an actress and this is a near-intolerably unconvincing performance from her, especially when she’s being emotional. Director Sandy Johnson keeps it crisp but doesn’t successfully distract the audience from the fact that Creek worked out the solution as soon as he heard the scenario but didn’t get around to telling anyone else for a couple of days to pad out the running time.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue and extremely unpleasant scene and non-sexual nudity.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Godzilla (1998, Monster Action Movie) – 6/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Matthew Broderick: Dr. Niko Tatopoulos
Jean Reno: Philippe Roaché
Maria Pitillo: Audrey Timmonds
Hank Azaria: Victor "Animal" Palotti
Producer: Dean Devlin
Writer (Story): Ted Elliott
Writer (Story): Terry Rossio
Writer (Story): Dean Devlin
Writer (Story): Roland Emmerich
Writer (Screenplay): Dean Devlin
Writer (Screenplay): Roland Emmerich
Director: Roland Emmerich

Godzilla (1998)

Um, well… Radioactive fallout from nuclear tests in the 1980s has transformed a tiny lizard into a terrifying, 1000-foot-tall monster which then decides to take refuge on Manhattan Island, New York.

6/10

Want to criticize a movie till your typing fingers ache? This is the perfect film for you, the acting, script and story are not at all good. If you also want to see the most spectacular monster movie ever created with astonishing visual effects and thrilling chase sequences, this is also the movie for you and though Godzilla was generally slated by all contemporary critics, director Roland Emmerich’s genuine talent still shines through. His build-up to the full Godzilla reveal is brilliantly executed and, subsequently, any sequence with Godzilla himself in is thrilling and spectacular. Shame about the rest.

This movie contains adult dialogue, mild swear words and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Continue reading “Godzilla (1998, Monster Action Movie) – 6/10 movie review”

Kirikou et la sorcière (1998, Movie) – 8/10 review

Director: Michel Ocelot
In collaboration with: Raymond Burlet
Writer Based on West African themes: Michel Ocelot
Doudou Gueye Thiaw: Kirikou enfant
Maimouna N’diaye: La mère
Awa Sène Sarr: Karaba
Robert Lionsol: Le sage dans la montagne

Kirikou et la sorcière aka Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)

Kirikou is pretty unusual for a baby. Firstly, he makes his own way out of the womb, walking and talking, cutting his own umbilical and informing his mother of his name. These are just the start of his great deeds as he proceeds to involve himself in a dispute his village is having with a local sorceress who has cut off their nearest water supply and is eating all the men sent to stop her.

8/10

Rather brilliant animated movie telling the story of a baby hero. However, put all thought of the horror of Baby Geniuses out of your mind, this is a charming master work, enthralling and entertaining. You know Kirikou’s going to be a bit special when he lets himself out of the womb and announces his own name. Michel Ocelot designs, writes and directs with a wonderful lightness of touch and instantly brings us into the story despite or, probably, because of, the unique opening scene mentioned above. He successfully evokes an African feel with his striking design choices and unblinking lack of coyness, something you feel would have afflicted an American production. A joy.

This movie contains continual non-sexual nudity.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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