The Iron Giant (1999) – 10/10 classic animated science fiction adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Brad Bird
Producer: Allison Abbate
Producer: Des McAnuff
Writer (Screenplay): Tim McCanlies
Writer (Screen Story): Brad Bird
Writer (Original Book) The Iron Man: Ted Hughes
Head of Animation: Tony Fucile
Jennifer Aniston: Annie Hughes
Harry Connick, Jr.: Dean McCoppen
Vin Diesel: The Iron Giant
Eli Marienthal: Hogarth Hughes
Supervising Animator: Richard Bazley
Supervising Animator: Bob Davies
Supervising Animator: Stephan A. Franck
Supervising Animator: Tony Fucile
Supervising Animator: Gregory S.E. Manwaring
Supervising Animator: Steven Markowski
Supervising Animator: Mike Nguyen
Supervising Animator: Wendy Perdue
Supervising Animator: Christopher Sauve
Supervising Animator: Dean Wellins
Consultant: Ted Hughes

Iron Giant, The (1999)

1957: a meteor crashes into the ocean off the coast of Maine but the only witness reports are dismissed as drunken ramblings. Nine-year-old Hogarth Hughes tracks down the passenger, however, a giant iron man and even though he is hidden in the junkyard run by beatnik Dean McCoppen, it soon comes to the attention of the authorities.

10/10

When director Brad Bird has The Incredibles and Ratatouille to his name and yet this is easily his best film, it reaffirms just how special The Iron Giant is. This is as good as the best Disney, the best Miyazaki and better than the best Pixar. The voice work from Eli Marienthal and, particularly, Christopher McDonald is excellent, it is well animated and Michael Kamen’s music works well inside the movie. But beyond its technical construction, there’s something else; a magic that I think only exists in 2D hand-drawn character animation. I think you emotionally connect more easily to 2D hand-drawn characters than to anything else in cinema and The Iron Giant, like the best of Disney is a wondrous example of this. This is a delightful surprise and a neglected but undoubted masterpiece.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – 8/10 much-sniffed-at Star Wars science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Writer: George Lucas
Director: George Lucas
Producer: Rick McCallum
Executive Producer: George Lucas
Liam Neeson: Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman: Queen Amidala
Natalie Portman: Padmé
Jake Lloyd: Anakin Skywalker
Pernilla August: Shmi Skyalker
Frank Oz: Yoda
Terence Stamp: Chancellor Valorum
Chris Sanders: Voice of Daultay Dofine

Star Wars: Episode I – Phantom Menace, The (1999)

As the Trade Federation is manoeuvred by the evil Darth Sidious to blockade the planet of Naboo, the young Queen Amidala determines to break out and travel to the city-planet of Coruscant and let the Republic Senate know of their situation. She is helped by two Jedi ambassadors, master Qui-Gon Jinn and apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, and by an underwater resident of her planet, the Gungan Jar-Jar Binks. On their way, however, their ship is damaged and they are forced to land on the desert planet of Tatooine. With no way of getting off the desert planet and Naboo coming under increasing pressure to opt out of the Republic and become part of the Trade Federation, time is running out fast, but a chance meeting with a boy named Anakin Skywalker heralds an unexpected change in the destinies of all concerned.

8/10

Much-criticised return to directing for George Lucas but I think it is a quality blockbuster with undeniably astounding visual impact and special effects integration. An ambitious plot and a memorable new character in Liam Neeson’s pitch-perfect Qui Gon Jinn reveal that thought was spent on the story as well as the visual design and it also contains, without doubt, one of the finest swordplay duels in cinema history. I really don’t understand what many people moaned about.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Jonathan Creek s03e05 Miracle in Crooked Lane (1999) – 7/10 black comedy crime mystery TV drama review

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Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Executive Producer and Writer: David Renwick
Benjamin Whitrow: Rupert Clifford-Wright
Dinah Sheridan: Kathleen Gilmore
Nicholas Ball: Vincent Rees
Hetty Baynes: Jacqui
Tom Goodman-Hill: Jeff
Emma Kennedy: Christine
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Richard Holthouse

Jonathan Creek s03e05 Miracle in Crooked Lane (1999)

Still reeling from meeting the Jonathan Creek fan club, Jonathan looks into the miraculous appearance of a woman having a chat with a neighbour; only the woman was in a coma in hospital at the time.

7/10

Quickly dismissing the idea of a doppelganger, this solution falls into the genre of trick that takes a huge amount of work to produce the desired effect. As such, the solution is pretty difficult to predict and, indeed, the misdirection regarding the crime impressively complete. Creek gets to meet his terrifying fan club while the best scene is him disappearing from in front of someone’s eyes in the middle of a field (a trick that only works on TV, though, as in real-life we have ears). Maddy and Creek also wind up having sex (off-screen, thankfully) which is, as the characters themselves acknowledge, all wrong.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue, nudity, gun violence

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

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Jonathan Creek s03e04 Ghost’s Forge (1999) – 6/10 black comedy crime mystery drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Writer: David Renwick
Lysette Anthony: Mimi Tranter
Gina Bellman: Samantha
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Richard Holthouse
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek s03e04 Ghost’s Forge (1999)

Creek looks into the 18-month-old case of the death of Ezra Carr, found knifed in the back in his mansion Ghosts Forge. The motive of burglary had been dismissed as all Carr’s valuables were still intact but, to be honest, Jonathan’s only investigating because Maddy’s charming and beautiful friend Mimi Tranter fluttered her eyelashes and asked him.

6/10

Two mysteries for the price of one this week as Creek investigates an 18-month-old murder and the mysterious disappearance of Maddy in an empty upstairs bedroom. The latter is more convincing while the former comes up with a simple enough explanation of the crime itself but a fearsomely complicated and unconvincing explanation for the aftermath. Lysette Anthony’s big eyes and lovely legs provide much for Maddy to entertainingly seeth over and Renwick delivers a before-it’s-time gag regarding giving someone who doesn’t understand the language a gift with an insulting Japanese phrase on it. Curious to note that the title card of the show is spelt wrong, i.e., with an apostrophe.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue, sexuality, sexual violence, knife violence

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

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Jonathan Creek 3.03 The Omega Man (1999) – 7/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
John Shrapnel: Prof. Lance Graumann
Michael Brandon: Captain Frank Candy
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Keith Washington
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek 3.03 Omega Man, The (1999)

Maddy gets a scoop on the discovery of an extra-terrestrial skeleton but the U.S. Army swoops in and takes the evidence for themselves. When they return to the base, however, and open the truck, the skeleton has disappeared.

7/10

There are some nice jokes and you’ll never guess precisely how the alien skeleton disappeared but your first thought won’t be too far off the mark. (SPOILER You’ll probably think of an ice statue that melts but it’s clearly not ice; it is frozen mercury which becomes liquid at room temperature.)

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Jonathan Creek s03e02 The Eyes of Tiresias (1999) – 8/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Writer: David Renwick
Margery Mason: Audrey Panguitch
Rebecca Front: Heidi
Diana Weston: Delia Masson
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Keith Washington
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek s03e02 The Eyes of Tiresias (1999)

An elderly woman has a dream that eerily and exactly predicts the circumstances and sounds of a man’s death. This is shortly followed by another dream and similar death. Now thoroughly unnerved, her next dream causes real terror: it is her own bloody death by a one-eyed man.

8/10

This is one of those mysteries with a remarkably convoluted but plausible solution (that you’ll never guess, naturally). That’s not to condemn it, however; it is gleefully unlikely and coincidental but makes perfect sense (though Creek does rather gloss over breaking into an old woman’s house and hopes no-one noticed). Aside from that, this episode has some wonderful side story lines for both Creek (who manages to expose himself in front of a film camera – "there’s still some wobble") and Maddy (who gets a brilliantly unexpected gag; will you notice before the reveal?).

This Jonathan Creek episode contains non-sexual nudity, sensuality, gory gun violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

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

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Jonathan Creek 3.01 The Curious Tale of Mr Spearfish (1999) – 8/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
Andrew Tiernan: Lenny Spearfish
Rachel Power: Alice Spearfish
Griff Rhys Jones: Jeremy Sangster
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Keith Washington
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek 3.01 Curious Tale of Mr Spearfish, The (1999)

Jonathan and Maddy meet the Spearfish’s who have recently had a remarkably turn of luck and come into a fortune. Lenny Spearfish reveals why: he signed his soul over to the Devil. Putting it down as creepy but coincidental, Jonathan and Maddy are astonished when shortly afterward Lenny survives being shot twice in the chest as the bullets bounced off him leaving only burn marks on his flesh and holes in his shirt. Is he under satanic protection?

8/10

This is a thoroughly intriguing mystery but the explanation, though it works, is just ever so slightly unconvincing (and there’s a definite bit of cheating going on with the air taser). The side plot featuring Adam Klaus defending a salacious accusation of improper conduct is fun and even has a cunning punchline. Content-wise, this is a bit more troublesome than a lot of the previous episodes as it features an unexpectedly bloody murder and some sado-masochistic sexuality; the former used as an unnecessary visual shortcut to show the murder was real (it doesn’t convince us of that at all; a couple of lines later on do that) and the latter is used as a clever explanation of part of the mystery.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue, mild swear words and unexpectedly gory gun violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and brief sado-masochistic sexuality.

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

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