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

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

Surf’s Up (2007)

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

6/10

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

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2007) – 5/10 fantasy adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Eric Brevig
Writer (Screenplay): Michael Weiss
Writer (Screenplay): Jennifer Flackett
Writer (Screenplay): Mark Levin
Producer: Charlotte Huggins
Producer: Beau Flynn
Brendan Fraser: Trevor Anderson
Josh Hutcherson: Sean Anderson
Anita Briem: Hannah Ásgeirsson
Seth Meyers: Professor Alan Kitzens

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2007)

Professor Trevor Anderson has seen these extemely rare seismic readings before: they occurred just before his brother set off on a Jules Verne-inspired trip from which he never returned. Seeking to find out what happened to him, Anderson travels to Iceland, taking nephew Sean with him, and with the help of attractive mountain guide Hannah, hikes to the seismic sensor’s location. When they arrive, a peculiar electrical storm forces them into a cave which collapses behind them. While looking for a way out, the trio will find much much more.

5/10

Competent, pacy time-passer but there’s just enough clumsiness to keep you from getting truly involved. Perhaps surprisingly, given the trailers, none of that is from Brendan Fraser here on the downslope of his brief popularity. He’s still in reasonable shape and is fine throughout. While there are some nice vistas, visual effects are not top drawer and undermine some scenes. More problematic is leaps of logic (a human outrunning a dinosaur, outrunning a shattering floor, nobody getting cooked by sitting in volcanic steam vents) and some of the bonding moments in the script. Particularly icky is the thirteen-year-old Sean calling dibs on an adult woman, ie., I’d like to embark on a serious and / or sexual relationship with her and ensure she goes to jail for statutory rape. Weirdly, if they’d made the character the same age as actor Josh Hutcherson, fifteen-years-old, it would have been legal (they’re in Iceland). I’m beginning to think clumsy isn’t the right word now.

This movie contains peril.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

The Golden Compass (2007) 2/10 fantasy adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Chris Weitz
Writer (Screenplay): Chris Weitz
Writer (Original Book) Northern Lights: Philip Pullman
Producer: Deborah Forte
Producer: Bill Carraro
Nicole Kidman: Mrs Coulter
Dakota Blue Richards: Lyra
Sam Elliott: Lee Scoresby
Eva Green: Serafina Pekkala
Christopher Lee: First High Councilor
Tom Courtenay: Farder Coram
Derek Jacobi: Magisterial Emissary
Ian McKellen: The Voice of Iorek Byrnison
Ian McShane: The Voice of Ragnar Sturlusson
Freddie Highmore: The Voice of Pantalaimon
Kathy Bates: The Voice of Hester
Kristin Scott Thomas: The Voice of Stelmaria
Daniel Craig: Lord Asriel

Golden Compass, The (2007)

After been given a unique Alethiometer (a device which tells the truth) and told to keep it secret, Lyra finds herself the target of people who want the device for themselves. So, she whips it out at every opportunity and reads it using, not the symbols on its circumference and applying logic and insight, but by doing an pretty gold CG whoosh effect because audiences are idiots.

2/10

It’s really quite surprising just how unconvincing this fantasy adventure is. The operation of the Golden Compass and just about every plot point, conversation and character interaction doesn’t make sense. Then, at the end of the movie, you realise that it was supposed to be all about rescuing this boy and not about any of the things you thought it was about. It doesn’t help that the acting from unlikable lead Dakota Blue Richards is wooden and disdainful. The single extra star is for an unexpectedly awesome climax to Ian McKellen’s big fight scene (SPOILER he rips the lower jaw off Ian McShane – they’re bears, by the way).

This movie contains brief graphic fantasy violence, other fantasy violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Los Cronocrímenes aka Timecrimes (2007) – 7/10 time-travel thriller movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Karra Elejalde: Héctor
Candela Fernández: Clara
Bárbara Goenaga: La Chica en el Bosque
Nacho Vigalondo: El Joven
Ion Inciarte: Héctor Ocasional

Los Cronocrímenes aka Timecrimes (2007)

Héctor spots an attractive young woman taking her top off in a nearby wood and, while his wife nips out to get something for dinner, goes to see if he can get a better look. When he does stumble upon her, she is naked (result) but unconscious (uh-oh) and he is then attacked by a man with his face concealed by a pink bandage. Running for his life, he comes across a building with some sort of experimentation going on and a large machine in which the surprisingly compliant solitary scientist insists on hiding him. When he climbs out of the machine, it’s the previous day.

7/10

Addictively scripted and grippingly directed time travel thriller which suffers from paradoxes spinning around in the audience’s mind during the movie. After is fine; during is less than perfect. What the filmmaker tries to do with time travel movies is distract you from the paradoxes. The first two Terminator movies, Back to the Future parts one and three and Twelve Monkeys are the prime Hollywood examples of the best of the subgenre but this tight, intriguing entry shows you can produce a terrific time travel movie without elaborate special effects and other baubles and science-fiction tropes.

This movie contains non-sexual female nudity, violence, unpleasant and very gory scenes

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

Drillbit Taylor (2007) – 6/10 high-school comedy movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Steven Brill
Owen Wilson: Drillbit Taylor
Leslie Mann: Lisa
Nate Hartley: Wade
Troy Gentile: Ryan
David Dorfman: Emmit
Alex Frost: Filkins
Josh Peck: Ronnie
Danny McBride: Don
Stephen Root: Principal Doppler
Co-Producer: Kristofer Brown
Producer: Judd Apatow
Producer: Susan Arnold
Producer: Donna Arkoff Roth
Writer (Story): Edmond Dantes
Writer (Story): Kristofer Brown
Writer (Story): Seth Rogen
Writer (Screenplay): Kristofer Brown
Writer (Screenplay): Seth Rogen

Drillbit Taylor (2007)

Fed up of being constantly bullied and finding to help from the headteacher, three high-school kids hire a bodyguard unaware that their somewhat less-than-standard rate has only managed to attract shiftless bum Drillbit Taylor who is only looking for a easy few hundred dollars so he can get to Canada.

6/10

Not convincing but it gets by on charm. The writers don’t make the mistake of making the hero kids obnoxious (an odd sausage-demanding scene aside) and instantly set up a feeling of genuine friendship between Nate Hartley and Troy Gentile. With the audience on their side, the movie can proceed, but it never ceases to amaze me the number of movies starring children that get this basic element all wrong (Where the Wild Things Are and The Spiderwick Chronicles are two bad examples I’ve attempted to watch in the last week). While bullying is clearly portrayed as a bad thing, there is an interesting pro-bullying flipside presented through a stepfather who proclaims that kids he bullied at school would probably thank him for it now due to it being part of childhood life and preparing them for life. While you may or may not agree, think about this, I’ll bet one or more of the writers were bullied at school and they transferred their bitter experience into piles of money to make this movie.

This movie contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and strong, but mildly comic, violence and non-sexual nudity, sexuality.

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

Overlord (2007) – 6/10 real-time strategy third-person action game review

Cast / crew

Overlord (2007)

After being resurrected, the Overlord, with the help of his minions, has to re-conquer the lands that were once his by defeating the heroes that now rule.

6/10

Overlord is a good game design buried under technical, camera and control deficiencies. Still, there’s always a lot of charm to offset the problems. Set design is rather good with a lovely chunky character to all the buildings. While the human populace are blandly designed and there only appears to be two voice actors (one male, one female), the fantasy populace are much more fun. I always appreciate effort put into facial hair and the dwarves have terrific moustaches. While your Overlord spends his entire time walking around like he’s wet his armour and being told what to do by Gnarl and your mistress (not very Overlord-ish), the minion design is rather better; fun and eager and a clever balance of looking evil and horrible without looking evil and horrible. Their surprising charm (if not artificial intelligence) helps make this ambitious but flawed game well worth playing.

This game contains adult dialogue and fantasy violence, unpleasant scenes.

Mass Effect (2007, Science Fiction Action RPG, PC Windows) – 10/10 game re-review

Cast / crew
Project Director: Casey Hudson
Jennifer Hale: Female Commander Shepard
Mark Meer: Male Commander Shepard
Ali Hillis: Liara T’Soni

Mass Effect (2007)

As humans seek to ingratiate themselves with the tri-race Council ruling from The Citadel, an attack by a presumed-extinct species on the human-colonised planet Eden Prime hurls humanity, and Commander Shepherd in particular, into the middle of a crisis whose scope is beyond anything anyone alive has ever faced before.

10/10

An initial lack-of-fun, lack-of-focus and surplus-of-difficulty spike that is the first trap awaiting all RPGs is fallen headlong into here and an initial feeling of clunkiness in the game’s action may be enough to put off interested players. However, this is their very great loss as Mass Effect is a superb gaming achievement and successfully delivers a universe, characters and story worth playing through. Once the gameplay starts to come to the player (a natural curve in all RPGs), everything gels and makes this a game you’ll remember with fondness and look forward eagerly to playing through again. On PC, with no technical shortcomings, the game looks and plays magnificently and on repeat playthroughs (three times completed now) Mass Effect is a joy. It’s slightly better than it’s sequel because the story and character structure is better disguised, the climax is stronger and you are given a better hero moment as you come striding over the wreckage in the Citadel to the swell of the music. Though the sequel does have Miranda’s butt in it, so there’s that.

This game contains mild swear words, adult dialogue, substance abuse-related dialogue and violence, strong unpleasant scenes, very occasional mild gore, very occasional graphic violence and sexuality, sensuality, mild nudity.

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

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