Righteous Kill (2008) – 6/10 police serial killer drama movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Jon Avnet
Robert De Niro: Turk
Al Pacino: Rooster
Curtis Jackson: Spider
Carla Gugino: Karen Corelli
Donnie Wahlberg: Det. Ted Riley
Trilby Glover: Jessica
Brian Dennehy: Hingis
John Leguizamo: Det. Simon Perez
Producer: Robert Cowan
Producer: Avi Lerner
Producer: Randall Emmett
Producer: Lati Grobman
Producer: Alexandra Milchan
Producer: Daniel M. Rosenberg
Writer: Russell Gewirtz

Righteous Kill (2008)

A veteran cop starts taking out criminals that have escaped justice but an escalation in his activity and the leaving of little poems by the victims indicates that he may be losing control of his sanity.

6/10

Pacy, efficient cop drama which takes a fairly unusual angle to this oft-considered subject of killing criminals who have sidestepped legal justice by making the perpetrator a full-blown psychopath (though the movie calls him a sociopath, which I believe is wrong, as there is strong moral recognition). Normally, there’s all manner of justification of a man whose sense of justice is so offended he is moved to act but not here, not really. Unfortunately, while the film is professionally put together, easily keeps your attention, is entertaining from start to finish and features a surprisingly awesome exit for Curtis Jackson, it’s not quite as interesting as you suspect it could have been and the ending feels meddled with. Is a psychopath killing unwanted members of society a bad thing? At least he’s not a sociopath, right? Is cop-assisted suicide a tidy and convenient tool? Righteous Kill never quite gets that far but it might have been a bit more memorable if it had continued exploring the path it started down.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, sex scenes, graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, substance abuse.

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

Inkheart (2008) – 6/10 fantasy adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Iain Softley
Screenplay Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Writer (Original Book) and Producer: Cornelia Funke
Producer: Diana Pokorny
Brendan Fraser: Mo
Paul Bettany: Dustfinger
Helen Mirren: Elinor
Jim Broadbent: Fenoglio
Andy Serkis: Capricorn
Sienna Guillory: Resa
Eliza Hope Bennett: Meggie
Rafi Gavron: Farid

Inkheart (2008)

Nine years after his wife left, antique book restorer Mo travels the world with 12-year-old daughter Meggie looking for a particular rare book, Inkheart. When, at last, he finds a copy, he is confronted in the street by Dustfinger – a man who can conjure fire in his hands – and Meggie is about to learn the truth about her mother and father.

6/10

This is an unfulfilling, unflamboyant movie that takes a great-sounding idea then plods towards an entirely unwonderful climax constantly undermining itself with pop-up villains and a lack of involvement (despite good work from Brendan Fraser and the cast). However, it’s one of those films that may inspire you to write-the-wrongs, to take the good – the Silvertongue concept – and do something better with it. Also, do parents really read stories with undisguisedly sadistic villains and giant shadow monsters from hell to three-year-olds?

This movie contains mild violence, unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Street Kings (2008) – 7/10 Keanu Reeves dirty cop thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Director: David Ayer
Writer (Screenplay): James Ellroy
Writer (Screenplay): Kurt Wimmer
Writer (Screenplay): Jamie Moss
Writer (Story): James Ellroy
Producer: Lucas Foster
Producer: Alexandra Milchan
Producer: Erwin Stoff
Keanu Reeves: Detective Tom Ludlow
Forest Whitaker: Captain Jack Wander
Hugh Laurie: Captain James Biggs
Chris Evans: Detective Paul Discant
Cedric “The Entertainer”: Scribble
Jay Mohr: Sgt. Mike Clady
Terry Crews: Detective Terrence Washington
Naomie Harris: Linda Washington
Common: Coates
The Game: Grill
Martha Higareda: Grace Garcia

Street Kings (2008)

Detective Tom Ludlow is the star cop in his ambitious unit and, while they will gladly be a bit brutal if it helps them put away bad guys, the unit has each other’s back. When they learn that Ludlow’s former partner Terrence Washington is cooperating with Internal Affairs about him and Ludlow’s strong-arm tactics, it presents a problem. When that particular problem helpfully goes away, though, it leads Ludlow to dig himself a deeper and deeper hole.

7/10

Somewhat forgotten Keanu Reeves dirty cop thriller. Perhaps it was dismissed because of similarities to Oscar-winning Denzel Washington’s Training Day or director David Ayer’s own Kurt Russell dirty cop movie Dark Blue but it had been six years since they were released. Perhaps because critics didn’t like Keanu Reeves (who is good) as a brutal cop. And yet this is a crisp, interesting, well-acted thriller with an intriguing story of a highly effective but brutal cop not, unusually, finding his conscience or becoming a good or repentant cop, but being a brutal cop pointed in the right direction. It’s interesting because it reminds us that our systems of law sometimes have such difficulty in providing justice. We realise that it doesn’t always work as intended but do we want the alternative?

This movie contains sexual swear words, strong adult dialogue and some extreme gun violence, graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes.

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

Haze (2008) – 6/10 PS3-exclusive science-fiction first-person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Bertie Carvel: Shane
Rupert Evans: Duvall
Carlos Riera: Merino
Chad Ellis: Teare
Mikey O’Conner: Pshy
Martin T. Sherman: Watchstrap
Creative Director: Derek Littlewood
Lead Programmer: Mark Tully

Haze (2008)

Sent in to assassinate a terrorist leader who wears a coat made of human skin, your gung-ho awesomeness simply cannot conceive of defeat thanks to the use of advanced military hardware that can cloak the bodies of the slain and a drug called Nectar that boosts human performance and abilities. But this battle will not turn out the way you expect.

6/10

Commercially and critically this was perceived as something of an unmitigated disaster but it’s not (and sales of about 900,000 isn’t terrible by any means). I found the ugly box art off-putting while the demo’s notably un-HD graphics were received with horror (ironically hazy with a tiny draw distance; even worse than Halo 3). Even so, the game itself plays great, has an interesting story arc and ticks all the feature boxes with full campaign split-screen co-op up to online multiplayer with all the toys, vehicles and weapons you would like. However, Haze is one of those games that will be alternately really awful and really cool. For example, there’s a section where you’re supposed to drive into a large clearing in your car and engage in vehicular combat with the enemy. But the ramp into the area is broken (deliberately; not a bug) and, because I couldn’t see this, my car dribbled over the edge and got stuck when I just drove up the ramp instead of flooring it. So the battle became man versus vehicle. A bit unfair, a bit rubbish. Yet then I managed to cleanly shoot an enemy driver and gunner and commandeer their vehicle and my guy even tipped the dead driver out the door. Then the AI buddy climbed into the back and manhandled the dead gunner out of the way. Brilliant! Then a minute or so later, the game forgot to draw the floor and hard-locked the PS3. Hmm.

This game contains sexual swear words and fictional substance abuse and graphic violence.

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

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Bedtimes Stories (2008) – 6/10 family fantasy romantic comedy movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Adam Shankman
Writer (Screenplay): Matt Lopez
Writer (Screenplay): Tim Herlihy
Writer (Story): Matt Lopez
Adam Sandler: Skeeter Bronson
Keri Russell: Jill
Guy Pearce: Kendall
Russell Brand: Mickey
Richard Griffiths: Barry Nottginham
Jonathan Pryce: Marty Bronson
Courteney Cox: Wendy
Lucy Lawless: Aspen
Teresa Palmer: Violet Nottingham
Aisha Tyler: Donna Hynde
Tim Herlihy: Young Barry Nottingham

Bedtime Stories (2008)

Hotel handyman Skeeter Bronson has to look after his niece and nephew for a few days and finds that the bedtime stories he tells them have a way of coming true in the real world.

6/10

Unsatisfactory Adam Sandler fantasy comedy largely thanks to not fulfilling the potential of the premise. This could have been a wonderfully clever movie as the real world paralleled the bedtime story world but it seems that nobody gave it the time and thought it needed. Making Sandler’s awesomely named Skeeter Bronson start off as uncharacteristically rude to Keri Russell (how could anyone?) was a mistake as it crushes that story arc before it begins. That said, what’s left is entertaining and funny enough. Just not convincing.

This movie contains mild bad language and mild unpleasant scenes, mild fantasy violence and mild sensuality.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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The Young Victoria (2008) – 8/10 romantic epic movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Producer: Graham King
Producer: Martin Scorsese
Producer: Tim Headington
Producer: Sarah Ferguson
Emily Blunt: Queen Victoria
Rupert Friend: Prince Albert
Paul Bettany: Lord Melbourne
Miranda Richardson: Duchess of Kent
Jim Broadbent: King William
Thomas Kretschmann: King Leopold
Mark Strong: Sir John Conroy
Jesper Christensen: Baron Stockmar
Harriet Walter: Queen Adelaide

Young Victoria, The (2008)

Victoria will be the next Queen of England but as she hasn’t turned eighteen yet, she is seen as an easy target for manipulation and control. Various parties seek to gain influence over her: one by force, one by charm and one by love.

8/10

This is a lovely movie, crisp and beautiful; a fairy tale based on truth. It doesn’t make the usual mistake of trying to make the Royal’s just like us with ordinary problems; Victoria’s life brings with it entirely other problems from Mark Strong’s puppy-kicking villain through being (initially) callously manipulated to balancing the role of Queen and wife. Even though we will never have these issues, we do recognise them and understand their challenges and they are interesting, especially when presented as elegantly and economically as this.

This movie contains mild adult dialogue and a mild gory and unpleasant scene, violence and mild sexuality.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Changeling (2008) – 7/10 true period drama movie review

Cast / crew
Producer: Clint Eastwood
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Producer: Brian Grazer
Producer: Ron Howard
Producer: Robert Lorenz
Producer: Tim Moore
Producer: Jim Whitaker
Angelina Jolie: Christine Collins
John Malkovich: Rev. Gustav Briegleb
Jeffrey Donovan: Captain J.J. Jones
Michael Kelly: Detective Leseter Ybarra
Colm Feore: Chief James E. Davis
Jason Butler-Harner: Gordon Northcott
Amy Ryan: Carol Dexter
Geoff Pierson: S.S. Hahn
Denis O’Hare: Dr. Jonathan Steele
Frank Wood: Ben Harris

Changeling (2008)

Christine Collins is devastated when her son, Walter, goes missing but after a couple of months the LAPD, amidst ongoing negative publicity, contacts her with some great news: they’ve found her son. However, when she meets him at the railway station, the boy the police present is not her son but they’re insisting that he is.

7/10

This is a high-quality, engrossing drama but it’s never quite as emotionally affecting as it should be. Jolie and the children seem just a tiny bit mechanical and it is enough to ever-so-slightly diminish the impact of the traumatic events that occurred. Jolie particularly just fails to convince as a mother but it’s only by a perfectly-set hair. Otherwise, this is a precision Clint Eastwood movie, an interesting story paced elegantly and presented with clarity and pristine period detail.

This movie contains three sexual swear words, adult dialogue and violence, unpleasant scenes, inferred extremely brutal violence, graphic state-ordained hanging.

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

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