Knowing (2009) – 7/10 disaster horror movie review

Cast / crew
Rose Byrne: Diana
Chandler Canterbury: Caleb Koestler
Ben Mendelsohn: Phil Beckman
Director and Producer: Alex Proyas
Nicolas Cage: John Koestler
Story and Screenplay Writer and Co-Producer: Ryne Douglas Pearson
Producer: Todd Black
Producer: Jason Blumenthal
Producer: Steve Tisch
Screenplay Writer: Juliet Snowden
Screenplay Writer: Stiles White

Knowing (2009)

Caleb Koestler receives an envelope from a fifty-year-old time capsule containing children’s pictures of the future but his envelope doesn’t contain a picture; it contains a double-sided sheet of numbers scrawled down helplessly by a young girl. He feels compelled to take it home with him where his Dad, John, becomes convinced that the numbers are prophetic.

7/10

This is significantly more interesting and moving than the doom-saying disaster epic you may think it would be. In fact, I’d say it is more of a horror film. While the plot does feel like it has a couple of problems (Why does Cage go to Manhattan? Purely to be an unneeded audience surrogate.) and I suspect one or two plot strands were brutally slashed down to a word or two (the authorities knowing and the ever-hotter weather), Knowing connects emotionally. Cage is generally on good form here (he really sells the climax) and even gets to go briefly nuts on a tree with a baseball bat. Director Alex Proyas stages things surely and delivers two impressively harrowing disaster scenes even to those of us used to seeing screen destruction. This is clearly going to be a slightly forgotten movie and it’s a shame more people don’t know about it.

This movie contains Mild swear words, harrowing scenes of disaster, scary scenes

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

State of Play (2009) – 7/10 hero journalist conspiracy drama movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Writer (Screenplay): Matthew Michael Carnahan
Writer (Screenplay): Tony Gilroy
Writer (Screenplay): Billy Ray
Writer (Original Television Series): Paul Abbott
Producer: Andrew Hauptman
Producer: Tim Bevan
Producer: Eric Fellner
Executive Producer: Paul Abbott
Russell Crowe: Cal McAffrey
Ben Affleck: Stephen Collins
Rachel McAdams: Della Frye
Robin Wright Penn: Anne Collins
Jason Bateman: Dominic Foy
Jeff Daniels: George Fergus
Helen Mirren: Cameron Lynne

State of Play (2009)

Washington Globe star reporter Cal McAffrey is assigned to investigate the shooting of a teenager and a businessman when the suicide of a female political aide his friend, Congressman Stephen Collins, into the spotlight over his relationship with her.

7/10

Entertaining conspiracy drama which is certainly one of the better hero-journalist movies, feels impressively reminiscent of rose-tinted seventies movies and pleasingly ticks all the cliché boxes in a crisp, polished manner. Fat Russell Crowe is excellent (as he always is at the moment) and more than makes up for a slight weakness with Ben Affleck (looks too young; the movie infers he’s the same age as Crowe) and Rachel McAdams (audience cipher, no more). This is better than the original BBC TV series simply because it tells it’s story clearly all the way until the end. This is another quality movie from Kevin MacDonald (after Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland).

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, bad language and graphic violence.

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

Crash Time III aka Alarm for Cobra 11: Highway Nights (2009, 360) – 7/10 open-world action racing game review

Cast / crew

Crash Time III aka Alarm for Cobra 11: Highway Nights (2009)

Semir and Ben investigate the bombing of police vehicles as a major international conference looms in the city.

7/10

Wrong-footing us from the get-go, the third, and best, Synetic action racing title in the Alarm for Cobra 11 series has a easy-to-understand menu where the active item is clearly highlighted. This staggering concession to usability extends to the in-game action as all frustrations from previous entries have been removed. Most of the time, you cannot fail a mission, you simply succeed less well and get assigned a out-of-five star-rating upon completion. Synetic also add an in-car shooting mechanic and it works really well and makes a satisfying alternative to smashing cars off the road Chase HQ-style. Dialogue remains endearingly stilted ("in famous" instead of "infamous") but it always wins me over and I very much welcome the light tone. There’s even some Fourth Wall-breaking (‘Man… this is the third time the Synetic guys have made me drive a tank’) which is odd but funny and welcome. There’s still, uniquely, cars with caravans and this remains, I think, the only game where you can race articulated lorries, which is tremendous fun.

This game contains bad language

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.

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Planet 51 (2009) – 4/10 open-world action racing movie game review

Cast / crew
Original Conception: Ignacio Pérez Dolset
Original Conception: José Manuel García Franco
Game Director: José Manuel García Franco
Producer: Gabriel Ortas

Planet 51 (2009)

Teengaer Lem is happily going about his business – earning a bit of money, taking photos, racing and, erm, collecting cars and bikes and lawnmowers – when a human lands on his planet and causes chaos.

4/10

What’s most annoying about this bland open-world action racing game is that I really want an open-world game where you go around being nice and helping people and don’t go around unavoidably running them over and murdering them and having horrible language hurled at you and insane decisions foisted upon you. I like that you can’t car-jack but that the driver gives you a lift. I like that you can mow people’s lawns. I like that you can deliver newspapers and cars and clean the circus and round up stray dogs. But I also want it to be fun; it must be fun. This isn’t, not even a bit, and the poor production values, broken cut-scenes, half-told story, unresponsive controls, invisible walls, and inherited ugly character design doesn’t help.

This game contains violence.

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) – 5/10 queasily animated science fiction movie review

Cast / crew
Writer for the Screen and Director: Phil Lord
Writer for the Screen and Director: Christopher Miller
Producer: Pam Marsden
Writer (Original Book) Cloudy With a Chance of: Judi Barrett
Illustrator (Original Book): Ron Barrett
Bill Hader: Flint Lockwood
Anna Faris: Sam Sparks
James Caan: Tim Lockwood
Will Forte: Joe Towne
Head of Story: Kris Pearn
Senior Animation Supervisor: Peter Nash
Supervising Animator: James Michael Crossley
Supervising Animator: Derek Friesenborg
Supervising Animator: Alan Hawkins
Supervising Animator: Jayson Price
Supervising Animator: Chris Williams

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Permanently disastrous scientist Flint Lockwood finally hits the big time when he invents a machine that converts water to food and accidentally launches it into the clouds.

5/10

While it is crisply paced and technically efficient (it made me forget to drink my drink, the voice work is excellent and the epilogue works emotionally), this movie suffers from a conceptual error that audiences would enjoy seeing lots of giant, realistically animated food for eighty minutes and not feel rather queasy. To make sure they are truly nauseous, the third act sees a naked overweight man wear the carcass of a man-size cooked chicken.

This movie contains mild bad language.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Night at the Museum 2 (2009) – 6/10 family-friendly fantasy adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Shawn Levy
Ben Stiller: Larry Daley
Amy Adams: Amelia Earhart
Owen Wilson: Jedediah
Hank Azaria: Kahmunrah
Christopher Guest: Ivan the Terrible
Alain Chabat: Napoleon
Steve Coogan: Octavius
Ricky Gervais: Dr. McPhee
Bill Hader: General Custer
Jon Bernthal: Al Capone
Robin Williams: Teddy Roosevelt
Producer: Shawn Levy
Producer: Chris Columbus
Producer: Michael Barnathan
Writer: Robert Ben Garant
Writer: Thomas Lennon
Shawn Levy: Infomercial Father
Hank Azaria: Voice of The Thinker and Abe Lincoln

Night at the Museum 2 (2009)

Larry Daley is now running a successful business off the back of a couple of his own inventions when he finds out that the Natural History museum is being refitted and the old exhibits put into permanent storage. He decides that won’t do and sets about restoring his friends to their proper place because that’s how the world works in Hollywood and, no, it doesn’t make any sense but that’s what happens.

6/10

Though it replaces the positive message of the first (the past is worth learning about) with a standard selfish Hollywood message (only do a job you love; something commonly spouted by people who have no fiscal necessity to work), this is a fun, energetic family-friendly adventure with, surprisingly, an actually funny scene or two (especially an uncredited Jonah Hill’s Smithsonian security guard versus Ben Stiller).

This movie contains violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot The Clocks (2009) – 7/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Writer (Screenplay): Stewart Harcourt
Frances Barber: Merlina Rival
Stephen Boxer: Christopher Mabbutt
Tom Burke: Lt. Colin Race
Phil Daniels: Inspector Hardcastle
Beatie Edney: Mrs Hemmings
Guy Henry: Matthew Waterhouse
Anna Massey: Miss Pebmarsh
Geoffrey Palmer: Vice Admiral Hamling
Tessa Peake-Jones: Val Bland
Ben Righton: Constable Jenkins
Lesley Sharp: Miss Martindale
Abigail Thaw: Rachel Waterhouse
Jason Watkins: Joe Bland
Jaime Winstone: Sheila Webb
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Charles Palmer

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Clocks, The (2009)

A typist is booked by a blind woman to be at her house at 3:00pm but when she arrives she finds four clocks set to 4:13. And a dead body, of course.

7/10

Good episode of Poirot because it is, however mildly, fun, a quality that is in short supply in the feature-length adaptations. On top of this, the clues, characters and mystery are presented clearly and kept in focus and, while Poirot does keep a clue away from the audience (a marriage certificate), there are enough other clues to the how and who to get us most of the way there if we’re paying attention. The support cast do a good job with Phil Daniels balancing his character delicately and Tom Burke providing a surprisingly welcome romantic element.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains adult dialogue and brief gory violence, graphic fatal car accident.

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

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