Real Steel (2011) – 2/10 robot boxing movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Shawn Levy
Hugh Jackman: Charlie Kenton
Dakota Goyo: Max Kenton
Evangeline Lilly: Bailey Tallet
Anthony Mackie: Finn
Kevin Durand: Ricky
Hope Davis: Aunt Debra
Producer: Don Murphy
Producer: Susan Montford
Short Story Writer: Richard Matheson
Actor and Screenplay Writer Kingpin: John Gatins
Story Writer: Dan Gilroy
Story Writer: Jeremy Leven

Real Steel (2011)

Incompetent scumbag robot fighter Charlie Kenton sells custody of his child to replace a smashed robot but is forced to take the boy with him for a couple of months so that the couple that bought him can have a nice holiday. Charlie immediately gets his new robot smashed to pieces and so sets about stealing enough parts to repair him all the while heroically lambasting the boy for even existing then leaving him to get arrested in a scrapyard. Against all the odds, things only become less convincing from here.


This Rocky with robots overlooked something extremely important: Rocky was an amiable, loving, recognisable human being. Rocky here is split into three characters: Hugh Jackman, a kid and a robot. The robot isn’t anything; he should have become iconic but his design is bland and half-hearted and everyone lazily pronounces his name as Adom instead of Atom. Hugh Jackman and the kid are unpleasant, gigantically unconvincing and incoherently portrayed. It sometimes feels like the kid has the adult’s lines, the tone is all over the place, scenes don’t logically follow each other. This is also the first movie I’ve seen where Hugh Jackman’s performance is bad, partially because his tone, intensity and attitude (like everyone elses) vacillate wildly through what are supposed to be subsequent scenes. The slo-mo teary-eyed climax is audacious in its unearned arrogance. There is, however, a cool scene worth watching in the movie and, fortunately, it’s right at the beginning as Hugh Jackman’s robot fights a bull. Once that’s done, you can go home.

This movie contains extreme robot violence, strong human violence, sensuality

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

The Eagle (2011) – 6/10 Roman period action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Duncan Kenworthy
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Screenplay Writer: Jeremy Brock
Novel Writer: Rosemary Sutcliff
Channing Tatum: Marcus
Jamie Bell: Esca
Donald Sutherland: Uncle Aquila
Mark Strong: Guern
Tahar Rahim: Seal Prince
Denis O’Hare: Lutorius
Dakin Matthews: Claudius
Douglas Henshall: Cradoc

The Eagle (2011)

Years after his father – Centurion of the Ninth Legion of the Roman Army – all 5,000 men and the company standard, an eagle, go missing in Northern Britain, Marcus Aquila is rising above the shame of his family name. When he is injured and honourably discharged, he resolves to spend his newfound free time crossing Hadrian’s Wall to retrieve the lost standard and restore his family’s honor.


This is a shallow movie that starts well but gets weaker as it goes on. The biggest problems are the poor action sequences which are blighted by the typical contemporary inability to photograph and edit them with shape, character, and story. So there’s deliberately bad camera work, incoherent editing, a complete absence of tactics and, in the final fight, I’m sure the number of Roman protagonists suddenly doubled just so the sequence could have a bit of length. Kevin MacDonald directs the remainder competently but there’s not the sense of adventure, peril or camararderie this story needed. Nice to see the sound designer get a principle credit; I have no idea why they normally don’t.

This movie contains graphic violence, adult dialogue

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

Mars Needs Moms (2011) – 5/10 unsettlingly animated science-fiction action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Screenplay Writer: Simon Wells
Screenplay Writer: Wendy Wells
Writer (Original Book): Berkeley Breathed
Producer: Robert Zemeckis
Producer: Jack Rapke
Producer: Steve Starkey
Producer: Steven Boyd
Seth Green: Milo
Dan Fogler: Gribble
Elisabeth Harnois: Ki
Mindy Sterling: Supervisor
Kevin Cahoon: Wingnut
Joan Cusack: Mom
Seth Dusky: Milo’s Voice

Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Milo’s Mom is kidnapped by Martians. Fortunately, he wound on board their spaceship but when he gets to Mars, help comes from an unexpected source.


Image Mover Digital’s performance capture technology is again wasted (by themselves) under ugly and unnerving design choices, a cripplingly unconvincing story with the promise of interspecies sex aka bestiality, – what is this, a DreamWorks animation? – an unearned emotional climax, problems solved by violent revolution, an ‘I didn’t learn anything’ sting, and spectacular racism (the idiot men Martians look like every cliché of South American, Native American and African and everyone who doesn’t speak English is a bad guy or treated like an idiot). While there are a number of poor design decisions, the most glaring was making Milo, a child, look and move like Seth Green, an adult. It’s wrong on a subconscious level that coupled with the ugly and off-putting almost but not-at-all photo-realistic human character design puts you right off proceedings from the start. Fortunately, it looks like this movie signaled the death of ImageMovers’ unsettling creative disasters.

This movie contains freaky adult face on a child, violence, distressing scene

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

de Blob 2 (2011, PS3) – 8/10 action platform painting game review

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Cast / crew
Dedicated To and Environment Artist: Russell Hughes
Game Director: Nick Hagger
Art Director: Terry Lane
Lead Artist: Lewis Mitchell
Lead Animator: Shannon Caldwell
Lead Audio: John Guscott
Lead Designer: Mark Morrison
Lead Designer: Christian Canton
Lead Level Designer: Andrew Trevillian
Level Designer 2D: Bryan Duffy
Lead Programmer: Dan Khoan Chau
Audio Programmer: Lindsay Loughlin
Graphics Programmer: Jarrod Smith
Graphics Programmer: Florian Strauss
Technical Director: Graeme Webb
Project Manager: Chris Slater
Music Composer and Producer: John Guscott
Voice Casting and Direction: Douglas Carrigan
Dee Bradley Baker: Blob, Prof, Bif, Inky Scientist, Shepherds, Raydians
Candi Milo: Pinky, Spiky, Graydians

de Blob 2 (2011)

Unsurprisingly, Prisma City’s general election is going very well for Papa Blanc, as he has rigged the voting booths with mechanical arms that always vote for him. Once he has swept to power, he is revealed to be Comrade Black who proceeds to drain the city of colour once more. Only Blob and the Colour Underground can restore things but are they playing into Black’s hands?


Gentle, tinkly gameplay, beautiful visuals (the reds, greens and blues are particularly gorgeous and there is some excellent non-player animation) and high quality sound make de Blob 2 a good all-ages platformer well worth playing, but awkward jumping from uneven terrain, unintelligent targeting and some infuriating checkpointing mean it is oddly wearisome. John Guscott and Lindsay Loughlin’s dynamic music is wonderful and the large levels feel full of life and happiness when you’ve restored colour to them and how lovely is that?

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


Rio (2011) – animated romantic adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Anne Hathaway: Jewel
Jesse Eisenberg: Blu
Jemaine Clement: Nigel
Leslie Mann: Linda
Tracy Morgan: Luiz
Will.I.Am: Pedro
Rodrigo Santoro: Tulio
George Lopez: Rafael
Jamie Foxx: Nico
Director and Story Writer: Carlos Saldanha
Story Writer: Earl Richey Jones
Story Writer: Todd Jones
Screenplay Writer: Don Rhymer
Screenplay Writer: Joshua Sternin
Screenplay Writer: Jeffrey Ventimilia
Screenplay Writer: Sam Harper
Producer: Bruce Anderson
Producer: John C. Donkin

Rio (2011)

Blu, the last male Blue Macaw in the world, is brought to Rio to mate and save the species from extinction but his value doesn’t go unnoticed by local poachers. With hilarious consequences.


Blue Sky Studio’s cash-grabbing sequel to PDI’s Madagascar is entirely perfunctory and never engaging for adults; this is one parents will have to sit through patiently. Given that it’s set in Rio de Janeiro during the world famous Rio Carnival, the use of songs is hopeless. Every original song tells you nothing, moves nothing forward, elucidates nothing. That said, there are a couple of strong moments for Lionel Richie. Rio is very bright and very colourful and I remembered the names of the two main characters, indicating that the technical story-telling is entirely adequate; it’s just that nothing interesting, informative, entertaining or exciting happens throughout the entire movie. There’s no dramatic value in the story and that leaves two or three decent quality gags to hold everything up. It doesn’t. Additionally, this is another American movie that thinks that horrendous dog drool is hilarious; it’s not, it’s repulsive. Movie-makers: please stop doing that.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Haywire (2011) – 6/10 action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director, Director of Photography and Editor: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
1st Assistant Director and Producer: Gregory Jacobs
Gina Carano: Mallory
Michael Fassbender: Paul
Ewan McGregor: Kenneth
Bill Paxton: Mr. Kane
Channing Tatum: Aaron
Mathieu Kassovitz: Studer
Michael Angarano: Scott
Antonio Banderas: Rodrigo
Michael Douglas: Coblenz

Haywire (2011)

Private sector security professional Mallory Kane finds herself double-crossed after a job in Barcelona that goes completely according to plan. While confused and in the dark, she knows that if she keeps following the trail back up the chain of command and hits everything on the way, there should be answers and freedom at the end of it.


The name Steven Soderbergh gets snobby critics all a-quiver and so they found themselves a little disappointed when he appeared to just deliver a shallow action movie. What he really delivered was a shallow action movie with a completely convincing female action lead; it may turn out to be unique. Though her facial expression never seems to change, Gina Carano’s acting is enough and she certainly has a bit of charisma. Her action scenes, though, are consistently excellent; convincing and engaging. There’s an ebb and flow to them as upper hands are taken and tables are turned by each combatant with the final victory always being hard won through diligent appliance of their skill-set. The main thing that stops it from being a better action movie is a complete lack of triumph or cool but that’s not Carano’s fault, it’s Soderbergh’s.

This movie contains sexual swear words, strong violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

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

Beyond Good & Evil (2003, 2011 PS3) – 8/10 action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Director, Game Designer and Story Writer: Michel Ancel
Producer: Yves Guillemot
Dialogue and Story Writer: Jacques Exertier
Game Designer: Sebastien Morin
Technical Manager: Christophe Beaudet

Beyond Good & Evil (2003)

Jade and her uncle Pey’j are looking after orphans in their lighthouse when it is attacked by the DomZ. After dealing with them, the cities’ Alpha Section show up and take all the credit but that’s not all they’re up to. Re-released in 2011 on HD platforms.


A fun, engrossing and charming adventure whose only shortcoming lies in a malevolently awkward camera. Beyond Good and Evil feels like it was crafted by a master craftsman, someone who knew what they were doing. There’s just enough challenge to get you to pay attention; there are just enough optional areas to make you feel like an explorer and, in gameplay it should be noted, just enough running away from explosions in slow motion to make you feel like a hero. This is a review of the highly welcome HD release.

This game contains violence, unpleasant scenes

Anonymous (2011) – 4/10 alternative history drama movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Roland Emmerich
Executive Producer and Writer: John Orloff
Producer: Larry Franco
Producer: Robert Leger
Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford: Rhys Ifans
Queen Elizabeth I: Vanessa Redgrave
Queen Elizabeth I Young: Joely Richardson
William Cecil: David Thewlis
Xavier Samuel: Earl of Southampton
Ben Jonson: Sebastian Armesto
William Shakespeare: Rafe Spall
Robert Cecil: Edward Hogg
Mark Rylance: Condell
Derek Jacobi: Prologue

Anonymous (2011)

As Queen Elizabeth I nears the end of her reign, the question of succession provokes powerful political factions to maneuvre their chosen candidates into place. Sir Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, thinks that the pen is mightier than the politician and, despite needing to remain anonymous due to his standing, seeks to get his pointed but brilliant plays out into the public eye.


The problem with this is that the Shakespeare-was-a-proxy makes an interesting topic for a scholastic endeavour but it’s not a story, let alone an interesting story. Another problem is that this film isn’t about that anyway; it’s a political drama that feels like it keeps tearing it’s own focus away whenever it remembers it sold itself as being about William Shakespeare. Another problem is Sebastian Armesto in the Salieri role who slowly speaks his lines like somebody who is trying to sound insightful and enlightened. Anonymous is slickly put together and director / producer Roland Emmerich clearly has an interest in the subject but it’s dreadfully unconvincing from the off.

This movie contains bad language, violence, sex scenes, gory scenes

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

Captain America: Super Soldier (2011,360) – 7/10 superhero action game review

Cast / crew
Game Director: Brandon Gill
Art Director: Barret Chapman
Audio Director: Alex MacFarlane
Technical Director: Darwin Chau
Lead Cinematic Animator: Rob Willock
Lead Gameplay Animator and Designer: Jeff King

Captain America: Super Soldier (2011)

As Dr. Anim Zola improves his understanding of human mortality through experimenting on prisoners-of-war, Captain America resolves to go in and punch him in the evil until he stops.


Successfully taking design inspiration from Batman: Arkham Asylum, this is a fun, highly playable and satisfying superhero movie game. Even without your special shield moves (which are too slow to deploy) the combat is rewarding to play throughout. The structure of the game provides an ever-expanding and constantly interesting 1940’s stronghold / science-fiction arena and taking the super-powered Captain through them picking up collectibles and leaving a trail of broken henchmen is a great balance of action and non-action. Technically, the frame rate doesn’t feel smooth but it loads surprisingly quickly, nothing is broken and it doesn’t affect playability. It winds up to a great speech by the Captain before a surprisingly not-irritating triple-boss battle during a boss battle, leaving us with a good memory of a good game.

This game contains strong bloodless violence

Classified 12+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 12 or over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.
Classified Bad Language by PEGI. Game contains bad language.

SOCOM: Special Forces (2011, PS3 exclusive) – 8/10 third-person / first-person tactical squad modern military shooter game review

Cast / crew
Technical Director: Jason Tartaglia
Game Director: Seth Luisi
Production Director: Alan Van Slyke
Producer: Thomas Rigas
Writer and Lead Designer: Travis Steiner
Art Director: Phil Knowles
Lead Programmer: Troy Mason
Software Manager: David Burton
Creative Director and Writer: Ed Byrne
Writer: Rafael Chandler
Matthew Del Negro: Ops Com
Nolan North: Gorman
Gwendoline Yeo: Forty-Five

SOCOM: Special Forces aka SOCOM 4: Navy Seals (2011)

A NATO Operation Commander finds himself trapped in Malaysia with only his two squad members when a revolution takes out the NATO Command Centre and a host of Private Military Company ClawHammer support ships. Miffed at having a helicopter nearly land on his face, he decides not to scamper away but to take the fight to them.


Though it didn’t find itself join the Call of Duty pie it appears to have been hoping for (less than 800,000 sold – vgchartz), SOCOM: Special Forces is a great-looking, intense, and involving tactical shooter. The British lead character (who amusingly hates fruit and sausages) makes for a different feel to the US-dominated hero stable of shooters and there is an interesting structure where a number of missions see you conduct a solo stealth mission the night before going in with the full five-man squad the following day. It’s amazing how different a map looks during the day or night. However, the nature of the game means that your colleague’s complete lack of survival instinct is horribly apparent. Why don’t they try to avoid being shot, run away or seek cover when under fire? To be fair, they’re largely critically useful and you make a deadly team, especially if you make use of the enemy marking command (essential for the last stand in Mission 13 on Elite, I found) but you do die an awful lot while they stand around getting needlessly riddled with bullets or admiring flowers or practising their grizzledness. Still, very good game and I enjoyed it a lot.

This game contains sexual swear words, graphic violence, anti-sausage dialogue

Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..

The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – 6/10 romantic thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Screenplay Writer, Producer and Director: George Nolfi
Writer (Original Story) Adjustment Team: Philip K. Dick
Producer: Michael Hackett
Producer: Bill Carraro
Producer: Chris Moore
Matt Damon: David Norris
Emily Blunt: Elise Sellas
Anthony Mackie: Harry Mitchell
John Slattery: Richardson
Michael Kelly: Charlie Traynor
Terence Stamp: Thompson

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

David Norris is a successful young politician but then he meets a beautiful, charming dancer, Elise, and all his drive and energy become diverted into chasing the girl of his dreams.


Now you can see why they made this movie as it contains a superficially positive message about making best use of our free will. Except the movie doesn’t have that message at all. Firstly, the love story is the result of an earlier, subsequently abandoned plan, so their irresistible romance wasn’t free will in the first place. Secondly, even though our hero is given a good reason to abandon his love for an arguably greater good, he chooses his own feelings over reason. Put another way, he behaves selfishly. His choice, of course, but that highlights the problem with most considerations of free will, in movies especially. It boils down to satisfying yourself, ‘following your heart’, being selfish. That’s why the message is only superficially positive but this deliberate provoking of thought is also why The Adjustment Bureau is an interesting movie. At the end of the day, how well this movie works for you depends on whether you get wrapped up in the love story and, while I wasn’t exactly convinced of their chemistry, I did get involved and so I liked it. Special mention for some of the weakest poster artwork for any major Hollywood movie ever.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, mild adult dialogue, mild unpleasant scenes and a discreet sex scene

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

Hugo (2011) – 5/10 adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Martin Scorsese
Writer: John Logan
Writer (Book) “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”: Brian Selznick
Producer: Graham King
Producer: Tim Headington
Producer: Johnny Depp
Ben Kingsley: George Méliès
Sacha Baron Cohen: Station Inspector
Asa Butterfield: Hugo Chabret
Chloë Grace Moretz aka Chloe Moretz: Isabelle
Ray Winstone: Uncle Claude
Emily Mortimer: Lisette
Christopher Lee: Monsieur Labisse
Jude Law: Hugo’s Father

Hugo (2011)

“This might be an adventure.” A orphan tries to repair an automaton which is his only connection to his Father but it will upset his precariously balanced existence.


Another flat Scorsese movie that glides from start to finish and features a great central performance from Asa Butterfield but never connects emotionally and is too full of actors waving at their mums and saying ‘Look! I’m in a Scorsese movie.’ (Butterfield and Jude Law excepted.) There is a horrendous lack of magic when the movie is trying to soar, the adventure neglects to suspend your disbelief and the comedy and romance are painfully clunky; Scorsese simply does not have the light touch, the finesse needed for whimsy and humour. In the making of, producer Graham King says ‘who better to do this than Martin Scorsese?’ Every frame of every second of this movie you’re thinking: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Hayao Miyazaki, Stephen Spielberg maybe Woody Allen; categorically, emphatically not endlessly revered "greatest director ever" "master" Martin Scorsese.

This movie contains mild peril, mild unpleasant scene

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

X-Men: First Class (2011) – 7/10 superhero action movie review

Cast / crew
Screenplay Writer and Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay Writer: Ashley Edward Miller
Screenplay Writer: Zack Stentz
Screenplay Writer: Jane Goldman
Writer (Story): Sheldon Turner
Story Writer and Producer: Bryan Singer
Producer: Lauren Shuler-Donner
Producer: Simon Kinberg
Producer: Gregory Goodman
Executive Producer: Stan Lee
Charles Xavier 24 Years: James McAvoy
Eric Lensherr: Michael Fassbender
Rose Byrne: Moira MacTaggert
Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence
Emma Frost: January Jones
Hank / Beast: Nicholas Hoult
Oliver Platt: Man in Black Suit
Azazel: Jason Flemyng
Alex Summers / Havoc: Lucas Till
Edi Gathegi: Darwin / Armando Munoz
Kevin Bacon: Sebastian Shaw

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Charles Xavier is an expert on genetic mutation, not only academically, but because he has a genetic mutation himself. Xavier is a powerful telepath and uses his ability to detect other mutants to gather them together to fight for good.


While certainly struggling with a couple of duff points (useless and unconvincing mutant powers including the ability to adapt, flying using sonic waves and ‘oh, I just happen to have a telepath amplifier and a supersonic, amazing-o-jet here’), X-Men: First Class remains a highly worthwhile superhero action movie with a jam-packed, interesting story centred around another charismatic superstar performance from James McAvoy and some fun villainy from Kevin Bacon. Interestingly, I found only McAvoy really sold his superpower and his is the only one that has no special effects. Any scene with McAvoy in is brilliant but while everything else is less interesting, First Class does bring in all the themes and subtext that make the story and world rich and rewarding.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, violence, sensuality

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

Limitless (2011) – 7/10 science-fiction thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Neil Burger
Actor and Executive Producer Eddie Marra: Bradley Cooper
Abbie Cornish: Lindy
Robert De Niro: Carl Van Loon
Andrew Howard: Gennady
Anna Friel: Melissa
Johnny Whitworth: Vernon
Tomas Arana: Man in Tan Coat
Screenplay and Producer: Leslie Dixon
Producer: Scott Kroopf
Producer: Ryan Kavanaugh
Writer (Original Novel) “The Dark Fields”: Alan Glynn

Limitless (2011)

Eddie Morra is a blocked writer who is given a wonder-drug that unlocks the potential of his brain so that he can use every piece of information he has ever absorbed.


This is a movie that has an interesting core and is fine, pacy entertainment but there’s a nagging sense that it’s not fulfilling it’s potential; that it’s never quite as interesting as it should be. From the tired in media res opening onward, Limitless keeps undermining itself with worthless peril, inexplicable murders (the two in the park, especially) and a narration that too often tells us things we already know or were about to find out and what’s going through the screenwriter’s mind rather than the characters. Still, the idea that unlimited access to all information (like the Internet, perhaps) leads to attention deficit feels timely and, ooh, look! A funny cat picture.

This movie contains extremely unpleasant and violent dialogue, adult dialogue, mild sex scenes, pervasive substance abuse, strong violence, extremely gory scene, extremely unpleasant scenes.

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

Uncharted: Golden Abyss (2011, PlayStation Vita) – 8/10 action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Writer and Director: John Garvin
Technology Director: Christopher Reese
Production Manager: Gerald Harrison
Lead Engineer: Joseph C. Adzima
Lead Environment Artist: Francois Gilbert
Story Consultant: Amy Hennig
Nolan North: Nathan “Nate” Drake and Jose Parrot
Richard McGonagle: Victor “Sully” Sullivan
Jason Spisak: Jason Dante
Christine Lakin: Marisa Chase (only her grandfather calls her Marisa)
J.B. Blanc: Roberto Guerro

Uncharted: Golden Abyss (2011)

Brought on as consultant with fellow treasure hunter Jason Dante, Nathan Drake is in a Panamanian jungle thinking he’s helping an buddy out but is about to find himself up to his ears in double-crosses, malevolent generals, gunfire and gold. So, after hooking up with an attractive female companion, very much business as usual.


This is a spectacular, beautiful, fun, challenging and addictive must-buy game. You’ll be wanting to play it when you’re not but not always when you are. The reason is the same as that which blighted Uncharted 3, particularly: the story and characters can’t support the killing – or defeating as the game’s trophies coyly, or deceitfully, put it – of this many bad guys. Still, the encounters are all exciting with well-judged difficulty, meaning forward momentum isn’t halted for too long. Some of Drake’s new investigative abilities are highly welcome. I loved the rubbing and jigsaws and using a real world light to see hidden symbols and the peculiar but charming way he claps his hands together after regaining his balance.

This game contains bad language and strong violence.


In Time (2011) – 6/10 science-fiction on-the-run thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Writer, Producer and Director: Andrew Niccol
Producer: Eric Newman
Producer: Marc Abraham
Amanda Seyfried: Sylvia Weis
Justin Timberlake: Will Salas
Cillian Murphy: Raymond Leon
Vincent Kartheiser: Philippe Weis
Olivia Wilde: Rachel Salas
Matthew Bomer: Henry Hamilton
Johnny Galecki: Borel
Collins Pennie: Timekeeper Jaeger
Alex Pettyfer: Fortis

In Time (2011)

Everyone is genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 at which point you are given 1 year on your personal clock. When your time runs out, you die. Fortunately, you can earn more time but Will Salas is about to come into a century of time that will change his life. Maybe forever.


While it’s pacy and entertaining enough, this movie is still something of a failure. But it’s the kind of failure I want to watch and see more of. It takes an interesting concept and worthwhile topics and attempts to fold them into an on-the-run thriller but a lack of coherence (getting the plot from kidnapping Weis to Bonnie and Clyde feels like a cludge) and an ineffectiveness at explaining why our heroes actions are to be seen as good (they deliberately cause a global financial crisis – something that wasn’t too well received in the real world in 2008) mean that its welcome ambition isn’t quite realised.

This movie contains a single sexual swear just to make sure it’s a 12a / pg13, adult dialogue and violence and sexuality.

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

Lockout (2011) – 6/10 science fiction action movie review

Cast / crew
Writer, Original Idea and Presents: Luc Besson
Guy Pearce: Snow
Maggie Grace: Emilie Warnock
Vincent Regan: Alex
Joseph Gilgun: Hydell
Lennie James: Shaw
Peter Stormare: Langral
Writer, Director of Photography and Director: James Mather
Writer and Director: Stephen Saint Leger
Producer: Mark Libert
Producer: Leïla Smith
Leila Smith

Lockout (2011)

2079: framed ex-CIA operative Snow is offered his freedom from a 30-year stasis incarceration if he rescues the President’s daughter from a maximum security prison. In space. Where all the prisoners have been let out.


I enjoyed this agreeably cheerful Die Hard in a space prison and was pleasantly surprised by an entertainingly glib Guy Pearce. The problem comes from some scenes having too much edited out of them. Movies are made up of sequences which should make sense; little rounded out stories that naturally or convincingly move the film from one point to another. The easiest way to tell if a filmmaker has been successful at doing this is is if you can reference a sequence by name alone. Remember the bit with the? Remember the scene where he? Without defining each sequence, framing the highlights and making it coherent, it becomes forgettable. For example, the opening fight sequence has a gun move that is extraordinarily cool and you probably missed it because the directors neglected to highlight anything. Or the final sequence where our heroes do a Baumgartner and it’s flat and incoherent. This movie is definitely fun while it lasts but no more.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, bad language and strong violence, unpleasant scenes, sexual violence.

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

Dirt 3 (2011) – 8/10 multi-surface racing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Clive Moody
Senior Producer: Darren Campion
Art Director: Nathan Fisher
Lead Programmer: Andrew Dennison
Design Manager: Matthew Horsman
Project Planner: Richard Todd
Associate Producer: Toby Evan-Jones

DiRT 3 (2011)

Multi-surface racing against the clock and other drivers.


With handling even better than Dirt 2 and class-leading graphics, saying this is better than it’s only competitor – Milestone’s WRC‘s 2010 and 2011 – is giving it feint praise. An uninvolving Career mode (the original DiRT used a pyramid progression much more enticingly – the point of a pyramid is to get to the top, literally the point) means that it takes a while for the fun and satisfying driving experience to get it’s pleasure hooks into you. I didn’t like the Gymkhana events at all but the related at-your-leisure Battersea Compound Missions are a nice change-of-pace.

Classified 12+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 12 or over.
Classified Bad Language by PEGI. Game contains bad language.


Justice (2011) – 6/10 vigilante conspiracy thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Producer: Ram Bergman
Director: Roger Donaldson
Nicolas Cage: Will Gerard
January Jones: Laura Gerard
Harold Perrineau: Jimmy
Jennifer Carpenter: Trudy
Xander Berkeley: Lieutenant Durgan
Guy Pearce: Simon
Producer: Tobey Maguire
Producer: James D. Stern
Writer (Story): Robert Tannen
Writer (Story): Todd Hickey
Writer (Screenplay): Robert Tannen

Justice (2011)

After his wife is brutally raped (though I don’t suppose there’s any other way), teacher Will Gerard receives an offer to have someone kill the rapist now in return for a favour later. When the favour is requested, Will cannot go through with it.


"You see what Shakespeare’s doing here? He’s using words to create emotion." – Will Gerard

Shame Shakespeare didn’t write this. There isn’t an ounce of emotion throughout the entire journey. This is a generic action conspiracy thriller which also overlooks the genre requirement to thrill; indeed, the most notable thing about the movie is a complete lack of tension. However, it does raise the intriguing ‘what would you do?’ question regarding vigilante justice and it is remarkably unusual to see the wife be actively supportive when hubby tells her what he’s done. Cage is fine – he bulges his eyes early on as a treat for the fans – and director Roger Donaldson ensures it all passes by smoothly but it should have been more than a generous six.

This movie contains sexual swear words and strong violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and sex scene.

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

Sucker Punch (2011) – 6/10 fantasy action escape movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer (Screenplay): Zack Snyder
Writer (Screenplay): Steve Shibuya
Writer (Story): Zack Snyder
Producer: Deborah Snyder
Producer: Zack Snyder
Emily Browning: Babydoll
Abbie Cornish: Sweet Pea
Jena Malone: Rocket
Vanessa Anne Hudgens: Blondie
Jamie Chung: Amber
Carla Gugino: Dr. Vera Gorski
Oscar Isaac: Blue Jones
Jon Hamm: High Roller / Doctor
Scott Glenn: Wise Man

Sucker Punch (2011)

After being blamed for the death of her sister, Babydoll is sent to an asylum where, in five days time, she will be lobotomised. She quickly formulates the ingredients of an escape plan but doesn’t yet realise that leaving the premises isn’t the only possible release.


I suspect a second viewing may allow your mind to look past the visual candy and formulate theorums as to what this is all about but Sucker Punch‘s downfall is it’s ostentatious failure to deliver a sucker punch (unless failing to deliver a sucker punch was the sucker punch). The idea appears to have been that we would have been so distracted by the movie’s male-fantasy pretty-woman action sequences (as the brothel cast are by Babydoll’s dancing) that we would be completely unprepared for the sucker punch. But the sucker punch never hits and I’m not even sure it was thrown. The theatrical version is a tighter film but the extended cut makes it’s misandrist message clearer, has a High Roller climax that makes thematic sense and is the preferred version story-wise.

This movie contains mild swear words, bad language and graphic fantasy violence, sexual violence and sensuality.

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

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) – 7/10 Steven Spielberg action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Steven Spielberg
Jamie Bell: Tintin
Andy Serkis: Haddock
Daniel Craig: Sakharine, Red Rackham
Writer: Steven Moffat
Writer: Joe Cornish
Writer: Edgar Wright
Writer: Hergé

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn (2011)

Gun-wielding baby-faced bequiffed ginger reporter (!) Tintin innocently buys a model ship of The Unicorn but finds himself violently targeted by treasure-hunters eager to unravel the Unicorn’s secrets.


Steven Spielberg’s bash at performance capture movie-making looks great from the get-go but, as with many CG animated movies, it’s not consistently involving and has little emotional connection. Tintin is an oddly blank and anachronistic hero (he looks like a teenager but behaves as an adult and impassively shoots baddies). The movie also races through it’s plot without momentum; it’s going fast but not necessarily because the plot demands it. On the plus side it goes on to offer some funny moments, more stunning visuals, and a couple of top-drawer action sequences (an extended pirate ship attack and a single-shot motorcycle chase, impressive in 3D).

This movie contains violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Attack the Block (2011) – 8/10 urban alien monster movie review

Cast / crew
Writer and Director: Joe Cornish
Producer: Nira Park
Producer: James Wilson
John Boyega: Moses
Jodie Whittaker: Sam
Alex Esmail: Pest
Franz Drameh: Dennis
Leeon Jones: Jerome
Simon Howard: Biggz
Nick Frost: Ron

Attack the Block (2011)

A gang of South London teenagers, fresh from a mugging, come across a strange dog-like creature who crashes from the sky onto a car and attacks them. They chase it and beat it to death but when they look at it, it doesn’t look like a dog… it looks like money from the tabloids!


This is a movie with some remarkable things about it. Principally, keeping us watching after our horrible heroes mug a woman and beat what they think is a dog (that attacked them) to death. The usual way of accomplishing this is to make something else in the movie more horrible than them but the monsters proper don’t show up for the first quarter of the running time. So why are we still watching? That’s what’s remarkable. Certainly John Boyega’s performance and usually un-menacing face are critical, as is the group’s camaraderie. Once the brilliantly designed and executed monsters turn up, it’s a tense, thrilling, pleasingly focused (no conspiracies or worldwide attacks) horror movie which grips and never let’s go.

This movie contains sexual swear words and substance abuse and graphic, gory and unpleasant monster violence.

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

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011) – 9/10 PS3-exclusive action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Co-President: Evan Wells
Co-President: Christophe Balestra
Creative Director: Amy Hennig
Game Director: Justin Richmond
Art Director: Erick Pangilinan
Art Director: Robh Ruppel
Lead Programmer: Pål-Kristian Engstad
Lead Programmer: Travis McIntosh
Lead Programmer: Christian Gyrling
Lead Texture Artist: Tate Mosesian
Lead Audio: Bruce Swanson
Lead Cinematic Animator: Josh Scherr
Lead Cinematic Animator: Eric Baldwin
Lead Gameplay Animator: Jeremy Lai-Yates
Lead Game Designer: Richard Lemarchand
Lead Game Designer: Jacob Minkoff
Lead Technical Artist: Mike Hatfield
Lead Technical Artist: Teagan Morrison
Lead Character Artist: Sze Jones
Lead Technical Character Artist: Hanno Hagedorn
Lead Lighting Artist: David Witters
Lead Visual Effects: Keith Guerrette
Cinematic Production Lead: Taylor Kurosaki
Director of Information Technology: Justin Monast
Writer: Amy Hennig
Music Composer: Greg Edmonson
Motion Capture & Voice Direction: Gordon Hunt
Nolan North: Nathan Drake
Richard McGonagle: Victor Sullivan
Emily Rose: Elena Fisher
Claudia Black: Chloe Frazer
Graham McTavish: Charlie Cutter, Zoran Lazarević
Rosalind Ayres: Katherine Marlowe
Robin Atkin Downes: Talbot
Billy Unger: Young Drake
Sayed Badreya: Rameses
T.J. Ramini: Salim

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011)

Treasure hunter and owner of the world’s strongest fingers Nathan Drake has been reduced to selling his prized Sir Francis Drake ring but, wouldn’t you know it, things don’t go as planned and everything is not as it seems. So, we’d better have a punch-up.


Oddly criticised for emphasising narrative over gameplay, the only significant problem with Uncharted 3 is too much gameplay, specifically, too many goons to kill. Taking out about 650 bad guys (not an exaggeration) to get to the end of the story is just too many; it keeps breaking the flow of the adventure. When they come, there are usually several waves to clear before the next door will open and every additional wave is entirely unwanted and unwarranted. The action is great, utterly thrilling, infuriatingly engaging and satisfying when cleared, and if you want more of it there are multiplayer arenas and coop modes but in the main story mode on Normal difficulty, where we’re itching to get to the next puzzle or area or bit of story, it’s a little bit wearisome and undermines the entire experience. But even with that issue, it’s still, unquestionably, a great game.

This game contains mild swear words and frequent gun violence, frequent melee violence, unpleasant scenes, inferred fantasy violence.

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


Priest (2011) – 6/10 vampire mild-superhero science-fiction action movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Scott Stewart
Writer: Cory Goodman
Writer (Original Graphic Novel Series) Priest: Min-Woo Hyung
Producer: Michael De Luca
Producer: Joshua Donen
Producer: Mitchell Peck
Paul Bettany: Priest
Karl Urban: Black Hat
Cam Gigandet: Hicks
Maggie Q: Priestess
Lily Collins: Lucy Pace
Brad Dourif: Salesman
Stephen Moyer: Owen Pace
Christopher Plummer: Monsignor Orelas
Animation Designer Prologue: Genndy Tartakovsky

Priest (2011)

After the war against vampires is won, the Church disbands the Priest division, dumping them back into a civilian life that doesn’t want them and they are ill-suited for. When the family of one Priest is later attacked by vampires, the Church refuses to believe their foes have returned and Priest must break his vow to go on a rescue mission.


This is a tidy, focused action monster movie which feels almost refreshing because it is competent, crisp and resists temptation to add or, rather, overdo ‘twists’ and origin stories. It was better than expected, easily kept my attention and I enjoyed the unusual vampire designs and very cool-looking villain. The BBFC 12A rating is wrong. This is a very violent film, especially Genndy Tartakovsky’s animated body-shredding prologue, and not for children.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, bad language and strong fantasy violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, extreme, graphic and extremely gory animated violence.

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

Colombiana (2011) – 4/10 female revenge action movie review

Cast / crew
Zoë Saldana: Cataleya
Jordi Mollà: Marco
Lennie James: Ross
Amandla Stenberg: Cat – 10
Callum Blue: Richard
Michael Vartan: Danny Delanay
Cliff Curtis: Emilio Restrepo
Producer: Luc Besson
Producer: Ariel Zeitoun
Writer: Luc Besson
Writer: Robert Mark Kamen
Director: Olivier Megaton

Colombiana (2011)

Escaping with her life to America, orphaned child Cataleya has only one objective: become a professional killer and avenge her family.


Olivier Megaton’s inability to give his action any shape, location or story undermines this as it did Transporter 3. His film looks nice but is directed without style, pace, emotion or wit. On top of that, this is a remarkably unconvincing film from the plot (assassin kills people and draws a flower on them to reveal the location of a Colombian crime boss) through details of Zoe Saldana’s assassinations and escapes through to the operation and technology of the law enforcement personnel. Saldana never seems purpose- or venge-ful, therefore her emotional scenes aren’t earned and so her character simply does not work. The Japanese know how to make this kind of story. Olivier Megaton does not. In fact, I don’t think he knows how to tell any story.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and strong, graphic, gory violence and sexuality.

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

The Grey (2011) – 6/10 Liam Neeson-not-punching-wolves disaster nature survival movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer (Screenplay): Joe Carnahan
Writer (Screenplay): Ian MacKenzie Jeffers
Writer (Original Short Story) Ghost Walker: Ian MacKenzie Jeffers
Producer: Jules Daly
Producer: Joe Carnahan
Producer: Ridley Scott
Producer: Mickey Liddell
Liam Neeson: Ottway
Frank Grillo: Diaz
Dermot Mulroney: Talget
Dallas Roberts: Henrick
Joe Anderson: Flannery
Nonso Anozie: Burke
James Badge Dale: Lewenden

Grey, The (2011)

A group of men survive a plane-crash into a snowy wilderness but are quickly beset upon by wolves protecting their territory.


Efficient, if not exactly thrilling or convincing, last-man-standing-against-nature survival movie. This is clearly not intended to be a realistic portrayal of wolves; they are simply whatever type of threat director Joe Carnahan wants them to be at any given time: cooperative, solitary, wary, aggressive, er, vengeful. For me, even with my limited knowledge of wolves, this came across as nonsense and it was something that kept pulling me out of the film, undermining any suspense and excitement Carnahan kept trying to produce. Liam’s running at about 75% Qui-Gonn, so anything he says, you’d believe but his character’s insistence on leaving the crash site – a source of shelter, food, fuel (for fire), sharp pointy metal things and the likely starting point for a rescue – also makes The Grey rather less involving and convincing than it wanted or needed to be. SPOILER: There is a post-credits coda and Liam doesn’t go around punching wolves.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and gory and unpleasant scenes, violence.

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

Bulletstorm (2011, PC, Games for Windows Live) – 9/10 first-person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Creative Director: Adrian Chmielarz
Lead Producer: Tanya Jessen
Lead Gameplay Designer: Edward Kay
Lead Animator: Jakub Kisiel
Principal FX Artist: Michael Kosieradzki
Lead Level Designer: Wojciech Madry
Lead Programmer: Lukasz Migas
Lead Gameplay Programmer: Grzegorz Mocarski
Lead Artist: Andrzej Pozmanski
Audio Director: Adam Skorupa
Lead Environment Artist: Tomasz Strzalkowski
Steven J. Blum: Grayson Hunt
Andrew Kashino: Ishi Sato
Jennifer Hale: Trishka
Chris Cox: Rell
Anthony DeLongis: General Sarrano

Bulletstorm (2011)

Ten years after discovering he and his black ops Dead Echo team were being duped into assassinating civilians by General Sarrano, Grayson Hunt comes across Sarrano’s battlecruiser, the Ulysses, and decides, drunk on alcohol and revenge, to ram him out of the sky. They both crashland on the planet Stygia where Grayson is going to have to sober up, really quickly.


It’s just fun, especially with the swears switched off. Things simply aren’t as much fun if your game is overbearingly effing and jeffing at you. Major highlight of the campaign is the model city level (Worst family fun vacation ever) and fighting with Waggleton P. Tallylicker. The single-player campaign is as good and longer and better paced than most contemporary games with a simple story (get from A to B) clearly told and the core shooting action is frenetic, accurate, imaginative, varied, awesome and fun, fun, fun.

This game contains optional sexual swear words, frequent bad language and optional gory and graphic violence, strong, highly fantasised violence.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.


Johnny English: Reborn (2011) – 3/10 espionage action comedy movie review

Cast / crew
Rowan Atkinson: Johnny English
Gillian Anderson: Pamela
Dominic West: Ambrose
Rosamund Pike: Kate
Daniel Kaluuya: Tucker
Richard Schiff: Fisher
Director: Oliver Parker
Producer: Tim Bevan
Producer: Eric Fellner
Producer: Chris Clark
Writer (Screenplay): Hamish McColl
Writer (Story): William Davies
Executive Producer: William Davies

Johnny English: Reborn (2011)

Years after being dismissed from MI7 in disgrace for the death of a Head of State during his watch, English is called back as the only trustworthy person for a contact who has details of another upcoming assassination.


This is a movie that very nearly works as the makers attempts to reduce English’s horrendously unfunny ineptitude from the first movie. Sadly, it absolutely does not work. This is a comedy where you frequently sit stony-faced through the comedy scenes and suffer queasily while Johnny English hits on every woman in the movie. What makes it more disappointing is how close it is to working. The thriller plot is fine, there’s a surprisingly nice relationship between English and Tucker, Dominic West is terrific and the action sequences are unusual and imaginative. Generally, English doesn’t bumble his way through. In the first one he uses his brain to outwit a more agile and younger opponent (using a lift instead of clambering down a building, for example). The helicopter sequence features a couple of good gags (chopping the trees and following the road). The wheelchair sequence is set up well, has a great location (The Mall) and a cool escape (spoiled in the trailer, of course). But for every good idea and each of the two funny moments ("Stop!" and "I’ve been trained to resist…"), there’s something excruciating to sit through and the whole movie makes you ache for some Roger Moore Bond; some fun and some fun action. Special mention for, arguably, the best scene which runs over closing credits as English prepares some dinner. If the whole movie had been this delightful, this would have been a classic.

This movie contains bad language, adult dialogue and violence and mild sensuality.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) – 7/10 period crime adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Michele Mulroney
Writer: Kieran Mulroney
Producer: Joel Silver
Producer: Lionel Wigram
Producer: Susan Downey
Producer: Dan Lin
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Arthur Conan Doyle
Robert Downey, Jr.: Sherlock Holmes
Jude Law: Dr. John Watson
Noomi Rapace: Madam Simza Heron
Jared Harris: Professor James Moriarty
Eddie Marsan: Inspector Lestrade
Kelly Reilly: Mary Watson
Stephen Fry: Mycroft Holmes
Rachel McAdams: Irene Adler

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, A (2011)

Sherlock is in the middle of the most important case of his career, possibly of all time, as he plays the game with diabolical genius Professor John Moriarty over the future of Europe. Meanwhile, Watson’s about to get married and Holmes is the best man.


Surprisingly, this expensive big-screen movie would be quickly overshadowed by the mind-shattering cleverness and originality of the Holmes-Moriarty plot in BBC television’s rightly-acclaimed Season Two of Sherlock. But while it still lacks a plot that is as clever as its hero or television rival, the ride is better than the first film; this is significantly more energetic and stylish and is an awful lot of fun. The Liu Bolin-inspired urban camoflauge gags are great, Holmesavision  makes an expanded return and it, unusually and agreeably, ends with a battle of brains. The cast is also first-rate. Robert Downey, Jr. Is good fun as the man himself but Jared Harris’ Moriarty is quietly sinister, Jude Law’s Watson is outstanding and Stephen Fry’s Mycroft is awesome. You just keep expecting him to unveil a gigantic pair of fake comedy breasts and say "au contraire, Sherlock".

This movie contains bad language and strong violence, extremely unpleasant scenes and non-sexual nudity.

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


Immortals (2011) – 7/10 mythological fantasy action movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Writer: Charles Parlapanides
Writer: Vlas Parlapanides
Producer: Gianni Nunnari
Producer: Mark Canton
Producer: Ryan Kavanaugh
Henry Cavill: Theseus
Stephen Dorff: Stavros
Luke Evans: Zeus
Isabel Lucas: Athena
Kellan Lutz: Poseidon
Joseph Morgan: Lysander
Freida Pinto: Phaedra

Immortals (2011)

Theseus has been secretly groomed by the gods to allow humanity to stand up for itself against great evil, specifically King Hyperion, who is marching destructively across the land in search of the Eluvian Bow, a weapon that can release the Titans and bring about the end of humanity. Not quite sure why he wants to do that but he’s still going to try and Theseus needs to keep hitting him until he stops.


There’s some poor acting in the prologue (Frieda Pinto is not good but, boy, she is pretty) so it’s a bit of a relief and a pleasant surprise when, after the movie proper starts, Immortals turns out to be a spectacular, entertaining fantasy action movie. Villain Mickey Rourke is certainly the right kind of wrong for this movie; physically imposing and mumbling menacingly despite his plan obviously making no sense (how does releasing Titans and destroying humanity benefit him?). Surprisingly, hero Henry Cavill also does well. He demonstrates agreeable charisma (in stark contrast to Sam Worthington in the awful Clash of the Titans), sells the action and comfortably carries the audience with him on his journey. Tarsem imbues the movie with some spectacular, imaginative visuals, generally keeps things comprehensible and encourages the sound guys to go sub-shatteringly wild. I liked it and I think it’s better than trendy Persian shout-’em-up 300.

This movie contains adult dialogue and extremely strong, graphic violence, immolation scene and brief nudity, brief sex scene.

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