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.

4/10

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.

7/10

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.

8/10

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.

6/10

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.

5/10

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.

7/10

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.

7/10

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.