Snow White and The Huntsman (2012) – 7/10 fantasy action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Rupert Sanders
Screen Story and Screenplay Writer: Evan Daugherty
Screenplay Writer: John Lee Hancock
Screenplay Writer: Hossein Amini
Producer: Joe Roth
Producer: Sam Mercer
Snow White: Kristen Stewart
Charlize Theron: Ravenna
Chris Hemsworth: The Huntsman
Sam Claflin: William
Ian McShane: Beith
Bob Hoskins: Muir
Ray Winstone: Gort
Nick Frost: Nion
Sam Spruell: Finn

Snow White and The Huntsman (2012)

A wicked Queen usurps a kingdom’s power and rules it with an iron unfeeling fist. Her only objective is to remain ‘the fairest of them all’ and considering this is Charlize Theron we’re talking about, she does; no-one gets close. The end.

7/10

This is an engrossing, enjoyable, great-looking adventure movie that is thrilling despite badly edited action sequences typical of contemporary Hollywood. You could easily argue about faults and some incoherence but, for me, the movie captured my attention and more than kept it. The technical achievements of the production are also eye-catching with the dwarves unbelievably convincing and impressively unnecessary (dwarves exist and they will appear in your movie for a fee). I suspect one of the most glaring problems is also the film’s best actor: Charlize Theron. She is in a different class of beauty and charisma than Kristen Stewart. Theron goes full hernia-inducing insane but at no point is she not "the fairest of them all" and by some distance, too. She is photographed magnificently throughout (it is a superb-looking film overall) and, well, if you had to be stabbed during sex with anyone, Charlize Theron in full charisma and hotness mode would be at the top of the list.

This movie contains strong violence

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

Mirror Mirror (2012) – 7/10 fantasy action comedy movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Screenplay Writer: Marc Klein
Screenplay Writer: Jason Keller
Screen Story Writer: Melisa Wallack
Producer: Bernie Goldmann
Producer: Ryan Kavanaugh
Producer: Brett Ratner
Julia Roberts: The Queen
Snow White: Lily Collins
Armie Hammer: Prince Alcott
Nathan Lane: Brighton
Mare Winningham: Baker Margaret
Michael Lerner: Baron
Sean Bean: King

Mirror Mirror (2012)

A wicked Queen has usurped the throne in the absence of the King and nothing stands in her way, except a lack of cash. However, when a handsome prince pays a visit to her kingdom, the Queen senses an opportunity but there’s just one slight problem: he’s fallen in love with her stepdaughter, the beautiful Snow White.

7/10

In the end, I really enjoyed this full throttle burst of inverted fairy tale but for a while it looked like it wasn’t, and perhaps doesn’t, fulfil the fun promise of some of the early moments. For me, it finally settled down and became consistently fun once Snow White and the seven dwarves teamed up (with a gleefully unexpected training montage). The dwarves are great; I might not remember their names (Wolf, Grimm, Half Pint?, er) but they were lively and charismatic and engaging in the movie. Lily Collins looks adorable, especially during the costume try-outs in the training montage, but doesn’t always nail her character’s growing confidence. Julia Roberts is okay as the wicked queen but the flash of her famous smile on her way to her wedding is a reminder of how legendary and irresistible she is as an on-screen good girl; therefore, I don’t think the casting worked out. The most unexpected moment is, unquestionably, the closing credits and I loved it. A perfect, energetic, light-hearted, fun climax for a really fun, light-hearted movie.

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

The Bourne Legacy (2012) – 6/10 action thriller movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Writer: Tony Gilroy
Screenplay Writer: Dan Gilroy
Producer: Frank Marshall
Producer: Patrick Crowley
Producer: Jeffrey M. Weiner
Producer: Ben Smith
Creator The Bourne Series: Robert Ludlum
Jeremy Renner: Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz: Dr. Marta Shearing
Edward Norton: Col. Eric Byer, USAF, Ret.
Stacy Keach: Adm. Mark Turos, USN, Ret.
Dennis Boutsikaris: Terrence Ward
Oscar Isaac: Outcome #3
Joan Allen: Pamela Landy
Albert Finney: Dr. Albert Hirsch
David Strathairn: Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn: Ezra Kramer

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

The ramifications of Jason Bourne’s action are rippling through sister super-soldier programs, the most closely linked of which are being shut down so as to avoid exposure. Shut down meaning killing everyone involved in a way that involves all the police, all the fire service, all the ambulances and all the media in all of the USA. Super-soldier Aaron Cross survives but has run out of his medication and sets about using his skills to procure some more.

6/10

Competent thriller that keeps your attention and provides reasonable, if mechanical, excitement but suffers from Jeremy Renner lacking charisma. He is perfunctory, convincing even, and performs fine but you’re just not invested in his story. Not even when he hilariously appears in a kitchen cupboard (which he must have been hiding in for ages and are apparently man-sized in America). While Rachel Weisz does have charisma, she isn’t the focus of the film and doesn’t have a character or story; she could just as easily be a key. Or a flower; she’s so lovely.

This movie contains graphic violence

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

Travelers: Dimension Police | Toraberâzu: Jigen keisatsu (2012) – 6/10 science fiction action movie review

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Cast / crew
Nao Nagasawa: Ai Osaka
Ayumi Kinoshita: Yui Momose
Yuko Takayama: Haruka Saegusa
Director: Koichi Sakamoto

Travelers: Dimension Police | Toraberâzu: Jigen keisatsu (2012)

Dimension Police officer Ai Osaka is sent to Retro World to catch a serial killer who preys on young girls but runs into former partner Yui Momose who now works for the criminal organisation Doubt.

6/10

With special effects that are a lot worse than expected and action scenes that, for quite a while, are rather better than expected, this energetic movie proves quite entertaining, especially if you are a boy. The mildly provocatively dressed Nao Nagasawa looks fantastic, does fine in the martial arts action scenes and engages the audience in between. She is the reason I watched this and I wasn’t disappointed. Ayumi Kinoshita looks like she’s had a stroke or something and the cute Yuko Takayama wears a maid outfit for no discernible reason. Given the low budget, this is probably as good as this movie could have turned out. Critically, I liked this movie and, once more, I particularly liked Nao Nagasawa.

This movie contains mild sensuality, extreme and gory violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Rise of the Guardians (2012) – 6/10 animated fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor and Director Burgess Pedestrian #2: Peter Ramsey
Producer: Christina Steinberg
Producer: Nancy Bernstein
Executive Producer, Original Book Series Writer and Original Short Film Director Book series “Guardians of Childhood” and Reel FX short film “The Man in the Moon”: William Joyce
Screenplay Writer Based on “Guardians of Childhood” the Book Series by William Joyce and “The Man in the Moon” A Reel FX short film Directed by William Joyce: David Lindsay-Abaire
Jack Frost: Chris Pine
Alec Baldwin: North
Jude Law: Pitch
Isla Fisher: Tooth
Hugh Jackman: Bunny
Animation Supervisor: Antony Gray
Animation Supervisor: Steven “Shaggy” Hornby
Animation Supervisor: Philippe Le Brun
Animation Supervisor: David Pate
Animation Supervisor: Pierre Perifel

Rise of The Guardians (2012)

North, Tooth, Sandy and Bunny are Guardians of children’s dreams; that’s a job now. Nevertheless, they are surprised when the Man in the Moon (keep up) announces that a new Guardian is to be appointed, Jack Frost, but Jack is less than thrilled at the honour and more interested in having endless fun just as he has been for the last *double-checks* three-hundred years.

6/10

This is an expertly crafted movie with good voice work and animation and it is frequently engrossing through pure movie-making technique. The problem comes from the concept which sounds cool (and a similar idea certainly worked in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) but never quite gels. I suspect that if this had foregone the Hollywood tradition of having a bad guy and made the story work with apathy, commercialism and indifference providing the reason for children not believing in Santa – excuse me, North – et al, we would have had a more convincing and interesting movie. Bafflingly, the movie ends with a technically superb scene (the editing, staging and music are all top-notch) with what might be the stupidest piece of advice ever given by one human being to another: "When the moon tells you something, believe it." Huh?

This movie contains scary scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Hitchcock (2012) – 6/10 biographical movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Screenplay Writer Based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho” by Stephen Rebello: John J. McLaughlin
Writer (Book) Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho: Stephen Rebello
Producer: Ivan Reitman
Producer: Tom Pollock
Producer: Joe Medjuck
Producer: Tom Thayer
Producer: Alan Barnette
Alfred Hitchcock: Anthony Hopkins
Alma Reville: Helen Mirren
Janet Leigh: Scarlett Johansson
Toni Collette: Peggy
Danny Huston: Whitfield Cook
Vera Miles: Jessica Biel
Michael Stuhlbarg: Lew Wasserman
Anthony Perkins: James D’Arcy
Ed Gein: Michael Wincott
Kurtwood Smith: Geoffrey Shurlock
Richard Portnow: Barney Balaban

Hitchcock (2012)

Craving a creative renaissance after the success of North by Northwest, feted director Alfred Hitchcock settles upon a lurid little horror story inspired by the life and crimes of notorious serial killer Ed Gein: Psycho. However, his movie-making partners are mortified at his descent into the world of meaningless B-movie exploitation and Hitch will need to call upon all his reserves of self-confidence and the support of his wife and constant creative partner Alma Reville.

6/10

Gentle down-to-earth, rather fictional and unofficial biopic looking at the time surrounding the production and release of Psycho and the important role that Alma Reville, Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock, played in his life and art. Viewers are likely unaware of her importance and, even though he perhaps didn’t always treat her as well as he should, Hitchcock himself knew how critical she was; his AFI Lifetime Achievement speech contains a nice eulogy and they remained, reportedly happily, married for 50-odd years.

This movie contains adult dialogue, sexuality, unpleasant scenes, brief violence

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

Links

Wrath of the Titans (2012) – 5/10 fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Screenplay and Story Writer Based on characters created by Beverley Cross: Dan Mazeau
Screenplay and Story Writer Based on characters created by Beverley Cross: David Leslie Johnson
Story Writer Based on characters created by Beverley Cross: Greg Berlanti
Producer: Basil Iwanyk
Producer: Polly Johnsen
Perseus: Sam Worthington
Rosamund Pike: Andromeda
Hephaestus: Bill Nighy
Ares: Edgar Ramirez
Toby Kebbell: Agenor
Poseidon: Danny Huston
Sinéad Cusack aka Sinead Cusack: Clea
John Bell: Helius
Hades: Ralph Fiennes
Zeus: Liam Neeson
Characters Creator: Beverley Cross

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

Now ruling over the underworld under the name Hades, Goeth, still disappointed over being killed in Schindler’s List, vows vengeance on Schindler. Schindler has acquired a beard called Zeus – sometimes standing really close behind it, sometimes even glueing it on – and travels incognito, none knowing his true identity, but Hades will not be denied and will unleash a Titan, the Titan, to sate his hatred.

5/10

This second sequel to Schindler’s List is smart enough not to pompously outstay its welcome. The monster special effects are truly spectacular but, once more, Hollywood’s utter inability to produce action sequences that follow any kind of tactics, character or story undermines things. You’ll never have any idea why or how scenes are resolved; they simply are brought to their end because their allotted time slot is up. The action is thrilling, however, and, as I mentioned, really spectacular, and that is enough to make this an adequate action movie that is much better than the first one.

This movie contains extreme violence, unpleasant scenes, sensuality

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

Links

Men in Black 3 (2012) – 4/10 science fiction action comedy movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor and Director Husband Watching Launch: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer Based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham: Etan Cohen
Writer (Original Comic): Lowell Cunningham
Producer: Walter F. Parkes
Producer: Laurie MacDonald
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg
Will Smith: Agent J
Tommy Lee Jones: Agent K
Josh Brolin: Young Agent K
Jemaine Clement: Boris The Animal
Michael Stuhlbarg: Griffin
Alice Eve: Young Agent O
Bill Hader: Andy Warhol
David Rasche: Agent X
Emma Thompson: Agent O

Men in Black 3 (2012)

MIB Agent J is flummoxed when he goes to pick up K from his home only to find a mother and child. No K but they did have some delicious chocolate milk, so that was handy. When he gets to work, K is not just nowhere to be seen… he’s been dead for forty years.

4/10

While it is reasonably entertaining, avoids the bloat common to many belated sequels and boasts a nearly film-rescuing performance from Josh Brolin entertainingly capturing the mannerisms of Tommy Lee Jones, this is still a poor movie. The peril, villain and story are impactless (and don’t fit with the first movie) but the elements that could make up some of that shortfall, inventiveness and fun, are consistently weak; not bad exactly, just underwhelming. While there’s no compelling invention, there is some fun, but it is only occasionally effective. Notably, Will Smith is not on top form here; he doesn’t have much to work with but doesn’t seem to be able to project as much energy onscreen as he has in the past and his natural charisma is slightly muted as a result. Tommy Lee Jones is fine but has almost nothing to do while Josh Brolin nearly makes up the shortfall of the two franchise stars. For some inexplicable reason, seeing him say stuff  like Tommy Lee Jones is endlessly joyful.

This movie contains bad language, extreme fantasy violence, extremely unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012) – 6/10 drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Eric Altmayer
Producer: Nicolas Altmayer
Fabrice Luchini: Germain
Kristin Scott Thomas: Jeanne
Emmanuelle Seigner: Esther
Denis Ménochet: Rapha pere
Ernst Umhauer: Claude
Bastien Ughetto: Rpha fils
Jean-François Balmer: Le proviseur
Writer (Original Play) El Chico de la Ultimate Fila: Juan Mayorga
Adaptor and Director Adapted from the play “El Chico de la Ultimate Fila” by Juan Mayorga: François Ozon

Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012)

A French teacher sees a spark of talent in one of his students, Claude, when an essay about what Claude did at the weekend hooks his interest. (to be continued…)

6/10

This is an interesting movie in that it gives you something to think about but it rather takes its time and, while never boring, feels longer than it is. As is consistently the case with François Ozon, the performances are sublime. Ernst Umhauer is all kinds of unsettling as the ‘boy in the last row’ (the title of the play which this is adapted from) whose installments of prose regarding a perfect family he has insinuated himself into form the thrust of the narrative. Eventually, it is impossible to tell which parts of the film are meant to be written and which real; there’s probably a very good case to be made that the whole thing is an invention, an exercise, by Claude to give a back story to the homeless dude sitting on the park bench at the end. I suspect that if you had a friend smarter and more observant than me, you could have a most rewarding evening discussing this movie after you’ve watched it. As a final note, the opening cast and title credits are particularly well done.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, violence, nudity, sex scene, unpleasant scene

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

Wreck-It Ralph (2013) – 6/10 video-game fantasy Disney animated movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Story Writer Sour Bill and Zangief: Rich Moore
Producer: Clark Spencer
Actor, Screenplay and Story Writer Surge Protector: Phil Johnston
Story Supervisor and Story Writer: Jim Reardon
Screenplay Writer: Jennifer Lee
Supervising Animator: Doug Bennett
Supervising Animator: Mark Alan Mitchell
Supervising Animator: Zach A. Parrish
Supervising Animator: Tony Smeed
Actor and Additional Story Material Ralph: John C. Reilly
Sarah Silverman: Vanellope
Jack McBrayer: Felix
Jane Lynch: Calhoun
Alan Tudyk: King Candy
Mindy Kaling: Taffyta Muttonfudge
Joe Lo Truglio: Markowski
Ed O’Neill: Mr. Litwak
Dennis Haysbert: General Hologram
Additional Story Material: Sam Levine
Additional Story Material: Jared Stern

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Unhappy with his lonely role as the bad guy in arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr, Wreck-It Ralph decides that he wants a gold medal just like game heroes. Trouble is, he’s going to have to go to another game to get it.

6/10

One thing that can be said for just about all animated films: their lead characters almost always have a clearly defined character arc. Trouble is, it’s almost always undisguisedly the same one. Wreck-It Ralph follows the finding yourself template but doesn’t present a particularly captivating world. It moves along prettily but mechanically. It peaks with an impressively powerful scene where Ralph learns that he must do something short-term bad to ensure long-term good. The emotional impact of that scene contrasts intriguingly with the traditional emotional climax which is entirely unmoving. Wreck-It Ralph is never less than colourful and polished and entertaining – it is a good film – but it’s not a classic.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes, bad language

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – 6/10 espionage drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Kathryn Bigelow
Producer and Writer: Mark Boal
Producer: Megan Ellison
Jessica Chastain: Maya
Jason Clarke: Dan
Joel Edgerton: Patrick-Squadron Team Leader
Jennifer Ehle: Jessica
Mark Strong: George
Kyle Chandler: Joseph Bradley
Edgar Ramirez: Larry from Ground Branch
James Gandolfini: C.I.A. Director

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

The success of the 9/11 attacks in 2011 make Osama bin Laden the most wanted man on Earth but billions of dollars and many years later, he continues to elude the C.I.A. One agent, Maya, believes the key is tracking bin Laden’s courier but he seems to have become just as much of a ghost as bin Laden himself.

6/10

Inexplicably long and only mildly compelling but highly watchable espionage drama with high production quality. It should build to its expertly staged infiltration sequence (it has completely convincing helicopter work and the night-time setting is brilliantly and clearly photographed) but it doesn’t. It feels like it paces up and down for a couple of hours; there’s no tension or convincing detective work and no illumination of the process. It never feels like pieces fall into place or intelligence is followed. It also doesn’t feel like ten years pass from beginning to end. There’s an ostentatious underplaying; wearing seriousness and authenticity at the expense of drama and suspense.

This movie contains sexual swear words, graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, torture and mistreatment scenes, nudity

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

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012, PC) – 8/10 racing game review

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Cast / crew
Additional Design and Head of Studio: Ian Bell
Additional Design and Development Director: Andy Garton
Additional Design and Chief Operations Officer: Stephen Viljoen
Creative Director: Andy Tudor
Producer: Suzy Wallace
Technical Director: Ged Keaveney
Audio Director and Composer: Stephen Baysted
Sound Designer: Greg Hill

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012)

8/10

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends is yet another game unlovingly belched out by Atari before it was quite ready. Yet despite the sometimes iffy frame rate and PS1-era pop-up on Spa, a rough diamond shines through. This is a challenging but visceral and satisfying game with fun handling on Normal, attention-demanding on Pro; communicative on both. It really showcases the differences in performance characteristics between road and race cars and between generations. There is also an unusually accurate sense of speed in that your speeds feels different when you are travelling fast or slow. A lot of car games always feel like they’re going at a million miles per hour regardless of the car you’re in (see Grid 2). There are a number of tracks we’ve never driven in an officially licensed commercially available product such as Rouen and Enna Pergusa; there’s a welcome return for old Hockenheim, sort-of old Imola, old Silverstone and a top fantasy track in Misty Loch. The career mode throws up a pleasing variety of tasks and is surprisingly satisfying, especially once Mansley shows up. On Hard difficulty and Pro handling, this is an entertaining handful and a very stern challenge but there are three difficulty levels and two handling models to ensure that your time with the game is satisfying and fun.

This game contains

Life of Pi (2012) – 7/10 existential disaster movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Gil Netter
Director and Producer: Ang Lee
Suraj Sharma: Pi Patel
Irrfan Khan: Adult Pi Patel
Tabu: Gita Patel
Rafe Spall: Writer
Gérard Depardieu: Cook
Visual Effects Supervisor: Bill Westenhofer
Producer: David Womack
Writer: Yann Martel
Screenplay Writer Based upon the novel by Yann Martel: David Magee

Life of Pi (2012)

Pi Patel has an amazing story to tell. It eventually comes to his emigration from India to Canada and a shipwreck and a battle for survival alongside Richard Parker. Richard Parker the tiger, that is.

7/10

You are likely to be disappointed with this film; that’s the nature of it’s message. The film also promises to tell us a story that will make us believe in God which I don’t feel it does. Gérard Depardieu is only in it for a few seconds. But is it still worth seeing? Yes. It’s interesting, thought-provoking, visually impressive and boasts a genuinely magic moment when Pi pauses underwater as the ship goes down. (SPOILERS from here.) Life of Pi gives us a fantastical, eventually clearly fictional, story versus a true story and asks us ‘which one do we prefer?’ The characters in the movie choose the fictional one and the audience likely will too. I took from that the assertion that people, even scientific people, may choose and be happy to believe in God – any God; it doesn’t matter – because it is nicer or comforting or a way of avoiding science’s dispiriting conclusion that we live, we die and there is no more and no meaning.

This movie contains unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Argo (2012) – 7/10 epic espionage drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Producer Tony Mendez: Ben Affleck
Screenplay Writer: Chris Terrio
Producer: Grant Heslov
Producer: George Clooney
Writer The Master of Disguise: Antonio J. Mendez
Writer The Wired Magazine Article “The Great Escape”: Joshuah Bearman
Bryan Cranston: Jack O’Donnell
Alan Arkin: Lester Siegel
John Goodman: John Chambers
Victor Garber: Ken Taylor
Tate Donovan: Bob Anders
Clea DuVall: Cora Lijek
Scoot McNairy: Joe Stafford
Rory Cochrane: Lee Schatz
Christopher Denham: Mark Lijek
Kerry Bishé: Kathy Stafford
Kyle Chandler: Hamilton Jordan
Chris Messina: Malinov

Argo (2012)

During the 1979 American Embassy hostage crisis, six embassy workers escaped and eventually took refuge in the Canadian Embassy. A plan is needed to exfiltrate them but time and circumstance means that the plan formulated is completely ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that it might just work.

7/10

From the opening Eighties Warner Bros. logo through to the reasonably suspenseful directorial juggling of the escape, this is a high quality exclamation point to the reinvention of Ben Affleck as a top quality film director. It showcases a so-unlikely-you-couldn’t-make-it-up plot regarding the exfiltration of six Americans marooned in a Canadian embassy in Iran while their colleagues were being held hostage but so does the trailer. The movie takes two hours but doesn’t really add much atmosphere, flavour, procedure or insight to the fascinating story until, ironically, the fictional Hollywood climax at the bazaar and the airport. It’s paced and performed impeccably throughout, though, and Affleck’s next film as director will be most anticipated.

This movie contains tiresome sexual swear words (“Argo…”), mild nudity, gory and unpleasant scenes

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

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012, PS3) – 6/10 open-world action racing game review

Cast / crew

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

6/10

This feels like a game made by talented, but bored, developers though the more I think about it and the more you play it, the worse the game becomes. Police chases are thrilling but awful as they incessantly spawn what feels like hundreds of police cars everywhere you go and they don’t need to be able to see you or have seen you to know where you are. Handling is heart-pumping but lumpen and inaccurate meaning that threading through traffic is consistently far harder than it should be. This is yet another open-world game that expects you to map-read at 150mph (earlier open-world Need for Speed games do not make this irritating choice; it also spoils Midnight Club: Los Angeles). And this is an open-world game where you spend a lot of time waiting for events to load. Isn’t one of the selling features of an open-world supposed to be "no loading times"? I’ve yet to see one; perhaps that will be something that the eighth generation of consoles will finally deliver. But this? This is only Most Wanted until you play it.

This game contains

Links

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Safe House (2012) – 5/10 conspiracy thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Actor and Executive Producer Tobin Frost: Denzel Washington
Ryan Reynolds: Matt Weston
Vera Farmiga: Catherine Linklater
Brendan Gleeson: David Barlow
Sam Shepard: Harlan Whitford
Ruben Blades: Carlos Villar
Nora Arnezeder: Ana Moreau
Robert Patrick: Daniel Keefer
Producer: Scott Stuber
Writer: David Guggenheim
Director: Daniel Espinosa

Safe House (2012)

Matt Weston is a frustrated CIA safehouse-sitter, waiting for promotion to a more active role. One night, his safehouse is called into action to host US traitor Tobin Frost but shortly after he and his escort arrives, a dozen well-armed men turn up and get to shooting. Which is against protocol.

5/10

Resolutely half-hearted conspiracy thriller which consistently treats the audience with disdain by lumping ostentatiously unconvincing situations and tiresome plot ‘twists’ onto the screen without wit, excitement, humanity or finesse. Oddly, Ryan Reynolds weeps during the entire film; seriously, it is possible that there is not a scene where he isn’t welling up. He’s clearly doing this instead of acting or being charismatic but it’s still bizarre. While the film is watchable and just about keeps the attention, it’s yet another Hollywood action film where the action is only occasionally captured on film. There used to be a time when you could come out of a movie and name the action scene: “you remember the scene where…” Sadly, it seems those days are long past.

This movie contains A single sexual swear word in the movie, a sexual swear word in lyrics, adult dialogue, mild nudity, strong, gory violence

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

F1 2012 (2012, PC Windows Steam) – 10/10 Formula 1 racing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Ian Flatt
Creative Director: Stephen Hood
Game Director: Paul Jeal
Technical Director: David Percival
Technical Art Director: Stephen Johnson
Art Manager: Andrew Watt
Designer: Jason Darby
Designer: Lee Mather
Designer: Mark Lewis
Designer: Mark Russell
Nick Barber: Race Engineer
David Croft: Presenter
Anthony Davidson: Hot Lap Voice

F1 2012 (2012)

10/10

This remains the best racing series of it’s generation and a number of small tweaks and the new Austin track enhance the experience yet further. The inclusion of unpredictable weather was a masterstroke and Codemasters have also made the evolution of the car throughout a weekend with it’s differing tyre and fuel components even more distinct than before. Harsh penalties are still a minor issue, though; AI cars cannot receive penalties and their mistake / mechanical issues do not scale for shorter races meaning they never make mistakes. F1 2012, astoundingly, remains the only major racing title to feature all the principle elements of racing: practice and setup, qualification and racing with pit stops; something Forza and Gran Turismo have ostentatiously failed to deliver in the 360 / PS3 generation.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) – 6/10 stop-motion animated adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Animation Supervisor: Loyd Price
Senior Animation Supervisor: Jay Grace
Co-Director: Jeff Newitt
Producer: Julie Lockhart
Director, Additional Voices and Producer: Peter Lord
Producer: David Sproxton
Original Book and Screenplay Writer: Gideon Defoe

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)

Desperate to win Pirate of the Year competition, Pirate Captain redoubles his effort to steal as much gold as he can but the key to unrealised treasure is much closer to home.

6/10

I do not understand why pirates are held up as aspirational heroes. This is a film designed for all ages yet promotes stealing, murdering and self-interest. The film’s positive message that friends are worth more than gold, even worth more than ham, is clearly presented but overwhelmed by a finalé that emphasizes the magnitude and awesomeness of Pirate Captain’s law-breaking reputation. He wins by being branded, essentially, an international terrorist; he is labeled as a pirate Osama Bin Laden. Hmm. That said, the film is quite entertaining, has a couple of nice gags and is paced very well. With a bit of luck, all that stealing, murdering and selfishness will go over your child’s head in favour of growing a luxuriant beard. Even if they’re a girl.

This movie contains bad language, violence.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Total Recall (2012) – 2/10 science fiction action movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Executive Producer: Len Wiseman
Writer (Story and Screenplay) Based on the Motion Picture “Total Recall”: Kurt Wimmer
Writer (Screenplay) Based on the Motion Picture “Total Recall”: Mark Bomback
Writer (Screen Story) Based on the Motion Picture “Total Recall”: Ronald Shusett
Writer (Screen Story) Based on the Motion Picture “Total Recall”: Dan O’Bannon
Writer (Screen Story) Based on the Motion Picture “Total Recall”: Jon Povill
Writer (Original Short Story) Inspired by “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”: Philip K. Dick
Producer: Neal H. Moritz
Producer: Toby Jaffe
Colin Farrell: Douglas Quaid / Hauser
Kate Beckinsale: Lori Quaid
Jessica Biel: Melina
Bryan Cranston: Cohaagen
Bokeem Woodbine: Harry
John Cho: McClane
Bill Nighy: Matthias
Writer (Original Screenplay) The Motion Picture “Total Recall”: Gary Goldman

Total Recall (2012)

Doug Quaid is a factory production line worker plagued by disturbing dreams of a heroic alter-ego who gets captured and fails to save the girl. Dream sellers Rekall offer a service where they implant memories of whatever you want but when Quaid goes and buys the Secret Agent dream, Rekall tell him he really is a secret agent and then a load of police burst in and shoot all the staff.

2/10

This is a remarkably uninteresting movie. It never gets your attention thanks, partially, by never giving you enough visual information to process and invest in each scene, especially the action scenes. The cast generally look impressively uninvested though it takes Kate Beckinsale the first few minutes before she gets bored. Some of Patrick Tatopoulos’ production design has imagination and ideas and nearly has some style but that’s the only artistic element of the film of note. Total Recall is instantly forgettable.

This movie contains sexual swear words, bad language, graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, extraordinarily boring triple-breasted female nudity.

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

Mass Effect 3 (2012, PC Windows) – 10/10 role-playing science-fiction action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Project Director: Casey Hudson
Lead Designer: Preston Watamaniuk
Lead Writer: Mac Walters
Art Director: Derek Watts
Lead Programmer: David Falkner
Producer: Jesse Houston
Development Director: Corey Andruko
Jennifer Hale: Commander Shepard
Mark Meer: Commander Shepard

Mass Effect 3 (2012)

When the Reapers attack Earth, Shepard is pulled out of enforced retirement (thanks to her association with Cerberus) and reassured that she may have been right after all about this universe-ending thing. However, the universe hasn’t ended yet and Shepard isn’t ready to stop punching fate in the face.

10/10

One of the amazing emotions that a game can stir in a player is that of being a total hero. The first Mass Effect had it, the second didn’t (it was too mechanical), this third instalment of arguably the most ambitious video game project of all time does. It also entertains, thrills, intrigues and moves you. This is a terrific third-person shooter wrapped up in a terrific role-playing game wrapped up in a terrific universe and is absolutely a must-play.

This game contains very infrequent sexual swear words, bad language and violence, graphic headshot violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and potential homosexual and heterosexual sexuality.

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

Links

Doctor Who: The Snowmen (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Jenna-Louise Coleman: Clara
Writer and Executive Producer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Richard E. Grant: Dr Simeon
Catrin Stewart: Jenny
Neve McIntosh: Madame Vastra
Dan Starkey: Strax
Ian McKellen: Voice of the Great Intelligence

Doctor Who The Snowmen (2012)

Hiding in the clouds above Victorian London, The Doctor has withdrawn from the hero business after going through the emotional wringer with the Ponds some time ago. An encounter with a perky barmaid, Clara, and an instantly appearing snowman made of some kind of memory snow or something isn’t quite enough to pull him out of his exile. Clara’s going to have to try a bit harder.

8/10

This is a great episode and probably the best seasonal special in the 21st century run. It’s simply tremendous fun and jam-packed with fun (santaran), scary (man-eating snowmen), imaginative (memory worm), surprising (do not read spoilers for this one), brain-tickling (one word answers) goodies which doesn’t have quite enough time for it’s monster-of-the-week story. If the finalé had had any emotional impact, this would have been near-perfect. The crux of the episode is The Doctor and the invigorating Clara and that’s all we want to see. And now we want to see more.

This Doctor Who episode contains inferred extreme violence, unpleasant and scary scenes.

Links

The Mentalist S05E02 Devil’s Cherry (2012) – 2/10 crime detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Creator and Executive Producer: Bruno Heller
Actor and Producer Patrick Jane: Simon Baker
Robin Tunney: Teresa Lisbon
Tim Kang: Kendall Cho
Owain Yeoman: Wayne Rigsby
Amanda Righetti: Grace Van Pelt
Dove Cameron: Charlotte Jane
Lee Garlington:
Yani Gellman: Julien
Writer and Executive Producer: Daniel Cerone
Producer: Matthew Carlisle
Director: Randy Zisk

The Mentalist S05E02 Devil’s Cherry (2012)

Six months after losing Lorelei to Red John, Jane is running on auto-pilot but a sip of tea at a gruesome crime scene leads him to a neighbour’s garden where he meets a young woman who claims to be his dead daughter Charlotte.

2/10

I’ve always said that writers resort to psychosis when they’re out of ideas and that’s what we have here. A gruesome coda is worth an extra star (the victim gutted himself under the influence of hallucinogens), Patrick’s daughter (Dove Cameron) is pretty and it’s slickly presented but they are the only positive features. The Mentalist needs to seriously pick things up or it’s going to lose this viewer.

This The Mentalist episode contains mild adult dialogue and extremely gory scenes.

Links

Safe (2012) – 7/10 Jason Statham action thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Writer and Director: Boaz Yakin
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Producer: Dana Brunetti
Jason Statham: Luke Wright
Robert John Burke: Captain Wolf
Chris Sarandon: Mayor Tramello
Anson Mount: Alex Rosen
Catherine Chan: Mei

Safe (2012)

Cage-fighter Luke Wright sees his life go very badly when he inadvertently fails to throw to rigged match. As he contemplates suicide, he sees a young Chinese girl alone and, in the flicker of eye contact, life.

7/10

Highly effective action thriller which sees Jason Statham punching all the criminals in New York before Liam Neeson can get there from Europe presumably. The action is very well done and Statham can really sell this stuff. Additionally, he also nails his character emotionally and is the anchor of Boaz Yakin’s successfully achieved vision of a seventies-style character thriller. He builds to a brilliant, highly satisfying but unexpected, battle between two super-assassins (a cool Clark Kent-looking Anson Mount).

This movie contains bad language and strong, graphic violence.

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

Prometheus (2012) – 5/10 science fiction horror movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Ridley Scott
Noomi Rapace: Elizabeth Shaw
Michael Fassbender: David
Guy Pearce: Peter Weyland
Idris Elba: Janek
Logan Marshall-Green: Charlie Holloway
Charlize Theron: Meredith Vickers
Writer and Executive Producer: Damon Lindelof
Producer: David Giler
Producer: Walter Hill
Writer: Jon Spaihts
Original Design Elements: H.R. Giger

Prometheus (2012)

2093: Scientific Exploratory Vessel Prometheus arrives at planet LV 223 following clues found in the writings of ancient civilisations picturing giant beings pointing to a universally unique constellation. They, luckily, fly over a deserted installation and stop to investigate. They’ll probably wish they hadn’t.

5/10

Disappointing science-fiction horror made by intelligent people producing stupid work about intelligent people doing endlessly stupid things. Yeah, it looks great, is technically proficient, skilfully showcases another world and features some good horror scenes but everything that occurs is the stupidest thing that could possibly have occurred. If the characters had pulled out custard pies and starting hurling them at each other, the film would have been at a higher intellectual level. And yet there is interesting stuff in here; fascinating and worthwhile questions. What if you met your creator and they disappointed you? What if a creator’s work disappointed you? Does a creator have the right to destroy his creation? Does a woman have the right to abort a life inside her? Was that really Guy Pearce under that awful old age make-up? Why was it Guy Pearce? Why on earth was it Guy Pearce?

This movie contains graphic violence, gory and extremely unpleasant scenes and sexuality.

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

Skyfall (2012) – 8/10 Bond / M movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer (Characters’ Creator) James Bond 007: Ian Fleming
Daniel Craig: James Bond 007
Judi Dench: M
Javier Bardem: Silva
Writer: Neal Purvis
Writer: Robert Wade
Writer: John Logan
Ralph Fiennes: Gareth Mallory
Naomie Harris: Eve
Bérénice Marlohe: Sévérine
Albert Finney: Kincade
Producer: Barbara Broccoli
Producer: Michael G. Wilson

Skyfall (2012)

While attempting to retrieve a list containing the identities of every undercover agent in NATO territory, Bond is badly injured – at one point, he is presumed dead – but his irrepressible call of duty compels him to attempt a quick return to active duty. M wants him back too, as he is her man for fighting those in the shadows.

8/10

"Some men are coming to kill us. We’re gonna to kill them first." – James Bond
This is a less bombastic than usual, great-looking Bond which manages to deliver a myriad of welcome touches of humour and nods to the franchise including a better-than-expected cameo from Goldfinger. Sad to say, the action is not given enough clarity once more, not as shredded as Quantum of Solace thankfully, but generally the audience isn’t given quite enough information to comprehend the scene (leaving the opening crane sequence of Casino Royale the only iconic action of Daniel Craig’s Bond so far). The real goods in Skyfall is the cast. The movie truly captivates when Bardem’s bad guy eventually makes his classic entrance. He’s cool, insane and unsettling quite apart from his memorable physical appearance and ghoulish secret. Daniel Craig conveys Bond’s strut managing to withstand considerable onslaught from the moving times, his own aging, injured body and Bardem’s hand. But the absolute highlight of Skyfall is Judi Dench. She knocks one-liners out of the park (she’s much better at them than Craig), she has chemistry with absolutely everyone, she has charisma beyond her diminutive size, she conveys humanity and necessary hardness. It turns out that this isn’t just a Bond film, it’s a M film.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, bad language, adult dialogue and violence and mild sexuality.

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

Links

The Mentalist S05E01 The Red Glass Bead (2012) – 4/10 crime detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Actor and Producer Patrick Jane: Simon Baker
Robin Tunney: Teresa Lisbon
Tim Kang: Kendall Cho
Owain Yeoman: Wayne Rigsby
Amanda Righetti: Grace Van Pelt
Polly Walker: Alexa Schultz
Amanda Detmer:
Michael Gaston: Gale Bertram
Jim O’Heir:
Drew Powell:
Ivan Sergei:
Emmanuelle Chriqui:
Producer: Matthew Carlisle
Writer and Executive Producer: Bruno Heller
Director: Randy Zisk

The Mentalist S05E01 The Red Glass Bead (2012)

After being a wanted fugitive for six months, pretending to murder Lisbon and leading his team members to abandon all due process and break the law themselves, Patrick Jane finds himself in prison for the rest of his life and concocts an elaborate fantasy to regress into where he and the team are relieved from suspension, escape punishment and are allowed to continue solving murder-of-the-weeks while following all leads to the identity of Red John.

4/10

The problem with this-changes-everything season finalés is that a successful show can’t change everything, it needs to keep on doing what made it successful. So the challenge becomes unchanging-everything. It is a challenge that has rarely been met in television history (Star Trek: The Next Generation managed it once or twice, and that’s about it) and The Mentalist Season Five adds itself to the list of miserable failures at restoring the status quo convincingly or logically.

This The Mentalist episode contains adult dialogue and violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and sensuality.

Links

Frankenweenie (2012) – 7/10 Tim Burton stop-motion animated childrens science-fiction horror movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Tim Burton
Writer (Screenplay): John August
Writer (Original Screenplay Adaptation): Leonard Ripps
Writer (Original Idea): Tim Burton
Catherine O’Hara: Mrs. Frankenstein, Weird Girl, Gym Teacher
Martin Short: Mr. Frankenstein, Mr. Burgemeister, Nassor
Martin Landau: Mr. Rzykruski
Winona Ryder: Elsa Van Helsing
Charlie Tahan: Victor Frankenstein
Producer: Allison Abbate

Frankenweenie (2012)

After Victor Frankenstein secretly brings his beloved dog Sparky back to life, when it’s discovered by classmate Edgar, it’s misinterpreted as Victor’s entry into the upcoming science fair and the other children know that they’re going to have to raise their game to beat him.

7/10

Tim Burton’s visual style remains unique but it’s his ability to extract humanity, good-naturedness and intelligence from his grotesquery that is his greatest strength. Frankenweenie has substance behind it’s style with some inventive (especially if you haven’t seen a trailer) and delightful moments, a classic speech for the wonderful Mr. Rzykruski and a consistently nice, fun tone while still providing a space for the scary and the troubles of school. The thing that stood out most to me, though, was the positive onscreen family. Firstly, it’s a complete and functional family with a mother, father and son. Secondly, the parents are considerate, responsible, authoritative, reasonable and supportive. It’s a genuinely refreshing element. However, while the movie is certainly nice and fun the tone is a bit subdued, even during the dramatic climax. It probably needed a character with a bit more life somewhere; perhaps a pint-size Beetelgeuse. Even though he’s technically dead. Well, actually dead.

This movie contains gruesome and scary scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Alex Kingston: River Song
Michael McShane: Grayle
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012)

A day trip to New York turns out badly when the book the Doctor is reading – starring Melody Malone – makes a reference to Rory getting them coffee as Rory is getting them coffee. The Doctor realises that the book is a history book sent back in time to help him avert yet another disaster but then Rory is kidnapped and taken through time to somewhere the TARDIS can’t go.

8/10

When you’ve got characters who are statues, it makes jolly good sense to go to the place with the most famous statue in the world – New York City – and this episode gets off to a good start with their big reveal. The return of the intensely unlikable and irritating River Song (a typically unconvincing eye-rolling Alex Kingston) is a problem but it’s the only one worth mentioning. The episode is otherwise tense and atmospheric and, critically, it connects emotionally. Marketed as the Pond’s farewell (though I swear they already did that last season), certain events aren’t, therefore, surprising but they are touching. It makes me wish I could share a love like this; it’s very nice. This time the logo has the Statue of Liberty behind it; subtle and rewarding to spot.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Douglas MacKinnon

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012)

The Ponds are beginning to value their daily non-Doctor life more-and-more and wondering whether there will come a time when they won’t want to join him on his adventures. However, a peculiar invasion of Earth by small black cubes looks like it’ll give the Ponds and The Doctor some quality time together.

6/10

This is certainly a solid enough episode with the attention well kept during the supposedly mundane majority leading to a climax we’re not really bothered about; running and shouting without much interest or useful explanation. Aside from some awful photoshopping of cubes onto famous landmarks it does look cool (the cubes countdown looks great and there’s a big spaceship to blow up) and the cubes are quite intriguing. However, if there had been more attention paid to the Pond’s sort-of maturing beyond the thrill of adventure and finding fulfilment in making a successful marriage, this episode could have been more than just entertaining. As it is, we’ll have be content with The Doctor playing on a Wii and painting a fence.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

Links

Looper (2012) – 8/10 time-travel thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Writer and Director: Rian Johnson
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Joe
Bruce Willis: Old Joe
Emily Blunt: Sara
Paul Dano: Seth
Noah Segan: Kid Blue
Piper Perabo: Suzie
Jeff Daniels: Abe

Looper (2012)

Thirty years from now, time-travel will be invented and immediately outlawed. Thanks to the difficulty of disposing of bodies in the future, time-travel becomes the exclusive domain of criminal organisations who send targets back in time to be shot on arrival by loopers. Eventually, all loopers know that they must close the loop, that is, their last target will be themselves, sent back from thirty years in the future. When Joe is to close his loop, a momentary hesitation allows his older self to escape and embark on a mission to change the past.

8/10

If it had a bit more style and swagger this character-led time-travel action movie could have been an out-and-out classic. As it is, what’s there is jolly good with an excellent character arc. A selfish assassin is confronted with opportunities to be less selfish. Bruce never takes them (even though it looks like he has thanks to his late-life love, his character is ‘I want, I want’ all the time, even then, and consistently does anything to get what he wants), Joe does gradually and eventually. The movie stumbles when it hits the unavoidable paradox moment all time-travel stories have (when Joe doesn’t shoot Bruce, then does, then doesn’t again; what is happening is we are switching protagonists for a while, but not actors or, exactly, characters) but, despite the confusion, we soon get back into the plot. There are a lot of great moments (a door set high in a wall seemingly just for one joke banging a goon’s head; the brilliantly, horrifically gruesome fate of an escaped looper conveyed without gore or violence; ‘You know there’s another waitress who works weekends. Her name’s Jen.’; scurrying into a safe during a tantrum; a mother diving to save Joe not her son; Emily Blunt remembering she’s got a penis outside), the story is strong, Pierce Gagnon (the child) is fully evil, Bruce’s targets are unexpectedly killed and he probably doubles his movie bodycount in just one year with this and The Expendables 2.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and fictional substance abuse and strong, graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and sexuality, nudity.

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