Tag Archives: 3.5/5

Switchblade Sisters 3.5/5

Okay it lacks credibility and acting ability, but it makes up for it in the charm of the leading actresses – they may not convince, but they sure are fun in this violent, sexy, ridiculous romp among high-school gangs (and these girls look almost as old as the high-school girls in Grease).

You do have to ignore the aspect of ‘rape-as-how-gang-members-flirt’ aspect of it that really hasn’t dated that well, but the goofy costumes (the nerdy Crabs in particular reminded me of Bobcat Goldthwaite in Police Academy 2, but some of the other characters’ costumes were equallyhilarious), and combine this with the cheesy dialogue, ridiculous gangfights (AK47s at a roller-rink rumble, anyone?) and general exploitation stink, and you have a fun hour and a half.

Hold That Ghost 3.5/5

A fun one from Abbott and Costello, and many of the routines in this one were redone a little more slickly in Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein 7 years later. This also benefits from some Andrews Sisters songs and some good comedy acting from Joan Davis.

The Conjuring 3.5/5

The Conjuring

A solid, though derivative, entry into the haunted house/evil spirit/possession cycle that’s current, reminiscent somewhat of Insidious (and I’m ignoring that Patrick Wilson is in both), and supposedly based on true events, that works really well in act one, but gets less creepy and more gross-out as the story unfolds – so I think the first act is most successful.

However, it’s a pretty decent horror movie all around, with the only flaw in it being a section where the psychic investigators’ own daughter is somehow threatened at their home – this I think fractures the movies internal logic and feels more filler than intrinsic.

Otherwise, quite enjoyable.

Inglorious Bastards (1978) 3.5/5

Inglorious Bastards

Rather good WW2 action flick, with some great locations (it really did look like war-torn Europe during WW2), great costumes, and some crazy adventures of army criminals who get free when their convoy is ambushed, and figure they will head for the Swiss border, only to end up on a mission. Good story, good casting, and quite enjoyable, though maybe a tier below the best of the WW2 action movies (such as The Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare).

Tarzan The Ape Man 3.5/5

Tarzan The Ape Man

This is a pretty action packed movie once we get to the half hour mark. That’s when we first encounter Tarzan. We see Tarzan swim faster than crocodiles, outrun hungry lions, fight leopards, gorillas and tribesmen, and he sure is an action man – he throws himself into fights and rescues with relish.

It’s also a story about Jane looking for a lover who isn’t so stuffy and inhibited as the men she’s used to…and she sure gets what she wants from Tarzan. This is surely some primal fantasy?

Wiessmuller has great presence despite only saying about 20 words (Schwartzenegger would pull the same trick many years later – charisma can take you far), and Maureen O’Sullivan is a sexy, girlish Jane.

There’s some dodgy racial angles to this – a tribe of pymies being blacked up dwarves…some with afro wigs with bones weaved in, anyone?

It’s also pre-Hays code, so we do get a stampede of elephants through the ‘pygmy’ village, which includes elephants throwing the dwarves around and stomping on them.

A great family movie, all round.

Convict 99 3.5/5

Convict 99

Another fun comedy with Will Hay, British music hall comic, and his assorted sidekicks. Here, he accidentally becomes a prison governor, and various shennanegins ensue. It’s a shame you rarely see goofy comedy like this these days, where a silly premise is grabbed and run with all the way to the end. I guess the Farelly brothers are the nearest contemporary equivalent.

Comedy of Terrors 3.5/5

Comedy of Terrors

A goofy comedy about two inept, murderous undertakers played by Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, but also with Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff and Joe E Brown. They’re all hamming it up gloriously, and it’s a lot of fun.

I particularly like Price treating his hot wife like she’s repulsive.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa 3.5/5

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Reasonably funny and diverting comedy from the cringe-tastic Alan Partridge, that works well if you watch it in 2 or 3 servings, rather than one sitting – Partridge is definitely a characters that works better in several small doses than one big pigout.

Does this work overseas though? I think it’s a very British offering.

Stridulum aka The Visitor 3.5/5


Completely bananas movie with an impressive cast (John Huston! Shelley Winters! Glen Ford! Franco Nero as Jesus Christ!) and with a young Lance Henrikson, this is a nutty cross between The Omen and the theatrical cut of Highlander 2, with elements of The Boys From Brazil and The Exorcist 2 thrown in.

Enjoyable, but don’t expect any sense.

Super Troopers 3.5/5

Super Troopers

This isn’t bust a gut funny and there were long stretches where I didn’t laugh at all, but the characters and their shenanigans are charming and fun, and it’s rather enjoyable, and the third act actually improves its score but half a point.

Riddick 3.5/5


A stripped down Riddick, getting back to basics that works so well, as it did in Pitch Black and was sorely missing in The Chronicles of Riddick. The first half hour was pretty damn good and distinct, with very little dialogue, and a lot of fun watching Riddick surviving brutal conditions and get the measure of the planet he’s been stranded on. It was like watching a decent movie version of the videogame Borderlands.

Eventually two sets of mercenaries/bounty hunters turn up to get him, and we get into territory that’s part retread of Pitch Black, part retread of the first (good) part of Chronicles.

Enjoyable, mindless actioner.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason 3.5/5

Bridget Jones

Whilst not as good as the first movie, this is still pretty entertaining. Some of the side characters who had more depth in the first, and consigned to bit-parts only. It’s helped by the great central performance by Zellwegger, who I don’t think was ever better than as Bridget Jones. Hugh Grant is also marvellous as the bad boy character, and Firth is good in a very stuffy, stiff role (the role is right, that’s what the character is).

Your enjoyment does hinge on how much you like Zellwegger as Jones though.

The Tingler 3.5/5

The Tingler

A very fun horror movie, and I think in some shots, The Tingler looks pretty good (okay, in others, it looks terrible). I always liked the bath full of bright red blood right in the middle of a black and white movie, and laughed a little about the lengths someone went to within the movie to do that (I have the same problem with Les Diaboliques). Also, Vincent Price drops acid.

A fun, trippy movie.

The Little Mermaid 3.5/5

The Little Mermaid

A decent Disney entry, with some pretty good songs, a memorable villainess, and some good comedy sequences. I laughed out loud in the bit where Sebastian is confronted with the horror that is the kitchen of a French chef.

However, not perfect. The whole ‘Ursula as the other woman’ plot was cursory and rushed, but I was kind of thankful it was. Any longer would have dragged the film down. 80 minutes is the right length for this sort of thing.

The Rescuers Down Under 3.5/5

The Rescuers Down Under

Rather charming Disney feature, unusually (at this time) a sequel. The animation seems to be a distinct step up from the late 60s/70s animation style (though many of the Disney’s from this period are classics, despite a basic animation style), and it’s a nice, light tail with a dark central character in the evil poacher, played nicely by George C. Scott.

I didn’t check this out, but the animation style, particularly of the poacher and his monitor lizard, seem very Don Bluth.

The Place Beyond the Pines 3.5/5

The Place Beyond the Pines

A rather overambitious movie that actually chops its 3 acts into 3 related, continuous but distinct stories, looking at fatherhood, and how absence and presence of a father (both literally, and absent by not paying attention) can affect the son, in a cycle. It’s a look at the whole ‘the children pay for the sins of the father’ type thing, I guess, but more subtle than that.

I liked it, but I think the first act works the best for me, and I’d’ve liked to have seen that through to a more satisfying conclusion, and the veering off into a new story threw me, but it actually worked well once you adjusted.

The third story, however, suffered from two problems. It really felt like an unresolved solution to what went before for the most part (but not wholly) was the first problem, and the actual personality/behaviour of one of the main characters felt quite hokey and just not earned or authentic to the story. We miss out some necessary dramatic glue, too, informing us about one of the father-son relationships, and how it got to be the way it was.

Having said all that, it was a very well made and acted movie, and I enjoyed it, and am glad I finally got around to watching it.

Oblivion – Odd One Out 051



A decent enough scifi actioner, but it does cram about 5 hours of story into 2 hours. It also suffers because it successfully conjures up other, better scifi movies. You can detect 2001, Moon, Wall-E, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Predator, and even the old TV series Terrahawks in there.

Remember to concentrate.

In The Loop 3.5/5

In The Loop

Rather fine comedy, and a successful transfer of the small-screen ‘the thick of it’ to a big screen version. It never really flags, and because it’s so fast and furious, it stays fresh for a rewatch.

Capaldi is brilliant in this.

Battle Beyond the Stars 3.5/5

Battle Beyond The Stars

Very fun scifi version of Seven Samurai from Roger Corman, with solid music, a decent script with witty touches (and a few laughs), and some thought and imagination showing through in the ship designs, different kinds of creatures that make up the seven, the android base, and so on.

It’s less coherent when it gets to the space battles, the effects are reasonable, but the choreography of the fighting is basic and gets a little tiresome.

Very enjoyable.

Stripes 3.5/5


A film of three parts really, and the first part isn’t as funny as I remember it.

The first part is we get to see Bill Murray and Harold Ramis before they sign up. It’s a short segment, but I remember it being much more fun than it was, but this time watching, it felt a little forced and only intermittently funny.

The second part is the actual basic training – and things really shape up. This is the best section in the movie, and there’s lots of solid entertainment in this part. I particularly liked the passing-out ceremony with the drilling high jinx.

The third part is a rescue, and it’s decent enough, particularly the running joke with the border guards.

Overall enjoyable, Murry and Ramis are in great form, and the supporting cast is solid to great.

David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive 3.5/5

Pretty solid documentary, where the incomparable David Attenborough lets you about the life histories of various exhibits that belongs to the National History Museum, London (a truly beautiful building, by the way).

They realise this by using CGI to animate the exhibits (as bones, or with fur/skin/feathers). It’s a good watch, and very, very kid-friendly.

Evil Roy Slade 3.5/5

Evil Roy Slade

This is, I think, one of the best TV movies ever made, definitely the best TV-movie comedy. John Astin is in fine form, cackling and grinning his way through the goofy action, and also in fine form is Mickey Rooney, Henry Gibson, Dom DeLuise, Milton Berle, Dick Shawn and the cute-as-a-button Pamela Austin.

There’s even some good songs (‘stubby index finger’, and the terrific Evil Roy Slade theme song), and it seems to be riffing on the Western genre and a Marx-brothers-like goofiness that isn’t a million miles away from Blazing Saddles.

Despite this being over 40 years old, the comedy still works very nicely.

Best line: “I learned a valuable lesson today. Never trust a pretty girl, or a lonely midget.”

Trekkies 3.5/5


Documentary about Star Trek fans which contains some great parts (the stars of Star Trek telling their stories about the fans…highpoints being Nichelle Nichols and Jimmy Doohan; the trekkies telling how Star Trek inspired them to go into various careers), and some rather sour parts – showing the extremes of the fanbase. I used to be amused by this kind of freakshow, but freakshow aspects of modern reality TV just feels vulgar these days, so that part felt tiresome.

So, definitely a documentary of polar parts – some really great, some really bad, and some that mixed it up so you had to pick what you got out of it.

Overall, definitely worth seeing.

Bad Day At Black Rock 3.5/5

Bad Day At Black Rock

Solid drama with a quite outstanding cast (noticeable as town toughnuts are Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine!). As I watched it, it seemed quite wordy, and I became convinced it was based on a stage play, though searching the intertubes doesn’t indicate that. Very short and punchy and with a whiff of John Steinbeck about it, as well as detective/noir.

– the good: superlative cast, acting and dialogue, nice story and resolution.
– the bad: While the direction was adequate, you really never felt a sense of tension around what should have been oppressive tension about the threat to Tracy’s character
– the odd: the quite old Tracy apparently standing up to the threat of the likes of Lee Marvin.

Ghost Rider 3.5/5

Ghost Rider

watched this at the cinema when it first came out and rather enjoyed it, but wanted to check it again, at it seems to be kicked around a fair bit.

I enjoyed it just as much this time, but to break it down

– the good: the presentation of Ghost Rider is fantastic. The flaming skull the bike, the chain weapon. All great. And Sam Elliott. Good visual direction and sound design during the action.
– the bad: the villains were weak,
far too weedy for GR. The execution of the nonaction elements was poor. satan’s CGI shadow.
– the odd: Cage’s displaced acting and his obsession about monkey videos, jelly beans, and The Carpenters.

The Heat 3.5/5

The Heat

If you’re fine with a constant stream of profanities, which I am, then this is the movie for you.

I’ve always liked Bullock as a comedienne, and this pairing with McCarthy is pretty fun. It’s not great, but it’s pretty good and chugs along nicely with the odd overindulgent scene. The villains could be a bit stronger (I got some of them mixed up to be honest), but that’s offset with McCarthy’s great BAH-STAN family that cracks me up.

Enjoyable, lightweight profanity-bombing comedy.

Cabin in the Woods 3.5/5

Cabin in the Woods

This is a fun watch. I particularly like the Lovecraftian element that runs through it, and spotting which monsters are actually monsters we all know and love. I particularly enjoyed seeing the modified versions of Pinhead and Pennywise, but wished for a Freddy and Jason knock-off too.

I enjoyed the meta-nature of the story, but was surprised the whole underground surveillance and modification deal was shown so early – that could have come later, as a complete surprise – however, the guys in the bunker were a lot of fun to watch.

Rather enjoyable, lightweight, decently written, non-scary but otherwise very engaging horror tinged with ironic comedy.

Yeux Sans Visage 3.5/5

Yeux Sans Visage

There is an odd mix of poetic and delicate sensibility and gore in this movie. It has some quite haunting and striking imagery – and this, I think, is the thing that will stay with me above all else – but also quite jarring and wincey graphic surgery (oh, how they must have dropped their jaws in the 50s to this).

Its pedigree is obvious I think – It reminds me of both Cocteau (particularly La Belle et La Bete) in its lyrical bits, and Clouzot in its more graphic parts (I’m thinking of Les Diaboliques).

Still, with all this, it seems a little overrated to be on so many ‘top X horror movies of all time’ lists. It’s definitely one to see, and I’m glad I’ve seen it, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as it’s sold.

Alida Valli was rather good I think (I know her from The Third Man at a young age, and Suspiria at an older age), and really stands out as one of the main players.

That central performance by wraith-ish daughter is really elegant and ghostly though.

Revenge of the Sith 3.5/5

Revenge of the Sith

Rather enjoyable conclusion to the prequel trilogy, with some gaping flaws (Annakin turns to the dark side on some really dodgy-sounding arguments from Palpatine – I think the rationales used are fine, but the dialogue is weak), but some rather great bits too. The entire last two acts contain some great action and fight sequences, and is extremely dark (and the darkness of Annakin’s actions seem way too extreme a change for the weak-ish arguments used to change him to the dark side).

The last act does feel like a headlong rush to tick all the boxes of known Star Wars lore (Vader’s disfigruments caused by burning up in lava? Check. Obi Wan watching Luke from afar? check. etc etc), but it still works well – any slower would have been frustrating to watch.

I think I still enjoy Attack of the Clones more, but this was fun.