Tag Archives: 3/5

All This And World War II 3/5


A very odd movie, with a montage of world war 2 footage in chronological order with a soundtrack of Beatles covers (minus the really, really inhuman pieces of footage).

Some of it works quite well and is poignant, but others seem trite and insulting, but overall I quite liked it. I’d even buy the soundtrack.

Fantastic Voyage 3/5

Goofy “boys own” adventure involving miniaturized people in a cool submarine craft that looks like something from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, with some dated, though still cool, special effects, with a very A to B story.

Contains the magnificent Raquel Welch.

High Anxiety 3/5

High Anxiety

Not a great comedy, but it has its moments, and part of the fun is spotting the references to Hitchcock movies. Most of them are completely obvious, but there’s some more subtle ones, such as Marnie.

There was one scene that was a genuine comedy great moment though, when the nurse and the evil doctor are being shot, verite, from under a glass table, and they keep putting things on it, forcing the camera to keep moving. That was rather an excellent idea.

Stir Crazy 3/5

Stir Crazy

Reasonably engaging comedy with a few very good sections, and a lot of sections where there’s story but no laughs, in particular the last act. It is an enjoyable time though, and I particularly like the rather touching scene where the big bald guy everyone is scared of sings a plaintive version of Down in the Valley.

The Lawnmower Man 3/5

The Lawnmower Man

Cliff Notes: oh wow, haaahahaha

This is dumb fun. I haven’t watched it since it first came out…yes, I paid money and saw this at the cinema…

Jeff Fahey’s character has been hitting with the same dumbstick as Harry from Dumb and Dumber (they share brainpower, dress sense and hairstyle) and we get a sadistic priest who likes whipping shirtless grown men, a nympho widow next door, and a wife/child beater on the other side. We get Pierce Brosnan looking skinny with a gold earring, spouting absolute pseudoscientific gibberish… for example, at one point he announces that Fahey learned Latin in 2 hours, whilst he himself took a whole year to master the Latin Alphabet…. yeah, the Latin Alphabet is the English alphabet without a distinct J or W…

We get some really creaky looking CGI that has a retro charm, and I admit I found the dopey moment when Fahey equated himself to a cyberchrist was kind of cool.

I appreciated the energy of it, but it was a right mess. And absolutely nothing to do with Stephen King’s short story of the same name.

Oh and Goeffrey Lewis was in it – this adds half a point to any movie.

Cloverfield 3/5

Cloverfield

I’m sure glad I didn’t see this at the cinema, the shakeycam would have been unbearable, I’d have vomited.

Watching at home, you can at least avert your eyes and look at something else, which I ended up doing for a lot of the running time. I found the first 25 minutes or so really hard going, setting up this twentysomething angsty love affair issues, which was quite tiresome (and didn’t need to be there – a fully formed couple would have worked just as well dramatically, and stopped all the annoying angst-drama), but the film did improve dramatically once they got on to the streets.

There were some nice tense parts and it was effective for the last hour, and quite enjoyable (as long as you looked away from the irritating shaking frequently), and it was nice to see a big monster movie played out with dramatic tension and fear.

We Are What We Are (2010) 3/5

We Are What We Are

An everyday story of a dysfunctional family who happen to be ritualistic cannibals…

The film has all the elements to work and be great, with nice camerawork, acting and tension, but it’s lack of proper setup or explanation, even through indirect dialogue gets frustrating in the end, and ultimately you really don’t care about these people. It felt like it could have been so much better if the script had had a little more work.

Mark of the Vampire 3/5

Mark of the Vampire

This movie reinforces my view that Todd Browning was great at eerie and odd, but pretty terrible at conventional drama. He did it in Dracula, and he does that here. Only his ‘Freaks’ remains a pure masterpiece, because the conventional drama is completely soaked by the odd people, script and final act in that movie.

However, this film does fly when he’s doing spooky/eerie. Lugosi and the woman playing his vampire daughter are terrific, and their scenes, filmed like a silent movie, really work well.

Otherwise the movie is pretty leaden when it’s focussing on more conventional drama scenes.

The ending was fun.

Barbarella 3/5

Barbarella

This is archetypally 60s goofy fun. There’s a LOT of things wrong with it, such as the constant padding of the story and the absolutely terrible special effects, but you know what? It’s fun, it’s extremely creative in its look, art design and so on, and Jane Fonda is absolutely getting it. It also helps that Fonda is achingly beautiful and sexy, and it’s pretty much her central charismatic performance that allows this movie to deliver at all.

Rather wonderful, inheriting its spirit and art from early Flash Gordon and Planet of the Vampires, and itself becoming the spiritual parent of Battle Beyond the Stars, Starcrash and the 1980 Flash Gordon.

Great theme song too. All together now…’Bar-bar-ella, psy-che-delaaaa’

Hunter Prey 3/5

Hunter Prey

Rather enjoyable, cheap but competently made that mixes elements of the Star Trek episode Arena, Battlefield Earth (and I mean the story, not the rank filmmaking), and Enemy Mine in a blender and comes up with a pretty satisfying product. Very enjoyable.

Down Periscope 3/5

Down Periscope

Whilst this is a lightweight comedy/drama, I found it a very satisfying and fun watch, and even felt I learned something about crewing in a submarine. The cast was good, in particular the crew – even Rob Schneider was okay in it. Definitely worth a watch.

Doghouse 3/5

Doghouse

Goofy horror movie that just about works. Some of it isn’t great – the dialogue is not good (it’s clich├ęd) but delivered with some gusto, and you can tell some of the scenes probably seemed much better on paper than was actually delivered, but there was some good stuff. The zombie/monster design and choreographed movement was pretty good, and it wasn’t just plain zombies, it was part-zombie, part-resident evil mutant, and part deadite. There was an obvious riff on the eyeball scene in Evil Dead 2 that involved a golf ball, and there were several well-set-up scenes.

Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell 3/5

Kevin Smith Burn in Hell

A Q and A with Kevin Smith of distinctly two halves. The first half (or more like, first hour) is pretty great, where he talks about his interaction with the Westboro Baptist Church, and the making of Red State. The last half hour is more to do with how he feels about art, his reasons for approaching movie making how he does now, and so on, and is nowhere near as entertaining. It is, however, from the heart.

Definitely worth seeing for that first hour, especially if you like Red State and/or other Kevin Smith Q and A’s.

Thor The Dark World 3/5

Thor The Dark World

A decent sequel to the impressive first one…and I say impressive, because it really shouldn’t have worked, Thor as a comic book character works, but I just couldn’t see how it could possibly work at a serious level when put to film…and Branagh achieved it, much helped by the acting chops of Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston.

Given the fine groundwork laid in the first one, this stays on that steady bedrock, and has a seriously intense (non-camp) villain, and brings back both Hopkins and Hiddlestone for a reasonably satisfying story. The ending got a little Man Of Steel, but overall, it was a well-put together, darker sequel that delivered.

Visit to a Small Planet 3/5

Visit to a small planet

Pretty good early Jerry Lewis movie, where there’s a distinct lack of mawkishness and plenty of goofy fun. The supporting cast is pretty good and energetic too, and there’s some nice touches, such as Jerry walking up a wall and across a ceiling, and some fun with a talking dog and cat.

charming.

Submarine 3/5

Submarine

Rather fine coming of age/emo drama that required a little patience to get used to during the first act, but actually quietly satisfying by the end.

Rather nice direction, sound, acting and script.

Abby 3/5

Abby

This was a film of that was a distinct mix of good and bad (fittingly). Condemned to purgatory by legal threats from Warners about it being a ripoff of the Exorcist, it’s been hard to catch, and even now it’s only possibly in a terrible print.

It’s an interesting take on possession, and this time it’s about a Nigerian demon possessing a church-going, demur housewife who becomes sexually aggressive/rampant, and violent. So here’s the breakdown:

– Good: William Marshall is masterful; Carol Speed is pretty decent as Abby; the sound design is very effective in places, there was even one decent song in the middle of the movie playing as background.
– Bad: Rest of the cast. Even Austin Stoker, who went on to be pretty decent in Assault on Precinct 13, is bad. The direction, scene-setting is poor; the set design/budget is super-cheap, and whoever was involved didn’t have the talent or time to hide it.
– Odd: Why the hell was Warners threatened by this? Legal action seems ridiculous to me, and I’m guessing the makers of this movie didn’t have the financial clout to make a case (they’d have won against Warners imo).

Enjoyable, for a one-off watch.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3/5

Ghost Rider

Gleefully goofy Ghost Rider movie that’s propped up by Edris Elba as a French special ops monk and Christopher Lambert as a walking walloftext, we have the fiery spirit of vengeance going at it with Eastern European gangsters, arms dealers and Satan’s little helpers with glee. We also get Cage in more full-on crazy mode compared to the tamer Cage from movie 1.

However, it is a bit of a mess of a storyline, and the Crank-treatment doesn’t quite work as well here as the first Crank movie this was made by the guys that made Crank, if you don’t know what I’m going on about), but there are some hilarious odd bits and nice CGI/mad scenes.

Not quite the roasted turkey some reviewers suggested it was.

Pusher 2012 3/5

Pusher

A remake of the Nicolas Winding Refn movie of 1996, this does not reach the same levels of intensity and claustrophobia as that one, but it’s not a bad crime thriller in its own right.

Richard Coyle is pretty damn good in the central performance, and the supporting cast are decent. Nice music design, and some nice cinematography of London. Feels realistic in many spots. However, some of the bit players aren’t great actors, and spoil some of the short scenes.

Hooper 3/5

Hooper

Easy going, fun, undemanding stuntman comedy with Burt Reynolds, interestingly touching on a man getting to the end of his career, and damaged from it. It has a few laughs and exciting scenes, but my favourite parts are the bar fight and the final jump.

World’s Greatest Dad 3/5

World's Greatest Dad

As I watched this, I thought I really didn’t like it. It seemed disjointed, and I found virtually all the characters unlikeable or positively annoying. I cannot fault the movie on the acting, sound design or cinematography though, the problem I have is with the dialogue/story mechanics.

However, by the end, I did find much of the imagery stuck with me, along with the mood. Bits of it still annoy me, such as some of the characters and character dynamics seeming pointless with respect to the movie (for example, the girlfriend Ginger – who obviously had maturity/daddy issues, but to what point?), but it seemed there were 3 characters I did like, and 1 performance I greatly respected. The 3 characters I liked were Robin Williams’ father, the friend of the repulsive son, and the elderly neighbour next door. They were essentially good, kind people, with their own weaknesses, who found some solace with each other.

The performance I admired was that of Daryl Sabara as the thoroughly unpleasant, unlikeable and frankly repellent son. It must be tough for a young actor to play such an irredeemably terrible person, a braggard, a foul-mouthed pervert whose aggressive, immature character holds zero charm. It was a terrific performance I think.

I’m not sure I can recommend it – Goldthwaite’s other movie, God Bless America – is a ferocious, fun-ride that worked a lot better – but it didn’t bore me. Annoyed me a little, but any film that has imagery and mood that sticks with you like this is one that’s worth a little time to check out.

Carnival of Souls 3/5

Carnival of Souls

This is a really interesting movie. It falls flat on a lot of the acting and dialogue, but really stands out for several reasons; the weird overuse of weird organ music throughout and indeed the whole sound design, which is a little rough, but fits well with the tone of the movie; the look, movement and charisma of the leading lady, who isn’t the most accomplished actress, but still gets across the weird nature of the character and her predicament; the cinematography is really very good, as is some of the editing – there’s a great edit in particular where we see the heroine jerk and suddenly appear behind the wheel of a car.

Interesting, as I say, and a real mix. Good, bad and odd.

Get the Gringo 3/5

Get the Gringo

Yep, we have Mel Gibson doing what he’s good at, which is excessively violent action genre movies. This one’s quite unusual and not what I expected, as he spends most of the time in a Mexican prison, but it’s fun, it’s cool that this action guy is seen planning and thinking through how to get what he wants, with a touch of the conman thrown in. Fun.

Julia’s Eyes 3/5

Julia's Eyes

This thriller has a pretty great central performance, and like others have noted, owes more to the legacy of Italian giallo movies like Deep Red that Spanish horror. However, it is very engaging, and really keeps you tense for the first act and most of the second, but when you get a concrete idea of what exactly is going on, the logical flaws and ideas raised in the first act feel a little dishonest and inconsistent with the last act.

Given this, I don’t think the movie has a high level of rewatchability, but I did enjoy it enough, but felt a little disappointed in the last act, when what was going on became clear.

Didn’t work for me because of it, but as I said, the main central performance was terrific, despite this.

The Nutty Professor 1963 3/5

The Nutty Professor

Some rather fine comedy scenes, in particular the hangover scene, the first-person perspective of Buddy’s first appearance in public, the first jeckyll-and-hide-like transformation scene, Buddy sharp-talking the dean, and the parental family home flashback. Other bits didn’t work so well, such as the mawkish public transformation of Buddy from himself back to Julius – Jerry Lewis doing ‘feel sorry for me’ schtick is often cringey, and this is very cringey.

Those college kids looked way too old to be there.

I think Jerry was working out some Dean issues in this.

White Zombie 3/5

White Zombie

Whilst not quite as good as some of the other great, weird horror movies of the 30s (Freaks, Island of Dr Moreau, The Black Cat), it really works well whenever the zombies are on screen. It works less well in the stagey, ridiculously melodramatic performances, the ridiculous pauses to indicate significance, and Lugosi being Dracul-ish at every opportunity.

However, I did definitely enjoy the zombie/walking dead parts, and can happily ignore the pointless scenes, the constant Lugosi hand-gestures to indicate he’s turning up his mesmeric power to 11, and enjoy the odd tension, the pretty ‘white zombie’ of the title, and the vulture that looked distinctly like an eagle. Oh and a pretty good ending.

Vampyr 3/5

Vampyr

This didn’t really work for me for the first half. I really enjoy another movie by Dreyer, specifically The Passion of Joan of Arc, but the silent screen aesthetics employed in this, a talkie, seemed retrogressive. The quality of the print also didn’t help. However, there were some really striking scenes in the first half that kept my attention, and I actually felt more immersed and less bored by the half-way mark, where the movie definitely picked up for me, and it was much more enjoyable.

I watched it because it’s on so many ‘great horror movie’ lists and I’ve been meaning to for a long time, and I can see why it’s on such lists, but it does take a little time to immerse yourself into.

This really looks like something that was a profound influence on David Lynch. I did feel Eraserhead lurked somewhere within its scenes and structure.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 3/5

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Reasonably charming comedy, with some laugh out loud moments (watch out for the mention of a ‘genital cuff’, and Caine testing the paralysis in Martin’s legs), and a ton of charm from Caine and Martin. Glenne Headly also does really well not to be swamped by these two.

Plague of the Zombies 3/5

Plague of the Zombies

Pretty solid Hammer movie exploring Haitian zombie lore, with some tense scenes. The scene were huntsmen cut cards over a trapped woman is tense as was the scene where they hunt her down in the woods beforehand), and the old mine full of white-faced, white-eyed zombies was fine, as was the priest costume. Recommended.