Friday, December 19, 2008

Twlight (Hardwicke, 2008)

Going to watch the potential 'new Harry Potter'* on opening night was, perhaps, not the wisest choice. Lo and behold, there were the hordes of teenage girls, giggling and chattering beforehand. Fine, I'm all for getting excited before seeing a film for the first time, I do the same. The cheering when the film begins...mildly annoying in a public screening (personally), but fine, I can live with that. The incessant chattering for a lot of the rest of the film? Initially highly irritating.

However, this turned out to be beneficial, as it meant that I and my friend could get away with making our own commentary, so that we could actually be entertained while watching the film. Twlight is, alas, a little bit dull.

For the first hour or so (it may have been less than an hour - it certainly felt like an hour) the very boring Bella is established as our heroine, as is her instant attraction to the bizarre Edward Cullen. There is never much to pay attention to past the longing glances and terrible dialogue. I had to surpress my own giggling at several unintentionally funny points.

Once the film gets going, it improves, although it's still difficult to get past dialogue as wooden as the wirework. This is a shame, as the performers are all good enough, with Robert Pattinson, although not perfect, showing massive potential to be a very convincing and charming leading man in bigger and better films. There are very enjoyable secondary characters - Dr. Cullen and James spring to mind - and just enough excitement to keep things going (until everything following the climax, mind).

Hardwicke's direction is nicely done and not too distracting, although some aspects which may have worked in the book don't seem to come across so well on screen - the vampires' glistening skin, some of the vampiric enhanced abilities (like running up trees!).

It's easy to see why Twilight has such a large following. What was irritating on one level as a cinema go-er was interesting as someone who is a self-proclaimed fandomer. Seeing (well, hearing) the responses of people massively invested in what this film is based upon was fascinating as someone who has experience of the same, but no knowledge of the subject at hand. There's no doubting the film franchise will be as popular as the books, and probably introduce many more to them. However, personally, I find it quite difficult to see it as being particularly long-lasting beyond teenagedom**.

There's just about enough in Twlight to make me want to see its sequels - on DVD. And I can only hope that Bella becomes a far less needy, irritating and dull heroine by those films.

*This categorization irritates me - just because something has a pre-existing fandom doesn't mean it's the 'new Harry Potter'. Harry Potter is still on-going, it doesn't need a replacement, and new franchises sure as hell don't need to be burdened with comparisons to it. The Boy Who Lived is not the be-all and end-all of book-to-film fandom.

**This no doubt sounds ridiculous coming from a (slightly diminished) Harry Potter fan, but I'd actually love to hear how adult fans of the series define what it is that they enjoy, because I am quite clearly, ignorant in the ways of Twlight.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Strangers (Bertino, 2008)

I think there's a chance that people who don't normally go see horror films might find this film scary all the way through. Anyone who has seen more than, oh, I don't know, three decent horror films, won't.

The premise is simple - a couple in an isolated home are terrorized by three masked individuals. Hardly original, but plenty of room for a filmmaker to make their own mark. Alas, these film makers did not. The film starts with a 'based on real events' spiel and starts at the end - the discovery of a scene of horrific crime. So far, so 70s.

Then, we get to meet the poor, unfortunate couple who will end up the victims of that crime. Now, I confess I can't stand Liv Tyler in the slightest, but her character was not endearing in the slightest to me. Scott Speedman fares slightly better, but after 15 minutes of exposition and making us 'care' (hmm, not quite) for our protagonists, I was seriously itching for something to actually happen.

And when it finally did, the tension did rise. There are some good jumps and a decent atmosphere of dread...but no pay off. The director relies so heavily on sound and music to create any semblance of fear that you wonder if anything will actually happen at all. After several SCARY MUSIC CUES, the following five million SCARY MUSIC CUES become no more than irritatingly predictable. It doesn't help either when what should've been a very creepy early moment was rendered useless by the fact that it's the damn poster for the film.

Even with the film's naturally brief running time, it feels laboured. What the film promises to be a brutal climax falls short - if you're going to set up brutal slasher-movie stabbing, deliver it, please. It's nice that the three strangers remained mostly faceless even having removed their masks, but to me it continued to dehumanise very human monsters. And the final scene? Cheaper than cheap, and not scary.

Personally, I didn't like the direction. The annoying attempts at simulated hand-held shots felt forced. If Bertino wanted his film to feel real, he should've filmed the whole damn thing that way and with a handheld camera, not mix it up with polished shooting and cutting.

Scary masks were done far more effectively by El Orfanto and hell, Batman Begins. Supposedly, a sequel to the film is in the works, with the hope of launching a Saw-like franchise. Um, no thank you. The Strangers lacks the vaguely interesting characters and actual scares needed to sustain one, 85-minute film, never mind a franchise.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Cohen, 2008)

When you go into a film expecting bad and end up getting worse, you hope that actors as cool as Jet Li got a damn fat pay cheque for lending their talents to it.

I am known for enjoying some crappy films. I like big, dumb action and big, dumb stories, but the third installment of this franchise is both big and dumb but so devoid of character or fun that it fails in every respect.

One good thing about the film: Yetis. They're cute and I want one as a pet - however, I'm not sure this was intended, but heck, they should be glad that there was at least one creature to root for in the film.

The lack of chemistry between everyone in the film is one of its biggest problems. That there is more chemistry between John Hannah and yak he shares a seat with than between any of the other couples or pairings in the film says a lot. Maria Bello is a fine actress but is woefully wrong as Evie - there's an obvious reason Rachel Weisz did not sign on to appear again. There is zero chemistry between Evie and Rick, even once their 'passion' for each other has been rekindled by the spirit of adventure. Their son, who has mysteriously become an American, is subjected to an implausible and charmless love interested (who has so much potential to be a cool character it hurts to see her fall short).

The only real moment of chemistry is when Jet Li and the fabulous (but underused) Michelle Yeoh face-off in the one decent set piece of the film. For a film boasting two kung fu heroes, the action is particularly dull and stilted, on a small and large scale. Neither army is that impressive, no battle is enthralling; there is simply nothing on display to excite or entertain.

The dialogue is terrible, the acting worse, the score distracting...but the set design was quite nice. Set design, and some cute CGI yeti. That's all this film's got going for it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (Carter, 2008)

At long last, The X-Files returns, 6 years since the show ended and a whopping 10 years after the first film. Needless to say, I'm a massive fan and so am ever so slightly biassed about this film. However, I will try very hard to provide a balanced look at what's a very risky outing.

With very little of the film's plot revealed beforehand, even the most die-hard followers of The X-Files are in for a surprise when they see the film. I was. With what little information I had, I was completely off the mark with how I thought the Mulder/Scully dynamic would be. As much as I didn't mind the scenario I had imagined, I've never been happier to be wrong.

This would appear to have been in an attempt to attract newcomers to the phenomenon. Emphasis has been placed on the film's 'stand alone' nature in relation to the TV series and conspiracy-based first film. For the casual viewer or newcomer IWTB is a decent thriller. A casual viewer might be surprised by the concentration on character than action, and I fear that won't sit well with a lot of people who go see the film.

As a fan, though, this film is something else. I've seen it three times (and planning on seeing it once, maybe twice more tomorrow) and the thing that continues to strike me most is how much the film is for the fans. Never mind that it's standalone, never mind that it's accessible - this is a $35 million love letter to a group of the most dedicated people in the world. There are in-jokes galore, references to episodes (without being alienating - pardon the pun) and an end-credits sequence which is so damn surreal it works.

Stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are a massive and essential part of this. Their chemistry hasn't changed one bit, and it ignites the screen as effectively as it ever did. The film shows us a very different Mulder and Scully, but they are nonetheless challenging to each other still. They bring the emotion and trueness to the story which is really about them. The paranormal element seems almost like a subplot, in a rare move which has the film focus on character than action and for me, it works.

The secondary characters seem assembled from the most random selection of actors - Billy Connelly, Amanda Peet and rapper Xzibit - but they all perform well. Connelly has the most to do, but Peet and Xzibit do their best which what are essentially simple characters. The supporting cast is a treat, full of past X-Files stars, many of whom are instantly recognisable. Most exciting of all - the one which has elicited either loud cheers or silent squeals each time - is Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner, even if his appearance is an extended cameo.

This is all testament to the brilliance of Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, who have constantly been appreciative of their fan support. Carter's direction is as tight and as exciting as any of the other summer blockbusters, which is impressive considering the film's apparent disintrest with big action set-pieces. The duo's love for these characters is clear.

Completing the feel of this film is Mark Snow's unsurprisingly wonderful score, feeling just like the TV show only big enough for the big screen. Included on the soundtrack is the song 'Broken' by Unkle, which has lyrics which are as applicable to the film as they are to whole fan experience.

So, this film might not be perfect. There're a few dud lines of dialogue. It might be a bit slow to someone not as invested in the characters as others. But I surely don't care, and I'm not sure other fans will either. The film's weakest point has been it's marketing - what very little marketing there has been has promoted the film as an action blockbuster. It's not. It's a suspenseful paranormal sci-fi drama. It's a slow burn about a pair of wonderful characters, who are just like old friends to a hell of a lot of people. For fans, it's all about the love.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)

To describe this film in one word is easy: wow.

This film is big, it's loud, it's harsh, but it's also reflective, deep and twisted. Featuring a plethora of heroes as conflicted as its villains, the film is as complex as it is visually entertaining.

This is block-busting cinema at it's finest. Every face punched, engine revved and building blown up is as exciting as the last, but the film is dark. It's incredibly violent, made even more unnerving by its lack of explicitness. The film has no happy ending - the Joker really does win, as we see our heroes become more and more engulfed by shadow.

And so, the Joker. A role that has drawn so much attention following the untimely death of Heath Ledger, and what a role it is. By far the powerhouse of the film, Ledger's performance is so massive, so immense, that it's easy to see how it would have become all-consuming. Every inch of him is the Joker - he twitches, he blinks, he pokes out his tongue in an absolute embodiment of a highly disturbing, yet highly attractive, character.

But to sing the highest of high praises for Ledger is not to detract from the rest of the cast. Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart provide fantastic foils for Ledger. Christian Bale utterly owns the roles of Bruce Wayne and of Batman, wonderfully portraying the conflict that drives the film. Equally Eckhart, as District Attorney Harvey Dent, provides an equally effective hero as he does, later, villain.

Nolan's vision of Gotham city is a wonder to behold. While less grimy than in Batman Begins, it somehow feels scarier. The film's more intimate scenes are handled with as much talent and creative flair as the visually stunning action sequences. Pile on top of this a superb score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard and this film nears perfection.

It's not perfect, though. It does feel somewhat meandering - there are lots of twists and plot threads that don't appear to tie together, but this, fortunately, does not make the film any less coherant.

Next week, I'll be seeing this film on an IMAX screen. Considering how big this film feels on a regular screen, I'm preparing myself to be truly blown away.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wall-E (Stanton, 2008)

Anyone who knows me will know that I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Wall-E for a long time. For months I've been telling everyone how amazing the film will be - the teaser trailer had me in tears, and with each and every snippet released to promote the film my expectations grew higher and higher. This was it: the film that could possibly become my new all-time favourite, a film so cute it'd make me teeth rot and I wouldn't care. Of course, people kept telling me - it'll disappoint! Don't expect too much!

Absolute rubbish. My sky-high expectations were met, beaten to the ground, piled higher and trampled on. This film, to me, is utter, utter perfection. However, I will admit that I'm finding it very difficult to think about the film in a critical way - the fact that the characters are so damn cute, the message is one that I feel so strongly about and that there's one Kubrick reference that's so genius it floored me, the film's flaws fall on rather blind eyes.

So, I will try to pick them out. Once the actual plot of the film gets going, it all does seems a little thin and a little rushed. Once characters appear who, y'know, talk, their dialogue is a little bit wonky. And...

...yeah, that's all I've got. In a film as stunningly beautiful as this, I'm finding it very hard to find fault.

Wall-E himself is an utter triumph of design and character. That an animated machine conveys more emotion than so many of his human counterparts is simply stunning. Each and every twitch of his eyes or whir of his cogs is made to make us feel everything he does. And it's not a simple case of: "look, cute robot, aaaw!" - he's a fully-developed character. He's kind-hearted, intelligent, practical, lonely, hopeful, caring...utterly, utterly lovable.

Thankfully, Wall-E is not the only one so wonderfully brought to life. Eve, the robot he falls for, has completed my trinity of feminist icons - Dana Scully and Eowyn of Rohan being the other two. It's not just because she packs a wicked gun - Eve works hard. Nothing will stand in the way of her directive - and what an important one it is! - but that doesn't mean she's not a dreamer. Left alone on Earth to scan for life, she relishes the freedom. It takes meeting Wall-E, the most heart-breakingly lonely character in cinema, for her to realise her own loneliness, that sometimes there are things more important than directives.

That I so completely and utterly related to two computer-generated robotic characters is baffling and only a slightly worrying reflection of myself. Wall-E and Eve aren't just about the angst or the romance, they're about the funny too. Joined later by a gang of robots - Mo being the most adorably memorable - their innocence and playfulness lead to some wonderfully funny moments.

So far, I've not even mentioned the animation. Pixar have utterly outdone themselves. From the bleak landscape of Earth to the sleek designs of the Axiom, the animation is faultless. Some sequences could easily be from any other big-budget effects movie. The use of music and sound in the film is vital - there's virtually no dialogue for about the first thirty minutes - and Thomas Newman's score is wonderful. Of course, it goes without saying that Ben Burtt's chirps and beeps are glorious.

Best of all about Wall-E is that it's a kids' film for adults, an adult world made for children. A film both sweet and terrifying all at once, the combination of innocence lost and found is makes for an incredibly moving piece of cinema. In addition to the little robots making cute, the cinematic references are wonderful. When the Axiom's Captain takes his first steps on legs that humans have forgotten how to use - all to the sounds of Also Sprach Zarathustra - I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Like I said, reviewing the film is difficult, because I'm struggling to get past that "blub, blub, oh god the cute, blub, blub" stage of things, but I don't really care how much my hyperbole makes me sound uncritical. Wall-E deserves all the praise it receives - for creative bravery, for social commentary, for pure romance and cuteness - cinema does not get much better than this.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom (Minkoff, 2008)

The Forbidden Kingdom surpassed all my expectations for it - I was looking forward to a fun film with some cool fights. That's definitely what I got, but the film, although outwardly generic, was a lot more satisfying than I would've hoped for.

Primarily this film is about the fight scenes, which are beautifully choreograhped, as expected, by Yuen Woo-Ping. The face-off between Jackie Chan and Jet Li more than pays off in what is one of the most breathtaking sequences in an action movie that I've seen for a good while. There's nothing particularly new here, but the fight sequences are riveting.

Chan and Li are both superb, and even if this was a vehicle for the two of them to star together, they are perfectly cast as their - various - characters. Li gets to show off both a serious and a playful side to his art, Chan excells as the comic core of the film, while also providing the film with its most emotional content.

The characters may be quite cliched, but that's the nature of the story. It's a myth, a fable - the only character I was worried about no working was Jason, but he works brilliantly. Despite this being a story of American boy falls into Ancient China, the film doesn't fall into the trap of making him a) annoying or b) all-knowing. Jason succeeds because of what he learns in the Forbidden Kingdom, and not through anything he already knew from his own world.

Similarly, there are certain story threads - most notably Sparrow's story - that could have been handled in a horribly Hollywood-type way. Thankfully, this doesn't happen, and while, of course, the film is a nice, shiny big-budget production, it never gives away its heart and is a much better film for it.

The film isn't original, but it succeeds in entertaining and engaging from the outset to its end. The characters are colourful, the spectacle impressive and importantly the film has just the right amount of heart to make a perfectly light fantasy adventure. The people of Narnia could learn a thing or two from this film - warmth and a sense of humour really elevate this film beyond mediocrity.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hancock (Berg, 2008)

The trailers and marketing for Hancock all quite clearly identify the film as an action-comedy, stars Will Smith and Jason Batemen further cementing the impression. However, Hancock is vastly different to this, and I'd say for the better.

Personally, I'd label Hancock a very funny action-drama. There is no evil mastermind, no end-of-the-world and a thoroughly un-super hero. Will Smith is, as expected, wonderful in the title role, pre- and post-reformation. Alcoholic, bad-tempered John Hancock is an absolute hoot who is easy to root for despite the bad attitude.

That this is a film about people and not about heroics is clear - from Hancock himself to PR Guru Ray's impressionistic son. The set pieces and action are visually brilliant, but are caused and driven by the very individual characters and situations, rather than any grand scale world-dominating supervillain.

The 'mythology' the film introduces does sit a little uneasily, despite being a nice idea. The twist, although enjoyable, never quite makes total sense. The film's ending is touching, Hancock's arc being nicely played out. Charlize Theron's character is a lot more difficult to understand, but not to the extent of ruining the relationship that exists between them.

Hancock might be better in conception than in execution, but the film is highly enjoyable, very funny and importantly very different. Perhaps Will Smith the comedian has been tempered by Will Smith: Serious Actor, and in Hancock this works absolutely for the better.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Adamson, 2008)

Only three years have passed since the previous and first installment of The Chronicles of Narnia, but I'd hazard a guess that that's about two years too late for Prince Caspian not to fall a little short.

Cinema has been rather saturated by children's 'epic' fantasy films in the interim - Eragon and The Golden Compass most notably - few of which have lived up to the giddy heights of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Although Narnia is lucky to have a highly recogniseable and marketable name, I think it would have done better to have been produced/released sooner.

Having said this, Prince Caspian is a solid, entertaining film, just like its predecessor. It just lacks that certain something that has made a franchise such as Harry Potter so successful. I dare say this is due to the rather less substantial story, but it's not all C S Lewis' fault.

There's nothing really that exciting about Narnia - yes, that battles are impressive enough and the landscapes breathtaking, but it's all so very twee. These battles needn't be blood-drenched, but there is a distinct lack of grime that makes it all a little too choreographed to be truly heart-stopping.

The characters are just as bad - lovely though they are, the Pevensies are just. so. boring. Edmund is the most interesting of the lot and he is sorely underused. Prince Caspian himself makes for wonderful eyecandy, but his dodgy accent and unconvincing angst don't help him rise to anything more than just that. The villains are suitably villainous but nothing we've seen before. Narnia does have talking animals which are convincing, at least - Reepicheep and Trufflehunter are fabulous (and are quite possibly more exciting than the children...).

But really, I'm nitpicking. Prince Caspian does what it should - it entertains. The film goes on for too long with too little to fill the time, but regardless it is distraction enough that certainly, for me at least, leaves a longing for a portal to appear to a magical world of my own. Of course, it doesn't really take much to get me wanting that.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Teeth (Lichtenstein, 2007)

I could be completely predictable and say this is a film with ‘bite’...but really, I wouldn’t be lying.

Teeth tells the tale of Dawn, a young girl repressing her own sexuality who discovers she is the literal embodiment of vagina dentata after a horrendous sex attack (is there any other kind?). Her discovery leaves her confused but eventually empowered.

Vagina dentata. Sounds like a topic for exploitation cinema to me, but Teeth, while at times very funny and fantastically gross, plays it straight. The balance is right, and I think in no way better exemplified than by the scene of Dawn’s discovery of her secret. She is attacked, and her natural defense mechanism does its thing. Now, penile dismemberment is always going to be funny on the big screen. Between the blood and the screaming and the audience’s shock, the effect is one of laughter. And so Dawn runs back home, and you’re still kinda thinking “haha! that guy had his dick bitten off!” Then Dawn takes a shower and you realise: I’m laughing at the guy for getting what he deserved: you go, girl! – and you remember that she was just raped.

The attacks in the film aren’t funny. Dawn’s own, odd, repression isn’t funny. These aren’t the things that need to be funny – Dawn’s strength of character leads to some funny moments. When she realises that, actually, she can have sex and not go straight to hell for it, we’re happy for her. We’re even happier when the man she chooses to sleep with turns out to be an idiot that suddenly, her secret is her power. And when men lucky enough to survive encounters with Dawn are ultimately humiliated on the operating table – we’re laughing.

The film is disturbing enough, too. The gynacology scene in the film is incredibly difficult to watch, but more subtle is Dawn’s step-brother, Brad, who has clearly developed several complexes* due to Dawn’s secret – before Dawn herself is even aware of it. And when he meets his commupence – we’re laughing, but we really know we shouldn’t be.

Jess Wiexler is fantastic as Dawn, making a character that could’ve come across as incredibly stuck up immensely likeable; the supporting characters are all suitably grey. Michael Lichtenstein skillfully blends more surreal moments with the mostly realistic shooting. Some very simple shots are the most memorable – Dawn in the bath, for example – and a simple score underlines the importance of character to Teeth’s success.

*He owns a female rotweiller named 'Mother' and keeps her in a cage, for crying out loud.

The Happening (Shyamalan, 2008)

Considering this film is called 'The Happening'...well, not a lot happens.

I've stuck up for M. Night Shyamalan. I like his work (I've not seen Lady), and while it seems like the majority has had enough of his babble but I've still enjoed his films. Even I can't defend The Happening.

I really like the idea behind this film. The plot of the film is slight at best, but the concept is an interesting one and one I could certainly have enjoyed.

Visually, as well, this worked for me. It's difficult to make trees menacing, but I enjoyed how Shyamalan shot the greenery of the film in such a way that did provide an element of threat.

Having said that, there is pretty much no sense of threat in this film. I don't know if the marketing department of Fox got it all wrong in how they've promoted this film, but the film did not match the marketing. It's pretty obvious why this is.

The script is absolutely terrible and delivered with zero talent. The majority of the actors in this film should be ashamed of themselves. Mark Wahlberg, who impressed me mightily in The Departed, was just ridiclous; he was either acting like an eight year old or a simpleton - and I'm really not sure which. Zooey Deschanel should never work in film again EVER for the simply terrible performance she gives. The characters are so flat that any attempts at emotional content (of which there's lots) are just utterly pointless.

The best performances come from John Leguizamo - whose involvement in the film is far too brief, but probably for the best - and Betty Buckley, who appears in the most effective sequence of the film.

In the house with Mrs. Jones, alone, would have made a brilliant piece of filmmaking. Her character is the most subtley characterised of the entire film (which granted isn't saying much) and is more frightening than any other aspect of the film. The 20 minutes or so spent in her house is the most effective and genuinely good part of the film.

There are a few other decent jumps and scares in the film, but these are fleeting, and pretty much depends on the visual. Considering this is Shyamalan's first R-rated film, there is little gore. I actually admire Shyamalan for cutting away from the more grisly deaths, and yet sticking with what probably pushed the film into the higher rating (not to spoil but it involves kids). In a film that it's pretty much this dull, I think any additional gore would actually have made it worse and not more interesting.

A disappointment, then, that's for sure. I think it's time Shyamalan passed his ideas on to someone else and directed a script not his own.

The Incredible Hulk (Leterrier, 2008)

Marvel making in-house movies could quite possibly be one of the best moves for blockbuster comic book movies.

Inferior to Iron Man but still utterly entertaining, this film suffers only from a weaker script, less charming characters and the incredibly talentless Liv Tyler.

Tim Roth is brilliant as Blonsky and Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Sterns is a fabulous secondary character. The Robert Downey Jr cameo is as satisfying and thrilling as expected. Also Stan Lee, as usual, is hilarious :D

Nice nods to the TV show in here too - Lou Feringo has a cameo, as well as use of the 'walking away' music, mwahaha! Nice joke about the purple pants, too! Nice little references for fans (I had to look these up, lol) in there, just like with Iron Man - like the 'demise' of Dr. Sterns.

Marvel are brilliantly setting up their series of films to come. I think these films are getting middling reviews from people but they are strong origin stories and as a whole, assuming this level of awesome continues, could form a brilliant movie saga.

Bring on Thor and Captain America :D

In Defense of Aliens in Indy IV

In many of the reactions I've seen to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I've noticed people range from surprised to dismayed at the inclusion of aliens and the paranormal in the series.

Personally, I don't see the problem, and while it was definitely a brave move, to me, it's a move that makes sense. So, we've got an archaeologist-adventurer now in the 50s, the height of the Cold War.

1) There are plenty of theories that wonder if ancient civilisations were founded by extra-terrestrial beings, so surely an archaeologist would be familiar with this.

2) This is set 10 years after Roswell and when flying saucer sightings were prominent and gaining attention...

3) ...and a theory as to why aliens were suddenly so interested in us? Because we were now nuclear...

4) ...a big part of the Cold War, along with the space race.

To me, it makes sense that aliens would be a considered and chosen option for Indiana Jones. Granted, some parts may have been over the top and verging on silly, but really, like Nazi faces melting off isn't silly?

Yes, it helps that I'm a great big dirty UFO believer, but whatever...

10,000BC (Emmerich, 2008)

I wanted to like this film. It looked big, dumb and stupid, and I like that sort of thing. I wasn't expecting historical accuracy and I wasn't expecting plot. However, I wasn't expecting the film to suck beyond all belief, either.

The film didn't entertain me, at all. The highlight of the film were the wonderfully rendered woolly mammoths, which were super cool. However, most of the rest of the film the visuals are terrible, which is pretty stupid for a big effects movie. There's far too much talking (complete with really bad accents and acting) for this to work as a big dumb movie.

So, because I wasn't being entertained, my mind set out to entertain itself, by evidently reading far more into the film than the filmmakers probably did, which led to my leaving the cinema offended as both a female and as someone with non-Caucasian blood in me. I could sum-up this film as "We macho Americans love you coloured folk, but are better than you and definitely don't like Arab-types. Oh, and women are useless."

The main heroic tribe is all-white, despite the dreads and the war paint. They lead a group of many different dark-skinned tribes in an all-out attack on a bunch of Arab-looking people, who fancy themselves gods. Oh, and the tribesmen are all MACHO and MANLY whilst the EVIL people are all bejewelled and prance around with long fingernails.

I could go on, but really, then I'd definitely be thinking about it more than the people who made it. My point it, I wouldn't really notice or be bothered by any of the above if the film had done its job and entertained me. I liked 300 and that smacks of underhand racism, and while I think this film is trying to be the kiddie-friendly 300 - historically-inaccurate (but it doesn't matter) throwback to how they used to make 'em - it fails utterly in having good bits to compensate for the bad. Where 300 is based on a comic and doesn't pretend to be anything else (hammy dialogue included), 10,000 BC actually fancies itself a serious film and really should've placed that tongue in its cheek.

Erm, anyway. Rant over, honest. Rent this film on DVD if you fancy a few laughs.

Murder Set Pieces (Palumbo, 2004)

Okay, the BBFC banned "Murder Set Pieces" from being released on DVD in the UK (it wasn't up for being released theatrically).

Having just watched it, I support their decision.

While the individual sequences alone were not particularly offensive by comparison to other films, but the number of sequences and the sheer lack of plot to support their inclusion renders them pointless, making them in opposition to the BBFC's (mostly reasonable) guidelines.

Certain scenes are disturbing, primarily ones involving children. Though not *too* graphic, their context and implication makes them distasteful. I would say they add nothing to the plot, but there's no plot in the first place.

Controversy aside, the film is terribly acted, terribly directed, even more terribly edited and the score is...really terrible.

There is one moment at the film's climax that is pretty good (by comparison to the rest of the film), but that moment dies as quickly as this film's credibility died following the opening credits.

Even if you disagree with censorship or the banning of films, the BBFC should be commended for not subjecting the UK to this utterly crappy film.


Take 2.