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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Review: Unknown

Dr Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and wife Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for an important biotechnology conference. When they get to their hotel Harris realises he has left a briefcase at the airport. He gets into another taxi back to airport but there is an accident and the taxi goes off a bridge into the river. The driver Gina (Diane Kruger) rescues the unconscious Harris and he wakes from a coma four days later in a hospital.

He heads to the hotel where he and his wife were supposed to be staying, the same hotel where the biotechnology summit is taking place. He is wondering why his wife hasn’t been looking for him. When he gets there he finds it difficult to get past security without ID until he see his wife. The security man takes him to see her and verify his story but she denies knowing him and she indicates a totally different man is her husband Dr Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn). He escapes being jailed by claiming he must still be confused after his coma and showing them a card from his doctor.

Harris starts to doubt his sanity so starts searching for help figuring out what is going on. First he looks for Gina, the taxi driver, who saved him but when he finds her she is afraid to say anything to the authorities because she is an illegal immigrant from Bosnia. Next he heads to the University where Dr Bressler (Sebastian Koch) works. This is the scientist who is holding the biotechnology conference, funded by a controversial progressive Middle-Eastern Prince Shada. Everywhere that Bressler goes he brings his two creepy twin teenage daughters with him. It turns out that Harris 2.0 is already there with Bressler. Harris tries to prove he is the genuine one by recounting memories of his talks with Bressler but Harris 2.0 manages to recall the same memories word for word simultaneously. Harris now believes that he is mad and may not be the genuine Martin Harris.

This all leads right to a big twisty revelation at the end that I had better keep quiet about but when I saw the twist it made me totally recall an older film. Even mentioning that other film would be such a spoiler. It all involves car chases, Bruno Ganz as an old Stasi agent working as a private investigator, assassins called Smith and Jones, Frank Langella, that briefcase Harris left at the airport and Gina the pretty taxi driver. Just to remind us we’re in Germany we had big foaming barrels of beer all over one of the car chases. I thought it was all fairly implausible but it is still good entertainment. The action moves fast enough to avoid asking too many questions such as, did that passport really claim Harris was born in 1964?

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Unstoppable

In a rail yard in Pennsylvania a total idiot called Dewey (Ethan Suplee who plays Earl’s brother Randy in My Name is Earl) screws up badly while driving a massive freight train No.777. This train is full of dangerous cargo so Dewey naturally enough doesn’t bother connecting the air brakes then jumps off the train to change points. The train speeds off without him. Disaster looms but the scale is not quite grasped as they think the train is coasting without power

We learn a bit about rookie conductor Will (Chris Pine) and experienced driver Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). Union and company politics means Frank faces enforced retirement to make way for younger cheaper workers such as Will Colson (and of course Dewey). Will screws up by attaching five too many cars to the train but Frank keeps going instead of going back and detaching the other cars.

Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) the yard master gets her chief welder Ned Oldham along with Dewey and another idiot Gilleece to try and intercept the train at a siding. That’s when they realise the train is not coasting but is going full throttle and will very likely go off the rails in a heavily populated area, mostly likely into a large fuel dump in the town of Stanton just positioned right under a large S-bend in an elevated section of the track and seemingly designed to result in maximum carnage.

Before that we have a train that is full of school kids on a special train safety awareness trip and their train is heading straight for 777. The tension builds as precious little angels sing stupid rail safety songs and the driver turns into a siding and narrowly avoids blood and death for himself and all the little brats.

When 777 obliterates a horse box the media soon take an interest. Police and media helicopters buzz around the train and the company vice-president of train operations Oscar Galvin takes charge of trying to stop 777. His mad plan is getting a little train to push it from the front to slow it down enough for a helicopter to smash an ex-marine on a rope into the window of the drivers cabin. As you’d expect hitting the runaway train with a smashed up marine on rope does very little to slow it down very much. And for extra fun the little train that couldn’t derails in a ball of flames and a dead driver.

After Franks and Will’s train has a close encounter with 777 (thanks to the five extra cars) Frank comes up with a plan a little less psychotic than Galvin’s. After Galvin fails yet again with a plan to derail the train in a little town it’s all up to Frank and Will to stop 777.

I really liked the action scenes and the use of the news clips was quite well done – nice way to build up the tension by having it done by rolling news coverage. I suppose they had to get in all that character stuff as well but I wasn’t too interested in that. At first I thought Chris Pine was some sort of kiddie stalker but don’t worry, it’s just his kid and he’s separated from his wife, gun – threats – restraining order blah blah blah. Chris Pine didn‘t really convince me of any of that stuff at all. Fortunately he is okay at the action scenes.

 

Rating 6/10

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004INGLYO

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0477080/

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: The Devil’s Rain

Cover of "The Devil's Rain"

Cover of The Devil's Rain

Here’s a mouldy oldie from deep in the cheese vault. I haven’t seen this for many years since I saw it on TV sometime in the 80s (I remember a time when old horror films were regularly shown on TV). This review will have spoilers

Mrs Preston (Ida Lupino) is worried that her husband is missing and so her son Mark Preston (William Shatner) goes to confront the Satanist sorcerer Corbis (Ernest Borgnine) who has kidnapped his father in an attempt force the Preston family to return a book to him stolen from him by one of their ancestors who betrayed Corbis. This book has the signatures of all those whose souls he has captured but he can’t return to Hell with the souls until he has the book. Preston challenges Corbis to battle of faith which he loses and so he too is captured by Corbis.

It is now up to a team made up psychic investigator Tom Preston (Tom Skerrit), his wife Julie (Joan Prather) and Dr Sam Richard (Eddie Albert) to confront Corbis and try to rescue Tom’s family from Corbis’s clutches. Their first attempt fails and Julie is captured to used in their next ceremony. Tom and Dr Richard discover a jar full souls in torment, The Devil’s Rain. Just as Corbis’s ceremony reaches its peak Dr Richard confronts Corbis and smashes the jar, unleashing the Devil’s Rain on the cultists. There is then a long drawn out scene where the whole cult melts.

This is not very entertaining film. It is quite amusing to see Shatner earnestly hamming his way through the opening scenes in the film and I was giggling quite a lot at Shatner’s rewrite of the Lord’s prayer as he battled for his faith. But then the film switches to an unfamiliar group of characters who are now the main protagonists and the early part of the film seems to have been demoted to an extended prologue. I don’t know if this why the film just fails to build up any sense of tension but certainly didn’t help. The big melt scene at the end is not only long and unpleasant to look at, it is a major anti-climax.

Rating 4/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072869/

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Film

 

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Film Review: Tucker and Dale versus Evil

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.

 Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are a couple of good friends who buy themselves a rundown cabin by a lake in the West Virginia mountains for holiday home where they can go fishing. At a gas station they meet up with bunch of rude obnoxious college kids whose ideas of country people come from watching too much Deliverance or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The college kids flee in panic after misunderstanding Dale’s clumsy attempt at a friendly greeting. Misunderstandings continue when Tucker and Dale come across the college kids skinny dipping in the lake by their cabin while they are out fishing. One girl, Alison (Katrina Bowden), is startled when she sees them and slips on a rock and bangs her head. Dale rescues her from drowning but when they attempt to alert  the other college kids to the accident they flee in panic, believing their friend has been captured. Unaware of this Tucker and Dale return to cabin with Alison to tend to her injuries

The following day while Alison realises how they have misjudged the situation and gets friendly with Dale, her friends are outside planning to rescue her spurred on by her hillbilly hating boyfriend Chad (Jesse Moss). This leads to a series of hilarious gory fatal accidents caused by stupidity and panic. Tucker and Dale just can’t seem to stop these idiots killing themselves.

This is film is a lot of fun. It is definitely playing with tropes of the backwoods slasher genre, where the college kids are so conditioned by prejudices based on ideas of country people from  these slasher films that they behave like they are in one and cause their own deaths by reactions based on their biased assumptions. It is a great piece of black comedy and that is down to believable performances from Tudyk and Labine as well a really funny script.

Rating 7/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1465522/

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Ghosts Don’t Exist

Ghost’s Don’t Exist


 Brett Wilson (Phillip Roebuck), a TV ghost hunter, is persuaded by his father to do one last programme before retiring to wallow in grief after the tragic loss of his pregnant wife some months before. A man called Travis Garner (Joe Hansard) calls him and begs for help in investigating the ghost of Wilson‘s wife Nicole. What finally convinces him to investigate further are some intimate details of his wife that Garner reveals to Wilson.

Wilson sets off with his cameraman Ritchie (Frederick Cowie) and his assistant Jen (Devon Marie Burt). When they arrive at the house they meet another investigator David Sherman (Josh Davidson) that Garner has also called. Sherman is a professional sceptic who has made a career out of debunking paranormal investigators. He is an arrogant prick and a drunk and nobody likes him.

In Garner’s house Garner tries to tell them about the ghost of Nicole but he is confused and fails to convince them. They go to leave and Garner pulls out a gun. Wilson is still going to leave when Garner gives him message from Nicole then puts the gun into his own mouth and blows his brains out.

The message is secret code that Wilson and Nicole had agreed on it and convinces Wilson to stay and investigate. More than that he shoots the tyres of their cars to stop the others leaving too. They set up their equipment and start to investigate while Sherman snarks at their gullibility, rolling his eyes as they bring out EMF meters and start hearing voices in static interference from the computer speakers.

They all start hearing voices and seeing fleeting glimpses of other people. It becomes obvious that there really is something dangerous in the house, a slow silent killer.

This film is better than I thought it was going to be. I have seen films with sceptics included just so they could prove the arrogant prick is wrong and for most of the film it certainly looks like this was going down that road but they don’t. 

I can’t say it is an exciting film to watch but it is interesting enough. The budget is low so there’s a small cast and almost no special effects.

Rating  6/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285219/

http://ghostsdontexist.blogspot.com/

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Black Swan

Bluray Review

Black Swan Bluray 001This film has been reviewed so much I really don’t think I’m going to bring anything new but I need to give it try.This is about Nina Sayer (Natalie Portman) a young ballet dancer who dreams of dancing the role of the Swan Queen in the ballet Swan Lake. It seems her dream is coming true when Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) the director of the ballet company chooses her for the role – the problem is that his production calls for the dancer dancing the Swan Queen to also dance the role of the Black Swan. Nina’s obsession with technical perfection as well her withdrawn personality are what gets in the way of convincingly dancing the primal seductive role of the Black Swan.  Another dancer Lilly (Mila Kunis) is more fun, relaxed and sexually mature than Nina and is also the alternate choice for her role which makes Nina nervous. She also has a mother who treats Nina like a little girl, gives her no privacy and wants to know where she is every hour of the day.  The pressure takes it toll on Nina who starts to hallucinate seeing fleeting glimpses of a doppelgänger.

Near to opening night Lilly takes Nina out drinking in defiance of Nina’s mother. Lily gives Nina a drug to relax her and introduces her to a couple of men and they go out for a wild night of clubbing  This opens up Nina to her sexual nature and we see the Black Swan coming out in Nina more and the line between dream and reality is shattered. This builds up to the opening night where Nina opens herself up to the darkness and obsession inside herself to perform.

The first time I saw this I was totally floored by the last act. Nina’s breakdown is subtle at the start of the film, but it builds in intensity until the neurotic dancer who started the film emerges on the stage as a complete maniac. Nina has no idea what is real any more and nor do we. I am not really sure why I got so drawn into this story. I liked that there was no sub-plot and the film concentrated on Nina allowing us to empathise with her all the way on her journey into madness right up to the last scene which was perfect.

Rating 10/10

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Paul

 Two sci-fi nerds from England, Clive Gollings (NickFrost) and Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) are geeking out at their holiday of lifetime starting with visit to San Diego Comicon. Next they rent an RV head off on trip round various well-known alien encounter sites. On their first night out a car speeds down the road out nowhere, overtakes them and crashes right in front of them. They get out to see if the driver needs help and discover the driver is Paul (Seth Rogen), a short green wise cracking ET. Paul begs them to help him escape from a mysterious government agency led by The Big Man (Sigourney Weaver). He has been held for 60 years while he was interrogated for all his knowledge and now they have finished doing that they want to cut him up to learn about his special alien abilities. He  has escaped and now needs to go meet a rescue ship. Graeme agrees to help eagerly but Clive is less certain but finally goes along with it.

They stop for the night at a trailer park run by Creationist Christian Moses Buggs (John Carroll Lynch) and his daughter Ruth (Kristen Wiig). When Ruth comes round to collect their money for berthing up for night she meets Paul and she collapses in dead faint from the shock. They flee from the park in a panic with the still unconscious Ruth. Moses alerts the police and soon government agents turn up, led by Agent Zoil and rookie agents Haggard (Bill Hader) and O’Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio).  The agents and Moses Bugg chase after the RV as it head towards Paul’s rendezvous with his rescue ship

This film is a lot of fun. It’s not a hilariously funny film and I found I was sniggering a lot but there were few big laughs. Clive and Graeme are Frost and Pegg and they are charming naturally funny guys and are also as nerdy in real life as their characters.In this film they got to play characters that allowed them to indulge their interests. the script is full of lines taken from classic sci-fi films and I enjoyed playing spot the references. A lot the humour is pretty crude and there is a running gag that Paul has inspired many of the ideas of modern popular culture. Paul is amusing but I wondered if  there was a problem dubbing on Seth Rogen’s voice because it didn’t quite blend in with sound of the film and there were times I could tell it was recorded in a studio far far away

The rest of the cast are pretty good though I did think Ruth and especially Moses were bit of a caricature. I know it was done for laughs but it was a bit of an easy target to poke fun at the crazy Christians. In a lot films about friendly aliens on Earth we get the innocent alien learning about human culture but Paul is already an expert and it is Ruth who learns about this strange new world of swearing and penises and kissing boys. The agents especially were a lot of fun. Sigourney Weaver was great playing The Big Man as an over the top mega bitch and I am sure Simon Pegg will treasure his scene with her near the end for a long time.

Rating 7/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1092026/

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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