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Mr. David M. Berry "00SE7EN" (UK)

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Jaws (Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV Copy)
Jaws (Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV Copy)
Dvd ~ Roy Schneider
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £26.99

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "That's some amazing film Steven", 9 Aug. 2012
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When a Great White Shark stakes a claim off the waters of a peaceful community island of Amity, it is only the towns Chief of Police Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) that recognises the potential damage that could be done, it is only when oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) arrives to confirm Brody's suspicions, that a large dangerous predator is snacking on the locals and tourists, only when the attacks are intensified that the Town's financially concerned Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) sits up and takes note after ignoring Brody's warnings and a bounty is paid to local salty sea dog fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) and accompanied by Brody and Hooper set out to sea to confront the danger face to face.

This Steven Spielberg's second theatrical feature (Duel was a initially a T.V film before been released in theatres internationally) has lost none of it's effect 37 years later, in the advent of Universal's 100th Anniversary, a selection of it's films have been restored digitally for Blu ray releases and some cases as here also re-released on the big screen in a new 4K rendered print for audiences in 2012 to witness what made people so terrified and thrilled back in 1975 when Jaws was first released. Jaws literally invented the term summer blockbuster and opened the Hollywood studios good or bad to the opportunities of releasing a picture in the sunny season, Jaws went onto smash box office records and became a phenomenon that would not be beat till Spielberg's friend George Lucas introduced the world to some space fantasy opera 2 years later in 1977.

Having been too young to catch Jaws on the big screen the first time round, (my first initial experience was at the age of 9 on British TV when it premièred October 9th 1981), the chance to catch this in the format it was meant to be seen in was too much to of an opportunity to miss out on. I've owned the film twice on VHS and a number of times on DVD and will be purchasing a copy of the Blu ray due for release here in UK in September. From my first viewing all those years ago I was immediately hooked, transfixed, terrified and thrilled at this story and it has remained one of my favourite films of all time ever since.

Peter Benchley's best selling novel was picked up by David Brown and Richard Zanuck and after first choice Dick Richards didn't work out they turned to new kid on the block Spielberg who had one theatrical film Sugarland Express under his belt, although it is the incredibly well received TV film Duel, Zanuck and Brown obviously seeing the parallels between that story of an every man confronting a faceless nemesis in the shape of a big truck and seeing the potential this young director could bring to this project, they couldn't have been more right. Although things didn't go along swimmingly straight away, Spielberg was not too impressed with the screenplay provided by author Benchley's first draft and bought Pulitzer winning play write Howard Sackler to do a re-write but also wanting some humour asked friend Carl Gottlieb to offer some help as well as offering a role, Gottlieb choosing the politically motivated editor Meadows aligned with Hamilton's Mayor Vaughn. Gottlieb went onto do a complete re-write after only been employed to do a polish, John Milius would also contribute. Arguably the films most classic scene the USS Indianapolis speech where Quint recounts his experience as a crew man on board the ship which delivered the Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bomb which was then subsequently torpedoed and sunk with the crew been left at the mercy of the sea and thousands of sharks. A true story, this was said to have been worked on by both Sackler & Milius although Shaw a gifted writer himself rewrote the scene after researching the incident .

One of the reasons that the subsequent sequels have never captured the magic of the original has been that although Jaws 2 might have had some exciting if not preposterous moments on sea it never was as half as compelling on land as the original. Jaws is obviously well know for the action that plays out on the water but it also is invested with hugely enjoyable interactions on land, witness the moments of tenderness the beautifully played sequence between Brody and his young son Sean as the young toddler sits at the dinner table mirroring his Father's actions until he's noticed, Spielberg a director well known for working well with children shows at an early stage in his career how he elicits such performances from minors in one of the most touching scenes of his career. Although the sea moments have never been bettered, the opening sequence when a unsuspecting skinny dipper (Susan Backlinie) becomes the first victim is utterly terrifying, as she whipped across the surface violently by the unseen terror. Much has been made of the mechanical shark and Spielberg himself has little love for it but the fact is the problems that allowed the effect to only be employed sparingly play to it's strength, that sequence is more of what you don't see makes it work that by the time we do see the shark properly in a scene that now goes down in legend with Scheider famously ad libbing the most famous line of the film "We're gonna need a bigger boat" that the work has been done and although that rubber shark may look somewhat lifeless in some sequences for all it's expensive ground breaking SFX Jurassic Park hasn't one scene to level the sheer thrill of Jaws.

The fact we don't actually get to see the shark until a good hour into the film is not a problem as the story is told so well by it's actors, Jaws is invested with some great supporting players, Lorraine Gary's supportive Wife and Murray Hamilton's Mayor but is the three major players this film belongs to. Scheider off the back of an impressive turn alongside Gene Hackman's Oscar winning role in William Friedkin's French Connection, is simply magnificent as Brody, the every man, not an islander from New York afraid of the water, his Brody representing the audience. Relative unknown Dreyfuss provides much of the humour and seasoned actor Shaw commands the screen with unsubtle turn.

When composer John Williams let Spielberg hear his idea for his academy winning score, the director initially laughed at Williams but attributes a large percentage of the success of Jaws to his score, not since Bernard Hermann's score for Psycho has the music become synonymous with a film. Williams work is so simplistic but devastatingly effective, choosing to use the music only when the real threat is present when it's not it's misdirection on the directors part as well as genius main theme the score delivers all departments, thrilling, scary, sinister and touching, rarely has music to a film been a character in itself. it may have been parodied and copied but that has never robbed it of it's power to mesmerise the viewer not unlike the film itself. Verna Fields academy awarded editing has the film paced to perfection.

Many will cry the director has moved onto more powerful work but for all the importance of Spielberg's academy winning output I would argue that other directors are capable of just as impressive or superior results whereas in the blockbuster arena no other director has matched the efforts displayed here. Jaws also sees the director break two cardinal rules in mainstream cinema, killing a child and although admittedly off screen a dog, the scene is that more impact full that he's lightened the mood with the bathing cap moment "that's some bad hat Harry" when we get that Hitchcock zoom moment as Brody realises he's helpless to prevent the scene right in front of his eyes. Spielberg being also greedy after getting great results from test audiences decides he could pack one more scare into the film and in his editors swimming pool shot the now famous Ben Gardner decapitated head sequence that made audiences around the world jump out of their skin. Benchley was appalled at Spielberg's intention to close the film, the author had had the shark get tangle up in the ropes and drown but the director wanted something more explosive quite literally and in an ending which program Myth Busters devoted an entire special to prove if it was possible ( it was just) said to Benchley that if I have their attention for the duration they'll buy my ending, he was not wrong. Jaws literally is suspenseful film making at his best but enriched with a great script a superb cast and one of the greatest film scores of all time it's nothing short of a masterpiece.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2012 4:56 PM BST

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Price: £6.40

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Better than the Swedish version, "yeah I said it., 13 April 2012
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When it comes to remakes it's rarely they are worth it or even more rare the equal or better than the original, a critically acclaimed remake of Thomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In was released last year directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves but due to my love of the Swedish version I have not bothered with it, I'm sure some will be of the same opinion of this Hollywood version of the late Steig Larrson's best seller and first book of his Millennium trilogy The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. All the ingredients were in place for this to be a watered down version for those who can't be bothered to read subttiles. In all fairness for all the acclaim levelled at Niels Arden Oplev's version it is Noomi Rapace's highly acclaimed powerhouse reading of Lisbeth Salander that is the real draw, the books themselves are effective page turners and although not plummeting to the depths of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series they aren't works of literary genius, they have a tendency to get bogged down in details and conspiracy, the books certainly have their critics but they have all sold millions of copies worldwide creating an audience for any film adaptation, the Swedish one got their first but is it the better film?

Oplev's film was a highly entertaining film but it took more than a few beats from a number of films, yes inevitable Silence Of The Lambs comparisons are justified but the two films which are more than evident he has taken a few pages from are David Fincher's Se7en and Zodiac. Se7en practically reinvented the serial killer genre and raised the bar so high that cinema has been struggling to match its power ever since. Zodiac saw Fincher then approach the genre from an entirely different direction and deliver is outright masterpiece. Which begs the question why this same director be the one who signed on to helm a Hollywood remake with Sony Columbia when he has already made the definitive statement on the genre? Taking Rapace's performance out of the equation we have a competent thriller but nothing particularly new or surprising and Oplev for all his efforts is no Fincher.

Fincher is on record as saying what gravitated him towards the project is the fact that it was an adult franchise (the Swedish version has already had two inferior TV sequels released theatrically here and the U.S strangely directed by Daniel Alfredson Thomas' less talented brother) and this was something we rarely see, It's a credit to Sony Columbia that they agreed with Fincher and allowed him to deliver a no holds barred version. In all fairness though to Rooney Mara's Lisbeth Salander her take is far more than just a cover version of Rapace's. More down to age but Noomi always seems like a woman in the Swedish version, this is no detriment to her performance it's narrowly superior but in the book Salander reads as been mistaken for a 14 year old boy or girl, this is never evident with Rapace, where Mara's appearance perfectly illustrates it and it is only when she takes control notably in two sequences that she is undoubtedly a Woman. Fincher takes a big gamble casting her, having obviously seen the potential with her brief but pivotal performance in his last film the masterful Oscar winning The Social Network. The role was coveted by number of high profile female actors and non actors according to Fincher and one British tabloid hinted that Hermoine Granger herself Emma Watson was with her new shorn barnet looking for an audition, it was quoted as being the most sort after role since Scarlett O'Hara.

The other key role in the story is that of the Investigative Journalist Mikael Blomvist as essayed by Michael Nyqvist in Oplev's film, rumours circulated that Fincher's regular leading man Brad Pitt was considering the role, now while I have allot of time for Pitt particularly with his work with Fincher, this role is just to every man for him to be believable. Craig has shown although not that recently that a role like Blomvist is more than in his grasp. All the plaudits will no doubt be directed towards Mara who gives a terrific and confident performance but unlike her Craig gives a superior reading to his Swedish counterpart. Craig delivers a far more vulnerable Blomvist, Nyquist came across a little smug and knowing whereas Craig exudes a vulnerability and a a loss of confidence due to the liability suit he has lost that we see the conclusion of at the beginning of the film. Steven Zallian's script wisely opting to dump the element of Blomvist going to jail in the book and the other film, tightening the narrative. Fincher stated that their film had jettisoned the parts of the book they felt slowed the pace down. Fincher and his DP Jeff Cronenweth display the intricacies of the investigation through the documents and photographs, showing Blomvist pouring over the evidence extracting information in order to aid his investigation. The film shows an obvious combination of both Se7en and Zodiac but also with development that Fincher has displayed a maturing as he moves into his 50's. Criticism could be levelled at Fincher and Zallian depending where you sit, if you are looking for the detail contained in Larrson's book you might feel short changed, Fincher didn't sign on to make a serial killer film he's already done that, he said he was far more interested in the relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth. With his two leads he has lucked out, although Nyqvist and Rapace you felt a kinship with Craig and Mara you feel more emotion their chemistry is far more effective and deep, for a director regularly levelled with criticism of being a technician and cold here he elicits two performances with moments of genuine tenderness, Mara displaying a level that no would have thought capable and Craig finally getting a chance to flex his acting muscles rather than his physical ones since becoming 007.

We also have a rich supporting cast, Christopher Plumber an actor who in his twilight years is getting some real plum roles, relishes the role of Henik Vanger, else where similar
quality from Stellan Skarsgard and it's nice to see Steven Berkoff in the role of Henrik's right hand Frode. Other brief players Robin Wright as Erika Berger Blomvist's business partner and lover. Yorick van Wageningen is suitably creepy in the role of Salander's recently appointed replacement guardian Bjurman, Wageningen and Mara both quite brilliant in their pivotal scenes in the first half of the films, both the rape sequence are handled with a brutal realness and Fincher does not shirk from this one bit, those expecting a dumbing down will be refreshingly relieved although both sequences won't be for everyone. The quality of the supporting cast might make some feel they are wasted but I can only think that actors desire to work with a director with Fincher's reputation were all than happy to sign up for brief appearances, this is about Salander & Blomvist and Mara and Craig's quality are worthy of their supporting players efforts.

Coming off the back of a richly deserved academy award for his score to Fincher's The Social Network Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor and his regular collaborator Atticus Ross didn't hesitate to work with the director again and signed on to provide the musical accompaniment to Tattoo. A real synthesis with Cronenweth's cinematography adding to overall atmosphere. While not a score apart from the most diehard Reznor fan that is likely to be listened to independent from the film like Ennio Morriconnie's score to John Carpenter's The Thing it is vital to the proceedings.

No this doesn't touch the level of Se7en, Zodiac, Fight Club or The Social Network for that matter, this is more down to the source material being of such a servicable nature and not the efforts of Fincher and his cast and crew, Fincher has taken somewhat of a potboiler and invested it with more depth and in my view despite the superior Salander in the Swedish film has delivered a overall superior version of the best seller. With the likelihood of two more films and everything to play for, both the Swedish versions of the subsequent books The Girl Who Started Fires and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest being two very disappointing television films. If Fincher stays on and pray he does I am most intrigued if he and Zallian can continue to continue to elevate Larsson's source material above it's rather pulpy nature.

The Social Network (2-Disc Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
The Social Network (2-Disc Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Jesse Eisenberg
Price: £3.62

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The electrifying story of the genesis of Facebook, 25 Feb. 2011
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After being dumped by his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) pours his bitterness into simultaneously blogging a nasty tirade of abuse about her while hacking into the Harvard database to create Facemash with the assistance from his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). A website urging fellow students to compare the girls on campus to each other and pick their favourite. As well as making himself tremendously unpopular with the majority of the females on campus also brings himself to the attention of Winklevoss twins Cameron & Tyler (both played by Armie Hammer) and their friend Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), three rich students who have an idea for an exclusive Harvard website that allows members to be able to communicate. Recognising Zuckerberg's obvious talent they ask him to design the website, he agrees then takes the idea combined with his facemash and starts to design his own called The Facebook.

Fincher tells the story by switching back and forth between the two law suits that are bought by first the Winklevoss twins and Narenda who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea to create his and the law suit with Saverin who Mark has frozen out of the business who had initially funded the website before it started to make a profit. Sean Parker the creator of Napster in the shape of Justin Timberlake inserts himself into the website by impressing Mark and suggesting they drop the The from the name of the site. Aaron Sorkin's screenplay concentrates on the legal issues of the story as well as telling the birth of Facebook and Zuckerberg's actions that bring about being sued by the twins and his best friend Eduardo. Timberlake's Parker being the obvious catylist behind Zuckerberg's actions having been seduced by the risky entrepenaur.

Eisenberg most famous for playing the likeable Columbus in Zombieland and lovable geek Brennan in Adventureland takes a change of pace to play an althogether unlikeble version of Mark Zuckerberg, I say version as the real Zuckerberg says that the film has him all wrong, although Sorkin has already admitted that the script isn't enteirley acurate and his version is more like an entertaining verion of events. Eisenberg is utterly captivating in the lead role, registering very little emotion but driven and devoted as Zuckerberg, the film gives you very little characters to root for and Eisenberg's performance is not looking to win any friends, the fiercely intelligent, shy, selfish and arrogant traits of his personality on screen in all their glory, witness him cut the Winklevoss' Lawyer down when he is asked if they deserve his attention. Garfield who is soon to be seen as new Peter Parker/Spiderman is excellent as Zuckerberg's wronged best friend Saverin, more of a social climber which gets him into the right places and having the money to initially finance The Facebook, somewhat naive and unexpereinced, see the emotion etched on his face. Timberlake's Sean Parker for all his unpleasant arrogance does appear at least here to have been very important in Facebook's advancement and Saverin doesn't seem anywhere as active in it's success as Parker. Cries of stunt casting at Fincher for enlisting Timberlake can be dispelled immediately, he perfectly essays the man who bought free file sharing to the masses, immediately capturing Zuckerberg's attention much to Saverin's dislike. His Sean Parker is tremendously confident, charismatic and ego fueled. Armie Hammer impresses in the duel role as both Winklevoss twins.

Sorkin's script makes the 2 hour duration zip along in no time giving his actors so many great lines, intelligent and funny. David Fincher a director so well known for his own style a real visionary who took a mistep in his last film, (the technically impressive but emotionally cold Curious Case of Benjamin Button) may seem on the surface here to have made unusual choice, there is nothing here to flex his visual muscles with the exception of a thrilling rowing sequence at the Henley Regatta soundtracked by an electronic reading of Grieg's Hall of The Mountain King by score composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. This is all about showcasing Sorkin's prose and Fincher's restraint is to the strength of the telling of the story, impressive visual flourishes are not necessary and Fincher who came of age with his masterpiece Zodiac continues to show a maturing as he enters into his 50's.

Industrial rocker Reznor and musical partner Ross provide a darkly subtle score, that sets the mood and never intrudes only picking up pace in a few sequences, they invest the film with sinister undertone that perfectly accompanies the subject matter. This their first assignment scoring with Reznor having only compiled soundtracks before for Natural Born Killers and Lost Highway, is temendously impressive and important factor in moving the story along.

Don't be put off by the subject matter, you don't need to be a Facebook user to enjoy or understand the story. It is interesting though to see the genesis of functions on the site that now millions of people take for granted, for instance the sequence where Zuckerberg comes up with the idea for relationship status or hearing Parker talking about tagging. Fincher well and truly making up for the mistep of his previous film and with the assistance of Sorkin's electrifying script and a hugely impressive cast presents a fiercely intelligent a hugely enjoyable example of cinema and adds another entry to his already impressive filmography.

Witchfinder General [Blu-Ray] [1968]
Witchfinder General [Blu-Ray] [1968]
Dvd ~ Vincent Price
Price: £21.22

5 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Classic, Don't makeme laugh, 4 Dec. 2010
Seriously how could this film regarded as a classic? After watching Mark Gattis' excellent 3 part series on his favourite horror films my Wife and I sky plused this film as it was been shown to accompany Gattis' program. What a shock I got, I'll be honest with the exception of the Wicker Man brit horror has never really done it for me, Hammer is more like Hammy for me.

Witchfinder General amounts to nothing more than a full length Two Ronnie's sketch and contains about as much menace as well. Supposedly Vincent Price's finest moment according to some, I have to say I must have been watching a completely different film to others as I fail to see what is so great about this. The score is godawful and the acting atrotious.

Carry on Screaming is more terrifying, seriously avoid, don't believe me take a look I defy you to defend this garbage to me!
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2014 11:26 PM BST

Seven [Blu-ray] [1995] [Region Free]
Seven [Blu-ray] [1995] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Morgan Freeman
Price: £6.80

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Blu ray presentation for Fincher's masterful thriller!, 10 Oct. 2010
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(Note) I will be discussing the identity of the actor who portrays John Doe, this was kept a secret to increase the impact of the reveal. Although a big deal back at the time of the original release, 15 years later I consider it fair game, so be warned spoliers contained!

Although the tide has turned somewhat on the subject of Alien 3, it has grew in stature over the years and many people now view it as a flawed but fine work but back in 1996 when Se7en was released David Fincher was viewed as the man who screwed up the Alien franchise.

The blueprint for serial killer films up to this point was Johnathan Demme's adaptation of Thomas Harris' Silence of the Lambs, a hugely successful and influential picture released in 1989 had pretty much had been the bench mark and very poorly copied time after time, film makers wishing to replicate the magic that Demme put on screen, this was of course until Se7en arrived.

A relative box office hit and critically acclaimed Se7en arrived out of nowhere. The likes of The Saw franchise good or bad owe it a debt like Lambs it has it's pale imitations the awful Resurrection (1999) starring Christopher Lambert and Se7en bit part actor Leland Orser and more recently the interesting but obvious rip off, the Wilem Dafoe starrer
Anamorph (2007) amongst many.

Se7en was like nothing else, the like of Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie's Usual Suspects (1995) and obviously held open the door to show that intelligent thrillers can be made but Se7en completely subverts the Lambs ten plate and strikes out on it's own to a devastating effect

When Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) in the last week before retirment is assigned to help with the transition of his replacement Dectective David Mills (Brad Pitt), they both investigate a case where a morbidly obese man has been found in house having litterally been fed to death, when a infamous defense Lawyer is discovered murdered in his office with the word Greed written on the floor. Somerset then comes to the conclusion after returning to the scene of the first murder after finding the word Gluttony written in grease behind the victims refrigerator, that this is the beginning of series of murders and the killer is preaching the 7 deadly sins to them. After initial dead ends and persuing dubious methods they are eventually led to the killer named John Doe who eludes them. Somerset and Mills having discovered Doe's apartment the film kicks into a higher gear and sets about heading towards it's devastating climax.

Fincher Having shyed away from film after his terrible time with Twentieth Century Fox while directing Alien 3, having had the film wrestled away from his control and defied to not attempt a studio picture after this experience. It was his interest in Andrew Kevin Walker's script that made him change his mind and follow up his troubled debut with this unique serial killer thriller. Having secured Freeman and Pitt for the roles of Somerset and Mills, although both Denzil Washington turned down the Mills role citing it too dark and Al Pacino passing on the Somerset role to do City Hall.

Fincher wisely chose his actors who subsequently backed their director when the studio tried to change aspects of the film as well as the ending that Fincher was not going to budge on, Pitt threatening to refuse to promote the film if Finchers originally intended climax was not used. Pitt alongside Fincher also lobied for the use of Kevin Spacey as John Doe and also removing his credit from opening titles as Spacey who had recently appeared in The Usual Suspects and would seem an obvious choice for audiences to playing the role if his name appeared in the opening credits of the film.

It is a masterstroke and although the impact is lessened on subsequent viewings what was a superb film is elevated to classic status when Spacey enters the film. Spacey choosing not to go down the Anthony Hopkins route of playing Doe as charismatic and witty or tip into ham, choosing to essay him more mundane and calm but all the more a terrifying presence sharing more similarity with Brian Cox's Hannibal Lektor in Michael Mann's take on Thomas Harris' Red Dragon, Manhunter than Sir Anthony's entertaining but diminishing returns Hannibal Lector.

The film's brooding dark feel is created using the bleach bypass, whereby the silver in the film stock is not removed, which in turn deepened the dark, shadowy images in the film and increased its overall tonal quality.
Coupled with Darius Khondji's bleak effective cinematography and Arthur Max's production design creating a setting that matched it's inhabitants. Fincher wanting to create a dirty, violent and polluted city who's name is never revealed, where the rain appears to fall incessantly.

Se7en is often cited as lacking humour, this is unfair Pitt manages to inject
little moments of humour throughout, Walker's script is simply magnificent, a uttely unique approach to the genre, laced with enough black humour, plenty of quotable dialogue and a work that doesn't relent to the closing credits.

In the role of the veteran, Freeman has rarely been better conveying the experience and quiet intelligence of a man who has grown tired of his surroundings and doesn't understand the way society has ended up, recognising Doe's crimes as more than just a loony running around killing. Pitt by contrast is playing the young, cocky wet behind the ears junior and unfairly has been criticised, Pitt is superb playing the contrasting character and both actors create real chemistry on screen, it's just Freeman who these days just seems to be looking for his pay cheques not unlike Samuel. L Jacksson is truly magnetic here. Spacy already mentioned completes the line up with a mesmirising performance. Great support from Gwyneth Paltrow as Tracey Mills' Wife and R. Lee Emery as the Police Captain.

Fincher rightly cemented his reputation with Se7en and has raised the bar so far that no other film of the genre has come near to it's power and the ending still manages to be as dark and sobering as it was 15 years ago. Fincher would revisit the world of serial killers 12 years later with Zodiac, this time choosing to look at the factual side and showing he had truly come of age as a film maker.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2010 2:55 PM GMT

Green Zone [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Green Zone [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Matt Damon
Price: £6.02

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Action Movie or a Political thriller, I wished it had been one or the other!, 21 Mar. 2010
When Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is posted to Iraq to find evidence to justify the US invasion in the shape of weapons of mass destruction. So called solid Intel from shadowy source known as Majellan is coming up empty and when Miller decides to ask questions is told to shut up and do his job. CIA Operative Martin Brown ( a solid but strange accented Brendan Gleason) suggests that the information is suspect So while on manoeuvres in the field searching for the elusive WMD's, Miller and his team are approached by an Iraqi civilian who becomes known as simply Freddy (Khalid Abdalla) for the duration of the film. Freddy offers information that high ranking Iraqi officers are near by in house meeting, including Saddam right hand General Arawi (Yigal Naor).

Miller decides to try and capture the General and get to the bottom of the so called solid Intel but misses his chance and after acquiring the owner of the house and a book with possible information is pounced on by a special forces unit led by Briggs (Jason Issacs) who acquire the prisoner but fail to get the book. When Miller informs Brown that he has the book, Brown transfers Miller to his unit to investigate the information but is rapidly transformed back when he fails to cooperate with bureaucratic government operative Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear). Realising that Poundstone aided rather unbelievably by his very own special forces operative Briggs is looking to suppress the information that Arawi could provide. Miller deciding to go Rogue with Freddy alongside as an interpreter, sets out as a race against time to get to the General before Briggs and his team does.

This Paul Greengrass' third film with Damon has been a long time coming, three years in the making. Greengrass takes Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life In The Emerald City an account of the dubious US occupation of Iraq. Choosing to take the basic premise but instead of playing out more like All The Presidents Men as the book does, decides to cash in on his success with the two Bourne films he made with Damon and make a political popcorn action flick.

All well and good and Green Zone has it's fair show of thrilling action, although Greengrass' penchant for shaky cam is getting a little tiring now.
The opening sequence which sees Miller and his team occupying an area supposed to contain WMD's is full of this technique and makes it's hard to truly engage in the action. Damon is impressive enough as Miller are obvious hero who comes to the conclusion many of us all ready know, that we've been lied to. Greengrass would have you believe this film as well being an action movie is also asking hard questions but the problem is most people believe that the US and the UK occupied Iraq under dodgy circumstances already and a more journalist motivated film may have been more compelling than the Bourne goes to war effort we get here.

Gleeson is his usual solid self as the man encouraging Miller to dig deeper and providing a good amount of expostion, Kinnear is so obviously the villain of the piece and isn't given anything of any real depth to play with. Amy Ryan so outstanding in both The Wire and Gone Baby Gone is saddled with a role which sees her as so called crusading journalist who becomes aware she's been duped into perpetuating a lie. An actor of Issac's talent is totally wasted as Briggs's Poundstone's special forces attack dog, sporting a rather ludicrous porno star like moustache. Any tough guy could have essayed this and his portrayal of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films contains more depth.

The characterisations are just not strong enough for us to truly engage with them, it's fair enough if he decided to make an exiting film like Kathryn Bigelow did with Hurt Locker (it shares the same cinematographer) and not preach but Greengrass obviously thinks he's saying something important here. The extended foot chase that concludes the films action is thrilling enough but the outcome like most of the film asks you what was the point. The conclusion to the sequence might have been supposed to been some kind of shock but it's signposted as soon as the character concerned is introduced. Greengrass had wanted to make a hybrid of realistic political thriller and gritty war movie but the sign off of the film with Damon's Miller giving his finger to his superiors is pure Hollywood and if the director had stuck to the action thriller side maybe this would have been allot more easy to swallow. Green Zone is Bond film compared to the likes of the far superior Syriana.

In a world of plenty of grey areas the film is as black and white as any popcorn blockbuster. Green Zone may well break the trend of films about the conflict not delivering the box office but it does at a price.

A Serious Man [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
A Serious Man [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Michael Stuhlbarg
Price: £7.00

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Brothers best!, 20 Mar. 2010
Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) a Jewish Physics Professor living in the suburban Midwest in 1967 is having a tough time, his Wife Judith (Sari Lennick) is leaving him for a colleague Sy Abelman (Fred Melame), his Brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is unemployed and won't move off the couch. All this and he has his son Danny's (Aaron Wolff) Bar Mitzvah approaching. In an attempt to see where it all went wrong he consults 3 different Rabbi's

Much has been made about this being the Coen Brothers most personal to date but although this is their most human film, these situations are born from their experiences and characters have traits of people from their past, this is not autobiographical. The story is reminiscent of their childhood but none of it is based on any of the brothers or their family members. After the misfire of Burn After Reading, (entertaining but falling short of usual Coens standard) and unlike that film , A Serious Man is pleasantly lacking the big name cast that must rank as the brothers most starry to date, refreshingly short of Hollywood names and it's likely Kind as Arthur and Adam Arkin as Larry's Lawyer will be the only faces that feel familiar.

Stuhlbarg a relative unknown shows no signs of never carrying a film himself and invests the character with warmth and grounds the film beautifully, you will see parallels with William H Macy's Jerry Lundegaard but Larry is likeable and nowhere the unpleasant scum bag Macy essays so well in the Coen's classic Fargo, Stulhlbarg more echoes Macy in the way that you feel he's ready to explode but keeps the character from disappearing into parody, the moments where he find out he's been unknowingly enrolled in a record club (Santana's Abraxas?) are just some of the hugely amusing moments within this thoroughly enjoyable comedy, which must rank as the brothers best since the cult classic The Big Liebowski .

Melame in the crucial role of Sy Abelman practically steals every scene he's in, breaking the news to Larry that he's in the process of stealing his Wife from him but also expressing his respect for him, the contradiction is almost forgotten with Melame's silky smooth delivery which is more than likely to join other classic supporting characters within the brothers C.V.

It's not essential you understand the Yiddish slang to enjoy this but the film does rely on its vocabulary throughout and the opening sequence set in a 19th century Polish shtetl which bears no relation to the story that follows is completely in Jewish and subtitled, the Coen's said they wanted to start with a Yiddish folk tale but didn't know one so like Fargo just made it up.

The brothers films are always helped by the talent they surround themselves with and as well as Coens regular Roger Deakins providing his usual standard of cinematography (beautifully lensed), both Jess Conchor's production design and Mary Zophres costume design are vital to creating the 1967 mid western suburban setting with its meticulously manicured lawns and authentic fashions of the time. Refreshingly we are in a crime free universe for Joel and Ethan but this is unmistakeably their universe the film is punctuated throughout with surreal dream sequences that recall some of their previous work.

Those infuriated by the ending of No Country For Old Men are likely to be no less pleased but the ending serve as more of a cliffhanger than the abrupt finish to their take on Cormac McCarthy's bestseller.

A Serious Man is beautifully written, shot and acted and definitely up there with the Coen's finest and like all their work is open to your own interpretation, one thing is for sure your time will not be wasted within its duration.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 25, 2010 4:49 PM BST

Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £2.99

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not vintage Scorcesse but still the best thing at the flicks this year so far!, 20 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Shutter Island [DVD] (2010) (DVD)
It's 1954 and U.S Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess patient from a mental institution for the criminally insane located on a remote and barren island off the coast of Massachusetts. Daniels also has ulterior motives and one of the other patients is linked to a tragic incident in his past but comes up against resistance from Institution Senior Psychologists Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and Naehring (Max Von Sydow). The circumstance of the patients escape seem suspect and Daniels starts to suspect the two Psychologists are involved in a cover up of unethical experiments.

As a violent thunderstorm erupts the Island is cut off and the two Marshall's are forced to stay, Teddy starts to experience surreal dreams linked to his past and feels that he might be being drugged as the evidence racks up of a possible conspiracy and efforts taken to suppress his and Chuck's investigation.

Since Scorcese was finally awarded his first academy award for best director for The Departed ( a fine film no doubt but nowhere near his best). It seems his reputation is taking a knock as the perception is he is far past his best, an Oscar for the better and far more suitable Aviator would have seemed more appropriate than a remake of an acclaimed Asian cop/gangster thriller. This film has gained on the whole favourable reviews but it seems some people think Marty is wasting his time with these genre pieces. It would be worth considering though that Scorcese is one of the most impressive directors of all time and his body of work is not only on the whole full of solid gold classics but also his influence is immense on the film makers that followed him, he has given us enough bar raising films and it wants like with The Departed and here to dip his toe in other genre's and not want to craft more Taxi Driver's or Raging Bull's because his audience expects it of him.

The last time Scorcese ventured down this road was the disposable and on the whole not successful remake of J Lee Thompson's Cape Fear, I am happy to report Shutter Island, Marty's take on Dennis Lehaine's best seller (an author who's Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone have received the big screen treatment) is an entirely far more impressive take on the genre than the adventures of Max Cady. Scorcese as anyone who's read interviews and witnessed is incredibly informative documentaries has a love for Hitchcock and here he employs his influence ( although not as obviously as might be expected), there is an influence of certain 50's B movies the subjects covered here aren't exactly new ground although he manges to make a transition from hard bolied mystery into Gothic melodrama with a sense of ease that doesn't jar or bring the proceeding to a halt, considering it's running time Shutter Island never feels laboured or drags

Scorcese is having a ball here, there a clues from the offset and those amongst us who might work it out, Scorcese aided by now regular DOP Robert Richardson, veteran collaborator, editor Thelma Schoonmaker and Dante Feretti's set design collaborate together to make an enthralling and intriguing ride. With surreal dream sequences and dark corridors and spiral staircases. A Nazi death camp flash back which includes a vividly shot firing squad sequence, which put us in the cross hairs of the rifle sights. With bouts of misdirection that might question what you might have deemed to think his true, it's true to say some plot points are red herrings and it up to us as viewer to decipher these how we choose as he continues to pull the rug from underneath our heroes feet. He invests the film with the assistance of his team with a foreboding sense of unease, elements of horror are expertly navigated and other genres are thrown in the process as the story unfolds.

Dicaprio has become the actor like DeNiro's was in the 70's and 80's was to Scorcese who his go to guy, some might balk this now there fourth picture together, that a rest is in order but when the collaboration bears this kind of fruit it's hard to complain. Dicaprio just seems to get better, his performance alongside Matt Damon in the Departed is what drove the story and not the phoned by numbers approach of Jack Nicholson, his beyond his years handling of Howard Hughes was at times astonishing and even in such fare as Ridley Scott's adequate Body of Lies, is an actor you can't take your eyes off, Leo puts many of the actors of his generation in the shade and has more than held himself against such heavy weights as Russell Crowe and Jack Nicholson.

Sporting a moustache and a shockingly garish tie, (something that doesn't go unmentioned) is a powerhouse which might seem one note to start with but is barely contained rage and pursuit for the truth however dark a direction it takes him is essential to pay off at the stories conclusion. Ruffalo who was so magnetic in Fincher's Zodiac is more subtle and gentle although his performance makes more sense when your in full disclosure of the facts and his a credit to his reading of the character. Kingsley's eccentric but kindly Doctor who the story is making us obviously distrust adds some subtle humour to the proceedings with his toying with Daniels during his investigation and hasn't been this good in sometime, obviously enjoying being part of a Scorcese production. Von Sydow no stranger to this genre, is as creepy and untrustworthy as is needed and two cinematic serial killers ironically are the Deputy and Head Warden of the facilty, John Carrolll Lynch (Arthur Leigh Allen in Zodiac) and Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill in Silence of The Lambs). Levine briefly but effectively appearing, delivers the memorable line, "we are men of violence".

Jack Earle Haley, Patricia Clarkson & Elias Koteas add to the story with small but key roles and Emily Mortimer is particularly chilling in her part within the proceedings. Michele Williams adds a haunting quality to the role of Daniels dead wife woven throughout the film either has dreams or hallucinations. Altogether not a foot is put wrong by anyone and Marty elicits performances that are key to making it all work. The choice to use existing works by the likes of Brian Eno and Krzysztof Penderecki is an unusual one for Scorcese of late but they more than complement the already impressive ingredients.

Which is not to say this film will not alienate some, your feeling on the finished product will depend on whether you can enjoy the outcome as opposed to the story you think you are first going into, the reveal isn't so much a revelation and as said before the clues are there from the start including a whacking huge great one which some reviews have had no problem wrongly disclosing.

How this is accepted will no doubt be mixed, although Scorcese does restore some ambiguity before the final sign off. Choosing to have fun with his audience and approach a not so familiar genre, Marty is delighting taking us on his journey and with the combination of another sterling turn from his lead man has delivered and extremely satisfying and intriguing addition to his already tremendously impressive roster.

The Silence Of The Lambs [Blu-ray]
The Silence Of The Lambs [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jodie Foster
Price: £6.99

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still holds it's power even 20 years later!, 17 Feb. 2010
When F.B.I trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is assigned to interview infamous serial killer psychiatrist Doctor Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) incarcerated in the depths of Baltimore Psychiatric Hospital. Lecter while intimidatingly intelligent also has a penchant for not only killing his victims but also eating him, hence his moniker "Hannibal The Cannibal". Starling a promising but inexperienced trainee ends up with being toyed with by Lecter and only when she experiences a shocking act from another inmate after Lecters rebuttal, Lecter takes pity and tempts Starling by offering information that will lead to capture of Serial Killer "Buffalo Bill" (Ted Levine), a serial killer currently at large, so named due to his method of skinning his female only victims, all too grim calling card of his deeds.

Although having been warned by her Superior and Behavioural Science head Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn)not to let Lecter inside her head she agrees to offer details of her past in exchange for Lecters thoughts on the case. When there is another disappearance, this time the daughter of a Senator is abducted with the evidence pointing all familiarly to Bill, Crawford put out a fake deal to see if Lecter will bite but unfortunately due to the intervention of Hospital head Dr Chilton (Anthony Heald)the deal is scuppered and Chilton looks set to write his own meal ticket and the expense of Crawford and Starling and engineers a deal to have Lecter give evidence and if his evidence leads to the apprehension of "Buffalo Bill", will get transferred with better privileges to another prison.

Although Jonathan Demme's Oscar winning psychological horror thriller based on Thomas Harris's best selling novel has been surpassed by David Finchers Se7en (in my personal opinion), it still remains an incredibly effective and efficient genre piece. Although it is the more colourful Best Actor Oscar winning turn from Hopkins that gets all the fuss, it is Foster's 2nd Best Actress winning Oscar performance which anchors this film and makes it work so well.

Her take on a young Trainee F.B.I agent is what gives this film it's heart and alongside Demme is adept and showing in sequences throughout that Starling is in a man's world and is out of her depth, through her mannerisms and looks conveying her awkwardness brilliantly, the sequences where she addresses local Law Enforcement to leave and allow them to conduct a examination of a recently discovered victim of the killer, watch the look of disgust on their faces as they are addressed by a woman and Starlings attempts not to sound patronising to the locals.

Demme remains the only Director to manage to have kept Hopkins tethered down enough for his performance not drift into the far to now familiar hammy style that neither Ridley Scott or Brett Ratner could manage to curb with their respective films featuring Hopkins playing the Doctor, Yes Ridley's Hannibal is supposed to be OTT but Ratner just lets him run loose. In the hands of a less talented Director his performance in Lambs could well have robbed the film of the seriousness that Demme & Hopkins had invested in it, the film is not without humour and it is Hopkins that provides it but it now seems tame in comparison to the crimes committed in later entries in the franchise. It's sometimes easy to forget before this Hopkins was just a fairly well known actor who had all but disappeared into obscurity before Demme cast him in his most significant role of his career. It does veer on the edge at times but Hopkins is to be commended it still stands up even with all the imitations that followed and it stays on the right side of the absurd, he is charming.

A impressive supporting cast, Levine's performance is often over looked in favour of Hopkins but after Foster he delivers best performance of the film, perfectly embodying the unhinged killer of Thomas Harris'novel. Jack Crawford has now been played by 3 actors in total, Dennis Farina in Michael Mann's Manhunter, Harvey Keitel in Red Dragon and of course Scott Glenn here, Glenn still gives Harris' character its best reading and apparently was left psychologically marked by his preparation for the role researching F.B.I archives. Heald is suitably slimy and odious as Dr Frederick Chilton, no more is this evident than we first are introduced to him trying to charm Clarice and reaching with no success at all.
Until the god awful Hannibal Rising Frankie Faison was the only actor to have appeared in all of the Lecter movies in this, Hannibal and red Dragon each time as Barney and a small role at the end of Mann's 1986 film.

Demme has rarely been better not only getting the best from his cast, he also stages some great sequences, all Starling's Lecter meetings are filled with atmosphere(seriously lacking in Ratner's Red Dragon). When Lecter escapes later in the film Demme shows a talent for staging thrilling set pieces, if you've worked out the pay off before hand it's still a more than competently handled piece of suspense, although the climatic resolution which begins with what remains one of the most impressive example of cinematic misdirection, achieved i with the minimum amount of fireworks, just a combination of great direction and simple but extremely effective editing leading to a big gasp revelation that leads to our heroine's making, a scene dripping with perspiration and true tension, Demme is ably supported by distinctive cinematography from Tak Fujimoto.

Not forgetting Howard Shore's ominous and hugely atmospheric score, accompanying the film only when necessary, Danny Elfman's score for Red Dragon pretty much sign posts what is coming next, Shore holds back and especially in the end scene is employed very little letting the sequence to speak for itself.

If Lambs is handicapped by anything it's what that followed, so many copy cat films followed, it kick started a whole genre of serial killer flicks with only Se7en actually managing to take the baton with any real aplomb. Starling remains the almost definite blue print for Chris Carter's Dana Skully in the X-files and shows like C.S.I and most recently Criminal Minds would be not here without it. If you can take it's legacy into account Silence of the Lambs still stands up as an exceptional thriller rarely bettered.

I'm adding another half star as Amazon does not allow thin their ratings 4 1/2 stars

The Wolfman (2010) - Extended Cut [DVD]
The Wolfman (2010) - Extended Cut [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emily Blunt
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.72

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to Howl about!, 14 Feb. 2010
When successful stage actor Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) is summoned home by his brother's fiancée Gwen Conliffe when he goes missing. On arriving home for the first time since his father John (Hopkins) had him committed for a year for witnessing the apparent suicide or what we are lead to believe of his mother when he was a child and then sent to live with his aunt in America. On a arrival learns that his brothers brutally murdered body has been discovered and decides to find out what happened. When Inspector Abberline (Weaving) the real life Police Officer who headed the Jack The Ripper murders enquiry, (a nice touch not fully realised) arrives to investigate the murder. It becomes quickly apparent that wounds were inflicted by no human.

Lawrence learns of the rumblings of a beast on the moors being responsible from the suspicious locals and Abberline although a admirer of Talbot's acting work has his suspicions of Talbot himself, alluding to the fact that Lawrence essays many character on stage and how many others are inside his head, Abberline a little ahead of himself himself obviously still in Ripper Mode.

Lawrence's father John seeming distant and unusually not grief stricken by the death of his son. When Talbot Junior learns of the Gypsy camp near by that his brother had dealing with and a possible chance of answers to his brothers death ventures out on a full moon ( can you see where this is going) even after his father warns him not to and witnesses a brutal assault on the camp with limbs and blood liberally splattered all over the place. Leading to him being savagely attacked but left barely alive with the inevitable consequences.

Back in 2006, yes 2006! when Universal first announced they were remaking the 1941 classic, one of their most famous horror properties things looked extremely promising. Benicio Del Toro had signed on to play the cursed Lawrence Talbot so famously played by Lon Chaney Jr it seemed from appearances and Benicio's obvious acting talent that this was an ideal and intriguing match

The talented director Mark Romanek who had coaxed one of Robin Williams finest and most subtle performance for his film One Hour Photo was on board to direct and the screenplay was provided by one Andrew Kevin Walker who was responsible for supplying David Fincher with the superb script that became his grimy masterpiece Se7en.

The odds were certainly good, then Romanek after arguments with Universal over budget constraints walked, the project went into tail spin and a short list of possible Directors to replace the recently departed Romanek appeared in the press, with the dreaded hack Brett Ratner amongst them (could this possibly have been worse).

Eventually Director Joe Johnston, he responsible for the dreadful Jurassic Park 3 (no Lost World is much better) signed on and the chances of this succeeding were suddenly in doubt. With the casting of Anthony Hopkins as John Talbot, Hopkins an actor prone to phone in his performances and ham for all his worth if not in the hands of a decent Director (see Red Dragon). Johnston isn't actually known for anything but a Director for hire and certainly nothing for a studio like Universal to worry about manipulating and is not what you would call an actors director and probably responsible for the efforts the Welshman puts in here, Hopkins sometimes drifts into Irish and back into Welsh again in a usual I'm picking up the pay cheque performance. Unlike Romanek who on evidence wasn't prepared to be compromised for his proposed vision and would have had a tighter reign on him like Jonathan Demme had on Lambs but Ratner clearly didn't on Red Dragon . Incidentally Johnstone is now prepping Captain America for recently Disney acquired Marvel, things are not looking good on this evidence.

The elements of the more drama based vision that Romanek apparently intended still exist and are evident in Del Toro's take on Talbot most subdued but seriously jarring with the full on horror excess of Johnston's output. The film is an uncomfortable mix of both styles and never reaches an equal balance. It's neither a triumph or a complete disaster

After employing make up legend and maestro Rick Baker, Johnston controversially has favoured to use C.G.I and jettison most of Baker's creature make up for the transformation and use it for the fully transformed Talbot. Del Toro's Wolfman will work for some and others will be unimpressed. It's obvious tribute to Jack P. Pierce's make up in the 1941 original is admirable and for me worked, there is enough of Del Toro's features to convince us but due to the lacking in other departments seems more than it deserves

I didn't see the inconsistencies in the mixture of make up and C.G.I that some have but considering America Werewolf was nearly 30 years ago none of the transformation sequences on display here induce the hairs on the back of the neck that John Landis's classic still does. Incidentally Johnstone even plays homage to American Werewolf when Talbot's werewolf runs amok in London most reminiscent of David Naughton's far more sympathetic beast. Landis's movie for my money remains still the definitive werewolf film.

The over dramatic climax shows another stately home going up in flames quite easily I hasten to add and the other Wolf looks more like a Care Bear and will no doubt induce laughs when it's supposed not to. The identity of the mysterious original Wolfman does not need Sherlock Holmes to work it out and others will have no doubt have rumbled it from early on before it's so obviously sign posted like it's on the screen subtitled in block capitals, maybe it wasn't supposed to be a big reveal but the film gives the impression it does, to me at least that is.

The film went from being released early last year to towards the end of 2009 and then eventually settled on a Valentines Day release this year, obviously to play up the love story element of the plot which needs to work to convince us of the proceedings here. Needless to say it's so down played it barely exists, neither is the chemistry between Del Toro and Blunt convincing or what remains of this element of the script really explored. You don't really know whether Gwen loves Lawrence or not and for her involvement in the story to work you need to. The mish mash or hybrid of drama and bloody horror could well of worked but the rumblings of problems on set, poorly scoring test screenings, script polishing and release delays unfortunately spelled out this wasn't going to work. With a talented director on board and a clear vision in place this could have been so good, it's almost like I'd have preferred a total disaster as moments allude to this achieving its goal of being a worthy remake of the 1941 classic.

The good, is there any? well the ever reliable Hugo Weaving although in an under written role (everyone here is, even Del Toro) as Inspector Abberline does the best with the material and is the only person to come out of this with any real praise, a monologue between him and the local tavern land lady which begins and ends with the phrase "Can I have a pint of bitter please" is laced with subtle sarcasm and delivered in a way you just think it was meant for a better film than we have here. The fact he is the famous real life Inspector Frederick Abberline that investigated the Jack The Ripper Murders is a nice touch and although it's mentioned at one point during the film it seems superfluous by the end of the film.

Sally Johnston's Cinematography is impressive and at times evokes a real atmosphere but 3 editors including Godfather maestro Walter Murch cannot rescue this mess, Johnstone has revealed that a longer cut will end up on DVD and Blu ray with 17 minute inserted with more build up to Talbot's first transformation but what's on display here doesn't make me want to revisit this any time soon.

Danny Elfman who left and then returned for score duties delivers a score with his usual Gothic leanings but you can't but help think he's been listening to Wojciech Kilar superior and far more memorable score to Francis Ford Coppolla's 1992 Bram Stokers Dracula. In fact considering Coppolla's vampire romp contains more plain awful performances including another hammy turn from Welsh Tony if maybe De Toro's performance scaled the heights that Gary Oldman's Count does in the 1992 film maybe The Wolfman may have had more to recommend it but a sterling turn from Weaving in a under written supporting film does not forgive the film for all it's inadequacies

If Universal think they are going to relaunch their horror back catalogue on the strength of this effort they may be counting their chickens before they hatch and I'll be surprised if the box office of this film induces no more than a mild hit if that, the ending leaves it open for a sequel but it's probably best that this animal is put to sleep and we keep our memories of the original black and white classic and forget this misfire. I honestly went in with an open mind willing to forget the mixed reviews the received and judge on my own merit but in the end it was damned from the moment Johnston took the reigns.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2010 12:28 PM BST

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