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Reviews Written by
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)

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Mirrors [DVD] [2008]
Mirrors [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Kiefer Sutherland
Offered by Direct-Offers-UK-FBA
Price: £2.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The mirrors. They're so clean., 2 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Mirrors [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Mirrors is the American remake of a little known Korean film called Into the Mirror. The plot has Kiefer Sutherland as a recovering alcoholic cop, who whilst on suspension is taken to working as a security guard at a large burnt out department store and starts to see terrifying images in the many mirrors about the place...

You would think that Mirrors was a flop. The critics hated it and the horror hordes were very much divided on it, the latter of which is to be fair the norm for any big horror movie release. Yet it didn't flop, it did very well at the box offices of the world and has a decent 6.2 average on IMDb, which for a divisive horror film is well above average.

Mirrors overstays its welcome, there really was no need for it to run to just under two hours in length. While elsewhere there's some pretty poor dialogue, parts of the screenplay are pointlessly soap opera in nature, while some thinking will make you scratch your head in bewilderment at events outside of the brilliantly monolithic department store.

However, does Mirrors create a genuinely spooky atmosphere (the interiors of the store are creep fest nirvana), insert some shock moments to jolt you out your seat? Is it visually stylish, with sound work to match? And does Sutherland (and to a degree Paula Patton as his wife) overcome the trite parts of the script and give effective and committed performances? The answer to those questions is yes.

Does the ending cop out in any way? Insult the audience? No! It doesn't do that either.

It has flaws, but they are not insurmountable for the horror fan who's just looking for some good scares, atmospheric dread and some stylish touches from the director (Alexandre Aja). If you haven't seen it then give it a try, judge for yourself, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find. 7.5/10

Teenagers From Outer Space [DVD]
Teenagers From Outer Space [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Graeff
Offered by UclickWeDeliver
Price: £4.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rock Lobster and the Skeleton Crew, 27 Sept. 2015
An alien race come to earth with less than honourable motives in their genes...

Gargons Will Rule The Universe!

Ah, well, one needs to have a modicum of interest in the "Z" grade sci-fi schlocker craze of the 1950s to even watch this picture. To understand why it exists, with a knowledge of budget restrictions etc, allowances can be made. Yet it's so dreadfully performed and constructed it asks for giant leaps of faith even from the most hardened of cult schlock fans.

In truth there's only enough material here to have filled a half hour Twilight Zone episode, in fact thinking about the acting this would have made a good silent feature. There's some fun in the ray guns used, which reduce living beings to skeletons, and the flying saucer is funky, hell there's even the notion that aliens get horny as well. But come the time when the rock lobster puts in a show, you wont know whether to laugh or cry... 3/10

Chinatown [DVD]
Chinatown [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £5.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He nose you know!, 24 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Chinatown [DVD] (DVD)
Chinatown is directed by Roman Polanski and written by Robert Towne. It stars Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez and John Hillerman. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by John A. Alonzo.

Private investigator J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) is working on an adultery case but quickly finds himself embroiled in murder and corruption.

The gathering of Polanski, Towne, Nicholson and Robert Evans (producer) put their respective skills together to craft one of the most lauded neo-noir films of all time. It's a searing picture awash with the staples of the film noir and gumshoe detective movies that graced cinema in the 40s and 50s. From the characterisations (suspicious femmes - mouthy coppers - sleazy kingpin - tough protagonist in a whirlpool of unravelling layers), to the hard boiled script, violence, sex and brutal revelations, it's a noir essential that only lacks chiaroscuro and expressionistic swirls to seal the complete deal.

Allegoraries unbound, iconography assured and dialogue now in the lexicon of legends, Chinatown is not to be missed, not just by fans of noir, but fans of cinema, period. 9.5/10

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [DVD] [2014]
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Andrew Garfield
Price: £4.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spider-Man stuffed once again., 24 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Marc Webb returns to direct what Sony had hoped was the second instalment of a longer running reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. Writing this now, I'm armed with the knowledge that once again the web slinger will get another reboot in 2017, which after viewing this sequel comes as no surprise.

It's not so much that it's a bad film, or a bad Spider-Man film at that, it's just that it feels all very familiar, whilst simultaneously hugging the same pitfalls as Sam Raimi's Spiderman 3. Webb tries to juggle a screenplay with 3 villains (well two and a half really), a tricky romance between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and of course there's school, a best friend and affairs of the home heart to deal with.

The introduction of Electro (Jamie Foxx) is a good move, inputting a new villain into the spidey world is most welcome. Yet in spite of Foxx earning some level of sympathy with the characterisation, it never really works and unfortunately draws comparisons with a certain Mr. Freeze from another franchise. Dane DeHaan comes in as Harry Osborn, soon to be Green Goblin, again the tortured soul act is well performed, but come Goblin time the make up and effects work is laughable. While Paul Giamati as Aleksei Sytsevich - cum - Rhino, is having fun but is barely in the picture.

Stone is the best thing in it by far, while Garfield works hard, but there is no getting away from the fact that they both are - and look - too old for their parts. The action is fun and pulse raising, but there's not enough of it to sustain a running time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. Though on the plus side Webb and his team are to be applauded for choosing a story line that is ultimately bold and contains a great emotional whack. All told it's a shaky entry to the spidey world, one that once again forced Sony into another rethink. Lets hope the next journey spidey goes on has some clarity and streamlined sense. 6/10

Shake Hands With The Devil (1959) [DVD]
Shake Hands With The Devil (1959) [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Cagney
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loaded Weapon., 24 Sept. 2015
Shake Hands with the Devil is directed by Michael Anderson and adapted to screenplay by Marian Spitzer from the novel written by Rearden Conner. It stars James Cagney, Don Murray, Dana Wynter, Glynis Johns, Michael Redgrave and Sybil Thorndike. Music is by William Alywyn and cinematography by Erwin Hillier.

It's 1920s Dublin, Ireland, and the Irish Republican Army are at war with the British Black & Tans. Into the conflict comes Irish American Kerry O'Shea (Murray), who in spite of being apolitical is drawn into darker waters as the violence rages. Complications arise when a hostage situation unfurls, all while the strings are being pulled by the IRA's fearsome commandant, Sean Lenihan (Cagney), who wants Kerry under his wing.

It has always been a tricky subject to film, the so called Irish Troubles, for too many film makers have either been ignorant of the facts in the name of good cinema, or so fuelled by other motives it's difficult to get on side with such one sided venom. Michael Anderson's film, whilst itself harbouring dubious political material, deserves plaudits for trying to come at the topic from both sides, embracing the complexities of the issues and never shying away from the violence that tore through parts of Ireland. Even if it ends up being a little confused as to its aims.

Filmed on location predominantly in Dublin, there's almighty strength in the cinematography of Hillier (The Mark of Cain/Chase a Crooked Shadow). The night time shots of damp cobbled streets and gaslights are ethereal, while in daytime the lush landscapes are imposing yet still giving off a depressing hue. On the acting front it's Cagney who dominates, in one of his craziest and most crafty roles, he's a Vesuvius who darts between being the honourable cause man, to that of a psychotic who doesn't believe peace is a viable option. Strong support comes from Wynter and Johns.

Political hot-pot with wrought emotion, and action scenes that impact as Cagney does his stuff, Shake Hands with the Devil leaves a mark. 7/10

Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Price: £4.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pythagorus As Nostradamus., 20 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009] (Blu-ray)
Knowing is directed by Alex Proyas and collectively written by Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. It stars Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson, Ben Mendelsohn and Nadia Townsend. Music is by Marco Beltrami and cinematography by Simon Duggan.

1959, and young schoolgirl Lucinda Embry (Robinson) keeps hearing voices. When asked to submit a drawing for the school time capsule- that's to be opened in 50 years time,- she writes a series of random numbers that don't appear to make sense. Forward to 50 years and the grand opening of the capsule, where Professor Jonathan Koestler (Cage) and his young son come by way of Lucinda's numbers. Just what do they mean? If anything?...

Ah yes, the good old disaster movie, a genre of film that continues unabated through the decades, this in spite of critical indifference. But the paying public still keep turning up in droves, even in this new technological age. Where once was models being destroyed, and paintings forming elegant backdrops, now is whizz bangery that costs a fortune. Still great fun, though, which is why something like Knowing exists and has many fans.

It's a splendid piece of sci-fi hokum pulsing with supernatural overtones, a gentle creeper unravelling the mystery in layers until the final countdown begins. The science is obviously dubious (it's a movie folks) and the air of pessimism that hovers consistently over proceedings (not only is the world in trouble, but all the protags have miserable issues as well), may be too much for some. However, Cage is as committed as ever, Proyas yet again proves himself a beautiful visualist, while the scenes of carnage are truly harrowing and unforgettable.

A popcorner with moments of wonder and awe, and yes of course, some cheese as well. Ignore the Cage haters, if you like sci-fi infused disaster movies and haven't had fun with this one yet, then do so, it's a blast. And did I say it's gorgeous to look at as well? It is!... 7/10

Al Capone
Al Capone
Dvd ~ Martin Balsam
Offered by VECOSELL
Price: £7.28

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nobody who's smart goes hungry in Chicago., 20 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Al Capone (DVD)
Al Capone is directed by Richard Wilson and written by Malvin Wald and Henry F. Greenberg. It stars Rod Steiger, Martin Balsam, Nehemiah Persoff, Fay Spain, Joe DeSantis and Murvyn Vye. Music is by David Raksin and cinematography by Lucien Ballard.

Alphonse Gabriel Capone, it's a name synonymous with gangsters of 1920s America, and of course of cinematic films. Richard Wilson's film is one of the better gangster biopics out there, filmed in semi-doc style, it unfolds with great human drama without glorifying the subject matter. If anything it's refreshingly unsentimental in its approach.

Steiger is Capone (never Caponee!) and he puts his method stomp all over the role, carrying the film squarely on his well cast shoulders. He has all the ticks and mannerisms of Capone to either chill the blood or charm the other characters in the play, it is very much a powerhouse performance.

As a history lesson it's not wholly accurate, but much of it is rigid in the life and times of the famous criminal. The period detail is splendid, with the backdrops boosted no end by the gorgeous monochrome photography served up by Ballard. Enthralling, sometimes violent and always intriguing, this is well worth a look. 7/10

Yuma [DVD] [1970]
Yuma [DVD] [1970]
Dvd ~ Clint Walker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be you heard part of the story wrong!, 20 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Yuma [DVD] [1970] (DVD)
Yuma is directed by Ted Post and written by Charles Wallace. It stars Clint Walker, Barry Sullivan, Kathryn Hays, Edgar Buchanan, Morgan Woodward and John Kerr. Music is by George Duning and cinematography by John Stephens.

Walker stars as Marshal Dave Harmon, a no nonsense lawman sent into Yuma Territory to clean house. Straight away he is fronted up by the King brothers, something which puts him into conflict with the town bigwig, their father, Arch King (Woodward).

It's a familiar tale, certainly one that any Western fan would have seen numerous times. A TV movie and an intended pilot for a show, the budget is obviously not that high, but there's some good star appeal (Sullivan & Buchanan reassuring presences for Western lovers) and there's a lot crammed into the hour and fifteen minute running time.

Big Bad Clint Walker is a mighty presence, giving us a character that is easy to like and respect, he's not only tough and handsome, but he also turns into a Sherlock Holmes type as well! Into the basic town tamer plot also comes the issues of the Indian Beef treaty, or lack of in this instance, the crafty tactics of the Raiders and their crimes, while there's the cute/annoying kid and a gorgeous lady circling our hero.

It doesn't pull up any trees, but it's well performed, has nice location scenery (Old Tuscon), and the action is well staged (pic opens with a very nifty stagecoach stunt). While of course for Walker fans it's always going to have a watchability factor. 6/10

The Island At The Top Of The World [DVD] [1974]
The Island At The Top Of The World [DVD] [1974]
Dvd ~ David Hartman
Price: £5.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Entrance to Hell!, 20 Sept. 2015
The Island at the Top of the World is directed by Robert Stevenson and adapted to screenplay by John Whedon from the novel The Lost Ones written by Ian Cameron. It stars Donald Sinden, David Hartman, Jacques Marin, Mako and Agneta Eckemyr. Music is by Maurice Jarre and cinematography by Frank Phillips.

Out of Walt Disney productions, this is a pic that finds the house of the mouse desperately trying to keep their live action fantasy flame ablaze. Unfortunately, in spite of some appealing production shunts, it's really rather dull and performed in the same manner.

Plot has Sinden as an aristo type who has arranged an expedition to search the Arctic wastes for his lost son, Donald, who disappeared two years previously. Gathering up archaeologist Hartman and a dirigible piloted by Marin, they set off to the fabled place at the top of the world, a place where whales are said to go and die in peace. Will they make it? If so what will they find there?

There's an old fashioned feel to proceedings, of adventure movies from decades before, but with that also comes the familiarity of knowing what will happen in the story. The characters are one dimensional stereotypes, completed by a comedy canine. The effects veer from poor to even poorer, though not lacking in imagination and always colourful via Phillips' lens filters.

Ultimately it's one for kiddies and nostalgists, a noticed served of a mighty studio cutting corners and running out of ideas for the format to hand, thus the film suffers greatly for it. 5/10

The Lost World [DVD]
The Lost World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jill St John
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Irwin Allen asks us to get lost in his world., 20 Sept. 2015
This review is from: The Lost World [DVD] (DVD)
The Lost World is directed and produced by Irwin Allen, who also co-adapts the screenplay with Charles Bennett from the novel written by Arthur Conan Doyle. It stars Michael Rennie, Jill St. John, Claude Rains, David Hedison, Fernando Lamas and Richard Haydn. A CinemaScope production in De Luxe Color, music is by Paul Sawtell & Bert Shefter and cinematography by Winton C. Hoch.

A loose adaptation of Doyle's novel, this version was the first talkie to surface after the silent original back in 1925. The story pitches a diverse group of travellers/explorers onto an Amazonian plateau where it is hoped that proof of living dinosaurs can be made. Monster malarkey does follow.

Given that it has a diverse reputation and average ratings on internet movie sites, you would be fooled into thinking this was a flop. Far from it! It made very good coin at the box office and it continues to be a well received fantasy favourite shown on TV schedules during holiday periods. In fact, there is a cult fan base out there whom steadfastly will defend the pic from violent attack!

Irwin Allen used his average budget in areas other than for the creature effects, this is obvious, while it's true to say that most of the acting is from the school of ham and cheese sandwich. Yet the slurpasaur effects are engaging and effective. Oh for sure none of the creatures look like dinosaurs, which begs the question on why didn't they just write it as a new raft of undiscovered dinosaurs? But suspense and peril is eked out and the world created by the art design team is impressively interesting.

The usual character stereotypes exist, including a surplus to requirements female character (St. John), who is attired in pink trousers and brings her pet poodle pooch along for the trip! The formula would get tired over the on coming decades (see Disney's Island at the Top of the World which would crib from this pic), yet there's still a lot of fun to be had with big creatures, big spiders, diamonds and a secret race of people with a specialist appetite - while you can't beat a good old chase finale topped off by peril and twisty strife.

Sometimes cheap and cheerful, sometimes full of fun and frolics, all things considered, there's a good time to be had for the discerning creature feature/fantasy adventure film fan. 6.5/10

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