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

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Jurassic World [DVD]
Jurassic World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Pratt
Price: £9.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only, 24 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Jurassic World [DVD] (DVD)
Untamable Devil.

One thing that would be 100% guaranteed prior to the release of Jurassic World, is that whatever the quality, or lack of, the notices would be mixed. Thus the reactions would be akin to those that Indiana Jones 4 received, charges of ruining childhoods and franchises etc.

Jurassic World does exactly what is expected of it, it's a popcorn blockbuster that plays out as mindless fun, complete with outstanding effects, monster mayhem and moments of dumbness. In fact it's very much a safe sequel, reverting to the original formula without the classy edges of Spielberg's deft touch.

There's a likable cast fronting up the pic, with Chris Pratt as the hero carrying some olde adventure chops about him, and Bryce Dallas Howard (her natural beauty sparkling on Blu-ray) a fun femme side- kick. The writers introduce a couple of new mighty monsters to the series,hell of beasties for sure, while the photography, stunt work and musical score all impress.

The Velociraptor plot line is crummy and daft, almost as daft as Bryce's high heels character arc, and the familiarity factor does grate a little at times, but it's a rollicking good time not to be taken remotely seriously as some sort of series disgrace. 7/10

Operation Crossbow (DVD) (1965) (Region 1) (US Import) (NTSC)
Operation Crossbow (DVD) (1965) (Region 1) (US Import) (NTSC)
Dvd ~ Sophia Loren
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £8.72

3.0 out of 5 stars If you're chute doesn't open, change it for a harp!, 20 Nov. 2015
A passable WWII movie boosted by star casting and a grand finale. Plot essentially is about some Allied agents planning to infiltrate the Nazis' secretive rocket factory in Holland and destroy their deadly V rockets.

Much of the pic is given to character forming and painting political, army and human passion based groundwork. Unfortunately the narrative often sags and has some uneven patches that can take one out of the story line. On the plus side the finale is worth waiting for, full of suspense and heroics, while the espionage angle holds interest throughout. 6/10

Devil In A Blue Dress [DVD]
Devil In A Blue Dress [DVD]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Offered by Digizoneuk
Price: £9.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone was peeing on my head and telling me it's raining., 20 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Devil In A Blue Dress [DVD] (DVD)
Devil in a Blue Dress is written and directed by Carl Franklin, who adapts from the book written by Walter Mosley. It stars Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, Don Cheadle and Maury Chaykin. Music is by Elmer Bernstein and cinematography by Tak Fujimoto.

Carl Franklin had already laid down a considerable neo-noir marker with his searing 1992 thriller One False Move, here he goes more traditional but garners equally impressive results. Plot has Washington as a WW2 veteran who has lost his job and desperately needs money to keep hold of his pride and joy - his house. Taking on a job offered by shifty DeWitt Albright (Sizemore), to find a missing woman, Rawlings quickly finds himself in up to his neck in murder and deception, he must turn ace detective to save his skin.

Set in late 1940s Los Angeles, what instantly stands out is the period detail. The clothes, the cars and the establishments frequented by Easy and company. With voice over narration also provided by Washington, in dry and sardonic tones, it's every inch a loving ode to the film noir movies released at the time the pic is set. There's plenty of neon signs about the place, some bad ass cops, good sex, brandy and sharp suits, smoking and coolness and of course a psychopath in the classic mould (Cheadle excellent).

But of course noir dressage is only that if you haven't got a good pot boiling plot, thankfully this has one. The story takes unexpected turns, always remaining interesting, the distinctive characterisations breathing heavy, managing to off set the run of the mill stereotypes in the supporting ranks. It can be argued that Beals as the titular femme fatale of the title is under written, but the character comes with an air of mystery that serves Franklin's atmosphere very well. Tech credits are high, something of a given with Bernstein and Fujimoto on the list, while Washington turns in another classy show of subtlety and believability.

Lovers of film noir should get much rewards from Devil in a Blue Dress. 7.5/10

The Hill (NTSC) USA import
The Hill (NTSC) USA import
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £19.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You're a clever bag of tricks, you are, Roberts., 15 Nov. 2015
This review is from: The Hill (NTSC) USA import (DVD)
Hot and sweaty, bold and brutal, Sidney Lumet's The Hill is a tour de force of incarceration based cinema. Story has five new inmates sent to a North African based British Army Prison, the centre piece of which is a manufactured hill that is used as a punishment tool. The new recruits, headed by Joe Roberts (Sean Connery), quickly fall foul of the superiors, especially the venomous Staff Sergeant Williams (Ian Hendry), but these boys wont take it lying down...

With no music and Oswald Morris' monochrome photography ensuring atmosphere is perpetually claustrophobic, the harsh edges of the story strike hard. Be it overt bullying by those in charge - pushing men evidently too far - or racism, Lumet melds everything together superbly for harsh viewing experience, tightening the screws every quarter of film. Come the shattering conclusion it's a merciful release for the viewers, a chance to start breathing properly again, even if your mind is ablaze with a number of thoughts.

This is very much an actors picture, which seems a given since it's adapted by Ray Rigby from his own play, but a mightily strong cast do sterling work with the tinderbox screenplay. Ossie Davis, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Roy Kinnear, Alfred Lynch and Michael Redgrave fill out the other key roles, each giving their characters vivid depth without resorting to histrionics and scenery chewing. Which of course is a testament to Lumet's skills as a director of actors.

Slow burning intensity bristles with the corrosive nature of machismo fuelled authority, an unforgettable film and highly recommended to those who have not sampled it yet. 9/10

2012 [DVD] [2010]
2012 [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ John Cusack
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.87

4.0 out of 5 stars And the public gets what the public wants., 15 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 2012 [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Roland Emmerich was armed with a $200 million budget, and this is what it produced. It's an easy film to dislike from an intellectual level, artistically as well, while the science fiction boffins no doubt had kittens where the science was concerned. It's also easily one hour too long in length, and come the second half of the marathon it starts to sag. There's only so many times you can watch your lead protagonists escape crumbling carnage - via various modes of transport - before the fun factor begins to wane. However.

The carnage effects are grade "A" stuff, eye popping and ear splintering, Emmerich is a master at this sort of thing, and with a likable cast comfortably chewing through the safe disaster film making screenplay, it's a very decent popcorn blockbuster. It also isn't afraid to explore some dark moments, all of which - while not all being a surprise - strike strong emotional chords. It knows its disaster movie roots and is happy to tug on them.

2012 made a $500 million profit, that's a figure not to be ignored. The blockbuster movie loving public lapped it up, they often love this stuff, they just want to see the world exploding and chases and crashes and humans imploding or being heroic. If you have to strip it bare on any sort of cerebral level, then of course it's naked. But fully clothed, attired purely in modern film popcorn clobber, then it's grand dramatic and exciting fun. And this even as you have to massage your buttocks at the two hour mark. 7/10

Atlantis: The Lost Continent [DVD] [1961] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Atlantis: The Lost Continent [DVD] [1961] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £9.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Incontinent or Lost Continent?, 15 Nov. 2015
It's a George Pal film, who around this time in his career was playing fun with fantasy adventure films, even bringing some cartoonery and science into his equations. Atlantis, the Lost Continent is not a particularly good film, but it is a fun one if you have any sort of idea what to expect from this sort of production.

Plot basically pitches a Greek fisherman to the task of bringing an Atlantean princess back to the supposed mythical city of Atlantis. He does, and soon wishes he hadn't since he is not welcomed and Atlantis might be coming to the end of its existence.

It starts off pretty badly, cheese acting and scenes looking dreadfully cheap. Yet once we get to Atlantis things perk up, with an array of weird inhabitants and nutty religion marrying up with some nutty science. It's colourful, while the effects work ranges wildly from good to bad; which is the same as the screenplay come to think of it (studio interference and writers strikes hamstrung Pal no doubt). It's more "Z" grade than "B" schlock grade, and as has been noted by critics, it does indeed look like a cheap Roman adventure dressed up under a mythical name. Yet it is still pleasant enough of a viewing experience, with some nifty action scenes and the brisk finale ensuring that is the case. 6/10

San Andreas [DVD] [2015]
San Andreas [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Dwayne Johnson
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of rocks everywhere..., 15 Nov. 2015
This review is from: San Andreas [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
It's CGI destruction time as Dwayne Johnson battles earthquakes and a tsunami to go rescue his daughter - with estranged wife in tow of course.

Disaster films are easy to kick because very rarely they are nothing more than candy carnage with a trite screenplay and cheese laden dialogue. Such is the case with San Andreas. In essence this is a remake of Roland Emmerich's 2012, only this is the shorter version with the time span that 2012 should have had. This does exactly what the marketing department promised it would, namely lots of crash bang and wallop, but just like Emmerich's behemoth it gets boring entering the final third, the writing just not good enough to hold interest once the noise and destruction dies down before the big finale arrives. Suspense is absent, emotional investment in characters is null and void, while there are no worthwhile surprises in store. But on the plus side Johnson is a likable guy and he carries us through till the end of what is a fun movie if expectation levels are appropriately set at dumb popcorn fodder. 6/10

For A Few Dollars More [DVD]
For A Few Dollars More [DVD]
Dvd ~ Clint Eastwood
Price: £3.19

4.0 out of 5 stars I was worried about you - all alone, with so many problems to solve..., 15 Nov. 2015
This review is from: For A Few Dollars More [DVD] (DVD)
The middle part of Sergio Leone's dollars trilogy sandwich is a mighty hunk of meat and pasta. Plot has Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as bounty hunters who form a very uneasy alliance to bring down violent bandit El Indio (Gian Maria Volontè) and his gang.

As befitting Leone in this sub-genre, the pic positively oozes charisma and class. His compositions are as striking as the coolness he wrings out from his lead actors, the characterisations bristling with a calm grizzle factor that beguiles as the story jumps from violence to suspense, from humour to misery, with surprises is store as well. The screenplay adheres to some clichés of the Western formula, but never at a cost to suspense and mystery, such as with the finale that looks set to be formulaic, but joyfully brings its own identity whilst simultaneously adding extra layers to the protags and antag. The dialogue (Leone and Luciano Vincenzoni) pings with literacy, something which is a pleasant mercy in the Spaghetti Western world, while Morricone fills the key scenes with aural shards of atmospheric delight.

A great film in its own standalone right, but also a super precursor to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. 9/10

The Colditz Story [DVD] [1955]
The Colditz Story [DVD] [1955]
Dvd ~ John Mills
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £4.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Escape from Colditz Castle., 14 Nov. 2015
Guy Hamilton directs and co-adapts the screenplay with Ivan Foxwell from the P.R. Reid novel of the same name. A story based on actual facts, it stars John Mills, Lionel Jeffries, Bryan Forbes, Anton Diffring, Richard Wattis, Ian Carmichael and Eric Portman. Music is by Francis Chagrin and cinematography by Gordon Dines.

The story essentially follows the repeated escape attempts by allied prisoners held at Colditz Castle. It shows the hard luck stories, the bonds that are formed between the men, the regime and day to day life they lived by, and of course it builds to the historical finale.

It's structured with great balance by the makers, who manage to wring out a number of tense sequences whilst also ensuring that humour shines brightly. It gives the pic the requisite feel of stiff upper lippery, imbuing the characters with justifiable heroism in the face of being a POW, which all told plays as inspirational stuff.

Acted with aplomb by a notable cast, this delightful pic harks back to a a grand time of British film making, while simultaneously doffing its cap towards the real life allied soldiers who wound up in war prison establishments. 8/10

Between Midnight and Dawn ( Between Midnight & Dawn )
Between Midnight and Dawn ( Between Midnight & Dawn )
Dvd ~ Mark Stevens
Offered by DaaVeeDee-uk
Price: £23.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here, buy yourself a new head. One with a brain in it!, 10 Nov. 2015

Between Midnight and Dawn is directed by Gordon Douglas and adapted to screenplay by Eugene Ling from a story by Gerald Drayson Adams and Leo Katcher. It stars Edmond O'Brien, Mark Stevens, Gale Storm, Donald Buka and Gale Robbins. Music is by George Duning and cinematography by George E. Diskant.

Stevens and O'Brien play two prowl car cops, long time friends who fall for the same woman (Storm), but that could never come between them. That's the job of rising crime boss Ritchie Garris (Buka)...

On the page it looked as if it easily could have got bogged down by romantic threads and buddy buddy cop formula. Thankfully that isn't the case. Finding its way into a number of film noir publications, it's a pic that only just qualifies on account of certain narrative thematics and the night time photography of the always excellent Diskant.

On its own terms anyway it's a damn good policer, one that is handled with knowing direction from Douglas and features the reassuring presences of Stevens and O'Brien, both of whom play cops with different attitudes to the job, but both believable and never played as trite good cop bad cop fodder.

In the lady corner are Storm and Robbins, the former in the middle of our twin testosterone fuelled coppers, and the latter the gangster's moll. Both sultry and beautiful - even if Storm is sporting a hairstyle that equally is both distracting for the character and does her obvious sexiness no favours, but both the gals are written with thought and performed as such.

Then there is Buka as scumbag Garris. This character clearly has ideas above his station, something which our coppers gleefully like to remind him of. But Garris is a nasty piece of work, which ultimately leads us to a thrilling and suspenseful finale. Buka (The Street with No Name) really should have had a bigger noir/crime film career.

Sometimes funny and laced with choice dialogue, this still also manages to impact with dramatic, suspenseful and attention grabbing scenes. This a film that's easy to recommend to lovers of 40s/50s policer movies; it's also pretty bloody for the time. There's a great crew behind this and they don't let anyone down. 7/10

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