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The juries still out on this one.
on 8 December 2007
As a massive fan of the Halliwell's Film, Video and DVD Guide series, when I saw the slap-dash black sticker bearing David Gritten's name hastily stuck over former editor John Walker's name, I opened it with a certain sense of trepidation. Upon reading the introduction I was somewhat nonplused to see Babel and The Last King of Scotland cited as movies of the year, two films that I had found somewhat disappointing; yet pleasantly suprised to see Children Of Men and The Departed get a mention. As I turned to the back pages to see the three and four star films listed alphabetically my bemusement grew. Seeing The Good Shepherd amongst the three star films was the biggest shock, as this was a film that, although interesting and well shot, was in dire need of better editing and more suitable casting. Other suprise recipients of the three star award include Meet the Robinsons and The Host, perfectly good films on their own terms, but of great historical significance? I think not. While some films were rightly lauded: The Lives of Others is deservedly awarded the sole four star rating, and Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine and Volver all get the three stars that they merit; some of the most remarkable films of the year get sadly overlooked: Apocalypto, 28 Weeks Later and Zodiac share only two stars amonsts them. Further to this, Gritten has failed to honour stand-out performances by representing the actors name in italics.
Yet despite these criticisms, I feel that Gritten has managed to retain in some measure the essence of what makes Halliwell's a superior film guide. The list of noteworthy movies of the year is characteristically short, the intoduction is interesting and relevant and the reviews, although not always as pithy, are informative and well written. To his credit Gritten justifies the length of some reviews in the introduction and I feel the lengthier reviews for notable movies may well prove a notable addition to the guide.
A final word on John Walker. While it was apparent that his tastes were becomming slightly broader in the last two editions, with the suprise three star awarding of Peter Jackson's King Kong, and over-generous revisions of Leslie Halliwell's reviews; he was for the most part consistent and reliable in his assessment of the numerous films reviewed and for this reason he will be sorely missed by lovers of the guide. It remains to seen whether or not the new look guide is in safe hands, but lovers of the old guide will be hoping that a "Johnn Walker's Film Guide" won't be too far away.