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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.
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on 12 October 2007
Hey guys,

Just wondering why John Walker has been taken off duties for this edition of Halliwell's? I found his reviews as good as could be expected while certainly not as glib and dry as the legendary Mr. Halliwell. It was time for the editions to start recommending 4 star films again. Leslie Halliwell had gone over 20 years without giving maximum marks which was wonderfully stubborn of him but it harmfully dated the guidebook. Walker's reviews were more modern but still gloriously hard to please. My only complaint was that the editing was dreadful in the last few editions.

I've had a good flick through the new guide. It's impossible bad for a fan of the series. The new editor has forgotten to reward good performance or technical brilliance with italics as had been done before. He has also rated the mainstream films without any surprises. I think all the Oscar picture nominees get 3 stars. Meet the Robinsons, a very standard animation, gets the glorified 3 stars...?!? And the reviews are 10 times as long as previous reviews. I loved the sharp, cutting wit of the short critiques. If I want detailed reviews, I'll go onto the guardian's site.

Very disappointed. I'll have to search elsewhere for my next guidebook.
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on 29 April 2008
As someone who has been buying and devouring Halliwell's since the first edition back in 1977, I find it disappointing to see Walker requesting that his name is removed from the credits - almost as disappointing as the disdain with which the publishers increasingly treat this once great movie bible. The two elements that set Halliwell's apart from the rest are the star rating system and the use of italics to denote outstanding performance. In the latest edition, the former is ill-used and the latter is dispensed with altogether.

Yes, Leslie Halliwell was a reactionary old grump who hated pretty much everything post 1969, but that was part of his charm, bless 'im. History has shown that he unfairly undervalued much of the 70s/80s output and John Walker's revisions were pretty welcome after Halliwell's untimely death. As an example, it was Walker who converted the superb 'Southern Comfort' from 0-star to 4-star rating, thus restoring some sanity. Like Halliwell, Walker's reviews were sharp and pithy and, other than the aforementioned sensible revisions, he tried to keep the spirit of Halliwell alive. The new reviewer is far more verbose and some of his decisions are questionable but I guess that's his prerogative.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem is that recent editions have tinkered with the format feverishly and taken away much of what made this guide something to be eagerly anticipated each year. The silly introduction of coloured film titles, the unhelpful addition of character names after each actor's name and the italicisation of the review section to distinguish it from the plot paragraph are all gimmicks too far. None have added any real value - quite the opposite.

But, above all, italicisation to reward outstanding performances by actors or creators is something that defines Halliwell's. With the 2008 edition, it appears even that sacred cow can be put out to pasture.

After thirty years, it could be time to find a new guide.
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on 1 November 2007
What has happened to the entries, for the films that were released in 2006/07? In this current edition of the book, the new "reviews" no longer possess the italics (meant to mean an indication of merit in acting or technical aspects). It was this unique feature which helped set it aside from other film guides, and thus, helping to steer one, into looking out for something extra special, when viewing a film. Without this feature, the book lacks a certain something, and sadly, Halliwell's Film Guide, now looks just as bland as all the other guides, out there.
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on 5 January 2008
I think Halliwell's is gradually starting to move with the times. Having had the latest edition now for a fortnight, I like the slightly longer reviews for the more important new films. The new editor writes well enough, and he even has a sense of humour which was never evident in this guide before. His introduction is sound, and he gives the impression of having seen every film he writes about. My reservation about the volume is the opinions expressed by the great Halliwell himself, many of which seem dismissive, reactionary or just plain out of date. He under-valued so many significant films from the 70s and 80s.
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on 30 October 2009
I first encountered Halliwell's Film Guide way back in the late 1970s when the first edition was published (1977), and immediately it outshone all the other guide books that were about at the time - many of which concentrated more on what was available on VHS Video (remember them!) rather than all films available regardless of video release.

Ever since then I have updated my copy every few years and have seen it grow from a basic guide/review into an indispensable reference book which gives information on awards, major directors, five & four star films etc. Within all these additions one thing has remained constant, and that is the pithy comments - first from the late Mr Halliwell himself and now from David Gritten, all of which adds a sense that here is a guide written by someone who really knows and loves their cinema. You may not always agree with the comments, and may feel that a favourite film of yours is getting short shrift whilst another film you hate is praised to the heaven (in my case this is 'Bladerunner', what is it about that film that sends fans into raptures whenever they watch it, I just can not see it myself!), but you always get an honest opinion and this lifts the guide into the realm of must have for any film fan.

Yes, I know that many on-line film sites have more information, including, of course, the collosal IMbd, but there are times that you just want to grab a book down from the shelf and browse, or check a fact without going to all the trouble of logging on etc. For times like these this is the book you need!
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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2007
A huge, critically schizophrenic film guide with masses of technical information; one of the better ones but with infuriating idiosyncracies. (Only read on if you're a film/Halliwell's nerd.)
He (I say 'he' but the 'he' could refer to original author the late Leslie Halliwell, the previous editor Walker, or the new editor Gritten - by the way, wonder what happened to Walker, did he jump or was he pushed?) has a curious habit of giving certain film series, eg Lord of the Rings, Three Colours, the original Star Wars, all maximum votes, as if he was judging them en masse rather than as separate films. Return of the Jedi four stars? Three Colours White? The first couple of Lord of the Rings films? Come on!
Yet in some film series he massively misjudges their value or critical reputation. So The Phantom Menace gets the same star rating as Revenge of the Sith. The Search for Spock gets no star. Supergirl gets one star where NONE of the original Superman films get any!
Many more films get maximum marks than used to be the case. You sense that with the likes of Ivan's Childhood, Jules et Jim, Tokyo Story etc he saw that, ooh, some weighty international film board say they are masterworks - better give them lots of stars. It makes for a curdled book.
And watch out for plot SPOILERS - the older reviews are particularly guilty of this. Many's the time I could have stranged Leslie Halliwell for revealing the ending of the film in his brief synopses. The clot.
Also beware that Gitten's chosen to write ten million-word essays on many new films (okay, I exaggerate) rather than the brief reviews of before.
Halliwell's is a weird old thing but I can't seem to jettison it just yet...
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on 2 December 2009
I bought two of these Film Guides, one for my husband's Christmas and one for my daughter's Christmas. They are both film buffs and have earlier editions of this book which are nearly worn away with use so I hope they will enjoy the new edition just as much. As for the delivery service it was first class and I would certainly use Amazon again as I have in the past.

Tweety Pie (Scotland)
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on 12 June 2010
After searching everywhere for any type of Halliwell film book I was so pleased to find this one. As an avid film buff my partner was over the moon to receive this on Christmas Day. I just need to find one now that gives info on actor only. If you like films you'll love the info contained in this book.
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on 28 April 2015
The greatest guide for films ever written. This edition adds since the death of Haliwell in 1986 and those which are 'made in his name' are a little more generous with the stars and less caustic. If you are bored, just leaf through it. Disney's Robin Hood in 1971 is described as "alarmingly poor" with the songs "particularly dull". Anyone who dares to bring out a sequel risked having it described as "pointless" while words such as "routine" and "humdrum" are used for most of the cinema's offering of the 20th century. He liked Star Wars, Brando, and sci-fi classics from the 50s but not much else!
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