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Profile for Neil STUART BANKS > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Neil STUART BANKS (North Bucks, England)

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Battle: Los Angeles [DVD] [2011]
Battle: Los Angeles [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Aaron Eckhart
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.32

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Marine, 12 April 2011
As an early Summer action blockbuster, this film has no right to be anywhere near as good as it is. Excellent CGI and explosive action sequences you pretty much expect but this actually had characters I cared about.
There is a well paced storyline with hand-held camera photography which draws you in to the street fighting action. I did not expect to like this after suffering the appalling Skyline but this is quality.
Retreat? Hell, we only just got here. Great Saturday night DVD with a chilled glass and a takeaway.

Source Code  [DVD]
Source Code [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jake Gyllenhaal
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.48

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Replay from last checkpoint?, 8 April 2011
This review is from: Source Code [DVD] (DVD)
Following "Moon", Director Duncan Jones has produced another intelligent, thought provoking movie. Set in modern America just prior to a potential terrorist outrage, Jake Gyllenhall plays a time-travelling, ex-military pilot who is trying to untangle a bomb plot from the recent past.
The action is pretty relentless but these are not cardboard cut-out characters - they feel real and have emotional weight. Imagine a serious version of Ground Hog Day combined with Inception (and maybe a little Bourne Identity) and you have the basic premise.
I was gripped from beginning to end and even the quantum physics time-shifting stuff doesn't get in the way. An action film with an intelligent plot and credible characters and I can't remember the last time I wrote that.

Another Year [DVD]
Another Year [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jim Broadbent
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £3.68

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary Lives, 4 April 2011
This review is from: Another Year [DVD] (DVD)
I was expecting to really like this but I really couldn't. If you are a Mike Leigh fan, you will probably lap this up but for the rest of us, despite some good performances, it is like a slice of real, ordinary life. For some people that may be a positive but the lack of dramatic tension that often results from workshopped dialogue, added to no mood music and what appears to be "available light" photography made the whole thing, for me, pedestrian and ordinary.
And I don't know if Leigh has some motive for what appears to be an anti-alcohol stance but all of the "damaged and vulnerable" characters are self-medicating by gulping down vast quantities of wine, which the camera makes sure we do not miss by focus diffentials and clever editing. I don't mind polemical film-making as long as I know that that is what it is.
For Mike Leigh fans - enjoy! For the rest, get a spare DVD in case this turns out not to be your glass of wine.

Skyline [DVD]
Skyline [DVD]
Dvd ~ Eric Balfour
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.88

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fear and Hamming in LA, 27 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Skyline [DVD] (DVD)
Clearly based on an updated version of War of the Worlds with all the interesting bits removed, this is a down-market version of Dynasty meets Independence Day. The CGI is surprisingly impressive but the screenplay and acting are unsurprisingly dreadful.
The climax involves brains being removed from their human victims. To really enjoy this movie, you would have to have undergone this procedure prior to the viewing.
Will Smith's smart mouth is sadly missing and so is any reason to watch this pile of alien excreta.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2011 2:34 AM BST

The Eagle [DVD] [2011]
The Eagle [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Channing Tatum
Offered by Fulfillment Next Day
Price: £2.38

100 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Setting the Standard, 16 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Eagle [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
As a film fan and an amateur student of ancient history, I was quite prepared for this movie to be irritatingly facile and bear no relation to actual events.
But this is a quality film - historically on the money (with one or two very small exceptions), decent screenplay, good lead performances (especially Jamie Bell), fantastic photography, and very effective celtic mood music.
I was even moved to tears here and there. If you liked Apocalypto, Valhalla Rising and Gladiator, you will like this. There are plenty of action sequences but without gratuitous gore but it also has the emotional tug that films for grown-ups should have.
A Roman bromance with echoes of The Defiant Ones - definitely worth an airing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 3:30 AM BST

The Rite [DVD] [2011]
The Rite [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Anthony Hopkins
Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £3.23

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Rite Rumpus, 13 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Rite [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
This film is physically and, as you would expect, metaphorically dark. A young, sceptical novitiate priest with a troubled childhood is posted to Rome to learn the arcane arts of exorcism.
He soon meets the voice of experience played by Antony Hopkins and sees some "real" exorcisms. Hopkins' performance and the movie generally have been panned by the critics but I think that is pretty unfair. I was reasonably gripped for the whole of the running time and Hopkins' "large" performance is perfectly reasonable in the context of this film.
This isn't The Exorcist or even The Exorcism of Emily Rose but it is a very workmanlike movie which is more conspiracy thriller than occult horror, and none the worse for that.

Love and Other Drugs [DVD]
Love and Other Drugs [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jake Gyllenhaal
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.27

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Porky's meets Love Story, 13 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Love and Other Drugs [DVD] (DVD)
Cocky, ambitious boy meets feisty, slightly weird girl. Sex, falling in love, embarassing moments in front of fat flatmate - you know where this is going. Except you don't. The second half of the film is a serious, moving exposition of degenerative illness, self-sacrifice and generosity of spirit.
So, this really is a film of two halfs - a vacuous, datenight RomCom followed by a quality drama with a staggeringly good performance by Anne Hathaway. Despite the 2 stars I have given it, the second half on its own is worth 5 stars. Almost a great movie.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2011 9:47 AM GMT

127 Hours [DVD]
127 Hours [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Franco
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.27

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disarming, 26 Feb. 2011
This review is from: 127 Hours [DVD] (DVD)
For me, this film is as near to perfection as makes no difference. For Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slum Dog Millionaire) to produce a movie in which the vast majority of the audience already know pretty much everything that happens (man stuck in ravine, has to cut off arm to escape) and yet still grip you like a banker holding on to his bonus, is astonishing.
James Franco's performance is stunning, the editing carries pace and impact, and the music provides the perfect soundtrack. I'm not given to fulsome praise (I even had the unmitigated gall to criticise The King's Speech and Black Swan) but the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director should certainly have gone to 127 hours.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2011 10:30 PM GMT

The King's Speech [DVD]
The King's Speech [DVD]
Dvd ~ Colin Firth
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.35

34 of 84 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Firth among Equals, 25 Feb. 2011
This review is from: The King's Speech [DVD] (DVD)
Just ahead of the Oscars, which this movie and Colin Firth are tipped to do well in, I wanted to present an alternative view to the glowing tributes to "an ordinary hero" and the reported applause at the end of the showings.
First of all, if this was fiction, the King's character would have to be taken as portrayed brilliantly by Firth - a brave man who, despite a crippling stammer, stepped up to the plate in his country's hour of need and became a much-loved and much-needed figurehead for the coming storm of World War II.
But this isn't fiction, it's a drama based on real events which are well documented. The truth is that Bertie was a weak, not very bright man (at 16,he passed out virtually bottom of his naval cadet year), who intimidated the people over whom he was in a position of immense power, by flying into uncontrollable rages, and who read one book (a history of The Resurrection) in his entire life. If you were looking for a stereotype of the ruling elite, look no further than the hunting and fishing, dull-witted, never had an original thought in his life, Bertie.
But there is worse - his brother David (Edward VIII) was notorious for his overt support for the Nazi regime, so much so that MI5 were seriously concerned about the security implications. But it wasn't just David - the whole Royal machine were paranoid about socialism and, at least passively, attracted by the stability and strength of fascism. Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) was quoted by indiscrete dinner guests as having complete contempt for the working man and the principles of human rights.
So why the history lesson? Because making a sympathetic film about George VI, for me, is not that different to making a sympathetic film about Senator Barry Goldwater, George Wallace (who opposed racial integration in Alabama), General Franco, or more recently Nick Griffin. If this was done, the artistic merits of the film would be largely irrelevant - most thinking, liberal people would be horrified.
For me, this piece of Royalist propaganda should never have been made into the heroic struggle movie that it clearly purports to be. If you disagree, or even agree, please leave your comments.
Comment Comments (64) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2014 10:57 PM BST

Blue Valentine [DVD]
Blue Valentine [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ryan Gosling
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.76

14 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Massive Disappointment, 24 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Blue Valentine [DVD] (DVD)
Everything I'd heard and seen about this movie before its release had my expectations going through the roof. The reality was a huge anti-climax.
The contrasting scenes of the couple's early relationship, fresh and caring and intimate, with the later "married with kid" struggle to make the relationship anything more than convenient sexual release, is interesting. The problem is this - portraying growing apathy and the boring humdrumness of marriage, by actually showing extended scenes of boring apathy is too literal and is bound to feel slow and boring to many of the audience, me included.
This is a serious, independent film which has incredible performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams but it is mind-numbingly slow. It takes real directorial flair to portray despair and boredom without inducing those feelings in the audience - this movie didn't have it. Even 500 Days of Summer, a much lighter film about a disintegrating relationship, managed to engage my emotions more than this film. A real shame.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 16, 2011 7:58 AM BST

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