Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now
Profile for Spike Owen > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Spike Owen
Top Reviewer Ranking: 593
Helpful Votes: 8065

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Fugitivos Rebeldes (The Raid) (DVD (1954) (Spanish Import)
Fugitivos Rebeldes (The Raid) (DVD (1954) (Spanish Import)
Dvd ~ Van Heflin
Offered by robertsmike2005
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars With a rebel yell, I cried more more more., 20 Feb. 2017
"This is a true story...it began on the night of September 26 1864, in a Union prison stockade at Plattsburgh, New York, not many miles from the Canadian border."

Tho director Hugo Fregonese's The Raid opens with the above written statement, it's not entirely accurate. Further research into what became known as "The St. Albans Raid" is required if you want the complete and unembellished story. However, The Raid is in structure and plot significantly in line with what happened back there in 1864. Lifting from the story entitled "Affair At St. Albans" by Herbert Ravenal Sass, The Raid is about seven Confederate prison escapees who infiltrate the community of St. Albans and plot a second front. As the town is gleefully praising General Sherman's march towards Savannah - and throwing auctions to sell off mementos of slain "Rebel" soldiers, the "Rebs" are fashioning bottles of "Greek Fire" with which to torch the town as they plunder the bank of all the town money.

Naturally all doesn't go to plan, as an on the edge soldier puts a spanner in the works; and the "Reb" leader, Maj. Neal Benton (aka Neal Swayze), finds a conflict of interest as his relationship with Katie Bishop and her son starts to form. All of which helps to make The Raid an engrossing picture outside of its already high interest point for being a "Confederate" movie (how many can you name about the "Rebs" winning for example?). More so when one knows that the film doesn't revert to genre formula, it threatens to, but Fregonese and his crew are not interested in serving up standard fare, with the ending a particular point of reference to ram home that opinion.

Van Heflin is excellent as Benton/Swayze, put this along side his work in other Western outings like Shane and 3:10 To Yuma, and he surely is a candidate for the genre's most undervalued actor award. Watch as he has to suppress various forms of emotion - anger as the town around him rejoices in his fellow countrymen's misfortune - affection as he gets close to the mother and son, and torn as he ultimately must abide by his war driven codes. A fine turn from a very fine actor. Anne Bancroft is suitably bright eyed and deep down strong as Katie, while Richard Boone does a nice line as the troubled, and limb absent Captain in desperate need of redemption. Lee Marvin, Claude Akins (uncredited) and Peter Graves man up the support cast, and a nod of approval is warranted for young Tommy Rettig as Larry Bishop.

Filmed on location at Iverson Ranch, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, I find myself once again searching for superlatives about Lucien Ballard's cinematography. This is a "gorgeous" film to look at, the Technicolor crisp in tone as the brown and orange hues of St. Albans play host to the shimmering blues of the soldiers uniforms, all of course about to be engulfed by the crackling spurts of the raiders incendiary use of "Greek Fire". I fell in love with this movie quite early on in proceedings, come the finale, I knew I just had to have it in my own collection, I can only hope that this picture finds a new audience from which to give it the love it dearly deserves. 9/10


The Magnificent Seven [Blu-ray] [2016]
The Magnificent Seven [Blu-ray] [2016]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Price: £13.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I seek righteousness. But I'll take revenge., 5 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgard. Music is by Simon Franglen (also working from a James Horner template) and cinematography by Mauro Fiore.

Seven gunmen band together to aid the town of Rose Creek whose inhabitants are being driven out by ruthless capitalist Bartholomew Bogue.

We are now in an age of film making where "tagged classics" are no longer sacrosanct. Any number of these "tagged classics" have been and will become viable for remake - reboot - reimaging for newer audiences. It's here, it happens and really there's nothing we can do about it but moan amongst ourselves. John Sturges' 1960 The Magnificent Seven (itself a remake of Kurosawa pic Yojimbo) is a much loved film, and not just in Western lovers circles, it's a film that non Western fans are known to enjoy - and rightly so, it deserves its place as a "tagged classic" and still enthrals over 50 years since its release. So the big studio big wigs and Antoine Fuqua were taking a major gamble remaking a classic remake with their own remake!

Undeniably the shadows loom large over the 2016 version, so much weight of expectation, in fact to some it was a stinker of a film even before it was released! Well, as those who have seen it will attest, both the fans and the dissenters, it hasn't raised the bar for the "Seven" formula, but, and this is very key here, the makers wasn't setting out to make a film that down the line would be a perceived a "tagged classic", and this is evident in the ream of extras available on the Blu-ray releases. They achieved what they set out to do, to make a blunderbuss Oater for the modern era to sample, and they have done it with much love, much cool and lashings of technical greatness. Add in a cast clearly enjoying themselves and not letting anyone down, and it's a tasty plate of beans.

Fuqua updates things by having his seven as a row of differing ethnicity's, which works a treat, and crucially he and his writers are respectful of those characterisations, even if a bit more fleshing out wouldn't have gone amiss. Yet nothing is at a cost to honouring the great Westerns of old. Beautiful landscapes envelope the players, the musical score bouncing around man and nature with homaged sweetness. There's closeups, silhouetted slices of panache, superb stunt work (man and beast), glorious set design, and then there's the action. The fight sequences are excellently constructed, a feast for the eyes and ears, death and slaughter unfurled in brutal but hunger appeasing strokes. There's comic relief about the place, and while much of the dialogue wouldn't have the great poets of yore troubled, there is deepness to be found. Intelligence, too, the addition of PTSD to one of the main players is a notable piece of worth, while how wonderful to find a Western lady character of great substance (Bennett excellent), so good in fact she could have been one of the seven!

It's a bare bones story, with a pointless motive revelation tagged on for the finale, while some anachronisms will irritate those bothered by such. But if you are able to judge it on its own terms, as a Western entertainment for this era, and to accept it isn't trying to outdo the source of its inspiration, then a good time can readily be had. 8/10


Jane Got A Gun [DVD] [2016]
Jane Got A Gun [DVD] [2016]
Dvd ~ Natalie Portman
Price: £5.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Plain Jane., 19 Jan. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jane Got A Gun [DVD] [2016] (DVD)
Jane Got a Gun is directed by Gavin O'Connor and collectively written by Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis and Joel Edgerton. It stars Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Noah Emmerich, Boyd Holbrook and Rodrigo Santoro. Music is by Marcello De Francisci and Lisa Gerrard and cinematography is by Mandy Walker.

Jane Hammond (Portman) has to turn to her ex lover, Dan Frost (Edgerton), for help when it's revealed that the notorious Bishop gang are heading her way in search of her husband Bill (Emmerich).

It's going to be one of those films more talked about for what it could have been than what it is. Changes in production staff were unbound, from director, writer, photographer and some big name cast changes, it was a production blighted and destined to be on a loser. It hasn't helped that with it being a slow paced character based picture, and a Western at that, the market for a fan base was already running low on potential supporters. So what we left with?

It undoubtedly is one for hard core Western fans only, it's hard to envisage newcomers entering into the genre for the first time, perhaps lured by the casting of Portman, being won over to the point of seeking out other classic Westerns of past and present. Yet it's got a lot going for it, because if you have the want, then it may just take a second viewing to fully absorb and enjoy.

At its core it's a straight Oater of redemption, opportunities waylaid by fate, and of course a good old good versus bad axis. Relying on a flashback structure to set up the character dynamics, it can get a bit disorientating at times, hence the shout out for a second viewing. However, it may not be the perfect way to build the principal characters, but they are worth the investment for there's a big emotional pull there.

Having laid the foundation for the first two thirds of the pic, we shift to good old honest violence, for siege read backs against the wall, and not without invention, in fact there's much resourcefulness on show, with Jane at times very much leading the way. The last third pays off handsomely, even if there's the (arguably) inevitable sugar coated candy to swallow as part of the final deal. Cast are dandy and turning in perfs of note, though it needed more of McGregor's John Bishop, because with what little he gets he does make a villainous mark.

It looks terrific, Walker's photography bringing to mind the genre work of Roger Deakins, with the New Mexico locations blistering in their beauty, and while the sound mix for dialogue exchanges is a little poor, the musical score is thumping in its tonal appreciations. It's tricky to recommend with confidence even to Western fans, especially in a year when "Jane" had to compete with the more rambunctious Magificent Seven reboot, but give it a chance if you liked something like Slow West, and you may just be pleasantly surprised. 7/10


Tokarev [DVD]
Tokarev [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ooh look, it's another revenge thriller., 26 Aug. 2016
This review is from: Tokarev [DVD] (DVD)
Nicolas Cage stars as a reformed mobster who is forced to go back to his violent ways when his daughter is kidnapped by baddies.

It is what it is really, a Nic Cage starrer that does exactly what the plot synopsis suggests. Does it bring anything new to the revenge formula of genre film making? Absolutely not. But on reflection there are very few that have improved upon originals from as far back as Fritz Lang's Fury in 1936. Sure there is more blood now, more gruesome deaths to put bums on theatre seats, but the majority of them remain soulless, existing only for the point of existing. The market is there for those who either enjoy such genre splatters, or for those who like me just merely wanted a brainless pic to pass the time away with - which of course means leaving said brain at the door.

It's all very preposterous, even insulting at times, but this is actually no worse than some of the more praised revenge thrillers of recent times - but that just makes the point that ultimately the bar hasn't been set high for a considerable time now. So wake up film makers! Give us something new! 5/10


Friday The 13th (Part IV) The Final Chapter [1984] [DVD]
Friday The 13th (Part IV) The Final Chapter [1984] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kimberley Beck

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You got the curse?, 25 Aug. 2016
Well we all thought Jason was dead, as he is here taken to the morgue after being mortally killed... But of course he revives and sets about establishing that he is in fact an indestructible killing machine. I wouldn't want to be living near Camp Crystal Lake right now...

In truth it's a good old 1980s slasher pic, but that doesn't necessarily make it worthy to anyone outside of the hardiest of hardest Friday13th franchise fans. The kills and gore quotient are high, bloody and gooey, with the kills not lacking for invention, but plot formula is tired and weary. Crispin Glover makes for something of a curio appearance in the piece, whilst a young Corey Feldman rocks up for a bit of Damien Thorn channelling.

Some series fans love it whilst others abhor it. Question is? We know it wasn't to be the final chapter after all, so how does it hold up against the others that would follow it down the bloody intestine strewn path?


The World's End [DVD]
The World's End [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Price: £3.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Just three cornetto's, give them to me!, 25 Aug. 2016
This review is from: The World's End [DVD] (DVD)
Who's the helmet without a helmet?

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright reconvene to close down the cornetto trilogy that had began with Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Here we find Pegg as a card carrying alcoholic who coerces his old mates into undertaking a fabled drinking binge in their home town of New Haven. But things are not as they used to be...

This simply isn't on the same level as "Sean and Fuzz", but that doesn't remotely make it a duffer of a film. Weight of expectation was enormous, and rightly so, but although it doesn't carry the mighty comedic gold of the first two films, it has fun, cheek and emotion in abundance. In fact its biggest crime is not being the final film so many legions of fans were hoping for. If stripping back those expectations and original disappointments, then repeat viewings bring plentiful rewards.

Riffing on science fiction films, pic's story cunningly observes male behaviour, most notably the man-child effect and the refusal to let the past stay in the past, the pic begins in almost solemn fashion and ends in daring chaos. Along the way there's a whole host of sly visual gags to catch, whilst the caustic concerns for once vibrant towns brought down by soulless entertainment chains positively fizzles with poignant awareness.

No doubt about it, Wright and Pegg call their own shots, which is ultimately refreshing in an era of film making struggling to keep its head above the sequel and remake swamp. Choice dialogue, some of which is very British in street core, and some laugh out loud moments, off set the more juvenile moments filtered through the plot.

A super cast has been assembled, where series regulars either star or cameo to further emphasise the constant of the cornetto trilogy - that of film lovers making films for film lovers, with camaraderie of cast set in stone. The sound track choices sparkle, a mix of Brit-Pop, Madchester and era defining popsters (Old Red Eyes Is Back by The Beautiful South has never been so pertinently used). All baked in a superb period tinted pie.

There's something of an action overload, while some tonal shifts have understandably proved to be confusing to some. But this still showcases - in credit - the considerable talents of Messrs Wright, Pegg and Frost. Teen angst machismo, alcoholism and hidden passions clash with Invasion of the Body Snatchers! It shouldn't work, but it does! 8/10


Man Who Loved Cat Dancing [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Man Who Loved Cat Dancing [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £13.67

3.0 out of 5 stars Cat Prancing., 10 Aug. 2016
Richard C. Sarafian directs and Eleanor Perry adapts the screenplay from Marilyn Durham's novel. It stars Burt Reynolds, Sarah Miles, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, George Hamilton, Bo Hopkins, Robert Donner and Jay Silverheels. Music is by John Williams and cinematography (Panavision/Metrocolor) by Harry Stradling JR.

Train robbing outlaw starts to fall for a woman who inadvertently becomes a kidnapee.

The rumours and gossip behind the making of the film are far more interesting than the film itself. Miles was married to Robert Bolt (they would be married twice), and it is believed that Bolt had to do uncredited work on the script to make it better! This as Miles and Reynolds were having some fun after hours, while Miles' manager (David Whiting) died under suspicious circumstances during the production.

The production is, on a technical level, superb, the locations are outstandingly realised by Stradling's photography, while Williams shows his multi stranded genius by providing a number of different musical compositions throughout the pic. Sadly the film drags and come the midway point it just becomes dull.

It starts off promisingly, with a daring train robbery introducing us to a band of outlaws, led by Reynolds of course, who are interesting enough to keep us, well, interested. Yet this proves to be a false dawn as what looked like being a potent manhunt of the gang, with revenge flavoured seasoning and sexual tensions, quickly turns into a wet romance stretched out to nearly two hours run time. As Miles and Reynolds take center stage for the second half of film, you realise that Cobb and Warden have been criminally underused. Lead performances are OK, it's just that the narrative is uninteresting and poorly directed - though a pat on the back is warranted for the respectful writing of the American Indians.

It looks and musically sounds great, but really it's hard to recommend with confidence. 5/10


L.A. Confidential [1997] [DVD]
L.A. Confidential [1997] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Spacey
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £13.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City of Angels? More Like City of Demons!, 7 Aug. 2016
Curtis Hanson directs and co-adapts the screenplay with Brian Helgeland from legendary pulp novelist James Ellroy's novel. It stars Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito and David Strathairn. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Dante Spinotti.

It's 1950s Los Angeles and three cops of very different morals and stature are about to be entwined in crime and corruption...

I admire you as a policeman, particularly your adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to the job.

Tremendous film making. Hanson takes Ellroy's labyrinthine story and pumps it with period authenticity and seamless direction, the latter of which sees him garner superlative performances from the cast. This is the side of Los Angeles nobody wants to talk about, it's awash with corpses, hookers, seedy set-ups, violence, drugs, racism and corruption a go-go. And that's just involving the politicians, the press and the coppers!

Rollo Tomasi.

The absence of genuine heroes on show still further keeps "The City of Angels" covered in dark clouds, where even as the plot twists and turns, as the mysteries unravel and brutality unfurls, the final destination of the principal characters is never clear, thus there's a continuing edge of seat pulse beat about the pic. It's also sexy and dangerous, the dialogue sharper than a serpent's tooth, and while the ending is a little too cosy as opposed to original noir wave conventions, this is pure noir in all but black and white photography.

It won only two Academy Awards, Basinger for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and for Hanson and Hegeland for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published. Frankly it should have won a dozen or so, for it's one of the best films of the 90s. 10/10


Happy Gilmore [DVD] [1996]
Happy Gilmore [DVD] [1996]
Dvd ~ Adam Sandler
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Angry channels aggression nicely..., 7 Aug. 2016
This review is from: Happy Gilmore [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
True Story. All my friends are golfers, however, it's not a sport for me. I played with them once after they continued to badger me about it, at a par 4 hole I used a putter instead of a driver to get onto the green, literally just whacked it straight and hard, I holed in 3, much to my friend's consternation!!

The purpose of that story is why I enjoyed Happy Gilmore so much, it takes fun pot shots at the sport whilst daftly proclaiming that any dude can play in his own style. This is an absolutely no brain movie of course, with a plot as daft as it sounds - a failed/angry ice-hockey player takes up golf to earn money to save his granny's house from being repossessed - and of course he becomes a cause célèbre to the golfing curates.

Sandler has and always will be an acquired comedy taste, making this very much one for his fans only. And truth be told this is basic Sandler where he's shouty and sweary, and he certainly improved on a filmic level from this point on. So what you gonna do? I laughed a lot, but you see I'm a Sandler fan (though there are some films of his I positively hate), it cheered me up and sometimes that's all I want from one of his movies. 7/10


The Running Man [1987] [DVD] [1988]
The Running Man [1987] [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Maria Conchita Alonso
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not into politics. I'm into survival., 7 Aug. 2016
The Running Man is directed by Paul Michael Glaser and adapted from the Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) story by Steven E. de Souza. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Erland van Lidth, Marvin J. McIntyre, Gus Rethwisch, Professor Toru Tanaka and Mick Fleetwood. Music is by Harold Faltermeyer and cinematography by Thomas Del Ruth.

It may be packed with cheese, but this is one great and astutely entertaining futuristic slice of sci-fi pie. Schwarzenegger becomes a reluctant contestant in the most popular TV show of the time, The Running Man. It's a sadistic show where convicts are thrust into a zonal world and have to avoid an array of stalking killers. Cue lots of outrageous violence, equally outrageous costumes, and of course with Arnold in the lead there's plenty of dialogue zingers. The caustic observation of how television programmes have evolved is potently portentous, and it's all played out to an industrial 80s score from Faltermeyer.

It helps if you know what you are going to get from it, because it's a typical Schwarzenegger movie of the era, thus it's very much one for his fans to lap up with glee. 7/10


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20