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Six Days, Seven Nights [DVD] [1998]
Six Days, Seven Nights [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Price: £4.51

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars predictable but enjoyable, 16 May 2012
This setup is as old as the Hollywood hills: a mismatched couple - she dainty, he gruff, thrown together in unforeseen circumstances, unexpectedly find mutual respect, and then love in the exotic environment. This colourful, lightweight multi-genre (romance-comedy-adventure) puts a 90s spin on this Tinsel town staple. The result might not stand the test of time as well as some of the classics but has enough traditional entertainment value to pull it through.

Although following the formula to the letter, there is much to enjoy in this desert island dish: scary animal antics (Harrison Ford fishing inside Anne Heche's shorts for a runaway snake), a run in with modern day pirates (Ford doing what he does best - punching out villains) and a few bits of humour derived from learning survival techniques and the difference between Heche's big city ways and Ford's homespun simple philosophy.

What prevents Six Days Seven Nights from being truly great instead of merely good is its lack of all round sparkle; the chemistry between the two leads never really ignites, Ivan Reitman's direction is solid but the writing can't quite find it's snap in the bickering or, later, the intimacy in the romance. On top of that, the comedy is often a little too forced, perhaps the worst offender being David Schwimmer, who overuses the Ross-isms, never really hitting the comedy touchdown inherent in his predicament within the film.

As far as the two leads go, Heche just about takes the acting honours, portraying her 1990s businesswoman with a sparkly, kooky quality. With little to work with within the script, Ford gives us his trademark sloppy charm, irritable grizzle and intrepid spirit.

It is blatantly obvious from the get-go that Heche will prove herself competent in the castaway role and that Ford will soften to her charms. But even if these predictable outcomes are apparent, it doesn't matter because you like these people, so you are willing to roll with it. The film has a bright, breezy, thoroughly enjoyable vibe while you're sitting through it but ultimately it's just one of those movies that are not likely to stick around in your head for that long.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2013 10:14 PM GMT

Air Force One [Blu-ray]
Air Force One [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Price: £7.00

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars another ok action film, 6 May 2012
This review is from: Air Force One [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Air Force One tries to capitalize on America's fascination with the mythic quality of U.S. presidents, inviting viewers to imagine the frightening reversal of power if icons like Bill Clinton or John F. Kennedy were slapped around by terrorists and made to plead for their lives. In that way, this hijacking flick is occasionally disturbing.

Gary Oldman, drawing from his extensive catalogue of sadistic villains, knocks Harrison Ford around and imperils the safety of both the First Lady and their daughter.

But since the president is Ford, we also get all the action hero stuff, which includes him passing among secret nooks and crannies of the plane, a device that just doesn't work. In a real situation like this the terrorists would have found and captured the president within the first five minutes. But of course we are then stuck with the dilemma, that if the film was realistic we wouldn't have a film because it would only last for 10 or so minutes. So you just have to ignore that particular aspect. The crowning glory of this particular action film is, as it always is, the cheesey one-liner spat out by Ford while delivering a knockout punch: "Get of my plane!" thus ensuring Air Force One to go down in the action movie hall of fame.

Air force One is pretty much the same as a lot of action films out there, not earth shattering but not bad either. The film is notable, however, for it's high end cast, as most films of this type have one big star as lead, and have the rest of the cast as TV actors getting there fifteen minutes of fame, but we get treated to some acting royalty in this film most notably from Glenn Close as a female vice president and the afore mentioned Gary Oldman.

What can I say? I feel like I have reviewed this type of film many times before already, I like it, but that is all there is to say, nothing in this film is outstanding, but there is nothing that I would care to over criticise either. Air Force One is best enjoyed if you are a bit bored and if you fall asleep in the middle of it, don't worry you are not missing a whole lot, but try and stay awake because it is good. Sorry for the contradiction but that is the best way I can think to articulate what I think about this film.

Armageddon [Blu-ray]
Armageddon [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Price: £6.83

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars i think the explosions get in the way of things, 22 April 2012
This review is from: Armageddon [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Exactly what you'd expect from action extravaganzas, this gargantuan asteroid-hitting-Earth tale is a perfect example of what happens when you throw an awful lot of money at a movie, but, unfortunately, Armageddon offers nothing that countless other big-budget offerings haven't.

Drenched in director Michael Bay's signature explosions, the film is sure to excite but Armageddon also tries to get us to "feel" and bogs itself down in an unbelievably silly romantic subplot with wide-eyed lovers Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler that is actually harder to stomach than its skewed and unnatural physics defying space logic.

Bruce Willis doesn't really stretch himself and employs his trademark Die Hard scowl here, but the movie have some expert components, namely Billy Bob Thornton's measured, intelligent part as a NASA honcho and we also get an amusing, although brief appearance, from Owen Wilson as one of our unlikely heroes.

Although the action in this film is literally none stop, I do think that sometimes it can get a little tiresome. All of the action is top quality and the special affects still hold up really well even by today's standards, but I feel that there is just too much of it. Everything that could go wrong in the story does go wrong, resulting in so many different types of explosions I dread to think what the pyrotechnics budget would have been. After about the tenth time something goes wrong and our heroes face certain death and/or failure the suspense has completely dissipated. I think less is more would have been a good mantra to have when writing this screenplay.

You can talk about the faults of this film until the cows come home but the fact of the matter is that Armageddon contains a certain dumb charm, and when as much money as $140 million is spent on a movie, I think that is all you can hope for, because I do believe that their comes a point in a lot of movies where the budget does become a hindrance to the narrative. I think I would always recommend Armageddon for a bit of fun, but it is neither groundbreaking nor believable.

Switch [Blu-ray]
Switch [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Aniston
Price: £6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars average rom com, with above average cast., 21 April 2012
This review is from: Switch [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The Switch takes the whole concept of artificial insemination and presents it in a way that makes the audience question whether they support the decision to do it; of course, in true Hollywood fashion, *spoilers* the female character doesn't end up raising her child on her own, as the two men in her life fight it out for the title of "Dad."

Despite lending itself to a strong narrative, this controversial topic ultimately takes a backseat as the screenwriter takes too many different approaches, running the feel of the film from slapstick comedy to traditional rom-com. Though you can tell the film is aiming to be like Juno, The Switch lacks that same kind of charm and complexity that made that film so appealing.

The heart and strength of the film lie in the relationship between the actual father, Wally, played by Jason Bateman and his son, Sebastian, played by Thomas Robinson, with alternating scenes of tender moments and father-son bonding shenanigans. They both moan when they chew, have the same stance and are self-proclaimed hypochondriacs and it's these similarities that are executed so well that make a funny and touchingly well-matched compulsively nerdy pair.

Thomas Robinson is undeniably adorable with his giant eyes and heart-melting pessimism, and Bateman is convincing as the doting father figure. Unsurprisingly, Aniston is the weak link here, taking her place as the queen of mediocre rom-coms. There's really no chemistry between her and Bateman and it seems like she was miscast. Still, with a strong supporting cast including Jeff Goldblum as the witty best friend, who serves as a sounding board and provides advice, and Juliette Lewis as Aniston's best girlfriend, who can always be counted on to hurl insults about, the framework of The Switch shapes up nicely.

This film is a bog standard romantic comedy it is mildly humorous and it follows the same rom-com story arch that most films in this genre do, but is lifted slightly above the rest due to its great cast, if you are a bit tired of all the romantic comedies out their, you may be surprised at your enjoyment of this film.

Bronson [Blu-ray] [2009]
Bronson [Blu-ray] [2009]
Dvd ~ Matt King
Price: £10.92

4.0 out of 5 stars pacing issues offset by a stunning performance, 13 April 2012
This review is from: Bronson [Blu-ray] [2009] (Blu-ray)
I don't think that criminals come much more colourful than baddie Charles Bronson; unfortunately, this garish, expertly acted biopic doesn't really seem to do its attention-starved subject much justice (no pun intended). Don't get me wrong this film is compulsively watchable thanks to lead actor Tom Hardy's excellently inspired performance and the great cinematography, I think it's the director and writers that falls slightly flat in terms of pacing, and repetition, preventing the film from being completely compelling.

While the surreal metaphorical narration scenes that find a costumed Bronson addressing an engrossed theatre audience are admittedly brilliant (and certainly offer some insight into his character), they ultimately come off as more of a distraction than an asset, since watching our protagonist interact with his environment is more than entertaining and enlightening enough to fill up a feature-length film.

Simply stated, a movie like Bronson needs something more than one ambitious performance and a dash of stylistic flourish to be truly successful, the semi-experimental narrative is often more stifling than satisfying, there's not much to fall back on in terms of content. By focusing on the character's quest for stardom the writers indeed offer some fascinating insight into Bronson's delusions of grandeur and questionable motivations, though these scenes frequently come at moments when it may have been wiser to keep the momentum up rather than pausing to indulge the storytellers' creative whims.

Even so, if you are at all curious about this film I would recommend that you give it a go, as you will undoubtedly find Hardy's star-making performance in the lead role more than enough reason to give Bronson a fair chance, and if the rest of the elements don't necessarily live up to scratch, so what? Sometimes a single performance is more than enough to justify the time spent watching it.

Did You Hear About The Morgans? [Blu-ray] [2010] [Region Free]
Did You Hear About The Morgans? [Blu-ray] [2010] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Hugh Grant
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £8.71

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the same old stuff, but still enjoyable, 10 April 2012
We have all seen this movie dozens of times before, it might not have the same name or, with the obvious exception of Hugh Grant, the same actors, but it is the same story, we all know what is going to be predictable. With that in mind I can't really judge this film on the basis of lack of originality, how could I? Hugh Grants face is on the poster so, let's face it, everybody that watches this movie, voluntarily, knows what they are going to get. I think these kinds of movies are very often peoples guilty pleasures, and I include myself in that demographic. For me, there are few things more enjoyable than a good Hugh Grant movie, I'm not looking to have my mind blown or hoping to witness a re-definition of cinema, I just want to sit back and enjoy a romantic comedy! Trust me being a man; it's not really easy to admit that on the internet for everyone to see.

It's crucial for a romantic comedy to possess a certain level of charm and chemistry, especially if the story is thoroughly familiar and has nothing new to offer. Not only do these vital elements help us to forget that we're essentially spending our precious free time to watch yet another retread of a concept we've already seen countless times before, but they also go a long way in making the constant clichés enjoyable.

I'm pleased, and rather pleasantly surprised to say that together, Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker display all the chemistry that is needed for a couple to be entertaining on screen.

As you would expect there are truly no surprises in Did You Hear About the Morgans? Every moment from, bear attacks to rekindling romances can be seen from a mile off.

In fact, if I was to put my super critical logical hat on, the only justifiable reason to watch Did You Hear About the Morgans? is if you enjoy the predictability of romantic comedies, because if you are one of those arty types expecting nothing less than the next American Beauty every time you watch a film, then you will not enjoy this film, I would even go as far to say that you would hate it. But the truth is that there really is an audience out there for this type of film, if there wasn't then it wouldn't make any money and Hollywood would just stop making them.

For what it is this movie is pretty enjoyable, but please don't moan when you decide that it is the same old story, with the same old clichés! Because Hugh Grants face is, actualy, the international warning sign for these kinds of complaints. Some of us might even say that they are not complaints, some of us might say that we enjoy the story and the clichés, and as the old saying goes, if it aint broke...

Unknown [Blu-ray]
Unknown [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jim Caviezel
Price: £6.00

3.0 out of 5 stars great concept but didn't realise its full potential, 7 April 2012
This review is from: Unknown [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Unknown is the same type of thriller as the Saw movies: a group of people wake up imprisoned in a location unfamiliar to them (in this case, a warehouse), unable to remember how they got there (or in this case, who they are), and find themselves thrust into mortal danger.

Where Unknown separates itself from these films is that there are remnants of a power dynamic between them, some are freed, some handcuffed, and one is bleeding to death. Yet this alone is not enough to help figure out who's righteous and who's corrupt. Robbed of their previous motives, and even their personalities, they're left with only their essential bedrock morality to navigate this challenge, sensing that any trust they build could crumble the moment their memory returns. The thing is, it's impossible to know who's telling the truth about still being in the dark, and who might be manipulating the situation for his own gain, or to hide his culpability from the others.

Unknown is an effective story with a delicious setup, but it misses an opportunity to be more clever. The screenwriter does do a good job portraying the shifting loyalties of a group of people trying to suss each other out under dire circumstances, and the cast does a good job as well. But the more the secrets reveal themselves, the more ordinary the details feel. And where the script isn't as competent is the way it eventually assigns roles to the unnamed ensemble. By the time the audience is supposed to know who's who, there's still some amount of confusion because the story hasn't skilfully handled the reveal.

Unknown is not unmemorable, but the filmmakers definitely could have milked some more conundrums, twists and existential dilemmas out of the concept. Worth a watch.

Grown Ups [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
Grown Ups [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Adam Sandler
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars just because they are having fun doesn't mean we are, 6 April 2012
Regardless of whether you find him funny or not, Adam Sandler has indisputably managed his career about as well as any comic actor of his generation. He's always known exactly when to deliver the kind of formulaic romp that made him a movie star. Although he does very occasionally stretch himself by acting in films by gifted writer/directors, Sandler retreats to exceedingly familiar territory with Grown Ups.

Executive produced and co-written by Sandler, Grown Ups is arguably the quintessential example of a movie that's far less fun to watch than it obviously was to make. The five leads are very comfortable together, and while their chemistry is appealing, the story has no narrative drive. They aren't playing characters as much as they're trying to come up with the best punch lines, but without a solid story to work from the jokes can't be anything other than throwaway one-liners, it's not exactly revelatory to hear insults about how fat Kevin James is or how big Adam Sandler's ears are. And while each of them has one or two zingers that get chuckles, it's David Spade who actually comes off the best by toning down the sarcasm from his usual 9 to about a 4, and still outsmarting everyone in the cast by a wide margin.

Sadly, the very talented female cast, including Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello, and Salma Hayek, have little to do other than show off their killer bodies in such a way that the film maintains its 12 rating. In fact the movie's biggest bummer is that it treats all the women like problems that would be solved if only they'd listen to their men, or hotties worthy of being ogled, or old and therefore a proper target for cruel barbs. It's not that these are bad performers, they're just stuck in a lazy script, assuming there was much of a script to begin with.

What sinks Grown Ups is its noticeable lack of ambition. It's impossible to escape the feeling that once Sandler cooked up the idea, and knew he could get four pals to come and play for a few months, nobody worried all that much about anything else.

Superman Returns [Blu-ray] [2006] [Region Free]
Superman Returns [Blu-ray] [2006] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Brandon Routh
Offered by i want one of those
Price: £5.39

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars makes me look forward to the reboot, 6 April 2012
Does the world really need a Superman? I guess that is the less than subtle undertone to this movie and X-Men director Bryan Singer tackles this intriguing question with grand and sincere strokes in Superman Returns, a mega-budget kick-start to a dormant franchise that represented some of the best and worst that big-screen superhero films have had to offer.

Here, the director whole-heartedly tries to honour the original movie vision of the DC Comics hero while lending new emotional complexity to the world of this adopted alien savoir. The result is an ambitious picture full of enthusiastic emotion and nobility, yet missing the charming spark and energy that its predecessors had in spades.

One of the things that do work is the surprisingly wonderful new Man of Steel, Brandon Routh, who embodies the role in an uncanny performance that adds the right amount of depth. As his nemesis Lex Luthor, Kevin Spacey has a ball delivering his own dry take on Gene Hackman's humorous antics that turns exceedingly more and more evil as the film progresses. The supporting cast, is very note worthy starting with James Marsden as a human hero of high proportions who easily dwarfs all of his work in the X-Men series. Special mention goes out to Parker Posey, who would have made an incredible Lois Lane herself, which leads to the one debatable casting issue, Kate Bosworth. Her fresh-faced 23-year-old visage would be more troubling if not for her lacklustre portrayal that's filled not with energy and determination, but a cold frigidness that prevents her from having fun with the role, not to mention, she is really bad at embodying a nurturing, motherly model for her cute little five-year old son. But to be fair, if anything, it's the story that dictates much of the character's detriments. By playing up the scorned romance and alienation, the filmmakers lose the sense of whimsy inherent in their beloved film series.

I think no matter how thrilling the action or sumptuous the look of the picture, a superman film has got to have a uplifting ending but Superman Returns falls dead flat in its finale, making the time that you have spent watching the, fairly long movie, not really worth it. Imagine watching a Rocky film that lasted two and a half hours only to witness Rocky having a heart attack at the end, and you will get what I mean. The heavy, late dramatics mean viewers are stuck on a downer that uses John Williams' returning rousing score to accentuate what is essentially a downbeat ending for a superhero picture.

It was great to see the Superman franchise return, and this movie did a great job in giving us a good superhero movie but I think when all is said and done, this particular franchise is a bit stale and is best laid to rest, and I for one am looking forward to the up coming reboot to breath life into the man of steel.

Shutter Island [Blu-ray] [2010]
Shutter Island [Blu-ray] [2010]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £6.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lays the paranoia on really thick, 6 April 2012
Martin Scorsese's portrayal of Shutter Island represents a striking examination of guilt and the quest for redemption by the director through the lens of a twisty psychological thriller.

This is far from the most original plot ever devised, but Scorsese and company so insistently pile on layers of paranoia and dread that you quickly forget the familiarity. Our main character, Teddy, is haunted by nightmares about his late wife, as well as what he saw as an infantryman when he was part of a squad that liberated the Jews imprisoned at a concentration camp. There are ongoing references to the hydrogen bomb, and the patients are spooked by this new-fangled contraption they've heard about called "television", where pictures and voices fly through the sky. The movie makes modern life, or at least modern life in the '50s, feel panic-inducing.

And make no mistake, this is a movie designed to install paranoia within you. The stylized clothing and speech, act to keep us distanced from everything, so that we never can shake the feeling that something just isn't right, and all the mysterious visions and talk of horrific experiments on the patients make the fear unrelenting. Even the sound design adds to the terror in a variety of ways; a subtle echo makes the inside of the buildings feel cavernous, and there are long stretches of silence disconcertingly punctuated by sudden sound effects.

At the centre of it all is Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor who can still surprise me with his talent. His performance is difficult to praise without ruining some of the movie's suspense, but as the final credits roll you can't help but think back on what you've seen and marvel at how complicated his role is; what initially seems like a fairly one-note performance blossoms into a fully realized portrait of a good man beaten down by what he's experienced. But he's far from the only standout in the cast: Mark Ruffalo provides flawless support as his partner and Ben Kingsley savours every morsel of his dialogue. In addition to those fine actors, Scorsese and his casting director have filled out the supporting roles with some slightly sinister actors. Most notable for me was John Carroll Lynch (the main suspect in David Fincher's Zodiac) who portrays a guard. Scorsese plays on our collective suspicion of these shady characters to maintain the sense that the threat to Teddy's safety is omnipresent.

And it's not just the creepy actors that Scorsese exploits, numerous techniques are put within the film just to keep you off balance and constantly on edge. But the style never gets in the way of the substance, Shutter Island could be the first movie you've ever seen and it would still unsettle you.

Even for those who early on feel they've figured out what's going on in the movie, and the clues are right out in the open, Scorsese isn't relying on a shocking revelation to make the film worthwhile. In fact, the story ends on a disturbingly indefinite note.

This is a film that you really have to have a bit of patience with, but by the end you will be so glad that you have watched it. Recommended.

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