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All reviews - Movies (107) - TV Shows (28) - DVDs (14) - Books (35) - Music (49) - Games (24)

Matchstick Men review

Posted : 14 years ago on 15 September 2008 10:35 (A review of Matchstick Men)

When you figure out the 'twist' half way through the movie, it's really not much of a twist. It's too bad since the movie is competent in every other aspect except the main plot.


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Truly Epic

Posted : 14 years ago on 14 September 2008 05:12 (A review of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)

The middle parts of movie trilogies are frequently the best ones (Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back, Spider-Man 2 come to mind). I'm not sure of the exact reasons but it's usually a combination of familiarity with the characters and one of these following two reasons: they try to end with a bang in the third movie and go a little overboard or the whole thing has just run out of fresh ideas. The Two Towers is the best of the LOTR trilogy, but not for any of the reasons mentioned above. The other two movies in this particular trilogy are both excellent movies, both deserving acclaim. It's just that The Two Towers is somehow ... better.

The movie deviates from Tolkien's book the most of three, and it turns out to be a good thing. The scriptwriters move some events around, fiddle with some of the plot lines and the characters and throw in some brand new stuff for good measure. The end result is that while Fellowship gave you the feeling that LOTR is some variety of an action adventure, this movie leaves you in no doubt that it's a true epic.

LOTR is a true epic in every sense. It's a grand story about the passing of an age. A tragedy that consumes so many of it's heroes and leaves the rest scarred. Where every victory comes at a price and sometimes the price is the destruction of something old and/or beautiful. In the end, it is about growing up and losing the magic we believe in when young. Tolkien makes is abundantly clear that we can never go back to how things were and it's this movie that rams the message home.

This movie is the heart of the epic and is successful in transforming our view of it too. The trilogy came to a stupendous conclusion in Return but I'm glad the filmmakers didn't leave everything till the end.


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Ring 0: Birthday review

Posted : 14 years ago on 13 September 2008 07:40 (A review of Ring 0: Birthday)

The prequel to the brilliant 'Ringu' (re-made into 'The Ring') traces the story of how the girl on the tape in the original movie became a vengeful spirit that killed people who watched the tape. It borrows heavily and expands on the flashes of her life we get on the aforementioned tape. That gives the movie a reasonable amount of perspective to build upon. There is some very good acting and the direction is pretty competent as well.

So why does it fail to satisfy like the original movie did? It's down to two things. Firstly, the novelty of a creepy girl in a white dress has worn off and it isn't really scary anymore. Secondly, the story is a little too convoluted. In order to fit all the pieces from the videotape together and still make a decent movie that stands on it's own, the scriptwriters have made some questionable choices. When I go 'huh?' in a horror movie, you can be sure I'm not on the edge of my seat with excitement.

To sum it up, it's a pretty good movie - for a prequel. Fans of Ringu will appreciate it but anyone who has not seen the original will probably be scratching his head more than a few times.


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Lust, Caution review

Posted : 14 years ago on 8 September 2008 08:03 (A review of Lust, Caution)

A spy thriller with it's share of some dark erotica topped with a punch you in the gut ending. Could have been shorter but that that doesn't detract from the overall excellence of the movie. Brilliant acting from the lead actress and that's really understating it.


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Sense and Sensibility review

Posted : 14 years ago on 8 September 2008 08:02 (A review of Sense and Sensibility)

The story of two sisters who are torn between marrying for love (sensibility) or money and position (sense) and how their choices don't exactly turn out the way they thought and hoped. A stunning and lavish adaptation of Jane Austen's book by Emma Thompson, who also starred. They take more than a few liberties with the source material but the result is one of the best movies ever made. This is my favourite Ang Lee movie.


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What demons hide inside us?

Posted : 14 years ago on 8 September 2008 07:29 (A review of Mad Detective)

The central premise of the movie is the ability of former police detective to 'see' the different personalities that people have combined with a general psychic 'sixth sense'. The filmmakers use clever camerawork and editing to demonstrate how he 'sees' these personalities. Depending on who's looking, we either see the one (original) actor or a group of actors in his or her place. It's a really effective film making technique.

The detective uses his to catch criminals until he goes over the edge into some form of mental illness that give him delusions, like his long gone wife. This then begs the question, does he really have the ability to see inside people or are they just his delusions? He is dismissed from the force and stays away until another detective comes calling for help with a troubling case.

The investigation of the case forms the central plot of the movie. It has all the requisite twists and turns that all good thrillers must have including the surprise at the end, even if it's not the most original. The acting and direction is excellent and film noir-ish feel of the production provides great atmosphere. On the whole, the movie is in exciting and satisfying psychological thriller.



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Action movie classic

Posted : 14 years ago on 7 September 2008 04:02 (A review of Predator)

Despite the cookie-cutter characters and limited acting range of the whole cast (the Governator Arnold among them), this movie works very well. Three quarters of it is basically the alien predator hunting down the small band of mercenaries. That three quarters works very effectively and thanks to the fact that there weren't any over the top special effects and practically no computer imagery, the movie has aged very well. An action movie that doesn't embarrass itself despite the passage of twenty years, that's a rarity and this makes it a classic.


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Good things come in threes

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 31 August 2008 06:36 (A review of The Globe Sessions)

Sheryl Crow's third album completes a trilogy of great albums that she released in the 90s. All three albums featured her blend of classic blues influenced rock, great songwriting and deeply affecting angst ridden vocals. She rocked like few women in music do and always played her guitar in every song. Her kind of music which was a bit of an anomaly in the alt rock dominated 90s music scene in the US. This was her last album before she went in a different direction on her later albums and it is my favourite of the trio, mostly because her songwriting is brilliant. "My Favourite Mistake", "It Don't Hurt", "Anything But Down" and "The Difficult Kind" are four of her best songs, each one crafted to perfection.


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The Bat is Broken

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 28 August 2008 06:36 (A review of Batman: Knightfall Part One: Broken Bat)

Knightfall is one of the most ambitious Batman stories ever attempted. This book collects the first and arguably the best part of this story - the breaking of the Batman by Bane (the symbolism of the name is pretty obvious). The story begins with Bane engineering the breakout of all the insane criminals that are housed in Arkham Asylum. All of Batman's nemeses - The Joker, Scarecrow, Killer Croc and others - are let loose on the streets of Gotham all at once. This is Bane's clever and twisted strategy to break the Batman.

The plot moves forward in somewhat predictable fashion as Batman takes down each of the escapees in turn. He is mentally disintegrating with each encounter and losing his will to fight. Bane and his henchmen are watching his relentlessly, waiting for the right moment to strike and take him down. The story culminates in a final encounter with between Batman and Bane with the Batman almost at breaking point mentally and physically. He does not offer much resistance and Bane literally and figuratively breaks him. The book ends with the final panel depicting Bane breaking the Batman's spine. The slow mental disintegration of Batman is the focal point of the storyline and keeps you riveted throughout. While the several sub-plots with the Arkham escapees are of uneven quality some of them are excellent. The one involving the Joker is, predictably, among the best of the lot.


This ranks as one of the best Batman stories ever written and anyone who is intrigued by the character of Batman must pick this one up.


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Pop Classic from the 90s

Posted : 14 years, 1 month ago on 25 August 2008 04:25 (A review of Seal [1994])

Seal produced a gem of an album on his second attempt. He collaborates with producer Trevor Horn to produce an album of beautiful sonic textures wedded to some excellent songwriting. Seal's voice is on top form throughout. It's the songwriting that takes it a notch above most pop albums. This is pop music at it's finest, unlike the vapid junk that constitutes 90% of popular music.

Trevor Horn is clever enough not to overwhelm Seal's voice in too much instrumentation while at the same time keeping his musical influences varied. Consequently, the musical variations keep the album from getting boring like most typical pop albums. There's some dance floor influences ("Bring it On"), some Celtic instrumentation (the truly gorgeous "Kiss from a Rose") and some over the top ballads ("Don't Cry").

Fourteen years on, this album aged really well and is still a great listen.


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