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Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Doctor Who: Episode 5 – Flesh and Stone

Posted by LiveFor on May 8, 2010

Just realised I didn’t post a review of last weeks Doctor Who episode and there is a new one due later today!

Flesh and Stone was the conclusion of the Weeping Angels storyline (my 3 year old daughter calls them the Peeping Angels which seems so much nicer). It gave us information on what the Crack is or could be, what River Song is up to and moved on the Amy Pond is getting married in the morning story. However, it also raised more questions. I’ll get to them in a bit.

The wrap up of the Weeping Angels was handled pretty well, but the suspense from the previous episode was missing. The Crack in Time was interesting and sad when the soldiers went to investigate and were forgotten by their team mates as they were erased from time. This also explained why Amy could not remember the Daleks. The fact that the Doctor kept mentioning that time coule be rewritten means he may well have a go himself somewhere down the line. Why is the Crack following Amy?

The most intriguing bit was when Amy had to keep her eyes closed and the Doctor headed off with River to sort out the ship. The Doctor when he left was without a jacket (the Angels got it earlier). The camera stayed on Amy and the Doctor was back within seconds and told her to remember when she was seven – If you recall in the first episode you see young Amy sitting outside and then the sound of the TARDIS, but it hasn’t been mentioned since – The Doctor was filmed close up, but you could tell he was wearing his jacket. The next scene saw the Doctor with River and he again had no jacket. You can see what I mean in the clip below – starts round about the 1:45 mark.

I put it to you that the Doctor with the Jacket was from the future and he came back to speak to Amy at that point (the previous episode showed that the TARDIS can materialize without the distinctive sound – see clip below) and means we are having a great big weaving through time storyline. It could also explain how Amy has been so helpful in previous episodes. Maybe she keeps getting told spoilers.

All just a theory of mine, but you never know.

River Song’s character was fleshed out and we learnt she was in prison as she had killed a man, the greatest man she ever knew. Does that mean she at some point kills the Doctor? When it is Matt Smith’s time to regenerate will it be because of River Song? Is she going to be his Wife or is that misdirection?

The death of Father Octavian was very well done and rather emotional. Great acting by Iain Glenn.

All things to ponder on. Matt Smith gets better with each episode and I love the fact he doesn’t know what his plans are going to be until he finishes speaking. I get the impression his brain is full of so much stuff that he talks to focus it all on the matter at hand. Karen Gillan as Amy was great, but the bit at the end when she came onto the Doctor seemed a little forced and didn’t seem to fit with the characters we have seen so far.

However, the Doctor realises that she is at the centre of all the cracks and that the time explosion which created them occurs on the day of her wedding.

To sum up. Not as good as the previous episode, but great that it moved the whole story arc forward. What did you think of it all?

Tonight we have female Vampires in Venice.

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Jinja’s 300 films in a year

Posted by LiveFor on May 3, 2010

Ok the quest continues. Into the middle third of the year and currently running behind schedule for the “300 movies in a year”, thought I’d actually write something about what I’m watching. Be aware I do pollute my eyes with a varied collection of genres!

#75 The Bourne Identity
“A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and without memory, then races to elude assassins and recover from amnesia.” – IMDB

The action and pace of this movie are fantastic, definately giving Bond a run for his money.

One thing which I did notice was the how much the world has changed in just 8 years. Watch it again and check out the technology – no LCD monitors in the CIA office, and old school motorola mobile phones…not an iPhone in sight, which seems to be the norm for spies these days.

Looking forward to the next two installments after rewatching this one.
Part of you wants to be woken up on a bench and from nowhere you suddenly get all of these martial arts skills popping into your head!

#76 Fight Club
“An office employee and a soap salesman build a global organization to help vent male aggression.” – IMDB

Due to the first and second rule I’m actually unable to talk about this…

After not seeing this movie since its original release in ’99 I hadn’t realised how much of the film I completely forgotten about, and just how funny it is.

Also when you know the ‘twist’ it gives a very different view of the film.

#77 OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

“Secret agent OSS 117 foils Nazis, beds local beauties, and brings peace to the Middle East.” – IMDB

See review from 20/05/09 – still as good, if not better after more viewings.

#78 Timecrimes
“A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences.” – IMDB

If you in anyway shape or form like the idea of time travel and paradoxs etc you need to watch this fantastic, modern day, Spanish, small cast movie. How you would write this and not get confused is beyond me!

Imagine “FAQ of Time Travel” but serious and over only a couple of hours, mixed in with “Triangle” and smidge of Darkman for good measure.


By Jinja

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Iron Man 2, 2010 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on April 29, 2010

Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Clark Gregg, Samuel L Jackson

This review by Ben Mortimer

Two years ago, as the first Iron Man film was being showered in almost universal praise, there was one criticism levelled at it in review after review – that it lacked action set pieces. It’s safe to say this won’t be a sticking point for viewers of the sequel, as it is packed to the gills with fight sequences.

The problem with this new action-packed take on Iron Man, however, is that much of the action feels like it’s been crow bared in. At each crash of a super-suited fist the film trips over itself, as story and characters are temporarily sidelined to satisfy Another Pointless Super Scrap. This is particularly true early on in the film, with the introduction of Whiplash.

Taking place about twenty minutes in, we know too much about the character for him to feel mysterious, but not enough to particularly care about why he’s fighting Stark. This is unfortunate, because, with the exception of a couple of fairly slapstick moments, this is one of the better executed action sequences in the film (more on that later).

In the midst of all of this unnecessary action, are some very strong elements. The characters are generally well rounded, even if the story itself lacks any real thrust, and as with the first film, the performances are almost universally excellent. The main exception to this is Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. With a loosely-sketched back story, and a very linear arc, he simply isn’t interesting enough to be the film’s key villain, and Rourke struggles to imbue the character with any real personality.

In addition to the well rounded characters, there were several references back to small but memorable elements of the first film that pay-off some of the support players, although these references are small potatoes compared with the wealth of references to films to come, from Black Widow’s blue SHIELD catsuit to Agent Coulson being sent to deal with Thor. There is also a reference to Tony Stark’s future alcoholism, although it seems unlikely that an audience could really sit through a third ‘wayward Tony Stark makes good’-story.

In spite of these positive elements, the film has some serious down sides. The plot is functional but empty, and Tony’s quest to find a hidden message from his father is logic defying. If the subject of the message were so important why is it hidden, and more to the point, why was it not mentioned in the first film?

The biggest issue the film has, however, is that watching two men fight with masks on is ultimately unsatisfying. No matter how much damage we see the suit take, and how little energy/control the occupant has, it’s nearly impossible to connect with them when we can’t see their face. Iron Man solved this by having Stark and Stane remove their helmets for the final battle. The sequel ignores this technique, but fails to come up with an alternative, resulting in several dull fights, including what should have been the climactic battle.

Ultimately, and despite its flaws, Iron Man 2 is still a fun and enjoyable film, filled with a great deal to like. It might not be a patch on its predecessor, but it is considerably better than many of the other films within its genre.

Posted in Action, Comic, Film, news, Review, Sci-Fi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The African Queen, 1951 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on April 20, 2010

Directed by: John Huston
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley

Score: 9/10

Reviewed by pjowens75

THE AFRICAN QUEEN has just been released on DVD and BluRay. So why should we care? After all, it’s a 60 year old movie with a bunch of dead people, no special effects, no sex, and a very slim body count. Ah, that, my friends, is precisely why we should care. THE AFRICAN QUEEN is a movie from a different age; a beloved relic from a time gone by. And like most beloved relics, it should never be forgotten.
Let’s do forget, for a moment, that its leads were two of the biggest stars in the Hollywood firmament; or that its legendary director’s very first film was the “stuff dreams are made of”; or that it was one of the first films shot primarily in a foreign location. Let’s focus, for now, on the story itself.

Charlie Allnut and Rose Sayer are two people faced with an impossible task: take a tiny little river boat (the African Queen) down an un-navigable river, past a German fortress, through never traversed rapids, to a lake so they can single-handedly sink the largest German gunboat in the African interior. Those elements alone would make for an exciting movie, even one made today. It could even be done with a lot less trouble than was encountered by the original. It could be shot entirely in the studio with green screen to avoid all the hardship and disease that came with the African location shoot. Why, with some good CGI, even the African wildlife could be added without any problems. Throw in a love scene and some explosions, and in the hands of, say, a Roland Emerich or J.J. Abrams, it could easily become a summer blockbuster.

Let us all hope and pray that never happens. Because without the involvement of those people mentioned earlier, THE AFRICAN QUEEN just wouldn’t be the same film.

Adapted from C. S. Forester’s novel by James Agee and director John Huston, the choice was made to focus more on the relationship between the two main characters, thus lightening the dark brooding atmosphere of the book and turning it into (dare I say it?) a romance, albeit a romance like none other before or since. And in the hands of a director of less determination and stubbornness than Huston, it could have descended into a completely forgettable studio mess. Without him, and his desire to go big game hunting in Africa, it would not have been filmed in the Congo and Uganda. Without him it would not have starred Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

The character Rose Sayer is a middle-aged spinster, a missionary left stranded in the heart of Africa, threatened by the encroaching Germans and abandoned by the death of her minister brother. Hepburn effortlessly exerts her claim as the greatest actress in movies by breathing life into a character who could have become stiff & hateful in a lesser’s hands. From the sad confusion in her eyes as she stoically sits on the porch sipping tea in the middle of her burned out village, to the tremble in her lip as she reacts to Charlie insultingly calling her an “old maid”, she’s not afraid to use every tool in her box to make us fall in love with Rosie. All it takes to capture our hearts is to see the unspoken exhilaration on her face the first time she experiences the thrill of running the rapids – a thrill that doesn’t fit into any of the strict Christian conventions or beliefs by which she has lived her entire life. It makes us truly believe her confusion over the growing feelings she has for her polar opposite, the dirty, drinking, Charlie Allnut.

Humphrey Bogart goes completely against his tough-guy image in this film. Chalk it up not only to his relationship with Huston, but in his own confidence and willingness to stretch himself as an actor. And he draws us in with an ease and comfort that no one but himself and Huston ever thought him capable of. We are just as uncomfortable as he is as his stomach grumbles through tea with Rose and her brother in a scene as fresh and funny today as it was almost 60 years ago. We feel his pain as he watches Rosie dump all his beloved gin over the side of the boat as he looks on, helpless to stop her due to a pounding hangover. And our hearts melt at the look on his face as he stokes the engine’s fire and silently wonders at the feelings he’s developing for the spinster at the till.

What makes all of this so much fun is chemistry. The best scripts on earth are empty on film without a chemical reaction among the characters and the actors…they’re just words on paper. And there is an undeniable chemistry between Bogart and Hepburn that spills off the screen and through Rosie and Charlie directly into the audience. That’s what makes us cheer for these two seemingly unappealing people as we watch them grow together. Add to this chemistry the element of a confident and masterful director, in John Huston, and what you end up with is magic.

And, sadly, it’s a kind of magic that may not even be possible the way movies are made today.

So, if you’ve never seen THE AFRICAN QUEEN, please watch it. And if you have seen it, please watch it again. Either way, show it to someone who hasn’t seen it, your children or some friends. Because it is a movie that should be savored and passed on; a cherished relic from a bygone age; a film that leaves us shaking our heads and saying “They just don’t make them like that anymore.”


The African Queen (Blu-ray) – Amazon.co.uk
The African Queen (DVD) – Amazon.co.uk
The African Queen (Blu-Ray) – Amazon.com
The African Queen (DVD) – Amazon.com

Posted in Action, Comedy, Film, news, Review, Thriller, Trailer | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Box, 2009 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on April 19, 2010

Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: James Marsden, Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella

Score: 8 / 10

Richard Kelly was behind the phenomenal Donnie Darko and the confusing flawed epic Southland Tales. Both featured deep far reaching ideas and, although the execution in the latter was a bit out of whack, you were left thinking about them for a long time.

The Box is no exception to this. It deals with choice and the dark places they can take you. Based on Richard Matheson’s short story, “Button Button” and with a healthy dose of Philip K Dick paranoia, the film opens up in the Seventies were Cameron Diaz and James Marsden are a happy couple with a young son. She is a teacher, he is an engineer at NASA hoping to become and astronaut and that set up is based on Richard Kelly’s life.

To upset the apple cart comes a disfigured Frank Langella with the titular box. Inside the box is a button and he informs the couple that if they press the button they will get $1,000,000 (Dr Evil would be so happy), but someone they don’t know will die.

The first part of the film deals with their decision about what to do with the button and fleshing out their world. It is this aspect that I thought Kelly handled really well. You get the feeling of their family and events going on around them. My problem with lots of films, especially high concept ones like this, is that it takes place in a tiny place with just the people involved. You don’t always feel as if the world is moving on a around them. Kelly gets by this by having quite a large cast of good supporting actors and setting it in the Seventies may also help that. It puts you in mind of Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives.

The scarred face of Langella is just part of the strangeness that slowly creeps into the film. People stare at Diaz and Marsden before suffering nosebleeds, events turn against them meaning they current lifestyle is at risk, and elsewhere a man shoots his wife and goes on the run.

I can’t go into the plot of the film too much without spoiling it, but needless to say the button is just the first choice they are given.

Marsden does an excellent job and gets further away from the cardboard cut-out that was Cyclops. Diaz does okay, but the accent she puts on gets in the way, yet you feel her anguish very well in some later scenes.

The main praise goes to Kelly for the whole look and feel of the film. Some standout scenes are the ones in the library – Marsden walking between the desks – and all of the ones with Langella who is just superb. We don’t get given an explanation as to what exactly is going on or who is behind it all, but what information is dripped to us sets light to the imagination as you try and figure out the purpose of the choice and what it means to us all.

I could go on, but run the risk of spoiling it for you. Go and watch it, then think about it and watch some more.

Would you push the button?

The Box (DVD) – Amazon.co.uk
The Box (Blu-Ray) – Amazon.co.uk
The Box (DVD) – Amazon.com
The Box (Blu-ray) – Amazon.com

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Clash of the Titans, 2010 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on April 9, 2010

Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelson, Pete Postlethwaite, Jason Flemyng, Danny Huston

Score: 4 / 10

This review by me.

The original is one of those films that I enjoyed as a kid. Harryhausen stuff is always great. True the film hasn’t aged that well, but it still has a charm to it and some cracking actors involved (Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith). I even liked Bubo the mechanical owl. He had a purpose and he certainly helped kids through the darker pieces of the film. The Medusa in the original was ugly and scary and those scenes had a suspenseful quality that still gets you today.

What about the remake then? As we know it was shot in 2D, but the success of Avatar meant they converted it to 3D. I had heard bad things about the 3D version so wanted to see it in 2D as did my son. However, it was only showing in 3D and I can really see what they mean. 2D conversion to 3D is bad. Just doesn’t work in places. When the human actors are talking to each other it often felt as if they were standing in front of a copy of themselves or they were made of two layers. The CG creatures looked better, but this is to be expected as they can just tell the computer to remodel them for 3D. However, lots of the quick editing and camera movements just mean the 3D is blurry and hard to watch.

My son, who enjoyed the film, thought the 3D was very poor.

Spoilers ahead.

The film itself was a crushing disappointment. Where to begin? The original had a bigger feel to it. You see a few cities and they feel populated by lots of people and it was a living breathing world. The new version just doesn’t give that feel. It all seems too small and you just don’t feel as if that many people are affected by the Gods having a go at them in order to increase prayer power to fuel their immortality. That is the motivation for the Gods and sounds like a poorly thought out video game, which is the general feel of the film.

Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes as Zeus and Hades are good in what little screen time they get. Mind you Fiennes has a voice which is a mix of Voldermort and Christian Bale’s Batman. Mt Olympus looks very cool. The map of the world in the throne room is excellent, but you just don’t see enough of it.

Sam Worthington plays Perseus (son of Zeus) who is found as a child by Pete Postlethwaite and raised as a fisherman. Some soldiers knock down a statue of Zeus. Hades turns up. Kills the soldiers. Sees Perseus and his adopted family on a boat. Sinks boat. Family die. Perseus screams “No” and revenge is pursued. That’s all done as quick as it sounds and it just doesn’t work. You don’t get any feel for what kind of man Perseus is. In the original you dig that Harry Hamlin is a bit of a dreamer. Then he is transported by the Gods and adventure begins. He had a sense of wonder at seeing the new places and amazing creatures. It took its time and that worked for the better.

That is one of the other main problems with the remake to the original. Revenge now takes the place of love. In the original Perseus sees Andromeda and falls in love. When she is to be sacrificed to the Kraken, Perseus has a reason to go on his quest and you are invested in the tale. The remake has Perseus acting out of revenge. He wants to kill the Hydra as that will weaken Hades meaning Perseus can kill him. Saving Andromeda is just a side effect of Perseus’ revenge. He doesn’t care what happens to her and that, ladies and gentlemen, means we are don’t care what happens.

Because of this Worthington doesn’t really have much of a character to work with. I don’t think we have yet seen the acting abilities that casting people have obviously seen for him to get all of these big blockbuster parts. All we get about Perseus is that he wants revenge on the Gods and will do that as a man, meaning he continually refuses the help that Zeus keeps throwing his way. Therefore, the soldiers that accompany him keep getting killed when he could have saved them, but won’t due to his pride. In all honesty I have no idea why the soldiers didn’t just kill him.

It is the soldiers led by Mads Mikkelson who are the best part of the film. They actually have some character to them even if they are stock characters you have seen in a hundred war movies. Yet they all get killed one by one in pointless battles that could have been avoided if they had used their heads. The worst example is when Calibos (Jason Flemyng) attacks Perseus and the soldiers jump in. Calibos outclasses them all and they get battered, until a lucky strike makes Calibos run off dripping scorpion growing blood. Instead of letting him go and sorting out injuries the squad leader defers to Perseus’s idea to go and find out who Calibos was. This means they run into battle with someone they know is more powerful with them. Add a load of giant scorpions and death happens. Just pointless deaths and lazy story telling to get monsters on screen and to kill of characters to give Perseus more reason for revenge even though he doesn’t seem to care about any of them.

These scenes also introduce us to the Djinn, one of whom joins the team. The Djinn are the wooden faced people with the blue eyes you will have seen in the photos and trailer. They could have been a cool, mysterious kind of creature, but another wasted opportunity. They join the crew after a bit of a tussle and that is basically it.

When they get to Medusa you think it may pick up, but they wander through another bit of worn out landscape that should give you an epic feeling, but instead makes you feel that you are watching a bunch of actors in costume.

Then they go see Medusa and instead of suspense and scares, you get a CG beastie with a pretty face zipping around the place with no tension.

Just so many missed opportunities. Bubo does get a cameo, yet it is a pointless little thing that gives you the feeling they were laughing at the original movie as a whole. Gemma Arterton’s character of Io is there to take the place of Bubo and also the love interest for Perseus when that should have been Andromeda. The only reason for Io’s inclusion and Perseus not to marry Andromeda and become king is so they can have a sequel or two.

Like many blockbuster films this gave the impression that there was a good film in there, but all of that had been edited out at the expense of character and story. Danny Huston was Posiedon, but it is a blink and you’ll miss it performance. There must have been more of him filmed along with more scenes on Olympus. More scenes of Perseus growing up. More scenes to give a sense of scope to the world this was all taking place in, scenes to build character – the monster hunters and the Djinn could have done with more screen time. You basically spend the whole movie waiting for them to release the Kraken and that ends up like a video game cut scene.

After this I am not sure if Leterrier is a good director who is constantly short-changed by the studios (there was hassle from them on The Incredible Hulk) or if he just doesn’t have a handle on the quieter parts of a film that all big blockbusters need to make the blocks more bustery.

I could go on and say how frustrating it was to have Pegasus just turn up, instead of Perseus having to tame him. Instead I will bring it to a close.

Mads Mikkelson should have been Perseus.

CHUD list all the scenes cut that would have made the film so much better.

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Dennis Hopper: The Middle Word in Life. Video Essay by Matt Zoller Seitz

Posted by LiveFor on April 8, 2010

UPDATE: As you probably know Dennis Hopper has now passed away. More here. END OF UPDATE

This is just brilliant. So sad that Hopper is so ill.

“Dennis Hopper: The Middle Word in Life” is an attempt to capture the essence of what we think about when we think about Dennis Hopper. This video essay isn’t trying to be a comprehensive biography because the prospect of capturing Hopper in a relatively short running time is too daunting to consider. The piece offers glimpses of Hopper the method actor, Hopper the monologue master and word-jazz babbler, Hopper the scenery-gnawing villain, Hopper the substance abuser and ex-substance abuser, and Hopper the filmmaker (a facet that often gets overlooked because, while Hopper appeared in nearly 60 films and hundreds of hours of TV, he directed just six motion pictures). Other notable aspects of Hopper—the twentysomething enfant terrible briefly blacklisted in Hollywood for arguing with directors; Hopper the photographer and art collector; Hopper the rock ‘n’ roll gadfly; Hopper the Civil Rights-era Democrat who became a Reagan Republican and then switched back late in life; and on and on—aren’t represented here. That’s a job for biographers. The focus here is on Hopper’s life force: his personality, his philosophy; his thrilling, often contradictory, sometimes abrasive or ugly sense of what acting and filmmaking and art and life should be.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Source: Moving Image Source

Posted in Film, Interview, news, Review | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones – 90 minute review

Posted by LiveFor on April 5, 2010

You thought Attack of the Clones was flawed and the whole Anakin and Amigdala romance was weird? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The following review also shows us how Lucas ruined the lightsaber amongst many other things.








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The Last Song – Plot recreated via bad reviews

Posted by LiveFor on April 1, 2010

The always funny and oh so wrong in a good way, Film Drunk, went through numerous reviews of Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth and pieced together the plot through various quotes. Here is what they discovered:

Kinnear’s character, we’re told, fell asleep at the chapel piano one night and may have caused a painful fire, so he’s living with guilt and secrets and struggling to re-engage with Ronnie.Chicago Tribune

Ronnie never misses an opportunity to make dad feel bad for splitting up with her mom (Kelly Preston). She’s so spiteful that she hasn’t touched a piano in years and refuses to attend Juilliard, which has accepted her on the basis of her reputation. Boston Globe

…despite the concerns of her mother that Ronnie barely graduated high school and “failed her SATs.”USA Today

She’s still smarting from her parents’ divorce and nursing a major attitude. This means ignoring her acceptance to Juilliard, and befriending kids who spend all night partying under the boardwalk. –NYDailyNews

She does this on an idyllic island paradise off Savannah, Georgia, where her dad is a classical composer whose pastime is restoring stained-glass windows.  She blames her dad for the divorce, is sullen and withdrawn. Ten minutes after she hits the beach (dressed in Gothic black), her milk shake is spilled by a flying volleyball player named Will (Liam Hemsworth). Roger Ebert

In addition to the terminal illness (signaled by a telltale cough around the movie’s midpoint), there is a church fire that Ronnie’s dad is believed to have started, a wayward friend with a bad boyfriend, another friend with a dead brother, a nest of sea turtle eggs menaced by a raccoon, and a romance — did I mention it was star-crossed?NY Times

Two things soften Ronnie’s hard shell. She discovers a sea turtle nest and vows to protect it from raccoons. And she meets a boy.Detroit Free Press

Though a blond ex-girlfriend and the hero’s snobbish mother try to split them, we know they’ve bonded over her trying to help sea turtles hatch on the beach. NY Post

Oh my achy breaky heart – Film Drunk saved us all!

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Saw VI, 2009 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on March 29, 2010


Director: Kevin Greutert
Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, William Easton, Samantha Lemole

This review by Ashleigh Walmsley

In 2004, writer and director Leigh Whannell and James Wan created Jigsaw, the inexplicable ‘saviour’ of all those who’ve taken their lives for granted. Little did they know, this creation would become one of films most memorable, and successful horror icons, spawning five sequels, a rollercoaster and merchandise to fulfil a horror fan’s wet dream. Five years down the line, and we have ‘Saw VI’ – helmed by editor-turned-director Kevin Greutert.

Picking up where the fifth left, ‘Saw VI’ follows Detective Hoffman (Mandylor), now rid of Special Agent Strahm and the only supposed successor to Jigsaw’s legacy, setting up – once again – a trap which will test the lives of certain hopefuls, all the while dealing with the FBI who, unbeknownst to him, have grown suspicious.

Being a fairly big fan of horror films – ranging from those raw classics released in the 70’s to the undeniably unoriginal dumbed-down remakes we’ve grown so accustomed to -, I’ve followed the ‘Saw’ franchise from the very beginning. I’ve watched it go from strength-to-strength-to-mediocre, and then hit the stumbling block, forcing the franchise to turn into a nonsensical array of brutal sequences, with almost no plot development – leaving the never-ending wrath of Jigsaw unexplained. The fifth was, undoubtedly, one of the most pointless horror films I’ve ever had a chance to come across. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a typical ‘Saw’ film. So I, like many fans of the franchise, had lost all hope for the sixth entry, and to my surprise, it actually turned out rather good.

Despite it’s rather implausible premise, ‘Saw VI’ tackles Jigsaw’s latest ‘outing’ with a firm grip, opening the film with a memorable and sincerely sick sequence, and doesn’t let go until the final act where not all, but a partial piece of the plot from films one to four is explained. As Detective Hoffman deals with the FBI, we’re left with the poor souls stuck in the traps they’ve been left in, which – brilliantly – are some of the most creative and demented of the series (The Carousel Trap, especially, taking a more personal approach). Similar to the previous entries, the sequences involving Jigsaw’s cleverly thought traps are fantastically shot, building the intensity with every scream, all thanks to director Greutert. His clear enthusiasm, and understanding, of the franchise without a doubt helped ‘Saw VI’ – unlike David Hackl who, to me, had the potential to ruin it with the fifth entry.

I was also very surprised at the fairly unknown actors who starred. Costas Mandylor, William Easton, Samantha Lemole, and, of course, Tobin Bell (Despite his character, Jigsaw, having died three films ago). Despite suffering from a sometimes-undeveloped script, they each carried the film well. There’s even a surprise cameo by a ‘Saw’ favourite.

By no means am I saying the film is perfect, it’s not at all. But coming from how ‘Saw V’ left of, ‘Saw VI’ is a vast improvement. Returning to it’s original roots, Kevin Greutert has given us an entry into the series so promising that I’m surprisingly glad a seventh has been announced – and in eye-popping 3D! Lets hope Dr. Gordon makes an appearance in the, so-called, final chapter.

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