Rodent's Reviews

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I wasn't keen on Wanted but I can see the attraction it has to its audience.
I just felt like I'd seen it all before and it made me feel a bit bored tbh.

I think you're right about District 9 though MM, it kind of rambles along through the plots and subplots without much a turning point, any real change of tone or sudden realisation on any kind of plot.
The movie just... is.

There's no real 'high note' as you put it.
I'd still recommend it for anyone who's into low-key sci-fi that actually has a running plot though.

Apparently there's a sequel planned, which, as far as I can tell after seeing the first one, was planned from the very start. I'd be interested to see it too seeing as the overall story of the first one is as good as it is.
Originally Posted by doubledenim
Garbage bag people fighting hippy love babies.

Bots gotta be bottin'

Review #105: Casino

Associate of the Mob, Sam Rothstien is a professional gambler and sports handicapper who is by far and away the best in the business at making or breaking gambling odds in the Bookies.
When the Mob hire him to take care of one of their Casinos in Vegas, he reluctantly but enthusiastically takes the job, unaware that it will eventually be the biggest mistake he'll ever make and will change not just his life, but the lives of those around him too.

Another marvel in film making from the Scorsese-De Niro duo gives the audience a Goodfellas-esk experience that hits all the right notes, even though most of them are downbeat and occasionally uncomfortable ones.

Casino is based on the true story of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal who was hired as Foreman to three Mob owned Casinos in Vegas back in the 1970s and 80s and Scorsese's masterpiece, though with a few of the facts changed, gives the viewer a huge and entertaining bite of the lifestyle witnessed by the real life gamblers, hustlers and Mob Bosses from history.

The entire screenplay, though at times wonderfully uncomfortable with the series' of events, is fantastically written and pieced together.

Though a few facts were changed for the film, it still has the heavy hitting impact of history that are seen in Scorsese's other Mob films.
The whole feeling of historical drama mixed with such fantastically played characters is captured with such realism throughout, that it's very hard to take your eyes off the screen.

De Niro is absolutely top drawer. He goes from a confident gambler to confident Boss, to a scared and panicked marked man with the world on his shoulders within the blink of an eye and his character, obviously being based on a real person, is exceptionally realistic.
Sharon Stone as De Niro's love interest/wife is also at the top of her game. The transformation she undergoes through the movie is by far the best acting I have ever seen from her.

Joe Pesci really steals the show though as De Niro's childhood friend. Based on Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, Pesci throws himself into the role so deeply, he makes the biggest impression outside of his role in Goodfellas. His transformation over the movie's running time is another masterclass in acting as well.

What lets the film down? Actually not a lot, some people may find it less of a nostalgic look at the Gangster Past than Goodfellas is, and many will find it much more hard hitting with the overall drama, violence and downbeat acting involved.

Casino is often compared, unfavourably I might add, to Goodfellas, but throw that thought aside because Casino isn't actually trying to be Goodfellas.
It has a similar truth based story to it, a guy who's good at what he does and gets put into a position of relative power by the Mob which then dangerously falls down around him...

... but it really couldn't be more removed from Scorsese's earlier film.
Casino is top drawer stuff in its own right.

All in all, one of the finest. Give it a go, if you like a night in with a gangster/Mob genre movie, it'll make your evening, guaranteed.
My rating 100%

Some great reviews there pal. keep it up!
When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher's knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross!

I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
You can rarely go wrong with Scorsese, in my opinion. Even his weakest films are highly enjoyable. My favorite film of his is Goodfellas, and my least fave would have to be Raging Bull.

Review #106: No Country For Old Men

The premise is that in West Texas in the 1980s, a man called Llewelyn Moss stumbles across a bungled drugs deal in the middle of the desert while he's out hunting Pronghorn Antelope.
The area is littered with dead bodies and dead dogs and on searching the area, he finds a half dead man who begs him for water. Next to the dying man is a suitcase filled to the brim with $2m cash.
Llewelyn takes the cash without hesitation and leaves the dying man in the desert. Unwittingly Llewelyn has now become a target of a hitman called Anton Chigurh, a calculating and ice-cold killer and to boot is also a complete psychopath, who has been hired to recover the money.

Another fine piece of filmmaking from the Coen Brothers, this time based on a novel of the same name written by Cormack McCarthy.
No Country For Old Men gives the audience a look at adult themes and violence, exceptional acting and a hard hitting plot that is very rarely seen in Hollywood these days.
Most Hollywood flicks of this type go for action and humour combined, and then tone the whole lot down so that kids can watch. Instead, the Coen Brothers have built a world of adult content and hard faces that is a welcome breath of fresh air in the modern movie world.

The whole movie is pretty low tone and dark in it's themes, there's little to no humour involved throughout (apart from an inept Deputy Sheriff) and a lot of the screenplay is harsh on the viewer's senses.
The main part of No Country is that it's like this knowingly. It's meant to be dirty and grimy, dark and brooding.

The acting is by far though, what the movie is all about.
The ensemble cast really make an impression throughout.
Tommy Lee Jones as the Texas Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is fantastically uncomfortable in trying to figure out the series of disturbing events in his town. Sadly though, he's seen on screen as more of a supporting role in his own little side story.
Josh Brolin is at his moody best as Llewelyn Moss. He has an old soul about him and a quiet yet confident undertone that sets his character apart from most leading characters in films of this type.
Javier Bardem really shines in the role of Anton Chigurh. His quiet, unassuming demeanour is what makes the role so scary. He's like a cross between Norman Bates and something else. The overall character of Chigurh is also brilliantly written with his own twisted set of morals, to the point that you never know exactly what the character is actually going to do next.

Support from Woody Harrelson, Garret Dillahunt, Kelly Macdonald and Barry Corbin really gives the movie some weight.

There's no massive amounts of action through the film, but the little hits of gunplay that occasionally show up and some of the scenes involving Javier Bardem are really well put together and darkly exciting too.

All in all, not for everyone's taste, but definitely worth a watch simply because it's a genuinely well written and brilliantly plotted thriller, and the acting is top notch.
My rating 94%

I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
I really love this film, but I think you made a mistake somewhere. I saw the novel of the same name, and there were no pictures, so I wouldn't say it's a comicbook, Rodent. Other than that, another excellent review of an excellent film.

Good shout MM, I have adjusted the review.

I tell you what it was, it was Cormack McCarthy's name that threw the word 'Comicbook' into my head while I was writing.

Review #107: Blown Away

When Ryan Gaerity, a Freelance Irish Bomb Terrorist, escapes from his prison in Ireland, he heads for Boston in the US determined for revenge against Lt Jimmy Dove, a bomb disposal expert, who put him in prison in the first place.
In the process, Lt Dove's own dark history from a previous life is brought to the surface, and threatens Dove's relationships, his career and the lives of everyone around him.

Blown Away should hit the right buttons with the talented cast of Jeff Bridges, Forest Whitaker and Tommy Lee Jones, and the talented director Stephen Hopkins (Predator 2, The Ghost And The Darkness, Judgment Night).
Instead, the viewer is treated to a pretty mediocre actioner with a mystery sub-plot behind it.
Though in saying that, the mystery is also quite contrived too and has been seen before many a time.

What the movie is really all about, is character development and screenplay.
The sequence of events from start to finish is really well put together, and the way the writing has built upon the overall group of characters is top notch. It's just a shame about the actual story.

The characters seen throughout are built on really very well and the acting is about as good as it could have been with the weak storylines.
Jeff Bridges (Lt Dove) and Forest Whitaker are at their usual likeable best. Whitaker in particular is a joy to see.

Tommy Lee Jones as Gaerity however, is doing his Two-Face persona. Over the top, almost comical, barely threatening for a villain, and yet still holding the screen pretty well. The big problem is his faux 'Irish' accent. It's awful.

Supporting cast from Suzi Amis, John Finn and Lloyd Bridges (also sporting a dodgy Irish accent) give the movie some more likeable and relatively well written characters.

The action, when it gets going, is also relatively contrived but still manages to be quite exciting, again this is mainly down to the viewer having a connection to the characters involved, rather than the action being well choreographed.

The special effects, when they're used, are quite well put together too. Some of Gaerity's explosive contraptions give the movie it's own little quirk.

All in all, a Marmite movie for moviegoers really. Completely lacking in originality and the acting is touch and go (except for Jeff and Forest), but the screenplay and character development is pretty good. It's still pretty enjoyable overall though.
It's hard to recommend it, I really shouldn't recommend it, but it's still worth a watch, just to see for yourself.
My rating, a mid and confused 50%

I know, I know, another Western from me...

Review #108: The Cowboys

Rancher Wil Andersen manages to lose all of his ranch-hands when they abscond during the Wild West Goldrush of the 1800s.
In desperation, he hires the only hands available, a bunch of local schoolboys, to aid him in a 400 mile cattledrive.
During the trip, Andersen's hard-headed and hard-hearted persona is tested and questioned, and the young wannabe 'cow boys' themselves are thrown into an unknown world of hardship and heart breaking life-lessons.

For a Western that was made toward the end of the 'Western Era', The Cowboys really shines through as a classic.
The overall screenplay, writing, dialogue writing, shooting style and choreography of the finished product are absolutely spell binding.
The relationships between the boys, Nightlinger (Andersen's new right-hand man) and Andersen is felt brilliantly by the audience.

The overall feel of The Cowboys, is a similar coming of age story that has been used many a time before and since, but with the Western setting it gives the storyline a nice flavour.
Plus the overall choreography I mentioned, not just the odd hit of action and peril but particularly with the young boys driving a huge cattle herd across the Big Country, makes the film really stand out.

There's also some nicely placed humour throughout, most of it situational, that makes the viewer keep watching too.

The acting from John Wayne as Andersen, is about his usual moody self. This time round Wayne really seems likable as he comes out of his shell as the film progresses.
It's the gang of youngsters that really make the impression, most are unknowns, even today they're unknowns (apart from Robert Carradine and Stephen R Hudis, both in their feature debuts)... but it's the camaraderie and the overall childishness that turns into manhood that gives the movie some weight. Well played by all too.
Roscoe Lee Brown is good as Nighlinger and Bruce Dern makes a nice appearance as the villain, giving the main group something to put their differences aside for.

All in all, maybe not one of the best Westerns ever made, but certainly fun, full of great acting and also perilous and heartbreaking at times too.
My rating 87%

Review #109: K-PAX

Robert Porter is a psychiatric patient in a mental hospital, he claims he is an extra-terrestrial, that his real name is 'prot' (pronounced 'prote') and that he comes from a planet called 'K-PAX'.
Dr Mark Powell, the head phsychiatrist dealing with Robert, is amazed and stunned by the complexity of Robert's claims, even to the point that he starts to almost believe them himself.
What makes things stranger, is that Robert has knowledge of things outside of our solar system that is know by only a handful of scientists. Robert also has an incredible mental influence on the other patients of the hospital.
Dr Powell must find out the truth of what or who Robert really is, before a predetermined date, mentioned by prot, arrives.

Based on Gene Brewer's novel of the same name... a mixed reception for K-PAX saw the movie score relatively low on many critic's books.
K-PAX is actually a very well crafted sci-fi mystery-drama that leaves the viewer in a state of disbelief, then throws the audience on the backfoot and makes them believe the strange and wonderful claims of the lead character.

It's all down to the exceptional character writing and overall script that give the movie its weight.

The screenplay is also top drawer. The series of events is incredibly easy to follow, even though some of it could well have gotten overly-complicated, the filmmakers have placed it in such a way that it adds more depth to the overall story rather than confusing the viewer.

Kevin Spacey is at the top of his game as Robert/prot. His familiar monotone voice, usually used when being all 'serious', works fantastically for the character and when he's playing Robert, he changes substantially. He really is two seperate characters in one scene.
Jeff Bridges is at his usual likable best as Dr Powell. His character is also brought to a realism by Bridges and he plays off Spacey fantastically.
With support from Mary McCormack, Alfred Woodard and the brilliant chameleon actor David Patrick Kelly.

All in all, there's not much else to say about K-PAX apart from that it's an underrated experience and certainly worth more than the 41% it got from a certain movie review website.
Though not perfect, it's full of intrigue, great acting and an ending that will leave the viewer philosophically wondering...
My rating 83%

Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
With you on that one as well, always enjoyed K-Pax. Not actually watched it in years though, will need to look it out at some point

Special review for my 110th.

Review #110: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

The Fellowship Of The Ring

Under the watchful eye of Gandalf The Grey (an incredibly old wizard), Frodo Baggins (a Hobbit from 'The Shire'), comes into possession of a gold coloured magical ring that has been passed down to him as an Heirloom from his Uncle Bilbo.
Gandalf reveals to Frodo that this magical ring is actually The One Ring that was forged by an incredibly powerful Dark Lord called Sauron thousands of years ago. After studying the legends of Sauron, Gandalf learns that the spirit of Sauron lives on in an almost ghostly form, and if he is reunited with this Master Ring, he will cover all of Middle Earth in darkness and evil for eternity.
Frodo immediately steps up to the challenge of taking the Ring to the powerful and wise Elves in a far away land called Rivendell.
But more unexpected adventure awaits, and many revelations will come to light that will take everyone involved in this journey to places that they really wish they weren't going.

Taken from J.R.R Tolkien's magnificent and history making novel, Peter Jackson has encapsulated everything fans would want to see and feel on the journey of Frodo and his friends.
For a start, a lot of the novels contain a great deal of random non-story and read almost like a historical document. Tolkien's books have been whittled down by Jackson and his writers to the bare story and have built an incredible screenplay in the process.
The other thing is the timelines of Tolkien's books. The book of The Fellowship takes place over 20 years or so, but this first film takes place over a few months. Though for on-screen purposes, they had to edit the timelines I guess.

The other thing that the filmmakers have done is built Tolkien's world of magic and history so successfully, it really feels as if the viewer has been transported into Middle Earth.
A lot of it is CG dependent, but it's very well put together, and when combined with the magnificent sets that were built, it really comes to realism.

The main part of the the movie that stands out though, is when the cast are placed in front of the fantastic backdrop of Middle Earth.

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins is mark of absolute genius. He's incredibly believable and captures the sheer essence of the character with such skill, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
Backing him up is the wonderful Sean Astin as Frodo's friend/bodyguard/companion/gardener called Samwise Gamgee, and is another mark of genius. The on-screen chemistry between the two is brilliantly real and Astin is fantastically out of his depth, eventually becoming a stalwart warrior in the series of events.
Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf... in fear of repeating myself... is yet another mark of genius from the filmmakers. McKellen was absolutely born for this role, even though at the time of filming, he hadn't ever read the novels.
Viggo Mortensen as Strider/Aragorn though, isn't quite what I was hoping for. His character has changed substantially in the transition from book to film, but Mortensen carries the rewritten role brilliantly.

Backing them up are Sean Bean as Boromir, Orlando Bloom as the kick-ass Elf Legolas, John Rhys-Davies as the Dwarf Gimli and...
Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan provide a touch of lighthearted comic relief as the Hobbits known as Peregrin 'Pippin' Took and Merriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck respectively.
Plus a gazillion extras and stuntmen as the Orks and Uruk Hai enemies for the main group to battle against.

The overall on-screen chemistry between the main cast is great throughout.

The other thing that gets the audience is the incredible actions scenes that show from time to time. They're exciting and very well choreographed.

All in all, though there are quite a few changes in the book-film transition, including a few changes to characters and even the odd plotline, it's still a fantastic movie and captures pretty much everything a fan would want from the source material. And it works for anyone who hasn't read the books too, it's that good.
My rating 95%


The Two Towers

Following on from directly The Fellowship of The Ring, Frodo and Sam are seperated from the rest of the group and find themselves stalked by a strange and upsetting character called Golum. They must protect the Ring from this creature and find a way to destroy the ring at the same time.
Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin have also been seperated from the group and captured by the Uruk Hai. In hot pursuit are Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, determined to save their Hobbit friends from the awful fate that awaits them at the hands of the Uruk Hai.
Again though... more unexpected adventure awaits on the differing paths that our heroes have taken and in the process, it will bring our heroes to the brink of destruction.

Another masterclass in filmmaking... again with more cutting and the editing out of Tolkien's random ramblings and changes to the plot and the characters during the transition, however once again, the filmmakers have still managed to piece together a magnificent story that captures Tolkien's world.

The overall look of the film is more action oriented this time round but the character development involved gives the action a heartfelt excitement.
There's also massive expansion throughout the world of Middle Earth, especially with the extra characters that are seen throughout.
The CG work has also been improved, especially with the creature Golum, he's exceptionally realistic and Andy Serkis made his career in the role (I'll get to him later).

What really makes the movie stand apart from the first, is the action. It's absolutely immense. The audience are treated to a 10,000 strong Uruk Hai army, fighting against Humans and Elves. There's also an army of walking trees for the audience to get excitied over too.
The overall choreography in the action has been ramped up as well.

The acting throughout is as the first, Aragorn's role in the story is expanded and Frodo and Sam's side story makes for quite a dark turn of events and they all hit their roles with perfection.
Bernard Hill makes a welcome show as King Theoden, he's by far one of the best on show.
Karl Urban also makes an impression and the tough and able warrior called Eomer, and Nephew of King Theoden.

Andy Serkis is who steals the show though as Golum. The actor is never actually seen on-screen but the use of motion-capture and Serkis' voiceover in the role, Golum is exceptionally realistic and the CG used is top notch.

All in all, it outweighs the first film by miles with the slightly darker feel and expanded storylines.
But with more plot and character changes during the transition, I feel I must mark it down again like I did the first movie, though it doesn't take too much away.
My rating 96%


The Return Of The King

With Frodo and Sam getting closer to the goal of destroying The One Ring, Golum has other plans for the duo, and Sam must figure out what it is that he's up to before it's too late.
Meanwhile Gandalf and Pippin have headed to Minas Tirith, the main human city in a land called Gondor, as Pippin has accidentally discovered Sauron's plans to attack the place in the hope that it will send humans into a state of disrepair. It's up to Gandalf and Pippin to warn and prepare the city for the oncoming onslaught.
King Theoden, along with Eomer is building an army of King Theoden's men and a few allies and are also heading to Minas Tirith to support the war against Sauron.
Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn have taken a seperate path, where Aragorn must either face his destiny, or leave Middle Earth to fall apart around him under the brutality of Sauron.

Once again, the filmmakers have ramped absolutely everthing up for the third installment of LOTR.
Though there's not as many new added lead characters involved, the existing characters are given much more personal expansion in this one, especially with King Theoden and Aragorn... but it's with Frodo and Sam that the real character writing makes an impression as Frodo falls deep into the evilness of The Ring.

What the viewer is given though is a look at a few other various Peoples of Middle Earth, even though many of them are bad guys.

There's also a massive expansion in the action side of things too. The audience are given more huge battles that take up most of the second and third acts of the film... one battle in particular is supposedly close to a half million strong enemy force.

The CG work and choreography is also ramped up again.

The acting throughout is, again, spot on. There's more chemistry this time round (if that was even possible), especially between Mortensen, Bloom and Rhys-Davies.
Elijah Wood and Sean Astin though really steal the show in this third film. Frodo's descent into madness and darkness is exceptionally well played by Wood, and Astin's "Samwise The Brave" is really a show of genuine acting.

All in all, a fitting and satisfactory end to Jackson's trilogy (I say Jackson's trilogy, as it is Jackson's, not Tolkien's). Again though, various changes in character and plot mark it down for me... but it's still an absolutely spell binding movie, a touch more improved than the second movie too and still well deserving of LOTR's title.
My rating 97%


Because Jackson's LOTR trilogy is quite often classed as one big movie (due mainly to the fact that they were all filmed simultaneously), for the first time in my reviews thread I'm giving a movie series an Overall Rating:

LOTR as a movie Trilogy: 96%

I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
One of the most exceptional, brilliant, mesmerizing, and - dare I say - fantastic fantasy film series I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing in theaters for each release. I had never heard of or read the books until I saw these films, and I'm proud to say I own the collection of novels in my library.

Also, how could you ignore the amazing performance of Sauruman (not sure of spelling) by Christopher Lee? He was perfect in that role, especially his legendary and commanding voice.

I have to say that on a personal level, I would have marked the films down into the 80%-85% margin because of my feelings toward the books. But being non-biased and looking at the way the movies have been put together (as I try to do with all my reviews), I had to be fair and put them up into the 90s.

I'm a stalwart fan of the books, I read them when I was a kid and have read them a couple of times since and though they're pretty boring at times, they far out-class Jackson's movies.

I just wished the filmmakers had kept to the books with a lot of the stuff, instead of changing characters, character traits, even completely changing some of the character storylines and overall plot points too.
I won't go right into the changes in case it spoils the movies for anyone who hasn't read the books seeing as the films are so enjoyable, but I will say... if you haven't read them, do so.

I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
Agreed, but it worked with the movie they were showing, as they wanted to make at least some of the characters more believable as human beings instead of symbolic figures as Tolkien intended them to be in his works (works well for novels, but not so well for films as I've experienced). I realize that they took out a lot. A lot of cuts I understand because Tolkien does have a tendency to ramble in the books. Other cuts made me a little upset, but I'm glad the final product of the film was what it was, and I honestly wouldn't want it any other way.

Currently watching this on telly...

Review #111: Edward Scissorhands

Avon Lady and homemaker Peg Boggs, in desperate need of cash, decides to go to the house at the end of her street to sell some of her Avon goodies.
The house in question is said to be haunted and, physically the house resembles something out of a Dracula movie.
Entering the dilapidated house after nobody answers the door, she finds a lone man called Edward, dressed in leather and with scissors where his hands should be.
Taking almost a pity on this loner, she takes him to her own home and her family welcome him in as one their own. But circumstances beyond Edward's control see him going from neighbourhood celebrity, to a wanted man and scape-goat, conveniently accused of things he hasn't done.

One of Burton's best movies sees Johnny Depp in the role that threw him into the minds of mainstream movie fans.
The overall movie won't appeal to everyone, but Burton's direction has created a very clever visual movie that uses pastel-colour and non-colour to show the themes of contrasting sides of life, society, prejudice, fear and difference.

The overall screenplay is also very well pieced together. The movie succesfully captures the frustrations of the normal person, and mixes them with naivety of both Edward and the naive mentality of the people that are around him.

The movie also contains a lot of situational humour and fish-out-of-water humour too.
In Burton's usual style, he also mixes into it a gothic undertone at the same time.
There's little to no action involved, but there are a few hits of tension and some wonderfully written emotional scenes too between Depp And Winona Ryder.

The acting is pretty good for the type of film.
Dianne Wiest is very engaging as the homemaker and initial protagonist Peg Boggs.
Winona Ryder is also pretty good as Kim Boggs, Peg's daughter and love interest to Edward. I'm not a fan of Ryder but she hits the role brilliantly. I'd say it's probably one of her best.

Johnny Depp as Edward though, obviously is the stand out role in the movie. His portrayal of the quiet, innocent loner, who looks at the strange new world around him with a wide eyed wonder, is wonderfully real and funny at times too.
It's also the role that brought Depp and Ryder together in real life.

All in all, not a perfect movie, but certainly makes an impression on the viewer with the visuals and the overall love story being so well written.
Burton's gothic touches are also well placed and set the film apart from most other Frankenstein-esk love stories.
My rating 93%

I love love love that movie!!!!