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[REC]
Juame Balaguero & Paco Plaza 2007



[REC] That Spanish holiday is out of the question now.

In 1978 Italian director Ruggero Deodato pushed the horror envelope to its limits by making the now notorious, 'Cannibal Holocaust'. The film sparked a media furore due to its repellent animal killings, and graphic depiction of rape and mutilation. Some people even believed the films footage to be real. Deodato hadn't made a likable film, but in using documentary style handheld camera techniques, he'd made a damn effective one.

Fast forward twenty years to 1998, and debut directors Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler made the lesser known 'The Last Broadcast' using similar techniques. Due to lack if distribution, the film was hardly seen, and remains a cult obscurity to this day. Someone had seen it though, because a year later 'The Blair Witch Project' exploded onto cinema screens worldwide and was a huge hit, documentary style horror had finally hit the mainstream.

Now in 2008, thirty years after the seminal 'Cannibal Holocaust', three handheld horror films have have hit our theaters, 'Cloverfield', 'Diary Of The Dead', and '[REC]' . Deodato must surely have a wry smile on his face.

'[REC]' is a low budget Spanish film, and was actually the first of these films to be released (2007 in Spain only). I'm not going to speculate who stole who's idea here, as I'm sure 'Cloverfield' and 'Diary Of The Dead' were already in production when '[REC]' hit Spanish cinemas.

The films plot follows a young reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman as they make a television documentary about the fire brigade. They are soon invited to accompany the firemen on a routine call to an apartment building where an old lady has become trapped in her flat. On their arrival it becomes apparent that things have taken a sinister turn, as the buildings residents have contracted some strange disease.

'[REC]' is not an original film, it's incredibly derivative, of 'Demons 2', and 'Shivers aka They Came From Within'. Plus the infected residents behave like, and bear a striking resemblance to those in '28 Days/Weeks Later'. Some of the scenes in [REC] feel very familiar, I also found myself nitpicking certain plot intricacies (but that's only because I've seen so many similar films). What helps this film transcend it's derivative origins though, is mainly the brilliant performance from the lovely Manuela Velasco, who is very natural and believable. It was also a clever move by the filmmakers making the protagonists TV reporters, not only does this justify them feeling compelled to film the action. But it also means we get a professional in charge of the camera, giving us a less disorientating view of the proceedings (something 'Cloverfield' was criticized for not doing).

Like 'Cloverfield' [REC] is a tightly paced white knuckle ride, with some expertly choreographed shocks. The claustrophobic confines of the apartment block only add to the tense atmosphere, making this a decent little horror film.

All in all this is a solid and effective (if unoriginal) shocker, that at a modest 78 minutes doesn't outstay it's welcome. It's scary, it's gory, and most importantly it's entertaining. Fans of the zombie genre will definitely enjoy this, and shouldn't let the prospect of subtitles put them off.



Death Proof
Quentin Tarantino 2007




Death Proof? Entertainment Proof More Like.

Ok Ok, I'm about to do the unthinkable here, that's right, I'm about to give a Tarantino movie, a man who personifies the term 'Critic Proof' (which would have been a laughably ironic title for this movie) a bad review GASP!!! Well lets be honest, it's more of a rant really. So if you love old Quenty, and wouldn't be adverse to eating his turds, if only he'd call you one of his buddies, then look away now.

Being a huge Kurt Russell fan, and something of a Tarantino sceptic (he hasn't made a truly great film since 'Jackie Brown' in my opinion) I've finally gotten round to 'Death Proof', and I'm unthrilled. I have two words for this mess, 'Time' and 'Waster'.

The Plot? A mysterious ex demolition derby driver stalks and murders young girls, that's it.

Firstly let me start by admitting I watched the extended UK cut of the movie (not as Tarantino intended it to be shown) so I'm prepared to cut the guy a little slack in the pacing department. Yes it's slow, it's so slow, my grandmother riding a tortoise would leave this clunker for dust, and she's been dead for over thirty years. My biggest gripe however is that it's boring too, I can handle a slow movie if there's something to hold my attention. Instead Tarantino gives us a gutter mouthed bunch of obnoxious girls, rambling on about inane crap. Was I supposed to be rooting for Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell)? because sicko or not, I couldn't wait for him to turn up, and plow right into them before my brain turned to mush. We all know Tarantino writes great dialogue, but here it feels maddeningly self indulgent.

My other major gripe, is this movie only really comes alive when Russell is on screen, Stuntman Mike is a hoot, but where the hell is he? I was starting to think I'd put the wrong disc in the machine because it felt like an eternity before he showed up. When he does finally appear you get the best scene in the movie, his bar encounter with, and subsequent murder of the first group of girls. The scene in which Stuntman Mike traps a girl in his car is vintage Tarantino, in that it's both unexpectedly shocking and thrilling all at once. I'd even go as far to say it's one of the most effectively frightening scenes I've seen in recent years. This is mainly because said girl has already been established as likable (in that she's not part of the initial group). It's also a painful reminder that you've just sat through twenty five minutes of banal garbage, for just five minutes of decent movie.

The second half of the movie gargles balls, yes we get more girls (this lot come off like they've just got back from a Germain Greer book reading) and the end car chase is so unremarkable (it didn't help that they kept name dropping 'Vanishing Point', a far better film) that I'm sure I began humming some mindless tune whilst staring out of the window and picking my toenails. Where was the grand smash em' up 'Mad Max 2' finale we'd all been expecting? Well if you listened to the great man himself, this is an authentic 'Grindhouse' movie, a genre of film that rarely delivered on it's initial premise. Well Quentin, you certainly got that part right.

Grindhouse tribute or not, if you're making a trash movie, at least make it entertaining, not just a private excercise in self indulgance. A good DJ plays his favourite tracks, but he also has the crowd in mind, a good director (which Tarantino most certainly IS) should do the same. AVOID



He Was A Quiet Man
Frank A. Cappello 2007



He Was A Quiet Man, I Was A Happy Viewer.


Slumming it in the straight to DVD section (this movie had no theatrical release in the UK) is usually a one way ticket to Golden Rasberry ****sville. Every so often however (and by that I mean practically never) you stumble blindly onto something half way decent. Something that doesn't make you feel like taking a water pistol filled with piss into Blockbuster head office and casually drenching the board. Ah hem!!! that leads me onto 'He Was A Quiet Man' which I'm pleased to say fits into the 'half way decent' category. A good straight to DVD rental, something that comes around with the regularity of Haley's Comet.

Christian Slater (an actor whose career has definitely hit the skids of late) is Bob Maconel, a mild mannered, down trodden office worker with more than a borderline personality disorder. Bob regularly fantasizes about blowing his sadistic coworkers to smithereens, and even starts taking a gun into work. But before he can act out this twisted fairytale, a colleague beats him to the punch. When in the mayhem Bob's office crush Vanessa (Elisha Cuthbert) is shot, he finally plucks up the courage to use his gun, and becomes an unlikely hero in the process. Will Bob's life suddenly iron itself out? or will those underlying character flaws resurface?

It's an interesting premise that bears obvious comparisons to other films. The isolated loner, 'Taxi Driver', and corporate devaluation of workers, 'Brazil' two name but a couple. Capello's film however, takes these themes and spins out something altogether new, fresh, and it it's best, powerfully moving. The film in essence is a character study (with Slater cast effectively against type), and starts out as a tense thriller. It then moves into touching indie romance territory (the blossoming relationship between Bob and Vanessa, who is left a quadriplegic), before coming full circle with a well executed twist.

'He Was A Quiet Man' is far from perfect, director Capello does have a tendency to focus too heavily i.e. overuse some of Slaters character mannerisms and ticks, thus detracting from an otherwise solid performance. Some of the situations that arise from Vanessa's disability feel a little cliched. Plus there's the obligatory romantic montage sequence, that left me rolling my eyes half expecting Leslie Neilsen and Priscilla Presley to run accross a beach half way through. The fact that all facets of the story work and are completely credible however, are what lifts this above the general quagmire of complete rubbish that's out there. I was entertained, gripped, and touched during the film's 92 minutes, and you can't really ask for more than that.

The truth is some films like this go straight to DVD, whereas films like 'White Chicks' and 'Big Mommas House' get a theatrical release, and that's pretty depressing. 'He Was A Quiet Man' is proof that it's worth scratching below the surface and chancing movie ****sville now and again. Check it out.



1408
Mikael Hafstrom 2007



Don't Stay In Room 1408, Don't Even Rent It.

On a Monday at my local library they have a 'rent two DVDs and get one free' offer. That's the kind of deal that makes waste of space movie nerds like me soil their underwear, before spending the next hour indecisively perusing the shelves for that elusive gem that flew under the radar. '1408' is neither a gem, nor did it fly under any radars, but I rented it all the same, reasoning that any movie starring John Cusack couldn't be that bad...could it?

Loosely adapted from a Stephen King short story (no guarantee of quality) '1408' follows hack writer Mike Enslin, who makes a living visiting supposedly haunted guest houses, then exposing them as frauds in his books. Enslin is a cynical sort, who's willing to believe in the paranormal, just as soon as he sees tangible proof. So when he receives a mysterious post card carrying the simple message 'don't stay in room 1408' He sets about doing what a hack haunted paranormal guest house reviewer has gotta do. Soon he's off to meet hotel manager Samuel L Jackson, who tells him in no uncertain terms that room 1408 is 'an evil room' and under no circumstances should he even enter...

'1408' starts nicely in that it creates an effective sense of foreboding. Indeed when Jackson tells you a room is bad news, you're inclined to believe him. Before Cusack actually sets foot inside said room this is actually a very good horror movie. But in expertly building up to the scares, director Hafstrom sets us up for what is inevitably a disappointing pay off. I can only equate the experience to one of those occasions where you've told your friends about a great joke or story, only to end up refusing a recital, because it'll just be a huge anti climax. Well that's exactly how watching '1408' feels.

The main problem here is that essentially the film is just a bad variation on the old haunted house theme. Good examples of the genre, films like 'House On The Haunted Hill', (b&w original) 'The Shining' , 'The Others' and 'The Orphanage' all had in common the art of subtly creating chilling suspense. Instead when it comes to the scares in '1408', Hafstrom goes for the 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach. He makes us jump, the room shakes, we get pyrotechnics, objects move around, electrical appliances go crazy etc etc. All of those devices can be perfectly effective in context. The trouble is in '1408' they're strung together in a lazy abstract fashion that leaves you totally disconnected, and in most cases downright confused. Anyone who finds this scary, either hasn't seen any of the above films, or are so neurotic, they'd make Woody Allen look like Dirty Harry.

On the plus side Cusack does everything he can with the material. Enslin's sardonic musings are an amusingly enjoyable distraction. Plus Jackson's contribution is a memorable one, if frustratingly brief.

I just wish the message on that postcard had read 'don't watch the rest of this movie'. Infact you'd be better off just watching up to Cusack entering the room, turning it off, and making the rest up yourself.



I kind of agree with you about Deathproof, the dialog just drones on. Also, the "pay-off" doesn't hold water with other movies of the sort. Considering how Tarantino's style is the norm now, now it seems tame.
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...uh the post is up there...



Ah, if you check out the Movie Discussion thread from a while a back, you'll find most people aren't impressed with Death Proof, myself included. Though to be honest, i saw a pirate of Grindhouse, then full cut on DVD and neither times was i impressed, however seeing Grindhouse on the big screen is a completely different experience- the car chases are a lot more enjoyable.
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Ah, if you check out the Movie Discussion thread from a while a back, you'll find most people aren't impressed with Death Proof, myself included. Though to be honest, i saw a pirate of Grindhouse, then full cut on DVD and neither times was i impressed, however seeing Grindhouse on the big screen is a completely different experience- the car chases are a lot more enjoyable.

Hi Pyro Tramp,

Yeah, sorry if my comments at the beginning sounded a little arrogant (no offence was intended, I've edited them down slightly now). I only signed up yesterday, and was just trying to cover my ass with that review (though hopefully it came across as very tongue in cheek). Alot of friends I talk to won't hear a bad word about Tarantino, it gets a little boring, as they seem to lap up everything he does, and call it a classic.

At the moment I'm just trying to get some of my older material (currently saved on my hard drive) posted quickly so I can get some feedback and actively take part in the site right away. The last thing I want to do is annoy people and be branded an idiot before I've even started.



Doomsday
Neil Marshall 2008




Marshall's Law Bombs Third Time Round


Being a Brit, it often pains me that our film industry is so poor compared to our European neighbours. Whilst the continent consistently produces a variety of intelligent and thought provoking films. Britain seems to flounder in an ocean of predictable rom coms, and second rate gangster movies. Back in the 1960's things were different, we had Hammer making popular horror movies, and Michael Caine was thinking man's spy Harry Palmer. But by the end of the 1970's things had taken a downward turn, appart from the odd period drama, Ken Loach or Mike Hodges film, the glory days of British cinema were over.

So when Neil Marshall burst onto the scene in 2002 with the thrilling 'Dog Soldiers' there seemed to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Marshall promptly followed it up in 2005 with 'The Descent' (in my opinion the best British horror film since 'Hellraiser') people started talking of a new dawn in British cinema, and a possible return to the glory days of Hammer.

When I heard Neil Marshall had made a new post apocalyptic film called 'Doomsday', with (by British standards) a big budget, I got very excited. I'd practically been counting down the days, waiting for this film to be released, but sadly my enthusiasm was to go unrewarded, because 'Doomsday' is one great big mess of a movie.

The films plot concerns a supposedly incurable plague in Scotland, the Government's solution is to wall off and quarantine the entire country leaving everyone to die. Thirty years later, and said plague returns, this time to London. The top brass reveal there are survivors in Scotland, and send in a crack unit to try and retrieve an antidote. Unfortunately the survivors aren't the welcoming kind...

It's been pretty well documented that 'Doomsday' is highly derivative, and not without good reason. Almost every scene in this film has been directly lifted from other, better, movies. The primary influences here are 'Escape From New York', (there's even a character called Carpenter for gods sake), 'Mad Max 2 - The Road Warrior', and 'Aliens'. Nods are also made to lots of other action/horror films, so many infact, that I'd be here all day naming them all.

The fact that 'Doomsday' is a derivative movie, isn't why I'm condemning it outright, lots of great movies and directors in this genre pay homage to old classics, and do it with a fresh sense of style and fun (Robert Rodriguez's films such as 'The Faculty' and 'Planet Terror' being prime examples).

Where 'Doomsday' falls down however, is that it adds nothing new to the mix, it's a film devoid of imagination and panache. Ideas are directly copied rather than given a new twist, as a result the entire film has no flow, and merely serves as a reminder of how good the source material was. Another detractor is the soundtrack which is downright awful, dialogue is constantly drowned out by loud incidental music, as if Marshall was trying to compensate for there being no suspense in the film. When he tires of this, we get a variety of 80's pop songs so inappropriately interspersed with the action, it becomes embarrassing. The most cringe inducing example of this, is during the end car chase when we're subjected to 'Two Tribes' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. A piece of music that makes what was surely supposed to be a thrillingly tense set piece, play as broad comedy.

None of the characters stand out here either, the herione (whose name I can't even remember) is just another Ripley wannabe, but comes off more like Kate Beckinsale from the lackluster 'Underworld' films. Bob Hoskins is good but underused, and Malcolm Mcdowell phones in his performance.

To it's credit the film is mildly entertaining all be it in a ho hum sort of way, but really, genre fans deserve better than this. Disappointing.



Black Sheep
Johnathan King 2006



Black Sheep? Baahh Humbug

I should have known better than to rent this old mutton chop when I read the 'If you enjoyed Shaun Of The Dead...' comment on the box. Because like the god awful 'Severance' and the equally disappointing 'The Cottage' , 'Black Sheep' is yet another miserable attempt to fuse horror with comedy (with emphasis heavily on the comedy), and cash in on Edgar Wright's hit.

Henry is left terrified of sheep (now ain't that a coincidence) after a childhood prank, and on returning to the family farm for a funeral, uncovers his brother's dastardly plot to genetically modify, you got it, sheep. Guess what happens next...

This is a New Zealand made film, a country that gave us such genre classics as 'Bad Taste' and 'Braindead'. Those movies succeeded because despite them being incredibly daft, Peter Jackson's execution was anything but. 'Braindead' in particular was a gross out slapstick masterclass, superbly choreographed, with bags of energy, in jokes, and razor sharp wit. 'Black Sheep' on the other hand relies solely on it's central idea for laughs, and let me tell you, after about fifteen minutes of this movie, the joke wears pretty thin.

The film's main problem is it's total lack of innovation, despite said sheep, you won't see anything here that you haven't seen before and done better. The whole thing just feels stale, it's by the numbers comedy horror, and after half an hour I was simply left counting wallpaper patterns just hoping it would hurry up and end.

That's the trouble with the whole 'Horror Comedy' genre, it's extremely hit and miss, films very rarely working, save as cult curiosities. Films like 'Re-Animator' and 'The Return Of The Living Dead' were great, and I love em', but they're not scary in the slightest. To my mind 'Horror Comedy' is a contradiction in terms, a 'horror' film should scare you and be just that, horrible. A 'comedy', well, you do the math. Infact I can think of only one film which succeeded in both the scares and laughs department, and that's 'An American Werewolf In London'. If anyone can think of another example, please feel free to let me know.

In it's favor 'Black Sheep' is well made, fast paced, has abattoirs full of gore (though most of it looks rubbery and fake), and lots of, errr sheep. But really your enjoyment of this movie will depend on whether you find the aggressive man eating sheep hilarious, I didn't.



30 Days Of Night
David Slade 2007



30 Days Of Night Steps Into The Spotlight.


Ahhh the Vampire, that most noble of movie monsters, the suave one, the romantic deviant, the stylish claret hunter, the thinker's creature of the night. Pity the poor Vampire, for never has it seemed such an endangered species. Nowadays with the likes of 'Blade' to contend with, and the peaking popularity of its humble stablemate, the Zombie, is it curtains for the king of monsters?

On it's initial release I read alot of negative articles about '30 Days Of Night' and foolishly let them sway my opinion without even seeing the movie. Now I've finally gotten round to watching it, and despite some hang ups, my viewing experience was in the main a pleasurable one.

The plot here is simple, every winter the remote Alaskan town of Barrow is plunged into darkness for thirty days. A group of particularly vicious vampires decide to exploit this seasonal inconvenience, and use Barrow as a human buffet. What transpires is a cat and mouse game of survival with the remaining inhabitants.

'30 Days' is adapted from a graphic novel, and the first thing you notice about the film is that it looks fantastic. I don't usually like CGI (I loathe it), but here it's used sparingly to enhance scenery, weather conditions, and most strikingly, for an eye popping areal shot of carnage. The vampires are well realized, sporting a contemporary gothic look, that stays the right side of cheesy, whilst complemented by the icy setting. The gory action is also well handled, David Slade going for a pleasing balance of cut aways, wide shots, and Lucio Fulci style lingering gore close ups. Technically '30 Days Of Night' can't be faulted, indeed it's production values are delightfully glossy, but the film still has some glaring detractors.

The most unforgivable of these relates to the '30 Days' portion of the title, and the pacing/credibility issues it throws up. Slade deals with this by sporadicly adding a day number at the bottom of the screen, but all to often up to ten days elapse with no explanation. This saps away any tension, and left me scratching my head in puzzlement. It seemed a huge let down to me that a film revolving around a set time frame, couldn't effectively convey that very premise.

Secondly this is a film that hinges on us believing the heroes can survive for '30 Days' against an overwhelming enemy. Virtually no references however are made to them undertaking survival activities, this seemed very odd to me, as the film is basically a story about just that. Survival elements like them finding food (something focused on to great effect in Zombie movies) are never mentioned. Instead they constantly discuss where the best hiding place is, and how they can get there without becoming vampire brunch. That's all well and good, but when characters get separated only to miraculously appear later, already at a destination, frustration and disbelief come a knockin'.

Lastly and slightly more forgivable (this is a b-movie after all) is the acting and characterisation which never rises above wooden predictability. Unless you're a doe eyed young girl fawning over Josh Hartnett, you certainly won't give two hoots about who lives or dies. Infact the films pleasingly downbeat ending is a highlight, even if it is identical to 'Blade 2'.

I must point out at this juncture, that I liked the film despite its shortcomings. Indeed you could say it's 'mutton dressed as lamb', as underneath all the gloss, this is pretty dumb stuff. In some instances audience intelligence is totally disregarded, as gaping plot holes are left conspicuously unplugged. Strangely it still manages to be likable though, infact I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a cult favourite in years to come.

So there you have it '30 Days Of Night', an interesting if flawed little vampire flick, that's definitely worth a look. It certainly doesn't reach the heights of Kathryn Bigelow's classic 'Near Dark', but it's stylishly entertaining, and should temporarily sate vampire fan cravings.



Will your system be alright, when you dream of home tonight?
You might want to move the contents to the first post....
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If I were buying a laser gun I'd definitely take the XF-3800 before I took the "Pew Pew Pew Fun Gun."



Hi Pyro Tramp,

Yeah, sorry if my comments at the beginning sounded a little arrogant (no offence was intended, I've edited them down slightly now). I only signed up yesterday, and was just trying to cover my ass with that review (though hopefully it came across as very tongue in cheek). Alot of friends I talk to won't hear a bad word about Tarantino, it gets a little boring, as they seem to lap up everything he does, and call it a classic.

At the moment I'm just trying to get some of my older material (currently saved on my hard drive) posted quickly so I can get some feedback and actively take part in the site right away. The last thing I want to do is annoy people and be branded an idiot before I've even started.
Oh, dude, it wasn't criticism, was saying how your sentiments on the subject are echoed my several other members and suggested checking out the Movie Club Discussion on it. I've gone from lapping up Tarantino, to becoming extremely skeptical of him. Anywho, i've been enjoying reading your reviews, a nice selection and i like your introductions giving a bit of context.



Love the name of this thread.

Hi there,

thanks, glad you like it, the credit has to go to Sedai though, he suggested it as a title, I couldn't think of a better one, so hey presto



You might want to move the contents to the first post....
Hi Lennon,

yeah I intend to once I can work out how to do it lol Thanks for trying to explain it earlier, unfortunately I was unable to follow your instructions.

I guess I need an idiot proof step by step guide or something.



Hi Lennon,

yeah I intend to once I can work out how to do it lol Thanks for trying to explain it earlier, unfortunately I was unable to follow your instructions.

I guess I need an idiot proof step by step guide or something.
Just go to the edit button on your first post and paste in the contents page, remove the review that is currently in that post and then just repost it in a new post.



No Country For Old Men
Joel & Ethan Coen 2007




No Country For Old Men sets a new benchmark.

Coen brothers films are beloved the world over, that's a fact. They have a stylish sense of wit, depth and originality that's all their own, making the Coens two of the most respected filmakers around today. Like Woody Allen, David Cronenberg, and the late Stanley Kubrick, they are auteurs whose unique perspective on movie making has resulted in critical praise, cult status, and legions of fans.

In 2003 however, their unstoppable freight train seemed to wobble, as they strayed from the usual template, and delivered the more conventional romantic comedy 'Intolerable Cruelty'. Whilst the film did moderately well at the box office, critics and fans alike weren't so enthusiastic. Their next film, 2004's 'The Ladykillers', a remake of the classic 1955 Ealing comedy, seemed to further compound fears that the Coens were losing their touch. Again it did moderately well, but critical praise wasn't forthcoming, and the freight train seemed in danger of coming completely off the rails.

There's no question that the brothers have taken these lukewarm responses completely on board. With their latest offering 'No Country For Old Men' an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel, they've gone right back to basics. The film is similar in tone to their debut feature 'Blood Simple', in that it's a violent noirish vision of the American underbelly, given almost biblical gravitas.

Josh Brolin plays Llewelyn Moss a Texan Vietnam vet, who whilst hunting in the desert, stumbles upon a Mexican drug deal gone wrong, and a satchel full of cash. Moss takes the money unaware that the devil incarnate, hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is ruthlessly on it's trail. A cat and mouse chase ensues, with Anton leaving a string of bodies behind in his unrelenting pursuit of Moss. Following both men, desperately trying to make sense of the carnage, is sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), the films moral center.

'No Country For Old Men' is essentially a b-movie, indeed on the surface the plot appears to be nothing new, many of the core dynamics feeling reminiscent of other films. The discovery and consequences of taking drug money 'A Simple Plan', and the unstoppable remorseless desert killer 'The Hitcher' (original) spring immediately to mind. But it is the Coen's brilliant casting, their technical prowess, sense of pace, and quality of McCarthy's original material, that puts this head and shoulders above those films.

Once 'No Country For Old Men' gets going (and it doesn't take long) the film doesn't let up. It's incredibly multilayered, working as both a rollercoaster action thriller/horror movie, and social commentary on the escalation of violence in American culture (the film is set in the early 80's). We are given an inhuman assassin and many violent death scenes, but these are masterfully counterbalanced with Sheriff Bell's philosophical musings, and the stark beauty of the Texan desert.

Deserving of special mention though, is the performance from Javier Bardem, as this is definately his movie. His embodiment of sinister hitman Anton Chigurh is without doubt the most unnerving depiction of a killer I've ever seen. He manages to inject incredible depth and otherworldliness into the character whilst speaking very little dialogue. Bardem came up with the weird look for Chigurh himself, and it's through his expert use of body language that he manages to unsettle the audience in all of his scenes. Anton Chigurh is Hannibal Lecktor, The Terminator, and pretty much every psycho bogeyman you can think of all rolled into one. Plus, you know what? he's scarier than all of them.

It's hard for me to articulate how much I enjoyed 'No Country For Old Men', but I was on the edge of my seat all the way through. It was tense, exciting, frightening, beautiful, thought provoking, everything I look for in a film. The action scenes and performances are of the highest order here, and if you haven't already, then I urge you to see it as soon as possible.

The Coen brothers have not only returned to form with this film, they have surpassed even their own lofty high standards.



\m/ Fade To Black \m/
Awsome thread man!

Some of these films are great like 1408 I found this really awsome.

With Death Proof I found it really good in places but the 2 storys took so long to get any where, I nearly fell asleep it went on for so long. But apart from the slow story I did enjoy it.
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N3wt's Movie Reviews New DVD Thread Top-100



Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Steven Spielberg 2008




Indy's latest outing is about as good as could've been expected.

On a rainy 1981 summer holiday afternoon, my father took me to the cinema proclaiming that I was about to see 'a great Saturday matinee adventure film'. I was six years old, and the film was 'The Raiders of the Lost Ark'. I had wanted to see the other film, the one with the winged horse on the poster, but my father was insistent, my father was right.

Seeing 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' changed me, it changed me from an anxious little boy with with few friends, to an anxious little boy with a very special friend, Cinema. Today, along with many other people of my generation, I trudged down to the local multiplex to try and recapture the magic of 'Raiders', of Indy, and 1981.

'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull' (I'll call it 'Crystal Skull' from now on), is set in the 1950's with our hero now in his mid sixties, still donning the fedora and chasing after mythical relics. The plot concerns a crystal skull (naturally) some Russians who believe it possesses alien powers, and the location of Eldorado where said skull is to be returned, in order to gain said powers. What ensues is the usual series of stunt filled chases and creepy crawlies.

'Crystal Skull' begins very nicely, I had serious goosebumps when the music kicked in, and we first glimpsed that iconic fedora. The entire sequence was strangely moving as the camera panned upwards revealing our now aging hero. Yes, sentimentality took over and almost brought a tear to my eye.

The rest of of the film sped by with hardly a dull moment, I was enjoying it whilst nitpicking incessantly at the same time. You see I never really felt like Indy and co were ever in any real danger, as some of the films set pieces were disappointingly underwhelming. The first three films all had at least one eye popping sequence that had you on the edge of your seat. The truck chase in 'Raiders', the mine cart in 'Temple', and the tank sequence in 'Crusade'. 'Crystal Skull' has one of these too, a car/jeep chase through the amazon jungle, that has heavy emphasis on slapstick thus removing any tension (plus don't even mention those monkeys). This all culminates with our heroes fighting off a swarm of killer ants, but it's rendered so unconvincingly with CGI, that I was left longing for the real bugs of the first three films.

Alot of people have also criticized the hokey alien subplot of the movie, this however wasn't a problem for me. It's set in the 50's, so it has a b-movie theme fitting of the era, that aspect worked very well as far as I'm concerned. My favourite sequence had Indy stranded at a nuclear test site about to be vaporized, the subsequent shot of him silhouetted against a huge mushroom cloud is one of the standout moments of the film.

Performance wise 'Crystal Skull' is pretty solid, Harrison Ford definitely still has what it takes as an action hero. His laconic charm and self depreciating humor sees him through the proceedings admirably. The support is also good, Ray Winstone fits right in as Indy's on/off buddy, Kate Blanchet is great as the dominatrix like villain, and I didn't find Shia LaBeouf anywhere near as annoying as I expected. Plus the reintroduction of Karen Allen is inspired, John Hurt on the other hand is criminally underused.

To sum up 'Crystal Skull' was never going to match the first three episodes, it's clearly a film that should have been made fifteen years ago. I've often wondered, that if someone had visited Spielberg on the set of 'Raiders', and told him he'd still be making these films in 2008 with a sixty five year old Ford in the lead, he'd have laughed and called them crazy. But seeing as Spielberg is, and has, then the result is pretty much as good as could've been expected.