Rodent's Reviews

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No plot spoilers contained in any of my reviews.

All of my reviews are given a neutral percentage rating, regardless of how much I like, or dislike, the film.
What I have devised however, is a symbol system based on my Avatar that shows my own personal feelings toward each individual film.
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Young Guns
Ok, an older film but I thought, seeing as it's my favourite movie.

Based loosely on the Lincoln County War of 1878 and the beginnings of the Billy The Kid Legend. Film makers decided the use of 'Brat Pack' actors would be good for a serious movie and they hit on a very special cast.

For a start, the acting from all parties is spot on. Terrence Stamp as John Tunstall is (as always with Stamp) a very inviting character, mature, wise and mildly amusing.
Emilio Estevez as Kid is an inspired piece of casting, Estevez carries the Kids persona extremely well. Young, cheeky, trigger happy, streetwise and also naive.
Supporting/almost main actors include Jack Palance, Charlie Sheen (before he was apparently 'winning'), Kiefer Sutherland, Casey Siemaszko, Lou Diamond Phillips and Dermot Mulroney.
All in all, the handsome cast of 'good guys' teamed against Palance's group of grizzly, hairy bad guys makes you route for the Regulators even more.

The entire movie has a feel of being shot with a sepia filter on the camera lense, not a bad thing though, it adds to the authenticity of the Wild West setting.
The climactic gunfight scenes are wonderfully staged if a little slow to get going.

The bad points: It's loosely based on fact. Said to be the most accurate movie based on the Lincoln War, and I'd agree it is the most accurate film outside of a documentary, but it's still far from actual fact.
The Lincoln War it's self has more to it, which could have made for a longer, maybe more interesting movie.
Though throw those thoughts aside, crack open a bottle and enjoy a well made western.


One thing that will throw the audience is that, what appears to be an OTT gunfight ending, actually happened in real life.

My rating 90%.






A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010 Remake)

It's always a mistake to remake any film, but to take an icon like Kruger (ok, Kruger's sequels weren't great but the original was cool) is almost stepping on hallowed ground.

The movie suffers from what I call 'Scott's Robin Hood Fever':
Take an idea and story, remove the slight campyness of the movie's villian and hero, remove the tongue in cheek giggles and completely remove the dash of popcorn fun...

... and then repeatedly and persistantly rabbit-punch the viewer in the face with the mentality of 'this is serious and real, you will be shocked and scared and sit in awe because this is serious and real'.
It just makes the whole thing fall flat on it's @rse.

Slow, tedious, basic teen slasher with no genuine explanation to how the teens in the movie are able to figure out in their heads what's going on around them, they just seem to know what's happening automatically. Coming from a bunch of teenagers who all, apparently, are thick enough to have no memory at all of when they were 5 years old. Seems slightly, no, massively like a bad piece of rewriting.
Maybe they saw the original Nightmare on their iPads.

The only good thing in the film is Jackie Earle Haley as Kruger. His twist on the character is fresh and makes it his own creation, but it's still not enough to warrant making the movie.

All in all, about as scary, as well written and as mysterious, as a 1960s episode of Scooby Doo.

My rating 12%



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



A system of cells interlinked
Thanks for the reviews.
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2012

Let's start at the concept. The Mayan calendar predicts that the end of the world will be in the year 2012.
Basing a movie on that would/could be a sound investment. Lots of action, lots of characters being brought into a web of storylines, lots of stuff blowing up and grand adventure.

I'm afraid it just didn't work. Not even with Roland Emmerich at the helm.
Now, Emmerich is the modern king of the disaster movie, Independence Day was a half decent film, Day After Tomorrow wasn't quite so good but still watchable.

2012 should hit all the right buttons with the huge budget and a director that knows his way around the genre.
Instead the only buttons being hit were when I'd actually started playing games on my phone instead of watching the movie. It's boring.

Bunch of people, all introduced in a very simple succession, none of them very engaging or hold the screen very well and reciting their lines as if they'd just read them from a cue-card.
Except for Woody Harrelson. He lifts his character from the page brilliantly and as always, Harrelson hits the spot with the paranoid acting he does so well.
Woody, cheers!

It just feels like a very linear, childlike storyline hidden under a very large blanket of computer generated close escapes.

The close escapes come thick and fast too. To the point that you're actually willing something to take out the characters so you can turn it off and watch something better. "Oh no, the Pilot is dead!" (voice from the back) "That's ok, I can fly!" is the premise for the half million CGI situations that are thrown at the viewer.

Ok, visually thrilling, the CGI is tip top but it's just not, well, thrilling.
Rated with a 12 certificate? Should really have been be rated a U...

... for Unwatchable.

My rating 15%. 10% of which is based solely on Harrelson's performance




Sorry Harmonica.......I got to stay here.
Thanks for the reviews! I agree with your take on 2012. The multiple close escapes and shameless CGI use turned me off to it as well.
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Cowboys And Aliens

Another 'western' from me, kind of.

Interesting concept based on a comic book of the same name and it certainly feels like it too. But mostly in a good way.

The way the two ideas are put to screen don't quite gel properly, though maybe that's down to the whacky idea in the first place.

Though in saying that, Cowboys And Aliens doesn't try to be a western, nor does it try to be a sci-fi. It's somewhere in between. A genre I've never seen before outside of a Dr Who episode or even the terrible Wild Wild West.

Daniel Craig is interesting as the rough and tough 'man with no name'. Similar in ilk to Eastwood, though Craig's story is explained over the duration of the film.
Harrison Ford is almost perfectly cast as a grizzled old war veteran with a heart. He does the job, but you can't help feeling sombody else could have done it better.
As too is Olivia Wilde as the beautiful western Damsel in distress. But with a twist.

Supporting cast from Sam Rockwell and produced in part by heavy weights Spielberg and Ron Howard, the movie almost can't go wrong.

As far as the writing and action goes, it's definitely a popcorn movie.
Fun, loud, storyline written about as good as it could have been, the dialogue well written and is well recited from the cast and the CGI is wonderfully rendered.
The film makers, especially director Favreau, at least had the gumption to hide the CGI based enemy in the shadows till the end. When unveiled, the Aliens don't disappoint either.

Seen as a low percentage scorer when it first hit cinemas, I think that should be ignored and let the viewer decide whether they like it or not.
Certainly a must see for anyone who hasn't, solely because of the chalk and cheese premise.

I for one am a believer.

My rating 75%




Thanks for the reviews.
Thanks for the reviews! I agree with your take on 2012. The multiple close escapes and shameless CGI use turned me off to it as well.
Cheers for the replies guys. I'll probably keep this thread going from now on for all my reviewing. More than likely it's all I will be doing on the site.
Love writing up my thoughts.



Cloverfield

Yet another movie using the Blair Witch style of shooting: Homemade video at it's best.
Maybe.

Billed by the film makers as an 'American Godzilla'.
An unknown, unexplained entity hits New York, tears up the place and is caught on camera by a bunch of 20 somethings who were enjoying a leaving party for one of their group.
Not much to say about the plot exactly, it's more of a run, scream, run some more, scream again then run away sort of premise.
There is a love story thrown into the mix though between two of the characters. Sadly, you don't really get attached to them enough to care if it works out between them or not.
The film does give you a connection to the characters to a point though, the beginning of the movie, before the city starts falling apart around them, allows you enough time to get to know them at almost a personal level and sets up the love triangle. But as I said, only just enough to make the smallest connection.

Slow to get going, but when the monster hits, it's all go from then on with only a few reprises in the action.
The CGI monster is rendered well too with footage kept to a minimum with only the occasional full on shot of it in all it's glory.
Definitely a good thing, it adds to the mystery of what the creature is and still allows your mind to process how wierd it is too.

The dialogue from the cast is extremely well recited, the home movie feel the makers wanted certainly comes out in the cast. It feels like they're ad-libbing their lines.
Very well done.

Many people I've spoken to said they wished you could see the monster more though. I can't help thinking, if you had seen it more, it would just be another Broderick Godzilla movie.
The other downside when the movie came out was the 'motion sickness' that the audience felt while watching. Ok, it is shot using the 'shaky handheld camera style', but it works brilliantly, and didn't make me feel ill in the slightest.

Then, with the film ending just as abruptly as it began, the viewer has to decide the beginning and the end of the story, ie; where the monster came from and what's the outcome?
There is a secret twist at the end, but as I said, no direct spoilers on my reviews, just keep your eyes open and you'll see it.

My rating 80%





Likewise. I was actually pretty shocked by how much I liked it. On top of that, though, I have a deep meta-appreciation of it because it flaunts so many things I hate about modern movie marketing, like giving the entire game away in the trailer, or putting a higher priority on casting than on storytelling. Whatever one thinks of it, it's a great pushback against those sorts of things.
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Cheers guys! What do you think of my style of reviewing? Hopefully it's working.
Glad my stuff is being read anyway!



Leon

From director Luc Besson, who's style of film making is odd at the best of times, comes another highly improbable sequence of events that are somehow very engaging.

The plot evolves around a streetwise but extremely naive 12 year old girl Matilda (Natalie Portman) and hitman Leon (Jean Reno). Thrown together in an 'odd couple' situation after Portman's family are killed by crooked cops, led by Gary Oldman.

It shouldn't work. It really shouldn't work. The premise of the situation is unreal, odd and very provocative, which, oddly, actually forces it to work.

It's the way Besson presents the characters and the way the actors carry thier roles that's spot on.

Portman's Matilda is almost uncomfortable to watch at times due to the 'Lolita' essence that Besson has put into the character. Though Portman, even at that young age she was, carries the role perfectly. The naivity of the character is seen in a very real sense at times too.
Jean Reno acts Leon as being wonderfully withdrawn from reality. Leon seems to just follow events as they happen and deals with each outcome accordingly, never really planning ahead, occasionally he realises what's going on and gets uncomfortable when reality hits. Eventually coming to care for Portman as a father figure.
Now, as for Gary Oldman, where to begin? His drugged up DEA officer is menacing while onscreen yet you can't take your eyes off him. Twitchy, unstable and dangerous when provoked, which doesn't take alot either. Oldman actually makes the viewer feel uncomfortable even when he's not doing anything.
He's certainly a runner in my top 50 movie villians of all time.

The movie's humour tends to come from the awkward, mildly sexual moments between Leon and Matilda, which gives the movie a few 'shouldn't laugh' moments, but Leon's reactions are what makes it funny, as Jean Reno again, is spot on.

Though slightly unreal in the premise, all in all a momentarily funny and very engaging movie with a hit of action at the end. Not beautifully shot but certainly stylish and the characters are extremely well written and played.

My rating 74%

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Dreamcatcher

Based on a Stephen King novel, Dreamcatcher is about an Alien invasion in a remote mountain setting in Maine and four, (now grown up) school friends.

Starring Hollywood favourites Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore (Heat, Saving Private Ryan), Timothy Olyphant (Hitman, Die Hard 4), Jason Lee (Mallrats, My Name Is Earl) and Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea) and Donnie Wahlberg (Saw 2, NKOTB), the movie feels as though that's where all the budget went.

Though the actors do their jobs well, you never really get into the events happening around them.
Sure, there's some mystery at the start, but it's quickly and simply explained away, leaving the viewer with no real reason to keep watching other than for full on CGI action.
The beginning of the movie is probably about the best part, the 'buddy feelings' hit on by the main cast work well. But it isn't enough to hold the viewer.

The CGI effects are sub-standard too, as I said, the movie's budget seemed to go on the actors' wages. Plus, the creatures are shown near the start of the film, leaving the viewer with nothing to really look forward to.

The story also hasn't moved from King's book to the screen very well at all. It feels rushed, almost unfinished.
Some interesting concepts are their though, 'memory warehouses' and magical ways of finding 'lost things' give the aura of the film a different depth, but not much.

Sadly, it could have been a lot, lot better.

My rating 44%




Review #7: Dreamcatcher.


Sadly, it could have been a lot, lot better.

My rating 30%.
I actually adored this movie a lot - The atmosphere, the sort of "coming-of-age" story, and not to mention one of the most hilariously scary toilet scenes ever.



i'm SUPER GOOD at Jewel karaoke
#2: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010 Remake).

It's always a mistake to remake any film
well, not always. The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly, Cape Fear... all better than their originals if you ask me. though i do plan on staying away from this particular remake. thanks for the heads up.

welcome to Mofo.
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i'm SUPER GOOD at Jewel karaoke
hm, i've aways been semi-interested in Cloverfield... the trailer made reminded me of REC, which i loved.



Alien 3, Theatrical Release vs Definitive Edition

A movie hit with budget cuts, internal arguments between producers, director and writers, storyline changes (before during and even after filming) and studio executives having no leniency or confidence with director David Fincher.

The story, set just after James Cameron's Aliens, involves Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash landing on an almost abandoned planet with an enormous yet run down and barely populated prison after her cryo-tube is ejected from the Sulaco mothership.

The usual happens, an Alien Facehugger follows her in the Emergency Evacuation Unit and eventually spawns an offspring which disappears into the prison.

At first, as usual, Ripley's magical tale of giant aliens with acidic blood and a mouth for a tongue is ignored by the powers that be (the prison super-intendant and his second in command). The Alien eventually runs amock, sending the prisoners and the prison staff into fits of panic by picking them off one by one.
Ripley eventually is looked to for help in fighting the creature while they all await a rescue ship from 'The Company'.

Theatrical Version:
The theatrical release of the movie is the version most people are familiar with. The Alien gestates inside of a dog that belongs to one of the prisoners.
This version contains a limited storyline as it was cut and shredded in the editing room against Fincher's wishes. It's also a good 30 minutes shorter.

It also contains limited interaction between the viewer and the actors/characters, many of the prisoners are nameless faces treated like cannon fodder for the Alien.

Only a handful of characters are expanded on for the viewer: Ripley, Dr Clemens (Charles Dance), Dillon (Charles S Dutton), Morse (Danny Webb) and Aaron '85' (Ralph Brown) and that's about it.

The Alien, gladly is kept to the shadows as much as possible and many of the attack scenes are shot relatively close up to put ther viewer in the midst of the action. Which works to an extent but can get disorientating.
The prison also is kept almost as secret as the nameless prisoners. The viewer never really feels part of the setting. Giant corridors that all look the same make the audience just as lost as the storyline.

Ok, the theatrical release is a marmite movie for fans, they either love it or hate it.
I'd say that it works as a horror and is a good film in its own right, but it feels unfinished and rushed. I didn't like it at first, but over the years, it grew on me.

Definitive Edition:
Now we're talking.
Fincher was put to making two similar beginnings to the movie, the theatrical version being the one the studio wanted, this 'definitive' edition being Fincher's prefered.
The dog in the theatrical version is never seen in this version, instead, an ox (used as a tractor by the prisoners) is the Facehugger's choice of gestation.

The story is expanded between the audience and pretty much all the characters, especially Golic (played by Paul McGann), a psychotic murderer and rapist who actually sympathises with the alien creature.
Most of the nameless prisoners now have speaking lines and the storyline feels much more finished and that more time has actually been taken in making it work.

A huge chunk of the middle of the film contains the same scenes as the theatrical release but with the extra/original scenes added back in, it gives the entire movie a completely different aura.

The bad point of the Definitive Version is also, sadly, the added scenes.

That might seem contradictory but the problem is this; The sound hasn't been looped in an editing room, which gives the added scenes a 'hissy' background sound. Some of the added original scenes are fine, others not so.

It's a shame really, as the Definitive Edition is by far a superior movie.

Though if you can look past the small sound problem, even if you didn't like the theatrical Alien 3, you'll certainly prefer this one.

Give it a go. I did, and even though I like the threatrical version, I'll never be going back to it now.


Overall Theatrical Version rating: 75%.
Overall Definitive Version rating: 90% (would be 95%, just the sound lets it down).




The 'Burbs

Another older film from me again.
Starring Tom Hanks, Rick Ducommon, Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman, Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore, Wendy Schaal and Carrie Fisher.

An almost perfect neighbourhood is thrown into disarray when 3 wierd European people (the Klopek family) move in next door to Tom Hanks' almost perfect family.

Odd behaviour, from digging the garden in the rain at 2am and strange noises coming from their basement, to driving their garbage down the driveway to the curb and then thrashing it with a garden hoe, makes all the neighbours weary of the new arrivals.
To make things worse, the elderly man who lives alone at the end of the road, has now vanished without a trace.

Rather than phoning the cops, Ducommon who lives on the other side of Hanks' property ropes Hanks, Feldman and Dern into spying on the strange new neighbours using strange 'suburban legends' of murder and wierdos as a catalyst for their already growing paranoia.

Hanks, under the dissapproving eye of his wife (Fisher) starts to lose sleep and have nightmares when he does doze off.

Eventually, after mounting up evidence of what they believe is murder, Hanks, Ducommon and Dern decide to take steps and find out exactly what the Ghoulish family have been up to in the basement after the Klopeks go out for the day.

Is their paranoia going too far or has the strange family really been up to hijinks?

It's an odd design for a movie but it makes well with the feeling of paranoia that lives in every suburban area; Never knowing who your neighbours are.
The unreal premise is dealt with decently by getting the characters to do things you might like to do when wierd people move into your area.

The movie is also very, very funny with Hanks, Ducommon, Dern and Feldman on absolutely top form by playing it serious, which makes the whole, completely unreal premise even funnier and even more engaging and makes well with the slapstick comedy that comes through from time to time.
Directed by Joe Dante, the movie can't go wrong.

Certainly one of my favourites. My rating 80%





Starship Troopers
Based on the novel of the same name, Paul Verhoeven’s ST is a futuristic sci-fi based on the concept of humans v giant insects.
Different to the novel, the movie follows a handful of school leavers who embark on a life journey by joining the military in the fight against ‘The Bugs’ (also known as Arachnids), a species of giant insect that live on the other side of the Milky Way.

As usual with Verhoeven, the movie undertones itself on political and social failures. Something not understood is destroyed or imprisoned.
Characters in the movie are totally blind to what the viewer is seeing ,which makes the movie work as it gives it a sense of realism.
The special effects in the movie, from giant spacecraft fleets and CGI soldiers to giant insects to even bigger beetles, all work with a relative ease. The CGI is flawless.
 
Only two faults with the movie: Hollywood beauties Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards. Their acting isn’t great though Van Dien makes the most of the lead role and actually improves his acting as the movie progresses.
Richards, as usual, doesn’t.
She’s wooden and doughy eyed whenever onscreen and tends to just pout when the going gets tough. Gladly though, her screen time is cut down to being that of a supporting storyline rather than a main character.
Their characters though, are well written and have a connection with the audience.

Supporting roles from Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown and Dina Meyer give the movie some more well written and well played characters for the audience to care about.

Patrick Muldoon is particularly good as the smarmy 'villian' for Van Dien's chisel jawed hero, yet he still eventually proves his worth toward the end.

All in all a well made movie, great CGI, borrowing from a wonderful novel and Verhoeven is definitely at his best.

My rating 94%