Archive | Film reviews

An archive of the blog's film reviews. There's also an archive and an A-Z index of all reviews.


April 24, 2015

What have you been watching? Including John Wick, Vikings, The Americans, Arrow and The Blacklist

Posted on April 24, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Well, despite all that planning, I kind of forgot I was going out pretty much every night this week, so I haven’t managed to watch everything I planned to. That means I’ll do a full, three-episode verdict of The Comedians on Monday, once I’ve binge-watched it this weekend. Maybe I’ll do that Daredevil season review at the same time…

The fact I didn’t look hard enough at the Australian TV schedules for this week didn’t help, either, otherwise I’d have realised that Deadline Gallipoli was a two-parter that was going to air over consecutive nights, rather than weekly – fingers crossed, I’ll be posting a review of that later tonight, after I’ve gone to see Avengers: Age of Ultron.

After the jump, tele: American Crime, American Odyssey, Arrow, The Blacklist, Community, The Flash, Forever, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. I’ll also be looking at the season finales of The American and Vikings.

But first, just in case you think I don’t listen to your recommendations, a movie review!

John Wick (2014)
Keanu is a recently widowed former hitman for the Russian Mob who turns his almost supernaturally violent talents to revenge, after Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) kills his… dog. No, really. His dog. If that sounds a bit silly, that’s because it is, and even the film acknowledges it. But it sits in a knowing intersection between Banshee and Wanted, with considerable visual and tonal nods to the nihilistic yet surreal Point Blank, with Keanu’s mission explicitly arbitrary and meaningless.

Once you’ve got over that tonal decision, there’s a lot to like about the movie. It has a surprisingly slow, thoughtful and emotional beginning; it’s packed full of great character actors you’ll recognise from The Wire, Daredevil and other shows and movies, including Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Michael Nyqvist, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Bridget Regan, Lane Reddick and Clarke Peters; there are some interesting fights, including some semi-decent jiu jitsu; it can be pretty funny at times; and there are some decently smart villains for a change.

Some bits are a little too silly for their own words, including a neutral ground hotel for hitmen and women, and Lance Reddick’s accent. But a decently enjoyable action thriller that sets things up well for a sequel that could be potentially different. However, I’m not sure I needed to see it in IMAX – Empire Leicester Square setting me back an eye-watering £18 a seat.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including John Wick, Vikings, The Americans, Arrow and The Blacklist"

Read other posts about: , , ,

April 13, 2015

What have you been watching? Including American Odyssey, Daredevil, Olympus and Silicon Valley

Posted on April 13, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

I’ve been away for a fortnight, so that means there’s a fair bit to cover this time round, including (gasp!) some new shows. But first, movies.

The Raid 2 (2014) (Netflix)
Sequel to the brilliantly kinetic The Raid, in which the cream of Indonesian martial arts talent kicked arse in a variety of amazingly choreographed scenes, photographed beautifully by Welsh director Gareth Evans. This time, hero Rama, rather than fight his way up a building, instead has to go undercover with a crime family, first in prison, then in Indonesia at large, as the young son tries to take over the empire from his dad by stirring up trouble with his Japanese rivals.

Unfortunately, compared to the brilliant original, The Raid 2 is a somewhat dull affair for most of the first half, as Evans makes the mistake of trying to give us story and acting, rather than fists and kicks to the head. Everything starts to crank up nicely towards the end, though, with Evans giving us some beautifully shot scenes and the various martial artists do some death-defying tricks. However, everyone’s ability to survive multiple machete strikes starts to get more than a tad improbable at times.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) (Netflix)
Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatisation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, with Jessica Chastain the driven CIA analyst on a decade-long quest to catch the al Qaeda head. Again, a slow starter with years going by with nothing much happening. It’s only once Chastain makes the right connections that things begin to crank up, with Bigelow lending Seal Team Six her Oscar-winning action skills at the end. The movie is thankfully jingoism- and hyperbole-free, giving us a thoughtful CIA trying to do its best against near impossible odds, with no sci-fi weapons to help out. But weirdly, in retrospect, the movie feels more like a trial run for later Marvel movies, with Seal Team Six seemingly recruiting largely from SHIELD (Callan Mulvey, Frank Grillo) and Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt). There’s also the mysterious cameo by The Barrowman himself.

After the jump, tele, including first tries of American Odyssey, Olympus, Thunderbirds are Go! and Daredevil, as well as look at the regulars: 12 Monkeys, The Americans, American Crime, Arrow, The Blacklist, Community, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Forever, Fortitude, House of Cards, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, One Big Happy, The Returned and Vikings. I'm giving up on not one, not two but three of those – which do you reckon they’ll be?

And no, I haven’t watched last night’s Game of Thrones yet, so no spoilers.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including American Odyssey, Daredevil, Olympus and Silicon Valley"

Read other posts about: , , , , ,

March 16, 2015

What have you been watching? Including The Producers, Divergent, Dig, Gallipoli, Fortitude and Vikings

Posted on March 16, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV – they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Well, I’ve not quite caught up with my backlog. Nearly, but not quite. To be fair, the deluge of new shows has continued and this week I’ve already dealt with the first episode of American Crime and Powers, not to mention the first three of Secrets and Lies. But I’ve had to put on the backburner for a couple of days at least the first two episodes of A&E’s The Returned, a remake of Canal+’s Les Revenants, as well as E!’s first foray last night into insulting the British scripted programming, The Royals. I’ve also had to hold off starting on both the third season of House of Cards and Netflix’s new Tina Fey sitcom The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But I will get round to all of them, I promise.

After the jump then, the regulars and the new regulars including 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, American Crime, Banshee, The Blacklist, Dig, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Fortitude, Gallipoli, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Vikings. One of them has been promoted to ‘recommended’ status and one of them narrowly avoided demotion – which ones do you think they were?

But I’ve also watched a couple of movies and been to the theatre!

The Producers (touring production, Bromley Churchill Theatre)
Musical adaptation of the Mel Brooks movie classic, in which theatrical producer Zero Mostel discovered from accountant Gene Wilder that he could make a fortune from a flop, and the duo conspired to put on the worst play imaginable: Springtime For Hitler. This touring production sees Cory English take on the Zero Mostel role, Jason Manford take on Wilder’s, with Phill Jupitus, Louise Spence and David Bedella rounding off the rest of the cast. Despite Manford, Jupitus and Spence being the big names, it’s English who’s the film’s focus and who gets the lion’s share of the work, the others getting surprisingly little to do. But the cast itself, right down to the dancers, are all uniformly excellent, even if Manford spends a little too much time in the first half trying to copy Wilder’s vocal patterns rather than giving his own interpretation. Not quite as funny as the original film, and with too many songs for its own good, it’s nevertheless a top notch night out.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) (iTunes)
Catness is out with the resistance in the third part of the series, which dials back in the action in favour of lots of propaganda videos, as each side tries to out PR the other in the ongoing civil war. It's all a bit bleak and miserable actually, with very little respite from the darkness, making it the hardest watch of the series so far.

Divergent (2004) (iTunes)
More young adult, post-apocalyptic misery. To maintain peace and prosperity, society gets divided into factions following a terrible war and just as with Harry Potter’s sorting hat, everyone gets sorted into factions that suit their personalities. Except Shailene Woodley’s Tris is ‘Divergent’ and could belong to any number of factions, so picks ‘Dauntless'. Unfortunately, the ‘Erudites’ don’t like that, because they have a naughty scheme up their sleeves that the Divergents could ruin.

Very much a watered down Hunger Games, with flimsy logic and a thinly veiled metaphor for High School life (are you a nerd, a jock, on the debate team, a wallflower or are you really just such an individual?) meshed poorly with a very sub-Equilibrium post-apocalyptic background and fight scenes and a Twilight-style ‘special’ heroine whom everyone is after because she’s so special, yet simultaneously special. All the same, it's actually enjoyable enough stuff, with some darkish moments, a plucky heroine, Theo James (Golden Boy, Bedlam) almost summoning up a personality for a change and Ashley Judd getting to use her Missing training for all of five minutes.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including The Producers, Divergent, Dig, Gallipoli, Fortitude and Vikings"

Read other posts about: , , , ,

Featured Articles

The Messengers

Holy Captain Planet