Friday, 18 May 2012

Review: Jurassic Park III

Joe Johnston, 2001

To what degree is yet another example of Man vs Nature necessary? Did the first two films in the Jurassic Park franchise fail in promoting the fact that dinosaurs and humans do not co-exist for some damn good reasons? As much as I personally appreciate the entire franchise, it is with difficulty that I try to write about a film which was clearly milking it for it's worth.

So Dr Alan Grant dislikes the idea of Jurassic Park and InGen to the point of refusing to speak about it at some kind of university talk. So why then does he accept a large cheque to provide his expertise on a tour of Isla Sorna? Is this not remarkably similar to the pretence in which Grant travelled to Isla Nubar back in 1993? In agreeing to visit Isla Sorna, Grant is the biggest idiot of the entire film. Apparently, money completely cancels out any concerns over being chased by T-Rexs' or stalked by Raptors, which leads to the question; why are the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park so pissed off all of the time?

Throughout the entire film I was on the edge of my seat just waiting for a T-Rex to come pounding through the trees and eat everyone, which would have made a more entertaining and convincing ending. It was very difficult to muster anything resembling sympathy for these people and I really couldn't care less about that stupid woman's family. They went para-sailing next to Isla Sorna with the express aim of spotting some dinosaurs and they have no one to blame but themselves. It was like a tech-thriller episode of Scooby Doo. So a character has a lucky backpack. Didn't Julianne Moore's character have a lucky backpack in The Lost World? I mean, is this some kind of ongoing joke?

My fundamental issue with this film was the insulting lack of continuity. Vending machines within a dilapidated and derelict facility are smashed and their contents consumed. Are we to presume that these food items were still within date and perfectly edible? Isla Sorna was abandoned and in a state of disrepair in 1997, so which brave vending machine guy was presumably parachuting onto the island and maintaining stocks of convenience foods for a completely uninhabited island, while trying his best to evade hungry and mad dinosaurs?!? On the point of lack of continuity, who does the human skull in the Pteranodon nest belong to, the vending machine guy?!

It's not all bad, but it is very easy to rant about this film's sore misgivings.


For Sale: Vinyl Collection

7" Singles (£2 each)
Bauhaus - Kick in the Eye
Bauhaus - The Passion of Lovers
Cure - Why Can't I Be You?
Public Image Ltd. - Flowers of Romance
Sisters of Mercy - Dominion
Sisters of Mercy - This Corrosion

12" Singles (£2 each)
Bauhaus - Lagatija Nick
Bauhaus - Telegram Sam
Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust
KMFDM - Virus
Morrissey - Suedehead
Sisters of Mercy - Temple of Love

EPs (£3)
Sisters of Mercy - The Reptile House

Albums (£4 each, unless otherwise specified)
Bauhaus - Burning From The Inside
Bauhaus - Mask
Dalis Car - The Waking Hour (£6)
David Bowie - Let's Dance
David Bowie - Scary Monsters
Cure - Pornography
Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark - Architecture and Morality
Sisterhood (Sisters of Mercy) - Gift
Sisters of Mercy - First and Last and Always
Sisters of Mercy - Floodland
Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come

All records are in a well-kept condition. Please email or call/text me if you would like any additional information or photos of something you're interested in.

See the original ad on Gumtree.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Review: The Lawnmower Man

Brett Leonard, 1992

A micro-review originally submitted to Amazon:

'Don't be fooled into thinking that just because this is the 10th anniversary edition it will contain a plethora of extras, unless interactive menus and a theatrical trailer really do it for you.

This film has not aged well, although the CGI scenes hold a certain degree of nostalgia. It is filmed in a way that makes it look like a cheap daytime soap opera. Jeff Fahey as Jobe is unconvincing and annoying.

If, like me, you have fond childhood memories of this film you won't be disappointed, although don't expect it to be anywhere near as impressive as you remember.'


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Review: L.A. Takedown

Michael Mann, 1989

When I'm bored of something, usually a film, television show or situation, I often to think aloud that I could be watching Heat at that very moment in question and throughout L.A. Takedown this feeling was constant and magnified. This stems from an episode of Peepshow, where during a stage production of Hamlet, Jeremy whispers to Mark something along the lines of 'We could be at home right now, watching Heat on DVD!'

If you are unfamiliar with L.A. Takedown it is a made for television film, written and directed by Michael Mann, and originally broadcast on NBC in 1989. More to the point, Mann's 1995 film Heat was a remake of this film. Heat is almost a verbatim version of L.A. Takedown, albeit with some differences in the plot. In L.A. Takedown Hanna's stepdaughter is nowhere to be seen, the relationship between Hanna and his wife is less strained, no-one says anything about anyone with a great ass, Shiherlis' gambling addiction is omitted, and several details regarding the film's end are different.

It was like watching Heat, but dated, censored, diluted, and with different actors. The soundtrack is fantastic, with some guilty-pleasure power ballads and tense synthesiser compositions. It is clear that this film was only ever intended for a television broadcast, with its soft focus close-ups of the characters face, and dramatic pauses that fade to black to create commercial break opportunities.

 If you are a fan of Heat, this is definitely worth watching. However, don't expect it to make any kind of serious addition to your feelings regarding the aforementioned film.


L.A. Takedown @ Amazon

Heat @ Amazon

Friday, 24 February 2012

Review: Death Wish II

Michael Winner, 1982

The plot of this film completely fails to deserve a comprehensive explanation. So, in summary: Charles Bronson takes matters into his own hands, again. The full title of this film ought to have been Death Wish II: Don't Bother.

Bronson was sixty-one years of age when this film was made, and it really shows. There is something entirely un-poetic about a man who looks as though he needs to start taking things a little easier in life running around Los Angeles serving tough vigilante justice.

What is the soundtrack all about? What were they thinking, that the horrifically un-digestable cacophony of what sounds like the product of a toddler blindly pressing buttons and flicking switches on a synthesiser would somehow make up for this film's many faults? Awful. The costume design looks like an Australian's nightmare.

Unforgettable in terms of its vulgarity and decrepit plot. This is one of those films where a member of a cinema audience in 1982 would be easily forgiven for blurting aloud 'What the hell am I watching this for? I could be at home watching Dirty Harry on Betamax!' It is bad enough watching Death Wish II at home with all of the accompanying distractions, but I cannot even imagine the extent to which a cinema audience would suffer through its runtime.

I can understand the complaints about the horrific violence in this film, but my main complaint is that from dismal start to belated finish this film is just annoyingly bad. You could make a better film yourself using a camera phone and a spare ten minutes of your time. Film someone making a cup of tea, or interview the postman. Whatever you do, it will be of more credit to the world of film than Death Wish II, unless your name is Michael Winner.


Death Wish II @ Amazon UK

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Review: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Nicholas Meyer, 1982

If you have taken it upon yourself to watch all of the Star Trek films in order of release, don't let the instantly-tiresome Star Trek: The Motion Picture put you off. In fact, don't even bothering watching it. There, I said it. To achieve its intended effect just set up two televisions side by side and play 2001: A Space Odyssey on one and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope on the other. Do what you want, but if you want to donate two hours of your life to Gene Roddenberry you would be much better off skipping the first film altogether.

The Wrath of Khan is quite ambitious in that it is no way a sequel to the first film in the franchise, it is a sequel to Space Seed, an episode from the first season of the original series. That is not to say that the casual viewer should not watch this film under any circumstances unless they have already watched the episode in question. The connection between the two is irrespective of the potential for enjoying this film, and would only really be important for a very serious Star Trek fan.

From the outset it is evident that in order to fully appreciate this film it needs to be viewed on a big screen. The biggest of screens, in fact. IMAX would do. The special effects, although decent, do not transfer so well to the small screen. In every exterior space scene all I could think of was how magnificent this must have looked in a cinema, with the surround sound of starships vibrating my eardrums.

The space horror elements work very well, the plot is paced well and holds more than enough interest (even to a casual Star Trek fan like myself) for the entire duration, the ending leaves the audience wanting more (always a sign of a good franchise), and the visual effects are fantastic (especially considering how old this film is). However, the Father Christmas costumes and somewhat inconsistent woody acting leaves something to be desired.

If you have never watched an episode of Star Trek, nor have the desire to, I would still recommend Wrath of Khan to anyone with even the most remote interest in science-fiction films.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan @ Amazon

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Review: Fast Five

Justin Lin, 2011
I used to watch films that would provide some kind of intellectual stimulation. I used to watch films that didn't rely on a pounding soundtrack, guns, violence, parkour and fast cars. I would watch films that could challenge me, and really make me think.

I have always believed that a constant maintenance of an open mind is the key to wisdom. That is to say, I usually watch a film irrespective of genre, director, star, studio or franchise. Some of my favourite films are those which I discovered while watching television late at night. If I am lucky enough to be in front of a television when a film of which I know very little, or preferentially absolutely nothing about, happens to start, it is like a gift. This kind of open-minded attitude and spontaneity has been of absolute benefit. If it were not for maintaining such an attitude I would not have discovered David Lynch.

That is not to say that I am a snob when it comes to film. At least I don't think I am. I am not the kind of person who will only watch films of the very highest intellectual calibre. Some of my favourite films are blockbusters, and I have no qualm in admitting that particularly intellectual films and high-brow art-house features can prove intimidating, although that is not to say that I do not try. Hence, keeping an open and optimistic mind.

However, when I find myself watching Fast Five, I cannot help but think of all the other things I could donate two hours of my life to. Better things, like watching the type of film which I would happily recommend to anyone whom I think may appreciate it. I could be watching a film which benefit me in the way that only a certain type of film can. However, I am making a contradiction: If it were not for maintaining an open-minded attitude to film I would not have somehow came up with the idea of watching all of the Fast and the Furious films. I do not want to become the type of person who judges a film before watching it. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I am the type of person that wants to have watched more films than anyone else, to have read more books, to have experienced more events, to literally know as much as possible about as much as possible. I have no idea why, this is just how I feel. For some reason I decided to spend my leisure time watching major blockbuster action franchises of the past decade. In some way, this is of benefit, in that I will never have to watch any of these films again.

I had no interest in the plot of this film whatsoever. Some criminals want to steal a lot of money from some other criminals. We as the audience are supposed to like these people? We are supposed to sympathise with these people and feel impressed with their ability to drive cars faster than anybody else, their confidence in using guns, their cocky attitudes? I just don't get it. I finished watching the film five minutes ago and I am struggling to remember what it was about. What is the audience supposed to take away from this film? Because, all I am taking from this film, and all the other films within this franchise, is that some people drove some fast cars around a city really fast and outsmarted everybody else by doing so. Time is the most precious commodity, and I am not going to waste mine any further.