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All reviews - Movies (44) - TV Shows (2) - DVDs (4) - Games (30)

Skyfall review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 12 November 2012 09:30 (A review of Skyfall)

It's a bit bizarre to label Skyfall as the most personal Bond (especially since the franchise is turning 50 years old) but that's essentially what it is. For the first time that I can remember Skyfall peels back the outer layers of James Bond and gives you some actual insight into his upbringing.

Thankfully it manages to combine this introspection with solid action and great performances by Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem. All of this soul searching does lead to this being one of the more unconventional Bond films. If you're preferential to the insane gadgetry and stylish rides of earlier Bond films you might find Skyfall a bit lacking. It also, despite having some killer set pieces, has a rather lackluster ending that isn't executed quite as well as say the frentic subway chase. Still, its a worthy entry into the franchise and a good bookend to the "new" trilogy of Bond films.

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Argo review

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 21 October 2012 05:52 (A review of Argo)

Argo, based off the real life rescue of six American's from Ayatolla Khomeni's Iran, is a solid political tinged thriller that shows a respectable attention to detail of time and place. It moves along at a brisk pace, mixes in some nice humor and features a solidly written story. The actors, specifically the strong supporting cast, do a good job of livening up the otherwise by the book performances. The pacing is fantastic, it does a great job of recreating the simmering atmosphere of Khomeni's Iran and actually manages to create a real sense of tension. If it weren't for a slight abundance of Hollywood cliches with the family lives and last second shenanigans (all possibly true since this was based on true events), this would be my frontrunner for picture of the year. A well cooked classic thriller.

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Koko: A Talking Gorilla (1978) review

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 27 September 2012 11:43 (A review of Koko: A Talking Gorilla (1978))

One of the risks you take in documentary filmmaking (specifically in "message" documentaries) is that your message might become outdated as humanity advances. The documentary Koko, a Talking Gorilla seems to fall right in this trap. It is, ostensibly, about a team of researchers and an amazing, sign language learning ape. These scenes - the always interesting, often bizarre sometimes unsettling interactions between humans and Koko the Gorilla are timelessly fascinating. Quite simply, Koko is one of the more remarkable characters in documentary history. Its when her handlers get involved that things become a bit muddled. Watching their approach to training Koko is fascinating but the film often takes extended breaks to philosophically wax about environmentalism and the Koko experiment representing man melding with nature while the evil zoo requests that Koko be returned so she can live with actual gorillas. The movie is problematic because it seems to approach its core relationship with a very biased lens. It does mention that Koko is getting a diet entirely unsuitable for a primate but never only really explores the surface of whether or not Koko's training is indeed good for Koko. Still, despite it underwhelming themes, it is a truly fascinating watch.

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 14 August 2012 04:10 (A review of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)

Very much a product of its time. The lead actor Robert Morse must have been directed to be really annoying as he has these odd physical tics when conversing that are probably supposed to symbolize him sucking up but are just grating. Not much song and dance here; a few spots of comedy (the bizarre college rivalry stands out) and a lot of unearned romance. Still, it has a style all of its own and is a neat little window into how the world of Mad Men might have looked in media 40 years ago.

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Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust review

Posted : 6 years ago on 16 July 2012 11:31 (A review of Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust)

An interesting look at the cinematic portrayal of the holocaust through the ages. The film is much more interesting in the first half when it deals with cinema that was contemporary to World War II. It is fascinating to see just how the Hollywood machine worked to portray controversial subjects and is one of the few times where the talking head narrators really added some insight into the conversation.

The majority of the rest of the film simply seems to be a bit too contemporary for a historical documentary. While its revelatory to hear of the public's reaction to The Great Dictator it is less interesting to hear how they reacted to Schindler's List or The Pianist simply because those two films are already heavily documented. Still it is an interesting film and worth watching just to see the films and newsreels of the 40s and 50s.

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Alan Wake's American Nightmare review

Posted : 6 years ago on 15 July 2012 11:43 (A review of Alan Wake's American Nightmare)

The diversity of the gameplay (i.e. shooting things) is much better this time and the excellent atmosphere and setting (this time Wake battles through a Arizona like desert town) remain as Alan Wake battles his evil double Mr. Scratch.

The big issue is that the central conceit of the story is a time shifting thing that leads to you replaying the game's three levels over and over again. Thankfully each level is more streamlined as you play through it and you can have some interesting conversations with the townsfolk each time. Still, it can get a bit tedious.

The added in time attack mode is a pretty nice bonus that adds some value to a game that really needs it.

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A flawed psychological thriller

Posted : 6 years ago on 14 July 2012 01:23 (A review of Alan Wake)

Alan Wake is all about the atmosphere. The light dark dynamic that is a major features of both its plot and its combat leads to some very intense battles. The game itself is fairly linear but the environment created by Remedy is impressive in its scope and graphical quality.

Sadly much of the game takes place in an inky darkness so you don't really get to appreciate the amazing vistas and odd corners and ends that are present in the game world. This is also a very plot heavy game with tons of cinematic movies. Sadly the plot is mostly incomprehensible and the character of Alan Wake can be pretty laughable ridiculous. It is often a game weighed down by its fervent desire to turn everything into a metaphor or a badly written pulp novel. Still, despite the strange confusing storyline it looks and plays pretty great and is recommended for fans of action-adventure games. Its more Hitchcock then Shakespeare - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Also, the copious amounts of collectibles are more annoying than useful though they do encourage you to really explore the fantastic world.

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Doctor Zhivago (1965) review

Posted : 6 years ago on 11 July 2012 09:46 (A review of Doctor Zhivago (1965))

For the first few hours Doctor Zhivago is an absolute masterpiece. David Lean's depiction of one of the more tumultuous times in Russian history is breathtaking in its scope and touching in its story of a family trying to make it against large odds.

For me, the problems crop up when the movie becomes less of an epic scope and more of a personal romantic tale, detailing the relationship between the titular Zhivago and his mistress Lara. It seems as though Lean was so focused on creating his grand tale of the Russian revolution and World War One that he forgot to lay believable foundations for the Lara-Zhivago relationship.

Based on what you actually see in the film a one week fling seems more reasonable then what the film actually gives you. Still, outside of this shaky bit of story, Doctor Zhivago is a towering achievement. Omar Sharif is great, it has some very creating directing and it is one of the most beautiful films ever put out.

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The Killing (1956) review

Posted : 6 years ago on 30 June 2012 06:21 (A review of The Killing (1956))

Very nicely paced and set-up for 9/10s of the film. The scheming and characterizations are spot on and make this film a joy to watch. For the ending, however, Kubrick really has to jump through some ridiculous hoops and awkward set-ups to make it happen. It doesn't unglue the rest of the film but it certainly makes it so that the corners are peeling up a bit in the end.

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Haywire review

Posted : 6 years, 5 months ago on 30 January 2012 07:20 (A review of Haywire)

When I sat down to view Haywire I honestly thought that the only thing I had to overcome was the non acting performance of star Gina Carano. Get over that and there would be some Steven Soderbergh deliciousness to snack on. You'd also figure that even if she couldn't act she could, at least, kick a convincing ass or two.

Sadly, Haywire just doesn't work. If Carano spent more time fighting trained killers than her stilted dialogue it might be a winner. Instead, the majority of the film is convoluted, needlessly labyrinthine plotting that meanders across the globe. Haywire has been portrayed in its trailers as a smart. sexy action-thriller but it is none of the above. Instead it is a bit of a lumbering beast that only briefly allows its star to shine.

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