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The Facts: Certificate - 12, Running Time - 96 Minutes, Genre - Comedy
The Plot: How many lies have you told this week? Not big ones, just little white lies? Well imagine if there was no such thing as lying - what would you do then when door-to-door salesmen asked if they could have five minutes of your time? Well this film is set in a world where there is no such thing as lying. It's not that the inhabitants are naive or innocent - they just have no concept of mistruths, fibs or spin!
Mark (Ricky Gervais) is a script writer for televsion documentaries (in a world with no fiction this is the closest thing to dramatic entertainment!). However, his Mr Average looks and characteristics resign him to a life of mediocrity. Forced into life-changing stress, he stumbles on a magical gift - lying! In his world, this means he has power and influence above all of his fellows, although with great power comes great responsibility!
My Review: I like Ricky Gervais, but must admit to apprehension before watching this film. As a potential further vehicle for his talent, Gervais (who also directs the film) could have let the plot and flow of the film rest heavily on his comedy persona. However, this film rises well above it's potential to stand proud as a thoroughly original, well-produced and well directed offering.
I'd recommend this to anyone in need of a laugh - Gervais fan or not!
The Facts: Certificate - 15, Running Time - 89 Minutes, Genre - Comedy
The Plot: The US Government, caught in a cold war web of suspicion and one-up man ship, create a division who are tasked with investigating and developing battlefield techniques associated with psychic powers. Led by Jeff Bridges, the recruits are all psychically gifted soldiers with abilities to see beyond the human world!
Years after they are set up, troubled reporter Ewan McGregor stumbles onto their field camp with the assistance of outcast George Clooney. What unfolds is a fantastically funny adventure through the world of military pomposity and daftness!
My Review: I really enjoyed this film, and with turns from George Clooney, Ewan McgGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges it's hard not to!The plot is both original and enjoyable, and fans of sci-fi such as the X-Files will no doubt find plenty of semi-believable nuggets in the plotlines which help the story to remain nicely based in a world of farce whilst avoiding really heavyweight subject matter.
Clooney is the star of the film, and as one of the central characters, his deadpan delivery and good comic timing keeps the atmosphere light and the laughs coming!
The Facts: Certificate - 12, Running Time - 126 minutes, Genre - Action / Fantasy
(Warning - May Contain Spoilers!)
The Plot: In the second film of the popular series, Stephenie Meyer's book is presented onto the big screen by Director Chris Weitz. In this installment, Bella finds herself torn between the clans of Forks (Vampires and Werewolves) whilst also coming to terms with her own life. The dilemma between her two male admirers (Edward and Jacob) continues, with Jacob developing a stronger attraction for Bella than ever before.
Meanwhile, Edwards actions from the previous installment come back to haunt him with a vengeance!
My Review: I quite liked the first film, but as a fan of classic vampire and werewolf flicks such as Blade and Dog Soldiers, I did find New Moon a little tame in terms of action and gore. However, to write a review on this basis would be unfair as this doesn't seem to be what this series is all about.
The focus of this story on love, relationships and growing-up tells you all you need to know about the target audience. However, it still does well as an enjoyable film - just don't tell your mates you've watched it!
The Facts: Certificate - 12, Running Time - 119 Minutes, Genre - Fantasy / Adventure
The Plot: Doctor Parnassus is an immortal who travels the land with the most magical of fairground attractions - an imaginarium in which the visitors can see his or her deepest desires laid out in a wonderfully colourful reality. Due to a misconcieved deal with the devil, however, the Doctor finds himself in a battle to save the life and soul of his young daughter!
To ward of this impending threat, Parnassus wages his skill at enticing willing punters into his imaginarium against the devil's ability to take souls in a battle to end all battles!
My Review: This is a challenging film to summarise and review as the plot is so fantastic and bizarre that to succinctly sum it up would take many hours! Suffice to say that it is a highly original and well-delivered tale of adventure which is presented onto the screen by some of the best actors around.
Rising to infamy as the last film of the late Heath Ledger (who is brilliant in this!), the film also has star turns from Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp.
I'd personally say that Terry Gilliam films are something of an acquired taste for those who've not experienced them before. However, suspension of disbelief is easy for most fans, and the journey into Gilliam's world of magic and fantasy is most rewarding.
The Facts: Rating - 15, Running Time 108 Minutes, Genre - Sci-Fi
The Plot: Centred in South Africa, this film is set in the near-future in a world where aliens have landed and settled on Earth. It follows the life of a bumbling bureaucrat (Wikus), who is tasked with relocating the alien settlement from Johannesburg to a more rural location. However, the Government seems bent on a firm-handed approach which relegates the Aliens to third-world citizens.
Caught up in an ever crumbling web of suspicion and dread, Wikus is soon forced into a position where his empathy with the Aliens becomes rapidly real!
My Review: This is a well acted, original and thought-provoking film. The obvious parallels with apartheid are very apparent, which not only enriches the film, but also provides a solid parable from which to view the 'real-world' issues which are addressed.
However, notwithstanding this, it is also a thoroughly enjoyable film which is well worth watching. It is refreshing to see a sci-fi film which isn't American-based and although the mid-part and ending of the film depart become decreasingly believable (as is the case with sci-fi films), it still pans out as an enjoyably entertaining film!
The Facts: Rating - 12, Running Time 152 Minutes, Genre - Disaster / Drama
The Plot: A brilliant young scientist notices that increasing solar activity appear to be causing increasingly dramatic climatic and tectonic effects across the globe. The scope and reach of these effects has the potential to wipe out the whole human race! But whilst the potential for a worldwide catastrophic extinction is soon identified, it is kept secret to avoid panic in the streets.
As the end of the world nears, the great and the good seek escape aboard escape vessels whilst the remaining inhabitants of Earth stand ready to face oblivion! However, whilst a Noah's Ark style selection of the best & brightest is intended, it soon becomes evident that the rich and wealthy seem to have jumped the queue!
My Review: As disaster films go, the special effects, scale and delivery of this movie seems to blow the others away!
The film starts as a seemingly predictable apocalypse-flick which is convincingly delivered by the cast and special effects crew. Various sub-plots concerning the lives of central characters show the impacts of the unfolding events on personal levels which add a decent depth of perspective to the overall experience.
Overall, this is an enjoyable movie and is worth a watch. However, the obligatory Hollywood inclusions (broken families reunited through adversity, rousing hand-on-heart speeches etc.) may tarnish the experience for some less impressionable viewers.
There are also some very interesting sub-plots about the relative significance of financial wealth compared to the importance of humanity in a world with no hope. Additionally, it is nice to see another take on a disaster film which moves away from the current obsession with man made climate disasters.
The Facts: Rating - 15, Running Time 82 Minutes, Genre - Horror/Suspense
The Plot: A young lady (Katie) is determined to capture evidence of a ghostly force which has followed her since the age of eight.With the help of her partner (Micah). However, in catching proof of the persistent poltergeist on film, they increase the terror and horror they've experienced to terrible new levels!
My Review: OK, let's get the Blair Witch comparisons out of the way! This is a 'classic' psychological film which caters to our most primal fears of security and vulnerability. However, where this excels is that it moves into an environment which will be immediately relevant to the home-viewer!
With this backdrop, even the most hardened and skeptical viewer will find themselves sleeping with one eye open the night after watching this!
The only real gripe I have with this film is that I found the ending to be highly predictable. Whilst this didn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the film, a departure from the normal path of the genre would have cemented this as a great film rather than just a 'good' one!
The Facts: Rating - 12, Running Time 112 Minutes, Genre - Horror / Psychological Drama
The Plot: Would you (or could you) push a button on a box for a million dollars? What if it also meant that someone somewhere would die as a result as well?
This is the situation encountered by housewife (Cameron Diaz) when a disfigured stranger leaves a mysterious offer at her door one morning. Her decision isn't taken in haste, but has far-reaching and devastating consequences as she is drawn into a secret world more complex and bizarre than she could ever have imagined!
My Review: This film is adapted from a short story, and some may say that it shows in places. This is partly due to the drawn-out feeling of some scenes and sub-plots. However, it also forms a highly original and involving story which draws the viewer into a tense and scary world.
It is also quite a thought-provoking film with some very clever plot twists and sub-plots which provide deeply interesting perspectives on the impacts of each decision.
It is hard to fully review this film without giving too much away, but suffice to say that fans of the Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and X-Files should enjoy it!
The Facts: Rating - 15, Running Time 99 Minutes, Genre - Comic-Adaptation Action
The Plot: Ben Affleck plays the Daredevil - a blind superhero who leads a double life as a long-suffering and charitable lawyer. The Daredevil uses vibrations and movements around him to sense his surroundings, and couples this with a hatred of crime to fight injustice and wrong-doing wherever he finds it!
After falling in love with Elektra (Jennifer Garner) it begins to become personal as he fights to protect her against a host of villains including the brilliant Bullseye, played by Jim Bowen. Sorry, got that wrong, I meant Colin Farrell.
My Review: I personally think that many comic and graphic novel adaptations are on rocky ground even before they reach the screen. As a graphic novel fan I loathe seeing my favourite texts butchered and given the hollywood treatment for mass appeal. However, I also appreciate that these adaptations share the enjoyment of the storylines with a wider audience.
This film requires a healthy suspension of disbelief on all fronts due to an improbable storyline, cheesey acting and plots which defy belief. However, if you take it for what it is, and don't expect Oscar Wilde levels of wit and sophistication then you'll probably get on very well with this film!
One of the major problems with this film, however, is that Colin Farrell shines as the acting talent in this film. His performance transcends the role and sticks as the most memorable and enjoyable part.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
The Facts: Certificate - PG, Running Time - 93 Minutes, Genre - Comedy
The Plot: Ever had the family round for Christmas? For many people, the best part of the festive holidays is when everyone leaves and you can finally wander round in your pants, have full access to the remote control and not have to queue for your own bathroom! Clarke Griswold (Chevy Chase) plays the typical white-collar American guy in this film, which tells the story of a Christmas gone horribly wrong when his home is invaded by in-laws!
From the moment the various relatives arrive at Casa Griswold, Clarke becomes a ball of stress. Everything starts going awry, from the dog wrecking the tree to the festive lights failing to work!
However, his troubles have only just begun, as Clarke has put down a deposit on a swimming pool using a Christmas bonus, but the bonus still hasn't arrived!
My Review: Chevy Chase is a real Marmite man - you seem to either really love him, or loathe him with a passion (much like Steve Martin, Mel Brookes, Jack Black, Will Ferrell etc.). I'm firmly in the adoration section with Mr Chase though, so this film was a winner from the start!
The comedy is in a chaotic, frustrated hair-pulling style and is delivered expertly by Chevy Chase. A well scripted plot is bolstered with supporting roles from Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid maintaining a steady flow of laughs throughout.
Big Bang Theory fans may also want to watch out for a young 'Leonard'!
This is really a Christmas film, and due to the vast array of characters there is a readily identifiable cast member in there for almost everyone! What really makes this film special though is the originality. I can't think of many other festive offerings which have stood the test of time so well!
It's a good basic comedy which doesn't purport to be anything other than a good wholesome giggle. However, in a refreshing contrast to modern comedies of the same genre, it doesn't rely heavily on shock humour, crude visual gags or cringe-worthy situations to get it's audience chuckling.
The Facts: Certificate - PG , Running Time - 92 Minutes, Genre - Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
The Plot: The callous and greedy mercenary, Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and his canine/human cross-breed sidekick Barf (John Candy) cruise space as intergalactic smugglers. However, when a Druidian Princess is kidnapped by the Space balls (a regime intent on political domination across the galaxy), they intervene to help the damsel in distress!
As a classic Mel Brooks film, this is punctuated by farce, slapstick and basic humour. From the heavy Star Wars 'Yoda' references to the Han Solo - lookalike main character, this is clearly a film inspired by the developing science fiction scene of the late 1970's and early eighties.
My Review: If you know what to expect from this film you'll be likely to enjoy it greatly. The laughs a are steady and seemingly never-ending, the characters are suitably outrageous and the plot farcical.
The casting is brilliant, with Bill Pullman and John Candy providing a main path upon which to base the plot. With supporting roles from Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers and Rick Moranis, this film is never short of sufficient comedic variety to keep you chuckling.
Whilst the story is far-fetched, and the ending a little daft, it compares highly favourably to more contemporary spoof films in terms of the level of intelligence and sophistication it expects from the viewer. The end result is a truly funny film which can be watched again and again!
The Facts: Certificate - 15 , Running Time - 116 Minutes, Genre - Action / Comedy
The Plot: PC Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the best policeman in London. He's so good, in fact, that he's making the remainder of the force appear quite mundane and lacklustre in comparison.
The only solution open to his superiors (played by Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy) is to ship him off to a back water rural village so that he can serve out his time on the force away from prying eyes!
However, all is not as it seems in his new home, and Angel and his new partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) must uncover the wrong-doings of the local community before things go truly awry!
My Review: If you loved Shaun of the Dead then you'll love this as well!
It's a well delivered comedy which provides a steady stream of mostly dead-pan laughs centring around the frustrated yet heroic Pegg. Whilst it's hard not to support this film due to it's British roots, it is also hard to find any reason why this is not leagues better than the seemingly endless flow of rom-coms and shock-flicks which seem to come over from America nowadays!
However, this film doesn't just excel in relative terms - it also delivers a benchmark performance in it's own right. This is helped by the writing excellence of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright and the supporting acting of a vertable buffet of British acting talent (Bill Nighy's highly subtle yet massively impressionable performance is legendary!).
The Facts: Certificate - PG, Running Time - 113 Minutes, Genre - Action / Adventure / Sci-fi
The Plot: Having followed Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) and his counterpart, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), to the future and the past, we now follow them to the wild west of the mid 1800's!
Marty must travel back to 1855 to find and rescue Doc Brown, who is just days away from falling foul of the local bandits!
The Delorean makes way for a new and even more spectacular time travelling machine in this third film of the trilogy!
My Review: I love this trilogy. For me it stands proud as one of the few trilogies which contain three films which are all quite unique in their own way. This third film is set in a cowboy soaked wild west, but the grittiness of the harsh life is balanced nicely by the light relationship between Marty and the Doc.
This film also features an all-new character to the trilogy and provides the Doc with a chance of love. This adds a new feel to the films and rounds them off nicely.
The ending (without giving too much away) is a good place to stop the trilogy. It is surreal and magical, but this is in keeping with the remaaini9ng films!
For all fans who haven't seen these films I'd strongly recommend getting the box set and watching them back-to-back and in order - I think they're great, and the special effects, plot, acting and flow compare well to even the most modern films of the genre!
The Facts: Certificate - PG, Running Time - 104Minutes, Genre - Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
The Plot: Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) returns in the sequel to the blockbuster original alongside fellow main cast member Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd).
In the first film Marty had to travel back in time to the 1950's to save the Doc's life! But in number 2 they both travel to 2015 to save the world again! However, ias if that wasn't complex enough, the mischievous town bad-egg (Biff) has other plans, and changes the future for financial gain with terrible consequences!
My Review: If this is really what the future will be like then I can't wait! I'd not like to be working for a car manufacturer though - fancy having just 5 and a half years to make cars fly!
This was a great film with an intially utopian vision of the future, but which also showed how things could turn out if greed and gluttony took priority in Hill Valley...
As a sequel, this holds up very well against the original and lacks none of the pace, originality and charm of the first film. To live in the shadow of an all-time classic is hard, but this does well and contains truly unique moments which give it longevity and character of it's own.
The sub-plots are a little awkward in some ways, being both complex and simple at the same time. However, if you look that deeply into this film you may be missing the point! It's a great film and a true classic.
The Facts: Certificate - PG, Running Time - 112 Minutes, Genre - Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
The Plot: Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) is a well behaved but shabby college kid who is friends with Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) in this action/adventure sci-fi classic dating from 1985 (is it really that long ago?).
During testing of the Doc's time-travelling Delorean, they are rudely interrupted by gun-toting madmen who are intent on settling a debt with the Doc!
Marty's only choice is to hop in and travel back in time to try and save his friend's life.
My Review: I do not know a single person who doesn't like this film!
For me this captured Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd at their very best, as they work so well on screen together that it was extremely hard to avoid being drawn into their world.
When Marty travels back to the 1950's the momentum is still maintained and the potentially complex nature of time-travel plots are well handled, making this a thoroughly enjoyable film!
The scope for sequels was massive, and this original was followed up by a second a third offering (which I personally love). But the original still stands proud as the pick of the bunch for me.
This film is in my personal top ten of all time!