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August 30, 2002

Dog Soldiers

Exciting werewolf gorefest

Sean Pertwee is the leader of a group of soldiers on exercise in a remote part of Scotland. There is a full moon, and they discover another group of soldiers who have been ripped to pieces in the woods. One of the soldiers is barely alive, and they patch him up and take him with them. Then they are attacked, Pertwee's stomach is ripped open, and they make a dash for the road where there is a landrover driven by a young woman who rescues them.

They are taken back to a farmhouse, but are attacked throughout the night by the wolf creatures and gradually picked off. The rescued soldier makes a remarkable recovery, and reveals that he was trying to capture one of the creatures, and also that they really are werewolves. Then he turns into a werewolf and attacks everyone, but is repelled out of a window. Pertwee realises that this will be his fate too, and sacrifices himself at the end to blow up the farmhouse and all the werewolves...or has he. Cue standard surprise ending.

This is surprisingly good; it's not often that Britain produces such an exciting horror film. The old Hammer films have their charm, but the pace is generally quite slow, this is fast. It's interesting when the lead character, Pertwee, gets savaged quite near the beginning, and as he pushes his guts back into his stomach and tapes them up you wonder where the film will go from there. Then you remember that it's a werewolf film, and his eventual transformation is obvious. The action is relentless as one after another the men meet their gory deaths, and it's reminiscent of Predator in a way. There is also a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour, so all in all this is the best british horror film for years.


Posted by se71 at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

Oceans Eleven

Crime caper remake

Ocean (George Clooney) gets out of jail, and decides to rob three casinos to piss off the owner, who is now seeing his wife.

He gets together a team of eleven men, and they plan a clever job, execute it, and get away with the money. Oh, and Ocean get's his wife back too.

This is a remake of the brat-pack movie of the same name. It has some of today's top male stars including Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, and has Julia Roberts too, but it still manages to be boring. The cinematography and music make you think you are watching a seventies film like Bullitt, and that's quite intertesting, for about 10 minutes. Clooney and Pitt are good, but something about the script is flat and dull, and Roberts' character is very unappealing and stupid and you wish Clooney would just leave her alone.

Give this one a miss, unless you really really like one of the male leads.


Posted by se71 at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)


Roald Dahl style kids film

Patrick Smash is born with two stomachs, which causes him to break wind almost constantly. This drives his parents apart, and makes him very unpopular with all the pupils and teachers at school. He only has one friend, the socially inept, but scientifically brilliant Alan Alan, who has no sense of smell.

Alan designs a pair of thunderpants for Patrick, which are special trousers to store and dispose of his foul stenching wind; these work for a while until the school bully destroys them. Then Alan invents a flying machine, powered by Patrick, and the CIA take him away to work on a secret project in America. Patrick is discovered by an opera singer who uses him to 'sing' the highest note in a special opera. He stands at the back of the stage and uses his bottom to produce the note, and goes on a world tour. After an unfortunately loud note dislodges a ceiling fixture and kills someone, Partick is arrested and sentenced to death.

Patrick has one dream, to become an astronaut, and this is where his dream starts to come true. The CIA rescue him, and take him to see Alan. Alan is working with other genius children on a rocket to rescue some astronauts stranded on a space station; Patrick's wind is the only possible way to fuel the rescue craft. In an act of extreme selflessness Patrick flys into space, and becomes a hero. Now everyone loves him, and pretends they really liked him all along.

The writer has been strongly influenced by the tales of Roald Dahl. Schoolkids (and parents) everywhere will not be able to resist giggling at the amusing bottom noises that permeate the film, thank goodness we don't have smell-o-vision yet. Along with this hilarious gruesomness is the signature Dahl cruelty; Patrick's father leaves him, he is bullied incessantly, and he is nearly hanged when falsely accused of murder, so this could be quite disturbing for the very young. Slightly older children will take this in their stride though, and the hartwarming finale makes you forget the horrible things that have happened to him.

In the wrong hands this could have been an amazingly crass film, but it has been done with a light touch, and is very enjoyable.


Posted by se71 at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)


Faithful comic-book adaption.

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is a weedy nerd who really fancies Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) at school, but is too shy to do anything about it. After a gene-mutated spider bites him, he gains super-spider powers and a new lean musclebound body. Parker tests his newfound powers by leaping from building to building, beats up the school bully, and starts to impress Dunst.

Willem Dafoe is Osborn, a mad inventor and the father of Parker's best friend. He works for a company that manufactures experimental weapons. When his budget is about to be pulled, he tests an experimental drug on himself, steals his exo-skeleton device, and becomes the Green Goblin. His company sack him, so he goes on the rampage agains the directors, attacking them at a public ceremony. Spiderman foils the attack, and rescues Mary Jane from death, and the Goblin vows to destroy him.

As Spiderman's identity is of course a secret, a lame plot device is used to let Dafoe know who he really is. Instead of just killing him though, Osborn decides to go after first his Aunt May and then Mary Jane. In a big finale Spiderman kills the Green Goblin and rescues the girl, again.

The beginning of the movie is fun, but once the Green Goblin appears it all gets a bit too serious, with very little in the way of light relief. There is also quite a lot of violence that is probably inappropriate for very young children. The leads are very likeable, but the reason why Mary Jane would fall for Parker, when Spiderman is on offer, is a bit unfathomable. The love story between them revolves around Mary Jane wanting to become an actress, but having to work as a waitress; Parker encourages her to follow her dream, and believes in her, and she loves him for this. Spiderman rescues her from death twice, is famous, athletic and witty, so obviously she chooses Parker!

The special effects are great in places, but it's a disappointing story after a promising start, and they aren't enough to rescue the movie. Perhaps the inevitable sequels will be better.


Posted by se71 at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2002

The Omega Man

Seventies post apocalypse vision

Charlton Heston is the omega man, or the last man alive after nuclear war and plague have killed the human race. He drives around an empty city, visiting the cinema, clothes stores, picking out a new car when he feels like it, and gradually going crazy from the isolation. He lives in a fortified building, and we discover that this is to protect him from a cult of plague victims still alive. They wear habits like monks, think technology is evil because it destroyed the world, and want to kill Heston because he is the last plague free man. They only come out at night, as the plague has made them allergic to sunlight.

Heston discovers a group of children looked after by a young man and woman who live outside the city. They seem to have some immunity from the plague. He tells tham that he is a doctor, and injected himself with the only antidote. They plan together to use his blood to make all the group immune, but Heston is killed by the cultists just before he can go off with them far from the city to start their new life.

This is an entertaining film, but there were too many inconsistencies to make it great. Sometimes the cultists were completely dazzled by light, and at others they could still move around and chase Heston. How could Heston have lived in that house for two years without either being killed by the cultists, or being able to find their lair and killing them; surely he could have followed them? And the other group of people just outside the city didn't try to contact Heston, even though they knew he was there. These problems could easily have been explained, but weren't.

One amusing part involvese Heston and a black woman. They kiss, the scene shifts to the next morning with the black woman is sitting naked in bed. She is talking to a clothed Heston across the room, but it's really obvious that they aren't even in the same studio. This was the early seventies, and mixed race love scenes were not tolerated, but this attempt would have been best left out.

AE 1

Posted by se71 at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Gross Point Blank

Superior black comedy

John Cusack is Blank, an independent hitman, travelling the world and killing interesting people. But he is losing his taste for the job when fellow hitman Dan Ackroyd tries to force him to join an assassins union. Around the same time he gets offered a hit in his old home town Gross Point, on the same weekend as his 10 year high school reunion. Returning to the town, he meets up with old aquaintances, including former sweetheart Minnie Driver whom he abandoned on prom night.

At the reunion, Ackroyd sends a killer to get Cusack, and Driver witnesses the end of the bloody battle between the two men. Cusack wins, but Driver is appalled and runs away. So we've had boy finds girl, and boy loses girl, how will he get her back again to complete to cycle. Interestingly it turns out that the hit Cusack is supposed to perform is on Drivers father. Knowing that Ackroyd is trying to discredit him, Cusack realises that he will try to kill Driver's father himself, so he races to the house. There is an amusing, and very violent gunfight that Cusack wins, and he and Driver reunite and drive off into the sunset.

One of the cleverest parts of this film is the way assassins are treated like normal businessmen, with offices and secretaries, unions, and inter-company rivalry. Also when he tells his old schoolfriends that he is now a professional killer they all think it's a joke, well you would, wouldn't you?

This film is very funny, in a very sick way, and makes clever points about what really brings happiness.

AE 0

Posted by se71 at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)