Quickfire Movie Reviews
Welcome to the movie review section of johniebg.net. Here we have a list of every movie I have so far reviewed. All reviews on this page are quickfire one paragraph summaries with a rating. Where there are expanded full reviews there is a link within the quickfire review. If you want a summary of the rating system, then click here. Enjoy.
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A

About A Boy
I was surprised by this, I expected some trite pseudo love story but instead got a well acted, cleverly observed tale of colourfull characters going about everyday life. Well everyday people other than Hugh Grant who plays a rich son of a one of christmas jingle creater. Its strength, as the title would suggest is in the relationship between Grants character and that of boy whos mother he is pared off with at a singles club. The ending is a bit cornflower but has been earned by everything that has proceeded it. I did watch this by myself but is something that might be appreciated by a couple even more *** View at AmazonUk

The Abyss
A perfect mix of action, tension and superbly judged sentimentality set aside a reminder that mankind does not have a god given right to this planet. Stand out are the amazing performances of its lead characters: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn, along with the water visual effect that James Cameron would go on and use in his later Terminator 2. 'The Abyss' extended cut gives us more of the end sequence which was trimmed back at the time of its original release due to timing and the content being considered too out there, it is a great addition. One of my all time favourite movies. *****

Airplane
This is insanely stupid humour from 15 years or so ago. It is great fun to watch, especially if you have ever seen any of the real Airport dramas. Maybe a little dated for a modern audience although not that different from Austin Powers in its silliness. Made by the same people that did the Kentucky Fried Movie ***

Alan Clark Diaries
A collection of made for TV episodes that represent the books written by the British MP Alan Clark. A great man, brilliant books but not translated well into the small screen despite John Hurts best efforts. *

Alien
I first watched this on national TV when I was about sixteen (circa 1984) and vowed come the end that I would never allow myself to be so scared ever again. I have almost succeeded. Adrift in deep space and ordered to investigate a distress beacon that turns out to be a very just warning, we have here the crew of a spaceship coming to terms with the malevolent Alien lifeform they have brought back onto their ship. The skill of this, apart from the claustrophobic spaces and characters that we associate with, is that the monster exists mostly in the fear of our minds. The first in a legacy of movies that would never be equaled, this is brilliantly visualised by the master of image and hue: Ridley Scott. *****

Aliens
Time has proven that there are few that justly tread in the footsteps of Ridley Scott when it comes to Alien horror. James Cameron cleverly pulls this off by turning the premise towards action while giving us lots of Aliens. Set 60 years after the first we find that the planet the original Alien was found on has been made habitable and just after Ripley is rescued from her deep sleep we lose contact with said planet. Cameron here not only gives us balls to the wall action and nail gripping suspense towards the end, but also a lead action orientated female star, which Sigourney Weaver, aided by a sublime Micheal Biehn pulls off with supurb aplomb. One of the great movies, the extended cut does detract from the whole story despite giving us great insight into the characters background. ****

Alien3
Back to the premise of one Alien and lots of bug food in a small environment with no weapons – unfortunately a perfect example of how a studio contrived to completely deprive a movie of all that is good. The cinematic version was hotly anticipated and completely failed to entertain, feeling like disjointed parts pulled from a whole and tacked together. I would though, strongly advise you to watch the version of this movie provided on the Alien 'Quadrilogy' which is the un-hacked version and plays out as good entertainment due in the main to the art of David Fincher. ***

Alien vs Predator (AvP)
Admittedly I found this disappointing at the cinema although thought it had promise. It's major flaw was in its attempt to homage the slow buildup of the original Alien movie, but nearly thrity years after the original and some four sequels we already know most of the cast is bug food. Some cleverly worked money shot scenes are served up to us though, notable the few actual Predator on Alien sequences that show us the director – Paul Anderson does have promise. Flawed at the cinema, the DVD contains a new cut that makes this a much more appealing whole entertainment experience. ***

American Beauty
Take a brilliantly conceived story that snapshots adult life and those emerging into adulthood, throw in some of the best actors of the last two generations and ask one of the most renowned stage directors to pull all the strings and you get in this instance, a sublime cross section of modern life that nails all the key flaws of society. The gay male couple are the only 'normal' couple, the Goth adolescents are the only sane adults despite the best efforts of their parents and we have the breakdown of each 'grown-ups' personalities. While Kevin Spacey turns in a great performance it is Annette Bening that really stands out here. Magnificent. *****

American Pie
Outragiously funny in a way that the sequels have only matched in short burts. Its all about sex and the tribulations of American High school relationships and of course the Czech exchange student. Worth watching for the webcam and apple pie scenes alone but so much more funnier. Not one to watch with your kids or your parents though! ***

Anna and the King
Despite Jodie Foster being my favourite actress and Chow Yung Fat being one of my favourite actors this movie just doesnt feel right. There are some genuinely great moments but you get the sense the makers were trying for it to be too grand and missed the point. Worth watching but be prepared for some disappointment. **

Antz
Great animated entertainment that does the poor boy falls in love with the princess from the Ant perspective. Voiced by a very impressive cast and a great light entertainment storyline, this is one that will keep the kids occupied and not put the adults into a coma-like vegative state. ***

Apocolypse Now
What is mankind capable of? And what happens to men when taken from a cultured society and placed in a savage world. The answer given to us in Joseph Conrads 'Hearts of Darkness' is that they become savages, and it is upon this book which this Vietnam story is based as we follow Martin Sheen down Cambodia's Nung River to locate and terminate the godlike Kurtz. The story is a harrowing judgement of mankind's character and very powerful entertainment, not just for its central theme but from the iconographic characters and moments of war and that time it serves us. ****

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
An incredibly touching and brilliantly visualised retelling of the Pinnochio story that traces the journey of a cyborg child as it attempts to find its mother. Along the way we touch on a whole bunch of analogies to this modern day and our cultures. Jude Law turns in an impressive performance as Gigolo Joe but we buy this whole thing because of Haley Joel Osment – child of Sixth Sense. Slated for being too long at the time of its release, as the central character David continued along his journey and more was revealed to us I was desperate for it not to end and loved the final conclusion. Great, great stuff. ****

Austin Powers International Man of Mystery
Oh Mike Myers you are a one. Great fun, plenty of OTT characters and stupendous situations. Inane comedy taken to its limits but you just have to laugh. Liz Hurley looked real hot in this as well, loved those melons. ***

B

Bad Boys
Will Smith who? back in the days when he hadnt made the full transition from sitcom actor to mega singer and actor. This original has style, a good story, stylish photography and a beautiful leading lady. Its is great fun to watch as well. A marker for the genre and of the time. **** View at AmazonUk

Basic Instinct
A very well made, taught thriller that has you guessing right to the very end. Sharon Stone oozed sexuality as murder suspect No. 1 and Micheal Douglas in his prime as the detective hunting down the murderer. There was of course the poor little beaver. ***

Batman
A standard, but early Tim Burton lavishly dark piece and Micheal Keaton is Batman for my mind. It looks good, has an interesting story and is very well acted, accept for Jack Nicholson. I really didnt get all the plaudits he got at the time, it was just too much. ***

Bedazzled
Ahh haa, you might say, I know why you got this! You would of course be mostly right, I do also happen to be a big fan of Brendan Fraser. He of the braces in the Mummy movies. I did find Hurley very pleasing on the eye and she doesnt act all that bad, really, she is just a bit too into herself. That walk is also very annoying, kept wanting to shout 'stop bouncing your making me dizzy'. But all in all this is funny and Brendan Fraser is brilliant. ***

Bend it Like Beckham
Mixing Asian and common white English folk in a movie about racial understanding is not what one might imagine to be the premise for a hugely popular movie or something with the impetus to become a world wide phenomena that culminated in a Broadway box office hit. Keira (enter dreamlike trance state) knightley first got popular attention here with her co-star Parminder Nagra going on to carve out a successful American TV career. This is a tender story about two young girls from very different ethnic backgrounds that have the same passion in life; football, their friendship and their coach. A little treacle as we near the end but worth your time and one that can be enjoyed by the whole family. ***

Big trouble in Little China
Now, talking about John Carpenters and Kurt Russels iconographic cult movies, here we have their fantastical asian gang come legendry Chinese myth movie that is also noteable for the fact it stars a very young Kim Cattrall. Containing a weird mix of humour, martial arts and the outright scary I doubt you will move from your chair the whole way through and will think wow! come the end. Great soundtrack as well. **** View at AmazonUk

Black Hawk Down
A book adaption depicting the real life tale of American solders stuck in a third world African war zone. As ever with Ridley Scott it is extremley stylish and thoughfully made. Somehow doesnt quite portray the sheer horror and amazing chance of war that means life or death at the flip of a coin, which is so cleverly achieved through the book. Notable performances from a number of actors that were on the verge of stardom at the time. ***

Blade
The first of a three part trilogy, this starts off with huge promise. Some superbly stylised photography and a great premise for a story make this very promising. The last 45 minutes does not live up to the expectation created by the first hour though. Instead we get fairly standard hack and slash . Wesley Snipes is outstanding while Kris Kristofferson is badly miscast in my opinion. Good entertainment with some aspirations for loftier visuals lost during the production process. ***

Blade II
Where the original attempted to create a noir vampire flick this very clearly, from the opening scene sets in our minds what to expect for the next two hours. If blood, gore, extremely resilient vampires, big guns and martial arts are your things this is the movie for you. Snipes is the man but once more I cant think for the life of me why they had to bring Whistler back to life! Ron Perlman does a great pre Hellboy turn here. Most females I have watched this with leave the room before the close of the opening scene, which may or may not be a good thing. ***

Blood Work
Based on the excellent book by Michael Connelly about an ex FBI investigator coming to terms with a resent heart transplate and then confronted with his arch nemesis. Unfortunately this movie moves away from the basic premise of the books plot. This has to happen in movies, we understand this but key characters are missing and the whole emphasis is moved, resulting in a thriller that ambles along without any real heart. No pun intended. *

The Bourne Identity
Adapted from the brilliant book by Robert Ludlum we have Matt Damon as the highly skilled undercover operative with no memory of who he is or what he does. Another movie that seems to change its mind halfway though, so that our expectations, built through the first half are dashed in the second. Its no that the second is really that bad, but its more action thriller for the masses opposed to the first which was taught conspiracy thriller for the interested. Deviates drastically from the excellent plot and is a real opportunity missed but not overall bad. Franke Potente as the female lead is a standout and worth watching out for *** Read the full review

The Bourne Supremacy
On the run in Goa with is partner Marie (excellent Franke Potente) Jason is framed in his absence for a bungled handover of secret data. This probably wouldnt overly bother the weapon on legs with a bout of amnesia but then they send someone to assasinate him to cover their tracks. Now that was a mistake. What follows is everything the first should have been. Its great story, reveals ever more about his previous persona while allowing Karl Urban as the eastern block assassin to show us what a brilliant career he has carved out with his not inconsiderable talents. Stylish, well plotted this is mystery thriller with a nice dose of action pumping on all cylinders. **** View at AmazonUk

Bulletproof Monk
One of those events where the production team and the actors put everything into a movie but it just does not pay off. Chow Yung Fat once more comes a cropper at the hands of western film makers. This is possibly the outright worst movie I have watched in the last decade, I am afraid and its a genre I usually enjoy. *

C

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Superb, Superb, Superb. Asian cinema at its so finest. Gentle character observations, simple plot and beautifully concieved and implemented martial art that better resembles dance with knifes. Don't be put off by the sub-titles, for watching this with an english translation would be to miss out on the infliction through each characters speech. Its mesmerising. ***** View at AmazonUk

D

Dark Blue
If you spend enough time on this page you will see I am a big fan of Kurt Russell. Not only can the guy really act but he has a presence onscreen that is totally enigmatic. In Dark Blue he is Eldon, a long in the tooth cop that has stepped over the line and losing his grip on reality. Teamed with the rookie Bobby played by Scott Speedman he is forced to make some tough decisions as their relationship grows with the simmering LA in the backdrop. If this was not lead by Russell it would be good but he brings so, so much more. A great action thriller you should make an effort to watch. **** View at AmazonUk

Die Another Day
Despite trying to add some depth to Bonds character this is the evolved and very worst that this franchise has become. Even Halle Berry in a bikini can't save it. This literally left me searching for something within to redeem it. There is very little. **

Die Hard
There were action movies before Bruce Willis arrived on the scene as the fast talking, white t-shirted mans man, but none that so clearly defined the genre. By mans man I of course mean divorced and alienated from his children. Trying to patch things up with his estranged wife John McClane finds himself alone and trapped in the Nakatomi skyscraper while trying simultaneously to save hostages, thrawt the clever european terrorists and juggle the ineptitude of local law enforcement agences. Will they discover why he is there in the first place! This is the Best of the Best ***** View at AmazonUk

Die Hard 2
If at first you make a huge amount of money then come back for more. So we have the second installment of the Die Hard franchise which comes packaged with the tagline 'Die Harder'. This time set in an airport, with the opposition set as elite forces gone bad, this is real good, despite getting poor reviews at the time. Even though we know what to expect the makers blur the only slightly weaker script by putting Willis in one precarious scenario after another, which we all love. Great stuff **** View at AmazonUk

Die Hard with a Vengeance
Once more at the well we see John McClane is definately divorced and riding the very rickety edge of acceptability within the context of his profession as a cop. He is teamed up with Samuel Jacksons, Zeus when it appears someone from his past wants him dead, while simultaneously holding the city of New York to ransom. With John McTiernan once more at the helm and supported by Jackson and Jeremy Irons this cleverly gives the original a good run for its money. **** View at AmazonUk

E

Erasure
Lets see, I forget the exact symantecs but Arnie is a top secret witness protection operative tasked with protecting the whistle blower of a massive armaments scandle. Basically everything is devised so Arnie can stroll around at the end with a massive railgun, but everything that goes before this conclusion is well made and good, easy going by the numbers action fun. ***

Escape from New York
What do you say about one of the great cult movies of all time. This was made at a period in movie making history when John Carpenter and Kurt Russell were together churning out stylish, genre movies that would later be percieved as cult icons of the time. Trouble is nobody watched them at the time, and they stopped making them. Nowadays, can you imagine anyone cooler or meaner than Snake Plissken? nope not me. Here he has to go into Manhatten, sometime in the future to rescue the US President. Only trouble is, in the future with rising crime manhatten has been abandoned and turned into a large jail. All sorts of unseamly characters have been banished there. Great soundtrack really adds to the menace and tension!**** View at AmazonUk

F

Face Off
John Woo helms this very high octane action movie starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage that literally fulfills its promises in every aspect. Its not so much a movie but a lesson in action style and scenarios where people get to fire lots of guns. The movies marketing tagline was 'In order to catch him, he must become him' and is about all I need to say other than that Its entertaining popcorn ***

Field of Dreams
There was a time when Kevin Costner could do no wrong, and this was made during that time. A discovery story about a hard up middle America farmer that comes to terms with his past and the history of the game he has a passion for; Baseball. There are some good performances in this, and the story as a whole is just nice. But come the end it felt like something did not quite fit, like listening to an oveture where a pianist had been playing the wrong key in part. Couldnt tell you what it was though, so if you work it out let me know. ***

Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within
State of the art computer animation set around a cliche story and characters. So ignore the bad bits of the story and definately the stupidity of the baddie and just revel in the style. Great stuff with some well known voice talent behind the animation. ***

The Frighteners
Before the Lord of the Rings a little known Kiwi director called Peter Jackson got to helm a US financed production based on his previous endeavours and this was the result. As a standalone movie this is atypical Jackson covering all his favourite bases. At times its really comical, sometimes scary and at others damn right unnerving. It flopped hugely worldwide making a return of $30 million against a similar production budget. You will pick this up in a bargain bucket in your local DVD store and can recommend it. It has some failings and the emotional scope is a bit daunting but its well made and entertaining. Michael J. Fox rounds off a great performance. Sean Astins dad; John stars as the ghost judge. ***

G

Pending

H

The Hulk
Now then if ever a great movie got bad press this was one. For my mind this is beautiful in every way save for the dark and slightly preposterous ending. Ang Lee, despite making a film about a big green geezer directs this with tenderness that is portrayed brilliantly by his two main stars; Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly. If your a fan I understand that this might not have met all your expectations, as a standalone though this is high quality comic action adventure that I implore you to watch. Its likely to be very cheap the now and is great value ****

I

iRobot
Great story and stylishly concieved, especially the lead robot, but Will Smith just does Will Smith in the future and there is so much product placement you might be mistaken for thinking your watching the shopping channel at times. *** Read the full review

i-Spy
Why is it any movie beginning with an I has to be lower case? Anyways, if you like to laugh and be entertained without being stretched to much then this is the place for you. Its predictable comedy action but the leads; Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson are extremely good at what they do and are well balanced by the breathtaking Famke Janssen. Go one, have a laugh! ***

J

Pending

K

King Arthur
Not as bad as everyone said it was at the time, this gives us a beautiful interpretation of early middle ages at the time of the legendary King Arthur and the demise of the Roman stronghold of England. The cast tend to look a little lost by themselves but this does well as an ensemble with Keira Knightley appearing half way through dressed in a couple of belts. Dont expect another Gladiator and marvel at the beautiful land that is England. ***

A Knights Tale
Rock and Roll in the middle ages, who would have thought it. Brian Helgelands directorial departure from his normal role of screenwriter alone. Introduced us to Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany and Alan Tudyk, all who have gone onto make real names for themselves. The other standout introduction here was Shannon Sossamon who has gone onto carve a nice niche in the independent and TV scene. Made for the young adult audience we have a great mix of humour, action and chivalrous adventure. If you think a banquet scene where all dance to David Bowie is silly best to pass this one by, but you will be missing out. **** View at AmazonUk

L

The Last Samurai
Brilliant acting from the Asian cast and a middle hour that rivals the best that asian cinema has to offer, but is ultimately let down by the fact its headed by Tom Cruise and we have to fulfill a certain number of criteria. Much of the good work achieved through the middle section is undone for my mind when we get the obligatory Sword fight between Cruise and a whole bunch of Japanese mercenaries, and more of the same. Much to be commended though and made in New Zealand with the same costumer as the rings. Hans Zimmer provides excellent soundtrack. *** Read the full review

The League of Extroadinary Gentlemen
Starts off well and the characters have great promise but when a colossal submarine starts hurtling in, through, under and around the waterways of Venice I lost interest and my whole perception of the movie changed. If you ignore this then its not bad but guys, please!! An aging sean Connery heads a fairly well known genre cast. **

Lord of the Rings - Return of the King
A truelly great movie that suffered from the sheer volume of content they needed to fit into this last episode of the trilogy. Not enough time spent on character and, despite the amazing CGI there is some part of the brain that starts to recoil if you see too much in one go. Despite the extended running time the cinematic version was just to long for normal mortals. **** View at AmazonUk

M

Mercury Rising
One of a series movies made by Bruce Willis during the late 90's that tried pushing the boundaries of the pigeon holed character he was now destined to repeatedly play. This time he is the washed up cop sent to look over a crime scene, where a family have apparently been assasinated for no apparent reason. He finds an autistic boy hidden away and is then catapulted into a wider story of top secret codes and insecure government agencies. All looking for the boy who seems to have cracked their top secret code. I love this conspiracy type of drama and this exceeded my expectations. The acting of Miko Hughes as the autistic boy is so convincing I spent the movie wondering how they got an autistic boy to act! This is badly underated and well worth two hours of your time **** View at AmazonUk

N

The Name of the Rose
Sean Connery heads this middle ages monastry whodunnit romp that was the debut for Christian Slater. Lots of dark and devious Franciscan and Catholic deeds set in the middle of nowhere. Also includes a very graphic but well shot sex scene and some mysterious references to Sherlock Holmes. ***

O

Oceans Eleven
Take some of the biggest stars of the modern cinema and mix them with an inventive and charming screenplay about a daring casino heist. Sprinkle in George Clooneys good mate Steven Soderbergh for directing duties and you stand to get an extremely enjoyable and infinately charming heist movie. Which this is. ***

Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Robert Rodriquez will admit himself that he is no genius on the level of Quinton Tarantino but this man is only a level or two below. He is also a self made movie machine often scripting, directing, filming, editing and providing soundtrack. This is the third of the El Mariachi trilogy, the former has now attained cult status made for seven thousand dollars, the second; Desperado made for seven million and now this. Headlined by Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johny depp, Mickey Rourke and supported by Eva mendes, Enrique Iglesias and William Defoe amongst a plethora of legendary south american talent, its well plotted, stylish action fare that will at least entertain you. The excellent soundtrack will likely get you tapping your feet as well. ***

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
This is a desperately sad story of a man that gets sectioned to a mental hospital more to avoid jail and gets caught up in the plight of the inmates and rebels against the innefective system. Tender, warm and cleverly acted, in particular by Jack Nicholson. If you watch this the characters and story will stay with you forever, which is why this 1975 movie sits in my DVD collection. As a note of trivia this was produced by Michael Douglas after it was passed to him by his father Kirk Douglas, who had brought the rights to the story and played the role on stage but could never get the movie made with him as the lead. **** View at AmazonUk

P - Q

Patriot Games
Harrison Ford was once a huge box office draw and this book adapted thriller about a desk bound CIA analyst that gets caught between the IRA and the British government is quality viewing. Sean Bean acts his socks of and oozes malevolance. Great stuff. ***

Paycheck
John Woo's attempt at science fiction noir starts out at a thumping pace and really will have you on the edge of your seat but then the second hour comes along, and we have just seen it all before. A real shame. ** Read the full review

Phone Booth
There is a sniper roaming the city looking for the wheelers and dealers that shaft the little people. Based almost entirely in a Phone Booth Farrell acts is socks off as the errant Stu Shepard and is well supported by a very small cast. This is a relatively short, captivating drama showing what happens to a man when forced to face off with the hurt he inflicts on others and makes for an excellent couple movie. Its got guns in it as well so blokes should no feel to bad about watching it by themselves. *** Read the full review

Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl
What can you say, great, great fun. Johnny Depp pulls of superb characterisation, Orlando Bloom provides swashbuckling swarve, Keira knightley corseted beauty. A supporting cast headed by Geoffrey Rush really add depth. On top of this we have a rich plot about lost gold and undead pirates, special effects to die for and then ontop of all this there is the tub thumping classical soundtrack. **** View at AmazonUk

Pitch Black
Marooned on a baron planet with a convicted physcho in the hold is the best of the lot for these wreck survivors as the true horror of what lays beneath the tundra is revealed when the sun goes down. Vin Diesel's break out movie, this is extremely low budget but his performance alongside Radha Mitchell, the female lead really prop this up. The story is fairly basic but well done and the movie good entertainment if Sci-Fi, action horror is your thing. ***

Predator
Well let me see, this is pretty Good. An up and coming actor named Arnold Schwarzenegger and the same for a director that was to leave this set and go onto make Die hard. Brilliantly realised, jungle drama where brains and muscle are pitted against the best alien hunters have to offer. One of the all time greats. ***** View at AmazonUk

Pulp Fiction
I love this movie but am having trouble thinking what to write about it. It defines genre, which is a good thing and at its heart its a sequence of extremely well told tales that have some interlinking factor. I think above all, apart from the engaging, oddball crime tales the dialogue of the characters is what really defines this as a must watch movie. That of course and the basement scene with Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. Amazing stuff ***** View at AmazonUk

R

Pending

S

Shawshank Redemption
There really is not a lot to say about this. Adapted from a Stephen King short story this is one of the best movies ever made, down to the charming plot, excellent acting and masterful directing. If you have seen this you know what I mean, if you havent then sit your partner down next to you with this in the DVD player and enjoy a great Friday night in together. *****

Sleepy Hollow
Johny Depp seems to have looked this good for as long as I have been watching movies that I choose to watch, which is nearing twenty years. Here he turns in another stellar performance set in 18th century mythical america where some dastardly rogue is beheading people for no apparent reason and its Depps job to look good while solving the mystery. Tim Burton as ever turns in a beautifully darkly rendered world that sets you on the edge of the seat before the story ever gets going. Great Stuff ***

Soldier
Derised by all at the time of its release this was very enjoyable for my mind, I watched it 4 times back to back on a flight home from Bali. Genetic soldier reaches the end of his usefullness and gets dumped on a far of uninhabited planet to find that its not as empty as you might think! Simple, very low budget but well made. Kurt Russell is at his supremely buffed best. An early writing and directing outing for the guy that would go on to do the same for Resident Evil and Aliens verses Predator. Its got Connie Neilson of Gladiator fame amongst several others in it as well. Well worth a watch for the boys. ***

The Specialist
Stallone, I have to admit is a bit of a hero of mine. Not so much in the present day, but certainly during my formative adult years. There is a lot about his rags to riches story that mirrors the Rocky character that made him famous. This movie was made as his popularity started to wane although as a standalone it is not bad at all. Sharon Stone co stars as a femme fatal while Stallone the ex special forces bomb expert that now sells his services for the highest bidder. Good action entertainment and Sly finally gets to go naked in a movie with a lady! ***

Speed
Probably the last time Sandra Bullock was in a successfull movie, while this catapulted Keanu into the limelight. A great action romp that requires the delightfully beautiful girl next door Bullock to keep a bus driving above 55MPH else it will explode. Reeves is the SWAT bomb disposal guy that finds himself on the bus. This is directed by Jan Du Pont who I have to say has ruined every other of his movies I have seen since. ***

Spiderman
Well, Sam Raimi is a great visionary, but this movie that was in post production when 9/11 hit, had to be reworked for the ending sequence and consequently contained some overly heavy Americana syrup at the end. This really affected my whole opinion of the production. Nor was I ever a fan of the un-fulfilled love scenario that I tended to see in the hero flicks of my youth. God, she's really hot, looks amazing wet and is a great girl to boot. All the baddies know you like her so why deny yourself all that fun! Like I said, the syrup at the end was too much for me to take but before this we were probably treated to the best comic conversion at that time. **

Stand By Me
This was huge at the time of its release sometime long ago, aided I suspect by the superb title song. Adapted from another Stephen King book this is a gentle story of boys exploring the world about them which can be seen as analogious to their metamophasise to young men. Its pleasant and occassionally sinister and might remind you a little of what it was like all those years ago. A nice Friday night movie to snuggle upto in the winter months ***

Stargate
The copy of this I have is a directors cut which contains, as the title would indicate a number of scenes that were not included in the original production. The problem being though, that these scenes were not in the original for a reason and as a result this incarnation last too long and loses its impact. The original though hits all the right notes and as you will probably know has manifested a long running TV series. The original works for me though due to the excellent casting and the great mythical Egyption theme mixed with the premise of time travel. Kurt Russell and James Spader turn in magnificent performances and are well supported. ****

Starship Troopers
This is great B movie type fare starring teen idols of the time, Denise Richards and casper Van Dien as young recruits signed up to fight an alien race of superbugs that are invading earth. Lots of juvenile relationships, big guns and huge, huge bugs with all sorts of nasty ways to kill your average unsuspecting GI. Michael Ironside provides some good grounding, but the movie makers never set out to make anything other than what you see on screen. Great for friday nights on the sofa with your can of cobra and chicken balti. ***

The Sum of all Fears
Imagine you made a movie in 2000 about a catastrophic terrorist event in America and then before you released the movie someone actually commited a catastrophic terrorist event in America. Well thats the story behind the real life making of Sum Fears. As was to be expected this was brought back for extensive reshoots with the focus on the cataclismic event at the end seriously toned down. The story though really does benefit from this extra focus on character and very much enjoyed Ben Afflecks gentle genius ***

T

Tears of the Sun
Now then, Now then. This sat on my shelf for ages and despite starring Bruce Willis I put off watching this as the subject matter did not seem that appealing. But I did get to watching it eventually and how glad am I. Willis heads a team of special forces that go rescue a Doctor from the jungles of Nigeria. Faced with genocide and conflicting orders he finds himself with some hard decisions to make. Directed by the brilliant Antione Fuqua, he of Training Day and King Arthur, this man knows how to visualise in a way that gives Ridley a run for his money but with a full color palette. A clever raw story, good acting, this is a real treat to watch and very much in the same mold as Platoon. Great Stuff **** View at AmazonUk

Thelma and Louise
Every girlfriend I have had since this movie was released thinks she is one of these two characters and her best mate the other. Not sure I was ever thought of as Brad Pitt though. This is what happens when you get Ridley Scott at a loose end. Brilliantly acted and a great story authored by a none industry female writer and not the ending you were expecting. As ever with the director a great look, that man does love his browns. ***

The Thing
Another of the John Carpenter, Kurt Russell trilogy of movies made during the 70's and 80's, I doubt you will find anything scarier today. Set on a remote Ice station the inhabitants chance on a space craft that has been buried for millenia, but the inhabitants are dead, or are they. I watched this when I was 16 at the school youth club and the terror realised through slow build up and clever music has seldomly been matched. Anyone that has watched this will tell you just how high they jumped in that scene, its not a matter of if. Best of the Best ***** View at AmazonUk

Traffic
Its been a while since I saw this but if my memory serves me correctly this is a good tight story that looks extremely stylish and will keep you captivated through its duration. The cinematic approach used to film has now been extensively copied in TV dramas. I know this got lots of plaudits at the time but it does not resonate hugely. Maybe because we see this style so often now it has dulled its significance in my mind ***

Training Day
Denzil Washington won an Oscar for his role here as Alonzo a cop gone bad that uses fear to manage his streets and not the law. Ethan Hawke provides the antithesis to Washingtons character and what follows is a taught crime thriller. It didnt think it was overall as good as everyone said it was but it was good entertainment. This role does not particularly stand out of Denzil's performances, I cant remember the last time he wasn't at least this good. ***

Two Weeks Notice
Its on my shelf at the moment but wont be as soon as I can find someone to give this awful DVD away to. Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock try their best but, really. I can only imagine this might appeal to adolescent girls with dreamy, misguided ideas about what life is like. *

U -V
The Usual Suspects
This was made for five million dollars while looking like a big budget production, including many top stream actors giving their all. Making $23 million dollars at the box office it really made its name in the domestic video and DVD markets. This slice of brilliance not only left its mark on the people that have seen it but leveraged its characters into lore. The key figures of the production have since been propelled onto bigger and better things. This is a great story, looks amazing and will probably have you discussing the key plot points for years after. ***** View at AmazonUK

Vanilla Sky
Absolutely nobody I have talked to gets this. Adapted from an original Spanish movie it is directed by Cameron Crow, he of Jerry McGuire and stars Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise and by no means least Kurt Russell. It is brilliant in a 'You need to watch this and pay attention and try thinking' way! The thriller come romance story is excellent, kept me guessing right till and past the end. The acting is amazing and Cameron Crow directs with a great sense of feeling. But then I would say this, he is one of my favourite directors of this time. I personally think the population at large are not capable of thinking this much while watching a movie, too much TV drivel. Watch it. ***** View at AmazonUk

W
Walking Tall
An attempt at semi serious acting for the Rock based on a true life story of a cop that tries to fight a local Gambling and Drugs cartel and gets sliced up with a stanley knife for his troubles before returning for some payback. I like the Rock immensely and think given a suitable dramatic role he will be one of the first action stars to transition successfully to drama. Here as ever he is enigmatic and at ease although the fairly serious plot does evolve into the required action sequences after the first hour has passed. Worth a watch if only to check out the Rock, damn he's big. ***

Welcome to the Jungle aka The Rundown
Friday night fare with the mates I am afraid. The Rock is blessed with acting skills and is the most enigmatic action star I have seen since Arnie, who couldnt act. He is the only light in this, save for a tired Christopher Walken. Some good action and hand to hand fighting. Someone please cast the Rock in something that will give him scope to breath! ** Read the full review

X - Y - Z

X-Men
Having made the usual suspects for something like five million dollars Brian Singer was brought on board to work his magic for this Marvel comic film adaption. It is extremely good, although somewhat short, and admitted by Mr. Singer purely down to budget. Once this was a commercial success, and it stands head and shoulders above most other comic adaptions, they used some of the budget for XII to fill the gaps of the original. So if you have a choice get X-Men 1.5 A great soundtrack brilliantly compliments this and adds layers of emotion that really helps your buy in to a movie about comic book mutants. ***

xXx
Vin Diesels big action flick that is made with adolescent males in mind. Heralded at the time as the natural progression of Bonds staid image, it isnt actually that good, mostly down to the heavy handed directing of Rob Cohen and his minimal attention to detail. Some compelling moments, mostly those that feature Asia Argento and Marton Csokas. In a word, silly. **