Thursday, 19 April 2012

Smokey and the Bandit

The basics 

Smokey and the Bandit is an American film which came out in 1977. This was Hal Needham’s directorial debut with a film that he wrote himself, at this point in time he was one of the highest paid stuntman and stunt coordinators. This film is about cars, trucks, CB radios, sticking it to authoritarian figures, romance and just some good old boys doing what they do best. 

What is this film about?

Once upon a time there was a trucking legend called Bo Darville, aka The Bandit. He is soon confronted by a father and son tycoon team, big and little Enos who have a challenge for him and $80,000 if he does it. They are having a party and they need some beer, about 400 cases of Coors should do it and they need him to go get it. To do this he will have to get the beer from Texarkana, Texas and bring it back to Atlanta, Georgia in 28 hours and that’s not even the main problem. The main problem is that it is illegal to transport beer east of Texas. With his partner Cledus, The Snowman; in the truck and Bandit in a Trans Am (car) being the run blocker, distracting the cops or Smokey’s they set off and get those 18 wheels a rolling.

My views on it

Back in the 60’s and 70’s a new genre started to form as it started to branch away from its parent genre ‘action’ and this new genre was the car film. Great action films started to come out around this time that started to use more popular cars and throw in a few good chase scenes as well. In most of these films the car itself became just as big and famous as the actors using it. For example we have the Ford Mustang in Bullitt (1968), the Dodge Challenger in Vanishing Point (1971) and who could forget Mini Coopers in The Italian Job (1969). So it seemed that the car film was only going to be a subgenre to action but not for long, because then came Smokey and The Bandit. Smokey and The Bandit was one of the first major car films to come out that wasn’t an action movie, it was a comedy, and due to this it severed the link the car film had to action and for once made it stand on its own two feet. This is one of the reasons this film is great as it was one of the pioneers to fully cement this genre.

Due to this film being a comedy and not an action it brought a new fresh look at the classic ‘chase scene’ itself. Because it wasn’t an action film the chase scenes (which there is plenty of) did lose some of their thrill. They were less dramatic and less intense then their predecessors but for what it lost it gained a lot more. What it gained was the element of fun and this was great. It made me smile every time Bandit distracted the cops, tried to hide or when he did a jump. If this film was an action film, due to the sheer amount of driving in it, it would have got monotonous; it would have been one long action scene that would just get dull. As it’s a comedy you get the thrill of the chase, the element of comedy that came with it, the witty dialogue between the characters, mainly Bandit and Snowman and just enough room to throw in some romance as well.

Another one of the great things about this film is this introduction into the world of CB radio. The community in this film is based around CB radio as Bandit and Snowman receive help from anyone who can get them on the radio waves. This sense of community in this film is very interesting and because of this and the slang they use in it, it gives you a really good feel for the time, place and plot in which this film is set.

All in all I like this film but it does have its flaws. The plot is thin; the aspect of the challenge that is set at the beginning of the film (doing it in 28 hours) is lost very quickly and if you don’t like cars then don’t even bother as this film is about 90% driving.  But for me this film is a humble slice of Americana, full of simple pleasures and Burt Reynolds. So what more could you want from just a car film.

Favourite Quote 

Buford T. Justice: [to his son] There's no way, *no* way that you came from *my* loins. Soon as I get home, first thing I'm gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth!

Rating 3.5/5

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Time Traveller's Wife

The basics 

The Time Traveller's Wife is the Award winning debut novel of American author Audrey Niffenegger, which was published in 2003. It was soon made it to a film in 2009 and was directed by Robert Schwentke. This film is about love, time travel, fate and in a strange way grooming.

What is this film about?

This film opens with a young boy (Henry) and his mum singing along in the car together as they drive through a snowy night. Suddenly the car is about to crash, and the little boy freaks out and ends up traveling back in time. He quickly reappears back in his own time where he is met by his older self, which explains to the boy that his mother has just died and that he is a time traveller. We follow the older Henry back to his time where he soon bumps in to a women he has never seen before, but she knows him very well. She manages to get him to have dinner with her, where she explains that she is in love with him, as she has known him all her life, also that she knows that he is a time traveller. She explains that this is all because a older version of him used to visit her a lot when she was growing up.

My views on it

One of the most interesting things about this film and what makes it different to most romance films, is in fact the element of time travel. Saying that this is the part of the film where it is heavily flawed. I will explain, in the film Henry claims that he cannot change what happened to this mum when he goes in to the past, he cannot save her. This presents to the audience the idea that he has no effect on the past, he is just simply a spectator of times gone by. But the film also presents the idea that he can change the past as well. As the older henry meets his future wife (Claire) several times when she growing up and this is what makes her fall for him and look for him when she is older. So because of this he does have an effect on the past. But yet there is more evidence that he doesn’t effect the past at all. When he does go back in time he starts off naked as his clothes can’t travel with him, so he has to break in to places and steal clothes and money just to get by. If he did effect the past this would have a butterfly effect and would alter future, even if just by a little but when he comes back to the present it is exactly how he left it. This goes to show that the time travel in this film is completely broken as it contradicts its self at every turn.  

Another problem with the time travel is that she first meets him when she was  younger and because of this she looks for him when she is older. Due to them meeting when they are older this is why he ends up going back to meet her when she is younger. This is broken as well as he never would have meet her in the past if she didn’t meet him when she was older and this would not have happen if he didn’t meet her when she was little.

Beside theses clear problems this film has, it is about this infinite loop that theses lovers are stuck in and that it will never change. It comes clear that their love story has been played out numerous times and that it is set to just repeat itself over and over again. So this story is based around this fate that has been created for them. Due to this it loses some of its romance for me. Because of this fate the character lose their free will, their choices are not really their own, their already prewritten. Without this element chaos and free will, the romance is cheapen. For me the great thing about love story’s is the ‘will they, wont they’ situation, the the magic of the off chance of them meeting, the fear of them breaking up and the joy of them getting back together. Without this situation, without this unpredictability that these could or could not happen the story just loses its thrill and the romance is less magical because of it.

I know I have ripped in to this film a lot but it has a few good things about it. The acting was good, the time travel element is an interesting take on the romance genre even if it didn’t really work and there are some heartfelt moments in this film which are great, my favourite is when he meets his daughter for the first time. So this film does have its good parts it’s just when you start to analyse it the cracks start to show.

Favourite Quote 

Clare Abshire: No. I didn't mean that. I just wanted to try it, to say it, to assert my own sense of free will, but my free will wants you.

Rating 2/5

Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Hunger Games

The basics 

The Hunger Games is a bestselling book by American author Suzanne Collins and is the first in theThe Hunger Games trilogy’. The book came out in 2008 and was made in to a film in 2012, which was Directed by Gary Ross. This film is about oppression, survival, punishment, love and the entertainment industry.

What is this film about?

After a great rebellion in nation of Panem, the government devised away to instill fear in to the public, keep them oppressed, to punish them for the crimes of the past and to make a good TV show out of it too. What they created was the hunger games. The hunger game is where they pick one boy and one girl (aged 12 to 18) from each of the 12 districts to come to the capital and be forced to fight to the death in there outside arena, where there can only be one winner. We join this world in the impoverished district 12 as it starts to get ready for the 74th annual Hunger Games and we start to follow are heroine Katniss Everdeen, as she has just volunteered for these brutal games to spare her younger sister. 

My views on it

From the start of this film it sets out to be very good I must admit, the camera work is great, the mise-en-scene good, the acting is very well and so on. So what I am trying to say it ticks all the boxes. But the best thing for me is how they present the unlucky ones who are involved in the game. As soon as they are picked from random they enter this new world and gain celebrity status. They are soon eating the best food, given make overs and are appearing on TV talk shows. Each of them also try to gain as much popularity as they can due to the fact it will be beneficial for them and help them get sponsors. This for me brings a new depth into the game, it’s becomes not just about who is the strongest or who’s is  the fastest but who is the most popular and who can put on the best show for the public as well. This also gives a good reflection on celebrity culture nowadays, how people with no talent can be on reality TV shows like Big Brother and how being popular can sometimes be more helpful in shows like the X Factor then talent itself.

Like I have said this film has a lot going for it and I could keep going on and big it up more but where’s the fun in that, it has some big flaws too and these start to come about when the game itself begins. For a film that is based around a game where 24 teenagers have to kill each other, the violence and the action is very poor. This is all due to the film being made to be a 12A, so it can get a bigger audience. Because of this the film isn’t able to deliver on one of its key elements and this goes on to effect other things as well. Due to the action being weak it makes the game a lot less dramatic and less intense then it should be. It ruins the atmosphere and this once interesting and clever film starts to become a bit childish.

One of the other major problems is that we don’t get to know the other teenagers (beside the two from district 12) in the games that much. We only meet about half of them and the half we do see we don’t get to know that well. Due to this, there deaths in the game become almost redundant, as you don’t have enough time to connect with them, it’s hard to care if they live or die really.  Also it does not set up very well, if we did take an interest there characters, how we should feel about their deaths. The film doses try to set up one of the teenagers as a villain and one as being sweet and nice but there characters are so weak it doesn’t work. So we only take an interest in the two main teenagers from district 12 and the rest are just plainly boring cannon fodder to keep the story moving.

So for me this is a film of two half, the first half is great but as soon as the game begins its starts to go downhill and fast. But I would have to say I did still enjoy it and I will be there in the cinema for when the next one is released.

Favourite Quote 

Haymitch Abernathy: Look at you! You just killed... a place mat!

Rating 3/5

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Vow

The basics 

The Vow is an American film which came out in 2012. Michael Sucsy directed this film which was based on the true life story and book, The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. This film is a drama/romance with a bit of comedy and it is about love, memory loss and moments that can change you’re live.

What is this film about?

A newlywed couple unfortunately gets in to a serious accident as there car is hit from behind by a truck. The husband, Leo, receives a few minor injuries but nothing to serious. His wife, Paige, on the other hand ends up in a coma. When she wakes she doesn’t recognise Leo and we discover that she has lost a few year of her memory and now Leo has work to win back the heart off his own wife.

My views on it

The first problem I have with this film was there before I even sat down to watch it. Just from watching the ad of it on TV, I found out what this film was about and that it was based on a true story. Due to this I already knew how this film was going to pan out and how it was going to end and I was right. This film is heavily predictable and even when you are watching it you can see every twist that is going to happen plenty of time before it dose. But I can’t keep on about this; due to the nature of the film it was always going to be this way. So this problem isn’t something that we could find someone to point a finger at and say this is your fault, it was inevitable, still annoying though.

It doesn’t take too long before you realise that this film is set in modern day, mainly because Paige asks who the president is? And Leo says Barack Obama. Because of this it is easy to see that this film is set in a different time from the real event (which happens in 1993 just so you know). Due to this I start to think about how much of this film is actually based on the true story? And because of this I could no longer really trust the film, all the time thinking did that actually happen? Does he really do that? And doe that person even exist? The key selling point about this film is that it was meant to have happened and from watching it you can’t trust what did happen and what didn’t, beside the basic facts. After about five minutes on Google I found out that the film is a lot more fabricated then I originally guessed. So it just goes to show that it is based on a true story but very loosely and for me this film loses a lot of its integrity because of this.

My last problem with this film is that it is very forgettable (and yes I see the irony in saying that). After leaving the cinema I tried to think of the main characters names and I could not remember any of them. So what I am trying to say this film does not make an impact on you, it doesn’t leave you thinking or even make for lasting conversation. So don’t expect this film to stick with you for long after you have watched it.

I have ripped in to this film a lot in this review but I have to say it isn’t that bad. The acting is good, it kept my interest all the way through and I did have a good laugh a few times as well. So if you’re one of those film geeks that looks a bit too much in to things (like me) then best give this one a miss but for anyone else it’s a pleasant little film with some humour and I would say why not, give it a watch.

Favourite Quote 

Leo: Life's all about moments, of impact and how they changes our lives forever. But what if one day you could no longer remember any of them?

Rating 2/5

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Capitalism: A Love Story

The basics 
Capitalism: A Love Story is an American documentary which was made in 2009. It is the latest in a long line of documentaries made by one of America's best-known and most controversial documentarians Michael Moore. This film is about Capitalism, America, greed, corruption, corporations and the effect they have had on the everyday lives of Americans.

What is this film about?
In this film we follow Michael Moore as he talks to the Americans that have suffered the negative effects of capitalism. We get to see people who have unfairly lost their jobs, people being evicted from their homes and people who are worth more to their company’s dead than alive. He also goes to find out why this is happening by delving in to America’s modern history, by heading up to the political steps of Washington and to the financial hub of America, Wall Street.

My views on it
On the twenty year anniversary of Michael Moore’s first film, Roger & Me (1989), he is back with another documentary that likes to, yet again; take a few good old digs at the country he calls home.

Just so I can get this out of the way early on, I must say I did enjoy watching this film. It was really well put together, it had some good humour in places, I do enjoy Michael Moore’s hybrid style of documentary making between expository and performative, I learnt a few things and I am glad to have it as part of my DVD collection. But that’s doesn’t mean that this film is perfect, no not at all. I do admit when I was watching this film it was great. It held my interest, got me a bit angry at the things the film wanted me to get angry at and all in all I had a good time. It was only after watching this film when I started to mull it over in my head that I started to pick up on a few issues I had with it.

One of my issue I had with it was the irony of the film itself. This film is all about flinging mug at capitalism and how it has ruined the lives of so many Americans but by creating a film about this issue, Michael Moore himself has made a lot of money from it. Michael Moore’s current net worth is said to be about fifty million, so this goes to show that for somebody who hates capitalism, he is bloody good at it.

Another issue is that the film is 99% based around American capitalism, with only two very small mentions about Japan and German at the start and the end of the film. Now before I watch this film I knew it was going to be mainly about America but with a title like ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ I was a little disappointed that it only focused on America. Capitalism is an economic system which is used throughout most of the world, here is a short list of some countries that uses capitalism as well

Czech Republic
New Zealand

And many, many more. So by this almost denial to recognise that America is not the only place in the world with capitalism, the film becomes more about America then capitalism itself.  So for me the film dose lose some of its integrity because of this.

In his line of work I would not say it is his best but it is still a good film. As a piece of documentary film making I would not class this as a must see but I would say I don’t think you will be disappoint with this film either. Michael Moore is a quality film maker and this is evident in this movie, as it is in most of his films. All in all this film comes down to one simple question, do you like Michael Moore films? If yes you will love it if no you may have to give it a miss and if you haven’t see one before I would say watch Bowling for Columbine.

Favourite Quote 
Michael Moore:  ‘I refuse to live in a country like this, and I'm not leaving.’

Rating 3.5/5

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


The basics 

Sharktopus is an American movie with came out in 2010 and was a made for TV film by the Syfy channel. Sharktopus is a horror, science fiction, monster movie which is mostly set Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. The film was directed by Declan O'Brien, written by Mike MacLean and stars Eric Roberts. This film is about sea, sun, military genetic engineering, a father and daughter relationship and wonderfully bad CGI.  

What is this film about?

The film starts off with a pretty good montage of Santa Monica, California and then we get introduced to two random blond beach babes (aka BBB) as they discuss the important issues at hand, to swim or to text? One of the BBB’s decides to go for a swim where the other doses not due to her profound augment ‘in the ocean, there’s fish out there’. As one of the BBB’s is taking a dip, a shark (and yes just a shark at the moment) starts to take an interest in her. Soon she is swimming for her life, until big jaws, I mean sharktopus grabs the shark and her life is saved.

After this we find out that sharktopus is a military project called ‘S 11’ and was created by a group called Blue Water. It was made as the navy’s next super weapon. In an attempt to impress a Commander they send S 11 to try and stay close to a civilian boat but not to harm it. As you would expect it goes wrong. The boat propellers damages the device with controls it and due to this S 11 is now free to do whatever it wants, and S 11 wants to kill. Now Blue Water has to hunt down this super weapon which is 50% shark, 50% octopus and 100% deadly.  

My views on it

In the wonderful world of B movies, they have brought us some amazing things of the years. Such as a 50 foot woman, a giant blobs, aliens that snatch are bodies and in 2010 a half shark, half octopus creature.

In 2009 there was a B movie which was called Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. Due to its popularity it was not long before people wanted to jump on the band wagon and capitalise and this new found fame for sharks and octopuses. So the good people at the syfy Channel got there foot in the door and created this film which only need half of the CGI budget. When I first heard about this film I was not expecting anything more than a good giggle, some amazingly bad CGI and a bazar creature. I must say it brought all that and more. Now I am not saying this is a great film but for what it is, I loved it

When it comes to bad, B movie horrors, this film, for me tick all the boxes. It only takes 3 minutes and 25 seconds until you get to see sharktopus, so right from the start there is action and an awesome sea monster. With a film like this, which only survives on action and an awesome sea monster it is good to get it in early before the audience start to pay any attention to the plot hole in the story line or the bad writing. Also with this film there is great sense of honesty with it. There is a whole scene in which they basically says that this a bad film and I loved that. In this scene, two random characters have heard a report about sharktopus and class it as a hoax, in which they joke it could be somebody making a film. One of the characters says they would watch it and the other ridicules them by saying ‘that’s because you’re easily amused. I’ve seen you mesmerised watching a frozen burrito rotate in the microwave oven’. So for me it seems like the people who created this are saying ‘we know this film is bad and it was rushed and we are sorry, but look there’s a shark with tentacles what can walk on land, isn’t that awesome’. And because of this I can forgive it flaws and its mistakes and I can just enjoy the film.

In this film there are a few gems which I did expect as well. A few of the death scenes are done well and made me laugh. I found Eric Robert performance to be good, the directing and editing was alright and you can tell he had fun with it, like split screen styles of framing they used every now and then.      

All in all if you are looking for a fun B movie horror this is your film, if you like low budget monster movies this is your film or if you need something to headline your next bad movie night then Sharktopus is your film.   

Favourite Quote 

Captain Jack: ‘I repeat sharktopus wants our virgins.’

Rating 3/5

Thursday, 12 January 2012


The basics   

Forged is an American film which was made in 2010. Forged is an action, drama which was filmed and set (well it never says in the film that it is set here but it never did not say as well) in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The film was directed by William Wedig and he also writes the film with the star of it Manny Perez. This film is about unattainable forgiveness, fatherhood and revenge.  

What is this film about?

The film starts with are protagonist, Chuco getting out of prison, as he has just done eight and a half year for the manslaughter of his wife. As soon as he is out of the walls, he is picked up by his old gang and taken back in to their arms. They treat him with a display of a man being beaten and then shot to test his loyalty and because he pass’s, he then gets booze and pretty girl to shag in the stalls of a bar’s toilets. Then he is given is first assignment, to drive some car to some place. Little did he know that it was a drug drop off. With 50 grand in his pocket from the deal and being pissed at his gang for sending him on a job, when he has just got out of prison and only one strike away from being in there for life. He decides not to go back start away but to go get some apple pie. By an off chance his homeless teenage son walks in, who witnessed the murder of his mother and mutters the words ‘You killed my mother. Now I kill you.’        

My views on it

When I got ask to review this film I was thinking ‘Great an indie, low budget, American film. That’s right up my street.’ Boy was I wrong. When it comes to the idea of independent cinema, I must admit I do look at it with rose tinted glasses. There is a small part of me that automatically thinks that because it is not a mainstream and not made for the masses that it is already going to be good. But it’s nice to have a reality check now and then (and by that I mean this film) to remind me that independent cinema can me just awful as well.

In this film there seems to be a lot of plot hole, things that just don’t sense and just lazy or bad writing. For example, in this film the main character is Latino. Now like a normal person I was thinking there must be a reason why the main character is Latino if they have set the film in Pennsylvania, where there population is only just over 5 present Latino or Hispanic (yes I researched that). And the answer is no. there is no reason at all in the film why this character is Latino. They don’t even reference the fact that he is Latino as well. All they did is at they gave him a Latino name and that’s it. The main character might as well been from Kazakhstan and called Eugene for how much it matter to the film.

The film is meant to be about Chuco redeeming himself and making this bond with his son. But from the start you see him watch a man die, get drunk, shag a random women in a bar’s toilets and rob 50 grand of his gang which he made in a drug drop off. And the only reason he try’s anything with his son because he seems to have money at the time and because he bumped in to him in a restaurant. So because of this I don’t like Chuco and his actions don’t seem that genuine and this makes a flaw in the whole concept of the film. So it’s not really an ex-thug and his son, finding a way to forget the past and trying forge a relationship together. Its more still a thug and his gay for pay, homeless son being together because the father feels guilty and the son goes with him because he has money and wants him dead.  

And there many more reason why this film is bad …..

·         Terrible dialog

·         Really bad and very simplistic editing.  This is what happens when you let the director edit the film as well.

·        And beside one or two of the actors the rest of the performances were very poor.

So all in all I would not recommend this film. On paper the concept seems thought-provoking and deep, it’s just a shame that this film is riddled flaws and bad writing which ruin it.  

Favourite Quote 

Guy (Actor Dan Teachout): Why do you think they let him out so early? He cut a deal.

Rating 1/5