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Product Reviews

11 (64% helpful)

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  1.  Lord of them all


    J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was considered unfilmable for a very long time -- the story was too big, too fantastical.

    But in the late 1990s, New Zealand director Peter Jackson got the green light to shoot the "Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy, a frightening undertaking. But Jackson was up to the challenge, with a talented cast of actors, a brilliant special effects studio, and his own spectacular talents. The rest... is film history.

    "The Fellowship of the Ring" introduces us to the hobbits. Eccentric old Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) leaves the peaceful Shire at his 111st birthday, leaving all he has to his young nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) -- including a golden Ring that makes the wearer invisible. But the grey wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) reveals that it's actually the One Ring, which is the source of power for the demonic Dark Lord Sauron. Horrified, Frodo and his best pals leave the Shire and join a band of elves, men, and dwarves to take the Ring to the only place where it can be destroyed.

    "The Two Towers" picks up immediately after "Fellowship" ends. Frodo and Sam (Sean Astin) are lost on the path to Mordor. Worse, they're being stalked by Gollum (Andy Serkis), who owned the Ring for centuries and is enslaved to it. But because he knows safe ways into Mordor, Frodo lets Gollum come along. Elsewhere, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) make a desperate stand against the orc armies with the kingdom of Rohan....

    "Return of the King" brings the trilogy to a head. Frodo and Sam's friendship is threatened by Gollum's trickery -- and Frodo is led into a deadly trap. Elsewhere, Gandalf rides with Pippin (Billy Boyd) to Gondor, the kingdom that Aragorn is heir to. Aragorn summons an army of ghosts and attacks the heart of Mordor -- as Frodo and Sam arrive at the volcanic Mount Doom, where the Ring was forged. But can Frodo bring himself to destroy the Ring?

    A lot of people were nervous when first hearing that "Lord of the Rings" was being translated onto the big screen. There were just too many things -- goofy scripting, bad special effects, mutilated characters -- that could go wrong. In fact, it had already been wrecked in a few prior attempts.

    Those fears turned out to be pretty much unfounded. Some characters are different from what they are in the book (Faramir and Arwen, for example, are altered and added to), and a handful of minor characters are gone altogether. But as both an adaptation and a cinematic experience, this is a winner.

    Jackson and Co. outdid themselves with nearly every aspect of the films. The scripting is impeccable, a good balance of dark and light, humor and horror. The sets and New Zealand landscapes are breathtaking, as the cameras pan over snowy plains and mountaintops. And the special effects are almost entirely convincing-looking, especially the gruesome Gollum. He's the first fully convincing CGI character, and after awhile you'll forget he is made digitally.

    Elijah Wood is simply breathtaking as Frodo Baggins, running the emotional gamut: fear, pain, horror, happiness, resignation, rage, love, lust and emptiness. Sean Astin is equally good as the steadfast Sam, who grows from Frodo's timid pal to a strong-hearted warrior. Supporting hobbits Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd get to grow up into mature young men.

    But as lovable as the hobbits are, they do not dominate all of the screen: Ian McKellen is excellent as the grandfatherly wizard Gandalf. Viggo Mortensen, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Liv Tyler, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Bloom and Sean Bean are only part of the amazing supporting cast, all of whom give excellent performances.

    A stunning achievement

  2.  1 day of night??


    Ok the vampires, violence and vision of this film were exellent, but there's not much else to it. My main problem is that it could've all happened in one night, the only thing that changed from day 1 to day 30 was Hartnett's beard. At its roots its a survival horror film in the vein of Dawn of the Dead, but 30 days just doesnt ramp up the isolation, starvation and fraying character relations that 'Dawn' does so well.

    All the film does to distinguish between days is pop a subtitle on your screen. If they put scratches effects on the screen and badly dubbed dialogue this could be the secret 3rd Grindhouse film because it feels that large sections of the film are missing between these 'day 17', 'day 30' subtitles. I feel a little bad about complaining about this though cos the book that spawned it was about the width of a hair and jumped pretty much from day 1 to day 30 but...

    It is a solid horror though with the vampires probably being the best ones ever seen in the movies. The story isnt exactly the same as the book with little things changing to pave the way for set pieces. The violence was very realistic with the censors obviously napping during this one to give it a 15 cert.

    With a little bit more focus on the passing time, growing desperation etc this could have been one of THE GREATS! However its just one that grates a little.

  3.  'GO' get it


    I got this film out on a whim even though it didn't look like my kind of film and I was concerned about the 18 certificate. But I was happily surprised to have found a gem of a film. It is funny and wild, sweet and sad, intense and intriguing. It?s even an alternative Christmas film.

    Katie Holmes is wonderful as usual, as the shy, naive girl who gets caught up in her friend?s madness and finds romance with the unlikeliest guy. The other actors are all equally great (their names escape me at the moment), including a British actor (who used to be in Grange Hill if I'm not mistaken!).

    Set a day or two before Christmas, the film plot swaps between each of the main characters following what happens to each of them through one day and night. It is cleverly done as they all interlink somehow, and you get to see some events from different angles so that the plot builds your understanding of the characters and how they relate. (Admittedly the non-linear plotline may annoy some, though its not particularly confusing.)

    The situations vary from the usual student activities, the madness of drugs and wildness of raves, and the trip to Las Vegas, which goes hilariously wrong. (I learnt that you shouldn't eat seafood in restaurants, or order champagne in strip joints!)

    Some of the characters find themselves in more bizarre situations, and there is also tragedy in the form of poverty (trying to scrape enough money together to pay the rent or be faced with eviction on Christmas Eve) and a hit and run accident.

    But in the end all the characters come through their 24 hours, and everything is all right because they are alive, young and have great mates. Which, I know, does sound cheesy and clich?d but I thought it was a perfect ending, which left me feeling all warm and fuzzy!

    In fact I enjoyed it so much that I watched it all over again straight away! And enjoyed it just as much, plus all the pieces of the plot fell into place even better in my head.

    The 18-cert is probably justified for some of the adult content, its no fluffy teen-flick, which is fine by me. Though the film probably reflects 'real-life' experiences, its not very deep, but more a celebration of how cool and crazy life can be. (I haven?t experienced any of it so it?s a nice bit of escapism and fantasy for me!) It is still a bit of an enigma in my DVD collection but there you go.

    You may enjoy it because you recognize your own similar experiences or because like me you enjoyed seeing a different side of life. Either way it?s hugely enjoyable. Go!

  4.  Not bad, if slightly staged in parts


    Football fans of my age will never forget the time in 1986 when Diego Maradona cheated England out of winning the world cup by punching the ball in the net past Goal Keeper Peter Shilton and knocking England out. He then went on to score arguably the best goal ever scored in a world cup finals by running rings around our defense. We hated him for doing it but on the other hand admired him for being the greatest soccer player to walk the earth since Pele. The five young men in This film are way too young to remember the World cup finals in 86 but still they know all about the little Argentinian genius , hence their trip of a lifetime.

    In the Hands of the Gods is the true story of five young British freestyle footballers' journey across the Americas to Argentina in the hope of meeting their hero, Diego Maradona. This coming-of-age road movie tells the story of a group of young men in pursuit of a lifelong dream.

    The group of friends is made up of urban teenagers, most of whom have never been abroad before: a devout Christian, a cheeky scouser, a failed footballer, a pampered teenager and an asylum seeker from Somalia. These boys, ranging from 17 to 22 years old, represent the diversity and attitude of British youth today. For them, Diego Maradona epitomises everything they love about football; he is both the creator of their art and their inspiration during hard times in their lives. Along the way they found that it wasn't just Diego they were searching for, but something inside themselves

    This films starts of a little disjointed , for some reason we only see them briefly in the US as they head towards Argentina .They come across as being immature and slightly annoying . None of them are organised and they don't even seem to like each other very much but as the documentary progresses we get to see the boy's personalities and the underlying reason that make them so determined to meet Diego Maradona.

    It's when they get to Mexico and realise that they cant all afford to get to Argentina that we see their true personalities . They need to pick two from the five to make the trip . Some are generous while some are selfish in the pursuit of their goal .

    I really didn't like Sammy or Woody at first and they didn't like each other but into their journey they start to find a mutual respect for each other that really comes across on screen and it made me like them much more. So much so that when they did actually get to meet the great man it became a quite moving moment not only for the boys but for me as a viewer . I so wanted Diego to be the cheating Argy that we all remember but , no , he was the perfect gentleman.

    The cynical side of me thinks that although the boys are meant to be alone making their way across the world , they are far from it as at one stage we see that they have an entourage that includes , a camera man , a sound man and a director and i do feel that made the difficulty of the journey felt a little faked .

    Some scenes looked staged , especially when Sammy is giving his all to frequent sob stories about his hard life but overall this is an enjoyable and moving film that is well worth a watch regardless of being a football fan or not .

    3 out of 5

  5.  Truly Unmissable


    I am rubbish when it comes to films with subtitles. But I had heard so much about this Korean film, I was prepared to make an effort. There was no effort involved, I was captivated from beginning to end, I dont want to make comparisons with Tarantino because that would do Oldboy a disservice. Stylish, and original, this film manages to be edge of the seat entertainment, but funny and desparately moving at the same time.

    If South Korea has anymore films like that, then i've been missing out and especialy you Tarintino fans. So i suggest you Tarintino lovers watch this film if you want to see gruesome torture. And if you want to know what i'm getting at, a guy having his ear cut off in Reservoir Dogs is soft compared to what happens in the OldBoy. This film is not for everyone. But if you seek originality and like being suprised by how far violence can go then you'll love this film. Not forgetting though that the best part of this film is how it gets the viewer to question if revenge is worth seeking.

    The music score is superb, worth the purchase of the sountrack ( I am off to buy it tomorrow). Ok then, the plot: this bloke gets imprisoned. Why, or by who, or where he is imprisoned, is a mystery to him and the audience. Then he is released after 15 years and has to find out why. Just watch this. Its the best thing I have seen in ages and has gone straight in to my all time top 10. Ever! I think it will stay there. Watch this, and then have fun as I did casting the horribly inevitable Hollywood remake. Keanu in the lead then? Perish the thought!

  6.  He is iron man


    As a kick-off to cinema's Summer silly season this does what it says on the tin. Highly entertaining, witty script, bombastic action etc etc. Downey Jr is excellent as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and really his performance is the highpoint of the film, and enough to make you want to see a sequel come the movie's end.

    The other performances are also decent, with Gwyneth Paltrow surprisingly tolerable (but still not forgiven for calling her child Apple) and Jeff Bridges solid in the role of Obadiah Staines (although he has got a curiously large chin that I'd never noticed in any of his other movies). Terrence Howard is also good in the role of Tony's mate in the Air Force.

    So why only 3? Well, it takes quite a while to get going, as do most superhero origin movies. So long, that by the time the movie gets to the point the lead villain's motivations are somewhat unclear and rushed, and you get the impression a few more minutes spent on this part of the movie rather than the endless suit-building scenes (which are humourous and well made, but contribute little plot-wise) might have made for a higher overall score.

    Still, a good effort at launching a franchise, and few will go home disappointed after watching this. Will have a decent run at the box office til Indiana Jones retains his crown later this month.

    And Robert Downey Jr should be worth a watch again later this year in Tropic Thunder. A good year for him.

  7.  Cracking stuff


    When I went to see this there wasn't a single woman in the cinema. To pinch a phrase, 'Hitman - it's not for girls'. With no exaggeration, this was 100 minutes of stylized violence interspersed with gratuitous nudity. Timothy Olyphant, liberated from the necessity to act, is rather good. While it would have been nice to make his character less likeable (I should not have found myself warming to an emotionless contract killer), this was not Olyphant's fault, but almost certainly the studio's.

    'Hitman' knows it is an action film and thankfully never gets ideas above its station. Olyphant's job is to kill people elaborately, his enemies are expected to die obediently and the girl is meant to get naked frequently. In fact, very frequently. And for no apparent reason. It is possible that Olga Kurylenko is a very good actress. It is also possible that she got the part because 1) she's Russian 2) she's a model 3) she was willing to undress on camera. Director Xavier Gens seems aware of the former possibility, and yet after a (no doubt lengthy) struggle with his action thriller conscience he decided to just let her parade round in a thong for the sake of it.

    The plot, predictably, is implausible. I cannot fathom why so much of it was shot in Russia, nor why Agent 47 was given Russian Orthodox affiliations. So far as I know (= according to Wikipedia) there is no precedent for either in the original videogame. Why this was introduced, why an action thriller spends such an inordinate amount of time in one country (very unBond, a clear influence throughout), only a tight budget can explain.

    Overall, this is exceedingly watchable. It could have been aimed just at the fans with a slew of subtle references that would have mystified the rest of us. Instead, it is an excellent action film in its own right, and while it (sadly) lacks the depth and intelligence of a truly great action film such as 'Casino Royale' (whose aesthetic it clearly emulates), this still ranks extremely high. Action films are above all about two things - irony value and getting the pulse racing. This does both.

  8.  Worth seeing - if only for it's lead performance


    Left for dead after the motiveless assault that killed her fiancé New York radio host Erica Bain buys a gun. At first it's just a matter of rebuilding her confidence but a further brush with violence makes her aware of the power it bestows and her undimmed rage at her loss, at the apparent lack of police progress and simply at being made a victim finds an unhealthy outlet.

    The Brave One has a pretty straight-forward if not actually slim premise and one that serves many a tawdry thriller but largely succeeds thanks to Jodie Foster and Neil Jordan. Foster is always watchable and here she excels portraying Erica's agoraphobia, initial horror at her first killing and, later, flinty resolve with a skill that makes the occasional voice-over superfluous. Twisted by trauma Erica clearly finds no heartsease in her actions even as she's driven to them and, like the audience, probably realizes she'd do better to find a therapist. A character that could have been drawn with broad strokes has great depth and award nominations wouldn't be a surprise. Irish director Jordan avoids the tourist view of New York and develops a wholly suitable street-level atmosphere for Foster to play against. Together they give The Brave One an intensity that earns the film its certificate since the violence, though unflinching, is sporadic- it would hardly fill a reel but is involving unlike the bloodshed in 300 for instance, a far more violent film by any measure.

    Terrence Howard embodies the film's conscience playing a cop who still has passion for his job, sympathetic to Erica but also pursuing the vigilante whom many think is doing the police a favour. He certainly doesn't subscribe to that view and, for the most part, The Brave One also refuses to offer simple answers to the complex questions it asks. But then the film spoils it all- and not by playing excerpts from Erica's radio show which sounds like a lot of naval-gazing clap-trap. It settles for a cathartic but pat and contradictory climax that belongs to an altogether less thoughtful film.

    Marred by a last reel gear change into conventional vigilante thriller overdrive but, for most of its running time, a thoughtful, troubling drama showcasing a great actress at the top of her game.