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Product Reviews

Reviewer:
ReliantRobin
Reviews:
0
Votes:
19 (58% helpful)

Page 1 of 0

  1.  A Runaway Success!

    Posted: 

    This riveting thriller grabs you within the first few minutes and doesn't let go for the entire running time. Voigt is terrific as Manny, a hard as nails convict who escapes from a remote Alaskan prison with his accomplice Buck (Eric Roberts) and boards a freight train in a desperate bid for freedom . Unbeknown to them, the driver has suffered a heart attack and fallen from the cab leaving the train hurtling uncontrolled along the track and into the wilderness. Meanwhile a brutal prison warden (John P. Ryan) wants them back at any cost, even if it means doggedly pursuing them by helicopter across the treacherous terrain. There's so much to enjoy here, notably some hair raising action footage. This is old school stunt work too - no dodgy FX with miniatures or ropey CGI. The late and, sadly underrated, Ryan (a Cannon regular) gives a wonderful performance and there is also solid support from Roberts and a young Rebecca de Mornay. This is easily the best film Cannon ever produced and Arrow's new blu-ray release is the business: much improved picture quality compared to all previous releases and some worthy extras - particularly a fascinating interview with voigt who remembers the project well for a movie made nearly 30 years ago.

  2.  Outstanding British Drama

    Posted: 

    Andrea Arnold's second feature following the impressive Red Road is an equally gritty and well observed drama. Fish Tank follows the life of hostile teen Mia, (a brilliant Katie Jarvis, in her first starring role), who lives on an estate in Essex with her antagonsitc younger sister and woefully uncaring mother (Kierston Wareing). We soon learn that Mia has few friends and aspirations, spending much of her time practicing street dancing alone in a disused flat. It is the arrival of her mother's attentive new boyfriend (Fassbender) that suddenly turns Mia's life upside down and this provides the main thrust of the story. Jarvis (who is in every scene) had no previous acting experience, yet through her remarkable performance and strong writing we are able to empathise with Mia, even though some of her later actions are quite deplorable. Fassbender further cements his reputation as one of the most versatile new actors around at the moment, following solid work in Hunger and Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. A special mention should also go to Robbie Ryan's photography, managing to make even the most mundane locations look interesting. A real winner all round.

  3.  Intelligent and Scary Treat for Horror Fans

    Posted: 

    In a time when the major studios seem content with churning out needless (and often shoddy) remakes of horror classics, Phillip Ridley's latest wildly imaginative offering comes as an unexpected scary treat for genre fans. Heartless centres on Jamie, a troubled young photographer, who feels deeply insecure about the port-wine birth mark down one side of his face and spends much of his time avoiding others and snapping nearby derelict locations. Some creepy visions convince him that the vicious gang responsible for a spate of heinous crimes on his estate are actually demons, concealing their identity beneath hoods. When Jamie's beloved mother becomes the latest victim, he is determined to uncover the truth and exact revenge. The movie becomes increasingly strange from the point when Jim is summoned by the mysterious Papa D and signs a pact promising the one thing that he most wants in life - clear skin - in return for fulfilling one seemingly straighforward task. Heartless will undoubtably not be for all tastes. While early scenes depicting a dysfunctional East End family might not be out of place in a Mike Leigh film, Heartless rapidly takes a turn into bizarre David Lynch / Cronenberg territory. Beautifully shot and performed by a cast of familiar British faces(including a cameo from the ever wonderful Eddie Marsan), this unremittingly dark fairy tale provides some effective jolts and striking imagery.

  4.  Cross It Off

    Posted: 

    Crossing Over follows a multitude of characters from different cultural backgrounds in their plight to be accepted as American Citizens - often by any means necessary. As the stories unfold there is corruption, bureaucracy and, inevitably, violence but precious little warmth. Harrison Ford, giving an earnest performance, heads the cast as immigration agent Max Brogan, investigating the disappearance of an illegal. In the hands of Paul Haggis, the acclaimed writer and director of Crash, this could have been a compelling and thought provoking look at serious issues. Sadly kramer's screenplay is far less accomplished. The main problem is that so many plot threads are introduced within 2 hours that most are underdeveloped and the movie as a whole becomes disjointed and ultimately unsatisfying.

  5.  Not to Be Mistaken For "Ninja Assassin"

    Posted: 

    Since the demise of Cannon Films, there has been a distinct lack of movies about Ninja. While for many this will have slipped by completely unnoticed, there will be those feeling nostalgic for the days when Michael Dudikoff rushed around colourful Phillipino locations stopping for inordinate amounts of combat with mystical hooded assassins. After years of waiting, Ninja fans - and there must be some out there - have been rewarded with the release of 2 new movies. First out on DVD is the imaginatively titled "Ninja" - not be confused with the other bigger budgeted Warner Bros release "Ninja Assassin". This Ninja is unleashed by Nu Image, a company specialising in cheap and cheesy low budget action flicks. Not dissimilar to the glory days of Cannon in fact. The plot here is strictly standard issue: American Orphan Casey (Scott Adkins) has been raised in a Japanese dojo where he has been taught the ancient skills of ninjitsu by his mentor, Sensei (Togo Igawa). With a rogue assassin on the loose and some precious artefacts at risk, Casey is ordered back to the States where he must protect a chest filled with sacred weapons belonging to the last great Ninja. Cue the requisite amount of twirling bodies, bone snapping and blood letting (though less gratuitous than "Ninja Assassin"). The swift pace helps to hide a dearth of originality, not to mention a thrifty budget - with a backlot in Bulgaria standing in for the mean streets of New York. Adkins makes for a bland hero, though at least he handles the fight scenes convincingly. The set pieces are competently staged by director Florentine, and while the movie manages to be moderately entertaining it will be quickly forgotten afterwards.

  6.  Believe the Hype!

    Posted: 

    A young woman is convinced that her disturbed nights are due to a malevolent entity that has been stalking her for many months. Determined to capture some evidence, her dismissive partner installs a static camera in the couples bedroom to record any activity whilst they are asleep. Paranormal Activity comprises of the found footage and cannily taps into a primal fear that anyone can relate to - what can take place during those hours of slumber. Director Peli famously shot the movie in his own home on a digital camera over the course of a few days, but cheap production values in this case only add to the unsettling atmosphere. The raison d'etre is to scare the audience senseless and on this level the film works effectively through clever use of sound and editing. Even those not easily spooked will be hesitantly checking under the bed for several nights afterwards. On the downside, with such a paper thin plot, it is doubtful whether Paranormal Activity will hold up to repeated viewings.

  7.  Classic Jail Break Adventure

    Posted: 

    This riveting thriller grabs you within the first few minutes and doesn't let go for the entire running time. Voigt is terrific as Manny, a hard as nails convict who escapes from a remote Alaskan prison with his accomplice Buck (Eric Roberts) and boards a freight train in a desperate bid for freedom . Unbeknown to them, the driver has suffered a heart attack and fallen from the cab leaving the train hurtling uncontrolled along the track and into the wilderness. Meanwhile a brutal prison warden (John P. Ryan) wants them back at any cost, even if it means doggedly pursuing them by helicopter across the treacherous terrain. There's so much to enjoy here, notably some hair raising action footage. This is old school stunt work too - no dodgy FX with miniatures or ropey CGI. The late and, sadly underrated, Ryan (a Cannon regular) gives a wonderful performance and there is also solid support from Roberts and a young Rebecca de Mornay. This is easily the best film Cannon ever released. Arrow's DVD release offers a decent widescreen presentation, though sadly no extras.

  8.  Re-cycled Second Rate Action Vehicle For WWE Star

    Posted: 

    WWE star Cena follows in the far from illustrious footsteps of other wrestling icons who have, over the years, attempted to make the transition to big screen stardom. There has been, to name but a few, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and - dare we forget - Hulk Hogan. This is Cena's second movie. His debut, "The Marine", was a straight to DVD action vehicle that was better than it deserved to be, thanks largely to Robert Patrick's entertaining villain. With 12 Rounds, new writer Daniel Kunka has recycled plot elements from other far superior films (namely Die Hard 3) and served up some hackneyed tosh about a Detective (Cena), whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by an ex-con he once put away and must now complete 12 perilous challenges to win her back. Director Renny Harlin has made some spectacular action movies in the past - like Cliffhanger and the Long Kiss Goodnight. He has always been erratic though and for every "Die Hard 2", there is a "Cuthroat Island" or "Driven". His latest offering sits shamelessly in the middle. Harlin's done no favours here by a charmless leading man whose lack of facial expressions make Steven Seagal look like Lee Evans. It is possible to paper over such inadequacies with a witty script full of knowing one liners (where are you Shane Black?), some inventive stunts and strong supporting characters. Regrettably 12 Rounds has none of these and at best is an undemanding - and forgettable - Friday night rental.

  9.  Glorious Dirty Dozen Rip-Off

    Posted: 

    Tarantino may have swiped the title and WW2 backdrop for his 2009 movie, but there the similarity ends as Enzo Castellari's "Inglorious Bastards" has a very different storyline and characters. This was made during an era when Italian cinema was, depending on ones point of view, either gleefully ripping off or paying homage to popular big budget American movies of that time. They had already tried their hand at the Western - with great success, so now it was the turn of the all star "men on a mission" war adventure. Castellari had, up to this point, dabbled in a variety of genres and made his name with some stylish westerns and crime (polizieschi) thrillers. While being neither the best or worst example of Castellari's work, Inglorious Bastards is an entertaining romp in the tradition of the Dirty Dozen. There are plenty of the director's trademark action scenes, with stunt men lovingly filmed twirling through the air in slow motion. The cast is efficient enough, including Fred "the Hammer" Williamson and Bo Svenson - though the absence of Castellari regular Franco Nero is disappointing. Optimum's re-release is timed to coincide with the release of Tarantino's movie and includes an interview with both directors. At this price the DVD is a bargain.

  10.  Derivative Brit Sci-fi - Not Without Merit

    Posted: 

    Hardware is a highly derivative low budget british sci-fi shocker that inexplicably became a cult hit for palace pictures upon its original release. Based on the story "shok!" from magazine 2000ad, the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic future where a young scavenger acquires a "mark 13" robot head found in the desert wasteland and unwittingly takes it home to his girlfriend for her sculpture - unprepared for the mayhem that lies in store. The awful truth is soon revealed - the mark-13 head has the ability to reassemble itself into a formiddable (yet slightly cumbersome looking) killing machine that wages war on humans. Director stanley should have taken notes from terminator director cameron in terms of pacing - this film takes far too long to get going, before cutting loose in the second half with some effective action sequences and gore. It's not without style, but demanding sci-fi fans may expect much more. Hardware never looked particulary good on vhs with a reliance on orange and red filters, so it really does benefit from an improved presentation on dvd. Optimum's special edition release is loaded with extras, some of which are exclusive to r2, making this a very collectable purchase.