Film Reviews by Alphaville

Welcome to Alphaville's film reviews page. Alphaville has written 415 reviews and rated 364 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

In Bloom

Boring social realism

(Edit) 15/01/2020

A coming-of-age film about two teenage girls growing up in Georgia (the country, not the US state) in 1992. If you’re looking for another Mustang, forget it. This is the polar opposite of that brilliant film. Based on an autobiographical script by one of the directors, this is social realism filmed as documentary. Nothing much happens with zero cinematic style. The trailer misleadingly tempts prospective viewers with a gun, but you’ll be bored stiff long before that puts in an appearance.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Rurouni Kenshin

Wannabe swordplay epic

(Edit) 15/01/2020

Based on a comic, this is a let-down in nearly all departments. Poorly plotted, acted and directed, it’s full of dire talkie scenes that go nowhere. Even most of the action scenes fail to convince as our impassive floppy-haired (aren’t they always?) hero fights off all-comers in Jackie Chan fashion. It’s redeemed only in the final half-hour by two extended sword fights against the two biggest and most enigmatic baddies. After action fans have suffered for 90 minutes, these may even be enough to make the two sequels worth catching.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Roaring Currents

Terrific sea-battle epic

(Edit) 15/01/2020

It’s 1597 and the Japanese fleet is invading Korea. They have more than 300 ships while the Koreans have 12, but the Koreans have General Yi and he knows the coastal waters. The brilliantly-realised sea battle has an epic quality reminiscent of Kurasawa films such as Kagemusha. The plot requires concentration at first as the various characters are introduced, plans are made and skirmishes lay the groundwork for later developments. It’s worth the effort.

Backed by a powerful score, co-writer Kim Han-Min directs with panache and complete command of his material, building tension and anticipation in equal measure. The final hour is taken up with the battle itself and it’s a stunner – a visceral spectacle of pounding action bolstered by convincing special effects. It’s bloody, exciting and gut-wrenching, packing such a punch that you’ll be exhausted at the end of it.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Emperor of Paris

Soporific

(Edit) 15/01/2020

After the exciting Mesrine, this second collaboration between director Jean-Francois Richet and star Vincent Cassel is a real disappointment. Set in Napoleonic France, it’s mostly filmed in dingy interiors and is more concerned with period mood and lighting than plot, character and action. The result, even for die-hard Vincent fans, is a soporific bore.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Sorry We Missed You

Please stop, Ken

(Edit) 13/12/2019

Yet another joyous, life-enhancing, cinematic Loach extravaganza. Joke! Yet another class-warrior rant against the system in the guise of another one-dimensional depiction of the struggling British working class. It’s like being locked in a room with Jeremy Corbyn. This time our Ken’s railing against the gig economy. He’s perfectly entitled to dramatize this, of course, but no one should be inveigled into watching it without first being made to sit through the trailer. This is supposed to be a film, Ken, not a miserable TV drama. Even the dog has only three legs. Best thing about it? At least he keeps the camera firm without jiggling it around.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

American Honey

Sheer drivel

(Edit) 13/12/2019

Great review from PV. You only need to watch two minutes of this to realise what you’re in for – in-yer-face handheld close-ups of chain-smoking low-lifes you wouldn’t want to spend more than one minute with. If there’s any place for this kind of poorly directed miserabilism, it’s the TV. Why does the Lottery Fund continue to finance British directors who have so little sense of film that they don’t even know how to handle a camera?

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Captain Marvel

Teenage kicks

(Edit) 13/12/2019

With a minimalist comic-book story, cardboard characters and the usual cgi flash-bangs set to bombastic muzak, this soul-crushing film is typical of the Marvel franchise. And it gets worse. Using Lola de-aging technology to make 70-yo Samuel L. Jackson look young is just creepy. Ageing is not just about the face. The smoothed-out face looks odd anyway, but on a 70yo actor’s body and posture? (They tried to de-age this too)

The film begins with half an hour of scene-setting. Our Kree superheroine then lands on earth in 1995 and for a while it looks like the plot might develop into something interesting as she adjust to 1990s culture. But we’re soon back to superhero fisticuffs as Skrulls come after her.

What’s our superheroine’s special power? “Supercharged fire hands”, as her friend politely puts it. Yes, really. For two hours. Naturally it all ends in the usual cartoonish climactic biff and bash with orchestral overkill. Who’d have thought? And she survives for the next episode. Who’d have thought? And in case you’re wondering, yes, the film does tick all the politically correct boxes with right-on messages for snowflakes. Who’d have thought? And does it end with a post-credits trailer for the next instalment? Take a guess.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Surprisingly likeable superhero film

(Edit) 29/11/2019

Set amongst the beauty spots of Europe (Venice, the Alps, etc), this fairly zips along without the usual Marvel baggage. The up-to-the-minute plot revolves around deepfake technology and gives rise to some imaginative surreal sequences, making even the cgi battles against monsters less boring than normal.

It works even better as a superior high-school comedy as Peter Parker (Spider-teen) and his classmates go on a European school trip. JB Smoove (Larry David’s house guest in Curb Your Enthusiasm) is a riot as their teacher. Instead of yawnfest superhero angst and soul-searching we get fun set-pieces and punchy dialogue. Sample: when Peter tells the girl he fancies that she’s pretty, she replies haughtily “And therefore I have value?”. Marvel nerds may be disappointed, but for those who find most superhero films a waste of screen time, this one’s impossible not to like.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Along with the Gods

Spectacular fantasy

(Edit) 29/11/2019

After a startling, giddily shot opening on a burning skyscraper, our hero fireman is killed but can be reincarnated if his life has passed seven moral tests. Unfortunately this results in an episodic, over-acted melodrama, with relevant episodes from his life shown in flashback. Despite this, the film’s well worth watching purely for its many and varied other-world action sequences. These are truly spectacular, having an immediacy and kinetic energy lacking in glossy Hollywood superhero films.

The sets are dazzling, the soundtrack is storming and the chase sequences, with a frenetic camera picking out protagonists as they fly in and out of reality, are a visual feast. A top-grossing film in South Korea, there’s a sequel in the can and more planned. If you get bored with the melodrama, fast-forward to the next action sequence and wallow in the gorgeous sights that only cinema can produce.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

A Dangerous Method

Lo-key historical drama

(Edit) 29/11/2019

A dialogue-heavy drama about the relationships between Freud, Jung, Jung’s wife and the female patient he becomes involved with. Some emotional jumps in character are hard to take and, like most David Cronenberg films, it’s in no rush to get anywhere. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a solid, efficiently-told Sunday-night drama with interesting subject matter, this will fit the bill for 95 minutes.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Anna

Stylish action thriller

(Edit) 26/11/2019

With Luc Besson writing, directing and even holding the camera, you know you’re in for a film that’s going to zip along cinematically, with visual interest in every frame. This one harks back to Nikita, with model Sasha Luss as a Russian government assassin. The elliptical plot constantly surprises with twists that make no sense until Besson backtracks to reveal what’s really going on. His intention (as he says on the DVD Extras) was for the plot to resemble a nest of Russian dolls, which are revealed one by one.

Given that, there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, with an indestructible hero/heroine fighting insuperable odds. If only Besson could invest more in character he’d be making brilliant films. This one is instantly forgettable, with a lead actress who should stick to modelling, but it’s bold, brash, beautiful and great fun to watch. After watching the current crop of British social-realist films, mired in miserabilia, it’s a pleasure to sit back and wallow in a film made by a director who’s in love with the visual possibilities of cinema.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Final Score

Naff but fun

(Edit) 26/11/2019

In this “Die Hard in a football stadium”, Dave Bautista is the latest over-beefed Hulk to masquerade as a leading man (he nearly gets stuck in a turnstile). He’s even saddled with the usual annoying teenage daughter-in-peril. Ray Stevenson also lacks charisma as the leading badass Russian rebel who’s got West Ham’s stadium in lockdown during a “soccer” match and is going to blow it up.

On the other hand, there’s some neat dialogue, some black humour that works, a feisty bad girl, a good fight in the confined space of a lift and a bog-standard boring motorcycle chase made interesting by choreographing it to Jonathan Pierce’s match commentary (he’s very good as himself). All told, Final Score is not as good as Gerard Butler’s Fallen franchise, but there are many worse actioners around and it’s hard not to like a film that has an American character punched for calling football soccer.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Burning

Intriguing but unsatisfying

(Edit) 26/11/2019

What’s it about? If you can figure that out, well done. It begins as boy-meets-girl, becomes a sort-of love triangle then eventually introduces the element that gives the film its title (but don’t expect any combustible drama). It’s intriguing to begin with and even looks promising, with realistic sex scenes that you rarely see in South Korean cinema. But it doesn’t go anywhere interesting at all. It’s based on the director’s short story, is full of tell-don’t-show and can’t possibly sustain its 140-minute run time. It has been vastly overrated for its opaqueness, causing some critics to say it must be seen twice, but once (if that) will be more than enough for most viewers.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Mule

Gentle thriller

(Edit) 16/11/2019

Clint Eastwood directs himself as an old-timer who, to make money, starts working for a drugs cartel, ferrying packages around in his beat-up old truck. He’s a complete innocent, oblivious to the increasing peril he’s in as the gangsters and the cops (led by Bradley Cooper) close in. He looks so fragile that you’ll be rooting for him all the way as we follow his trips through the colourful desert landscapes of the American South-West.

If ever there was a warm-hearted thriller, this is it. Even approaching the age of 90, Clint knows what to do with a camera and how to make an intelligent and enjoyable film. Expect no fireworks, but if you liked Gran Torino, you’ll like this.

DVD Xtras Fascinating Fact: All the clothes Clint wears are from the various movies he’s made over the years.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Tulip Fever

Laughable potboiler

(Edit) 16/11/2019

An historical potboiler set in 17th century Amsterdam, making best use of its one-street outdoor set by filling it with local colour. It bowls along pacily enough, but the downtrodden-wife-strays plot is all too familiar and the characters have no depth. With no convincing characters, the sex scenes are unrealistic and the background of the tulip market (the dotcom boom-and-bust of its time) is little more than a distraction. The increasingly farcical plot spirals out of control and becomes reliant on a number of laughable coincidences. It may work in the original book, but it just seems silly in the more immediate medium of film. It keeps you watching, but it’s all a bit ridiculous and inconsequential.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
1234567891028

Help & support

Find answers to frequently asked questions and contact us should you need to

How It Works

See prices and levels and find out how Cinema Paradiso service works

Friends for Films

Invite your friends to join and get free subscription each month