Film Reviews by Alphaville

Welcome to Alphaville's film reviews page. Alphaville has written 371 reviews and rated 318 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Thelma

Tense psychological thriller

A beautifully observed Norwegian thriller in which Thelma, a student at Oslo university, begins to have seizures. But what exactly is “seizing” her? And why are birds crashing into windows? One thing’s for sure, you don’t want to upset her because… but that would be a spoiler. Don’t expect any Carrie-like grandstanding. There are shocks along the way, but this is a more nuanced and enthralling film that draws you into Thelma’s predicament and gets creepier and creepier as the menace builds. She’s a compelling and complex heroine you’ll be rooting for all the way.

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 Vigilante

Dire

Writer/director Sarah Daggar-Nickson can’t direct plot or actors. Expect lots of dialogue-free close-ups of our ‘heroine’ going about her daily routine. Watch her punch a punch bag, watch her put her make-up on… This is basically a documentary-style polemic against male aggression, complete with victims telling their story to camera at a support group. Actors speak their lines without passion or drama, with no score to add any emotion to a scene. The director has no idea how to make a film interesting. If you’re drawn to this expecting action and thrills, you’re in for an 87-minute endurance test. It received some good press reviews, but the praise was biased for its feminist content. To call it a thriller is a joke. It’s awful.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Racer and the Jailbird

Clichéd and Boring

He’s a bank robber, she’s a racing driver. You don’t need any spoilers to guess the plot. It’s a cliché from start to finish. Maybe it could work if the characters held any interest. They don’t. It might work if the heist or racing scenes were filmed in an interesting way. They aren’t. The English title has replaced the original French title of Le Fidèle to make it sound more exciting. It isn’t. Only someone with the calibre of a Michael Mann could give this any life.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

BumbleBee

Resets the bar for Transformers films

Who’d have thought? A Transformers film with heart! English screenwriter Christina Hodson has written a heart-warming script far from the usual fanboy agenda and director Travis Knight embraces it with panache. In this prequel set in 1987, teenager Hailee Steinfield grieves for her dead father while forming a bond with injured Transformer Bumblebee.

It’s very silly, of course, but by focussing on their relationship it works like a more adult version of ET, with a killer score of 1980s pop classics and some great San Francisco North Bay scenery adding to the mix. It descends into the usual underwhelming cgi cartoon battle at the climax, but up to that point the journey is more involving than it has any right to be.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Widows

Watching paint dry is more thrilling

Don’t be fooled by the trailer, which shows nearly all the brief action and adds an atmospheric score that the movie sorely needs but sadly lacks. Widows is thrill-less, virtually score-less, prosaic film-making, bogged down plotwise in politics and religion and visually in still shots of actorly conversations. Thrilling? If only. It’s a completely cold watch, with no characters of any interest and no visuals of any interest. It’s a film that needs a real director at the helm, not a faux-art Turner-prize wannabe filmmaker like Steve McQueen.

PS US critics loved this film while trashing the much superior Replicas, an indie sci-fi film I saw on the following night and a cinematic masterpiece by comparison. If cinema is to outlast the inroads of such as Netflix, they need to get their act together.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Replicas

Enthralling adult sci-fi

This is a fun sci-fi drama that, if you go with the premise of inserting human minds into machines, grabs from the start. Scientist Keanu Reeves’s family are killed in a car crash. Can he bring them back in some way? You can bet he’s gonna try. And that’s just the start of complications that multiply thrillingly and with engaging dark humour to end in a satisfying action climax. Of course, some of the ideas that underpin the racing plot are far-fetched. So what? That’s part of the fun. You’re really going to want to know what happens next and, as in all the best sci-fi, there’s much food for thought along the way. To get the most out of it, avoid the trailer and all spoilers. It’s the best sci-fi film since Upgrade.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Piercing

Truly abomonable

Sundance-style indie film-making at its worst. Long static close-ups of talking heads will soon have you switching off. It may be cheap, but it’s terminally boring. Godard made Breathless for next to nothing. Have modern indie film-makers learned nothing? It’s promoted as a thriller, but it’s too boring to be thrilling. Towards its end it adds some gruesomeness to make you pay attention, but that only makes it even more loathsome.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Prospect

Undemandingly watchable

Low-key intimate drama set in enclosed spaces and a forest on an alien moon (filmed in Washington). A father and his teenage daughter are searching for gemstones. There are baddies and scavengers. It’s a slow burn that never catches fire and none of it rings true. But with its relaxing score and an appealing heroine in Sophie Thatcher, it’s oddly watchable in an arboreal sort of way.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Aquaman

Intermittently wonderful

A water-based superhero? It’s all too silly for words and plot and dialogue soon descend into childish nonsense. Atlantis is seriously under-realised. It’s just full of floating people. Do they eat fish? Do they have plumbing? The climactic undersea battle is one big cgi bore.

Despite this, there’s a surprising amount to admire here. The film contains more visual flair than most comic book films, with some scenes having a psychedelic quality. Add to this some stylish camera movements and scene transitions that are unusually imaginative. At its best it’s like watching a high-class travelogue.

Even the score isn’t complete orchestral muzak. It even has room for a snatch of Depeche Mode. In fact the whole film would have worked better as a music video. Best of all is a beautifully choreographed and visually stunning chase/fight on the rooftops of a cliff-top Italian village. Worth watching? Yes, if only to catch the high spots among the dross.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Lady Bird

TV fare

This slice-of-life drama about growing up deserves narrower distribution. It’s a vanity project for writer/director Greta Gerwig, based on her own life experiences. You know where you are right from the start: a mother and her teenage daughter talk briefly in a hotel room before having a long argument in a car. Yawn, yawn. Well done to Greta for getting the green light for this, but film is the wrong medium for it. If you like soapy TV drama with no interesting visuals, it’s undemanding fare. If you’re looking for a film, look elsewhere.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Mortal Engines

cgi-heavy steampunk bore

Visually stunning cgi tries to enliven this derivative, empty-headed young adult steampunk effort. More like steambunk. It opens with a London-on-wheels chasing a smaller town on wheels for its resources (yes, really – blame the book on which the film is based). Then it’s all downhill with loads of exposition and shots of our earnest young heroes running around just managing to escape being killed. There are air battles as boring as anything in Star Wars, and the bomb-countdown climax has been old-hat ever since Goldfinger used it in the 1960s. All this is naturally played out to the usual irritating bombast of a score.

On the plus side, the sets are imaginative and well-realised, Resurrected Man Strike has a single poignant moment, chief baddie Hugo Weaving adds a touch of class and chief heroine Hear Hilmar has star quality. Otherwise, unless your brain isn’t yet fully developed, you’ll be glad when it stops.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Robin Hood

Robin Rubbish

This modernist, anti-capitalist, dumbed-down take on the medieval legend is abysmal. Fast-cut fights and anachronistic dialogue destroy all sense of realism. It’s all so politically correct it manages to be both ridiculous and boring at the same time. Taron Egerton is a blank-faced “Rob” (as his mates call him) who naturally has a Moorish friend in Jamie Foxx, because he’s not a racist, you see. Bono’s daughter Eve Hewson (wonder how she got the part?), although touted as a medieval feminist, is the most insipid Marian ever. Friar Tuck is a silly modern comic (and absolutely non-controversial). The list goes on. You’d hope at least for some action, but even that seems like forced play-acting.

It only makes sense if you watch the DVD extras and hear the misguided cast and crew wittering on about how the essence of the Robin Hood legend is “counter-culture” and “smashing the system”. Er, no it isn’t. Did no one at any point realise the whole concept was a turkey?

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Venom

Same old Marvel borefest

The first half-hour of this superhero origin movie is a surprisingly adult character-driven drama about our down-at-heel hero Tom Hardy. Then he’s assimilated by a black blob of an alien who speaks to him in a Transformers-type voice and it’s downhill from then on. Expect excruciating dialogue and the usual cartoon action. Tom Hardy’s good, but he’s got no chance with material like this. And when one cgi-alien fights another at the expected climax, it makes you yearn for more exciting fare such as Roadrunner v Coyote. Plus point? At less than 90 minutes it’s shorter than other Marvel films.

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 Vanishing

Stagey drama

Pared-down stagey drama about three Scottish lighthouse keepers who vanish. It’s apparently based on a true story, but the truth could never have been as ridiculous as this. If you believe the DVD blurb that it’s an “action-packed drama”, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. You’ll see the way it’s going long before the end. Do you think there’ll be some squabbling in such an enclosed space? To be fair, there’s a major incident half-way through when things get interesting for a while, but then it’s back to being a dull, claustrophobic chamber piece, better suited to the stage than the cinema screen.

On the DVD Extras the Danish cinemaphotographer even says that it’s the confined staginess of the piece that attracted him to it – more lighting options to challenge him. As for the Danish director, he was attracted by the Scandi-noir aspect of it. If that’s what you like, fine. If it’s visual flair you’re looking for, look elsewhere. For the most part, this is dull fare.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Mad Detective

Worst To film ever

To say fans of director Johnny To will be disappointed is an understatement. This may have been the biggest Hong Kong box-office draw of 2007, but it’s a complete non-event from start to finish. The so-called “mad detective” is neither exciting nor funny. He’s just boring. The whole film has no life in it at all. You’d at least expect some good action from To, but even the contrived climax just washes past. A real downer. Inexplicably bad.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
1234567891025

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