Film Reviews by Alphaville

Welcome to Alphaville's film reviews page. Alphaville has written 441 reviews and rated 391 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Iron Fury

Ruined by dubbing

(Edit) 01/04/2020

This Russian WW2 tank movie could have been an interesting variant on war movies, but it fails miserably. Although it’s efficiently staged, the tank battles are simply boring and the long central Act 2 that sandwiches the two action set-pieces is even more so. The characters are stereotypes and the dialogue clichéd. Even worse, the Cinema Paradiso version is not available in the original Russian and the horrendously bad American dubbing destroys all sense of realism and seriousness. Maybe the original version would be worth a couple of stars (it did well in Russia), but this version is as dire as the film’s stupid English-language title.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Terminator: Dark Fate

Watchable hokum

(Edit) 01/04/2020

This is the best entry in the Terminator franchise since T2, but that’s faint praise. It certainly lacks the wow factor of the first two films. The effects no longer startle and the plot is a retread of T2. A terminator is sent from the future to kill a woman and an enhanced human is sent back to protect her. Linda Hamilton and Arnie are along for the ride but, sad to say, they now look too old and weary to care. They’re not helped by staid direction, a long dreary central Act 2 full of talking heads, and a score that has mostly ditched the compelling franchise music for the kind of bland orchestral muzak you get in superhero films.

Despite this, Terminator fans will find plenty of interest during the two long action sequences that bookend the film. The opening metal-crunching set-piece is promising as we learn what the new super-terminator can do. The ending set-piece begins with some confusingly staged action aboard a crashing plane but ends with an exciting final confrontation that almost rescues the whole film. Overall the film fails to live up to its promise, but it keeps you watching.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Shoplifters

Riveting family drama

(Edit) 01/04/2020

This Japanese family drama is the kind of film whose subject matter and arthouse praise would normally encourage most people to avoid it like Covid-19. Force yourself to make an exception. This is brilliant stuff, well worthy of its best film Palme d’Or and Oscar. Beautifully observed, masterfully directed, heartfelt and wise, with a last half-hour that stirs and subverts in equal measure. It grabs from the start as the family take in a 5yo girl who’s both cute and abused. From there it draws you in unwittingly before exploding in a devastating final half-hour you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be gripped by.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Freaks

Riveting sf thriller

(Edit) 19/03/2020

7yo Chloë lives locked up in her house with her father, who tells her that if she goes out the bad guys will kill her. There’s definitely something odd going on because Mr Snowcone’s ice cream van keeps coming around and tempting her outside. Is her father right? Why is he teaching her to be normal? Why is he bleeding from the eye? Is she really in danger or is she the scary one? It’s fun finding out.

Freaks begins as intimate sci-fi that draws you into its multi-layered plot before exploding into an imaginative and exciting action thriller. You might even want to watch it twice to see what you missed first time around.

As usual it’s best to avoid the Cinema Paradiso review and the trailer, which gives away some of the novel special effects that work so well as surprises in the film itself. Instead, watch the informative Xtras on the DVD and learn about topics such as ‘shortsighting the frame’ for extra impact.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Werewolf

Boring arthouse drama

(Edit) 19/03/2020

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is an unforgivably dull Polish film about a bunch of children – concentration camp survivors – holed up in an abandoned mansion in the forest. Over the course of the film they come to terms with their liberation and with each other. As none of them hold any audience interest, it’s hard to care. The plot also has them attacked by bad dogs, but don’t expect any exciting action. This is arthouse cinema at its dreariest.

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 Dead Don't Die

Deadly dull

(Edit) 11/03/2020

At their best Jim Jarmusch’s films are a hoot. When they don’t work they can be painfully dull. This one is comatose. The actors stand like statues and declaim their lines as though on the brink of sleep. You’d think Jarmusch had never directed a film before. Star billing goes to Bill Murray, who looks so old and disinterested he can barely get his lines out. Ironically, the zombies have a bit more life about them, but all they do is stagger around doing the usual zombie thing. All attempts at humour fall spectacularly flat. It’s a horror show all right, but for all the wrong reasons.

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 Wolf's Call

Thrilling submarine movie

(Edit) 07/03/2020

Who’d have thought another cold war submarine movie could have anything new to say or be so exciting? Watch A Wolf’s Call and believe. Interleaving tension with action, the plot unusually pits good guys against good guys, toying with audience emotions. Add to that a kind of hero we haven’t seen before – an Acoustic Warfare Analyst. This leads to some riveting stuff about sound recognition and a detective story in sound, on land as well as undersea.

Unfortunately the film is only available from Cinema Paradiso in the dubbed-for-dummies version of the original French, which somewhat diminishes its authenticity and realism, but it remains an exciting watch even in this format. WARNING: avoid the spoiler-filled trailer.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Ad Astra

Engrossing space opera

(Edit) 07/03/2020

Astronaut Brad Pitt’s on his way to deep space via the moon, and the evocation of space travel, reminiscent of 2001, is fascinating to watch. He even flies to the moon on a Virgin commercial flight. Unfortunately the plot amounts to very little and winds down to a disappointing end. Add to that the ill-advised decision to have Brad regale us with whiny introspective thoughts in voiceover detracts from the immediacy of the visuals.

Despite this, Ad Astra is a four-star watch if only for its evocation of living and travelling in space. It’s a considered, meditative vision that gives a real sense of the emptiness of space and the solitariness of being there. To keep you on your toes, there are also bouts of exciting action when you least expect them. The destination may be disappointing, but the journey is captivating and beautifully evoked.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Vita and Virginia

Stately relationship drama

(Edit) 07/03/2020

Imagine a typical period drama – classy, well-intentioned, flawlessly acted, staidly shot and utterly bland. Here’s another one. It will certainly hold interest for anyone fascinated by the Bloomsbury set, but the two lead characters never seem more than theatrical constructions whose see-sawing central relationship never grabs.

It grew out of a play by Eileen Atkins, who also wrote the screenplay, and it shows. Correspondence between characters, for example, is shown by having them read their letters out loud to camera, as they did on stage. Director Chanya Button also comes from a theatrical background and doesn’t have the cinematic imagination to translate her enthusiasm for Woolf (as evidenced by an interview on the DVD Extras) to the screen.

The film is made with such earnestness and sincerity by all concerned that it’s a shame to be negative but, judged as a film, everything about it screams Sunday night heritage television.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Escape Room

Exciting thriller never lets up

(Edit) 01/03/2020

Six strangers come together for an escape room game that’s more lethal than they expected. It’s a premise that could be limited and stagey, but it turns out to deliver an action-packed, fun-filled thrillfest. The format enables the plot to move from room to room and keep things moving at a fast click as our protagonists try to figure out how to escape the life-threatening traps set in each.

It’s pacy and imaginative, with the characters back stories woven in skilfully. And it keeps it up right to the unexpected end. The one mistake is the opening, which unnecessarily attempts to grab the viewer’s attention by showing part of the climax (the bulk of the film is shown in flashback). This only diminishes the drama later on. As does the tell-all trailer. AVOID THE TRAILER.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Break

Staid Russian mountain drama

(Edit) 01/03/2020

Four friends are stuck in a cable car on New Year’s Eve. It’s a predictable tale filmed with little flair and with a terrible song on the soundtrack. There’s a token idiot who does stupid things to keep the meagre plot moving as the quartet try to extricate themselves. It’s filmed on the cheap so there’s little sense that they’re anywhere but in a studio. The heroine doesn’t even put her anorak hood up against the cold.

It’s silly and stupid but if you’re in the mood for such fare the Russian setting adds a bit of interest and it just about manages to remain watchable for its hour and a half. It’s even worse in the ludicrous US-dubbed version but why would anyone ever want to ruin a foreign film by watching a dubbed version?

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 Bullet Vanishes

Quirky thriller

(Edit) 01/03/2020

A Chinese detective story with a difference. Sherlock Holmes has nothing on our two heroes as they face off against the bad guys. Confusing characters and plotting make it hard to get to grips with on occasion, but it’s worth the effort for the incidental delights. People are being shot but there are no bullets (and no, they’re not made of ice that then melts). One is killed in a locked room. Best of all – learn how to escape from the rope on which you’ve been hung.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Yesterday

Undemanding feel-good entertainment

(Edit) 01/03/2020

The premise of the movie produces a one-joke plot that trundles along pleasantly enough without ever hitting any heights (except for a cameo near the end). It’s written by Richard Curtis so expect a typical romcom that you’ll find either charming or cringeworthy. Still, if it can introduce post-millennials to Beatles music, even on a one-man acoustic guitar, it’s to be applauded. For the same age group it also features busker Ed Sheeran, who turns out to be a good sport. The DVD Extras feature an arguably superior alternative ending with a twist and a commentary by writer Richard Curtis and director Danny Boyle.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Crawl

Fun creature feature

(Edit) 17/02/2020

Father and daughter are stuck in the crawl space beneath a Florida house in a hurricane and alligators are circling. From that simple premise the story develops into a tense, exciting, full-blown action movie. Director Alex Aja films with his usual style and relish on a Serbian set that stands in for Florida so well you’ll never spot the difference.

From early claustrophobic shocks in the crawl space the action opens out and ramps up to a rousing climax, with plenty of jumps and laughs along the way. It may not be a film that would ever trouble the Oscars, but what more do you want from a creature feature? The DVD also contains a fascinating 30min Making Of feature that shows how the hurricane and floods were achieved and what the actors had to go through for our vicarious pleasure.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Brightburn

The Omen with superpowers

(Edit) 17/02/2020

What if an alien with superpowers turned out to be a sociopath? Aided by a chilling score, that’s the premise of this tense, thrilling film. Instead of the standard superfisticuffs and cgi flash bangs of the bland Marvel and Avengers franchises, this explores a 12yo extraterrestrial boy’s growing awareness that he’s special and can ‘take the world’. If the film has any genre it’s ‘scary thriller’, with horror overtones, and it really works.

As the boy’s powers grow, so does the danger in which everyone in the small town of Brightburn finds themselves. We know they shouldn’t mess with him, but they don’t know that, which adds to the growing sense of menace when they confront him over bad behaviour. We especially root for his well-drawn parents, who have no idea what they’re letting himself in for when they try to chastise him.

Brightburn is a ‘superhero’ film so refreshing to see that it deserves 4/5 stars both for aspiration and execution. As for the rousing climax… it cries out for a sequel.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
1234567891030

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