Film Reviews by Alphaville

Welcome to Alphaville's film reviews page. Alphaville has written 794 reviews and rated 751 films.

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Yawn, yawn

(Edit) 25/08/2022

It opens as it means to continue, with Doctor Strange running from a mess of pixels masquerading as a monster. Why is he running when he can fly? Don’t ask silly questions. Even with low expectations, the heart sinks.

The trouble with such Marvel films is that there’s no jeopardy for the characters. After all, they’ll be needed for the next sequel. So it’s just one cartoonish set-to after another with various cardboard goodies and baddies flying around and flailing their hands to shoot flames or throw large objects at each other, in-between swapping inane banter.

At one point we’re in an alternate-universe New York. Surely there’s plenty of room here for something imaginative. Sadly, no. The only thing our hero notices is that, at traffic lights, green is stop and red is go. That sums up the whole boring film.

Good work if you can get it, Benedict. Along with director Sam Raimi, here slumming it, just take the money and run.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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The Northman

Laughably morose

(Edit) 17/08/2022

If you’ve seen either of Robert Eggers’ two previous films (The Witch, The Lighthouse) you’ll know what to expect: a dreary, gloomy, deathly slow film that’ll have your finger hovering over the FF button. With a medieval Norse vibe that is atmospheric and beautifully observed, it’s a shame that the morbid atmosphere, cartoon characters and drawn-out revenge plot hold so little interest.

Much of it is filmed in gloomy interiors or darkness – even the brief boring final duel between goodie and baddie. There’s so much wailing and grunting and cavorting around campfires, and appeals to various spirits, that it soon it becomes laughable and irritating. Likewise the incessantly downbeat score. It has its moments during its 2hr run time, but goodness it’s a long haul.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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The Outfit

Stagey but watchable

(Edit) 13/08/2022

Film is a visual medium, so a stagey talkie set on a restricted set (in this case two rooms) is asking for trouble. It can be done (eg Twelve Angry Men) and director Graham Moore does his best to shift camera positions, but The Outfit remains an actorly talkie. At its centre, Mark Rylance gives his usual underpowered performance, but for once it fits a lo-key chamber piece about rival gangsters discussing off-screen action. The intricate plot holds interest, but if you’re expecting the thriller the blurb promises you’ll be disappointed. While never engrossing, it remains watchable if not re-watchable.

10 out of 10 members found this review helpful.

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The Batman

Dismal, dull and dreary

(Edit) 03/08/2022

Batman noir. Literally. It’s shot almost entirely in darkness for the whole nearly 3hrs. All the characters are expressionless, especially Batman himself (Robert Pattinson – normally watchable but here just a lifeless caricature). Everyone speaks slowly and earnestly in sleep-inducing monotones. The brief action set-pieces are ruined by the overall dismal pall of the film, all excitement drained out of them.

You want it to be an involving antidote to kiddy superhero cgi-fests, but the whole film has had the life squeezed out of it. The slow-paced plot goes nowhere fast and you’ll soon tire of the monotonous talking heads. There’s even a morose score to make the whole enterprise even more soporific as your eyes glaze over at the darkened screen. It’s as though the wrong choices were made at every level. Could no-one tell the filmmakers they were making a dud and liven it up a tad? Such a disappointment.

6 out of 10 members found this review helpful.

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Cross of Honour

Straightforward, unshowy drama

(Edit) 03/08/2022

Two Brit and three Nazi airmen are shot down in Norway’s snowy wilderness and have to learn to live together in a mountain hut, where the bulk of the film takes place. You can predict how their relationship will develop from enmity to shared friendship in order to survive, which takes the edge off the plot. The two Brits are such caricatures (toffee-noised captain and working-class squaddie) that it’s hard not to side with the more well-drawn Nazis. It’s not a bad film, given heft by the setting, but it’s based on a true story and one wishes it was better.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Countdown

Watchable spooky fun

(Edit) 03/08/2022

Premise? A supernatural phone app tells you when you’re gonna die. Our heroine has two days to live and has to find a way to beat the app, but any move she makes to avoid her fate has ghouls come after her. It’s similar in concept to the Final Destination franchise with added horror overtones. If that’s your bag, this will keep you moderately amused.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Nine Bullets

Simply abysmal

(Edit) 05/08/2022

If the title and trailer dupe you into thinking this is a fast-moving thriller you’re gonna be screaming at the screen. The original US title is Gypsy Moon. Book-ended by a few brief shootings, this is about a woman and a boy bonding on a road-trip while plinky-plonk piano music plays on the soundtrack. At the end the plinky-plonk gives way to an even more pathetic ballad. There’s also a whining dog along for the ride. If only they’d shot that as well...

It’s a shame to see Lena Headey reduced to playing the lead. And for changing the film’s title to suck in more viewers, the producers should be prosecuted for offences against the Trades Descriptions Act. This really is abysmal filmmaking.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Ambulance

Terrific full-on actioner

(Edit) 26/07/2022

Exciting heist and car-chase movie directed by Michael Bay at breakneck pace. His most hyperactive actioner yet. Its unrelenting pace and beautiful sweeping camerawork ensure you never take your eyes off the screen. And it’s all real. No cgi. No rapid edits to chop up the action into meaningless bits. The dizzying state-of the-art First Person View drone shots (see the DVD Extras) are like nothing we’ve seen on film before. A thumping score adds to the tension. It could even have done with a quiet spot here and there to give the audience a breather. Watch, wonder and… 130mins later… relax.

3 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

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Morbius

Marvel-less

(Edit) 25/07/2022

It’s reasonably interesting for c25mins as Jared Leto searches for a cure to his illness, then it goes all cgi silly as he gets the standard set of cgi superpowers (he’s stronger and can fly). From then on it’s by-the-numbers predictable as he indulges in fisticuffs with Matt Smith (a baddie with the same superpowers). It’s kiddy cartoon stuff with no depth of plot or character and a climax that’s an underwhelming fast-edited mish-mash of pixels. Good points? At 90mins, it’s shorter than other Marvel bores, so an extra star for not inflicting more on the viewer.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Double Vision

Plodding Taiwanese serial killer movie

(Edit) 25/07/2022

An American FBI expert is called in to help catch a serial killer in Taiwan. The macabre killings and Taoist connotations add little to a plodding police investigation that lacks excitement and thrills. An off-the-wall climax perks up interest, but by then it’s too late.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Green Knight

Dull, dull, dull… and dull

(Edit) 07/07/2022

This must be the most ridiculous, ill-conceived and boring retelling of an Arthurian legend ever. Funereally paced, stylised and stilted, stagey and solemn, static and pompous, devoid of action and even sense, filmed mostly in darkness with half-lit faces peering at the camera or into the distance… This is the worst kind of arthouse anti-film, with all the life sucked out of it. What a waste.

2 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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Drug War

Gritty, compelling, exciting

(Edit) 02/07/2022

Fast-moving, hard-boiled Hong Kong thriller about cops taking down a drug ring. Nothing new in the concept, but plot, characters, score and Johnnie To’s lively direction lift it way above ordinary. It sags a bit in the middle but soon builds again to a lengthy, high-octane, beautifully shot, climactic shootout that ranks as one of the best in the genre.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Watch and wonder

(Edit) 02/07/2022

Another surreal period actioner on an epic scale from visionary director Tsui Hark. Described as a ‘mad’ genius’ by the crew, he treats us to some eye-popping stunts and set-pieces. From the huge canvas of the opening maritime scene onwards, it’s filmed with everything on screen in crystal-clear focus, like Citizen Kane, making it an overwhelming visual experience. Some of the set-pieces, such as the battle in the Black Sandstorm, are a breathtaking spectacle. The plot, about revolting eunuchs and a concubine on the run, is just a hook. The substance of the film is visual. This is what cinema was made for.

So why not five stars? A talky section in the middle, when various factions plot against each other, merely passes time. This is also the first Chinese film to be made in 3D. In the 2D DVD version, swords flying at the camera lose their impact. Still, fans of Tsui Hark’s brilliant Detective Dee movies will not be disappointed.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Belfast

Self-indulgent bore

(Edit) 05/07/2022

Maybe I was watching a different film to most reviewers. Kenneth Branagh has made some good films, but this vanity project about his own 9yo self amidst the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ of 1969 is a self-indulgent bore. The politics and shouty religiosity are a pain. The back streets of Belfast are as dreary a backdrop as you might expect. The child actors unfortunately lack subtlety. As for the score, if you don’t like a warbling Van Morrison you’ll have to turn the sound off. Good points? Nice monochrome lighting.

There’s a human story here if you can be bothered, but you can predict its substance even without seeing the film. All told, it’s the kind of earnest social-realist drama they used to show on TV in the 60s. This is not to minimise the plight of families at that time and place but (unlike most reviewers) to treat it as a FILM. Maybe something interesting happens near the end, but this reviewer had given up by then.

0 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Uncharted

Time-passer

(Edit) 19/06/2022

A silly, instantly forgettable Indiana Jones-type time-passer that has conmen Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg searching for lost treasure. If you can handle their painful improvised wise-cracking you’ll catch a few good action set-pieces along the way but little else. It’s the kind of film that ends with an awful pop song over the end-credits and a teaser for a possible sequel, but there are certainly even more infantile adventure films around.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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