Film Reviews by Alphaville

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

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The Tournament

Sheer dross

(Edit) 20/01/2024

Blood-spattered shoot-em-up with nothing to recommend it. One-note plot, terrible dialogue, zero characterisation, in-your-face amateurish direction, slapdash editing, washed-out colour. The cast never stood a chance.

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Prey

Ho-hum Predator movie

(Edit) 19/01/2024

It’s not the best Predator movie, but nor is it the worst. This time it’s an 18th-century Comanche girl with an axe who has to fight one of them. She has to prove her hunting skills to the woke-less tribes-boys, you see. There’s loads of tribal banter to fill time and much of it takes place in the dark to avoid us seeing too much. The climactic fight itself is ruined by dim lighting. The same-old Predator effects are getting pretty tiresome by now and you know our heroine will have enough superpower to defeat him, even after he despatches all the menfolk fodder, so there’s little tension in the plot. Still, it all passes by amiably enough and there’s some nice North American scenery to look at.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Thirteenth Floor

Fascinating sci-fi

(Edit) 16/01/2024

Okay, so some of the acting and direction is flat, but this remains a fascinating watch thanks to the fiendish plot and stylish sets. Constantly keeps you on your toes with puzzle after puzzle and revelation on revelation. Don’t expect a special effects extravaganza, but this is a proper grown-up sci-fi film that absorbs from start to finish. Certainly more interesting than your average sci-fi film, so four stars.

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24: Redemption

Don’t waste your time

(Edit) 09/01/2024

Dreadful cheapskate TV spin-off set between series 5 and 6 of the 24 franchise. Threadbare plot so badly directed that it’s impossible to watch. Mainly close-ups of talking heads.

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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Sad travesty

(Edit) 05/01/2024

The messy 20min opening set-piece sets the tone – a cgi bore featuring lots of running around with biffing and bashing to a grating score that follows every beat of the action like a cartoon. Even a de-aged Harrison Ford looks unreal. It then calms down for a bit to explain the plot before the running and chasing starts again. One of the chase sequences even takes place amidst crowds at a New York parade. Wow, we’ve never seen anything like that before. A live-action cartoon probably best describes the whole film. The main interest comes in worrying about the ageing Harrison and trying to spot his body double. After two hours there’s at last an interesting if brief shift of tone (the screenplay has multiple writers), but it can’t save this huge disappointment. It’s a shame that what was once a promising franchise ends like this.

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The Equalizer 3

Beautifully realised travelogue/thriller

(Edit) 30/12/2023

One of the attractions of the Equalizer franchise, besides Denzel’s charismatic lead, is its emphasis on beautiful settings and appealing characters. Here the setting is the picturebook town of Abrani, set in a canyon on Italy’s Amalfi coast (standing in for Sicily in the plot), beautifully filmed by Antoine Fuqua’s fluid camerawork. The mafia-harassed locals in need of Denzel’s skills are equally well-drawn. Even when there’s little going on in the plot, it’s good to spend time with them while we follow Denzel wandering around town getting to know them. You’ll want to visit. It’s almost a travelogue. As for the mafia baddies… they’re suitably nasty and really need to be equalized by our hero. Disappointments? Government sidekick Dakota Fanning has little to work with and the climax is a damp squib. Despite that, the journey there is beautifully realised and a joy to watch. Keep ‘em coming, Antoine.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Girl with All the Gifts

Intelligent zombie film

(Edit) 29/12/2023

Most zombie films are bargain-basement drivel. This one’s different. Melanie is a kind, intelligent half-zombie child who loves her human teacher and guards. When the compound in which she is being schooled is overrun by the ‘thirsties’ they must go on the run. Can they survive? Can Melanie abstain from her cannibalistic needs? It’s an intriguing and intelligent premise. The plot may begin to fall apart at the end, but you’ll be rivetted throughout.

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Gauguin

Morose would-be-biopic

(Edit) 19/12/2023

Dirty, smelly, impoverished Gaugin leaves his pigsty of a Paris flat, dumps his wife and 5 children and goes to Tahiti for 2 years. There he marries a local woman but remains dirty, smelly and impoverished. Sometimes he paints a bit, but we see little of what he’s painting. After 2 years he dumps his Tahitian wife and returns to Paris. The end. Only over the end-titles do we discover that he returned to Tahiti later and painted the art for which he became famous. That’s what they should have filmed. The two years we’re shown are repetitive and boring. Vincent Cassel does his best with the part. but it’s a character you’d cross the road to avoid, there’s no plot, no artwork, a downbeat score and it ends where it began with nothing having changed. What a waste.

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Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning: Part 1

Exciting climax... eventually

(Edit) 14/12/2023

For 2 hours this MI instalment trundles along disappointingly. The half-hour pre-credits sequence (yes half an hour) is simply boring, with a drawn-out old-hat submarine sequence, a ho-hum random shoot-out in a random desert and a committee meeting talkathon. The risible plot involves the world being taken over by AI (The Entity) and the search for a magical key that will somehow save us all (Part 1 ends before we know).

It’s beyond nonsense, but we wouldn’t care as long as the stunts are exciting. They’re not. The main set-piece is a by-the-numbers car chase in Rome – a sort-of poor man’s Italian Job. As for all the exposition about what’s going on… just get on with it. Meanwhile the staccato score that tries to make every beat exciting simply underlines how unexciting it is.

But then we have a half-hour action climax that just about saves the whole film. It’s unfortunate that the best bits are shown in the trailer and even during the opening titles sequence, but Tom’s motorbike jump off an Austrian mountain onto a train that’s about to crash is just about worth the wait.

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Oppenheimer

Drama-free long-haul talk-fest

(Edit) 10/12/2023

This tedious Christopher Nolan talkie about the life of the physicist is a real disappointment and a long haul. For three hours the confused plotting zips around all over his life and all over the place, never settling on one scene long enough for any drama to develop. Even worse, the endless meetings are mostly concerned with the audience-boring political implications of his early communist leanings. It doesn’t help that star Cillian Murphy has only one expression and half-whispers his lines in a monotone.

The hours drag by with scene after scene of assorted suits politicking in assorted corridors and boardrooms. After nearly two hours there’s some brief tension when the first atom bomb is tested (to an annoying score of what sounds like scraping violins), but it’s soon back to the politicking. By the end (if you last that long) it’s just words, words, words. Whatever happened to “show don’t tell”? The script was based on a book and would probably have made a better play if not for the huge cast of interchangeable characters. Such a disappointment given Nolan’s track record.

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Fanny

Riveting Provencal drama

(Edit) 10/12/2023

Another great Daniel Auteuil film based on one of Marcel Pagnol’s early 20th-century Provence tales. This is the sequel to ‘Marius’ but you don’t need to have seen that because Marius left to go to sea at the end of it, leaving love Fanny alone and pining. Any description of the day-to-day events and tribulations that beset her would sound boring, yet the various confrontations among the characters are absolutely riveting. It’s a film to lose yourself in.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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First Man

Staid overlong biopic

(Edit) 04/12/2023

Reverential, by-the-numbers biopic, but what else do you expect with such an iconic figure? Okay if you like cockpit shots, as in the overlong opening sequence of plane testing. The moon landing is well-realised, but it takes sooo long to get there and even that is intercut with family flashbacks.

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Anthony Zimmer

Alluring mystery thriller

(Edit) 01/12/2023

Remade less interestingly in English as The Tourist, this absorbing French mystery thriller set on glorious riviera locations is a joy to watch. It could do with more stand-out thrills and flatters to deceive with an unconvincing ending, but it’s eminently watchable for the duration, full of intrigue and colour.

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Anon

Interesting but under-powered

(Edit) 01/12/2023

An interesting film but lacking in drama. It’s slow-paced with too many repetitive scenes of men in grey suits talking in monotones in colourless rooms. The narrative stalls in places and the unconvincing ending comes out of nowhere. But the well-presented premise, together with occasional striking scenes, will certainly keep you watching.

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The Invisible

Above average teen film

(Edit) 26/11/2023

Well, whadya know? Despite other reviews on this site (check IMDB), this is one teen film worth catching. It takes 30 minutes to get going, the music soundtrack is awful and it’s not as good as the Swedish original (Den Osynlige), but… Our hero’s body has been left for dead, hidden in a forest. His spirit, invisible to everyone onscreen, roams free to try to inform someone before he dies. The mechanics of his attempts to affect people are fascinating, even if some of them are puzzling, and it’s beautifully directed. Single-take shots, hand-held shots, the colour scheme – all have their place, as discussed on the director’s unusually revealing DVD commentary. Sure, it’s no masterpiece, but even in its failings film buffs will find it an unexpected treat.

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